In 1992 in Manila, Philippines, a small group of activist women who identified themselves as “lesbian” marched in the annual Women’s Day celebration for the first time. In Thailand Anjaree, a national lesbian organization that has been active since 1986 campaigning for lesbian (and gay) rights, identifies its constituency as “women who love women” (ying-rak-ying). Caleri (Campaign for Lesbian Rights), a Delhi-based group formed in 1998, was the first Indian activist organization to consciously dedicate itself to foregrounding lesbian issues in the public domain. Equally apparent throughout Asia in both cities and rural areas are butch or masculine “lesbians” whose own identities are firmly located in local patriarchies as well as in global signifiers apparent in the proliferating forms of the English term “tomboy” with which they identify themselves. TB, tom, and tomboi are some of the variations used in Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia respectively (other terms are also used in each location). Their women partners see themselves variously as normative women, who do not fit into a marked category of sexual identity, or as different than heterosexual women because of their attraction to masculine “lesbians.” These individuals, like their activist peers, are influenced by global feminist and queer processes as well as by local processes that are negotiated to construct the particular forms of sexuality and gender evident in Asia today. These seemingly divergent subjectivities—the lesbian activists and the partners in a butch/femme relationship—appear at the conjuncture of decidedly local and global processes.
- Sexual Identity
- Female Masculinity
- Queer Theorist
- Sexual Agency
- Sexual Ideology
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© 2007 Saskia E. Wieringa, Evelyn Blackwood, and Abha Bhaiya
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Blackwood, E., Wieringa, S.E. (2007). Globalization, Sexuality, and Silences: Women’s Sexualities and Masculinities in an Asian Context. In: Wieringa, S.E., Blackwood, E., Bhaiya, A. (eds) Women’s Sexualities and Masculinities in a Globalizing Asia. Comparative Feminist Studies Series. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230604124_1
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