FLAUNT (Lavender Menace)
White line woodcut
Image size: 12" x 18" (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
Paper size: 14.5" x 20.5" (37 x 52.4 cm)
Part of a series of prints based on the shape of a triangle celebrating various organizations that helped move gay rights forward in the U.S. during the later 20th century.
A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. She is the woman who, often beginning at an extremely early age, acts in accordance with her inner compulsion to be a more complete and freer human being than her society (perhaps then, but certainly later) cares to allow her. …on some level she has not been able to accept the limitations and oppression laid on her by the most basic role of her society -- the female role. ~ from The Woman-Identified Woman manifesto
The Lavender Menace was formed to protest the exclusion of lesbians and lesbian issues from the feminist movement at the Second Congress to Unite Women in New York City on May 1, 1970. Many of the women involved in the protest were members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). The phrase "Lavender Menace" was first used in 1969 by Betty Friedan, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), to describe the threat that she believed associations with lesbianism posed to the emerging women's movement. Friedan and some other straight feminists worried that stereotypes of "mannish" and "man-hating" lesbians would provide an easy way to dismiss the larger movement. After the protest, the group continued to meet, calling themselves the "Radicalesbians."
The Lavender Menace protest included distribution of a manifesto called "The Woman-Identified Woman," which is excerpted above. The manifesto posited that lesbians, by virtue of their outsider status in society and their journey of sexual self-discovery, were in fact a step closer to fully evolved personhood than heterosexual feminists who were still tied to the patriarchy.
This all happened a little before my time, but as I worked on this print I was remembering an artist/photographer named Tee Corrine who was known for portraying lesbian sexuality in her work, and especially her Cunt Coloring Book, published in 1975, which I just learned is still in print.
Those were the days.