Lesbian spaces are still needed, no matter what the queer movement says

lesbian bar

Portland, supposedly an “LGBTQ haven,” no longer has any lesbian bars (despite the fact there are eight bars for gay men). What’s more, the city doesn’t have a single dance party that caters to women seeking women. In Willamette Week, Elena Rosenthal asks why.

We’re told we live in an era of greater acceptance of homosexuality, yet the loss of hard-won lesbian spaces and events is a growing trend. San Francisco, known as one of the most prominent LGBT communities in the world, doesn’t have a single lesbian bar, and New York City’s lesbian spaces have dwindled severely. There are no explicitly lesbian bars in Vancouver (Lick — once the city’s only lesbian bar — closed in 2011), though there are a number of bars for gay men and “queer nights” that take place within various venues.

Some have argued that as society becomes more accepting, lesbian spaces are naturally rendered obsolete. Rosenthal suggests that perhaps lesbian spaces have vanished because “mainstream culture” has evolved, turning “every bar in Portland… into an unofficial lesbian bar.”

This common explanation begs the question: What the hell are they talking about? Can you imagine if this were actually true? Can you imagine walking into any old bar only to discover it just happened to be completely dominated by women? And that you could therefore easily meet lesbian women everywhere you went? I think Rosenthal might have Earth confused with Wonder Woman’s home planet of Amazonia.

To pretend the decline of lesbian spaces is merely a sign of progress is totally inconsistent with reality. Rosenthal implies we have reached a kind of utopia, with regard to female sexuality, stating, “It wasn’t too long ago that identifying as lesbian carried a huge stigma.” But she also notes that in Portland State University’s recent “survey of students and their identities, more students identified as ‘pansexual’ than lesbian” and quotes a young woman (who dates women, albeit some who identify as “non-binary”) saying, “‘I have never felt comfortable with the term lesbian.’”

Hmm. That sounds like… what’s the word… oh, yeah: stigma.

This “progress” explanation not only falls flat because stigma around lesbianism remains, but because it fails to account for the fact that spaces for gay males have remained largely intact. In my hometown of Philadelphia, for example, a peek at any “gayborhood” calendar offers a plethora of events catering to gay men, including: gay bingo, gaybill (musical theater night), gay burlesque roulette, free country line dancing, gay antiques shows, and a best gay mac and cheese contest.

By contrast, the latest Phillesbian Fall Guide lists events such as: a beer festival… No, not a lesbian beer festival — just a regular one. In fact, there’s not a single explicitly lesbian event in the guide (unless a Tegan and Sara concert counts).

The last lesbian bar in Philadelphia, Sisters, closed in 2013, turning the country’s first gayborhood into a mostly male affair. So although rainbows proudly decorate street signs and crosswalks, there’s little real diversity to be found.

Yet, it seems that “diversity” is an important piece of the puzzle. Rosenthal points to “a minefield of identity politics” as being responsible for the downfall of the lesbian bar and the challenges faced by women who try to organize regular meet-ups or monthly dance parties for lesbians only. What causes the organizers to throw in the towel? The accusation of being “non-inclusive.”

Rosenthal offers numerous examples that illustrate the way in which the term “lesbian” has been framed as offensive on account of being “exclusionary.” A monthly lesbian meet-up called Fantasy Softball League was accused of being an “unsafe space for trans women and others who don’t identify with feminine pronouns,” she explains. After coming under fire for being a lesbian event, the organizer instead started calling it an event for “queer women.” Yet people still took offense, as specifically referring to “women,” “ladies,” “girls” and even “gals” in this context is viewed as violently exclusionary (apparently, setting boundaries that exclude males is practically criminal).

Rosenthal acknowledges that gay males are not facing this same problem, but fails to explore why that is. She posits that the “splintering of identity” is responsible for the decline of lesbian spaces, saying “the transgender rights movement… has exploded the categories of gay and straight and male and female.” But if biological sex as a category has supposedly exploded into nothingness, why does this glaring disparity between gay males and lesbians now exist? Surely a sex-based analysis could be applied here…

It seems the burden of “queering” “identity” always falls on women in particular. For example, why is it usually women’s bathrooms that are turned into “all-gender”/“inclusive” bathrooms, while men’s rooms remain unchanged? Why are lesbian events accused of bigotry and bullied out of existence, while those for gay males continue on their merry way?

Feminist writer Sarah Ditum points out that it is primarily women’s spaces and organizations, “not services intended for men,” that are attacked for being “non-inclusive.” She names “rape crisis centres (Vancouver Rape Relief), abortion rights campaigns (A Night of a Thousand Vaginas), and women-only music festivals (Michfest)” as just a few examples. “Gentleman’s clubs — those all-male bastions of the Establishment — have not been targeted for protests,” Ditum writes.

It appears that even though the project of “queering” is, we’re told, about going beyond gender, the movement disproportionately affects females in negative ways.

Today’s social commentators bend over backwards in their efforts to put a positive spin on the decline of lesbian spaces, claiming their absence isn’t so bad because it “eschews gender binaries” and “labels,” while embracing “outsider identities and marginalized communities.”

The contemporary LGBT movement is currently enthralled by an ideology that presents “labels” as the source of social oppression. The category of “lesbian” itself is viewed as an affront to progress because black and white labels are mean and bad and suppress the diversity and fluidity of queer rainbows! Identifying as “queer” is thus favoured over “lesbian” because it can mean pretty much anything and include anyone.

But succeeding in encouraging women to soften their sexual, political, and physical boundaries is no triumph. In fact, that sounds more like old-fashioned patriarchy than it does cutting-edge progress.

Space is political: one of the chief ways that male supremacy is maintained is through men’s domination of public spaces. It is baffling that the mainstream media runs endless pieces about things like street harassment and “manspreading,” but refuses to connect the loss of lesbian space to patriarchy.

Lesbian spaces are essential and cannot be replaced with “inclusive spaces” because, as Sheila Jeffreys explains, “All space becomes male space unless females maintain a concerted effort to mark a space for themselves.”

We can make progressive-sounding pronouncements about certain spaces being inclusive, non-binary, and gender-neutral all we want, but these declarations do not magically disappear the material relations of power between the sexes foundational to our social world. If we call a space gender-neutral, it doesn’t neutralize the threat of male violence. If we call a space inclusive of all genders, it doesn’t ameliorate the fact that males will likely come to dominate it.

Lesbian spaces are important because patriarchy and heterosexism prevail in our culture. And despite all the cheering for queering, erasing lesbians for the sin of being “exclusionary” will not solve anything. In fact, being exclusionary is pretty useful — another word for it is creating boundaries, which are important, even when men don’t like them.

Susan Cox
Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.

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  • Marla

    “Can you imagine walking into any old bar only to discover it just happened to be completely dominated by women?”

    Yes I can. Problem is it wouldn’t last long seeing it would attract males there for as completely different reason.

  • Dedangelo

    Did the author talk to any actual lesbians/queer women about they don’t support lesbian businesses? Because otherwise this comes off as conjecture.

    • Si Llage

      Are you willing to offer the author a grant to do the sort of investigative journalism you want because her editorial isn’t worthwhile enough for you?

    • Well, she did talk to me, and I’m a lesbian. I spoke with her about the “queer women” scene where I live and how I don’t participate in it because it’s open to absolutely anyone, including men, and that doesn’t interest me. If you have other input, why not put that in your comment?

    • JingFei

      I’m a lesbian and I can say without a doubt that this is happening in my city. I’m pretty sure anyone can declare “discrimination” here if you openly attempt to exclude anyone. And everything is changing to “Queer” or else you’re a “bigot” and you get 800 SJW’s claiming your a terrible person and wanting to shut down your venue. So you can’t even go to a ‘lesbian’ meet-up style potluck without the presence of cross-dressers, and having to worry about special pronouns. To be truthful, most lesbians I know are polite, but the energy in the room changes when there are obvious males. It’s because you have to placate them while thinking in our head; ” this is a man hitting on me at a lesbian Pot Luck. How do I not offend them?”. It’s more comfortable just not to go at all sometimes.
      At the same time, going on your comment, even if lesbians did have their own bar, with the rent so expensive in our cities gay village, I often wonder if lesbians have the numbers to support it. The last one closed here about 2 years ago.

  • Blazewarrior

    So as usual men are the winners and women are what? Well obviously we don’t exist in our own right because men are the ones continuing to dominate and exclude women. Hence the reason why lesbian only spaces don’t exist anymore because they have to be inclusive of men which contradicts what lesbian means.

    Oh and note the boys continue to have their own specific spaces because homosexual males continue to enjoy their own specific homosexual bars which cater specifically for homosexual men not lesbian women. Plus all those male sexually predatory clubs which men euphemistically claim are ‘gentlemens’ clubs’ continue to cater for males wishing to sexually prey on women with male impunity!

    Space is indeed political which is why men continue to maintain their male pseudo sex right to meet in male only spaces and deny us women our fundamental female right of excluding males from biological female only spaces!

    As Sheila Jeffreys rightly said: “All space becomes male space unless females maintain a concerted effort to mark a space for themselves.”

    But apparently the moon is made of green cheese if the boys say it is!

    • Just Passing Through

      Women need to keep standing up to the bullying of transactivists and misogynist men and never give up and never back down. A poster on here once wrote a while back that women have been cut off from our inner warrior for as long as patriarchy has been around. I agree with that and not in the way “warrior” means bloodlust or love of war, but in the way that we need to stand up and come together as a group, find our voice and fight back against this weird Orwellian attempt to erase female reality. (I’m sure the poster meant the same: warrior as in fighting spirit) I have been watching a series on A&E called Scientology with Leah Remini and the way she is standing up for the victims of this very abusive cult is really inspiring because here is a strong, intelligent, takes-no-shit woman going after this creepy, misogynistic and highly abusive cult (abusive to both men and women) and is succeeding! I guess the reason I bring that up is because it is encouraging to watch a woman stand up and say: No we are not going to take this shit anymore! And wow, you want to talk about a group of people that have been gaslighted to the moon and back, it is Scientologists (I’ve known some personally too) There are some parallels between the way these people are treated and what’s going on with women and transactivists/men who hate us… (if anyone here is a scientologist, sorry…. but please. run fast and far if you are!) It’s tempting at times to just throw up our arms and just go “Fuck it, we can’t fight it anymore” but we can’t… we have to keep on fighting. btw, I recommend watching this show…really powerful and eye opening. I had no idea it was that bad

      • Natalie

        Pretty sure that’s why lesbians are the most feared by straight men because you don’t buy into their heteronormative structure of dominance. To feminine gay men who are apolitical you are not an ally nor a possible bestie so who gives a fuck if your spaces are invaded per that line of argument. Unsurprisingly to me it seems that this MRA transactivism unholy alliance may unravel due to conservative women saying nope now that their spaces are being co opted and some of their autogynephile hubbies are transitioning. To me the Bruce Jenner shit brought the idiocy of liberal orthodoxy on gender politics to the attention of even non political people.

    • Mandy

      That Jeffrey’s quote is becoming more relevant every day. We must continue to fight! Continue to not let history of women only spaces be erased or rewritten!

  • Independent Radical

    I wish there was a (secular, non-conservative) space for people specifically looking to form long lasting monogamous relationships or at the very least a place that didn’t mix alcohol with sexuality and encourage casual sex. Call me old fashioned, but bars and “parties” (or alcohol fests as they should be called) were never my thing and aren’t the right environment for making smart choices about sexual partners.

    It’s unfortunate that gays and lesbians are pushed into being general sex liberals. A monogamist among a “sexually liberated” community (such as a university campus) is in a vaguely similar position to a gay or lesbian in the rest of the world. You have to come out as a monogamist otherwise people assume you aren’t one and feel entitled to shove casual sex down your throat and when you do come out as one your sexual desires are branded inferior and you struggle to find anyone who shares them. The good news is that monogamists get to leave sex liberal spaces (maybe, who knows if the sex liberals of this generation are actually going to grow up once they leave university) while gays and lesbians are forced to chose between sex liberalism and invisibility.

    Gays and lesbians are being shoved aside within the sex liberal movement. They’ve won too many victories and aren’t seen as all that subversive nowadays. You’ve got to do more before the sex liberals will care about you, like being bisexual (and dating multiple people at once) or sadomasochist or something that’s actually perfectly normal but gets a ridiculous term invented for it (like pansexual or demisexual). Otherwise you’re too “vanilla” and “monosexual” (an insult for people who aren’t bisexual or pansexual, based on the idea that only being attracted to people of one sex give you some kind of social advantage, which obviously isn’t true for gays and lesbians).

    I feel like the sex liberal was just using gays and only cared about them so long as they could contribute to the sexual liberation agenda and now they’ve won and their usefulness as a source of sexual subversion has run out. This is why the label “queer” needs to go and gays and lesbians need their own movement. Lesbian spaces could be part of that, though I think they should be political and not just a way to get laid.

  • owleyes27

    More and more there seems to be a campaign to erase women in general. Like how the new national geographic cover included “male” but not “female”. Any talk of our existence is “triggering” and “offensive” now and so many women are afraid to speak up

    • Just Passing Through

      We are speaking up here at least!

  • Beard Trice

    Yes! Lesbian spaces are needed. It is important for Lesbians to use the term Lesbian. Everything else is just to lessen the “stigma” of being male exclusive.. I never have, and never will, understand undermining womyn that love womyn to cater to men or their cronies. Society can continue to try to erase Lesbians, but we have existed before identity politics and we will still be here after the snowflakes melt. And, as usual, we will accept the womyn back to the fold simply because they are Female. But, I will never give a man the honor of the title of Woman! And, I don’t want to share space with men just because they “identify” as ‘whatever.’ Thank you for your excellent observations and blatant statements. This is a hard line. There is no grey area. Lesbians deserve and have the right to community without some xy involved.

    • Marla

      ” I never have, and never will, understand undermining womyn that love womyn to cater to men or their cronies”

      Maybe womyn have been going about this all wrong. They should be thankful that males have allowed for them to use the term “lesbian” is such an public manner – no longer to be considered taboo or subversive and labeled the word as a badge of shame. Womyn should be thankful for men allowing lesbians to be exploited, stereotyped, and sexualized in books, film, TV, and music pop culture for profit instead of seeing two actual human beings who actually love and care for each other. Oh, the fucking ingratitude that clearly demonstrates to males. I guess until that day arrives male cronyism continues to rule the day. Unfortunately.

  • wincky59

    I’m 57 years old and have virtually given up on the lifestyle, because there is nothing going on anymore. The festivals are going, now the bars. It’s hard to meet up with a group of lesbians anymore. There are also a lot of women transitioning and the whole thing is confusing.

  • Ann Burlingham

    I’m curious: 20-odd years ago, bisexual women like me were being blamed for “divisiveness” and for ruining lesbian spaces. Have we stopped doing so, or are we passé now?

    I can’t tell from the essay, as we are not mentioned, either as sisters, fellow stigmatized women, or destroyers.

    (I am reminded, however, that my self-identifying as bi made pretty much every lesbian tell me about what sex she’d had or was currently having with men – this, in the numerous years I was out but had never had sex with a man. Ain’t life -and labels – funny?)

    • Independent Radical

      “I am reminded, however, that my self-identifying as bi made pretty much
      every lesbian tell me about what sex she’d had or was currently having
      with men – this, in the numerous years I was out but had never had sex
      with a man. Ain’t life -and labels – funny?”

      Questioning women’s claims to be lesbians will not get you support from lesbians. If a woman had sex with men in the past, but has since decided only to have sex with women she’s a lesbian. The only criteria a woman should have to meet to be a lesbian is opting to only have sex with women. It doesn’t matter whether they’re doing it because they’re sex liberals who are only physically attracted to women or they’ve made a political choice to avoid having sex with men or something in between.

      I take issue with bisexuals claiming to somehow be more oppressed than gays and lesbians. Many of the disadvantages gays and lesbians experience are related to the fact that they don’t want to be with people of the opposite sex. If bisexuals want my respect they have to ditch the “monosexual privilege” bullshit that they’re into. There’s no advantage that comes from being gay or lesbian as opposed to bi.

  • Thanks for writing about this, Susan. There is nothing left for lesbians besides us meeting in our own homes for potlucks. Don’t get me wrong, I love potlucks, but we should be able to hold public meetings for lesbians without being forced to open our space up to both sexes and 11,000 different “genders.” Lesbians are women who are attracted to women, and when we are denied the right to follow our sexual orientation and hold lesbian-only events, that is both misogyny and homophobia. Men (and patriarchy-enablers of both sexes) have always hated women-only spaces and sought to destroy them.

  • shy virago

    Another great comment, especially “there is no comparison between them and males who trans to female”!

  • Natalie

    Greetings everyone. I have been lurking for the past day and I really wanted to post. I started looking into some of the issues associated with the attempted forced inclusion of non biological women with male organs in women only spaces casually after I saw a piece about Michfest ending. My very tentative initial hypothesis is that some undercover Christian activists have gotten involved in the transactivist movement and used the overlap between their continued interest in maintaining the churches patriarchal power by decoupling feminism from reproductive biology. At the same time another group of men and their interests namely men who are libertarian MRA’s types who want to continue patriarchal structures for economic and sexual gratification reasons. Both use different arguments for the same ends. Sex positive activism reaffirms male power as does anti trans activism that the xtian right engages in. Both seek to simultaneously enforce gender hierarchy and male power with help from their fellow mostly white Christian upper class men. Just because a white liberal man who teaches at ( insert liberal arts college here) pays lip service to feminism I don’t believe he wants to end a system he benefits from any more than a jackass pastor in North Carolina who moans about communist feminists. I have a daughter who is profoundly autistic and disabled. I want to be safe in female only spaces with her. Disabled girls have about 3 times more risk than average girls do in the realm of sexual assault and abuse. We need to say no there are spaces in public that women feel safe to be in. That is not fucking bigoted. It is a biological and legal fact that most abusers are men.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Woooooord, girl.

  • Natalie

    In a patriarchal society we have a very unequal role. I knew very little about how transactivist types were using the fact that Christian patriarchal types coopted radical feminist critiques of hyper gender politics as proof that those critiques were invalid. Using that same shitty patriarchal logic I can invalidate the Bible ( which should be invalidated ) because slaveholders used it. It isn’t surprising that the fundie women ( surprise!) also don’t want men with male parts who used to be called crossdressers in the bathroom with them. Yes brainwashed handmaiden s of the patriarchy also want gasp women born women spaces too! I don’t think that they care about gender critical theory at all. But maybe they on many levels perceive the weirdness of liberal, straight men using the narrative of victimized transwomen of color as the rationale to invade women’s spaces. I literally feel like I am taking crazy pills reading about this debate in feminism…

  • DRBoring

    I don’t see liberals promoting sexualities that kill women. That’s conservatives. They are also the ones trying to justify homophobia on the grounds of nature but they can’t since they don’t have evidence. They just sort of wave their arms and hope no one notices. The difference is we have evidence in the form of history. Even if you enforce monogamy on pain of death it doesn’t work. People still cheat.

    The problems with casual sex you mention will all go away as soon as people accept casual sex 100% as the only real option. If you don’t look for an attachment you will never get attached. If someone fails to get laid then they are just aiming too high. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to your level.
    What you call love is really just a temporary high that goes away. If you stick to casual sex you keep getting that high again and again.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “I don’t see liberals promoting sexualities that kill women.”

      That is a crazy thing to say. See: prostitution, BDSM, pornography, etc etc

      • DRBoring

        Perfectly valid methods of sexual expression aren’t at all comparable to stone age idiologies where the woman is passed around like a cow and must submit to the whims of her husband.

        • Meghan Murphy

          You mean like in prostitution?

        • radwonka

          “submit to the whims of her husband”

          just like in BDSM?

          “woman is passed around like a cow”

          just like in this hook up culture?

          Also, you didnt explain why not wanting to have feelings for women is “natural” and better.

          • Tired feminist

            Oh radwonka, don’t you know it’s “natural” to dehumanize women? Women aren’t even human to begin with…

    • Wren

      Eh you sound a bit crazy, or a just another dude.

    • radwonka

      “If you don’t look for an attachment you will never get attached.”

      translation: “if you just see women as sex toys, you will never have feelings for them”

      thanks for confirming that hook up culture is deepy misogynistic and that people who just use others as sex objects will never have respect and feelings for them either.

      “What you call love is really just a temporary high that goes away. If
      you stick to casual sex you keep getting that high again and again.”

      So you just use others and then throw them away when you arent “high” (or more like: insecure) anymore? What do you think people are?
      Also you made a mistake you said that *love* is “temporary high” not sex, but dont worry, we also know that people who just want sex are sociopath 🙂

      • DRBoring

        Love stems directly from sex. Same thing. There is an evolutionary imperitive for us to have as many sex partners as possible to maintain genetic variety. Attachments like love are in direct opposition to that.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Go away.

        • Tired feminist

          LOL. So does love “stem from sex” or is in “direct opposition” to sexual instincts? Make up your mind.

    • Cassandra

      “I don’t see liberals promoting sexualities that kill women.”

      Stick around here and read (but don’t talk) the articles for a while, dude. Just read. Absorb. Liberal dudes and brocialists are nuclear-grade misogynists in their own special way.

    • Tired feminist

      “I don’t see liberals promoting sexualities that kill women.”

      Really? Have you never seen liberals promoting porn and prostitution? In which planet do you live?

      “The problems with casual sex you mention will all go away as long as people accept casual sex 100% as the only real option.”

      LMAO. LMAO forever. Who are the sexual authoritarians once again? You don’t interact much with people in real life, do you?

  • JingFei

    Has it ever occurred to you that not everyone thinks like you? I personally have no desire to have a variety of casual sex partners. I much prefer someone I connect with emotionally, intellectually, and who is on the same page of life as me.
    People are free to enjoy a life of casual sex if that’s what they choose, but monogamy is an appealing, valid choice for many of us. And no, not “everyone” cheats. That’s ridiculous. I know plenty of healthy, successful long term monogamous relationships, including my own. Actually, when it comes to people I’ve met who want to live a polyamorous lifestyle, their lives have always been utter train wrecks where everyone, including themselves, are miserable. I’m sure some can make it work out there, but I’ve rarely seen it personally.

    • Claudia Manion

      Same. I’ve never seen polyamory work. I’ve had to hear repeatedly that it does. A series of train wrecks is all I’ve seen. Only my experience as an outsider, though. I’m into monogamy myself.

  • radwonka

    Its not unnatural.
    It does work.
    It does not “always end up” in cheating.

    There is nothing unnatural about being happy with someone.

    People who cheat are just liars, thus THEY are the problem, not others. How come these people are always protected under the idea that their partner who wanted a serious relationship are “unnatural”? It doesnt make any sense. But we know *why*.

    Dude, we know that you just want to use every women as a sex object, you wont convince anyone because we know what objectification is, and we are against it, you are wasting your time here.

  • Meghan Murphy


    • Morag999

      Oh, he’s a comedian.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Radical feminists are generally critical of marriage so I’m not sure why you’re bringing that up. Also, monogamy doesn’t need to be “forever.” If a monogamous relationship only lasts a few years, it’s still a monogamous relationship.

  • shy virago

    Re-reading your comment again today, it seems even more powerful. Great points and clarity!

  • Zuzanna Smith

    When is it empowering?

  • Cassandra

    Yeah, I’m not a lesbian either but this shit makes me madder than a hornet. It’s very obviously male domination and the tearing down of boundaries. Mass delusion meets capitalism meets hatred of women.

  • Cassandra


  • JingFei

    Long term monogamous relationships exist without marriage.

  • Morag999

    Do you have a relevant point to make? Or are you here to demonstrate to us how you mark territory and take up women’s space?

    Just wondering.

  • Independent Radical

    “Half of marriages end in divorce.”

    That’s only true in the United States. Other developed countries have lower divorce rates and I think failed marriages are largely the result of the irresponsible pleasure-centric thinking which characterises casual sex being applied to relationships. If monogamists weren’t encouraged to think like those who practise promiscuity (e.g. by focusing on the physical attractiveness and superficial charm of potential partners rather than their deeper moral character), we wouldn’t have as many failed relationships. Not to mention that the money wasted on marriage ceremonies contributes to the conflicts involved in them. If favour loving, egalitarian monogamous relationships without all the annoyances of marriage.

    Furthermore the probability of casual sex failing through forbidden feelings of attachment, morning after regret or STIs and unwanted pregnancies are probably much higher. These phenomenon just don’t get tracked, but even if casual sex were to succeed, it’s not an ideal worth fighting for. Genuine love, which isn’t a lustful high, but a long lasting connection between two people, is.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Oh my goodness, I’m sorry! Are you under the impression you don’t have to wait for a human being to approve your comments just like everyone else here? Goodness, what torture it must have been to wait like everyone else here who hasn’t used the space to repeat bigoted slurs in defense of men.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Gender is not biological. It is a social construct.

  • Meghan Murphy

    What’s also very clear is that men who hate women use “transphobia” and “TERF” as a means to harass and attack feminists and to disguise their misogyny…

  • lonnie

    seriously the hate coming out of this post & subsequent responses ………. very tragic .
    to those who seem to claim that lesbian bars are closing due some hidden agenda from the trans community need to check yourselves and start dealing with facts . the fact of the matter is lesbian bars close due to the fact that they are simply not supported . most venues shut due to the fact that they are simply not making the money to keep the business afloat , coupled with the fact that we are experiencing the harsh realities of extreme capitalism and realtors elect to do away with the ‘ little business’ in favour of lining their pockets . another factor is simply that women earn less money as our earnings become less . going out to a bar may not be the priority . now we can either come together & fight for equality in the workplace or we continue to hate . your choice .

  • Cassandra

    This is one of your better masterpieces, Morag.

  • Bayne MacGregor

    If you are objecting to the subject of safety and shelters being brought into the discussion you should question the article’s author why they mentioned them, rather than why i might be responding to that part of the article.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Women need shelters that don’t have men in them. They are there to escape males. I agree that transwomen need access to shelters as well, so why doesn’t anyone fight for THAT?? No one who claims to care about the safety of transwomen actually advocates for shelters and services explicitly for transwomen, but instead try to force women to offer up their underfunded, hard-fought-for spaces to males who identify as trans. Why is that?

    • Bayne MacGregor

      And Transgender women are not men.
      Though Trans Men are, yet they at times use those services, sometimes having to de-transition to do so othertimes not.
      Also some women are escaping same-sex domestic violence and same-sex sexual assault.

      With the small proportion of the population that Trans makes up, despite being disproportionately the victims of assault, sexual assault, domestic violence, homelessness etc it’s often entirely impractical to make shelters just for them. Just like it’s impractical to have shelters just for victims of same-sex domestic violence and sexual assault.

    • radwonka

      and why do they want women shelters if
      1. “women oppress trans”
      2. “terf kill trans”
      and 3. “biological sex doesnt exist”,
      so why the need of a binary bathroom and a binary shelter? I thought that the binary was the cause of all oppression?

      so many questions….

  • Independent Radical

    However you define the term “demisexuality”, the term would not need to exist if sex lacking in emotional attachment wasn’t the norm. It sounds like an excuse not to have casual sex and we shouldn’t need one. Those who are into casual sex should be justifying why they’re callously using people for pleasure (if you ask men, the excuse will almost always be misogynistic and if you ask women, the excuse will be cynical assumptions about how men are assholes and we can’t expect better from them, which is an understandable sentiment, but gives men as excuse to be assholes).

    Besides, calling people who only experience sex through love “half-sexual” is insulting. If a man is incapable of experiencing sexual desires for women who don’t meet his physical standards, no matter how much he likes them as people (not that most men would bother getting to know women they aren’t attracted to, but say one did) we don’t call him half-sexual. It’s only people (mostly women I suspect) who’s desires work the opposite way who are deemed to be missing half their sexuality. The term is ridiculous. Nobody should have to declare themselves incapable of enjoying casual or almost casual (I’m not pushing conventional dating as an alternative, going to bed with someone who superficially charmed you by taking you out to dinner one night is hardly better) sex instead of just rejecting it and nobody is half sexual.

    As for the term pansexual, again, I think it’s more normal than people think. Many people who call themselves bisexual probably are pansexual. To be a true bisexual one would have to be attracted to masculinity and femininity (or to maleness and femaleness, but I suspect its usually masculinity and femininity), but some people are attracted to human beings without any concerned for their gendered traits. If you don’t find massive biceps, six packs, wealth, aggression, dominance or traditional “protect and provide” bullshit sexy and also not attracted to feminine crap, then you’re pansexual by my definition, though you could still choose to only be with people of one sex or the other, which in my view matters more than who you feel an attraction to.

    This may be somewhat different to the way liberals use the term pansexual, but I feel we need a way of describing people who look at all the models of masculinity and femininity without feeling attracted to any of them (or in my case, shouting “yuck” internally) and are attracted to other aspects of people instead.

    • Leo

      Well, from sexual (or allosexual) people, men and women, the answer as to why they have casual sex usually seems to be something along the lines of ‘because it’s fun’, I think. Being asexual (not demisexual, just asexual. Aromantic, too) and not experiencing sexual attraction at all and thinking sex just seems kind of weird and a lot of unnecessary hassle, this is confusing to me, but I don’t see any particular reason to disbelieve them, and I think it’d be a mistake for me as an asexual person to end up imposing my own perspective on sexual people and judging their behaviour accordingly (and ending up wondering what the heck they’re bothering for). There’s no reason casual sex can’t involve mutual pleasure (other than that men are selfish misogynistic jerks, which is unfortunately a very big reason), would that really be just using people? I’m not sure, I’m a bit reluctant for us to end up assuming women would not choose to have casual sex and don’t desire it as much, because it seems it maybe takes us back to patriarchal assumptions about men giving love to get sex and women giving sex to get love? Sexual women/teen girls definitely seem as capable of being as wildly keen on having casual sex as men (and some men, conversely, aren’t) – surely they can’t all be being pressured into it? Especially if they’re actually lesbians? But, like I said, sexual people just confuse me. : /

      People chose the term demisexual for themselves, it’s not insulting, nor does it mean something is missing (I’m not sexual at all, nothing is ‘missing’, it’s just different. Sexual people probably can’t experience things the way I can any more than I can the way they do), it’s just a specific orientation. It’s an asexuality spectrum one – yes, some people kind of are ‘half sexual’ as you put it (sexual people being people who experience sexual attraction, regardless of their sexual behaviour, whether they have casual sex, only have sex with people they’re dating, or are celibate), though it doesn’t mean that. Asexual people don’t experience sexual attraction at all, grey asexual people and demisexual people are closer to the sexual side of the spectrum because they sometimes experience sexual attraction (but not often, and can be *extremely* rarely – might be once or twice a lifetime kind of rarely), but do not experience it usually. They’re not just sexual people who don’t enjoy casual sex (it’s not about behaviour, not about experiencing sex, but about experiencing attraction), they do not usually experience sexual attraction at all. It’s not an excuse not to have casual sex, the sexual attraction is just not there, which can include when they’re actually in a romantic relationship (if they’re not aromantic, they experience romantic attraction separately to sexual attraction) and would *like* it to be there. Which to me sounds more like something that’d just complicate relationships than an excuse. Nor is not experiencing, for instance, sexual attraction to celebrities (which is normal for sexual people), required as a excuse to not have casual sex, given they’d probably never even meet the celeb in question. Sexual people don’t actually attempt to have sex with everyone they’re attracted to, either.

      I don’t doubt that some people mistakenly identify as ace-spec, it’s very obvious sometimes, but I can buy this is different, especially as I’ve seen demi- identifying people sound similarly baffled by the whole thing as I feel. The way you talk about it kind of sounds different, too, actually?

  • Tired feminist

    Imagine the public outrage if someone said gay men are “creepy penis-fetishists”…

  • Tired feminist

    You’re one of those “polyamorous” dudes, aren’t you? You’ll feel very, very lonely here.

  • Tired feminist

    With respect, I don’t think this specific opinion is very relevant in this specific context.

  • Tired feminist

    You’re the only one who mentioned marriage.

  • Morag999

    “I need Tylenol now. I have a pomo headache.”

    Headaches are empowering.

  • Tired feminist

    You’re new here, heh.

  • Brigitte

    Thank you for this!

  • Brigitte

    I think the problem here is oversimplification. Gender Neutral toilets do work well in Sweden, where women enjoy close to equitable use of public space unparalleled in the rest of the world. Having gender divided toilets does not prevent sexual harassment and assault in washrooms. In some settings, gender neutral, can actually reduce violence.

    • Tired feminist

      Where did you get this information from? Can you share your sources?

  • Tired feminist

    You’re male. You can’t be a woman.

    If this offends you, the door is open. I don’t see why it should offend you though, as being male is a pretty normal thing that happens to ca. 49-50% of human population.

    Since human males are human, you can still reclaim your humanity. Don’t worry about that.

  • Tired feminist

    Lol I have no fucking idea of what “pooftah” means…

    • Lilian Halcombe

      Australian/British slang for a gay man.

  • Meghan Murphy

    How fun!

    • hellkell

      Ain’t it though? They get around, I’ve seen their work on Gender Trender, you can imagine how well he went over there.

      Have a safe and happy new year and thanks for this space!

      • Meghan Murphy

        Happy New Year to you!

  • radwonka

    “religious men right love you so much”


  • Zuzanna Smith

    You would think transladees would create their own spaces since they are the ones with the resources and all the care and concern coming from all sides since they are so super serial oppressed, according to them and their handmaidens that is.

    I’m pretty sure if they demanded their own spaces and bathrooms they’d get them pronto. But still they want to invade the spaces of women and lesbians.

    And the reason is, which is pretty clear to women, is that they know that they are male and it’s their desire and privilage to be surrounded with females who will cater to them at all times. Can you imagine all queens and no subjects? They keep their male privilage and they like to lord it over women at all times. Playing woman is their pleasure no matter at what expense to actual females.

    • unfashionable

      They need validation that they are fully female. They can only get that from women, and lesbians are the low hanging fruit, the most vulnerable of women, the most easily guilted.

  • Wargasm

    Thanks for writing all of this, Susan. It means a lot (thought I was going crazy there for a second!). It really is the same old misogyny dressed up in progressive clothing. Ironically, in this topsy-turvy political climate those who espouse ‘radikewl’ queer rhetoric about inclusivity and acceptance of lgtbqilmfao ‘folk’, I have come to immediately recognize as dangerous to me as a lesbian and hostile to the plight of women as a whole. So, thanks for sticking up for me, for real. Interestingly, for all that radical feminists are being called and accused of, the reality is proving that it is the exact opposite that is the case.

  • Melanie

    That was a great article. It’s not surprising that so many people resort to name calling, insults, smears and threats when faced with such sound logic. That’s all they have.

  • JingFei

    One has to consciously analyze one’s own actions. Be hyper vigilant. If I’m at a (supposedly) lesbian event, and someone has male physiology, I cannot ignore it. I will never magically think that a male bodied person is a female or a lesbian. And I sincerely doubt all these SJW types who chant “anyone who claims they are a woman, is a woman! There is NO difference! To resist is bigotry!”- I am SURE that in their heads, they see a male, just as we see a male. They just would never admit it because they’re too busy power-tripping.
    It’s easy to be polite. I’m polite to everyone irl. But there is always some mental gymnastics one has to perform, to pretend that a male is not male. I don’t believe they know what it’s like to be female at all. I don’t believe they are lesbians ( I believe they wish to be lesbians). Then when they hit on you, it becomes much more uncomfortable ( more so than if a lesbian I don’t care for hits on me). And every woman in the room knows it. We have to act, as a group not to notice. To be almost overly-friendly for fear of anyone accusing us of not being inclusive, or hurting feelings. We have to pretend they are part of the lesbian dating pool when the truth everyone knows is that they are not (maybe for bisexual women, but not for lesbians). Then if they are more a transvestite (or look like one), you wonder if they’re a fetishist, which can easily creep us out, and the whole thing just gets unpleasant.
    As a group, it’s hard to have discussions on shared female experiences with a male body present. Because you know damn well this person, though they think they are a woman (or non-male), does not share them. Then you fear that maybe it will make them feel awkward or bad. So you alter the conversation. You avoid certain topics.
    It’s actually unbelievably selfish that no one cares about how much this is affecting us.

  • Leo

    Oh gosh, I have totally never heard that one before. *Rolls eyes*

    Asexual is the word we use and which is pretty well established by now, words can mean more than one thing, that’s not difficult to understand. Here it does not refer to asexual reproduction but to not experiencing sexual attraction, it’s an orientation. It is not the same thing as an absence of sexual behaviour (celibacy), because a celibate person may experience sexual attraction, and an asexual person may still have sex for various reasons.

  • Cassandra

    Aaaaaaahhhh. Okay. Makes sense.

  • Cassandra

    Yes, I’m fond of profanity. And yes, conservatives are all those things. Glad it made you laugh!

    Happy New Year!

  • Tired feminist

    Where do you think this gender fluidity fraud comes from?

    Why do you think male people are so invested in preventing females from getting together without them?

    Why do you think men in the left and in the right alike support this?

    Why is it that men are so eager to erase the language historically used to describe women as a sex class, as well as the language to describe reproduction?

    Because male control over female reproductive functions is one of the fundaments of PATRIARCHY.

    • Cassandra

      “Because male control over female reproductive functions is one of the fundaments of PATRIARCHY.”

      If not *the* one.

  • Cassandra

    Great post.

  • JeromeKJerome

    “And as for the view that “non binary is a nonsense term” because “you need two cells to make a baby”… I hope that you can see that this is basically the same as the argument that “god made adam and eve not adam and steve!”.

    I dont think non binary is a nonsense term because of the Bible or because you need two cells to make a baby. There are people who are neither male nor female and we call them intersex. Why do non binary people not say they identify as intersex? Whey do people not insist “if I identify as intersex then I am intersex”

    If a man can identify as a woman and woman can identify as a man and an intersex person can identify as a man or a woman or intersex, then why can not a man or a woman identify as intersex? Why the need for a different term?

    I think its because it seems like appropriation or in bad taste to say that one understands the experience of being intersex when intersex people are an often marginalised group who may experience infertility and health problems. It sounds a little like identifying as someone who is diabetic or has a cogential kidney problem,

    Why is identifiying with the biological reality of having XXY chromosomes or being a CAH women any different from identifying with the biological reality of being a man or a woman? Whilst being man or woman may not be a medical condition requiring any treatment, they are nonetheless biological conditions, which it is impossible to really experience unless one has that condition. All identifying looks like appropriation.

    One of the reasons we are asked to believe that gender identity is reality rather than a delusion, is that some brain studies show a difference in one area of the brain of transexual people – the size of the BSTc is closer to that of the opposite sex. This is mooted to indicate that these people have an opposite sex brain. However it could as easily be this is the area telling people what sex they are and that in some people there is a blip.

    It does though indicate that in some people this perception is due to biology rather than psychology. There is no such evidence for non binary people. None have been brain scanned to determine if they have an area of intermediate size in between the two sexes. It would be interesting to see. However as it is such a new phenomonem and non binaryness seems to be a condition which only affects people with certain political views I’ll wager that this brain area would not show any difference.

    If then it does not have any biological basis and is in fact a psychological perception, whereby someone has noticed that they have interests that are both typically masculine and feminine and has decided to label this as a seperate identity, something which was previously described as being a tomboy or a feminine man, what claim do non binary people have of suffering or oppression or being taken seriously?

    I am Hispanic in origin but I have a right to identify as mixed race because we all have a right to identify as whatever we like – for we have freedom of thought and belief. I could say that I feel my interests and personality traits are a cultural mix and therefore it is more accurate for me to see myself as having dual heritage. Do I though have the right to insist that other people refer to me as being half Caucasian or half black because of this, even those who know my parentage? If it is based on culture rather than on biology, then how is it anything other than a personal preferance or an affectation?

  • Independent Radical

    I don’t want support from liberal born-that-way lesbians and never have, because I don’t want support from sex liberals in general. I’m not a sex liberal. I believe that our environment and our behaviours shape our sexuality (e.g. men consume pornography and it causes them to want the sexual acts depicted in pornography), the same way it shapes what we eat and drink.

    If a woman feels attracted to both men and women (as the majority of people do according to some research, people who are purely hetero or homo sexual are in the minority) and decides not to have sex with men that’s perfectly legitimate decision. Women shouldn’t need to scream “born that way, can’t help it” in order to avoid having sex with men. Saying “no” to sex is a human right.

    The decision not to have sex with men should be respected no matter what and even if you’re a born-that-way liberal lesbian it is a decision. You’ve just decided not to have sex with people who don’t sexually arouse you, instead of making the decision based on political or practical concerns and you have every right to make that decision, but so do other women who you don’t think were born as part of your special in-group.

    No woman should ever be forced or pressured to have sex with men and excluding women from the lesbian category is often a way to do that. Maybe some other label could be invented which will allow women to reject sex with men, without offending the liberal born-the-way crowd and I would be fine with that. The important thing is that the right to reject sex with men is respected.

  • Meghan Murphy

    In the same way any marginalized group has the right to organize and meet only with members of that group… ?

  • zirreael

    Researching the Crusades will make you recognize Christianity as a death cult, if anything…

    • zeph

      Put down your CAIR manual and tally up all the beheadings, child rapes, acid attacks, knifings and female genital mutilations just the last couple months (making it easy for you) then get back to us with your findings.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Ah I see. I assume that, when it comes to bars, they can’t only let certain people in, but make it clear that they are a bar that caters specifically to lesbians. Otherwise, it would have to function as a members only kind of thing, I suppose.

  • Meghan Murphy

    What makes transwomen women?

    • Just Passing Through

      Stellar answer you got there!

    • zeph


  • unfashionable

    To be honest, the lesbian communities may not have enough disposable income to support exclusive bars.

  • unfashionable

    No. A lesbian is a woman who is more attracted to women than to men, regardless of her behavior. A bisexual woman has no preference of men over women or vice versa.

  • rottenbone

    You are probably not the only one who is longing for a lesbian-only bar where you live. I think you should try to open your bar; if you manage your business well (advertising it before, clearly stating it’s lesbian-only, that sort of things), I am sure you can get many lesbians to come. If there are critics, hold on. Gather support. Fight for it.
    Worst-case scenario: it does not work and you have to close. At least you will have tried. At least there will have been an actual lesbian bar for a while. At least maybe it encourages other lesbians to try and open one.
    I really think you should do it.

  • zeph

    Tea Party? LOL- we do it to ourselves. For decades I’ve watched the lesbian community lift everyone else up just high enough to shit on us. Want to see who’s behind screwing up our already hopelessly confused community? Look no further than universities who push socialism with varying degrees of Alinsky and pure Marxism.

  • zeph

    Go back to Comprehensive Reading 101.

  • zeph

    I reject your programming that further destroys our language. A tiny, TINY percentage of individuals are born with ambiguous or even indeterminate genitalia, and even then the physicians get it half-right. The rest of this nonsense is divisive social engineering forced on docile students to control and divide our world even more. The numbers of trans who realize they’ve been duped are escalating, just as they always have. What these institutions won’t tell you is that there has ALWAYS been remorse from those conned into mutilation. If you think for one second that the AMA, APA, & Big Pharma give a rat’s ass about queers, you must have been the one they saw coming. Look at the suicide rate alone! This is ALL ABOUT social conditioning & big bucks. Do yourself a favor and examine everyone who pushes this agenda and where their money comes from. If you’re paying attention, you’ll recoil in horror.

  • Faith MH Brown

    Fantastic article, thank you so much.

  • zeph

    For whomever happens upon this thread of shitslinging, please watch this reference to see what you’re getting bamboozled into: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mtQ1geeD_c