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Lecture 9

Women's Studies 2161A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Judy Small, Holly Near, Heather Bishop

Women's Studies
Course Code
Women's Studies 2161A/B

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Lesbians were not seen in history. Today lesbian culture os still clandestine (hidden)
who is a lesbian?
who represents lesbians and how?
people always have and sex, but didn’t think of this in terms of having sexuality.
until the 1930s, heterosexual was used to categorize a pathological (usually because
obsessive) attraction to the opposite sex.
the word “heterosexual” invented by Karoly Maria Kertbeny, a hungarian journalist. HIs
purpose was to describe 2 equal but diff forms of sexual attraction.
sodomy was a sin & criminalized; anal sex, oral sex, beastiality,..basically everything
except having heterosexual sex in missionary position.
Once the categories become common, get a demand on representations..hetero
homosexual, gay, lesbian.
1930-1950s / early 60s: demand for censorship..”white slavery”, interracial relations ,
french kissing, homosexuality, criminal acts couldn’t get showed.
onanists (masturbation) were categorized as a certain group of people
lesbians were and still are more socially invisible than gay men..its hard to exist in a
society where nobody sees you.
ex: Late 19th century New England- Boston marriage: upper of middle class
relationships. 2 women who lived together so it was difficult to distinguish bw passionate
, commited lifelong friendships and sexual relationships tehrefore lesbians were
invisible. a way of hiding in plane sight.
early types of representations: in literature where women wrote about ppl who’s gender
and sexual desires were not considered “normal” at the time.
Radclyffe Hall wrote the depressing and semi autobiographical novel The Well of
Loneliness. contrarily, Virginia Woolf wrote the cheerful gender bending narrative of
1950s/60s: Pulp fictions-not realistic. one way women at the time could imagine the
possibilities for intimate relations. Ann Bannon was unusual in that her success
allowed her to resist publishers demands for unhappy endings-her characters had
despite these exs, lesbians remained mostly invisible in orint and later fil and tv. this is
an issue bc:
1. ppl who did not see others like themselves become isolated
2. young LGBT ppl lack role models to help them grow up
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