This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

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English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

The Lesbian's Reading Guide to Bryn Mawr

Jill Neustel



Women come to Bryn Mawr having already spent their (possibly wasted) time in high school sex-ed. The curriculum that I propose is more of an addition to this knowledge rather than a firm basis for all knowledge of sexual encounters. Bryn Mawrtyrs have already learned the logistics of abstinence, STD's, and pregnancy from their high school gym teachers. The curriculum that they are not taught in school is that of homosexual love, more specifically that of lesbians. Some matriculate with a firm knowledge base from experience, but there is always more to learn, and this is my aim. Lesbian love is not taught in the mainstream. Right now, I do not believe that society is ready for such candidness. However, in situations wherein homosexual love is prevalent, such as single-sex schools, the subject should be taught with the same frankness and sincerity that most find lacking in their high school sex-ed curriculum.
The curriculum that I propose is of light reading, containing both humor and descriptive language, and also contains some valuable resources. The online sources that I have chosen are:
http://www.brynmawr.edu/campuslife/sgaconstitution.doc
http://www.outinphiladelphia.com
http://www.egpn.com (The Philadelphia Gay News Online)
The book sources that I find necessary include:
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Lesbianism Made Easy by Helen Eisenbach
Sex and Single Girls: Straight and Queer Women on Sexuality ed. Lee Damsky
I include the SGA Constitution because of its prevalence to the Bryn Mawr experience. This is the governing document for all undergraduate students, and in order to fully understand the intentions of this school, it is necessary to understand the ruling forces in the background. The Constitution defines Bryn Mawr's non-discrimination policy, which is vital in the lesbian experience here. It outlines the college's "official" position on the matter.
The other two websites are to help students become acquainted with the queer population in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Gay News and Out in Philadelphia tell their readers of activities, resources, and of the general community in the Philadelphia region. These are included so as not to limit the understanding of lesbianism to Bryn Mawr College's borders.
Rubyfruit Jungle is a novel that, since its initial publishing in 1973, has been a staple in the lesbian library, along with The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall. (This book would be included, in addition to many others, if this exercise were more extensive.) Rubyfruit Jungle helps to simplify the "coming out" process, partly by making it humorous. It is a novel that makes lesbianism approachable through simple language, good descriptions, and also through humor.
Lesbianism Made Easy, at first glance, appears to be a parody. While it is not a book to be read gravely, it is also a book that can be dismissed easily because of its lightness. This is a humor book that has something valuable to say, and an in-depth reading would prove priceless to the receptive reader.
Sex and Single Girls is a re-writing of a sex guide from the 1960's. The editor of this book of short stories was unhappy with the inadequate and nondescript "sex manual" that women were given as a basis for their sexualities. She desired to have a comprehensive manual of the modern woman's experiences of and feelings toward sex. This book touches on everything from cockteasing to transgenderism to STD's. As a full-ranging, and very descriptive book, it touches on all sexualities, and for those that do not identify with the queer community, it would supply a source of either identification or desire for self-improvement.
These sources are all invaluable, and they are by no means the limits of material for such a course, they are merely a beginning. If I were to design a syllabus for this course, I would concentrate more on the print materials, but references would be made to the online sources. (This merely reflects my desire to have my reading material in my hands, rather than "at my fingertips".) Two weeks would be spent on both of the shorter books, and a month on the longer book, with references to the online sources throughout.
This is a very limited outline for what could be a very extensive course. All of the course materials described would be vital to the course, but many additions would have to be made.


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