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The word lesbian encompasses a description of intimate and passionate longing between two females and t is also used to describe female persons who are set apart as having the principal element of female homosexuality (Castle 2). The term is also used to refer to attributes of an entity or action associated to female same-sex longing.
Lesbian as a theory, to distinguish women with a common sexual preference is a creation of the 20th century. Much as this form of homosexuality has come out in many civilizations in the course of time, not until in recent times has the term ‘lesbian’ referred to a set of individuals (McCormick 6)
Towards the end of the 19th century, sexologists brought to the fore their findings on same-sex longing and grouped lesbians in the West as a distinctive group. Consequently, women who found out their new sexual orientation came up with secretive social groups mainly in the larger Europe and America.
A further expansion of this term was to come up in the 1970s. Various historians have been studying relationships between females from times gone by and have queried the criteria used to group an individual(s) or an association as lesbian (McCormick 6). From this, three aspects of categorizing lesbians have emerged and they are; sexual behavior, sexual longing and sexual individuality.
Men have over time came up with opinions on what is upright for females in love, intimacy, and due to the nonexistence of males in a lesbian association, often rebuffed the likelihood of the practice discounting it as a legitimate reference to sexuality.
The various forms in which lesbians have been depicted in the media gives an impression that the Western society has on a larger scale been both appalled and intimidated by these women (Castle 4). There is also an aspect of fascination by lesbians from some quarters.
The lesbian women on the other hand give accounts that suggest a grouping that can be likened to an ethnic or tribal association. They are brought together by the bias and probable denunciation they may face from their families and other people (Doan 9). Due to the fact that they are female, the challenges they encounter are unlike those of men.
Construction of lesbian identity
For a good number of females, the apprehension that they got involved in acts that qualified to be described as lesbian led them to refute or hide it. There existed an effervescent homosexual way of life by the 1920s in Berlin. Up to fifty lesbian clubs existed and these women had publications in the form of magazines up to the early 1930s (Doan 10).
The clubs involved both the big set ups that attracted even tourists to smaller establishments for the locals mainly. What actually popularized Berlin as the center for lesbians was a book done by Ruth Margarite by the title ‘The Lesbians of Berlin.’ Surprisingly, homosexuality was a crime in Germany, though it was given the leeway since some acts were permitted by the law enforcers who took the chance to catalog the names of transvestites for future reference.
The 1920s represented a period of societal trialing especially in matters dealing with sex in the United States. It came after the famed Sigmund Freud’s publications which suggested that intimate desire is deep seated within a person and that one can never get to fully ignore this longing (Doan 11).
There was a conception that sexual acts were an element of lesbianism and their relations and experimentation was prevalent. The cities with lively nightlife were the most well-liked with women seeking sexual escapades. Bisexuality became the in thing especially in America’s first homo localities like Harlem.
Greenwich Village also experienced an expanding homo society. Just like Harlem, it offered furnished apartments for single men and women which was a key aspect encouraging advancement of these places as hubs for homosexuals. Greenwich was mainly for male homosexuals while Harlem was for women majorly (Castle 8).
The prime element essential to promote lesbians to come out in the open and look for other females was financial autonomy. However, this faded away in the 1930s during the Great Depression (Castle 8). Most women found it essential to get married to a gay male and end up in an arrangement where both parties were free to go on with their homosexual escapades with caution.
Current issues of lesbians
The invisibleness of lesbians that had developed from the period following the Second World War has progressively worn away since the initial 1980s. Part of the cause is popular people and celebrities that have caused rumor and other suggestions in the media concerning their sexual orientation and lesbianism as a whole.
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The most memorable such person was Martina Navratilova on whom speculation was rife until she finally accepted that she was indeed bisexual (McCormick 13). She had great achievements on track but her sexual orientation also caused even more attention. It was an open secret that she had relations with other notable women like Judy Nelson and Mae Brown.
As time went by, lesbian visibility increased even further with the year 1994 being the most notable. Various popular magazines published tales of popular women admitting sexual escapades with other women. Analysts reasoned that the lead up to this was that lesbians had become more appealing generally since they had shed off political affiliations of the past (Doan 17).
The occurrence of intimate activities between two females as the yardstick for classifying a lesbian still continues to elicit various debates. Naomi McCormick who is a famed women’s rightist and writer says that the sexuality of women is by and large make up by men, whose key pointer of lesbian is intimate acts with other females (McCormick 15).
Nevertheless, the same pointer is not required in distinguishing a woman as heterosexual. The writer continues that poignant, psychological and ideological associations between female individuals are as vital as or more so than the venereal.
Even so, during the 1980s, a considerable interest group rebuffed the decasualization of lesbianism by prominent feminists, resulting in a fiery debate referred to as the Sex Wars. Lesbians who were noticeably masculine and female roles were once again back even though not as firmly adhered to as they were in the 1950s period (McCormick 15).
They turned out to be a form of selected sexual self-articulation for a number of females in the 1990s. These individuals once again experienced safety and comfort as they believed strongly that they were more sexually audacious and took sexual tractability as an acceptable way of life.
The focal point of this discussion mostly is on a development brought to the fore by Pepper Schwartz, a renowned sexologist. He established that long-run lesbian couples admitted to having less intimate contact than straight persons or gay male counterparts.
Nevertheless, lesbians query the research’s classification of intimate contact, and have over the time brought in other elements such as profound ties being real between females that make regular intimate relations uncalled-for, better sexual flexibility in females making them to shift from straight persons to epicene to lesbian several times in the course of their lives (Castle 12).
Further debates on sexual category and sexual predilection individuality have had an effect on how women look at themselves. Almost everyone in the world is now trained that heterosexuality is an inborn feature in all persons. Thus, when a woman finds out that her intimate and desirability to a fellow female, it is highly likely to result in an experiential crisis (Castle 13).
A large number of those go through this usually take up the personality of a lesbian and defy what the social order has presented in typecasts about same sex intimate and emotional relationships.
Lesbians and especially those in the West partake in a uniqueness that corresponds to those based on ethnicity. They have collective times past and social grouping and same understanding with bias which has resulted in a majority of lesbians rebuffing heterosexual standards over time.
This distinctiveness is exclusive from gay males and sexually straight women and thus stems up uneasiness with bisexual females (Doan 18). Social experts have reiterated that in most times conduct and personality do not equal.
Many women may tag themselves sexually straight but have sexual escapades with other women, self made out lesbians may get intimate with men and in some cases women may establish that what they deemed an unassailable sexual individuality has transformed with time. A piece published in 2001on distinguishing lesbians for therapeutic study proposed distinction of lesbians by way of the three qualities only which are; personality only, sexual conduct only, or the use of both (Castle 13).
Castle, Terry. “The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall.” Columbia University Press, ed.2003.
Doan, Laura. “Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture.” Columbia University Press, 2001.
McCormick, Naomi. “Sexual Salvation: Affirming Women’s Sexual Rights and Pleasures.” Praeger Publishers, 1994.