January 6, 2014 by aoifebrennan
Over in the UK, from which we drew much of our earlier, pre republican legislation, Queen Victoria had never signed lesbianism into illegality, while criminalising male homosexuality in the 1885 Act.
There were various myths put forward as to why this was the case. Some argued Victoria did not believe women could do such things, others that it never crossed the legislators’ minds that women might be gay as well as men.
The best reason I had read was that the male legislators were afraid by making it illegal, it might put wicked thoughts into the heads of women. I found this very amusing and backed up, over a hundred years later by a popular non-fiction book about women’s sexuality. Penned by the American journalist Daniel Bergner, his book seemed to argue that society had said women were naturally and emotionally monogamous through a series of flawed empirical arguments which gained popularity and credence despite much evidence to the contrary. It appeared that monogamy was a cultural cage used to suppress women’s sexuality, but again that was driven by a male belief that sexuality and behaviour were mutually exclusive; as if by the mere process of desiring all hope of polite manners would be extinguished in a lustful moment. That society as we knew it would collapse in an outrageous orgasm of pleasure. The very thought! Women, I decided, were much more pragmatic than history or some men, notably legislators, might allow.