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Research paper topic: Faderman Vs Epstein - 1157 words
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Faderman Vs. Epstein Homosexuality is a topic that has been discussed and debated for many years. There are several different viewpoints as to the origin of homosexuality, and as to the way in which homosexuals should be treated in the general society. Two distinguished authors that discuss homosexuality and it's relation to the surrounding world are Steven Epstein and Lillian Faderman. In Epstein's article Gay and Lesbian Movements in the United States and in Faderman's book Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers there are many distinguishing characteristics between there styles of writing. Although different in style both of the writings prove to be useful in understanding the ways in which the homosexual community was founded and the direction that the movement underwent. The first chapter of Faderman's book is devoted to examining the beginnings of the lesbian community in the end of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century.
It begins, for middle-class women with the start up of female colleges in America, where ambitious women..could go to college, educate themselves for a profession, earn a living in a rewarding career, and spend their lives with they women they loved(Faderman 12). The start of the colleges allowed, for the first time, an opportunity for women to meet other women with interests similar to theirs, outside of the family unit. Faderman states that it was not what the women learned in college, it was that the young women's relationships with one another while away at college helped to make them new people (19). After leaving college the women were granted 1economic freedom from men, and therefore could continue to live the lives that they wanted to live with women. These romantic friendships(15) allowed women to live in same-sex households known as Boston marriages(15) and continue with the lives that they desired. In the second chapter of her book, Faderman begins to discuss the works of sexologists and the impact that they had on the creation of the lesbian community.
Sexologist begin to study the relationships that developed between working-class women who moved away from home, and frequently shared rooms [with each other], sometimes on a long-term basis (38). The sexologists were primarily medical men with middle-class backgrounds(39) and they were prone to be able to see these lower-class women as deviant, rather then those of their own class (39-40). In order to make more money these lower class women cut their hair, and wore men's clothes(42) in order to be able to take on men's jobs and to make men's wages. When the sexologists found about these types of women they assumed that a masculine-looking creature must also have a masculine sex instinct(43). Unlike Faderman, Epstein's article does not trace the details of the formation of homosexual communities, but rather the movement of homosexuals for equality and justice.
He approaches the topic with a linear history of the homosexual movement beginning with the 1950's, when the United States..witness[ed] its first social movement organizations concerned with the status of homosexuals(Epstein 34). Epstein shows the rise and fall of each of the organizations that attempted to make some political and social change in the lives of the homosexual, such as; the Gay Liberation Front(38), the Gay Activists Alliance(41), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force(44), and many other groups. One thing that Epstein takes notice of in the organizations is that they were narrow in their social composition - largely white and, with the increasing gentrification of property within them, largely middle class(43). This is a major issue for Epstein as he sees that the formation of quasi-ethnic communities proved central to the rise of the lesbian and gay rights movement(43). Epstein does cover the topic of lesbianism as a sole entity briefly when he writes that the mainstream lesbian and gay rights movement provided lesbians with inadequate space to articulate a feminist critique of gender inequality and the traditional family, lesbian feminism put such politics at the center but made it hard to analyze the place of sexuality itself within sexual politics(49). He then moves on to discuss the AIDS epidemic and how many lesbians became involved.. Thereby tightening, at least temporarily, the political and personal connections between lesbians and gay men(53). Epstein ends his article discussing the 1990's and the strengthing of the homosexual movement through the desire for marriage and to be treated as equals in the work place. Although strikingly different in the content of their writings Faderman and Epstein both strive to reach a central goal of teaching the reader of the creation and the struggles of the homosexual movement as it has made its way through United States history.
Faderman focuses on the lesbian movement, and Epstein gives an overview of not only the lesbian/gay movement, but also the movement of the queer society(62). Faderman allows the reader to get a close personal connection with the individual women involved; such as Carey Thomas who worked with her romantic partner Mary Garrett to promote the movements of women(Faderman 30), and Dr. Sarah Josephine Baker, who had to where men's clothing to work so as not to cause a disturbance(21). Epstein on the other hand focuses on the actions of large organizations and does not allow a personal deep connection to be formed, yet this method is also effective as he is able to state more facts in order to teach the reader. The movement of homosexuality in the late 19th century and the early 20th century was dramatically different then the one that occurred after the 1950s.
This in one way explains the differences in the presentation of both of the writings, as they both had different subject matter to discuss. They were writing to tell the story that they perceived to be important in the homosexual movement, and they did it using their own ideas and assumptions. The Faderman book may be easier for some to read and more enjoyable as it gives a more in-depth personal history and a more personal connection. The Epstein article might, on the other hand, be desired by others as it contains more facts laid out in a timeline. The two different styles, both appear to be very effective and allow the reader to obtain the necessary information. Epstein and Faderman's writings were both directed at teaching people of the struggles and triumphs of the homosexuality. They chose different tactics to enlighten their readers and they developed their papers in different ways, yet the effect was the same for both of them.
The outcome was two articles that give backgrounds for lesbianism in the late 1800's and for queers in the last forty years, in a manner that works to preserve the great history of homosexuality. The two articles share similarities and at the same time have distinct differences, yet just like other homosexual writings they accomplish the task of preserving the history of homosexuality and the pioneers from other generations. Human Sexuality.
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