Fuckin’ Invisible (Lesbianism)

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  1. Men and Masculinities in Irish Cinema
  2. sexualized violence » vegan daemon
  3. Understanding film, television and radio comedy
  4. You are looking for a list of "lesbian celebrity" videos

And the person sitting next to that person could be someone who's completely disgusted by it. It's one of those great words that can get many, many different reactions from people. This ideology, which was originally termed cunt-power, sought to invert the word's injurious potential - to prevent men using it as a misogynist insult, women assertively employed it themselves: "The old cunt was patriarchal, misogynist.

The new cunt would be matriarchal, feminist" Peter Silverton, The feminist Cunt-Art movement incorporated the word into paintings and performances, and several female writers have campaigned for its transvaluation.

Men and Masculinities in Irish Cinema

In my evaluation of the ideology of cunt-power, I discuss the extent of its practicality, popularity, and longevity. However, words do hurt us, and they can be used as weapons. Walter Kirn has called 'cunt' "the A-bomb of the English language [ Verbal weapons cause intense emotional pain. GQ has noted that "No word is more hurtful or destructive than the C-word" Catherine MacKinnon cites numerous examples of abusive language provoking distress and resulting in litigation.

Asserting that "A woman worker who was referred to by a [presumed male] co-worker as a 'cunt' could present a strong case for sexual harassment" , she quotes "Cavern Cunt", "stupid cunt", "fucking cunt", and "repeated use of the word 'cunt'" as phrases resulting in convictions for sexual harassment. Just as 'cunt' can be a violent word, its use can also have violent repercussions: it is "a word so offensive that it would earn you a slap if you called someone it in a bar" Adam Renton, By contrast, however, a more recent case was dismissed when it was ruled that the word 'cunt' did not constitute sexual harassment: the court concluded that the word, while being "one of the most derogatory terms for a woman", could also be regarded as complementary Kevin Vaughan, A female student at Colorado University had alleged that another student called her a 'cunt'.

Hoffman was ridiculed by the press, not least because the name of her university is commonly abbreviated to 'CU': "In CU President Betsy Hoffman's world [ When men use the word 'cunt' to insult women, courts have deemed the act to be unlawful. When men use it to insult other men, as Julia Penelope demonstrates, their usage is still inherently insulting to women: "[words] used by men to insult other men, motherfucker, son-of-a-bitch, bastard, sissy, and cunt insult men because they're female words" The other male insults cited by Penelope are also tangential insults to women: to call a man a 'motherfucker' implicates both him and his mother, 'bastard' implies a man's mother is a slut, 'sissy' insults a man by likening him to a woman, and 'son-of-a-bitch' can be seen as an indirect insult to a man though a direct insult to his mother.

He calls it "the four-letter word a man can use to destroy everything with a woman [ Kirn explains the offensiveness of 'cunt' with reference to its plosive phonetics and its semantic reductionism: "The word is an ugly sonic package, as compact as a stone [ It strips away any aura of uniqueness". A character in the Hungarian film Taxidermia also notes the ugliness of the word, or rather its Hungarian equivalent. Somewhat insensitively, Kirn feels that women over-react to the word when it is used against them: "It doesn't bruise.

It doesn't leave a mark. Yet women treat its deployment as tantamount to an act of nonphysical domestic violence". He also ignores the word's feminist reclamation, stating incorrectly: "you'll never hear someone call herself a cunt, let alone call another woman one. Essentially, Kirn's article is a macho defence of what he sees as the male privilege to call women cunts: "I'm grateful for the C-bomb, and thankful that women have nothing with which to match it. When a man has already lost the argument and his girl is headed out the door [we] have one last, lethal grenade to throw".

Unsurprisingly, women wrote to GQ to take issue with Kirn's article. Kim Andrew stressed that Kirn's definition of 'cunt' as "the A-bomb of the English language" does not apply to the UK, where it is used more freely than in America: "The word cunt is only an "A-bomb" in American English. M Restrepo's reaction was that, provided 'cunt' is not used insultingly as Kirn employs it , it should not be tabooed: "What era is Walter Kirn living in? Cunt is no longer taboo. In welcome contrast to Kirn's article, Jonathon Green criticises the inherent patriarchy of the slang lexicon: "Slang is the essence of 'man-made language', created by men and largely spoken by him too" This is a trend which has noticeably increased over time, as Germaine Greer explains: "The more body-hatred grows, so that the sexual function is hated and feared by those unable to renounce it, the more abusive terms we find in the language" [a].

sexualized violence » vegan daemon

Specifically, the status and deployment of 'cunt' as "The worst name anyone can be called [and] the most degrading epithet" Germaine Greer, [a] , and especially as the worst name a woman can be called, serves to reinforce the tradition of cultural patriarchy, as Jane Mills points out: "the use of 'cunt' as the worst swear word that anyone can think of says a great deal about misogyny in our society, and I think it reveals fear, disgust, and also [a] denial of female sexuality" Kerry Richardson, Joan Smith agrees: "It is impossible not to make a link, as lexicographers and feminist writers have done, between the [ Smith calls 'cunt' "the worst possible thing - much worse than ['prick'] - one human being can say to another" and Simon Carr calls it "the worst thing you can say about anyone" As Deborah Cameron notes, "taboo words tend to refer to women's bodies rather than men's.

Thus for example cunt is a more strongly tabooed word than prick, and has more tabooed synonyms" Jonathon Green concurs that "the slang terms for the vagina outstrip any rivals, and certainly those for the penis [ William Leith notes that "We may have equality of the sexes but we do not have equality of sexual organs [ I can print the words prick, cock and dick as much as I like", adding coyly: "but I know I have to be careful with the c-word" Ed Vulliamy makes the same point: "the c-word is different. The inequality of 'prick' and 'cunt' is also explored in the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm David Steinberg, , after the central character uses 'cunt' as an insult towards another man:.

So what! Pricks and cunts, they're equal. Cunt's much heavier.


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According to Brigid McConville and John Shearlaw, 'cunt' "reflects the deep fear and hatred of the female by the male in our culture. It is a far nastier and more violent insult than 'prick' which tends to mean foolish rather than evil. This violent usage is a constant and disturbing reminder to women of the hatred associated with female sexuality and leaves women with few positive words to name their own organs" The 'cunt' taboo is but the most extreme example of a general taboo surrounding the lexicon of the female genitals: "Mild, non-specific [ The word 'vagina' is also subject to this taboo: "Even the word vagina has not easily entered public space".

Braun and Wilkinson cite examples of the term being banned from billboards "the London Underground banned a birth control advertisement - deeming it 'offensive' for including the word 'vagina'" and theatrical posters "Promotional material for theatrical pieces whose titles contained the word vagina has been censored [ Indeed, after surveying women's own attitudes, Sophie Laws discovered that they even felt obligated to self-censor their own discourse: "[women do not] refer to their sexual and reproductive organs in any way except in the most private of interactions" Virginia Braun and Celia Kitzinger published a 'survey of surveys', revealing the extent to which 'vagina' is a tabooed word: "Many people appear to consider women's genitalia to be unmentionable.

The German equivalent is even more demeaning: 'Schamscheide' 'vagina' translates literally as 'sheath of shame'. Word-meanings are dictated by consensus and contemporary usage, thus negative meanings can be reversed when pejorative terms are systematically reappropriated: "There have been several recent instances of a particular group explicitly reclaiming a taboo word previously used against them" Susie Dent, Melinda Yuen-Ching Chen and Robin Brontsema have both described the specific reappropriation of 'queer', though they also discuss the concept of reappropriation in general.

Brontsema provides a succinct definition of the terminology: "Linguistic reclamation, also known as linguistic resignification or reappropriation, refers to the appropriation of a pejorative epithet by its target s " He views the process as a harnessing and reversal of the original invective: "[the] injurious power is the same fuel that feeds the fire of its counter-appropriation. Laying claim to the forbidden, the word as weapon is taken up and taken back by those it seeks to shackle - a self-emancipation that defies hegemonic linguistic ownership and the a buse of power".

Chen defines reclamation as "an array of theoretical and conventional interpretations of both linguistic and non-linguistic collective acts in which a derogatory sign or signifier is consciously employed by the 'original' target of the derogation, often in a positive or oppositional sense" The focus here is primarily on feminist reappropriations, specifically on feminist attempts to reclaim 'cunt' and other abusive terms: "Girls and women can thus reclaim the words in our language that have been used against us" Gloria Bertonis, The mainstream success of reappropriations, however, depend upon the consensus of the population as a whole: "you cannot demand the word ['cunt'] be used only as a hallelujah to the flower of your womanhood; like all words, its meaning had been decided through collective use" Andrew Billen, The commonest derogative term for a woman - 'bitch' - is on the road to reclamation.

A woman should be proud to declare she is a Bitch, because Bitch is Beautiful. It should be an act of affirmation by self and not negation by others" Casey Miller and Kate Smith discuss this transvaluation of 'bitch' and also cite "Groups of feminists who choose to call themselves witches [ Other formerly derogatory terms for women have also been reclaimed: "The feminist spirit has reclaimed some words with defiance and humor. Witch, bitch, dyke, and other formerly pejorative epithets turned up in the brave names of small feminist groups" Gloria Steinem, Mary Daly has attempted to reverse the negative associations of words such as 'spinster', 'witch', 'harpy', 'hag', and 'crone'.

Where she is able to demonstrate non-pejorative etymological origins of these terms, she advocates a reversal of their current definitions. Daly does readily admit that not every modern negative term was originally positive 'crone', for example, has always implied old age , though in these cases she assert that negative connotations are a patriarchal perception: "ageism is a feature of phallic society. For women who have transvalued this, a Crone is one who should be an example of strength, courage and wisdom" In an episode of the sitcom Veep , 'crone' is confused with the c-word: "I called the president the c-word I was like, 'What an old crone!

Regularly used as a pejorative term [ As Roz Wobarsht wrote in a letter to the feminist magazine Ms : "I think a female's use of words abusive to females defuses them. Our use takes away the power of the words to damage us" Jane Mills adds that "crumpet has recently been appropriated by women to refer to men [and] women today are making a conscious attempt to reform the English language [including] the reclamation and rehabilitation of words and meanings" Maureen Dowd notes the "different coloration" of 'pimp' and charts the transition of 'girl' "from an insult in early feminist days to a word embraced by young women".

A less likely pioneer of reclamation is the self-styled 'battle-axe' Christine Hamilton, though her celebratory Book Of British Battle-Axes nevertheless marked a re-evaluation of the term. Julie Bindel cites 'bird' and 'ho' as "blatant insults [ Patrick Strudwick praises Bint Magazine for "reclaiming the term "bint" from the huge slag heap of misogynist smears and turning it into something fabulous" The offensive term 'slut' has also been reclaimed as an epithet of empowerment: Kate Spicer suggests that 'slut' is "a term of abuse that has been redefined by fashion to mean something cool [ In the s, Katharine Whitehorn famously used her column in The Observer to self-identify as a 'slut', using the term in its original sense meaning a slovenly woman.

In , Bea Miller released the song S. In , the campaigning group SlutWalk Toronto organised a series of 'slutwalks' - demonstrations in which women marched while wearing sexually-provocative clothing and holding banners reappropriating the word 'slut'. The SlutWalk campaign provoked considerable feminist debate, with Gail Dines and Wendy J Murphy arguing that the protesters were fighting a lost cause: "The organisers claim that celebrating the word "slut", and promoting sluttishness in general, will help women achieve full autonomy over their sexuality.

But the focus on "reclaiming" the word slut fails to address the real issue. The word is so saturated with the ideology that female sexual energy deserves punishment that trying to change its meaning is a waste of precious feminist resources" Germaine Greer was more enthusiastic about the SlutWalk phenomenon, though she cautioned that "It's difficult, probably impossible, to reclaim a word that has always been an insult" and she should know.

Here, the principal is the same as that pioneered by Madonna: sexual aggression, feared by men and characterised by them in disrespectful terms such as 'slut', can be redefined as an assertive and positive attribute. It is not simply the word 'slut' that is being redefined, it is the lifestyle that the word represents - the meaning of the term 'slut' has stayed the same, though the cultural acceptance of its characteristics has increased.

As Chinese is a tonal language, the same word can have multiple meanings depending on its pronunciation; this has been used subversively by women to reappropriate the pejorative term 'shengnu' 'leftover women' , which can also mean 'victorious women' when pronouced with a different tone. This "pun that turns the tables on the prejudicial description" gained popularity following the television series The Price Of Being A Victorious Woman Tatlow, [a]. It is important to note the distinction between changing a word's definition and changing its connotation. Women have sought not to change the definitions of for example 'cunt' or 'slut', but instead to alter the cultural connotations of the terms.

Thus, the reclaimed word 'cunt' is still defined as 'vagina' and the reclaimed 'slut' still means 'sexual predator'. What have been reclaimed are the social attitudes towards the concepts of vaginas and sexual predators: whereas these once attracted negative connotations, they have been transvalued into positive concepts. In a sense, this is true of a large number of terms which are regarded as positive by some yet as negative by others: for example, 'liberal' is used as an insult by conservatives, and 'conservative' is used as an insult by liberals.

Salman Rushdie gives examples of older political terms which have also been reclaimed: "To turn insults into strengths, Whigs [and] Tories [both] chose to wear with pride the names they were given in scorn" Also, in Thailand, poor farmers protesting against the aristocratic political system wore t-shirts with the word 'prai' 'commoner' as a symbol of pride, in "a brilliant subversion of a word that these days has insulting connotations" Banyan, After Republicans derided Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as 'Obamacare', Obama himself began using this more concise though originally derogatory term, professing that he liked it.

Richard Herring notes the paradox that, while the vagina should be celebrated, 'cunt' is an inexplicably offensive term: "it describes quite a nice thing. If you give words the power then they are nasty. But you can turn things around and use them in a different way" Anthony Barnes, Thus, reclaiming abusive language requires a change not in meaning but in attitude. Whereas Madonna is perhaps the most significant embodiment of this transvaluation - female sexual empowerment being asserted as liberating and subversive - the theory behind it has been articulated most dramatically by Germaine Greer in her essay for Suck on the word 'whore'.

Germaine Greer - who instigated the cunt-power movement, of which more later - wrote I Am A Whore , in which she consciously identified herself with the word 'whore', attempting to show that it can be positive rather than negative: "Whore is a dirty word - so we'll call everybody whore and get people uptight; whereas really you've got to come out the other way around and make whore a sacred word like it used to be and it still can be" [b]. Greer's biographer fundamentally misjudged her suggestion, calling it "a direct betrayal of what feminism was supposed to be about [ In fact, far from identifying as a prostitute, Greer was implying that the word 'whore' could be removed from its pejorative associations.

A term with similar status is the racially abusive 'nigger', which has been reclaimed or 'flipped' by African-Americans such as Richard Pryor's Supernigger , and is used in this context as a term of endearment. Jonathon Green suggests that this use "as a binding, unifying, positive word" dates from as early as the s Jennifer Higgie, Its reappropriation is not universally accepted, however: Spike Lee has criticised what he perceives as Samuel L Jackson's insensitivity towards the word's history.

Similar attempts to reclaim other racially abusive terms such as 'paki' notably the PAK1 clothing brand have been equally contentious: "even now this "flipping", as it is called, has not been totally successful" Sarfraz Manzoor, In his article A Bad Word Made Good , Andrew Clark notes the reappropriation of 'wog', formerly a term of racist abuse though later used self-referentially amongst Australia's Greek community: "the term has metamorphosed in the Antipodes.

Greek[s] happily refer to themselves as wogs [ Furthermore, Todd Anten cites the increasing transvaluation of 'chink', noting that "Virtually any word that is or has been a slur can be reappropriated by the target group" Lenny Bruce made the point that the social suppression of taboo words such as 'cunt' and 'nigger' serves to perpetuate and increase their power: "the word's suppression gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness" He argued that only through repetition can we remove the abusive powers of taboo words: "If [you said] niggerniggerniggernigger [ The film's director later explained that he was consciously attempting to "take everything that's negative in the language and turn it into a positive thing" Criterion, The editor of the Jewish magazine Heeb intended its title as a transvaluation of the term, a variant of 'hebe': "We're reappropriating it, but with a twist of pride" Peg Tyre, Annie Goldflam self-identified as both a 'kike' and a 'dyke', in Queerer Than Queer : "I am both a kike and a dyke, derogatory terms for Jews and lesbians, respectively, but which I here reclaim as proud markers of my identity" The homophobic term 'queer' has also been positively - yet contentiously - reappropriated, for example by Queer Nation: "In recent years 'queer' has come to be used differently [and this] once pejorative term [is] a positive self-description [ Ratna Kapur and Tayyab Mahmud cite 'fruit' amongst other terms "appropriated by the gay community as words denoting pride, self-awareness, and self-acceptance" The gay-oriented cosmetics brand FAG: Fabulous And Gay has helped to reclaim 'fag', and Todd Anten cites the company's mission statement: "to abolish the negative connotation of the word fag and reposition it [ Larry Kramer's book Faggots began the transvaluation of another homophobic term.

Another book title, Christopher Frayling's Spaghetti Westerns , was also intended as a positive reappropriation of a negative term: "The book's title was deliberately polemical, seeking to turn what had initially been a put-down into a badge of honour" Edward Buscombe, The similar film term 'chop-socky' has also been "repurposed" David Kamp and Lawrence Levi, The various epithets used to insult mentally handicapped people represent a further lexicon of reclaimed pejoratives. Mark Radcliffe profiles "people with mental health problems tak[ing] the sting out of stigma by reclaiming pejoratives" , citing 'Crazy Folks' and 'Mad Pride' as groups whose names "reclaim some of the stigmatising language".

This consciously humorous appropriation of 'crazy' and 'mad' must, however, avoid being misinterpreted as a trivialisation of those whom it seeks to empower. The term 'punk' has become associated with a musical genre, though it also has an insulting definition, as it is used to describe men who are raped by fellow prisoners in jail. Robert Martin, who was repeatedly gang-raped in prison, has now spoken out against jail-rape while also celebrating the term 'punk': "He has taken the word "punk," which in its nonmusical context has always been a term of derision, and turned it into an emblem of honor.

He has performed the same etymological magic trick that others have done with [ Finally, we should consider 'otaku', 'geek', and 'nerd', all of which are negative terms implying anti-social obsessive behaviour. Increasingly, people are self-identifying as geeks, otakus, and nerds, using the terms proudly: a computing magazine called Otaku was launched in , David Bell cites 'geek' as "Originally a term of abuse for people overly-obsessed with computers - though now reappropriated as a badge of pride" , and 'GEEK' and 'nerd' t-shirts are on sale.

The comedy film Revenge Of The Nerds celebrated the atypical victory of nerds against jocks in an American school. It is clear that "The conversion of a derogatory term into a battle cry by radicals is not uncommon" Hugh Rawson, , though 'cunt' itself has yet to emerge as a fully reclaimed term. Presently, the initial stages of its reappropriation are more contentious and complex than those of the epithets dicussed above.

Todd Anten categorises slurs into two types, to distinguish between words in different positions along the road to reclamation: 'close' words "which are at the end stages of reappropriation", and 'clear' words "which are at the beginning stages". He also notes that it is not only words that can be reclaimed: "The power of reappropriation is not limited to textual slurs; visual slurs may also be reappropriated".

He cites as an example the pink triangle used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals: "[it] evolved from a mark of Nazi hatred into a symbol of gay pride". An especially intriguing aspect of reappropriation is that of trademark applications. Aware that potentially disparaging words are denied trademark status, Todd Anten argues that such restrictions should be lifted for "self-disparaging" terms: "The reappropriation of former slurs is an integral part of the fostering of individual and group identity [ He also cites Joe Garofoli's comment that "[S]elf-labeling defuses the impact of derisive terms by making them more commonplace".

In the latter case, 'jap', Anten notes that the term "may disparage multiple groups": it was intended as a reclaimed term in a Jewish context, though it may still offend Japanese people. Reappropriation is indeed a minefield. The marginalisation of the feminine is apparent not only in relation to language but also in cultural attitudes towards the sexual organs themselves.

A large penis is equated with potency and sexual prowess: 'size matters' has become a cliche, though it is still perceived as an index of masculinity by men. Phrases such as 'well hung' maintain the male obsession with penis size, and John Holmes became one of the world's most famous porn stars thanks to his fourteen-inch erection. Size and the female reproductive organs, however, have a reversed relationship: "while men want their pivotal organ to be as big as possible, women want theirs to be small" Arusa Pisuthipan, A large vagina is seen as indicative of copious copulation, prompting accusations of prostitution or nymphomania.

Or, as Germaine Greer puts it: "The best thing a cunt can be is small and unobtrusive: the anxiety about the bigness of the penis is only equalled by the anxiety about the smallness of the cunt. No woman wants to find out that she has a twat like a horse-collar" [a]. Corrective surgery - namely a laser vaginal rejuvenation operation - is available in such circumstances, to make "the vaginal canal smaller and the opening of the vagina smaller" Nicola Black, , whereas male genital surgery serves to enlarge the organ rather than reduce it.

Crude terms such as 'big cunt', 'bushel cunt', 'bucket cunt', 'bucket fanny', 'butcher's dustbin', 'spunk dustbin', 'bargain bucket', 'billposter's bucket', 'Big Daddy's sleeping bag', 'ragman's trumpet', 'ragman's coat', 'turkey's wattle', 'raggy blart', 'pound of liver', 'club sandwich', 'ripped sofa', 'badly-packed kebab', 'stamped bat', 'wizard's sleeve', 'clown's pocket', 'Yaris fanny', 'fanny like a easyjet seat pocket', 'a fanny like Sunderland's trophy cabinet', 'cow-cunt', 'double-cunted', 'sluice-cunted', and "canyon-cunted" Jim Goad, [b] , equate dilation with repulsion: "Here, the rule is to imply the owner of the vulva is unhygienic; that it has sustained so much sex it has lost its shape" Matthew de Abaitua, Thus, alongside the linguistic suppression of 'cunt', the vagina is also physically suppressed: "The importance of [vaginal] size is evident in contexts as diverse as slang, comedy, and surgical practices to tighten the vagina" Virginia Braun and Celia Kitzinger, [b].

The penis is an external organ whereas the vagina is an internal one, therefore the penis is naturally the more visible of the two; there is, however, a cultural emphasis placed upon this difference that acts to reinforce and extend it. The bulging male groin 'lunchbox' is identified as sexually attractive, whereas women are encouraged not to emphasise their groins but to camouflage them: "the vagina is a culturally obscure little organ. Phallic references and penis jokes litter daily discourse, whereas vulval imagery is seemingly limited to pornography" Joanna Briscoe, The venerated male 'lunchbox' can be directly contrasted with the condemned female equivalent, the 'cameltoe'.

The female group Fannypack released a single called Cameltoe in which they criticised women for "grossin' people out with your cameltoe[s]" :. Similarly, the male codpiece's exaggeration of penile protrusion can be contrasted with female chastity belts that lock away the vagina. Also, excessive female pubic hair the 'bikini line' is shaved to render the area indistinguishable from any other part of the body: "If we do receive any information about the triangle between our legs, it is almost entirely negative; the [ Oliver Maitland contrasts artistic representations of the vagina with those of the penis: "For thousands of years, the vulva in art was sculpturally, graphically and pictorially erased [whereas] the male member [ The physical differences between the male and female sexual organs are central to Sigmund Freud's theory of penis envy.

This is the notion that a girl perceives her clitoris to be the result of her castration, and, faced with what Freud terms an "inferiority" , develops a desire for the visible, external symbols of virility possessed by men. Joan Smith answers this with the proposition that "it's time to start talking, pace Freud, about the terrible problems men have in overcoming their cunt envy" , a timely riposte to Freudian phallocentricity.

Germaine Greer's key feminist text is titled The Female Eunuch , though accusations of penis envy serve merely to trivialise the feminist feeling of physical and linguistic marginalisation. The 'female eunuch' is symbolic of the desexed representation of the female sexual experience, rather than representing a literal desire for a male organ. Patriarchal marginalisation is not, therefore, a literal neutering of women, though it does generate this metaphorical effect; while the penis is exaggerated, the vagina is rendered subordinate.

This is graphically illustrated by Tom Cruise's character in Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia , whose mantra is: "Respect the cock and tame the cunt" Male attempts to marginalise the vagina lexically, physically, and pictorially can be seen as symbolic attempts to suppress female sexuality. The myth of the vagina dentata discussed in more detail later is appropriate in this regard, as there are many mythological instances of toothed vaginas being blunted by male weapons: "Gruesomely, it is the removal of vaginal teeth symbolising the devouring aspect of female sexuality by brave male heroes that is a core component of many dentata stories.

A Mimbres bowl drawn by Pat Carr from a Zuni Pueblo original depicts a man's club-like penis inside a vagina dentata to illustrate a myth involving two men who meet eight women with vagina dentatas: "their grandmother warned them specifically to stay away [ They have teeth in their vaginas. They will cut you and you will die. The blood ran. When the oak members were worn out, they put them aside and took the hickory ones. By daylight the teeth of these women were all worn out" Pat Carr and Willard Gingerich, Symbolically, this male domination over female sexuality - using a tool to cut vaginal teeth - clearly represents the power of the phallus and the weakness of the vagina, or, in other words, the Magnolia mantra quoted above.

According to Pueblo mythology, the Ahaiyute would "break girls' toothed vaginas with false wooden penises" Marta Weigle, A Jicarilla Apache Indian myth describes four 'vagina girls' who swallow men with their vaginas, until a medicine administered by the male 'Killer-of-Enemies' neutralises their power: "When Killer-of-Enemies had come to them, they had had strong teeth with which they had eaten their victims.

But this medicine destroyed their teeth entirely" Catherine Blackledge, In a similar example, "There was a Rakshasa's [demon's] daughter who had teeth in her vagina. When she saw a man, she would turn into a pretty girl, seduce him, [and] cut off his penis" - the only way to neuter her was to "make an iron tube, put it into her vagina and break her teeth". Pueblo Indian artwork depicts "efforts to remove a woman's vaginal teeth with a false penis made out of oak and hickory", and this ceremony is now symbolically re-enacted: "Re-enactments of vagina tooth smashing can be found in some culture's rituals.

In Venerating The Cunt-Demon-Conquering Metal Penis God , Colin B Liddell describes a similar legend, in which a metal penis is used to blunt the teeth of a vagina-demon: "According to the legend, a demon, escaping from a Buddhist priest, hid out in a young girl's vagina. Provoked by the sudden intrusion, the demon responded by biting off the young man's pecker". The woman's "cock-chomping beaver" was subdued by an iron dildo, an object which is still celebrated on the first Sunday of every April at the Kanamara Matsuri event in Kawasaki, Japan.

Our environment is becoming increasingly saturated with sexual images, justified by the maxim 'sex sells'. This situation, which Brian McNair terms "The sexualization of the public sphere" , predominantly involves images of women, appealing to heterosexual male desires at the expense of heterosexual female ones. Significantly, however, they represent a "tit-and-arse landscape" Barbara Ellen, , with the breasts and buttocks over-exposed and the genital area airbrushed away.

As Germaine Greer notes, these images are "poses which minimize the genital area" and "The vagina is obliterated from the imagery of femininity" [a] : the imagery may be sexualised yet it de-emphasises the vagina as an erogenous zone. Greer returned to the subject in The Whole Woman , her sequel to The Female Eunuch : "Male genitals are drawn on every wall, female genitals only on doctor's blotters [ Catherine Blackledge ascribes this prejudice to Christian misogyny: "the emphasis in the western world post the advent of Christianity has mainly been on hiding or veiling the vagina, rather than revealing or celebrating it" Albert Ellis explains that our culture's obsessive interest in breasts and buttocks and disinterest in the vagina is the result of subconscious displacement: "Males in our culture are so afraid of direct contact with female genitalia, and are even afraid of referring to these genitalia themselves; they largely displace their feelings to the accessory sex organs - the hips, legs, breasts, buttocks, etc.

Germaine Greer's explanation is more direct: she blames the linguistic and cultural marginalisation of the vagina on "centuries of womb-fear" [a]. She has actually incorporated a drawing of female ovaries into her signature, in a personal attempt to increase their visual representation. Germaine Greer's term 'womb-fear' highlights the underlying reason for both the cultural suppression of the vagina and the linguistic suppression of 'cunt'.

At the heart of the abusive impact of 'cunt', and the paranoid marginalisation of the vagina, is the implication that the female genitals are disgusting and fearsome: Mark Morton describes the vagina as "a part of the female body that has traditionally been considered shameful or menacing" Andrea Dworkin writes despairingly of the "repulsion for women [ Indeed, such is the level of disgust with the "monstrous female genitals" that, as Eric Partridge notes, the abusive term 'cunt face' is "even more insulting than the synonymous shit face" - the vagina is regarded as even more disgusting than excrement.

The clinical sterility of tampon advertising, for example, paradoxically demonstrates a profound disgust for the vagina: "The conception of women's genitals as dirty - indeed untouchable - is reinforced by tampon advertisements which advocate an 'applicator' on the basis that fingers do not need to touch the vagina" Virginia Braun and Sue Wilkinson, In their paper Socio-Cultural Representations Of The Vagina , Virginia Braun and Sue Wilkinson identify several "persistent negative representations of the vagina", dividing them into categories such as The Vagina As Disgusting "The vagina is often represented as part of the female body that is shameful, unclean, disgusting" and The Vagina As Dangerous "The Western construction of women's bodies as a source of horror, fear, and danger [ After many conversations with women, Betty Dodson reported that a great number of them viewed their own genitals in negative terms: "[women] feel that their genitals are ugly, funny looking, disgusting, smelly, and not at all desirable" This attitude is instilled during childhood, as David Delvin notes: "many women are brought up to believe that the vagina is "nasty", "dirty" or "not nice"" Jane Ussher describes the cyclical process whereby childhood confusion leads to cultural phobia: "girls mainly develop a sense of shame, disgust and humiliation about [their vaginas].

In this way, social stereotypes which define women's genitals as unpleasant, [mal]odorous and unattractive, are internalized by the female child" As it turns out, defining butch or femme seems to be a rather slippery issue among lesbians. Indeed, asking for a definition tends to invoke debate much more than resolution.

The debate tends to have specific parts but no definitive end. And, although I've never received a blank stare when asking, "What do butch or femme mean to you," I have also rarely received a decisive answer. One narrator sums up this problematic when she says, "You know when you see it, but you can't really say exactly what it is, you know?

For these reasons, I argue that butch and femme are not about just butches and femmes, as is often assumed by researchers who study only butches and femnmes. Instead, I see butch and femme as ways to speak gender and sexuality for lesbians. Butch and femme are not about those lesbians. For that matter, they are not just about lesbians.

Butch and femme are about the way that gender and sexuality for lesbians are made coherent in this Western, postmodern, heteronormative culture. As non- standard gender representations and as non-standard sexual identities, butch and femme may teach us quite a lot about heteronormativity. The chapters within represent a theory of how lesbians produce gendered and sexual and also class-based and racialized selves through narrating butch and femme.

But my focus is as much on the cultural context in which selves can be produced as on the production of selves themselves. Simply put, my project is to ask lesbians how they think about their place in the social world as lesbians and to analyze their talk to illuminate how heteronormative discourses affect the narrative production of lesbian selves. The research question that I pursue is: What is the narrative organization of butch and femme? That is, how does heteronormativity provide an organized pattern through which lesbians are instructed and instruct others to understand their experiences as lesbians?

Through this project, I examine the relationships between 1 individuals and discourses, 2 individuals and communities, and 3 material and symbolic realities. I begin with a brief history of butch and femme in the 20th century United States and a summary of the debates about butch and femme. A Brief History of Butch and Femme Butch and femme emerged during the formation of many semi-public, lesbian communities throughout the United States in the early and middle parts of the 20th century, especially during the s, s and s Adam ; Faderman ; Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis Butch and femme provide a unique organizing system of personal representation, interpersonal interaction and community participation.

While butch and femme are difficult to define, and many authors hesitate to do so, Rubin gives a particularly good description of them as follows: Butch and femme are ways of coding identities and behaviors that are both connected to and distinct from standard societal roles for men and women. Thus, femmes tend to conform with gender norms for women with the exception of forming emotional and sexual relationships with women. Butches tend toward gender nonconformity in dress and action as well as in sexual relationships with women.

Because they are non-compliant with mainstream gender or sexual norms, butch and femme are defined by Rubin as categories of "lesbian gender. A key question is why butch and femme emerged during the historical period that it did. One should remember the American history into which this brief lesbian history falls. World War II was of particular importance to a history of women. Not only was Rosie the Riveter a harbinger of second wave feminism, but she also symbolizes women's freedom from male dependence, especially for lesbians.

Women's involvement in World War II, whether in military service D'Emilio or in factory jobs previously reserved for men Gilmartin , created a space for women to define themselves as workers and as independent sexual entities D'Emilio ; Faderman Although lesbian identity was formative in the U. A similar effect was taking place among gay male subculture as well D'Emilio This physical possibility of public gathering created the space for lesbian subcultures to emerge.

Butch and femme emerged with those subcultures Faderman ; Gilmartin ; Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis Many lesbian communities of the s, '50s and '60s had strict rules for their participants-each woman was expected to assume either butch or femme and couple with an opposite partner. In these communities, women were discouraged from remaining undecided, and no couples were to consist of two butches or two femmes Faderman ; Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis ; Stein Butch and femme came under fire with the advent of late-1 s and '70s feminisms, especially radical feminism, in which the feminist project is seen as the elimination of masculinity Abbott and Love ; Jeffreys and ; Stein Feminist censure of butch and femme assumed that they were recreations of patriarchal gender norms in which butches were necessarily using power over femmes, in the same manner that heterosexual men were viewed as wielding power over women.

Pratt discusses the radical feminist perception of butch and femme as follows: "Often a lesbian considered 'too butch' was assumed to be, at least in part, a male chauvinist. Frequently a lesbian who was 'too femme' was perceived as a woman who had not liberated her mind or her body With the widespread and lasting impacts of feminisms, a researcher might expect the disappearance of butch and femme to be lasting as well. But, according to many authors, that has not been the case.

In the lates and s, butch and femme are said to have reemerged significantly Case ; Faderman ; Jeffreys and ; Morgan ; Stein ; Walker ; Whisman In what has become known as the post-feminist era, debate has centered around whether the reemergence of butch and femme are part of what Faludi describes as the "backlash" against feminisms or whether s butch and femme are different and more acceptable to feminists than butch and femme of prior decades.

Engaging the Debates The literature on butch and femme is not a simple one to review. It originates from many disciplines, contains political arguments for and against butch and femme, and is written by academic and non-academic authors. With a variety of political and scholarly interests bound up in the literature, there appear to be at least three important debates throughout.

The first is a descriptive foregrounding of either gender or sexuality as significant in explaining how butchness or femmeness should be understood. The second debate is whether butch and femme are real or performed. And, the third is who may be involved in practicing butch or femme. After outlining these debates, I describe the various scholarly interests represented in the debates and conclude this chapter by outlining how this study will be situated in the debates.

What Are Butch And Femme? Although authors tend to agree about the time frames in which butch and femme behaviors have been exhibited most noticeably and about feminisms' major impact on butch and femme behaviors, they do not agree on what butch and femme are. How do authors explain their existence? Explanations of butch and femme tend to foreground two aspects: butch and femme as lesbian gender and butch and femme as sexual identities.

But is it gender that influences sexuality or sexuality that influences gender? Faderman interprets the emergence of butch and femme among working-class lesbian communities as the result of gendered participation in working-class culture in an era in which the "parent-culture roles [were] exaggerated between men and women" , leaving lesbians no other models to follow. Although Faderman valorizes femmeness as a more aggressive sexuality than that exhibited by other women of the s, she views butch and femme largely as heterosexual imitation with butchness as a means of obtaining status as defined by mainstream culture.

Faderman implies that these s butch and femme women were simply not aware of any form of organizing into couples except heterosexual roles as taught by mainstream culture. The feminist argument against butch and femme hinges on the notion that butch and femme are not exclusively lesbian but are attempting to recreate patriarchy Abbot and Love ; Jeffreys and ; Smith ; Stein Jeffreys writes, "It is the basic building block of feminist theory that women's oppression is maintained by the social construction of masculine and feminine roles For Jeffreys , all gender, including butch and femme, is dominance and submission, which is the origin of all sexism.

Other interpretations of s "butch and femme as lesbian gender" view butch and femme not as gender roles but as gendered constructions that attempt to claim power from an oppressive, dominant gender structure that benefits heterosexual men. In a study of working-class bar culture in Buffalo, New York, in the s, '50s and '60s, Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis suggest that butch and femme developed as an organizing system to combat the oppressive structure of gender by creating space for working-class lesbian communities in the pre-civil rights, male-dominated, heterosexist society of that time frame.

Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis suggest that one reason that butches developed their personas was as a necessary means of gaining respect from heterosexual men. The display ofbutchness signaled the intention of, and often resulted in, literally fighting for the right of lesbians to patronize the only bars available to them, usually heterosexual bars in the seedy sections of town. In this interpretation, butch and femme are forms of lesbian gender that attempt to break down the gender structure of mainstream culture.

In addition to sparking supportive arguments regarding butch and femme as gender constructions, radical feminist censure of butch and femme also sparked responses that interpret butch and femme more centrally as aspects of sexuality. Critics argue that radical feminism tends to interpret issues narrowly through the perspectives of its middle- class, generally white authors such that radical feminism does not represent the interests of all lesbians, many of whom view lesbianism as a sexual identity.

In describing herself and refuting the supposed oppression of femmes, Nestle defines a femme as "a woman who loved and wanted to nurture the butch strength in other women Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis accomplish this discussion through the words of their narrators. One butch narrator, D. Indeed, the butchest of butches, the stone butch, was purported to be so involved in that role that stone butches would not allow themselves to be touched sexually by femmes at all Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis It remains unclear as to what body parts were touched or not touched clitorises? The discussion is largely encompassed by descriptions of urges "to do" or "have done" and what comprises active or passive engagement.

One gets the impression that-not surprisingly-lesbians learned sexual practices more via sexual experiences than discussion. I address this point more specifically in Chapter 5. Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis are quick to point out that, although butches were the "doers" and femmes were recipients, the purpose was for butches to give pleasure, not to take it as a heterosexual model suggests. They write, "Yet, unlike what transpires in the dynamics of most heterosexual relationships, the butch's foremost objective was to give sexual pleasure to a femme. It was in satisfying her femme that the butch received fulfillment Both authors speak of sexual identity as being established very early in life and of the attraction of opposite sexual identities as part of "natural" sexual desire.

Expressing a supportive position on butch and femme sexuality, Newton and Walton articulate a popular view that is not often advanced by academic authors. They suggest that many radical feminists who participated so fervently in erasing gender norms were the same women who had been involved in butch and femme communities in prior decades.

These women were simply repressing the butch or femme sexual identities that they held prior to becoming active in radical feminism. One woman retrospectively expresses this sentiment: At the height of my college cruising, I was attending Take Back the Night meetings dressed in Mr. Greenjeans overalls, Birkenstocks, and a bowl haircut that made me look like I'd just been released from a bad foster home. There is nothing more pitiful to look at than a closeted femme.

Walker In another work, Newton discusses how the earlier proto-type of the butch lesbian-the "mannish lesbian"-"symbolized the stigma of lesbianism I era] is not a masquerade. It stands for the New Woman's rebellion against the male order and, at the same time, for the lesbian's desperate struggle to be and express her true self Additionally, this display of non-conformity is not play or performance. It is real and it has consequences.

Are Butch and Femme "Real" or Performance? A primary issue for proponents of butch and femme is the experience of "realness" of these identities. Feminist political arguments against butch and femme as "roles" and theoretical arguments that understand butch and femme as gender constructs rely on the assumption that butch or femme could be developed and, hence, are not innate. The notion that butch and femme could be constructed appears to contest the "realness" of the phenomena.

Proponents of butch and femme tend to take issue with these theorists and argue that butch and femme feel innate and that they are not actively controlled or developed. One may work to more actively display a true self, but the true self is seen as real and original and not consciously developed. The concept of performance has been applied to re-emergent s butch and femme, describing them as erotic play or symbolic critiques of gender-as styles rather than identities or essences Case ; Faderman Arguably more fluid and assumable than previously, butch and femme in the s do not necessarily follow the same strict rules of conduct that governed them in previous decades although some would argue they still do.

Performance theorists argue that individuals may assume butchness one day and femmeness the next, or change from butch to femme or vice versa from one relationship to the next. Faderman interprets current butch and femme as erotic play or performance that develops erotic tension via dichotomous positions. Faderman's feminist interpretation of s butch and femme suggests feminists should accept them as erotic play and, thus, not threatening to feminist ideals.

Unlike Faderman's interpretation of s butch and femme as absent of power relations, many authors have argued for feminist interpretations of butch and femme that accept them as means of symbolically combating dominant gender norms De Lombard ; Case ; de Lauretis ; Lamos ; Morgan Case offers an interpretation of contemporary butch and femme as campy, erotic play that deconstructs dominant notions of gender. She writes: In recuperating the space of seduction, the butch-femme couple can, through their own agency, move through a field of symbols Case suggests that the notion that two women can create an erotic sexuality without men falsifies the heterosexist ideal that sexuality is and must be about men.

In her analysis, butch and femme are not identities as much as representations-styles that reduce gender to nothing more than playing dress up. For Case, it is this ability to view gender as play that subverts notions of biologically determined gender. De Lauretis agrees with Case and asserts Newton suggests that s butch and femme may possess some elements of camp, but that s butch and femme were strikingly absent of the theatricality that was present in gay male camp of the same era.

And until performance theorists came along, no one positioned lesbian butch-femme as comparable to drag queen-centered camp, primarily because it had so lacked the element of humor and light theatricality, the self-conscious play which Case [quoted above] endowed it.

Rather, Butler suggests that drag, including butch and femme, is performative as is all gender. Butler sees all gender as a constant and repetitive imitation of an ideal the can never be met. Butler writes, " But, their constant repetition and reproduction becomes part of self and, thus, feels natural and original. In this sense, Butler's notion ofperformativity is not theatrical, yet it illustrates how discourses produce subjectivities. Butler suggests that butch and femme are also performative but that they are subversive of heterosexual gender imperatives because they cite a gendered sexuality that cannot exist under those imperatives.

Butler writes, "Reconsider then the homophobic charge that queens and butches and femmes are imitations of the heterosexual real. Here 'imitation' carries the meaning of 'derivative' or 'secondary,' a copy of an origin which is itself the ground of all copies, but which is itself a copy of nothing Negotiating butch and femme as sexual identities was the "desire work," a term Kraus has coined, these women performed to create lesbian communities.

Kraus's argument is much like that of Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis, but Kraus views butch and femme in terms of sexuality, rather than political resistance to male dominance. Kraus does not view them as erotic play, but discusses them as real identities to the communities that constructed them and argues that their performances had real implications for their performers. Who does butch and femme? Judging from the consistency of discussions about s butch and femme, one might expect most lesbian communities of that era to have been ruled by them.

However, some authors suggest some lesbian communities rejected butch and femme. Faderman differentiates between butch and femme maintained by working-class lesbians and the supposed rejection of butch and femme by middle- and upper-class lesbians. Faderman suggests that, even if "one woman in a couple may have been more naturally aggressive or more prone to traditionally feminine activities ," these differences were expected to be downplayed, because middle-class lesbians had rules of "propriety Although it is not specifically stated, Newton's narrators also imply that they distanced themselves from butch and femme to avoid association with vulgar, working-class constructs.

As Faderman and Newton suggest, social hierarchies were expected to transcend sexual urges. Gilmartin provides insightful testimony from the life history of her middle-class narrator, P. In my own research Crawley , social class seems to be an indicator, not of whether one has interests in butch and femme erotics or performances, but in whether and where one is willing to express them.

In a review of hundreds of personal ads from the mids, advertisers who indicated a middle-class status were less likely to call themselves butch or femrnme but no less likely to be seeking a butch or femme lover.

Fuckin’ on chad- [] Gacha life [] meme []

Consistent with Gilmartin, my research suggests not so much a difference in engaging certain sexual practices, but a reluctance for middle-class lesbians to align with what is perceived as working-class. Some authors attack middle-class centered, radical feminist arguments as elitist Smith ; Walker Newton and Walton note the white, middle-class nature of "the modem feminist movement. Walker agrees: The rejection of butch and femme styles by middle- and upper-class women was frequently tinged with the condescending implication that "role-play" was evidence of the backwardness, conservatism, and confusion of working-class lesbians, who were generally depicted as victims of patriarchal brainwashing.

Smith suggests that the downplaying of lesbian sexuality and similar rejection of butch and femme by radical feminists were a result of their dominant, middle-class backgrounds that de-emphasized sexuality. Thus, Smith argues that women who identify as lesbian for emotional and sexual reasons, especially women of color and working-class women, may not feel represented by this brand of feminism, including radical feminism's condemnation of butch and femme.

Another argument centers not so much on elitism as on the difference between assimilationist and radical politics. As discussed above, Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis' study of a working-class lesbian community argues that, as lesbian gender, butch and femme are a radical political statement about the dominant structures of gender and sexuality.

For their narrators, being butch all the time was a refusal to submit to dominant gender imperatives; it was a working-class act of subversion. If a discussion of butch and femme and social class is difficult to resolve, a discussion of race is nearly non-existent. Reading the literature on butch and femme in the U. Although some ethnographies record the existence of lesbians of color in largely white butch and femme communities-for example, Buffalo, NY Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis -and others record black lesbian communities that remained largely segregated from white communities-for example Memphis Buring -it is unclear how black lesbian identities or the identities of other lesbians of color have been specifically impacted by the influence of racism.

Several authors of Black Feminist Thought have discussed the complicated interplay of race, class, gender and sexual orientation for lesbians of color Clarke ; hooks ; Lorde ; Omosupe But the relevance of butch and femme to lesbians of color remains unclear and understudied. Buring's narrators explain that butch and femme were Eurocentric terms that were sometimes adopted by black lesbians during the mid-century but sometimes not.

Buring's narrators suggest that "bulldagger" was a much more common although pejorative term for lesbians within African-American culture. Omosupe agrees on this point. Additionally, Buring adds that younger narrators discussing lesbian communities of the s and s rejected butch and femme terms altogether. Walker explains the politics of erasure for femmes and for lesbians of color as particular issues that make visibility difficult. She writes: Each of these assumptions contributes to the double invisibility of the lesbian of color within the white lesbian community; she is invisible first as a lesbian, and then there is no perception of her sexual style.

That is to say, while a butch woman of color might not be recognized as a lesbian because she is not white, she might be perceived as lesbian because her sexual style is considered 'blatant. The denial about de facto segregation in contemporary U. Clearly, it is a research issue and, hence, an impediment to knowledge production as well. Much of the difficulty in sorting out the debates about butch and femme, as well as most debates about gender and sexualities, results from the multi-disciplinary origins of the debaters.

The authors are writing from different disciplines; hence, they are engaged in different kinds of projects. Although butch and femme comprise a common topic, not all authors are trying to accomplish the same scholarly or political goals. In this section, I outline the basic varieties of knowledge projects produced on butch and femme. I sum up my discussion by locating this project both inside and outside those categories. Ethnographies, or community studies, are a common style of research project that records the existence of specific communities during particular historical periods.

This project style is undertaken, by historians and anthropologists alike, to record the social practices of people in certain geographic regions. Some excellent examples of community studies involving lesbians include Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis' study of Buffalo, New York during the s, '50s and '60s; Buring's study of s to s Memphis; Newton's study of s to s Cherry Grove, Fire Island; Gilmartin's study of s and '60s communities in Colorado; and Franzen's study of Albuquerque during the period to The academic project of community studies is simply to document the existence of certain cultural practices.

The communities are expected to stand as testaments only to their own existence. Hence, none are expected to be "representative" of phenomena in any other place or time and especially not to reference some all-encompassing idea of human existence. The best we can hope is to collect as many studies as possible to identify likenesses across time or place. Positivists begin with completely different assumptions. The positivists work to verify and measure specific phenomena-for example, butch and femme among lesbians- including other factors correlating with their identification.

These scholars tend to assume that any lesbian identified as butch or femme is somehow true or real and assume the fixity of these identities-a fixity that transcends time or place. Among this group, the social and political conditions required to allow for butch and femme to exist as identities are often assumed or ignored. True to their positivistic stance, these scholars tend to be more methodologically concerned with accurate measurement.

Presumably there is something real to measure. The research tends to rely on large-scale surveys administered to self-identified lesbians with a vast field of questions to be answered. Included in past positivistic measurements of butch and femme are: the correlation of butch and femme with social class Weber ; sex roles and power balance in relationships Caldwell and Peplau ; Lynch and Reilly ; Rosenzweig and Lebow ; the existence of "butch- femme dichotomies" among gay men Haist and Hewitt ; and whether butch and femme correlate to why non-lesbians may dislike lesbians Laner and Laner I, too, may be counted among the researchers intent on "counting" butch's and femme's existence among lesbians.

Crawley ," I count the existence of the terms butch and femme in lesbian personal ads over three decades. While my study was certainly empirical, I hope it can be seen as not so adamantly in search of "accuracy" as it is concerned with historical trends of how lesbians report their identities to each other. In this way, I see it as tracing political trends, hopefully without falling prey to the general critique of overly positivistic work. A serious critique of this school of thought is the possibility of "accurately" measuring so slippery a subject as one that is historically-situated, as subjectivity theorists suggest.

Regardless of the putative "objective" nature of these studies and belying the politics that do exist in them, many of these studies include politically loaded language in their results. For example, "no evidence of role-playing" was a finding of more than one study Caldwell and Peplau ; Lynch and Reilly The theorists that I describe below would take exception to the attribution of butch and femme as role- playing, suggesting a concern for the heterosexist assumption that is implicit in attributing butch and femme to "role-playing" i. Much less concerned with interpreting "data" about lesbians, a variety of scholars from many disciplines are engaged in theoretical arguments relating to the existence and political impact of lesbian subjectivities.

This project considers the possibility of the existence of the category "lesbian" usually in 20th century U. Often based on Foucaldian notions of subjects and subjectivities, this project begins with an assumption that runs counter to liberal political thought. A rational actor is not presumed.

In this project, lesbians do not create their subjectivities or agentically fashion their identities. Rather, discourses of desire and gender incite a certain kind of subject to exist. Lesbians do not define themselves. Rather, historically available discourses roughly defined as prevailing political and social ideas define and produce "lesbians. As a result, this project focuses on histories and discourses as much as the lesbians who purportedly occupy them.

A related project focuses on lesbian politics and responds to Freudian and sexological thought of the early 20th century that understood female same-sex eroticism as pathological or underdeveloped psychosis D'Emilio ; Emery ; Faderman ; Ned Katz As a result, much scholarly theorizing has worked to produce a credible moral position for female same-sex erotic expression.

The project among these writers is to understand the available subjectivities of lesbianism and the historical conditions that made each possible. For example, some issues include: "What is she like? Ainley ;" "What are the politics of looking like what you are? Walker , and ;" "Can there be a masculinity without men?

Halberstam ;" and "How shall we imagine lesbian sexuality in the s? Creith " This project focuses on the cultural representations of lesbianism, especially via media. In both projects, understanding the relationship of texts to knowledge production is of primary concern. A common, anecdotal critique of this style of work and I think a common concern of some of its authors is that this project is often not accessible to the lay reader.

The lived experience ofbutchness or femmeness is overshadowed by the expertness of the theories provided. Individual lesbians are all but silent. The last category in my schema of lesbian knowledge-making attempts to address this problem. Concurrent with the advent of second wave feminism and lesbian and gay civil rights movements, lesbians seem to have been compelled to write about their own experiences as the official and authoritative record of lesbianism. Much of this work has the feel of authors frustrated over the "incorrect" representation of themselves and their lives in largely positivistic academic texts and politically-motivated popular texts, especially during the late s to early s era.

These authors base the legitimacy of their writings on their own life experiences. Some activist scholars wrote in this style to call for political attention to feminist censure of butch and femme Hollibaugh and Moraga ; Nestle More recent examples still wrestle with feminist ideals and the appropriateness of pursuing butch or femme interests De Lonbard Other examples of this style include collections of dyke descriptions of many non-academic authors, often with some editing and analysis on the part of the more academically trained editor Ainley ; Burana, Roxxie and Due ; Harris and Crocker ; Nestle ; Weston These works incite academic theorists to include lesbian voices critiquing academic theory as not descriptive of "real" lesbian lives Esterberg But as dyke description has developed, more traditionally trained academics have gotten into the game by combining personal life experiences with analyses.

Hollibaugh ; Munt a and b. These works have now become both deeply theoretical and personally empirical. Again, I find my own work relating to these genres as one of my own publications is produced in this style, which combines academic analysis with personal testament Crawley I include that article as Chapter 3 of this dissertation. This dissertation relies on all these projects to complete my task. But it utilizes only strategic instances of each to attempt a different project. I am sympathetic to the goals of many of these projects. I applaud efforts to document lesbian history in communities to include these histories in the knowledge base of human experiences.

I also applaud efforts of lesbians to record their own lives. If academics strive to document and analyze human experience, surely lesbians' records of their own lives will be valuable in this project. I find it useful to "count" lesbians, given certain ethical parameters and credible assumptions. Counting is another form of documenting and is invaluable in evaluating certain measures-for example, social inequalities.

I am especially intrigued by theories of lesbian subjectivities. I find the relationship between discourses and individuals a defining interest of sociology. I agree that discourses create limited subject positions, which greatly complicates the possibility of a free-thinking, rational actor. But I worry about the disappearance of the individual from theories of lesbian subjectivities.

A free-thinking, rational actor with full autonomy and agency may be a simplistic notion. But as sociologists well know, individuals do speak. As Blumer asserted, the empirical world has a tendency to "talk back" to social science. Blumer writes: One errs if he [sic] thinks that since the empirical world can exist for human beings only in terms of images or conceptions of it, therefore reality must be sought in images or conceptions independent of an empirical world.

Such a solipsistic position is untenable and would make empirical science impossible. The position is untenable because of the fact that the empirical world can "talk back" to our pictures of it or assertions about it-talk back in the sense of challenging and resisting, or not bending to, our images or conceptions of it. This resistance gives the empirical world an obdurate character that is the mark of reality. But he offers an important reminder that the empirical world talks. Individuals do speak and, although their stories may be constrained by publicly available discourses, they still participate in the telling.

My project is not so much to argue about authorship as it is to listen to lesbian's self stories. By listening to their stories of self, I hope to learn, not just about the ways that self is constructed, but what stories of self tell us about the discourses that make them possible. First, I intend to listen and take seriously lesbians' ideas of themselves. As a self-described lesbian and one who is sympathetic to the lives of women who are non-normatively sexual, I want to believe lesbians and allow them to tell me what is pertinent regarding whom they think they are in the social world.

Second, I ask not whether butch and femme are "real" that is, the origins of urges but why the need for realness is important. That is, I use lesbians' stories of self to analyze, not so much lesbians, as the discourses that lesbians have at their disposal to story a self. More specifically, I investigate how lesbians narrate butch and femme as parts of self and as means to participate in communities and disrupt institutions. I begin with the assumption that butch and femme are narrative resources for storying selves Holstein and Gubrium Hence, I understand butch and femme as useful ideas emergent from the local experiences of women with non-normative sexual interests living in a heterosexist, deeply gendered, everyday world.

And, I argue that the notions of butch and femme tell us as much about the world in which we all live as about the individual lesbians themselves. Holstein and Gubrium's notion of the narrative self we live by works to explain how butch and femme as narrative resources can be both elective and not fully conscious. It borrows from and augments Foucaldian notions of subjectivity by attending to how the individual process of person production works, all the while understanding how the available subject positions provide options for what may be understood as socially possible. In this way, we can understand both the individual experience of person production as well as the disciplining of individuals into proscribed subjectivities.

The project is based on interviews with focus groups, couples and individuals with lesbians in and around a suburban, university town. It represents not so much a place although I am proud to offer a queer viewpoint that is not from hyper-urban New York or San Francisco as it is discourses and experiences that allow lesbians in suburban settings to construct stories of self.

In this introductory chapter, I have summarized the literature and debates on butch and femme to date.

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Chapter 2 of the dissertation outlines the amalgamation of methods that I used for this research. In this chapter, I briefly discuss a variety of interpretive approaches proposed by several authors and explain how each aided in completing my analysis in these chapters. Taking seriously the notion of a "sociology of stories" Plummer and storied selves Holstein and Gubrium , I provide my own story of self in Chapter 3, both to situate myself in relationship to my narrators and to advance a theory ofbutchness as an interpretation and display of ableness for female- bodied persons.

In the remaining chapters in the dissertation, I analyze the talk of my narrators and address in detail the self "stories" of my narrators. Chapter 4 demonstrates how the discourses surrounding butch and femme encourage a sense of measurement of public lesbian selves. In doing so, I note the ways in which lesbians continue to be held accountable to heteronormative notions of gender and sexuality and produce a scientistic standard around which conformity and subjectivity can be understood.

Chapter 5 focuses on the production of private lesbian selves and the limited language available for understanding sexuality outside of heteronormative models. Finally, in Chapter 6, I discuss some variations of self-narration among lesbians based on material circumstances including class, race and age difference. Having noted these differences, I make some conjectures about the impacts of second wave and third wave feminisms on lesbian political generations.

In sum, I hope this project informs 29 lesbians and theorists how an analysis of everyday talk can illuminate the power of discourse and of individuals' discursive practices. Indeed, a step-by-step methodology that produces a concrete answer is anathema to the interpretive tradition. Instead, I used the ideas of many methodologists working within the interpretive tradition, piecing together their various additions to the interpretive paradigm, to address my research question.

Ultimately, I want to know how lesbians come to understand self and what those stories of self tell us about the everyday world in which we live. Tactically, I accomplish this through focus groups, couples and individual interviews, fieldwork and autoethnography. Hence, this chapter on methodology proposes to explain, not just the actual research techniques that I employed, but the theoretical underpinnings of those approaches. In this chapter, I investigate how selves are produced through talk. In doing so, I address how we can theorize the construction of symbolic selves while honoring the world of material experiences.

I begin by introducing Plummer's interactionist notion of "a sociology of stories" to explain why sexual and gendered life stories are relevant to understanding culture. Next, I discuss the usefulness of theorizing storied selves and introduce Holstein and Gubrium's notion of the "self we live by," which is created through interpretive practice. In order to attend to feminist concerns of inequality, I augment the discussion with Dorothy Smith's notion of "looking up" at institutions from the perspective of the individual.

Having established a methodological agenda, I conclude by outlining the research design and parameters and some "real world" complications to that design that recognizes the sometimes messy issues of being both researcher and community member. Understanding a World of Stories In Telling Sexual Stories , Ken Plummer produces a decidedly interactionist theory of the social world when he writes, "Society itself may be seen as a textured but seamless web of stories emerging everywhere through interaction: holding people together, pulling people apart, making societies work 5. Our stories comprise our experiences, thoughts, feelings and the narratives available to produce them.

They provide for us the means for everyday people to understand everyday lives. Plummer sees stories as a prime site for social science investigation. Hence, researchers are not describing a concrete reality in which positivistic Scientists, with a capital "S," are interested as much as a social reality produced by and for everyday people. Nonetheless, this social reality has consequences for human interaction Thomas and Thomas It becomes real. Plummer's main concern is the production of sexual stories. He notes a proliferation of sexual stories in the late 20th century.

The male is an emotionally limited dildo. I am sorry you have been hurt so much and so often by men. My comment was not intended to be disempowering, entitled or otherwise perpetuate a power differential; rather, it was an invitation to think about your stereotype. I didn't take it personally, because I know you are suffering, and I am compassionate enough to know it's not about me and all "unconventional" men.

What I've learned is that it's not about men as a group at all think of all the Gay men out there, do you group them in with your negative stereotype as well? What it's about is a "certain kind of male," or the bad apples that make us all look bad. In the police force it's the same; most cops are good, but the racist murderer's make them all look bad. Who is this male who I am speaking of? They are liars, manipulators, narcissists, psychopaths, users and abusers etc.

Most men are not like that. Hilariously, the small percentage of men like this, extroverted, adventurous, confident, rich and abusive, are the one's women think are a good catch. My guess is you have been attracted to narcissists, they have hurt you deeply, and now you are so bitter, so full of pain and resentment, you have fallen victim to the cynical and distorted ideal all men are pigs. I truly hope you can start to heal from this. Again, Youre just a misogynist mansplainer. I wont be responding anymore.

Its most. Shy, introverted guys are just as bad. Its called covert narcissism. Ugly men cheat on their wives too. Its natural to be attracted to the most attractive people, but women run into the same problems with ugly, poor men. In fact poor men tend to be moreviolent. The problem is maleness, not womens choices. We arent stupid, we dont pursue bad treatment. Its wolves in sheeps clothing men that find US. One must always be vigilant, not naive.

It seems I can't say anything without an immediate and reactive negative response from you. What can I say without it being mansplaining or woman hating?

Please give me a concrete example of what an acceptable response from a man would look like. Just one or two sentences will do. Eric, your only crime was having a male name don't take it personally. As a female supremacist. Someone like you needs to be monitored because of your hatred of men.


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You may just be a female version of Ted Bundy. Scary to think about. Sorry honey. I'm a man. I like my male self. I'm also not a hetero man. I like my gay self. Yet you are incapable of realizing you cannot plug me into your 'all men' scenario- and it's women like you that have made me into someone who can't stand women like you.

No one will ever be good enough for you- and I'd advise anyone interested in a relationship with you to run as fast and as far away from you as possible because YOU are toxic. So- not all men- and not even all straight men- are emotionally limited dildos- but using your frame of reference ALL WOMEN are emotionally immature life-suckers. Do straight men need to grow up?

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So do you. All in the name of living out the male dream; screwing everything you can. The fact that males are emotionally limited whores does not mean that women need to "grow up". Your empty threats of running off my suitors is laughable. I do not want a relationshit with males, havent pursued it in 8 years and I never will.

Why would I want the company of pigs? Thats YOUR role. For that I applaud you. What a hateful, bigoted view. I've always been amazed at gay men who pander to feminists or misandric lesbians in their midst, since they obviously hate them as much as any other males perhaps more so, since they don't need women for sex. Indeed, homophobia and misandry are related phenomena, a relationship which probably has never been examined by psychologists or social scientists. It's no coincidence, for example, that most countries that criminalize homosexuality and persecute homosexuals Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Victorian England left lesbianism perfectly legal.

If Oscar Wilde had been female, he would never have been imprisoned, and he could also have had a perfectly respectable late 19th century "Boston Marriage" with a lover of the same sex. Even when such laws technically apply to both sexes, their practical application applies to males exclusively for instance, executions of gays in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

There is also the phenomenon of so called "radical" feminists collaborating with the most priggish, reactionary, extreme and anti sex elements in American society. Andrea Dworkin, a malodorous, unkempt LBS lesbian in overalls collaborated with the Reagan Administration's Meese Commission and polyester suited evangelicals in their attempts to criminalize porn.

I applaud your honesty. You hate men and always will and I think many women agree with you. Men exist to reproduce; that's it, biologically speaking. To do that they have no choice yet but to try to get into women's you-know-what. If you hate men trying to reproduce, you hate men. All the other stuff men do- work, buy things, build resumes- all happen for the one purpose above. Don't know what women are for, but that's what men are for.

Your honestly is scary but appreciated. The male exists only for screwing and his attempts at "success" are to get women. Problem is he attempts to reach his goals by abusing, oppressing and deceiving the women. Given that his only purpose is in life is to seek women, hed be better off worshiping us and serving us. Some guys try the worshipping thing. Generally they get used and spit out, many keep coming back for more. Lots of suffering at the hands of the other side before if you're lucky finding someone who doesn't hurt you.

That seems to be the way of things in this vale of tears. But it's not at all exclusive to one gender. Joe Kort, Ph. The Handmaid's Tale brings to light many of our family and societal dynamics. Back Psychology Today. Back Find Counselling. Back Get Help. Back Magazine. Subscribe Issue Archive. Back Today. How We Affect Each Other.

Follow me on Twitter. Friend me on Faceook. Connect with me on LinkedIn. You need to look at this logically. Patriarchy Mostly we know that men, especially heterosexual white men, have a privileged status in our society, that they are mostly blind to their privilege, and that we live in a patriarchal world. Submitted by Steve on February 24, - pm. Anonymous wrote:. We should validate mind control Submitted by Richi on February 25, - am. Submitted by anti-misandry on April 10, - pm.

Heck Zimmerman did it for free attacking an innocent black kid Guys do it to each other a lot and guys need to unite and stop tearing each other apart too You're entitled to hate whoever you want, but others are entitled to note that hate and pass you over for those who don't hate them since most bosses are men too. Look in the mirror Submitted by Dan Tanna on June 29, - pm. Perhaps you make shitty choices. Question Submitted by Ryan on September 15, - pm. So what is wrong with patriarchy to begin with? Submitted by Matt on December 28, - pm.

For all anyone knows he could Submitted by JustAdude on June 24, - am. Submitted by mcasey6 on June 12, - pm.

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Submitted by anti-misandry on January 20, - pm. Bruce Wilcox on August 11, - am. Exactly Submitted by Timilicious on May 13, - pm. Hitting the nail on the head. Commendations sent your way. Anonymous wrote: Submitted by anti-misandry on April 10, - pm. Truth is the new hate speech