Bonnie Zimmerman response

   “Many lesbian writers and critics have also been influenced profoundly by the politics of separatism which provides a critique of heterosexuality as a political institution rather than a personal choice, ‘because relationships between men and women are essentially political, they involve power and dominance.’ As we shall see, the notion of ‘women-identification,’ that is, the primacy of women bonding with women emotionally and politically, as well as the premises of separationism, that lesbians have a unique and critical place at the margins of patriarchal society, are central to much current lesbian literary criticism” (2335).

   This specific section is interesting on a couple levels. I don’t fully agree or embrace this notion of “lesbian criticism” in that it is another constraining label to classify people or texts with. Reading texts in terms of lesbianism or homosexuality is a logical theory, especially when there are patterns of love or longing that go against the usual grain of hetero-normative relationships. In that vein, placing specific boundaries and readings on the text seemed to stifle the reading. With the similar sense of saying, “Emily Dickinson never wrote lesbian content,” it’s equally constraining to say, “[so and so] only writes in terms of lesbian relationships.”

   It seems to be human nature to place people and texts within given boundaries, and I understand that. I also understand that certain texts can lend well to this particular type of criticism, however I feel it constrains the literature and text to fall within certain boundaries. That being said, no one falls neatly into any set border or boundary. Labeling and conforming to certain stereotypes, even in reading texts, is constraining and only leads to civil unrest. 

2 thoughts on “Bonnie Zimmerman response”

  1. Dustin, I just posted on Ashley’s blog as well, but the same notion applies to yours. I kept thinking of Barthes “Death of the Author” while reading Zimmerman. In short, I agree that to define a text as lesbian, whether that defines the author or the characters of the story, is to limit interpretation. Toni

  2. I agree with your hesitation to endorse the labeling/taxonomy here. I am much more comfortable with the idea of a lesbian *reading* of a given text than with the idea of a lesbian canon that should be all read in a particular way. I readily admit that such texts would probably cluster and could form, say, a body of reading material for a class focused on lesbian issues in literature, but the idea of labeling texts purely based on a characteristic of the author makes me particular uneasy.

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