I am currently taking a Feminist Literary Theory class and it is one class that I can say keeps me on my toes. I am not an English major or anything so sometimes I find it very hard to comprehend the language, or even the denseness of the subject matter. Besides that it’s a pretty cool class and I think that I am learning a lot. Well yesterday’s discussion left me thinking so I want to share with you all what we talked about.
We were discussing Bonnie Zimmerman’s What Has Never Been: An Overview of Lesbian Feminist Criticism. In her piece her overall thesis was that a Lesbians vision is that of a woman’s vision in general, and the importance of creating a form of separatism for Lesbian literary writers and theorist.
Her thoughts were that although Lesbians are women and in turn deal with women’s issues; they should have their own cannon for lack of better words, because they still have to deal with issues that go beyond just women’s issues. In the discussion, we began talking about Lesbian literature and if there is a certain style, and with that what could be considered “Lesbian literature” and it was a little bit of a heated discussion. Some of my classmates felt as though lesbian literature can only be coined that if there was an element of sexual intimacy thrown in there, while others considered lesbian literature to include just a mere closeness between women whether it be sexual or not. I did not talk much during the discussion, but in my mind, and I could just be ignorant of the matter because I am not a lesbian, I would think that in order for a lesbian to be deemed so, she has to in some way have expressed some type of physical, or emotional attraction (that goes beyond friendship) toward another woman. So in turn, I would think that the same situation would have to be portrayed in a literary work to be considered lesbian. I mean I understand that some critics will just jump to the assumption that if women are being portrayed as close in a story that the text is lesbian, but I do not think that is a true critique if there are no expressed feelings of lesbianism.
Then in the discussion we debated a little about the fact that a lesbian’s vision is that of a woman’s vision. We paralleled this idea with the idea of feminism and how in most cases, Feminist issues are that of all women, and to me that makes sense; but to say that a lesbian’s vision is that of a woman’s vision in my opinion is completely untrue, because not every woman is a lesbian. It is inappropriate to me to make that statement in the order of lesbian issues then women issues, because it is vastly the opposite. I think that lesbian visions can be encompassed within a woman’s vision or even women’s issues, but only in that order. The fight for women’s liberation, rights, etc. are similar for all women, but when you go down the continuum of class, sexual preference, race, etc. the issues begin to change and be curtailed to the specific woman. Like as an African American woman, I could not make that statement that an African American’s vision is a woman’s vision because quite frankly, if you are not black the idea would exclude you because it would not be true for you, and in my opinion the same can be said for lesbian views and lesbian literature. I am not sure the debate this subject could cause, but I just wanted to let you all in on my Feminist theory thoughts for today.