Political lesbianism and sexual orientation as a choice

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Political lesbianism and sexual orientation as a choice

Post by LongIslandIcedTea » 10 Jan 2019 20:38

Does anyone have anything they can recommend I read or listen to that explains this view within radical feminism? I've posted about it in another thread but it's something I've come across a couple of times recently in feminist circles (hetero/bi women deciding to "become lesbians" or feminists saying that sexuality is a choice). Whether I agree with it or not, I'd like to at least understand their argument but I really don't get it and the stuff I've read and listened to so far hasn't actually answered any of my questions because it's been "ex-heterosexuals" addressing hetero/bi women so (strangely!) doesn't seem to include actual lesbians in it. I've seen the odd thing dismissing the view that sexual orientation is innate but only in terms of why they think that it is politically unwise and why LGB groups have pushed that view ie a discussion of whether it is politically useful for that to be or not to be the case rather than whether it is true or not.

Unlike some, I'm not wedded to the idea that homosexuality is in your genes - and I think it could be a mixture of biology and early upbringing or different for different people - but I don't really see how it is a choice. Do they mean sexual behaviour (which of course, yes, you can choose), an identity/label that you choose to put on yourself (which again you can choose - although you might get labelled by others) or who you actually feel attracted to?

I can see how women can be socialised into heterosexuality (ie behaving heterosexually and suppressing an attraction for women) but what is the explanation for women who are lesbians - despite, like everyone else, experiencing the societal pressure to be straight and who weren't persuaded to be lesbian by any involvement in feminist politics? Is there any acknowledgement of this in the thinking?

Is there anything I can read on this - or can anyone here enlighten me? To be honest, it is something I am sceptical of but I would genuinely like to understand the arguments.

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Re: Political lesbianism and sexual orientation as a choice

Post by Macha » 11 Jan 2019 10:20

Yes, here is a wonderful piece written by the great Julie Bindel that explains 2nd wave political lesbianism. And this lesbian is all for it.
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... -gayrights

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Re: Political lesbianism and sexual orientation as a choice

Post by nuxi » 11 Jan 2019 17:13

Here's an interesting piece written by Bev Jo:

https://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.c ... -of-pride/

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Re: Political lesbianism and sexual orientation as a choice

Post by Irina » 11 Jan 2019 21:25

I personally (I'm not a psychologist or genetisist or something like that) believe that most political lesbians are/were bisexuals experiencing a shift in attraction. Their attraction to males diminished or completely disappeared and their love for women, previously repressed, finally bloomed. There are also women who tried to become lesbians and failed (of course). Their experience can teach us a lot, too. Not everyone is lesbian or bisexual and hetero women shouldn't be harassed and encouraged to "try harder". If you are all for staying off men and centering women regardless of your sexuality, it's a great policy to be pushing in feminist circles. But if you mix up your political stance and sexuality things get confusing.

I've read a lot of stuff on human sexuality and, as far as I understand, it is a combination of biological factors with some developmental factors thrown in, but the developmental factors are random and unpredictable, not in the lines of "Oh no, my son will catch the gay virus from looking at a gay couple". It's similar to how our temperament is formed. We have little control over the way we react to stimuli and process things.

Overall, LongIslandIcedTea made a good point distinguishing between orientation and behaviour. Lesbians are not given the agency to love other women. Doesn't mean they never "became" lesbians, they just can't ever show who they are and are doomed to live miserable hetero life that is not for them. If a feminist is speaking in favour of lesbianism, it would be more productive and genuine to encourage women to celebrate their attraction towards other women (if they have it naturally) rather than urge hetero women to "become" homosexual and set them up for failure.

The topic of lesbianism would be so much less controversial for feminists if we just acknowledged the validity of sexual orientation. (Almost?) every lesbian struggled throughout much of her life to accept who she is (and no, political lesbianism as it is now is NOT helping). I can bet my life that some young lesbian is out there hating herself for choosing to be this way or doubting the validity of her attraction. You can gush about how "choosing" to be lesbian is the greatest thing ever, but it will fall on her deaf ear, all she hears is "you chose to be a lesbian" and feels even worse. It is a painful experience no feminist would wish upon any woman. Political lesbianism doesn't give a damn about lesbians and I feel we have to protect our integrity and natural-ness from it.
"Choice" is a bad word in this discussion. Exercising your agency is not a choice in its everyday meaning. Stop confusing agency and choice.

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