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In the texts discussed in this section, it is particularly important to keep in mind that these are fictional depictions, created for specific rhetorical purposes. While the women and their sexual activities in these texts need to make sense to the audience (to say nothing of needing to be imaginable by the author), these are not neutral, documentary descriptions of random real-life women. We have a complete absence of neutral documentation of real-life Roman women who engaged in sex with women.

It remains frustrating that essentially all of the surviving source material on female homosexuality in classical Greek and Roman contexts comes not simply through male voices, but through elite male voices who tended to view women as a whole as standing outside the concept of "virtuous, acceptable, praiseworthy behavior." It becomes impossible to filter out the authors' attitudes towards women, and towards relations between the sexes, from any possible evidence about how the women (hypothetically) involved in such relationships might have felt.

Just a quick intro this time, as it's the morning after Worldcon and I'm in that "mentallyexhausted in a good way" state. The convention had a LOT of challenges, both leading up to this week and in the execution, and while it was far from perfect it was also quite good. I did a lateral-flow Covid test last night and came up negative, so I'll continue keeping my fingers crossed that the strict safety requirements the convention had in place have been successful.

Ordinarily this blog would go up on Monday (yeah, like I've been sticking to that - hah!), but since tomorrow will be filled with travel (cars! planes! buses! trains!) I'd rather get it up now. Also, since I'm all packed and the house is cleaned up and ready for the sitter, and I have time to kill...why not? I have seven more subsections of the book to cover, some of them only a few pages, so my goal is to finish up by the end of the year while I'm on vacation.

One of the things that is implicit in Boehringer's analysis, but not (yet) stated overtly (perhaps because she assumes her readers are aware of it?),  is that there is a major shift in the development of "gender categories" between the earlier Greek evidence and the Roman evidence. Under Greek pederasty, the erastes and eromenos took on categorically different roles in the relationship, but they were not viewed as inhabiting distinct life-long identity categories.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 217 - On the Shelf for December 2021 - Transcript

(Originally aired 2021/12/05 - listen here)

Welcome to On the Shelf for December 2021.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 218 – Abstract by Kat Sinor - transcript

(Originally aired 2021/12/18 - listen here)

The story of Iphis and Ianthe is full of contradictions, manipulations, and ambiguities. I think Boehringer makes a key point (although it may get lost in the details) that what makes female same-sex love "impossible" for Ovid is the essential structural understanding of sex in Roman society: that it must involve a hierarchical relationship and must involve at least one man.

One of the things Boehringer points out in the earlier discussion of the Callisto myth (in the Greek chapters) is that pre-Ovid sources tend to include only fragments of the story. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that one of Ovid's goals was to create "definitive" versions of the myths he includes (as well as combining them into a connected and unified whole).

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 216 – How to be a Lesbian in an 18th Century Novel - transcript

(Originally aired 2021/11/21 - listen here)


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