Dykes-Loving-Dykes: Dyke Separatist Politics
Bev Jo, Linda Strega, Ruston
1990 – 2015
Why We Wrote This Book
I’ve put our entire updated book at the heading of my blog, so all the chapters can easily be seen and linked to, in order. Each chapter is meant to build from the previous chapter, but most also stand alone, for reading and sharing.
2015 – We have re-positioned the chapters, so our original Chapter One, which was Lesbians for Lesbians, is now Chapter Five. Our new first chapter, The Crimes of Mankind, had been the beginning section of Chapter Two, Heterosexuality/Selling Out Is Not Compulsory, but we are now starting our book with it as a separate chapter, since the rest of our book flows from knowing that males are destroying the earth and that women do have the ability to stop them.
We originally had 13 chapters, but are not posting our three personal stories or our brief ending.
So here are the current chapters:
Chapter One: The Crimes of Mankind
Chapter Two: Heterosexuality/Selling Out Is Not Compulsory
Chapter Three: Heterosexism Among Lesbians Is Lesbian-Hating
Chapter Four: Supporting Butches Supports All Lesbians
Chapter Five: Lesbians for Lesbians — Dyke Separatism
Chapter Six: Leather = S/M = Sadism and Masochism
Chapter Seven: Motherhood: The Ultimate Feminine Role
Chapter Eight: Patriarchy Is One Big Unhappy Family
Chapter Nine: Hidden Disability by Bev Jo and Linda Strega
Chapter Ten: If Looks Could Kill: The Most Personal Oppression
In 1990, we published our book, Dykes-Loving-Dykes, in order to share our understanding about what goes wrong in our Lesbian communities, friendships, and relationships, and about how that damage has undermined Lesbian Feminism, Radical Lesbian Feminism, Separatism, and Radical Feminism in general. Everything we described or predicted has proven true. (For example, men claiming to be Lesbians and destroying our last women only space is almost beyond belief, but they are now supported by most pretend feminists as well as liberal Lesbians.)
So twenty five years later, I (Bev) am updating our book with our new information and additional chapters with input from Linda Strega.
I’ve also continued posting new articles at my blog, which would theoretically become a second or third book if we had the money and means to publish them. They are:
The story of Lesbianism is a story of magic and survival.1 In almost every part of the world, we’re said not to exist, or we’re hated and lied about. Yet we persist in surviving. Lesbians come from every culture and country. We appear where there are no others of us, coming from people who try their hardest to make us committed man-lovers. We create ourselves out of nothing, appearing like weeds that cannot be destroyed. We crack open the foundations of the enormous structures of male supremacy.
Our passion to survive and find each other over great barriers of distance and time is like the crashing of ocean waves. Unstoppable. Like witches, we are a horror story that chills the heartlessness of mankind. We’re said to be figments of the imagination. Like ghosts, we’re simply not supposed to be. Like witches, we are murdered and lied about. And like the ghosts of millions of murdered witches,2 we haunt all of mankind.
Lesbians are part of nature. Like witchcraft, rats, spiders and snakes, we horrify, because man is so deeply afraid of nature. We remind everyone that patriarchy and heterosexuality are not inevitable.
We dare to be Dykes. That’s our crime against mankind. We dare to love other Dykes. That’s unforgivable in patriarchy. But we won’t be stopped. We want the best possible world for Dykes and all females, and that also means an unpolluted, wild world, safe for the other creatures on earth. The only way to save the Earth is to end patriarchy. The only way for male supremacy to end is for heterosexual women to stop choosing and supporting men and being heterosexual. We can’t prevent men and het women from making their life-hating choices, but, as Dykes, we can choose to stop supporting them, and instead choose to love our own kind and create truly Dyke-identified Dyke communities.
This book is about loving Lesbians, which means fighting male rule and heterosexism. That’s Dyke Separatism. Only by devoting our lives to ourselves and each other as Lesbians, as a people, will we begin to build truly Dyke-identified Lesbian Movements. Dykes deserve the very best — other Dykes.
Valuing Dyke Ways
Why do we often feel that we’re still struggling against familiar pain that wrecked so many of our relationships with other girls when we were younger — betrayals, malice, slander, manipulations, exclusion from cliques? We already know some of the reasons: racism, classism, ethnicism, ableism, looksism, ageism, and fat oppression. There’s another reason that’s seldom discussed, but which explains the many presently “mysterious” disasters among Lesbians: heterosexism or Lesbian-hating among Lesbians.
To have strong Dyke cultures, we need to also return to our true Dyke/female natures. That means recognizing and eliminating the indoctrination of male and het identification that’s imposed on us, which many Lesbians once chose to embrace and which some still actively pursue. Rejecting male definitions of females is central to Dyke Separatism. Because we’re raised in a Lesbian-hating world, we’re all taught Lesbian-hatred. That doesn’t automatically disappear when we come out. This book is about understanding and fighting all forms of lesbophobia and Lesbian-hatred among ourselves as Lesbians, which also means recognizing and fighting female-hating.
Although some of us have had glimpses, none of us knows what it would be like to be part of a truly Dyke-centered, Dyke-loving community. It would be Separatist, with no men or boys welcome, and with het women only as occasional guests. We’d love, protect, care for and value each other as Dykes. We would have one place in the world where we’d be safer, happier, more hopeful, and strong. We would be genuinely committed to eradicating all inequality among us because no oppressiveness is acceptable to true Dyke Separatists and because we want to have the most diverse and welcoming communities possible.
Dykes as a people are incredibly strong and courageous. Otherwise we wouldn’t have survived. But too often that Lesbian strength is spent caring for our oppressors. Too many Lesbians give energy to men and boys. Too many also give their hearts to het women. Even when Lesbians are only with Lesbians, too many maintain and use men’s standards and rules, and police those of us who want to be fully Lesbian in our minds, hearts, and spirits. Het women are revered as the essence of femaleness, beauty, and kindness, while Dyke-identified Dykes are reviled. It’s all a mindfuck that hurts us individually and as a people.
We won’t take care of ourselves if we don’t value ourselves. The Lesbian-only space we need is almost non-existent in the world. “Women’s” space usually includes boys and often even men. Meanwhile, Lesbians are sick and dying from Lesbian oppression.
In the early 1970’s, we felt a sense of hope, excitement, and possibilities for a new beginning. Many of us were finding other Lesbians for the first time in our lives. Dyke communities were growing bigger and stronger, and new ones were forming. There was caring, love, and self-love among us as Lesbians.
Now it’s the era of selfishness. “Lesbian culture” became “women’s culture,” which then became meaningless. Everyone but Lesbians were prioritized by Lesbians. (By 2011, the Berkeley Women’s Health Collective had become the business called the Berkeley Women’s Health Center, which then morphed into the extremely Lesbian-hating Berkeley Clinic for Women and Men.) Theoretically Lesbian organizations, like the National Center for Lesbian Rights3 legally support men against Lesbians, even while still asking for Lesbian money and promoting segregation in our community by having fundraisers that only the richest Lesbians can afford.
Much feminist writing became anti-feminist. Dynamic and exciting Lesbian music became “womyn’s” music, with the politics and culture gutted, and is often even more boring than mainstream het women’s music. The newer musicians played to Lesbian audiences while being closeted enough to attract het and het women. Lesbians idolized Lesbian “stars,” whose goal was to grow in fame and fortune through taking Lesbian energy and diluting it for the consumption of men and het women. The fire, passion, and realness of Lesbian Feminist politics is almost gone.
Some Lesbians say they’re not “political,” as if that means they have no responsibility for what’s happening. But we’re all political. Choosing to passively accept things as they are is as much a political decision as fighting back, because it affects every other Lesbian’s life. Politics are far more than male electoral power plays, or abstract theories — politics means how we decide to live, in a world where every action or inaction affects others.
Instead of working to build Lesbian communities, many women who identify as Lesbians decided to create their own nuclear families by getting pregnant. With “artificial insemination,” they produce over 85% boys, a patriarch’s dream come true. They also formed an enormous, self-righteous, privilege-bonded pressure group, demanding that Lesbians look after their sons and that their sons be welcomed everywhere, teaching their boys that girls and women saying “no” means nothing. They and the men posing as women destroyed our last remaining female-only spaces.
Three events that completely altered our Lesbian Feminists communities were the “feminist” invasions of porn and sado-masochism, along with the arrival of academics (in a culture and movement that previously distrusted academia and had the ideology of no leaders.) The class divisions widened with all three also.
The most influential women who wrote about “Lesbians sex” in the early Eighties were actually choosing to be bisexual while lying and misrepresenting themselves as Lesbian to promote their male-worshipping in our communities, and to make money off Lesbians: Pat Califia (who now pretends to be a man to get sexual access to gay men), JoAnn Loulan, and Susie Bright. (Similarly, the few books supposedly about Butches have usually been by bisexual Fems and are full of porn and Butch-hating stereotypes.)
These het/bisexual pornographers were part of the reason that Lesbians have falsely been identified with sado-masochism, although that history can be traced directly back to het and Gay male organizations.
So a new “women’s” industry appeared, with porn magazines and videos, telephone-sex lines, and strip shows “for womyn, by womyn.” This was even more of a capitalist money-maker than “women’s” music. It’s also directly tied in with the male pornography industry and with sado-masochists.
Some Lesbians and pretend feminists write dramatically about why we shouldn’t have “censorship” in our Lesbian communities. But “Lesbian” porn is male fantasy with Lesbian-hating books and magazines full of male-style pornography –“Lesbians” saying they wished they had penises, and Lesbians wanting to be “fucked” in the vagina and in the rectum by imitation penises. Anyone who protests this and objects to being exposed to it against our will is accused of being like the right-wing, fascist men who outlawed Lesbianism. This is a mind-fuck.
The few of us who dare to speak out against this can’t censor anyone. We can’t stop men or male “Lesbian” pornography. All we can do is protest it and say that we won’t buy it, we won’t support it, and we won’t welcome it into our lives or our homes any more than we welcome men. And when we create rare Lesbian-only space, we have the right to keep porn out so there will be a few small places that are safe for us in this world filled with rape, male-supremacy, and female-hatred (which is what fucking and sado-masochism is all about). In reality, it’s those who dare to protest porn and sado-masochism who are censored. Dyke Separatists are always censored anyway — especially those who dare to write against the heterosexist power structure among Lesbians.
For the Lesbians who are ridiculed and ostracized because you hate porn and sado-masochism and know they are Lesbian-hating, we want you to know you are not alone. There are many of us who agree.
We have been slandered and censored because we dare to fight the lies and speak out against all other male influences in our communities, like pregnancy being promoted, heterosexism, male-identified femininity, and the oppression of Butches, Lifelong Dykes, and Never-het Dykes. If the daily dangers of living in patriarchy haven’t stopped us, then neither will slander by pretend “radfems” or the rape and death threats by the trans cult. Through our work, we continue to meet deeply committed Dyke-loving Separatists and Radical Lesbian Feminists and Radical Feminists of all ages across the world.
Innocents in the Publishing World
Two working-class US Dyke Separatists and one Lesbian Separatist from Aotearoa wrote this book. We aren’t going to name and praise Lesbian stars as many Lesbian writers do. We wrote our book in spite of that network in which shared privilege determines who’s published and who isn’t. We do want to thank our dear friends and the ordinary Dyke Separatists from all over the world who don’t have fame and fortune but whose blood and sweat have kept Separatism and Dyke politics alive.
We did our own writing, typing, word processing, and editing. We don’t claim to be professional writers, and we don’t think Lesbians should have to fit those standards in order to write about our own lives. The most important thing is to be clear and to not be oppressive. Our style is as political as our ideas, and reflects our working class (Linda and Bev) and national (Ruston, Aotearoa) cultures.
It’s important to not change our ways in order to imitate the trend of increasingly unemotional and abstract Lesbian writing. It’s become fashionable for Lesbian political writing to be so academic as to be unreadable, and so vague as to be meaningless. That way no one’s offended, but then no changes in our lives are possible. Lesbians’ communication goals used to be honest, unpretentious writing, easily understood by all.
Too often Lesbian writers, especially the class-privileged, take an entire book to say what could be said in one chapter. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what a writer thinks about a subject even after reading her entire book, because her language and ideas are so muddled by following male academic writing standards. Meanwhile, we had to pack a book into each of our chapters, and a chapter into each paragraph, because of our lack of money and resources.
It serves patriarchy if Lesbians choose to remain permanently confused in a psycho-therapized muddle. It’s frightening to make definite statements and decisions since strong opinions lead to action. Confused liberalness enables you to be “friends” with everyone, while clear political commitment “limits” you to equally committed friends. There’s plenty of support for the privileged. We prefer to ally with those who are wronged, knowing that working to stop oppression is the best support we can give each other.
Asking Dyke Separatists or Radical Feminists to explain ourselves in minute detail, sometimes with demands of “scientific” proof, is often a way of evading the truth, as well as a troll technique to divert us, dissipating our energy for political work. This is a common male tactic, but feminists also play “logic” games, distorting our words and meaning in order to evade real issues. (We see this regularly in online discussions where the goal is simply to stop the Radical Feminist discussion by derailing and exhausting everyone. Some of these trolls are very likely to be paid agents.)
Some issues we’re writing about have rarely or never, as far as we know, been written about before. Women who are upset at what we say in this book should remember that learning the truth isn’t always easy. Facing heterosexism in ourselves and other Lesbians is even more painful than recognizing it in men and het women. But the only way to stop heterosexism among Lesbians is to acknowledge and deal with it. It’s far more important for us to support Dykes who are getting support nowhere else than for us to live with comforting illusions and a conspiracy of silence about Lesbian-hating among Lesbians injuring and, in some cases, killing Dykes who are the most oppressed as Dykes.
Intensity and passion have always been the basis of Lesbian cultures. By our very nature, Dykes, particularly Separatists, question and challenge the status quo lies, seeking out not-always-popular truths. That’s how we grow and find our true selves, and begin to heal from the damage that patriarchy inflicts on us.
We write for those who recognize the truth in what we’re saying, and to overcome the barriers of isolation among us. We write to express Lesbian reality in a male and heterosexual world. We write to assert that it’s vital for Lesbians to be clear-thinking, decisive, and politically active for our own Lesbian selves.
The Power of Names — Our Definitions
Dyke: We use this term for the most Lesbian-identified of Lesbians. It’s important to remember that it was originally used only for Butches.
Lesbian: A female who loves and falls in love with other females, makes love only with females, and never relates sexually to males or injects semen into herself. When Lesbians are single and celibate, we’re very different from celibate het women, who are still sexually, emotionally, socially, and culturally focused on men.
Lesbianism is far more than a “sexual preference” or “sexual orientation.” It is a choice of women loving women. Everything we feel and do in our lives we do as Lesbians. Our political and creative work is Lesbian. Our friendships are Lesbian relationships.
No male can become a Lesbian. “Transwomen” are simply men perving, fetishizing, and caricaturing women and Lesbians.
Female: The term we use for our sex, since it’s not age-specific and is less identified with heterosexuality than “woman.” Also, it’s a reminder of our link with other female animals on earth, who are generally called “female,” rather than “women.” And, as Julia Penelope said in The Mystery of Lesbians, “female” is derived from the French “femelle,” with no connection to the word “male,” while (crediting the writings of Monique Wittig and ideas of Ariane Brunet and Louise Turcotte) “woman” comes from “wif” (wife) and “man.”
Woman, Womyn, Wimmin, etc.: For many of us, “woman” has meant heterosexual — a “real” woman by men’s standards. It’s a male definition imposed on females and isn’t our natural state. The many feminist variations are closet terms for “Lesbian,” and we refuse to support that trend. When we say “Lesbian,” we mean it. It’s understandable that Lesbians in unsafe situations use a code name like “womyn” to make contact with other Lesbians, but when Lesbians use those terms instead of “Dyke” or “Lesbian” among ourselves, it weakens Lesbian identity. “The womyn’s community” is het-identified, not Lesbian-identified.
Some Lesbians embraced “woman” because that term is denied to many females, especially Lesbians. Men call us “girls” to demean us. However, some Lesbians prefer the term “girl” to “woman” for other reasons. For some African-descent females, poor and working-class females, Lesbians who came out before the Women’s Liberation Movement, and young females, “girl” is a familiar, affectionate term. After all, we’ve all been girls for a long time, while “woman” is a term laden with images of “adult” females who are heterosexually active, wifely, and motherly. For many of us, girlhood was the time when many girls we knew were most clear about loving other girls and rejecting boys. We support girls who call themselves “girls” as a statement of pride, and we support adult females who call themselves “girls” as part of their culture and heritage.
We also don’t call ourselves Gay women since that associates us with Gay men. That term has been a dividing line between Lesbian Feminists and non-feminists or Lesbians who felt afraid to use the term Lesbian.
Lifelong Lesbian: A Lesbian who’s been a Lesbian her entire life (whether or not she made love as a girl) and was never heterosexual.
Never-het Lesbian: A Lesbian who was never heterosexual but who didn’t necessarily identify as a Lesbian from girlhood. Not being heterosexual in mind or practice doesn’t mean that someone is necessarily a Lesbian.
Old Dyke: This is a term used by some Lesbians for Lesbians who came out before the Women’s Liberation Movement. “Old Gay” was sometimes used in the U.S.
Butch and Fem: These terms are defined throughout our chapter “Supporting Butches Supports All Lesbians.” They aren’t “roles” that Lesbians play at or switch, but are choices made at an early age. These ways of being are as much a part of who we are as our class backgrounds. Butches rejected male rules to feminize as little girls, while Fems accepted it. Butches always felt like unnatural outsiders in patriarchy, while Fems always fit in on some level with male and het standards of femininity. Whether we’re Butch or Fem is clearly recognizable from how we look, talk, and act.
We prefer “Fem” to “Femme,” which is the French word for woman. We consider it insulting to call any Lesbian a “woman,” and “Fem” will hopefully be less jarring to French-speaking readers.
Hard Fem: “Hard Fem” is the term I (Bev) coined to describe what has previously been called “High Femme,” which is a complimentary term as well as a goal for too many Fems. Fem is considered the norm, so Butches are scrutinized and divided from each other by Butch-hating stereotypes. Butches who are more acceptable — most often those who are class privileged — are sometimes called “Soft Butches” by Fems, implying that full Butches are the hateful stereotype of hard, cold, mean, insensitive, predatory, etc., which actually is more applicable to Hard Fems. Yet no one criticizes the norm of Fem. Hard Fems also usually wear the extreme male uniform of the feminine drag queen ideal, passing as het as much as possible, slathered in clown-like makeup, wearing exposing dresses and high heels. Hard Fems are often the most oppressive to Butches and Dyke Fems because they are the most invested in obeying and proselytizing male rules for females. Hard Fems also objectify and use Butches as well as Dyke Fems, yet this is never mentioned.
New Lesbian/Women’s Liberation Lesbians: A Lesbian who came out in or after the WLM. In the U.S. and Aotearoa, and many other countries, this is since about 1970.
Queer: We wrote our book before “queer” and “genderqueer” were trendy terms used by and for the “queer” community to avoid saying “Lesbian,” in order to erase and exclude Lesbians. We used “queer” in our book only for Lesbians, since it brings up name-calling, shame, secrecy, loathing, and fear hets have directed at Lesbians, and expresses the pride and the depth of love we feel for ourselves and each other when we’ve healed that damage. Since the Seventies, “queer” had been a term of Dyke/Lesbian pride as we reclaimed a traditional anti-Lesbian insult that for some of us was the only name we knew for ourselves as girls without support, without any positive image of Lesbians in any media. But it’s not really a term that proud Dykes and Lesbians now can use because it includes our oppressors, as the popular descriptor of Gay men, women who identify with Gay men, bisexual women and men, men posing as women, etc. It’s also become a closet, less Lesbian word that implies Lesbian, for women who are too afraid to call themselves “Lesbian” or “Dyke.”
Het: Heterosexual. This is more specific than “straight,” which also implies correct, honest, non-criminal, and chemical-free. A het woman is a female who is sexual with men, or who, if celibate, still thinks of herself as heterosexual.
A bisexual is a woman who is sexual with men while being sexual with females as well. This includes women who aren’t currently sexual with men but are open to it in the future.
When we talk about “het women” in this book, we’re also generally including bisexuals. Even though they get some degree of Lesbian oppression, bisexuals still get privilege from their allegiance to men, and are in a position to do more intimate harm to us than they could if they were simply het. They have more access to Lesbians physically, emotionally, psychically, and politically. Their men also have access to us: men involved with bisexuals have threatened, attacked, and murdered their girlfriends’ Lesbian lovers. Lesbians involved with bisexuals are exposed to STDs, including AIDS. The personal and community damage that involvement with a bisexual brings is immeasurable. And the existence of bisexual women proves clearly that some women keep as much het privilege as possible while being aware of their option to be Lesbians.
Heterosexual Privilege: The power and privilege of “normality” that women get from being fucked by men, marrying, reproducing, and raising families. Het privilege is everything women get by belonging to men and the het world, and everything Lesbians lose by being Lesbians. But Lesbians who were heterosexual in the past still have some degree of het privilege, particularly when they continue to identify with het women and have het and male values.
Heterosexism: The dogma that all people are or should be het, and that heterosexuality is superior to being a Lesbian. Heterosexism is the most universal institution, and Lesbianism is the most universal oppression. Heterosexism also means Lesbian-hating.
Patriarchy and Sexism: The social system in which males have power over females, and the male belief that males are superior to females. Techniques used to enforce male power include mass murder or genocide (such as the European witch burnings), mass mutilation (such as Female Vulval Mutilation, unnecessary mastectomies and hysterectomies), enforced dieting, murder, beatings and torture, rape (including family rape), stereotyping, insults, and all other female-hatred.
Lesbian oppression is the extreme of female oppression. If females are hated, then females together are doubly hated.
Women-only/Female-only: Is what we used to have before men appropriating our identity demanded access to our last spaces. This space is essential for our survival, community, and culture. We still try to gather together, but are forced to be subjected to men perving on us and to het women openly hating us since we can usually meet only in public places.
Trans cult: I (Bev) coined this term to describe the phenomenon of the most female-hating men demanding we accept them as women, and for some of them, as Lesbians. None of it makes sense since this myth can easily be exposed in one sentence: men can never be women, and women can never be men. The surgery is a joke and does not begin to alter the mind, spirit, soul. Yet men have figured out a clever way to get access to Lesbians previously denied them except through rape. Now they mind-rape and get women to help them.
Since it’s impossible to say no to these men or any of this bizarre ideology without threats, including rape and death, it’s clearly a cult.
“Transsexuals,” “transgender,” “transwomen,” and “transmen” simply do not exist in reality.
Male-Identified: This term is wrongly used against Dykes, and Butches in particular, who refuse to conform to male standards of femininity. Male-identification is actually a measure of how personally devoted a female is to males, and how much of her reality is bound up with the male versions of “reality.” Internalized male culture, which all females in patriarchy inevitably have, shouldn’t be confused with “male identification.” We use the term “male-identified” to describe het women and the most extreme examples of het identification and femininity among Lesbians.
Lesbian- or Dyke-Identified: Dyke-identified Dykes identify with and as Dykes, not with het women or men. While many Lesbians are het-identified, no het woman can be Lesbian-identified unless she becomes a Lesbian. Dyke-identified Dykes look and act like Dykes. The more Dyke-identified we are, the greater our Dyke oppression.
Female-Identified: Lesbians are the most female-identified females, because hetness involves rejecting and betraying females. The more dyke-identified we are, the more female-identified we are.
Aotearoa: The Māori and therefore rightful name for New Zealand. Whanganui-a-Tara is one of the names for Wellington, as is Tamaki-Makaurau for Auckland.
Racial and Ethnic Background: We try to specify the continent of geographical region of origin instead of referring to color to describe someone’s ethnic background. The use of “Red,” “Black,” “Brown,” “Yellow,” or “White” doesn’t accurately reflect the enormous variety of racial and ethnic groups who exist on earth. No person’s skin is literally those colors, and “black” and “white” have been historically used in racist ways to mean negative/positive, inferior/superior, evil/good, etc. We recognize that some Dykes do use “Red,” “Black,” “Brown,” and “Yellow” with pride in their heritage, and, as Dykes, we know well how a term of insult can be transformed into a term of pride. But we agree with and greatly appreciate the work of African-descent US Dyke Separatists who’ve stated their reasons for choosing to name their continent of origin.4 It’s a strong, self-loving identification of the descendants of peoples forcibly taken from their homes by European slavers, separated from those of their own country, placed with others who spoke different languages, and cruelly tortured for daring to speak their languages and pass on their cultures — all in an effort to subdue kidnapped African peoples and deny their heritages. Because of this, most descendants of the survivors of this genocide (estimates are that 20 to 70 million died) are denied knowledge of their countries and cultures of origin.
Identifying one’s ethnic background with region of origin rather than just approximate shades of dark and light skin among us helps every Dyke become more aware of the beautiful variety and complexities of peoples and cultures on this planet. Naming a Dyke’s ancestral homeland — the Pacific, Africa, South, Central or North America,5 the Caribbean, Asia, Western Asia (“Middle East” is not the middle of anything), Atlantic and Indian Ocean island nations, Australia, and Europe, etc. is a beginning, although it’s not adequate. In each area of each region or continent there are many, often hundreds, of individual racial and ethnic groups, each with its own unique past, culture, and language.
Within the Pacific Islands, for instance, there are many nations with cultural, historical, and racial differences, more numerous and complex than the nations of Europe — yet European national differences are far more acknowledged and respected by the dominant, racist European-descent cultures. Calling regions of the Pacific by the European-designated terms “Melanesia,” “Polynesia,” and “Micronesia” is also inadequate. For instance, the original peoples of the enormous area from Aotearoa to Hawai’i to Te Pito O Te Henua (“Easter Island”) are called “Polynesian” because they have some cultural similarities, but they actually represent many distinct peoples and cultures. The same is true for the other peoples of the Pacific.
Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations of South and Central America, México, and the Caribbean aren’t just peopled by descendants of the Spanish and Portuguese invaders — they’re also peopled by the descendants of African slaves and many people of mixed races, as well as the original inhabitants, who are lumped together as “Indians” or other group names that don’t begin to describe the many different original peoples. The original peoples of México alone represent many distinctly different cultures, and the borders set by the European invaders and their ruling-class descendants don’t recognize these different nations. For instance, the Maya live in parts of what are now México, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In the Andes, the Quechua live throughout what was once Tahuantinsuyo (the Inca lands), in parts of Perú, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina. With their population of over 9 to 14 million, the Quechua are more numerous than many other peoples who are regularly reported on in the media of European-descent dominated countries.
In Africa, there are many ancient traditional nations within each current official nation based on the borders arbitrarily set by European invaders. The people of India and other Asian countries are also many different peoples. The Indigenous people of Australia are also many peoples with many languages. In Canada and the U.S., the hundreds of original nations with their distinct ethnic groups and cultures are simply called “Native Americans” or “American Indians,” if they’re acknowledged at all.
So, though we recognize that it isn’t adequate to simply name the region of the world or continent of one’s ancestors as one’s ethnic identification, it’s at least a respectful beginning.
As an example of the diversity of original peoples in North America, we include in our Endnotes a list of some of the original peoples of just what is now California,6 many of whom still live in California as nations within a nation. (The list is only approximate since it’s based on information gathered and recorded by European invaders in the early years of colonization.) Within California, genocide against American Indian peoples reduced their numbers dramatically.7
The tangata whenua (people of the land; traditional and rightful inhabitants) of Aotearoa identify both as Maori and also with their iwi (nation or tribe)8 and, often, hapu (sub-tribe). It was the English invasion, wars, and colonization, beginning in the 18th Century, that forced the tangata whenua to identify as one group, Maori, in order to make unified resistance.
Aotearoa is Maori land. The iwi of Aotearoa9 traditionally organize themselves according to their turanga-waewae (traditional lands) and the canoe they arrived in from Hawaiki, the ancestral Pacific land.
Rape by Male Family: We say “family rape” or “rape by male family” because the popular feminist term “incest” implies consent, and doesn’t differentiate attacker from victim. Men also use other euphemisms for girl-rape: “pedophilia” (literally “child-love”), or “sexual orientation to children,” “seduction,” “sleeping with,” “having sex with,” “sexual intercourse,” “sexual acts,” 10 and “too much affection.” We encourage you to read Father-Daughter Rape, an excellent book by Australian author Elizabeth Ward. She says, “…I believe that the sexual use of a child’s body/being is the same as the phenomenon of adult rape. Terms like ‘sexual abuse,’ ‘molestation’ and ‘interference’ are diminutions of ‘rape’: they imply that something less than rape occurred.” 11 They’re also ageist terms because they imply that crimes against girls are less serious than crimes against women.
We also prefer saying “family rape” because the crime and trauma of girl-rape goes even further than the pain of being raped by your father or other male relatives. Girl-rape is part of normal family life, and older female relatives, especially most mothers, add greatly to the trauma by denying the attack and failing to support the girl. The girl’s intense pain and sense of conflict is endured against the backdrop of everyday family life that mostly continues as if nothing happened to her. Later she must recover from that as much as from the actual rape, not to mention coping with her family’s reactions if she exposes the rapist.
Victim: We call a female raped as a girl a family rape victim, not a family rape “survivor.” “Survivor” is a US psychotherapy term that glosses over the fact that many females don’t survive the attack — they’re either killed as girls or kill themselves later. While it aims to praise female resilience, it actually compounds the secrecy and shame of family rape by suggesting that there’s something inherently shameful and dirty about being attacked or victimized. The fact that “survivor” is attached to “incest” makes it particularly suspect — not only was there no rape and no rapist, there was also no victim!
If there’s nothing shameful about being victimized, why not say it? Considering that no girl is in any way to blame for being sexually assaulted, why not use “victim”? After all, it has traditionally meant someone who was subjected to harm against their will. Transactional psycho-therapy co-opted the word “victim” to describe someone that they claimed “asked” to be hurt, and they included in their arrogant definition oppressed people who never wanted to be harmed. Someone who truly wants pain is a masochist, not a victim. Identifying as family rape victims supports the victim, and those who love her, in their natural desire for justice and revenge. It helps us assert our power. If we’re victims, then we have the right to bring our attackers to justice.
Lesbophobia: We partly agree with Celia Kitzinger’s article “Heteropatriarchal Language, The Case Against ‘Homophobia’” 12 in which she criticizes the word “lesbophobia” because it originated as a psychological diagnosis that generally defined fear of Lesbians as an irrational phobia — when in reality patriarchy has good reason to fear us. So we describe men’s, boys,’ and het women’s usual reactions to Lesbians by the more accurate term “Lesbian-hatred.” However, we think it’s important to have another word to describe many het women’s reactions as well as some Lesbians’ revulsion at and terror of their own and others’ Lesbianism, because Lesbians and het women don’t have a reasonable reason to fear Lesbian. “Lesbophobia” just seems the best term for this particularly extreme kind of fear. It’s come into general use and no longer feels like a psychological term for many of us, and it clearly portrays the terror that’s as irrational as a phobia towards spiders or other harmless and beautiful wild animals.
“Homophobia” was one of the first terms that made it clear queerness wasn’t Lesbians’ “mental problem.” If anyone had a “problem,” it was the hets who hate us. That made a great difference to many Lesbians’ lives.
Disabled: We (Linda and Bev) prefer this term for ourselves instead of “physically challenged” (although we’re not criticizing anyone who uses “physically challenged”), because we find that most well and able-bodied Lesbians want to deny hidden disabilities and assume that if we just try hard enough we’ll be able to be as physically functional as they are. Chronic illness severely limits our ability to function, and no amount of effort will make us as physically able as well Lesbians. Some well and able-bodied Lesbians seem to have taken the term “physically challenged” to mean that disabled Lesbians can overcome any and all physical limitations if we try hard enough to “meet the challenge.” We also prefer the word “disabled” because it includes developmental disabilities while “physically challenged” doesn’t.
WASP: A US term for “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.” It includes culture as well as ethnicity.
History: This word comes from the Greek “histör” and “istör,” meaning “knowing,” “learned.”13 It doesn’t mean “his story,” although the documented history females have access to is the history of patriarchy because men have systematically destroyed records of the time before patriarchy. No amount of calling the past “herstory” will change that. As for what we call female history, why allow men the exclusive use of a perfectly adequate word such as “history”?
We don’t want to compare oppressions, because every experience is unique, but unfortunately, only certain oppressions are acknowledged as existing. Specifically Lesbian oppressions are ignored by almost everyone, including Lesbians. There’s so little understanding of them that they’re sometimes considered to be privileges. Even Lesbianism itself is said to be privileged by some “radical” Lesbians. Usually only issues of oppression that are experienced, written, and talked about by men and het women are considered valid by Lesbians. They may not always be fought, but at least they’re recognized as existing, which is a beginning.
For this reason, in this book, we often give classism as an example to explain the pain and damage caused by the various forms of Lesbian oppression. The comparison isn’t exact, because our class backgrounds aren’t chosen, while the heterosexist privilege that some Lesbians use to wield power over other Lesbians is chosen. We decided to focus only on class as an example because two of us are class-oppressed and it seemed more appropriate to talk from our experiences than to refer to others’ oppressions.
(Ruston: We use the English spelling and punctuation style of Aotearoa in sections I alone wrote, and the US style in the rest of the book. We found this to be the best way of expressing my national identity while not denying our class differences, and it also made the enormous job of typing the book more manageable.)
Bev: I was born in 1950, in a catholic working-class family of German, English, Scottish, American Indian, and I’m not sure what else ancestry. (My parents and grandparents were all born in the US). I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, was in love with other girls from my earliest memories, identified with the word “Lesbian” and rejected male-defined femininity from an early age (which is why I now identify as Butch). I never was heterosexual, and became lovers with my first lover when I was 17 (in 1968), before the support of the Women’s Liberation Movement. I found a Lesbian community in Berkeley, California in 1971, and became a Dyke Separatist in 1972. I’ve been disabled since 1981 with a chronic illness.
I was one of the three members of the Gutter Dyke Collective who co-wrote and published Dykes and Gorgons in 1973, which was the first Dyke Separatist writing we knew of. (Much of that work was reprinted in the Separatist anthology, For Lesbians Only.) It’s been my goal since first becoming a Separatist to work towards building a Dyke Separatist community. I’ve written Separatist articles published in The Lesbian Insider/Insighter/Inciter; For Lesbians Only; and Lesbian Ethics (USA), Amazones d’Hier, Lesbiennes d’Aujourd’hui; Lesbian Fury/Furie Lesbienne; Voices for Lesbian Survival (Canada); and Gossip (England), among others.
I taught free self-defense classes for females only for 10 years, did Lesbian-only self-defense workshops and Separatist workshops at “Womyn’s” Festivals, and was in several Separatist action groups. I was part of the collectives that planned the first Lesbian Feminist Conference in the San Francisco Bay area in 1972, the first San Francisco Dyke Separatist Gathering in 1983, and the Lesbian Forum on Separatism in Oakland in 1984. The most recent workshop I did was on Radical Lesbian Feminism at the Old Lesbians Organizing for Change in Oakland in 2014, where I protested our losing one more Lesbian group to male membership.
I moderate three Radical Feminist groups on facebook and one Lesbian-only group.
I regularly party, dance, and cavort with the Lesbians, in spite of our having no women only space left. I lead local nature hikes to see plants, animals, etc. I think the animals that men tell us to hate and fear, like rats, spiders, snakes, lizards, frogs, bats, and Lesbians (among others) are particularly beautiful.
Linda: I’m a working-class, catholic-raised, Italian-descent Lesbian, born in 1941 in a USA factory town. I’ve been chronically ill since 1981. An ex-het Dyke-identified Fem who never married or had children, I was a het feminist activist from 1968 until 1972, when I followed my deepest desires and became a Lesbian. In 1973, I moved to Oakland, California, into a vibrant, intensely political Lesbian community. I found that it was Dyke Separatists who were living by the truths I’d come to consider self-evident, with the most real love for Lesbians, and I’ve been a Separatist ever since.
I taught female-only self-defense classes for seven years, helped organize the Dyke Separatist Gathering in San Francisco in 1983 and the Lesbian Forum on Separatism in Oakland in 1984. I’ve written Separatist articles published in The Lesbian Inciter and Lesbian Ethics (U.S.A.); Lesbian Fury/Furie Lesbienne; Amazones d’Hier, Lesbiennes d’Aujourd’hui, and Voices for Lesbian Survival (Canada); and Gossip (England).
Ruston: I’m from Aotearoa, born in 1952 and raised in Tamaki-Makaurau. I joined the Women’s Liberation Movement there in 1975 because I’d been falling in love with females for years and very much wanted to become a Lesbian. I’m pakeha (European-descent), of Welsh-Irish-English descent, middle-class, raised protestant, and an ex-het Dyke-identified Fem who never married or had children. I’m educationally privileged through having a degree in medicine, but for many reasons I’ve never worked as a doctor. After working on anti-rape and other feminist issues for about a year I became a Separatist in 1976. I helped organize a Lesbian conference in Tamaki-Makaurau in 1977 and created Lesbian theatre with other Lesbians in Hamilton in 1978.
I moved to Whanganui-a-Tara in 1979 where I got involved in setting up the Lesbian Centre and in running many Lesbian-only political and social events. I’ve written articles published in Circle, the Wellington Lesbian Newsletter, Lesbian Lip, and Lesbians In Print (LIP), among others, in Aotearoa. I met Bev and Linda through our political work in our respective countries, in 1983, and since 1984 have been writing articles and letters with them, printed in the Lesbian Insider/Inciter/Insighter; Lesbian Ethics; and Hag Rag (USA); and Voices for Lesbian Survival; Amazones d’Hier, Lesbiennes d’Aujourd’hui; and Lesbian Fury/Furie Lesbienne (Canada).
Next to Lesbians and Separatism, my greatest love is the forests, wild creatures and wild places of my home, Aotearoa. My favourite creature is the kea (alpine parrot of Aotearoa). It’s a very stroppy bird that survived terrible slaughter. I’d like to spend all my time at Lesbian parties, listening to music, learning homeopathy, drawing, reading murder mysteries, and being outside in beautiful places away from everyone but Lesbians.
- Julia Penelope described this beautifully in “Mystery of Lesbians,” printed in Lesbian Ethics, Vol.1, Nos. 1,2,3 (Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.) and Gossip, Nos. 1,2,3, and in an edited version in For Lesbians Only: A Separatist Anthology, p. 506 (Onlywomen Press Ltd., 38 Mount Pleasant, London, WC1X 0AP, England).
- An estimated nine million females were accused of being witches and murdered by Christian male authorities in Europe, mostly from the 14th to the 18th Centuries. That was an enormous part of the population — in some villages only one or two females were left alive.
- From Gallus Mag:
The NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights) now donates nearly all their (plummeting) resources to non-lesbian (predominantly heterosexual and male) activism, much of it anti-gay. Their legal director is “ex-lesbian” attorney Shannon Minter, who injects testosterone and now “identifies as” a heterosexual male.
Here is a list of all active pending cases on the NCLR case docket posted on their website, as I understand them:
-an amicus brief submitted in a lesbian case challenging Florida’s ban on adoption by lesbians and gays. (The case was represented by pro-bono attorneys, not NCLR, so here the NCLR submitted a brief in a case relating to an actual lesbian, not a case they represented however.)
-Lawsuit filed to force prisons to provide incarcerated trans criminals taxpayer funded hormones and surgery. Free sex changes for incarcerated transgender people who “come out” after incarceration. As wards of the state, convicted criminals should be entitled to taxpayer funded hormones and surgeries that are not provided for law abiding citizens.
-Lawsuit filed claiming heterosexuals are being discriminated against, by being excluded from gay men’s softball leagues. Seriously. This is who the NCLR is representing. Can’t make this shit up.
-amicus brief filed in case of Egyptian gay man seeking asylum from anti-gay mistreatment in a country where gay men can be arrested for homosexuality.
-asylum case for Mexican transgender identified person who received alleged harassment because of claiming to be a sex incongruent with that on birth certificate.
-asylum case for gay Pakistani male.
-amicus brief filed in case of Pakistani hetero male who alleges he was detained by the FBI due to religious profiling of muslims in terrorism investigations.
-assisting a pro bono attorney who is representing an asylum case for Bosnian lesbian.
-lawsuit against Cherokee Nation representing lesbian married couple.
-asylum for another Mexican transgender person.
That’s it. As I understand it those are the open pending cases represented by the NCLR.
Well what else do they do?
NCLR Sports Project issued a report in 2010 warning that women’s sports teams discriminate against males and that failure to permit males to compete against females in female sports may result in “costly litigation”. The NCLR press report was issued in October when a 57 year-old male who beat out all the female competitors (average age 30) to win the women’s world championship for long-drive golf sued the LPGA for his “right” to compete against women. The NCLR supported this action and does so by misrepresenting themselves as being a lesbian WOMEN organization. The NCLR appears to believe that women’s sports leagues infringe on the CIVIL RIGHTS of males. The 57 year-old male may be the first competitor in history to embark on a new professional sports career at such an advanced age.
It’s hard to IMAGINE that a lesbian rights organization would make the rights of males to play women’s sports their highest priority, much less the “rights” of male criminals to receive taxpayer funded sex changes, or the “rights” of heterosexuals to play on gay softball leagues, but this is what the NCLR is concerned with. Only three of the ten active pending lawsuits listed on the NCLR website concern lesbians, and two of them are not actually being represented by the NCLR. So, one out of ten. Three transgender cases (two male one female), two gay male, two hetero male.
- Conversations with Monifa J. Ajanaku; and “Of Color: What’s In a Name?” by Vivienne Louise, Bay Area Women’s News, Vol. 1, No. 6, Jan/Feb 1988, 5.
- Although we generally use accepted geographic terms, we disagree with the ones that say there’s a “top” and “bottom” of our planet, with “northern” and “southern” hemispheres, placing Europe, the US, and Canada at the “top” of the world, and southern Africa, South America, and South Pacific nations at the “bottom” or “down under.” “Top” has been made to imply superiority and “bottom” inferiority, so that current maps make northern hemisphere nations appear innately superior to southern hemisphere nations. It may be too much for most male minds to comprehend, but in space there’s no top or bottom. Our planet spins in space, as do other planets, and the stars and moons.
List of indigenous peoples of California
- Achomawi,Achumawi, Pit River tribe, northeastern California
- Atsugewi, northeastern California
- Ahwahnechee, eastern-central California
- Cahuilla, southern California
- Chumash, coastal southern California
- Chilula, northwestern California
- Chimariko, extinct, northwestern California
- Coso, southeastern California
- Cupeño, southern California
- Eel River Athapaskan peoples
- Esselen, west-central California
- Hupa, northwestern California
- Juaneño,Acjachemem, southwestern California
- Karok, northwestern California
- Kato,Cahto, northwestern California
- Kawaiisu, southern-central California
- Kitanemuk, southern-central California
- Konkow, northern-central California
- Kucadikadi, eastern-central California
- Kumeyaay,Diegueño, Kumiai, southern California
- La Jolla Complex, southern California, ca. 6050—1000 BCE
- Luiseño, southwestern California
- Maidu, northeastern California
- Miwok,Me-wuk, central California
- Mohave, southeastern California
- Monache,Western Mono, central California
- Mono, eastern-central California
- Nomlaki, northwestern California
- Ohlone,Costanoan, west-central California
- Patayan, southern California
- Patwin, central California
- Pauma Complex, southern California, ca. 6050—1000 BCE
- Pomo, northwestern and central-western California
- Salinan, coastal central California
- Serrano, southern California
- Shastanorthwestern California
- Tataviam,Allilik (Fernandeño), southern California
- Timbisha, southeastern California
- Tolowa, northwestern California
- Tongva,Gabrieleño, Fernandeño, San Clemente tribe, coastal southern California
- Tubatulabal, south-central California
- Wappo, north-central California
- Washoe, northeastern California
- Whilkut, northwestern California
- Wintu, northwestern California
- Wiyot, northwestern California
- Yana, northern-central California
- Yokuts, central and southern California
- Yuki,Ukomno’m, northwestern California
7. Russell Thornton, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492 (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), 49.
- A.W. Reed and T.S. Käretu, Concise Māori Dictionary (New Zealand: Reed, 1984), 13. Claudia Orange, The Treaty of Waitangi (Wellington, New Zealand: Allen and Unwin/Port Nicholson Press, 1987), 267.
- “Suing Ma Bell Over Dirty Language,” Newsweek, 7 Dec. 1987, 47. This article described a 12-year-old boy’s rape of a 4-year-old girl as, “…he persuaded a 4-year-old to perform sexual acts.”
- Elizabeth Ward, Father-Daughter Rape (The Women’s Press, Ltd., 124 Shoreditch High St., London E1 6J3, England), 79.
- Gossip, No. 5, page 15.
- Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, Massachusetts, USA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1984).