A time-lapsed exchange between Soph (a queer) and Dykes #3 and #9 (Bunch of Dykes):
Soph: My name is Soph and I live in Olympia Washington. I would like to share some thoughts I had while reading your posts and experiencing your impacts on my community at the Women’s March and in the last few days.
Dyke #3: Ugh, we really don’t give a fuck what you think.
Dyke #9: Soph, how wonderful! We LOVE Olympia! Even though our sisters there have recently experienced severe harassment, stalking, slander, and threats of physical violence. But don’t worry, Olympia. We still hold out hope that you will awaken from your Tumblr-induced craze to once again see and think clearly. Anyway, which posts? Which March? Were you in DC?! That’s stupendous! We need all women on deck to abort the Trump administration and the attendant misogyny and racism it has galvanized.
Soph: I feel terribly afraid, grief stricken and angry when I think about the messages you are portraying in your actions and words against Trans and non-binary people. Despite what your values of dismantling patriarchy and creating safe spaces for women, I believe that your work is continuing to perpetuate the very evils you fight against.
Dyke #9: Sister, what on earth scares you about Lesbians loving Lesbians?? About women asserting boundaries?? What about that inspires your anger? Sister, what can we do to make you feel better about our messaging regarding women’s rights to assert boundaries around our Lesbian (female homosexual) bodies and relationships? In our commitment to loving women, we are fighting against the evils perpetrated against the female half of the human species, globally. These evils are meted out because of and upon the very femaleness of our bodies. We embrace women at all stages of unlearning internalized misogyny. We would welcome you into our fold, sister.
Dyke #3: Soph, we don’t give a fuck what you think. You clearly have no idea what our work is about.
Soph: I myself am non-binary, and many of my friends, partners and loves are non-binary or trans. I am surrounded by a community of lovely people who are dedicating their lives to dismantling systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, and rape culture. We are doing the important work of centering the voices and experiences of non-male, non-white, and non-cis people, and fighting to bring down the gender binary that harms us all.
Dyke #3: The “important work” you’re doing includes harassing lesbians for refusing to accept bullshit like men saying they’re lesbians “sometimes.” Men are never lesbians. Lesbians are female homosexuals.
Dyke #9: Sounds like we have some important commitments in common, dear Soph! We too are doing the active—and, I might add, horrifically vilified work of centering the voices of the non-male (a.k.a. female), the non-white, and the non-genderconforming (all Lesbians are gender-nonconforming by definition—“cisgender,” by the way is a made-up concept that erases the GLOBAL reality of female sex-class-based oppression, and seeks to promulgate an ill-formed and outright incorrect notion of some kind of “gendered” privilege experienced by females)! See?? We are on the same page! It’s so exciting that you’ve reached out to us!
Soph: I believe when you exclude us as trans and non-binary people, you enforce gender-essentialism and the very bounds that keep women beaten down by patriarchy. When you say that biology defines who we are, you continue the legacy of saying that women are unfit biologically to think independently, vote, protect themselves from rape or control their own lives.
Dyke #3: That’s garbage. Do you even know what “gender essentialism” means? Hint: use the google.
Dyke #9: My dear, gender essentialism is the idea that gender is innate—as in, the idea that there can be such a thing as an inborn “gender identity.” As Lesbians, we know that gender is not only a social construct, but that it is a system that creates, maintains, and reinforces a sex-based hierarchy—not a BINARY—with males on the top. This results in everything from basic daily dehumanization, to limited access to resources, to sexual violence and even death! Our biology defines the nature of and reproduction of our oppression, not who we are. You are included in that category, sweet Soph. Because of your biology. No matter how you “identify.”
Soph: Speaking very personally for a moment, I was born with genitals that were called vulva and vagina by the medical establishment. I love and cherish my body, and celebrate the pleasure, connection and sense of self I gain from my parts. However, I am not a woman, or a man either. My body is not “female” or “male,” but my own, affirming who I know that I am. There are women without vulvas and men without penises, and people like me who exist in the ocean of gender without strict allegiance to a set of sex organs, but who are full people who can tell the world who they truly are with their voices and hearts, not their junk.
Dyke #3: So you’re a woman, congrats, that’s the best.
Dyke #9: Ahhhh, now you are speaking our language!! Beautiful vulvas! Beautiful breasts! Beautiful uterus, clitoris, labia. Worthy of respect and reverence. Worthy of protection. As female homosexuals (meaning “same sex”), we love and cherish our bodies, and the bodies of other women. This is our cause celebre! We are THRILLED to be embodied creatures, as all living creatures of Earth are. We are grateful for our sex, for our ability to experience and express pleasure through our female bodies, with ourselves and other women who desire women (female homosexuals). We honor the living gardens of our bodies, in contrast to regarding our bodies as post-industrial and throwaway “JUNK.” We understand that capitalism, that neo-liberalism, that post-modernism, have perpetrated the most heinous crime of all in convincing us that our minds and hearts are somehow disconnected from our physical flesh bodies—and the physical flesh bodies of all beings on Earth, including other animals, rivers, forests, and mountains. We Lesbians revel in our wholeness and connection to the reality of life on planet earth.
Soph: Trans people, especially trans women of color are some of the most brutalized by the patriarchy that we so desperately want to destroy. Statistics show that Trans Women of Color are some of the most likely people to be sexually assaulted, beaten, abused, and murdered. They know the pain of misogyny, and have been some of the most important leaders in women’s liberation, queer rights and racial justice. When you exclude and erase these people, you not only lose valuable voices, but contribute to the dominance of a male society. By lashing out against trans people, belittling and minimizing their experiences, you have their blood on your hands.
Dyke #9: Wait. Can we go back to the centering of non-males again?? You said that, right? Soph?
Dyke #3: This really is fucking bullshit. The existence of lesbians and our right to self-definition and autonomous space is not “exclusive” and that framing is deeply anti-lesbian and woman-hating. Did you get this garbage from tumblr.com?
Soph: There is a place for all of us at the table, and we are not tools of men’s rights or patriarchy because we won’t let what is in our pants define us. Quite the opposite.
Dyke #9: Thanks for giving us a chance to clarify: As Lesbians, we are well aware that what is in our pants defines OUR OPPRESSION. We organize around that fact. We create space for females who love females. I wonder why people who think they need to take away our ability to do so equate that with safeguarding and increasing their own liberty?? Sounds like colonialism. Have you ever heard the term “Manifest Destiny?” Which brings us back to physical flesh bodies, and claiming rights over those bodies (or lands) in order to stick one’s proverbial flag in the ground. Heard of “the cotton ceiling?”
Dyke #3: Harassing lesbians and our boundaries in favor of men and men’s concerns (such as getting lesbians to fuck them under the guise that they are women) absolutely reeks of patriarchy and men’s rights activism.
Soph: I know I probably can’t change your minds or your actions. But just know that when a group of people says “what do you want us to do?” and your answer is “don’t exist,” your reasoning is not rooted in justice, kindness or liberation. We do exist. We will not be silent. And we will fight forever to make this world a place where we can celebrate who we are in safety and joy.
Dyke #9: We proudly, defiantly, and lovingly proclaim that LESBIANS EXIST! We absolutely insist on the ability to celebrate this fact in safety and joy! Without threats, without coercion, without misogynistic harassment. Thanks for inviting us to do so, Soph!
Dyke #3: We still do not give a fuck what you think. We are here for LESBIANS. LESBIANS ARE FEMALE HOMOSEXUALS!!
~Soph, They/Them Pronouns, Olympia WA
– A (GROWING, VOCAL, BOISTEROUS, RESISTANT, AND UNDETERRED) Bunch of Dykes