What happened to lesbians in Nazi Germany? All you need to know is that it wasn’t as bad as what happened to men


This article has some interesting (and horrible) information in it about how lesbians were treated in Nazi Germany, and also some shocking internalised misogyny on the part of the writer, which says so much about how far we still have to go in terms of recognising the torture of women as being actual torture.

The author writes, “Stories from women’s camps, while not as violent as the men’s, highlight one way the Nazis tried to reform lesbian internees.”

So what is she talking about that happened to women, and specifically lesbians, that wasn’t as bad as what happened to men? Specifically, this:

“The Nazis used the brothels to ‘convert’ lesbians back to heterosexuality – but the women’s lives came with a ‘use by’ date, after which most of them were killed. The average span, and often life expectancy, for a woman to work in forced prostitution in one of the camps was six months.”

So the writer is talking about forced prostitution and repeated corrective rape so violent that many women died, or were killed, within six months.

And that is not as bad as what happened to men. Because…Women aren’t human, I guess? And deserve to be raped to death by men? Like, what else do we exist for? This writer is behaving in such a way that violence against women and lesbians is normalised and erased, even though talking about those abuses is meant to be the point of the article. It is inexcusable. It’s also utterly self-defeating.

Gay men eventually got their memorial and their apology and the ability to claim compensation for what happened during the Nazi era, and I entirely support that. I wonder if anyone has bothered to erect a memorial to all those lesbians (and no doubt many other women) who were repeatedly raped and murdered in concentration camps? I wonder if that’s a cause gay men would help lesbians fight for? I think we all know the answer.

The Shaming of Lesbians in the Queer Female Community

Unfortunately, self-identified queer women shaming lesbians within the female queer community, particularly the young under 30s-community, is the norm these days. What would have once been primarily understood to be lesbian spaces for lesbian women are now queer spaces in which it is not acceptable for women to declare themselves lesbians, or uninterested in men, or uninterested in penises (especially the almighty ladypeen).

But who are these queer women who are shaming lesbians? I think a lot about this, and I don’t think the answer is a simple one. I also don’t think I’ve fully captured the complexity of what is going on in this post, probably not even close, and as someone who has tended to limit my exposure to queer spaces since I don’t find them that friendly to me, my analysis may be incomplete. But I wanted to get my thoughts down anyway, since these topics are being discussed so little that I think it’s important.

I think that often the radical feminist perspective is to assume that such queer women are primarily heterosexual or bisexual, and I think it’s true that a portion (maybe even a majority?) are. Certainly in queer spaces there are no shortage of women willing to declare themselves bisexual or pansexual or nonbinary or any other somewhat-cool-label that they hope (probably on a subconscious level) will enable them to escape some of the shit of compulsory heterosexuality without incurring the ire of the patriarchal overlords (which the term lesbian is sure to do).

But I also think it likely there is something else going on here; probably a few different, though related, things. I keep coming back to a particular kind of sub-set of women I’ve encountered in these spaces – women who very vehemently declare themselves bisexual (or perhaps queer, with the understanding they are interested in the ‘person and not the genitals’ or however it’s being put these days) – but who in the past, when they were younger (perhaps in their teens or very early 20s) said they were lesbians.

Now this is very interesting, and it’s not something I think I’ve ever really seen discussed before. Perhaps it’s just not very common, perhaps other lesbians haven’t encountered women who tell this sort of narrative, I really don’t know.

Of course, this age – late teens, early twenties – is a time of life when people are going through a lot of changes, developing quickly, learning new things, finding themselves, etc. etc. So it’s perhaps not surprising that someone who is still relatively young, still developing their sexuality, would find they had an attraction they hadn’t previously been aware of, or hadn’t previously felt.

And …Well, certainly for the sake of the individual women, I hope that’s the case. That it’s all nice and positive and freely chosen. But it’s difficult for me to put on blinkers and not think about what else could be going on here. Like…We know that young women are extremely vulnerable to sexual coercion and sexual assault and rape from men. We know that corrective rape is something that happens to lesbians all around the world. We know that many women and girls internalize sexual abuse they’ve experienced and blame themselves, or deny that it happened. (I really wanted it. It was just a case of ambiguous consent. It was just bad sex. I must have given off signals. Etc.) We also know that more covert and insidious patriarchal indoctrination is going on all the time (including in queer spaces that should, theoretically, be safe for lesbians), where these women are constantly getting the message that it’s not okay to be lesbian, that’s it’s not okay to write men off as potential sexual partners. In this kind of context, talking about consent and choice is fairly meaningless. The whole game is rigged to channel women, whether through subtle coercion or outright violence, into sexual availability to men.

And there is perhaps something to think about with age here. If you have a teenage girl who is calling herself a lesbian, but then in her twenties decides she is queer or bisexual…Well, is that happening because of entry into the local queer spaces via university or the scene? Is there something within queer culture that is contributing to that decision? In at least some cases, I would probably say yes.

I suppose part of what makes me ask these questions, aside from knowing how brutal patriarchal men are, is that some (certainly not all, but quite a few) of the bisexual/queer women I know who tell this I-used-to-be-a-lesbian-but-now-I -know-better narrative, have an extraordinary amount of anger towards lesbians.

Usually the reasons given for this fall – broadly – under the ‘lesbians are biphobic (and transphobic) bigots’ umbrella. Well…Not wanting to date someone or not wanting to hang out with someone in a social or political space because you don’t feel you have enough in common…Is not exactly bigotry or a phobia, for all it might be personally hurtful or upsetting…And nor do lesbians incur any kind of structural or societal advantage over bisexual/queer women for being lesbians, so let’s just head off that tired privilege argument before it even gets made.

But all that is rather beside the point I want to make here. Currently, it is queer sexuality – not lesbian sexuality – that is celebrated by the LGBT movement and the progressive left. Lesbians are certainly not in a position of power or authority over queer women; just the opposite. So why this anger that is thinly justified on the basis of some fictional phobia?

The potential for this being a patriarchal reversal are quite high – that it is in fact the queer women who are themselves exhibiting lesbophobia in how they hate, shame and despise lesbians. But, for some of them at least, is there also an element of internalized self-hatred here? Hatred for the original lesbian self that is buried somewhere under all the queer indoctrination? Hatred that is directed at other lesbians since being a lesbian is seen (correctly) as the cause of whatever punishment they received from men and/or from the queer community, and it is easier to direct that anger towards other members of the lesbian community rather than direct it towards the real culprits – powerful men?

Obviously, even if this is happening with a few women, I don’t think it is happening on any kind of conscious level. That’s kind of the point, I suppose. It would all have to stay as internalized feelings of discomfort and hate that wouldn’t be able to be named, understood or analysed. And I’m sure even writing this will piss a lot of women off. How dare you question my agency and my identity! Etc.

Regardless of that, I keep wondering. Do we have a situation on our hands where at least some of the self-identifying queer and bisexual women populating the queer movement, are lesbians who have been taught self-hate, taught to dissociate, and are now encouraging other lesbians to feel that same self-hatred from inside the community?

And does this tie in at all with the way that more butch or obviously gender non-conforming lesbians are being encouraged to transition, often by these same queer women?

As I stated earlier, most radical feminist analyses that I’ve seen, have tended to assume that the feminine looking queer/bi women populating the queer movement are primarily heterosexual, and that their behaviours can be understood within the framework of a heterosexual orientation – not having a problem with penises in women’s spaces, not having a problem with penises in sexual situations, general disgust of lesbians, discomfort with butch women/butch lesbians (and hence encouraging transition).

And I don’t doubt that all of that is going on. But I don’t think it’s all that is going on. I think that to assume that within that demographic there are no women who have internalized self-hatred to such a degree that they are denying they are lesbians; that perhaps rape or sexual assault also played a part in that journey, is to overlook one potential aspect of how our current and future generations of lesbians are being destroyed.

I suppose one thing that got me thinking about this issue is the fact that again, at least some of these queer/bi women, whilst encouraging transition, also appear to often fetishize butch lesbians as women, not as potential/future transmen. (Though should those same women decide to transition, they’ll also celebrate that). The dehumanizing degree and type of sexualisation and fetishization is…Well, certainly a bit on the weird and creepy side to say the least, and let me emphasise I can only speak about this as an observer and not someone who’s experienced it, and there are butch and visibly gender nonconforming lesbians who have written about this phenomenon far more eloquently.

But within a culture that is heavily sexualized, heavily pornified, heavily built around patriarchal ideas of domination and submission, it’s to be expected that the only language of desire these young feminine women can speak is a destructive language of patriarchal objectification. (And the reverse is also often true as well, with more butch women objectifying feminine women in dehumanizing ways). But even expressing the desire in the first place (however messed up and mangled the form it takes), again makes me wonder if we are really dealing with a purely heterosexual demographic.

It also makes me wonder about the incredible load of cognitive dissonance everyone in this community must be carrying around. On the one hand, butch lesbians who have been taught to hate and reject their femaleness and their lesbian-ness in order to become men. On the other hand, more conventional looking women, at least some of whom we know once saw themselves as lesbians, who have been taught to reject their lesbian-ness in order to make themselves sexually available to men, and encourage their more obviously non-conforming sisters to transition, whilst also wanting, or at least claiming to want, to partner with the butch lesbians (as butch lesbians and not transmen) who are the very ones fleeing womanhood.

Doublethink Nation

Quite some time ago now, I wrote a piece entitled Queer2Trans about what I saw as the increasing dominance of trans politics within queer ideologies.

Interestingly, I came across this call for papers recently, and to me, it very much shows in action an example of exactly the sort of take-over I have been imagining.

The title of the proposed event is AGender: Female and Transgender Masculinities. In a sad and ironic but hardly unexpected twist, it claims inspiration from two lesbian artists of the first half of the twentieth century, Marlow Moss and Claude Cahun; women who refused to live their lives within the narrow constraints their society placed upon their sex.

In earlier times, such women might have been incorporated into narratives of feminist resistance, of lesbian resistance, of female resistance, to the grinding and never-ending forces of male oppression that seek to belittle and destroy all women, especially those who refuse to conform.

No longer, however. These days such women must be understood within a framework of ‘queer resistance’, of ‘female masculinity’ and transgenderism. In other words, the only reason they did what they did was because they were somehow exceptional, internally different from all those other women who were ‘cis-normative’ and happy with their lot as men’s subjugated slaves.

‘Normal’ women are happy to remain slaves; therefore, women who refuse to do so, who aspire to ambition and humanity, must obviously have something male about them, because male is human and female is not. They must practice ‘female masculinity’; they must be transgender, they must not be understood to be the same as other oppressed women who very likely long on some level for exactly the same autonomy and respect, unless they have been so broken and brainwashed they have lost any semblance of self.

It seems the understanding of lesbianism this event is pushing is nothing but a new revolution of the invert identity for the twenty-first century. It’s not a coincidence, perhaps, that both the lesbian artists selected as inspiration for this event, themselves lived during times when the invert identity was in vogue with the medical profession. But of course we can’t talk about how misogynistic and lesbian hating ideologies might have impacted these women’s sense of identity and self-definition. We can’t talk about how that’s still happening now with woman-hating and lesbian-hating concepts like female masculinity and transgenderism that draw correlations between non-conforming lesbians and men.

This is the erasure of lesbians, and more particularly the erasure of lesbians as women. Lesbians are not permitted to be female, to connect with or represent female culture. Somehow, because we reject subjugation, we are seen not as women seeking to redefine ourselves as free females, but as women who emulate men, or who wish to emulate men, women who worship men and male culture (because women never produced anything of value), or who indeed become men.

This is hatred. This is fear. This is erasure. And it’s happening in the name of progress.

Sex Positivity! It Works (Not)

A nice woman I know recently gave me some zines to read, mostly zines written by young, third wave type feminists talking about their experiences of sex, sexuality, rape, trauma and other related issues. A lot of what they related will be pretty familiar to many women – too many of them were used, abused, raped, taken advantage of. Too many of them internalised that self-hatred and replayed it repeatedly in destructive relationships.

All of these women were trying to write themselves towards some kind of healing, towards a greater understanding of what they experienced and why; a lot of them were trying to untangle their own self-destructive behaviour and develop a more positive sense of self, a better relationship to their own body.

So what happens when you throw sex positivity into the mix, which all of these women also identified with/as?

You pretty much get a train wreck.

You get women using the very thing that is going to re-traumatise them as a tool to try and get away from trauma.

There was one woman who related how upset and betrayed she felt when she found her boyfriend watching porn.

“But you’re sex positive!” he said, “you can’t criticise me.”

And actually – according to the rhetoric of sex positivity – he was right.

And yet this woman still knew on a basic, instinctual level that her boyfriend was doing something that was degrading to her, and degrading to other women. And she felt that. Despite supposedly believing in and following an ideology of sex positivity that made it all okay. What sex positivity didn’t give her was the political language with which to explore and discuss her discomfort at knowing her intimate partner with whom she was having sex was getting off on viewing images of objectified and degraded women.

There was also a lot of confusion around the issue of sex – with a lot of them the belief seemed to be the more sex the better – and yet they would also relate how alienated they felt by a lot of the sex they had, how a lot of it happened because of abuse/dependency issues, or an unhealthy need for sexual validation, and that actually it was part of the problem not part of the solution.

But if you’re working within a sex positive framework, then what other solution is there?

Well, I suppose(?) there’s the option to make better sexual choices – talking only on an individual level of course – but there’s not the option to call the whole sorry mess into question. And by the whole sorry mess I mean the entire fucked up structure of hetero-patriarchal relations in which (in the west anyway) enthusiastic sexual availability is demanded of women at all times, sometimes with the caveat of consent (which is meaningless in a culture that is already going to enforce consent through, amongst other clever ploys, the very concept of sex positivity itself).

Why could that be I wonder?

Gee, I bet it doesn’t have anything to do with that smug boyfriend wanking off to porn and saying, “but this is sex positive, and you’re sex positive, so you can’t criticise me!”

Gender Based Violence

I really dislike the terms “gender based violence” and “gender based oppression”. They are locating the oppression in the wrong place. It is our female bodies that mark us as acceptable targets for oppression, and the violence that is done to us very frequently targets our female parts: through rape, through genital mutilation, through enforced pregnany and childbirth, or enforced sterilisation.

This is oppression based on sex, not gender. To say “gender based violence” locates the oppression in our identity as women – an identity which is not even ours, but which is forced upon us as part of our oppression. Gender is in fact a large part of the violence that is done to females. To say our oppression is based on our “gender” implies that we are the ones responsible – if only we would change our “gender identity” to one that society found more acceptable, we would not be targeted. But there is no escape. No matter how we identify our female bodies will still be targed for violence. “Gender” will still be forced upon us whether we want it or not, and those who resist can expect to be punished in female-specific ways.

The other problem with “gender based violence” is that it conflates sex and gender – it invisibilises the fact that gender is a construction, and that the enforcement of “gender” is in fact a tool of oppression that is used against females.

Meanwhile in the Fatherland…

Women are banned from feminist political assembly, but meanwhile mandatory ‘gender identities’ are being imposed on the entire population via questions on the UK’s Equal Opportunity Monitoring forms and the category of biological sex has disappeared…


I refuse to have a ‘gender identity’. According to the society in which I live, being in possession of a female ‘gender identity’ means that I am naturally submissive, that I like make up and pink frilly clothes, that I love dicks and babies, that I am a helpless and vulnerable creature who exists to be raped, abused, made fun of, dismissed and otherwise taken advantage of by anyone with a dick who comes along, with or without a male ‘gender identity’.

Fuck that shit.

Fuck your gender identity.

The fact that I reject harmful cultural stereotypes does not mean that I reject my femaleness. My rejection of patriarchal femininity and the conditioning it entails is what allows me to love myself and other women.

Is the UK Denying the Human Rights of Radical Feminists?

Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

There’s an interesting document produced by the Human Rights Review here all about Article 11, which discusses how the UK may not be meeting its legal obligations to allow peaceful freedom of association, particularly with regards to protests.

According to this document:

Article 11 imposes two different types of obligations on the state:

• a negative obligation, which means that public authorities must not prevent, hinder or restrict peaceful assembly except to the extent allowed by Article 11(2), and must not arbitrarily interfere with the right to freedom of association

• a positive obligation, so that in certain circumstances public authorities are under a duty to take reasonable steps to protect those who want to exercise their right to peaceful assembly. The state must also take reasonable and appropriate measures to secure the right to freedom of association under domestic law.

The document also says,

Article 11 protects the right to peaceful assembly. This means that, unless there is clear evidence that the organisers or participants will use, advocate or incite imminent violence, public authorities have a positive duty to take reasonable steps to protect peaceful assemblies.

The right to peaceful assembly is not taken away even if violent counter demonstrations are possible, or if extremists with violent intentions who are not part of the organising group join the protest. Similarly a protest does not fall outside the protection guaranteed by Article 11 merely because there is a risk of disorder that is beyond the control of the organisers.


Do radical feminists not have the right to hold our political beliefs and gather peacefully with other like-minded women? Where is the evidence that radical feminists promote violence against others, or that we are gathering with the intent to share violent rhetoric which will result in crimes being committed against others? Merely having hurt feelings over some of the things radical feminists think is not grounds for denying our human right to have a peaceful political gathering. The law actually has an obligation to protect our right to freedom of political association, and one has to ask what the consequences will be for women and girls all around the world if a powerful western nation like the UK declares that politically marginalised women who are survivors of multiple forms of violence and oppression DO NOT have the human right to gather peacefully with one another in order to build political networks and discuss strategies to end male violence against women. What a wonderful precedent to set.