Feminist separatism

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Feminist separatism is the theory that feminist opposition to patriarchy can be achieved through women's separation from men. Feminist separatism_sentence_0

Because much of the theorizing is based in lesbian feminism, feminist separatism is often thought of as simply lesbian separatism, but many aspects of the feminist movement utilize and have been influenced by feminist separatism. Feminist separatism_sentence_1

Author Marilyn Frye describes feminist separatism as "separation of various sorts or modes from men and from institutions, relationships, roles and activities that are male-defined, male-dominated, and operating for the benefit of males and the maintenance of male privilege – this separation being initiated or maintained, at will, by women." Feminist separatism_sentence_2

Background Feminist separatism_section_0

Cultural critic Alice Echols describes the emergence of a lesbian separatist movement as a response to homophobic sentiments expressed by feminist organizations like the National Organization for Women. Feminist separatism_sentence_3

Echols argues that "...the introduction of (homo)sex troubled many heterosexual feminists who had found in the women's movement a welcome respite from sexuality". Feminist separatism_sentence_4

Echols considered separatism as a lesbian strategy to untie lesbianism from sex so heterosexual women in the feminist movement felt more comfortable. Feminist separatism_sentence_5

One of the earliest examples of feminist separatism was Cell 16, which was founded in 1968 by Roxanne Dunbar. Feminist separatism_sentence_6

Cultural historian Alice Echols credits Cell 16's work for "helping establishing the theoretical foundation for lesbian separatism." Feminist separatism_sentence_7

Echols cites Cell 16 as an example of heterosexual feminist separatism, as the group never advocated lesbianism as a political strategy. Feminist separatism_sentence_8

In No More Fun and Games, the organization's radical feminist periodical, members Roxanne Dunbar and Lisa Leghorn advised women to "separate from men who are not consciously working for female liberation." Feminist separatism_sentence_9

Instead, they advised periods of celibacy, rather than lesbian relationships, which they considered to be "nothing more than a personal solution." Feminist separatism_sentence_10

Meaning and purpose Feminist separatism_section_1

Proponents of feminist separatism have varied opinions on the meaning of feminist and lesbian separatism; major debates include the degree to which women should separate from men, whether it is a strict ideology or a strategy, and how it works to benefit women. Feminist separatism_sentence_11

General feminist separatism Feminist separatism_section_2

In a tract on socialist feminism published in 1972, the Hyde Park Chapter of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union differentiated between separatism as an "ideological position" and as a "tactical position." Feminist separatism_sentence_12

In the same document, they further distinguished between separatism as "personal practice" and as "political position." Feminist separatism_sentence_13

In lesbian feminist Marilyn Frye's (1978) essay Notes on Separatism and Power she posits female separatism as a strategy practiced by all women, at some point, and present in many feminist projects (one might cite women's refuges, electoral quotas or Women's Studies programmes). Feminist separatism_sentence_14

She argues that it is only when women practice it, self-consciously as separation from men, that it is treated with controversy (or as she suggests hysteria). Feminist separatism_sentence_15

Male separatism on the other hand (one might cite gentleman's clubs, labor unions, sports teams, the military and, more arguably, decision-making positions in general) is seen as quite a normal, even expedient phenomenon. Feminist separatism_sentence_16

Some feminist separatists believe that men cannot make positive contributions to the feminist movement and that even well-intentioned men replicate the dynamics of patriarchy. Feminist separatism_sentence_17

Lesbian separatism Feminist separatism_section_3

Charlotte Bunch, an early member of The Furies Collective, viewed separatism as a strategy, a "first step" period, or temporary withdrawal from mainstream activism to accomplish specific goals or enhance personal growth. Feminist separatism_sentence_18

In addition to advocating withdrawal from working, personal or casual relationships with men, The Furies recommended that lesbian separatists relate "only (with) women who cut their ties to male privilege" and suggest that "as long as women still benefit from heterosexuality, receive its privileges and security, they will at some point have to betray their sisters, especially Lesbian sisters who do not receive those benefits." Feminist separatism_sentence_19

This was part of a larger idea that Bunch articulated in Learning from Lesbian Separatism (1976), that "in a male-supremacist society, heterosexuality is a political institution," and the practice of separatism is a way to escape its domination. Feminist separatism_sentence_20

Separatism has been considered by lesbians as both a temporary strategy and as a lifelong practice. Feminist separatism_sentence_21

Lambda Award winning author Elana Dykewomon has chosen separatism as a lifelong practice. Feminist separatism_sentence_22

In her 1988 book, Lesbian Ethics: Toward New Value, lesbian philosopher Sarah Lucia Hoagland alludes to lesbian separatism's potential to encourage lesbians to develop healthy community ethics based on shared values. Feminist separatism_sentence_23

Hoagland articulates a distinction (originally noted by lesbian separatist author and anthologist, Julia Penelope) between a lesbian subculture and a lesbian community; membership in the subculture being "defined in negative terms by an external, hostile culture", and membership in the community being based on "the values we believe we can enact here". Feminist separatism_sentence_24

Bette Tallen believes that lesbian separatism, unlike some other separatist movements, is "not about the establishment of an independent state, it is about the development of an autonomous self-identity and the creation of a strong solid lesbian community". Feminist separatism_sentence_25

Lesbian historian Lillian Faderman describes the separatist impulses of lesbian feminism which created culture and cultural artifacts as "giving love between women greater visibility" in broader culture. Feminist separatism_sentence_26

Faderman also believes that lesbian feminists who acted to create separatist institutions did so to "bring their ideals about integrity, nurturing the needy, self-determination and equality of labor and rewards into all aspects of institution-building and economics". Feminist separatism_sentence_27

Lesbian separatism and radical lesbianism Feminist separatism_section_4

See also: Queer nationalism, Lesbian feminism, and Radical lesbianism Feminist separatism_sentence_28

Separatist lesbianism is a type of feminist separatism specific to lesbians. Feminist separatism_sentence_29

Many lesbian separatists bought land so they could live separately from men and heterosexual women. Feminist separatism_sentence_30

Radical lesbianism and other similar movements represent a rupture with the broader feminist movements. Feminist separatism_sentence_31

They offer an attempt by some feminists and lesbians to try to reconcile what they see as inherent conflicts with the stated goals of feminism. Feminist separatism_sentence_32

Many of these conflicts and ruptures are a result of issues arising from broader and nationally specifically cultural narratives around women. Feminist separatism_sentence_33

Some of them are created independently in response to these needs, while others draw inspiration from radical movements in other countries. Feminist separatism_sentence_34

This results in no single history of radical lesbianism, but of separate national struggles. Feminist separatism_sentence_35

Internationally, radical lesbians often took advantage of convergent international spaces to create their own events to increase the visibility of lesbianism. Feminist separatism_sentence_36

Examples of this include the 1994 lesbian march in New York on the 25th anniversary of Stonewall. Feminist separatism_sentence_37

Another example was at the 1995 Beijing hosted World women's Conference. Feminist separatism_sentence_38

A third example took place during the 1997 Amsterdam hosted Gay Games. Feminist separatism_sentence_39

In the United States, the movement started in 1970, when seven women (including lesbian activist Del Martin) confronted the North Conference of Homophile Organizations about the relevance of the gay rights movement to the women within it. Feminist separatism_sentence_40

The delegates passed a resolution in favor of women's liberation, but Del Martin felt they had not done enough, and wrote "If That's All There Is," an influential 1970 essay in which she decried gay rights organizations as sexist. Feminist separatism_sentence_41

The Furies formed a commune in 1971 open to lesbians only, where they put out a monthly newspaper called The Furies. Feminist separatism_sentence_42

The Furies consisted of twelve women, aged eighteen to twenty-eight, all feminists, all lesbians, all white, with three children among them. Feminist separatism_sentence_43

These activities continued into the early part of the decade. Feminist separatism_sentence_44

Other well known lesbian separatists groups include The Gutter Dykes, The Gorgons, and The Radicalesbians. Feminist separatism_sentence_45

In a United States context, the practice of lesbian separatism sometimes incorporates concepts related to queer nationalism and political lesbianism. Feminist separatism_sentence_46

Some individuals who identify as lesbian separatists are also associated with the practice of Dianic paganism. Feminist separatism_sentence_47

In Francophone countries, the term radical lesbian movement is used instead of lesbian separatism. Feminist separatism_sentence_48

It is roughly analogous to English-language lesbian separatism. Feminist separatism_sentence_49

Inspired by the writings of philosopher Monique Wittig, the movement originated in France in the early 1980s, spreading soon after to the Canadian province of Quebec. Feminist separatism_sentence_50

Wittig, referencing the ideas of Simone de Beauvoir, challenges concepts of biological determinism, arguing that those in power construct sex difference and race difference for the purpose of masking conflicts of interest and maintaining domination. Feminist separatism_sentence_51

She and her allies saw heterosociality as well as heterosexuality as aspects of hetero-power, strongly to be resisted. Feminist separatism_sentence_52

Latin American radical lesbianism developed during the 1970s, and like other parts of the movement, resulted from specific national conditions. Feminist separatism_sentence_53

Radical lesbianism began to develop in Mexico in 1977, led by the group Mujeres guerreras que abren caminos y esparcen flores (Oikabeth). Feminist separatism_sentence_54

Radical lesbianism arose in Chile in 1984 in response to national conditions resulting from the dictatorship. Feminist separatism_sentence_55

Costa Rica developed a radical lesbianism movement in 1986. Feminist separatism_sentence_56

During the 1980s and 1990s, life for lesbians in Latin America was difficult because of lesbophobic repression across the region. Feminist separatism_sentence_57

Consequently, the communities in Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Argentina and Brazil began working more closely together on shared goals. Feminist separatism_sentence_58

Culture and community Feminist separatism_section_5

Lesbian and feminist separatism have inspired the creation of art and culture reflective of its visions of female-centered societies. Feminist separatism_sentence_59

An important and sustaining aspect of lesbian separatism was the building of alternative community through "creating organizations, institutions and social spaces ...women's bookstores, restaurants, publishing collectives, and softball leagues fostered a flourishing lesbian culture." Feminist separatism_sentence_60

Writing Feminist separatism_section_6

During the second-wave of feminism, women created a network of publications, presses, magazines, and periodicals, known as the women in print movement. Feminist separatism_sentence_61

Some designated their periodicals and books "for women only," or "for lesbians only." Feminist separatism_sentence_62

Literature Feminist separatism_section_7

One historical example is Charlotte Perkins Gilman's feminist novel Herland (1915). Feminist separatism_sentence_63

Contemporary examples include Joanna Russ's The Female Man (1975) and Nicola Griffith's Ammonite (1993). Feminist separatism_sentence_64

The Wanderground (Persephone Press, 1978), is a separatist utopian novel written from author Sally Miller Gearhart's personal experience in rural lesbian-separatist collectives. Feminist separatism_sentence_65

Wild Mares: My Lesbian Back-to-the-Land Life (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) documents author Dianna Hunter's experiences in a lesbian separatist collective. Feminist separatism_sentence_66

Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution (Simon & Schuster, 1973) is a collection of essays written by Jill Johnston, that were originally printed in The Village Voice, where Johnston discusses elements of breaking off from the male-dominated institutions. Feminist separatism_sentence_67

Non-fiction Feminist separatism_section_8

For Lesbians Only: A Separatist Anthology (Onlywomen Press, 1988), edited by Julia Penelope and Sarah Lucia Hoagland, is a collection of writings on lesbian separatism. Feminist separatism_sentence_68

Periodicals Feminist separatism_section_9

Main articles: List of lesbian periodicals and List of lesbian periodicals in the United States Feminist separatism_sentence_69

Notable US lesbian separatist periodicals include Common Lives/Lesbian Lives (Iowa, 1980–1996), Lesbian Connection (Michigan, 1974–present), Sinister Wisdom (California, 1976–present), Lesbian Tide (California, 1971–1980), WomanSpirit (Oregon, 1974–1984) Conditions (New York, 1976–1990), Azalea: A Magazine by Third World Lesbians (New York, 1971–1980) Feminist separatism_sentence_70

Other examples are the London lesbian magazine Gossip: A Journal of Lesbian Feminist Ethics, Lesbian Feminist Circle, a lesbian only journal collectively produced in Wellington, New Zealand, the Australian periodical Sage: The Separatist Age, Amazones d'Hier, Lesbiennes d'Aujourd'hui, produced for lesbians only in Montreal, Quebec, and the Killer Dyke a magazine by the "Flippies" (Feminist Lesbian Intergalactic Party), based in Chicago. Feminist separatism_sentence_71

The Furies was an American newspaper by The Furies Collective which intended to give a voice to lesbian separatism, and ran from January 1972 until mid-1973. Feminist separatism_sentence_72

Music Feminist separatism_section_10

Main article: Women's music Feminist separatism_sentence_73

The early 1970s was an active period in womyn's music, a genre mostly originated and supported by lesbian separatists. Feminist separatism_sentence_74

Maxine Feldman's Angry Atthis and Alix Dobkin's Lavender Jane Loves Women were two early examples of this phenomenon. Feminist separatism_sentence_75

The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, or "Michfest", was a yearly music festival that took place every summer until 2015. Feminist separatism_sentence_76

Michfest was established in 1976 and was active supporter in the need for women to be separated at times from the "politics, institution, and culture of men. Feminist separatism_sentence_77

Michfest offered women not only the chance to ‘live’ feminism, but, as the quotes above testify, also acted as a way of educating women about feminist forms, in ways that can challenge the vilification of ‘radical lesbian separatism’." Feminist separatism_sentence_78

Olivia Records was a separatist business in Los Angeles that produced women's music and concerts. Feminist separatism_sentence_79

Olivia Records was founded in 1973 by Jennifer Woodhul, Lee Schwing, Ginny Berson, and Helaine Harris and was originally located in Washington, D.C.. Olivia Records sold nearly 2 million copies of albums with women performers and artists that were marketed to women. Feminist separatism_sentence_80

The record company eventually shifted from music to travel, and is now a lesbian travel company called Olivia. Feminist separatism_sentence_81

Community projects Feminist separatism_section_11

See also: Womyn's land and Feminist bookstores Feminist separatism_sentence_82

Womyn's land has been used in America to describe communities of lesbian separatists, normally living on a separate plot of land. Feminist separatism_sentence_83

Some lesbian lands have practiced the idea of ecofeminism on these separate plots of land, which is the connection between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature by men. Feminist separatism_sentence_84

Access to temporary free land was often found through women's music festivals, where lesbians would network and strategized their plans for lesbian land. Feminist separatism_sentence_85

Lesbian separatism provided opportunities to "live their lives apart from ...mainstream society", and in the 1970s, "significant numbers of lesbian feminists moved to rural communities." Feminist separatism_sentence_86

One of these lesbians, Joyce Cheney, interviewed rural feminist separatists and lesbian separatists living in intentional community, land trusts and land co-ops. Feminist separatism_sentence_87

The result was her book, Lesbian Land (1976). Feminist separatism_sentence_88

Cheney describes the reason for many of these separatists' move to lesbian land as a "spatial strategy of distancing ...from mainstream society". Feminist separatism_sentence_89

Reception Feminist separatism_section_12

In a 1982 published conversation about black feminism and lesbian activism with her sister Beverly Smith, Barbara Smith, co-author of the Combahee River Collective Statement, expresses concerns that "to the extent that lesbians of color must struggle simultaneously against the racism of white women (as against sexism), separatism impedes the building of alliances with men of color". Feminist separatism_sentence_90

Smith writes that race places lesbians of color in a different relation to men as white lesbians as "white women with class privilege don't share oppression with white men. Feminist separatism_sentence_91

They're in a critical and antagonistic position whereas Black women and other women of color definitely share oppressed situations with men of their race". Feminist separatism_sentence_92

Smith makes a distinction between the theory of separatism and the practice of separatism, stating that it is the way separatism has been practiced which has led to "an isolated, single-issued understanding and practice of politics, which ignores the range of oppressions that women experience". Feminist separatism_sentence_93

In 1983, anarchist Bob Black wrote: "Separatism may be absurd as a social program and riddled with inconsistencies (scarcely any separatists separate from patriarchal society to anything like the extent that, say, survivalists do — and nobody intervenes more to mind other people’s business than separatists). Feminist separatism_sentence_94

But semi-isolation makes it easier to indoctrinate neophytes and shut out adverse evidence and argument, an insight radical feminists share with Moonies, Hare Krishna, and other cultists". Feminist separatism_sentence_95

While advocating a broadly separatist policy, feminist Sonia Johnson points out that feminist separatism risks defining itself by what it separates itself from, i.e. men. Feminist separatism_sentence_96

Lesbian poet Jewelle Gomez refers to her intertwined history with black men and heterosexual women in her essay Out of the Past and explains that "to break away from those who've been part of our survival is a leap that many women of color could never make". Feminist separatism_sentence_97

See also Feminist separatism_section_13

Feminist separatism_unordered_list_0


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist separatism.