A CubaNews translation. Edited by
can be highly emotional.
Lesbianism is more about emotions than it is about genitalia. And that’s precisely what makes it stand out from the case of gay men, as a male homosexual likes to possess or be possessed by another man in a context where one of them will behave like a woman, and one (or both) will have either feelings of guilt or a suspicion that he will be betrayed. Maybe that’s why lesbian relationships are held to last longer; in other words, they are more stable.
Adolescence, admiration and tendencies
In all fairness,
let’s make it clear again that neither lesbianism nor homosexuality is a
disease. Both are the expression of a conduct, a change of one’s sex
object. That is, instead of being attracted to their opposite sex,
lesbians and gays are same-sex oriented, which is certainly not without
risk, especially in terms of social acceptance –or, should we say, the
lack of it.
experts, “it’s only natural that such confusing thoughts about gender
turn up at this point, but if adequate direction is provided and the boy
or girl understands that the whole thing is just overdone infatuation
and not his or her desire for a same-sex person’s body or fulfillment,
they will get over it without any further hitches.”
Hence the importance of parental guidance to convince their children, whatever their sex, to take counsel with a psychologist, considering that some of them suffer pangs of conscience so strong as to end up hating themselves for being “weird”, a mindset usually ascribable to their social milieu and not the individual itself, since they’re not in the least bit “weird”. They simply make up the minority when it comes to sexual orientation proper, and that’s all there is to it.
At least two generally accepted views prevail today about the origins of female homosexuality. On one hand, there are some who maintain that it’s a genetic phenomenon that appears at a very early age –in nursery school, for instance– where the girl tends to like others around her.
The second one, of a Freudian nature, holds that homosexuality springs from social or familial integration. According to this theory, it’s due to the presence of a strong-willed father and an underrated mother, who starts to be considered as unworthy of any imitation.
Consequently, the lesbian girl grows to imitate and identify herself with her father, to the point of falling in love with him at first. As time goes by she gets closer to her mother, whose tastes she gradually takes on. However, if the Electra complex –a daughter’s unconscious libidinal desire for her father– is not overcome and the girl pushes her mother into the background to stay focused on her father, she will eventually set her sights on the latter’s usual sex or emotional object, namely another woman.
Censorship by omission
Throughout history, most cultures have chosen to ignore the existence of lesbians, unlike that of male homosexuals, who have been loathed but at least recognized.
Women have been persecuted for being adulterous and prostitutes, but very seldom for their sexual orientation. Lesbians, therefore, could be said to have been marginalized precisely by omission. One example would suffice to support this statement:
Homosexuality was declared illegal in nineteenth-century England, a ban lesbians slipped away from thanks to Queen Victoria, who refused to acknowledge their existence.
Yet, these women’s needs were totally disregarded as their lifestyle never counted on role models to rely on. Such was the downside that came with their “invisibility”. Besides, it was not until the heyday of the gay movement, during the very recent 1970s, that women of similar sexual interests decided to come together and demand that their exclusionist society should grant them their rights by making public a reality as ancient as humanity itself.
History and evolution
It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment in history when lesbian relationships first loomed up, but we can make an educated guess about its evolution by looking at a number of historical documents.
As early as in 1770 B.C. –yes, don’t be surprised!– the Hammurabi Code gave us the salzikrum (or male daughter), a half male, half female figure who could have several wives.
Lesbianism was tolerated in Greece and ancient Rome. In the latter, for instance, married women who wanted to have sex with other women would go to public baths and engaged in fellatio with female slaves whose mission it was to quench those desires. There’s also documentary evidence of same-sex weddings.
There’s scant evidence of lesbianism in the Middle Ages, except for a few cases recorded by the Church in a dark era for the arts and the truth that abounded in denunciations, convictions and sermons. In the 4th century, St. Ambrose tagged as lecherous a woman’s desire for other women, whereas St. Chrysostom called it a shame. Centuries later, St. Anselm referred to sex between women as an affront to nature, and Peter Abelard made statements along the same lines.
St. Thomas labeled female-female copulation an unnatural vice, a view that many theologians later adopted to execrate lesbianism as a sin of lust. Female homosexuality is only mentioned a dozen times in ten centuries of documents, in all cases related to religious damnation, heresy or witchcraft.
There’s proof of lesbianism in late-sixteenth-century Latin American native communities. For instance, women known as “cacoaimbeguira” did men’s jobs, fought in wars and related to other women who played the wife’s role.
In the 1920s, a number of flawed stereotypes created by psychologists gave rise to widespread, absurd beliefs about lesbians, to the extreme that there were campaigns to protect young girls from the “lesbian’s disease”, and people started to link lesbianism with marginalization, infection, perversion and vice. Such treatment led many homosexual women to believe they were really ill and tried to get rid of their “condition” by getting married or killing themselves.
Lesbians witnessed some progress in their rights around the turn of the century thanks to collective opening moves towards their recognition as a minority. However, they are still held in derision and even discriminated against and disesteemed by the authorities in many countries.
Some Terms and how they came up
There are plenty of terms, including some plainly offensive ones, to name homosexual women. The words tortillera, bollera and cimbalita are some of them. Let’s see where they come from:
Tortillera (literally, omelet seller) is chiefly used in Cuba and Spain. A character in Cuban writer Severo Sarduy’s novel Maitreya 2 is carrying a type of omelet called fu-yong, which is actually a fake omelet in that it was not made with eggs (a clear reference to male genitalia). The name seems to refer to fulero (tricky, phony). In other words, a forged omelet cooked without any eggs.
Bollera (also boyera, or ox drover) can probably be pinned down on the priestesses who used to drive yokes of oxen and, around 4000 years ago, held woman-only rites. They were represented exclusively by Gaea, the single and most powerful goddess humans worshipped before she was overthrown by males.
Cymbalist: Held over 2500 years ago, the Mystery Cults were only attended by priestesses who prayed to the goddess Cotytto for a life of prosperity and plenty. To that end they engaged in sexual orgies and rites, one of which involved a procession where they sang and played, among other instruments, a pair of bronze plates called cymbals, dancing to their sounds with phalluses tied around the waist.
Other terms used for lesbians are virago (a virile-like, butch woman; said of sterile sheep); fricatrice (referred to the act of two women rubbing each other); and queer (deviating from the expected or normal; strange), a term used with sexual connotations since the 19th century.
Above all else, a reliable sexuality
Addressing the topic of morality and its implications when it comes to any conduct deemed inadequate because of mistaken stereotypes or concepts would surely entail an endless, controversial discussion, mostly if we also take into account the insincere attitude adopted by those who committed many atrocities precisely on behalf of a number of quite upbraided moral principles.
As human beings we have always destroyed or attacked what we don’t comprehend. We often assess as improper other people’s behavior. It’s essential therefore that we broaden our horizons and try to understand our neighbors even if we disagree with some of their views.
Let’s leave it to everyone to come to terms with their sexual orientation. Let’s only insist that they do it seriously, both for their own sake and other people’s, as the key to each person’s individual fulfillment. Bear in mind that only those who are pleased with themselves will be able to do their best for other people, and that goes way beyond any sexual preference, and definitely way beyond understanding.