I really really wish I had the time to make a blog for all ladies who like ladies (lesbian, bi, pan etc. all while being inclusive to the trans, ace, and aro communities), and discussing differences but focusing on similarities to spark some camaraderie between the groups. But I know with my school work and my .2 hours of fun time a day I know it’s near impossible for me right now…
If I potentially wanted to try and get the ball rolling on something like this, would there be anyone that would be interested in giving me a hand?
Have you seen the difemina tag yet? The mission of the tag is pretty much exactly the same as you just described here so do check it out if you wish to join in!
Yes, I’m talking about it again
Arguing on the basis of roots is problematic because roots have a meaning derived from the history and politics of actual use. For example, we don’t interpret “transsexual” to mean “sexual attraction toward people sitting across from me” even though the root “trans” in Latin is used predominantly as a spacial adjective or adverb. The pairing of a spacial adjective with a linguistic noun to describe gender in ways that were quite binary until the last few decades is a social construction.
Similarly, the history and politics of “bisexual” starts with Krafft-Ebing borrowing the term from botany and zoology to describe people who were not exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. Arguably he and other early psychologists including Freud are responsible for constructing heterosexuality as well. Gender deviance and homosexuality were widely considered to go hand-in-hand under those theories, and still are outside of America. So there’s a fairly rich and complex history of trans people and nonbinary people within gay and lesbian communities until quite recently. If we’re going to discard bisexual as tainted by the theoretical assumptions of prior generations who imposed the term on us, we should reject the entire kit and kaboodle, including the Freudian relic of “pansexual.”
The 80s and 90s saw the emergence of a bisexual movement which considered autobiography and autoethnography to be more important than either the theoretical approaches of people like Kinsey and Klein or linguistic roots. And what we found is that people identified as bisexual were not necessarily binary either in gender or sexuality. Central to this conflict is what I consider to be a fundamental principle of queer theory, that abstract theory derivative of heterosexist science is less important than politics, history, and most importantly, the voices of diverse queer people. The entire point was to deconstruct the idea that human sexuality can be classified into sheep and goats based on largely theoretical dividing lines like the number of genders.
The idea that complex histories, attractions, and relationships should be reduced to single words for the sake of convenience has less to do with communicating those concepts than with constructing political shibboleths. If you want to understand my sexuality, gender, relationships, and politics you need to 1) buy me a cup of coffe, 2) ask, and 3) be prepared to listen for a good half-hour, because I don’t speak in label, I speak in complete paragraphs. I have a button that’s older than many people participating in this discussion that reads “don’t assume I’m attracted to you/don’t assume I’m not.”
Bisexuality is inclusive of nonbinary gender and sexuality because we as bisexual people said so in describing our own lives, ideals, and experiences. We have done so repeatedly, consistently, and firmly over the last 25 years. So the question needs to be asked as to why Victorian and Edwardian shrinks are more authoritative in defining bisexuality than bisexual people.
And on the other hand, I’m bisexual because I am identified as bisexual by a biphobic culture. Playing hokey pokey with language doesn’t change that, and until you erase anti-bisexual prejudice, I will insist on using “bisexual” as an adjective to describe my relationship with those forms of oppression.
Guys, this is making news. We’re being heard.
But the comments on the article are, as usual, horrible (accusing us of being delusional, crazy, etc.).
If you guys could please go offer some words of support, that would be GRAND.
Article HERE: (x)
Q:About the marriage thing, sometimes marriage equality isn't quite what I need because I'm talking specifically about the non straight marriages but saying that is kind of bad for bisexuals and pansexuals and anybody who isn't straight who is marrying somebody of a different gender so do you think same gender marriage is okay to use? It might not be perfect but its the best I can think of for specifics
Sorry but I don’t know the best answer to this, I used “same sex marriage” for a while after realising that “gay marriage” was definitely not the right term, but I’ve not yet picked up on a better term than marriage equality I’m afraid.
If any of my followers know of a better, more inclusive, term then please do let me know!
being femme is not about being feminine. it’s about reclaiming what it is to be strong.
people read as feminine have also been condemned as weak, frail, unauthentic, and incapable as long as time is old. being femme, no matter gender identity, is about saying, fuck you, the things that make me feminine also make me strong. my femininity is not fake, contrived, or narrow - it is real and broad and open and empowering.
femme is a lesbian term just fyi (meaning femme lesbian)
i mean i agree but you tagged this with bi tumblr and it’s not an inclusive term it is lesbian exclusive (as is butch, dyke).
nope. sorry, but you are 100% wrong.
bi women have ALWAYS been a part of queer women’s movements and always will be. we have always been a part of forming “lesbian” culture and always will be. and we will always reserve the right to reclaim words like femme, butch, and dyke, because these are also descriptors of our lives and our experiences of queerness.
i am a queer, bisexual femme dyke and no amount of sapphobic, bisexual erasing identity policing can make me otherwise.
no one’s saying bi women aren’t queer women
but we are 100% saying the terms butch and femme (and dyke) arose from the LESBIAN community for LESBIANS exclusively about the LESBIAN experience
u don’t get to rewrite history and appropriate a lesbian term and then call it bisexual erasure ????
Butch and femme emerged in the early twentieth century as a set of sexual and emotional identities among lesbians. To give a general but oversimplified idea of what butch-femme entails, one might say that butches exhibit traditionally “masculine” traits while femmes embody “feminine” ones. Although oral histories have demonstrated that butch-femme couples were seen in America as far back as the turn of the twentieth century, and that they were particularly conspicuous in the 1930s, it is the mid-century working-class and bar culture that most clearly illustrate the archetypal butch-femme dynamic. - GLBTQ
do do do
The contemporary feminist analysis of lesbian identity is an example of just such a tendency. For the past two decades, the dominant form of feminist discourse has, in attempting to “liberate” lesbian identity from patriarchal control, instead imposed its own identity politics on the lesbian community, with the result that those lesbians whose behaviors or “styles” do not conform to the feminist agenda have been doubly-oppressed — once by the dominant patriarchal culture, and again by the movement that claimed to seek the liberation of all women. This is perhaps most obvious in the feminist critique of role playing among lesbians, which is considered by the dominant feminist discourse to be a barrier to one’s “true” identity as a woman (assuming that there is such a thing).
Despite the power and influence of this discourse, however, voices have risen from within a sort of “counter” lesbian-feminist community of scholars who wish to challenge the limiting identity politics of the seventies and early eighties. Before moving into a review of the way these voices address the identity issues surrounding lesbian butch-femme role-playing, however, it would be useful to consider some of the more general attempts at understanding the politics of lesbian identity which have both influenced and been influenced by this more specific issue. source
Because they have rejected sex roles, second-wave lesbian feminists perceive butch/femme roles to be oppressive imitations of heterosexuality. Lesbian feminists of the 1970s and 1980s link butches’ masculine gender expression to patriarchal power and femmes’ feminine presentation to artificiality and frivolity. Such feminists dismiss butch/femme roles as anachronistic, even when the individuals in question report feeling empowered and satisfied with their masculine and/or feminine gender presentations. Defining butches as male-identified imposters and femmes as subordinate throwbacks imposes a singular standard of (white) lesbian authenticity, ignores the rich history of butch/femme resistance, and disregards the ways in which butch and femme women successfully create alternative gender identities that subvert the dominant sex/gender system. Assuming androgyny to be a more radical and empowering gender expression in all cases fails to recognize the multi-faceted identities of femmes of colour, whose specific position within queer and feminist communities invites a racial analysis that exposes issues of authenticity. Far from being passive victims of butch supremacy, femme women of colour challenge, empower, and transform femininity. Whereas heterosexual femininity is associated with artificiality and passivity, femme identity is a unique gender expression that enables self-acceptance and resistance to white, heterosexist, and patriarchal control.
[…] Often, other queers only recognize femmes as lesbians when they are accompanied by a butch partner. Despite femmes of colours’ radical gender expression, queer and feminist communities often value a white, androgynous/masculine aesthetic that does not recognize the multi-faceted and intersecting aspects of femmes’ identities. source
Interviews were conducted with femme-identified lesbians; the focus was upon 4 content areas: identity development, experiences in the lesbian community, heterosexual society, and romantic relationships.
Kurland was a lesbian, but from 1953 to 1970 she was in the closet and married to a man. So calling the bars was her only connection to the gay and lesbian community, said Marie Cartier, who interviewed Kurland and is author of “Baby, You Are My Religion,” a book that examines how gay bars from the 1940s to the mid 1970s were sanctuaries for butch-femme lesbians. [source]
"demonstrating that butch/femme roles were a critical part of lesbian history and sexuality”
Reader’s Guide to Lesbian and Gay Studies
edited by Timothy Murphy [source]
it is almost like it is an explicit fact that butch and femme lesbian identities are lesbian identities which derived from the lesbian community
and claiming otherwise would be erasing…..lesbians…..
Oh my god. This is so…. painfully bad.
Just a tip for any blogger out there: When someone from their community tells you that there is a problem with your community downplaying, ignoring, or erasing their contributions to history, YOU DO NOT GO GET ALL YOUR SOURCES FROM THE COMMUNITY THAT DID THE ERASING TO PROVE THEM WRONG.
All this post proves is that lesbians are REALLY good at erasing the contributions of bisexual people in our shared queer women’s history.
I’m not even going to touch the first bit of “proof” from glbt.org since they don’t use any sources for their articles. But all the rest of these sources about butch/femme are from lesbians aka “the people doing the erasing”. Of course they are not going to give you accurate perspectives on bisexual contributions in history!
It’s like when you have a relative who watches nothing but Fox News and you try to talk to them about something that is happening that Fox News ignores or only covers in their skewed way and they keep insisting they are informed because they watch a lot of Fox News. *facepalm*
So let’s lay down some real knowledge about the history of butch/femme and hell, I’ll even throw in a bit about dyke even though that’s not what this post is about. It gives me a chance to brush the dust off my Bachelor’s degree (History and Women’s Studies major with a minor in LGBT Studies).
The word femme was first used by cross-dressing lesbian Anne Lister to refer to her bisexual lover Marianna Lawton. The word femme has always been for bisexual women because it was first directed towards us. We share it with lesbians because in Lister and Lawton’s time there was not such a clear-cut distinction between lesbians and bisexuals. There was only one group - what is often referred to as Same Gender Loving People. Lesbian, bisexual, and even gay were not separate islands in the queer sea like they are now. Think more like queer Pangea.
At that time, lesbians were not what we think of now — namely that identifying as a lesbian did not preclude sleeping with and having relationships with men. Bisexual was not a commonly used term at the time. It’s use was mostly limited to academia given that it had come from botany though it started to gain ground in psychology circles after 1900. Other terms for queer women like invert, sapphic, homophile, and tribades were thrown around just as easily as lesbian. However lesbian was the one that eventually took off.
But there is a danger of getting too excited about particular words in history — words change their meaning.
The word lesbian itself was originally used as a synonym for tribade or tribadeism, referring to women stimulating other women sexually by scissoring. Lesbianism was something one DID not something one WAS. You could be a lesbian when you were with a girl and straight when you were with a boy — all in the same evening if you liked! Clearly this not how we use the word lesbian in modern times.
Butch came to us much later then femme, in the 1940’s. There were lesbian non-monosexuals in all lesbian communities of the 1940’s when butch was easily paired to femme and took off as identity labels. At that time you could call yourself a butch lesbian and be non-monosexual (ie what we now recognize as bisexual). Again, the word bisexual had not yet come into common use outside of academia so there was no easy way to distinguish between a woman that had relationships with women exclusively and a woman that had relationships with men and women.
Sidenote: If this sounds cissexist, it’s because it is. If there is anyone in the QUILTBAG whose history is more mangled then bisexuals, it’s non-binary people. I have no idea what non-binary people were doing at this time period or how they fit into this puzzle, and if someone does, please let me know. I assume lesbians of this time slept with non-binary people because they were also sleeping with men, but I really have no idea how non-binary culture fit into pre-1960’s queer history.
The word dyke is a lot more ambiguous in it’s origins. No one is really sure where it came from and speculation runs WILD. I’ve seen everything from French pirates to Romans fighting Boadicea. Some say it came from hermaphrodite, a word that in the early 1900’s was used for transgender, intersex, and bisexual people. Yep, you read that right. Dyke might not have had anything to do with lesbians in it’s original term. However it was in the dictionary by the 1940’s so again, it came from a time when lesbian and bisexual communities were merged. And it’s VITAL to note that both dyke and butch were most commonly associated with working-class queer women and queer women of color.
It was not until the 1960’s that the word lesbian began to imply NOT sleeping with men AT ALL, i.e.being exclusively attracted to women. The decision to do so (and to treat bisexual women as not-really-queer) was very much tied up in second-wave-feminism. That history includes gross TERF Shelia Jeffreys’ manifesto which stated bluntly “Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men”. She made clear in 1979 that bisexuals were no-good gross traitors.
By the 80’s there was a firm split between lesbians and bisexuals, and lesbians decided to take all the history and act like bisexuals had never been there at all. It was easy. Everything already said lesbian on it. All they had to do was ignore the real history the words in our shared community and not teach it to younger lesbians about them. Now today bisexuals are constantly excluded from our own history and accused of stealing it by lesbians who frankly don’t know what the hell they are talking about. Hello bi erasure.
So any time you see the word lesbian being used or being applied to queer women before the 1960’s, you need to remember that many of those lesbians were what we would now call bisexuals.
This is why the claim “the terms butch and femme (and dyke) arose from the LESBIAN community for LESBIANS exclusively about the LESBIAN experience” is misleading as hell. Lesbian communities were shared with bisexuals from the very beginning. Our history is shared as Same Gender Loving People.
So it is indeed historically accurate to say, as feminismandflowers did: “bi women have ALWAYS been a part of queer women’s movements and always will be. we have always been a part of forming “lesbian” culture and always will be. and we will always reserve the right to reclaim words like femme, butch, and dyke, because these are also descriptors of our lives and our experiences of queerness.”