Several months ago I read The Woman Identified Woman by the Radicalesbians. You can find the complete text here. It was written in 1970 by this group Radicalesbians. We don’t know who specifically wrote it. A huge part of this is because it was a group effort. Another part was because many members of the group values their anonymity.
There has been a particular passage from this piece that has been on my mind lately and was really brought into focus when I read this article by Hugo Schwyzer. Schwyzer is talking about the need for male plus-sized models. In The Woman Identified Woman the passage I have been thinking about is this,
It should first be understood that lesbianism, like male homosexuality, is a category of behavior possible only in a sexist society characterized by rigid sex roles and dominated by male supremacy. Those sex roles dehumanize women by defining us as a supportive/serving caste in relation to the master caste of men, and emotionally cripple men by demanding that they be alienated from their own bodies and emotions in order to perform their economic/political/military functions effectively.
When we read this in class my comment was that I appreciated that the Radicalesbians had identified that these rigid sex roles hurt men too. We often talk about how harmful patriarchy is to women but not about how it is harmful to men as well. The reaction of my instructor was, in essence, why should we care about men? Why do the men always have to be included? Can’t we only talk about women for a while? Men have been dominating for hundreds of years.
I have been considering these questions for the last several months. Why do the men always have to be included? Finally I realized that the answer was actually quite simple. Men need to be included in the “women’s movement” because we are all being hurt by the same things. Patriarchy is great for the head honcho’s out there. It is basically horrible for everyone else. Women are not trying to elevate themselves at the expense of men. We are trying to be partners! But we can’t be partners if we’re not in it together from the beginning.
So, let’s stop contributing to the system that is emotionally crippling men and women. Let’s stop talking about who has it worse. We need to work together for a better world. This isn’t a pissing contest, this is a partnership.