By Cameron Duder

The lives of lesbians who grew up prior to 1965 stay cloaked in secret. Historians have illuminated the worlds of upper-middle-class "romantic pals" and working-class butch and femme girls who frequented lesbian bars within the ’50s and ’60s. the vast majority of lesbians, besides the fact that, have been lower-middle-class girls who concealed their sexual id via conducting discreet social and sexual relationships.

Drawing on correspondence, interviews, journals, and newspaper articles, Awfully dedicated Women deals a nuanced portrait of the lives of middle-class lesbians within the many years earlier than the homosexual rights circulate in English-Canada. debts and explorations of those women’s sexual practices, strategies on same-sex wish, and family with family and friends unveil an international of personal relationships, condominium events, and discreet social networks. This intimate learn of the lives of ladies compelled to like in mystery not just demanding situations the concept that lesbian relationships some time past have been asexual, it additionally finds the braveness it took for girls to discover wish in an period after they have been purported to comprehend little approximately sexuality.

Awfully dedicated Women is the 1st book-length learn of lesbian sexuality, relationships, and neighborhood in Canada ahead of 1965. it will likely be of curiosity to scholars and practitioners of Canadian historical past and women’s reviews and to somebody attracted to the background of sexuality.

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Extra info for Awfully Devoted Women: Lesbian Lives in Canada, 1900-65

Sample text

She had never said much about her before, and that little very casually, but I had gathered that she rather liked her. ” Bud, in response, told Mollie about her relationship with Frieda. She asked of Frieda, Relationships between Women 41 Do you mind my telling Mollie? I have never wanted to talk about you at all, but when I got started, she was so interested and was rather keen to know because in some ways we are a bit farther on. They have had just the same difficulties with their families, but they really had more time before they got on their ears.

I’ve written pages and then torn them up because they don’t say at all what I mean. 44 Frieda had similar difficulty describing the valley, but in both cases the descriptions offer images of a tranquil and almost ethereal place where the emotions between the two women surrounded them, communication was almost telepathic, and the criticism of others was absent. The conjuring up of such an imagined place to express their love might suggest to the 40 Part 1: Awfully Devoted Odd Women reader a form of resistance to dominant discourse, in the sense that Frieda and Bud created for themselves an ideal world where their love was not an issue, a world sadly lacking in their real lives.

We have only written records of their experiences, in the form of love letters and other correspondence. The earliest of these collections comes from just after the period that Lillian Faderman has described as the “the last breath of innocence” in female-female relationships: from the turn of the century to 1920. ”5 She traces the emergence of lesbian subcultures and suggests that the twentieth century saw the erosion of the “sexual innocence” of pre-twentieth-century lesbianism, in the form of the romantic friendship, and the creation of lesbian identities and sexual knowledge between and among lesbians.

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Awfully Devoted Women: Lesbian Lives in Canada, 1900-65 by Cameron Duder
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