Monday, January 10, 2011

Beyond Double Standards: Audre Lorde wasn't "Queer"-identified. She was out as a Lesbian. Now, what is it called if White Gay and Trans People Don't Honor and Respect Her Naming of Herself? Lesbophobic? Misogynist? Racist? Anti-feminist? All of these?

photograph of Lesbian poet Audre Lorde is from here
20 Jan. 2011 Addendum:  My objection to Audre Lorde being called "Queer" is not directed at anyone in The Audre Lorde Project. It comes from other sources--online, not in NYC, and I'll link to them so you have some context for what I'm addressing and analysing. Are Black women entitled to name themselves? Or once they are dead is it fine for anyone at all to call Black women by other names that erase much of what they fought hard and lived hard to accomplish in constructing their own identities?

See, for example, from *here*:

A fascinating feature of the book involves its inclusion of a striking variety of responses to threat that women have offered. The collection contains accounts of women's militance, rage, flight, unyieldingness, apathy, passion, breakdowns, and banding together, either in couples or larger groups. Couples find a prevalent place in the book, particularly in the convergence of partnership and eroticism. Lorde celebrates queer sexuality while she cites the realities of discrimination and "bashing." One exemplary poem is "Outlines," in which Lorde explores a relationship between "a Black woman and a white woman / with two Black children" (12).

See also, this, from Wikipedia:
Audre Geraldine Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was a Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist. [Hmmm. No mention of her being a LESBIAN, or, even "queer". -- Julian]
See this, also from Wikipedia:
The Audre Lorde Project is a Brooklyn, New York-based organization for queer people of color. The organization concentrates on community organizing and radical nonviolent activism around progressive issues within New York City, especially relating to queer and transgender communities, AIDS and HIV activism, pro-immigrant activism, prison reform and organizing among youth of color. It is named for the queer poet and activist Audre Lorde and was founded in 1994. [the bold and enlarged text was made so by me, Julian to note the lesbian-invisibilising portion of the paragraph]
See also these two quotes:

“When we define ourselves, when I define myself, the place in which I am like you and the place in which I am not like you, I’m not excluding you from the joining — I’m broadening the joining.”
Audre Lorde in Sister Outsider

“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” -- Audre Lorde

I have read Audre Lorde refer to herself and other lesbian women of color, referring back to the 1950s, as  gay-girls. And later she was out as a lesbian and a feminist. Never, ever, had I heard her identify herself as "queer". As if we needed more signs that queer/trans/gay/het culture is eradicating lesbian-feminist existence, this is it. We already are well aware that dominant WHM society will ignore, appropriate, or destroy Black lesbian existence to its own ends, often to turn people's lives into two-dimensional pornography or to tokenise individual Black lesbian activists so as to appear "inclusive", such as when mentioning Barbara Smith, Cheryl Clarke, or Audre Lorde during Women's History Month or Black History Month in the Academy. Or to refuse to mention the values and activist aims of any Black lesbian feminist, on television or in any dominant corporate media dealing with social justice and human rights. 

When is the last time Democracy Now featured a Black lesbian feminist speaking about white male supremacy as a central problem? Probably the last time they had Angela Davis or Alice Walker on their show, actually. But one or two people isn't enough to represent the richness of Black lesbian feminism. I wish it were the case that we could hear from ONLY one white het man on any given social issue, and that would be considered sufficient.

Liberals and even some progressives tell me there's room at the table for all of us. But what I've noticed is the table is designed to only allow just so many, and if you are white and male, there's more room for you than if you're neither. If you're pro-white and pro-male, there's more room for you than if you're neither. If you're pro-racism and pro-misogyny, if you're pro-appropriation of the cultures and experiences of people of color, and pro-appropriation of women's cultures and experiences, there's also room at that table. And guess who folks with white and male privileges expect to serve them at any table?

It appears to me that there isn't room at the White Liberal Queer/Trans/Gay-dominated table for lesbians of color. No room at the table. Not even the kitchen table any more. Nor is there room for radical lesbian feminists of any color.

What will it take for the values and activism of radical lesbian feminists of all colors to be honored and respected? Will it take having governments respect and acknowledge girl-raised lesbians as a specifically gendered social-political group deserving of civil and human rights protections, including the right to not be invaded and appropriated by non-lesbians and anti-feminists?

While the person named below supports a withdrawal of lesbian time and money from The Audre Lorde Project, I don't. I don't support any form of boycott of The Audre Lorde Project by anyone given that it works to assist people with far fewer privileges than most lesbians and gay males I know; and the people who benefit from the Project also have far fewer privileges than most of the media spokespeople for queer and trans communities or activist efforts to reduce exploitation and violence against queer-identified people and against lesbians who do not necessarily identify as queer.

[Portions edited out by moi, the author, for being unnecessary, inappropriate, and stupidly racist--that's my racism, no one else's.]

It is important to me, as someone who seeks to support women of all colors who act from radical feminist analyses and ethics, that Black Lesbian Feminism not be erased from herstory in the name of "inclusion" or to make a political group become more "queer-friendly". In my experience, without exception, making a group that was formerly explicitly pro-lesbian feminist into one which is more "queer-friendly" inevitably means that group has become more male supremacist, more anti-lesbian, and more anti-radical feminist.

For more on the unwelcome male supremacist return of "GLBT", see *here*. For related posts, see
A Response to "Transphobic and Racially Confused" by Brandon Lacy Campos to Dirtywhiteboi67 and Our Civil Rights are Not Enough: Beyond Queer Inclusion to Liberation from CRAP.

See the following for what prompted me to post about this. You may click on the title below to link back to the source site. Everything below was written by a person who names herself online with this word: Dirt.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lesbian Only and Lesbian Student Only Orgs

I spent several hours yesterday searching Lesbian/Student Lesbian only organizations and found none. I will continue to look and if I do find any or if you happen across any email me them and I will keep that list at the side. But while searching and coming up empty, my searches werent a total bust, I found out that according to wiki, Audre Lorde is now a queer poet and activist! Oh really, does the deceased LESBIAN poet and activist Audre Lorde know this? Does she also know her name is being used for this "project"...???

Using a LESBIAN activist's name, claiming to be for the "queer" alphabet soup, yet its front page picture clearly illustrates just what this "project" is all about: TRANS.

The Audre Lorde Project is another deceptive organization utilizing a famous black LESBIAN for its deceptive needs.

If you are interested in helping lesbians, do NOT donate your lesbian time or lesbian money to this "project". This is another org. who needs to alter their name to reflect their true goals.




I am not surprised the late Audre Lorde has been identified by those individuals who support the continuance of male supremacy as 'queer.' Indeed women who proudly identify as lesbian are becoming an endangered group - after all 'gay' and 'queer' were both created by males and that is why women's experiences must be erased since only male-centric experiences/views are apparently valid in our continuing male supremacist system.

For the record Audre Lorde was lesbian and yet that word is now seen as 'taboo' - we need to ask why words which apply specifically to women not men are swiftly being eradicated. Is it because the world does indeed revolve around men and their interests? Male supremacy thinks so and works very hard to maintain this myth.

Owl Eyes said...

I find this happens a lot, particularly with younger lesbians...My ex friend was a lesbian, but too, said she was "queer" whereas my professors would use the title "lesbian", and i think it has to do with the change in a lot of spaces to queer male-dominated, Great stuff.

Julian Real said...

Hi Owl Eyes,

Yes. And I believe it's the male supremacist refusal (and patriarchal socialisation) to accept any name for women that doesn't make males feel included and cared about. Men get to reject women in every way imaginable. But, under and inside heteropatriarchy, women must never, ever, ever reject men or do anything to lead men to feel rejected by women.

What examples are there in English of "woman-only" terms that exist without making apology to men? If and when such terms exist, are they not either appropriated by or scorned maliciously and viciously by some group of males? Aren't "feminists", "women", and "lesbians", for example, all considered to be anti-male if they refuse to also call themselves or otherwise indicate that they are "humanist", "women-who-love-men", or "queer"?

Under English-speaking Western patriarchy the term is "woman" must be made to include people with male privilege (in part by embedding the masculine version into the word itself--he occupying she; man occupying woman; male occupying the female. No woman gets a term that doesn't reference or isn't constructed around men or males in some way.

The primary imperative of patriarchal rule is that women and girls must cater to or submit to men's, boys', and other male people's needs, wishes, wants, fantasies, and desires. The term "woman" by itself is seen as too much for many; so many white men prefer white women refer to themselves as girl, and feminism gets quaintly, if nauseatingly morphed linguistically into variations of "girl power".

The term is lesbian is so over the edge--so outside the garden of Adam's self-adoration, that it just won't do at all.

Better it be made into a genre of male supremacist pornography, or at least that lesbian women call themselves "queer" (or, even, "gay") so men can relate and feel oh-so-included. Goddess forbid the boyz are left out of anything at all that women autonomously desire or choose.

It's supposed to be male access to women's bodies and beings 24/7/365, and 366 every fourth year.

And this benefits women's liberation from male rule, occupation, and possession how, exactly?

That queer theorists, of whatever gender, generally refuse to even deal with this rather glaring example of male hegemony is, to me, as good a sign as any that patriarchy is powerfully in place in queer community. And male-dominant society, queer or not, will use any means necessary to snuff the life out of autonomous lesbian existence.