PHIL 242 - “Lesbians in Revolt” “On Separatism and Power”
- CHARLOTTE BUNCH & MARILYN FRYE
- Bunch thinks that feminists must be “ woman-identified-women.” What does this mean?
- Answer depends on the claim that we live in a “heterosexual system,” in which women’s lives,
desires, drives, etc. are defined or made meaningful in terms of relationships with men.
HARM AND BENEFIT IN MALE-ORIENTED RELATIONSHIPS
- Bunch: “Men of all races and classes depend on female support and suppression...”
- Notice connection with the view
- (i) that women are exploited (as in, e.g. Cudd & Jones)
- (ii) that women are harmed (as in, e.g., Young, MacKinnon)
- (iii) that women are given a secondary status (as in, e.g., Bartky, “Feeding Egos”)
REWARDSAND PUNISHMENTS COMPELWOMEN TO PARTICIPATE
- Frye: Men (like fetuses and old people!) tend to be ‘parasites’on women—consuming their
energies without contributing anything in return.
- Bunch: “Heterosexual society offers women a few privileges as compensation if they give up
their freedom: for example, mothers are “honoured,” wives or lovers are socially accepted and
given some economic and emotional security, a woman gets physical protection on the street
when she stays with her man, etc.”
- “Most of our privileges as women are granted to us by our relationships to men (fathers,
husbands, boyfriends)... This does not mean that there is no racism or class chauvinism within
us... [but] race, class, and national oppressions come from men, serve ruling-class white male
interests, and have no place in a woman identified revolution.”
BUNCH: OPTING OUT
- “Being a lesbian means ending identification with, allegiance to, dependence on, and support of
heterosexuality. It means ending your stake in the male world so that you join women
individually and collectively, in the struggle against male dominance.
- Every woman has experienced that desolation when her sister puts her man first [when] in the
final crunch heterosexuality demands that she do so.
- As long as women still benefit from heterosexuality, receive its privileges and security, they
will at some point have to betray their sisters, especially lesbian sisters who do not receive
NOT ENOUGH TO SAY “NO” TO THE OLD SYSTEM
- “We say that a lesbian is a woman whose sense of self and energies, including sexual energies,
center around women—she is woman-identified.”
- You must say “yes” to a community built up of women: Political lesbianism means building a
new life based on loving, caring about, and being committed to women....
- ...she thinks this necessarily involves being open to having primary relationships with other
women, including sexual ones. SEPARATISMAS (SHORT-TERM) TACTIC
- Bunch thinks that if women systematically remove themselves from men’s lives, men will find
ways to exist that don’t depend on them…
- Lesbianism separatism is a weapon that can be used to destroy male supremacy for once and
for all—once men have changed