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