Of bisexuals, lesbians, and “febfems”: Defining sexuality

January 7, 2022

I understand the impulse to apply a rigorous definition of “lesbian” in the current climate, with trans-identified men (transwomen) claiming to be lesbian. There should probably be a better definition for bisexual women in same-sex relationships. But there are a few thorny issues that need to be considered.

The old “political” definition of lesbian was a woman who had romantic/sexual relationships with women only. Thus “lesbian” was defined more by what you did than by what you were. In the last century, most “lesbians” were not so keen to scrutinize the motivations of women choosing to describe themselves as lesbian. That may have partly originated from the need to increase numbers in the fight against homophobia. Or maybe most women simply didn’t care. The male lesbian was a bad joke.

Lesbians who self-identified as political tended to be extremely critical of women who had sexual relationships with men. Women who had sex with men were supposedly lightweight in their political analysis, unable to scrutinize their oppression out of a need to appease male partners or potential partners. But (possibly political or possibly born-this-way) lesbian Adrienne Rich pointed out that mothers of sons face very strong incentive to accommodate patriarchy, regardless of their sexuality.

I have noticed some lesbians using their definition of lesbian to set boundaries against criticism of the lesbian community. A firm boundary can protect against self-reflection. Many political lesbians have been willing to speak out about unhealthy behaviors within lesbian communities, and there’s a lot of heteropatriarchy in lesbian communities to unpack. With strict but unverifiable definitions, Lesbians speaking out in unpopular ways can be dismissed by speculating that they secretly want to fuck a man are “political lesbians.”

Then there’s the whole issue of compulsory heterosexuality. Rich and other lesbians argued that ALL women are essentially lesbian, and that socialization creates sexual desire for men. That still leaves room to differentiate women who are attracted to men from women unattracted to men, but it’s difficult to reconcile compulsory heterosexuality with the born-this-way idea.

Another problem with strict definitions (and maybe it’s not a problem) is that Sappho herself would not qualify as lesbian (except on geographic grounds) if we’re defining it as never experiencing sexual desire for a man. Sappho preferred women but had at least one self-attested male flame. Rich was married and had two sons. So we’re going to weed out a lot of our lesbian sheroes if we insist on being very firm about boundaries. Yet at the same time, these firm boundaries, rooted in desire, are self-identified and thus impossible to verify. Maybe Rich never had an orgasm with her husband. How would we know? Do we even want to know?

But we’re dealing with 21st century politics and problems. Bisexual women who claim they are lesbian while being in relationships with male “lesbians” are undermining the whole lesbian community. If you never care about the sex of the people you socialize with, it’s no problem. If you’re looking for a true women’s community, it’s a big problem.

The word “febfem” has been proposed to refer to women who are essentially same-sex in their lifestyle but have felt sexually attracted to men at some point. It’s asserted that this word came from bisexual women, but I would like to see proof, because I see it promoted by lesbians who want lesbianism defined by an internal feeling rather than by actions. The sound of the word is nasty. It sticks in your throat. It sounds worse than “cis,” which also has an ugly sound to it, and it’s coming from the same place as “cis”: people forcing a definition onto another group to accommodate their own self-definition.

There might need to be a word for bisexual women, whether they are exclusively in same-sex relationships or not, because bisexual women are so different from bisexual men. Bisexual men do not face the possibility of pregnancy, for example. Bisexual men face oppression when in same-sex relationships, but do not face oppression based on their sex. Bisexual women are at a disadvantage when in relationship with a man, whether or not he is bisexual, so choosing a heterosexual relationship is not a way out of oppression for a woman, the way it is for a bisexual man. (This, by the way, was one of the biggest reasons 70s and 80s political lesbians tried to convince all women to become lesbian. The idea was that same-sex relationships, even considering the rampant homophobia of the time, were less harmful for women.)

I am not a separatist, in the sense of seeing it as imperitive to socially segretate from men at all times. But I do think women-only space is important, at least sometimes, and to have that space we have to define what a woman is. Fortunately, it’s not difficult. Adult human female. Everyone knows what that means. Other definitions are fuzzier. I think women have a right to make definitions and set boundaries, whatever those are, including kicking Sappho out of lesbian-only space. But I’m not necessarily endorsing or agreeing with these firm boundaries based on sexual identity.

In sum, I think there does need to be a word for bisexual women who prefer same-sex relationships. I think we need words for women’s sexualities that do not include men. Transwomen are not lesbians. Bisexual men and women inhabit very different spheres. I hate the word febfem. I hate the word and I hate the concept behind the word: that it is critical to definitively separate women from one another. I think what is most critical is to definitively separate women from men.

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2021

This marks the TENTH YEAR that I have been blogging. I have updated this site weekly, except for last week when I forgot. (?!) I was going to share my favorite Christmas movies. Now you’ll have to wait another year.

Wishing you a joyous, prosperous, and blessed year ahead.

Fluorite Intelligence

December 10, 2021

I really like this little guy. It’s a piece of fluorite, about one-and-a-half centimeters at its widest point. I have fluorite crystals that are larger, and complete, but I like the vibration this one has. I’ve noticed that when placed closer to my more perfect fluorite crystals, which objectively I would expect to be vibrating on a stronger, higher frequency, the energy from this one is subdued. Perhaps it’s overshadowed. So I like to commune with this one on its own. I’ve found that in a crystal healing, more and bigger and stronger is not always better.

This little one did not like the flash from the camera. I put it in salt to cleanse and hope it recovers. (Not salt water for fluorite; it weakens the structure.)

Fluorite is supposed to be an eighth chakra stone, due to its eight-sided structure. Perfect fluorite crystals look like back-to-back tetrahedrons (like the Egyptian pyramids). Fluorite has celestial associations and is believed to be good for connecting to higher spiritual realms. I use it in ritual or carry it in a pocket for protection, to avoid being drawn into the pollution of narcissistic and small-minded people. Katrina Raphaell says, “Fluorite is one of the most powerful New Age stones, for it brings into the physical plane higher forms of truth and integrates those conecepts into the mind…”

Though it promotes clear thinking, I believe fluorite can be ungrounding, as it focuses attention on the higher centers of thought. So, not for activity that requires focus on immediate external awareness. Naturally, it helps dissipate anger through encouraging detachment.

I also use fluorite in spells to repel tooth decay, since its chemical composition includes fluorine. Again, be careful not to soak the stone in water for any length of time, and don’t ingest fluorite in any form.


December 3, 2021

Most of my goddess pictures and statues are on my altar, logically enough, or in the same room as my altar, where I also do ritual or yoga. My picture of Brigid, however, is in my office. I think of Brigid as the quintessential work goddess. Homage to her is through keeping a clean house, providing for the material maintenance of the household, improving relationships within the house, creative work, and the appreciation of creative work. You might characterize her worship as purpose-driven, but I think of her as the spirit imbued within the process of living well.

It’s typical to post about Brigid on her holiest day, Imbolc (February 1-2), but she’s on my mind today. I’ve been reading about her in an old copy of SageWoman from 1991, in a spirit of nostalgia. I felt a longing to return to a time before the Orwellian hellscape emerged that compels us to play along with the transing of kids (or equally absurd abuses) to keep our jobs. Times have changed, even at SageWoman, which now subscribes to the gender ideology. It pays.

The theme of this 1991 issue was “Work.” Many women wrote thoughtful essays about the morality and spirituality of work. An article about Brigid by Callista Lee had what she claims is a “traditional prayer” called The Genealogy of Brigid. I checked it out on the internet (okay, there are some good things, or things that are good sometimes, about the 21st century). It does seem to be a well known prayer. If you are being harried, to use an old-fashioned term, for not bowing before the trendy gender edict, perhaps this prayer will help.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 22, 2021

I am grateful to you, my readers, for almost ten years of blogging!

Photo: Larry Smith

I once had a turkey challenge me to a race. I was cycling down a country road, and the turkey trotted along beside me. I started cycling faster, and then the turkey started racing me! The encounter ended at a draw when we reached a copse of trees and the turkey had to take wing.

After Samhain

November 5, 2021

We’re waiting for the first snow now. Mornings are frosty, and I’m putting the car in the garage overnight again. I just finished a long article about the giant Huwawa. I’ll have a link next week.