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The History of Lesbianism : Understanding the Concept of Female Homosexuality

Lesbianism

The History of Lesbianism : Understanding the Concept of Female Homosexuality

Lesbianism is defined as the sexual and sentimental attraction between two women, also known as female homosexuality or sapphism. The term lesbian is used to describe a homosexual woman. This article will delve into the history of the term lesbianism and how it has evolved over time.

History of the Term Lesbianism

The term “lesbianism” is derived from the name of the Greek island of Lesbos, the birthplace of the poetess Sappho. Historians have concluded that a community of maidens and young women were taught by Sappho. Her poems speak of the daily lives of women, their relationships, and their rituals. In these texts, Sappho insists on the beauty of women and proclaims her love of young girls.

In antiquity, if the women of Lesbos were renowned for their beauty, they did not yet have a homosexual reputation. However, the use of the term “lesbianism” to describe erotic relations between women dates back to at least 1870. In 1890, the word appeared in a medical dictionary, as an adjective designating tribadism as “lesbian love”. These terms were used interchangeably with “sapphism” at the turn of the 20th century.

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The Evolution of Lesbianism

Although female homosexuality has appeared in many cultures throughout history, it is only recently that the term “lesbians” refers to a group of people. At the end of the 19th century, several sexologists published on desire and sexuality between people of the same sex and designated lesbians in the West as a distinct entity. Women becoming aware of their new status formed different subcultures in Europe and North America. With the second feminist wave, the meaning of the term expanded even further.

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However, the portrayal of lesbians in the media suggests that Western society has been both intrigued and frightened by women who did not adhere to gender norms. Some women who have had sex with other women do not define themselves as lesbians or bisexuals. In contrast, women who self-identify as lesbian share a form of identity comparable to ethnicity: as homosexuals, they face discrimination and the risk of rejection; as women, they do not have the same experience as men. The political and social context continues to influence how lesbian relationships are formed.

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Identifying Lesbians

Historians have re-examined the question of relationships between women throughout history and have questioned what qualifies a person or a relationship as “lesbian”. They have found two elements that serve to identify lesbians: sexual desire and sexual behavior.

Conclusion

Lesbianism is a term that has evolved over time to describe the sentimental and sexual attraction between two women. The term has its roots in ancient Greece, where the poetess Sappho wrote about her love for young girls. Although the term “lesbian” has been used to describe homosexual women for over a century, it is only recently that the term has referred to a group of people. As society continues to evolve, the concept of lesbianism and female homosexuality will undoubtedly continue to change.

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