Lesbian Pride: Lavender Menace

L J de Gara

Edmonton, Canada

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Artist's Description

In 1969, Betty Friedan, the president of the National Organization of Women, came up with a term to describe the threat associated with lesbianism: “the Lavender Menace.” She believed that lesbians would be dismissed as “mannish” and “man hating” and would ruin the legitimacy of the women’s movement.

Initially, lesbian organizers of the day were hurt and offended by these remarks… But they didn’t wallow for long. In 1970, a group of lesbians silkscreened the phrase on t-shirts and congregated at the Second Congress to Unite Women— the very conference which had tried to exclude them. They stormed the stage, cut the lights, distributed their manifesto, and showed off their cheeky t-shirts as a finale. Not only were they present, but they approached homophobia with humour, tact, and wit. They were lesbians. They were feminists. They were women. They were, and are, unstoppable.

Nearly fifty years later, Friedan’s concerns are skill thinly veiled in modern feminism, with many women going out of their way to prove that they’re not “man-hating”, or worse still, “hairy legged lesbians.” Do the opposite! Show your lesbianism in all its glory with a t-shirt (called men’s graphic, for irony’s sake), a mug or a pillow.

As a bonus: designed by a real-life lesbian! (me)

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