Lesbian Separatism

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Hyphe
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Hyphe » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:40 pm UTC

Ginger wrote:
Sadistic Humor wrote:My wife was invited to some 'Women's Culture' talks and conferences because she's an active member of the community, but she has declined to go to most since she's left aghast and horrified at how they talk at these talks, how nearly everyone there talks about dominance and oppression and being a 'subwife' because the husbands got jobs, and so forth. Maybe we're in the wrong by thinking personal responsibility has a lot to do with it, but it seems that female oppression exists because people insist that it exists.

Can we stop this nonsense where guys talk about their wives/girlfriends/female friends/random strangers as if that absolves them of all responsibility to stop acting like sexist punks? This stuff is on par with, "I'm not racist/homophobic/ableist/etcetera! I have a friend that happens to fit into one or more of those categories! This totally makes my silly remarks okay."

It's completely acceptable to be horrified by extremist feminism, just like it is for any kind of extremism. The issue is when one assumes *all* feminism is extremist, and I don't think that is at all what he was implying.

but when culture tells women that they should not be good at math, should have a job they can quit for some years to take care of a child, should be in a relationship, should follow their male partner for a job and not move their male partner for their job, and while there still a huge gender gap in salaries between men and women for the same job with the same experience, we should address that sexism in society in addition to addressing personal responsibility.

This culture certainly isn't the one I live in. I've never found anyone who has said I shouldn't be good at math, or IT, or science. I've been sneered at and pitied when I said I wanted to be a housewife, by both men and women. (And don't anyone *dare* say that that is anything more than a free choice. It's not society telling me what to do, it's because I'd be damn good at it.)
The reason why men and women's salaries differ is primarily due to the fact that women don't haggle for more pay, and tend to take part-time jobs and lower-paid career paths. That's a big issue, sure, but I don't think you can point the finger at the Big Bad Patriarchy and say "it's all your fault, stop it!".*

*well, ok, maybe you can, but only partly. Lower-paid careers such as childcare and hairdressing are still lower-paid than similarly skilled jobs, just as construction - and that's almost certainly due to them being traditionally female-biased industries. But I suspect that at least part of the reason we as a culture pay less for those skills is also due to the "women don't haggle so much" problem.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Random832 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:43 pm UTC

Hyphe wrote:This culture certainly isn't the one I live in. I've never found anyone who has said I shouldn't be good at math, or IT, or science. I've been sneered at and pitied when I said I wanted to be a housewife, by both men and women. (And don't anyone *dare* say that that is anything more than a free choice. It's not society telling me what to do, it's because I'd be damn good at it.) The reason why men and women's salaries differ is primarily due to the fact that women don't haggle for more pay, and tend to take part-time jobs and lower-paid career paths.
And if I were to say what you just said...

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Hyphe » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:49 pm UTC

Random832 wrote:And if I were to say what you just said...

Some people would jump on you, just as they would jump on me, albeit there would be a few more of them.

(And no, I don't approve of the "you just think that because you've never experienced it!" line of reasoning. Find a better argument, please; one that doesn't boil down to the same thing as most conspiracy theories.)

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Enuja » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:52 pm UTC

Random832, I address ideas I disagree with, no matter who they come from.

Hyphe, the fact that women don't haggle as much (and that they don't apply to jobs they aren't qualified for, and they don't ask for raises as early and often) are all due, in great part, to our sexist society and the way women are raised.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby PictureSarah » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:54 pm UTC

Hyphe wrote:The reason why men and women's salaries differ is primarily due to the fact that women don't haggle for more pay, and tend to take part-time jobs and lower-paid career paths.


Even if that were the entire root of the difference, which it's not, as you already pointed out, you'd have to look at *why* women don't haggle for more pay, tend ot take part-time jobs, and lower-paid career paths. The reasons are probably buried in a heap of sexist shit.

To get more on topic, though, I wonder what the lesbian separatist of the OP's post would say is the best way to address this. It sounded to me as if she'd prefer that women form an entirely new economy of and for themselves, and that would be no mean feat indeed.
Last edited by PictureSarah on Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:57 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Ginger » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:56 pm UTC

Sadistic Humor wrote:That wasn't even close to what I was doing. Are you saying that, since I talked about my wife and I treat women as equals, I'm a sexist punk? What 'silly remarks' of mine are you referring to?

Can we stop with this nonsense where people take deeply personal offense to every single individual innocent comment?

I'm saying that talking about your wife seemed out of place to me and a convenient story to justify your position that you don't feel there is any serious oppression in society just because she happened to be aghast at the conversations she heard among that particular group she attended. The "silly remarks" I mentioned include most everything you've said in this thread so far, especially the paragraph above the chunk I quoted from your previous post, because it demonstrates a profound lack of understanding for these complex issues. Having an opinion is fine but you seem to be dismissing the opinions of others because they are too "extreme" for your tastes using pretty much the exact same reasoning, namely that because you don't see anything wrong (Just like some feminists do see something wrong), nothing must be wrong and anybody who says there is something wrong must be stuck on some negative feedback loop where they're reinforcing ideas they already have because they were treated poorly in the past and now want their pound of flesh.

Hyphe wrote:It's completely acceptable to be horrified by extremist feminism, just like it is for any kind of extremism. The issue is when one assumes *all* feminism is extremist, and I don't think that is at all what he was implying.

*Draws and activates her red lightsaber.* I did not expect that we would meet on the ideological battlefield so soon! I must have you know that if you strike me down then it will hurt really badly and I probably will be less powerful than before on account of my grievous injuries. :( I disagree that the form of feminism demonstrated by that group was extreme so his implications on that subject are pretty meaningless to me. Regardless, this thread really isn't about that, so I don't feel comfortable commenting more on the subject outside of a PM since I was only trying to call him out for that particular comment rather than his whole philosophy.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Sadistic Humor » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:03 pm UTC

Ginger wrote:I'm saying that talking about your wife seemed out of place to me and a convenient story to justify your position that you don't feel there is any serious oppression in society just because she happened to be aghast at the conversations she heard among that particular group she attended.

The fact remains that you are dismissing my ideas and opinions in exactly the same way you (falsely) insist I'm dismissing yours.

I'm not a woman, and I have no plans to become one in the future, so I am just going to observe instead of take part, and try to figure out where the oppression is (because, so far, it hasn't been pointed out or proven).
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Random832 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:07 pm UTC

Ginger wrote:I disagree that the form of feminism demonstrated by that group


Demonstrated by what group?

"My wife was invited to some 'Women's Culture' talks and conferences" doesn't even give sufficient information to positively identify it, let alone talk about just what the positions people take in those talks are. Anything else, well that wasn't what he was talking about.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby setzer777 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Using the power vested in me as thread originator (whatever the hell that's worth), I'd like to request that we don't get into the question of "Does patriarchy exist?"

I'm not saying that it isn't a valid question, but it's one that has been discussed in many threads, and I don't want this to turn into a duplicate of those (and I imagine it's more likely to become locked/deleted/merged if it goes from a more specific discussion to a generic debate on the validity of feminism).
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Ginger » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:10 pm UTC

Fair enough. I apologize for starting the offending tangent. I shall not discuss general feminism in this thread anymore. :)
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Belial » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:26 pm UTC

Off topic: For some completely inexplicable reason, I hear all of your posts in my head in the voice of Grey DeLisle.

Completely inexplicable.

Anyway, it works.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Ginger » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:33 pm UTC

Hmm. I wonder why this mystery happens? Oh well, a princess must always surrender with honor, so I must bow out of this thread for the time being.

I'm totally done now I promise--Please resume your regularly scheduled awesome discussion everybody.

EDITED: I am reading the document that Enuja recommended. I will probably post some thoughts about it later. Thank you for posting this reading material Enuja!
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Kulantan » Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:40 pm UTC

Hmm I just read through the whole of The Woman Identified Woman and it's got some good stuff to say. I particularly like the bit at the end
RADICALESBIANS wrote:we begin a revolution to end the imposition of all coercive identifications, and to achieve maximum autonomy in human expression.

This is a statement I very much like as it is inclusive regardless of anything but the state of being in a society with coercive identifications.

However there are other bits like the constant reference to males and men in the unequivocal. This is very much a semantic (doesn't mean unimportant see General semantics and the Map-territory relation) point but I feel it is important and is, I realise, the point I have been trying to make in all my previous posts.

Often I feel the the map "men" is use in this kind of literature to mean the territory "bastard" (in emotive terms). I also feel that because the common usage of this map includes people who I wouldn't class as a "bastard" such as 90% of the fora males and as such I would encorage the use of the maps "sexist" (as opposed to misogynist, as you can be sexist without hating women) where the literature uses men or males and "institutionalised sexism" or "institutionalised patriarchy" for patriarchy, as patriarchy holds (at least for me) a strong feeling of conspiracy and concious, active enforcement. This means that feminists would not be quite so hostile against "men" as the common usage wouldn't become quite as contaminated with the territory of "bastard" and "sexist" would also map the target of the ire.

Thus we could see that the call for Lesbian Separatism would become (if you accepted my semantic substitutions with is by no means a given) a breaking away completely from those who are sexist or operate within the institutionalised sexism of our society (as denoted by the use of the opposite* of man, woman). A stance which I feel would be much more reasonable and positive.

*not saying that it is the opposite rather that I read it in Woman Identified Woman as the word used for the opposite.

Edited: making thoughts more clearness.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Indon » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:31 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:I'm interested to know what you think of her arguments; I've read and thought about them quite a bit, but I haven't really discussed them with anyone.


Looking at just that post alone, I can tell you a problem I see with it: She assumes that objectification and rape for power are male attributes, rather than human ones.

Studies into sexual interactions in prisons pretty directly demonstrate that individuals of both genders engage in sexual interaction for reasons of power as well as any kind of pleasure - we just happen to live in a society that skews that balance of power heavily in one direction, and what little sexual dimorphism we possess promotes that skewing (since weight and physical power can be a factor in rape).

The human propensity to engage in rape socially is a problem in modern civilization that must be dealt with - but it's far too powerful and pervasive to deal with just with sexual segregation. It's a problem that requires us to revamp our society, first to make the fact that rape is systemic to humanity clear to every living person, then to take steps to fix that - or to at least minimize the damage.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby libellule » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:25 am UTC

As a very straight, very married, very happy female, part of me says in response to the original blog... Why Not? I'd miss my husband, and I do like the men in my life, both at work (which is about 90% male) and at play (my interests involve mainly men), but the allure is undeniable.

I didn't see anybody post a link to the NY Times Magazine article on one of the older Lesbian Separatist Spaces:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/01/fashi ... une&st=cse

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby poxic » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:33 am UTC

Hmm. I don't see it that way, probably because I've experienced women to be as capable of bullying and abuse as any other human is. What I see is another attempt at a utopia that ignores human nature, substituting someone's intellectual ideals in its place. If I were limited only to contact with other women, many of whom were being denied sexual release of their choice, I don't expect that my world would improve. It would probably be the poorer for the restriction, just as it would be if I could talk only to white people, or could only meet cats and no dogs during my life (to pick a silly example).

The point of the article might have been purely to provoke discussion. If that's the case, it succeeded. Wildly disparate points of view are good for me; they help me define what it is I actually believe, and why.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby libellule » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:46 am UTC

@poxic: I don't think women are perfect, and probably more women have made me cry than men. The idea is to escape the world where being male counts for more than it should. I'm very lucky: I compete with men and often outdo them in their traditional areas of expertise, I have a spouse who stays home and does all the cooking (hence I get ahead in my career), I've generally been good at everything I try. Yet I still bump up against the patriarchy, and if that happens to me, what hope is there for the women who are not so lucky, who work in traditionally female jobs, or who aren't particularly talented at anything? In the same way as I can understand black people in the U.S. wanting to live apart, I can certainly understand the call to women in this blog. I'm not sure that the lack of sexual outlet for those truly determined not to indulge in sapphic pleasures is that important, but I could be wrong.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Toeofdoom » Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:23 pm UTC

Personally, I would love to see this happen. It's the kind of "change the world for the better" thing that I think would be amazing. It looks on the surface like it's meant to be a utopia and I don't think that would work for various reasons, but as a way to change the way society thinks, it would certaintly do something.

I'm not entirely sure where this thread is going, but these are the main problems I see:
1. It's never going to happen D:
Basically, this type of movement would need a huge amount of people actually caring and a major organisation that has the power to protect said people who care, or various other factors of protection like

2. It might not have the intended effects.
Ideally, it would shock men and make them change to be nice. Blah. You get the idea. The opposition to it would easily be widespread enough to create (or rather, reveal) extremist anti-feminist groups and cause them to take action. This could break out into a war, in an extreme case. Oh, and if it's a temporary thing, there could be some serious consequences of readjustment. Too short a time since it starts and you have men who have waited it out without changing, or who are really pissed from not having sex and now harbour more resentment. Too long and you have two entirely different cultures that you're trying to mix.

Those are just the 2 things I'd list as the really big "this idea fails before it starts" things, even if it is a nice idea.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Kulantan » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:53 pm UTC

Right, I've thought up a thought experiment to explore the territory meant by women in the argument for Lesbian Separatism:
As part of the Lesbian Feminist League you have campaigned for years for this idea and finally the Greek government has gifted your organisation the island of Lesbos (to avoid confusion).

So once the preliminary work is done you volunteer to work down at the port where immigrants are arriving. Your job is to make sure that they are suitable for life on the island.

Then first interviewee is a very butch looking woman wearing pants and a plaid shirt. You ask her the questions and it is obvious that she is devoted to the cause. Do you let her in?


Well here there should be no problems really as the whole set up is aimed to remove female gender roles and stereotypes.

The second arrival you deal with is a bit odd. Something about them strikes you as a bit off. Finally they tell you in the course of the interview the they are in fact XY but transgendered. This put you off for a moment and you ask if they are willing to up hold the ideals of the island. They answer yes, point out their wife waiting in line behind them. Do you let her in?


Here the issues is if genetic make up says people aren't, then are they really female. Well our very own fora provide a consensus that in fact the classifications for this individual would be definitively both female and lesbian1.

The third interviewee is very much a woman, no doubt there. However when talking to her she makes it obvious that she is opposed to the whole notion and the ideals of the organisation. She openly admits that she is going to try and break up the community by preaching the idea that women need men to be happy. On top of this it is not just women need men to reproduce, but that women need someone to tell them what to do to be happy. Nevertheless she is willing and open to relationships with women as well (because a man doesn't have to be in a relationship with you to boss you around). Do you let her in?


This one is much tougher. Personally I would not, as her stated intent is to oppose the scheme and there is little chance of reforming her.

The fourth person in the queue makes you to a double take, thery're wearing pants and plaid and they have a beard. You ask them strainght up "are you a bloke?"
"Well," the person replies "that is quite a question. I am XY. However I identify with your ideology of loving women as women more than any patriarchal ideas of women as different or property. As well I would like to identify my self as a woman, as the crime committed by men against the gender need to be stopped and to that end I wish to side with women."
"And the beard"
"Well if you expect me to loose the style I feel comfortable and attractive with, in favour of a more "feminine" style don't you think that would be counter productive in trying to remove stereotypes?"
"How can you claim to be a lesbian?
"As I have stated I identify myself as a woman and I already like women."
So what the hell do you do, Do you let her in?


Just to reiterate, what the hell do you do, Do you let her (or maybe its him) in? This is an open question. I certainly don't know the answer.

1. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6318&start=11560
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby setzer777 » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:53 pm UTC

Kulantan wrote:
Spoiler:
Right, I've thought up a thought experiment to explore the territory meant by women in the argument for Lesbian Separatism:
As part of the Lesbian Feminist League you have campaigned for years for this idea and finally the Greek government has gifted your organisation the island of Lesbos (to avoid confusion).

So once the preliminary work is done you volunteer to work down at the port where immigrants are arriving. Your job is to make sure that they are suitable for life on the island.

Then first interviewee is a very butch looking woman wearing pants and a plaid shirt. You ask her the questions and it is obvious that she is devoted to the cause. Do you let her in?


Well here there should be no problems really as the whole set up is aimed to remove female gender roles and stereotypes.

The second arrival you deal with is a bit odd. Something about them strikes you as a bit off. Finally they tell you in the course of the interview the they are in fact XY but transgendered. This put you off for a moment and you ask if they are willing to up hold the ideals of the island. They answer yes, point out their wife waiting in line behind them. Do you let her in?


Here the issues is if genetic make up says people aren't, then are they really female. Well our very own fora provide a consensus that in fact the classifications for this individual would be definitively both female and lesbian1.

The third interviewee is very much a woman, no doubt there. However when talking to her she makes it obvious that she is opposed to the whole notion and the ideals of the organisation. She openly admits that she is going to try and break up the community by preaching the idea that women need men to be happy. On top of this it is not just women need men to reproduce, but that women need someone to tell them what to do to be happy. Nevertheless she is willing and open to relationships with women as well (because a man doesn't have to be in a relationship with you to boss you around). Do you let her in?


This one is much tougher. Personally I would not, as her stated intent is to oppose the scheme and there is little chance of reforming her.

The fourth person in the queue makes you to a double take, thery're wearing pants and plaid and they have a beard. You ask them strainght up "are you a bloke?"
"Well," the person replies "that is quite a question. I am XY. However I identify with your ideology of loving women as women more than any patriarchal ideas of women as different or property. As well I would like to identify my self as a woman, as the crime committed by men against the gender need to be stopped and to that end I wish to side with women."
"And the beard"
"Well if you expect me to loose the style I feel comfortable and attractive with, in favour of a more "feminine" style don't you think that would be counter productive in trying to remove stereotypes?"
"How can you claim to be a lesbian?
"As I have stated I identify myself as a woman and I already like women."
So what the hell do you do, Do you let her in?


Just to reiterate, what the hell do you do, Do you let her (or maybe its him) in? This is an open question. I certainly don't know the answer.

1. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6318&start=11560


From the very limited knowledge I have of the subject, I think a significant number of separatists would draw the line at the second arrival and restrict access to "womyn-born womyn". From what I've seen this attitude is a subject of a large amount of controversy, with many arguments on both sides.

As for the last one...my main thought is that the person has almost certainly benefited from male privilege in the past *and* could with reasonable ease start benefiting from it again, thus ultimately making it in their self interest to preserve a degree of gender inequality (even though that would go against their stated ideals).

Toeofdoom wrote:Personally, I would love to see this happen. It's the kind of "change the world for the better" thing that I think would be amazing. It looks on the surface like it's meant to be a utopia and I don't think that would work for various reasons, but as a way to change the way society thinks, it would certaintly do something.

I'm not entirely sure where this thread is going, but these are the main problems I see:
1. It's never going to happen D:
Basically, this type of movement would need a huge amount of people actually caring and a major organisation that has the power to protect said people who care, or various other factors of protection like

2. It might not have the intended effects.
Ideally, it would shock men and make them change to be nice. Blah. You get the idea. The opposition to it would easily be widespread enough to create (or rather, reveal) extremist anti-feminist groups and cause them to take action. This could break out into a war, in an extreme case. Oh, and if it's a temporary thing, there could be some serious consequences of readjustment. Too short a time since it starts and you have men who have waited it out without changing, or who are really pissed from not having sex and now harbour more resentment. Too long and you have two entirely different cultures that you're trying to mix.

Those are just the 2 things I'd list as the really big "this idea fails before it starts" things, even if it is a nice idea.


It seems like those issues only really come up if you're talking about a huge percentage of women separating themselves from men. But even if a very small percentage of women did so, it could still have a major impact if it got to the point that a majority of women had that as an option, so that they could never truly be trapped in an oppressive situation.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby dbh2ppa » Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:54 pm UTC

... am i the only one who sees, no the "patriarchy" or the "feminism" to be the problem, but the larger system called "gender" to be causing all the shit that' going on?
think about it, trying to fit people into nice little groups (2 usually, more ocassionally) that restrict their behaviour, their appearance and even sometimes their bodies is going to be oppressive! as i see it, men are just as oppresed as women, and the same goes for transgenedered and queergenders and what-have-you-gendered people! society expect them all to supress their real self in favour of an unattainable "gender ideal"! it's just... stupid!

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Osha » Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:38 am UTC

All rad-fems I've ran across have been *very* transmisogynistic.
From that blog: (emphasis mine)
Spoiler:
How does it help WOMEN for a transwoman to go to a women’s festival and lead a plumbing, electrical, or sound crew, or perform in a band, because zhe has experience and expertise in the trades or the music business that zhe was only able to get BECAUSE zhe was a man for a formative portion of hir life? How does that transwoman’s presence NOT deprive women of opportunities to overcome “the experience of being born female” that has led to us being excluded from the trades or the music industry, and certainly to being excluded from showing leadership in them?
...
Lesbians are females, in case you didn’t notice.

...
Transgenderism and radical feminism are diametrically opposed ideologies.
Our differences have nothing to do with “transphobia” and everything to do with an analysis of “gender,” sex roles, and power.

Hahaa! Because transgender woman have *all* the benefits of male privilege and aren't routinely discriminated against!
(There is some male privilege yes, but it's pretty insignificant next to the lack of cis privilege)

I could poke holes in their argument all day:
  • What about transgender women who have had less opportunity than some women? (for example being a woman of color, disabled, poor, homeless, etc.). It seems to me that rad-fems assume that *all* men are more privileged than them and ignore things like race, class, etc.
  • What about a transgender woman who was raised a woman from a young age? If this is ok, where's the cut-off? (The blog uses the phrase "the experience of being born female")
  • What about intersex people?

*ahem*
anyway, so that's the main problem I have with all this, the people behind it seem to hate people like me.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby poxic » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:21 am UTC

Thanks for putting this (roughly) into words for me, Osha. It's the one-sided-ness of this writer's plan that bothers me. Anything at all that is ideal for one person, or one group of people, or one [anything], will necessarily cause trouble for anyone not part of the in-group. The best I suspect we'll ever be able to do, as a global solution, is "not ideal, but not bad" for every-single-person-involved. That's it. We're all very, very different, and we're all complicated.

The proposed exercise, a self-contained world of women, might not be a completely negative experience for the world. It might teach some valuable lessons to the world as a whole. It won't be THE SOLUTION, any more than any other ideals-driven experiment has been. We'd learn some things that are good to do, and some things to avoid like hell.

I doubt I'd choose to be part of such an experiment. I would be very interested in its result, though.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Idhan » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:27 am UTC

I suppose that, from a practical perspective, I think that it's possibly for the best for a woman who finds being around men painful and unrewarding to stop interacting with men and join a community of women, if that's practical. She might find that life more happy and fulfilling, and, frankly, I find it unlikely that many men lose much from such a woman's absence. (Nor are women likely to lose much from the absence of a man who finds women repellent.) It seems like a win-win situation -- the woman doesn't to put up with men, and men don't have to put up with someone who finds them dispicable.

I don't think that being gay is necessary for someone to prefer a life without the other sex, leaving aside the question of to what extent sexuality is innate. It certainly helps, but some people find fulfillment not in sex with others of the same sex, but in self-denial, or in transcending their sexual nature (depending on how one phrases it). Convents and monasteries are not for gays (although I suspect that quite a few monks and nuns are gay), but for people seeking a life of austere spiritual devotion. Many religions which establish such monastic institutions are, of course, homophobic. That's a bad thing, in my view, but I think that even in a society without such an emphasis on self-denial or such opposition to homosexuality, some people might find some form of asexual life to be what they want and find most fulfilling.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Jessica » Sat Jun 06, 2009 7:15 am UTC

Osha wrote:All rad-fems I've ran across have been *very* transmisogynistic.
From that blog: (emphasis mine)
Spoiler:
How does it help WOMEN for a transwoman to go to a women’s festival and lead a plumbing, electrical, or sound crew, or perform in a band, because zhe has experience and expertise in the trades or the music business that zhe was only able to get BECAUSE zhe was a man for a formative portion of hir life? How does that transwoman’s presence NOT deprive women of opportunities to overcome “the experience of being born female” that has led to us being excluded from the trades or the music industry, and certainly to being excluded from showing leadership in them?
...
Lesbians are females, in case you didn’t notice.

...
Transgenderism and radical feminism are diametrically opposed ideologies.
Our differences have nothing to do with “transphobia” and everything to do with an analysis of “gender,” sex roles, and power.

Hahaa! Because transgender woman have *all* the benefits of male privilege and aren't routinely discriminated against!
(There is some male privilege yes, but it's pretty insignificant next to the lack of cis privilege)

I could poke holes in their argument all day:
  • What about transgender women who have had less opportunity than some women? (for example being a woman of color, disabled, poor, homeless, etc.). It seems to me that rad-fems assume that *all* men are more privileged than them and ignore things like race, class, etc.
  • What about a transgender woman who was raised a woman from a young age? If this is ok, where's the cut-off? (The blog uses the phrase "the experience of being born female")
  • What about intersex people?

*ahem*
anyway, so that's the main problem I have with all this, the people behind it seem to hate people like me.
Osha, oh how I love you. Let me count the ways...

Yeah, so what she said. "transgenderism and radical feminism are diametrically opposed ideologies". Go die in a fire. It's not an ideology. It's who I am. Also, yes it is transphobia, and transmisogyny at it's worst. Sure, a transwoman might have learned how to fix an engine while being male. Do you think she doesn't experience discrimination because she's female now? Not to mention, lacking cisprivilege.

Essentially what Osha said. People like her were why I didn't want to be a feminist before I came here.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Kag » Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:44 am UTC

Enuja wrote:Hyphe, the fact that women don't haggle as much (and that they don't apply to jobs they aren't qualified for, and they don't ask for raises as early and often) are all due, in great part, to our sexist society and the way women are raised.
I'd say it's a safe bet you're right on this, but it's impossible to make that claim legitimately. We don't have a woman who wasn't raised in a sexist society to compare to, and I can think of at least one other way it could happen.

I'd be interested in seeing lesbian separatism come about, if only so we could have data like that to get a better idea of exactly what is going on.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby the tree » Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:30 pm UTC

Okay, I know this is going to be a really stupid question. But what's the grounding for the idea that men are inherently oppressive, as opposed to just having a really bad habit? You seem to be taking it as a given that 'given the option' men will be oppressive. The way I see it, there's less patriarchal oppression going on today than there was 50 years ago, and there was more 50 years before that - so we're vaguely speaking on the right tracks.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Jessica » Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:23 pm UTC

doogly wrote:On a scale of Mr Rogers to Fascism, how mean do you think we're being?
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Enuja » Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:40 pm UTC

dbh2ppa, I personally agree that binary gender roles and, in fact, any expectations of social roles dependent on biological sex, is the real problem. The 1970s radicalesbians writing The Women-Identified Women agreed with you and I. However, the question becomes, how do we change this? Society as a whole is pretty damn invested in gender roles. Lesbian separatists believe that men are more invested in the current gender roles than women, because the gender roles advantage men, and, being human beings working for their self-interest, men simply can't work to get rid of these gender roles. I disagree: I think that the current gender roles disadvantage both men and women and thinking that the advantage is mostly to the men is undervaluing gendered female roles.

In response to the points from Osha and Jessica, yes, there is inherent conflict between the idea that gender itself is counter productive and that some people are born into the wrong gender, because if biological sex shouldn't structure your behavior, there is no reason to change it or "identify" with a particular gender. I'm not a lesbian separatist, but I do think that gender is counter productive. However, that's just my personal opinion, and could very well be completely wrong. The existence of transfolk is certainly one strong argument that gender is real. I have actually succeeded at convincing my spouse that maybe gender is real because of the existence of transfolk, but I certainly don't know if this is true or not.

I know that, as much as I think that gender shouldn't be real, and as much as I try not to, I do treat people differently depending on their gender. If felt terribly guilty, for example, when I was more willing for a female housemate to see me naked after she had her gender reassignment surgery than before. Even if gender is real, what does a penis have to do with it in an already clearly female-identified person? Who-can-see-me-naked is quite an individual decision, not one based on categories, and it bothers me when categories get in the way, especially stupid categories like gender and pre (or not!) or post surgical condition. A very good friend of mine, K, is FtM (we shared a boyfriend in a polyamorous relationship when we were both female-identified), and I think I've managed to keep my category-related boundaries and type of interaction with him the same. So, even though transfolk are a powerful argument for the reality of gender, learning to treat someone as the same person before and after a gender transition is powerful way to learn how to get beyond gender in the way you relate to people. One thing I've found out is that I like "women" better than I like "men", but this bothers me both because I don't like gender and because this preference gets in the way of friendships with "men". I've also learned that my mental image of the people around my always (always always) includes a gender marker. I've known for a long time that I can tell students apart based on gender and race more easily than any other category, but when I was hanging out with K a few months ago, and cooking with him in his kitchen, I noticed that whenever I was looking at him, my mental image was male. But as I payed attention to other things and stopped looking at him, the gender identity of my mental image would shift. I could actually feel it happening. It was weird. I don't know how to get rid of gender as part of my mental image of other people, but I'm learning a lot more about it by having trans friends.

Kag wrote:
Enuja wrote:Hyphe, the fact that women don't haggle as much (and that they don't apply to jobs they aren't qualified for, and they don't ask for raises as early and often) are all due, in great part, to our sexist society and the way women are raised.
I'd say it's a safe bet you're right on this, but it's impossible to make that claim legitimately. We don't have a woman who wasn't raised in a sexist society to compare to, and I can think of at least one other way it could happen.

I'd be interested in seeing lesbian separatism come about, if only so we could have data like that to get a better idea of exactly what is going on.
Kag, I agree with you, and am usually more careful to distinguish between my opinion and things that there is actual evidence for. Sorry about that.

However, I think that anything we are going to learn from lesbian separatism is going to come from communities that already or exist or that are already gone, because I think that the movement is getting weaker, not stronger, as it becomes more possible for women to get power in the wider society.

the tree, what's the difference between a bad habit and inherently oppressive? Lesbian separatists believe that the bad habit of gender roles in our society gives men an advantage, so men they won't work to end gender roles. Lesbian separatists have a long-term goal of getting rid of gender, so that they don't believe that "men" are "inherently" anything.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Indon » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:28 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/


Wow, awesome read. Learned a few things whole cloth, like the smiling thing (which, frankly? Kind of creepy).
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Antimony-120 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:30 pm UTC

I think a lot of the problem with the whole "Hey, you're accusing men of being assholes" lies in what exactly do you define as an asshole.

For example, I'm a hand-talker. Subconscious habit, and one that's widespread in our society. It pisses some people off when I do it, and though I try to control it around anyone who makes a point of it I slip regularly (one of my exs REALLY hated that habit). Am I an asshole for this? By some definitions yes, I'm annoying people with a mannerism I have control over. On the other hand I would be tempted to go with "no, but watch it". Sure I annoy some people, but its not a conscious decision, and it is one that I attempt to curb within reason. I might be able to stop it completely with a concerted effort, but it seems like a lot of work to stop a mannerism which is rarely more than a minor nuisance.

The comparison to women's rights is, I hope, obvious. I'm a male, and I'm well aware that there are a million little things that occur everyday that privilege men over women. But I'm not TRYING to infict them. So don't accuse me of beating women down (I'm going to leave the accusation that I inherently want to rape women right out of this since it makes my blood boil), if I'm participating in some common patriacal privilige just TELL me. I'll probably go "Oh, I hadn't thought of that" and stop. In fact, unlike the example above, I probably WILL go to a concerted effort to stop it completely (or at least reduce it drastically), because it's more than a minor nuisance.

In short, my main problem with aggressive feminist literature is NOT that I think everything is fine now and we should just let it go, but rather that it takes the contradictory assertions that it is:
i) An innate part of being male
ii) Something that men will not put effort to address
iii) A cultural thing

Of those, i and iii are directly contradictory, and only iii is true. A perfect example is that I rarely USE s/he or his/her EXCEPT when reffering to a particular person. On IRC when talking about someone I occasionally slip up and use "he" to refer to an unknown person, but that is more due to the statistics of IRC than anything else, in reality I've been making the effort to refer to every unknown individual as "she". In fact I haven't used those terms at all in this entire post.

I will say however that the only changes I refuse to make are womyn and hir. Because I want to be able to SPEAK in my own goddamn language, and frankly it's counterproductive to make your ideology directly interfere with the capability to spread the idea.

tl;dr: I'm not doing it conciously, so treat it like you would any subconcious tick that annoys you, and TELL me, I'll most likely stop.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Enuja » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:20 pm UTC

Antimony-120, I was with you until I got to your signature: "Generation Y, when you ladies first see me we'll add one to the next generation". I honestly can't imagine a reason for that signature other to imply that you are so sexy and masculine that any female, the moment she meets you, will become pregnant from your sheer manliness. It's literally the most sexist signature I've seen on this forum. I can't image that you really change your behavior when people point out it's sexist, since you have that obnoxious signature.

Also, while it's perfectly possible that some feminists believe both your points i and iii, there are also many feminists who believe i and not iii and many who believe iii and not i. My impression from the blog post that stezer777 posted the link to was that she believes iii and not i, the radicalesbians when writing The Women-Identified Women believed iii and not i, and I believe iii and not i.

Edited because I switched i and iii in the last sentence.
Last edited by Enuja on Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Antimony-120 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:36 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:Antimony-120, I was with you until I got to your signature: "Generation Y, when you ladies first see me we'll add one to the next generation". I honestly can't imagine a reason for that signature other to imply that you are so sexy and masculine that any female, the moment she meets you, will become pregnant from your sheer manliness. It's literally the most sexist signature I've seen on this forum. I can't image that you really change your behavior when people point out it's sexist, since you have that obnoxious signature.


Actually the joke is at my expense, that anyone would THINK that is the...y'know what, you're going to assume it's sexist no matter what I say, so carry on.

Also, while it's perfectly possible that some feminists believe both your points i and iii, there are also many feminists who believe i and not iii and many who believe iii and not i. My impression from the blog post that stezer777 posted the link to was that she believes i and not iii, the radicalesbians when writing The Women-Identified Women believed i and not iii, and I believe i and not iii.


Lemme get this straight, you think being repressive is an innate part of being male? You think that a large section of the population is physically incapable of seeing past sterotypes based solely on their gender.

I...okay, fuck this I give up.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby EmptySet » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:06 am UTC

Enuja wrote:the tree, what's the difference between a bad habit and inherently oppressive? Lesbian separatists believe that the bad habit of gender roles in our society gives men an advantage, so men they won't work to end gender roles. Lesbian separatists have a long-term goal of getting rid of gender, so that they don't believe that "men" are "inherently" anything.


If men are inherently oppressive, Y chromosomes radiate oppression in much the same way as a fire radiates heat, and the only solution is to either eliminate all men or segregate men and women. In other words men are intrinsically defective; even if you waved your magic wand and swapped all cultural expectations (Men should stay in the kitchen!), the patriarchy would quickly be re-established - men are born oppressors and nothing can change that.

On the other hand, if it's a bad habit, men act in an oppressive manner because of the system and culture in which they live. The problem can then (theoretically, at least) be solved through fixing or abandoning the flawed culture. Men and women could co-exist in an equal society, if only the culture was not weighted against women as it is now, or if only we abandoned these silly gender roles which are forced on us by society.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby setzer777 » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:21 am UTC

EmptySet wrote:
Enuja wrote:the tree, what's the difference between a bad habit and inherently oppressive? Lesbian separatists believe that the bad habit of gender roles in our society gives men an advantage, so men they won't work to end gender roles. Lesbian separatists have a long-term goal of getting rid of gender, so that they don't believe that "men" are "inherently" anything.


On the other hand, if it's a bad habit, men act in an oppressive manner because of the system and culture in which they live. The problem can then (theoretically, at least) be solved through fixing or abandoning the flawed culture. Men and women could co-exist in an equal society, if only the culture was not weighted against women as it is now, or if only we abandoned these silly gender roles which are forced on us by society.


The latter seems to be similar to the view of the original blogger. She apparently believes that men are oppressive not because it's somehow inherent in their genes, but because it is in their best interest to oppress women (in terms of social and material advantages). Lesbian separatism is meant to help change this by giving women bargaining power - because until a woman really has the choice of leaving the oppressive situation, she is relying on men as a group to set aside their own self interest, which is unrealistic to expect from any group.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby T-Form » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:49 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:Lesbian separatism is meant to help change this by giving women bargaining power - because until a woman really has the choice of leaving the oppressive situation, she is relying on men as a group to set aside their own self interest, which is unrealistic to expect from any group.

What is this "self interest", though, and why should we believe that people are doomed to follow it? People do all sorts of things that would conflict with almost any notion of self-interest, and certainly with any notion strict enough to prevent men from voluntarily cooperating toward gender equality. In fact, the very idea of creating a stable equal society of purely self-interested humans doesn't make any sense, since that requires people to be able to deliberately gain and/or lose social power, which is impossible with deterministic self-interest. An equal society could only come about by accident, and it could be destroyed in the same way. Furthermore, women would also seek supremacy, not equality, so an equal society is unstable from both sides - as soon as either group gets any advantage they'll use that to tip the balance further in their favour.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Yuri2356 » Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:24 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:The latter seems to be similar to the view of the original blogger. She apparently believes that men are oppressive not because it's somehow inherent in their genes, but because it is in their best interest to oppress women (in terms of social and material advantages). Lesbian separatism is meant to help change this by giving women bargaining power - because until a woman really has the choice of leaving the oppressive situation, she is relying on men as a group to set aside their own self interest, which is unrealistic to expect from any group.

Error of division. Mans are not a hivemind. Plenty of our interests lie in creating a just society where half of its members are not often subjected to grievous harm for arbitrary reasons. We be'd quite happy to help if the movement didn't insist that we don't and in fact can't exist, and instead started working out how to make use of their allies. It seems obvious that no man will support you when declare it to be so and thus alienate and enrage the one who would.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Belial » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:42 pm UTC

What is this "self interest", though, and why should we believe that people are doomed to follow it? People do all sorts of things that would conflict with almost any notion of self-interest, and certainly with any notion strict enough to prevent men from voluntarily cooperating toward gender equality.


Sure. People act against self interest occasionally.

But the thing is...when it comes to changing a society, it's not enough for a few people to act right. A big frakking majority of them have to. And people don't act directly against their self interest in giant bloody waves very often.

If you must, think of it like entropy. The system will tend toward self interest. Even if one particular interaction within the system accidentally flukes its way into behaving against it, the hundred thousand interactions that go exactly as expected will see that the trend continues. And ultimately, while that single interaction might make the oppressor feel all warm and fuzzy and good about himself, to the oppressed, the trend is all that matters.

Because it's not about judging whether you're a good and fluffy person. It's not about you at all, and that's sometimes tough to hear, especially for people in a place of privilege who are used to it always being about them. It's about them trying to make their lives better.
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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby the tree » Sun Jun 07, 2009 6:11 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:the tree, what's the difference between a bad habit and inherently oppressive?
Habits can be kicked, where as inherent properties imply that it's permanent.

Enuja wrote:Lesbian separatists believe that the bad habit of gender roles in our society gives men an advantage, so men they won't work to end gender roles.
Welll, urm, what T-Form said.
Belial wrote:
What is this "self interest", though, and why should we believe that people are doomed to follow it? People do all sorts of things that would conflict with almost any notion of self-interest, and certainly with any notion strict enough to prevent men from voluntarily cooperating toward gender equality.


Sure. People act against self interest occasionally.

But the thing is...when it comes to changing a society, it's not enough for a few people to act right. A big frakking majority of them have to. And people don't act directly against their self interest in giant bloody waves very often.
I don't know about America - but the reason why women are able to vote in the UK is because of a refferendum - in which only men could vote. I'm pretty sure it's possible for the majority of people to want good things.

Enuja wrote:Lesbian separatists have a long-term goal of getting rid of gender, so that they don't believe that "men" are "inherently" anything.
Ah, okay, it's hard to tell when they say "men" if they mean the sex or the gender - damn language.

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Re: Lesbian Separatism

Postby Ginger » Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:59 pm UTC

Yuri2356 wrote:Error of division. Mans are not a hivemind. Plenty of our interests lie in creating a just society where half of its members are not often subjected to grievous harm for arbitrary reasons. We'd be quite happy to help if the movement didn't insist that we don't and in fact can't exist, and instead started working out how to make use of their allies. It seems obvious that no man will support you when declare it to be so and thus alienate and enrage the one who would.

Why should the women figure out how to rally the men to their cause? Why can't the men just act like decent human beings without prompting? That would teach those uppity womenfolk to realize that they have allies! But no, you force the collective them to act sweet and nice to the collective you so they can garner your approval and not provoke your rage, which is kind of the mindset that I would imagine a lesbian separatist would want to separate from don't you think?
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