From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Lesbian feminism is a cultural movement and critical perspective, most popular in the 1970s and early 1980s (primarily in North America and Western Europe) that questions the position of women and homosexuals in society. Some key thinkers and activists are Rita Mae Brown, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Frye, Mary Daly, Sheila Jeffreys and Monique Wittig (although the latter is more commonly associated with the emergence of queer theory).
Whilst historically lesbianism has perhaps always enjoyed an intricate relationship with feminism and feminist projects, going back at least to the 1890s, "lesbian feminism" is best contextualised as a branch movement, coming together, out of dissatisfaction with (second wave) feminist and gay liberation movements respectively, in the early 1970s. By the end of the 1970s, lesbian feminism constituted a field within academic institutions, although it was mostly confined to feminist disciplines.
Like feminism, lesbian and gay studies and queer theory, lesbian feminism is characterised by contestation and revision. Nevertheless, if one key theme could be isolated it would be an analysis of heterosexuality as an institution. This draws on and deploys a historical focus on "homosexuality" as a site for scrutiny, especially where there is a focus on origins. Correlatively, lesbian feminist texts worked to denaturalise heterosexuality, and once removed, hypothesise its "roots" in institutions such as patriarchy, capitalism and colonialism. Additionally lesbian feminism advocates lesbianism as a rational result of alienation and dissatisfaction with these institutions.