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It's the last weekend of the month, so it's time for another Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast to go live! This month we're looking at the exciting and implausible life of 17th century playwright, poet, world traveler, and spy Aphra Behn. Check out the show on your favorite podcast aggregator. If you enjoy it, I strongly urge you to subscribe and to rate the hosting show (The Lesbian Talk Show) to help others find it more easily.

The current installment of working through the People/Publication/Event tags is a somewhat uncomfortable topic. One of the ways in which lesbian desire has been dismissed in literature (and then used to "prove" that lesbian behavior is sick or evil) is to take the trope of an asymmetric desiring/desired pairing and frame it as inherently non-consensual and abusive. The reasoning goes something like this. Lesbian desire always exists between an "abnormal" desiring woman and a "normal" desired woman.

Are you tired yet of me passing off project housekeeping tasks as blog content? No? Well, ok then.

This week I completed adding descriptions and doing housekeeping on the tags I've grouped as "Literary Relationships - Same-Sex Love". They're down at the bottom of this page, if you want to check them out.

I confess I'm a sucker for telling the stories of lesbians in history that would be implausible as fiction. This month's episode tells the story of Catherine Vizzani, an 18th century Italian woman whose parents were surprisingly accepting of her sexual orientation (and proclivity for dressing as a man). I've included extensive readings from the English translation of her biography, published in 1755.

Today's new tag essays cover two topics in what I've grouped together as "literary relationships". That is, works where a sexual or romantic relationship between two women is either present or implied. Here's a brief summary of what's covered. (See the full essay for the list of works and the associated tag-links.)

Literary Innuendo and Flirtation

This finishes up the literary works that feature cross-dressing and gender disguise. These works may involve a number of other themes as well. Keep in mind that these tag essays are meant to identify thematic groups, but individual stories are rarely simple. In particular, if cross-dressing opens the window to an enduring love once a disguised woman's gender is revealed, or if the personal interactions within the disguise have more of a predatory flavor than an erotic one, then I've placed works on those more specific categories.

When we shift from historic individuals to literary figures, there's a corresponding shift in the emphasis within types of motifs. The reasons women might choose to pass as men in real life were often economic or practical. In literature, there must be a reason that is important to the plot. Given how (relatively) common it was in real life, cross-dressing to join the military is fairly rare in fiction, outside of the specific genre of "female cabin boy" ballads.

I've written up a new set of tag descriptions. You can find the permanent page with access to the tag-links here. For reasons of internal website structure, this is going to duplicate the content of that tag essay to get it into the blog feed. (Life is complicated.) But you'll now find that permanent page in the LHMP drop-down menu.

This set of tags finished up the Historic Cross-dressing group. The permanent tag-essay page can be found here. These individuals sit at the intersection of both gender and sexuality transgression. A woman (or someone that society assigns as female) might choose to pass as male temporarily or live as a man long-term for a variety of reasons. Safety was one obvious motivation, but economic advantage was a far more common one.


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