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What Every Lesbian Should Know


n our society which defines all people and

instituions for the benefit of the rich, white

male, the lesbian is in revolt. In revolt

because she defines herself in terms of women and

rejects male definitions of how she should feel, act,

look and live. To be a lesbian is to love oneself, woman, in a

culture that denigrates and despises women. The lesbian

rejects male sexual/political domination, and defies his

work, his social organization, his ideology, and his

definition of her as inferior. Lesbianism puts women first

while the society declares the male supreme. Lesbianism

threatens male supremacy at its core. When politically

conscious and organized, it is central to destroying our

sexist, racist, capitalist, imperialist system.


Male society defines lesbianism as a sexual act which

reflects men's limited view of women: they think of us only

in terms of sex. They also say lesbians are not real women,

so a real woman is one who gets fucked by men. We say

that a lesbian is a woman whose sense of self and energies,

including sexual energies, center around women--she is

woman identified. The woman-identified-woman commits

herself to other women for political, emotional, physical,

and economic support. Women are important to her; she is

important to herself. Our society demands that commit–

ment from women be reserved for men.

The lesbian, woman-identified-woman, commits herself

to women not only as an alternative to oppressive·

male/female relationships but primarily because she


women. Whether consciously or not, by her action, the

lesbian has recognized that giving support and love to men

over women perpetuates the system that oppresses her. If

women do not make a commitment to each other, which

includes sexual love, we deny ourselves the love and value

traditionally given to men. Lesbians' energy and love flows

to women because we do not accept our second class status,

we see women as serious persons worthy of total

commitment and capable of changing the world. When

women give primary energies to other women, it is possible

to concentrate fully on building a movement for our



by Charlotte Bunch and Rita Mae Brown, Washington, D.C.


s women who have rejected the identity that


men have built for us, we now face the

reality of women's oppression and what it has

done to us, without the buffer of male privilege or

the security of predetermined roles. We see the

damage done to us by a sexist society. We see the strengths

gained in fighting to survive in an anti-woman world. We

find that we are not failures, that we do not have to hate

ourselves, but that we are fighters who understand that

society is wrong. And so, we can begin to construct new


Woman-identified lesbianism is, then, more than a sexual

preference, it is a political choice. It is political because

relationships between men and women are essentially

political, they involve power and dominance. Since the

lesbian actively rejects that relationship and chooses

women, she defies the established political system.


Of course , not all lesbians are consciously woman–

identified, nor are all committed to finding common

solutions to the oppression they suffer as women and

lesbians. Being a lesbian is part of challenging male

supremacy, but not the end. For the lesbian or heterosexual

woman, there is no individual solution to oppression.

The lesbian may think that she is free since she escapes

the personal oppression of the individual male/female

relationship. But to the society she is still a woman, or

worse, a visible lesbian. On the street, at the job, in the

schools, she is treated as an inferior and is at the mercy of

men's power and whims. {I've never heard of a rapist who

stopped because his victim was a lesbian.) This society hates

women who love women, and so, the lesbian, who escapes

male dominance in her private home receives it doubly at

the hands of male society; she is harrassed, outcast, and

shuttled to the bottom. Lesbians must become feminists

and fight against woman oppression, just as feminists must

become lesbians if they hope to end male supremacy.



society encourages individual solutions, apolitical

attitudes, and reformism to keep us from political revolt

and out of power. Menwho rule, and male leftists who seek

to rule, try to depoliticize sex and the relations between