The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Essential Feminist Quotes: ‘Lesbianism and Feminism Have Been Coterminous’

Posted on | September 29, 2014 | 36 Comments

Left to right: Judith Butler, Bonnie Zimmerman, Diane Richardson

“Is there some commonality among ‘women’ that preexists their oppression, or do ‘women’ have a bond by virtue of their oppression alone? Is there a specificity to women’s cultures that is independent of their subordination by hegemonic, masculinist cultures? . . .
“Is the construction of the category of women as a coherent and stable subject an unwitting regulation and reification precisely contrary to feminist aims? . . . To what extent does the category of women achieve stability and coherence only in the context of the heterosexual matrix?”

Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990)

“[Charlotte Bunch’s 1972 manifesto] ‘Lesbians in Revolt’ argued one powerful and uncompromising principle: because sexism is the root of all oppression and heterosexuality upholds sexism, feminists must become lesbians and lesbians must become feminists if we are to effect a revolution. . . . To state that feminists must become lesbians assumes that lesbianism is a matter of choice and conviction, not biological conditioning or sexual behavior. Moreover, lesbians must also become feminists, that is, they must ground their sexuality in a political discourse if any social change is to occur. . . .
“Lesbian criticism of any and all varieties was constructed by flesh and bone lesbians starting in the early 1970s. For us, feminism was not a distinct discourse that spoke ‘for’ lesbians but an epistemology used by lesbians to speak for ourselves. . . . I believe it can be shown that, historically, lesbianism and feminism have been coterminous if not identical social phenomena.”

Bonnie Zimmerman, “Confessions of a Lesbian Feminist,” in Cross Purposes: Lesbians, Feminists, and the Limits of Alliance, edited by Dana Heller (1997)

“Heterosexuality is a category divided by gender and which also depends for its meaning on gender divisions. . . .
“The view that heterosexuality is a key site of male power is widely accepted within feminism. Within most feminist accounts, heterosexuality is seen not as an individual preference, something we are born like or gradually develop into, but as a socially constructed institution which structures and maintains male domination, in particular through the way it channels women into marriage and motherhood. Similarly, lesbianism has been defined not just as a particular sexual practice, but as a form of political struggle — a challenge to the institution of heterosexuality and a form of resistance to patriarchal relations.”

Dianne Richardson, “Theorizing Heterosexuality,” in Rethinking Sexuality (2000)

Many people wrongly believe that the anti-male/anti-heterosexual ideology that prevails within Women’s Studies curricula doesn’t have any real impact on the larger culture: “That’s just a bunch of academic eggheads talking to each other. Who cares?”

However, many students are clearly internalizing these radical feminist theories. Critiquing a popular song by Meghan Trainor (“All About That Bass”), University of Pennsylvania junior Katiera Sordjan condemned the dance hit because “it sends a very problematic message . . . framed in the views of the ever-present male gaze”:

Girls shouldn’t have to justify their body types by pointing to what men find attractive. Women also have various sexualities that should not have to be constrained by heteronormativity or a stereotypical view of what femininity should be.

The idea that women are generally heterosexual and therefore wish to be viewed by men as attractive — well, that’s “very problematic” for any college student who has paid attention in her Women’s Studies classes, and who therefore can’t enjoy a Top 40 song because the lyrics are “constrained by heteronormativity.” Or how about Texas State University sophomore Brandon Sams?

Heteronormativity is a detrimental concept and bias that asserts that all people fall into distinct and complimentary genders — man and woman. Many people wrongfully adhere to heteronormativity, which has historically been the impediment to gendered progress and feelings about sexuality. These falsely idealized institutions need to be questioned, indicted and convicted for their problematic manifestations. Heteronormativity also asserts that these purported two genders have naturally determined roles in life. Therefore marriage and sexual relationships, among a multitude of other things, are only befitting for people within these two genders.

Your idea that “men” and “women” are valid categories, and have natural roles? That’s an “impediment to gendered progress”!

Feminism and the gay rights movement are basically the same thing — “coterminous,” as Bonnie Zimmerman says. She is not an obscure fringe figure, but one of the most influential feminists in America, as her biography at San Diego State University makes clear:

Dr. Zimmerman became a founding member of the Women’s Studies College at SUNY Buffalo in 1970, where she created and taught numerous courses in women’s studies, women’s literature, and feminist theory. In 1978, Dr. Zimmerman accepted a position as a temporary lecturer at SDSU’s groundbreaking Women’s Studies department — the first Women’s Studies program in the country. As her career bloomed, she went on to become a professor and eventually chair of the department, and came to be recognized as one of the nation’s top lesbian scholars. Dr. Zimmerman became especially known for her published articles, the best known of which, “What Has Never Been: An Overview of Lesbian Feminist Literary Criticism,” has been anthologized in the Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism. Dr. Zimmerman has published extensively, including the books, Lesbian Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia; The New Lesbian Studies: Into the 21st Century; Professions of Desire; Lesbian and Gay Studies in Literature; and The Safe Sea of Women: Lesbian Fiction, 1969 to 1989. She has also been an active member of the Modern Language Association and the National Women’s Studies Association, of which she served as president in 1998 and 1999. From 2003 until 2010, she was associate Vice-president of Faculty Affairs, having previously served as the chair of the university senate. Dr. Zimmerman has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Most Influential Faculty Awards in English and Comparative Literature in 1982, and in Women’s Studies in 1985, 1990, and 1999. She was also the recipient of the Lambda Literary Award and Emily Toth Award in 1991, as well as the Positive Visibility Award from GLAAD in 1996. Her contribution and service to the university have been recognized in such honors as the Alumni Award for Outstanding Faculty Contribution to the University in 2003, and the Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Award in 2004.

What Professor Zimmerman says about the radical lesbian vision of Charlotte Bunch — “sexism is the root of all oppression and heterosexuality upholds sexism” — is echoed in Judith Butler’s description of women’s “subordination by hegemonic, masculinist cultures,” whereby the identity of women is formed “in the context of the heterosexual matrix.”

Professor Butler should need no introduction. Her biography at the University of California Berkeley notes among her honors the Andrew Mellon Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Humanities as well as the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Cultural Ministry. Her book Gender Trouble is one of the most widely assigned texts in Women’s Studies (currently ranked No. 6 bestseller in the “Gender Studies” category at Amazon).

The feminists who are saying these things are not marginal figures within academia. They are among the most prestigious and influential professors in the field of Women’s Studies, among whom there is widespread agreement that heterosexuality is “a socially constructed institution which structures and maintains male domination,” to quote Professor Diane Richardson. She has been head of the department of sociology and director of the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies at Newcastle University in England, also holding visiting fellowships at Columbia and Harvard universities. She and her colleague Victoria Robinson are editors of Introducing Gender & Womens Studies, a widely used textbook in Great Britain.

What you see consistently in the writings of Women’s Studies professors are a set of core ideas: Women are oppressed by men; heterosexuality is the context within which that oppression occurs; and “gender roles,” the expression of common beliefs about the nature of men and women, are necessary to the system of male supremacy (patriarchy) that employs the “heterosexual matrix” to controls women.

Oppression, domination, patriarchy, male supremacy, gender roles, heteronormativity, the male gaze — this is the rhetoric of radicalism, describing the anti-male/anti-heterosexual worldview promoted by Women’s Studies programs at our colleges and universities.

In the two university newspaper articles quoted earlier, both students used the words “problematic” and “heteronormative” together. Why is this? Professor Stevi Jackson, Director of the Centre for Women’s Studies at the University of York in England, provides a clue in her 1999 book Heterosexuality in Question:

[L]esbian feminists began, early in the 1970s, to mount an attack on heterosexuality as a patriarchal institution.
My focus here is on feminist critiques of heterosexuality . . . I am particularly interested in problematizing heterosexuality from within and hence in the ways in which straight feminists have engaged with — or distanced themselves from — this project. . . .
I am situating myself within this narrative as a heterosexual feminist, although that label is in some ways problematic; like others in the same position, I would not want to define my feminism by my heterosexuality. . . . [I]t is impossible to live within a patriarchal society as both a feminist without being aware of contradictions . . .

This is amazing: Although identifying herself as heterosexual, Professor Jackson is “problematizing” her own sexual preferences, because it is “impossible” for her as a feminist to ignore the “contradictions” between her political theory and her sexuality.

Heterosexuality is inherently problematic from a feminist perspective.

Here we return to a basic point that has been confirmed in my research for the “Sex Trouble” series about radical feminism, namely that the theories promulgated in Women’s Studies programs are fundamentally incompatible with heterosexuality. There is a reason, after all, why Carmen Rios said she became a “raging lesbian feminist” after enrolling in Women’s Studies, and why she called these programs “Lesbo Recruitment 101.”

Most people believe feminists are wrong about heterosexuality being “socially constructed” and lesbianism being “a matter of choice and conviction,” so what happens when young heterosexual women at colleges and universities are indoctrinated with the feminist worldview? If they are unlikely to become lesbian, neither will they ever be able to find happiness in a normal life of men, marriage and motherhood.

Taught to view men as their oppressors, and to consider marriage and motherhood the negation of their own identities, how can these women reconcile their feminist beliefs with their own heterosexuality? As Professor Jackson admitted, they can’t.

Feminist theory, you see, tells heterosexual women that their attraction to men — their normal sexuality — is both inauthentic and contrary to their own best interest. Insofar as any heterosexual woman adopts a feminist belief system, therefore, she must hate her male partners (who are oppressing her) and hate herself for her own weakness, being unable to resist this male oppression.

Of course, God help any guy stupid enough to date a Women’s Studies major. One shudders to imagine the feminist’s boyfriend constantly forced to apologize: “I’m sorry for having a penis!”




36 Responses to “Essential Feminist Quotes: ‘Lesbianism and Feminism Have Been Coterminous’”

  1. Adobe_Walls
    September 29th, 2014 @ 10:37 pm
  2. concern00
    September 29th, 2014 @ 10:56 pm

    Only for regressive haters.

  3. RS
    September 29th, 2014 @ 10:58 pm

    Is there a specificity to women’s cultures that is independent of their subordination by hegemonic, masculinist cultures? . . .–Judith Butler

    Note the fact assumed in her question without evidence: That there exist or have existed multiple cultures specific to males and females, as opposed to a single culture. According to our materialist friends, it is only about survival of the species, and Man is indeed a social animal. “Culture” in the broad sense is simply a shorthand way of describing a set of behaviors which developed over time designed to promote that survival.* And no matter how various “cultures” vary among societies, by necessity they all involve both males and females. Otherwise no “Culture” would survive.

    Thus we then get Zimmerman who posits a feminist “epistemology.” She’s being disingenuous. It is not a theory of knowledge she advances but a new reality–a Feminist Metaphysic. Only in such a new reality could one have the idea of “Culture” involving only one sex.

    *I capitalize “Culture” to distinguish it from more mundane uses of the term, like “baseball culture.” It seems clear, Butler is using the term the way I define it for this comment.

  4. Daniel Freeman
    September 30th, 2014 @ 12:20 am

    Not between college students.

  5. Daniel Freeman
    September 30th, 2014 @ 12:40 am

    I just want to emphasize, for anyone who thinks that this is a joke, it’s entirely at the expense of college men. With this law, California college campuses have come full circle, and are now among the most sex-negative places in America. Feminism and chivalry, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g…

  6. DeadMessenger
    September 30th, 2014 @ 3:04 am

    When I was in college, I could write papers in 5 pages or less, including logical or mathematical proofs, footnotes, and bibliography. Not good enough. My professors wanted 20+ pages, minimum. So I would flesh it out with words that, while technically-speaking, were English, were more like the free association of madmen (or madwomen in my case). Result? I was showered with “A” grades for word salad that essentially added nothing to the actual discussion. (Some might mean-spiritedly claim that I’m doing it now).

    This is the actual explanation for the incoherent and counter-intuitive ramblings in the three quotes at the start of this article. These women took a two page theory and fleshed it out into a 400 page book, but the theory itself was fatally flawed to begin with.

    Then, just for fun, we throw in the quote from Brandon Sams, which amounts to little more than the figurative masturbatory effluvium of Zippy the Pinhead.

    And this is what parents bust their bums, and sacrifice for, so their non-critically-thinking progeny can write…yea, believe…in contradistinction to their parent’s own values. What a waste of time snd money.

  7. JadedByPolitics
    September 30th, 2014 @ 7:22 am

    If I didn’t know better and I do, I would think you were seeking out the most unattractive women to show the insanity of feminism. I of course am well aware that ugly flows from the inside/out which is why they are always trolls.

  8. robertstacymccain
    September 30th, 2014 @ 8:08 am

    Are you saying Bonnie Zimmerman is unattractive? Because that’s just the patriarchy talking, see. Your eyes have been socially constructed.

  9. theBuckWheat
    September 30th, 2014 @ 8:34 am

    So, it seems that at its core, feminism is sexist!

  10. RS
    September 30th, 2014 @ 10:24 am

    David Thompson has discussed this at length at his place. From this post mentioning Judith Butler:

    “The pretentiousness of the worst academic writing betrays it as a kind of intellectual kitsch, analogous to bad art that declares itself ‘profound’ or ‘moving’ not by displaying its own intrinsic value but by borrowing these values from elsewhere… These kitsch theorists mimic the effects of rigour and profundity without actually doing serious intellectual work. Their jargon-laden prose always suggests but never delivers genuine insight. Here is… Prof. Judith Butler*, from an article in the journal Diacritics:

    ‘The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.’

    To ask what this means is to miss the point. This sentence beats readers into submission and instructs them that they are in the presence of a great and deep mind. Actual communication has nothing to do with it.”

  11. Scoob
    September 30th, 2014 @ 10:40 am

    You are doing great work exposing feminism and their cultural perch of “Women’s Studies” in academia as lesbian fascism.

  12. robertstacymccain
    September 30th, 2014 @ 11:08 am

    Only for illegal aliens.

  13. robertstacymccain
    September 30th, 2014 @ 11:11 am

    In Gender Trouble, however, Professor Butler has committed the error of saying something definite about something real — human sexual behavior — and in this, has exposed herself to rebuttal.

  14. Daniel O'Brien
    September 30th, 2014 @ 11:12 am
  15. Phil_McG
    September 30th, 2014 @ 11:13 am

    “I am particularly interested in problematizing heterosexuality”

    Mission accomplished.

  16. robertstacymccain
    September 30th, 2014 @ 11:21 am

    Yeah, I was aware of that evidence, but didn’t include it, because it would have been too cruel.

  17. RS
    September 30th, 2014 @ 11:42 am

    Yep. When they write to be understood, instead of to humiliate the reader, (to use the words of Theodore Dalrymple), the mask slips.

  18. Finrod Felagund
    September 30th, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

    Unfortunately, it seems college is preparing the young for politics, since politicians live on spewing that same kind of crap.

  19. DeadMessenger
    September 30th, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

    Do you remember the show In Living Color, where Damon Wayans did a sketch called “United Negro Scholarship Fund”? This was way back, I know, but that character sounds quite a bit like Judith Butler.

  20. DeadMessenger
    September 30th, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

    “Humiliate” is a good word for it. So is “bludgeon”.

  21. K-Bob
    September 30th, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

    Great. So now when you send your son to college, you have to make him watch this PSA, first:

  22. K-Bob
    September 30th, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

    The bafflegab of modern academia brought up in a subthread below was a rather startling thing to me, as opposed to the entirely different aspect of academic writing with which I was familiar. You know how it was: the characteristic “density” and overall dryness of prose, coupled with all-too-frequent indications of unimaginative writing that most of us remember. It’s what you got when people were striving for completeness in the days when ink and paper were incredibly expensive commodities.

    In the days of Reagan’s first term, and after six years or so in the math and computer science dodge, I moved from my studies in philosophy that were far more concerned with logic, mind, epistemology and metaphysics, over to the more “social” topics: ethics, political philosophy, and economics. (Aesthetics, no. No way.)

    So I asked a friend who teaches philosophy to give me some pointers on those areas, and to tell me what was new or interesting. For some reason, “deconstruction” was being discussed in philosophy AS a philosophy (which is like claiming excel spreadsheets are philosophy – it’s a method, and not a very useful one, but it isn’t a proper philosophy Topic). Then he moved on…

    None of you here will be the least bit surprised that Feminism was an opening area in philosophy back in the early Eighties.

    Now, my friend wasn’t claiming anything one way or the other about those topics, he was just answering my question. However, after talking with him I went to the original Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor [ back before they ever opened other stores – back when they carried *everything* – back before they were unionized and became a chain that eventually failed – it was an awesome store in a creaky, wooden-floored, old three-story building downtown that they expanded over into an adjacent one – the upper stories were like you’d find in a large, old house – those of you who love books would pay me good money to experience that memory, I assure you ] and I began my perusal of the many fine books in the philosophy section, while the floorboards creaked around me like the hold of a trader’s tall ship in the eighteenth century.

    The first thing that jumped out at me—and it definitely jumped off the page—was the foreboding sense that no one who had published since the mid-sixties had been allowed any budget by their department heads for the use of a copy editor, proof-reader, or indeed, anyone familiar with the basics of publishing. Some of you may remember that in those early years of Reagan, even the “posh” universities were not anything like the massive, multi-billion-dollar-endowment behemoths of the state that we have today. It made me worry that academia was being strangled by the years of the Ford/Carter Malaise and inflation.

    In short, the writing was atrocious. Never mind the fact that philosophy is a tough read for most people. This wasn’t a tough read, it was a mission doomed to failure. Book after book that I picked up had, on almost any random page, subject/predicate mismatching, typos, incomplete sentences (which ran on for paragraphs, and never resolved), and absolutely no sense that paragraphs existed for a reason.

    These were works produced by men and women who intended exactly three types of people to read them: their peers at other institutions with whom they had long-running disagreements, the poor, beleaguered staff reviewer at the one journal to which they belonged professionally, and their own students.

    Going from readings in the Journal of the ACM, Nature, and books on graphics and the new math of relational algebras for data, research notes on mind-computer interfaces, and lecture notes by Feynman, Penrose, and Hofstadter into the gibberish-filled world of new writings in philosophy was depressing, to say the least.

    When the entire purpose of one’s work is to produce writings, things condense down to that now-common meme, “You had one job…” Seemed to me that if one were going to write for a living, one might peruse such things as the Chicago Manual of Style. Or perhaps a child’s book of grammar.

    So it’s not just the Women’s Studies and Social Justice “fake-a-demics” that are cranking out incomprehensible babble. Further, many of us have noted the severe lowering of standards in our beloved science and math publications, as well. THe digital age has only made it worse.

    The way things are headed, I expect it soon to be commonplace to find ‘LOL’s and “emoji” making up more than 15% of doctoral dissertations. Citations to twitter will abound, and auto-correct from people writing on their smartphones will alter the meaning of anything they were trying to write.

    And from academics like these, come the sage, masterminds of the left, supposedly capable of running the entire planet.

  23. Daniel Freeman
    September 30th, 2014 @ 4:17 pm

    Truly, you are a gentleman and a scholar.

  24. Daniel Freeman
    September 30th, 2014 @ 4:28 pm

    Obligatory auto-correct re-enactments.

  25. JadedByPolitics
    September 30th, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

    Dude looks like a lady 🙂

  26. concern00
    September 30th, 2014 @ 6:06 pm

    I think you touch on a good point. Having all but destroyed their ability to establish a healthy relationship with men, feminists, by implication are also unable to maintain a healthy relationship with God. This suggests a lot about the true origin of feminism and the useful idiots that advocate this nonsense.

  27. concern00
    September 30th, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

    The internal ugliness of feminists ultimately manifests externally.

  28. trangbang68
    September 30th, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

    That’s some fugly mugs .They deserve each other

  29. Joe Guelph
    September 30th, 2014 @ 10:53 pm

    She fell out of the Ugly Tree, hit every Ugly Branch on the way down, then landed on the Ugly Railroad, where the Ugly Train carried her on a hundred-mile run.

  30. K-Bob
    October 1st, 2014 @ 1:31 am

    Heh. Stephen Hawking’s editor must have an excellent sense of humor.

  31. K-Bob
    October 1st, 2014 @ 1:56 am

    I think that’s just an ad for Billy Bob Teeth®

  32. RKae
    October 1st, 2014 @ 4:00 am

    All the ramblings I read from these feminists on this site just makes me say two things: 1.) They are damaged; 2.) They are vastly unhappy.

    Everything they spout is just obfuscation; just a song and dance to talk about ANYTHING but Reality.

  33. theoldsargesays
    October 1st, 2014 @ 9:38 pm

    College faculty members and politicians have another thing in common…
    Both live on the public dole.

  34. theoldsargesays
    October 1st, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

    Al Franken?

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