Mspec Lesbians are "lesbians" who are on the multisexual spectrum; this includes bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, and so on.
Before I really get into this, I would like to clarify that experiences and orientations are not wrong or harmful; it's merely the labels that have negative impacts on the lesbian and mspec communities.
To read a further explanation, click the circle below.
Multisexual and Lesbian History
Multisexual women and lesbians have a long history that intertwines with one another in many different ways - one of those ways being that they were indistinguishable for many years of activism and movements.
Lesbian was, for a while, a coverall word for women who love women (nonbinary people included), and there were no words to differentiate between lesbians who only loved women (and nonbinary people), and lesbians who also loved men.
This was until somewhere around the 1980's, when bisexual was a word beginning to be recognized by society. Bisexual meant somebody who was attracted to both their own gender and other genders, with most people recognizing them as "half gay, half straight". This lead to an outrage of biphobia, communities tearing one another apart, telling bisexual folk that they were lying and couldn't like both men and women, and that they had to pick one. Many misconceptions were being spread, which caused further harm to the bisexual community that was beginning to take shape.
And thus, in 1990, The Bisexual Manifesto was born.
"Bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity," (The Bisexual Manifesto, 1990)
The Bisexual Manifesto marks a period in history in which the bisexual voice, and identity, was heard loud and clear as its own individual sexuality. Many bisexual women had begun to separate themselves from the, at the time, broader term of "lesbian", and began to identify with the whole, not "half-and-half" label that they'd fought into existence.
It would be wrong to say that there was no biphobia involved with the gradual separation between lesbians and bi women. Many lesbians, due to rampant biphobia, felt threatened by the idea of bisexual women existing. Many "lesbians" who weren't even attracted to women fought for the idea of Political Feminism, which was the idea that any woman, regardless of sexuality, could be a lesbian so long as they hated men. They fought for the idea that lesbianism was a choice, and that bi women were choosing not to be lesbians; this idea is both biphobic and lesphobic.
However, by the mid 2000s, the bisexual and lesbian labels had become two distinct identities, regardless of whether the transition was fair or forced onto either identities involved.
Modern Labels (As of 2021)
Needless to say, the 1990s were a long time ago. 30 years have passed, and Bisexuality and Lesbianism, despite the history they share, have become separate and individual identities. While there are "as many ways to be bisexual as there are bisexuals," (The Bisexual Manifesto, 1990), the same cannot be said for modern day lesbians.
Today, the general consensus is that a lesbian is a woman who is only attracted to other women. Of course, nonbinary lesbians, as well as attraction to nonbinary individuals, is included. Nonbinary people are included in every sexuality, after all. While the definition of bisexual and the definition of lesbian used to be compatible, that is not the case 30 years later. Words and meanings change often, but it isn't always voluntary, and a few people can't change the language alone. It occurs over years and years, and isn't necessarily controllable.
So today, bisexual lesbians are a contradiction, and using the two labels together just doesn't work the way it once had.
Why Are Mspec Lesbians Harmful?
Moving away from the 1990's, in 2021, lesbians have discovered just how different their experiences are from that of bisexual women. The modern lesbian's lack of attraction to men paints their life experiences in an entirely different color than women who do experience attraction to men. This doesn't make anybody's experience more or less important; it is merely the difference in experience that is being recognized nowadays.
Lesbians have always had these experiences, but having a separate space from mspec women has given lesbians the opportunity to truly understand themselves, and their place in the broader wlw community. While biphobia is by no means a thing of the past, lesphobia is also something very real that many lesbians experience, often from other mspec wlw. Having lesbian spaces only protects lesbians from being invalidated due to their lack of attraction to men, similarly to how bisexual women fought for their own spaces to be protected from biphobia.
While there is a broader wlw space for all wlw to unite, called sapphic spaces nowadays, it's still important for these individual sexualities to have individual spaces from time to time. Think of ot as two siblings who live in the same house, but have their own rooms so that they can have their own space. It's important. Without these spaces, mspec women may feel alienated for their attraction to men, while lesbians may feel broken for not experiencing attraction to men. These spaces matter to many, many people. Taking these separate spaces away is hurtful. There's a dining room for a reason; no need to remodel.
Often times, people use "bi/pan lesbian" to describe experiences that are simply bisexuality. Implying that these experiences are pess bisexual than others, or something different entirely, promotes bisexual erasure. You can call yourself something different, like sapphic, or other labels explored later on in this carrd, but many of the experiences described by "bi lesbians" is bisexuality. Erasing bisexuality erases the experiences that bisexual people go through; and it's inherently harmful.
The awesome thing about 2021 is that, due to how advanced technology has become, there are about as many labels as there are unique experiences in existence. Every mspec lesbian who I have come across has expressed a different experience to me that they have tried to label with, as previously established, a harmful label.
I will try to touch upon as many of these experiences as possible, and offer some potential alternate labels. I am not the ultimate labeller, so do not take this as me forcing labels on you; take it as a suggestion, rather than a mandate.
While I do not support the mspec lesbian labels, as I find them incredibly harmful to my own identity and community, I do not wish to push people around. This is criticism, not bullying. This carrd exists for the purpose of education, and providing suggestions of alternate labels.
The most important word that I will mention time and time again is the word "sapphic". This is an umbrella term based on the ancient greek poet Sapphos. Despite what many people seem to think, it is not a synonym for lesbian. The official definition for sapphic is "relating to lesbianism", but not "lesbian". A sapphic is any woman (or nonbinary person) who is attracted to women, regardless of their other forms of attraction. This term covers lesbians, bi women, pan women, etc.
The Split Attraction Model
For those who are unaware, the Split Attraction Model (SAM) was developed to express aspec attraction, for those who experience different forms of attraction, while lacking others; for example, a panromantic asexual.
Although initially created for aspec people, the SAM has been used by alloallo people to express different forms of romantic and sexual attraction as well, which is valid and a real way of experiencing attraction. Many sapphics call themselves homoromantic bisexual, or vice versa; same principal applies to other mspec identities. Many people who have this experience call themselves mspec lesbians. Lesbians are not attracted to men, however. Even if the individual experiences homoromantic or homosexual attraction, if they are attracted to men in a different form of attraction, this is still not modern lesbianism.
First of all, this experience could easily be described as bisexual. Yes, you have split attraction, but at the end of the day, you are attracted to multiple genders; this is what the word "bisexual" describes.
Alternate labels could be simply the split attraction model as it is; bisexual homoromantic, omniromantic homosexual, and so on. One could even short this to "Homoro bi" or "panro homo", for instance. There is nothing wrong with any of this.
One could also utilize sapphic as a label, rather than an umbrella. Sapphic does not imply attraction to men, nor does it imply lack of attraction to men. The only thing that sapphic implies is a woman who loves women (nonbinary people included, of course). Identifying as a bi sapphic, for instance, implies bi attraction while emphasizing your sapphic nature. Bi wlw could be a similar alternative. These apply with all mspec identities.
For those who question the validity of aspec lesbians, the answer is that they do not experience attraction to men. Lacking one form does not make them less of a lesbian, as the attraction that they do experience is only towards women.
Mspec with a Preference for Women
Having a preference for one gender, be it slight or intense, fluctuating or static, has been a normal part of bisexuality and other mspec identities for as long as they have existed. These preferences have been described as "leans" for many, many years. For instance, somebody could have a feminine lean, or a woman lean, or any other lean, whilst still being just as mspec as anybody else. There is no need to erase bisexuality, or any other sexuality, by identifying as a lesbian despite your mspec attraction.
If you really want to make it clear in your label that you prefer women, despite also having some attraction to men, you could identify as a sapphic, or a wlw. Once again, these umbrella terms do not imply attraction to men, but they also dont imply a lack of one. You wouldn't be expected by fellow LGBTQIA+ members to date men, but you also wouldn't be expected not to. Sapphic and wlw are both very flexible terms that cover a lot of ground.
There are also many sapphics who have faced trauma with men, and will not date them because of this. This experience is very real, and I'm so very proud of you for making it to where you are today. If your trauma erased your attraction to men, and you are genuinely not attracted to men, then you're a lesbian. Trauma, in many cases, affects sexuality. However, if you're still attracted to men, which is also a very real experience, then you aren't a lesbian, even if you will not date men. Sexuality labels attraction. Lesbian has become its own sexuality. There are other labels, such as sapphic, that you can use, but lesbian is not one of them.
Attraction to Nonbinary People
The truth is that there are infinite genders in existence. Many of these genders are aligned with one of the two binaries; many are not. There are some genders where one person may identify with femininity, but another of the same gender might not. Therefore, nonbinary attraction is actually quite nuanced.
Lesbians can be nonbinary; naturally, lesbians can be attracted to some nonbinary genders. This doesn't make lesbianism "multisexual", as like how bisexual doesn't mean 2, monosexual doesn't necessarily mean just 1.
Matter of fact, organizing sexualities like lesbianism into monosexual vs multisexual is actually quite limiting. Monosexuality is a "heterosexist dictate" (Bisexual Manifeso) that is formed on the assumption that there are only two genders, and that you must only be attracted to the one gender that opposes your own. The idea of monosexuality vs multisexuality doesn't quite take into account that nonbinary identities are countless and nuanced.
Lesbians can be attracted to many nonbinary genders, and this does not make them bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, and so on. There are, however, many nonbinary people whose genders do not fit under lesbian attraction, or who may feel misgendered if their partner calls themself a lesbian. In this case, rather than tacking "bi" behind "lesbian", which ultimately changes little to nothing, there are other labels that could describe this form of attraction.
Bisexual, like usual, covers this experience. To be more specific, polysexual (alt: polisexual) can also describe this experience, as it is attraction to many but not all genders, and it doesnt fit under lesbianism.
If you would like to specify a lack of attraction to men, while not misgendering those who you are attracted to, you could label yourself a poli/polyse sapphic. It puts emphasis on your sapphic attraction without misgendering whoever you are attracted to.
Questioning is a process that may be quick for one but lengthy for another. Some seem to just know who they are from birth. Others may take a lifetime to finally learn and accept their own attraction. Trying on different labels to see what fits is an excellent way to discover your identity. However, you won't know which ones fit if you're wearing several at a time.
When I was questioning for the first time, I tried on more labels than I could even keep track of. I tried on bi with a masc lean, bi with a fem lean, polysexual, homoromantic bisexual, biromantic homosexual, and so on. It took me a solid year to settle on the lesbian label. It took me that long just to realize that I do not like men. I would not have discovered this if I tried on multiple labels at once. I needed to feel a little uncomfortable with the bi labels and SAM in order to realize who I truly am. And that was before I realized I was acespec and nonbinary, as well!
Point is that questioning is hard, and I get it. But it'll be easier if you stick to one label at a time. In the mean while, if you know you're a wlw, why not use sapphic as an umbrella term? It addresses the part of attraction that you do know so far, while not specifying anything else. It might fit for a bit while you explore your preferences and sexuality.