Before the mid-19th century, the word lesbian referred to any derivative or aspect of Lesbos, including a type of wine. In Algernon Charles Swinburne's 1866 poem Sapphics, the term lesbian appears twice but capitalized both times after twice mentioning the island of Lesbos, and so could be construed to mean 'from the island of Lesbos'.
Use of the word lesbianism to describe erotic relationships between women had been documented in 1870.
In 1875, George Saintsbury, in writing about Baudelaire's poetry, refers to his "Lesbian studies" in which he includes his poem about "the passion of Delphine" which is a poem simply about love between two women which does not mention the island of Lesbos, though the other poem alluded to, entitled "Lesbos", does.
In 1890, the term lesbian was used in a medical dictionary as an adjective to describe tribadism (as "lesbian love").
The use of lesbian in medical literature became prominent; by 1925, the word was recorded as a noun to mean the female equivalent of a sodomite. The development of medical knowledge was a significant factor in further connotations of the term lesbian.
Butch and femme roles returned, although not as strictly followed as they were in the 1950s.
Nonetheless, in the 1980s, a significant movement rejected the desexualization of lesbianism by cultural feminists, causing a heated controversy called the feminist sex wars.
Once again, women felt safer claiming to be more sexually adventurous, and sexual flexibility became more accepted. The focus of the debate often centers on a phenomenon named by sexologist Pepper Schwartz in 1983.
Further arguments attested that the study was flawed and misrepresented accurate sexual contact between women, or sexual contact between women has increased since 1983 as many lesbians find themselves freer to sexually express themselves. More discussion on gender and sexual orientation identity has affected how many women label or view themselves.
In 1989, an academic cohort named the Lesbian History Group wrote: Because of society's reluctance to admit that lesbians exist, a high degree of certainty is expected before historians or biographers are allowed to use the label.
They became a mode of chosen sexual self-expression for some women in the 1990s.
reported that "lesbian and fluid women were more exclusive than bisexual women in their sexual behaviors" and that "lesbian women appeared to lean toward exclusively same-sex attractions and behaviors." It reported that lesbians "appeared to demonstrate a 'core' lesbian orientation." A 2001 article on differentiating lesbians for medical studies and health research suggested identifying lesbians using the three characteristics of identity only, sexual behavior only, or both combined.
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Page generated on 2021-08-05