My Website

Monday, 10 January 2011

Rebecca Jennings, Tomboys and Bachelor Girls: A Lesbian History of Post-War Britain 1945-1971

A few thoughts emerging from reading this (useful source for the revision of SG&SC, though I've come across some of the material elsewhere, e.g. the stuff on the Gateways club, and the Arena 3 group). I thought the discussion of the 'bachelor girl/career woman' was interesting, though I wonder if there was also a way in which career women who were not merely in the workforce for a few years until they snared a husband, but not necessarily lesbians, were constituted as sexually dangerous (rather than pathetic, 'frightened of commitment', etc). They were outside the normative domestic heterosexual ideal, and I have a feeling that they figure as potential sexual predators and threats to marriage in fiction of the day. Though one would have to do more analysis of advice literature, women's magazines, journalism in general as well as media representations to see how far this was so. Attitudes to the unmarried woman dedicated to professional advancement might additionally have been inflected by whether this was in a traditionally all or predominantly female milieu like teaching (in which possibly the dried up spinster motif persisted?) or entering 'a man's world'.

In the discussion of Arena 3 and the group around and the dissociation from club culture and butch presentation, I was very much reminded of Matt Houlbrook's account of the post-War reformist homosexual trend and its expressed antipathy to cottaging and camping it up and flamboyance. In both cases there seems to have been a class element (middle versus working, though it's perhaps more generally to do with respectability rather than a strict class divide), but also what seems to be a significant commitment to disconnecting same-sex desire from unorthodoxy in gender presentation. As well as the whole 'what goes on in private should not be a matter for public concern/interference' dynamic.

No comments:

Post a comment