Friendship History Lesbian

Surpassing the Love of Men

Surpassing the Love of MenLillian FadermanWilliam Morrow & Company1981

Faderman takes a look at the traditional view of lesbianism, drawing on love letters, trial records, pornography and the ‘experts’ proclamations, and shows how shifting theories of female sexuality makes some things acceptable and others taboo.

Surpassing the Love of Men is an important book, above all because it makes us understand what is involved when women choose to love women. Little frightens a conventional women more than to be thought a lesbian; that fear, as Professor Faderman brilliantly shows, is used by the male-dominated society to keep women’s power to live freely and to love freely exclusively in male hands.

Carolyn G. Heilbrun in the New York Times, 1981

Table of Contents


PART 1: The Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries
A. Lesbianism in a Phallocentric Universe
… Chapter 1. Lesbianism and the Libertines
… Chapter 2. What Do Women Do?
… Chapter 3. Eighteenth-Century Fantasy and the
Lesbian Image
… Chapter 4. Transvestism: Persecution and Impunity

B. The Enshrinement of Romantic Friendship
… Chapter 1. The Revival of Same-Sex Love: Sixteenth
and Seventeenth Centuries
… Chapter 2. The “Fashion” of Romantic Friendship in
the Eighteenth Century
… Chapter 3. The Battle of the Sexes
… Chapter 4. Romantic Friendship in Eighteenth-Century Literature
… Chapter 5. Romantic Friendship in Eighteenth-Century Life

PART II: The Nineteenth Century
A. Loving Friends
… Chapter 1. The Asexual Woman
… Chapter 2. Kindred Spirits
… Chapter 3. New Women
… Chapter 4. Boston Marriage
… Chapter 5. Love and “Women Who Live by Their Brains”

B. The Reaction
… Chapter 1. The Rise of Antifeminism
… Chapter 2. The Contributions of the Sexologists
… Chapter 3. Lesbian Exoticism
… Chapter 4. Lesbian Evil

PART III: The Twentieth Century
A. Sophistication
… Chapter 1. The Last Breath of Innocence
… Chapter 2. The Spread of Medical “Knowledge”
… Chapter 3. Keeping Women Down
… Chapter 4. Fiction as a Weapon
… Chapter 5. Internalization and Rebellion

B. When it Changed
… Chapter 1. The Rise of Lesbian-Feminism
… Chapter 2. Writing Lesbian
… Chapter 3. Romantic Friendship and Lesbian Love