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I found it at a used bookstore recently and have been slowly making my way through it. I would love to hear your thoughts if you've read it! So far, I'm intrigued, but philosophy/ethics are not my forte so I've been taking it pretty slow. It's also so far been mostly a broad commentary on patriarchy/'heterosexualism', and less about lesbian community, though I think it's starting to go more in that direction. Here are some sentences found thought-provoking:

From the opening sentence of the introduction: "It is possible for us to engage in moral revolution and change the value we affirm by the choices we make."

"No one ever feels compelled to explain or define what they perceive as the norm. If we define 'lesbianism', we invoke a context in which it is not the norm." (8)

"Language is a tool of oppression, for we remain trapped in oppression when we perceive only what the oppressors perceive, when we are restricted to their values and categories. Language interests me because of its insidiousness as a means of maintaining a political perspective, and because of its susceptibility to change. However, language use has a contradictory dynamic for those under oppression - it is a matter both of agreement and of coercion: in using language we participate in a consensus, often unwittingly; but our participation is also coerced." (14)

"Resistance [...] may even take the form of insanity when someone is isolated within the confines of domination and all means of maintaining integrity have been systematically cut off." (44)

"Dominance is maintained by violence or the threat of violence - which, in the long run, means destruction or the threat of destruction. If nothing else works, men will disrupt or destroy what is going on. Thus, to be different from men, women stress nonviolence. Under heterosexualism, manipulation and control are not challenged; what is challenged is only the threat of disruption or destruction. Women want men to "play fair" in the game of manipulation and control by not resorting to the one-upmanship of destruction." (85)

"If, as a matter of survival, women have developed the feminine virtues into strategies for gaining some control, strategies which promote distance and erect barriers, we face a problem. Since we have not fully perceived and named these strategies as part of our resistance to male domination under the rule of the fathers, they can operate among us automatically, as habitual reactions in various types of situations." (100)

I found it at a used bookstore recently and have been slowly making my way through it. I would love to hear your thoughts if you've read it! So far, I'm intrigued, but philosophy/ethics are not my forte so I've been taking it pretty slow. It's also so far been mostly a broad commentary on patriarchy/'heterosexualism', and less about lesbian community, though I think it's starting to go more in that direction. Here are some sentences found thought-provoking: From the opening sentence of the introduction: "It is possible for us to engage in moral revolution and change the value we affirm by the choices we make." "No one ever feels compelled to explain or define what they perceive as the norm. If we define 'lesbianism', we invoke a context in which it is not the norm." (8) "Language is a tool of oppression, for we remain trapped in oppression when we perceive only what the oppressors perceive, when we are restricted to their values and categories. Language interests me because of its insidiousness as a means of maintaining a political perspective, and because of its susceptibility to change. However, language use has a contradictory dynamic for those under oppression - it is a matter both of agreement and of coercion: in using language we participate in a consensus, often unwittingly; but our participation is also coerced." (14) "Resistance [...] may even take the form of insanity when someone is isolated within the confines of domination and all means of maintaining integrity have been systematically cut off." (44) "Dominance is maintained by violence or the threat of violence - which, in the long run, means destruction or the threat of destruction. If nothing else works, men will disrupt or destroy what is going on. Thus, to be different from men, women stress nonviolence. Under heterosexualism, manipulation and control are not challenged; what is challenged is only the threat of disruption or destruction. Women want men to "play fair" in the game of manipulation and control by not resorting to the one-upmanship of destruction." (85) "If, as a matter of survival, women have developed the feminine virtues into strategies for gaining some control, strategies which promote distance and erect barriers, we face a problem. Since we have not fully perceived and named these strategies as part of our resistance to male domination under the rule of the fathers, they can operate among us automatically, as habitual reactions in various types of situations." (100)

5 comments

"No one ever feels compelled to explain or define what they perceive as the norm. If we define 'lesbianism', we invoke a context in which it is not the norm." (8)

I'm not sure of the context of this line. All things are defined, so is being straight, which is seen as the norm. If we don't define what being a lesbian is then there's no point to have the word at all. Which we need words to communicate information, find each other, and defend our rights. It's often women that are OSA that want to stop defining what lesbianism is.

Is this using "lesbian" as another word for women separating from men?

[–] JLT 0 points

I haven't read it, but it sounds like really heavy content, both academically and emotionally. That's usually the issue I take with these texts, it's doubly draining to go through them.

I sort of agree with what she said about language, though. That's what got me interested in constructed languages. Even in terms of the grammar, the decision to have sex-based pronouns is completely useless when used to describe same-sex relationships. I digress.

This sounds interesting and I might look into it if I can find the time and emotional bandwidth for it.

It’s definitely heavy academically. I don’t have any preexisting knowledge about the study of ethics, so I’m sure it would be easier for someone of that background. It actually hasn’t really been emotionally difficult, though, at least so far. Nothing like reading Dworkin.

In terms of pronouns, do you mean the difficulty that arises when you’re saying something like ‘she kissed her’, where the pronoun is the same and thus unclear? Having multiple variations on a sexed pronoun is an interesting thought, like ‘she[1] kissed her[2]’.

Have you read Native Tongue? By Elgin.

I recently read Native Tongue, and found it interesting that the academic understanding of language and its power to shape our sense of reality was apparently a direct precursor to Judith Butler's awful proposition that we reshape language to unmoor gendered concepts from sex and turn gender identities into a choice. I'm not convinced she understood the ramifications of that idea. The inability to meaningfully discuss sex and connect our experiences of it with other women has made sexism worse, not better.

In Native Tongue, Nazareth tells the other women of Barren House that releasing a new language will reshape the reality of the next generation in unpredictable ways. How true that observation was. It's a sad thing that such an ideal of hope and inspiration for women would predict the very method of our downfall. If the future collapse of women's rights comes to pass, its death will be the direct consequence of the sort of language shifts the author championed.