Political lesbianism is a phenomenon within feminism, primarily Second wave feminism; it includes, but is not limited to, lesbian separatism. Political lesbianism embraces the theory that sexual orientation is a choice, and advocates lesbianism as a positive alternative to heterosexuality for women.[1]

Shared interest Edit

Beginning in the late 1960s, new wave feminism provided a platform for some women to come out of a perceived suffocating shell of heterosexual norms, traditional sexuality, marriage and family life. A life viewed by some feminists as one of hard labor with little consideration and a system that subordinates women. By coming out of dominating heterosexual relationships, women are given an opportunity to declare themselves as lesbians with shared interests. As a result, feminism provided an environment in which lesbianism was less about personal pain or anguish but an important political issue.

In a broad sense, political lesbianism entails the political identification of women with women, it encompasses a role beyond sexuality but supports eschewing forming relationship with men. It is partly based on the idea that women sharing and promoting a common interest creates a positive and needed energy which is necessary to enhance and elevate the role of women in the society, a development which will be curtailed by the institutions of heterosexuality and sexism if women chose the traditional norms.

Though, there were instances of discrimination of lesbianism within feminism. Feminism however, ended up providing a needed political platform for lesbianism. In its wake, it also expanded and introduced divergent views of sexuality.[2]

Social constructs of sexuality and criticism Edit

Some feminist theory on sexuality evaded biological fixation and embraced social construction as the basis of sexuality. However, this idea posed further questions on the subject of sexuality and lesbianism. If sexuality could be a construction of human nature then little room is given to understanding the nature of the historical formation of human nature, especially, if the historical nature of man or woman enhanced heterosexuality.[3]

A lack of theoretical clarity of lesbianism and sexuality becomes more profound as many scientists view sexuality as much more than choice. Also, if lesbianism becomes a social institution, the avenue for a dominant persona in the relationships may also pose challenges to the original intention of political lesbianism.

Notes Edit

  1. Julie Bindel, Location, location, orientation, The Guardian, March 27, 2004
  2. Ramazanoglu; Routledge, Feminism and the Contradictions of Oppression, Routledge, 1989. pp84
  3. Ramazanoglu; Routledge, Feminism and the Contradictions of Oppression, Routledge, 1989. pp84-86

Further reading Edit

  • Love Your Enemy?: The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism and Political Lesbianism, London:Onlywomen Press, 1981, ISBN 0-906500-08-7. Sheila Jeffries, Leeds Revolutionary Feminist Group, et al.; no editor is listed.

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