Alex Blaze

Lesbians protest for tribadism

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 21, 2010 5:30 PM | comments

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CSU Long Beach refused to advertise their play, The Night of the Tribades, tribadism.jpgalong with other plays because of the title, so these students took to protest:

For a little more than ten minutes, protesters paired up and posed in positions known as tribadism, more commonly known as "scissoring." Some protesters wore shirts with the word "tribade" and taped their mouths with "censored" written on the tape.

Knight believes it is not fair for the school to arbitrarily pick and choose what to advertise.

"This is the same marquee that has words on it such as genocides, such as rape, and these produce far more violent graphic images than tribadism," she said. "I feel this is our art being censored."

You have to wonder who at the school even knew what "tribadism" was. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable of queer culture and I still had to go to Wikipedia. I just thought that was called scissoring.

Either way, it's interesting how certain type of censorship just seems natural when it comes to discussions of sexuality and no one will even notice or complain about it, not in the same way that people are willing to defend other forms of speech.

It reminds me of that Rocky episode of Glee a few weeks ago where they censored the word "Transsexual" (which isn't a sex act, but a planet in the context of the play), and all the pretty people debated whether GLAAD was censoring Glee over the word "tranny" without even stopping to acknowledge Glee's fairly oppressive cleaning up of Rocky in the first place. Discussing a certain word some people don't like is "way out of control"; taking a knife to art in order to serve it up as a cultural Happy Meal with a toy to millions of people isn't at all notable.

It's simply natural that anything sexual gets cleaned up, but to discuss violence or to use violent language, well, that's sacred free speech. I'd be willing to agree it's all sacred free speech, but the system we've fallen into now as a culture doesn't make sense unless one thinks that there's a certain agenda being promoted.

Anyway, kudos to these students. Pretending we all don't have sex doesn't mean that it'll stop happening.


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At 69yo and Kinsey6.1 I too didn't know exactly what "tribade" meant. I knew it had something to do with lesbianism -- I assumed it was another archaic euphemism for females who bumped pussies. Actually, I suspect more folk are familiar with the word "triffids" than "tribades" which makes the title of the play humorous...

Alex, silly boy, 'transsexual' (can I say that word here?) has the word S-E-X right in the middle of it! 'Tranny', on the other hand, is just a fun, playful term, right? Just like 'shemale', so clever and hip!

Oh, and in case you didn't notice, 'tribadism' has the word B-A-D right in the middle of *it*! So, what do you expect? These college administrators have the duty to suppress corruption of the youth in their charge, you know!

Finally, though noone asked, I feel the better protest would be to actually perform tribadism on the front lawn of the offending uni office and look like you are really enjoying it (tip: is easy if you *are* really enjoying it!) rather than sitting there in an awkward position looking all pissed of and such...

Alex, for educational purposes, Lesbians are also known as :
Daughters of Bilitis
Sapphists
Practitioners of that Love which dare not speak its name
Dykes
Carpet Munchers
Muff Divers or Muff Muchers(UK)
Inverts(H. Ellis)

I use Sapphist reasonably often, if only to make the listener pause and try to figure out just what that means.

On a further historical note:

Natalie Clifford Barney preferred the term Lesbian

Radclyffe Hall preferred Invert

Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf preferred Sapphist.


The play titled "The Night of the Tribades" by Per Olov Enquist is based on the extremely misogynistic Swedish playwright August Strindberg. It's a historical drama, set in 1889. The main characters are Strindberg, his estranged wife, Siri von Essen, and her alcoholic lesbian friend, Marie Caroline David.

Strindberg believed women didn't take "action", considered them lazy, the weaker sex and referred to women as chattering "Baboons".

"Do you know that it is already 1889. And these damn emancipation women have talked, decade after decade, about women's liberation. But they don't do anything. Over half of the earth's population are women. But the cowards have not freed themselves. History is full of examples of oppressed men who have rebelled against the oppressors and fought their way free. Women only talk. That is what drives me crazy."

The "term" tribade, which was also used in Court charges against "accused" lesbianism and/or even going back to Ancient Rome, tribas was a taboo IDg lesbian women.
Not just a sexual position.

The protestors are using the sexual position as a visual, the School is censoring the word because of sex and meanwhile... it was a slur for lesbians in the context of the play... that lesbians want KEPT IN.

Oh, Alex, I forgot "Cult of the CLitoris" as a name for Lesbians as a group, from the Maud Allen scandal / "Salome" obscenity trial in the UK

Alex, even I knew that tribadism is the female equivalent of the Princeton Rub--sorta.

What's the Princeton Rub? (I'd never heard of "tribadism" either - only "scissoring.")

Gregory,

Really, just using the term 'frottage' makes it applicable to everyone and to every way to do it...

and related, for Alex:

technically, scissoring is a specific type of trbadism, which can be rubbing your genitals against any part of the other person's body--their thigh, butt, whatever...

and for Maura:

Personally, I am not too fond of any of the slang terms for lesbians, esp as applied by ppl who arent lesbians (not saying this includes you, I dont know your orientation!)...

Carol;
Lesbian, Sapphist..
as I said, I prefer Sapphist but also use Lesbian.
Sapphist gives us the linguistic possibility of using the phrase "engaging in Sapphistry"

so are you saying you are a cunning linguist then, Maura? ;)

Some believe me to be so, Carol, even multi-lingual.....(wink)

At least neither of the two local newspapers balked at using the word "Tribades" in their reviews of the play.

Press-Telegraph

Daily Breeze

The first review appeared before the controversy, the second review came after the protest.