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For all that I sometimes emphasize the opportunities that single women (and especially widows) could have--opportunities that are often more varied than popular visions of history include--we shouldn't overlook that relentless disadvantages that women had in relation to men in similar circumstances. Many of the anecdotes in this article emphasize that a woman, acting alone, often had very little leverage to enforce her legal and social rights. And that gaining the support of some male authority could be the difference between success and failure.

This article is, of course, the one that brought the entire collection to my attention, when Ursula Whitcher cited it as one of the strands of inspiration for her story "The Spirits of Cabassus" published as part of this year's fiction series. Direct references to female same-sex desire are rare in many eras, and the tantalizing glimpses we get aren't always put in a positive light in the original sources.

This article looks at some of the realities and myths of early Christian "dedicated virgins". What sort of lives did they lead? How were their lives similar to, or different from, those of unmarried women who were not religious devotees? From the point of view of the LHMP, there's also the question of to what extent this lifestyle could have accommodated same-sex desire.

Another article from this collection that is primarily about men even when nominally about women.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 239 – Our F/Favorite Tropes Part 3: Adapting Marriage Tropes - transcript

(Originally aired 2022/09/17 - listen here)


Today we’re going to look at historic romance tropes involving marriage and how they can be adapted to female couples.

It's common for articles about demographic studies to focus heavily on the methodology and definitions used for interpreting the data. This is of vital importance, as all such interpretations are conditional on the accuracy of the premises. But this sort of approach can give the impression that nothing at all is known for certain. To some extent, that's an accurate impression if one focuses on the "for certain" part, though not with regard to the "nothing is known" part.

A "completist" entry in this series, but as my summary points out, not of particular interest to the Project. Which aligns fairly well with my current mood. Let me tell you about the last 12 hours. I was supposed to fly out of SFO this morning at 08:30 (going to Chicago for Worldcon), which meant setting my alarm to get up at 05:00 to get BART to the airport.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 238 - On the Shelf for September 2022 - Transcript

(Originally aired 2022/09/03 - listen here)

Welcome to On the Shelf for September 2022.

As with so many moral judgments imposed on women, it's rarely a case that some particular action or state is praised or blamed in abasolute terms, but rather that it is conditionally praiseworthy depending on how it upholds patriarchal ideals and structures. Being/remaining single may default to being discourged, but circumstances may elevate it in support of some other ideal or principle. Thus, the "widow faithful to her dead husband" is praiseworthy...unless she has failed in the higher principle of procreation.

It may not entirely be coincidence that last week, when I wanted some background entertainment for processing my apple harvest, I decided to do a re-watch of I, Claudius. The Augustan marriage laws get a mention in one scene, and of course an exaggerated version of imperial Roman upper class marriage shenanigans is featured throughout. But as this article points out, despite the clear intention of penalizing people for remaining unmarried, the laws ended up only affecting a limited set of the population, and in very limited ways.


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