Thinking Queerly: Race, Sex, Gender
Sex is a vector of oppression because people can be discriminated against and in some instances killed for whatever “deviant” act they are pursuing. Sex oppression would include the laws that make homosexuality illegal in some countries, and the rape of LGBTQ+ members that occurs to “straighten them out.”
The lesbian continuum is a term that Adrienne Rich refers to as, “a range – through each woman’s life and throughout history – of women-identified experience; not simply the fact that a woman has had or consciously desired genital sexual experience with another woman” (Rich 118). Compulsory heterosexuality is the idea that LGBTQ+ people can be forced into a heterosexual/heteronormative existence by cultural and/or societal pressures.
What link is Clarke drawing between lesbian identity, the demands of radical feminism, and “liberation from coerced heterosexuality”? What does she describe as the grounds of resistance found in lesbianism?
According to Clarke, a lesbian identity is liberated from coerced heterosexuality because it is goes against the patriarchy and heterosexism. Clarke also says that any woman that “calls herself a feminist must commit herself to the liberation of all women from coerced heterosexuality” (Clarke 129), so by her logic, feminists must commit herself to fighting against the ways lesbians are affected by patriarchy. Since were are in a society that is “male-supremacist, capitalist, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, imperialist culture” (Clarke 128) lesbianism (especially if she a women of color) goes everything that is dominant, therefore simply existing is resisting.
Lorde defines homophobia as “a terror surrounding the feelings of love for members of the same sex and thereby a hatred of those feelings,” and heteosexism as “a belief in the inherent superiority of one form of loving over all others and thereby the right to dominance” (Lorde 320). For every reason Lorde gives for black lesbian exclusion she counters it with every reason that exclusion shouldn’t exist. By giving an alternate way to look at these preconceived biases against her sexuality she allows her audience to shed their differences and come together to fight.
Do you agree with Clarke’s assumptions about lesbianism and resistance? Do you think the lesbians of 2019 are still resisting?