Skip to content Skip to navigation

emotional /romantic bonds between women

 

This is a very general tag for any circumstance where specific emotional bonds are established between a pair of women.

LHMP entry

A brief survey article discussing how the author came to study lesbian themes in Chinese history. Around the turn of the 20th century, Chinese women studying in Japan formed a mutual support organization that also had feminist and nationalist goals. Leadership included the fascinating Qiu Jin, who transgressed gender in clothing and behavior. But the question arises whether such organizations and figures fit into lesbian history.

This article looks at the treatment of virginity and desire in John Lyly’s late 16th century play Gallathea, a mythological story in which two young women both cross-dress as boys to escape being a virginal sacrifice, and thus fall in love with each other. In this play, Venus (as the proponent of erotic desire) more specifically through the agency of Cupid urges all characters, including Diana’s nymphs, toward romantic love, while Diana (in theory supporting the position of virtue) valorizes virginity and chastity.

In addition to the economic dynamics of domestic employment, the mistress-maid relationship as depicted in 19th century fiction brings in themes of loyalty, devotion, and female alliance, although the last is mostly a fictional invention. When servants feature in fiction (which is rare) these conditions create a homoerotic potential. Two women, separated by class but existing in close physical proximity, invite images of unrequited love and yearning, and sometimes their fulfillment. Conversely, the appearance of an employment relationship may serve as cover for a queer relationship.

This chapter begins with a discussion of what is known about Sappho, her poetry, and her reputation among her contemporaries in ancient Greece. The tragically fragmentary nature of the written legacy of her work is traced, including the nine volume collection lost in the 9th century and the recovery of fragments of her work from papyrus sources in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Introduction

In the second half of the 18th century, women established themselves as writers of novels in dramatic numbers, thus the genre is imbued with a diverse array of women’s concerns. The novels discussed in this book tell stories often at odds with the official cultural narrative. Within that diversity, they contribute to a common tale of women’s options and how they negotiate them.

This article is a conference proceeding rather than written for publication, therefore it has a somewhat more informal flavor than usual. It takes a methodological approach to questions of how to interpret images of two women in classical Greek art that would be interpreted as involving courtship motifs if the figures were two men or a man and a woman.

The focus of this article, in Andreadis’s words is “a class of women and behaviors described by their contemporaries in ways that coincide with our modern ‘lesbian’.” There is still much uncertainty within that description as to how these women and their society understood these concepts, and Andreadis’s thesis is that as such behaviors begin to be framed in public discourse as transgressive, women who engaged in the same behaviors but wished to be viewed as “respectable” developed a coded language to express sexual feelings in the language of female friendship – a shift that Andreadis labe

Ovid also composed one of the longest texts dealing with love between women from the Roman period—the story of Iphis, also from the Metamorphoses. In brief, a poor man of Crete tells his wife they can’t afford to raise their expected child if it’s a girl. So a girl child would be killed. The child being a girl, at the recommendation of the goddess Isis, the mother conceals its biological sex and raises it as a boy. The name Iphis is given and noted as being a name that might be borne by either gender.

Ovid’s major contribution to classical mythology was to bring individual stories together into a single literary work with a unified theme. As stated in the opening lines, that theme for him was “bodies changed into new forms”. When addressing the sub-theme of love, the stories included the pursuit of a desired object, impossible or forbidden loves, and the disappearance of the beloved. The individual episodes are tied together by groups of related motifs and by cross-commentary within the stories themselves.

For Rome as for Greece, the category of biological sex was secondary to status based on class (free versus unfree) and nationality (resident versus foreign). Sex had legal and social relevance primarily for the free-born citizen class. Sexual practices were judged and categorized based on social status and the nature (and roles) of the sexual act. This system did not generate any categories corresponding to “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality”.

Pages

Subscribe to emotional /romantic bonds between women