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Lesbian feminism

Lesbian feminism is a cultural movement and critical perspective, most influential in the 1970s and early 1980s (primarily in North America and Western Europe), that encourages women to direct their energies toward other women rather than men, and often advocates lesbianism as the logical result of feminism.[1] Some key thinkers and activists are Charlotte Bunch, Rita Mae Brown, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Frye, Mary Daly, Sheila Jeffreys and Monique Wittig (although the latter is more commonly associated with the emergence of queer theory).

Lesbian feminism came together in the early 1970s out of dissatisfaction with second-wave feminism and the gay liberation movement.[2][3]

In the words of lesbian feminist Sheila Jeffreys, "Lesbian feminism emerged as a result of two developments: lesbians within the WLM (Women's Liberation Movement) began to create a new, distinctively feminist lesbian politics, and lesbians in the GLF (Gay Liberation Front) left to join up with their sisters".[4]

According to Judy Rebick, a leading Canadian journalist and political activist for feminism, lesbians were and always have been at the heart of the women's movement, while their issues were invisible in the same movement.[5]


  • Key ideas 1
    • Biology, choice and social constructionism 1.1
    • Separatism 1.2
    • The woman-identified woman 1.3
    • Womyn's culture 1.4
  • Lesbians and mainstream feminism 2
  • Tensions with queer theory 3
    • Views on BDSM 3.1
    • Views on bisexuality 3.2
    • Views on transgenderism 3.3
  • Lesbian feminist literature 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Key ideas

Like feminism, lesbian and gay studies, and queer theory, lesbian feminism is characterised by contestation and revision. Nevertheless, if one key theme could be isolated it would be an analysis of heterosexuality as an institution.[6] Lesbian feminist texts work to denaturalise heterosexuality and, based on this denaturalization, to explore heterosexuality's "roots" in institutions such as patriarchy, capitalism and colonialism. Additionally, lesbian feminism advocates lesbianism as a rational result of alienation and dissatisfaction with these institutions.

Sheila Jeffreys defines lesbian feminism as having seven key themes:

  • An emphasis on women's love for one another
  • Separatist organizations
  • Community and ideas
  • Idea that lesbianism is about choice and resistance
  • Idea that the personal is the political
  • A rejection of social hierarchy
  • A critique of male-supremacy (which eroticises inequality)[4]

Biology, choice and social constructionism

As outlined above, lesbian feminism typically situates lesbianism as a form of resistance to "man-made" institutions. Sexual orientation is posited here as a choice, or at least a conscious response to a situation.[7]

See also political lesbianism or queer by choice. Indeed, it could be argued that lesbian feminism pre-empted if not laid the groundwork for queer theory to posit sexuality as culturally specific.


See also queer nationalism.

Lesbian separatism is a form of separatist feminism specific to lesbians. Separatism has been considered by lesbians as both a temporary strategy, and as a lifelong practice but mostly the latter. In separatist feminism, lesbianism is posited as a key feminist strategy that enables women to invest their energies in other women, creating new space and dialogue about women's relationships, and typically, limits their dealings with men.[8]

Lesbian separatism became popular in the 1970s as some lesbians doubted whether mainstream society or even the LGBT movement had anything to offer them. In 1970, seven women (including

  • Lesbian Feminism at the GLBTQ encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer culture
  • 1970s Lesbian Feminism: An Overview, History, Bibliography & Guide
  • Sarah Lucia Hoagland lesbian feminist and author of Lesbian Ethics
  • Radical Women in Gainesville online exhibit that documents the development of a lesbian feminist culture in Gainesville, Florida
  • Guardian interview with Sheila Jeffreys, July 5, 2005.

External links

  1. ^ Rich, A. (1980). Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. Signs, 5, 631–660.
  2. ^ Faderman, Lillian: "Surpassing the Love of Men," p. 17. Quill/William Morrow, 1981.
  3. ^ Lesbianism and Feminism. Accessed May 28th 2007.
  4. ^ a b Jeffreys, Sheila: "Unpacking Queer Politics," p. 19. Polity, 2003.
  5. ^ Research on International Activism
  6. ^ Rich, Adrienne."Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence."
  7. ^ The Furies: Lesbian/Feminist Monthly"Lesbians in Revolt: Male Supremacy Quakes and Quivers", Vol. 1, January, 1972. Accessed 2 June 2008.
  8. ^ Revolutionary Lesbians: "How to Stop Choking to Death Or: Separatism," 1971, in, "For Lesbians Only: A Separatist Anthology," ed. Hoagland, Sarah Lucia, and Julia Penelope. p. 22-24. Onlywomen Press, 1988.
  9. ^ Mark Blasius, Shane Phelan We are everywhere: a historical sourcebook in gay and lesbian politics, Routledge, 1997 ISBN 0-415-90859-0 p. 352
  10. ^ Vern L. Bullough Before Stonewall: activists for gay and lesbian rights in historical context, Routledge, 2002 ISBN 1-56023-193-9 p. 160
  11. ^ a b c Dudley Clendinen, Adam Nagourney Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, Simon & Schuster, 2001 ISBN 0684867435, p. 104
  12. ^ Bonnie Zimmerman Lesbian histories and cultures: an encyclopedia Garland Pub., 2000 ISBN 0-8153-1920-7, p. 322
  13. ^ Penny A. Weiss, Marilyn Friedman Feminism and community, Temple University Press, 1995 ISBN 1566392772 p. 131
  14. ^ Davis, Flora. Moving the Mountain: The Women's Movement in America since 1960, University of Illinois Press, 1999, ISBN 0-252-06782-7, p271
  15. ^ a b Bunch, Charlotte/The Furies Collective, "Lesbians in Revolt", in The Furies: Lesbian/Feminist Monthly, vol. 1, January 1972, pp.8–9
  16. ^ Bunch, Charlotte. Learning from Lesbian Separatism, Ms. Magazine, Nov. 1976
  17. ^ Hoagland articulates a distinction (originally noted by Lesbian Separatist author and anthologist, Julia Penelope) between a lesbian subculture and a lesbian community; membership in the subculture being "defined in negative terms by an external, hostile culture", and membership in the community being based on "the values we believe we can enact here". Hoagland, Sarah Lucia. Lesbian Ethics: Towards a New Value, Institute for Lesbian Studies, Palo Alto, Ca.
  18. ^ Tallen, Bette S. Lesbian Separatism: A Historical and Comparative Perspective, in For Lesbians Only: A Separatist Anthology, Onlywomen Press, 1988, ISBN 0-906500-28-1, p141
  19. ^ a b Faderman, Lillian. Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-07488-3, p220
  20. ^ Empowering the Goddess Within, by Jessica Alton
  21. ^ Goddesses and Witches: Liberation and Countercultural Feminism, by Rosemary Ruether
  22. ^ Kershaw, Sarah (2009-02-01). "My Sister's Keeper". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ Jay, Karla: "Tales of the Lavender Menace: A Memoir of Liberation," p. 142-144. Basic Books, 1999.
  24. ^ Bindel, Julie (July 2, 2005). "The ugly side of beauty". The Guardian, UK. , Retrieved 2013-05-29.
  25. ^ Eugene Lewis, "Reflections on Patriarchy: A Comparison of the Gendered Worlds of the Sex Industry and the Chronicles of Narnia," Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol.21, No.3, 1997.
  26. ^ Love, Barbara J. Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975
  27. ^ Bonnie Zimmerman Lesbian histories and cultures: an encyclopedia, Garland Pub., 2000 ISBN 0815319207 p. 134
  28. ^ Vicki Lynn Eaklor Queer America: a GLBT history of the 20th century, ABC-CLIO, 2008 ISBN 0313337497 p. 145
  29. ^ a b Flora Davis Moving the mountain: the women's movement in America since 1960, University of Illinois Press, 1999 ISBN 0-252-06782-7 p. 264
  30. ^ Cheshire Calhoun Feminism, the Family, and the Politics of the Closet: Lesbian and Gay Displacement, Oxford University Press, 2003 ISBN 0-19-925766-3 p. 27
  31. ^ Carolyn Zerbe Enns Feminist theories and feminist psychotherapies: origins, themes, and diversity, Routledge, 2004 ISBN 078901808X p. 105
  32. ^ a b c Leading the Fight | National Organization for Women. NOW. Retrieved on 2014-07-25.
  33. ^ Plan of Action. (1978-01-15). Retrieved on 2014-07-25.
  34. ^ Belge, Kathy. "Del Martin". About. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  35. ^ "OLOC's Anti-Sexism Statement". Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  36. ^ Jagose, Annamarie (1996). Queer Theory: An Introduction. New York, NY: New York University Press. 
  37. ^ Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic, Keith B. Armitage (2004). Encyclopedia of Women's Health. Springer. p. 363.  [2]
  38. ^ Gayle Rubin (Spring 2004). "Samois" (PDF). Leather Times. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  39. ^ Wilkinson, Sue (1996). "Bisexuality as Backlash". In Harne, Lynne. All the Rage: Reasserting Radical Lesbian Feminism. Elaine Miller. New York City:  
  40. ^ Common Lives/Lesbian Lives Records, Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa
  41. ^ Gerstner, David A. (2006). Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture. United Kingdom:  
  42. ^ Bindel, Julie (June 12, 2012). "Where's the Politics in Sex?".  
  43. ^ Bindel, Julie (November 8, 2008). "It's not me. It's you". London:  
  44. ^ Jeffreys, Sheila (1993). The Lesbian Heresy.  
  45. ^ "b i · a n y · o t h e r · n a m e". 
  46. ^ "book". Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  47. ^ Raymond, Janice. (1994). The Transsexual Empire, p. 104
  48. ^ Rose, Katrina C. (2004) "The Man Who Would be Janice Raymond." Transgender Tapestry 104, Winter 2004
  49. ^ Julia Serano (2007) Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, pp. 233-234
  50. ^ Namaste, Viviane K. (2000) Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People, pp. 33-34.
  51. ^ Hayes, Cressida J., 2003, "Feminist Solidarity after Queer Theory: The Case of Transgender," in Signs 28(4):1093-1120.
  52. ^ Raymond, Janice. (1994). The Transsexual Empire, pp. 101-102.
  53. ^ Hubbard, Ruth, 1996, "Gender and Genitals: Constructs of Sex and Gender," in Social Text 46/47, p. 163.


See also

"What Interest does the Women's Movement have in Solving the Homosexual Problem?", Anna Rüling (1904)
"Lesbianism and Feminism", Wilda Chase (1969)
"If That's All There Is", Del Martin (1970)
"Notes of a radical lesbian" by Martha Shelley from Sisterhood is Powerful (1970)
"The least of these: the minority whose screams haven't yet been heard" by Gene Damon (pen name of Barbara Grier) from Sisterhood is Powerful (1970)
"The Woman Identified Woman" from Notes from the Third Year, Radicalesbians (1970)
"Lesbianism and Feminism", Anne Koedt (1971)
"Politicalesbians and the Women's Liberation Movement", Anonymous Realesbians (1971)
"The Lesbian Newsletter", Daughters of Bilitis (1971)
"Lesbian Mothers and Their Children" from Womankind (1972)
"Lesbians in Revolt: Male Supremacy Quakes and Quivers", Charlotte Bunch (1972)
Lesbian/Woman, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon (1972)
The Furies, newspaper by The Furies Collective (January 1972 until mid-1973)
"The Lesbian and God-the-Father, or, All the Church Needs Is a Good Lay . . . On Its Side", Sally Miller Gearhart (1972)
"When It Changed", Joanna Russ (1972)
Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution, Jill Johnston (1973)
"Lesbian Group [1975 Conference Report]" (1975)
"Lesbian Pride", Andrea Dworkin (1975)
The Female Man, Joanna Russ (1975)
"Learning From Lesbian Separatism", Charlotte Bunch (1976)
"The Simple Story of a Lesbian Girlhood", Andrea Dworkin (1977)
"Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence", Adrienne Rich (1980)
Home Girls, a collection of Black lesbian and Black feminist writing (1983)
Lesbian Ethics: Toward New Value, Sarah Lucia Hoagland (1988)
"Confessions of a Worrywart: Ruminations on a Lesbian Feminist Overview" by Karla Jay from Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium (2003)

Some notable lesbian feminist literature includes:

Lesbian feminist literature

Lesbian feminism is sometimes associated with opposition to sex reassignment surgery; some lesbian feminist analyses see sex reassignment surgery as a form of violence akin to S&M.

In The Transsexual Empire Janice Raymond includes sections on Sandy Stone, a trans woman who had worked as a sound engineer for Olivia Records, and Christy Barsky, accusing both of creating divisiveness in women's spaces.[52] These writings have been heavily criticized as personal attacks on these individuals.[53]

These views on transsexuality have been criticized by many in the LGBT and feminist communities as extremely transphobic and as constituting hate-speech against transsexual men and women.[48][49][50][51]

Raymond maintains that transsexualism is based on the "patriarchal myths" of "male mothering," and "making of woman according to man's image." She claims this is done in order "to colonize feminist identification, culture, politics and sexuality," adding: "All transsexuals rape women's bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves .... Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive."[47]

In 1979, lesbian feminist Janice Raymond published a book on transsexualism called The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male.[46] Controversial even today, it looked at the role of transsexualism – particularly psychological and surgical approaches to it – in reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes, the ways in which the medical-psychiatric complex is medicalizing “gender identity” and the social and political context that has helped spawn transsexual treatment and surgery as normal and therapeutic medicine.

Views vary, but there is a specific lesbian feminist canon which rejects transgenderism, transsexualism and transvestism, positing trans people as, at best, gender dupes (or functions of a discourse on mutilation); at worst shoring up support for traditional and violent gender norms. This is a position marked by intense controversy. Sheila Jeffreys summarized the arguments on this topic in Unpacking Queer Politics (2003).

Views on transgenderism

In contrast, the book Bi Any Other Name (1991), an anthology edited by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka'ahumanu, which is one of the seminal books in the history of the modern bisexual rights movement, contains (among other things) the piece, "Bisexuality: The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Lesbian Feminism?", by Beth Elliot.[45]

Lesbian feminist Sheila Jeffreys writes in The Lesbian Heresy (1993) that while many feminists are comfortable working alongside gay men, they are uncomfortable interacting with bisexual men. Jeffreys states that while gay men are unlikely to sexually harass women, bisexual men are just as likely to be bothersome to women as heterosexual men.[44]

Nevertheless, some lesbian feminists such as Julie Bindel are still critical of bisexuality. Bindel has described female bisexuality as a "fashionable trend" being promoted due to "sexual hedonism" and broached the question of whether bisexuality even exists.[42] She has also made tongue-in-cheek comparisons of bisexuals to cat fanciers and devil worshippers.[43]

A number of women who were at one time involved in lesbian-feminist activism have since come out as bisexual after realizing their attractions to men. A widely studied example of lesbian-bisexual conflict within feminism was the Northampton Pride March during the years between 1989 and 1993, where many feminists involved debated over whether bisexuals should be included and whether or not bisexuality was compatible with feminism. Common lesbian-feminist critiques leveled at bisexuality were that bisexuality was anti-feminist, that bisexuality was a form of false consciousness, and that bisexual women who pursue relationships with men were "deluded and desperate." However, tensions between bisexual feminists and lesbian feminists have eased since the 1990s, as bisexual women have become more accepted within the feminist community.[41]

A bisexual woman filed a lawsuit against the lesbian feminist magazine Common Lives/Lesbian Lives, alleging discrimination against bisexuals when her submission was not published.[40]

Bisexuality is rejected by some lesbian feminists as being a reactionary and anti-feminist backlash to lesbian feminism.[39]

Views on bisexuality

Because of its focus on equality in sexual relationships, lesbian feminism has traditionally been opposed to any form of WAVPM was conservative and puritanical.[38]

Views on BDSM

Barry (2002) suggests that in choosing between these possible alignments (lesbian feminism and/or queer theory) one must answer whether it is gender or sexuality that is the more "fundamental in personal identity."

Queer theory's emergence in the 1990s built upon certain principles of lesbian feminism, including the critique of compulsory heterosexuality, the understanding of gender as defined in part by heterosexuality, and the understanding of sexuality as institutional instead of personal. Despite this, queer theory is largely set in opposition to lesbian feminism. Lesbian feminism is traditionally critical of S&M, butch/femme identities and relationships, transgenderism and transsexuality, pornography, and prostitution, whereas queer theory tends to embrace them. Queer theorists have critiqued lesbian feminism as having an essentialist understanding of gender that runs counter to their stated aims, and subsequently embrace gender fluidity. Lesbian feminists have critiqued queer theory as implicitly male-oriented, and a recreation of the male-oriented Gay Liberation Front that lesbian feminists initially sought refuge from; queer theorists have countered by pointing out that the majority of the most prominent queer theorists are feminists, and many (including Judith Butler, Judith Halberstam, and Gayle Rubin) are lesbians.[36]

Tensions with queer theory

In 2014 Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC) issued an "Anti-Sexism Statement", which states, "Men run the world and women are supposed to serve according to the belief that men are superior to women, which is patriarchy. Patriarchy is the system by which men's universal power is maintained and enforced. OLOC works toward the end of patriarchy and the liberation of all women."[35]

Del Martin was the first open lesbian elected to NOW, and Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were the first lesbian couple to join NOW.[34]

Lesbians have been active in the mainstream American feminist movement. The first time lesbian concerns were introduced into the Betty Friedan was against lesbian participation in the movement. In 1969 she referred to growing lesbian visibility as a "lavender menace" and fired openly lesbian newsletter editor Rita Mae Brown, and in 1970 she engineered the expulsion of lesbians, including Ivy Bottini, from NOW's New York chapter.[27][28] In reaction, at the 1970 Congress to Unite Women, on the first evening when all four hundred feminists were assembled in the auditorium, twenty women wearing t-shirts that read "Lavender Menace" came to the front of the room and faced the audience.[29] One of the women then read their group's paper "The Woman-Identified Woman", which was the first major lesbian feminist statement.[29][30] The group, who later named themselves "Radicalesbians", were among the first to challenge the heterosexism of heterosexual feminists and to describe lesbian experience in positive terms.[31] In 1971 NOW passed a resolution declaring “that a woman’s right to her own person includes the right to define and express her own sexuality and to choose her own lifestyle," as well as a conference resolution stating that forcing lesbian mothers to stay in marriages or to live a secret existence in an effort to keep their children was unjust.[32] That year NOW also committed to offering legal and moral support in a test case involving child custody rights of lesbian mothers.[32] In 1973 the NOW Task Force on Sexuality and Lesbianism was established.[32] In November 1977 the National Women's Conference issued the National Plan of Action, which stated in part, "Congress, State, and local legislatures should enact legislation to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual and affectional preference in areas including, but not limited to, employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, public facilities, government funding, and the military. State legislatures should reform their penal codes or repeal State laws that restrict private sexual behavior between consenting adults. State legislatures should enact legislation that would prohibit consideration of sexual or affectional orientation as a factor in any judicial determination of child custody or visitation rights. Rather, child custody cases should be evaluated solely on the merits of which party is the better parent, without regard to that person's sexual and affectional orientation." [33]

As a critical perspective lesbian feminism is perhaps best defined in opposition to mainstream feminism and queer theory. It has certainly been argued that mainstream feminism has been guilty of homophobia in its failure to integrate sexuality as a fundamental category of gendered inquiry, and its treatment of lesbianism as a separate issue. Adrienne Rich's (1980) classic text "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" is instructive, but one might also cite the ambiguously reflexive Signs (Summer 1982) issue "The Lesbian Issue."

Lesbians and mainstream feminism

Bonnie Zimmerman is a lesbian feminist literary critic who frequently about the language used by writers from within the movement (see her 1978 text), often drawing on autobiographical narratives and the use of personal testimony. Lesbian feminist texts are often expressly non-linear, poetic and, perhaps, obscure.

"Womyn" along with "wimin" and "womin" were terms produced by parts of the lesbian feminist movement to distinguish it from men and masculine (or "phallogocentric") language. The term "women" was seen as derivative of men and ultimately symbolised the prescriptive nature of women's oppression. A new vocabulary emerged more generally, sometimes referencing lost or unspoken matriarchal civilisations, Amazonian warriors, ancient – especially Greek – goddesses, sometimes parts of the female anatomy and often references to the natural world. It was frequently remarked that the movement had nothing to go on, no knowledge of its roots, nor histories of lesbianism to draw on. Hence the emphasis on consciousness-raising and carving out new (arguably) "gynocentric" cultures. (Esther Newton's classic (1984) text "Radclyffe Hall and the Mythic Mannish Lesbian", although she was certainly not a lesbian feminist, is relevant here in exploring the substance of, and debates around lesbian histories prior to the 1950s in particular).

Labrys symbol.

Womyn's culture

The overwhelming majority of the activists and scholars associated with lesbian feminist theory have been women; however, there are a few exceptions. For instance, political theorist Eugene Lewis, whose critique of patriarchal society explores the parallels between the theatrical mockery of women in the works of C.S. Lewis (no relation) and underground male prostitution rings, describes himself as "a lesbian feminist in the ideological sense."[25]

This is one of the principal areas in which lesbian feminism differs from queer theory, perhaps best summarised by Judith Halberstam's quip that "If Sheila Jeffreys didn't exist, Camille Paglia would have had to invent her."[24]

Contrary to some popular beliefs about "man-hating butch dykes", lesbian feminist theory does not support the concept of female masculinity. Proponents like Sheila Jeffreys (2003:13) have argued that "all forms of masculinity are problematic."

If the founding of the lesbian feminist movement could be pinpointed at a specific moment, it would probably be May 1970, when Radicalesbians, an activist group of 20 lesbians led by lesbian novelist Rita Mae Brown, took over a women's conference in New York City, the Congress to Unite Women. Uninvited, they lined up on stage wearing matching T-shirts inscribed with the words "Lavender Menace", and demanded the microphone to read aloud to an audience of 400 their essay The Woman-Identified Woman, which laid out the main precepts of their movement.[23]

The woman-identified woman

Still other lesbian feminists put forward a notion of "tactical separatism" from men, arguing for and investing in things like women's sanctuaries and consciousness-raising groups, but also exploring everyday practices to which women may temporarily retreat or practice solitude from men and masculinity.

Elsewhere, lesbian feminists have situated female separatism as quite a mainstream thing and have explored the mythology surrounding it. Marilyn Frye's (1978) essay Notes on Separatism and Power is one such example. She posits female separatism as a strategy practiced by all women, at some point, and present in many feminist projects (one might cite women's refuges, electoral quotas or Women's Studies programmes). She argues that it is only when women practice it, self-consciously as separation from men, that it is treated with controversy (or as she suggests hysteria). Male separatism on the other hand (one might cite gentleman's clubs, labour unions, sports teams, the military and, more arguably, decision-making positions in general) is seen as quite a normal, even expedient phenomenon.

The term 'womyn's lands' has been used in America to describe communities of lesbian separatists.[22]

The practice of Lesbian separatism sometimes incorporates concepts related to queer nationalism and political lesbianism. Some individuals who identify as Lesbian separatists are also associated with the practice of Dianic paganism.[20][21]

Lesbian historian Lillian Faderman describes the separatist impulses of lesbian feminism which created culture and cultural artifacts as "giving love between women greater visibility" in broader culture.[19] Faderman also believes that lesbian feminists who acted to create separatist institutions did so to "bring their ideals about integrity, nurturing the needy, self-determination and equality of labor and rewards into all aspects of institution-building and economics".[19]

Bette Tallen believes that lesbian separatism, unlike some other separatist movements, is "not about the establishment of an independent state, it is about the development of an autonomous self-identity and the creation of a strong solid lesbian community".[18]

In her 1988 book, Lesbian Ethics: Towards a New Value, Lesbian Philosopher Sarah Lucia Hoagland alludes to Lesbian Separatism's potential to encourage lesbians to develop healthy community ethics based on shared values.[17]

This was part of a larger idea that Bunch articulated in Learning from Lesbian Separatism, that "in a male-supremacist society, heterosexuality is a political institution" and the practice of separatism is a way to escape its domination.[16]

In addition to advocating withdrawal from working, personal or casual relationships with men, The Furies recommended that Lesbian Separatists relate "only (with) women who cut their ties to male privilege"[15] and suggest that "as long as women still benefit from heterosexuality, receive its privileges and security, they will at some point have to betray their sisters, especially Lesbian sisters who do not receive those benefits".[15]

Charlotte Bunch, an early member of The Furies, viewed separatist feminism as a strategy, a "first step" period, or temporary withdrawal from mainstream activism to accomplish specific goals or enhance personal growth.[14] Other lesbians, such as Lambda Award winning author Elana Dykewomon, have chosen separatism as a lifelong practice.

[13] the commune itself ended in 1972.[12] The newspaper lasted from January 1972 to June 1973;[11] They also started a school to teach women auto and home repair so they would not be dependent on men.[11] They shared chores and clothes, lived together, held some of their money in common, and slept on mattresses on a common floor.[11]" formed a commune open to lesbians only, where they put out a monthly newspaper. "The Furies" consisted of twelve women, aged eighteen to twenty-eight, all feminists, all lesbians, all white, with three children among them.The Furies In the summer of 1971, a lesbian group calling themselves "[10][9]

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