by Charlotte Croson
From off our backs June 2001, Vol 31, Iss 6
This essay grew out of the politics of a specific place and time: the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival over the last 8 years. My work at Festival during this time has been as a critic of both sado-masochistic sexual practice and Camp Trans.
The debate about sado-masochistic practice (S/M) at Festival has been a recurring issue. It has a new urgency in light of right wing attacks on Festival over the past year. These attacks are ostensibly aimed at sexual practices “harmful to children.” S/M sex has been — and is — displayed as exhibit number one. In truth the attacks are aimed at all women: the tactic being to make all lesbian sexuality no different from S/M, drawing no distinction between S/M and lesbian sex in any non-hierarchical form. For the Festival community, the attacks have again brought into sharp focus fundamental questions about women’s political and social community: who defines the interests of our community? Is it in our interests as women who love women to embrace, or at least leave unchallenged, S/M and Camp Trans/transgender politics? Independent of those attacks, what should we make of S/M and transgender politics1: are they otherwise compatible with our community’s interests?
Defining our own interests is of paramount political importance for us, both as lesbians and as women. It is equally important that our community have safe space in which to engage in that process of definition. As if the right wing attacks weren’t enough of a challenge to that safe space, there is also Camp Trans — literally right across the road. From there Camp Trans activists, like the right wing activists, have attempted to define our interests as women as a function of how they define themselves. Perhaps more egregiously, Camp Trans also defines us as women in reference to how they define themselves as transgendered. In both cases, Festival space — safe space for women — has been disrupted by these external pressures.
Perhaps it’s already clear that these issues of self-definition reach beyond the context of Festival. These issues are about both defining and working in a broader feminist context — a context within which we have to examine the relationship of sexuality and gender identity to prevailing conditions of male dominance. Moving in that direction is my aim here. What follows is a feminist analysis that, while relevant to Festival, does not seek to reconcile what may well be fundamentally irreconcilable positions being played out around and at Festival. My analysis does not take for granted the S/M movement’s and Camp Trans’ definition of what is in women’s interests. From a feminist perspective, sexuality and gender identity (both as currently constructed) are tools of male dominance that benefit patriarchy. That both, as currently constructed, give each of us as individuals a stake in male dominance is the conflict we experience every day. Thus, we as feminists owe it to ourselves and to our community to deconstruct and oppose both S/M and Camp Trans politics. In a feminist analysis they are, to put it simply, on the wrong side. In opposition to feminism.
Myths and Tactics
Lately, when these topics are brought up there is a flurry of opposition to discussing them in anything other than unqualifiedly positive terms. That is, it is often difficult to say anything (or much of anything) critical about either S/M or transgender politics without being attacked or shouted down. The purpose of the attacks is, simply, to kill discourse and to silence any position that is not pro-S/M or transgender. Some of the most common tactics include the use of “pro-sex” to describe S/M advocates and “anti-sex” to describe those who are politically opposed to the practice of S/M. S/M opponents become “puritans” and “new victorians.” S/M opponents are often labeled “censors” simply for criticizing the practice of S/M. Any critique of women’s class condition is dismissed as “essentialism” by transgender activists. The word separatist is used by Camp Trans activists as an epithet, an epithet made more damning by the addition of lesbian: lesbian-separatists. There is ongoing use of “rights” talk — transgender persons have a “right” to women-only space, S/M advocates have a “right” to practice S/M sex wherever and however they wish. Simply describing male power brings accusations of “victim feminism” and “denial of women’s agency.” A Daly-esque reversal if there ever was one. And opposing inclusion of transgender persons in women-only space brings accusations of gender-fascism, a phrase which speaks volumes in itself.
Minorities and Rights
In the last several years self-identified “sex-positive” and “gender-queer” activists have formed an alliance. The alliance is not all that surprising, given the correspondence of gender ideology between the two. Each group claims to be a minority within women’s community that is discriminated against by the larger body of women/lesbians. S/M practitioners place themselves as a “sexual minority” within the presumptively “normal” lesbian sexuality of Festival. Transgender activists claim they are “gender” minorities within the presumptively “gender normal” women who attend Festival. Collectively they argue that they are deprived of the “right” to practice their sexuality and gender and that the reason they are not welcome at Festival is their transgressive views about sexuality and gender.
The minority and rights based rhetoric these movements employ is politically powerful. “The idea of sexual minorities has been a powerful one because ‘minorities’ can lay claim to ‘rights.’ There is a hallowed tradition in liberal democracies of recognizing…the claims of minorities.”2 Politically, it’s very difficult to be against claims of rights, especially so when people present themselves as minorities. Many women and lesbians will identify with persons who claim to be subject to stigma and repression on the basis of their sexuality or gender, presumably just like women and lesbians. Thus, the rights rhetoric consciously presumes a commonality of purpose between S/M and transgender advocates and the feminist community and presents S/M and transgender politics as an integral part of women’s freedom. Coupled with that, by presenting themselves as minorities within women’s community, the S/M and transgender movements cast non-S/M lesbian sexuality and non-transgendered women as both sexually and gender “normal.” The implication being that those women who fail to practice and/or endorse S/M and transgender, adhere to and practice patriarchal gender and sexual norms and, as such, have access to power that is then used to discriminate against S/M practitioners and transgendered persons. Thus, women’s community is caught on a double-edged sword: rights rhetoric casts us all in the same pot while minority rhetoric places “normalized” non-S/M and non-transgendered lesbians and women on top of some fictionalized hierarchy. In this construction, women opposed to S/M and transgender politics are either acting against their own interests or oppressing a sexual or gender minority, or both.
What is obscured is that the sexual and gender normality implied by S/M and transgender ideology simply doesn’t, in fact, exist in this community. If such adherence to norms existed as a regular practice, every woman would be heterosexual, married and having babies. S/M and transgender activists claiming minority/oppressed status within the women’s community obscures how non-normative the women within the community are, both in sexual and gender practice. Further, insofar as the implied “normality” also implies access to power, that implication is grossly overstated. The S/M and transgender movements commonly fail to situate Festival against the larger backdrop of patriarchal society. In so doing, they create women solely as oppressors and derail any impetus within their movements for a larger analysis of male dominance and its relationship not only to women, but to S/M and transgendered persons. By reading Festival as the only relevant site of power, they also fail to see their own participation in patriarchal sexual and gender norms. Ultimately what is obscured is that patriarchal gender and sexual norms are constitutive of women’s oppression. And because it is S/M and transgender advocacy movements participate in these norms, they can not end the oppression of women and there is no commonality of purpose between these movements and feminism.
On an individual level, it may be possible to see S/M and transgender as transgressive. After all, isn’t it transgressive for women to choose our sexuality, to choose sexual roles denied to us by patriarchal sexual norms? Doesn’t acting out the role of sexual aggressor prove that such roles are not limited to men? Isn’t it an expansion of sexual choice? Isn’t sexual subordination okay if you have a choice about it? Isn’t it liberating and freeing to be able to claim and act out your real gender regardless of your biology? Don’t S/M sexuality and transgender transgress patriarchal norms of both sexuality and gender?
In a feminist analysis, however, the practice of sexuality by S/M advocates and the practice of gender by transgender advocates are wholly consistent with and exactly track patriarchal constructs of sexuality and gender. Both participate in the deployment of gender in the lesbian community in ways that are harmful to that community. Each in its own way is deeply gendered, and is deeply gendered in traditional ways.
S/M – Structure
The S/M view of sexuality is structured along deeply traditional lines. First, in the view of S/M advocates, sexuality is simply a matter of individual desire and practice. Where desire springs from is never examined, exactly — it just is, and practice follows from that. In this construction there is no room to question whether sexuality and desire are constructed, or how they are constructed, and by and for whom. Sexuality and desire can remain innate qualities or attributes of the person engaging in them. As a result, despite claims that sexuality is being deconstructed, current practices of sexuality are largely seen as transhistorical, beyond construction and question. They simply “are” what sexuality is and efforts to change what is are resisted. What S/M advocates have done is move essentialism from the physical body to the self — to one’s (presumably unconstructed) sexual identity and the practice that springs from it.
Second, the S/M construction is deeply gendered, maintaining the binary top/down nature of both sexuality and gender. In S/M sex, there are still only two sexual roles, separate and distinct from each other (although one may theoretically switch back and forth). And these roles are limited to top and bottom, dominant and subordinate. It is the same patriarchal template: innate, binary and top down. Having used the same template, it is no surprise that S/M sexuality exactly reproduces the content and norms of both male-dominant sexuality and gender.
In a feminist view, sexuality is constructed. As sexuality is constructed currently, there are two roles: men’s sexual role is dominant, active — the sexual subject. Women’s sexual role is subordinate, passive, acted upon — the sexual object. These roles are held to be both natural and complementary and the very basis of what is sexy about sex. The central tenet of this sexuality is eroticizing dominance and subordination. It is sexy to have a top and a bottom, to have a power imbalance, an actor and acted upon, a dominant and a subordinate. It is erotic (for men) to exercise dominance or control over women. It is erotic and sexy (for women) to be dominated, controlled, acted upon. The eroticization of dominance and subordination is the content of patriarchal sexuality. And it is through this sexuality that women, as a class, are subordinated to men, made second-class citizens. This eroticization of dominance and subordination is present all along the continuum of sexual practice, from gender roles to rape to pornography to prostitution. And it is through these sexual practices that women’s subordination to men is both created and supported.
S/M, rather than transgressing this erotic dynamic, wholeheartedly embraces it. S/M sexuality’s constitutive dynamic and practice is quite simply the eroticization of dominance and subordination. It may involve various specific practices, for example, inflicting pain, bondage, the playing out of various scenes and roles, for example prisoner/guard, slave/master, nazi/jew, etc., or simply labeling participants “tops” and “bottoms,” with sexual activity following prescribed norms of behavior. But the eroticism of S/M is specifically linked to the one up/one down dynamic inherent in the roles. And the central erotic kick is the disparity of power between the “players,” the eroticization of dominance and subordination. What makes this “transgressive,” in the pro-S/M view, is that women are no longer bound by patriarchal notions of female sexual passivity. Now, it is argued, women can be on top, can occupy the role of sexual aggressor, rather than be consigned to the sexually passive role. On the other hand, women can now choose to be on the bottom, to be sexually passive. The difference, of course, being in the choice to be sexually subordinate rather than having it dictated to us.
The roles in S/M, top and bottom, exactly track the content of patriarchal sexuality: there is a sexual subject who acts on a sexual object. To borrow from Catharine MacKinnon: “Man fucks woman. Subject verb object,”3 becomes “Top fucks bottom. Subject verb object.” There simply is no difference in content between patriarchal roles and S/M roles, or between S/M sexuality and patriarchal sexuality. What is sexy about S/M is the supposed complementary/oppositional roles and the eroticization of dominance and subordination. If force is not used, it is acted out in “play” scenes. If there is no “natural” complementarity of male dominance and female submission, it is created through role-playing. Prison scenes, rape scenes, master-slave scenes, teacher-student scenes — in each of these the disparity of power is consciously, specifically, the erotic thrill of it. So too with the designation of “tops” and “bottoms,” butch and femme roles, as used in, appropriated by, S/M — where “natural” sex role dominance is not present, dominance is created. The purpose of the scenes and roles is exactly to replicate the top-bottom dominance sexuality, the erotic kick of power disparity, that is the sine qua non of patriarchal sexuality.
That women are “tops” within lesbian S/M doesn’t change anything about the roles themselves, nor does it change the fundamental position of women at the bottom of patriarchal sexuality. That some women, the “tops,” may temporarily escape women’s “bottom” position in S/M play doesn’t mean that any other woman can when not having sex. And indeed, for a woman to be on top in lesbian S/M a woman must also always be on the bottom, occupying the class position of all women. “Sexual libertarians demand access to the sexual privileges of men without recognizing that those very privileges are constructed out of men’s ruling class status and would not exist without a subordinate class of women.”4 Patriarchal sexuality is maintained and furthered by the S/M community’s practice of it. By endorsing, practicing, and recreating patriarchal sexuality in women’s community, the S/M “pro-sex” activists simply further normalize patriarchal practices of sexuality as simply what sex “is.” Too, they normalize women’s place within it on the bottom of the hierarchy. In doing so, S/M advocates ensure that women can’t escape women’s place of sexual subordination in the patriarchy. They, in effect, guarantee that somebody will always be on the bottom, and that somebody will be a woman. “The feminist question is not whether you, as an individual woman, can escape women’s place, but whether it is socially necessary that there will always be somebody in the position you, however temporarily, escaped from and that someone will be a woman.”5
Dominant/subordinate sexuality is not transgressive, no matter how practiced; it is simply more of the same patriarchal sex, the core dynamic of which is the subordination of women, normalized within the lesbian community. For women to choose to participate in S/M sexuality is still to choose to participate in patriarchal sexuality.
Transgender – Structure
The transgender movement’s view of gender is also structured along deeply traditional lines. First, in the view of transgender advocates gender is simply a matter of individual identity. Where identity springs from is never examined, exactly — it just “is” — and, again, practice follows from identity. Gender remains as innate quality or attribute of the person expressing it. Given this, in transgender movement politics there is no room to question where gender and gender identity come from or whether and how they are constructed and by whom. As a result, the current practice of gender is seen as transhistorical, beyond construction and question. It simply “is” what gender is. What transgender advocates have done is move essentialism from the physical body to the self — to one’s (presumably unconstructed) gender identity.
Second, despite claims of multiple genders, “male” attributes remain male, even if practiced by a physically female body. As do “female” attributes, even if practiced by a physically male body. It is the same patriarchal template: innate, binary, essential and essential to identity. Having used the same template, it is no surprise that transgender exactly reproduces the content and norms of patriarchal gender.
The dominant ethic of the transgender movement is to support and practice what it deems “transgressive” genders based on one’s personal gender identification as a man, woman, boi, grrrl and so on. This is the “gender fucking” that the transgender movement purports to participate in. It means that one acts out, regardless of one’s physical sex, the gender attributes, either male or female, one claims as one’s own. Or one simply acknowledges, regardless of physical sex, that one’s gender “is” male or female. What makes this transgressive, in the transgender advocates’ view, is that biological women get to act out their innate “male” identities, qualities and attributes, and biological men get to act out their innate “female” identities, qualities and attributes. That is, one’s gender is no longer linked exclusively, or perhaps at all, to one’s biological sex. Rather, it is linked to one’s “self,” one’s individual identity.
What the transgender movement calls gender-fucking is simply an exercise in moving markers rather than any fundamental change in gender. Gender still exists. It is still an organizing structure for society. What’s different is that you just “do” it differently: it is “allowed” to be attached to different bodies. The aim of transgender politics is to allow you to “be” the gender that you “are.” However, being your gender still means what you wear, what you do, how you express yourself and is still attached to fundamental notions of what it means to be men and women. Certain ways of walking, talking, thinking and being “are” gendered male. Other, diametrically opposed, ways of walking, talking, thinking and being “are” gendered female. And it’s no surprise that what is female and what is male in this view exactly tracks what is already defined as male and female.
The fact of sex-change operations, the end point of much transgender movement and activist ideology, reinforces and furthers both the primacy and determinism of gender. One changes one’s sex because it doesn’t match one’s (innate and unstructured) gender identity. Here, gender identity determinism triumphs only over biological gender determinism. Gender is so essential that even biology will give way before it. That individual men may “become” women, or vice versa, does not change what it means to be a woman or a man. Importantly, the content of gender hasn’t changed. Moving back and forth between the boxes doesn’t change what is in the boxes. Thus, transgender movement ideology accepts both the premise that there is some true gender identity and that gender is what patriarchy says it is.
Further, gender hierarchy remains intact. Transgender politics does nothing to disrupt the positions of women and men in the gender hierarchy. The transgender ideology of gender identity helps to maintain the lines of male power by accepting prescriptive gender definitions of what it is to be a man (or a woman) and then acting on those definitions. Accordingly, those males not manly enough to be men simply become and are made into women, either in body or in identity or in both. All those who have fallen from patriarchal grace simply “are” women because it is precisely this fall from “real manhood” that marks them as women — as lesser than men. Transgender movement ideology simply participates in making “not men” real in the world as women. This, obviously, does nothing to change what it means to be a woman under conditions of male dominance — not a man and also lesser than a man. Further, transgender politics makes “staying a woman” always a choice. Thus, in many ways it renders women’s choices to oppose gender hierarchy as women and on behalf of women incomprehensible.
However, while men can always become “not men” women can not ever leave behind our status as women and become “real” men. One can not help but think of Brandon Teena — for women, the inter-gender terrorism never stops, regardless of what identity one claims or feels. This is a central issue transgender politics often misses. FTM remain women and, as such, targets of male violence. One could say Brandon was murdered because she transgressed gender boundaries. And it would be accurate. But it is also at least as accurate to say that what Brandon didn’t have was access to male power. She was, as a woman, presumptively a target of gender violence, with or without any transgender identity she may have had. It was no accident or fortuitous occurrence or mistake that Brandon was raped before she was murdered. But it is this gendered violence the transgender movement elides by casting Brandon solely in a transgendered identity and the violence against her as being against “him” and simply motivated by hatred of “his” transgender identity. Clearly, Brandon was attacked as an act of preserving male power: she was a woman who acted “like” a man. To the extent that that was a transgender identity (and we just don’t know that it was for Brandon) she was murdered because she was transgender. But one can’t elide the fact that Brandon was, in fact, in the world, ultimately gendered woman — a target for male violence, tellingly, the gendered crime of rape.
This is not to say that FTMs should or do seek male power. But it highlights the fact that a movement based on gender identity does nothing to change the gender it seeks to inhabit or the inherent power relations of gender. Riki Wilchins, speaking of gendered identities, states: “I am not unhappy with the gendered alternatives, only with the way they are administered.”6 What Wilchins does not seem to appreciate is that the alternatives are administered the way they are exactly because they are gendered.
The attacks by parts of the transgender movement on women-only spaces like Festival exhibit the transgender movement’s unstated assumption of the intractability of male power and female powerlessness. Camp Trans attacks Festival because Festival is women-only space. Because women have less power than men. Because it’s easy and safe to attack women. It’s an interesting sort of “horizontal” hostility — with women, once again, on the receiving end but with transgendered politics supplying the rationale. By their efforts to be admitted to womyn-only spaces, they implicitly recognize both their own powerlessness and the power of men to make them so. They are assuming that their lack of male gender conformity “makes” them women in some immutable and intractable way, and thus powerless in the face of male power. What does it mean when a group of people perfectly positioned, in whose interest it undoubtedly is, to attack and deconstruct what it means to be a man in patriarchy, accept their status as “not-men” as a gender identity and call that identity “woman”?
The transgender movement’s push to deconstruct woman and appropriate the identity woman says something about male power. It says male power and the class men is too powerful, and perhaps too important, to deconstruct. Deconstructing men and masculinity is mostly left to gay men — who aren’t, for the most part interested in deconstructing it, either. Instead they seem mostly interested in getting and keeping male power for themselves. And they’re willing to sacrifice “femme men” and women to male power to get it for themselves. So, while the class of men may be expanded to include butch gay men, it’s not deconstructed so long as the price of admission is being a “real man” — i.e. always on top.
Women’s powerlessness makes deconstructing and appropriating women’s identity comparably easy. But deconstructing woman is of absolutely no help in deconstructing male power. It is telling that in the push to deconstruct woman, there is no imperative to deconstruct the powerlessness of the class. The push is merely to belong to the class “because of” one’s identity. Deconstructing woman as an identity, without attacking and deconstructing male power and female powerlessness, does nothing but maintain the class of men (to which men can return whenever they want) and the class of women, as defined and enforced by male power. Further, it appropriates and disrespects an existence and identity to which men can never belong because they don’t belong to the social class on which the identity is premised and from which it draws much of its content and meaning.
In transgender politics, the purpose of transgender identity is to allow people to live out their “true” gender identity. But the idea and practice of transgender identity participates in keeping the lines of masculinity and male power clear. And, in this way, the transgender movement participates in the subordination of women. Male power does not care who the real women are, it only cares who the real men are. It is only so much better that through transgender it becomes easier to identify who the “real men” are, as those who are not real men become embodied as women in the world. The transgender movement largely fails to locate transgender identity in the larger context of gendered power. Thus, it fails to see gender power, where being male means being presumptively free from male violence and being female means being presumptively subject to male violence. Thus, gendered violence gets cast solely as transgender violence, for example, and the fact that women are never allowed to leave behind our status as women gets elided. The permeable membrane between gender only goes one way in terms of gendered power — down and never up. This itself is gendered in a way the transgender movement typically fails to see. And in this way, the lines of masculinity are kept secure and male power is left intact.
Camp Trans’ transgender politics, while shouting and foregrounding gender, hasn’t learned what it could about gender from feminism. Rather than deconstruct gender, its ideology simply adds construct upon construct. It foregrounds gender as an identity but hides gender as hierarchy. Transgender politics typically fails to understand gender in terms of class power. A statement of identity “as a woman” has become solely a statement of personal identity. This obscures the political purpose of identity politics — locating women within a class and locating that class within gender hierarchy. This is often implicitly recognized by opposition to Camp Trans’ efforts to penetrate the Festival. In a roundtable discussion about Festival, which covered Camp Trans, Desiree Yael Vester, a worker at Festival, had this to say:
In a culture that is still male-dominant, patriarchal, and white, the idea of women determining women is radical. And I’m using the term women to mean women who were born as women and raised as girls. I focus more on the “raised as girls” part because to me that feels like one of the most profound experiences of how I got to be a woman…. People don’t have gender dysphoria because they feel like they’re the other gender. All women, I think, go through gender dysphoria…. They can tell you the moment they realized that having to put on a bra changed their lives dramatically. And in my culture that meant wearing a girdle at age eleven, so that my butt wouldn’t shake and my tits wouldn’t move, so that men wouldn’t look at me. It was my responsibility to make sure that grown men didn’t look at me at age eleven! That is a particular experience of being a woman in Mississippi culture, and I feel that kind of experience needs to be interrogated, and it does get interrogated at Michigan. Because it isn’t recognized that there is that complexity of the gender of being a woman.7
When gender is reduced to personal identity, gender as hierarchy recedes into the background. The reality and complexity of what it means to be in the class woman in the gender hierarchy we live in is lost.
For the S/M movement, choosing gender and alliance with the transgender movement has given S/M something that it didn’t publicly have or acknowledge previously. It allows gender and the role it plays in S/M to come out of the closet. Now, gender is a sex toy. Gender is revealed as a constitutive part of the erotic dynamic of S/M. Dominance is eroticized, yes, but gender dominance specifically is eroticized. So the assertions that gender somehow is not involved, or is transcended, in S/M is revealed as a lie. Pat Califia, a founder of the lesbian S/M movement, now identifies as transgendered and is transitioning to become male. It is telling that in describing her motivations for seeking a sex-change, Califia states: “I want people to call me sir who are not my property.”8 Ironically, Riki Wilchins also acknowledges the link between gender and sexuality when she describes “an erotic economy based on difference that actually requires a gender regime in the first place….”9 This from someone who isn’t unhappy with the gendered alternatives. One must assume that Wilchins means the sexual alternatives, as well. One wonders how much more explicit the link between gender hierarchy and the eroticization of dominance and subordination needs to get before the lie that S/M is feminist is finally exposed.
In both the S/M and transgender movements gender and sexuality are viewed solely as matters of personal choice, predilection and identity. The highest value is that one be allowed to practice them without restriction as to time, place or political analysis. Both the S/M and transgender movements are firmly rooted in liberal ideals of individualism, personal identity, and personal choice antithetical to class analysis and critiques of gendered power. By adopting this ideology of personal choice as the highest freedom, both the S/M and transgender movements obscure the feminist critique of gendered power relations — gendered power relations which are constitutive of their practices and ideologies. These movements analytically locate sexuality and gender outside of male power, outside of the gender hierarchy where women live, and refuse to acknowledge how deeply implicated they are in the creation and maintenance of that very hierarchy. Male power and its construction of both sexuality and gender as tools of women’s oppression has disappeared from critique and analysis. These movements simply fail to transgress sexuality and gender as they are currently constructed. Not only do they fail to transgress gender, their stated goal, they reinforce sexual and gender hierarchy at every turn. Thus, in a feminist analysis the goals of these movements are antithetical to feminist goals and the transgender and S/M movements and ideologies are in opposition to feminism.
- It is clear that there is no singular transgender voice or politics within the transgender community. When I speak of “transgender politics” here, I refer only to the transgender politics and ideology practiced and exemplified by Camp Trans and its activists.
- Jeffreys, Sheila. (1997). The Idea of Prostitution. London: Spinifex Press, p 94, quoting Weeks, Jeffrey. (1985) Sexuality and Its Discontents. London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, p 195.
- MacKinnon, Catherine. (1985). Toward A Feminist Theory of the State. Cambridge, London: Harvard University Press, p. 128.
- Jeffreys, (1997), pp. 208-09.
- MacKinnon, Catharine A. (1987). Feminism Unmodified, Discourses on Life and Law. Cambridge, London: Harvard University Press, p. 31.
- Wilchins, Riki Ann. (1997). Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender. Firebrand Books: Ithaca, New York, p. 150.
- Cvetkovich, Ann and Selena Wahng. (2001). “Don’t Stop the Music. Roundtable discussion with Workers from the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.” In The Gay and Lesbian Quarterly, 7:1, pp 131-151.
- Califia-Rice, Patrick. Interview with Tristan Taormino. (2000) “Transitions: Patrick Califia-Rice.” At www.lesbiannation.com/press/transitions_patrick_califia_rice.htm
- Wilchins, Riki. (1997), p. 161.