Monday, 22 March 2010

LESBIANISM IN MODERNITY

Lesbianism
Throughout history some women have engaged in sexual acts with other women and/or desired other women, but only since the late nineteenth century have such women been categorized as a distinct type of person, a lesbian, by virtue of their sexual interests. The evidence suggests that emotional/sexual life has taken various forms in different periods of history and in different cultures. For example, in some societies women have erotic relationships with other women while living a married life with men. Such women are not labeled as lesbian or different. Their desire is accepted as part of the normal range of human intimacy. It is not easy to define who is a lesbian or what is lesbianism or to determine its etiology.
Whether there is a biological determinant to lesbianism is fiercely debated by scholars. Those who assume the constants in all historical manifestations of woman's desire for another woman, tracing them to biology or nature, are called essentialists, while those who see the dissimilarities in cultural forms of lesbianism and heterosexuality are called social constructionists. Like all debates between nature and nurture the two are not mutually exclusive.
Information on sex or desire between women in the colonial period of North America is scant. The traditions of Native American nations were attacked and disrupted by colonization and are being reclaimed by Native Americans in the late twentieth century. Paula Gunn Allen suggests that Native society had at least two types of relationships between women, neither of which was stigmatized. One was spirit-directed in the sense that a woman was summoned by the spirits to take on a male role. She also may have developed relationships with women; however, she was characterized as different not on the basis of her sexual relationships but on her spiritual powers. The other form of lesbianism grew out of the deep attachments that self-reliant women developed with one another. In many instances, such relationships did not interfere with heterosexual marriages.
Among European settlers, colonial court cases indicate that some women had sexual relations with other women. The evidence suggests that such women were not labeled as distinct kinds of people because of their sexual interests, but rather as sinners, along with all other sinners who could not control their appetites. Women's sexual relations with women were not classed as sodomy and therefore not punishable by death. The serious breach of conduct occurred in challenging women's appropriate role in marriage and procreation. Such transgression might, in the extreme, lead to trial for heresy, which was a crime punishable by death.
Throughout U.S. history some women have passed as men, particularly to join the army. According to Jonathan Katz, in nineteenth-century United States an increasing number of women did so to improve their lives in a gender-polarized society that prevented women from adequately supporting themselves outside of marriage. Some "passing" women developed sexual and emotional intimacy with other women, and in a few cases they even married women. In no case did "passing" women see themselves as a distinct kind of person, nor did they congregate together. Many, such as Murray Hall, were not discovered to be women until their death. Some were discovered during their lifetime—Milton B. Matson, Cora Anderson—and were not criticized for being deviant sexually but for transgressing gender roles and taking on male privilege.
Intense romantic friendship developed between middle-class women in the homosocial environments created by the gendered division between home and work in the nineteenth century. Marriage did not disrupt these ties because husband and wife spent little time together. We know of these friendships from the passionate letters friends and family members wrote to one another as analyzed by the historian Caroll Smith-Rosenberg. In most cases female friends did not eschew marriage and live with one another. History shows that similar romantic friendships existed in Europe from the sixteenth century on. The prevalence of romantic friendship among women raises questions about what lesbianism is. Although these relationships were unquestionably intimate and erotic, were the romantic friendships genital as well? Do relationships have to be genital to be lesbian?
The period between 1880 and 1920 was one of significant transition in sexual relations in the United States. The early women's movement had made it possible for women to hold jobs and act autonomously. The developing consumer society promoted sexual pleasure and leisure to sell products and created a culture that separated sex from reproduction and valued the pursuit of sexual interests. Intellectuals of this period also made sex basic to their interpretive and artistic frameworks, as exemplified by Freud's claim that erotic interest was central to a person's being. At that time the cultural categories of heterosexuality and homosexuality were born in the United States, and soon came to name particular kinds of people according to their sexual dispositions.
In this context women's emotional/sexual lives were transformed. In large industrial centers, many European American working-class families "lost control" of their daughters' sexuality. After work and on weekends, working girls adorned themselves for fun in dance halls, movie houses, and amusement parks. Their social life created the prototype for twentieth-century heterosexual dating. Some bourgeois European American women also pursued sexual independence, aiming to form enduring, close, intimate sexual relationships with men. The popular image of this new woman was the flapper. Many of these sexually radical women were part of the bohemian movement in Greenwich Village, New York. Some of these "sex-radical" women continued the nineteenth-century tradition of friendships among women as well, while others, particularly in the 1920s, took on the designation of "bisexual" through entering physical relationships with women and men.
Certain "new women," as the European American bourgeois women were known, chose not to marry. They developed strong supportive communities of women defined by work, politics, or school. Their relationships with women were intensely passionate but not consciously sexual. Some women lived together for life in what were called Boston marriages. These independent women, such as Mary Woolley, president of Mt. Holyoke College, or Jane Addams, the famous settlement-house worker, did not label themselves and were not labeled by society as lesbian or deviant because of their emotional attachments with other women. They saw themselves as women who lived outside of marriage, not as women who had a different form of sexuality. Because of the stigmatization of lesbianism in the later twentieth century, biographers and historians have overlooked or in some cases even hidden these women's deep attachments to other women.
The lack of economic resources in the African American community as a result of slavery and Reconstruction, combined with white society's stigmatization of African American women as sexually loose, made marriage and moral character important to African American women at the turn of the century. They already carried the burden of proving the respectability of their race. Nevertheless bourgeois African American women who were respectably married also developed deep attachments to other women in the context of their civic work. Alice Dunbar-Nelson, for instance, recorded in her diary several significant romantic/erotic attachments with women with whom she worked in the Black Women's Club Movement.
Another manifestation of the "new woman" was the mannish lesbian, a woman who took on masculine attributes in part to break through the Victorian assumption of the sexless nature of women. She became the "modern" lesbian in that she identified herself as "different" because of her erotic, sexual interest in women. In literature she is immortalized by Stephen Gordon in Radcliffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, and in the blues, by Lucille Bogan's "B.D. [bull dagger] Women Blues." The masculine lesbian was stigmatized as abnormal both by the medical profession and by popular culture. Her difference often led her to look for others like herself. She was key in building working-class lesbian communities in most racial/ethnic groups in the United States.
The meaning of lesbian and lesbianism has changed quite dramatically during the twentieth century. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the mark of a lesbian was gender inversion, that is, a woman who had male inclinations for dress and behavior and an interest in women. Feminine women of the time who were interested in "masculine" women were not considered lesbians. Gender was such a powerful determinant of behavior that they were considered normal by most sexologists because of their feminine attraction for a more masculine being, or in some cases they were defined as bisexual. In the first half of the twentieth century there was a gradual and uneven shift in the definition of lesbianism, from gender inversion to object choice, that is, to the idea that a homosexual is a person who is attracted to someone of the same sex. By the 1950s Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Female unequivocally assumed homosexuality to be a sexual relationship between people of the same sex.
Buoyed by a new understanding of women's oppression, lesbian feminists of the late 1970s attempted to redefine lesbianism. Their new definition emphasized passionate and loving connections over specifically sexual relationships and explicitly separated lesbian history from gay male history. Adrienne Rich established a "lesbian continuum" that included woman-identified resistance to patriarchal oppression throughout history. The lesbian, thus understood, transcends time periods and cultures in her common links to all women who have dared to affirm themselves as activists, warriors, or passionate friends. The place of sexuality in this construction was not specified.
In the 1980s a feminist, sex-radical position reemerged that validated sex as a source of pleasure as well as danger for women and identified sexuality as central to women's entrance into modernity. Those who have adopted this theory interpret the masculine lesbians of the turn of the century and the working-class butch-femme lesbians of the mid-century as key players in having shaped lesbian consciousness and identity, which eventually made lesbian feminism and gay liberation possible. In the late twentieth century some scholars and activists have taken this position to its extreme and linked women's sexual history completely with men's, categorizing lesbians, gay men, and all other outsiders to heterosexual norms as "queer." The study of lesbianism has yet to settle upon a single appropriate framework that acknowledges women's repression by male supremacy and at the same time recognizes women's agency in expanding and controlling their own lives.
Michele Aina Barale, David M. Halperin, and Harry Abelove, The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 1993); Gloria Anzaldua, La Frontera: The New Mestiza Borderlands (San Francisco: Spinster's/Aunt Lute, 1987); Martin Baum Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past (New York: New American Library, 1989).

"In middle-class circles they believe, oddly enough, that among them homosexuality has no place, and from these circles the most annoying enemies recruit each other to oppose the movement to free Uranian people. I would like to give as an example, that my father, when by chance he came to speak about homosexuality, explained with conviction, "nothing of the sort can happen in my family." The facts prove the opposite. I need to add nothing to that statement."
With this century-old utterance, Anna Rüling became the first known Lesbian activist.
Very little is known about Anna Rüling. She gave her interesting and expressive speech, "What Interest does the Women's Movement have in Solving the Homosexual Problem?" on October 8, 1904, at the Prinz Albrecht Hotel in Berlin. She was invited to give her address at the annual meeting of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. The Committee, the first Gay organization in world history, was established in Berlin in 1897 by Magnus Hirschfeld.
In her speech, Rüling brought Gay rights and women's rights under one umbrella. She congratulated the Committee for its support of women's rights and for including Lesbians in its fight for equal rights. Such support by men and the inclusion of Lesbians in homosexual interests, according to Rüling, had been sadly neglected.
Because the involvement of Lesbians in the Women's Movement continues to be as great an issue a century after the delivery of Rüling's speech, it is important that people today know what she had to say.
Until relatively recently, very little had been written about the Women's Movement, and those writings that did exist concerning women's issues most often had been authored by men. As it is, there are few writings that directly treat the subject of the Gay Movement as it affects the Women's Movement.
On the very outset of her speech Rüling makes the point that women are considered only as an afterthought even in the fight for equal rights. Although she is not complaining, she indicates that it is due to the lack of laws against the practice of sexual acts between women that has kept them on the sidelines of the fight for sexual liberty as it concerns the love between women. Rüling uses the terms "homosexuality," the word coined by Karoly Maria Kertbeny in 1868, and "Uranism," coined by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in 1862.
It is interesting to see Rüling using the same economic and social ideas that are current today in the attempt to present the circumstances which separate men and women in the workplace and in the home. She speaks about stereotypes and stigmas and which kinds of jobs are said to be fit for which sex. She denies the conventional roles in a way that is so totally modern that the reader would almost believe the speech, written one hundred years ago, was for presentation to a contemporary audience.
Then, on the other hand, Rüling makes remarks about conjugal unions between homosexuals and heterosexuals that might be difficult to accept today. While it is true that such unions may cause misery, as she says, it is not believed today that the offspring would be any more unloved or unfortunate or become "... weak-minded, idiotic, epileptic, chest-diseased degenerates of all sorts..." accompanied by "unhealthy sexual drives such as sadism and masochism."
Today's readers might question which side Rüling is on at this point; however, when they understand that many of the physicians and psychiatrists of her day diagnosed "homosexuality" and "uranism" to be exactly as Rüling describes the offspring, a morbid brood indeed, they will see that she is just trying to persuade people from falling into the trap of marriage for convenience and ones entered into when giving into the pressures of society.
Later in the speech, Rüling points to the fact of the inability to change sexual orientation by force and the inability of parents to know the sexual orientation of their children. Here is a woman who already knew the humane treatment of Gay children. Her answer to any problem concerning the sexuality of children: love and understanding.
One notes that Rüling distinguishes between three individuals. She says that "men, women, and homosexuals" are different and should have equal opportunities in education and in the job market. Rüling, her contemporaries, and her predecessors believed in the existence of a third sex, a Gay sex.
Yet for all her understanding and importance it is interesting to note that Rüling is not mentioned in the introduction to Ilse Kokula's Weibliche Homosexualität um 1900 in zeitgenössischen Dokumenten (Female Homosexuality Around 1900 in Contemporary Documents), published in 1981, even though Helene Stöcker, the only leading women in the Women's Movement who was a member of the Hirschfeld Committee, is mentioned. However, Kokula does reprint Rüling's speech. On the other hand, Simone de Beauvoir does use Rüling as a reference in her book, Le Deuxième Sexe (The Second Sex), published in 1949. The only other indication of the importance of Rüling's speech is the appearance of a second (after mine) translation of her speech by Lillian Faderman and Brigitte Eriksson. Unfortunately, Faderman and Eriksson, limiting their comments solely to her speech, shed no light on the life of Rüling.
As a note of interest, only in a roundabout way can the reader of Rüling's speech deduce Rüling's sexuality. She says that her father was wrong in stating that no homosexuality could appear in her family. The reader can only guess from this statement that she is admitting to being Lesbian.
Also, nothing is known about Rüling's position in the Women's Movement. She is not counted among the leadership or even as belonging to the active membership. Perhaps, in this case, her position is unimportant. Nevertheless, she does deserve the careful attention of today's Gay and non-Gay readership, because her idea, that both the Women's Movement and the Gay Movement together one day would raise their banners in victory, remains the dream of many Gay and non-Gay people. Because the Equal Rights Amendment has yet to be passed, Rüling's enthusiastic speech can still play an active role in the endless battle against bigotry and sex discrimination in general and male chauvinism in particular.

What is a lesbian? A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. She is the woman who, often beginning at an extremely early age, acts in accordance with her inner compulsion to be a more complete and freer human being than her society - perhaps then, but certainly later - cares to allow her. These needs and actions, over a period of years, bring her into painful conflict with people, situations, the accepted ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, until she is in a state of continual war with everything around her, and usually with her self. She may not be fully conscious of the political implications of what for her began as personal necessity, but on some level she has not been able to accept the limitations and oppression laid on her by the most basic role of her society--the female role. The turmoil she experiences tends to induce guilt proportional to the degree to which she feels she is not meeting social expectations, and/or eventually drives her to question and analyze what the rest of her society more or less accepts. She is forced to evolve her own life pattern, often living much of her life alone, learning usually much earlier than her "straight" (heterosexual) sisters about the essential aloneness of life (which the myth of marriage obscures) and about the reality of illusions. To the extent that she cannot expel the heavy socialization that goes with being female, she can never truly find peace with herself. For she is caught somewhere between accepting society's view of her - in which case she cannot accept herself - and coming to understand what this sexist society has done to her and why it is functional and necessary for it to do so. Those of us who work that through find ourselves on the other side of a tortuous journey through a night that may have been decades long. The perspective gained from that journey, the liberation of self, the inner peace, the real love of self and of all women, is something to be shared with all women - because we are all women.
It should first be understood that lesbianism, like male homosexuality, is a category of behavior possible only in a sexist society characterized by rigid sex roles and dominated by male supremacy. Those sex roles dehumanize women by defining us as a supportive/serving caste in relation to the master caste of men, and emotionally cripple men by demanding that they be alienated from their own bodies and emotions in order to perform their economic/political/military functions effectively. Homosexuality is a by-product of a particular way of setting up roles ( or approved patterns of behavior) on the basis of sex; as such it is an inauthentic ( not consonant with "reality") category. In a society in which men do not oppress women, and sexual expression is allowed to follow feelings, the categories of homosexuality and heterosexuality would disappear.
But lesbianism is also different from male homosexuality, and serves a different function in the society. "Dyke" is a different kind of put-down from "faggot", although both imply you are not playing your socially assigned sex role. . . are not therefore a "real woman" or a "real man. " The grudging admiration felt for the tomboy, and the queasiness felt around a sissy boy point to the same thing: the contempt in which women-or those who play a female role-are held. And the investment in keeping women in that contemptuous role is very great. Lesbian is a word, the label, the condition that holds women in line. When a woman hears this word tossed her way, she knows she is stepping out of line. She knows that she has crossed the terrible boundary of her sex role. She recoils, she protests, she reshapes her actions to gain approval. Lesbian is a label invented by the Man to throw at any woman who dares to be his equal, who dares to challenge his prerogatives (including that of all women as part of the exchange medium among men), who dares to assert the primacy of her own needs. To have the label applied to people active in women's liberation is just the most recent instance of a long history; older women will recall that not so long ago, any woman who was successful, independent, not orienting her whole life about a man, would hear this word. For in this sexist society, for a woman to be independent means she can't be a woman - she must be a dyke. That in itself should tell us where women are at. It says as clearly as can be said: women and person are contradictory terms. For a lesbian is not considered a "real woman. " And yet, in popular thinking, there is really only one essential difference between a lesbian and other women: that of sexual orientation - which is to say, when you strip off all the packaging, you must finally realize that the essence of being a "woman" is to get lucked by men.
"Lesbian" is one of the sexual categories by which men have divided up humanity. While all women are dehumanized as sex objects, as the objects of men they are given certain compensations: identification with his power, his ego, his status, his protection (from other males), feeling like a "real woman, " finding social acceptance by adhering to her role, etc. Should a woman confront herself by confronting another woman, there are fewer rationalizations, fewer buffers by which to avoid the stark horror of her dehumanized condition. Herein we find the overriding fear of many women toward being used as a sexual object by a woman, which not only will bring her no male-connected compensations, but also will reveal the void which is woman's real situation. This dehumanization is expressed when a straight woman learns that a sister is a lesbian; she begins to relate to her lesbian sister as her potential sex object, laying a surrogate male role on the lesbian. This reveals her heterosexual conditioning to make herself into an object when sex is potentially involved in a relationship, and it denies the lesbian her full humanity. For women, especially those in the movement, to perceive their lesbian sisters through this male grid of role definitions is to accept this male cultural conditioning and to oppress their sisters much as they themselves have been oppressed by men. Are we going to continue the male classification system of defining all females in sexual relation to some other category of people? Affixing the label lesbian not only to a woman who aspires to be a person, but also to any situation of real love, real solidarity, real primacy among women, is a primary form of divisiveness among women: it is the condition which keeps women within the confines of the feminine role, and it is the debunking/scare term that keeps women from forming any primary attachments, groups, or associations among ourselves.
Women in the movement have in most cases gone to great lengths to avoid discussion and confrontation with the issue of lesbianism. It puts people up-tight. They are hostile, evasive, or try to incorporate it into some ''broader issue. " They would rather not talk about it. If they have to, they try to dismiss it as a 'lavender herring. " But it is no side issue. It is absolutely essential to the success and fulfillment of the women's liberation movement that this issue be dealt with. As long as the label "dyke" can be used to frighten women into a less militant stand, keep her separate from her sisters, keep her from giving primacy to anything other than men and family-then to that extent she is controlled by the male culture. Until women see in each other the possibility of a primal commitment which includes sexual love, they will be denying themselves the love and value they readily accord to men, thus affirming their second-class status. As long as male acceptability is primary-both to individual women and to the movement as a whole-the term lesbian will be used effectively against women. Insofar as women want only more privileges within the system, they do not want to antagonize male power. They instead seek acceptability for women's liberation, and the most crucial aspect of the acceptability is to deny lesbianism - i. e., to deny any fundamental challenge to the basis of the female. It should also be said that some younger, more radical women have honestly begun to discuss lesbianism, but so far it has been primarily as a sexual "alternative" to men. This, however, is still giving primacy to men, both because the idea of relating more completely to women occurs as a negative reaction to men, and because the lesbian relationship is being characterized simply by sex, which is divisive and sexist. On one level, which is both personal and political, women may withdraw emotional and sexual energies from men, and work out various alternatives for those energies in their own lives. On a different political/psychological level, it must be understood that what is crucial is that women begin disengaging from maledefined response patterns. In the privacy of our own psyches, we must cut those cords to the core. For irrespective of where our love and sexual energies flow, if we are male-identified in our heads, we cannot realize our autonomy as human beings.
But why is it that women have related to and through men? By virtue of having been brought up in a male society, we have internalized the male culture's definition of ourselves. That definition consigns us to sexual and family functions, and excludes us from defining and shaping the terms of our lives. In exchange for our psychic servicing and for performing society's non-profit-making functions, the man confers on us just one thing: the slave status which makes us legitimate in the eyes of the society in which we live. This is called "femininity" or "being a real woman" in our cultural lingo. We are authentic, legitimate, real to the extent that we are the property of some man whose name we bear. To be a woman who belongs to no man is to be invisible, pathetic, inauthentic, unreal. He confirms his image of us - of what we have to be in order to be acceptable by him - but not our real selves; he confirms our womanhood-as he defines it, in relation to him- but cannot confirm our personhood, our own selves as absolutes. As long as we are dependent on the male culture for this definition. for this approval, we cannot be free.
The consequence of internalizing this role is an enormous reservoir of self-hate. This is not to say the self-hate is recognized or accepted as such; indeed most women would deny it. It may be experienced as discomfort with her role, as feeling empty, as numbness, as restlessness, as a paralyzing anxiety at the center. Alternatively, it may be expressed in shrill defensiveness of the glory and destiny of her role. But it does exist, often beneath the edge of her consciousness, poisoning her existence, keeping her alienated from herself, her own needs, and rendering her a stranger to other women. They try to escape by identifying with the oppressor, living through him, gaining status and identity from his ego, his power, his accomplishments. And by not identifying with other "empty vessels" like themselves. Women resist relating on all levels to other women who will reflect their own oppression, their own secondary status, their own self-hate. For to confront another woman is finally to confront one's self-the self we have gone to such lengths to avoid. And in that mirror we know we cannot really respect and love that which we have been made to be.
As the source of self-hate and the lack of real self are rooted in our male-given identity, we must create a new sense of self. As long as we cling to the idea of "being a woman, '' we will sense some conflict with that incipient self, that sense of I, that sense of a whole person. It is very difficult to realize and accept that being "feminine" and being a whole person are irreconcilable. Only women can give to each other a new sense of self. That identity we have to develop with reference to ourselves, and not in relation to men. This consciousness is the revolutionary force from which all else will follow, for ours is an organic revolution. For this we must be available and supportive to one another, five our commitment and our love, give the emotional support necessary to sustain this movement. Our energies must flow toward our sisters, not backward toward our oppressors. As long as woman's liberation tries to free women without facing the basic heterosexual structure that binds us in one-to-one relationship with our oppressors, tremendous energies will continue to flow into trying to straighten up each particular relationship with a man, into finding how to get better sex, how to turn his head around-into trying to make the "new man" out of him, in the delusion that this will allow us to be the "new woman. " This obviously splits our energies and commitments, leaving us unable to be committed to the construction of the new patterns which will liberate us.
It is the primacy of women relating to women, of women creating a new consciousness of and with each other, which is at the heart of women's liberation, and the basis for the cultural revolution. Together we must find, reinforce, and validate our authentic selves. As we do this, we confirm in each other that struggling, incipient sense of pride and strength, the divisive barriers begin to melt, we feel this growing solidarity with our sisters. We see ourselves as prime, find our centers inside of ourselves. We find receding the sense of alienation, of being cut off, of being behind a locked window, of being unable to get out what we know is inside. We feel a real-ness, feel at last we are coinciding with ourselves. With that real self, with that consciousness, we begin a revolution to end the imposition of all coercive identifications, and to achieve maximum autonomy in human expression.

A standard dictionary simply defines a lesbian as a female homosexual. The term lesbian is nothing new. It originated to refer to an inhabitant of the Isle of Lesbos. Our present day connotation of the world evolved from references to Sappho, a Lesbian poet whose verse detailed her emotional ties to other women. It has been estimated that lesbians account for approximately 10-12% of the female population.
Many myths exists concerning lesbianism. It is believed by some that all lesbians are very masculine or butch. The butch lesbian isn't acting out just because she can't get a man as some people would believe. While some prefer to be butch, lesbians range in size, shape and appearance with just as much diversity as the heterosexual population.
It is also believed by some that women become lesbians because of bad experiences with men. Lesbianism is not equal to hatred of men. It's also not true that lesbians just have not found a good man. Many women just prefer the emotional and sexual bonds that are formed with other women. It is that simple.
Some estimates state that three quarters of lesbians are involved in committed relationships, dispelling any myth that homosexuals cannot be monogamous. The break-up rate for lesbians is about the same as the rate for heterosexual partners. Many lesbian couples stay together for decades.
Lesbianism is more than just sexual orientation. It is a way of life. Many of the issues that lesbians deal with are different than those dealt with by heterosexual women. A great dichotomy exists between the sexual health issues of heterosexual women and lesbians. Heterosexual women are at a much greater risk of contracted sexually transmitted diseases. While lesbians are definitely not immune to STD transmission, as of 1990 only four cases of AIDS were reported from woman-to-woman contact.

A standard dictionary simply defines a lesbian as a female homosexual. The term lesbian is nothing new. It originated to refer to an inhabitant of the Isle of Lesbos. Our present day connotation of the world evolved from references to Sappho, a Lesbian poet whose verse detailed her emotional ties to other women. It has been estimated that lesbians account for approximately 10-12% of the female population.
Many myths exists concerning lesbianism. It is believed by some that all lesbians are very masculine or butch. The butch lesbian isn't acting out just because she can't get a man as some people would believe. While some prefer to be butch, lesbians range in size, shape and appearance with just as much diversity as the heterosexual population.
It is also believed by some that women become lesbians because of bad experiences with men. Lesbianism is not equal to hatred of men. It's also not true that lesbians just have not found a good man. Many women just prefer the emotional and sexual bonds that are formed with other women. It is that simple.
Some estimates state that three quarters of lesbians are involved in committed relationships, dispelling any myth that homosexuals cannot be monogamous. The break-up rate for lesbians is about the same as the rate for heterosexual partners. Many lesbian couples stay together for decades.
Lesbianism is more than just sexual orientation. It is a way of life. Many of the issues that lesbians deal with are different than those dealt with by heterosexual women. A great dichotomy exists between the sexual health issues of heterosexual women and lesbians. Heterosexual women are at a much greater risk of contracted sexually transmitted diseases. While lesbians are definitely not immune to STD transmission, as of 1990 only four cases of AIDS were reported from woman-to-woman contact.

A standard dictionary simply defines a lesbian as a female homosexual. The term lesbian is nothing new. It originated to refer to an inhabitant of the Isle of Lesbos. Our present day connotation of the world evolved from references to Sappho, a Lesbian poet whose verse detailed her emotional ties to other women. It has been estimated that lesbians account for approximately 10-12% of the female population.
Many myths exists concerning lesbianism. It is believed by some that all lesbians are very masculine or butch. The butch lesbian isn't acting out just because she can't get a man as some people would believe. While some prefer to be butch, lesbians range in size, shape and appearance with just as much diversity as the heterosexual population.
It is also believed by some that women become lesbians because of bad experiences with men. Lesbianism is not equal to hatred of men. It's also not true that lesbians just have not found a good man. Many women just prefer the emotional and sexual bonds that are formed with other women. It is that simple.
Some estimates state that three quarters of lesbians are involved in committed relationships, dispelling any myth that homosexuals cannot be monogamous. The break-up rate for lesbians is about the same as the rate for heterosexual partners. Many lesbian couples stay together for decades.
Lesbianism is more than just sexual orientation. It is a way of life. Many of the issues that lesbians deal with are different than those dealt with by heterosexual women. A great dichotomy exists between the sexual health issues of heterosexual women and lesbians. Heterosexual women are at a much greater risk of contracted sexually transmitted diseases. While lesbians are definitely not immune to STD transmission, as of 1990 only four cases of AIDS were reported from woman-to-woman contact.

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