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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 ?
In reviewing this literature, several concerns emerge for this writer: 1) sample representativeness is problematic when researching issues as socially charged as sexual orientation, 2) the ethical considerations that must be made in human research often result in correlative data which makes causative inference problematic, 3) conceiving of individuals' sexual orientations in binary terms may be overly simplistic and potentially misleading, 4) there is a paucity of information regarding bisexuality and female homosexuality, and 5) there seems to be an increasing focus on physiological mechanisms of origin for sexual orientation without regard for the role that familial/social/cultural environments may play in this process.
Notably, in his seminal work Female Homosexuality: A Psychodynamic Study of Lesbianism (1954), Dr.
It was found that those students who had not received any kind of education about male or female homosexuality exhibited a higher level of social distance when compared to those who had received some kind of education, either formal or informal (Table 1).
* Female Homosexuality: Terminology and Statistics;
Instead, he intended the parallel to function on a more general level: Since there are no Old Testament Laws prohibiting female homosexuality, why does Paul include it here?...
Fewer than 3% agreed with statements that lesbians and gay men "just can't fit into society" and that lesbians and gay men are "sick" Only 35 social workers (11.2%) believed that "female homosexuality is a sin" and 28 (9.0%) believed that "male homosexuality is a sin." Seven of 10 of the social workers agreed that laws regulating the private behavior of lesbians and gay men should "be loosened," and eight of 10 agreed that neither female nor male homosexuality is a problem "unless society makes it a problem."
Almost 17% (16.9%, n=480) of the respondents agreed with the statement "female homosexuality is a sin." Similarly, 15.8% (n =449) of those surveyed disagreed with the statement that "male homosexuality is merely a different kind of lifestyle that should not be condemned." This is an important issue of professional ethics and values.
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.
She concludes: "Joyce's blindness to the sexuality of his friends and supporters in the early 1920s allowed him to maintain the phobic confusions of the modern understanding of female homosexuality" (196).
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.