Things I Read That I Love #218: Like Flirting With A Sad Encyclopedia.

HELLO and welcome to the 218th installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about Empty Nose Syndrome! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.

The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.

HI SORRY THIS IS LATE and maybe not my best TIRTL of all time, but I’m doing my best I promise. <3


My Year Covering Trump, by David Farenthold for The Washington Post, December 2016

This is an incredible and revelatory behind-the-scenes look at one reporter’s experience covering the Trump campaign — including Farenthold’s oft-crowdsourced investigation into Trump’s actual charitable activities (there are basically none) and the infamous pussy-grabbing video — up to the night when an entire newsroom was scrubbing paragraphs upon paragraphs about our first female president after Trump managed to win this g-ddamn election.

Harvard’s Eugenics Era, by Adam S. Cohen for Harvard Magazine, March/April 2016

Just a reminder that this period of history existed and a lot of people still think this way like… maybe the future president of the united states!

Between Loneliness and Imagination, by Harriet Alida Lye for Hazlitt, May 2016

About where we are and where we want to go.

Imagining myself out of the suburbs started with creating Barbie towns and evolved into secret clubhouses in the closet. That then turned into getting drunk in parks, watching Pulp Fiction at 13, and making out in basements. In a place where a primary evening activity for high school students is getting drive-thru Tim Hortons and sitting a parking lot, you have to learn to activate your imagination as a means of escaping a place you aren’t yet physically able to leave.

Darkness in August, by Buzz Bissinger for Vanity Fair, January 2014

Just a little murder in small-town Oklahoma for your New Year.

Monica Lewinsky: ‘The Shame Sticks To You Like Tar, by Jon Ronson for The Guardian, April 2016

You know what bless this woman for all the shit she put up with. Look at her still living and breathing and being herself and being a strong babe.

These days, she’s often approached by victims of online bullying, “when I’m on the subway, in line for coffee, at dinner parties.” Shamed people tend to seek each other out, the cure for shame being empathy. “Sometimes they’ll say, ‘I went through this, but it’s nothing like what you went through.’ But I tell them that, if I drown in 60ft of water and you drown in 30ft, we both still drowned. You either know what it’s like to be publicly shamed or you don’t.”

Is Empty Nose Syndrome Real?, by Joel Oliphint for Buzzfeed

Some patients who’ve had a certain nasal surgery are later plagued by Empty Nose Syndrome, which may or may not exist, but even if it doesn’t, it’s driving people to suicide so something is going on here. SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT.

Commodification, Objectification, and the Corporatization of Exotic Dance, by Natassja Schiel for The Los Angeles Review of Books, April 2016

A review of a book about exotic dancing which is also sort of an essay on the topic because the person who wrote this review has a lot of experience working in many different types of strip clubs, more than the author actually, and all-in-all you leave this piece with a lot of answers and also questions. Which’s the point of good writing, I’ve heard.

Hello, Dollies, by Stephen Marche for The Walrus, February 2015

This is about Maplelea Girls, which are sort of like the Canadian edition of American Girl dolls and it’s also about Canadian culture in general and consumerism and history.

The Crazy Story of the Professor Who Came to Stay—and Wouldn’t Leave, by Ian Gordon for Mother Jones, December 2016

It’s true. This is a crazy story about a professor who came to stay and wouldn’t leave, it truly is. But the craziest part is the Judith Butler cameo, honestly.

Reign, Supreme, by Kyle Chayka for Racked Magazine, July 2016

It’s the history of “streetwear” as a concept and the brands that popularized it and Supreme specifically and the way the story is arranged visually is also really neat.

The 15 Year Layover, by Michael Paterni for GQ, September 2003

This is the story that inspired a movie I have never seen called “The Terminal.” But you know what I might want to see it now!

The David Foster Wallace Disease, by Sasha Chapin for Hazlitt, December 2016

This is when I caught a kind of mental disease—call it Wallacitis: the immediate desire to make one’s work as Wallace-like as possible. This, like the simple envy of his stature, was also not a rare obsession. Later on, in university, I met a lot of classmates who suffered similarly. We were all hungry for a chunk of whatever secret mineral powered Wallace’s brain. We wanted some of that neural gasoline which lit up even the man’s minor work.

Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. And A+ members keep the majority of our site free for everyone. Still, 99.9% of our readers are not members. A+ membership starts at just $4/month. If you're able to, will you join A+ and keep Autostraddle here and working for everyone?

Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2876 articles for us.

143 Comments

  1. Your best is enough, Riese. And now that I’ve opened all of these tabs, I’m going to go to sleep so that I can work out tomorrow morning in preparation for the pole barn video. But I’m looking forward to reading about Monica, Empty Nose Syndrome (wtf?), and the professor who wouldn’t leave.

  2. “He shaved after lunch or before bed; he shaved in midconversation or while spooning a McDonald’s sundae, a McFlurry, into his mouth or in midconversation.” that kind of sums up the absurd randomness and choices of the airport man…

  3. Hey Riese how do you feel about the fact that one of your editors has compared anti-lesbophobia and the lesbians, many of whom are jewish or black or otherwise poc, who fight against lesbophobia to neo nazis?

    Is that considered acceptable? Is this a safe space for lesbians?

      • There are black lesbians calling this out on tumblr and other forums. I’m just relaying the information.

        Also Riese isn’t a lesbian. She is bisexual. And Heather Hogan literally compared lesbians, man of which ARE black or jewish fighting lesbophobia to white supremacists. As a jewish woc I want to know if this girl on girl website (which has never been a lesbian website) is still safe. Is that so wrong?

        • ??UNLESS??YOU??ARE??BLACK??STOP??SPEAKING??FOR??US!!! WE??CAN ??SPEAK??FOR??OURSELVES!!!!!!!

          also, no shade, but like, just a teeny bit of google digging like literally anything at all with the words riese autostraddle and lesbian would let you know that (spoiler alert) identities aren’t static and that your information is false but like whatever it’s new years eve i get it who wants to do research but like you really can’t just say false things as if they’re true sorry that’s now how anything works.

          • Okay, as a jewish biracial woman I am deeply troubled by white Heather Hogan’s comments that suggest lesbians fighting lesbophobia is akin to nazi ideology tactics. Unless you’re jewish you don’t get to talk down to me about this situation. You also do not speak for other black women. Maybe I should link you to theor words, as MANY are speaking up about this elsewhere.

            Riese is literally bisexual. Don’t erase her identity please.

          • i do identify as a lesbian. (thank you alaina!) i’m also Jewish, and angry, so we’ve got a lot in common already. 4/5 senior editors identify as lesbians. i’m sorry i didn’t see this thread earlier, it’s a holiday, and one i’ve actually spent most of crying because this has been the worst month of my entire fucking life.

            i talked to heather about the thread and she explained to me her point in greater detail and linked me to dickens tweets about it, too, and i get it and agree with it. so that’s how i feel about it.

            ruth’s definition below of what lesbophobia is is a definition i agree with. it’s a real thing! heather doesn’t think lesbophobia isn’t a real issue or a real thing either. we definitely don’t think everybody who brings it up is transphobic or biphobic. i definitely think lesbians are oppressed by the world at large and even within their own community. i definitely grew up with intense internalized homophobia and within my community specifically, identifying as bisexual was accepted, identifying as a lesbian was ridiculed. i know this isn’t true in most spaces, but that’s where i come from, and that’s what i bring to bear on the page.

            heather is pointing out that a lot of our enemies and a lot of TERFs have co-opted the concept of lesbophobia to push forward an agenda that hurts all of us, lesbians included. Especially those in the movement who are not anti-trans and so forth.

            also like… if you actually engage with my writing specifically you will not see lesbophobic attitudes or writing anywhere, b/c “lesbian” is my favorite word and concept in the whole damn world. but like the people making the most noise in this movement right now are saying some really fucked up shit and that’s not cool.

          • I genuinely apologise Riese, I remember when ypu identified as bisexual and was not aware that you now ID as a lesbian. My bad there.

            The fact is Riese, it’s great if she was somehow able to explain herself better in private to you. Meanwhile ahe is vocalising a very dangerous argument online, blocking several woc who called her out on twitter, and her “Dumbledores Army” is saying extremely ignorant and aggressive things to me personally.

            In her original comments she outright erased the truth of the anti lesbophobia community. Accusing the “anto lesbophobia” movement, which includes so many racial diverse and jewish lesbians (and that includes terfs. Lets not pretend that there are not terfs of colour, and that the comparison would still be racist and erasive even if soley aimed at them) of acting like the “alt right” ( aka : white supremacist men and nazis). She outright said that lesbians hold privilege i queer circles.

            And many lesbians have noticed this and are furious. Surely you can understand why.

            You also must have seen the encouraged unsolicited flirting and trolling, the antisemitism, and the general mistreatment and dismissal of woc in this comment thread. Are you just going to gloss over that? For the love of g-d, somebody claimed that being called a nazi is “too honourable”. Is this what your community is like normally?

            What would ypu say to the hundreds of lesbians who are horrified with the implications of Heather’s words?

          • The fact remains, if you believe the people who ate making the most noise a out lesbophobia are terfs, then that’s ignorance on yoir part. If you were part of the wider part of the lesbian community, particularly the part dominated by woc, you would not say that.

            It’s very easy to say you only hear one voice when you ignore everything else.

            Also, this may be controversial, but even terfs an be victims of lesbophobia. An anti feminist woman can still be a victim of sexism, and no, it’s not always false flagging either.

            Black, jewish and other ethnically diverse and oppressed terfs exist. To compare them to the men who are revitalising fascism is still deeply problematic. A black lesbian terf might be transphobic and biphobic, but that does not mean she is in any way comparable to the white men who wish to see her lynched.

            Can we please stop erasing women of colour please?

    • If you actually read the tweets you’d see that heather was saying that transmisogynists and biphobes are using the same tactics as the alt right. It wasn’t an attack on lesbians and to claim so is to deliberately misread it. If you don’t want to be compared to the alt-right stop espousing their same beliefs and using their same tactics. Sorrynotsorry

      • She wrote, and I quote “the lesbophobia movement”

        There ia so much more to the anti-lesbophobia movement than terfs and biphobes. To generalisation is incredibly lesbophobic.

        And now you’re comparing me, a newish biracial woman, to the alt-right : aka, nazis and white suremacists.

        Classy.

        • i’m gonna stop speaking for riese, but she’s literally not a bisexual lmao but it’s fine. also, please link me to their words. because i’ve heard “black lesbians are upset” so often and yet no receipts!!! so please! BRING THEM TO ME. and me and other black people can talk about this without you. also, you get more and more “of color” each comment you make and like, it seems fishy.

          also, heather is speaking to a very specific subset of transphobic biphobic lesbians and if that’s who you want to associate yourself with, then go right ahead.

          ALSO i’m done because its new year’s eve and i gotta make greens and black eyed peas to bring in the new year prosperously, not fight on the internet with someone who won’t even make an account so that there’s a way folks can try and have these conversations outside of a public forum not even meant for this conversation.

          you just want to make people feel bad and there is no room for that here and i won’t let you do it.

          • I’m on mobile. You have access to google. Use it. Go on tumblr and search Heather Hogan.

            I am Jewish and biracial. My father is arab, my mother is Jewish. I am honestly disgusted I even have to state that. Apparently my word is not enough. Apparently disagreeing with you makes me a white liar. Again, classy.

            She generalised the entire anti lesbophobia movement. That cannot be denied. Of she didn’t want people to accuse her generalisation she would also mention that the vast majority of lesbians who fight lesbophobia are not terfs, nor are they on cahoots with the alt right.

            It’s not my fault you hear “lesbophobia is bad” and hear “hi I’m a transmisognist nazi biphobe”

        • The “lesbiphobia movement” is not at all the same thing as “lesbians.” It’s a movement built on transmisogyny, biphobia and racism. Saying not everyone is those things is like saying not all trump voters are racists. More than enough are and the overall movement is.

          And I compared ppl who share nazi beliefs to nazis, you’re the one who said you belong in that category ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • Way to jump through hoops!

            The lesbophobia movement (which, btw, isn’t what it’s called. It’s the anti-lesbophobia movement)is a community of lesbians fighting against discrimination against lesbians. Many are woc, trans women, and anti terf. But hey, wjy acknowledge that when white woman Heather Hogan is on the case?

            Oh, and good attempt at gaslighing too at the end there. I’m sure all the les ians threatening boycott are going to find your nonchalance delightful

          • Joanna, I’m not a troll.

            Mavi, ypu can upgrade and donate all you like. The lesbophobia of this website has still pissed off over at least 500 lesbians who will not spend a penny on the website. When things are already precarious, this sort of behaviour from one of your lead editors is suicide.

            Donna, why should I feel bad that a website that discriminates against lesbians is going to die out?

            The best thing about all this is that it’s same people in the comments liking each others posts over and over. Maybe I should stay, diversify the place. :)

            And no, I’m not the nasty one here. The people accsuonh accusing me of being secretly white, being aggressive from the get go, and trying to out snark eachother in the cringiest way possible are the ones being nasty.

            Tell me, exactly, why being a lesbian who calls out lesbophobia is such a terrible thing? Why is the concept of lesbophobia so controversial? Do you really believe the only people who care about lesbophobia are terfs?

    • This is why we can’t have nice things. I am tired of watching lesbians on the internet be accusatory, think the worst of each other, and even threaten people, sometimes in the name of safe space. (And yes, I know that lesbians are not the only sexual/gender minority guilty of this). As a lesbian I am here to tell you that you don’t speak for me in this alleged crusade against lesbophobia.

      I haven’t always agreed with Heather Hogan’s politics or analysis, but I respect her, and when I disagree, I aim to be proportional instead of demonizing her or accusing her of harming a group she is a part of. She is a kind-hearted and thoughtful person who clearly doesn’t aim to make any space unsafe for anyone. I would beg you to ask yourself; what does it accomplish to accuse her of bad faith? Why do we have to be so fucking mean to each other in the name of ‘safety’?

      • Holy shit lmao.

        Whp are your real enemies? Yoir failing article hits? Your lack of advertisiers? The fact you’re looking at a mass lesbian boycott when this website is already on the ropes?

        • Since when is it a good idea to cruelly mock LBTQ sites and spaces for their lack of advertisers and financial struggles? Were you first in line to make fun of AfterEllen’s decline? Or all the lesbian bars that have closed down over the past decade? What a way to protect lesbian community. I think it’s worth noting that many people at this site did not gleefully celebrate the end of MichFest, we were sad that it closed instead of learning to include ALL women and genderqueer folks. What do you get out of making fun of this queer institution’ financial difficulties? How does that serve lesbians? How on earth do you have any business policing Alaina’s language about Riese when you’re shitting all over the site she founded and her colleagues?

          Also, it is SO OBVIOUS that people at Autostraddle know the difference between TERFS and other non-TERF cis lesbians, and do not conflate the two. This is not an unsafe space for lesbians, period. Just because Autostraddle doesn’t privilege lesbians above bi and other queer women doesn’t mean that we are marginalized. So I’ll ask you again, what are you getting out of this?

          • I feel no sympathy for a website that supports lesbophobia under the guise of queer activism. The fact is one of the main editors of this website has deeply hurt hundreds of lesbians, and people’s response? To be horribly rude, accuse me of lying about my race, and poo poo the amount of pain Heather has caused.

            It’s not transmisogyny to talk about about lesbophobia.

            Until you recognise that fact, this place will NEVER be safe for lesbians.

            Which is why so many lesbians have left the site and this place is dying. And this might have been the final blow.

          • I will renew, upgrade, AND gift a membership (for content that I don’t even read that much, because I am here as often as I am on tumblr) just to keep reading AJL’s weak arguments that include vast generalizations and statistics, many of which most likely do not exist (yes, I searched tumbler for “heather hogan” as instructed, found nothing to support AJL’s claims) about ALL TUMBLR LESBIANS OF COLOR (except me) and their plans for the destruction of this site.

            I shouldn’t be enjoying this; I know that, but you see, I’m the right kind of lesbian with all kinds of power (2 Twitter followers, one is my other account). I watched AJL complain about feeling the pressure us “good lesbians” exert to get other women to conform, and then turn around and make fun of a Harry Potter analogy as being “passé.” I mean, hypocritical much? That said, I have never watched a Harry Potter movie or read any of the books. But I am still the right kind of lesbian; because I said so. You would be the right kind of lesbian, too. You just have to believe it as much as you believe everything else you say. But that’s a whole other thread.

            Please, please, please stay, AJL!!!

          • You haven’t addressed my point about the cruelty of mocking struggling lesbian/queer institutions, because you can’t, because I’m guessing that you recognize on some level that it was indefensible. The irony is that A+ subscriptions have surged in 2016, suggesting that Autostraddle is a lot more secure than it has been in the past. So much for the ‘final blow’.

            You are choosing to believe that when Hogan referred to a particular subset of lesbian-identified TERFs, who harass trans people and exclude them from lesbian spaces, she meant all lesbians. I reviewed her comments and I don’t feel targeted by them as a lesbian; your analysis stands out to me as a deliberate misreading. You are choosing to interpret a harmless statement as being harmful to you. I think your pain is real, and I think it comes from elsewhere. I would say the same thing to a trans or bi or queer-identified person making similarly unfounded accusations. Feeling hurt does not justify the nastiness of your comments.

            You can say that this place isn’t safe for you, but you can’t say it isn’t safe for lesbians in general. You don’t speak for all lesbians anymore than Autostraddle does (and they’ve never claimed to speak for us all, as you are doing now).

          • Broad unfounded generalizations, false statistics, hypocrisy, and poor listening skills are your thing; being creepy is mine. We all have a unique skill-set that we bring to the queer community; I think it makes us more attractive.

            Also, I can be whatever the fuck I want. So can you. The only difference between us is that I own my words, my actions and your perceptions of them. You keep speaking for these 500 lesbians on tumblr like it isn’t something that can and should be questioned. While I don’t deny you speak for many, I truly doubt that you speak for all, and yet, you keep saying “all” as if that should be taken without question. I am creepy. I am petty. I am kind of an asshole, too, but I am speaking only for me on a site that I rarely visit, rarely comment on, and have no true connection to other than buying the cheapest membership last year just so I could get a free sticker. Oh, and like you may have noticed, I ramble on because I like the sound of my inner monlogue. So do you, otherwise you would have left by now. That crush is full-blown love now. Lucky for you, I’m single ;)

          • Mavi I have already said you are being creepy. Please stop. Unsolicited flirting, even when you’re being sarcastic, is very triggering. You have followed me around from comment section to comment section and it makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t care if you’re single please leave me alone and stop flirting with me.

          • You’ve accused someone of hurting “hundreds of lesbians,” though seem only to be able to produce one, accused this website of being discriminatory towards lesbians, although, let’s be real, that’s not the case. If anything, they are doing the critical yet difficult job of being ultra-inclusive. I can’t imagine how they manage considering they seem to be on the brink of destruction.

            I don’t deny that my sarcastic comments may, in fact, be triggering. You came here with a lot of pain that you chose to publicly inflict on other people, demanding an apology for perceived wrongs to hundreds of lesbians, but you can’t dictate terms on shared forums. My “flirtations” aren’t intended to be anything more than humorously offensive. However, you say you feel “triggered, ” and I take responsibility for the actions which appear to have caused you distress and will stop those kinds of jokes. That said, you’re fucking trolling a site, jumping to different threads saying the same three things that stopped making sense when you gave fake data and deliberately misinterpreted uncontextualized quotes, and you are demanding that I stay on my side of the room? No.

            My jokes are in poor taste but don’t act like I threatened you. You are safe behind the anonymity of your screen name, and I am not creepily following you in a public space. Take responsibility for yourself, and I will do the same. You complain about being blocked, but aren’t you doing that now? Who is gas-lighting now? Although, to be honest, I doubt either one of us used that term correctly.

          • I never claimed you threatened me, Mavi. And I’m not trolling for the last time! Now leave me alone, you make me very uncomfortable.
            How many times do I have to ask you to stop?

          • Ask as many times as you like; I don’t have to leave because this is the internet, it belongs to everyone, and I am trolling you. You did say I was grasping at straws and looking desperate; did you expect anything else?

    • I see people saying not to speak for Black lesbians, so as a Black lesbian I’ll speak for myself and say that I feel the same way as Angry Jewish Lesbian. Seeing myself and other non-white lesbians either talked down to or outright blocked for expressing our disapproval was kind of unreal. At one point Heather claimed to understand racism. How well do you understand racism when your response to women of color is basically to tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about?

      • Sorry Raina, but if I were you you I would not expect a response to your comment from any of the people who argued with me yesterday. The fact that other woc are not coming forward and speaking out about this makes it a little more difficult to sweep this under the carpet.

        Also can I just say that I am appalled that somebody can admit that they were trolling and flirting with someone who repeatedly asked them to stop can end up with several “thumbs up” if the person on the other end of the harassment has an opinion that doesn’t toe the line?

        This place is unsafe if harassment is encouraged.

        • I don’t expect a reply. It was the same situation when I made my feelings known on twitter. Heather engaged with another woman of color by arguing with her disrespectfully. And when I spoke up, mentioning that I was a Black lesbian, I was immediately blocked, no attempt to engage. Heather was right when she claimed to understand white supremacy; she understands how to maintain it.

          • I’m so sorry. I know it might no mean much, but there are at least other woc who hear your words.

            It’s all well and good for white people to play “antifascist” and compare everything they don’t like to nazism when they get to still ignore woc at the same time.

    • yeah having read this whole thread I am going to chime in with a “what the fuck” at autostraddle staff here, too

      like if the first time heather hogan comes across the word “lesbophobia” is on r/GenderCritical (which is an anti-trans subreddit) that’s on her for being ill-informed, not for her to then just declare that anyone who acknowledges lesbophobia is a thing (in the same way biphobia is a thing) is equally as reddit-y terf-y (and even then I am loathe to compare terfs to *nazis*, nazi means something other than “ideology I don’t like” for christ’s sake)

      other staff writers piling in to compare you, a jewish lesbian, to a *nazi* and doubling down on that comparison is fucked up beyond belief, and I am disturbed by how many thumbs ups from readers the replies to you are getting that are flirting with you, even after you’ve pointed out that it’s discomfiting and triggering

      I wanted to wait and see how the AS staff responded to this whole affair because I know one editor is not representative of the website as a whole, but if this is the stance they’re taking: nah, I’m out.

      • also I realise now that someone is probably going to take from this that I *am* a terf or align with them and I don’t. I just find it disturbing how much we’re willing to throw people under the bus by comparing them to nazis, when we will turn around and struggle to do so with *actual* nazis.

        • Exactly Ruth! It’s just another example of Heather Hogan’s white privilege and ignorance that she thinks one subreddit (that is not even a lesbian subreddit!!) is proof that “the lesbophobia movement” is some sort of unholy alliance, and that lesbians who stand up to discrimination are akin to nazi men who hold privilege in queer circles and false flag whenever they bring up lesbophobia.

          This is outright erasive and can easy lead to silencing oppressed people from speaking out. How can anybody say this space is safe for lesbians if we can’t even talk about the existence of discrimination against us without people ready to pounce and accuse us of being “racist nazi terf that should rot”.

          It’s very easy to throw around nazi and white supremacy comparisons when you are not a minority that has been through the horrors of a mass genocide, isn’t it?

      • If I whinny like a horse does that make me a horse?
        No it doesn’t.
        If someone says you sound like horse are they calling me a horse? No they’re not

        If someone uses the same tactics as the white nationalists does that mean they’re a white nationalists?
        Nope.
        If someone is noted as using the same tactics white nationalists do are they being called a white nationalist? No they are not.

        Rhetorical style =/= personal beliefs.

        I’m not going to bother with this any further because this can’t be simplified any further.

        And to nit pickers I prefer to use the term white nationalist b/c calling them nazis makes them feel honored and there ain’t nothing honorable about hate, violence, 21st century people trying to make our inbred species more inbred b/c they’re idiots who think phenotype is differentiation enough to divide us up into a genuses.

        • “We’re not saying you ARE a nazi, you just act like one!”

          Dp you even hear yourself. Can y’all stop insinuating lesbians act like Nazis when they talk about lesbophobia? No matter how you try and twist iy, that is still the conclusion.

          It’s not lesbians who figh against lesbophobia’s fault if Heather is so white and ignorant she is willling to throw us under the bus because she once visited a terf (not even a lesbian one) reddit page.

          And also since when the fuck is being a nazi something honourable????? Do you even hear yourself????

          Watch as all the white/non jewish autostraddle crowd thumb up your post bcause they just love seeing an uppity jewish lesbian being taken down a notch.

      • Hi Ruth,
        If you’re interested, I would like to chat about this issue in good faith. Could you direct me toward some sites/groups that organize around the term lesbophobia that aren’t transphobic/biphobic?
        We are obviously marginalized in mainstream gay organizing but I’ve never heard anyone I know use lesbophobia to talk about that. Every time I have heard the term, (classic examples being AfterEllen and my local pride) it’s been used by people making transphobic/biphobic arguments. Having been accused of lesbophobia (so basically oppressing myself) by TERFs at Pride, I have a viscerally negative response to it.
        What does the term mean to you?

        • Unfortunately I have already spoken to Ruth and she has told me that what she has read in this thread has greatly disturbed her and she won’t be back.

          The truth is, the fact you are admittedly so ignorant to what lesbians are trying to do to fight lesbophobia, yet you were so willing to jump on the bandwagon of shoving other lesbians under the bus, is proof that the issue isn’t that lesbians allegedly act like “inbred white supremacists because there is too much honor in being a nazi”. The issue is whiteness, erasure, and disdain for les ians who fight back.

          You will talk to Ruth,a white woman about this, over a jewish biracial woman that you were previously mocking. When I was being sexually harassed, you didn’t say a peep, but suddenly a white woman shows her concern and suddenly you care. That says it all, really.

          • I 100% did not see this at the time of writing my reply, nor did I see that the person I had replied to had been mocking you above at the time. If I had, I would not have been so welcoming in my response to them (if at all) – my intention here wasn’t to be the Friendly White Ally that speaks over other people or anything like that, and I fucked up.

          • I didn’t know Ruth was white; I specifically chose to respond to her point about being aligned with TERFs because I am open to other points of view when they’re presented in good faith. If one of your friends who hasn’t dug a hole for herself by being a jerk wants to have a conversation, I am open to it. I haven’t been unfair to you or mocked you. If you’d made a real argument, you and I might have had a real conversation. You are welcome to project onto me as if I have opposed your nasty conduct because you’re Jewish and biracial, but I think you know it’s b.s. When you attack a website as being unsafe for lesbians, don’t be surprised when another lesbian pops up to protest your claim to speak for her.

            I would be happy to have a non-hostile conversation about whether or not there are non-transphobic people who organize around the term ‘lesbophobia’ with anyone who doesn’t want to project onto me or gleefully celebrate the hypothetical demise of Autostraddle. It does seem extraordinarily disingenuous for anyone who does find value in the term to ignore the fact that it is associated with TERFs and biphobic people for a reason.

          • You might not have known Ruth was white, but you were outright towards the explicitely jewish, and you ignored the black woman in this conversation completely.

            My initial comment, about feeling unsafe, was also in good faith, yet from that I have had people accuse me of secretly being white, be overtly ride to me, imply that I am acting like an inbred white supremacist, imply nazis are “too honourable” to be compared to, and sexually harassed. From my very first post I have been treated horribly.

            The fact is, you have ignored the racism, antisemitism and boundary pushing in this thread, yet you still continue to present me as some unjustly mean troll.

            Why would I be supportive of a website that is dominated by the white privileged who don’t even consider lesbophobia to be a real phenomenon?

            Why did you ignore Raona completely?

          • I am blown away by the rhetorical dishonesty being displayed here. This is some Fox news level distortion.
            Instead of sending a good faith email to Riese or Heather, VAJL showed up in a random TIRTIL column and accused AS of being unsafe for ALL lesbians, declared that she was gleeful about the site’s financial problems and failed to respond to points raised by Alaina and Mey while claiming that I deliberately ignored WOC. She has continued to cynically overstate harm, assume the worst of every single person who disagrees, and so forth. Disagreement is not mockery. Saying ‘you don’t speak for me when you make generalizations about lesbians’ isn’t mockery. Pointing out the cruelty of mocking the hypothetical closure of Autostraddle is not mockery. And yes, I would say this about VAJL regardless of her identity, because her behaviour would not be any more acceptable if it came from a bi or trans person of any racialized identity. You do not get to shield yourself from critiques of your behaviour just because of your identity. I don’t get to be an asshole to men or straight people or non-disabled people because I am losing an argument and cry ‘misogyny’, ‘homophobia’ or ‘ableism’ when they take issue with that.

            I already explained that I couldn’t speak to Raina’s point and that I upvoted her so she wouldn’t feel like no one valued her contribution. I often do that with points that are unpopular that I believe to be fair, so that people will feel heard. I asked you, Ruth, for a source, because unlike your friend, I ACTUALLY wanted to hear out the opposing side re: lesbophobia. As stated, I didn’t know your racial identity, only that you hadn’t mocked Riese’s financial struggles with the site. This notion that I ‘picked the good white person’ to talk to is a complete fiction. Other POC and Jewish people HAVE notably disagreed with VAJL as well, how exactly do they fit into this narrative? For my part I spent time looking at that tumblr, approached it with an open mind, and tried to look for points of agreement. If I was only interested in mocking Heather’s critics, or people who use the term ‘lesbophobia’, I wouldn’t have done that.
            I have reviewed Mavi’s comments and I agree that trolling someone else by creepy flirting is a shitty thing to do that I would never do myself, AND YET it’s also plain to see that VAJL was hostile to Alaina, Mey, and me PRIOR to those comments from Mavi. I also find it curious that none of you who claim to want to protect lesbian safe space and fight lesbophobia have anything to say about VAJL lecturing Alaina about Riese’s self-identification, her repeatedly wishing financial ruin on a fellow lesbian and her site, or other comments accusing others of lying about their lesbianism etc.

        • As a good faith response:

          “Lesbophobia” to me means the specific interaction of homophobia in the way that it affects lesbians, in the same way that we have “biphobia” to refer to the specific interaction of homophobia in the way that it affects bisexuals.

          Bisexuals will face biphobia in the form of media reporting them as gay or straight depending on their current partners (and as “switching teams”), specific media tropes with depravity/promiscuity, stereotyping, and risk of biphobic abuse from different-gender partners (eg. Johnny Depp’s treatment of Amber Heard), etc.

          Lesbians will face lesbophobia in the form of media reporting about how lesbianism is “narrow minded”, telling us our sexuality is (or should be) fluid, talking about “monosexual privilege” as if lesbians and straight people somehow *share* privilege over bisexual people, and specific media tropes about being man hating/ugly/obsessive, “hearts not parts” rhetoric suggesting that we’re somehow less into “hearts”, and the risk of corrective rape.

          It’s not a word to imply that bisexuals have privilege *over* us, or in turn that we have privilege *over* bisexuals, but to describe our different experiences, alongside our shared experiences of homophobia. (And in no way do I claim my lists above of lesbophobic and biphobic experiences are exhaustive, just examples.)

          I’m not afilliated with any movement or organisation *about* lesbophobia, but more that it’s something we need to be aware of in our communities and our media – as we do with biphobia and transphobia also.

          Liberal-lesbophobia on tumblr is a website that does not align with terfs (and blocks them on interaction) if you want to see better examples of what I’m speaking about.

          • Hi Ruth, Thanks for returning. I appreciate the reply.

            First I will speak to the issue of Raina’s comment: I didn’t respond because she was specifically talking about a discussion with Heather about race that I didn’t actually see. (I’ve looked on Heather’s twitter for the original comment about the alt-right but didn’t find the discussion Raina refers to). I did upvote Raina’s comment. I do not assume that Heather has perfect race politics, but I would also invite you to review Alaina and Mey’s earlier comments in the thread. AJL has constructed a narrative that she has been oppressed and marginalized on the basis of race; this conveniently ignores Alaina and Mey’s contributions and assigns to me a level of malice that is ludicrous. I did try engaging with her and she proved to be unwilling to answer any of my points. We aren’t face to face, I didn’t respond to you because you were white (I didn’t know) but because you made a point about TERFS that I wanted to follow up on.

            Thanks for the link to that tumblr. I’ve looked through a fair amount of it and the following sentence is enough to convince me that it isn’t run by a TERF: “I want this to be a space for all lesbians, including trans lesbians, tho I know unfortunately ‘liberal’ lesbophobia attracts a certain crowd.”

            I agree with many points regarding the frustrating and exclusive notions that lesbians aren’t as evolved as queer/bi/pan people, that sexual fluidity is compulsory, and that many critiques of masculine privilege have a tendency to make sketchy assumptions about all butch/moc folks.

            And at the same time, I also think that statements like “I experience just as much misogyny as any feminine cis woman, *if not more*” fall under the same pointless category of ‘let’s argue over who’s more oppressed’ that I am sick and tired of encountering among GLBTQIA people. How exactly does the notion that femmephobia is a myth serve any of us, or undermine discrimination against butch/moc lesbians? And further, how fair is it to expect others to acknowledge lesbophobia while dismissing femmephobia? (I don’t expect you to answer these questions unless you’re actually the author of the blog.) I can see how, in collecting all of those articles, there comes across a pattern that lesbians, particularly butches, have been assigned a kind of monopoly on bad behaviour. I’ve totally found that frustrating, but while I certainly wouldn’t equate that tumblr with TERFs, I also find that the author makes arguments that are just as sketchy as the ones they’re critiquing.

            To return to the point of Heather’s reference to TERFS though, let’s assume that we agree that lesbians do experience systemic discrimination that needs its own name apart from homophobia (I do think my definition would differ from yours if it’s in line with that tumblr). I wonder what you think of the fact that TERFs do organize using the term ‘lesbophobia’, and that many lesbians don’t want to use it for that reason. To me the term is poisoned, honestly. I realize that regionalism plays a part in different terms having different meanings for people, but Heather’s examples of the reddit and the Feminist Current article resonate with EVERY other instance I have come across the term lesbophobia in the last 20 years in Canada, where I’ve lived in several cities.
            I’m also wondering if you truly believe that Heather was talking about anyone other than TERFs when she made the alt-right comparison using specific examples. Do you honestly think that she was saying ‘lesbians who oppose corrective rape are Nazis’? To me that is a deliberate misreading that ignores the reality she is talking about and it derails the greater conversation about TERFs. TERFs bully and dox trans teenagers online, out trans people in their schools and workplaces, put trans people in physical danger, and do other things that right wingers do. They do these things often in the name of protecting lesbian space, as demonstrated in the Feminist Current article.

        • I’d also like to note that AJL was not incorrect in saying we’d spoken and she is not saying anything untrue – I did indeed say I was too disturbed and wouldn’t be back. I chose to reply here due to a shared good faith gesture just now (and was typing this up before she commented, or I would have ackowledged her in my reply), but I do entirely also stand by AJL’s criticisms of the only person being politely engaged with here about this being a white gentile, and her other criticisms of how this conversation has been going across the board.

          • Thank you again Ruth.

            Something else I have to note is the fact that nobody has even acknowledged Raina, a black woman, in this conversation.

            So to reiterate: when a jewish woman mentions that something a white woman has said something that deeply troubles her, y’all mock amd harass.

            When a black woman speaks up, y’all flat out ignore her.

            When a white woman (no disrespect to Ruth at all) speaks up, suddenly you shift gear and open up to actually talking about what has happened.

            Meanwhile the silent majority continue to thumb up posts where people say things like “being called a nazi is too honourable” and “yes I know I am making you uncomfortable with my flirting, I am trolling you”.

          • That’s because you’re a troll. There’s an insight from a queer Jewish woman for ya. ;)

            Lesbophobia doesn’t exist. It’s a myth to perpetuate discrimination and bigotry. Most people know this. Glad to see you’re going to troll in the new year though! :D

          • A halfway close to accurate, yet still skewed to make someone appear victimized, protrayal of a “quote” is what will have to pass as improvement this year over last. Welcome to 2017!

            Side note: if you “thumbs up” this post, you are probably white because apparently this Mexican is HUGE with them…and maybe a racist asshole. Hey, I don’t make the rules here, I just make the tasteless, harrassing, yet not threatening (paraphrasing AJL there), jokes. All 5 of you really need to stop.

  4. this is the greatest paragraph i have ever read in my life: “Abel’s colleagues at UC-Berkeley, on the other hand, weren’t shy about getting involved. She had seen that Peritz had a copy of a book by political scientist Wendy Brown; figuring that he might admire Brown’s work, Abel asked her and her longtime partner, renowned gender theorist Judith Butler, if they’d mind contacting him. They agreed.”

    thank you for giving me this.

    • WAIT I SPOKE TOO SOON:

      Butler sent Peritz two epic, eviscerating emails. The first began, “I have recently become aware of your scurrilous behavior—effectively squatting in the home of my colleague, Elizabeth Abel. If you are not out of that apartment within five days time, I will write to every colleague in your field explaining the horrible scam you have committed.” The second, written less than a week later, bore the subject line “your miscalculation” and included this withering coup de grâce:

      …please accept the fact that you have painted yourself into a corner, and that you have to leave promptly, and with an apology and a payment plan, in order to avoid any further destruction to your professional and personal world. Your itinerary of self-destruction is a stellar one.

      Brown’s email was equally harsh. “It’s past time for you to leave. And in case you are wondering whether there are any future possibilities of teaching at Berkeley, the answer is an emphatic no,” she wrote. “The game is up.”

  5. I appreciate that Riese believes that lesbophobia is a real thing and the only problem is that TERFS and Biphobes use the word to justify their prejudices, but acting like Heather Hogan understood that at the time of her twitter rant and was only trying to make that same point is blatantly untrue considering she repeatedly argued that the “my experinece with is has been nearly universally TERFs and white dudes”.

    Heather Hogan was clearly ignorant of its long and diverse usage and due to her presumptuousness hurt the many lesbians who do use it and use it with good intentions by comparing all those who use it to neo-nazis.

    Nowhere in her twitter thread did she make clear that she believed that lesbians experience unique prejudice and instead spent the majority of the time arguing that lesbians hold a universal position of power over other queer women and “the lesbophobia movement” is acting in the interest of ALL lesbians by upholding that power in her comparison to the alt-right (which acts to uphold the power of all white, christian, straight men)

    It was a bad and damaging analogy regardless of her intentions and she has not formally apologized and this site has not formally taken responsibility for the ill-thought and badly-informed actions of a senior editor, only made excused based on clarifications made in private that should have been made very public and highlighted as such.

  6. Okay so now people are saying that “lesbophobia is a myth perpetuated by biphobic bigots”. Riese, surely now you should realise you need to make a public statement about this? Not just to explain and try and undo the damage Heather Hogan’s words have done to lesbians, but to also call out your readers who ARE, infact, perpetuating actual lesbophobia in comments.

    And that’s not even mentioning the erasure of black voices, the glorification of nazism (I still can’t get over that), and the actual harassment.

    As a fellow jewish lesbian, surely you must realise how off putting this all is?

    • Good god, I was sorta hoping this nonsense thread would die. Yet here you are, three days later, still going. I was going to stay away from this dumpster fire. I honestly was. But you have said something that touches on the crux of the matter for me, and I have found it so deeply disturbing that I am compelled to respond.

      “As a fellow jewish lesbian, surely you must realise how off putting this all is?”

      Let’s run that through the patented Kat Translator and then we get:

      “As a fellow jewish lesbian, surely you must agree with me?”

      This ideology is the cancer that will kill all movements for social change and human progress if we aren’t careful. “You check off the same boxes as me…therefore you must think like me, and if you don’t, you are wrong and must be ostracized/punished.” The flip side of this is the ever-insidious, “You are a different gender/race/ethnicity/native-language-speaker than me…therefore you and I cannot possibly have any common ideas or experiences.” Do you want to destroy human empathy? Because that’s how you destroy human empathy.

      This entire thread, you have wrapped yourself in your Jewishness and your biracial identity and demanded that your opinions be privileged (yes, I’ll use the word) over others because of that. I know this is not going to be a popular opinion here on AS with any of the parties to this dispute, but I don’t care. It needs to be said. I do not give a good god damn what race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or cis/trans identity you claim. WHO YOU ARE is not relevant to this discussion. WHAT YOU SAY is what matters, and we all need to spend a lot more time focusing on the CONTENT of these discussions, rather than how much privilege the poster does or doesn’t have. Otherwise, we get people like you showing up saying “well all the black lesbians I know said this”, as if all black lesbians think the same way (or should, otherwise you get to question their identity). Don’t you see how toxic that mentality is? No, of course you don’t, because you’re too busy policing group boundaries and trying to enforce ideological conformity. You went after another poster on here for supposedly ignoring a black poster who agreed with you (because yes, that is the only possible reason the thread developed in that way, no other is possible, we get it), yet you completely brushed Alaina off when she told you more than once not to presume to speak for her. Who’s ignoring voices of color now?

      I shouldn’t even have to do this, because as I just said, it’s not relevant, but fine, I’ll bite, since this is the only language you seem to understand. I’m Jewish, like family-had-to-run-its-ass-over-to-the-US-to-not-be-murdered-and-some-of-us-didn’t-make-it Jewish. And I’m not the least bit disturbed by any of the comparisons being made by Heather or the other posters in this thread, even if they may have been a bit over the top (though in light of Heather’s more recent post, maybe they were more spot-on than I gave them credit for). Not even the one post that has you freaking out. You want to know why? Because you clearly misunderstood it. Only someone with your apparently terrible reading comprehension could believe that the poster was trying to say Nazis were in any way honorable. That’s pretty much the opposite of what she said. If you took the time to read it more carefully, maybe you’d see that, but of course, you won’t.

      And finally, I have to ask, do you even Jew, girlfriend? Because you should know that if you ask three different Jews about something, you’ll get ten different opinions. ;) Humorous invocation of mild ethnic stereotypes aside, if nothing else I’ve said stays with you at all (and it probably won’t), please think about this. Why would you possibly believe that all women, all lesbians, all people of color should agree? We are all different. We are ALL different, we will see the world differently, we will reason well at times and poorly at times, we will get upset, we will get angry, and we will do the best that we goddamn can to get by given that reality. So check up and quit trying to predict how people will or should think based on those identity boxes, k?

      No Love,
      Your Jewish sister (although since I touch a man on the daily I’m sure I’m Ruined Forever in your eyes)

      • “Yet here you are, three days later, still going. ”

        People respond to me saying awful, hateful things. I reply back. It takes mere minutes out of my day.

        “This ideology is the cancer that will kill all movements for social change and human progress if we aren’t careful.You check off the same boxes as me…therefore you must think like me, and if you don’t, you are wrong and must be ostracized/punished.” The flip side of this is the ever-insidious, “You are a different gender/race/ethnicity/native-language-speaker than me…therefore you and I cannot possibly have any common ideas or experiences.” Do you want to destroy human empathy? Because that’s how you destroy human empathy.”

        It’s interesting you write something like this, on a website like Autostraddle, where if you disagree you must be a special needs, white inbred (not an honourable nazi) alt right terf. P.s: Lesbophobia is a bigoted myth.

        The “destroying human empathy” bit was a little melodramatic in my opinion.

        “you have wrapped yourself in your Jewishness and your biracial identity ”

        Gotta stay warm in the winter somehow.

        “I do not give a good god damn what race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or cis/trans identity you claim. WHO YOU ARE is not relevant to this discussion.”

        Eminem said it first.

        “You went after another poster on here for supposedly ignoring a black poster”

        Correction: I’m coming after all of you for continuing to ignore her. It’s a conversation thread, not a maze. Don’t act stupid.

        “(because yes, that is the only possible reason the thread developed in that way, no other is possible, we get it)”

        Heather blocking all those black women on twitter was purely coincidental too, I suppose.

        “you completely brushed Alaina off when she told you more than once not to presume to speak for her.”

        At least I acknowledged her existence, which is more than any of you have done for Raina. Isn’t it interesting that when I was bringing up the fact that black women have been trying to call out Heather (which is fact), you told me not to speak for black women, but when a black woman actually detailed the way Heather treated her, you completely ignore her.

        “Who’s ignoring voices of color now?”

        Still Heather.

        “I’m Jewish, like family-had-to-run-its-ass-over-to-the-US-to-not-be-murdered-and-some-of-us-didn’t-make-it Jewish.”

        Cool. I’m still-living-in-europe-where-antisemitism-is-on-the-rise-at-an-alarming-rate-and-i-don’t-have’the-privilege-to-escape jewish. You’re more than welcome to be okay with Heather’s words, but I’m not. I am not okay with these sort of comparisons that make light of the jewish struggle. AT the end of the day, we should prioritise when oppressed people feel uncomfortable by the actions of their oppressor, rather than the oppressed that are okay with. Some women can be “okay” with sexist comments, does that mean that those sexist comments are no longer sexist?

        “Because you clearly misunderstood it. Only someone with your apparently terrible reading comprehension”

        I’m an inbred white supremacist who didn’t get to go to special education classes. Weren’t you paying attention? Lex has already written up my biography for you to explain away why I don’t have time for white nonsense navel gazing.

        “Why would you possibly believe that all women, all lesbians, all people of color should agree?”

        I never said that.

        “Your Jewish sister (although since I touch a man on the daily I’m sure I’m Ruined Forever in your eyes)”

        Way to assume I hate bisexuals just because you consider me an uppity lesbian who needs to stfu about things that upset her.

        But thanks for the random asinine tidbit at the end though.

        Here, let me try it too.

        My favourite colour is yellow.

  7. Lesbophobia is real. It’s the prejudice, bigotry, and oppression that exists at the intersection of homophobia and misogyny. Let me say it again: Lesbophobia is real. Hate for lesbians is real.

    However, it is essential to acknowledge and understand that the term lesbophobia has been co-opted by a loud and growing contingent of LGBTQ women in communities that share troubling ties and ideology with factions that exist inside the alt-right movement — worse, the dangerous dogma that’s attaching itself to word the lesbophobia has found a new home at AfterEllen.

    I first encountered the word lesbophobia in response to the post I wrote called Queer Women Take Over The 2016 Emmys. Her Story got a revolutionary nod for Outstanding Short Form. Kate McKinnon took home a trophy for Saturday Night Live. Sarah Paulson won for The People vs. O.J. Simpson. And Jill Soloway scored another victory for Transparent. On social media there was a small outcry that I hadn’t chosen the headline “Lesbians Take Over the 2016 Emmys,” despite the fact that Kate McKinnon was the only winner who explicitly identifies as a lesbian. (In fact, Sarah Paulson is on record saying, “I refuse to give any kind of label just to satisfy what people need.”) The reasons the handful of dissenters gave for my decision to call the Emmys queer was that I am a lesbophobe, an espouser and executor of lesbophobia.

    To be very honest with you, I shrugged it off. The most unwinnable battle we have at Autostraddle is labeling LGBTQ people in a way that satisfies everyone. It’s such a constant struggle, we laid out an explanation about labels in our official comment policy. Recently on a Pop Culture Fix, I wrote about the new queer characters coming to The Good Wife spin-off. One of them will be a lesbian, according to the show’s writers; the other’s sexuality has not been labeled. So, I said, “The Good Wife spin-off will prominently feature two lesbian, bisexual, gay, homosexual, or otherwise queer-identified women.” Just to cover all my bases because it was almost Christmas and I was tired and I didn’t want to have to argue about labels. And yet, the cries of lesbophobia came in again. I got a couple of emails, a dozen or so tweets. Essentially: “Lesbian is not a dirty word! Saying queer is lesbophobic!”

    So, on December 26, I tweeted something I think is a true, fair, and accurate analogy:

    Yelling “lesbophobia!” when someone says “queer” is like yelling “war on Christmas!” when someone says “happy holidays.” Come on, y’all.

    A couple of days later, AfterEllen’s official Twitter tweeted at me and said: “@theheatherhogan oh, agreed. It’s like yelling “biphobia!” and “transphobia!” when someone says lesbian.”

    To which beloved Autostraddle cartoonist Dickens replied:

    “AfterEllen is three weeks shy of transforming their website into an online support group for victims of wyt lesbian genocide. This is honestly the most ridiculously entitled white lesbian coated petrified bullshit I have seen in a long time. And if you don’t think white supremacy has reached out its dirty little fingers and touched a few groups of marginalized white folks, well. Keep an eye on their feed here and there. Keep an eye on their former writers. They aren’t just trying to Make Lesbianism Great Again… They are asserting their strength. They are erasing the visibility of the defectors. They are sliding their salty little asses into spaces and feeds where they must know they are clearly not wanted or cared for. I was never a fan of AE but this new image they’re building for themselves is a little too Nazi-adjacent for my galaxy Blaaaack aaaass.”

    Dickens was, of course, correct. And her point was proven once again the very next day when an article blasted out to the 125,000 followers of AfterEllen’s official, verified Twitter account cried: “Lesbian Spaces Are Still Needed, No Matter What the Queer Movement Says”. It suggests that trans women and bisexual women’s desire to be included in queer women’s spaces is to blame for the decline of lesbian-specific spaces, which lesbians need to stay safe from trans and bisexual women.

    That kind of rallying cry feels very much like the “Save Our White Neighborhoods” rallying cry of the alt-right, so I went on a deeper dive to try to find the origins of what I called “the lesbophobia movement” on Twitter. And what I found was more horrifying than I ever imagined.

    A few weeks ago AfterEllen — which everyone presumed dead after the company that owns it effectively fired everyone, including longtime editor in chief Trish Bendix — announced it had acquired a new editor named Memoree Joelle. In October, Joelle, tweeted a Change.org petition that she’d signed called Take the L Out of LGBT. The petition is a direct response to a previously failed petition that called for GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, HuffPo Voices, The Advocate, etc. to Drop The T from LGBT. The most popular supporter of the petition is a guy you might know called Milo Yiannopoulos. He signed the it, tweeted about it, and dedicated 3,000 words to it in a post on Breitbart. Thanks to Milo’s urging, Matthew Hopkins, one of the main perpetrators of Gamergate, wrote a post called “Why #GamerGate Should Help the ‘Drop the T’ Campaign” on his personal blog. Hopkins called it “one of the most politically important campaigns of our generation.”

    In addition to signing and tweeting about the petition, Joelle commented her approval. When former AfterEllen writer Elaine Atwell brought Joelle’s support of the petition to light, Joelle’s comments disappeared from the petition, and so did Elaine’s byline from the hundreds of articles she wrote over the last five years at AfterEllen.

    The comments on the Change.org petition mention lesbophobia multiple times and equate it with trans activism, as do the subreddits that discussed Joelle’s contribution to the petition. “Part of lesbophobia is hating us for our same-sex attraction, but another very big part of it is hating us for our rejection of men,” one user wrote on /r/GenderCritical/. (Trans women are almost always referred to as men on this particular subreddit.) Another Redditor on /r/actuallesbians decried the “male entitlement and lesbophobia,” of protesting the petition. “The moment we talk about your rape culture or your male violence we’re ‘transphobic’ or ‘biphobic.'” (The men in this comment are actually trans women and “rape culture” refers to the constantly espoused idea in TERF communities that trans women are male predators.) The lesbophobia tag on the blog GenderTrender is a deeply disturbing trip down an anti-trans rabbit hole. The lesbophobia tag on the website 4th Wave Now is horrifying; it equates allowing trans kids/teens to come out and live openly as their true gender with child abuse, ideas that are — again — shared with Breitbart and Milo Yiannopoulos. Reddit and Tumblr are absolutely flush with lesbians using the word “lesbophobia” to back up the ideas presented in these “Drop the T”/”The L Is Leaving” petitions.

    These spaces that use the word “lesbophobia” to attack trans and bi women or people who use the word queer share more than than an ideology with Breitbart. You’ll find them saying things like “trans women want to colonize the lesbian community.” You’ll find them using the phrase “SJW” (meaning Social Justice Warrior), a pejorative term coined by the Men’s Rights Activist movement. And you’ll find a lot of talk about how the correct “biology” is the thing that allows people access to the protections of the majority. And lots and lots and lots and lots of just truly sickening propaganda leveled at trans and bi women. It’s very much about creating an in-group and scapegoating an out-group through tried and true tactics that have been — I’m sorry — utilized by Fox News and the alt-right for years.

    I wrote about these things on Twitter, and you can read Dickens further unpacking them here and here. (You should read that last thread before you jump in here and call her “my black friend.”)

    Look, we didn’t just wake up one day with an openly racist, openly sexist, openly xenophobic, openly ableist, openly anti-semitic president in the White House, appointing the leader of the most dangerous white supremacist website in history to his top advisor position. We watched blatant and unabashed white supremacist language and ideas slowly take over the movement from the inside. We watched the most powerful scapegoat the most vulnerable. We watched Fox News make heroes out of the white men who murdered unarmed black children and terrify people with their whole War on Christmas bullshit and equate all Muslims with terrorists. A Nazi didn’t walk into the West Wing and have a seat; the slow creep of white supremacy laid the path for him.

    Vox did a fascinating interview with former conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes earlier this year. He quit over Trump. But the whole interview is him agonizing about how, to him, the GOP had always been about fiscal conservatism and states rights and he believed in that ideological purity so deeply that he fooled himself into believing that’s what the GOP was about to everybody, despite the fact that he saw the white supremacy and fascism slowly gaining power and momentum until it took over.

    To realize, first of all, that you’re part of a movement that was not the movement you thought it was, that you’re aligned with people that you didn’t really understand you’re aligned with, and to realize that everything that you thought about the conservative intellectual infrastructure was really piecrust thin. You thought you had this big principled movement and then suddenly along comes Donald Trump and you realize that it was just was just the pastry on top. So I think disorienting is a great term. Disillusioning is not too strong either.

    To me, what we’re talking about with lesbophobia is a similar thing. Is lesbophobia a term some lesbians have rallied around to protest the prejudice and bigotry that exist at the intersection of homophobia and misogyny? Yes, of course. Absolutely. HOWEVER. I had to go searching for people using the word lesbophobia like that because my entire experience with the way the word kept popping up in my timeline and in my comments and in the comments sections of other websites was to decry the use of the word queer and to espouse anti-trans and anti-bi ideology. And that includes every single person who landed in my mentions on Twitter when I started talking about this. I did not click on a single profile without finding anti-trans, anti-bi language; or ask a single person if they believe trans women are women and have them say yes.

    If you are a woman who is not using the word lesbophobia to do those things, and you’re more angry at me for pointing out that it’s happening than you are at anti-trans/anti-bi people who have hijacked its meaning, I … I truly don’t understand. What’s happening at AfterEllen is terrifying me. Maybe the website is technically dead, but it still has clout and power and it’s using it to push some really dangerous ideas about lesbian exclusivity, and those ideas are shared by a very loud group of people who use the word “lesbophobia” on their blogs, social media, Reddit, etc. to vilify the people (like me) who stand against them.

    I don’t want to cause anyone pain. I don’t want to make anyone feel unsafe or unloved or unaccepted. I DO NOT BELIEVE LESBIANS ARE NAZIS. I AM A LESBIAN. If you truly think that’s what I was saying when I unpacked these ideas on Twitter, I’m sorry. It was not my intention.

    I do think, however, that it’s imperative for you to open your eyes to how the word lesbophobia is being used to persecute and oppress trans and bi women in very vocal and influential spaces that have direct ties in ideology and language with the alt-right.

    • Sending hugs/love/good wishes/thanks to you.

      I disagree with you pretty often (“Is love a lie?” being one of them haha), but you’re presence online is such a gift to our community. And your thorough and kind and generous response here is such a perfect demonstration of that.

      (and TBH when I saw your original tweet that set this whole mess off I was like “this is a bit of an exaggeration. let’s not be so dramatic.” but the response to it has 100% proved you right from my perspective as a lesbian who has been so confused by how “lesbophobia” is used online.)

    • Thank you for responding Heather. I appreciate the fact your comment shows a lot more nuance and good will than most of your readers seem able to convey. At the least you aren’t trying to flirt with me, which straight away makes me far more at ease.

      First of all, yes, lesbophobia exists. I agree. Lesbophobia exists. Profound, insidious, systematic hatred against lesbians exist. This is a very important point that I will refer to numerous times in this post. I’m pleased we at least share some common ground.

      “However, it is essential to acknowledge and understand that the term lesbophobia has been co-opted by a loud and growing contingent of LGBTQ women in communities.”

      I disagree with the assertion that lesbophobia has somehow been co-opted, and that this is somehow a “new thing”. The concept of lesbian oppression goes back decades, back to the Lavender Menace of the 70’s, the term “lesbophobia” is a fairly new term, but the concept that hatred against lesbians has existed as long has lesbian feminism has existed, and radical feminism, even the terf kind, has played its part in its conception. It has never been “co-opted”. Lesbians radical feminists aka “terfs” have as much right to the term as any other lesbian. It’s just as much part of their history as it is ours. That may be an uncomfortable truth, but it is still the truth, and to say otherwise would be revisionist.

      And yet, despite this questionable background, lesbophobia is still real. Things aren’t always so black and white where the designated bad guys are always bad.

      Next you’ll be saying “compulsive heterosexuality” has been co-opted. It’s possible for old school second wavers to be wrong about trans women, but still be right about lesbophobia.

      Yes, more lesbians are talking about lesbophobia more than ever, but a lot of those lesbians are NOT terfs. Lesbophobia has radfem origins, and radfems are entitled to talk about it, but a lot of the new interest in this subject come from anti-terfs who feel disillusioned with the queer community and its lesbophobia.

      “that share troubling ties and ideology with factions that exist inside the alt-right movement — worse, the dangerous dogma that’s attaching itself to word the lesbophobia has found a new home at AfterEllen”

      I think you do yourself a disservice when you use vague terminology like “the alt right”. The alt right is a spectrum of different right wing ideologies ranging from neo-con, to national socialism. Which groups are these terfs co-opting, and what are the similarities? Are lesbian radical feminists acting like Nazis? Like men’s rights activists? Does this include the radical feminists of colour? The black radical lesbian feminists? The jewish radical feminists? The victims of male violence?

      What exactly do you mean?

      “I first encountered the word lesbophobia in response to the post I wrote called Queer Women Take Over The 2016 Emmys. ”

      So you’ve encountered a decades old concept only in this year?

      ““Lesbians Take Over the 2016 Emmys,” despite the fact that Kate McKinnon was the only winner who explicitly identifies as a lesbian. (In fact, Sarah Paulson is on record saying, “I refuse to give any kind of label just to satisfy what people need.”) The reasons the handful of dissenters gave for my decision to call the Emmys queer was that I am a lesbophobe, an espouser and executor of lesbophobia.”

      People can feel very uncomfortable with the use of the word queer. I hate the word myself as it was often used as a slur against me while I was growing up. Any time queer is used it will cause controversy.

      Also, lesbians can still be lesbophobic in the same vein that women in general can still be misogynistic. Not that I am saying you are lesbophobic, but the argument that somebody can’t be bigoted against their own community is a faulty one.

      The Good Wife? The Emmys? I’m sorry but the rest of that paragraph just sounded like white queer theory problems about things that really don’t matter. I know that sounds like I’m being really dismissive, but as a jewish woc I can’t bring myself to care if some lesbians called you lesbophobic for referring to Kate Mckinnon as queer by association.

      “Yelling “lesbophobia!” when someone says “queer” is like yelling “war on Christmas!” when someone says “happy holidays.” Come on, y’all.”

      I don’t know what to even respond with to this.

      Queer is still a homophobic slur.

      “Dickens was, of course, correct. And her point was proven once again the very next day when an article blasted out to the 125,000 followers of AfterEllen’s official, verified Twitter account cried: Lesbian Spaces Are Still Needed, No Matter What the Queer Movement Says”. It suggests that trans women and bisexual women’s desire to be included in queer women’s spaces is to blame for the decline of lesbian-specific spaces, which lesbians need to stay safe from trans and bisexual women.”

      Controversial opinion, but lesbians, as an oppressed minority, have a right to their own spaces. Would you be offended if bisexual women had their own safe spaces? Or trans women? I wouldn’t. Oppressed minorities are allowed to create their own specific communities and set boundaries. Besides, lesbians spaces can still have trans women in them and still be lesbian only.

      “That kind of rallying cry feels very much like the “Save Our White Neighborhoods” rallying cry of the alt-right, so I went on a deeper dive to try to find the origins of what I called “the lesbophobia movement” on Twitter. And what I found was more horrifying than I ever imagined.”

      Oppressed minorities who want safe spaces remind you of white supremacists. Black and jewish lesbians, both trans and cis, who want lesbian safe spaces remind you of the very people who wish to lynch and enact genocide on them. Right.

      “And what I found was more horrifying than I ever imagined.”

      The following couple of paragraphs consist of you bringing up different radfem websites and getting offended that they exist, and radfems you found on twitter, and acting so appalled because your privileged, cosy life has allowed you not to even realise these places existed until now. This recent discovery has now helped you breeze through decades of lesbian feminist history, culture, and community to come to the conclusion that suddenly the apocalypse is upon us, and anybody who cares about lesbian safe spaces and doesn’t like the word queer must be lesbian Hitler incarnate themselves. Shut up trans lesbians, lesbians of colour, and any other lesbian who doesn’t get to make a living by recapping vapid tv shows, you know better about their own movement. You spent 5 minutes on google, after all.

      I started off this rebuttal with a lot of patience, but this is some serious white nonsense. Even the pre-emptive “don’t accuse me of just using ‘my black friend’ bollocks is white nonsense – somewhat self aware white nonsense, but still white nonsense.

      Here, read this.

      https://mwasicollectif.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/audre-lorde-i-am-your-sister-collected-and-unpublished-writings.pdf

      It’s a book written by one of influential lesbian writers to have ever existed. She happened to be black too, and this booked happened to have been written long before faux outrage on twitter existed.

      Maybe read some Jewish lesbian literature too, which happens to make up for a crucial component of radfem theory. But yes, sure, they’re the ones who remind you of “save our neighbourhoods”.

      You then brought up Hitler and Trump, as if a terf taking over After Ellen is akin to the inevitable genocide of 6 million jews.

      I’m as anti-terf as you can get, but this is some white nonsense.

      I encourage you to look a little deeper and not jump the shark.

      ” Is lesbophobia a term some lesbians have rallied around to protest the prejudice and bigotry that exist at the intersection of homophobia and misogyny? Yes, of course.”

      Good of you not just ignoring them anymore. Maybe soon you’ll stop blocking black women on twitter too.

      “Absolutely. HOWEVER. I had to go searching for people using the word lesbophobia like that because my entire experience with the way the word kept popping up in my timeline and in my comments and in the comments sections of other websites was to decry the use of the word queer and to espouse anti-trans and anti-bi ideology.”

      Translation: Because I live in a privileged white bubble I was able to coast through life of Riley and ignore all the problematic black people, jews and trans women that I’m not besties with, and instead I get to make generalised comments because all I can see from my ivory tower are the naughty nazi terfs who tell me off for saying queer.

      “And that includes every single person who landed in my mentions on Twitter when I started talking about this. I did not click on a single profile without finding anti-trans, anti-bi language; or ask a single person if they believe trans women are women and have them say yes.”

      See, maybe I would believe that more if twitter wasn’t a public space, and all I had to do was search the tag “Heather Hogan” to see people called things like Afro matriarch call you out for your white nonsense. Nah they’re all alt right nazis who want to save their white neighbourhoods.

      “you’re more angry at me for pointing out that it’s happening A LOT than you are at anti-trans/anti-bi people who have hijacked its meaning, I … I truly don’t understand. ”

      Translation: If you’re more angry that I’m implying a lesbian movement I know fuck all about is literary the third Reich when you should be self flagellating yourself for having lesbian privilege (something else you lovingly claimed) then you’re just mean. Please stop calling me out for my white nonsense and donate to the failing website where people think lesbophobia is a myth and I do fuck all the question that.

      “to vilify the people (like me)”

      Yes, yes. It’s all about you. It’s Heather Hogan time all time. Nothing else matters but you, our lord and saviour. The paragon of the queer community. The slayer of the Trump terf SS 1000.

      White. Nonsense.

      Now watch as your Dumbledore’s Army lap this up. Damn, it must be nice to admit to being a bloody fool and still be adored.

      Get off reddit and read a book.

      • It would be awfully nice if you’d expend as much energy directing your outrage towards the actual people who have co-opted the word you want to use as you do towards the person who is denouncing the people who have co-opted the word you want to use.

        • A) You don’t know me. You don’t know what I do when I’m not calling out white nonsense on autostraddle.
          B) I have all the time in the world to denounce white nonsense.
          C) Lesbophobia has not been co-opted, did you just decide to miss out that entire part of my argument?
          D) Read a book.
          E) Try harder.

          • I feel sorry for you, that this is your life. That you live with such poor reading skills at your age.
            I wish you had the chances I did in special education

          • “I wish you had the chances I did in special education”

            Wow.

            “Janice Raymond is that you??? i haven’t seen reaching like this since 1979.”

            Janice Raymond wishes she was me.

          • hey! i didn’t even know this thread was happening until last night, and i immediately followed your suggestion, angry jewish lesbian, and went to tumblr to read things people were saying. i saw a lot of outrage and i saw a lot of people breaking down heather’s argument in ways that suggested that they hadn’t even read the fucking thread she posted. then i wrote you a very very very long comment but it was 5 am and i wanted to make sure it made sense, and now i’m back and wow, you’re still going!

            heather has had to explain her point an exhausting number of times, but as an [angry] jewish bisexual, i have to say i agree with her.

            “lesbophobia” as it applies to the world at large – homophobia specifically directed at women who fuck women – is a real thing that we (believe it or not, including heather!) have all experienced.

            “lesbophobia” within the queer women’s community is something i’ve only ever seen used as an excuse for someone to exclude bisexuals, genderqueer people and trans women from lesbian spaces – as though our presence somehow diminishes the sanctity of those spaces. it does not.

            as someone who’s been with this website since day one and has watched it grow and change and become a more inclusive space for those groups (hi, again, i’m bisexual and i like working here!), we have certainly dealt with our share of commenters who do not agree with this progression. when a marginalized group (queer women) lashes out by excluding other marginalized folks within their community, it’s awfully tough to not equate it with other forms of discrimination. that’s where my take on this ends; i love and respect heather and to say that heather (a lesbian) is comparing all lesbians to nazis is inaccurate, reductive and ridiculous.

            re: use of the word queer, you have got to be kidding me, i can’t begin with this. heather’s “war on christmas” analogy is sound.

            at a certain point it stops being a “phobia” and ends up just being hate.

            if you guys think that heather’s entire experience with a word comes from reading one reddit page one time, you have no idea what it is we do here all day, and to this i offer a hearty and non-malicious LOL. thanks for suggesting so many of us read a book, we love reading books!!!!

            what you are doing, loudly shouting “I AM NOT A TROLL” as you are 100% acting like one, lashing out at us for being… a struggling independent business (i’m sorry what? who does that?), now apparently accusing us of glorifying nazism (what?), all of this is actually not productive. i’m done.

            and now, i’m gonna go read a book.

          • I did read your comment, and here’s what I’m seeing:

            -Heather offers documented, linked proof that the term “lesbophobia” is being used by TERFs and alt-right groups as a cover for biphobia and transphobia – a very well-established co-opting tactic; you deny that the term is being co-opted, offering no proof other than irrelevant arguments about the word’s history that have nothing to do with how it’s being used by those groups today.

            -Heather apologizes for having caused any hurt or confusion about what she meant; you continue to wage your misplaced campaign of vitriol against her.

            -People of various races, ethnicities, and religious beliefs call you out or disagree with you in this comment thread; you continue to insist that anyone calling you out or disagreeing with you is doing so because you’re Jewish and biracial.

            As for books, I have three on the go already, but thanks for the suggestion.

          • “hey! i didn’t even know this thread was happening until last night, and i immediately followed your suggestion, angry jewish lesbian, and went to tumblr to read things people were saying. i saw a lot of outrage and i saw a lot of people breaking down heather’s argument in ways that suggested that they hadn’t even read the fucking thread she posted. ”

            500 lesbians didn’t get to go to Lex’s special education classes, clearly.

            “then i wrote you a very very very long comment but it was 5 am and i wanted to make sure it made sense,”

            SO you didn’t post it? Well that was a waste of time.

            “and now i’m back and wow, you’re still going!”

            Could be worse, I could be writing essays at 5am.

            People respond, I respond back.

            “heather has had to explain her point an exhausting number of times,”

            Online keyboard battles are hard work.

            “but as an [angry] jewish bisexual,”

            Not a lesbian then.

            “i have to say i agree with her.”

            Gasp.

            ““lesbophobia” as it applies to the world at large – homophobia specifically directed at women who fuck women – is a real thing that we (believe it or not, including heather!) have all experienced.”

            Wrong. Lesbophobia is the systematic of hatred of lesbians. Aka, women who exclusively fuck other women.

            ““lesbophobia” within the queer women’s community is something i’ve only ever seen used as an excuse for someone to exclude bisexuals, genderqueer people and trans women from lesbian spaces”

            How dare lesbians want just lesbians (which includes trans lesbians) in their lesbian spaces.

            “we have certainly dealt with our share of commenters who do not agree with this progression.”

            so you allow people to be ableist, call lesbophobia a myth, and intentionally make them feel uncomfortable with unsolicited advances. Nice strategy. #

            “when a marginalized group (queer women)”

            lesbians, we are talking about lesbians. You don’t always have to use a homophobic slur.

            “lashes out by excluding other marginalized folks within their community, it’s awfully tough to not equate it with other forms of discrimination.”

            Doesn’t mean you should do it though.

            “that’s where my take on this ends; i love and respect heather and to say that heather (a lesbian) is comparing all lesbians to nazis is inaccurate, reductive and ridiculous.”

            Nah, not “all lesbians”, just the lesbians who fight against lesbophobia.

            “re: use of the word queer, you have got to be kidding me, i can’t begin with this. heather’s “war on christmas” analogy is sound.”

            Queer is a slur. Some people have reclaimed it, others have not. SO no, I ain’t kidding.

            “at a certain point it stops being a “phobia” and ends up just being hate.”

            You’re telling me. When Joanna called Lesbophobia a myth, that was hate speech.

            “if you guys think that heather’s entire experience with a word comes from reading one reddit page one time, you have no idea what it is we do here all day, and to this i offer a hearty and non-malicious LOL.”

            Heather Hogan is the main editor for one of the biggest “girl on girl” websites online, and she has only heard the word lesbophobia this year. That’s abysmal.

            “thanks for suggesting so many of us read a book, we love reading books!!!!”

            Then get off twitter and read some.

            ” lashing out at us for being… a struggling independent business (i’m sorry what? who does that?),”

            I’m calling out white nonsense. Bit of a diffference.

            “apparently accusing us of glorifying nazism (what?)”

            One of your commentators claimed there is too much honour in being called a Nazi.

          • I love how surprised and appalled you’re all are that I am still responding and not backing down after you’ve all tried your very best to put me in my place.

            If you want me to go away, stop being horribly discriminatory. Bullies don’t phase me.

      • You said abt heather “Because I live in a privileged white bubble I was able to coast through life of Riley and ignore all the problematic black people, jews and trans women that I’m not besties with”

        come on
        Heather spends more time listening to and learning from problematic black ppl, Jewish ppl and trans women who she respects than you spend commenting on this thread and ignoring the opinions of queer and trans women of color (like me, a trans lesbian Latina) combined.

        Get out of the library and read what woc, trans ppl, lesbians and queer ppl are saying on twitter. Your theory is trapped thirty years in the past

      • AJL, I’m sorry that Heather made an unfortunate generalization about lesbians who use the term “lesbophobia”. I totally understand why it is offensive and frustrating to be lumped in with a group of hateful individuals, like the alt-right, when you were just trying to support and protect your own community.

        It’s also important to recognize that Heather (and many other lesbians and other members of the LGBTQ+ community that work hard to make their work inclusive and welcoming) have frequently been labled as “lesbophobic” simply for supporting their bi, trans, and/or queer sisters. I’m sure you can understand how frustrating that must be. I’ve encountered it myself in various comment threads when I’ve made comments supportive of the trans community, and it hurts.

        Heather got frustrated, and made a generalization. It sucks, but even the most woke among us falls into this trap from time to time. She has now acknowledged to you that lesbophobia is an actual problem and that it can be described and discussed in a positive way that doesn’t condemn bi, queer, and trans identities.

        It’s a new year – lets all move forward to fight lesbophobia, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, racism, and sexism together, and work to make Autostraddle a place where every LGBTQ+ person can feel at home.

      • I don’t know if anyone will read this, but thought I’d make an attempt at discussion.

        VAJL, while you’ve stated multiple times that trans lesbians are/should be welcome in lesbian spaces, not all lesbians feel the same way. The existence of TERF lesbians is not your fault or responsibility, of course, but they do exist (that was Heather’s point).

        I also wanted to discuss what you said about lesbian-only safe spaces being important. Because I agree with you—I have great respect for the power of being with others who have shared experiences. I’m bi, and I accept and support lesbians having lesbian-only spaces, just as you said you support bi and trans women having our/their own spaces.

        But I also think that there is a fine line between having lesbian-only spaces because it’s important to you as a lesbian, and excluding bi women/other sapphic non-lesbians from your lesbian spaces due to biphobia and lesbian exclusivity. That line is fine enough that I think it can be hard to tell when it’s been crossed, and figuring out where it is is an ongoing conversation, one I’d be interested in listening to. I certainly don’t think I have all the answers.

        I just want to point out that the right of lesbians to have lesbian-only spaces if they so choose is not mutually exclusive with biphobia within the lesbian community. Biphobia within the lesbian community is a real thing, separate and distinct from lesbians who want lesbian-specific spaces, and those two issues shouldn’t be conflated. Heather’s example (about her piece on q—r women at the Emmys) was a pretty clear example of biphobia and exclusion: people were angry with her not because she used the q-slur (a valid critique, and one I’d agree with) but because she didn’t label a bunch of sapphic women as “lesbians.” That’s a problem. That’s an example of lesbians wanting to label sapphic women as lesbians against their will, and using “lesbophobia” as a crutch to support their biphobia and exclusionary behavior. That’s biphobic, and hurtful to me as a bi woman.

        Another example: AfterEllen states that it’s a website for “lesbian/bi” women, and talks about bi celebs (thus, clearly not a lesbian-only space)… but also titles its articles as “Best Lesbian On Screen Moments” and “Lesbian Sex and Relationship Advice” even when those articles discuss women who haven’t explicitly identified as lesbian, thus lumping a bunch of sapphic women under the lesbian label. I think that’s unacceptable on multiple fronts: don’t label people if you’re not sure how they identify, and, if you want to be a space that’s inclusive of bi women, stop calling everything “lesbian.” Ignoring bi women and labeling all sapphic women as lesbians is biphobic.

        There are a bunch of other examples where it’s not as cut-and-dried biphobia as it was in the cases above, which is where things get a little trickier. But overall, I just wanted to point out that it is logical/acceptable to call out biphobia in sapphic spaces run by lesbians while *still* affirming the right of lesbians to have lesbian-only spaces if they want.

        • YES. this this this. of course lesbians (including trans lesbians) deserve lesbian-only spaces, bisexuals (including trans bisexuals) deserve bisexual-only spaces. the thing to pay attention to is if those spaces are defined by how they empower the communities who are holding them or if they’re defined by excluding the communities who aren’t a part of them.

    • What up Heather,

      I don’t always agree with you (shocking!) but I’m happy to see you finally chime in here, though you really shouldn’t have had to since this wasn’t even your article and it had nothing to do with you/got hijacked by hot nonsense. Way to stick up for yourself.

      I knew pretty much nothing about the term “lesbophobia” before you laid it out here, but now it seems pretty obvious to me it comes from the same second-wave separatist garbage that gave us TERFs. Whether you rally around the exclusion of trans people, bi people, a certain color or people, or whatever, trying to make a Perfect Female Utopia will always have the same result. Folks need to just let that project die out already. This is my personal opinion, of course, but I’m sticking to it.

      Carving ourselves up into ever smaller and more exclusive factions does us no favors against our enemies. Just sayin’.

      Also, thank you all for confirming me that I will stay far, far away from that corner of the Internet known as Tumblr. Scary things are happening over there… :(

    • “And that includes every single person who landed in my mentions on Twitter when I started talking about this. I did not click on a single profile without finding anti-trans, anti-bi language”

      my twitter handle is ‘ScruppyCats’

      I have 20 tweets total. Pretty much all my tweets are about anti-Black racism. None of them mention anything about trans women, bisexual woman, or anything lgbt at all. The ONLY information you had was that I was a Black lesbian and I disagreed with you. And you blocked me. So I’m calling bullshit on the above.

        • I don’t like a white woman comparing any lesbian who dares to talk about her oppression, which includes women of color, Jewish women, and trans women, to nazis just because she only recently heard of the term ‘lesbophobia’ and saw it in a reddit thread or some shit.

          I don’t like women of color being talked down to by said white woman (referring to her on twitter telling a Latina woman that even though she’s white she understands racism enough to make the comparison).

          I don’t like that people like Heather Hogan contribute to the decrease in lesbian-centered spaces online and in real life because they’ve bought the patriarchal misogynist lie that being a lesbian is too exclusive.

          I don’t like that white “feminists” pay lip service to women of color by repeating phrases like “protect women of color” and “listens to qwoc voices” ad nauseum but basically tell us to shut the fuck up when we don’t act the way they dictate.

          And I’m sick of Godwin’s law.

          If I don’t respond after this, it’s not personal.

          • @raina once more with feeling: HEATHER DIDN’T COMPARE LESBIANS TO NAZIS. she compared the terfs using the word lesbophobia to the alt-right and then came right here and demonstrated that hey breitbart and terfs are advocating for the exact same thing! get the t (or the l!) out of lgbt! y’all ain’t mad because you really think she compared you to nazis. i mean i guess yeah you’ve convinced yourself that’s why you’re mad. that and the other false narrative that she silences women of color – which is demonstrably untrue. you’re mad the way republicans were mad when hillary said a percentage of trump supporters are a basket of deplorables. the gop lost their goddamn minds. “oh she said americans are all deplorable!” “she said republicans are all deplorable.” like no bitch she said a very specific type of white supremacist sexist ass xenophobe had infiltrated the republican party to take it over and they were deplorable. and guess what? she was fucking right. just like heather is right here. the exercise you’re putting your brain through to try to make heather the villain to keep from reckoning with the fact that terfs and the alt-right do in fact share a very clear connection in their thought process and actions toward trans people is messy as hell. you’re never going to get it i guess. doesn’t matter how many black, latinx, trans, jewish, etc. women come to heather’s defense and talk about how vehemently anti-racist she is… she’s still gonna be a racist lesbophobe to you so you can keep that image of yourself as the victim in tact.

      • Well, I guess you cracked the code. One of the longest surviving lesbian women writing on the internet; a woman whose woc, jewish, and trans co-workers have come to her defense all over the internet today presumably because they know and respect her; a woman who recieved death threats from MRAs for writing a public apology to Latinx readers for centering a white voice over theirs in a movie review about an animated taco; a woman who saved at least two trans lives just that I know of at A-Camp is supposed to have the robotic sense of self to calmly and quietly listen to every person who’s screaming at her on twitter and differntiate between the ones who are accusing her of sanctioning trans rape of lesbians and those who are just trying to have a friendly chat. The fact that she couldn’t do that proves she’s a fucking racist. Case closed. I guess she should track you down on twitter and unblock you since you’ve shown yourself to be a compassionate person interested in level-headed dialogue and not a person on a witch hunt.

      • I’m not done, actually. I have been following HH since her Skins recaps and I have never seen a lesbian come under attack or be more unfairly maligned than her in all my fucking life. She’s a lesbophobe now. Earlier this summer in the A-Camp Facebook group she was a transmisogynist. At some point during Grey’s Anatomy she was a biphobe. When she was recapping PLL she was a transphobe. The MRAs threatened to actually murder her this year IN THE COMMENTS OF THIS WEBSITE because she had the fucking audacity to say she was sorry for prioritizing a white voice over Latinx ones. This “controversy” is imaginary bullshit being carried out by people deliberately misreading her words and intentions and going on the attack in ways that only FURTHER PROVE that everything she’s said is true. I know for a fact the organization I work for her has offered her a job three times surely making twice as much money as she ever made here or AE and she has turned them down every time because she loves this community so fucking much even though they constantly abuse her. Heather, you know who I am. You came to the funeral of the Paily fan who killed herself after I told you about it. I see you for who you are. I don’t know how the fuck you hang in here but I’m sure as fuck glad someone like you continues to stand up and be counted.

    • Listen please. Very carefully. Whether you want to admit it or not, those with issues are lesbians and are just as valid as you are. I have an upside down triangle tattooed on my person. Because that is what they put on the gays uniforms when they gassed us DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

      Here are the nuances you refuse to hear.

      1) ‘Queers’ need to realize that they are new. You are. I am almost 40. I remember when this started. ‘Queer’ people believe a specific ideology. That is the only difference between me and you. I’m a lesbian, you’re a queer. We are ideologically opposed. The word queer is a slur to many people. Many lesbians still live who became nurses in order to help gay men during the AIDS crisis. This is incredibly offensive to many. The main reason this goes unnoticed is that ‘queer’ was adopted so we could take in all kinds of essentially straight people: aces, poly hets, etc. I know why you THINK you’re using it, but this ideology is bigger than you. An umbrella term was needed so we didn’t ‘exclude’ the straight people who literally do not are about gays or lesbians and are frequently incredibly homophobic.

      2) Trans people deserve to be treated fairly. They deserve protections at work & in life in general. As all LGBT people do. HOWEVER, you must realize that lesbian means something. It means females who are exclusively attracted to females. The trans movements extreme bullying of lesbians to accept penises is incredibly homophobic. Here is merely a few things I’ve heard on the subject: trans women don’t even WANT to use their penis. HEARTS NOT PARTS! What’s wrong with a sexless relationship? I have lost track of the number of times trans women have threatened death on lesbians for rejecting penis and/or called me a vagina fetishist. I did not have such a hard time coming out because I was attracted to ‘feminine people’. I literally cannot make myself attracted to trans women! The uncomfortable truth is that they are male. That is why lesbians ‘refuse’ to date them. That’s why they have so much trouble dating lesbians. Because we are inherently incapable of being attracted to penis. I really don’t know why you don’t understand this. Attempting to coerce a lesbian into having sex with penises is lesbophobic. The trans community needs to leave lesbians alone on this issue. No one is entitled to sex and being honosexual is supposed to be okay in the ‘community’. Why is it no longer okay to be homosexual in the lgbt community? REFUSING PENIS IS NOT THE SAME AS HATE. You know who thinks it is? STRAIGHT MEN. These people sound like my homophobic family tbh, with all the telling me I’m closed minded for not giving dick a shot and “Hey, are you sure? Don’t label yourself! It’s so limiting! You might fall for a man one day!”.

      3) Lesbians deserve their own space. This is called ‘freedom of association’. It’a a really important right. I don’t know what else to say about this. We want it. So why can’t we have it? Why is this such a big deal? Every other group in the lgbt can have space no questions asked. Why are you suppressing lesbians in particular? I remember when I could go out to the village every week and feel normal in a group of other women just like me. but apparently the queers think lesbians don’t deserve to congregate? I’ve heard the arguments. Here’s what I hear: “We don’t want you meeting alone, because we know how you lesbians are and we know you’ll just start coming up with lesbian ideas we don’t like.”

      Here are the ways in which the queer community is actively suppressing lesbians:

      – don’t let us congregate together in groups.
      – stifle any and all speech that non-lesbians do not like
      – sustained propaganda campaign to convince the world that lesbians are privileged when they are actually probably the smallest group in the LGBT.. (on this very website! Y’all have an entire website to talk all day every day about how the lesbians have all the privilege and clout in the community. It’s a masterclass in reversal, really.)
      – no-platforming like WHOA. AKA TERF witchhunts. The new McCarthyism is this TERF stuff. If a lesbian says something others don’t like, they are accused of being a TERF & people run around like little cockroaches ‘warning’ each other about the evil TERF who isn’t attracted penis and dared say so out loud.

      This is why people are mad, Heather. Becasue the entire community makes lesbians seem like absolute devils and what happens to young lesbians just coming out. It’s all well and good for you or I, we’re out already. But what about that young girl who is struggling and tries to find other lesbians? What about her? What about the young butch for whom masculinity is normal? When she finds ‘ccommunity’ they tell her she is a man. We have no butch pride anymore. I have already read WAY too many blog posts and reddit comments, etc. from baby dykes in tears because they REALLY can’t like dick, but they don’t want to be a TERF! Way too many stories of young trans guys who say things like, “I was just hated dresses and played with boys. I don’t want to be a butch lesbian.” What do they do? You don’t think it might be nice if there was a lesbian community around to tell these girls that they are okay and they don’t need men and no matter how they dress or what others say about them, they are valid, loved and valued? but no, I guess, wanting a lesbian community makes me a fucking evil satan woman, bigot. That’s the problem here.

      • thank you @inthewoods for finally once and for all proving that everything heather has said about lesbophobia from the beginning is true. lesbians are hiding behind the word to villainize trans women. y’all aren’t mad because you really think heather said lesbians are nazis; you’re mad she laid the truth about your bullshit bare and (correctly) compared it to breitbart’s bullshit for all the big queer world to see. you do everything with the word lesbophobia she claimed you did. you just don’t like being shown what that garbage looks like in the light.

        • Care to elaborate? I’m serious. Please explain where exactly the transphobia lies in my comment? Is it where I said trans women are male? That’s simply a biological fact. That is why they have to transition in the first place. It isn’t a value judgement. Exactly nowhere are transwomen ‘villainized’ unless you consider asking them to have a discussion about the effects they are having on the lesbian community ‘villianizing’. I call it ‘discussing’. That’s the problem here. You guys yell a lot and accuse people of phobias a lot but as best I can tell, it’s become transphobic to be homosexual period. Everyone must be bisexual because if you admit to being homosexual, that’s transphobia. See that’s the exact problem. It’s lesbophobic to try and force lesbians to keep ‘interrogating’ thier sexuality until they like penis but it’s also apparently transphobic to not like penis. This is the impasse. Do you care to discuss this rationally? Or just yell at me some more?

          • intheweeds, I’ve never read such stupid, bullshit comments such as the ones you’ve written here, and that’s saying a LOT because AS gets a lot of trolling. Go fuck yourself — no one here owes you an explanation for why your disgusting, outright transphobia is transphobia.

            Signed,
            A lesbian who is secure enough if her lesbianism not to whine about how people who call themselves queer are soooooo mean to lesbians.

      • Okay VAJL, is it fair to say that intheweeds is one of the ‘500 lesbians’ you speak for? Perhaps you could explain how that transphobic rant doesn’t actually justify what so many of us have been saying, that lesbophobia and TERF ideology are by now effectively linked to the point that we warily conflate the two.

        I would love to hear again how Heather Hogan’s language is more offensive than cis women claiming that their hatred of trans women is a defense of my and others’ lesbianism.

      • Well. I’m a queer person who also identifies as a lesbian, but you’re damn right that we’re ideologically opposed.

        First of all, the ‘trans women are calling me a transphobe for not liking dick” thing is a ridiculous and offensive derailment. Everyone has preferences when it comes to the physical attributes of the people they sleep with. Presumably someone who is attracted to women with small breasts isn’t gonna love my Double Gs. So what’s the kind and acceptable thing to do? DON’T DATE ME. What’s the horrible, mean thing to do? SYSTEMICALLY SEEK ME OUT IN REAL LIFE AND ALL OVER THE INTERNET TELLING ME “just so you know, I wouldn’t date you – I don’t like big breasts.” Oh my god. Nobody cares what you like. Just date who you want!

        Secondly, I literally have no idea what the hell you’re talking about when you say that the queer movement evolved to include straight people. Sure it’s an umbrella term, but it’s one that explicitly does not include straight people.

        I’m sorry that your baggage doesn’t allow you to enjoy the rich community of queer people we are a part of here. But miss us with your TERF nonsense bullshit that centers on genitalia. There is NO TIME for this crap. Donald Trump is our president. We’ve got shit to do.

    • Thanks for this Heather, I hadn’t seen that news about AfterEllen and it’s terrifying – would be interested in reading some of the staff who were there at the closedown’s thoughts on the whole thing if that was a possibility at all. Also thanks too for being the most transparent and reader responsive website that exists, i think.
      And as ever, thank you so much for all that you and the team do to make Autostraddle a safe, welcoming and supportive place for any/all queer women. It really made (/makes)a difference in my life. <3

  8. We are the original radical feminists, us lesbians, no matter now uncomfortable it makes you and other non-lesbians in general. And we face both the oppression for our female sex by both the males in the LGBT community and the general community as well as oppression for our homosexuality by non-homosexuals in both communities.

    We are not imaginary and crimes committed by males and non-homosexual people against us are not imaginary either. We live it and we have the right to speak up about it as well as to protect ourselves against it by having our own male free and non-homosexual free spaces like every other oppressed minority.

    Our boundaries and safety are valid and important. I am deeply disappointed to see younger lesbians having to deal with being bullied and silenced by queers for things we have fought for them to be free of: male violence and homophobia.

    • It must be hard to be so afraid all the time because the vast majority of humans are different from you. So you set yourself up as the protector of innocent young lesbians in hopes that some might keep you company in your little spider hole. The fear, ignorance, rage, and cowardice you express are indeed of a piece with the larger alt-right movement. Well, there has always been a sub-culture of vicious reactionaries among gay men, and there’s no reason for us lesbians to be immune. And yes, I’m a middle aged soft butch dyke, and I welcome all queer-identifed trans*, bi, poly, and other people. We need open hearts and minds now more than ever.

  9. As, admittedly, an unsolicited offensively-flirtatious asshole who is also in their forties, I can recall a time when the word “queer” was used pejoratively. However, a younger generation started co-opting the title as a badge of pride, effectively diminishing its power (for a lot of us, not all) to be used as an epithet against our community. I, for one, love it. I like how inclusive it sounds; “Happy Holidays” is a great analogy for it, too.

    I bet there are books that talk about this whole idea, too. I wonder if people who keep suggesting books that help eradicate our apparent ignorance about “lesbophobia” have considered reading about the term “queer” to alleviate their apparent discomfort with what it has clearly evolved into. Probably not. Change is hard, and maybe this is a generational thing, or maybe some people are just unwilling to adjust, they just want everyone else to. Like when Ver AJL calls out a comment for using the passé Harry Potter references in their analogies, but has no problem referring to everyone else as the “Dumbledore Army.”

    Side note: Could you not be so hypocritical? It is a trigger for me. Also, who the fuck is Dumbledore? Does this army come with an outfit? Damn it, I’m old.

    Anyway, as old as I am, and as uneducated as Very AJL will accuse me of being, I like to think that I can evolve when presented with compelling arguments made by reasonable people who have verifiable facts, and who themselves have shown an ability to grow, rather than hold on to the old terms from the 70’s and 80’s, like “queer,” and let them make her feel small. One can’t expect to convince a person to adopt the term “lesbophobia” simply because it has historical or nostalgic significance; we have to look at what is happening today.

    Today queers rock; decades ago, not so much. Today mentioning lesbophobia and expecting a reaction that doesn’t call to mind people who want to divide the queer community by excluding trans women is not easy—at least not here—and it shouldn’t be. Years ago lesbophobia meant something else. Things change, people get older; we read new books or Twitter feeds, Tumblr posts, or wherever the fuck you find a Dumbledore army. You keep telling people to educate themselves but seem to refuse to open your mind.

    I’m 42 years old, and I can assure you, this evolution shit can be done; it needs to be done. Real work that is inclusive of everyone in our queer community needs to be done, and you can either cling to the past or prepare for the future, either way, this work is being done for all of us; not just for lesbians, and not just for the good ones, like me. It’s for everyone. You’re welcome, Very AJL and friends.

    • It’s great that you

      Meanwhile there are young lgbt people getting their head kicked in for being “dirty queers”

      For every lgbt person who identifies as queer, there are countless others who live on fead of that word.

      mavi, maybe you’re more likely to get a proper response to your diatribe if you would stop being creepy, stop bringing up Harry Potter (despite not knowing who Dumbledore is), and come up with something new to say.

    • Since we’re doing semi-offensive flirtation, I’ll just say…”I am fifty percent more into you now.” (If you don’t get the reference, no worries.)

      Thanks for providing the needed perspective. I think it’s important to have older and younger people alike weigh in on these issues, because things do change. My 100-year-old grandmother still says “colored people”. She doesn’t mean it badly. She has no idea it’s offensive now. Interestingly enough, we’ve now come around to “people of color” as our preferred terminology, yet imagine trying to explain this subtle yet crucially important difference to someone trying to learn English! (I’m not saying that as a random hypothetical. I regularly do manuscript editing for people who are not native English speakers and I have actually seen this mistake.)

      As for the word “queer”, no, it doesn’t mean what it once was, but if it always carries a sting and a stigma for certain older people, well, that’s OK too. I probably would not use the word around people older than probably 40, unless I knew them well, even in reference to myself. But the term does apply to me, as far as I can tell, and I don’t think I should reject a term that makes intuitive sense to me just because it used to only be perjorative (of course, before that, it wasn’t).

      I’m queer. I don’t hate the term “bisexual”, and I’m happy to use that or “bi” if it makes sense to people, but it seems a little incomplete to me. “Queer” doesn’t just capture the fact that I’m attracted to/can fall in love with both men and women – it also indicates that I’m, well, strange, especially when it comes to gender expression. Queer captures both the range of my preference and the fact that I live the tomboy life, violating pretty much every expectation of what a woman is “supposed” to do or be, not on purpose, but just because it fits me. If we’re talking about visibility here, unless I’m out with the fella, I’m much more likely to be read as a lesbian – I know this because it happened all the time even when I still thought I was straight… So “queer” captures that reality a little better for me.

  10. Bullies don’t phase me, but Mavi, in an online space where I cannot be touched, or in any way physically threatened, and my name isn’t even known, saying I have a crush on her and that she is single is totally triggering.—Very AJL

    Sorry?—Mavi

    • As a survivor of domestic violence where my former partner would stalk online for years, which included repeated unsolicited flirting, yes I find it very, very triggering.

      For fuck sake. Leave me alone. You just won’t fucking stop, will you?

      Leave me alone. Leave me alone. LEAVE ME ALONE.

      • Is this what you wanted? To terrify a survivor who literally never feels safe? Is that it? Are you fucking happy? To make me feel as wortless and as stupid as she made me feel every time we were tpgether, and all the years afterwards when she would hound me online just to remind that I am worthless.

        I can’t help if I lived in poverty and I didn’t have access to “special education classes”. It’s not my fault I struggle to type coherently when I am panicing because some evil, smug bully online reminds me of the woman who tormented me fpr years. Okay??? LEAVE ME ALONE PLEASE

        • Hypocrisy is evil. It is the tool of abusers. You are a hypocrite.

          That said, you also have the power to leave, but you won’t. You also have to power to stop responding to my comments, but you haven’t.

          I can’t and won’t address the issue you have with abusive stalker ex’s—we’ve all had at least one—and those traumas are deeply personal. But like I said. You have power here. You can stop repeating the same things, and stop bringing my memory into every comment thread. That’s creepy, too. The real question is, will you stop?

          • This will be the last time I respond.

            You are a sick, twisted individual to imply I am a creepy abuser for stating my boundaries over and over to you.

            Unsolicited flirting is a huge trigger for me. I have asked you to stop so many times yet you persist to hound me and interject yourself into every conversation I seem to be having on here. Fuck you for trying to twist my “stop” into an act of abuse.

            There is a reason I can argue with other people, but feel very uncomfortable with you.

            And for my own mental being I refuse to even acknowledge you anymore. Just stop.

  11. i don’t know why i thought it’d be a great idea to read this entire comment section but as a cuban-american i just want to let y’all know that ‘terfs of colour’ was a thing i read with my own eyes that was said completely unironically and i’m stuck between wanting to burst into hysterical laughter and bash my head against a wall

    ANYWAY, that Monica Lewinsky piece is so unfortunately relevant and she is so unbelievably strong for putting up with that bullshit. I haven’t gotten to the other pieces because I’m currently on an Autostraddle binge right now but I just wanna let y’all know you’re all lovely and great and yeah.

    (….holy shit though, terfs of colour. i need a drink.)

  12. I read this whole comment section about the lesbophobia discussion and I was appalled at how you rallied against AJL, called her a troll, flirted with her (?!) even though she said you should stop and basically said “get out, we don’t want you here”. Why is it you can’t deal with an opinion other than yours in a respectful way?
    (When I say “you” I don’t mean all commenters but unfortunately the majority.)
    This isn’t a comment on the topic of the discussion but on the culture of discussion in this thread. I’m really disappointed.

  13. Hi Riese! The comments on this one sure did go to shit, but I really love this link roundup even though you said it was maybe not your best. I thought it was great! Thank you for working so hard to bring us link roundups (and this entire site). We don’t care if they’re late, we know you’re doing your best, and your best is so goddamn good that we have no room to complain. Hope you have a lovely day!

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