Life in America: The Reagan Years, A Webography

Lesbian Feminisms: A Very Short Introduction

Lesbian feminism is a cultural movement and critical perspective, most popular in the 1970s and early 1980s (primarily in North America and Western Europe), that questions the position of lesbians and women in society. It particularly refutes heteronormativity, the assumption that everyone is "straight" and society should be structured to serve heterosexual needs. Some key thinkers and activists are Charlotte Bunch, Rita Mae Brown, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Frye, Mary Daly, Sheila Jeffreys and Monique Wittig (although the latter is more commonly associated with the emergence of queer theory).

Historically lesbianism has been closely associated with feminism, going back at least to the 1890s. "Lesbian feminism" is a related movement that came together in the early 1970s out of dissatisfaction with second-wave feminism and the gay liberation movement.

In the words of lesbian feminist Sheila Jeffreys, "Lesbian feminism emerged as a result of two developments: lesbians within the WLM [Women's Liberation Movement] began to create a new, distinctively feminist lesbian politics, and lesbians in the GLF [Gay Liberation Front] left to join up with their sisters."

According to Judy Rebick, a leading Canadian journalist and political activist for feminism, lesbians were and always have been at the heart of the women’s movement, while their issues were invisible in the same movement.

Source:  "Lesbian feminism."  Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.  14 Dec. 2010.  Web.  20 Dec. 2010.

Web Resources about Lesbian Feminisms

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Score: 18

Summary: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is a political organization that works for and promotes equality for all members of the LGBT community. Their main purpose is described best in their Mission Statement: "The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, founded in 1974 as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures." This website features sections dedicated to important gay and lesbian issues, research and reports published by the organization, upcoming events, and information on how to donate and possibly work for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Evaluation: This website is meticulously organized and easy to navigate. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force website was created and maintained by members of the organization and is updated on a daily basis. This website provides readers with addresses and phone numbers for all of their locations, an email address to send online queries to, photos and bios of prominent members of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and much more. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force also provides interested persons with the opportunity to stay up to date with their current work on gay and lesbian issues by offering an e-mail subscription list.

Whatever Happened to 1970's Lesbian Feminism?

Score: 16

Summary: "Whatever Happened to 1970s Lesbian-Feminism?" is an article by Emily Douglas that was posted on Ms. Magazine's online blog in 2010. The article is about a conference the author attended called, "In Amerika They Call Us Dykes: Lesbian Lives in the 1970's." According to the article, "About 450 people–lesbian-feminists, dykes, women-identified women, transwomen and transmen, bisexual lesbians, genderqueers, sports dykes, therapy dykes and doubtless others–gathered to remember, recover and reconsider an oft-maligned, even-oftener neglected decade of lesbian activism and cultural production." The conference was a success, with several interesting panels and interviews with leading lesbian feminist activists, like Charlotte Bunch, founder and former member of the Furies. The author describes her experiences at the conference in detail and uses this information to explain how the 1970s were a formative decade in lesbian feminist history.

Evaluation: Emily Douglas, the author of this article, graduated from Harvard University in 2004 and is involved with feminist and pro-choice activism. She previously worked in direct service legal advocacy at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston and is currently The Nation's web editor. The author of this article is clearly an expert in her field and her piece is posted on a respectable and popular women's magazine blog. The author also links all of her sources, which is helpful for readers who are unfamiliar with some of the terms.

The Lesbian Herstory Archives

Score: 15

Summary: The Lesbian Herstory Archives, founded in 1972, is home to the world's largest collection of materials by and about lesbians and their communities and is located in Brooklyn, New York. While not everyone can visit the Archives in person, this website is accessible to everyone. The Lesbian Herstory Archives website includes a history of the organization, virtual tours, information on exhibits, and information on how to donate and volunteer for the organization. In the History section of the website, the main purpose of the Archives is stated: "The Lesbian Herstory Archives exists to gather and preserve records of Lesbian lives and activities so that future generations will have ready access to materials relevant to their lives." And in the Virtual Tour section of the website, the organization itself is described in great detail: "The Lesbian Herstory Archives is a magical place—part library, part museum, a community gathering space- and it houses the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians and their communities."

Evaluation: This website is incredibly easy to navigate and includes plenty of fascinating photos and information pertaining to lesbian history. The Lesbian Herstory Archives website was created and maintained by members of the organization and is updated on a daily basis. The Archives provides readers with a phone number, fax number, and an address so that prospective visitors can contact them for business purposes. Interested persons can sign up for an e-mail list and can also browse through an archive of past newsletters from as early as the 1970s.

The Furies

Score: 15

Summary: The Rainbow History Project's website has a section entirely devoted to the 1970s lesbian feminist activist group known as the Furies. This website includes sections about lesbian separatism, the history of the Furies collective, information and sound clips of interviews with Furies founder, Charlotte Bunch, and information about the influential Furies newsletter. Most excitingly, this website includes full-page scans of each original Furies newsletter as well as the names of each woman who was part of and contributed to the Furies collective in some way.

Evaluation: The Rainbow History Project credits several people and one organization (the Ohio Lesbian Archives) with contributing and donating to the Furies webpage, but no credentials are provided. This website does offer captions and credit to all photos that appear on the page as well as credit to a Dr. Annie Valk for contributing the list of original Furies members. This website also credits each person who contributed articles, photos, and other content to each Furies newsletter. The Rainbow History Project was last updated in December 2010.


Score: 15

Summary: The Radicalesbians section of offers the reader an in-depth look at "Radicalesbians (RL), a group formed in the spring of 1970 by lesbians who had been involved in the Gay Liberation Front and the women’s liberation movement. Radicalesbians was the first lesbian feminist group to emerge after Stonewall." This webpage is divided and organized into several categories, including sections about the origins of the Radicalesbians feminist group, homophobia in the women's liberation movement, and the Lavender Menace action, among others. The site also includes several videos of interviews with lesbian feminists and others involved with the topic, as well as photos of the original members of the Radicalesbians.

Evaluation: Lindsay Branson is credited with compiling the Radicalesbians webpage, and while no credentials are provided, contact information is provided. The website is a .org address, which suggests that the information is of an educational value. The information on this site seems to be meticulously researched and organized, and a full bibliography is included along with citations for each photo and video that appears on the page. This website is also incredibly current, as it was last updated in May 2010 and even includes some sources from as recent as 2009 and 2010.

Lesbian History: Lesbian Feminism

Score: 15

Summary: The Lesbian Feminism webpage is part of the University of Michigan's "Lesbians in the Twentieth Century" website. This website was created by Professor Esther Newton and the graduate and undergraduate students in the fall 2006 and 2008 Lesbian History seminars taught at the University of Michigan. The Lesbian Feminism webpage describes the history of the late 1960s and 1970s lesbian feminist movement in great detail, with specific sections devoted to race, literary production, the exclusion of lesbians from the radical feminist movement, the creation of lesbian communities and other institutions, as well as several others. This website also includes information on several radical lesbian feminist groups and terms, like "Radicalesbians," "The Furies," and "Lavender Menace." The site also includes scans of many fascinating photos and documents pertaining to the lesbian feminist movement.

Evaluation: This section of the site was authored by Yamissette Westerband, who received her B.A. in Women’s Studies and Law and Society from the University of California Santa Barbara. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and at the time of publication, was currently completing an M.S.W. at The University of Michigan Ann Arbor. The overall site was created and maintained by Professor Esther Newton and her students at the University of Michigan. The site seems to be meticulously researched and organized by experts in the fields of Women's Studies and Lesbian Feminism and contains a full bibliography of all cited resources.

Lesbian News: The Longest-Running National Lesbian Publication

Score: 14

Summary: According to a brief history included on this website, "The Lesbian News has the distinction and responsibility of being the nation’s longest running lesbian publication. Founded in 1974 in Southern California, the LN began as the lone voice for lesbian issues. Today, after 34 years, the LN is still the nation’s foremost voice for lesbians of all ages." In short, the Lesbian News website provides readers with a convenient online version of this historical lesbian magazine. This website features almost everything that is included in the print version of LN: news, travel, cover stories, editorial voice, lesbians on location, and much more. Most importantly, the Lesbian News magazine and website is unique in that, "No other magazine in the world is as targeted directly to the lesbian community or as much a leader in supporting lesbian issues as the Lesbian News. We are, not only, a magazine published for and about lesbians, but also by lesbians."

Evaluation: Even though the Lesbian News website usually focuses on current events, the history and influence of this one of a kind publication is still significant today. The LN website provides readers with phone numbers, fax numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses where they can be reached during business hours. This website also includes a section that allows readers to subscribe to the print and online versions of the magazine, as well as links to connect with LN magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. The Lesbian News is especially credible because they provide lesbian readers with articles and content that is written specifically for them by top lesbian writers and reporters.

My Sexual Revolution

Score: 14

Summary: "My Sexual Revolution" is an article by Julie Bindel that was posted on the Guardian's online website. The article is about a 1970s radical lesbian feminist group that wrote and published a controversial booklet called "Love Your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism and Political Lesbianism (LYE)." The message of the LYE provoked a strong and mostly negative reaction because of the controversial views it promoted. For example, one part of the LYE stated: "All feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women." Many heterosexual feminists were angered because they felt that the LYE implied that their efforts toward feminist activism were meaningless if they were in relationships with men and others were confused by the notion that lesbianism could be a political stance instead of a sexual preference. The rest of the article takes a more personal route as the author describes her own experiences with radical feminism and lesbianism and encourages readers to try it for themselves.

Evaluation: Julie Bindel, the author of this article, is described as being a freelance journalist and political activist, but no other credentials or contact information is provided. The author seems to be an expert in her field and writes in a way that makes her source material easy to understand. This is an interesting article because it provides a personal, modern stance on the lesbian feminism debate, while still providing the reader with historical facts. "My Sexual Revolution" is a current source, as it was published on January 30, 2009, and the Guardian's website is updated daily.

Lesbians in Revolt

Score: 13

Summary: This webpage contains the reproduced text of the first volume of the Lesbian/Feminist Monthly Newsletter that was created and published by a lesbian feminist group called the Furies. The Furies were a group of nine radical lesbians who lived together, worked together, and self-published their Lesbian/Feminist Monthly Newsletter. The Furies were not as successful as the Radicalesbian group, and their views were also slightly more radical. For example, one viewpoint described in this article that angered some heterosexual feminists was the belief that "Lesbians must become feminists and fight against woman oppression, just as feminists must become Lesbians if they hope to end male supremacy." The Furies became part of the separatist movement because they believed that all feminists must become lesbians in order to become empowered and free from the male-dominated society in which they lived. The "Lesbians in Revolt" article expresses the idea that lesbianism is a political choice, rather than a sexual one. This document is very similar to the manifesto produced by the Radicalesbians in that they both believe that oppression and male supremacy must be stopped and that the idea of the "woman-identified woman" is the most powerful lesbian feminist belief.

Evaluation: Charlotte Bunch, a member of the Furies collective, is credited with writing the "Lesbians in Revolt" article. This webpage includes a scanned image of part of the original newsletter, as well as specific information about its publication, including volume number, date, and page numbers. Like the Radicalesbians website, this page is also sponsored and maintained by North Carolina's Duke University. This document is also part of Duke University’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

The Woman-Identified Woman

Score: 13

Summary: This webpage contains the reproduced text of the original 1970 manifesto by one of the most influential lesbian feminist groups, Radicalesbians. This manifesto describes the rigid gender roles that women were condemned to in the 1970s: "For in this sexist society, for a woman to be independent means she can't be a woman - she must be a dyke." The authors of "The Woman-Identified Woman" describe how labels like "lesbian" and "homosexuality" dehumanize groups of people in the male-dominated society they were living in. In one choice excerpt, the authors state: "For a lesbian is not considered a "real woman." And yet, in popular thinking, there is really only one essential difference between a lesbian and other women: that of sexual orientation - which is to say, when you strip off all the packaging, you must finally realize that the essence of being a "woman" is to get fucked by men." The authors of this document are clearly anti-sexism and pro-female empowerment and  state in their closing paragraph that women must come together in order to liberate themselves from all forms of oppression.

Evaluation: While no specific authors are credited with creating this webpage, "The Woman-Identified Woman" is a very important part of the lesbian feminist movement that was written and produced by a very influential lesbian feminist group. This website is a credible source because it is sponsored and maintained by North Carolina's Duke University and because it includes a scan of "The Woman-Identified Woman" in its original format, which allows readers to compare the reproduced text to the original document. This document is also part of Duke University’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Content created by Kasey Smith.