I'm not going to lie: I'm feeling a bit anxious about the reception of this week's podcast. The topic of how erotic desire has been handled with respect to the history of lesbians has the potential for hurtful erasure on every side. Some scholars have approached the history of sexuality from a position that erotic desire and erotic activity are how you define the presence of lesbianism. Even aside from the way in which an eagerness to "claim women for the L team" tends to erase bisexual identity, using sexual activity and sexual desire between women as the sine qua non of lesbian identity erases those for whom romantic attachment, rather than sex, is the key factor. (Although it does encompass aromantic women who enjoy erotic attraction to women.)
In this episode, I look at the patterns of history, not through the question of "how did specific women experience homoerotic and homoromantic attraction?" but through the lens of cultural archetypes. What were some of the prominent cultural archetypes that combined romantic bonds between women with an absence of the expectation of sexual activity? I'll be very curious to hear what people think.