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Exploring WLW vs Sapphic: Decoding Queer Language

Robyn Exton

Nov 07, 2023

Exploring WLW vs Sapphic: Decoding Queer Language

Ever felt like you’re navigating a maze when it comes to the colorful world of queer terminology? You’re not alone. The diverse language within this community can feel like an intricate tapestry woven with threads of history, personal identity, and collective experiences.

In that grand tapestry, two vibrant threads are WLW vs Sapphic. These labels serve as signposts in the quest for self-identification but also stir up questions: What do they mean? Who can use them?

This journey will guide you through these nuanced terrains – from understanding how “WLW” (Women Loving Women) is used within the queer community to discovering what makes sapphic love unique. We’ll explore inclusivity for gender non-conforming folks within these spaces and reject harmful exclusionary views along the way.

Ahead lies a landscape filled with emotional challenges and personal growth. This is a journey that requires courage and dedication, but the rewards are worth it. Gird thyself for a quest of self-realization that could alter your existence in ways inconceivable.

Understanding the meaning and usage of WLW

The term “WLW” is an acronym that stands for Women Loving Women. It’s a way to express attraction between women, regardless of their specific sexual orientation.

This label has become widely accepted within the LGBTQIA+ community as it allows for an inclusive representation of all forms of female-to-female love. But why does this matter? Well, our understanding and expression of gender identity have significantly evolved over time.

Considered an umbrella term, WLW allows individuals with different identities, such as bisexual or pansexual, to find a space under its canopy. So when you hear someone say they’re part of the WLW community, it means they experience attraction towards other women in some capacity.

The emergence and adoption of ‘WLW’

In earlier times, labels were rigidly defined based on one’s sexual orientation. However, today we see more fluidity allowing for inclusive language that respects everyone’s individual experiences. Changes reflect our evolving understanding of sexuality and gender identities in society today.

Importance within the queer community

Recognizing the importance that terms like “WLW” play within diverse communities helps foster inclusivity among people with various orientations or identifications.

The adoption by many – from lesbians to non-binary individuals attracted to women – signifies progressiveness towards accepting complex human emotions beyond traditional definitions.

It emphasizes recognizing love without limiting boundaries set by heteronormative social norms.

The evolution and meaning of ‘sapphic’

When we speak about sapphic, the term’s roots take us back to ancient Greece. Named after the Greek poet Sappho from Lesbos, it has come a long way in terms of its evolution and perception.

Origins of sapphic

The word ‘sapphic’ traces back to an era when expressions of love between women were penned by Sappho herself. Known for her lyrical poetry on themes of passion, love, and loss – often directed towards women – she left behind a legacy that led to the birth of this term.

In essence, being sapphic was initially associated with sharing romantic or sexual feelings for other women. But as society evolved over centuries, so did our understanding and usage of such terminologies.

Modern interpretations of sapphic

In today’s world, though, “sapphic” is more than just a historical reference or literary symbolism. It now serves as an umbrella term encompassing lesbian individuals but also extends beyond them to include bisexual and pansexual people. In fact,

  • Society’s perspective shifted,
  • More inclusivity was demanded,
  • The need arose for broader terminology like ‘sapphic,’ which encompasses not only lesbians but also those who identify as bisexual or pansexual regardless of their gender identity.

This redefining reflects societal progress towards accepting diverse forms of love expression among various identities within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Nowadays, sapphic doesn’t simply denote the woman-loving-woman (WLW) concept—it embraces anyone non-heteronormative who feels a romantic or sexual attraction towards women. The term acknowledges and respects the spectrum of identities that exist under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.

While the lesbian identity is specific to women who are attracted only to other women, sapphic casts a wider net. It includes those whose attractions might not be exclusively towards women, like some bisexuals and pansexual people.

While the term ‘sapphic’ has traveled a long journey from its roots in ancient Greece, it’s still changing and growing today.

Inclusivity within WLW and sapphic for GNC, non-binary, agender, transgender & genderqueer people

Let’s delve into the evolution of the terms “WLW” (Women Loving Women) and “sapphic” in relation to inclusivity for gender non-conforming (GNC), non-binary, agender, transgender, and genderqueer individuals. These terms have undergone significant changes over time to embrace a wider range of identities. 

Nonbinary individuals have found solace within WLW/Sapphic communities as society moves away from rigid binaries. These spaces provide room for identities that challenge traditional norms, just like sapphic love does. It is crucial to recognize and include our trans sisters in these spaces too. By promoting acceptance and celebrating diversity, we create environments where everyone feels acknowledged and valued. We must remember that it’s not about conforming to societal expectations or fitting into predefined boxes; instead, it’s about embracing our unique journeys toward finding love. 

As Victoria Williams eloquently puts it on TikTok: “Society has imposed certain rules upon us… but why should we adhere to them?” Let’s question those rules and foster an inclusive community where every individual is welcomed regardless of their chosen label – be it WLW, sapphic, or any other term under the vast LGBTQ+ umbrella word. Continuously educate yourself and remain open-minded because true inclusion lies at the heart of our community.

Rejecting TERFs and their exclusionary views

The LGBTQIA+ community has been working hard to foster inclusivity. But there’s a faction that seeks to divide: TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists). They push harmful views, which we need to address head-on.

TERFs argue for a rigid definition of womanhood that excludes trans women. They say you must be born female to truly identify as such. This viewpoint is not just narrow but dangerous too. It disregards the lived experiences of many within our queer communities.

Inclusivity in WLW/sapphics, however, rejects these exclusionary attitudes. A core belief held by us here at HER is that gender identity isn’t determined by birth biology alone.

Fighting against harmful stereotypes

Stereotyping leads only down one road – discrimination. By limiting what it means to be a woman or love women, TERF ideology indirectly promotes intolerance against non-cisgender individuals who are part of sapphic lesbian circles or other sections under the sapphic umbrella term.

We champion diversity and individuality in sexual orientation – this makes our community vibrant and varied. We don’t let anyone dictate who gets included or excluded from loving whom they want.

A community embracing everyone

To fight against such division requires unity among all subsets of our community—cis women, trans people, non-binary folks alike—we’re all equal parts of this rich tapestry woven together with threads spun from mutual respect and understanding.

This openness isn’t just about rejecting TERFs; it’s also a declaration of our commitment to ensuring everyone feels seen, heard, and validated in their identity.

In the end, love is an emotion that doesn’t discriminate. So why should we?

Bisexual women’s and GNC people’s identification with sapphic

Sometimes, the term sapphic, named after the Greek poet Sappho known for her verses about loving women, feels more fitting. It carries a rich historical connotation that appeals to some bi+ individuals because it captures not just their sexual orientation but also a sense of community.

This label includes anyone attracted to femininity regardless of their own gender identity; hence you’ll find many non-binary people under its umbrella too. It celebrates woman-loving-woman (WLW) connections without limiting them strictly to cisgender identities.

The deep emotional connection of sapphic love

Sapphic love, an affectionate term for women who are attracted to other women, has a unique and often overlooked characteristic. Beyond the attraction, Sapphic love is based on a deep emotional connection arising from shared experiences of navigating life as women or those assigned female at birth (AFAB).

This kind of love is rooted in understanding and empathy because both partners share similar life experiences. They understand what it means to navigate society as a woman or person assigned female at birth. This shared experience can create an incredible bond.

What sets sapphic relationships apart from others? It’s their distinctive ability to form profound emotional connections that go beyond physical attractions alone. These bonds transcend conventional definitions of romantic relationships and embody pure, unadulterated admiration for one another.

Nurturing a strong bond in sapphic relationships

To truly appreciate your partner requires acknowledging them not only as your lover but also as an individual with their own dreams, hopes & fears—this builds deeper intimacy leading towards a solid foundation for long-lasting companionship.

In many ways, then, such heartfelt relations reflect beautifully upon our innate human capacity for love, empathy, and understanding. It reminds us of our shared human experience despite differences in sexual orientation or gender identity.

In conclusion, sapphic love often stems from a deep emotional connection and admiration for the partner. It’s not just about physical attraction but also involves an intense bond forged through mutual respect and shared experiences. So, next time you notice two women engaged in a deep conversation at your local café, keep in mind that their relationship extends beyond what is immediately visible—it’s a profound expression of love itself.

The fullness of humanity

What’s the core of being human? It’s our ability to love, connect, and identify ourselves. And this applies deeply in understanding terms like sapphic and women-loving women (WLW). Let’s explore.

Around us, we find a myriad range of identities – from cis women to non-binary people – all with their unique attractions and orientations. The term sapphic is an umbrella word that envelops lesbian women as well as bisexual or pansexual individuals who feel an attraction towards other females.

This broad meaning has its roots tied back to the Greek poet Sappho whose poems expressed her affection for other women. Fast forward centuries later, it now serves as a term inclusive not only for lesbians but also for bi+ individuals, thereby expanding the queer community under one large flag.

In contrast, WLW provides another perspective on inclusivity by embracing anyone who identifies as a woman who loves women irrespective of their current gender identity.

So, we’ve traversed the fascinating world of WLW vs Sapphic. We dove into their meanings and usage within the queer community.

We examined how they evolved over time to be more inclusive for gender non-conforming folks, rejecting exclusionary views in favor of understanding and acceptance.

We touched on the self-identification journey that Bi+ individuals undertake when choosing between these terms. And we savored a glimpse into sapphic love’s deep emotional connection.

The journey through this tapestry isn’t easy – it demands patience, openness, and courage. But remember: the fullness of humanity comes into play when we realize these are more than just words or labels – they’re affirmations that you can be true to your feelings no matter where you fall within societal norms.

Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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