Discrimination is the worst. A conscious action to treat someone differently, to exclude them, to make them less of a part of the whole, to remove them from their rights or dignity. Simply due to the difference there is between you and them. Maybe because they are a different gender and you don't like the change. Maybe they are a different skin color, and you have ideas about how that means they will act, work, behave. Maybe they speak differently, come from somewhere other than where you are and you are just so uncomfortable you cannot deal.
Maybe, though, because even though they look just like you, speak just like you, but they don't have the same exact circumstance, you feel threatened. You feel that you need your voice to be heard loudly. That they are a threat to your needs. So you ostracize them.
As someone discriminated against, you think that you are unique, that you are special, protected. You think that by belonging to a group of any kind, that you at least face this discrimination together. It is no longer you against the world- it is all of us versus all of them. But there is infighting in all groups. If you have a group, you have a clique within. There is no escape from this simple truth. Ask any middle schooler.
This is especially true for the gay community.
You see, the world as a whole is moving towards embracing the idea that not all people are born the exact same. Thousands of years of human history and we are finally coming to the conclusion that it is not a fad or a trend, people are really attracted to other people, just not always other genders. Sometimes they are attracted to both genders. We don't know everything and that scares some people. Their worldview depends on the knowledge that "right" and "wrong" can be applied to anything and therefore they can decide how to feel about it. Usually based on an ancient text. Because thinking logically for themselves is just too much.
But even within the gay community, there is a divide.
The world is coming to a new dawn. The acceptance is coming, albeit slowly, like any big change. The world is trying to say "it's ok to be gay". The unspoken second half of that is "As long as you are male."
Lesbians are still a sore point. People of all orientations feel threatened by lesbians. They are somehow not ok. They represent something fearful and dangerous to us. Here are the people that have the power of reproduction in their hands and yet they are choosing not to be with a man? Or GOD FORBID! raising a child with another woman?!?! What will the children think? Oh the humanity! Gay men often feel that they have their own fight to win, that things are 'worse' for them, so they don't have time to fight for lesbians.
History has not let go of the woman. Its tight talons are deep into the female flesh, telling women what is right and wrong for them. Got raped? Probably because you had more than one sexual partner and you are a slut! Men treating you poorly at work? Dress more conservatively. Dress sexier. Work harder. Don't show the men up. Don't try too hard. Less makeup. More makeup. Jewelry. Anything other than- wow, that is total and utter bullshit. Or- How dare that man force himself on you- what can I do to help? Let's prosecute him. Let's make men responsible for their own actions and not women for 'not tempting them'....
Refreshing, huh? It IS nice when you can feel the breeze without your burqa on...
Gays have fought hard and are still fighting. There are anti-sodomy laws still on the books in 13 states, even though it was ruled constitutionally illegal by the Supreme Court over ten years ago to enforce any of those laws. The states are enforcing laws just to prove the point that they don't agree. I can see how gay men are specifically targeted for these 'crimes' and how the AIDS crisis really brought home the enormity of the fears surrounding gays-specifically men and the effects on gay men's health.
But lesbians are just brushed to the side. If a gay man is stereotyped as being effeminate, lesbians are stereotyped as being 'butch'. Television and media have brought the plight of the gay male to the forefront with a number of television shows, movies, and role models who show the 'great, shining gay'.
Lesbians, on the other hand are often an inside joke. Treated as nothing more than a male fantasy, two women who want to be together, but who secretly really just want a dude to come have sex with them to 'straighten them out'. When was the last time you heard someone say of a man who was gay "He just needs a good woman, that would fix that!" Of course not, no one would say that. That would be rude, discriminatory. Lesbians hear it all the time. Their discrimination is suffered more quietly, their heartaches over raising children done in solitude. If we don't protect lesbians, we are not serious about protecting women at all.
I believe this is in large part due to the nature of sexism. As we feel comfortable putting women in second place, I can see how lesbians have been relegated to punch lines. This is the place where we are saying we are comfortable with women. Especially women who dare to tread a different path. Hidden. Forgotten. Representative of a threat. Gay men are often seen as subservient. Lesbians are a problem. A rogue woman who doesn't need a man? Not hard to see how the fragile egos of insecure men are rankled by this.
As a feminist, I think people associate women who will not sit there and listen to this garbage (and who raise their girls to think for themselves) with lesbians. We are not agreeing with the man so we must be interested in having sex with women, right? Otherwise we would subvert ourselves to the male worldview and admit that they know best. The only acceptable reason is that we are into chicks. Which is, of course, because we are 'confused'.(see above)
To combat this, some women try to align themselves with other strong women. And sometimes in doing so, we discriminate against other women. In the fight for who can be the most feminine and strong, we waged 'The Mommy Wars' and I watch as lesbians fight this same battle, who is doing the most for the cause, who is eschewing makeup, who is being their 'truest self'...infighting that hurts the group that needs solidarity the most.
I am not a lesbian, but I feel for them. Not only are they women, but women who (some of the white/cis/male haters believe) have :chosen" not to have sex with men. As if hetero men or anyone for that matter, could CHOOSE to love differently if they just tried hard enough....The most focused laser beam of hate is pointed at them, by those too insecure to have anyone else in the conversation. This is too bad. We are missing an opportunity here to do more for feminism by protecting the weakest of the group. To rise above by lifting another. Isn't that in your special book somewhere?