Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

Ann Dixon's picture

from Kindred to The Age of Arousal

I need to jump in with a few comments here.

Jessy, I did not read jrizzo's comment as meaning that she believes women choose to be lesbian to not deal with  the "subjugating bonds." Rather, I took it to mean that if you're looking at different models of  relationships, lesbians, perhaps, have different issues than straight women, and that lesbians are not, in fact, dealing with subjugating bonds within their own homes and private lives. Only in their public lives.

Jrizzo,  your assertion that "it is the heterosexual relationship that has been projected with the most misleading fiction in the past" -- well, it's not so. Until relatively recent times, fictions portraying lesbian relationships have universally had dominant  themes of self-hatred to the point of suicide or some other serious self-violence, and/or the myth that their inverted ways can be corrected with the right male influence. See, for example, Radclyffe-Hall's The Well of Loneliness, to get an idea of how devastating these fictions can be.

Lvasco, I think you are Monday morning quarterbacking, and that it's not very fair to the class. But that said,  there's no stopping us from talking about Kindred, which I think was given short shrift. I thought it  was a novel about the unconscious storytelling that occurs within the context of a (hetero) relationship, where  the partners interact in ways that are both conscious and unconscious.  Was it about hetero sex? Yes and no.  It was about the eros of a real relationship, though. 

There's plenty of opportunity to talk, here, about Kindred and about The Age of Arousal. The play that we're  going to see has this synopsis posted online:

Dare to enter the boldly uncensored world of loosened corsets as five Victorian women pursue a new age where erotic and economic freedom reign supreme. It’s 1885, and a population imbalance leaves England flooded with half a million more women than men. The Women’s Suffrage Movement is invigorated by the rise in numbers as non-married ”Odd Women” fight with passion, clarity, and confusion for sexual and financial independence. Determined to make women rich, a former militant Suffragette battles for equal opportunity and enlists female students to master the technology of the male-dominated workplace. But when a charismatic man with new ideas is thrust amongst the women, their most passionately held beliefs are thrown into question. Can women remain friends when a man comes between them? Is it possible for two people to love as equals? Sexy, fresh, and vibrantly funny, Age of Arousal is a modern look at forbidden Victorian desires on the brink of explosion.

And my last reaction is that you really don't find any universality in the lesbian poems that we have read?  and yet, social norms clearly expect lesbians to find universality in ... An Officer and a  Gentleman, and other hetero narratives. Even if you don't find this universality, since maybe the divide  is too wide, you could approach these lesbian fictions and their social impact as a canary in a coal mine.  One typical backlash methodology that has been used against (all) feminists is to label them lesbians. So  this could be someone else's story about your life, even if you don't want to claim it since you are straight.  

 Ann

Reply

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
6 + 8 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.