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Lesbian Feminism Essay

2269 words - 9 pages

We live in a world where a 21st century woman can vote, work full time, and raise a family on her own terms. Woman can choose when to have children, if they want to achieve a higher education, and obtain jobs that women in the 60’s only dreamt about. Most of these accomplishments were brought on by the Women’s Movement of the 1960’s. They brought up conventional thoughts and ideas that changed the course of history. However, in their quest for women’s rights and equality amongst men, there were some that were left out of the mass movement. Lesbians of the 1960’s were considered to be social pariahs by the Woman’s Movement of the 1960’s and not to be connected with. By being the outcasts, Lesbians created and founded their own movement that focused on not only Women’s Rights, but Gay Women’s rights as well. This movement was just as controversial if not more as the Women’s Movement of the time, but made just as big of an impact.
Lesbian Feminism emerged from the second wave of feminism. The second wave of feminism finds its roots within Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. In her book, Friedan focuses on the need for women to find their independence socially and economically. “For women to have full identity and freedom, they must have economic independence…Only economic independence can free a woman to marry for love, not for status or financial support, or to leave a loveless, intolerable, humiliating marriage, or to eat, dress, rest, and move if she plans not to marry”[Friedan 14]. Freidan’s book was the push that women needed in order to take the necessary first steps to become independent in the traditional patriarchal society. Critique against Friedan’s book for only focusing on white, middle-class, Americans came fast amongst those women who did not fit into Friedan’s cookie cutter image of her idea of a woman.
Because of the age-old belief that lesbianism was “unnatural” and taboo, women of the NOW and of the leftist Women’s Movement were against lesbians joining them in their crusade for political, societal, and economic freedom. The backlash against the lesbian feminists was astonishing. Several of the more radical (hetero) feminist groups were extremely vocal against the lesbian woman’s movement. Roxanne Dunbar, the leader of group Cell 16 was an extreme homophobe and believed “homosexuality was like heterosexuality, it suffers from being a sexuality.” [Echols 164]. Dunbar’s take on lesbianism was focusing on sexuality being a problem within society and not a normal social construct.
However, extremist feminist radical groups like Cell 16 or The Redstockings (another radical feminist group who were against lesbianism) were nothing compared to the backlash of the major players within the feminist movement. Ti-Grace Atikinson, one of the founding members of the NOW—National Organization of Women—the New York chapter, was quoted as saying “Lesbians, by definition, accept that human beings are primarily sexual beings…one would have to...

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