Talk:Lesbian/Archive 8

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Archive 7 Archive 8 Archive 9

Any particular needs

I have limited staying power for reading major chunks but I can check over spot areas if it would help. Anything in particular? -- Banjeboi 11:22, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

If the article is going to be nominated for FA, it needs a lot of scrutiny, a lot of questions. I think that's essential for an article that addresses a topic this divisive and abstract. It can't be that the article is so well-written and put together that there are no issues with why something is discussed or included. Uh, can it? --Moni3 (talk) 13:50, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
Alright then. I'll start picking out major plot flaws and post them here. No promises on coherent reasoning, I simply can't think strait. Ba-da-ding! Thank you, we're here all week folks! -- Banjeboi 13:58, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
Lulz. Benji for the win. --Moni3 (talk) 14:10, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Harlem buffet

Those slummers to Harlem went to rent parties called buffets where one could walk into any of a dozen scenes of various sexual acts. I'll see if i can dig something up on this but it's worth weaving in. -- Banjeboi 09:57, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Peer review

I've sent prods to the projects in hopes to rattle cages. -- Banjeboi 10:05, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Well, since you asked. How come the bit about lesbian relations in Sparta has been left out, and what do you mean when you say, about homosexual relations in Greece, "though they were strict"? Haiduc (talk) 16:00, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
Oh, thank God. I have to say that the Greek thing is just...not the section I am happiest with. I need to revisit it with better sources. What's the best source on homoerotic relations between women in Sparta? --Moni3 (talk) 18:03, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
There is an interesting discussion of the topic in From Sappho to De Sade by Jan N. Bremmer, pp.27-28. He presents some late sources (Plutarch, Lives Lycurgus 18.4 as well as Athenaeus, XIII 602 d/e) that describe a custom where Spartan girls "had sexual relationships like the boys" and supports that with 7th c. evidence, a fragment from Alcman in which the term "aitis" (the feminine form of aites, or eromenos) is used. He also presents iconographic evidence, in the form of a vase with a pederastic topos where the protagonists are female, and points to similarities between the poems of Sappho and such practices.
As for the "strict" monicker that you use for ancient relationships, I would question that. It implies your own self-positioning in a non-strict culture. But our culture is just as strict, maybe even more so, just in a different way. Let me know if you want me to do any editing on that section. Haiduc (talk) 08:40, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
One notable point missing from this page is the controversy over the use of term "lesbian", and that some inhabitants of Lesbos Island don't like it. The recent legal case is also worth mentioning. De Guerre (talk) 00:29, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
See note 1 in the article. --Moni3 (talk) 00:46, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
I see that now. While it's not exactly a huge issue for English speakers, I suspect it's worth more than a single footnote. The court case came and went, but the national identity issue probably won't go away. Straw polls suggest that inhabitants of the island are split roughly 50-50 on the issue. Perhaps we leave it as is at the moment, and revise when the next piece of news happens. (comment edited) -- De Guerre (talk) 05:11, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
I understand your position. However, the material about the term "Lesbian" in English is more than 99% weighted toward female homosexuality. It might be time to start an article about the National identity of the people of Mytilene. --Moni3 (talk) 12:19, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
That's almost spot on what I was thinking when I saw this last night. Gwen Gale (talk) 12:50, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
Scary, isn't it? --Moni3 (talk) 13:05, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
What. You think I ran and hid under a blanket because I was scared? Gwen Gale (talk) 02:28, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

See Talk:Lesbian/Archive_6#Dispute_over_term_.22Lesbian.22 along with the disambiguation link at the top of the article. Gwen Gale (talk) 00:35, 4 May 2009 (UTC)


No shit. I just got this email.

I've finally had a chance to read your Wikipedia article. It's heroic! You cover so much ground and do it so well. My only other comments are quibbles.

For instance:

--You mention early in the essay the public lesbian communities that formed in Paris and Berlin, but only later the lesbian communities that formed in New York.

--I find your early statement, "Lesbians share similar physical and mental health concerns that are just beginning to be identified" troubling. There's such a diversity among lesbians and lesbian communities. The only thing of substance we can safely say they share, I think, is that they all love women. It's dangerous to try to make any other broad generalization about lesbians, the scientists and pseudo-scientists notwithstanding.

--Last comment: You go from classical Greece and Rome to the early modern period. There's a book, a collection of essays, that's coming out soon called THE LESBIAN PREMODERN. The authors reference numerous other works on women who loved women in the Middle Ages. I don't know if the editor would let you see any of the manuscript, but it might be worth asking her. Her name is Noreen Giffney. Email: (edited out)

Congratulations on a job well done!

Lillian Faderman


Just FYI. I'm going to go over this article in another round, taking another shot at the Greek and Roman period, expanding the outside western cultures period, and now incorporating information from this suggested book. --Moni3 (talk) 01:16, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

...and then FAC? ;)
PS: I can see where she is coming from with the statement - "Lesbians share similar physical and mental health concerns that are just beginning to be identified" sorta comes across as odd and a bit redundant. I will have another (pre-FAC) look and be extra nasty...;) Casliber (talk · contribs) 01:35, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
PPS: Am highly intrigued by last comment on middle ages stuff - that would be fantastic sort of material to add. Casliber (talk · contribs) 01:37, 1 April 2009 (UTC)


I've hidden this addition from the first section until some discussion:

Lesbos is associated with female same-sex desire in the second century CE work Dialogues of the Hetaerae, by the satirist Lucian of Samosata. The hetaira Lenia tells a confidante about her experiences in the house of Megilla, a rich Lesbian woman. Lenia says she was initially asked to sing and play music for Megilla and a female guest. Later she was invited to share a bed with Megilla and the guest, and "embraced as though by a man" by Megilla. Megilla afterwards gave Lenia a necklace and several fine tunics. Early in Lenia's account, her confidante remarks that there are many women of Lesbos who avoid physical contact with men, and who actively desire other women.

The Origin and transformation of the term section was intended to illustrate succinctly where the word came from. I don't think this information should necessarily be removed from the article, but I don't believe it belongs in the section discussing how the term came about in English. It appears to have more to do with Ancient Greece and Rome or Literature. Thoughts? --Moni3 (talk) 12:13, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Awwww I don't know...I think it goes quite well there without bloating it. I tend to like etyomolgy sections that are a bit more encyclopedic than strict definitions, and give some colour to how terms evolve etc. Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:06, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
How about putting just the first sentence of the paragraph back in the section about the origin and transformation of the term, and putting the rest of the information in the Ancient Greece and Rome section? Kalidasa 777 (talk) 01:01, 29 April 2009 (UTC)


The majority of lesbians (between 40% and 85%) report being in a long-term relationship.

40% is not a majority. I am changing this to:

Many lesbians (between 40% and 85%) report being in a long-term relationship.

RCNARANJA 17:45, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Source: Like most young girls, lesbians were taught to place a high value on relationships. Not surprisingly, studies have indicated that a high number of lesbians are in committed relationships. One estimate is that between 40 and 85 percent of all lesbians are in a committed relationship at any given time. Another estimate, based on a summary of 11 separate studies of lesbian couples, is even higher, indicating that between 60 and 80 percent of lesbians are in committed relationships. (Schlager, p. 117) --Moni3 (talk) 17:52, 19 April 2009 (UTC)


There are now three states which allow same-sex marriage (CT, MA, IA) and a fourth which will soon (VT). Currently, the article says that only two US states allow same-sex marriage. (talk) 03:14, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Updated for Iowa. --Moni3 (talk) 12:29, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

notable? (Passions)

Is it worth mentioning that Passions (a now ended soap opera) was the first show to have an on-screen lesbian love scene between Whitney (a main character) and her love interest? -- (talk) 07:47, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Probably, if you can cite that as a fact. Paul B (talk) 10:43, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Not a lot of material was covered in the sources I used about soap operas. I can go back and look at them to see what their impact has been. However, since this is just a very quick overview of trends in film and television, adding too much would skew the section, so there should be a balance. Don't forget there's also Media portrayal of lesbianism. --Moni3 (talk) 12:02, 27 May 2009 (UTC)


Hey. This article is obviously very thorough. I was surprised, though, not to see any mention of the Bible's depiction of lesbians and lesbian acts. I know it's controversial, but I think it's clear that the Bible has had just as much or more of an effect on society's view of lesbians than any other work mentioned in the article. Since it has had such a wide influence, it deserves a place. Wrad (talk) 01:22, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Wrad! Do you hate me? Okeydoke...the Book of Ruth is included in the Literature section. Episcopalian Bishop John Spong wrote a book called Living in Sin? which is a fascinating look at how women were maligned in Biblical texts because of the various matrilineal religions and sects that existed before Judaism. In that saying about there six admonitions for homosexuality in the Bible and over 700 for promiscuity, only one of those admonitions can be argued that it is about female homosexuality, and even then it's kind of a stretch. Intellectually, I feel like introducing this information introduces weight on Biblical issues that doesn't exist. Personally, I want to flee quickly from the constant headaches that would ensue should homosexuality in the Bible be addressed in any form. Because I know all sides should be represented. John Spong is considered by many to be a nutcase commie liberal and his book may be justified to include Fred Phelps or some such. But further discussion welcome... --Moni3 (talk) 15:08, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
The fact that Romans 1:26 is the only - and rather equivocal - possible mention of lesbianism in the Bible might be worth mentioning, but I don't think it should have extensive discussion, except where that has a bearing on the basis for specific historical arguments about the legality of sexual acts. Paul B (talk) 15:14, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Why would I hate you? I think we should give it a sentence or two at least. I agree with Paul that we would need some context to lend it relevance, though. And yes, Romans is what I was thinking of. Wrad (talk) 20:58, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Paul, here is exactly what you seem to be asking for [1]. Wrad (talk) 22:36, 28 May 2009 (UTC)


Long ago, Moni3 asked me to review this article, I'm going to review a section or two a day. Let me just say at the outset how impressed I am that such a controversial subject has such a thorough article. You are all to be commended.

  • The different ways lesbians have been portrayed in the media suggests that Western society at large has been simultaneously intrigued and threatened by women who challenge feminine gender roles, and fascinated and appalled with women who are romantically involved with other women. - The first part of this sentence suggests that lesbians challenge feminine gender roles. Perhaps an explicit statement should be made about the difference between sexual desire and gender roles and how these contribute to the definition of the lesbian. Awadewit (talk) 05:53, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Lesbians manage issues with forming relationships and families that continue to be shaped by political challenges. - Confusing sentence. Awadewit (talk) 05:53, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
  • I keep reading your first comment feeling kinda dense because I'm not quite sure what you want. Are you looking for a sentence in the lead that quantifies the characteristics of femininity and how that contrasts with the way lesbians have been described? Otherwise, what I think is confusing me is that the article pretty much already goes into detail about sexual desire being a single component of the definition of "lesbian" through its popular use (the other components being experience and identity), but that desire as a component has changed both in that it is not required at all in some definitions, and in others, though it is present how important it is is debated. --Moni3 (talk) 20:20, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
  • The article does, but the lead does not. There isn't a good articulation of those terms: desire, experience, and identity (as you have just phrased it). Awadewit (talk) 06:20, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • I added some sentences to the lead. Let me know if the point is made clearly. --Moni3 (talk) 18:08, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Origin of the term
  • The volume of writings focusing on female homosexual behavior was far less than that concentrating on male homosexuals - "far less" what? Awadewit (talk) 05:53, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
  • as medical professionals did not consider it a significant problem—or in some cases one that existed - a bit awkwardly worded Awadewit (talk) 05:53, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
  • The effect of these writings formed a consciousness about female homosexuality that was widely read by people with access to Krafft-Ebbing's and Ellis' writings. - This sentence is a little tortured. What about something like - "These writings, widely accessible, generated a cultural consciousness about female homosexuality" or some such thing. Awadewit (talk) 05:53, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

More tomorrow! Awadewit (talk) 05:53, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Identity and gender
  • From the 1890s to the 1930s American heiress Natalie Clifford Barney held a weekly salon in Paris to which major artistic celebrities were invited and where lesbian topics were the focus - And then I wondered - what are "lesbian topics"? Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Masculinization of women's clothing was heavily influenced by women's experiences participating in World War I, as they donned pants for the first time and were considered patriotic for doing so. - This sentence doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the paragraph. Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • With the well-publicized image that sexual acts were a part of lesbian women and relationships, sexual experimentation was widespread. - I think some of this diction needs to be better chosen: image > notion? how are "acts" part of "women"? Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Some women staged lavish wedding ceremonies, even getting city licenses and using masculine names, then filing them with New York City - This is a bit hard to follow - it sounds like they are doing something with the city twice - is that correct? Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • The social attitude simultaneously made very small and close-knit communities in large cities that centered around bars, and isolated women in other locales. - This sentence doesn't quite make sense. Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • The "Great Depression" section needs to clarify what countries it is referring to. Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Motor transport was the most popular assignment for lesbians; it offered opportunities in a masculine job with corresponding clothing. - I'm wondering how we know this, since so many lesbians kept quiet about their sexuality. Also, are such details necessary in a broad article like this? Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • The World War II section seems to be predominantly about the US - this needs to be made more explicit and material from other countries should probably be mentioned. Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • What about the extermination of gays/lesbians by Hitler? Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Gay men were sent to concentration camps. Lesbians were invisible. I read Richard Plant's Pink Triangle many years ago, but I recall when I did that he could drum up one instance of a Dutch or Belgian lesbian political activist who was gang raped in a prison, but that was it. None of the systematic eradication that men dealt with. Another instance of invisibility, however, could be added. --Moni3 (talk) 15:39, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Absence is a presence. :) Awadewit (talk) 14:07, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
  • What followed was a dramatic increase in gay activism as well as feminist consciousness in a movement that further transformed the definition of lesbian. - structure doesn't seem quite parallel Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Instead, behavior served as a characteristic when many women took advantage of the sexual revolution to try new experiences. - What behavior? Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Militant feminists expressed their disdain with an inherently sexist and patriarchal society, and concluded the most effective way to overcome sexism and attain the equality of women would be to deny men any power or pleasure from women, including sexually - Does the source describe them as "militant feminists"? Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Many older lesbians who had acknowledged their sexuality in more conservative times felt more appropriate with maintaining their ways of coping in a homophobic world. - "felt more appropriate" is slightly confusing Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • I found the division of "Identity and gender" and "Female homosexuality without identity" a bit strange. Intellectually I understand it, but as a reader, I was a bit thrown. I felt like I was beginning the history of lesbianism all over again as I began the next section. Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • There is next to nothing in this section about lesbianism in South America, Africa, India, Asia, or the Middle East. This section is lacking a global perspective. There are a few gestures towards Britain, Canada, and France, but what about the rest of Europe? This article seem to be about "lesbianism in the United States" or "lesbianism as it has been seen from the United States". (This is such a common problem on Wikipedia with these comprehensive articles.) Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • On South America? I haven't found anything. I have info on lesbians in Asia, which I have been meaning to add since January (slacker). This article lacks a global perspective because the concept of lesbian changes from each culture. I hope to have illustrated that in the article. Female homosexuality exists everywhere, but the concept of a lesbian does not. --Moni3 (talk) 15:11, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
  • I've now read the "Outside Western culture" section, but it still seems lacking. The section seems like a hodgepodge of information. I think the first thing to do is to reiterate there is no lesbian subculture in these places in the world. Attempting to explain why would be even better. For example, why can a woman be homosexual, but not lesbian in India, China, and Japan? Billions of people live there and nothing is mentioned about those cultures. Does that make sense? Awadewit (talk) 14:04, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

More tomorrow! Awadewit (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Female homosexuality without identity
  • Women who appear on Greek pottery are depicted with affection, and in instances where women appear only with other women, their images are eroticized: bathing, touching one another, with dildos, and sometimes with imagery also seen in depictions of heterosexual marriage or pederastic seduction. - This sentence is a bit long and hard to follow. Awadewit (talk) 14:04, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Women in Rome were similarly subject to men's definitions of sexuality, what was considered to be well-mannered, and what was not. - run-on sentence Awadewit (talk) 14:04, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Sappho was a subject that several Roman scribes used - "used" does not seem precise enough Awadewit (talk) 14:04, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Many criticisms were made of Kinsey's research and methods. Perhaps some of these should be mentioned? Awadewit (talk) 14:04, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

More tomorrow! Awadewit (talk) 14:04, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

  • The result of the lack of medical information on WSW is that lesbians have a lower perceived risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease or types of cancer. - This sentence is a bit hard to follow. Awadewit (talk) 03:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • The second paragraph of "Physical health" does quite flow together. For example, the statistics about how many lesbians have had sex with men seem poorly placed or at least their placement does not seem well explained. Awadewit (talk) 03:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • It is a more significant problem among women who feel they must hide their sexual orientation from friends and family, experience compounded ethnic or religious discrimination, or experience relationship difficulties with no support system - run-on sentence Awadewit (talk) 03:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • I see that the bulk of the citations for the "Mental health" section are not to medical research papers and that you are relying on books from a decade ago. In science, this is ages. How much searching on PubMed did you do for this section? If you need help, I would suggest asking Colin or Casliber. Awadewit (talk) 03:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
Media representation
  • For the early part of the "Literature" section, I noticed that you rely on books written in the 1980s. This was the very beginning of Gender studies and thus the statements were often quite simplistic and much was ignored. When I was reading this section of the article, I was very uncomfortable because a lot of the sentences were either too strong or more than likely incorrect (for example "Lesbianism became almost exclusive to French literature in the 19th century"). Much has now been written about lesbianism is Renaissance England, for example. I also think that statements like the following have been challenged: Gradually, women began to author their own thoughts and literary works. Until the publication of The Well of Loneliness, most major works involving lesbianism were penned by men. When I hear gender studies scholars speak, this is not the kind of thing I hear - they are generally much more circumspect. I checked MLA and there are 40 odd books alone on lesbianism. I think maybe scrolling through the titles (not reading all of the books) will give you an idea of the scope of the field at this point. Noting their publication dates is also important. You might select a few and read the introductions. Awadewit (talk) 03:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • There are several sections that I knew I would have to go back to the library and read more about. Literature wasn't one of them, but ah well. The book by Jeanette Howard Foster was originally published in 1954. The Naiad Press version has not changed much. I used it with Faderman's 1981 book and Terry Castle's anthology from 2003. Faderman wrote another book about literature alone, but since two of her books are already used quite heavily as sources I did not want her to shape the entire article. I'll take a look at the MLA sources, and I agree that more can be added about contemporary publishing. --Moni3 (talk) 13:10, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Contemporary literature seems to get shortshrift in the article. I noticed that the entire paragraph is referenced to this Gay and Lesbian Almanac. Is that the best source to use for this topic? Awadewit (talk) 03:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Should music receive its own subsection? Awadewit (talk) 03:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Actually, I wanted a section on visual art, but I searched for sources to discuss the depiction of lesbianism in art and found nothing. Music may be different. --Moni3 (talk) 13:10, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • If not victims, lesbians were depicted as villains or morally corrupt, such as portrayals of brothel madames by Barbara Stanwyck in A Walk on the Wild Side from 1962 and Shelley Winters in The Balcony in 1963, or predators such as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca (1940), women's prison films like Caged (1950), or Rosa Klebb in From Russia, With Love (1963). - Sentence is a little hard to follow. Awadewit (talk) 03:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • In general, I feel that this section is unbalanced. Although I am biased towards literature, I still think literature should get more space. It has been around for hundreds of years and film and TV for 100 years at most. However, film and TV clearly get the most space. Awadewit (talk) 03:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
  • One could argue that film and television have done more to shape perceptions of lesbianism than literature, but I understand your point. Although I thought these sections were too limited. I could find no sources on European media depictions of lesbians, even on Surely there must be something on how European film and television portrays lesbians? --Moni3 (talk) 13:10, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
Current issues for lesbians
  • Would this be a place to mention emerging lesbianism in places where it has previously been suppressed or nonexistent? Awadewit (talk) 22:46, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Done! Awadewit (talk) 22:46, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Issues to research again

  • Any solid info on hetarae and homosexuality
  • Jennings' book: 1930 - 1945
  • Richard Plant: Pink Triangle
  • Love Between Women (Ancient Rome) by Bernadette J. Brooten
  • Counseling/Psychology
  • Criticism of Alfred Kinsey's study
  • Family issues
  • Post-Stonewall lesbian literature
  • Lesbianism in Southern Africa
  • Fashioning Sapphism again: sp. Billings depiction of lesbianism

Online bibliography

Has everyone seen this bibliography? Thought it might help. Awadewit (talk) 03:16, 31 May 2009 (UTC)


Lesbianism is when women fall in love with other women. Lesbianism is not a choice that is made by a person, but is a discovery of one's true self. It can be realized at any time of one's life. One dilemma of a lesbian woman is to discover that she is gay during a marriage to a man and that she does not truly love the man she is married to.

Lesbian is most commonly recognized only as sexual desire and sexual activity between women. For example, if you open up 'Websters New World College Dictionary copyright 1996,1994,1988 by Simon & Schuster Inc. to page 775, the definition of Lesbian is adj. 2 from the eroticism or homosexuality attributed to Sappho and her followers in Lesbos 3 of homosexuality between women.--Reikilover (talk) 03:28, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

I hope the article shows very well-cited examples of how the definition of lesbian can change over time and depending on culture. The straightforward definition, similar to what you have provided here, is included in the lead. But the rest of the article addresses what the term "lesbian" has meant to Western society since the middle of the 19th century. --Moni3 (talk) 10:53, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Length of article

I still do not know if I will try to take this article to FA, but I am already concerned with its length. As it is a topic that means different things in different cultures, many of the concepts and whatnot take a lot of explanation. I am getting nervous about adding more. User:BrainyBabe's edits today deepen my concerns. When I constructed this rewrite, I found myself going on tangents, such as more detail on Mary Wollstonecraft's life, more on the trial about The Well of Loneliness and some other issues. I had to make a concerted effort to focus the material on the general cohesive idea of the article:

  1. Men construct women's sexuality
  2. Lesbianism has been invisible for thousands of years more due to patriarchal ignorance than anything else
  3. Women's expression of sexuality is different from men's and is often more fluid
  4. Resistance to homosexuality in women has more to do with gender role divergence than with any sexual acts between women

I am worried that a few tidbits here and there added by various editors will add up over time and it will become pedantic on some issues that are well-documented (such as the trial about The Well of Loneliness) and sparse on details on other topics that are not well-documented.

So, the question I don't really want answered: is there anything that needs to be cut? --Moni3 (talk) 21:58, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

I feel for you - these sort of decisions can be agonising. Having daughter articles can be very handy. Will take a look. Casliber (talk · contribs) 22:07, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
Agonising indeed. I'll start a new section for UK state involvement. BrainyBabe (talk) 05:54, 8 June 2009 (UTC)


Is that really the best you could come up with? We're not all white and sporty... Looks like an advertisement for the MEC! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cicerovention (talkcontribs) 03:12, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

got a better candidate? Casliber (talk · contribs) 05:08, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
If you are referring to Mountain Equipment Co-op, it seems unlikely. The figures apear to be carrying motorcycle helmets, and MEC exists to sell gear for hanging out in coffeeshops human-propelled outdoor activities. BrainyBabe (talk) 05:58, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Caption me, please
I chose to place this image of two women holding hands at the top of the article specifically because their faces are not visible. I cannot imagine that an image showing one or two women claiming to be lesbians would be better. The purpose of the image is not to identify characteristics among lesbians, and we should stay far away from trying to place a picture at the top that will illustrate that lesbians are all fat hairy-legged dykes with buzz cuts or indeed, hot feminine chicks who like other chicks because guys pay attention to them when they do.
I must say, however, that this image at right is so entertaining that I believe we should have a contest to come up with the best caption. We should perhaps use it as evidence that lesbianism is not threatening to society, since no reasonable society could be threatened by a mentally unbalanced 14-year-old still wearing her first Communion dress, holding the hand of a moony novitiate waiting to be fully inducted into Our Lady of Using Way Too Much Vaseline on the Camera Lens. --Moni3 (talk) 13:03, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

I assumed those were off-road mountain biking helmets due to the baggy hiking pants and pastoral setting, but I appreciate the desire to avoid any buzz cuts, hairy legs etc. As for our other option, oh dear... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cicerovention (talkcontribs) 19:55, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

To clarify: there are not only two options. Other images can be taken and loaded, but finding an image that represents what the term "Lesbian" means to all of Western society will be beyond difficult. --Moni3 (talk) 20:06, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Agree. A tricky task. I do find the current one of the rear-view of women holding hands a good one :) Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:28, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Section title: Middle East

The section as it stands covers many Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Iran. I know the Middle East is a stretchy term (and a Eurocentric one) but the former country is definitely not, and the latter usually not, included within the definition of the area. Why not use Muslim world? As we are talking about a cultural idea ("lesbian"), as opposed to geology or bird migration, it makes sense to use a term that refers to common cultural connections. It then facilitates linking to Homosexuality and Islam, the Al-Fatiha Foundation and other LGBT rights groups, Irshad Manji as a lesbian activist, etc. BrainyBabe (talk) 06:41, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm all right with Islamic countries, Muslim world, etc. Our own article on Middle East identifies that Pakistan is part of the region, but also discusses the criticism of the term. Eurasia suggests discussions about Russia and the former SSRs, which are not in the article. --Moni3 (talk) 12:26, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Southern Africa

The article is skewed to the US and to a lesser extent the UK. To some extent this is understandable, as there is a paucity of material for many countries. However, I would like to point out to any passing editor who cares to take up the challenge that there is a lot available for South Africa post-apartheid, both positive stories and also the brutal intimidation, including gang rape, of some out lesbians in the townships. From LGBT rights in South Africa:

In 1993 the African National Congress endorsed legal recognition of same-sex marriages, and the interim constitution opposed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and promised to defend a right to privacy. These provisions were kept in the new constitution, approved in 1996, due to the lobbying efforts of LGBT South Africans and the support of the African National Congress. Hence, South Africa became the first nation in the world to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution. Two years later, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled in a landmark case that the law which prohibited homosexual conduct between consenting adults in private, violated the Constitution.

Obviously a lot of this struggle involved gay men, but there has been a lesbian identity public in SA for decades, and thus lesbian sources and stories to inform this article. To a lesser extent there is or was a presence of lesbian-identified women in Zimbabwe as well. BrainyBabe (talk) 06:59, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

I recognize the article is skewed to where sources have been published. The majority of writing about female homosexuality comes from the U.S., at least as far as I can tell. Furthermore, I had to make a distinction between Western societies (as much of South Africa would apply) and non-Western societies. There are common constructs of female homosexuality shared among Western societies, and vastly different notions of sex, gender, and women's roles outside of Western societies. The article simply cannot address every cultural group in every nation. There are separate articles for LGBT rights per region or per country. We need to make a decision about where information will be placed. It is my approach that this article should be about the cultural construct of who is included in the term Lesbian, how attitudes have been shaped about the construct, and how lesbians react to such attitudes. Specifics of legal and political issues have their own spaces. --Moni3 (talk) 12:33, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
The extent to which pre and post-apartheid South Africa counts as a Western society is a fascinating one. My reason for starting this talkpage section is merely to flag up the challenge to some future editor: if you fancy fleshing out the Africa subsection, there is indeed a story to be told, not just of female homosexual activity, but of women who call themselves lesbians. The formation of that collective identity, and the reaction of the people around them to that cultural construct, are worthy of mention. BrainyBabe (talk) 07:01, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
To a large extent, the Philippines is quite Westernized, in comparison to Japan or China in 1850. There was a chapter on homosexuality in the Philippines in Gay and Lesbian Asia, but since they have a strong basis in Catholicism, they share many of the same issues Western cultures do, so I couldn't find too much info on how the view of gender roles and homosexuality were different there than any other Western country with a strong Catholic influence. I will look again for specific issues of gender and female homosexuality in Southern and South Africa, but I don't anticipate it will be more than one or two sentences. More info can be added to LGBT rights in South Africa. --Moni3 (talk) 13:56, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

The role of the UK establishment in the early C20

Further to the discussion above, I would argue that the response of the British establishement (politicians, the civil service, the judiciary) to The Well of Loneliness deserves a clause at least. I added that the prosecution was documented "by biographer Diana Sohami as a judicially corrupt process, sewn up in the gentlemen's clubs of London ref Souhami, Diana (1998). The Trials of Radclyffe Hall (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson) end ref" and you put that within an editor's note (is that the correct term for hidden text?). I won't argue it extensively, but this example of the quiet, secretive, "nod and a wink" way that Whitehall works or worked had an enormous effect on the perception and self-perception of lesbians in Britain, and, given the time frame, in the British Empire as well, and as such deserves mention in this article. I contrast this with the, in my view, overly long media representation section, which would make a good candidate for a daughter article.

What is not mentioned in the article is the effect of Noel Pemberton Billing, a homophobe as poisonous as Fred Phelps, but more dangerous, as he was an elected member of parliament during and after WWI. He campaigned against the influence of both gay men and lesbians, alleging that the wife of the prime minister was having lesbian affairs, and that this threatened national security. There was a scandalous trial not all that long before The Well was written. It is well referenced in our article on him (which I've contributed to a little):

Billing maintained the position that homosexuality was infiltrating and tainting English society, and that this was especially dangerous in the context of WWI.[1] He founded a journal, Imperialist, in which he wrote an article based on information provided by Harold Sherwood Spencer which claimed that the Germans were blackmailing "47,000 highly placed British perverts"[2] to "propagate evils which all decent men thought had perished in Sodom and Lesbia." The names were said to be inscribed in the "Berlin Black Book" of the "Mbret of Albania". <snip> In this black book of sin details were given of the unnatural defloration of children...wives of men in supreme positions were entangled. In Lesbian ecstasy the most sacred secrets of the state were threatened".[3] He publicly attacked Margot Asquith, wife of the prime minister, hinting that she was entangled in this. He also targeted members of the circle around Robbie Ross, the literary executor of Oscar Wilde, who supported and introduced homosexual poets and writers.

Pemberton Billing's journal was then renamed Vigilante, and published a second article, "The Cult of the Clitoris". This implied that the actress Maud Allan, then appearing in a private production of Salome, was a lesbian associate of the conspirators. This led to a sensational libel case, at which Billing represented himself and won. Lord Alfred Douglas, a former lover of Oscar Wilde, testified in Billing's favour. Billings' victory in this case created significant popular publicity, and he was re-elected to parliament in the next election.

I hope this gives some context, and leads for other editors to pursue should they wish. BrainyBabe (talk) 07:38, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

A very strong point was made multiple times in several sources that Freud's treatment of homosexuality, particularly in the U.S. where it gained widespread popularity to become unchallenged common knowledge, was perpetrated by psychotherapists who made their living by diagnosing homosexuals and treating them for decades to cure them. There is a clear conflict of interest for these therapists, and the impact they made on psychology and psychiatry was significant in medicine and in the gay and lesbian communities. However, again, I had to focus this article and did not include it because there is an article on Homosexuality and psychology. I may end up cutting my own writing, which I'm ok with after I stop crying, but everything in the article should address the issues as presented by the reliable sources. I have no doubt that Billing was as hateful as Fred Phelps. However, what does Billing's actions say about the construct of what a lesbian was in 1920s U.K.? --Moni3 (talk) 12:41, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
What do Billing's actions say? He brought lesbianism to prominence, so many more women had access to the concept (and indeed the word). Lesbians were portrayed as sexual, sometimes voraciously so: erotic, beautiful, lustful. They were presented as a threat to national security, and thus traitorous by inclination. It has been some time since I looked at Philip Hoare's Oscar Wilde's Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy, and the Most Outrageous Trial of the Century (Arcade Publishing, 1999), but that's a good start. (The other sources referred to in the extract above, for ease of view, are Michael Kettle, Salome's Last Veil: The Libel Case of the Century, London: Granada, 1977, and Jodie Medd, "'The Cult of the Clitoris': Anatomy of a National Scandal," Modernism/Modernity 9, no. 1 (2002): 21–49.) I hope these leads prove useful to anyone who wishes to follow them up. BrainyBabe (talk) 07:13, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Ok. After re-reading this section in Doan's book Fashioning Sapphism, I think this requires more discussion here. I was about to add the following text in a footnote:
Two similar trials in Britain in 1918 and 1920 also addressed lesbianism. Conservative MP Noel Pemberton Billing accused dancer Maud Allan of participating in a "nameless vice between women"; Hall was the subject of the second trial when her entry into the Society for Psychical Research was being blocked by St. George Lane Fox-Pitt because she was "grossly immoral". Both trials earned a significant amount of publicity, but Pemberton Billing admitted that he sought to offend with shocking headlines, or in Fox-Pitt's case, he was acting on behalf of the husband of the woman with whom Hall was having an affair. Both Pemberton Billing and Fox-Pitt dropped their allegations of lesbianism against Allan and Hall when attention was brought to bear on larger political strategies. (Doan, p. 31–34)
But with the conclusion that both allegations of lesbianism were dropped, it hardly seems worth the effort in an article of this size. I think this directs the section to a tangent that says more about British society, culture, and politics. Says Doan, "The lawyer-defendents resorted to absolute denial or radical modification of the charge of lesbianism because they had stumbled across what parliamentarians would soon discover: lesbianism is as difficult to prove as it is to define." So yes, Pemberton Billing and Fox-Pitt exploited the salaciousness of the accusations, perhaps spreading more of the idea of lesbians as immoral, but other issues such as Hall's belief in the supernatural, eventually eclipsed the rumors of lesbianism. --Moni3 (talk) 16:59, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference mckinstry was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
    • ^ Air Minded: Air power & British Society
    • ^ Philip Hoare, Oscar Wilde's Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy, and the Most Outrageous Trial of the Century., Arcade Publishing, 1999, p.40; see also Kettle, Michael. Salome's Last Veil: The Libel Case of the Century, London: Granada, 1977.; Jodie Medd, "'The Cult of the Clitoris': Anatomy of a National Scandal," Modernism/Modernity 9, no. 1 (2002): 21–49