By Jeanne F. Neath
XX Lesbian Activists (XXLA), a new activist group, has started a campaign to return the journal, Sinister Wisdom, to its all female, Lesbian-Feminist, revolutionary roots. The group, of which I am a member, has a petition we encourage you to sign at https://www.change.org/XXLesbians.
If you are incensed at the takeover of women’s and Lesbian spaces by males claiming to be women, take action by signing this petition. Sinister Wisdom’s recent issue #128 on “Trans/Feminisms” features male (“transgender”) contributors, and includes “written and visual images of dismemberment, penises, graphic male sex acts, objectification of women’s bodies, and derision of radical feminists.” (from the quote by JW in the petition) The XXLA petition pressures Sinister Wisdom to return the journal to an all female, Lesbian-Feminist publication.
In addition to signing the petition, XX Lesbian Activists encourages everyone to send a copy of XXLA’s open letter, or their own protest emails, to Sinister Wisdom (firstname.lastname@example.org). Let’s see a deluge of emails begin to hit Sinister Wisdom’s inbox on August 26th (in commemoration of the US Women’s Suffrage movement’s victory day). The email campaign will continue until Sinister Wisdom is once again an all female, Lesbian journal. For more information on XX Lesbian Activists’ campaigns or to get a copy of the open letter, you can contact email@example.com.
The petition is printed below. Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/XXLesbians.
Return Sinister Wisdom to its All Female, Lesbian-Feminist, Revolutionary Roots
To the Board of Directors of Sinister Wisdom:
We are Lesbians and Feminists who need Sinister Wisdom to become a Lesbian-Feminist journal again. Sinister Wisdom used to provide us with Lesbian-Feminist writings and artwork that helped us to survive in a world that is hard on Lesbians. Sinister Wisdom did far more than that.
Sinister Wisdom began publication in July of 1976, started by two Lesbian separatists who were part of the revolution in Lesbian and female consciousness of the times. For us, Sinister Wisdom became our cauldron where Lesbian-Feminist thought was rising up and spilling over, creating a world beyond the confines of patriarchy.
Now we are being erased as Lesbians, even by the board of directors of Sinister Wisdom. Our worldview is being denied and decimated. We are isolated and hurting since Sinister Wisdom has abandoned us.
What happened? Earlier this year the Lesbian journal, Sinister Wisdom, published its issue #128 dedicated to “exploring and celebrating transness.”
With Sinister Wisdom’s “Trans/Feminisms” issue #128, we have a complete reversal in which males and male visions dominate in a new twist on the old story of patriarchy.
The result. Lesbians, young and old, seeking that revolutionary Lesbian and female consciousness have had stolen from us a critical link in our web of resistance. We want our Lesbian journal back.
Here are comments from a few Lesbians:
- “Sinister Wisdom grew from the grassroots of Lesbian-Feminist outrage! Our words fueled our Lesbian-Feminist energies. Stealing our cultural institutions like Sinister Wisdom from women in the name of including ‘male lesbians’ is a cruel joke aimed to destroy our communities. Only women can be Lesbians.” PEM
- “Issue #128, ‘Trans/Feminisms,’ was appalling to me with its written and visual images of dismemberment, penises, graphic male sex acts, objectification of women’s bodies, and derision of radical feminists. I found nothing Lesbian in this issue of Sinister Wisdom, which still claims on its cover to be a Lesbian Journal.” JW
- “Sinister Wisdom, one of our last Radical Lesbian-Feminist journals, published my name in a slanderous attack on me. This happened in an article by Mr. Susan Stryker in the ‘Trans/Feminisms’ issue. The Sinister Wisdom editor, Julie Enszer, refused to print my response.” Bev Jo
- “And that’s why this issue is such an insult to radical Lesbian Feminists. Our space has been diminished if not completely obliterated. Let the trans folks, Feminist or not, have a journal of their own. They can laud the penis as much as they want to. But keep it out of our space!” RG
- “Julie’s intro, with its Orwellian tones of revising history—’we have always been trans-friendly’—told me what I would find in the contents. Sadly, I would recommend removing ‘Wisdom’ from the title. ‘Sinister’ says it all.” CW
- “I feel such profound sadness that Sinister Wisdom has fallen to the bullying and finances of the men who now say they are women. This once-beloved publication, along with so many others, both publications and organizations, has lost courage in a way that harms all actual woman.” SW
- “This issue overflows with deception, falsification, and grotesquery. But the true horror is that its Lesbian supporters don’t (or pretend not to) feel and see a boot to the face of Lesbians.” RMG
Sinister Wisdom a queer journal? Males, male thought, and male violence have no place in a Lesbian journal. Lesbians have always defined Lesbians as females in same sex relationships. Why would Sinister Wisdom embrace queer/trans ideology and define Lesbian to include males?
The explanation. Sinister Wisdom has lost its Lesbian-Feminist focus, and it now centers on a queer and transgender, therefore largely male, worldview.
Before resorting to this petition, we wrote to the editor and the board of directors of Sinister Wisdom requesting that they allow us to edit an issue that would focus on gender-critical and Radical-Feminist creative work. Despite the considerable writing, editing, and artistic skills we offered, Sinister Wisdom refused our request for one, gender-critical issue.
We Call upon the Sinister Wisdom Board of Directors – Julie R. Enszer, Editor (2010 to present); Roberta Arnold; Cheryl Clarke; Sara Gregory; Yeva Johnson; Briona Jones; Shromona Mandal; Joan Nestle; Rose Norman; Mecca Jamilah Sullivan; Yasmin Tambiah; and Red Washburn – to return Sinister Wisdom to its all female, Lesbian-Feminist revolutionary roots.
Respectfully, XX Lesbian Activists
Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/XXLesbians.