Handbook of Domestic Violence Intervention Strategies: Policies, Programs, and Legal Remedies

By Albert R. Roberts | Go to book overview

20
Domestic Violence Among
Lesbian Couples
JANICE L. RICKS
CAROL (JAN) VAUGHAN
SOPHIA F. DZIEGIELEWSKI

NEGATIVE STEREOTYPING
OF LESBIAN WOMEN

Throughout history, lesbian women have been affected in every aspect of their lives by traditional male-centered beliefs and societal norms that provide the basis for heterosexual standards. These heterosexual norms and standards have given rise to myths about lesbian women, creating misrepresentations that are deceptive and destructive. Furthermore, these misperceptions can contribute to present-day expectations that lead to heterosexism and homophobia. According to Richards (1990), in the late 1800s a woman was suspected of being a lesbian if she had any of the following traits. Personality traits included being viewed as cold and unemotional or talking loudly and using slang. Physical traits consisted of having “square shoulders” and a “solid build, ” small breasts, or an enlarged clitoris. Social traits included showing a capacity for or competence in athletics and a lack of interest in or incapacity for domestic occupations. Dress and outward appearance traits included not wearing a corset and wearing “bobbed” or “short” hair. Since lesbianism was perceived as a problem, the alleged causes of it were of great interest: These included masturbation, the fear of pregnancy, or the overdevelopment of female friendships. In addition, women's colleges that encouraged athletics and the masculinization of the female mind were targeted for contributing to homosexual behavior in women (Richards, 1990).

-451-

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