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see homosexualityhomosexuality,
a term created by 19th cent. theorists to describe a sexual and emotional interest in members of one's own sex. Today a person is often said to have a homosexual or a heterosexual orientation, a description intended to defuse some of the long-standing sentiment
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  1. a sexual categorization referring to female HOMOSEXUALITY. In this usage, sexual behaviour and sexual identification are taken as the primary factors denoted by the term.
  2. (feminist usage) homoerotic desire between women, or, more widely, a specifically female experience involving the social, emotional and erotic bonding of women. In this usage lesbianism is seen as primarily a political category, placing less importance on the issue of genital sexuality and more on woman-identified experience.
Political lesbianism stresses that lesbianism is ‘Far more than a sexual preference; it is a political stance’ (Abbott and Love, 1972). Nestle (1981) challenges this approach for its misrepresentation of lesbian history and for its implicit desexualization of lesbian culture, Rich (1980) has suggested that lesbianism should, however, be regarded as one of the primary forms of resistance against ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ (see HETEROSEXUALITY). In this context, Rich (op. cit.) has distinguished between lesbian existence and the lesbian continuum. The former refers to conscious lesbian identification, the latter to a broad range of woman-identified experience or sisterhood. In both. Rich places less emphasis on sexual desire as the primary criterion for identification with lesbianism, and more on women's active, political resistance to heterosexual privilege.

Lesbianism is subjected to both social and legal control in many contemporary societies. In the UK, lesbianism is not subject to criminalization except in the armed forces. Lesbians, however, tend to be subject to control via the civil courts, particularly in custody cases involving the children of lesbian mothers. The history of lesbianism and its regulation via law and custom is different from that pertaining to male homosexuality, and has been the subject of both misrepresentation and invisibility.

References in periodicals archive ?
But simply because there was a tolerance for female homosexuality doesn't mean that these women led enviable lives.
Caprio's study foregrounds two relevant facts in order to understand the success of Hellman's text in post-war America: firstly, Female Homosexuality must have reproduced the circulating discourses on lesbianism which were largely believed by average American citizens and which The Children's Hour ostensibly exemplified; secondly, lesbianism was an issue which worried the nation and, thus, a matter of cultural debate.
8% of the participants reported they had not received any information on male or female homosexuality at the Graduate School of Public Health, respectively.
Since there are no Old Testament Laws prohibiting female homosexuality, why does Paul include it here?
Female homosexuality was rarely mentioned nineyears ago in soaps.
9%, n=480) agreed that female homosexuality is a sin, and 15.
In her discussion of male and female homosexuality, Dean first makes clear the structural similarities to pornography: the dangerous connotations of body fluidity and permeability, the lack of self-control essential to good citizenship.
How many feel restricted by the prevailing attitude regarding female homosexuality in the African American community?
She said: "My research for many years has focused on male and female homosexuality in literature.
Female homosexuality, though idealized, is viewed without snideness or superiority, and Nuti reveals a mild but pleasantly "feminine" side to his character.
On Villette see Jeffrey Merrick, "The Marquis de Villette and Mademoiselle de Raucourt: Representations of Male and Female Homosexuality in Late Eighteenth-Century France," in Homosexuality in Modern France, ed.
Where homosexual sex between men was punishable as a sexual vice which weakened the Aryan race, female homosexuality was condemned because it threatened the desired increase in the birthrate.