COMING SOON [speakers blow out] TO OWN ON DVD [children scramble for the remote] AND VIDEO CASSETTE [atomic bomb explodes in living room]
Yea it’s clearly our “generation that’s making homosexuality a trend.” Seriously, pisses me off when people say that. look at this! It’s always been around, it’s not a trend, it’s real. It’s beautiful.
These are really beautiful images.
This makes me really happy
There’s a long history of lesbian-like activity in the West. In the 19th century US, especially after the Civil War killed off so many young men, middle-class and other genteel girls were encouraged in Boston marriages — relationships with other women of similar educational and class backgrounds. Since women were considered naturally chaste and disinterested in sex, these love affairs were seen as innocent and spiritual. Women’s lives were wholly separate from men’s that young women infrequently had male friends who weren’t considered a marriage prospect. They were encouraged to keep to all-female social circles, and the advent of women’s colleges further encouraged that. Women were expected to mentor each other, love each other, dance with each other, with the older woman acting as the cavalier, the man in the relationship, protecting and guiding the younger, pursuing her and courting her in ways not unlike how young men would court their brides. But the prevailing cultural wisdom was that these relationships would be limited to kisses and poetry — women were incapable of sexual desire, they tolerated sex in heterosexual marriages because men were sex-driven beasts who demanded it of them. Without a man, it was presumed that these relationships would be chaste, innocent, and wholly emotional. Lesbian-like behaviour is most tolerated when women are perceived as less sexual than men. Homosexual behaviour becomes threatening when sex is involved — when, in the 1920s, women were seen as able to have sexual drives and the idea of sexually companionable marriages came onto the landscape, Boston marriages suddenly became unnatural and disgusting because they directed women’s sexual interests towards other women instead of to the proper channels: towards men. The flapper was all about the sexually available (to men) young woman. She contributed to the demise of widely accepted lesbian or lesbian-like relationships. As soon as the flapper was capable of wanting sex herself instead of tolerating it from her male partner, lesbian/lesbian-like relationships were threatening, deviant, and ruined young women’s chances to become good wives and mothers.
So remember this as you look at the pre-1920s images. Those women were allowed these passionate loves, even encouraged in them (sometimes after they managed to get a husband, Eleanor Roosevelt in particular), all because the patriarchy was convinced that women weren’t capable of sexual feelings towards one another. As long as women were seen as desexed, as creatures of sentiment and emotion instead of passion and desire, lesbianism wasn’t a threat. The minute women were regarded by patriarchal culture as having a natural sex drive, lesbian-like behaviour became deviant and damning.
We didn’t invent homosexuality in the past 20 or 30 or 50 years. But we continue to labour under the belief and cultural expectation that women’s sexuality is something owed to and owned by men, forever de-legitimising women’s relationships unless men in some way benefit.