The Women-Identified Women

What is a lesbian? A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. She is the woman who, often beginning at an extremely early age, acts in accordance with her inner compulsion to be a more complete and freer human being than her society — perhaps then, but certainly later — cares to allow her. These needs and actions, over a period of years, bring her into painful conflict with people, situations, the accepted ways of war with everything around her, and usually with her self. She may not be fully conscious of the political implications of what for her began as personal necessity, but on some level she has not been able to accept the limitations and oppression laid on her by the most basic role of her society — the female role. The turmoil she experiences tends to induce guilt proportional to the degree to which she feels she is not meeting social expectations, and/or eventually drives her to question and analyse what the rest of her society more or less accepts. She is forced to evolve her own life pattern, often living much of her life alone, learning usually much earlier than her “straight” (heterosexual) sisters about the essential aloneness of life (which the myth of marriage obscures) and about the reality of illusions. To the extent that she cannot expel the heavy socialisation that goes with being female, she can never truly find peace with herself. For she is caught somewhere between accepting society’s view of her — in which case she cannot accept herself, and coming to understand what this sexist society has done to her and why it is functional and necessary for it to do so. Those of us who work that through find ourselves on the other side of a tortuous journey through a night that may have been decades long. The perspective gained from that journey, the liberation of self, the inner peace, the real love of self and of all women, is something to be shared with all women — because we are all women.

It should be first understood that lesbianism, like male homosexuality, is a category of behaviour possible only in a sexist society characterised by rigid sex roles and dominated by male supremacy. Those sex roles dehumanise women by defining us as a supportive/serving caste in relation to the master caste of men, and/emotionally cripple men by demanding that they be alienated from their own bodies and emotions in order to perform their economic/political/military functions effectively. Homosexuality is a byproduct of a particular way of setting up roles (or approved patterns of behaviour) on the basis of sex; as such it is an inauthentic (not consonant with “reality”) category. In a society in which men do not oppress women, and sexual expression is allowed to follow feelings, the categories of homosexuality and heterosexuality would disappear.

But lesbianism is also different from male homosexuality, and serves a different function in the society. “Dyke” is a different kind of put-down from “faggot,” although both imply you are not playing your socially assigned sex role… are therefore not a “real woman” or a “real man”. The grudging admiration felt for the tomboy, and the queasiness felt around a sissy boy point to the same thing: the contempt in which women – or those who play a female role -are held. And the investment in keeping women in the contemptuous role is very great. Lesbian is the word, the label, the condition that holds women in line. When a woman hears this word tossed her way, she knows she is stepping out of line. She knows that she has crossed the terrible boundary of her sex role. She recoils, she reshapes her actions to gain approval. Lesbian is a label invested by the Man to throw at any woman who dares to be his equal, who dares to challenge his prerogatives (including that of all women as part of the exchange medium among men), who dares to assert the primacy of her own needs. To have the label applied to people active in women’s liberation is just the most recent instance of a long history; older women will recall that not so long ago, any woman who was successful, independent, not orientating her whole life about a man, would hear this word. For in this sexist society, for a woman to be independent means she can’t be a woman – she must be a dyke. That in itself should tell us where women are at. It says as clearly as can be said: women and person are contradictory terms. For a lesbian is not considered a “real woman”. And yet, in popular thinking, there is really only one essential difference between a lesbian and other women; that of sexual orientation – which is to say, when you strip off all the packaging, you must finally realise that the essence of being a “woman” is to get fucked by men.

“Lesbian” is one of the sexual categories by which men have divided up humanity. While all women are dehumanised as sex objects, as the objects of men they are given certain compensations: identification with his power, his ego, his status, his protection (from other males), feeling like a “real woman”, finding social acceptance by adhering to her role, etc. Should a woman confront herself by confronting another woman, there are fewer rationalisations, fewer buffers by which to avoid the stark horror of her dehumanised condition. Herein we find the overriding fear of many women towards exploring intimate relationships with other women; the fear of being used as a sexual object by a woman, which not only will bring her no male-connected compensations, but also will reveal the void which is woman’s real situation. This dehumanisation is expressed when a straight woman learns that a sister is a lesbian; she begins to relate to her lesbian sister as her potential sex object, laying a surrogate male role on the lesbian. This reveals her heterosexual conditioning to make herself into an object when sex is potentially involved in a relationship, and it denies the lesbian her full humanity. For women, especially those in the movement, to perceive their lesbian sisters through this male grid of role definitions is to accept this male cultural conditioning and to oppress their sisters much as they themselves have been oppressed by men. Are we going to continue the male classification system of defining all females in sexual relation to some other category of people? Affixing the label lesbian not only to a woman who aspires to be a person, but also to any situation of real love, real solidarity, real primacy among women is a primary form of divisiveness among women: it is the condition which keeps women within the confines of the feminine role, and it is the debunking/scare term that keeps women from forming any primary attachments, groups, or associations among ourselves.

Women in the movement have in most cases gone to great lengths to avoid discussion and confrontation with the issue of lesbianism. It puts people up-tight. They are hostile, evasive, or try to incorporate it into some “broader issue”. They would rather not talk about it. If they have to, they try to dismiss it as a “lavender herring”. But it is no side issue. It is absolutely essential to the success and fulfilment of the women’s liberation movement that this issue be dealt with. As long as the label “dyke” can be used to frighten women into a less militant stand, keep her separate from her sisters, keep her from giving primacy to anything other than men and family – then to that extent she is controlled by the male culture. Until women see in each other the possibility of a primal commitment which includes sexual love, they will be denying themselves the love and value they readily accord to men, thus affirming their second-class status. As long as male acceptability is primary – both to individual women and to the movement as a whole – the term lesbian will be used effectively against women. Insofar as women want only more privileges within the system, they do not want to antagonise male power. They instead seek acceptability for women’s liberation, and the most crucial aspect of the acceptability is to deny lesbianism – ie deny any fundamental challenge to the basis of the female role.

It should be said that some younger, more radical women have honestly begun to discuss lesbianism, but so far it has been primarily used as a sexual “alternative” to men. This, however, is still giving primacy to men, both because the idea of relating more completely to women occurs as a negative reaction to men, and because the lesbian relationship is being characterised simply by sex which is divisive and sexist. On one level, which is both personal and political, women may withdraw emotional and sexual energies from men, and work out various alternatives for those energies in their own lives. On a different political/psychological level, it must be understood that what is crucial is that women begin disengaging from male-defined response patterns. In the privacy of our own psyches, we must cut those cords to the core. For irrespective of where our Jove and sexual energies flow, if we are male-identified in our heads, we cannot realise our autonomy as human beings.

But why is it that women have related to and through men? By virtue of having been brought up in a male society, we have internalised the male culture’s definition of ourselves. That definition views us as relative beings who exist not for ourselves, but for the servicing, maintenance and comfort of men. That definition consigns us to sexual and family functions, and excludes us from defining and shaping the terms of our lives.

In exchange for our psychic servicing and for performing society’s non-profit-making functions, the man confers on us just one thing: the slave status which makes us legitimate in the eyes of the society in which we live. This is called “femininity” or “being a real woman” in our cultural lingo. We are authentic, legitimate, real to the extent that we are the property of some man whose name we bear. To be a woman who belongs to no man is to be invisible, pathetic, unauthentic, unreal. He confirms his image of us – of what we have to be in order to be acceptable by him – but not our real selves; he confirms our womanhood – as he defines it, in relation to him – but cannot confirm our personhood, our own selves as absolutes. As long as we are dependent on the male culture for this definition, for this approval, we cannot be free.

The consequence of internalising this role is an enormous reservoir of self-hate. This is not to say the self-hate is recognised or accepted as such; indeed most women would deny it. It may be experienced as discomfort with her role, as feeling empty, as numbness, as restlessness, a paralysing anxiety at the centre. Alternatively, it may be expressed in shrill defensiveness of the glory and destiny of her role. But it does exist, often beneath the edge of her consciousness, poisoning her existence, keeping her alienated from herself, her own needs, and rendering her a stranger to other women. Women hate both themselves and other women. They try to escape by identifying with the oppressor, living through him, gaining status and identity from his ego, his accomplishments. And by not identifying with other “empty vessels” like themselves, women resist relating on all levels to other women who will reflect their own oppression, their own secondary status, their own self-hate. For to confront another woman is finally to confront one’s self the self we have gone to such lengths to avoid. And in that mirror we know we cannot really respect and love that which we have been made to be.

As the source of self-hate and the lack of real self are rooted in our male-given identity, we must create a new sense of self. As long as we cling to the idea of “being a woman”, we will sense some conflict with that incipient self, that sense of I, that sense of a whole person. It is very difficult to realise and accept that being “feminine” and being a whole person are irreconcilable. Only women can give each other a new sense of self. That identity we have to develop with reference to ourselves, and not in relation to men.

This consciousness is the revolutionary force from which all else will follow, for ours is an organic revolution. For this we must be available and supportive to one another, give our commitment and our love, give the emotional support necessary to sustain this movement. Our energies must flow toward our sisters, not backwards towards our oppressors. As long as women’s liberation tries to free women without facing the basic heterosexual structure that binds us in one-to-one relationship with our own oppressors, tremendous energies will continue to flow into trying to straighten up each particular relationship with a man, how to get better sex, how to turn his head around – into trying to make the “new man” out of him, in the delusion that this will allow us to be the “new woman”. This obviously splits our energies and commitments, leaving us unable to be committed to the construction of the new patterns which will liberate us.

It is the primacy of women relating to women, of women creating a new consciousness of and with each other which is at the heart of women’s liberation, and the basis for the cultural revolution. Together we must find, reinforce and validate our authentic selves. As we do this, we confirm in each other that struggling incipient sense of pride and strength, the divisive barriers begin to melt, we feel this growing solidarity with our sisters. We see ourselves as prime, find our centres inside of ourselves. We find receding the sense of alienation, of being cut off, of being behind a locked window, of being unable to get out what we know is inside.

We feel a real-ness, feel at last we are coinciding with ourselves. With that real self, with that consciousness, we begin a revolution to end the imposition of all coercive identifications, and to achieve maximum autonomy in human expression.

Ed: This article was written by a collective of women in New York, and has been reprinted in several journals, including Come Out and The Radical Therapist. Gay News reprints it from Vector, which is the publication of the Society for Individual Rights. They are based in San Fransisco. To them we send love and thanks, and wish them much success in 1973.

Your Letters

Please note that any letters received by us at Gay News are liable to be published unless you state otherwise.

Scandalous Behaviour

Woodsetts, nr. Worksop,
Notts

Dear Gay News,

I have been going to write to you for some time but have kept putting it off through laziness. What has at last impelled me to shake off my torpor is the appalling and scandalous action of Mr Martin Stafford as reported in Gay News no 11.

As a fellow member of CHE’s Executive Committee, I am well aware of the petulant and selfish attitude that he adopts. But I am horrified that even he could go to the lengths that you have reported. To disagree with your policy of publishing contact ads is one thing; but to go over to the enemy in this way is something that ought not even be considered by someone holding any official position in an organisation such as CHE. I am absolutely sure that the overwhelming majority of CHE members will join with me in condemning such action in the strongest possible terms. I must congratulate Gay News for its objective (even kindly) reporting of the episode. It is time that CHE took some firm action to put Mr Stafford in his place as the squalid little nuisance that he is.

On the same subject, more or less, I find it very sad that so many of our brother and sister homosexuals, while looking for and expecting sympathy and understanding for their own problems find it so difficult to be sympathetic and understanding of those of others. Typical is the letter of VJM of Dublin in GN 11. What is so awful about camping it up in female clothes that a repressed pederast finds so hard to accept?

In the meantime, it’s an ill wind … etc. I have at last got round to telling you what a good job you are doing and sending you the small donation and the cigarette coupons that I have been meaning to do for some time.

With congratulations and all good wisnes tor continued success.

H. E. (Ike) Cowan

Good News, Bad News

London WC1

Dear Friends and Lovers,

Congratulations on what must be the very best issue of Gay News yet (No. 11). What with one of my very favourite people on the cover and that splendid interview with Shuff, I sat transfixed in the laundromat long after my knickers had finished tumbling dry. Mrs Shufflewick is certainly the best drag artist working today, a comedian of genius. The interview proved that the success of such articles (which only come off now and then) lies in asking the right question at the right stage in the conversation. So congratulations to Shuff’s interrogators.

Now the bad news. I felt that Peter Homes’ report of the German gay movie at the NFT was inadequate and rather silly. The event was not, I agree, as important as all that. But it was interesting and both the film and the audience’s reaction had messages for us that deserved a rather more serious discussion than that offered.

Finally, your reporter with a cold who couldn’t stay on for CHE’s evening show after the fair has embarrassed me considerably. I certainly did not conceive the one-act musical that was put on, nor did I take part in it. In fact my only contribution to the evening was to appear in a five-minute sketch. Credit where credit’s due, etc — so thank Rex, Michael, Marie and Gavin for the show.

Lots of love,

Roger Baker

Forced to be Free

National Federation of Homophile Organisations,
65 Shoot-up Hill, London, NW2 3PS

Dear Friends,

I don’t consider myself to be “Britain’s number one homosexual”; I simply told the London Medical Group audience that I had publicly been referred to in that way at another recent meeting, so I had no objection whatever to telling them that I was gay. This was in response to a “come out” challenge to the panel by a gay visitor in the audience. I added that the Chairman had set us an impossible task by asking for a “dispassionate and objective” account of homosexuality, because everybody in the world speaks from his or her own personal subjective sexual viewpoint, and I was no exception. But I hoped that having told them I was gay myself would not preclude my hearers from accepting that what I had to say was the result of knowledge gained through ten years’ professional work and responsible experience of running the Albany Trust. We have to scotch the absurd notion that only the “straight” can speak authoritatively about the “gay” (or vice versa).

This little episode did, however, cause me to reflect about “coming out”. It is good to be able to: but not everyone yet can without running considerable social and professional risks. Isn’t it somewhat unfair for those who are in a more fortunate situation not to recognise this? To taunt a panel of three professional people, only one of whom (myself) was able to publicly lay homosexuality on the line without almost inevitable and immediately damaging repercussions in their own sphere of work, strikes me as oppressive. It’s utterly wrong, of course, that such repercussions should still happen, but until we have all done much more to put society right in this respect, each one of us must surely be left to decide how far, and in what ways, we can come out. I have fought as hard as anyone for gay liberation and other civil rights causes; but I would resent being “forced to be free” a la Rousseau.

What those who still feel bound to remain “in the closet” can do, however, is to make the work of those of us in the various homophile groups and publications more effective by seeing to it that we aren’t starved out of existence. The entire homophile movement is in a state of chronic financial crisis that threatens its continued life. I hope all your readers will carefully consider the urgent needs of the Albany Trust, the NFHO and its member organisations, GLF, Gay News, and the various other homophile publications and see to it that if they can’t yet come out of their closets, they do dig deeper into their pockets so that we can all do more to make 1973 a year that is safer for gay people to come out in.

Love and Peace,

Antony Grey,
Chairman

Slagging Julian

Queenies Castle
Sussex

Dearest Darling Gay News.

Much though I love your newspaper, I have just one teensy-weensy complaint. I refer of course dears, to our little friend Julian Denys Grinspoon. Really, I don’t know why he bothers! He doesn’t give anything worth having; and what a pseud name!

Well really, loves, who wants to know what films are on at our dear old Bio? No one ever goes there for the films, do they? One gets enough carnal knowledge from just sitting there; and as for active participation, well I don’t think I need tell you old queens anything about that! Jules makes such a fuss just because some silly duchess at the cinema wouldn’t give him what he wants. Then he makes a big thing about telling us about all the people he eventually got it from (the programme of course). As if we want to know about his private life anyway.

The double-entendres are just too much personally I don’t like that sort of thing. He’s always doing things behind people’s backs just to get his own way. That sort of thing was illegal you know! So, why do all you lovelies at Gay News waste your space (and time) on him? Anyway, loves, he’s so camp and that’s one thing I cannot stand!

Thanks for your mag.
Lots of love,
A straight reader and friend,

Sebastian

Call to All Gay Sisters

Dear Gay News,

This is really a call to all lady gays. I fervently agree with the letter from Sappho (GN10) and I sing in chorus “where have all the ladies gone?”

I’m sure I am not the only female reading this wonderful newspaper. But the guys rule the waves once again, don’t let them hog all the paper. I know lots about them and have seen plenty of their arses. How about giving me a little of what I want. Let’s have a few of our lady friends saying something about themselves. I don’t see why we couldn’t have a sexy little ladie’s page if we tried hard enough. But there is only you who can bring that about, so write in and say something – anything! Like, where a few of you lovely ladies hang out! I’m a fresher to London and am still looking for lots of friends and a tour around the gay places. So don’t keep your info to yourselves, let’s all know about it. I’m looking for an opening – don’t keep me waiting! Write and tell me, and lots like me I’m sure, where we can meet some of you lovely ladies.

Love to you all,

Lynne

ED: Please get in touch with us Lynne, you forgot to put your name and address on your letter. Without your address we cannot forward any letters to you.

No GLF At CHE

London W6

Dear Collective.

May I bring this information to the attention of your readers. Going down to the CHE London Information Centre to do my lunchtime stint on the rota on Monday, November 6, I was told by the office manager that on the previous Sunday a decision was taken by the London Management Committee of CHE to remove all GLF literature in LIC.

The reason given was that LIC had too much of a left-wing flavour, and that GLF literature was too much in evidence. I observed that other gay literature including one of full frontal nudes was untouched by this censorship.

LIC exists surely to provide first information, on CHE, then information on all other gay organisations regardless of any political, religious or any other basis. I certainly was not aware that GLF dominated the diplay, nor was I conscious of the left-wing flavour of LIC — whatever sinister spectre that term conjures in certain narrow minds. It is sad to see this rage over gay-red-under-the-bed getting the better of some of our brothers and sisters, or is there some deeper motive behind this first move? Whatever the reason I am sure this decision is a bad one and must be resolutely opposed. Group Chairmen, please note.

Teck Ong

Truer Homosexuality

Durham

Dear Gay News,

The article in a recent Gay News about so-called pederasty prompted me to get my thoughts on the subject in order and write this.

Basically I’m bisexual. At the moment I’m more heterosexually than homosexually inclined, but this is more because of ‘supply’ than ‘demand’. As far as the homosexual side of my sexual make-up goes I could be defined as a pederast, because I’m chiefly attracted to guys in an age-range of about 15—22. I doubt whether I could get it on with anyone older than this. I’ve thought about the reasons for my choice, and they’re something like this.

Physically and mentally, I’m a pretty fair balance between masculine and feminine. I’m also 19 (so that makes half my sexual make-up illegal but I don’t care, it’s the law that’s wrong), and I’m attracted to similar people. Maybe this is truer homosexuality than that seen in many couples where the butch/bitch syndrome is their basis. Anyway, there’s an elusive blend of masculine hardness and slimness with feminine softness which really turns me on. Quite a lot of guys in this age-group have it, and so do some women; the only trouble is, all the guys are straight! So I do the next best thing and go with women…

I’ve written mainly about physical characteristics; but before anyone writes a nasty reply, I do take mental characteristics into account, indeed very much so. however I can’t get it on with a guy or chick unless I fancy them. What a hangup!

Chris

Letterette Of The Month

Sidcup, Kent

… Thanks a lot … great reading … love the ads … love it all … Happiness is egg shaped … and so am I.

EL

Gay Movie

46, Cavan Drive, St Albans, Herts.

Dear Gay News,

I am in the process of finishing a gay film ‘Love Of My Own’ and I would like to hear from interested parties, in getting it on celluloid. Script-writers, film-directors with experience, actors, non-actors, and people with finance. This film calls for actresses (not in drag). I would like any gay director of a company to give permission to use the board room, and also anyone with a large house with swimming pool, so come on, let’s really make this film for 1973.

RL

Your Letters continued on page 6.

Gay Deceivers

I’ll take peoples’ prejudices – up to a point, because of my own. A healthy prejudice is as integral to character as kindness. What I WON’T take is the furred mind of the holy heterosexual pontificating virtuously without being aware of his own pernicious immorality of the double standard society. THE OBSERVER – that great platform of Liberal philosophy will not ‘accommodate’ a classified ad for Sappho Magazine. THE SUNDAY TIMES – that trendy sparkling weekly won’t print the word ‘gay’ in the classified ad column to describe Sappho magazine. So single shot men write for a copy imagining it to be a pix magazine. The women we wish to subscribe ignore the ad for the same reason

THE STAGE AND TELEVISION TODAY refused our ad as the managing director Frank Comerford explains: ‘We receive quite a number of requests to include advertisements for publications with a pornographic content or inviting indiscriminate social introductions. It is true that many respectable papers do have a more permissive policy but we take the view that these advertisements do not enhance our paper. We cannot be involved in too much detailed argument as to the content of individual publications that come within a broad description of homosexual magazines. I know that you have a more serious purpose and that it is not your policy to include pornographic material, but I am afraid that insertion of any copy which might be useful to you would make it much more difficult for us to sustain our policy and involve us in arguments out of all proportion to the value of the advertising…’

LET’S LOOK AT THE ADS THE STAGE WILL PRINT:

WANTED Topless Go-Go dancers, striptease artists. Top rates.

Actress/Dancer required for Broadway and Road show in America. Very good figure to appear semi-nude.

ASTOR CLUB, Berkeley Square. All types of acts required. Striptease, Belly dancers.

Topless Go-Gos if you want extra work with hotel and travel paid

Respectable young ladies as dancing partners. No previous experience necessary … and so on and so on …

A well-sustained policy of indiscriminate social introductions would you say?

Fully clothed lesbians advertising a non-prurient magazine are filthy. Nude boobs, belly buttons and bottoms servicing jaded late-night society in the crudest manner imaginable is clean living. The most vicious in their self-righteousness is a particular type of female het. One example is in an Adoption Society. She used the most unchristian language at the mere IDEA of female homosexuals adopting children.

Another owns Bensons Newsagent in Crawford Street, London. In front of her mother, her husband and several customers she flew into a foaming fit about Sappho magazine without even opening it. “Filthy … it’s dirt … disgusting people get out of my shop …” which was stuffed with distorted boobs, belly buttons and bottoms . . Come again, Comerford:

‘On the more general point you asked for a responsible attitude and I feel that there is more than one way to demonstrate this. The problem of homosexuals are reflected in much theatrical material with which we are concerned and I think you would be hard put to detect any bias or unwillingness to deal with these matters in so far as they are relevant.’

I fail to see the relevance of straight actors playing gays for public entertainment compared with the REALITY OF LIVING LESBIANS which is not reflected in any responsible way by society.

Responsible attitudes are demonstrated every which way in the prevailing double standard morality by the peddling of pornography (including homosexuality) for a heterosexual market to the exclusion of non-prurient homosexual publications.

Porno comes from the Greek meaning harlot. Pornocracy means dominant influence of harlots, especially in government in Rome in the tenth century. Today the pornocracy of the presstocracy is only too evident.

Gay News By Sappho

So the egg has finally chickened off the inside pages altogether. No wonder for eggs are solely dependent on the hen. (No — it’s the chicken that needs a cock).

GN No 7, together with the previous issues, gives the impression that homosexuality is exclusively male/drag-queen orientated. (Oh, there was the odd roaring lesbian, Homosexual Woman and VD and Het GRANDMOTHERS, for gods sake, – Barbara Cartland, Mae West and Marlene Dietrich.) It’s enough to make an egg boil, let alone disappear, that lesbians have such indecent exposure. Don’t give me that bit about information is hard to come by; sisters are too shy; we could have a women’s page. Homosexuality cuts across role playing, income and class structure. GN, as the alternative press collective, has the whole field to itself to prove this fact. The content, in the main, is based on politics of experience and rightly in these emergent times – the experience of the male dominated collective, who are marvellously militant about police harassment, social oppression and legal discrimination. By all means continue the in-fighting. At the same time the politics of experience have a wider range than cottages and courts. Besides knocking the ioiquitous areas GN must publicise the positive progress between the gay community and the uncommitted heterosexuals and write about it with the same ardour as in outrage.

Your editorial in No 5 states ‘We here at Gay News don’t want two worlds, gay and nongay. We want one world for everybody.’ So you know. So you don’t need telling. You just need to be doing – editorially that is! And you can start right away with more lines for the lesbians. The ladies have learned a lot about the lads in your columns, it’s now time that the lads knew more about the ladies.

I’m not typical

Tests For Lesbians-How Do You Tell?

05-197208xx-5“Dr. A.J. Eisinger and colleagues from London hospitals, London University, and Dundee University….set out to discover whether female homosexuals were different from heterosexual women…..they compared forty-two lesbians, all members of a lesbian organisation who volunteered to help in the study, with a control group of mothers of the same age”.

Apart from the implied assumption that lesbians are not sometimes mothers too, this seems a ridiculously small sample. Could not this diverse group of researchers have rustled up more subjects, with all the resources of London and Dundee at their disposal (especially all those gorgeous nurses)? And, surely, if all the gay girls had come far enough out to join a specifically lesbian organisation, they would not react ‘typically’ to a personality test. A minority within a minority is a dangerous choice for scientific research of this kind.

“No differences were found in the age of menarche between lesbians and the control group, nor were there any hormonal differences. It was also found that the secondary sexual characteristics, for example lack of facial hair in women, were normal for all the lesbians, and no differences were found in the external genitalia.”

What did the good doctors expect? Perhaps to find a clitoris long enough to be capable of fucking, as beloved by the Victorian porn-writers, on every gay girl! It’s a relief to know we aren’t recognisable, anyway, isn’t it girls? After all, the Nazis had measurement tests to determine who was Aryan and who a Jew, once upon a time.

“Measurements of body size did show the lesbians to be greater in stature and shoulder width than the control group, but Dr. Eisinger and his colleagues did not consider that difference to be significant”.

Thanks! I’ll stop my diet at once!

“Tests for masculinity revealed a difference between lesbians and the control group of 1.4 units, the lesbians being more masculine; but again, that is not a significant finding, as the normal difference between an average man and an average woman is 14 units. The differences in the investigation, however, disappeared when the larger size of the lesbians was taken into consideration”.

Wonder what these tests were? Saliva sampling, like those victimised athletes, I suppose — or was it downing pints, driving a three ton truck, and selecting a suit and tie? With most people’s preconceived ideas about lesbians, it could happen – almost.

“As a result of the tests, Dr Eisinger and his team conclude that there is no such thing as a typical lesbian physique”.

Something one look inside the Gateways (suitable disguised in drag, of course) would have told them — and they would have had a bigger sample, instantly!

“The only significant difference in the physical appearance of the lesbians was that they all looked much older than their age, sometimes strikingly so”.

“Poor things!” commented the gay guy who passed this report to Gay News. It seems to be the gay men who are preoccupied with the youth-and-beauty criteria, not the women, in general. Anyway, how the fuck do you scientifically determine how someone “looks older than their age”?

“Having failed to find any significant physical differences, (they) then gave the lesbians two personality tests, one of which measured anxiety, restlessness, tension and vulnerability to stress, and the other measured impulsiveness, sociability, empathy and gregariousness.

“In the first test, for neuroticism, the lesbians achieved a much higher score than normal, whereas for the second, extraversion, test, they scored significantly less than normal. That showed that the lesbians were prone to anxiety and nervousness, and had obsessive tendencies.”

Some tests! They certainly tell a lot, don’t they? They sound as omniscient as I Q tests were once believed to be – and just as suspect.

I suspect all such research, especially when the word ‘normal’ is used as above, but I do see a need for honest and thorough research into sexuality as a whole, considering the whole spectrum and relating to all sexes. As a small and lighthearted contribution, what about a Gay News poll on experiences and attitudes? any opinions and suggestions as to approach welcome . . . . . .

Yours on top of hers

Quite recently, I went to my local GP (a male doctor) and told him I had begun to get severe pains in the groin and abdomen. His reply was “Oh, nothing to worry about. Plenty of women get it.”

05-197208xx-5I then told him that I was sleeping with a girl who had had severe salpingitis quite recently – could I have caught it from her? “No, no – you’re not lesbians or anything like that, are you?” I told him that, yes, we were. His attitude then became somewhat hostile – “Off to the VD clinic with you, then.” – and he gave me some painkillers. He made no internal examination, and did not examine me in any other way.

The next week I was on holiday, and had to get antibiotics from the local GP, as I had begun to have attacks of sharp pains. I went back to my GP and told him this, and was given more painkillers and told to rest.

Later that week my girlfriend had to take me to the casualty dept, of the local hospital.

I was given some pills and told to get more from the doctor, which I did.

05-197208xx-6On going to the VD clinic, I was asked whom I had slept with recently. I gave the names of about five women. They were not interested in these, and wanted to know when I had last slept with a man, so I told them, and said it was about six months ago. I kept going for check-ups, and was told I did not have VD, but an inflammation of the fallopian tubes.

The doctors’ attitudes ranged from amusement, to sarcasm, and lastly open hostility. One of the doctors wanted to know if I was butch or femme I explained that I wasn’t into role-playing, etc., at which he was most amused and surprised, and wanted to question me further. I answered his questions, as I felt he needed educating, but he was merely titillated.

I asked him if it were possible for women to transmit sexual infections to each other. He did not appear to know, and ended up by answering me in this fashion: “Well, I would imagine it would be rather difficult to get, er, ‘yours’ on top of ’hers’, wouldn’t it?’” “No, it’s not that difficult, actually.” I then asked him if we would be at risk by plating each other (cunnilingus). He was very embarrassed by this, and again could give no definite answer.

I was given more pills, and will now have to go for further examinations.

In the first place, I think this could have been avoided with more help and interest from my doctor; in the second place, there should be more readily available information about transmission of VD etc. between women, as gay women do go to these clinics, and need help as much as anybody else.