Beauvoir The Lesbian Analysis

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“People are always ready to see the lesbian as wearing a felt hat, her hair short, and a necktie; her mannishness is seen as an abnormality indicating a hormonal imbalance” (De Beauvoir, 479). With this quote French feminist writer, Simone the Beauvoir, starts her chapter on “The Lesbian” in her book The Second Sex (1949). It is peculiar that the stereotype of the masculine lesbian can still be found in contemporary popular culture and literature, yet slightly altered to a more contemporary version. This chapter will explain what lesbian literature is, give some historical background on how lesbian literature developed from 600BC to present day, and show various lesbian identities and stereotypes that recur in lesbian fiction. As stated in …show more content…

The subgenre does not exclude heterosexual authors, which allows for a wide variety of perspectives on lesbian romance and queer characters. The first lesbian themes in literature date back to as early as 600 BC the most famous Greek lyric poets, Sappho of Lesbos. Sappho’s interest in other women can be found in her poetry, but there is too little evidence to actually label her a lesbian. In “Lesbian Sappho and Sappho of Lesbos” from the book From Sappho to De Sade: Moments in the History of Sexuality (2014), scholar André Lardinois explains that not much of Sappho’s work has survived overtime, leaving researchers with fragments of poetry and songs. He also addresses a divide in opinion about Sappho’s sexuality: on the one hand scholars who believe there are clear signs of Sappho writing about an infatuation of young girls, while on the other hand scholars argue that there is “no sign of physical love in her poetry” (Lardinois, 3). Most of the claims about Sappho’s homosexual tendencies are focused on the songs she …show more content…

Often it is hard to imagine that in a time like the Middle Ages lesbian fiction can still be found. At that time even heterosexuality had restrictions: sexual intercourse was allowed as long as it was meant to procreate. Sexual intercourse for pleasure was seen as sinful. And even though heterosexuality is not normalised the same way as it is in our modern society, nothing seemed as sinful as homosexual desire and the practice of that desire. Medieval texts about female same-sex desire are complicated: as Karma Lorchie states in “Situating Female Same-Sex Love in the Middle Ages” (2015): “[…] the subject of misogynist critique, women’s sexual desires are also a source of masculine anxiety, both in theological and poetic texts” (2). With this she means that women’s sexuality is something that frightened men in the Middle Ages, according to them lesbianism was often related to a hatred of men or a bad experience with a man. Simone de Beauvoir also notes this in The Second Sex:
Homosexuality for woman is one attempt among others to reconcile her autonomy with the passivity of her flesh. And if nature is invoked, it could be said that every woman is naturally homosexual. The lesbian is characterized simply by her refusal of the male and her preference for feminine flesh; but every adolescent female fears penetration and masculine domination, and she feels a certain

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