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You Say Theory, I Say Accurate Description of Reality

September 29, 2009

You know what really gets in the way of the practice of lesbian separatism?  Males do.  Males, their hatred for female people,and the concepts (like gender), institutions (like money), and violence they’ve used to maintain their dominance are what hinder lesbian separatism.  Female people who bring these male concepts and institutional biases into female-only spaces hinder lesbian separatism.

Female-centered analysis of  these concepts and institutions, and the motives of the women who uphold them at every turn, is not a hindrance to lesbian separatism.  This analysis is a beacon to women who are already lesbian separatists, who feel it in the hum of their cells and are simply looking for others like themselves.  Lesbian separatism cannot be sold or taught to women invested in males, women who are merely looking for an alternative to hetero engagements for themselves right now, for the time being, or “until the males are different.” Lesbian separatism isn’t a response to the particular conditions of the here and now; there have always been lesbian separatists, female people who feel innately a kinship with all other female people as being distinct from males, and who are aware and repulsed by the parasitism of maleness.

I understand that for women who don’t feel that viscerally, at a gut level, the lesbian separatist perspective can seem like theorizing at best.  You know what, though?  Those women are not my audience.  They don’t want what I want; there’s nothing I could build with that type of woman that I would be interested in lending my efforts to, relations built on lies, half-truths, and my bitten tongue.  So, calls for women like me to stop “ruining the unity,” or whatever, with my descriptions of reality from a lesbian separatist perspective are simply unfounded.  It is not the case that if I were not describing the way I see male influence in our interactions with one another that I’d be “practicing” anything at all with women who want to raise little boys; who see themselves through male lenses as “straight,” or “feminine,” or “mothers,” or “wives”; who’d recommend to other women that they continue trying to teach males and praise other women’s efforts to reason with them; who can’t discern any meaningful difference between males and female people; or who wish they could forget that there are differences between males and female people.

I don’t understand why equality feminists feel the need to come here or say anything at all about my writing.  I really don’t.  And what they need to realize when they come here is that their questions only show them, plainly and painfully, to be non-separatist women.  Instead of pretending as if I’m some kind of slavering beast just waiting to “attack” them, they should consider that they are encroaching on separatist space with their insistence on being seen as “feminine,” their outrage over my utter contempt for males, their adherence to white male supremacist ways of being.  They should understand that I’ve heard their arguments and questions countless times.  The non-separatist perspective is the one that is encouraged and rewarded.  It’s prolific.  As a black separatist, I am more than uncomfortably familiar with the ways and thought processes of white non-separatist women.  It was society’s hope that I’d aspire to embody white non-separatist womanhood.  So, believe me, I’m well-versed.  It insults me that straight-identified white women don’t assume *automatically* that I’m perfectly aware of  what their assumptions and preconceived notions are, and that I’m able to see them specifically *as* white non-separatist ways of thinking because of my position outside of it.  No, these white women must come to my space “explaining” to me over and over again in increasingly condescending language their perspective, which has been a constant mental and psychological assault on my person since I was born into a white male supremacist world.

See, I *already know* you don’t understand.  Your questions and objections have been anticipated a million times over.  I’ve addressed them so many times that just their being voiced makes me tired, makes me despair for myself and the other separatists out there who must also grow tired of being so removed from female human understanding.  So, I write for us.  It’s important for other lesbian separatists to see expression given to the tedium we feel, the exasperation and bewildered incredulity we have at the non-separatist women who somehow think they’re presenting us with something new or unexpected, and who further feel entitled to the patient consideration of their road-worn and predictable observations in my space.  It’d be laughable if it weren’t so downright common.  We separatists know that those women risk provoking nothing but my boredom and my dismissal, and that their spoiled egos merely interpret this as “abuse.”

6 Comments
  1. JenniferRuth permalink
    September 29, 2009 9:01 am

    I don’t understand why equality feminists feel the need to come here or say anything at all about my writing.

    Hi, I would call myself a radical feminist rather than equality but I am not a separatist. I read here because although I don’t always agree it is always interesting and gives me a new perspective on issues I may have thought I had already figured out. I read here because ultimately, I might be wrong. I don’t comment as much because as you said – you aren’t speaking to me, you aren’t here to educate me and this is not the place for debate (I don’t believe that I could bring anything that you haven’t thought about before).

    Sometimes there might be something I feel I can contribute too, but mostly I am happy to be silent and to absorb to perspective.

  2. Level Best permalink
    September 29, 2009 2:17 pm

    “[Lesbian separatist]analysis is a beacon to women who are already lesbian separatists, who feel it in the hum of their cells and are simply looking for others like themselves.”–Margaret

    I was really struck to find this sentence in today’s post, because yesterday, when I was reading your beautiful “Examining…” post, I had the phrase pop up in my head, “Lesbian separatists are really women’s liberation’s North Star.” I believe that. In some ways you are countless distances beyond/away from those of us who have more compromised lives, but for those of us, however compromised and flawed, who hope for kindness and justice and joy for women and girls you are also a cosmic reality, really there, and an inspiration. Does that make any sense?? Pardon my woo! I really do feel openings when I read what you’ve written; it’s hard for me to express them adequately.

    Like JenniferRuth, I read here although I am not an in-life separatist (I have a disabled male dependent whom I love), and “mostly I am happy to be silent and to absorb to perspective” because the writing is amazing and helpful. It is not my place to speak here too often or offer any judgment whatsoever. As I’ve said elsewhere, a writer’s post is a gift. You ARE here to be that beacon to other lesbian separatists, not to be bugged with lesser,ignorant or hostile responses. The existance of one woman in print can move hearts and lives for centuries. This is important.

  3. September 29, 2009 5:27 pm

    Thanks, Jennifer Ruth. It’s so hard sometimes, knowing that I am indulging the entitlement of the more spoiled and petulant non-separatist women to my thoughts just by writing them down. It is heartening to know that there actually do exist non-separatist women who understand that they are not *entitled* to my time, that they don’t have any *right* to *demand* my patience, that I have no obligation whatsoever to treat with kid-gloves those who espouse the terms and conditions of my oppression as a separatist.

    Level Best, thank you. I’ve always appreciated your comments. I don’t want you to think, though, that my life is in any way uncompromised or flawless. It isn’t, at all.

    But even just recognizing the compromise for what it is, the denial of the female, comes from the ability to see femaleness itself as an element that should not ever be denied. I think that’s what the more intrusive non-separatist women lack, that knowledge and *joyful awareness* of femaleness as distinct from maleness. It keeps them from understanding, even if only in glimmers and flashes, that teasing the maleness that has been imposed on female people apart from that elemental femaleness IS OUR SURVIVAL. We, separatists, NEED to get it off of ourselves, out of our minds, away from our social circles. The constant denial of the female kills us. To expect our cooperation in male-oriented endeavors – helping people cope with gender, helping women cope with men, enabling female people in their expectation that their male-weakened sensibilities should never be offended, perpetuating the prioritization of white male supremacist “niceness” over truth – is to expect our cooperation in our own demise. It is to ask of us that we dig our own graves.

    We are so vilified for our refusal to do that.

    • atheistwoman permalink
      October 2, 2009 1:03 am

      “It keeps them from understanding, even if only in glimmers and flashes, that teasing the maleness that has been imposed on female people apart from that elemental femaleness IS OUR SURVIVAL. We, separatists, NEED to get it off of ourselves, out of our minds, away from our social circles. The constant denial of the female kills us.”

      Oh god yes. It’s killing me, that’s for sure.

  4. Edna permalink
    September 29, 2009 8:44 pm

    Margaret, brilliant post. It can’t be said too often: your writing is a great gift to us readers.

  5. atheistwoman permalink
    October 2, 2009 1:01 am

    “I understand that for women who don’t feel that viscerally, at a gut level, the lesbian separatist perspective can seem like theorizing at best. ”

    I feel it. Though sometimes I wish I didn’t.

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