This thread is a response to a comment from Astrodyke in the Suggestions thread:
I don’t see tags for “lesbian” or “sexual orientation”. It’d be nice to have some FAQs about lesbianism and how it relates to feminism.
There are the straw questions, “Don’t all feminists hate men?” or “Aren’t all feminists lesbians?” But there are also questions like, “Why is the word “dyke” used by some men to insult women? Why does that insult work?”
These are all fascinating questions and I don’t have particularly cogent responses to them (although we do have an FAQ addressing the manhating strawfeminist). Lesbianism has been both embraced and demonised by different segments of the feminist movement at various times, and lesbians have often felt ambivalent about the heteronormative focus of liberal feminism as well. Sexual identity as well as sexual orientation is also a source of hostility: the controversies about transexuality continue to excite various anxieties, and trans women especially are subject to high rates of violence and murder due to hostility about their departure from “the norm”.
So I’m throwing the question open to the readership: what is your analysis and experience of the relationship between lesbianism and feminism? Other sexual orientations/identities and feminism? How do assumptions of sexual orientation due to political beliefs act to belittle and intimidate feminists?