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Abuse

Guest post by Liz Waterhouse

When an article on Germaine Greer was posted by the Star Observer recently, I noticed that the comments were aggressively misogynistic. Distressed by how much this excluded and insulted women in the LGBTI community, I asked posters to stop using such hurtful and upsetting language. As a lesbian, I expected that my community would be a relatively safe place, and I expected a degree of solidarity. What resulted was hours of increased insults, ridicule and finally personal abuse. It left me wondering why the community would attack a request for basic respect and why any woman would speak out if this is how they were treated.

Most responders were male and they used crude, aggressive and dismissively sexist language to attack first Greer, and then me, in post after post, correctly assuming that their comments would be tolerated by other posters.

Eventually, the Star Observer intervened and deleted the worst of the comments, but there remained a steady stream of insulting posts, eventually escalating to personal messages of abuse and lesbophobia.

Particularly upsetting were comments like this one:
 dicking
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Guest re-post by Maggie H.

This post is the final part of a series of posts based on some of the RadFem Reboot 2012 presentation talk that I gave in Oregon recently on the patriarchal takeover of women’s sexuality.

Definition: As this is the final part here, I would like to make it clear by what I mean by BDSM for the purpose of this series. BDSM is ‘Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism (formerly known as ‘sadomasochism’); a form of patriarchal sexuality involving the eroticisation of the symbols of slavery, misogyny, captivity, rape and torture. It is a sexuality that involves the most egregious dynamics of domination and subordination (a.k.a. ‘dom/sub’) and the sexualisation of pain and/or danger.’

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So what happened to the woman-identified woman nowadays? Let me first go back to the origins and causes of the mainstreaming of BDSM within contemporary lesbian culture and communities. I will then elaborate more on how BDSM prevents revolution.

Back in the 1970’s, Radicalesbians released a statement saying that “a lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion” as a feminist call for woman-loving lesbianism. During the 1990’s, the lesbian pornographic magazine On Our Backs gave this statement an odd twist with proclaiming that “a lesbian is the lust of all women condensed to the point of explosion.” This was the beginning of lesbianism being socially defined solely on sexual terms. This was the end of woman-loving lesbian feminism.

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Guest post by Maggie H.

This post is the second part of a series of posts based on some of the RadFem Reboot 2012 presentation talk that I gave in Oregon recently on the patriarchal takeover of women’s sexuality.

Warning: This post contains some graphic depictions of pornified lesbian culture. I believe it is important to know what some lesbians are watching, making, writing & reading for fun’ these days. The examples taken from lesbian media are not ‘isolated cases.’ Many lesbians I spoke to actually say that they ‘love’ websites like Autostraddle or magazines such as Diva UK. These things are part of mainstream lesbian culture today.

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As pointed out at the end of the first part (on lesbian BDSM fanfiction, a cultural phenomenon within lesbian culture), the fandoms of Xena, Buffy, Stargate SG-1, Rizzoli & Isles (or whatever show lesbians want to read BDSM fan fiction from) are not the only lesbian cultures that have been affected by patriarchy. No, unfortunately, there are many more aspects of contemporary lesbian culture that have been poisoned by patriarchal ideology and male-centred sexuality too.

So let me take you through contemporary lesbian culture now.

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Guest re-post by Maggie H.

This post is the first part of a series of posts based on some of the RadFem Reboot 2012 presentation talk that I gave in Oregon recently on the patriarchal takeover of women’s sexuality.

Warning: This post contains some descriptions of what happens in written pornography. Skip those parts if you feel queasy; read them if you really want to know what some lesbians are writing & reading for fun’ these days.

Disclaimers: By writing this post I would like to make very clear that I am not criticising individual women for having particular sorts of fantasy. I am a former BDSMer myself. I am actually being critical of the pornographic works being published online, and of the patriarchal context within which such stories get written and read in the first place. I believe it is important to challenge the everyday political poisoning of our lesbian communities by BDSM culture. If you read or write those kinds of stories, I am not ‘attacking’ you personally; I am just trying to make a point concerning what you read or write.

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I feel the need to talk about fan fiction, as it has become an important part of lesbian culture nowadays in some circles. This includes stories based on the characters of Willow & Tara (from Buffy: Vampire Slayer) and Xena & Gabrielle (from Xena: Warrior Princess) –and there are also lesbian fan fiction stories based on the characters of Stargate SG-1, Rizzoli & Isles or other shows lesbians happen to be fans of. Not all lesbian fan fiction stories are bad or misogynistic (some can actually be really good and female-centred), but BDSM sexuality is often glamorised in some popular lesbian fan fiction tales. Those stories are written and read by lesbian fans of those TV shows, everyday women: women like you or me. Any lesbian can become an anonymous fan fiction writer nowadays, and get easily published on the Internet for free via specific fan fiction websites.

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headache womenAmong the lies women have to tell in order to save themselves from harm, saying “I have a headache” as a way to decline a man’s sexual advances just became even more suspect. This month, a study was published which showed that, of a group of migraine sufferers who had “sex” during an episode, about sixty percent experienced pain relief. For a third, the pain worsened. But that doesn’t stop the ‘no more excuses, ladies!’ headlines about the report.

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Sex Role BoxesI was coercively assigned a sex role at birth. As soon as medical personnel saw that I didn’t have a penis, the process of putting me and keeping me in a very narrowly-defined box began. From then on I was coercively stopped from doing or being things associated with boys and coerced into doing and being things associated with girls. I fought many bitter, painful battles over years of being forced into that box. A handful of those battles I won; most I lost, because the full power of adults was brought to bear to keep me in my proper sex role.

It’s intensely frustrating that in the intervening years experiences like this have continued for girls and boys. But worse, rather than meaningful progress toward simply allowing children to live their lives outside of any box, there is now a very powerful movement that claims that forcing children into the other restrictive sex role box is the solution. The problem, these people claim, is not that the person was coercively assigned a sex role at all, it’s that they were coercively assigned the incorrect sex role, and that (of course!) can be fixed by adopting the other sex role.

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butch-femme-LGHaving been educated into radical feminist analysis by a group of incredible Australian lesbian feminists who collectively have a very clear view that the butch/femme hierarchy in the lesbian community as one that is unhealthy to lesbian relations, it surprised me to discover, both online and in real life, a push to incorporate butch/femme ideologies into lesbian feminist practice and theory. The push seems to be from a strong concern that women classified as ‘butch’ are a class of women who are specially oppressed under male supremacy and that they are being transitioned out of existence. Read More