Thursday, July 24, 2008

Can't We Just Call Them "Greecians"?

(Image Credit: Random search of internets on "Sappho")

From Reuters, in yesterday's New York Times:
Greece: Suit to Prohibit Use of 'Lesbian' Dismissed

A Greek court has dismissed a request by residents of the island of Lesbos to prohibit the use of the word lesbian to describe gay women, a ruling released Tuesday said. Three residents of Lesbos, the birthplace of the ancient Greek poet Sappho, whose love poems inspired the term lesbian, filed suit last month, contending that their identity was insulted by the use of the word in reference to gay women. The court said that the word did not define the identity of Lesbos residents, and so could be used legitimately by gay groups in Greece and abroad.
Whoo-eeeee! That's a relief. For a minute, I thought the moms were going to have to cancel the fantasy trip to Greece they are planning to celebrate someone's fiftieth birthday next year. They wouldn't go, of course, if the court had agreed it was okay and, um, even remotely feasible to enjoin the world from referring to same-sex loving chicks as "lesbians." It might have been fun to watch Greece try to enforce such a ban, but, still, we're glad the court realized there's more good will and tourist dollars to be gained by acknowledging the mind-bending reality that a word may have more than one meaning!

Truth be told, we are not huge fans of the word "lesbian" here in Roxie's World, on account of its origins (as a term for female same-sexers) in late 19th-century legal and medical discourses of criminality and perversion. The moms tend to prefer "gay," "dyke," or "queer" as ways of describing themselves and their sister Sapphists (another excellent term!), depending on their mood and on what linguists might term the context of the utterance. (That sounds filthy, too, doesn't it?) Nonetheless, they'll admit that sometimes only the term "lesbian" will do, because, for example, it might be awkward to go into court to defend the rights of a "dyke" mom in a custody battle. Moose also suspects that a proposal for a "Sapphic Studies Program" probably wouldn't have gone over as well with the academic powers-that-be as the proposal for a program in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies did several years ago when she and a bunch of colleagues were working to establish a new program at Queer the Turtle U. (Charming as it sounds, of course, "Sapphic Studies" would have been ruled out for being insufficiently inclusive of the range of sexual identities and practices contained within the broad, kinky universe of sex- and gender-nonconformity.)

Anyway, I guess we can muster up some sympathy for the un-queer residents of Lesbos who feel awkward introducing themselves as "lesbians" in certain situations. We would suggest it might be easier for them to claim the term "Lesbosians" for themselves than to try to re-claim the word "lesbian" from more than a century of usage as a marker of sexual identity, though we have to admit that "Lesbosian" has a certain "creature from another planet" ring to it. But speaking of other planets, perhaps the citizens of Lesbos could steal a page from South Park (and demonstrate that they live in this century rather than the early 19th century) and decide to call themselves "Marklars." That way, they would constantly remind themselves and the world of the immortal linguistic lesson taught by the great (probable) Sapphist Emily Dickinson:
A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day.
Marklar out, Marklars. Have a glorious marklar. ;-)


  1. Anonymous11:26 AM EDT

    Nowhere on the internet do you find such mastery of Dickinson, South Park, and innuendo as you do in Roxie’s world.

    This Marklar's for you!

  2. Anonymous11:30 AM EDT

    I have a suggestion that will make you and the residents of Lesbos happy, since many female same-sexers don't like the term Lesbian, and the residents of Lesbos want to reclaim the term. Here's my bright idea: female same-sexers should start calling themselves TEXANS! (Don't worry that it doesn't make sense--think of all of the misunderstandings and hijinx you can engage in when you're an out and proud Texan!)

    "My mother is a Texan."

    "Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you: I think I'm a Texan."

    "I'm going out to a bar with some other Texans tonight."

    I wonder what fab dance you could invent to call the Texas Two-Step?

  3. Can we quote you on that, Spudz? We blush before your praise, and yet we feel you have gleaned the essence of our goals and gifts here in Roxie's World.

    And we must praise in turn the diabolical genius of Historiann, who proposes to muck up the machinery of communication more thoroughly than George W. Bush (himself -- good lord -- a TEXAN!) without a teleprompter. Of course, Goose would occupy a special position in your new linguistic order, since she would be Texan by birth as well as inclination, which would introduce new layers of confusion into the already vexed question of nature versus nurture. There would have to be a whole new field of Texology dedicated to resolving this conundrum.

    The mind simply reels with the possibilities!

    "Where did you two meet?"

    "Deep in the heart of Texas."

    "What's your favorite music?"

    "Texas SWING, of course!"

  4. OK, Goose LOVES this idea of all lesbians calling ourselves Texans. And Roxie, aren't I a Texan, in both ways, by birth -- ??? Didn't we come down on the side of nature even as we agree that nature needs a little nurturing in order to come out and live freely, with gaiety ;)

    I love it. We can go around whispering. . ."psst. . .did you hear that X is a Texan?" This makes Willie Nelson a lesbian, which I'm confident would make the ole guy proud. And my big brother's a lesbian, and all my fundamentalist relatives. This is FUN.

    Ah, alas, back to work. . . .
    Goose, Lesbian in Every Way, and Damned Proud of it

    PS - This means that Emily Dickinson is a Texan -- YEE HAW!

  5. Anonymous11:08 AM EDT

    Historiann's proposal could give a whole new meaning to "Don't mess with Texas!"

    Somewhere, Sappho and Molly Ivins are sharing a drink and a laugh.


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