LESBIANS: HERSTORY, DEFIANCE, ACTIVISM
THE LESBIAN REVOLUTION
I will talk about my new book The Lesbian Revolution: lesbian feminism in the UK 1970-1990. Lesbian feminism in the UK has been hidden from history and this book is the first to document and analyse it. I will talk about the scope, culture, ideas and practices of lesbian feminism and suggest why it all came to an end. The book argues that the greatest challenge that lesbian feminist ideas offered to male dominance was the analysis of male violence and male sexuality, and of heterosexuality as a political institution. I will talk about the forces which led to the disappearance of lesbian feminist culture and ideas, concentrating on the development of a movement of sadomasochism which was very popular with the forces of male dominance, and opposed us at every turn. There were other factors involved in the demise of the movement too which came from outside, such as the Thatcher government which passed legislation to prohibit the 'promotion of homosexuality'. By the late 1980s the great dynamism and influence of lesbian feminism were in steep decline. Lesbian feminism is now rising again, and I hope that this book will provide fuel to that flame.
About Sheila: Sheila Jeffreys became a feminist activist in 1973 and a lesbian feminist in 1977. In the UK she was involved in many groups and campaigns against men's violence to women, and in lesbian feminist groups such as Lesbians Against Pornography, Lesbians Against Sadomasochism, the Lesbian History Group, Lesbian Studies and the Lesbian Archive. She moved to Australia to teach sexual politics at the University of Melbourne in 1991 and back to the UK on retirement in 2015. She is now a Professorial Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University. She is the author of 10 books on the history and politics of sexuality including: Gender Hurts: A feminist analysis of the politics of transgenderism (2014).