If there are any women out there who are still operating under the delusion that feminist spaces or lesbian spaces are safe spaces with regard to race, ethnicity, or nationality, this is your wake up call: DO NOT TRUST WHITEY.
White feminists and white lesbians can be some of the shadiest white supremacists (yes, that reads “white supremacists,” not “racists”) out there. The KKK knows that they are white supremacists and will be straight up with you about being white supremacists, but these women DO NOT EVEN REALIZE THAT THEY ARE WHITE SUPREMACISTS, AND DON’T WANT TO SEE IT WHEN YOU POINT IT OUT.
I know this stuff has probably been said before, but it needs to keep being said, again and again until everyone has read it 57 times and actually get’s it. I’m going to make this simple for all the white people out there whose IQ suddenly drops to -12 when it comes to issues of race.
If you are talking about a group of people, and randomly mention the race of the non-white people, especially while not saying a damn thing about the race of the white people in the group, YOU ARE SUPPORTING WHITE SUPREMACY.
If someone calls you out on your white supremacist bullshit, and your first/only response/thought is that you are “not a racist!!!” THEN THERE’S A GOOD CHANCE THAT YOU ARE RACIST.
If someone tells you that a white woman said something that blatantly indicates that she is a racial fetishist, and you say that women don’t fetishize others, YOU ARE SUPPORTING WHITE SUPREMACY.
If you also jump to pull out the good ole’ “it’s just a preference for certain physical characteristics” bullshit with regard to that white racial fetishist after being told that she fetishizes racial minorities in general, YOU ARE DOING DOUBLE DUTY SUPPORTING WHITE SUPREMACY. Just what the fuck kind of physical characteristic preference is “all ethnic minorities”?
If you mean that someone doesn’t speak English very well, but what you actually say is “this person is X nationality,” YOU ARE RACIST FOR CONFLATING NATIONALITY AND ENGLISH-SPEAKING ABILITY.
If you don’t think white supremacy is an important issue with regards to feminism and women’s liberation, or don’t think it is within the purview of feminism or women’s liberation, YOU ARE SUPPORTING WHITE SUPREMACY.
If you are supporting white supremacy, you are not helping women, and you are not showing love of women, so think carefully about what you mean when you call yourself a lesbian or a feminist. If you are supporting white supremacy, you are also supporting male supremacy – by supporting white males specifically, by condoning and applying hateful, divisive, dehumanizing tactics and attitudes that males in general use, and by remaining blind to the ways male supremacy affects women who aren’t white..
I am a lesbian.
There is power in typing those words, and there is power in saying them. There is power in living them. Living a life without sexual and romantic dependence on men sharpens the vision of a feminist utopia in our mind’s eyes like it can for few others, and, the clearer the image, the greater our motivation to fight for it’s realization. Our energies are free to fight the feminist fight when we banish potential patriarchal oppressors from our beds, when we organize our lives so that we aren’t coming home to them everyday. Just by living our lives, we send society the messages that start revolutions: messages of individual agency, of rejection of patriarchal religious conceptualizations, of flouting sociocultural pressure, messages that shatter the illusion of universal heterosexuality, that weaken male supremacy, that embolden young and questioning lesbians, that open the eyes of potential allies.
Without question, there is great power in proclaiming one’s status as a lesbian. The patriarchy, however, is no two-bit villian. It has a clever organization, it does, and has molded the world in such a way that even the power of out-and-proud lesbianism can be transformed into a sort of weapon.
I am a lesbian, but what is a lesbian? A lesbian is a female whose sexual and/or romantic interests lie with females, and not with males. What is a female, what is a male? Here, we run into the tangled mess that is patriarchal medical science and fear/hatred/ignorance of difference.
Males and females are the two components of a binary system of biological sex that ignores and/or pathologizes (irrespective of whether or not the relevant conditions pose a legitimate physical health risk) those whom it subsequently classifies as “intersexed.” There is no inherent problem with a binary system of biological sex, insofar as “biological sex” refers to reproductive sex. There are two, and only two, human reproductive sexes. The problem arises when we begin to generalize biological characteristics that have little or no bearing on reproduction, such as clitoral length, amount of body hair, or muscle mass, as constituting a part of this binary sex system, as they do not always follow a neat pattern of sexual dimorphism. The problem arises when we take biological sex out of the realm of reproduction.
Insofar as the word “lesbian” is defined by and based on this unrealistic and oppressive sex system, it is problematic. This fact, contrasted with the undeniable anti-patriarchy power of the term, can create something of a conundrum for conscientious lesbians. As a descriptor of attraction, the very concept of a “lesbian” presumes an unequivocally female subject, whereas “female” (as well as “male”) is not a precisely-defined biological category. Are we complicit in sex-based oppression and bad science by using this term? If we are, what can we do to fix the situation?
I do not offer solutions here, only a sketch of a patriarchal double-bind and a lesson on the importance of language.