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Old 10-17-2018, 08:15 PM
Lizard Lizard is offline
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Lesbian jewelry and etiquette

I was at work and ran into a friend of mine there, a woman originally from Barbados. She's a very nice person and good at her job, and I think highly of her. We've always had a pleasant, friendly relationship. (Sometimes she offers me "a spot of tea"!)
However, on THIS occasion I saw dangling under her chin a labrys necklace. My reaction kind of surprised me: I was so taken aback I stopped and stared. It was so out of any context that I was expecting, I was literally at a loss for words. (It was my understanding this woman was married to a man; I believe she said as much. She certainly had been divorced from a man in the past.)
We weren't having a very deep conversation and she said something about it being a "Cretan ax" before we parted company. (Note: She was wearing a loose turtleneck, so there was no chance that my staring could be interpreted in any other way as at her necklace.) So now several things/possibilities are running through my head:
1 - I'm worried about my own weird reaction. Other than being very tired and surprised, I don't have any real explanation for it. Should I just shrug and go on with my life? The issue is not her orientation, it's whether or not I acted weird and made her uncomfortable. Is there any way to address THAT without mentioning the cause of my own behavior and getting into that issue? Should I even bother at all?
2 - Her being a foreigner (technically) maybe it really IS just a "Cretan ax" to her, and not a symbol that she is a lesbian. In that case, should I clue her in on how it might be interpreted, i.e., that she's sending out a signal that she isn't aware of?
3 - She IS a lesbian, but some how has been in the closet all the years I've known her (this is a rural region; its highly unlikely many people around here attach any meaning to a labrys at all.) While we are on good terms, she has very British manners, and rarely talks much about herself.
4 - She is a lesbian and isn't in the closet, doesn't feel like talking about it (hence her saying it was a "Cretan ax"), even though she is publicly wearing a lesbian symbol around. That seems a bit strange. But if she didn't want to mention it, should I just assume that tells me where she stands on discussing it, and forget the whole things?

I hope someone has some ideas here!

Last edited by Lizard; 10-17-2018 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 10-17-2018, 08:30 PM
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I had no idea about the double sided ax being a "lesbian symbol". I also don't think it is any of your business unless you also happen to be a lesbian.

Many years ago, when I was around 10 or 12, my grandmother gave me a t-shirt with this on it. She thought it was Pablo Picasso.
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Old 10-17-2018, 08:43 PM
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Your own cite shows two distinct meanings.

Moreover, she directly told you, Cretin Ax.

Where is your confusion stemming from exactly? It seems simple and clear.
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Old 10-17-2018, 09:13 PM
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Unless you are interested in dating her whatever you think she is signalling with her jewelry is totally irrelevant.
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Old 10-17-2018, 09:26 PM
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Move along... nothing to see here. "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar".
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Old 10-17-2018, 09:36 PM
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Moreover, she directly told you, Cretin Ax.
At first I thought this was an unfortunate misspelling, but then I started to think maybe that's actually what the co-worker meant...

Let it drop. It is wisest not to bring up things like this unless invited to discuss them by the other party. Particularly at work.
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Old 10-17-2018, 10:44 PM
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HOLY SHIT!

All this time my female dwarven clerics of the god of war (with two-handed, two-headed ax damnit!) were lesbians and I never knew it. In fact, the LARP weapon I made with my very own hands and which now hangs on my wall is a labrys, and considering who I was with at the time I suspect there would have been mentions (bunch of Scotts with more, uh, interpersonal connections than a family tree of European royals).

First news of any relationships between labrys and lesbianism. FTR, I'm definitely not American. Or from wherever lizards hail from.

Last edited by Nava; 10-17-2018 at 10:47 PM.
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Old 10-17-2018, 11:25 PM
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Should I just shrug and go on with my life?
I wouldn't even bother with the shrug before getting on with my life. What business is it of yours?
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:11 AM
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HOLY SHIT!

All this time my female dwarven clerics of the god of war (with two-handed, two-headed ax damnit!) were lesbians and I never knew it. In fact, the LARP weapon I made with my very own hands and which now hangs on my wall is a labrys, and considering who I was with at the time I suspect there would have been mentions (bunch of Scotts with more, uh, interpersonal connections than a family tree of European royals).

First news of any relationships between labrys and lesbianism. FTR, I'm definitely not American. Or from wherever lizards hail from.
*applauds* *dies of laughter*
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:26 AM
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So Gimli’s a lesbian then?
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:34 AM
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:34 AM
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So Gimli’s a lesbian then?
Totally. Those rumors about Tolkien's female dwarves being beardless? Those aren't females, they're drag dwarves.




Lizard, you're assuming that everybody (not even just in your own country but everywhere on Earth) will know the meaning of something which was specifically chosen as a secret signal. That's a bit of a contradiction in terms. It's like when my coworker Ene was asked "do you understand?" "well, I understand some things, I do not understand other things, and right now I have a strong suspicion that whatever you mean by understand is not what I mean by understand, so if you care to explain maybe I'll understand? MY understand." (Turns out that no, she didn't understand. That is, she's straight).

Last edited by Nava; 10-18-2018 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 10-18-2018, 01:05 AM
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Totally. Those rumors about Tolkien's female dwarves being beardless? Those aren't females, they're drag dwarves.
I think that the concept of Gimli as a drag dwarf makes the copious Legolas / Gimli erotic fan-fic that's out there even more awesome.
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Old 10-18-2018, 04:22 AM
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It seems to me that you guys aren't quite answering his questions. I will attempt to do so. I do think I have some relevant experience, even if I've never faced this particular situation.

No, you really shouldn't bring up the awkwardness again. That only calls attention to it, creating more awkwardness. And, anyways, chances are the awkwardness was a bigger deal to you than to her. This is one of those situations where you pretend nothing happened. Because, really, nothing really did.

If she is a lesbian, then she avoided telling you by deflecting your question. So she clearly doesn't wantyou to know.. So both 3 and 4 are things you don't need to worry about. By politely asking her what the symbol meant, you cleverly avoided that entirely. Good job.

The question I can't answer with experience is whether or not you should tell her that it is commonly used as a lesbian symbol. I personally wouldn't, because it would bring up the awkwardness again, and, if she is a lesbian, it would be even more awkward with her having to pretend not to know. But I do understand the desire to let her know that she might be mistaken for a lesbian if she didn't know.

That said, I don't think there's really much danger there. She could find out from someone else, even if that's when a lesbian hits on her. It may be awkward, but not that big a deal. So the downside of telling and making things awkward again seems higher than the downside if you don't tell her.

When in doubt, unless it's an emergency, it's okay not to say anything.
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Old 10-18-2018, 04:45 AM
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Damn, it's been such a long time since I saw that particular lesbian symbol, like since the '70s, I thought it was no longer in use. Be that as it may, I've always felt its origin was the term "battle-ax" and its being a pejorative symbol of a strong, assertive woman.

Anyway... I'm hoping you don't bring up the subject of your astonishment, and just get on with things. Does her sexual orientation really mean anything to you, one way or the other? If not, let it be.
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Old 10-18-2018, 04:48 AM
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It seems to me that you guys aren't quite answering his questions. I will attempt to do so. I do think I have some relevant experience, even if I've never faced this particular situation.

No, you really shouldn't bring up the awkwardness again. That only calls attention to it, creating more awkwardness. And, anyways, chances are the awkwardness was a bigger deal to you than to her. This is one of those situations where you pretend nothing happened. Because, really, nothing really did.

If she is a lesbian, then she avoided telling you by deflecting your question. So she clearly doesn't wantyou to know.. So both 3 and 4 are things you don't need to worry about. By politely asking her what the symbol meant, you cleverly avoided that entirely. Good job.

The question I can't answer with experience is whether or not you should tell her that it is commonly used as a lesbian symbol. I personally wouldn't, because it would bring up the awkwardness again, and, if she is a lesbian, it would be even more awkward with her having to pretend not to know. But I do understand the desire to let her know that she might be mistaken for a lesbian if she didn't know.

That said, I don't think there's really much danger there. She could find out from someone else, even if that's when a lesbian hits on her. It may be awkward, but not that big a deal. So the downside of telling and making things awkward again seems higher than the downside if you don't tell her.

When in doubt, unless it's an emergency, it's okay not to say anything.

Thank you. It only took until post #14; this doesn't help what I already believed: that most people have no clue what "etiquette" means. I guess most others were too busy failing to be funny to actually click on the link in the OP too. The labrys as a symbol is about as obscure as the pink triangle or a rainbow.
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Old 10-18-2018, 04:52 AM
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The labrys as a symbol is about as obscure as the pink triangle or a rainbow.
In specific places and for people familiar with that specific social group. You assume everybody will know that symbol, I assume everybody will know that other people's sexual life are none of your business unless you're a part of it. Why would being told so by someone in a message board have more weight than being taught so in your childhood is the part I really don't get.
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Last edited by Nava; 10-18-2018 at 04:54 AM.
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Old 10-18-2018, 05:05 AM
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Thank you. It only took until post #14; this doesn't help what I already believed: that most people have no clue what "etiquette" means. I guess most others were too busy failing to be funny to actually click on the link in the OP too. The labrys as a symbol is about as obscure as the pink triangle or a rainbow.
Is that so? Because I'm an actual real live lesbian, and I have never heard of it.

Is it an American thing? I'm British, your friend is Barbadian, maybe this concept just doesn't travel.

Anyways, why are you in such a flap about the idea in the OP? That's what i can't understand.

Last edited by SanVito; 10-18-2018 at 05:07 AM.
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Old 10-18-2018, 05:27 AM
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I live in a city with a very large and visible gay and lesbian community, and I've never encountered the symbol. I've never seen it online, either.
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Old 10-18-2018, 05:46 AM
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I live in a city with a very large and visible gay and lesbian community, and I've never encountered the symbol. I've never seen it online, either.
I loved Tel Aviv.
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Old 10-18-2018, 05:49 AM
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Is that so? Because I'm an actual real live lesbian, and I have never heard of it.

Is it an American thing? I'm British, your friend is Barbadian, maybe this concept just doesn't travel.

Anyways, why are you in such a flap about the idea in the OP? That's what i can't understand.
He already admitted that possibility, that, being from another culture, she didn't know.

He also already explained why it was a big deal to him. He saw this woman wearing a symbol that he knows as a lesbian symbol. He was surprised by this, given what he knew about her. And so he had a bit of a social fumble. He worried he completely fucked everything up, and was wondering what he should do to fix things.

It all comes across to me like a typical social anxiety issue, which is why I responded--that is what I have experience with. Social anxiety leads to making a big deal out of things that really aren't all that big a deal.

It is always a good idea for those of us with social anxiety to remind ourselves that we will make a bigger deal out of small things, because we're worried we'll mess up. Things are rarely as bad as our mind makes them.

Last edited by BigT; 10-18-2018 at 05:51 AM.
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:05 AM
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He already admitted that possibility, that, being from another culture, she didn't know.

He also already explained why it was a big deal to him. He saw this woman wearing a symbol that he knows as a lesbian symbol. He was surprised by this, given what he knew about her. And so he had a bit of a social fumble. He worried he completely fucked everything up, and was wondering what he should do to fix things.

It all comes across to me like a typical social anxiety issue, which is why I responded--that is what I have experience with. Social anxiety leads to making a big deal out of things that really aren't all that big a deal.

It is always a good idea for those of us with social anxiety to remind ourselves that we will make a bigger deal out of small things, because we're worried we'll mess up. Things are rarely as bad as our mind makes them.
He indicated that, as a symbol, it's as well known as a pink triangle or a rainbow flag, which it transparently isn't. Those are, indeed, international symbols.

I really don't get the OPs major fuss, or why he thinks he needs to clue her in. It's not a swastika.
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:08 AM
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I hope someone has some ideas here!
Learn from it and relax. What someone else does and with whom is their business, not yours. And, assuming it's consensual, is all good.
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:09 AM
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Learn from it and relax. What someone else does and with whom is their business, not yours. And, assuming it's consensual, is all good.
Quite so
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:56 AM
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She specifically told you what it means for her but that’s not enough for you?

This secret symbol might be well known to you, can you even conceive that it’s not the case in every culture?

Let it go!
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Old 10-18-2018, 09:26 AM
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Iím really getting sick and tired of people interpreting / appropriating / implying meaning to every random shape, object, color, design, hand gesture, whatever. Itís so damned tiresome.

Maybe, just MAYBE, a person wears something because they thought it looked nice.
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Old 10-18-2018, 09:54 AM
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Yes, the labrys is a symbol of lesbianism. No, not every lesbian has heard of it. Yes, the labrys has other meanings or uses, cf. rainbow symbolia. No, you should not address this with your coworker.
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Old 10-18-2018, 10:06 AM
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This dredged up a memory. Circa 1971, I was given a couple of seahorse pins by a girl in a chorus I was directing. I thought they were kinda cool. My mom told me they were a lesbian symbol. Anyone else ever heard of this?

The girl who gave them to me was maybe 13 or 14 and I don't recall getting any vibe that she was hitting on me. I was 17 at the time and very naive, but I'm pretty sure I'd have picked up on a girl crush. FTR, it didn't make any difference to me - I still wore pins back in those days and I wore those occasionally.
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Old 10-18-2018, 10:14 AM
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I loved Tel Aviv.
Hey, thanks! It's a great town, and I love living here (although the heat can get to you at times).
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Old 10-18-2018, 10:34 AM
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Consider apologizing and saying you were only interested in the trinket and meant no offense.

This might be the beginning of a conversation in which you might learn something about each other. If not, walk away.

At least you will have tried to do the morally correct and mature response.
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Old 10-18-2018, 11:53 AM
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Consider apologizing and saying you were only interested in the trinket and meant no offense.

This might be the beginning of a conversation in which you might learn something about each other. If not, walk away.

At least you will have tried to do the morally correct and mature response.
I suggest the opposite--let it lie. Bringing it up again after the passage of some time will only make the awkwardness worse.
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:24 PM
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HOLY SHIT!

All this time my female dwarven clerics of the god of war (with two-handed, two-headed ax damnit!) were lesbians and I never knew it. In fact, the LARP weapon I made with my very own hands and which now hangs on my wall is a labrys, and considering who I was with at the time I suspect there would have been mentions (bunch of Scotts with more, uh, interpersonal connections than a family tree of European royals).

First news of any relationships between labrys and lesbianism. FTR, I'm definitely not American. Or from wherever lizards hail from.
HA! My first thought on reading the OP was that I certainly had a lot of lesbian dwarves in various games over the years.
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:26 PM
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Thank you. It only took until post #14; this doesn't help what I already believed: that most people have no clue what "etiquette" means. I guess most others were too busy failing to be funny to actually click on the link in the OP too. The labrys as a symbol is about as obscure as the pink triangle or a rainbow.
If you showed me a pink triangle or a rainbow, I would know the symbolism. Your OP is the FIRST time I have ever seen a battleaxe being equated with lesbianism, so IME it is definitely far more obscure than the others (which are not obscure at all).
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:39 PM
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Thank you. It only took until post #14; this doesn't help what I already believed: that most people have no clue what "etiquette" means. I guess most others were too busy failing to be funny to actually click on the link in the OP too. The labrys as a symbol is about as obscure as the pink triangle or a rainbow.
Um... no, it really is obscure. If I go to the LGBT center I'll see rainbows all over the place, virtually anywhere that wants to show support for LGBT people will have a rainbow and various non-straight friends love to incorporate rainbows into their outfits when they're feeling prideful. Pink triangles were taught in history class, so I already knew what they were when I encountered them in the modern context. I have spent a lot of time hanging around with bisexual and lesbian women, and have never seen one of these being worn or heard of it as a symbol.

Again, I had literally never heard of or seen the Labrys as a symbol of being a lesbian feminist until this thread, but I've seen like 4 billion rainbows and learned about the pink triangle in history class.
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:40 PM
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The labrys as a symbol is about as obscure as the pink triangle or a rainbow.
Ha ha, no.
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Old 10-18-2018, 01:42 PM
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Hell.

Many years ago I dated a lesbian (I am cis male...it was very...complicated) who was a politically active artist.

I currently am married to a politically active liberal woman who regularly attends pride marches, even out-of-state.

My sister is a lesbian active in politics and the news media.

I have researched the labrys online on two separate occasions for unrelated purposes.

I have never heard of the association you assert is common.

I suggest a major, near-total recalibration of your understanding of what other people "should know."
  #37  
Old 10-18-2018, 02:08 PM
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Again, I had literally never heard of or seen the Labrys as a symbol of being a lesbian feminist until this thread,

I don't think that I've even ever seen the word "labrys" before this thread.
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Old 10-18-2018, 02:33 PM
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However, on THIS occasion I saw dangling under her chin a labrys necklace.
Your link hilariously cuts off the actual picture of a labrys necklace in that wiki article, so you can proceed to your freakout about someone's sexuality not being defined to your satisfaction.

The necklace, if you'd scrolled up, is cited as being of "modern pagan and feminist movements". Why is this not as likely an explanation as stealth lesbian?

Or, in the section you focused on, "Labrys" is a LGBTIQA rights organization in Kyrgyzstan. Perhaps you should consider that she might be a Kyrgyzstanian infiltrator posing as being from Barbados.
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Old 10-18-2018, 02:43 PM
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I have a spartan helmet with molon labe, no - while I do believe in a version of the second amendment with regards to hunting and self defense weapons, I don't feel the need to go and get a machine gun ..


I happen to wear it because I believe in standing on my rights, and protecting other people's rights and Leonidas telling the king of Persia effectively to suck it up and try and kill them because he refused to surrender is what it means to me. I don't care what your race creed or color is, I will defend your right to be that, but don't try and shove your beliefs down my throat because I have the right to believe what I believe.


sorry, quote isn't selecting and pasting in for me so i have to do it by hand again *sigh*


>Iím really getting sick and tired of people interpreting / appropriating / implying >meaning to every random shape, object, color, design, hand gesture, whatever. Itís >so damned tiresome.

>Maybe, just MAYBE, a person wears something because they thought it looked nice.
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Old 10-18-2018, 03:12 PM
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Some of my best friends are lesbians. They also are middle aged and married. (The middle aged and married counts for more "having in common" points than whatever a couple does during private fun time. )

I have never seen any of my lesbian friends display a battle are, and several of them are very activist.
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Old 10-18-2018, 05:29 PM
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Maybe the OP's friend also drives a Subaru Forester, is unaware of the symbolism and should be apprised of that too.

Or the OP should let the matter drop entirely and forget about it, as it's none of his business and rehashing it would likely have negative consequences.
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Old 10-18-2018, 05:46 PM
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I have a labrys necklace. It was a gift, from Greece, by straight friends who know the lesbian symbolism. I normally don't wear it, or a lambda pin. These are more obscure symbols for which I have little need.

I occasionally wear a rainbow pin or rainbow rings.

I refuse to wear a pink triangle, because I'm not interested in displaying what I perceive as Nazi/oppressor symbolism. I don't care to attempt to "reclaim" it when it was developed to mark gay prisoners.
  #43  
Old 10-18-2018, 07:18 PM
Tapiotar Tapiotar is offline
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As I recall, it was used as a lesbian and feminist symbol in the 1970's and 1980's, most prominently on the covers of Mary Daly's books. I remember when her Gyn/Ecology was a big deal. The Goddess-worshipping lesbian friends I had at that time would have instantly related to it. But I never saw anyone wearing one as jewelry, and I haven't seen it in visual depictions in that context since the early 1980's.

That said, I think you should just forget about your momentary embarrassment. It's a bigger deal to you than to her, and referring to it would expand the embarrassment. She told you her take on it as a reference to Cretan history, and take it as that face value. If it has a deeper or other meaning to her, it is her business.

Sometimes I wear a Thor's hammer pendant, and it doesn't mean I am a follower of Asatru, just that I like the design and the history behind it. I also wear a winged heart ring sometime, because I think it's beautiful and makes my heart feel light. But I'm not a Sufi, either. Nor does wearing a yin/yang symbol make me a taoist.
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Old 10-18-2018, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
Maybe the OP's friend also drives a Subaru Forester, is unaware of the symbolism and should be apprised of that too.

Or the OP should let the matter drop entirely and forget about it, as it's none of his business and rehashing it would likely have negative consequences.
Only if she wears sensible shoes...then her sexuality is all but assured and if she is straight, she's a horrible tease to all the lesbians out there.

(I used to be a Subaru-Forester-driving-sensible-shoe-wearing-short-haired-monogomously-married-to-a-man type of female - it confused a lot of people)
  #45  
Old 10-18-2018, 09:04 PM
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Johanna Johanna is offline
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Looks like a lot of you missed Bound, a pretty cool movie in which the meaning of a labrys pendant was stated outright.
  #46  
Old 10-18-2018, 10:11 PM
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Thank you. It only took until post #14; this doesn't help what I already believed: that most people have no clue what "etiquette" means. I guess most others were too busy failing to be funny to actually click on the link in the OP too. The labrys as a symbol is about as obscure as the pink triangle or a rainbow.
This should be in the dictionary next to "mansplain".
  #47  
Old 10-18-2018, 10:45 PM
Eva Luna Eva Luna is offline
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I loved Tel Aviv.
Same here - I went to college in one of the largest gay communities in the world (Greenwich Village) and have had plenty of gay and lesbian friends, and have never heard of this particular symbol of lesbianism.
  #48  
Old 10-18-2018, 10:46 PM
Isamu Isamu is offline
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Hi Lizard, I noticed you used the well-known code phrase "a spot of tea"! in your first paragraph. Just to let you know, Bronies have their own meeting place in MPSIMS so you are more likely to find your fellow ML Pony guys over there. Cheers!
  #49  
Old 10-19-2018, 12:22 AM
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Anyway, have you considered the possibility that she's a Greek fascist?
  #50  
Old 10-19-2018, 06:21 AM
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Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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The fact I like rainbows does not make me LGBTQ... in my case, I just like rainbows.

While the labrys was (and probably still is at times) used by lesbians as a symbol there are a bajillion other reasons why someone might wear one, so don't assume one piece of jewelry defines a person.

Last edited by Broomstick; 10-19-2018 at 06:21 AM.
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