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1 INTRODUCTION Whenever I, or any people for that matter, browse through literature pertaining to gender studies, identity politics

and even philosophy, I always have difficulty looking for texts that center on lesbianism. I believe the lack of available resources reflect and, to a certain extent, contribute to inadequate understanding and misconceived perceptions regarding the issues faced by lesbians today. In my everyday search for lesbian representation, I have come to the realization that the media has come a long way in integrating homosexuals in its industry. Unfortunately, it appears that the lesbian receives far less exposure, if not, entirely in the background, as compared to gay men. It is a challenge to collect fragments of the lesbian culture in the form of articles, films, and TV show DVDs. And I have always found this difficulty to be deeply rooted on the fact that the lesbian lifestyle is simply not receiving the ample attention it deserves. This is could be, on the one hand, due to the tendency of lesbians to be silent members of society. As a result, the silence of lesbians has led to an over-all hushing of their lives including the ordeals they face. As such, this thesis will discuss the dilemma lesbians1 encounter based on their gender identities. It is in high hope that in pursuing a philosophical inquiry on lesbianism, I will be able to supply a substantial account on a subject that deserves further attention in academic discourses. One of the concerns of this paper is anchored on the claim that lesbians are confronted with the issue of double displacement due to their sex and gender. Sex is generically defined as the biological birth category of a person as male or female. This
The term lesbian in its most basic sense refers to a female who identifies the same sex as the object of her desire and sexual preference. Lesbian gender per se is a patchwork of masculine and feminine qualities which the lesbian reinforces and chooses to manifest as part of her identity and lifestyle.

2 category has become the basis of societies in socially constructing and naturalizing gender as masculine or feminine. Sex is far more stable than gender in the sense that the former is physically confined. Gender is a social construct that has developed to become a social fact. In this thesis, I will be deconstructing gender to accommodate other identities aside from the masculine and the feminine.2 Sex and gender distinctions are further standardized and reinforced through roles, social beliefs, and practices. In order to address the issue of double displacement, this project shall gear towards the attainment of a higher social good in the form of gender justice. This goes to say that the central task of my thesis is to liberate the lesbians from double displacement by producing and conceptualizing a “gender-just society.” It is necessary for the latter to be the ultimate goal of any intellectual endeavor that wishes to solve the issues a particular gender faces. The paper suggests a scholarly activist stance. As such, the feasibility of the recommendations to be rendered is reliant on the attitude lesbians would have to adopt. A gender-just society is plausible if and only if the lesbian can first overcome the myths or false notions regarding her identity in society. To clearly establish the project this thesis wishes to pursue, Chapter One will familiarize the reader with the context/issues in which the lesbian is situated. It will include a review of the status of women and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual, and Queer (GLBTQ) communities in different societies. Afterwards, I shall also discuss the contribution of feminist thought in the analysis of lesbianism. In the section entitled Feminist Theory versus Lesbian Theory, I am to purport that feminism which has claimed authority in providing an account of lesbianism (both in theory and practice), has in


ABC of Women Worker’s Rights and Gender Equality, (Geneva: ILO, 2000), 3.

3 certain ways failed to adequately perform the task of formulating a lesbian-oriented praxis. Chapter Two is devoted in laying down arguments that will support the claim that double displacement exists. This will be done by investigating how the lesbian is discriminated, repressed, and misplaced via the various institutions of society. I would consequently tackle the ways in which the lesbian is viewed and identified within the public sphere in order to understand the root of her difficulties and passivity in addressing the issue of double displacement. Chapter Two will also discuss how the male-female and masculine-feminine binary categories became the primary point from which a society institutionalizes heterosexuality as the norm of gender relation and identity. In doing so, individuals are raised and trained to conform to their particular sex and gender designations. Moreover, the need to procreate will be used to justify heteronormativity. This is an assumption that every one is and ought to be heterosexual. In the same chapter, heterosexuality will be described as an institutional and selfpreservation entity that maintains social order. A society makes it imperative to strictly conform to the gender categories one is placed in view of the assumption that being heterosexual is normal and necessary. One who does not fit within this gender framework would be considered as a deviant, a rebel, or even abnormal. Failure to obey by the rules of gender identification would lead to dire consequences. The lesbian therefore, being both female and homosexual, inherits the afflictions of both categories. As a result of this scenario, achieving a collective lesbian identity and a free gendered self becomes obscure.

4 The Final Chapter will center on gender justice as it relates to double displacement and how it is to be placed as the absolute end to be attained. As such, it falls under the strand of socio-political philosophy which is concerned with the normative aspect of addressing social ends and issues. By the time the reader reaches this concluding chapter, he/she would have presumably understood that the different forms of gender oppression like sexism are social justice issues. In formulating a gender-just society, I will be employing the Capability Approach of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. Humanist Feminists and gender theorists are currently choosing this general normative framework in analyzing the issue of gender equality and justice. The Capability Approach, though still in the stage of becoming a full blown theory of social justice, can be used to construct the conditions needed to for gender-just society. Needless to say, this thesis shall ground its solution on positive freedom. Bodies, regardless of gender, ought to receive certain privileges based on capabilities. Capabilities will be referred to as the ability to do and to be (termed as functionings) and will be considered in this thesis as fundamental entitlements. The applicability of gender justice in this thesis will be limited to civil societies that have already accommodated a liberal stance. The category of lesbian and homosexual should be first presented in the said society. Furthermore, it must be noted that the concepts applied here are feasible within the context of Western and Westerninfluenced states wherein there is conscious presence of gendered institutions and human rights.

5 CHAPTER 1: EXPOSITION AND CONTEXTUALIZATION Before I am to inquire the issue of double displacement, one must first recognize the social reality in which it is embedded. As such, this chapter will aim to familiarize the reader with the landscape that this thesis would be working on. I have also opted to include a section devoted to an overview of feminist thought as it relates to lesbian praxis. Although there are a lot of disciplines that engage in studying lesbianism, it is the feminist that had served as arbiter in such discourse. As mentioned in the introduction, this chapter contextualizes the problem of lesbians as individuals and as part of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer3 (GLBTQ) community. I must reiterate that background discussions for any work that pertains to gender is indispensable. This is in order to establish that gender oppression is a current predicament and a contemporary issue that society has remained silent on. The following section will consist of brief reports that aim to highlight the status of gender liberation on different continental locations. The lesbian is, in the succeeding paragraphs, discussed as part of the homosexual community and the women sector. After we have seen her position in different scenarios, we will be able to discuss the lesbian quasi-independently.

3 The term gay is used in this thesis exclusively refers to homosexual males. The term lesbian as clarified in the introduction is the homosexual female whose gender and sex is both considered inferior. Bisexuals are individuals whose object of desire can shift from male to female and vice versa. Transsexuals on the other hand, are people who have decided to alter their sex to coincide with their gender preference. The term queer refers to individuals who do not wish to categorize themselves using the usual gender categories.

6 The Status of GLBTQ minorities and Women in different Social Contexts The United States: A Pioneer on Gender Advocacy The United States (US) is considered to be the most advanced in the process of creating a gender-just society primarily because it is the host to numerous GLBTQ advocacy groups. In comparison to other states, the gays and lesbians in the US tend to actively participate in political and social dialogues. Their values and attitudes tend to focus more on the individual, rather than what society dictates or perceive as correct. Furthermore, it could be traced in their history that US gays and lesbians are the pioneers in demanding for equal civil liberties and most especially in the alleviation, if not the full eradication, of gender discrimination. A good point of reference would be the “Stonewall Rebellion of 1969” in New York City, where gays protested against the use of brutal force of abusive police officers while raiding gay bars.4 This momentous event in gay history became the launching pad for GLBTQ advocacy. The entry of lesbians in the GLBT movement5 soon followed in the early ‘70s as part of the second wave of feminists. Afterwards, these second wave feminists began to explore the role of lesbianism, as emphasized in the publication of Simone De Beauvoir entitled “The Second Sex,” and the highly angered article of Charlotte Bunch’s “Lesbians in Revolt.”6 Despite the head start, lesbians and gays in the US are still subject to rightwingled discrimination headed by the Republicans, neo-conservatists, and like-minded
4 Andre Reding, Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in the Americas, (New York:World Policy Institute, 2003), 89. 5 Individuals who considered themselves in the category of “queer” were not yet recognized during this time. 6 Marilyn Pearsall, Women and Values: Readings in Recent Feminist Philosophy, 3rded. (Belmont:Wadsworth Publishing Company,1999), 2-3.

7 individuals, through legislations that suppress gender justice. Despite public dissent, the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the US military, which inhibits gays and lesbians from serving the army as “out” soldiers, is still being implemented. On the other hand, majority of Bible Belt states in the US do not tolerate GLBTQ behavior particularly in recognizing same-sex unions, except for some parts of Florida who recently amended their local legislations acknowledging same-sex civil unions. Furthermore, there are no laws that protect gays and lesbians against hate crimes in more than half of federal states the country. Despite initial efforts in demanding for equal civil liberties, it is still not enough to assume that “gender revolution,” as American scholars coined the term for the liberation and equality of both sexes, is over. Although it can be asserted that women have been able to infiltrate various fronts of society, a lot of feminists argue that the truth of this is exclusively centered on White middle class women, and to other races and groups that exist in the US. The role of women, in general, is still in question mainly because of their sex and gender. This has been manifested in various organizations and companies who are still able to elude from the laws that should have been able to protect women. Laws, which were supposedly aimed at protecting women at work, are not being fully implemented. Some women are not hired, given less income and benefits, or easily terminated primarily because of the assumption that as women, they could not properly do their work as good as men can do it.

8 South and Latin America:The Machismo Culture One of the fundamental cultural markers related to gender in South and Latin America revolves around the machismo culture, the Latin American concept of hypermasculinity. Machismo culture refers to the overall cultural structure of the Latin Americans such that it adheres, not only to the patriarchal system of its society, but most importantly in the attitudes and values related to extreme masculism. Machista ethics solidly describes the attitudes and values of the male species: sexually-aggressive, domineering, and has high regard for the male-dominated society. Its ideals are further emphasized by the religion of the Latinos, Roman Catholicism, as reiterated by Andre Reding:
Machista ideals of manly appearance and behavior contribute to extreme prejudices against effeminate men, and frequently to violence against them. The Roman Catholic teaching that homosexuality is a sin further contributes to intolerance, and is seen by many to provide moral sanction for mistreatment. To live an undisturbed gay or lesbian lifestyle in much if not most of Latin America, one has to hide it.7

It is said that the Roman Catholic Church accepts homosexual individuals, but not the sexual acts that these homosexuals engage in. However, homosexuals do not deny the fact that these sexual acts, or even the concept of thinking of it, is inevitable to commit. Hence, even if the “act” is different from those who commit them, there would still be the negative view of gays and lesbians as people who continue to sin because the act cannot be separated from the person. Given the need for the homosexual to abstain him or herself from sexual acts


Andre Reding, Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in the Americas, 7.

9 with the same sex, there is always the question of whether this would hinder his or her capability to live freely in coherence with his identity. It must be noted that as compared to gays, lesbians receive less maltreatment and harassment in Latin American countries primarily because lesbian relations are invisible in their cultural fiber.8 And since machismo has a male-oriented definition, lesbianism is seen as a far less threat in society. Despite such indistinct behavior, there is still the issue of displacement because of the non-recognition of lesbians in its culture. On the other hand, Latino culture also imbibe the way of thinking that women can only be truly be called a woman if they experience sexual intercourse. Armed with such thinking, males engage in rape, or forced sexual intercourse, if only to enforce their machista ideals, and perceive such act as a favor, onto the unrecognized lesbian sector of their society. Lesbians are also abused by their own family members through domestic violence and incestuous acts. As a result, these crimes are, most of the time, seen as private disputes, rather than considering it as a gender-related issue.9 Instead, abuses toward lesbians are placed in police records as either rape or domestic violence. The lack of recognition and documentation for gender crimes have

Ibid, 16.










Thompson, Becky. interview, Maria Trinidad Gutierrez and the Mexican Lesbian and Gay Movement, in Sojourner: The Women’s Forum, Vol. 21, No. 10 (30 June 1996), 13.

10 accountability and intervene with the homophobic behavior in their culture. Given the aforementioned issues and concerns, the ideology that women are inferior to men is highly viewed by Southern, Latin American, and Carribean states since colonial times. With this, the image of the woman is regarded in two views: a) if she is married, then she is placed on a pedestal and situated in the home; b) if she is single, then she becomes a part and an object of the game called sexual pursuit. In both views, the woman is viewed not as an independent person with a given set of capabilities. Instead, she is conceived either in terms of her relation to men, i.e. as a mother to her son, a wife to her husband, or as an object of men’s desire. This mode of thinking has evolved changed throughout the years, especially during the era of industrialization and socialism in most of Southern and Latin states. However, the nature of

submissiveness remains prevalent, even with the introduction of women in the workforce and the public sphere. In fact, the labor arena is one of the areas in which the woman is further subjected to subordination due to their inferiority complex or their tendency to be too submissive in work demands. As a result of their submissiveness and inability to complain, women laborers, particularly in sweatshops and factories, in Latin America are still subjected to substandard working conditions, cheaper labor cost, longer working hours, and too

11 much workload. To aggravate matters, they are still financially dependent on their husbands, or even other male relatives for this matter. Husbands and male relatives tend to take their earnings, forcibly or through coercion, in an attempt to instill their role and stature as the superior sex, as sanctified by tradition. Canada: Homosexual Policy Support Canada is leading the call for revising laws to accommodate the rights of GLBTQs. It has continuously created and developed prohomosexual laws for gays and lesbians.10 Recently, it has also begun to uphold same-sex marriage privileges. Unfortunately, this does not suffice to conclude that Canada is the archetype for the future genderjust state. Gender oppression continues to persist for colored Canadians and immigrants. Lesbians continue to receive

discrimination, although in a more subtle way, from the communities they belong to despite legal protections extended to them. In this regard, Canadian GLBTQs tend to simply to shrug away these incidents. The flaw in the system exists due to lack of implementing guidelines for such laws. Furthermore, Canadians are somehow complacent over the existence of these laws, such that they lack the enthusiasm and passion to criticize or question whether the law is fully realized.


Andre Reding, Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in the Americas, 126.

12 Europe: Netherlands, The Most Gay-tolerant Nation The International Social Survey Program conducted a study on homosexual tolerance behavior and found out that the Dutch were the most tolerant among other countries, scoring 77 over 100 in a tolerance survey. It should also be noted that the Netherlands is the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001.11 In contrast, even with the anti-discrimination law for same-sex oriented individuals, 70% of Siberians have experienced some form of violence against them based on their gender preference, appearance and practices according to a 2006 survey on gay and lesbian related crimes by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.12 Vuckovic also highlighted in her article entitled “Discrimination against Lesbians and Gays in Siberia 2006” that about 43% respondents claimed to have encountered such violence on a regular basis, whether it be physical (being slapped, kicked, and even beaten by random strangers), emotional and psychical (in result of frequent taunting, ridicule, refusal to talk, denial of entry from some establishments, et cetera.).13 Like in South and Latin America, the Labris GLBTQ organization, a lesbian organization, also reported that even though gays and lesbians reported violent experiences to the police, the cases were
Jonathan Kelley, Attitudes towards Homosexuals in 29 nations, in, accessed on November 1, 2001. 12 Samuel Cox, Division Report: Gender-related Violence. United Nations Commission on Human rights. 2000. 13 Dragana Vuckovic, Discrimination against Lesbians and gays in Siberia 2006, in, accessed on August 16, 2007.

13 filed as mere random physical injury or domestic violence. Instead of arresting the culprit, police officers merely advised the complainants to settle the dispute and avoid “attracting too much attention.”14 The organization also reported that gays and lesbians were being terminated from their respective jobs on the assumption that they are gays or lesbians, albeit their non-admittance. On the other hand, some businesses fire lesbians on the pretext that they do not meet specific job requirements, particularly in the aspect of meeting the

requirements for certain dress codes (in reference to dykes, butches, and transgendered women). Another justification an employer uses is the fact that women who are not married in their 30s are assumed to have lack emotional stability, and thus may affect their ability to perform their work effectively. This, obviously, would have difficulty of finding a job when she reaches this particular age. Furthermore, lesbians and women are also objects of pornography and sex trafficking. Such premises are contradictory to Article 18 of the Labor Law of the Republic of Siberia, which clearly states that any act of any direct or indirect discrimination based on sexual orientation in seeking employment or as employees is forbidden.15 Due to the liberated view of sexual intercourse in the region, there is much belief that women are, to a large extent, open for conquest. This leads to acts of harassment and date rape, particularly
14 15

Ibid. Ibid.

14 for those bisexuals and femmes. Although filed, these cases are often left unsettled due to the mindset of European males that in being harassed and raped, the women wanted it. Such thinking prevails in the minds of male dominated law enforcement agencies. Africa: Legal Persecution of Homosexuals Despite being the first ever country to ever prohibit

discrimination against gays and lesbians, as well as the recognition of same-sex civil unions, there still a widespread persistence of gay and lesbian hate crimes in South Africa. In August 8, 2007, three lesbians were murdered by straight men after attending the first ever “Pride March” due to its so-called “offending activities.” Instead of

categorizing such act as murder, the suspects were charged with hate crime, under the anti-discrimination law. Thus, the punishment would be far more severe in order for the State to send a message of tolerance and actual recognition regarding the discrimination

homosexuals, in general, suffer. However, in other parts of Africa, GLBTQs are not as fortunate. A lot of countries still prohibit homosexuality such as Kenya, wherein individuals found guilty of being gay can be imprisoned for 14 years. In Zambia, gays and lesbians are legally prosecuted under the state’s penal code, which states that “having carnal knowledge of a man or woman against the order of nature or commits unnatural offenses is

15 guilty of felony.”16 This law was further reiterated by Vice President Christon Tempo in 1998, when he released a statement vowing that: “…If anybody promotes gay rights after this statement, the law will take its course. We need to protect public morality. Human rights do not operate in a vacuum.”17 True to such words, the police were given instructions to arrest men and women who support homosexuals or are actual gays and lesbians.18 Moreover, the government continued supporting the organization Zambia Against People with Abnormal Sexual Acts (ZAPASA), which aimed to fight against homosexuals. The same situation is widespread in different parts of Africa like Zimbabwe, Mozambique, et cetera. By virtue of being women, African lesbians would inherit the same faith from its patriarchal society as they are considered to be second class citizens. Because of their dominant male culture, women are also not given equal access to medical treatment. In the rise of poverty in the continent, women and lesbians alike are chosen to be the primary recipients of the burden, which includes limited access to: education, media, government, and practices that could be deemed dehumanizing (such as vaginal circumcision, banishment, slavery et cetera). India: Women as a Liability Similar to the aforementioned locations, the strong patriarchal nature of Indian society ensures the worse treatment for lesbians than for gays, particularly on the lack of
Stefano Fabeni, “The Violations of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons in ZAMBIA”, International Gay and Human Rights Commission Report, (July 2007), 2. The term ‘women’ is not interpreted by the Zambian government as pertaining to lesbians. The law takes a default male perspective. 17 Ibid. 18 The lesbian was initially not part of the law persecuting individuals who practice homosexuality. The original Zambian law stated that men who will engage in homosexual acts would be subject to fourteen years imprisonment. The involvement of lesbians in the police hunt was de facto in nature and should not have been covered by legislature. As such it could be deemed as an illegal arrest with no due justification.

16 laws that protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. Although India has a law particularly against gay relations, it is seldom implemented but instead utilized for extortion, abuse, and threat. This law excludes lesbian relationships, hence lesbians are considered to be an invalid gender in the country. This makes our case of displacement a bigger issue, because of India’s ignorance, rather than the actual act of abuse. Like African women, Indian women, who are not part of the cosmopolitan cities of India, are also subject to second class citizenship and unfair treatment. This includes the practice of “son-preference,” where the son is the more preferred sex by society’s standards. For this reason, there is a high mortality rate for female children due to the low allocation of family resources for them particularly in the following aspects: food, education, medical care, shelter, et cetera. The Dowry System also reinforces the belief that women are considered to be expenditures by fathers. In this system, the father of the bride is required to give “dowry,” in money or in kind, to the family of the groom. With this, Indians view their women as a liability to their family because of the need to give expensive dowry during marriage, instead of using such resources on other means of survival. The Philippines: The Least Tolerant Nation In the same study that showed the Netherlands as the most tolerant nation towards homosexual behavior, the Philippines scored 8 over 100, making it the least tolerant among the 29 participating countries.19 If this holds true, then lesbians and gays maintain a social stereotype acceptable by the Filipino culture. Despite the fact that

Jonathan Kelley, Attitudes towards Homosexuals.

17 physical violence towards gay men and lesbians are infrequent in the country, discrimination and harassment is very much prevalent due to the silent and tolerant character of metropolitan society. Moreover, middle class lesbians do not often find the need to pursue further legal rights, much more protection. Access to media representation also tolerates a blinding complacence and satisfaction of the lesbian from the reality of being displaced. In terms of “coming-out,” people in the rural areas consider lesbians if her physical features relate to that of the pseudo-male, or the butch. In the Philippines, gays and lesbians are able to gain the acceptance of their families in the form of silence. Otherwise, comingout only becomes an issue when the chosen mode is confrontational, particularly when a lesbian initially denies her gender preference. As a result, organizations such as Can’t Live Inside the Closet (CLIC) and the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network (LAGABLAB) reported through an interview with Anna Leah Sarabia, the founder of CLIC, that some lesbians experience humiliation, parental violence and ridicule when their gender was revealed in such confrontational manner.20 The degree at which GLBTQs and women experience gender discrimination and/or oppression varies. However, we are able to see the recurring pattern of explicit and implicit homophobia and sexism, not only in the Philippines but as well as in other countries. It must be acknowledged then, that gender related incidents of oppression are not

Anna Leah Sarabia, personal communication, November 2, 2007

18 merely isolated cases. Rather, they become social concerns in most parts of the globe such that these travesties and subjugation directed upon homosexual males and females become issues of social justice. As a form of social justice, gender justice appears in light of the fact that some members of society are recipients of socio-economic, political, and cultural inequalities based on their sex and gender, while being denied of privileges accorded to every individual by virtue of being rational human beings in a society. After setting the status quo and context from which this project launches itself from, I shall move to the second part of this chapter which discusses how feminist philosophy influenced the formulation of a lesbian theory. The manner in which historical feminists discussed lesbianism has been crucial in such a way that its ideas had a huge impact on the direction of lesbian liberation and thought. Feminist Theory and Lesbian Theory Feminist thought has claimed authority over discussions and inquiry of lesbianism by virtue of their aim, which is concerned with the issues of “womanity.” Given its nature, lesbianism cannot separate itself from feminism entirely, although there is a need to set boundaries in which the two converges. With this, I will identify the limits of doing a feminist approach on the issues of lesbians, and their interpretation of the lesbian identity, particularly focusing on identifying some of the errors of feminist theories about the lesbian. I shall pursue this in order to avoid the same flaws in posing the problem of double displacement and in suggesting a gender-just oriented solution. If a lesbian wishes

19 to understand and comprehend her gendered personhood through a scholarly discourse, she would find herself unsuitable to the description and identity articulated by its initial arbiter – the feminists. An Overview of Feminist Thought After analyzing the available resource materials, it appears that there is no clearcut description to categorically defining feminism. In fact, feminists find themselves arguing what constitutes the very term. For the sake of clarity, feminism will be defined here in its most general sense: a movement that is comprised of social, political, and cultural praxes, advocacies, and philosophies that aims to understand and eradicate the cause of inequalities and oppression particularly towards women.21 I consider that the position of feminist thought, as a strand of philosophy, is not confined to the tasks of conceptual analysis and discourse. It has literally become a philosophy in action, in the sense that the philosophizing of women, about women, has led to the creation of a political advocacy that aims not only in telling us what is wrong, and what we ought to do. Actually, it has been devised to set out and show us how they think it should be done. To understand the issues of feminist thinking, as well as its action driven face outside of the academe, I will briefly trace the evolution of the said discipline. This would allow one to see where feminism is coming from, and why it is what it is, before laying down its main tenets regarding society, women, and the lesbian. The thoughts, ideas, and history of feminism are best spoken through the three waves in which feminist thought is said to have occurred. The aforementioned waves are generally reflected from the formulation of a feminist agenda within the US and Europe.

Marilyn Pearsall, Women and Values: Readings (Belmont:Wadsworth Publishing Company,1999), 1

in Recent Feminist Philosophy, 3rded.

20 However, I attempted to diffuse and decontextualize such ideas in order to address gender oppression in most societies. It has been said that feminist thinking was given a figure during the 18th century through the now classic 1792 work of Mary Wollstonecraft entitled “A Vindication of the Rights of Women.” It demanded for the political liberation of women through equal political and social rights with men who were then considered to be the only eligible participants in the public sphere. At the same time, it was also the start of feminist activity in the US and United Kingdom in order to gain the right of suffrage for women. It can be said that the first wave of feminism is a liberal one, which centered on gaining entry into state institutions while gaining political and official recognition as the able counterpart of the male. It is also during this time that women began to argue against the notion of rational inferiority, thus demanding for equal access to education and civil liberties.22 Interestingly, it was only during the arrival of the second wave feminism that the term ‘first wave’ was officially coined. The first wave feminist activity geared its agenda towards acquiring the right to vote and some privileges awarded only to men. It centered on attacking the de jure (official) means like the law and other state policies that oppresses women. As compared to the first, the second wave feminism takes the issue of de facto means in which gender oppressive society is able to maintain itself. This is intertwined with the desire to eliminate practices that reinforce male dominance of various social activities and relations. Second wave feminists still saw the importance of the first wave feminist contributions. However, they sought to eradicate both sources of inequality (de jure and

Giltraud Schuvik, The Birth of the Woman:An Introduction to Feminism, (New York: Basic Books,1993), 8-9


21 de facto) as a necessary realignment of issues, from issues of equality towards issues of freedom, in order to liberate the woman. The second wave of feminism began shortly after the World War II, with the appearance of Simone De Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex.” This became the turning point for the shift of the conceptual framework of feminism from a discussion of equality towards a discussion of freedom. Her claim, that “women could not be equal, could not be anything but the second sex until they are free to change themselves and their conditions,”23 was so powerful that it became the starting point and argument for succeeding feminist theories, as compared to the aim of feminists’ agenda during the first wave. Also during the second wave, that feminism penetrated and aroused the interests of the American and European public of the 70s, it began to split itself from within. Feminist thought no longer became a unified understanding of the woman and her condition instead different views began to give birth to different interpretations and solutions. For example, the liberals continued to pursue a path to civil liberties as the primary means to attain freedom and equality. Meanwhile, radical feminists proposed a program of absolute separatism from all things male, getting back women power by starting a social revolution. For the Marxist feminist, they believed that all oppression, like gender oppression, was all rooted in the economic rule of the privileged that required a revolution overthrowing the bourgeoisie. I would have to say that I disagree with the system and theory of liberation proposed by the radicals and the Marxist feminist. On the other hand, I find the liberal stance inadequate when it espoused a change in certain institutional policies alone. At the most, I would more likely side with the humanists who

Marilyn Pearsall, Women and Values: Readings in Recent Feminist Philosophy, 2

22 utilized an existential and third wave feminist thought, in the form of “feminisms,” which is referred to a feminist in a more global and location-sensitive manner. It must be noted, however, that despite the fact of having belonged to the third wave feminism, “feminisms” refuse to associate themselves with it and instead be associated with the fourth wave feminism. Third wave feminism refers to the fusion of the different strands of feminism. It attempts to reconcile these views in form a globalization suiting approach. It is not a inflexible form of feminism as it evolves by adapting the different modes of women liberation across cultures unlike feminism, which imposes its view, analysis, and prescriptions on a society. Feminisms contextualize their views depending on the status quo of the community. It also recognizes that the cause of gender oppression may be impossible to find. They do not attempt to engage on history or patriarchy as the sole root of all evils. Instead of claiming a unified form of feminism that governs the liberation of women, I prefer the coming together of different form of feminisms. The claim for gender justice should not subscribe to universality. Rather, one should view that certain just inequalities could validly exist in societies with internal and external multidimensional difference. The emphasis should be in assuring that certain “capabilities,” or fundamental functions and rights, of individuals regardless of time and space, are safeguarded. The third wave of feminism consists of various types, which sprung from the critiques made by their predecessors, such as the following: black feminist, lesbian feminist, postmodern feminist, ecofeminist and the mind boggling post-post feminism

23 feminist. Third wave feminism claimed that second wave feminism made a mistake by proposing a myth of a unified woman. Black feminists, for example, found that feminist thinking during the 70s and 80s were insensitive to the needs and causes of the Blacks. In fact, feminism during the aforementioned period was deemed to be applicable only to the middle-class, the White, and the heterosexual woman. In their attempt to alleviate gender oppression, radicals and liberalists alike were unable to consider how the issue crossed path with other means of oppression. They were criticized for making it seem that the primary problem for any woman would be her subordination to men. On the contrary, poverty stricken women argue that gender subordination would be the least of their problems. The Black woman, for example, as Bell Hooks claimed, would rather identify her oppression as a Black woman in a White dominated community rather than as a woman in a patriarchal society. This is because most part of her life was subjected to this racial distinction rather than her sex. She further criticized the possibility of providing a feminist theory that would represent all women as she emphasized that, “it is not enough to claim that all women are oppressed and sexism renders suffering that cannot be measured as the justification to say that a common bond can be forged among women.”24 Most women, who do not belong to the same social strata as the traditional American feminists, would find it difficult to reconcile their experience of sexism and patriarchy from the ones mentioned in the written works of these thinkers. It is necessary to consider that an affiliation to a different race, or a gender preference, could easily lead to a whole different view of the world, unlike the second wave feminist that hastily
Bell Hooks, Feminist Theory:From Margin to Center, (South End Express, 1984), Woman and Values:Readings in Recent Feminist Philosophy, 3rded. (Belmont:Wadsworth Publishing Company,1999), 26-29.

24 generalized the female into a universal category of woman. They also assumed that the problem of a White American heterosexual feminist is identical to the plight of a Filipino homosexual female and a GLBTQ rights advocate. Lesbian Misplacement in Feminist Thoughts As I have mentioned earlier, feminism has claimed ownership over lesbianism by virtue of having the woman as its central concern. Surely this has some truth to it, but only to an extent that the lesbian is born with the sexed body of a female and to the extent as well that she suffers certain symptoms of oppression based on her birth sex. I shall now render the appraisal of feminist theories on lesbians in this concluding sub-section. This will also be used as an opener to the discussion of double displacement in Chapter Two. When Sigmund Freud published his medical work in 1920 entitled, “The Psychogenesis of a case of Homosexuality in a Woman,” he declared the concept of lesbianism as a mental disorder. Using his famous Psychoanalytic approach, he speculated that homosexuality in men and women may well be a case of narcissism. Accordingly, he claimed that a woman becomes homosexual when she undergoes a negative oedipal complex, wherein the mother is naturally the original love object of a lesbian female. But instead of the desire shifting to the father as the object, the girl (the daughter) retains her love for her mother.25 Furthermore, Freud asserted that lesbians who adopt the pseudo-male role is the girl who is unable to shed the masculine component of her personality and resolve her penis envy. Thus, out of anger and jealousy to her father

Janet Shibley Hyde, Lesbianism and Bisexuality, in Half the Human Experience: the Psychology of Women, 3rd ed. (D.C, Health and Company, 1985), 306.


25 and to other males, such issues were resolved through mimicry of men who possess what she needs to win the love of her mother.26 This was the scenario at the time when feminism decided to take lesbianism under its wing, with a goal to retort against the accusation of lesbianism as a disease that infects the minds of women during the 1960s and 70s. For some time, the term “lesbian” was even used to insult women and regard them as psychologically abnormal individuals. This was used as a justification to send them to mental institutions. Women, who defied certain gender prescriptions, exhibited desire to perform masculine identified acts, and even those who found comfort in wearing pants were accused of being lesbians. The feminists of the 70s, who aimed at resolving this stereotyping, claimed that male supremacy viewed lesbianism with so such stigma out of insecurity and fear of having their possessions usurped by lesbians. Also during the 70s, radicalesbians27 who coined the term woman-identifiedwoman, claimed that the appeal to pathology of male-dominated psychology was a desperate attempt to keep women in their place, such that women would continue to portray the role of the subordinate dependent on man. Accordingly, the clamor for equality produced a lesbian concept contrary to the assigned inferior category of women. This idea further flourished when radical feminists integrated the work of Simone De Beauvoir in the “Second Sex.” There was a shift in thinking that when De Beauvoir claimed that “the woman could not be equal, could not be anything but the second sex, until she is free to change to themselves and their conditions.” From an argument of

26 27

Ibid, 309. Marilyn Pearsall, Women and Values, 32

26 political equality, the assertion of equality in freedom, as a necessary core of human beings influenced the current wave of thinking.28 This view becomes pertinent in our discussion of lesbianism since De Beauvoir also emphasized the view that lesbianism is a form of rebellion from the current conditions of the woman as the other. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the feminists during that time embraced the lesbian as a woman who is the most free due to her refusal to relate with men, to be fixed within a domineering system of heterosexuality, and her passion to practice her freedom by loving her own kind.29 It is understandable that the hype of the 70s Gender Revolution gave birth to an aggressive feminist voice demanding for change. This was the initial phase of lesbian feminism that overwhelmed feminists of the possible promise the lesbians offer. In looking at the various texts on lesbianism during this era of feminist thought, one would be able to see how the latter saw the lesbian as the ideal needed to overcome patriarchy. At the onset of Charlotte Bunch’s essay entitled “Lesbians in Revolt,” one could clearly see the echoing of anger against the current system of her time and how she, together with her peers, found hope by idealizing the lesbian:
To be a lesbian is to love oneself, woman, in a culture that denigrates and despises women … lesbianism puts women first while society declares the male supreme. Lesbianism threatens male supremacy at its core. When politically conscious and organized, it is central to destroying our sexist, racist, capitalist, imperialist system… lesbians must become feminists and fight against oppression, just as feminists must become lesbians if they hope to fight male supremacy.30

In short, lesbianism was regarded as a “choice” the woman should take in order to liberate her self from the clutches of male domination. Although most of the feminists
Ibid, 4-6. Louise Hamilton, Mlle De Beauvoir: “A Synopsis and Analysis of the Second Sex”, Femwrytsfem, December 2001 available from; internet, accessed July 2007. 30 Charlotte Bunch, “Lesbian’s in Revolt”, In Lesbianism and the Women’s movement, (Diana Press, 1975)
29 28

27 today no longer adopt such a view, a strand of radical feminist thought continued to promote the lesbian choice as the exercise of absolute freedom. Even if lesbians are unconscious of the political value of their gender preference, they also continued to be silent soldiers against a heteropatriarchal system of oppression.31 On the other hand, Julia Penelope implied in her work that a lesbian’s choice to own a deviant gender identity entails that she should be conscious of the consequences and negative responses towards her identity. She argued, for example, that choosing to adopt the Butch-Femme, which further explained in the next Chapters, roles could hamper the capacity of lesbianism to disable heteropatriachy by promoting the social relations of male and female as the norm of which they must copy. 32 The Butch-Femme role depicts the lesbian as the true woman, a view that for me is a myth as it focuses merely on the aspect of these sexed bodies and directing their desires towards the woman. Moreover, one does not allow the lesbian to be but instead treats her as a tool, a condition, and a model to be reproduced. Ironically, the lesbian’s concept and possession of freedom becomes vague, if not suspicious, when individuals form a frame of what lesbianism ought to be, without considering the fact that being free also entails the need to adopt the masculine identity. It is far more powerful for the lesbian to claim the masculine role and deconstruct it to become “the butch.” It doesn’t necessarily have to be mimic manly characteristics if masculinity is considered as a social construct and that the concept of sex-gender coherence is an assumption. Separatism, or the separation of men and women, has been viewed by Charlotte Bunch as a solution to eradicate patriarchy. Despite calls to overthrow men from their

Julia Penelope, “Heteropatriarchal Semantics and Lesbian Identity: The ways a Lesbian can be”, in Call Me Lesbian: Lesbian Lives, Lesbian theory, (Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1992) 32 Ibid, 78-97

28 privileged position, society would still prefer the current oppressive structure. In my opinion, Bunch’ ideas is an impractical methodology to eliminate the inferior treatment of women. This is primarily because I do not see men as enemies to be annihilated, despite their hyper-masculinity. There is no guarantee that displacement and oppression would not exist if all women adapt a woman-identified-woman position. It blinds the fact that even lesbians would refuse to see themselves as the totality of womanhood, despite assertions of the radical lesbians during the 70s. Some consider themselves women only as far as their genitals go, but if feminists truly value respect and right to selfdetermination, they must not force their ideology on lesbians. It is highly questionable that feminists deemed lesbian issues as a mere matter of ignorance and instead, considerably blame patriarchy again in the process for instilling the notion of masculinity. Although male dominance is one of the primary causes of double displacement, I disagree with the position that radical lesbian feminists declare in confronting the issue. This is because these feminists failed to give a stable rational argument to challenge the system and instead opted to target the male per se. Furthermore, they overlooked the fact that males are also subject to certain repressions and regulations in terms of gender. It would be a backfire solution to adopt a system that would seek to liberate women on the account of men becoming the oppressed. I will further discuss and elaborate the idea of the lesbian as the authentic self Chapters Two and the need to assert her active participation in Chapters Two and Three. When lesbianism is viewed as an applied case of feminism, there is always the possibility of setting aside the difference of worldviews themselves between the heterosexual and the non-heterosexual. As a result, feminists overlooked the difference

29 that exists between experiencing women subordination and lesbian subordination, since the latter has to face the problem of being identified, not only as woman, but as a homosexual in a heterosexual society. Lesbianism can be an act of rebellion, but it does not necessarily follow that in order to change the condition of all women, she must act on her freedom and be a lesbian. At the most, gender roles ought to be re-evaluated to be more accessible to individuals possessing a different gendered-self. The masculine and the feminine should be seen as mere descriptions and, if possible, rendered to be value-free or neutral concepts juxtaposed to sex.

30 CHAPTER 2: DOUBLE DISPLACEMENT Double displacement is the accumulation of all forms of gender injustices that falls upon the lesbian based on her sex and gender. This definition is derived when one affirms the fact that a lesbian cannot fully set aside her sex by occupying a gender category, the lesbian. Double displacement is considered as a combination of lesbian subordination and women subjugation, which I will further discuss in this Chapter. It would be discriminatory to say that gender oppression exists only in reference to the plight women faced by virtue of being women. The problem simply is that women, since time immemorial, were considered secondary to men. The issue of how humans were subdivided up to form sexes is another issue that has yet to be settled through time. Hampering or limiting one’s choices, or gender preference, may not necessarily be through de jure (official) or institutional means. Repression can exist even in silence through the various social practices. More often than not, some lesbian opt to act straight in order to avail of certain heterosexual privileges such as: special treatment in standing room only movie houses and public transportation, availing sick leaves, and more importantly in public debates and discourses where women, despite their harsh opinion, are still regarded with respect because of their sex. There is no direct assault on the lesbian, but she is conditioned to compromise her gender identity in order to avail of the advantages of being a woman. Signs of oppression and short observations (such as misogynist statements, physical harassment, verbal abuse, et cetera) allow us to distinguish signs of oppression. Since it is difficult to be conscious on how society normalizes repression, lesbians who are exposed to the patterns set by social norms and gendered institutions would, in the long run, accept the status quo without complaints.

31 Lesbian subordination has been assumed to be in part and parcel of gender oppression because a lesbian possesses a gendered identity with certain implications and consequences for the individual and her external relations. Unfortunately, gender oppression, as a whole, tends to be centered on the conflict of two sets of gender, the masculine and the feminine, where the latter is viewed as the losing party. As a result, solving gender oppression becomes more heterosexual in nature and often ignores nonheterosexual subordination within society. The lesbian is, by default, a sexed entity. She only captures the category of a woman by virtue of her being born with a vagina. This becomes the basis of her growth, while imbibing the feminine role and the subsequent performances, or performative acts, necessary to continually affirm the nature of her sex. A salient act in maintaining her “woman” status is the necessity to desire the opposite sex. In leaving this feature behind, the lesbian loses her ownership of a stable, coherent and socially-acceptable identity. Feminists have interpreted this as a good thing, such that she does not have to conform to the oppressive implications entailed by the category of woman. However, a “gendered concerned act” occurs when a lesbian re-directs her desires from the male to the female, thus maintaining the burden of her sex. Even if she does not want to be with a man, she will not be able to free herself from the implications of her sex. Whether or not the lesbian accepts her female body as hers, and refuses to see her body compatible with the gender she chooses to assume, she cannot deny that society would still perceive her as a woman. The general “conservative” public would subject her to certain standards and norms applicable to that of a woman, whether she would be keen on accepting it or not.

32 Cheshire Calhoun claimed that gay and lesbian subordination should be treated as a different axis of oppression in order to avoid concealing heterosexism as another cause of homosexual plights when spoken in the context of a heterosexually-dominated discussion of gender oppression as a whole.33 If gender oppression is to be viewed as the subjugation of women from men alone, there is good reason to maintain the separation of gay and lesbian subordination from that of gender oppression. Thus, this would prove to be insufficient in painting the picture of lesbian identity. And because of this, there is a need to consider the lesbian as a sexed body with a gendered identity. Feminists thinkers has conveniently used and unused the dualism of the sex and gender of a person when speaking of the subordination and identity of the lesbian. They have often sided with the view that being a lesbian would leave out the consequences of being female. Although Calhoun’s ideas are acceptable, I consider the concept of dualism of sex and gender as a misguided opinion. Borrowing the words of Calhoun:
… Tootsie roll metaphysics or pop-bead metaphysics is simply wrong. It is not true that each part of my identity is separable from each other part, and the significance of each part is unaffected by other parts.34

This trend of thought implies that sex does have an effect on the gendered identity of the lesbian, although the demands and consequences a lesbian face extremely varies from the heterosexual woman’s absorption of her sex. Feminists like Monique Wittig emphasized too much on gender, thus led her to set aside the sex of lesbians. This can be seen in her claim that lesbians are “not-woman,”35 a shift from the “woman-identifiedwoman” concept of radicalesbians. Wittig’s claim of “not-woman” emphasized the
33 Cheshire Calhoun, Feminism, the Family, and the Politics of the Closet, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 75-76 34 Cheshire Calhoun, “The Gender Closet, in Women and Values”, Readings in Recent Feminist Philosophy, 3rded. (Belmont:Wadsworth Publishing Company,1999), 194. 35

Ibid, 46.

33 exclusion of the lesbians from the binary scheme of gender and sex. In highlighting the difference of the heterosexual from the homosexual, I suppose her not-woman claim failed to recognize the other features that could qualify the lesbian in the category of woman. By addressing only the issues of gender, she missed out the experience of lesbian displacement based on her sex. As a result, the lesbian is still subject to oppression. I do not wish to deny that Calhoun’s and Wittig’s claim that the lesbian, in terms of her sexuality, is far more concerned with her subordination and displacement, primarily because of the heterosexual norm of society rather than the disadvantages of being a woman. However, I wish to correct the implication that this is her only plight. The lesbian inside the closet may repress her true identity by prescribing to a feminine imagery of being heterosexual in the eyes of society. However, I cannot see the significance of continually acting out a feminine script viewed as an automatic sign of oppression from the heterosexual camp. If one truly views gender as a social construct, then one must, to a large extent, resist the temptation of looking at femininity and masculinity as immutable features of heterosexuality. The following section deals with the issue of some, if not most of, lesbians who do not recognize themselves as being oppressed. This is important to our discussion otherwise, non-recognition often leads to non-participation. Also, lesbians tend to take an underground approach in dealing with their displacement. Homosexuals are deemed to be an insignificant minority rather than a key sector that can shape society. This can be partially attributed to the fact that a lot of lesbians would choose to keep their gendered identities private. Because of this, lack of visibility would further drive society not to

34 recognize and adjust its structure in order to accommodate the presence of the lesbian community. I think that in a gender-just society, keeping one’s gender relations a private matter would not be a problem. However in the present state lesbians are in, their passiveness has been detrimental in eliminating political and economic displacement. “Heterosexualized media” of social information aid in regulating the image of the lesbian in a society. The lesbian today is offered some connections with her gendered identity through programs that are aimed for consumers like her. This current trend of GLBTQ commercialization both has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of resolving double displacement. I shall discuss this issue in the subsection entitled “Lesbian Images and Categories as means of Objectification” I would then proceed to the outlaw role of the lesbian in her relations with various institution of society.

Recognizing Oppression It is deemed essential to discuss gender oppression by first taking into account whether or not the latter would exist with or without the recognition of the lesbian (or any individual for that matter) of being oppressed. A lack of recognition from those who are deemed oppressed may be detrimental to any liberation agenda. I am inclined to respect choices since I believe that this is one of the essential powers which place human beings above any other species. There is difficulty in justifying the existence of gender oppression if people who are oppressed deny being in such a situation. However, I could not just allow myself to go forth with a thesis that

35 included studying the oppressive situation of the lesbian if in the first place the lesbian does not see her identity in any disadvantageous position. One of the features of being oppressed is the absence of choices.36 The lesbian would not recognize the concept of oppression as something she encounters if it is a manifestation of an act of society against her. She will not feel oppressed unless someone actually harasses her by virtue of her being a lesbian. One of the reasons why the lesbian community is slow to unite against oppression is because their respective views on oppression are highly subjective. It boils down to whether or not a lesbian is a direct or merely an indirect victim of homophobia and discrimination. Historically the lesbian has never felt the absolute absence of choices. In fact there has neither been a law anywhere in the world nor in history that proclaimed being lesbian as illegal, unlike the homosexual man who has been more exposed to discrimination and persecution of institutions. Differences in the ordeal of gay men and lesbians in the past can be one of the major factors that shaped these groups’ approach to liberation today. A hypothesis rendered by Sen regarding gender oppression can be seen as a plausible explanation for this scenario.37 He suggested that if and when a certain group of individuals is within a society that normalizes inequality and oppression, they (in this case the lesbians and women), tend to adopt such normality as natural and not merely as a social construct. In the case of gender oppression, I suppose there was a point in time that there was an absence of one’s rights to certain political, economic, social opportunities, as deemed to be the privilege of any person. This is the reason why “displacement” rather than “oppression” is the more appropriate term to describe the situation of lesbians. There
Bell Hooks, “Black Women:Shaping Feminist Theory”, in Women and Values, 3rded. (Belmont:Wadsworth Publishing Company,1999), 27 37 Atty. Allan Pasamonte, Lecture Handout: Philosophy of Law, 1st semester AY 2005-1006, University of the Philippines, Los Banos

36 is infrequency, although it is argued that there is only a lack of documentation, in the direct acts against lesbians. More often than not, lesbians experience unjust inequalities in the form of withheld privileges. One may continue to pursue a project of liberation because of the perceived disparity in the opportunities and rights appropriated to heterosexuals compared to homosexuals. Furthermore, liberation is to be pursued for the very reason that there are essential bases for the existence of these disparities. Institutions grant recognition and acknowledgement of rights to the members of a society based fundamentally on being rational and free human beings. The lesbian qualifies in such category and she should not be situated outside of the system based solely on her gender choices. For as long as she does not become detrimental to the state and others, there is no due reason for society to displace lesbians outside the system. Gender choices are personal exercises of freedom. A lesbian does not hold any obligation to marry, form a family with a husband and adopt a subordinate feminine role. If she chooses to portray a heterosexual life because of the necessity to avail certain privileges accorded by society, then this may be viewed as a way of displacement. As such, the lesbian finds the need to deny her own identity for convenience and acceptance. On the other hand, if a lesbian chooses to be with a man simply because this becomes her preference, then she must be allowed to do so. The goal of the state is to safeguard the positive freedom of its constituents, at the same time, make sure that just limitations are in place so as to maintain social order. Even if there is an absence of recognition, there is still a need to guarantee that the tenets of justice are being upheld. If a lesbian does not want to avail herself of certain privileges then it is her choice, albeit such privileges limited from the GLBTQ community.


The Lesbian Regulated through her Sexed Self The body becomes sexed and gendered the moment a child is born and the doctor proclaims that it’s a girl or a boy depending on the genitals attached to it.38 It is true today that even sex can be considered as an undetermined aspect of one’s being. Due to the advancement in technology, a person can now choose to reconfigure the body in order to fit the gendered identity one sees as reflections of his/her true self. It is really quite interesting, considering the fact that the view has always been that the gender follows from the sex of a person. Gender is a social construct, a set of practices, a prescribed social meanings, and roles. The sex is taken to be the deciding factor of society in order to raise the child fitting on a particular gender category. The lesbian cannot be identified as a lesbian when she is born, thus her genitals speak for her like any other woman, unless she is a hermaphrodite but this aspect is a whole different inquiry. Corresponding to her sex, she will be conventionally raised to occupy the gender role of the feminine. Some lesbians would discover their desire for the same-sex as early as their preparatory years, but nonetheless she will normally raise as a girl. This would continue until she refuses to identify herself with the role of the feminine, and eventually find a category that would suit her. On the other hand, she could continue the portrayal of the feminine, disregarding the feature of her object of desire.

Lesbian Images and Categories as Means of Objectification

Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, (US:Routledge Press, 1999), 34-45.


38 The term “objectification” in this context pertains to a particular existential doctrine. It defines people as duly recognized subjects and should not be dehumanized under any condition. To render individuals as mere objects of a person’s desire or thought, rather than active subjects and rational agents, is to objectify them. It is fitting to say that the meaning of the word objectification is to be taken as a fitting humanist perspective. False representations and images are a few ways in which objectification is employed. Through the deployment of these meanings, the lesbian becomes invisible. There comes a point where the representations are normalized to become social facts. In effect, the lesbian exposed to this sort of social reality finds herself needing to conform to the stereotype presented to her in order to reconcile her existence within the cultural fiber. The lesbian becomes noticeable if society scrutinizes her identity from the dominant male-female sexuality perspective. If one would accept a phallocentric view of society, it would be necessary to interpret the lesbian as something that is centered on the masculine in order to make it coherent and even possible for a perceiver. The portrayal of gay and lesbian identity in contemporary arts practices has been pivotal in debates that surround gender equality and social recognition. The visual is a powerful tool on how individuals would build their views regarding gender, especially in gaining a perspective of the so-called “queer” culture today.39 In speaking of the “queer,” I aim to again put this thesis in the correct context. Queer individuals move outside the traditional GLBTQ. His or her desire to be accepted within the social reality is done by demanding the same treatment of heterosexuals towards a more culturally confrontational stance. This is done through the questioning of

Peter Horn and Reina Lewis, Outlooks: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities and Visual Cultures, (London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Grp, 1996),13.

39 heterosexual normalcy, recognition of the difference of homosexuals as an equally valid individual and collective identity, and as deviant of the usual scheme of society. To adjust a society and make it queer-friendly would mean recognizing the difference of homosexuals from heterosexuals, but still accepting the argument of valid equality. This goes to say that unlike previous cases wherein lesbians proclaim that “we are just like you,” the lesbian accepts and declares that “we are not the same, we experience a different social reality, we view the world differently but we deserve what you deserve.” The interpretation of sexuality is said to be masculine on both linguistic and representational level. As such, it appears that the woman and lesbian are mere objects for the “masculine gaze.” The masculine gaze becomes a meaning-making approach that makes all texts sensible and made only for the heterosexual and the male desires.

The Lesbian as a “Pseudo-male” The principle of consistency has assumed that gender identity, gender role orientation (masculine-feminine), and sexual object of choice maintain an integral and inseparable relationship with each other. This implies that a stereotyped lesbian is a person whose identification deviates from the assigned sexual object of choice, sexual identity, as well on her gender role orientation and gender identity. Because of this, it is far more common to construe the lesbian as a masculine female, as typified by the phrase, “man trapped in a woman’s body.” This type of lesbian does indeed exist in the form of the butch, one who dresses and acts like a man. Such a portrayal has both explicit and implicit consequences, both for those who share the label lesbian, and for those who view the lesbian. There has been a debate within the feminist community on whether the butch

40 is an impediment or a revolutionary instrument. I personally do not agree with any ideas that anchor on treating the lesbian as an instrument for any cause. Albeit, for the sake of discourse, I believe one would have to examine the “butch” as a valid lesbian identity. Hence, our project now is how to reconcile such with collective and identity politics. There is no doubt that the butch is not the only kind of lesbian but is the most noticeable. To be a butch would mean that others would assume that one is a lesbian primarily because of her physical appearance. It would also not require asking or turning on the “gaydar,” a supposed instinctive tool/myth that homosexuals can sense if another is or is not of the same gender category. The typical butch is seen as masculine, with the following characteristics: uses wrap garters to hide their breasts, wear male clothes, and is keen to follow male-female relationship patterns. Assuming the butch identity allows a lesbian to situate herself within a heteropatriarchal society, she has the capacity to reinvent the category of masculine by playing out the role without much emphasis on the phallus. This goes to say as well that butch-femme, the latter as the feminine lesbian, relationships may be a way to threaten the normalcy of heterosexuality. However in most cases that butch-femme relationships occur, society conceives the sexual acts of the two as only plausible in the context that it is mimicry of heterosexuality. The uniqueness of the lesbian experience is drawn-out, leaving only a phenomenon that is still heterosexualized.

41 The Lesbian as the Erotic Being subject to pornification and male gaze, the lesbian is conditioned to be seen by herself and others as a sex object. The relationship a lesbian maintain becomes nothing more but an erotic stimulus for the male. As the GP circuit magazine states, “one woman is sexually arousing, imagine two, it’s double-sexy.”40 Pornography has always been designed for the men, while an M-to-M (male-tomale) pornography is for gay men. Heterosexual sex videos are essentially constructed for the straight man’s eyes. Adversely, lesbian sex is portrayed with as much dependence on a penetrative object or another male actor in order to alienation from masculine gaze. The woman is objectified, and her body becomes her identity. When the lesbian is objectified, she loses grip of her subject position. This contributes to her displacement such that she does not engage in society as an equal. Instead, she assumes a lower degree of recognition. When the lesbian moves from the erotic to the romantic or intimate, this is categorized as a “silent” private affair. There is little, if any, recognition of her partnership as a legitimate one and such grave difference to the heteronormative “love” is often portrayed, celebrated, and idealized.

The Lesbian as the Mainstream Genre The lesbian deciphers her own “meanings” from different codes presented to her, one of which is how she sees her “self” as others portray the “lesbian.” There was a time when lesbianism was a marginalized and invisible character in different kinds of media. The lesbian characters of old films and literary texts were presented as bitter, butch-type,

“Double Sexy, Double Standard?”, in GP Circuit Magazine, vol. 1 issue 3, (Quezon City: ABSCBN Publishing Inc., 2005).


42 and suicidal. These kinds of portrayals have a huge impact on how society viewed lesbians, and how they viewed themselves. This claim was captured through the words of Victor Russo, a film critic and writer of the book entitled “The Celluloid Closet:”
In a hundred years of movies, homosexuality has only rarely been depicted on the screen. When it did appear, it was there as something to laugh at—or something to pity—or even something to fear. These were fleeting images, but they were unforgettable, and they left a lasting legacy. Hollywood, that great maker of myths, taught straight people what to think about gay people … and gay people what to think about themselves.41

However, such artistic portrayal has gone through some changes in the introduction of lesbian themed shows and movies. This allows the community to gain access to others like them, or at least be able to witness their story being unfolded for public viewing. It may be said that such appeal does not go easily accepted in societies. The lesbian has become a hot topic for both documentaries and fictions. This has had great effect on how lesbians viewed their identity as being more and more acceptable in societies today. Because of such exposure, one of the negative impacts of being able to gain access in lesbian lifestyle is the pronounced complacency of the urban lesbian. This is also true for lesbians in other areas with traditional belief. And instead of embracing it, they do not engage in identity politics. Furthermore, gay and lesbian themed films and television series tend to highlight the sexual rather than the actual experience of lesbian relationships. Take for example the popularized “Queer as Folk,” a series revolved around the lives of gay men. If one would be able to gain a copy of the said series, he/she would agree that two-thirds of the television show consists of graphic sexual encounters. The “L word,” a lesbian-themed show that was recently aired in a local cable channel, contained the same emphasis on sex when viewed in its original form. The version that was aired in the Philippines had too

Victor Russo, The Celluloid Closet, (New York: Harper and Row, 1981), 4.

43 much censorship on the sexual scenes. Consequently, the show’s storyline became somewhat incoherent due to the fact that even some of the conversations were removed. The result is a conservative form of “Sex and the City,” thus it is a fact that to a certain extent, lesbianism is still not accepted as a valid form of partnership. According to the Riddle Homophobia scale, the act of mainstreaming shows that portray lesbian lifestyle, but removed contents that would affirm the difference in lifestyle, would implicitly mean that there is still something left to accept. As such, even at this point, the lesbian is still displaced because her identity is still not completely recognized. The emphasis has been placed on her label as a “lesbian,” but there is still unwillingness to accept the essential features that constitute the term. The result is an over simplification of being a lesbian as a form of self-representation and not an actual identity. With this, civil society fails to recognize that being a lesbian extend to one’s choice of social relations.

The De Jure Form of Double Displacement Institutions are currently being challenged to loosen gendered policies to accommodate gays and lesbians. As I have shown in Chapter One, despite legislative protection, GLBTQs continue to suffer the repercussions of a gendered identity outside the norms of society. As a result, lesbians are denied heterosexual privileges while their opportunities are consequently limited. In terms of institutional recognition, lesbian partnerships are not valid in the eyes of the law. Same-sex marriages and civil unions are still being debated on religious grounds of homosexuality and marriage. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church considers the

44 union of a man and a woman as the only acceptable kind in the eyes of God. In other forms of religion like Islam, the lesbian does not exist, thus they do not consider a marriage between women as conceivable. A self-confessed lesbian would most likely be persecuted according to Muslim laws. To deny marriage rights to gays and lesbians would to equate that the government also limits the right of these individuals to have a family. Children with same-sex parents are often teased in schools. Lesbian couples across the globe find it almost impossible to legally adopt orphans. Likewise, they equally find it difficult to avail rights and privileges awarded by the state for heterosexual families. Lesbians should be allowed to have their partnership recognized, whether or not they plan to avail of such rights, for the very simple reason a person essentially possess is the ability to choose any person of his/her desire without being subjected to malice and disapproval. Hence, there is a need for appropriate legislatures that will address the growing concern for lesbian displacement in society.

45 CHAPTER 3: GENDER JUSTICE Gender oppression is the individual acts of abuse and violence, patterns of power and control, and systems of abuse and violence perpetrated against women and girls due to their gender  (cite source). As mentioned in the beginning of this thesis, the resolution to this specific dilemma is a formulation of a more general solution. This chapter aims to set certain conditions that will aid in producing a gender-just society. I believe that gender justice is the only real solution in resolving the issue of double displacement. This chapter begins with an overview of Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach. Afterwards I shall be laying down the three Capability Principles, as purported by Ingrid Robeyns, and modify them to accommodate gays and lesbians alike.

An Overview of Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach Amartya Sen is an Indian philosopher and economist who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1998 and is currently the Lamont University Professor in Harvard University. Sen originally conceptualized the Capability Approach, which is at times considered to be a theory, to evaluate social states in terms of individual welfare. He first applied the framework to address issues of poverty and development. The theory is founded on the assumption that all human beings have functional capabilities or substantial freedoms such that these are freedoms that people have a reason to value most. When Sen speaks of function, he refers to a human being’s capability to function in enacting one’s important desires. In this case, capabilities are the modes of a person’s innate capacity of freedom and practical choice. It must be noted that when Sen speaks of freedom, he promotes “positive freedom.”

46 Sen asserts positive freedom as a set of opportunities that is open to a person. This set consists of vectors of functionings, where functionings are the different things a person can do or can be. Hence, a person’s capability may be taken to describe her positive freedom such that it reflects her “ability to achieve valuable functionings and well-being.”42 In short, capabilities are defined as set of functionalities that allow individuals to act upon substantial freedoms. This is considered to be necessary truths granted to people on the account that they are agents who uniquely possess the capacity for self-determination, which is why people have the ability to do and to be. As such, society must aid in guaranteeing that all members are able to act upon their capabilities. A person can be deprived of his/her capabilities when the person is curtailed from certain human rights. Sen has pointed out different ways in which such deprivation can occur: state oppression, economic incapacity, ignorance, social hate, false consciousness, et cetera. The Capabilities Approach has been utilized in analyzing the problem of inequalities between males and females. In the following section, I have modified the Capability Approach in relation to Nussbaum’s operationalization of Sen’s work through the three principles of gender justice.

The Three Principles for a Gender-Just Society Capabilities are considered to be necessary truths granted to persons on the account that they are agents who uniquely possess the


Amartya Sen, “Freedom of Choice”, in European Economic Review, 1988, Vol. 32 issue 2-3, p


47 capacity for self-determination. As such, society must aid in

guaranteeing that all members are able to act upon their capabilities. Below which are the three principles that one must meet in order for a gender-just society to exist. As of the moment, no state has yet to enact fully the consequences of these principles because they remain to be abstract in nature. Ingrid Robeyns, a contemporary of Amartya Sen, originally formulated these principles in her argument for justice among sexes. The first principle states that the capability sets for men and women should be the same. The only justified inequalities between men and women are those: a) that are (directly or indirectly) due to sex differences that are not gender differences; and b) which cannot be rectified by human intervention. This principle allows just inequalities rather than demanding for absolute freedom. The need for social order is necessary to safeguard other capabilities like the ability to live up to old age, to secure property, and to receive merit for one’s action. It would be absurd to recommend a gender fluid society as this would be anarchic. In an anarchical system, gender is completely overlooked and becomes entirely irrelevant. This is, to a certain extent, coherent with the goal of a gender-just society. However, it is like a Pandora’s Box that provides absolute freedom and yet sacrifices social order, or worse it may even lead to conflicts and further injustices. Certain institutions need to uphold sex-based standards, like those in the military and the

48 police force who necessarily demand for biologically strong individuals for most of its tasks. There are values and traits that have become genderized and sexed to be male, where in fact the actual status of such characteristics is neutral. Such male-centered institutions need to be more gender-friendly to assure gays and lesbians equal access. However, these individuals (homosexual men and women) are required to uphold certain institutional standards provided that they can justify the need for such norms. The second principle requires that the constraints on choice from the capability set should not be structured according to morally irrelevant characteristics of personhood specifically, gender. This implies that gendered social norms and practices need to be just in themselves.43 This principle adheres to the fact that people are rational and free agents. The ethical or the moral justification preferred in this case as something secular rather than theologically warranted. The question may be raised as to whether a culture, with a religious and conservative backbone, would limit themselves of ethics based on human dignity alone. In centering on the capabilities of an individual, a morally relevant characteristic would always have to be in coherence with one’s ability to act upon certain values he/she finds valid reason to desire. The capability set would have to be formulated by the state and the people that it can be a Kantian maxim. However, it must be
Martha Nussbaum, “Armatya Sen: Social Justice and the Capabilities Approach”, in Contemporary Political Philosophy, (Cambridge: University Press, 2001), 67.

49 pointed out that the maxim would only have to be rendered as generally substantial for human beings per se. It does not have to take into account, whether or not, all individuals would choose to enact upon the said capabilities. Norms are oftentimes constructed in accordance to a presumed necessity, benefit, or practicability. Social practices often have functions that warrant their persistence within a society.44 However, social norms and institutions can create injustices, especially if it pertains to rendering certain rights and privileges for heterosexuals alone. Moreover, social and cognitive psychologists have also shown that gendered social and moral norms play a vital role in how people view others, as well as how a person would formulate his/her patterns of behavior. It has been argued that the lesbian in both instances were seen as “dykes” and man-haters. The topic of the lesbian was a taboo outside feminist-oriented communities and certain subcultures. As a result, any individual who portrays gestures outside of the stereotype notion, such as wearing a tie, engaging in contact sports, et cetera, was deemed as a lesbian. The latter was used as a derogatory term despite the lack of understanding of what such an identity would entail. For as long as there is no clear dissent, society would continue to allow GLBTQ individuals to exist as floating members of society. When
Ingrid Robeyns, “When will Society be Gender Just”, Reorienting the Feminist Imagination, (Cambridge:UP, 2007), p 32

50 direct and aggressive opposition occurs between the marginalized sector and the normalized system, the minority group is received negatively. As a result, the lesbian, for example, would tend to lower her demands in order to coincide with the hierarchy and structure in which she belongs to. A false consciousness occurs as a result of being raised and having to live with social norms that are not gender-just. One would initially find herself resisting such limitations. But sooner or later, without seeing positive reception, a lesbian in most cases would resort to make do with what society extends to her. In general, lesbians would eventually become “satisfied” in the sense that she would have to accept the fact that: “there are acts and privileges heterosexuals receive that she will neither be able to acquire nor do.” If gendered social and moral norms induce men, women, heterosexuals, and homosexuals to systematically foreclose certain options, then these norms are unjust.45 The third principle stipulates that the “pay-offs” of different options in the capability set need to be justified and should not be gender-biased.46 The term pay-offs refers to the compensatory values one acquires by enacting on an opportunity. It is further explicated by Robeyns as:
“Pay-offs is a somewhat technical term used in the analysis of opportunity sets in game theory and related fields, and denotes the net of burdens and benefits of a certain position. For example, the pay-offs of a job include the wage and related benefits, its status, the labor
45 46

Ibid, 32. Ibid, 35.

satisfaction it gives, the quality of the professional relationships and the overall effort that is needed for the job.”47

The third principle requires that jobs or other social positions quantitatively dominated, by either women or men, should not be systematically rewarded lower pay-offs without any plausible

justification. The easiest illustration of how unjust pay-offs occur as a result of gender is manifested when one observes the trend in certain job markets. It has been argued that some jobs, which are

quantitatively dominated by women, tend to be worse paid than those “tailored” for men. If these career options are deemed to be less tedious or demanding, perhaps it would be acceptable that lower compensation is a point of reference for the objective work assessment and evaluation and calculation of work merits. However, what has been suggested by most studies is that women-dominated low-paid

employment is partially due to the fact that they are culturally labeled as “feminine jobs.”48 On the other hand, homosexuals who usually occupy pink collared jobs (beauticians, entertainers, et cetera) are stereotyped as gay individuals who are more inclined with things and activities related to aesthetics and creativity. The ordinary man and woman would agree to such stereotyping. There is good reason to believe that opportunitywise, some gays find it extra difficult to prove their capacity in the work force. In the support groups I have attended for gays and
47 48

Ibid. Ibid.

52 lesbians, one of the common complaints is the treatment of various institutions during job applications. Some gays in the field of engineering opted to act straight when initially they found it difficult to find jobs suited for their educational background. GLBTQ and women are subjected to job ceiling practice in the work force as they are automatically disqualified to gain promotions higher than a certain position. This may be because of the stigma that certain companies must maintain a gender-free image, especially in male-dominated companies and institutions, and the fact that they prefer women who prioritize their career over their family. As one may or may not have noticed, the gender-just society purported here requires certain features of a society to be first and foremost present. First, it is necessary that the concept of “gender” is inevitably present as a social fact. Second, society must open itself to the concept of human rights and the value of self-determination. Finally, the study, as it pertains to a gender-just society, requires improvement such that it serves merely as groundwork for gender justice. As such, the scope is limited to certain alternatives present for a society, for example Western and overtly Western-influenced cultures and social frames.

Asserting one’s Lesbian Identity as an Explicit Solution

53 I have mentioned earlier that in order for the lesbian to form a genuine gender identity, she would have to overcome her displacement as a homosexual and transcend her woman category imposed on her sexed body. To ask the lesbian to define what it means to be a gendered-being under her own terms would mean a demand to reconstruct the rigidity placed in standardizing gender roles in our society. The problem with the accounts of lesbian self-representation is that it holds the lesbian in a disadvantaged manner by claiming that her preference to be masculine or feminine would be seen as mimicry of heterosexuality.49 In reality, what is left misunderstood is that the social and gender scripts available to a lesbian would always have gendered qualities of the male or female. Identity can be a very ambiguous term. Even if one limits its scope to a discussion of a gendered identity, there would still be blurred lines to confront in the process. Identity is a construct, created by the person. However, this does not mean that the process of creating a unified gendered self is exclusive to the individual. Instead one must look at identity as an interplay of the “I” and the society, in which she reveals and receives the modes of how she could be. A gender strict society would continue to produce intelligible representations of lesbians, by creating the stereotype of the “not-man-not-woman,” in such a way that to be a lesbian would mean changing teams. The Butch or the masculine female becomes the most noticeable image of lesbianism because of the naturalization applied to the concept of the masculine as an unexplored domain for the woman. There are certain institutions that would need to maintain the standards of masculinity or femininity, but the two should be made accessible to anyone who is willing to take and maintain such roles.

Amy Goodloe, Butch-Femme Roles and Identity Politics; essay, 25.

54 There should be a loosened membership in the binary oppositions. Moreover, these binaries should be viewed as continuums rather than opposing poles. The masculine-feminine distinction should maintain its societal status as far as certain gender roles ought to be preserved for imperative reasons. The problem lies in making social possibilities exclusively gendered ones, such that the person loses his or her privilege to access, despite her intent to uphold the standard set by the society with regards to a particular function she wishes to perform. If a lesbian chooses to represent herself as a butch, this should not to be deemed as an affirmation of a patriarchal society. Rather, the problem lies in the close-minded thinking of people. When accessed and owned by the lesbian, the masculine loses its “naturalization” as being exclusive to the male.50 However, it must be made clear that for this to be an authentic representation in a society, it must not stem out of the lesbian’s exposure to a heterosexually normalized view of the masculine or feminine. This could be achieved by awakening lesbian consciousness and involving herself in the construction of her representation in various institutions. In this case, the lesbian has to be vigilant in correcting the myths that surround her identity. The gay and the lesbian must learn to complain when he or she is portrayed in a less than accurate light. Political advocacy is the best starting point for the lesbian to gain rightful recognition in a society. The lesbian community must demand for a seat in discourses that seek to foster progress and equality. For as long as she allows others to define who she is and bends to the limits of what society says she can do, the lesbian will never be able to achieve a genuine identity. The process of explicitly challenging the status would more likely be difficult. Regardless of this, the lesbian should not choose for the easy way out

Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, 46.

55 and remain passive. As disturbing as it may sound, direct abuse on the initial phase of the lesbian’s struggle may be a start to demand for change. If the lesbian continues to be passive, her fear of persecution might as well be tantamount in a fear of gaining her dignity.

Choose to be Human I resolve into claiming that there would always be an irreducible being, a person prior to exposure to culture inscriptions and social impositions, who owns an identity grounded on the concept of freedom and choice. Upon a lesbian’s introduction into the physical world, as I have mentioned in earlier chapters, she becomes a sexed entity who shall accordingly be trained to particular practices in accordance with her sex. When I say that the lesbian ought to be able to choose the modes in which she could express her gendered self, it no longer becomes of much value that she possesses a body of a female. She could choose to portray the woman or man, for as long as she made a long, thought out choice to do so. This would imply also that if a man wishes to adopt the functions implored by the concept of femininity, he must be able to do so. If he refuses, it ought not to be because he conceives the attribute of the feminine as inferior. Otherwise, it does not reflect the identity he feels to own. The question would now arise: How would it be possible to open the possibility of accepting an intentionally blurred continuance of gender categories in society? It has been the aim of gays and lesbians alike to avail of certain civil liberties that they feel they deserve by virtue of being persons and I, of course, would have to agree. Likewise, the right to marriage that is recognized by the law is important to reconstruct a

56 society not founded on equality but on justice and freedom. For a society to loosen up its gender restrictions on social relations and practices, the state must initiate recognition of lesbians as human beings who deserve state protection and liberties. Heterosexuality is not a predicament. It only becomes one when its quantitative value is converted into a qualitative one. It becomes oppressive when the lesbian’s view of herself lacks positive references in society and becomes uninformed of the means in which she could understand her gendered self. A layman should stop at looking at people as man or woman. One must hold true to the belief that these categories are mere social constructs. If one faces the reality that even sex, as an immutable feature of personhood, has lost meaning in a sense that one is no longer tied up to his or her biology, then one could accept the possibility of revolutionizing gender reality. This is not a reality that is built on the gender annihilation, like what the postmodern feminists want. Instead, society becomes flexible on imposing sex-gender coherence and correspondence to certain masculine-feminine feature. The lesbian identity is grounded on the idea that beyond the man or woman, the lesbian is a person whose only immutable quality is her freedom and choice. Equality has a nice ring to it. But for oppressions to really be a thing of the past, one must realize that people are not equal. There are physical limits, intellectual constraints, and individuals who are better than others that should not be taken negatively all the time. For as long as a society grants access to opportunities regardless of gender, class, race, and et cetera, it can no longer be accused of being unfair just because some people live out their potentialities and capabilities farther than others. To offer possibilities equally is to center our efforts in truly revealing the truth of being a person.

57 Actualization of capabilities through opportunities is based on whether a person can or cannot act out on her possibilities. Justice is to be the ultimate concern if one wishes to have a society that aims for the ultimate good. A decontextualized Plato’s just society would be a classic and recommendable starting point. People, regardless of gender or sexuality, must have access to privileges by virtue of being recognized as capable of building themselves through the choices they make. The lesbian must be able to act on the range of possibilities she may choose to become and what she envisions herself to be. Though cliché, this thesis only wishes to say: Give to a human what is due to a human, neither as a man nor a woman.

58 SUMMARY OF ARGUMENTS AND CONCLUSION The main argument of this thesis is that lesbianism is afflicted with the problem of double-displacement. It has perceived the identity of the lesbian based on the sex and gender she possesses. In terms of her sexed body being female, she becomes the recipient of sexist related oppression. The woman today is still engaged in a gender revolution, and its success would be for the female to lose the stigma of inferiority and Otherness in relation to man. As a lesbian, she occupies a gender that is outside of the masculine and the feminine binary. The inability to occupy the social norm of genders implies that the lesbian would be subject to social stigma and acts of heterosexism. Homosexual displacement occurs in two forms: a) direct, the lesbian encounters homophobia and becomes a victim of gender-related violence, ridicule and repression; or b) the lesbian is not recognized at all as a valid gendered identity. She may be seen as invisible and heterosexual privileges are withheld from her. Furthermore, the lesbian is objectified and misrepresented through the media. This becomes a powerful tool on how her society would perceive her, and how the lesbian would view her self. In order to resolve the problem of double displacement, this thesis offers a general solution through the conceptualization of a gender-just society. The Capabilities Approach of Amartya Sen and Martha Naussbaum were used as a building block in forming the ideal concept of gender-justice. Three principles have to be met in order to say that a state is gender-just: 1. The capability sets for men and women should be the same. The only inequalities between men and women

59 that are justified are those: a) that are (directly or indirectly) due to sex differences that are not gender differences; and b) which cannot be rectified by human intervention. 2. The constraints on choice from the capability set should not be structured according to morally irrelevant

characteristics of personhood specifically, gender. This implies that gendered social and moral norms and gendered practices need to be just in themselves. 3. The “pay-offs” of the different options in the capability set need to be justified and should not be gender-biased. These principles mark the needed changes in the society a lesbian is embedded in. However it is noteworthy to mention that in order for these principles to find its way into reality, the lesbian must also do her part. I speak for the lesbian’s need to explicitly assert her identity and to challenge the flaws of the status quo. The passiveness of the lesbian has kept her safe compared to the homosexual male. Conversely, lesbians have received far less persecution. In maintaining this position, the lesbian becomes vulnerable as an unrecognized collective. She becomes invisible because she allowed herself to be unprotected of certain privileges.

60 Lastly, I appeal to humanity to look beyond one’s sartorial bearings, sex partner of choice, and gender per se. The root of any gender discussion is whether or not homosexuals are less human than other people. Surely, the answer is no. Gays and lesbians possess the same innate freedom and choice like any straight person.

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