Evidence that would suffice in any other situation is inadequate here In all-female surroundings, a culture of romantic pursuit was fostered in women's colleges. With the well-publicized notion that sexual acts were a part of lesbianism and their relationships, sexual experimentation was widespread. Documentation of these relationships is possible by a large volume of letters written between women. When British women participated in World War I, they became familiar with masculine clothing, and were considered patriotic for wearing uniforms and pants. 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". The poet Alcman used the term aitis, as the feminine form of aites—which was the official term for the younger participant in a pederastic relationship.
Ellis believed that many women who professed love for other women changed their feelings about such relationships after they had experienced marriage and a "practical life". In this homosocial environment, erotic and sexual relationships between males were common and recorded in literature, art, and philosophy. 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. Perhaps the most famous of these romantic friendships was between Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, nicknamed the Ladies of Llangollen. 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". Discussion from historians caused further questioning of what qualifies as a lesbian relationship. As women have generally been political minorities in Western cultures, the added medical designation of homosexuality has been cause for the development of a subcultural identity. White "slummers" enjoyed jazz , nightclubs, and anything else they wished. Queen Anne was rumored to have a passionate relationship with Sarah Churchill , Duchess of Marlborough, her closest adviser and confidante. Many women took advantage of their new social freedom to try new experiences. 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. 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. Deborah Sampson fought in the American Revolution under the name Robert Shurtlieff, and pursued relationships with women. 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. As women found each other, they formed into tight groups on base, socialized at service clubs, and began to use code words. 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. Whether this eroticism is for the viewer or an accurate representation of life is unknown. In fact, these relationships were promoted as alternatives to and practice for a woman's marriage to a man. Following World War II, a nationwide movement pressed to return to pre-war society as quickly as possible in the U. Bohemians —intellectuals who rejected Victorian ideals—gathered in the Village. When Churchill was ousted as the queen's favorite, she purportedly spread allegations of the queen having affairs with her bedchamberwomen. Forty days' penance was demanded of nuns who "rode" each other or were discovered to have touched each other's breasts. Women who previously identified as heterosexual tried sex with women, though many maintained their heterosexual identity. 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. The DOB began publishing a magazine titled The Ladder in ; inside the front cover of every issue was their mission statement, the first of which stated was "Education of the variant".
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