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For women to be mesollelot [women rubbing genitals against each other] with one another is forbidden, as this is the practice of Egypt, which we were warned against: "Like the practice of the land of Egypt A man married a man, and a woman married a woman, and a woman married two men.

Therefore, [one who does this] is not forbidden to the priesthood because of harlotry, and a woman is not prohibited to her husband by this, since it is not harlotry.

But it is appropriate to administer to them lashings of rebellion [i. And a man should be strict with his wife in this matter, and should prevent women known to do this from coming to her or from her going to them.

Female homoeroticism, however, was so common in English literature and theatre that historians [ who? In early modern England, female homosexual behaviour became increasingly culturally visible.

Some historians, such as Traub, have argued that this led to increasing cultural sanctions against lesbian behaviours.

The literature of the time attempted to rationalise some women's lesbian activities, commonly searching for visible indications of sapphic tendencies.

Despite the onlookers' failure to see anything unusual about the woman, the lion identified her as "no true Virgin". For instance, there was probably a lesbian subculture amongst dancers and prostitutes in eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Paris, and in eighteenth-century Amsterdam.

Laws against lesbianism were suggested but usually not created or enforced in early American history. In , John Cotton proposed a law for Massachusetts Bay making sex between two women or two men a capital offense, but the law was not enacted.

However, in in Plymouth Colony , Sarah White Norman and Mary Vincent Hammon were prosecuted for "lewd behavior with each other upon a bed"; their trial documents are the only known record of sex between female English colonists in North America in the 17th century.

Close intimate relationships were common among women in the midth century. This was attributed to strict gender roles that led women to expand their social circle to other women for emotional support.

These relationships were expected to form close between women with similar socioeconomic status. Though women developed very close emotional relationships with one another, marriage to men was still the norm.

Yet there is evidence of possible sexual relationships to develop beyond an emotional level. Documents from two African-American women use terms describing practices known as "bosom sex.

Late 19th century and early 20th century saw the flourish of " Boston marriages " in New England. The term describes romantic friendship between two women, living together and without any financial support by men.

Many lasting romantic friendships began at women's colleges. This kind of relationship actually predates New England's custom, there being examples of this in the United Kingdom and continental Europe since the 18th century.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries also saw an increase in lesbian visibility in France , both in the public sphere and in representations of lesbians in art and literature.

Fin de siecle society in Paris included bars, restaurants and cafes frequented and owned by lesbians, such as Le Hanneton and le Rat Mort, Private salons, like the one hosted by the American expatriate Nathalie Barney , drew lesbian and bisexual artists and writers of the era, including Romaine Brooks , Renee Vivien , Colette , Djuna Barnes , Gertrude Stein , and Radclyffe Hall.

One of Barney's lovers, the courtesan Liane de Pougy , published a best-selling novel based on their romance called l'Idylle Saphique Many of the more visible lesbians and bisexual women were entertainers and actresses.

Some, like the writer Colette and her lover Mathilde de Morny , performed lesbian theatrical scenes in cabarets that drew outrage and censorship.

Descriptions of lesbian salons, cafes and restaurants were included in tourist guides and journalism of the era, as well as mention of houses of prostitution that were uniquely for lesbians.

Toulouse Lautrec created paintings of many of the lesbians he met, some of whom frequented or worked at the famed Moulin Rouge.

The Stonewall Riots were a series of spontaneous demonstrations, when members of the gay i. LGBT community fought back when police became violent during a police raid in the early morning hours of June 28, , at the Stonewall Inn , located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan , New York City.

Political lesbianism originated in the late s among second wave radical feminists as a way to fight sexism and compulsory heterosexuality see Adrienne Rich 's essay Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.

Sheila Jeffreys , a lesbian, helped to develop the concept when she co-wrote "Love Your Enemy? They argued that women should abandon support of heterosexuality and stop sleeping with men, encouraging women to rid men "from your beds and your heads.

The Leeds Revolutionary Feminist Group definition of a political lesbian is "a woman identified woman who does not fuck men".

They proclaimed men the enemy and women who were in relationships with them collaborators and complicit in their own oppression. Heterosexual behavior was seen as the basic unit of the patriarchy 's political structure, with lesbians who reject heterosexual behavior therefore disrupting the established political system.

When elected she was in a heterosexual marriage. Lesbian feminism , which was most influential from the mids to the mids primarily in North America and Western Europe , encourages women to direct their energies toward other women rather than men, and often advocates lesbianism as the logical result of feminism.

As with Gay Liberation , the lesbian feminist understanding of the lesbian potential in all women was at odds with the minority-rights framework of the Gay Rights movement.

Many women of the Gay Liberation movement felt frustrated at the domination of the movement by men and formed separate organisations; some who felt gender differences between men and women could not be resolved developed " lesbian separatism ", influenced by writings such as Jill Johnston 's book Lesbian Nation.

Disagreements between different political philosophies were, at times, extremely heated, and became known as the lesbian sex wars , [65] clashing in particular over views on sadomasochism , prostitution and transgenderism.

The Lesbian Avengers began in New York City in as "a direct action group focused on issues vital to lesbian survival and visibility.

Newsweek reporter Eloise Salholz, covering the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation , believed the Lesbian Avengers were so popular because they were founded at a moment when lesbians were increasingly tired of working on issues, like AIDS and abortion, while their own problems went unsolved.

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Although men participated in pederastic relationships outside marriage, there is no clear evidence that women were allowed or encouraged to have same-sex relationships before or during marriage as long as their marital obligations were met.

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 placed in and around such scenes, and sometimes with imagery also seen in depictions of heterosexual marriage or pederastic seduction.

Whether this eroticism is for the viewer or an accurate representation of life is unknown. Women in ancient Rome were similarly subject to men's definitions of sexuality.

Modern scholarship indicates that men viewed female homosexuality with hostility. They considered women who engaged in sexual relations with other women to be biological oddities that would attempt to penetrate women—and sometimes men—with "monstrously enlarged" clitorises.

No historical documentation exists of women who had other women as sex partners. Female homosexuality has not received the same negative response from religious or criminal authorities as male homosexuality or adultery has throughout history.

Whereas sodomy between men, men and women, and men and animals was punishable by death in Britain, acknowledgment of sexual contact between women was nonexistent in medical and legal texts.

The earliest law against female homosexuality appeared in France in The earliest such execution occurred in Speier, Germany , in Forty days' penance was demanded of nuns who "rode" each other or were discovered to have touched each other's breasts.

An Italian nun named Sister Benedetta Carlini was documented to have seduced many of her sisters when possessed by a Divine spirit named "Splenditello"; to end her relationships with other women, she was placed in solitary confinement for the last 40 years of her life.

Ideas about women's sexuality were linked to contemporary understanding of female physiology. The vagina was considered an inward version of the penis; where nature's perfection created a man, often nature was thought to be trying to right itself by prolapsing the vagina to form a penis in some women.

Medical consideration of hermaphroditism depended upon measurements of the clitoris ; a longer, engorged clitoris was thought to be used by women to penetrate other women.

Penetration was the focus of concern in all sexual acts, and a woman who was thought to have uncontrollable desires because of her engorged clitoris was called a "tribade" literally, one who rubs.

For a while, masturbation and lesbian sex carried the same meaning. Class distinction, however, became linked as the fashion of female homoeroticism passed.

Tribades were simultaneously considered members of the lower class trying to ruin virtuous women, and representatives of an aristocracy corrupt with debauchery.

Satirical writers began to suggest that political rivals or more often, their wives engaged in tribadism in order to harm their reputations.

Queen Anne was rumored to have a passionate relationship with Sarah Churchill , Duchess of Marlborough, her closest adviser and confidante.

When Churchill was ousted as the queen's favorite, she purportedly spread allegations of the queen having affairs with her bedchamberwomen.

Hermaphroditism appeared in medical literature enough to be considered common knowledge, although cases were rare. Homoerotic elements in literature were pervasive, specifically the masquerade of one gender for another to fool an unsuspecting woman into being seduced.

If discovered, punishments ranged from death, to time in the pillory , to being ordered never to dress as a man again.

Henry Fielding wrote a pamphlet titled The Female Husband in , based on the life of Mary Hamilton , who was arrested after marrying a woman while masquerading as a man, and was sentenced to public whipping and six months in jail.

Similar examples were procured of Catharine Linck in Prussia in , executed in ; Swiss Anne Grandjean married and relocated with her wife to Lyons, but was exposed by a woman with whom she had had a previous affair and sentenced to time in the stocks and prison.

Queen Christina of Sweden 's tendency to dress as a man was well known during her time, and excused because of her noble birth. She was brought up as a male and there was speculation at the time that she was a hermaphrodite.

Even after Christina abdicated the throne in to avoid marriage, she was known to pursue romantic relationships with women.

Some historians view cases of cross-dressing women to be manifestations of women seizing power they would naturally be unable to enjoy in feminine attire, or their way of making sense out of their desire for women.

Lillian Faderman argues that Western society was threatened by women who rejected their feminine roles.

Catharine Linck and other women who were accused of using dildos, such as two nuns in 16th century Spain executed for using "material instruments", were punished more severely than those who did not.

Outside Europe, women were able to dress as men and go undetected. Deborah Sampson fought in the American Revolution under the name Robert Shurtlieff, and pursued relationships with women.

During the 17th through 19th centuries, a woman expressing passionate love for another woman was fashionable, accepted, and encouraged.

Documentation of these relationships is possible by a large volume of letters written between women. Whether the relationship included any genital component was not a matter for public discourse, but women could form strong and exclusive bonds with each other and still be considered virtuous, innocent, and chaste; a similar relationship with a man would have destroyed a woman's reputation.

In fact, these relationships were promoted as alternatives to and practice for a woman's marriage to a man.

One such relationship was between Lady Mary Wortley Montagu , who wrote to Anne Wortley in "Nobody was so entirely, so faithfully yours I put in your lovers, for I don't allow it possible for a man to be so sincere as I am.

When Sneyd married despite Seward's protest, Seward's poems became angry. However, Seward continued to write about Sneyd long after her death, extolling Sneyd's beauty and their affection and friendship.

Writing to another woman by whom she had recently felt betrayed, Wollstonecraft declared, "The roses will bloom when there's peace in the breast, and the prospect of living with my Fanny gladdens my heart:—You know not how I love her.

Perhaps the most famous of these romantic friendships was between Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, nicknamed the Ladies of Llangollen.

Butler and Ponsonby eloped in , to the relief of Ponsonby's family concerned about their reputation had she run away with a man [68] to live together in Wales for 51 years and be thought of as eccentrics.

Some of it was written in code, detailing her sexual relationships with Marianna Belcombe and Maria Barlow. Romantic friendships were also popular in the U.

Enigmatic poet Emily Dickinson wrote over letters and poems to Susan Gilbert, who later became her sister-in-law, and engaged in another romantic correspondence with Kate Scott Anthon.

Anthon broke off their relationship the same month Dickinson entered self-imposed lifelong seclusion. Around the turn of the 20th century, the development of higher education provided opportunities for women.

In all-female surroundings, a culture of romantic pursuit was fostered in women's colleges. Older students mentored younger ones, called on them socially, took them to all-women dances, and sent them flowers, cards, and poems that declared their undying love for each other.

Nicholas , and a collection called Smith College Stories , without negative views. Women who had the option of a career instead of marriage labeled themselves New Women , and took their new opportunities very seriously.

For some women, the realization that they participated in behavior or relationships that could be categorized as lesbian caused them to deny or conceal it, such as professor Jeannette Augustus Marks at Mount Holyoke College , who lived with the college president, Mary Woolley , for 36 years.

Marks discouraged young women from "abnormal" friendships and insisted happiness could only be attained with a man. From the s to the s, 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.

Combining Greek influences with contemporary French eroticism, she attempted to create an updated and idealized version of Lesbos in her salon.

Berlin had a vibrant homosexual culture in the s, and about 50 clubs existed that catered to lesbians. Die Freundin The Girlfriend magazine, published between and , targeted lesbians.

In , the lesbian bar and nightclub guide Berlins lesbische Frauen The Lesbians of Berlin by Ruth Margarite Röllig [83] further popularized the German capital as a center of lesbian activity.

Clubs varied between large establishments that became tourist attractions, to small neighborhood cafes where local women went to meet other women.

Although it was sometimes tolerated, homosexuality was illegal in Germany and law enforcement used permitted gatherings as an opportunity to register the names of homosexuals for future reference.

The novel's plot centers around Stephen Gordon, a woman who identifies herself as an invert after reading Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis , and lives within the homosexual subculture of Paris.

The novel included a foreword by Havelock Ellis and was intended to be a call for tolerance for inverts by publicizing their disadvantages and accidents of being born inverted.

The publicity Hall received was due to unintended consequences; the novel was tried for obscenity in London, a spectacularly scandalous event described as " the crystallizing moment in the construction of a visible modern English lesbian subculture" by professor Laura Doan.

Newspaper stories frankly divulged that the book's content includes "sexual relations between Lesbian women", and photographs of Hall often accompanied details about lesbians in most major print outlets within a span of six months.

When British women participated in World War I, they became familiar with masculine clothing, and were considered patriotic for wearing uniforms and pants.

However, postwar masculinization of women's clothing became associated with lesbians. In the United States, the s was a decade of social experimentation, particularly with sex.

This was heavily influenced by the writings of Sigmund Freud , who theorized that sexual desire would be sated unconsciously, despite an individual's wish to ignore it.

Freud's theories were much more pervasive in the U. With the well-publicized notion that sexual acts were a part of lesbianism and their relationships, sexual experimentation was widespread.

Large cities that provided a nightlife were immensely popular, and women began to seek out sexual adventure.

Bisexuality became chic, particularly in America's first gay neighborhoods. No location saw more visitors for its possibilities of homosexual nightlife than Harlem , the predominantly African American section of New York City.

White "slummers" enjoyed jazz , nightclubs, and anything else they wished. Some women staged lavish wedding ceremonies, even filing licenses using masculine names with New York City.

Across town, Greenwich Village also saw a growing homosexual community; both Harlem and Greenwich Village provided furnished rooms for single men and women, which was a major factor in their development as centers for homosexual communities.

Bohemians —intellectuals who rejected Victorian ideals—gathered in the Village. Homosexuals were predominantly male, although figures such as poet Edna St.

Vincent Millay and social host Mabel Dodge were known for their affairs with women and promotion of tolerance of homosexuality.

The existence of a public space for women to socialize in bars that were known to cater to lesbians "became the single most important public manifestation of the subculture for many decades", according to historian Lillian Faderman.

The primary component necessary to encourage lesbians to be public and seek other women was economic independence, which virtually disappeared in the s with the Great Depression.

Most women in the U. Independent women in the s were generally seen as holding jobs that men should have. The social attitude made very small and close-knit communities in large cities that centered around bars, while simultaneously isolating women in other locales.

Speaking of homosexuality in any context was socially forbidden, and women rarely discussed lesbianism even amongst themselves; they referred to openly gay people as "in the Life".

Homosexual subculture disappeared in Germany with the rise of the Nazis in The onset of World War II caused a massive upheaval in people's lives as military mobilization engaged millions of men.

Women were also accepted into the military in the U. Unlike processes to screen out male homosexuals, which had been in place since the creation of the American military, there were no methods to identify or screen for lesbians; they were put into place gradually during World War II.

Despite common attitudes regarding women's traditional roles in the s, independent and masculine women were directly recruited by the military in the s, and frailty discouraged.

Some women were able to arrive at the recruiting station in a man's suit, deny ever having been in love with another woman, and be easily inducted.

As women found each other, they formed into tight groups on base, socialized at service clubs, and began to use code words.

The most masculine women were not necessarily common, though they were visible so they tended to attract women interested in finding other lesbians.

Women had to broach the subject about their interest in other women carefully, sometimes taking days to develop a common understanding without asking or stating anything outright.

The increased mobility, sophistication, and independence of many women during and after the war made it possible for women to live without husbands, something that would not have been feasible under different economic and social circumstances, further shaping lesbian networks and environments.

Lesbians were not included under Paragraph , a German statute which made homosexual acts between males a crime.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum stipulates that this is because women were seen as subordinate to men, and that the Nazi state feared lesbians less than gay men.

However, the USHMM also claims that many women were arrested and imprisoned for "asocial" behaviour, a label which was applied to women who did not conform to the ideal Nazi image of a woman: cooking, cleaning, kitchen work, child raising, and passivity.

These women were labeled with a black triangle. Many lesbians also reclaimed the pink triangle. Following World War II, a nationwide movement pressed to return to pre-war society as quickly as possible in the U.

Homosexuals were thought to be vulnerable targets to blackmail , and the government purged its employment ranks of open homosexuals, beginning a widespread effort to gather intelligence about employees' private lives.

The U. Attitudes and practices to ferret out homosexuals in public service positions extended to Australia [] and Canada.

Very little information was available about homosexuality beyond medical and psychiatric texts. Community meeting places consisted of bars that were commonly raided by police once a month on average, with those arrested exposed in newspapers.

In response, eight women in San Francisco met in their living rooms in to socialize and have a safe place to dance. When they decided to make it a regular meeting, they became the first organization for lesbians in the U.

Inside the front cover of every issue was their mission statement, the first of which stated was "Education of the variant". It was intended to provide women with knowledge about homosexuality—specifically relating to women and famous lesbians in history.

However, by , the term "lesbian" had such a negative meaning that the DOB refused to use it as a descriptor, choosing "variant" instead.

The DOB spread to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, and The Ladder was mailed to hundreds—eventually thousands—of DOB members discussing the nature of homosexuality, sometimes challenging the idea that it was a sickness, with readers offering their own reasons why they were lesbians and suggesting ways to cope with the condition or society's response to it.

As a reflection of categories of sexuality so sharply defined by the government and society at large, lesbian subculture developed extremely rigid gender roles between women, particularly among the working class in the U.

Although many municipalities had enacted laws against cross-dressing, some women would socialize in bars as butches : dressed in men's clothing and mirroring traditional masculine behavior.

Others wore traditionally feminine clothing and assumed a more diminutive role as femmes. Butch and femme modes of socialization were so integral within lesbian bars that women who refused to choose between the two would be ignored, or at least unable to date anyone, and butch women becoming romantically involved with other butch women or femmes with other femmes was unacceptable.

Butch women were not a novelty in the s; even in Harlem and Greenwich Village in the s some women assumed these personae.

Many wealthier women married to satisfy their familial obligations, and others escaped to Europe to live as expatriates.

Regardless of the lack of information about homosexuality in scholarly texts, another forum for learning about lesbianism was growing.

A paperback book titled Women's Barracks describing a woman's experiences in the Free French Forces was published in It told of a lesbian relationship the author had witnessed.

After 4. Gold Medal Books was overwhelmed with mail from women writing about the subject matter, and followed with more books, creating the genre of lesbian pulp fiction.

Between and over 2, books were published using lesbianism as a topic, and they were sold in corner drugstores, train stations, bus stops, and newsstands all over the U.

Most were written by, and almost all were marketed to heterosexual men. Coded words and images were used on the covers. Instead of "lesbian", terms such as "strange", "twilight", "queer", and "third sex", were used in the titles, and cover art was invariably salacious.

Bannon, who also purchased lesbian pulp fiction, later stated that women identified the material iconically by the cover art. As a result, pulp fiction helped to proliferate a lesbian identity simultaneously to lesbians and heterosexual readers.

The social rigidity of the s and early s encountered a backlash as social movements to improve the standing of African Americans, the poor, women, and gays all became prominent.

Of the latter two, the gay rights movement and the feminist movement connected after a violent confrontation occurred in New York City in the Stonewall riots.

The sexual revolution in the s introduced the differentiation between identity and sexual behavior for women. Many women took advantage of their new social freedom to try new experiences.

Women who previously identified as heterosexual tried sex with women, though many maintained their heterosexual identity.

A militant feminist organization named Radicalesbians published a manifesto in entitled " The Woman-Identified Woman " that declared "A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion".

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.

For women who subscribed to this philosophy—dubbing themselves lesbian-feminists —lesbian was a term chosen by women to describe any woman who dedicated her approach to social interaction and political motivation to the welfare of women.

Sexual desire was not the defining characteristic of a lesbian-feminist, but rather her focus on politics. Independence from men as oppressors was a central tenet of lesbian-feminism, and many believers strove to separate themselves physically and economically from traditional male-centered culture.

In the ideal society, named Lesbian Nation, "woman" and "lesbian" were interchangeable. Although lesbian-feminism was a significant shift, not all lesbians agreed with it.

Lesbian-feminism was a youth-oriented movement: its members were primarily college educated, with experience in New Left and radical causes, but they had not seen any success in persuading radical organizations to take up women's issues.

The Daughters of Bilitis folded in over which direction to focus on: feminism or gay rights issues. As equality was a priority for lesbian-feminists, disparity of roles between men and women or butch and femme were viewed as patriarchal.

Lesbian-feminists eschewed gender role play that had been pervasive in bars, as well as the perceived chauvinism of gay men; many lesbian-feminists refused to work with gay men, or take up their causes.

In , poet and essayist Adrienne Rich expanded upon the political meaning of lesbian by proposing a continuum of lesbian existence based on "woman-identified experience" in her essay " Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence ".

Such a perception of women relating to each other connects them through time and across cultures, and Rich considered heterosexuality a condition forced upon women by men.

Arabic-language historical records have used various terms to describe sexual practices between women.

The common term to describe lesbianism in Arabic today is essentially the same term used to describe men, and thus the distinction between male and female homosexuality is to a certain extent linguistically obscured in contemporary queer discourse.

Female homosexual behavior may be present in every culture, although the concept of a lesbian as a woman who pairs exclusively with other women is not.

Attitudes about female homosexual behavior are dependent upon women's roles in each society and each culture's definition of sex. Women in the Middle East have been historically segregated from men.

In the 7th and 8th centuries, some extraordinary women dressed in male attire when gender roles were less strict, but the sexual roles that accompanied European women were not associated with Islamic women.

The Caliphal court in Baghdad featured women who dressed as men, including false facial hair, but they competed with other women for the attentions of men.

According to the 12th century writings of Sharif al-Idrisi , highly intelligent women were more likely to be lesbians; their intellectual prowess put them on a more even par with men.

Women, however, were mostly silent and men likewise rarely wrote about lesbian relationships. It is unclear to historians if the rare instances of lesbianism mentioned in literature are an accurate historical record or intended to serve as fantasies for men.

A treatise about repression in Iran asserted that women were completely silenced: "In the whole of Iranian history, [no woman] has been allowed to speak out for such tendencies To attest to lesbian desires would be an unforgivable crime.

Although the authors of Islamic Homosexualities argued this did not mean women could not engage in lesbian relationships, a lesbian anthropologist in visited Yemen and reported that women in the town she visited were unable to comprehend her romantic relationship to another woman.

Women in Pakistan are expected to marry men; those who do not are ostracized. Women, however, may have intimate relations with other women as long as their wifely duties are met, their private matters are kept quiet, and the woman with whom they are involved is somehow related by family or logical interest to her lover.

Individuals identifying with or otherwise engaging in lesbian practices in the region can face family violence and societal persecution, including what are commonly referred to as " honor killings.

Some Indigenous peoples of the Americas conceptualize a third gender for women who dress as, and fulfill the roles usually filled by, men in their cultures.

In Latin America , lesbian consciousness and associations appeared in the s, increasing while several countries transitioned to or reformed democratic governments.

Harassment and intimidation have been common even in places where homosexuality is legal, and laws against child corruption, morality, or "the good ways" faltas a la moral o las buenas costumbres , have been used to persecute homosexuals.

Six mostly secret organizations concentrating on gay or lesbian issues were founded around this time, but persecution and harassment were continuous and grew worse with the dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla in , when all groups were dissolved in the Dirty War.

Lesbian rights groups have gradually formed since to build a cohesive community that works to overcome philosophical differences with heterosexual women.

The Latin American lesbian movement has been the most active in Mexico , but has encountered similar problems in effectiveness and cohesion.

While groups try to promote lesbian issues and concerns, they also face misogynistic attitudes from gay men and homophobic views from heterosexual women.

In , Lesbos , the first lesbian organization for Mexicans, was formed. Several incarnations of political groups promoting lesbian issues have evolved; 13 lesbian organizations were active in Mexico City in Ultimately, however, lesbian associations have had little influence both on the homosexual and feminist movements.

The lesbian movement has been closely associated with the feminist movement in Chile, although the relationship has been sometimes strained.

Lesbian consciousness became more visible in Nicaragua in , when the Sandinista National Liberation Front expelled gay men and lesbians from its midst.

State persecution prevented the formation of associations until AIDS became a concern, when educational efforts forced sexual minorities to band together.

The first lesbian organization was Nosotras , founded in The meetings of feminist lesbians of Latin America and the Caribbean, sometimes shortened to "Lesbian meetings", have been an important forum for the exchange of ideas for Latin American lesbians since the late s.

With rotating hosts and biannual gatherings, its main aims are the creation of communication networks, to change the situation of lesbians in Latin America both legally and socially , to increase solidarity between lesbians and to destroy the existing myths about them.

Cross-gender roles and marriage between women has also been recorded in over 30 African societies. The Hausa people of Sudan have a term equivalent to lesbian, kifi , that may also be applied to males to mean "neither party insists on a particular sexual role".

Lesbian relationships are also known in matrilineal societies in Ghana among the Akan people. In Lesotho , females engage in what is commonly considered sexual behavior to the Western world: they kiss, sleep together, rub genitals, participate in cunnilingus , and maintain their relationships with other females vigilantly.

Since the people of Lesotho believe sex requires a penis, however, they do not consider their behavior sexual, nor label themselves lesbians.

In South Africa, lesbians are raped by heterosexual men with a goal of punishment of "abnormal" behavior and reinforcement of societal norms.

Corrective rape is reported to be on the rise in South Africa. The South African nonprofit "Luleki Sizwe" estimates that more than 10 lesbians are raped or gang-raped on a weekly basis.

China before westernization was another society that segregated men from women. Historical Chinese culture has not recognized a concept of sexual orientation, or a framework to divide people based on their same-sex or opposite-sex attractions.

Outside their duties to bear sons to their husbands, women were perceived as having no sexuality at all. This did not mean that women could not pursue sexual relationships with other women, but that such associations could not impose upon women's relationships to men.

Rare references to lesbianism were written by Ying Shao , who identified same-sex relationships between women in imperial courts who behaved as husband and wife as dui shi paired eating.

The liberty of being employed in silk factories starting in allowed some women to style themselves tzu-shu nii never to marry and live in communes with other women.

Other Chinese called them sou-hei self-combers for adopting hairstyles of married women. These communes passed because of the Great Depression and were subsequently discouraged by the communist government for being a relic of feudal China.

In Japan, the term rezubian , a Japanese pronunciation of "lesbian", was used during the s. Westernization brought more independence for women and allowed some Japanese women to wear pants.

In India, a 14th-century Indian text mentioning a lesbian couple who had a child as a result of their lovemaking is an exception to the general silence about female homosexuality.

According to Ruth Vanita , this invisibility disappeared with the release of a film titled Fire in , prompting some theaters in India to be attacked by religious extremists.

Terms used to label homosexuals are often rejected by Indian activists for being the result of imperialist influence, but most discourse on homosexuality centers on men.

Women's rights groups in India continue to debate the legitimacy of including lesbian issues in their platforms, as lesbians and material focusing on female homosexuality are frequently suppressed.

The most extensive early study of female homosexuality was provided by the Institute for Sex Research , who published an in-depth report of the sexual experiences of American women in More than 8, women were interviewed by Alfred Kinsey and the staff of the Institute for Sex Research in a book titled Sexual Behavior in the Human Female , popularly known as part of the Kinsey Report.

The Kinsey Report's dispassionate discussion of homosexuality as a form of human sexual behavior was revolutionary. Up to this study, only physicians and psychiatrists studied sexual behavior, and almost always the results were interpreted with a moral view.

Single women had the highest prevalence of homosexual activity, followed by women who were widowed, divorced, or separated.

The lowest occurrence of sexual activity was among married women; those with previous homosexual experience reported they married to stop homosexual activity.

Most of the women who reported homosexual activity had not experienced it more than ten times. Fifty-one percent of women reporting homosexual experience had only one partner.

Twenty-three years later, in , sexologist Shere Hite published a report on the sexual encounters of 3, women who had responded to questionnaires, under the title The Hite Report.

Hite's questions differed from Kinsey's, focusing more on how women identified, or what they preferred rather than experience.

Hite's conclusions are more based on respondents' comments than quantifiable data. She found it "striking" that many women who had no lesbian experiences indicated they were interested in sex with women, particularly because the question was not asked.

Lesbians in the U. The study attributed the jump to people being more comfortable self-identifying as homosexual to the federal government.

The government of the United Kingdom does not ask citizens to define their sexuality. However, polls in Australia have recorded a range of self-identified lesbian or bisexual women from 1.

In terms of medical issues, lesbians are referred to as women who have sex with women WSW because of the misconceptions and assumptions about women's sexuality and some women's hesitancy to disclose their accurate sexual histories even to a physician.

The result of the lack of medical information on WSW is that medical professionals and some lesbians perceive lesbians as having lower risks of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases or types of cancer.

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