guest post: the overlap in the gay rights and feminist movement

Earlier in the Month, we posted a
controversial guest blog
by Mike McFall about the importance of
staying on message in the LGBTQ equality movement. Today, we bring
you a response by Cara, a 22 year old liberal feminist with a BA in
English, Text and Writing. She currently works as a cashier and
volunteers with Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse
Region.  She blogs daily at The Curvature,
where she writes about politics and culture from a feminist

GLBTQ activists have a lot on their plate.  From marriage,
adoption and parenting rights, to unraveling cultural gender norms
and fighting back stereotypical or bigoted images in the media,
there’s no shortage of battles to be waged.

I understand, because as a feminist blogger, I have a full plate of
my own.  In the U.S. alone, the government is attacking women’s
reproductive freedom, rape and domestic violence rates are still
alarmingly high, women are paid on 77 cents for each dollar men
make, and we have our own stereotypical and prejudiced media
portrayals to counter.

These are only a small fraction of the issues that our movements
are facing.  It would be easy, even understandable, for us to keep
going our separate ways.  But to do so would be a disservice to
both of us.  Though our specific concerns sometimes vary, we are a
part of the very same movement: that of human rights.

All of us are fighting for both the right to have and not
have children.  While the GLBTQ movement is fighting for the right
to live without fear of being attacked due to sexual orientation or
gender identity, feminists are fighting for the right of women to
stop living in fear of rape and domestic abuse.   And most
obviously, both of our movements want to loosen the hold that
traditional understandings of gender have on our society.  Through
devaluing women and femininity, our culture has found a way to also
devalue the gay and transgender community.  By using stereotypes
that gay males are more “feminine” than straight males, homosexuals
are unjustly classified as “not real men”– or, women.  And our
masculinity-dominated society sees little worse than being
female.  Lesbians also fight gender-discrimination, since they are
(frequently incorrectly) assumed to be “masculine,” and
therefore not living up to the constraining cultural ideals of
womanhood.  Trangender individuals, of course, face the strongest
gender discrimination of all.  Each of us– straight women, gay
males, lesbians, bisexuals, transmen and transwomen–are all
fighting the patriarchy
.  How are we not the same

Both the gay rights and feminist movements have wrongly set their
focuses too narrowly in the past.  Feminism has historically been
a middle-class white women’s movement, and previously ignored the
needs and experiences of women of color, women with low-incomes,
lesbians and transwomen.  The early gay rights movement focused
predominantly on middle-class white males, and is similarly
expanding its mainstream focus to persons of color, lesbians,
transgender individuals and those in the working class.  Both of
our movements are trying to increase their scopes and gain trust in
marginalized communities.  If we embark on these missions
separately, I believe that we will be repeating the same
mistakes.  As an increasing number of activists are learning,
it’s crucial for us to work together.

Allies are important.  Men are important to the feminist movement
because they show that it is in fact a battle for human rights, and
that women’s issues affect all of us.  The involvement of
heterosexual allies is equally important to the GLBTQ movement. 
If we want to fight for human rights, we need to fight for
all human rights equally, and I believe that we need to
fight together.