Leslie Robinson

The Sandwich-Generation Lesbian

Filed By Leslie Robinson | March 01, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Lesbian Connection, lesbian generation gap, Lingerie Football League, middle age, theseattlelesbian.com

Ever heard of the Lingerie Football League? It's a women's football league where the women wear helmets, shoulder pads, bras, panties and garters. lesbian-football-league.jpgBilled as "true fantasy football," the teams have names like the Los Angeles Temptation and the Dallas Desire.

If this league catered any more to men there would be cigars at halftime.

But I didn't learn about the Lingerie Football League from a guy; I learned about it while visiting a lesbian website. The local site, The Seattle Lesbian, provided Lingerie League information and videos on its sports page. That in turn provided me with a reminder of my age, a keen sense of where I am on the spectrum of lesbian thinking, and a headache.

I don't react well when lesbians view women in the bootylicious way many men do. Maybe it's because I'm 47 and remember how women fought to be viewed as more than tits and ass. Now to see lesbians encourage the ogling of women, to watch them match men drool-for-drool, well, that feels like a step backwards.

However, as I'm 47 and not dead, I'm mindful of the sentiments of a younger lesbian generation, which might be expressed like this: "Hate to tell you, grandma, but you older folks fought so that we could be whoever we want to be. We can revel in pure sexiness like guys do. We can be as shallow as guys. So thanks!"

Um, you're welcome?

When I looked further down The Seattle Lesbian's sports page, I found stories about the WNBA's Seattle Storm. As a huge Storm fan, I was pleased to see them. As a reader teed off over the highlighting of the Undressed Football League, I assumed the site and I could now be friends again.

Not. The stories concerned three players, and the site editor chose one action shot, and two glamour shots. The two glamorized players had on more make-up than RuPaul. So far on this lesbian site I'd seen sex and glamour - and that was just the sports section.

The experience made me feel old and on the curmudgeonly end of the lesbian spectrum. But another experience with media had me feeling youthful and wildly open-minded.

I received in the snail mail the latest issue of a magazine called Lesbian Connection. I began getting the bimonthly publication last year, and it's now clear to me what an asset it is for dykes everywhere. LC serves as a lesbian forum, enabling readers, who provide most of the content, to tell their stories; it offers a worldwide list of lesbians willing to share information about their regions; subscriptions are on a sliding scale.

It's also now clear to me that the average LC reader remembers Truman's inauguration.

Okay, I exaggerate, but the magazine, founded in 1974, is something of a relic. Birthed in the era of lesbian separatism, LC reflects its origins. Readers have names like "Artemis Passionfire" and "Flash Silvermoon," and, while I wish I made those up, I didn't.

I've read a lot about "womyn's land" and combed through oodles of irate letters when the cover art on LC wasn't PC. The magazine says it defines lesbians as "women-born-women," meaning transgender women don't count.

I wouldn't say LC is stuck in time, but it's moving arthritically through it.

I'll continue reading and enjoying it, and I'll go back to The Seattle Lesbian. Both will keep me honest.

Now I know middle age is more than just a number. It's when you feel connected to the generation behind you and the generation ahead of you and when both generations annoy the crap out of you.


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"Now I know middle age is more than just a number. It's when you feel connected to the generation behind you and the generation ahead of you and when both generations annoy the crap out of you."

Are you annoyed necessarily w/lesbian women who do not live/believe or act like YOU?

Or annoyed w/lesbian women that you can not control that do not live/believe or act like you?

It's easy to fall back into the millenniums of conditioning of controlling categories of women even w/subtle tactics of "being annoyed"... I say we each begin to really fight the fight and let all women to live their own life stories.

theflyingarab | March 1, 2011 9:46 PM

This is condescending, to say the least. I'm pretty sure she stated why she was annoyed and it wasn't for either of those reasons. Furthermore, I don't think "fighting the fight" means that you stop criticizing the ideologies that people use to defend behaviors that may be problematic. Lesbians aren't magical infallible unicorns who can do no wrong and get a free pass to live unexamined — I mean, did you see the part about the "women born women"? I think if you're not at least annoyed by that, there's an issue.

"Lesbians aren't magical infallible unicorns who can do no wrong and get a free pass to live unexamined — I mean, did you see the part about the "women born women"? I think if you're not at least annoyed by that, there's an issue."

I saw "the part" where a self described middle aged woman painted TWO different lesbian generations outside of her own experience w/a very wide "annoyed" and actually general brush.

Both reasons being lesbian experiences outside of her own generation. This is actually a tactic to silence and keep women, no matter how they ID/live to shame and silence them.

So agreed. "Lesbians aren't magical infallible unicorns who can do no wrong and get a free pass to live unexamined... I was merely posting/commenting to Leslie.

I am a "young" second-waver and I thought the article was funny while making a few great serious points.

I just keep witnessing the same old same old rhetoric:
I'M RIGHT.
It's not that funny anymore, no matter how young, middle age or old you are.

Instead of something freaking NEW:
I'M RIGHT FOR ME.
That's a roller coaster ride of FUN!

Now that... THAT is where we as women, be them bi/straight/lez/tg/ts/flex are actually working together.

theflyingarab | March 1, 2011 10:14 PM

You know, I'm barely in my twenties and I can relate to this. I'm so uncomfortable with the way my generation thinks "bro"-style sexuality is something in which to aspire.

It's also worth noting that Autostraddle, which is a lesbian site aimed at a younger demographic, also had this horribly transphobic piece a few years ago in which it defended the Michigan Women's Festival's (then) "womyn-born-womyn" policy. The article drew a lot of criticism from the community, which I was grateful for, but some of the main editors went out of their way to defend it. So transphobia is definitely still an issue among younger lesbians.

(I believe it is this article, but it's not loading for me at the moment.)

They arent like that now; Autostraddle is one of the two gay sites I visit (guess what the other is?). They have actually written several trans-women positive posts over the last few months (that they are trans-men positive goes without saying of course, lol), and while it may be editing, I have never seen an ant-trans-women comment there, but *have* seen lots of positive comments on the trans posts.

Queerty is another that seems to have changed its editorial position. The posts and comments there used to be horrid, but I went and looked a while back, and they seem much nicer now, too. The site still doesnt mesh with my interests, so I dont visit there, but it was nice to see the change! :)

"I'm so uncomfortable with the way my generation thinks "bro"-style sexuality is something in which to aspire.

Well theflyingarab... I personally don't think there is a woman on earth that is responsible in making YOU feel "comfortable".

That you think any woman needs too... is your issue.

Ah Leslie, it's like you wrote that straight from my head (well, except for not being local to Seattle.)

Marja Erwin | March 1, 2011 8:16 PM

"The magazine says it defines lesbians as "women-born-women," meaning transgender women don't count."

I don't see anything about that. If that is their intent, they should make it clear on their web site and in their magazine. In addition, many trans dykes identify as born women/womyn and many non-trans dykes do not. Part of that is because some people define womonhood in terms of the inner self, and others define it in terms of the social roles imposed on females in this society,

Marja Erwin | March 1, 2011 8:48 PM

Okay, there is one reference in the back of each issue, in the guidelines.

The rad fems use the terms 'male-assigned at birth' (MAAB) and 'female-assigned at birth' (FAAB). It doesn't matter what you think you are or aren't, whatever your genitals looked like at birth is what you are. For a good example of this, see:

http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2011/02/09/spinster-aunt-gets-translucent/#comments

They did take out a few of the worst comments, but apparently any time trans women are brought up there, the ppl who hate trans women come out of the woodwork.

Of course, trans men are fine there, b/c they are still women.

The separtist lesbians seem to even hate women who have ever had sex with men, even if they are FAABs, and are uncertain about FAABs who have used sex toys. If you are a MAAB, then you are part of the patriarchy, and are trying to colonize women's spaces. For a good example, see here:

http://themagazineproject.com/2010/11/transwomen-are-merely-castrated-men/

Am I generalizing from just two sites? Could be, but I see these opinions a lot among rad fems and separatist lesbians (and of course we all know about those academics who demonized trans women, who seem to be loved by rad fems and separatist lesbians). Would anyone who considers themselves a rad fem or a separatist lesbian like to provide counter examples?

Sorry for the derail, Leslie, please feel free to delete! :)

Thanks for providing another trans-women hating place for me to avoid! I'll add it to my list.

I'm very glad none of the lesbians I've known have felt that anti-trans publications would be an "asset" to them.

I know quite a few older lesbians who still hold firm on the "women-born-women" mantra as a justification for trans exclusion. While the majority has progressed with modern thought, I've found those with names suggesting Native American heritage or a bad fantasy novels are usually those still stuck in time.

When you said they had "names like "Artemis Passionfire" and "Flash Silvermoon,"" I could picture them in my mind. Somewhere a dreamcatcher fluttered in a dry breeze.

cyberdraco | March 1, 2011 11:44 PM

I am sorry for my ignorance, but could someone explain to this outsider why some lesbians would have issues with trans-women?

If I was allowed to speculate for myself, I would think it somewhat analogous to a post I just made about different religious denominations. While they all read from the same book and worship the same God, some are more tolerant of differences then others.

I understand that a physical and mental way of life is more complex than a belief system, but it is the best this heterosexual male can conjure up.

The short version is that second-wave radical feminists consider trans women to be Evil Male Secret Agents who are out to infiltrate and sabotage womanhood.

The long version is this article on my website.

Yo Desiree,

Don't want to go too far off topic here but that link you inserted into your comment - below second and third wave feminism, the part about internal bigotry. There may be elements of truth here, just like in the Christian New Testament but what if a fundamentalist gets ahold of this two thousand years later? I've got a problem with the word "internal". Internal to what? Who's internal and who is external? If someone is internal what are they inside of? Uh, what are they outside of?

you write:

"Rather than seeing medical transition as a process of enabling external presentation to be brought in line with the inner self,

Changes brought about medically are the self, not representations of the self. I don't buy Cartesian mind/body, soul/body dualisms. They are not "expressions" of the "inner self" they are the self.

I love this example by Anne Fausto-Sterling taken from Elizabeth Grosz, even if she has a few problems of her own understanding women of history. The inside and the outside are one. I think there is text that goes along with the image:

http://books.google.com/books?id=c3lhYfZzIXkC&lpg=PA24&ots=hDp2kEGrmN&dq=ants%20on%20a%20mobius%20strip%20elizabeth%20grosz&pg=PA24#v=onepage&q&f=false

Sorry to interrupt. I just couldn't let that one go. You all can go back to your football game now. :)

No soul is required. The brain is internal and does not always agree with the outer casing. If it did, then women of history would never need to medical interventions.

Well, the brain is a body part, along with the central nervous system and the endocrine system. It's all connected, isn't it? Yes, thankfully there are medical interventions to make it all work harmoniously, thankfully. On the other hand shoulder pads, helmets and lingerie are not body parts. Who would ever think that those could be put together in a harmonious way? I guess the jury's still out regarding how well they all work together but ya know?

"While they all read from the same book and worship the same God, some are more tolerant of differences then others."

Or it has nothing to do w/the same book/god... let alone labeling one lesbian more "tolerant of the differences then others" .

Religious conditioning/rhetoric/dogma, let alone the "book/god" hasn't been really all that great for women, let alone any lesbian/queer/bi ID.

a) Loved this!

b) Have you read Female Chauvinistic Pigs? Great read and reflects at length on this very issue.

c) I'm 28 and ABHOR lingerie football, so it's totally not just you. That crap is ridiculous, and a total mockery of REAL professional female atheletes.

d) I actually just wrote on a similar topic, but from the perspective of appreciating women's full tackle football on my blog not too long ago!

Thanks for sharing, this was a great read!

cyberdraco | March 2, 2011 2:18 AM

Desiree-Thank you and I read and bookmarked your page. I have an answer, but also more questions-learning is scary fun.

Dieks- I did not mean the bigotry came from the bible or was being defending from it, I was using it as a comparison of tribalism. In that groups of people appear to be in the same 'identity bubble' from outsiders, but for various reasons willing or unwilling place similar people in different groups or tribes.

Overall, this outsider has a lot to learn and hopes those willing participants can be patient with him.

Also, if I may digress a moment, I am no defender of appeals to authority (a necessary part of anything defined as religious), but as an atheist who longs for a larger local community, I can sympathize with the majority of my cities' residents finding that community in churches.

It is unfortunate that as we seek to define ourselves and those who share those traits to grow with, we unintentionally isolated ourselves and/or others.

As I casually mentioned to my Christian friend, if we could just have one day a week or maybe a month where we lived like those outside of our real and artificial bubbles perhaps we could better understand and sympathize-unfortunately, it seems likely that such a 'trip' would breed other unforeseen negative consequences.

Reflecting on important things like this makes me wonder if I am not trying hard enough or trying too hard and missed the answer already lying before me.


One thing is for sure, I can open my mind a lot further before my brain falls out.

"Dieks- I did not mean the bigotry came from the bible or was being defending from it, I was using it as a comparison of tribalism."

I understand.
Women in my opinion, haven't really found their own 50% of the population "tribalism".

But a few dykes have found tribadism.
Different kind of tribbing.

Oooooh~~~ Ooooooh~

Where's the male version?!!! ;D

P.S. Wrestling/MMA doesn't count!

If there were a male version of almost-naked football, it'd be posted here. But by Bil. Without any criticism.

I can't tell what your tone of voice is in this post; somewhat amused or ironic commentary, or something else?

Probably going to invite some flames with this.

I'm a 23 year old transgender lesbian. I have a wonderful fiancée, and while we may disagree on some things, we both have our own, separate, and very large porn collections. We've also both participated in such, as well.

Lingerie football sounds awesome! If only it were based on, y'know, football and not "American football", then we'd be talkin'. I, for one, don't really think such things objectify if the players aren't being forced into it. As long as the players have the freedom to participate as they see fit, then what's the big deal? They get to have fun, and we spectators get to enjoy!

That, in and of itself, is a form of female empowerment, is it not?

Lesbian Connection, on the other hand, sounds like something far less inviting. I think I'll pass on that one. For obvious reasons.

John Gagon | March 2, 2011 2:14 PM

Going to echo someone above me here:

a) Loved this!

I don't know why but my first run-in with a lesbian wasn't friendly. I was ignorant too. I love the new lesbian friends I have and myself and that first one I met have since become better friends but also fallen by the way-side. I think the problem is that if I find something hot and slinky, that I find men drooling over, I had the false assumption that a lesbian woman might like the same thing. After all, I like what most women like in terms of men.

Is it the power motif found in the masculinisataion of all queers? I mean, I see frequently see gay personals that mention "no femmes!" and I see lesbians who want "only butch!" as well. I have always been curious about the feelings towards traditional femininity and I know there's plenty of writing on the topic but it still confuses me whether or not it's really all that bad....I'm talking trends by the way, I know plenty of drag queens and "lipstick"/"femme" lesbians and I know my first friend lesbian run-in did not represent everyone.

In any case, you mention the age issue and this came to mind. Is there a fear of aging or is it perhaps that commercialized hard to obtain anorexic beauty at fault here?

I'm quite glad however that there is a venue for something like this.

I know I'm walking on thin sheets of ice so feel free to educate me a little. I can't learn if I don't ask/communicate what I already do/don't know.

This is hilarious! I'm a 47-year-old bi queer, and I completely empathize.

Thanks one and all for offering your thoughts on my column. I would've responded quicker, but I'm battling the flu. And losing.

I was asked what tone I was going for. The answer is probably not so much amused as bemused that I find myself in the position I describe. As a humor writer I try to go for just what Miranda described: "funny while making a few great serious points."

Back to bed.

"The rad fems use the terms 'male-assigned at birth' (MAAB) and 'female-assigned at birth' (FAAB). It doesn't matter what you think you are or aren't, whatever your genitals looked like at birth is what you are. For a good example of this, see:
iblamethepatriarchy.com/2011/02/09/spinster-aunt-gets-translucent/#comments"

http://transfeminisms.wordpress.com/