Homosexual relationships have existed since the beginning of time, however, acceptance of such relationships in the modern era has not been so forthcoming, as was the welcoming atmosphere in ancient Greece. Lesbianism appeared to be a somewhat accepted practice until Victorian social mores began to infiltrate political and societal beliefs. Hence, lesbians were considered deranged, deviant, and even insane in some cases. Although many famous women throughout history have been suspected of engaging in lesbian relationships, it was not until the 1950s that the "butch-femme" relationship actually made lesbians visible as an autonomous erotic force.
[...] Instead of protesting and rioting, the butch-femme women of the 1950s participated in sexual adventuring, erotic autonomy, and many other forms of independence (105). The women who were lesbians at this time made the choice to live as they were driven to, and knew this erotic inclination would require them to work for the rest of their days in such occupations as taxi drivers, telephone operators, and hairdressers. In the 1970s, the rally cry for lesbians was reinterpreted by feminists who yelled the slogan, “Lesbianism is the practice and feminism is the theory” (Nestle 105). [...]
[...] Therefore, Lillian Wald, a settlement house pioneer, Jane Addams, the founder of Hull House, and others who had intense relationships with other women are considered lesbians in a homophobic society (Rupp 62-63). Many of these relationships were discovered through intense, passionate letters between the women that were “bare outlines of friendship networks made up of woman- committed women. Most of the evidence must be pieced together and it is even scantier when the women did not live together (64). In the 1950s there existed a lesbian culture in local communities, the military, and in the bar scene. [...]
[...] The thought that female romantic relationships were abnormal combined with such crimes led to medical literature that labeled same sex love as insane and related to criminality many citing the Mitchell case (Duggan 795; Gibson 85). Mitchell was said to dress like a man and she and Ward had planned to marry. What followed were many outrageous stories of female violence fueled by “unnatural” lesbian relationships. The Mitchell-Walker incident became a precautionary hybrid tale, warning of the ills of such “abnormal affection” between persons of the same sex (Duggan 800). [...]
[...] This would require her to retrain her psyche toward heteroaffectionality, finding any physical or emotional contact with females to be repulsive She could become so fearful of society's reaction to her feelings she would spend her entire life hiding and leading a double life pretending to be heterosexual except to her female partner She could accept the definitions of the sexologists regarding lesbians and define herself as such. This would allow her to express her attachment to women, be independent economically and socially, and be free to seek out women in kind (Faderman Most women of the time, however, were taught not to balk their culture and turned off the affectionate possibilities between themselves and other women. [...]
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