Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Review by Ruth Mountaingrove

Lesbian Theories/Lesbian Controversies, edited by Julie Enser, Sinister Wisdom #75, 2008, Berkeley, CA, 112 pages, paperback $6
  I never have liked the term queer mainly because it subsumes the word lesbian and it’s meaning. Lesbians are not queer, they are lesbians, who were born lesbians, women who love women. Women who chose to be butch, fem or dyke or none of the above.
Just because gay men want to be lesbians doesn’t make them so.
        So I was delighted to read Lesbian Theories, Lesbians Controversies and find other women uncomfortable with the term queer. Queer seems to be defined as LGBT and I am not gay or bi or trans. I am sympathetic with those who are but but do not wish to be buried under the term queer.
        “Bite My Thumb “ by Carolyn Gage takes on the question :can women masquerade as men and men as women using masks to disguise themselves, and wearing clothes  to go with the mask. as they did in the time of Shakespeare?
        Appropriately these two acting troops, one lesbian and one heterosexual are doing Romeo and Juliet.  “Bite My Thumb” ia a one act play, a skirmish with sword fighting. Gage is bringing up all the questions around queer.
        “Gendercater” is a fifteen minute movie by Catherine Crouch set in the future in a world that is rigid, mandated by law. If you don’t fit these designations you are medically altered to conform to what is considered the social norm.
        This short film called forth anger from the LGBT community. Cancellation by the Frameline film festival in spite of having been previously accepted, was due to the LGBT community calling it transphobic.
        Crouch says, ”Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves rather than working to change the world.”
        Robyn Epstein who interviews Crouch says that “Gendercater” doesn't fit the current categories of celebration or denigration of transidentity. The movie is a bit critique, a bit fiction, a bit satire valuing gender pluralism. Some fifty pages are given to this movies and this play by Carolyn Gage.
        Other articles of interests are three essays by Australian Lesbians. Jean Taylor writes about “ When Lesbians Pay the Rent.” When there is a lesbian event the money is given to the native women who are fighting for their own survival. An idea lesbians in this country might pick up in connection in connection with our native American peoples.
        Bev Jo sings the praises of her San Francisco Bay area lesbian feminists. Chris Sitka, In “Hope Is At Hand”  parthenogenesis which will allow women have babies without male sperm.  Gena Covina was suggesting this in the Amazon Quarterly in the early 1970’s. I think she may have written a book about this. Sitka also suggest that back in the time of the Ancient Great Mother this was common knowledge.
        “Do Lesbians have Human Rights?” Susan Hawthorne asks in a paper given at the Rainbow Conversation at Melborne, Australia. A thoughtful political analysis of 2008 human rights and what lesbians and others can do to insure these rights.
        We been hearing lately of boy/girls, girl/boys being surgically altered at birth, only in adolescence when testicles descend and to learn  that she’s been a boy all all this time. Diana Post raises this question in “What’s in a Name?”
        Julie Enszer has done us a favor by being willing to bring these very important issues to our attention.

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