What's in a name?

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Christina Cauterucci ruminates on the label lesbian and young queer women. She discusses her peer group and mentions that "Some of our resistance to the term lesbian arose, no doubt, from internalized homophobic notions of lesbians as unfashionable, uncultured homebodies:"

We were convinced that our cool clothes and enlightened, radical paradigm made us something other than lesbians, a label chosen by progenitors who lived in a simpler time with stricter gender boundaries. But with a time-honored label comes history and meaning; by leaving lesbian behind, we were rejecting, in part, a strong identity and legacy that we might have claimed as our own. While all identities are a product of their respective historical moments, starting from scratch is a daunting prospect. And so we're left in a gray area of nomenclature, searching for threads of unity in our pluralism, wondering what, if any, role lesbian can play in a future that's looking queerer by the day.

Cultural connotations aside, the main reason my friend and I felt (and still feel) more comfortable with queer than lesbian was practical: The word lesbian, insofar as it means a woman who is primarily attracted to women, does not correctly describe our reality. My personal queer community comprises cisgender and transgender women; transgender men and transmasculine people; and people who identify as non-binary or genderqueer.

"Losing lesbian" she points out, "means losing a well-defined commonality around which to socialize and mobilize:"

Perhaps that commonality was never as common as it seemed; at any rate, it's clear that lesbian doesn't properly explain our collective identity any more. But as queer women and our comrades mourn the losses of lesbian bars and media outlets the nation over, it's worth wondering how we might expect a dance party or magazine to cater to us when our identities and politics appear to prevent us from sharing a name.

She observes that "Queer people have generations of experience reclaiming words and cultural traditions that weren't explicitly meant for us:"

The tea dance is a brilliant example of our capacity for reinvention and asserting belonging from within. If queers can transform a formal social gathering for biscuit-nibbling heterosexuals into a mainstay of the gay party circuit, imagine what we could do with lesbian.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on December 28, 2016 3:03 PM.

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