On Becoming A Woman, 1958

“The violent crush which almost every teen-age girl experiences toward some older woman is usually not worth worrying about. If the crush translates itself into a desire for physical contact with a member of the same sex, it is time to ask guidance from a physician, minister, or trained counselor… You may be approached by a respected person in the community, someone you trust and love- and the discovery that such a person can be homosexual is a tremendous shock….Best solution in such a case is to avoid any chance of being alone with the person…”

Page 52, On Becoming A Woman, Mary McGee Williams and Irene Kane, 1958

 

 

Tumblr Alert: Vintage Lesbians

I just wanted to share this excellent…tumblr (?) that I came across whilst Googling.  Who runs this?  Who is the delightful person to bring us this image:

When you get this ping, Vintage Lesbian Tumblr, comment me.  We must be friends.

Les Masculines, 1922

I feel terrible for forgetting where I got this image.  It was recently, too.  So I apologize to whomever I took this from for not crediting you.

This is from the French fashion periodical Gazette du Bon Ton (Currently there is an exhibit at Kent University Museum, ending May 30, 2010).

What I love is that the women have adopted riding clothes as their masculine-styled costume.  This makes sense.  Since the 18th century, women’s riding habits had been the first type of clothing to consistently borrow from male costume.  These women in 1922 would have been shocking, but not nearly as shocking as if they had worn everyday male dress.

Gazette du Bon Ton, 1922

Cross-dressing in the Orchard

Naturally.  What do you do in the orchard?

This is another adorable photograph from Women in Pants.  It is dated c. 1910.

"Couple posed in a relaxed embrace, c. 1910"

Dapper

The bouncer at Cubbyhole last night had a hand-made badge reading “Dapper not butch.”  I think that the lesbian community (specifically the non-femme) is in the process of co-opting the word dapper.  For example.

I’m using this post to highlight one of my favorite books, Women in Pants by Catherine Smith and Cynthia Greig.  It’s chock full of fascinating, beautiful, and downright sexy photographs of “manly maidens, cowgirls, and other renegades.”

This woman is dapper, don’t you think?

Group of women having a smoke, gelatin silver print, c. 1896

I like that she is in full masculine garb  but retained her soft poufed hair.

Pockets and Lesbians

Cabinet Card c. 1890, collection of Catharine Smith

In “Idle Hands and Empty Pockets,” published in Volume 35 of Dress,  historian Hannah Carlson discusses the gender-bending power of hands in the pockets.  In the eighteenth century, for example, a man with his hands in his pockets projected a certain air of effeminacy to his contemporaries.  Conversely, when women cross-dressed (as in the photo above), they stuck their hands deep into their trouser pockets to signify masculinity.  This makes sense when we remember that women didn’t really have pockets in which they could rest their hands until the mid-20th century.

I just want to note that the women in the photograph above were probably not lesbians.  Female cross-dressing was largely separate from Victorian ideas about sexuality.

I think we still read pocketed hands as masculine, even though women have been wearing pants for over fifty years now.  Interesting, huh?

How to Raise a Lesbian Daughter, Part 1

Be a domineering mother and have a Homer Simpson of a husband.

Sage advice from Growing Up Straight: What Every Thoughtful Parent Should Know About Homosexuality by Peter and Barbara Wyden, copyright 1968

“Lesbian homosexuals are less interested in sex per se than their male counterparts.” (pg. 75)

“What then, does set off female homosexuality?…’Our basic contention is that homosexuality in women is a safety valve, the means of making an adjustment to intolerable conflicts engendered in childhood as the result of an interplay of powerful psychological forces within the family.” (pg. 75-76)

“Joan was sent to Bellvue hospital by a judge in a New York court who felt that she was a delinquent in need of treatment…  at 15, Joan refused to wear a dress…Joan’s mother was a cool, unloving, highly efficient accountant.” (pg. 76)

Joan’s story is elaborated on at length.  Needless to say, her domineering mother and hapless father were the cause of her homosexuality.

I do always try to not make light of the truths of the past that have since become falsities.  Some, though, are too juicy not to feel smug at.  , part