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Breaking The Taboo Against Women Loving Women by Peggy Luhrs Since Persephone was taken from Demeter, order no rx aricept patriarchal society has done its best to break the bonds between women. Order no rx aricept Patriarchy demands that women give primacy to men. Order no rx aricept It implicitly and explicitly forbids woman loving, order no rx aricept whether this be the love of one woman for another, order no rx aricept for herself, order no rx aricept or for her sex. Order no rx aricept Understanding the nature, order no rx aricept reasons and uses of this taboo leads to an understanding of the centrality of lesbians to any movement to improve the status of women. Order no rx aricept I use the example of the Demeter/Persephone myth to underscore the fact that the first bond broken by patriarchy is the mother/daughter bond. Order no rx aricept That bond is the emotional basis for women loving women. Order no rx aricept All of us first learn love from our mothers, order no rx aricept but society has insisted that women deny this bond and give their love exclusively to men. Order no rx aricept Lesbians are women who have, order no rx aricept among other things, order no rx aricept broken these rules. Order no rx aricept In this male supremacist world, order no rx aricept all things female are devalued. Order no rx aricept This is a suicidal course for the race and, order no rx aricept indeed, order no rx aricept late patriarchy distinguishes itself by its capacity to annihilate not only the human race, order no rx aricept but the entire planet. Order no rx aricept Mother Earth is an entity perceived as female and therefore routinely subject to rape and abuse. Order no rx aricept This global ideology translates on the personal plane to a taboo against woman loving. Order no rx aricept First and foremost, order no rx aricept women are inculcated with a sense of self-hatred. Order no rx aricept Growing up in a world where things male are overvalued and things female undervalued cannot help but leave women feeling like inferior beings. If a woman somehow escapes this conditioning, order no rx aricept the first signs of self-assertion will surely bring her lessons in the selfishness and unacceptability of such behavior. Order no rx aricept Organizing with women, order no rx aricept as I have for the last fifteen years, order no rx aricept has convinced me that the most effective stumbling block to our liberation is the internalized self-hatred that comes from living in a woman-hating world. Order no rx aricept If we have such a hard time valuing ourselves, order no rx aricept how can we change society's evaluation of us? Women constantly put men first in a way men never do for women, order no rx aricept no matter how heterosexual they are. Order no rx aricept Lesbians break the taboo against women bonding and deny the imperative that a man should be the first interest of every woman. Order no rx aricept For this heresy, order no rx aricept they are severely punished by the family, order no rx aricept state, order no rx aricept church, order no rx aricept and the priests' heirs, order no rx aricept the psychiatrists. Order no rx aricept More subtly, order no rx aricept their entire existence is erased in the culture. Order no rx aricept They are labeled unnatural (as are spinsters) and they are said to wish to be men. Order no rx aricept While lesbians may wish more access to the world (which is considered male), order no rx aricept they prefer being women. Order no rx aricept We are not to love ourselves; it is selfish for a woman and self-respecting for a man. Order no rx aricept We are not to love our sex: that's strident for a woman and normal for a man. Order no rx aricept We are not to love another woman; that is unnatural, order no rx aricept perverse and insurrectionary. Order no rx aricept Men are not to love other men homosexually either, order no rx aricept because that is perceived as playing a female role and therefore degrading. Order no rx aricept Lesbianism is the strongest and most overt expression of women bonding we have. Order no rx aricept The repression of lesbians reflects the degree to which women in general are kept down. Order no rx aricept Women are socialized in heterosexuality to insure that they continue to see their work as their natural realm, order no rx aricept so that their unpaid work at home will be mystified. Order no rx aricept Lesbians contradict this conditioning and challenge the prevailing economic system's use of women. Order no rx aricept Women usually do the housework, order no rx aricept even if they work themselves, order no rx aricept and are expected to be emotionally supportive of men as well. Order no rx aricept Many conversations with women, order no rx aricept as well as my own experience, order no rx aricept convince me this kind of emotional support is rarely reciprocal. Order no rx aricept Lesbians offer this kind of support to each other and can enable themselves and each other to do other work. Order no rx aricept Defining women's role as naturally to serve men is the major reason lesbians are labeled as unnatural. Order no rx aricept Virginia Woolf wrote that men wish women to "reflect them back at twice their size." Lesbians refuse to do this and are disdained for their refusal. Order no rx aricept Whenever women begin to bond, order no rx aricept despite their socialization, order no rx aricept men have done their best to stem the tide of independent women. Order no rx aricept As Carol Smith Rosenberg points out in her book "Disorderly Conduct": "The years before and after WW I saw women's greatest professional visibility and political activism ... Order no rx aricept Neither before nor since have women been so political -- and so politically successful. Order no rx aricept They battled for Peace, order no rx aricept suffrage, order no rx aricept child labor and protective labor, order no rx aricept for birth control and sexual liberation." She then notes, order no rx aricept "During these same years, order no rx aricept male politicians, order no rx aricept aided by male physicians, order no rx aricept sex reformers and educators launched a concerted political attack condemning female friendships as lesbian and separate female institutions -- educational or political -- as breeding places for 'unnatural' sexual impulses. Order no rx aricept These attacks constituted an integral part of the 1920's assault on feminists and radicals." This is still going on, order no rx aricept in ever new and subtle forms. Order no rx aricept Few political strategies are as old or effective as Divide and Conquer. Order no rx aricept All dominant groups use it to retain power. Order no rx aricept In a nutshell, order no rx aricept this is the basis of the taboo against women bonding. Order no rx aricept If women were united, order no rx aricept self-affirming, order no rx aricept women loving feminists, order no rx aricept male supremacy, order no rx aricept with its attendant privilege, order no rx aricept would quickly collapse. Order no rx aricept This is not to blame women for their current status. Order no rx aricept Men have used economic sanctions, order no rx aricept labeling, order no rx aricept and all the power of the church, order no rx aricept state and family to police women into their male defined role. Order no rx aricept They have used rape and brute force as well. Order no rx aricept The forces ranged against us are tremendous and it is a tribute to women's amazing creativity that we have survived and progressed despite such odds. Order no rx aricept The system of heterosexual hegemony is so normative and institutionalized that women often enforce it for men. Order no rx aricept This is the saddest and perhaps most effective way of keeping women divided. Order no rx aricept It is the impetus behind this article. Order no rx aricept As a feminist, order no rx aricept I know the reasons men wish to label me unnatural and erase my existence. Order no rx aricept It is much harder to experience the same treatment from women, order no rx aricept when one knows they are acting against their own ultimate self-interest and the selves of all women. Order no rx aricept Recently I read the following: "From the beginning of the women's movement to the present day, order no rx aricept a significant number of homosexual women assumed the leadership in the numerous struggles and ... Order no rx aricept through their energy awakened ... Order no rx aricept the average woman to awareness of their human dignity and rights. Order no rx aricept Considering the contributions made to the women's movement by lesbians for decades, order no rx aricept it is amazing that the large and influential organizations of the movement have never lifted a finger to improve the civil rights and social standing of their numerous (lesbian) sisters." The date of this quote is 1904! It could be Vermont and the current ERA struggle, order no rx aricept the situation is the same. Order no rx aricept Lesbians have done so much of the work in the women's movement and every struggle for women's rights, order no rx aricept yet their sisters have usually not responded in kind and, order no rx aricept worse yet, order no rx aricept have denied or censured lesbians out of their own fear. Order no rx aricept The right is waging a homophobic campaign against the passage of the ERA. Order no rx aricept Representing male supremacy, order no rx aricept they use the same tactics. Order no rx aricept Homosexuality is a scapegoat issue, order no rx aricept trotted out to obscure their real agenda, order no rx aricept which is economic. Order no rx aricept The money behind STOP-ERA is right-wing money protecting its interest in the heap labor pool that women provide. Order no rx aricept This is the real issue that so far neither side has addressed. Order no rx aricept Some of the women in the pro-ERA forces are so lesbian-phobic as to give the right a real advantage. Order no rx aricept If we are to be beaten with the club of homophobia and our own side holds the same club, order no rx aricept are we not aiding and abetting the opposition? The right functions on fear and the antidote to that is not defensiveness, order no rx aricept but courage. Order no rx aricept I'm proud to be an unnatural, order no rx aricept selfish, order no rx aricept strident woman. Order no rx aricept I recognize those epithets as misogynist censures and tributes to my effectiveness. Order no rx aricept I'm proud of lesbians. Order no rx aricept It takes courage to live a life with so little social support and many economic and social sanctions against it. Order no rx aricept Lesbianism represents one way of replacing the woman bond that patriarchy has done its best to destroy. Order no rx aricept It is a real achievement. Order no rx aricept If lesbians can have the courage to live our lives and support the women's movement, order no rx aricept surely our sisters in the fight for women's rights can have the courage to support lesbians. Order no rx aricept http://www.mountainpridemedia.org/oitm/issues/1986/02feb1986/taboo.htm