Facebook Conversation: Goldstar Lesbians
Facebook friend: Are any gold star lesbians in this group? Are any gold star lesbians in this group? How do you feel when ppl argue, "don't knock it til' you try it"?
Has anyone in here lost their virginity to a woman? Details please.
Me: I believe the concept of a "gold star lesbian" to be very problematic, it falls into a very patriarchal, anti-woman, and sexist way of thinking, that centers women's value and worth on their sexual "purity." Why are rewarding women for not sleeping with a man, because to do so, is to devalue women who have slept with men. She would be attaching value to the sexual experiences of women, is that not another way of reinforcing the virgin/whore dichotomy in which women cannot be sexual beings freely without there being a stigma attached to it. The lesbian community must let go of these heternormative and patriachal notions around women and sexuality, and we must deal with the internalized misogyny and the ways in which we make feel less than due to their choices to be sexual beings, whether its with men or women.
Facebook friend: I do not believe it's a bad thing much like celebrating that you are 100% Christian, Latino or Home maker so while you may feel it's negative I can respect that but agree to disagree.
Me: The problem is not the choice to celebrate your own sexual choices and experience. The problem is the way we denote value over one sexual decision vs. another. And the way we reward people for choosing to limit their sexual desires in order to conform to someone else's ideals around female sexuality. In the heterosexual community you are condemned for your choices to sleep with women if you're a lesbian. If you're straight, you're condemned for your choice to sleep with multiple men, you're a labeled a whore (or "hoe"). In the lesbian community, you're given a stigma if you choose to sleep with men. Women should be able to express pride around any decision they make in regards to their own sexuality, because too often women are condemned for the sexual choices they make. They're is so much policing that occurs around women and they choices we make sexually. I'm arguing that the idea of a "gold star" lesbian, reinforces ideas around the APPROPRIATE way for women to exercise their sexuality. The "gold star" concept has been accepted in the lesbian community, we do congraluate women for the choice not to sleep with a man, and by doing so, we're devaluing women who have slept with men. We're stigmatizing them. Goldstar represents a VALUE system, where woman's sexual choices are valued MORE than another woman's sexual choices. That is problematic.
Facebook friend: That's interesting but I don't see myself or choice devalued because I have been with a male...hence why I posted this. It really is not a serious term to many people and to forget that makes sexual conversation dilute and uncharted. I am interested in all of my sister's thoughts and choices no matter what but there's no real hierarchy in the "lesbian world". I am sure not many take it as serious. Why is it acceptable for lesbians to devalue a woman who says she's a lesbian after her 5th child or 3rd marriage ? If I can respect her I can respect anyone. If people are controlled by what others think, I have the utmost pity for them.
Me: You, yourself, have admitted that hierarchies around women's sexual choices exist in the lesbian community. Particulary, in regards to women who carry the biological proof of their sexual history with men, i.e., children. This is indicative of a way of thinking in which lesbians give value and validity to a woman's lesbianhood based on their sexual choices and the way the choices conform to homo-normative script.
For lesbians without children or women who have never married, the stigmas attached to their sexual past (in relationship to men) is less severe. It is often understood by most lesbian women, that before coming to terms with your identity as a lesbian, you may have slept with men. However, there is a large stigma surrounding lesbian women who make the choice to occassionally sleep with men while presently identifying as lesbian. The same stigma exists among bisexual women. It is a result of heternormative way of thinking that we criticize women for acting out sexual desires that do not conform to the lesbian or heterosexual binary. Sexual binaries such as lesbian, gay, and straight, based on a person sexual prefecenes to sleep with either men or women, regulate and limit the ways in which women and men can freely express their sexuality as sexual beings. Which has led many non-heterosexual men and women to move away from binary identities to more inclusive one's such as "queer."
Too often, are we to define the authenticity of lesbian identity through her sexual choice. We question the commitment of a lesbian-identified woman by asking rather she occasionally sleeps with men or not. Audre Lorde identified as a Lesbian, but she openly admitted to willingly sleeping with men, and enjoying it. Are we to question the lesbian authenticity of Audre Lorde? Audre held a deeper commitment to a lesbian consciousness, a political and emotional commitment to the loving of women. The basis for loving women should not be dependent upon a narrowing existence of sexual exclusivity. A woman’s choice to fully explore the spectrum of her sexuality should not be the basis for exclusion from the lesbian community. To LOVE Black women is to be committed to the growth, happiness, and well-being of ALL Black women (lesbian and non-lesbian).