Queer Theory and Lesbian Feminism Essay

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This is to the extent whereby the theorists have begun to look at lesbianism as a provisional identity in that it takes into account the racial, class and ethnical differences and these are what the queer theory has failed to do so far Epstein, 1994: 197()

Some scholars have argued that the development of the queer theory means that lesbianism is not going to disappear anytime in the recent future. The queer theory also threatens to offset the advances which were made by feminism by failing to recognize the impact of the lesbian-feminism theory in shaping the contemporary understanding of sexuality and gender Hollinger, 1999: 28()

It has also been argued that the word queer only refers to a white male individual who is gay. This makes it more difficult to comprehend and advocate for the queer theory. On the contrary, lesbian-feminism seeks to completely dismantle the idea of heterosexuality and this is done by promoting lesbianism as an active choice for all women Eagleton, 1996: 7()

Another important difference between the lesbian-feminism and queer theory is that the queer theory has not theorized oppression on other bases such as race, gender, ability and class. It has only adequately theorized the oppression on the base of sexuality. Also, the queer theory tends to privilege homophobia as the central base of oppression. The lesbian-feminism theory, however, has been more expansive on its analysis of the multiple oppressions and has incorporated them effectively Card, 1998: 208()

The lesbian-feminism theory focuses on the natural and unnatural behavior of homosexuals while the queer theory expands its focus to deal with any form of sexual activity or any sexual identity which falls under the categories of deviant or normative behavior. The queer theory states that there is an interval which exists between the time when the subject does a particular activity and the period when the subject is. The theory thus does attempt to destabilize the identity categories which were deigned to identify the clients the queer theory also creates a raging debate on whether the sexual orientation of the person is natural or essential or if it is a social construction that is bound to change along the normal path of life Calhoun, 1994: 561()


The queer theory came in the 1990s while the lesbian-feminist theory has been present since the 1970s. The lesbian-feminism theory attempts to describe feminism as a rational choice for the women and that they are free to choose as they wish. This theory succeeded in dismissing the claim that lesbianism was a disease of some women. The queer theory came up as a theory to fill the gap brought by the limitations of the lesbian-feminist theory as well as to be more useful politically for the lesbians. However, it has failed terribly in this mission. Though it has had some positive effects such as changing how people look at the HIV / AIDS crisis among lesbians, it still has a lot of limitations that make it not to be completely acceptable as a theory of lesbianism. There are huge differences that exist between the two theories which make them not blend with each other. The lesbian-feminists and the queer theorists have failed to find a middle ground to play from and thus they all try to promote their theories as the best one to explain lesbianism. However, none of the theories has managed to completely explain this.


CALHOUN, C. 1994. Separating Lesbian Theory from Feminist Theory. Ethics, 104, 558-581.

CARAWAY, N.E. 1991. The Challenge and Theory of Feminist Identity Politics: Working on Racism. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 12, 109-129.

CARD, C. 1998. Radicalesbianfeminist Theory. Hypatia, 13, 206-213.

EAGLETON, M. 1996. Who's Who and Where's Where: Constructing Feminist Literary Studies. Feminist Review, 1-23.

EPSTEIN, S. 1994. A Queer Encounter: Sociology and the Study of Sexuality. Sociological Theory, 12, 188-202.

GLICK, E. 2000. Sex Positive: Feminism, Queer Theory, and the Politics of Transgression. Feminist Review, 19-45.

GOLDMAN, R. 1996. Who is That Queer?: Exploring the Place of Bisexuality and the "Norm" in Queer Theory." forthcoming in Queer Studies: A Multicultural Anthology, New York, New York University Press.

HAMER, D. 1990. Significant Others: Lesbianism and Psychoanalytic Theory. Feminist Review, 134-151.

HOLLINGER, V. 1999. (Re)reading Queerly: Science Fiction, Feminism, and the Defamiliarization of Gender. Science Fiction Studies, 26, 23-40.

JOHNSTON, J. 1982. Lesbian/Feminism Reconsidered. Salmagundi, 76-88.

LAURETIS, T.D. 1990. Feminism and Its Differences. Pacific Coast Philology, 25, 24-30.

MOCK, R. 2003. Heteroqueer Ladies: Some Performative Transactions between Gay Men and Heterosexual Women. Feminist Review, 20-37.

NAYLOR, a.K. 1999. 'Gone Are the Days': Bisexual Perspectives on Lesbian/Feminist Literary Theory. Feminist Review, 51-66.

O'DRISCOLL, S. 1996.…[continue]

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