Why Put Lesbianism and Feminism Together?

I am a lesbian and a feminist. This probably doesn’t surprise you, seeing those two terms together. I think it is interesting how the terms lesbian and feminist are often partners in people’s minds. Like, if you’re a woman who is attracted to women, you must also want equal rights for everyone. Well, what those people who lump lesbians and feminists together are thinking is that you must want equal rights for women, or you must want women to be the ones in charge. That isn’t what feminism is anymore. Yes, it used to be focused on equal rights for women and only women, but like many terms in the English language, it has evolved into something more.

Right now, we are on the fourth wave of feminism. The fourth wave is characterized by the overwhelming use of technology and the emergence of a “call-out” culture in which people are able to publically point out misogyny or misandry almost immediately. Feminists who are a part of the fourth wave are more accepting of transgender women, women of color, and women who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The fourth wave is more about equality for all, and feminists of the fourth wave are more likely to also align themselves with movements like Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ+ Civil Rights movement. Thanks to social media, fourth wave feminists are able to give voice to members of minority communities and help call attention to injustices. Fourth wave feminism is feminism for everyone, no one is left out of the loop.

Now, back to feminism and lesbianism: why are they lumped together? I think the reasoning behind it is the same reason as it has been for decades: to give both groups a bad name. It stems from a time when lesbianism was seen as a bad thing, and people who put the two terms together only mean it in a negative way. Even if they don’t know it, the negative connotations are there.

Does being a lesbian automatically make you a feminist? No, it doesn’t, just like being a feminist doesn’t automatically make you a lesbian. I admit that I haven’t met a lesbian who is not a feminist, but I’m sure they are out there. People have an interesting way of separating themselves from issues like that.

In all honesty though, being a lesbian and a feminist has caused some interesting problems for me. It’s caused a kind of duality in my consciousness when it comes to viewing media in which women are sexualized. To quote Jane Lynch, “the feminist in me is appalled, but the lesbian in me is delighted!”

There’s a lot to unpack there, I think. Women are objectified and sexualized in media all of the time, and I think that people who are attracted to women and feminists feel really bad for enjoying. I think it’s kind of impossible to find someone attractive without objectifying them.

Attraction is inherently objectifying, there’s no way around it. The best you can do is either keep it in your head or be polite in your attraction. It’s honestly kind of easy. Just be respectful and nice when it comes to your actions, and you’ll be fine. That being said, women being sexualized in media is a problem that does need to be fixed, and we need to work together in order to make it so that women are respected in media.

In the end, lesbianism and feminism are often lumped together and used in a negative way, but what we need to do is learn to accept them. There’s nothing wrong with being a lesbian and there’s nothing wrong with being a feminist.