Carol Gilligan’s’ thoughts on the Dyke Manifesto by Lesbian Avengers

 

In 1992 the Lesbian Avengers were formed due to the feeling that the lesbian/dyke community was being overlooked and under represented by the current LGBT community and the head organization “Act Up”. The Lesbian Avengers felt that they were helping express the unheard views and feelings of the lesbian community and helping other lesbians/dyke feel as though they had a group that was fighting for them above everyone else. The Avengers also believed that many existing gay liberation and aids awareness groups were too focused on political ideas, so they wanted to form a grassroots lesbian activist group and use direct action to raise “lesbian visibility”. They were against chanting or picketing but raised awareness by performing street theater, eating fire, throwing papier-Mache bombs, and wearing superhero capes. The Lesbian Avengers helped defeat proposition one in 1994 which was an anti-gay initiative and often held “eat-outs” to protest fat phobia as well as form the largest dyke march of its time down 5th avenue. However, by 1995 they were drowned out by the mainstreams media focus on same sex marriage and primarily disbanded.

There are several things to consider when attempting to interpret what Carol Gilligan would think of the Lesbian Avengers Dyke Manifesto. Carol Gilligan is a professor at New York University as well as an, American feminist, ethicist, and psychologist who is best known for her work on ethical communities and ethical relationships. Her most notable work was published in 1982 “in a different voice”, which deals with the physiological development in children and what effects it had on women. According to Gilligan women in contemporary society are torn between two sets of moral guidelines, 1. An ethic of rights and 2. An ethic of care. Gilligan has also argued that that women today are moral relativists (not because they have abandoned morality), but because they don’t feel as though they have a right to “take a stand.” Gilligan could see the Lesbian Avengers as one of two thins or a mixture of both. She could see them as a setback to women due to their street and freak show style performances, or it could be seen that they are helping spread the opinions of an oppressed group of women and trying to entertain and improve relations while keeping things comfortable with the public. Regardless on which combination of opinions she would have on the group it cannot be denied that this is an opportunity for women to express themselves and help them coup with things that are happening in their life. This idea is an undoubtedly positive thing for women, Gilligan has said, “To the extent that women perceive themselves as having no choice, they correspondingly excuse themselves from the responsibility that decision entails.”, so this is a perfect example of how women are trying to change that and are taking matters into their own hands.

This has relevant implications on modern society and history throughout the 20th century and extends to the unknown future. Women still face inequality today but the fact that the United States has growing support for women’s/LGBT groups and more attention is being drawn to the cause shows a hopeful horizon for a more promising future.

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