National Organization for Women

The Year Women Found Their Rage

Feminist Current: Lesbianism Under Attack

Trump's List of Nasty Women

Four Non Blondes: What's Up

Highwomen Music Video: Redesigning Women


Women's Rights


“Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”

-Pat Robertson


As a group, women have long suffered many of the same acts of oppression endured by LGBTQ individuals. Women have experienced countless inequities and injustices over the years. Women have been the victims of discrimination, harassment, and violence. Issues of women's rights are very much parallel with LGBTQ rights. Women's Liberation and Gay Liberation have a lot in common regarding the fight for equality. The "Glass Ceiling" and the "Lavender Ceiling" are obstacles both groups fully recognize.


Lesbian feminism is a cultural movement and critical perspective, most popular in the 1970s and early 1980s (primarily in North America and Western Europe), that questions the position of lesbians and women in society. Some key thinkers and activists are Charlotte Bunch, Rita Mae Brown, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Frye, Mary Daly, Sheila Jeffreys and Monique Wittig. Historically lesbianism has been closely associated with feminism, going back at least to the 1890s. "Lesbian feminism" is a related movement that came together in the early 1970s out of dissatisfaction with second-wave feminism and the gay liberation movement.

In the words of lesbian feminist Sheila Jeffreys, "Lesbian feminism emerged as a result of two developments: lesbians within the Women's Liberation Movement began to create a new, distinctively feminist lesbian politics, and lesbians in the Gay Liberation Front left to join up with their sisters".


Sheila Jeffreys defines lesbian feminism as having seven key themes:

--Emphasis on women's love for one another
--Separatist organizations
--Community and ideas
--Idea that lesbianism is about choice and resistance
--Idea that the personal is the political
--Rejection of social hierarchy
--Critique of male-supremacy (which eroticizes inequality)


Sisters Are Doin' for Themselves: Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin
Lesbian Activist Fighting for All women's Rights

Essay by Adrienne Rich: Compulsory Heterosexuality & Lesbian Existence
AutoStraddle: Female Friends Forever

Wikipedia: Womyn
Trump's List of Nasty Women

Meredith Brooks: Bitch

Throw Like a Girl

Herstory Project: Feminism and Lesbianism

Article: Lesbian Separatism

It's Time for LGBTQ Women to Claim Our Seats at the Table

How Ramona Quimby Taught a Generation of Girls to Embrace Brashness

Highwomen: Redesigning Women

Wikipedia: Lesbian Feminism



Lesbians in the 1960s Feminist Movement


When Betty Friedan started the National Organization for Women, the last thing she wanted male America to think of was butch lesbians. The problem was, they were women too.

In 1969, political activism in America was reaching a fever pitch. The convulsions of 1968 (within the US and abroad) were still reverberating, and there was a sense among many young people that the stakes had never been higher. The continued calamity of the Vietnam War was unfolding. Racial tension was explosive. Social movements were coalescing, and using novel tactics to get what they wanted. Almost all were also grappling with what we now call identity politics. Tensions between assimilationism and the drive to pursue a more radical agenda threatened to undermine or tear apart groups of activists.

The “women’s liberation movement” was in full swing. Across the country, women gathered in consciousness-raising groups to share their experiences, read feminist texts, and work together to come to a fuller understanding of their own oppression. They debated politics. They talked intimately about previously private issues: marriage, mothering, dieting, rape, incest, and violence. They taught themselves self-defense. Groups like WITCH and Redstockings staged sit-ins, boycotts, and other protest actions. Media outlets clamored for hot leads about frustrated housewives, angry coeds, and other “women’s libbers.” As one editor is rumored to have told a writer, “Get the bra burning and the karate up front.”


At the time, Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, the 1963 book that blew the lid off of suburban female misery, was the president of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She had helped found the group three years earlier. NOW was arguably the most important feminist organization of the time, but there were tensions within its ranks. Friedan and other straight feminists were concerned that the presence of “mannish” or “man-hating” lesbians would hinder their cause.

The notion that a lesbian aesthetic or “agenda” would compromise feminists’ political power or mar their image in the broader culture was debated in many circles at the time, but few went so far as to overtly exclude lesbians. Friedan did, however. She severed ties with some known lesbians, and resisted affiliation with lesbian organizations. Del Martin, longtime activist and founder of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first official lesbian organization in the country, recalled, “Betty Friedan was such a homophobe. She was so afraid of the stigma lesbians might bring to the organization." Friedan even deleted references to lesbian organizations from the program for the First Congress to Unite Women the same year.

The homophobia of more conservative feminists was an unfortunate hurdle (and a nuisance) to many lesbian feminists, but when, at a 1969 NOW meeting, Friedan referred to the lesbian contingent as a “lavender menace,” some thought she’d taken it too far. Within the year, however, NOW had adopted a resolution recognizing lesbian rights as “a legitimate concern of feminism.”



About Relationships: Lesbian Life

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Highwomen: Redesigning Women

What is Transmisogyny?

Lesbian Activist Fighting for All women's Rights

Is Feminism a Dirty Word?

Info: Definition of Lesbian

How Toxic Masculinity Harms Women

CNN: Nobel Peace Prize for Fight Against Sexual Violence

NY Times: Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Yazidi Activist and Congolese Doctor

Taylor Swift: I'd Be The Man

Meredith Brooks: Bitch

Guardian: Nobel Peace Prize Won by Mukwege and Murad


Women's March 2018


The second annual Women's March took place on Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21, 2018 in various US cities, including Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Austin, Seattle, and Las Vegas.


In the same spirit as last year's event, the Women's March was a demonstration for human rights and other issues, including women's rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, voter empowerment, and sexual harassment.


Since the last protest march, a deluge of revelations about powerful men abusing women, leading to the #MeToo movement, has pushed activists to demand deeper social and political change. Progressive women are eager to build on the movement and translate their enthusiasm into electoral victories in this year’s midterm elections.

More than 200,000 protesters attended the march in New York. 600,000 attended the march in Los Angeles. And organizers of the Chicago march said 300,000 attended that event.

As with last year's event, much of the protest centered on President Trump's ongoing disrespectful remarks about women and minorities.


Melissa Etheridge and Gay Men's Chorus at Women's March

NY Times: Thousands Participate in Women's March

Amazing Signs From the Women's March

CNN: Women's March Draws Big Crowds

Kids Protesting at Women's March

Huff Post: Great Protest Signs From Women's March

CNN: The Future is Female




Women's March 2017


On Saturday, January 21, 2017, more than 2 million people across the world, led by hundreds of thousands who overwhelmed the nation's capital, protested the first full day of President Trump's tenure.


The Women's March was a worldwide protest to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women's rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers' rights.


What began as a Facebook post by a Hawaii grandmother the day after Hillary Clinton's loss in November's election blossomed into a massive protest uniting people of all ages, races and religions who crowded downtown Washington. They called for a "revolution" as a bulwark against the new administration and the Republican-led Congress they fear will roll back reproductive, civil and human rights.

According to a sister march webpage, an estimated 2.6 million people took part in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 countries, from Belarus to New Zealand — with the largest taking place in Washington.

The crowds were so large in some cities that marching was almost impossible. In Chicago, organizers halted the march and rallied at Grant Park instead as crowds swelled to 150,000, although thousands still marched. In New York City, the number was 400,000, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio; in Boston, media reported more than 100,000 people marching in Boston Common. In Oakland, Calif., police estimated that about 60,000 people took part in the women's march. Local media reports said that San Francisco’s rally later in the day may have attracted as many as 100,000.

Women and men across the country participated in a “Women's March on Washington” in the nation's capital the day after the inauguration as a rebuke to President-elect Donald Trump's incendiary remarks about women and minorities during his presidential campaign.


The undercurrent of the protest was heavily female-oriented, with women decrying Trump's comments about women, the uncertain future of access to birth control and abortion, and the fact that Hillary Clinton missed becoming the first woman to hold the presidency.


Hundreds of Cities Joined Women's March

Women's March was Therapy

Badass Signs From Women's March

Voices and Portraits From Women's March

Photos From Women's Marches Around the World


Womyn: Feminist and Lesbian Separatism

"Womyn" is an alternate spelling of the word "woman." The term is sometimes used by some feminist and lesbian separatist groups as a nonsexist spelling of "woman" in order to deliberately avoid the suffix "man." The term has been tied to the concept of feminism as a form of the word "woman" without patriarchal connotations. The term is sometimes used in labeling certain academic programs, categories of literature, concert events, festivals, interest groups, support groups, and communities/communes related to feminist or lesbian issues.



What is Transmisogyny?

The term "transmisogyny" describes so much of what we see in the cultural and systemic treatment of trans women in our culture and ties in so clearly with feminism, and yet it’s not a word that many people know about or understand.

You may have heard of transphobia: the discrimination of and negative attitudes toward transgender people based on their gender expression.

And you’ve likely heard of misogyny: the hatred and denigration of women and characteristics deemed feminine.

Transmisogyny, then, is the confluence of these: the negative attitudes, expressed through cultural hate, individual and state violence, and discrimination directed toward trans women and trans and gender non-conforming people on the feminine end of the gender spectrum.


Transfeminist theorist and author Julia Serano argues in her book Whipping Girl that transphobia is rooted in sexism, and locates the origins of both transphobia and homophobia in what she calls "oppositional sexism," the belief that male and female are "rigid, mutually exclusive categories, each possessing a unique and nonoverlapping set of attributes, aptitudes, abilities, and desires." Serano contrasts oppositional sexism with "traditional sexism," the belief that males and masculinity are superior to females and femininity. Furthermore, she writes that transphobia is fueled by insecurities people have about gender and gender norms.


Highwomen: Redesigning Women

The Year Women Found Their Rage

Tricia Yearwood: Every Girl in This Town

Feminist Current: Lesbianism Under Attack

Trump's List of Nasty Women

Rachel Vorona Cote: The Right to Be Too Much

Warrior Women are the Role Models We Need



Lesbian Continuum

"Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" is a 1980 essay by Adrienne Rich, published in her 1986 book Blood, Bread, and Poetry.

Rich argues that heterosexuality is a violent political institution making way for the "male right of physical, economical, and emotional access" to women. She urges women to direct their energies towards other women rather than men, and portrays lesbianism as an extension of feminism. Rich challenges the notion of women's dependence on men as social and economic supports, as well as for adult sexuality and psychological completion. She calls for what she describes as a greater understanding of lesbian experience, and believes that once such an understanding is obtained, these boundaries will be widened and women will be able to experience the "erotic" in female terms.

In order to gain this physical, economical, and emotional access for women, Rich lays out a framework developed by Kathleen Gough (both a social anthropologist and feminist) that lists "eight characteristics of male power in archaic and contemporary societies." Along with the framework given, Rich sets to define the term lesbianism by giving two separate definitions for the term. Lesbian existence, she suggests, is “both the fact of the historical presence of lesbians and our continuing creation of the meaning of that existence. The other, lesbian continuum, refers to the overall "range - through each woman’s life and throughout history - of woman-identified experiences, not simply the fact that a woman has had or consciously desired genital sexual experience with another woman." Below are the characteristics in which male power has demonstrated the suppression of female sexuality.


--To deny women their own sexuality: destruction of sexuality displayed throughout history in sacred documents.

--Forcing male sexuality upon women: rape, incest, torture, a constant message that men are better, and superior in society to women.

--Exploiting their labor to control production: women have no control over choice of children, abortion, birth control and furthermore, no access to knowledge of such things.

--Control over their children: lesbian mothers seen as unfit for motherhood, malpractice in society and the courts to further benefit the man.

--Confinement: women unable to choice their own wardrobe (feminine dress seen as the only way), full economic dependence on the man, limited life in general.

--Male transactions: women given away by fathers as gifts or hostesses by the husband for their own benefit, pimping women out.

--Cramp women’s creativeness: male seen as more assimilated in society (they can participate more, culturally more important).

--Men withholding attainment of knowledge: “Great Silence” (never speaking about lesbian existence in history), discrimination against women professionals.


Feminist Views on Sexual Orientation

Conflict in the Feminist/Lesbian Movement in the 60s

Dispute Between Radical Feminism and Transgenderism

Lesbians Fight Against TERFs

Queer Women of the Suffragette Movement

Lesbianism and Feminism

Lesbians in the 1960s Feminist Movement

Suffragette History and Lesbian Drama

Suffragettes and Lesbians

Recognizing the Contribution of Lesbian Suffragettes

Lesbian Activist Fighting for All women's Rights

Queer Badass Suffragettes Made History

It's Time for LGBTQ Women to Claim Our Seats at the Table

Video Talk: What Are TERFs?

Feminists Must Stand Up for Trans Rights



Rift Between Lesbians and Feminists

While lesbians have always certainly been an active part of the overall feminist movement (including the women's liberation movement, the suffragette movement, and other political efforts to achieve women's right to vote and other women's equality issues), lesbians have not always been accepted or well-received in feminist circles. This dispute has sometimes been described as a culture clash between feminists and lesbians and sheds light on the conflict of values, priorities, and lifestyles between the two groups.


The emergence of queer theory in the 1990s was built upon certain principles of lesbian feminism, including the critique of compulsory heterosexuality, the understanding of gender as defined in part by heterosexuality, and the understanding of sexuality as institutional instead of personal. Despite this, queer theory is largely set in opposition to lesbian feminism. Whereas lesbian feminism is traditionally critical of BDSM, butch/femme identities and relationships, transgenderism, transsexuality, pornography, and prostitution, queer theory tends to embrace them.


Queer theorists embrace gender fluidity and subsequently have critiqued lesbian feminism as having an essentialist understanding of gender that runs counter to their stated aims. Lesbian feminists have critiqued queer theory as implicitly male-oriented and a recreation of the male-oriented Gay Liberation Front that lesbian feminists initially sought refuge from.

Because of its focus on equality in sexual relationships, lesbian feminism has traditionally been opposed to any form of BDSM that involve perpetuation of gender stereotypes.




Bisexuality is rejected by some lesbian feminists as being a reactionary and anti-feminist backlash to lesbian feminism. A number of women who were at one time involved in lesbian feminist activism came out as bisexual after realizing their attractions to men. A widely studied example of lesbian-bisexual conflict within feminism was the Northampton Pride March during the years between 1989 and 1993, where many feminists involved debated over whether bisexuals should be included and whether or not bisexuality was compatible with feminism. Common lesbian feminist critiques leveled at bisexuality were that bisexuality was anti-feminist, that bisexuality was a form of false consciousness, and that bisexual women who pursue relationships with men were "deluded and desperate." However, tensions between bisexual feminists and lesbian feminists have eased since the 1990s, as bisexual women have become more accepted within the feminist community.


Though lesbian feminists views vary, there is a specific lesbian feminist canon which rejects transgenderism, transsexuals and transvestites, positing trans people as, at best, gender dupes or functions of a discourse on mutilation; or at worst, shoring up support for traditional and violent gender norms. This is a position marked by intense controversy.


The term TERF was developed to label this type of feminist attitude towards transgender people.  The acronym means Transgender Exclusionary Radical Feminist.  Sometimes, the less derogatory term, Gender Critical Feminist, is used instead of TERF.


These views on transgenderism and transsexuality have been criticized by many in the LGBTQ and feminist communities as transphobic and constituting hate speech against transsexual men and women. Lesbian feminism is sometimes associated with opposition to sex reassignment surgery; some lesbian feminist analyses see sex reassignment surgery as a form of violence akin to BDSM.


National Organization for Women

Throw Like a Girl

Lesbians in the 1960s Feminist Movement

Meredith Brooks: Bitch

The Year Women Found Their Rage

Feminist Current: Lesbianism Under Attack




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