“The Riding Women are evolved women, different in kind from the Free Fems. They are initially the result of the creative opportunism of a group of women used in the genetic experiments of male scientists before the wasting. Following the experiments, these new women possess the complete genetic material to reproduce without men. They produce only girl children. All that is needed to set the process in motion is the fluid from a horse's ejaculation. Most of the women therefore mate with a young horse once or twice in a lifetime, to ensure the survival of the Riding Women. It is highly ritualised and highly pragmatic. The same horse is also slaughtered for its meat, hair and skin. The women are always in total control.” (Elaine Miller, “Zero Tolerance in Wonderland”)
Firstly: What the WHAT?
And also: This is the summary of a book called Motherlines by someone called Suzy McKee Charnas, from an article about lesbian utopian novels that I read today while researching for my diploma thesis. The article is called “Zero Tolerance in Wonderland”, and the ideology reflected in it is (in its detail) new and highly disturbing to me. As the title suggests, it is extremely intolerant – towards men, and just about everything else that is not a separatist lesbian. For example, transsexuals who sneakily ‘invade’ women-only groups are evil. And of course, men are evil. All of them. Because all men are absolutely identical: violent, dangerous, incorrigible. And this is not mainly a result of cultural and social influence, but it is simply fact. Rooted in the fact that they are men. Nothing you can do about that.
So ... the logical consequence of this impressive arguement is that the world is better of killing all men, and replacing them with horses. Because raping a horse is, in any case, highly preferable to having any sort of contact with a man. Aha.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not being homophobic here. I’m being intolerance-phobic, and I’m terribly disappointed, because I tend to live under the impression that people who are NOT part of the hegemonially privileged group (western, white, male, heterosexual, middle-class etc.) and therefore subject to some form of oppression, discrimination or marginalisation should actually know better than to advocate a zero tolerance policy in the face of difference and to endorse the violent enforcement of conformity at any cost. Do they not see that they adopting the same stance that currently effects their own oppression, discrimination and marginalisation? I understand anger against patriarchy. I understand anger against men. I understand the desire that some lesbians undoubtedly feel, to withdraw from the oppressive environment of patriarchy into an elitist all-woman society. Personally, I would also love to live in a world where I compile the guest list. But what shocks me in the novels and stories described in that article is the method by which they compile their guest list, and the way they treat the uninvited and the accidential gatecrasher. What disturbs me is the sweeping generalisation by which the behaviour of no doubt many men is taken for an unalterable and probably biologically inscribed fact (and therefore becomes an excuse for their indiscriminate destruction). This is not acceptable (and also simply not very intelligent), especially since this same essentialism is contested in the case of women. So it is possible and necessary to liberate women from their socially and culturally prescribed roles, but simultaneously the only way to liberate men from theirs is to anihilate them? Honestly?
Now, nothing speaks against depicting controversial scenarios and values in art, and I have no problem with that as such. What disconcerts me is the fact that this is called a utopia, in the face of all those very strange values it endorses. You see, I like my utopias to evoke images of harmony and balance, suggesting that we can, after all, all get along somehow, despite our differences. Indiscriminate hate for the other, enforced conformity and idealisation of genocide? Not so much. Sounds too much like reality.