Posted on | December 28, 2015 | 53 Comments
Carmen Rios (@carmenriosss) has described how she “became a women’s studies major and a raging lesbian feminist in college.” She is communications coordinator at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She speaks on behalf of the movement, and Carmen Rios is tired of hearing heterosexual women say the wrong thing:
3 Things ‘We’re Not All Lesbians’ Is
Really Saying (And Why It’s Anti-Feminist)
I came out and of age in the feminist movement, which means that I have done a lot of work alongside straight women – a lot of which has centered around bringing people into the movement, educating folks about what feminism is, dispelling myths about what it isn’t, and doing modern-day consciousness raising to get more people involved on a global level.
And it’s in those feminist recruitment spaces that I find that many well-intentioned, totally awesome, usually straight colleagues pull out an old and tired line we’re all familiar with: “We’re not all lesbians!”
Unfortunately, many of the myths about feminism that scare people away are more concerned with who feminists are than what we do or believe in.
People are worried we’re all bra-burning, man-hating, witchcraft-practicing lesbians who refuse to shave and don’t give a damn about looking good.
To which I say: So what if we are?
If all feminists were queer women with unshaved legs who embraced their bodies regardless of what they looked like and gathered in the woods to cast spells, I wouldn’t give a damn. Because none of that matters! . . .
Feminism is a movement that’s based in breaking norms.
It’s often perceived as being, first and foremost, about breaking gender norms. . . . Feminism rejects a gender binary that pits women against men, and then renders them subordinate. And feminism rejects the idea that there is any part of our genders or sexualities that should be dictated by other people’s expectations. . . .
No, we’re not all lesbians. But some of us are. That’s one of the things that makes up the fabric of the modern-day feminist movement and shapes its direction. And that’s why proudly telling people “we’re not all lesbians” isn’t okay.
When we apologize for the things that make feminism radical or the aspects of our community and movement that smash normative ideas, we misrepresent what we’re all about.
You can read the rest, but my question is, if feminists are “not all lesbians,” why not? Or, to express the same idea differently: How could a feminist be heterosexual? As Carmen Rios says, feminists are against “gender norms” and believe that the “gender binary . . renders [women] subordinate.” She herself feels complete revulsion toward males. A “raging lesbian feminist” like Carmen Rios would consider it an insult if anyone so much as implied that she might ever be romantically interested in a male. Her feminism is at least logically coherent.
What is mystifying is when Carmen Rios says she has “done a lot of work alongside straight women.” Who are these women? How does feminist heterosexuality happen without reinforcing the “gender binary”? And what about the males who are (allegedly) involved with these (allegedly) heterosexual feminists? Exactly what purpose do these males serve in the lives of feminist women? Because feminism denies that males have any distinct social role or function, it is logically impossible that a feminist would ever actually need a man. Why, then, would a man wish to associate with a woman who considers him useless?
If a woman actually likes men, why is she a feminist? Why does she support a movement that condemns men for their “privilege” and tells women that relationships with males are oppressive?
When we talk about the norm, we’re talking about a series of hurtful and oppressive social structures that maintain imbalances of power.
The norm is patriarchy, white supremacy, classism, heterosexism, cissexism, and a slew of other systems of privilege all wrapped up into one tiny phrase. . . .
It’s societal norms that tell us women should do all they can to please and attract men, and then define themselves in relation to those men. . . .
And it’s societal norms that define queer women — and lesbians in particular — as unattractive, broken people who failed to fit into that rigid set of expectations.
Carmen Rios wrote that, and we can be certain she believes it is acceptable for lesbians to “do all they can to please and attract” women, “and then define themselves in relation to those” women. Feminists enthusiastically approve of lesbian relationships. It is only heterosexual relationships that feminists criticize, denouncing them as expressions of “patriarchy,” “heterosexism” and “systems of privilege.” It is only heterosexual relationships that feminists condemn as “hurtful and oppressive social structures that maintain imbalances of power.”
Feminists do not believe any woman should ever do anything “to please and attract men.” Feminists believe women should “smash normative ideas” by rejecting all “societal norms.” Because feminism is an anti-male movement, it is also necessarily an anti-heterosexual movement.
Carmen Rios understands this, which is why she is correct to say it is “anti-feminist” to say feminists are “not all lesbians.”
And aren’t we all glad she said it?