By Vivienne Louise
In For Lesbians Only, Onlywoman Press, 1988
Upon commencement of writing a piece on lesbian separatism I was overwhelmed by numerous themes dancing soberly in my head. The all cleansing rage pulsing through the hearts of wimmin screaming for release from the prison of self-denial. Love of a richer and deeper kind than any professed in matrimonial terms of possession and conquest. Trust that reaches the gutsy planes of spiritual bonding through forthright honesty. The dissipation of patriarchal illusions breaking the shackles of a deadly contract. Decisions ushering in a new and yet very old age conversant with a natural meter and time. Ancient truths made known today through newly awakened vehicles of memory. The power to create and decreate given the constancy of faith, clarity and balance. And fear. That all pervasive entity rendering potential inanimate and driving forward energy into stagnant pools of conciliation and failure.
After due consideration I chose fear as the main theme recognizing its relevance to all issues of lesbian separatism because of its ability to immobilize by gradual weakening, leading to total enfeeblement.
Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. It is the essence of fascism and the original pillar of patriarchy. Invalidation of internal assessment abilities and total reliance on external judgment is its goal. In other words, it is a controlling mechanism designed to destroy self belief and internal faith, replacing them with desired approval from outside sources. Debilitation results as self-love evaporates in an atmosphere of submissive behavior.
Lesbian separatism is a politic of empowerment. It touts the values of self love and acceptance promoting creativity of spirit and mind. It challenges demons of fear stripping those supporting realities of their intimidating wonder and exposing them as a plague of necrophilic addiction. Radical lesbianism is the reclamation of our most intimate power, the right to walk the planet free from the scourge of patriarchal terror.
As a seasoned activist I am not prepared to say that the disappearance of all men on the planet would also mean the disappearance of patriarchy. Unfortunately there are millions of wimmin who support and practice an ethic of top-bottom and who believe in the validity of fear. As long as trepidation is the song then dissolution will be the dance and helter-skelter the ball at which they’re played.
As wimmin in this society we are taught to coddle and pamper our fears. We are encouraged to give in, yielding them full reign in our free will decisions and actions. Confrontation of any sort is not supported and acquiescence of a defenseless mode lauded. This promotes a message of weakness and an acquiescence of powerlessness. The acceptance of passivity leads to a failing sense of self belief and therefore a diminishing consciousness of personal power. It is at this stage that patriarchal values set in. Subscription to these mores is enforced by violence (mental, physical, emotional and spiritual) and promulgation of the lie that there is no relief from this violence. Thus a map with only one dead end road is presented when there are really many roads blocked by the sentry of fear.
Above I listed several issues relating to lesbian separatism: illusions, decisions, herstory, love, trust, rage and power. These areas and many not listed, are compromised daily because of deep pockets of fear.
We swallow illusions about the ‘sanctity of ladyhood’ like so many candy pills dispensed to troublesome patients. Exposing the destruction barely hidden behind a veil of pretense is disquieting for many of us. To finally see the hatred that men have for wimmin and to understand its relentless persistence is to look into the belly of the monster from within. It is alarming to know that this misogyny perseveres in the face of all placating actions on the part of wimmin.
The battered wife ‘shuts up’ but is still beaten. The dutiful secretary is punctual, accurate and conscientious. But never receives a raise, bonus or promotion. And in the face of so many contradictions many of us are still just too afraid to look and see.
Making the decision ‘not to decide’ is deadly. Its daily continuance can only lead to a state of ambiguity and confusion. Not setting values consistent with our own natures forces us to contort to an alien form. We gag on this force-fed slop but persevere in an adherence to its rules.
‘Women’s fashions’ are dictated by men and wimmin in collusion with men. Together they produce clothes that obstruct the natural flow of a womon’s body and often cause injury to that body. Rigid determination of ‘acceptable sizes’ makes it difficult for wimmin outside those boundaries to obtain reasonable clothing. This can lead to various forms of diet control which is often under pressured circumstances and therefore dis-eased. High heeled shoes are notorious for their deleterious effect upon a womon’s pelvic region, but thousands of these monstrosities are sold daily.
Here is a clear situation of the power of wimmin to stop a brand of femicide. Simply not to buy these malevolent raiments and to insist, instead, on suitable clothing. But alas the fiend of fear raises its ugly head to cause a foreboding shadow, should wimmin really see the venom housed in those garbs.
Acceptance of a history where wimmin are placed in a position of insignificance cheats us of ancestral memories chiming matriarchal bliss. It denies the yearnings of our souls for ego satiation in the realm of past deeds. Our story, or herstory, has been quieted by destruction and misinterpretation. But I believe that each of us feels this omission and secretly longs for tales of wimmin triumphant.
I am sometimes encouraged in this belief by the gleam in a womon’s eye after hearing a tale of heroine victory (that victory may be the independence of a prominent public figure or the exploits of an unconventional family member), or while quietly admiring a little known herstorical personality. The gleam may wax or wane but persists in its clandestine enjoyment.
Why then don’t we demand a more full satisfaction? Because to open this box would be the beginning of the end. The end of the lies and consternations. It would bring the whole tangled mess to light and again many of us are afraid of what we might see. Afraid that the distortions are so twisted as to demonstrate nothing short of evil. The evil of hatred, fed and nourished by the actions of the hated.
Love between and among wimmin without supervision of men has always been strongly discouraged by the patriarchy. So much so that many wimmin live their entire lives without knowing the love of another womon, either as a friend, mother, sister or lover. Often any relationships that do exist (outside radical lesbian bondings) are timed for the convenience of some male influence. Even lifetime lesbians who have always known the lavender love of silver nights will closet that love to avoid scenes caused by male discomfort.
Again the demon of fear is controlling even our acknowledgement of something as naturally beautiful as love. Something as wonderfully invigorating as love. Something as exciting and fun as love. While meager rations of heterosexual dominance, exampled by rape and vivisection, are offered in its stead.
To have total trust is to have total honesty. To have total honesty is to have total clarity. And to have total clarity is to be able to see the total picture, detail for detail.
Many wimmin refuse to see the details. Refuse to acknowledge the total picture as evidence of a diabolical plan. Through the promulgation of illusions, indecision, suffocation of herstory and inhibition of love the boys have instituted a systematic identity designation plan. Wimmin are told what to believe, what to think and how to live. This diabolical scheme erodes the essence of personhood creating confusion in our own minds as to who we are. This leads to wimmin playing robot games in relationships seeking warmth from mechanical chill. Without the basis of self knowledge and understanding we are confused as to who ‘self’ really is. And without clarity on who ‘self’ is clarity on any other issues is basically out of reach.
Trust is a bonding based on honest lucidity stemming from the courage to simply look and see. Fear of what we might see inhibits our ability to see at all. As long as we are insisting that apples are oranges we will never have fresh orange juice or homemade apple pie. The object will consistently evade our grasp as we insist upon a reality that simply isn’t there.
Wimmin daily place faith and trust in the machinations of the patriarchy. Many give their love to men in an effort to affirm a trusting bond only to have it mocked through infidelity, double standards and mutilation. For men imagine no such equality with wimmin. They are committed to the brotherhood in continuance of the sham. Truth is always unwelcome in a con game, especially when the conee is eager to believe.
A high percentage of rapists in this country are men that the victim knew and trusted. These are men in which these wimmin have placed a large degree of personal belief and faith. They are their fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, sons, boyfriends, etc. They are men who presently do or at one time did hold a high place in the womon’s value system as decent, upstanding and trustworthy. Yet this faith is returned with brutality and desecration. These wimmin’s bodies are split apart in the anxious ravings of maniacal conquest. Their very beings are destroyed and yet they persist in believing. Persist in believing that there are good men and there are bad men. Persist in swallowing the moldy tale that some men do respect wimmin and some don’t. This persistence continues in the face of a judicial system that fails to prosecute rapists. It persists even though a womon’s story is often questioned and she is submitted to a barrage of insensitive interrogation. It persists given the fact that verbally or non-verbally, a womon is usually blamed for the attack.
And even if the rapist is not someone that the particular womon knew, he usually is someone that some other womon knows, trusts and loves.
Surely this is a contradiction worth illumination. Surely anyone can see that men do hate wimmin and exhibit that hatred in a most pervasive way. Surely to place trust in a system, a someone, a being, that violates that trust in ways smacking of misogyny is to disrespect that trust. It is to give that essence a very low value.
Why is such a profound quality as trust continually debased with lies and deception? Because the demon of fear is keeping a close watch on all movements. It is halting any progression that promotes its banishment to the halls of hell. Blocking all movement out of its chains into a new and free reality. Resisting all advancement that demands its expulsion. Because it is in control and intends to remain so, but can only do that through our own complicity.
And then there’s the rage. The rage that comes when all delusions are stripped away and naked verity is standing in its wake. The rage that arrives after exposure of the hypocrisies and threatens to overwhelm our major senses. The rage that shudders and shakes our foundation loosening old entrapment and molds.
This rage can allow us to see clearly but first we must experience it. First it must be worked through to its satisfactory conclusion. First its orgasmic heights of death then life must be embraced before its remedial powers can take effect. It is a cleansing rage washing away the confusion and ambiguity. It forces us to vomit all decayed matter in a volcanic eruption of fire and freedom.
Although this rage can bring relief from the ominous weight of self-deception, its intensity is immense. The force field projected from its core is pure lava spewing forth generations of agonized deception.
The force of this rage is enormous in its determination to be loosed. Once released it flees our systems in any way possible, leaving through windows and portals previously unexplored. All ways ‘out’ are sought and our beings experience a metamorphosis, not unlike the earth after an earthquake, tornado or tidal wave. There is an eradication of what was, making way for what is to be.
But the intensity of this cleansing can be personally all consuming. It can command attention constantly or at intermittent intervals. But it does demand sedulity and internal focus. Wimmin are taught to focus outward not inward and to look therein is to journey in a foreign land. It is to undertake an adventure on an unchartered course through a raging storm.
This rage is occasionally exhibited by wimmin in the justifiable homicide of men. They just get fed up, usually from some form of abuse, and release the rage from its caged jungle. Of course the patriarchy doesn’t validate these actions and so they are considered insane or incompetent. But they are really the most sane and competent among us because they have battled the demon of fear and won. For at least one moment in their lives they experienced the cleansing rage and glimpsed its healing properties. They have heard the call from beckoning shores of self-possession and her song will always wax familiar in their minds.
After the purge comes the power. The conscious sense of relief from a bottled demon leads to a path of progressive contentment. It moves us into the vast expanse of our beings and bids us build a new reality. The wreckage of the past becomes the resources for the construction of the future. Knowledge of self, universal centeredness and social responsibility replace the assenting, cajoling servant. We now become empowered, determined spirit- forces marching to a new drummer and creating the dance as we move along.
The ability to create and de-create becomes manifest and the extinction of the patriarchy a matter of course. Through just our self-creation we will render this malevolence impotent and dead. It will die from lack of nourishment for we will be feeding ourselves; an act in direct contradiction to feeding it. We will watch it crumble but only from the corner of our eyes for our full vision will be on the manifestation of our own destinies.
This balance is peace supreme. It is what many claim to seek but are really afraid to have. It is the banishment of illusions, the decision to decide, the reclamation of herstory, the presence of true love and the formation of trusting bonds. It is all power supreme, eternal, ephemeral and beautiful. At this place we will see our true potential and be that potential.
But the road to this place is long and winding. It is strewn with debris and boulders blocking the way to an enlightened destiny. Its tangled vines cast shadows of admonition and punishment but it is the real road to life.
Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Through permeation of its structural essence with courage and determination we can see, feel and live on the shores of universal balance, social consciousness and personal acceptance.