Back in the 1960s, queer women wanted to be a part of organized feminism, but some straight-identified feminists weren’t having it. Specifically, the National Organization of Women’s President, Betty Friedan, tried to keep what she referred to as “the lavender menace” out of her campaign for women’s rights, prompting a group of lesbian activists to take the name for their own action group and protest their exclusion. That group (also called Radicalesbians) included Karla Jay, Rita Mae Brown and Barbara Love, and together they wrote a 10-paragraph manifesto in 1970 called “The Woman-Identified Woman,” which described the kinds of issues lesbians face in the same world that non-LGBT women live in. From that manifesto:
Through this kind of manifesto and the discussions that came up around second wave feminism, LGBT women were finally able to get through to those who previously considered lesbians a threat to equality, and in 1971, NOW delegates decided that lesbian rights were “a legitimate concern for feminism.”
It might be easy for those of us who identify as lesbians to feel like abortion rights aren’t our issue; that access to birth control or morning-after pills are someone else’s fight. The truth is that even we, as women who might specifically have sex with other women and cannot get pregnant in the same way that our bisexual or straight sisters might, are not only affected but so important to the fight for the control over our bodies. For the same reasons the Lavender Menace listed in their 1970 manifesto, we aren’t to look at those who we aren’t in sexual relationships with (i.e. straight women) as sexual objects who breed and pop out babies and it’s their problem if they get knocked up and don’t want to deal with it. They have fought for us and our rights to love and marry and get jobs and homes without being discriminated against, and more than ever are we needed to show up for them and ourselves as women.
Quite literally, I’ve supported my straight-identified sister through things I’ll likely never deal with but that are facets of being a woman, and she has done the same for me. Sometimes we might forget that despite our own hardships as queer women, we have the ability to be allies, too. But in reality, we’re all women demanding the ability to live our lives how we want to, and that’s something worth fighting for, no matter what the specifics are.