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WS 102 Lesbianism

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University of Waterloo
Women's Studies
WS 102
Tina Davidson

Lesbianism Theories and terminology *heterosexuality as an obscure medical term in the 1890s which referred to non- procreative sex (sex for pleasure), which was assumed to be between men and women, but by the 1930s, it had come to mean normal sexual intercourse between opposite sex participants. *queer was once a derogatory term but has since been reclaimed as a politically charged term. Others have preferred the term LGBTQQI (Lesbian, gay, bi, transGENDER, queer, questioning, intersex) as the most inclusive. *Queer theory emerged from the 1960s and 1970s, inspired by anti-homosexual attitudes in society and especially by the Stonewall Riots. History *attitudes towards homosexuality have a history of change. *In Victorian Era, same sex relationships (aka Boston marriages) between women were permitted and even encouraged, even if there was sometimes a sexual aspect to women’s friendships. Same sex crushes and relationships became a tolerated part of women’s culture. *1920s/30s sexology defined 2 types of homosexuality: the invert & the pervert. The invert who was the true homosexual, incurable. The pervert was a borderline personality, who could go either way, and could be “cured”. Pop culture presented homosexual relationships as ending in madness, suicide or jail. *WWII helped create lesbian culture, since women were in homosocial (same sex) environments like the army and factories. However, lesbianism wasn’t approved of. *In the post-WWII/Cold War Era (1960s), homosexuality was seen as dangerously deviant, and homosexuals were evicted from government jobs. The RCMP created the “fruit machine” to determine sexuality. *1970s pulp fiction sometimes helped create a sense of community for lesbians (and gay men) who had no other resources! *Homosexual activism increased with the
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