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Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: a History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: a History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century AmericaLillian FadermanColumbia University Press1991

As Lillian Faderman writes, there are “no constants with regard to lesbianism,” except that lesbians love women. In this groundbreaking book, she reclaims the history of lesbian life in twentieth-century America, tracing the evolution of lesbian identity and subcultures from early networks to more recent diverse lifestyles. She draws from journals, unpublished manuscripts, songs, media accounts, novels, medical literature, pop culture artifacts, and oral histories by lesbians of all ages and backgrounds, uncovering a narrative of uncommon depth and originality.

Odd Girls reverberates with the powerful voices of people speaking for themselves… Faderman empowers her subject; instead of allowing lesbian lifestyles to be defined from the outside, her voice and those of other women transcend destructive stereotypes and misconceptions. Odd Girls offers a lucidly written and moving narrative of lesbian culture and community during its formative years.

The Village Voice

Table of Contents

Part 1: “The Loves of Women for Each Other”: “Romantic Friends” in the Twentieth Century
1.1 The Educated “Spinster”
1.2 The Metamorphosis of Romantic Friendship
1.3 “Poets and Lovers Evermore”
1.4 Lesbian Sex Between “Devoted Companions”

Part 2: A Worm in the Bud: The Early Sexologists and Love Between Women
2.1 Sexual Inversion and “Masculine” or Transvestite Women
2.2 Feminists as Sexual Freaks
2.3 The Attack on “Romantic Friendship”
2.4 The Dissemination of Knowledge Through Fiction
2.5 Why Some Lesbians Accepted the Congenital Invert Theory

Part 3: Lesbian Chic: Experimentation and Repression in the 1920s
3.1 The Roots of Bisexual Experimentation
3.2 White “Slumming” in Harlem
3.3 Black Lesbians in Harlem
3.4 A Note on Working-Class Lesbian Communities Elsewhere in America
3.5 Lesbians in Bohemia
3.6 The Heterosexual Revolution and the Lesbian in the Woodpile

Part 4: Wastelands and Oases: The 1930s
4.1 Kinder, Kuche, Kirche and the “Bisexual” Compromise
4.2 The View from the Outside
4.3 “In the Life”
4.4 Lesbian Sex in the 1930s

Part 5: “Naked Amazons and Queer Damozels”: World War II and Its Aftermath
5.1 Armies of Lovers
5.2 A “Government-Sponsored” Subculture
5.3 The Heyday of the Lesbian “Sicko”
5.4 Curing Lesbians on the Couch

Part 6: The Love that Dares Not Speak Its Name: McCarthyism and Its Legacy
6.1 “Are You or Have You Ever Been a Member of a Lesbian Relationship?”
6.2 War in the Cold War Years: The Military Witch-Hunts
6.3 A Sad Legacy

Part 7: Butches, Femmes, and Kikis: Creating Lesbian Subcultures in the 1950s and ’60s
7.1 Working-Class and Young Lesbians: The Gay Bars
7.2 Working-Class and Young Lesbians: Butch/Femme Roles
7.3 “Kiki” Lesbians: The Upper and Middle Classes and Subculture Clashes

Part 8: “Not a Public Relations Movement”: Lesbian Revolutions in the 1960s Through ’70s
8.1 The Gay Revolution: Quiet Beginnings
8.2 The Gay Revolution: Explosion
8.3 Love Between Women in a New Light
8.4 The Lesbian-Feminist Revolution
8.5 Splits, Coalitions, and Resolutions

Part 9: Lesbian Nation: Creating a Women-Identified-Women Community in the 1970s
9.1 Blueprints for a Lesbian-Feminist Culture
9.2 Culture Building: The Media
9.3 Taking Care of Our Own: Body and Soul
9.4 Being “Politically Correct”
9.5 Factions and Battles

Part 10: Lesbian Sex Wars in the 1980s
10.1 Lesbian Sex and the Cultural Feminists
10.2 The Struggle to Be Sexually Adventurous
10.3 The Attraction of “Opposites”

Part 11: From Tower of Babel to Community: Lesbian Life in the 1980s
11.1 The Shift to Moderation
11.2 Validation of Diversity
11.3 Unity
11.4 A Note on the ’90s: Queer Nation?

Epilogue: Social Constructions and the Metamorphoses of Love Between Women