Lesbianism and Feminism


Part 3

4. Lesbianism and feminism


Feminism is the thought includes many meanings, but I think the essential words of radical feminism is "women are not born but made" by Simone de Beauvoir.
I found feminism at Lesbian community, but before then I knew her words. The words say gender is not natural but constructed by our society. Both women and men are human being. But we are compelled deferent gender, deferent personalities and deferent social rolls. I think the thought is the most common to Lesbianism among some kinds of feminism.


"Heterosexual people are not born but made". I try to say after Beauvoir's words, about the society that compels heterosexual analyzed by a Lesbian feminist poet, Adrienne Rich. Heterosexism in our society tells us that human beings are born as heterosexual, and heterosexuality is natural and common, and we can't change our sexuality. Lesbian feminism resists against them, and make clear that heterosexuality is compelled by our society like gender.
In the first place, if heterosexuality was natural and universal, why do many Lesbians like me exist all over the world? And why does our society want to deny and distort and stereotype homosexuality, although such varied Lesbians exist? Why is marriage system applied to only heterosexual people? Lesbian feminism makes clear that these social systems are made on the purpose to compel every human being heterosexuality and to steal all possibilities of human sexuality. I think the analysis is essence of Lesbian feminism.

The thought to recognize difference among women and to find women's possibilities

And Lesbianism is the thought to recognize our difference among women. I don't like the word "homosexuality" because there is a myth that the persons who have same sex have same personality. Lesbians know well that many women have many personalities. For example my partner and I have more deferent parts than same parts. We are deferent at age, jobs, preferences, characters and thoughts etc. It is a matter of course. Gender system says women are supposed to be just feminine, so people often think every woman is same and just feminine. But actually women have many deferent personalities. But when heterosexual people consider dividing human being into men and women, they can't find women's deferent personalities. Lesbians make our relationships among only women, so we find our deference. And of course Lesbianism is assumption that "every women is not heterosexual", so it is the thought to recognize women's deference and to resist against stereotyped same "women".
And Lesbianism is the thought to give priority to women. The purpose of feminism is equal rights and opportunities between women and men. But Lesbianism gives priority to the challenges, "What only women can do", and "How only women help each other". In our sexism society, if one man is among women, he wants to rule women and women tend to depend on him. For example at women's schools or universities both chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of students associations are girls and they do good jobs. But at coeducational schools or universities chairpersons are often boys and vice-chairpersons are often girls. And if girls want to resist the system, they have to show they are better at the all jobs perfectly than boys. But I think trying "what only women can do without men" is better for women to extend women's possibilities and self-esteems. I think this part of Lesbianism and the thought to love women-selves are Lesbian separatism.

The challenge against sexism and heterosexism society

Some Lesbians call themselves feminists and others don't. But even if they recognize themselves as feminists or not, when we decide to live and do live as Lesbians, we end up challenging against sexism and heterosexism society. In such sexism society that doesn't arrow women to live independently or freely, we can't live happily as Lesbians. And in such a society where women's incomes are a half of men's and marriage is compelled economically and culturally, it is hard just to live as Lesbians. To be release and to live happily as Lesbians, we have to change our sexism and heterosexism society. So just living as Lesbians means challenging against sexism and heterosexism society.
I demand women's equal income system and equal opportunities to get jobs. I demand repeal of marriage system and personal equality. I demand the society where women can get jobs and rent houses and aren't discriminated, even if we have no relationship with men, even if we live alone or with 1 or 2 or 3 women, or even if we are old or we have children. I demand Lesbian visibility that people don't consider my partner is a man automatically. And I think my demands are challenges against sexism and heterosexism society, even if I want them to be so or not.

5. Aiming at freedom to choose our sexuality

Both Lesbians and heterosexual people are not free in the heterosexism society

Not only Lesbians are not free in sexism and heterosexism society. No one can choose heterosexuality consciously in heterosexism society. I think heterosexual people happen to have sex with people with deferent sex, before they know, like UENO Chizuko wrote. Especially women tend to do because of feminine gender compelled by sexism society. If you happen to have sex with person with deferent sex, get married and have children without considering or deciding your sexuality, your lives have nothing to do with your minds and wills at all.
We have to consider and choose whom we have relationships with, and whom we have sex with and what kind of lifestyles we live, by ourselves. So every sexuality must be equal and visible to choose them. In the society where Lesbian are not free, heterosexual people are not free either.

The right to choose our sexuality

Every human being has ability to love not depend on sex. But I think in sexism and heterosexism society our ability are contracted and spoiled.
Feminism makes the thought that women have the right to decide about their bodies, "reproductive rights". Now Lesbian feminism demands the right to decide our sexuality, "sexual rights". We have the right to choose and live the sexuality we want. And to guarantee the right we need the society that doesn't discriminate us depend on sexual orientation. I decided my Lesbian sexuality and now I live as a Lesbian. But it is hard to decide and live it, because Lesbian sexuality is discriminated and insulted, and because women have only low social status and it is hard for me to get economic independence.

The freedom to choose lifestyle

I aim the society where every sexuality and lifestyle is equal and we aren't discriminated depend on our lifestyle. For example the society where a married woman with children can divorce her husband and choose Lesbian sexuality and have woman partner, without economic disadvantage. And the society where women don't need to be married, because they can't get economic independent or they are afraid they are injurious to their reputation.
And I think my aiming to live as a Lesbian happily affirms making such society.

Original Japanese speech was at the women's studies beginners' class of Hosei University 1994.123
Translated by Ayako HATTORI

If you have some suggestions or questions about my English, would you please contact me.shiro_ayako@ybb.ne.jp


Lesbianism and Feminism/Japanese

Movement and Opinions/English