this kind of thing to trial does do is assure us that we can't keep straights out
of our places (if we ever get any). A glance at the newspaper any day will demonstrate that the laws are made and enforced to benefit those in power, and that ain't
us. In fact, the biggest effect I can see of this business is putting more money,
time, and energy into the legal system—which is a male system, one scarcely designed
to protect, and certainly not to benefit, women—and especially lesbian women. Of
course the gay lawyer from San Francisco says that the right to dance at the Cabaret
is not the point, but that now people can see that "gays...are just plain folks like
anyone else," and that "the whole point is one of changing people's minds...." How
naive can you get? Lesbians, at least politically conscious lesbians, are certainly
not "just like anyone else." And even it we were, we ought to know that you don't
get people to love you by taking them to court.
- Ann Azolakov
Songs of Fire: Songs of a Lesbian Anarchist by Kathy Fire. Folkways Records FS 8585
Kathy Fire doesn't call herself a singer or a musician but quotes a friend as
saying that what she lacks in talent she makes up for in energy. These songs are
roughly done (recorded in a one-time-through, one-hour studio session) but tremendously exciting because they deal directly with things that go on in our real lives.
Not all are readily singable, though some are, but their content rings true, and
that's what will get your adrenalin up. She sings about lovers, lesbian mothers,
the FBI, the dream of living in the country, coming out, and the fight against the
patriarchy. The effect of the album, though rousing, is vaguely unsatisfying, but
the lack of satisfaction comes not from the songs or their delivery, but from the
truth they tell: that lesbians who work for real change in this world are involved
in a hard, frustrating, grinding fight in which the bright moments are not easy to
find. But Songs of Fire is not depressing. Instead it is full of courage and encouragement. There are some victories; there are some things to laugh about; we
can—sometimes—count on each other, as friends, as lovers, as sisters in struggle.
This is a real lesbian album that says what it means.
- Ann Azolakov
Debutante by Willie Tyson. Urana Records, Division of Wise Women Enterprises, Inc.
Willie Tyson's most recent album is a strong, exciting collection of feminist
songs which are entertaining lyrically, interesting musically, and well-delivered.
Tyson's BobDylanesque lyric style which dominated her first album still shows up
here, though the messages of the songs come through more clearly than on the
previous record. My favorites in this collection are "Did You Say Love?" and
"Witching Hour." The first is a sardonic look at what women do to try to please
their lovers when the lovers turn out to be less than expected. The second is
probably the most emotionally powerful feminist song yet recorded. It will give
you goose bumps and send you off looking for someone to defy. I have yet to see
any woman remain unmoved by it. It alone would be worth the price of the record,
but fortunately the other songs are high quality, too. The only ambivalence I
feel about Debutante is that from the title and the fact that Willie Tyson appears
in drag on the cover one would expect the album to represent the singer's coming
out as a lesbian. Although there is lesbian content in some of the songs (one
assumes), the album is really much more a straight feminist record than a lesbian
- Ann Azolakov
The Two of Them by Joanna Russ. Berkley Publishers, 1978; now in paperback also.
Joanna Russ's new science-fiction novel is not another Female Man, but it's a
real winner just the same. Its protagonist, Irene Waskiewicz, is a trans-temporal
agent, who, with her co-worker Ernst (a "good man"), is working on a Moslem planet
in another possible world. She is outraged at how women are treated there and
does manage to rescue Zubeydeh, a 12-year-old girl, though she has to leave other
oppressed women behind.
Zubeydeh, though she chose to leave, carries her Moslem perceptions with her.
She is hostile to Irene, often preferring Ernst. Her perceptions of what goes on
between Irene and Ernst enable Irene to see Ernst in a new way (e.g. she insists
Irene and Ernst must be married, though (Irene believes) they are not), and to
realize that "good men" are oppressors like the rest.