Do you know why an axe is used to symbolize lesbians?
Because it represents smashing through discrimination
The word ‘lesbian’ refers to homosexual women. A homosexual is a person who is sexually attracted to people of the same gender. In other words, lesbians are women who are attracted to women. This article examines the symbols and cultures of lesbian communities, solves common misunderstandings, and introduces lesbian celebrities.
👩❤️💋👩Lesbians have existed throughout human history! Read A Room of One’s Own’s <History of Lesbians> article.
There are several lesbian pride flags, but none are particularly widespread. Instead, I will introduce some symbols that have been passed down along with the history of lesbianism.
💜 Violet; The Color and The Flowers
This is a symbol taken from a poem written by Sappho, an ancient Greek poet and a symbolic figure in the history of lesbianism, depicting a beloved woman. "Many crowns of violets, roses and crocuses…together you set before more and many scented wreaths made from blossoms around your soft throat…with pure, sweet oil… you anointed me, and on a soft, gentle bed…you quenched your desire… no holy site…we left uncovered, no grove…” (Sappho, around the 6th century BC/2018). In the mid-20th century, women often gave violets when they courted other women. Even today, the color violet is widely used as a symbol of lesbianism.
💜 Double-sided Axe
Legendary Amazonian warriors used the double-edged 'Labris' axe as a weapon. In the 1970s, lesbian feminists began to use it as a symbol of women's power. As you can guess from this combative symbol, lesbians have a deep relationship with various social movements. There is even a bitter joke that when the three lesbians gather, they are campaigning for human rights. I think it is the result of the combined experience of minority characteristics of women and homosexuals.
▲ A scene in the movie "London Pride," which depicts the solidarity of the British miners' union and sexual minorities in the 1980s (Warchus, 2014). The old lady in the miner's village, after getting a little closer to the lesbians, asks "What I was told about lesbians really did shock me. It can’t be true, can it? You’re all vegetarians?" This scene shows that the lesbian movement was closely related to the ecofeminism-vegetarianism movement.
💜 Black Inverse Triangle
In Nazi concentration camps, black inverted triangular badges were attached to inmates who were deemed to be "anti-social." This included sex workers and lesbian women. Several lesbians use this inverted triangle as a resistance to hatred.
"So… Who’s the man in the relationship?"
Many lesbian couples will have heard this question from curious friends or acquaintances. They wonder which of the two plays a "woman’s role" or a "man’s role". If you are socialized to only recognize typical heteronormative relationship roles, you seem to habitually find it in all relationships. It’s the same reason many seem to think that a woman with short hair and more 'masculine' behavior is inevitably a lesbian. Let's take a look at the concepts that people often mistake for 'female roles' and 'male roles'.
💜 Femme X Butch
Even within lesbian culture, there is a concept of dividing based on 'femininity' and 'masculinity'. People who show so-called 'feminine' characteristics in appearance, behavior, and manners are called Femme, and those who show 'male' characteristics are called Butch. However, Femme and Butch lesbians are not determined simply by hair length or clothes, and there are even further sub-categories within these such as ‘long-haired Butch’. In fact, opinions are divided among lesbians on the Femme and Butch culture.
There are many lesbians who reject the distinction of Femme and Butch itself, judging that the relationship between women is sufficient and there is no need to divide individuals based on femininity and masculinity. On the other hand, Femme and Butch are a part of lesbian cultures, and many believe that they are not just imitations of heterosexual relationships. This is because there are many counter-examples to seeing it as simply a "woman role" and a "man role."
For example, depending on the situation many lesbians occupy the space between Femme and Butch, and 'FemmeXFemme' or 'ButchXButch' relationships themselves are difficult to explain from the perspective of simply reproducing ‘opposite sex’ relationships. Judith Butler evaluated that the Femme and Butch concepts rather proves the socially constructed nature of gender and the fallacy of a ‘heterosexual origin’. If the structure in a heterosexual relationship can be reproduced in a non-heterosexual relationship, it means that the heterosexual role schematic is only an imitation (without an origin).
💜 Give X Take
In sexual relations, one is referred to as a giver (or top) if they prefer a role of 'giving' pleasure to the other person, and a taker (bottom) if they prefer a role of 'receiving'. This also cannot be divided into 'male roles' and 'female roles' based on typical heterosexual sex standards. Not simply referring to penetration, Give and Take roles are performed in various sexual and even non-sexual acts. Personal preferences can be restricted to ‘Only Give’ and ‘Only Take’, or be situational dependant and varied as ‘Give and Take’ or ‘Switch’.
In addition, considering the existence of ‘Femme Tops’, a "feminine" lesbian who prefers the "giving" role in sex, and ‘Butch Bottoms’, a "masculine" lesbian who plays the "receiving" role, one can see how easily the concept of a "female role" and "male role" can collapse. 👍🏽 If you want to learn more about Give & Take, read HanSori's "The Giving Lover" in A Room of One’s Own’s library.
These People Too!
Sally Ride, the first female astronaut in the United States and the third in the world to go into space, was a lesbian. According to her younger brother's testimony, she did not reveal her relationship with her female partner because it was a family issue, but she also did not try to hide it at all. In addition, 20th-century feminist literary icon Audrey Rod, UFC bantam and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, Hollywood Actress Christine Stewart, and host Ellen DeGeneres, who recently ended their talk shows 19th season, are all examples of famous lesbians.
The next theme of this LGBTQIA+ series is Gay Men.
If you're curious about the relationship between gay culture and street dancing, look forward to the next episode!