Warning: You are not logged in. Your IP address will be publicly visible if you make any edits. If you log in or create an account, your edits will be attributed to your username, along with other benefits. Anti-spam check. Do not fill this in!===Re-examining romantic friendships=== [[File:Women In Hammock romantic friendship.jpg|thumb|right|Intimacy between women was fashionable between the 17th and 19th centuries, although sexuality was rarely publicly acknowledged. (Photograph circa 1900.)|link=Special:FilePath/Women_In_Hammock_romantic_friendship.jpg]] During the 17th through 19th centuries, a woman expressing passionate love for another woman was fashionable, accepted, and encouraged.<ref name="Aldrich, p. 136" /> These relationships were termed [[romantic friendship]]s, [[Boston marriage]]s, or "sentimental friends", and were common in the U.S., Europe, and especially in England. 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.<ref>Faderman (1981), pp. 74–77.</ref><ref group=note>In a rare instance of sexuality being the focus of a romantic friendship, two Scottish schoolteachers in the early 19th century were accused by a student of visiting in the same bed, kissing, and making the bed shake. The student's grandmother reported the teachers to the authorities, who were skeptical that their actions were sexual in nature, or that they extended beyond the bounds of normal friendship: "Are we to say that every woman who has formed an intimate friendship and has slept in the same bed with another is guilty? Where is the innocent woman in Scotland?" (Aldrich, p. 233.)</ref> One such relationship was between [[Lady Mary Wortley Montagu]], who wrote to Anne Wortley in 1709: "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."<ref>Faderman (1981), p. 119.</ref> Similarly, English poet [[Anna Seward]] had a devoted friendship to [[Honora Sneyd]], who was the subject of many of Seward's sonnets and poems. 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.<ref>Faderman (1981), pp. 132–136.</ref> As a young woman, writer and philosopher [[Mary Wollstonecraft]] was attached to a woman named [[Fanny Blood]]. 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."<ref>Faderman (1981), p. 139.</ref><ref group=note>Wollstonecraft and Blood set up a girls' boarding school so they could live and work together, and Wollstonecraft named her first child after Blood.</ref> Wollstonecraft's first novel ''[[Mary: A Fiction]]'', in part, addressed her relationship with Fanny Blood.<ref>Foster, pp. 55–60.</ref> [[File:The Rt Honble Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby.jpg|thumb|The [[Ladies of Llangollen]], Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby.<br />The two women had a relationship that was hailed as devoted and virtuous, after eloping and living 51 years together in Wales.|link=Special:FilePath/The_Rt_Honble_Lady_Eleanor_Butler_and_Miss_Ponsonby.jpg]] 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 1778, to the relief of Ponsonby's family (concerned about their reputation had she run away with a man)<ref>Faderman, p. 75.</ref> to live together in Wales for 51 years and be thought of as eccentrics.<ref>Aldrich, pp. 227–229.</ref> Their story was considered "the epitome of virtuous romantic friendship" and inspired poetry by Anna Seward and [[Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]].<ref>Jennings, pp. 45–46.</ref> Diarist [[Anne Lister]], captivated by Butler and Ponsonby, recorded her affairs with women between 1817 and 1840. Some of it was written in code, detailing her sexual relationships with Marianna Belcombe and Maria Barlow.<ref>Castle, p. 390.</ref> Both Lister and Eleanor Butler were considered masculine by contemporary news reports, and though there were suspicions that these relationships were sapphist in nature, they were nonetheless praised in literature.<ref name="aldrich233">Aldrich, p. 233.</ref><ref>Castle, pp. 339, 400.</ref> Romantic friendships were also popular in the U.S. Enigmatic poet [[Emily Dickinson]] wrote over 300 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.<ref>Foster, pp. 145–148.</ref> Nearby in Hartford, Connecticut, African American freeborn women Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus left evidence of their passion in letters: "No ''kisses'' is like youres".<ref>Aldrich, p. 234.</ref> In Georgia, Alice Baldy wrote to Josie Varner in 1870, "Do you know that if you touch me, or speak to me there is not a nerve of fibre in my body that does not respond with a thrill of delight?"<ref>Aldrich, p. 232.</ref> 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.<ref name="smashes">Faderman (1981), pp. 297–313.</ref> These were called "smashes" or "spoons", and they were written about quite frankly in stories for girls aspiring to attend college in publications such as ''[[Ladies Home Journal]]'', a children's magazine titled ''[[St. Nicholas Magazine|St. Nicholas]]'', and a collection called ''Smith College Stories'', without negative views.<ref>Foster, p. 255.</ref> Enduring loyalty, devotion, and love were major components to these stories, and sexual acts beyond kissing were consistently absent.<ref name="smashes" /> Women who had the option of a career instead of marriage labeled themselves [[New Woman|New Women]], and took their new opportunities very seriously.<ref group=note>First Lady [[Eleanor Roosevelt]] exchanged rings with and wrote letters to journalist [[Lorena Hickok]], expressing her love and desire to kiss Hickock; her writings were in the style of romantic friendship. The view that Roosevelt's relationship with Hickok may have been sexual, therefore deserving of the lesbian label, created controversy among Roosevelt's biographers. (Faderman , pp. 297–313.)</ref> Faderman calls this period "the last breath of innocence" before 1920 when characterizations of female affection were connected to sexuality, marking lesbians as a unique and often unflattering group.<ref name="smashes" /> Specifically, Faderman connects the growth of women's independence and their beginning to reject strictly prescribed roles in the Victorian era to the scientific designation of lesbianism as a type of aberrant sexual behavior.<ref>Faderman (1991), pp. 45–49.</ref> Summary: Please note that all contributions to the LGBT Info are considered to be released under the CC-BY-SA Cancel Editing help (opens in new window) This page is a member of 2 hidden categories: Category:Articles with invalid date parameter in template Category:Pages with broken file links Retrieved from "https://lgbt.wikia.org/wiki/Lesbian"