According to George Chauncey, "Sexual inversion
, the term used in most of the nineteenth century literature...
In Sexual Inversion
(first published 1897, revised and expanded 1915), Ellis introduces his subject by linking it to ancient militaristic communities in order to undermine its lingering associations with degeneracy, languor, and an antisocial feebleness.
Sabas Aloma was a product of this time period, during which both discourses existed simultaneously, and as such in her discussion of garzonismo the author appeals to both the sexual inversion
and the homosexuality models.
But I find that "lesbian" is not simply a placeholder for women who loved women; I think it can give us a useful shortcut for evoking a whole range of words that have been used to describe attachments between women, ranging from such seemingly neutral words as sapphism, sexual inversion
, and homosexuality to pornographic slang such as tribade, fricatrice, and "doing the flats." Like Ellis, I think the word "lesbian" still has an important place in our vocabulary for the study of sexual behaviors among women, though I agree with Nan Alamilla Boyd that it may be most useful to see "lesbian" as a historical artifact created at a particular period and used only intermittently as a self-defining noun.
Both writers engaged with contemporary scientific arguments about the possible causes of homosexuality, and specifically with the early 20th-century psychological concept of "sexual inversion
." Using apparently straightforward, "factual" writing styles, they sought to represent same-sex desire as a "fact" of "normal" and mainstream life.
First, Sexual Inversion
, whose earliest version was co-authored by Ellis and John Addington Symonds, was published in English in 1897 after first appearing in German in 1896 (see Dixon 72-73).
HALPERIN, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF HOMOSEXUALITY 15 (1990) (citing George Chauncey, Jr., From Sexual Inversion
to Homosexuality: Medicine and the Changing Conceptualization of Female Deviance, 114 SALMAGUNDI 58 59 (1982-83)).
The early- and mid-twentieth-century texts Nealon discusses resist the pathologizing of homosexuality characteristic of medical-psychiatric theories such as sexual inversion
, without a clear vision of an emergent historical movement toward gay and lesbian group identity.
From Carmilla's female homosexuality, Mason turns to male sexual inversion
and perversion in her chapter on the anonymously written Teleny, or, The Reverse of the Medal (1893).
With disconcerting ease, Hall embraced their contentious theories about "congenital sexual inversion
." She took bits of their writing that appealed to her, mixed these with Catholicism, spiritualism--she was a member of the Society for Psychical Research--and oddball ideas on endocrinology, and came up with a theory of lesbian identity that has startled and dismayed readers of her classic novel down through the decades.
This volume begins with acknowledgments (ix-xii) and an introduction (xiii-xxii) and contains eight sections: "Pioneering on the Theatrical Frontier: Augustin Daly's Early Ventures" (1-30); "A Troubled Republic: Daly and His Leading Ladies" (31-72); "Birds of a Feather: The Queer Theatrical Empire of Charles Frohman and Maude Adams" (73-104); "Through Fairy and Fowl: Civilization by Sexual Inversion
on Frohman's Imperial Stages" (105-42); "A Priestly Acting Pedagogy: David Belasco's Quest for Sexual Knowledge" (143-76); "Drilling Her in the Emotional Parts: David Belasco Trains Mrs.
Early theories of homosexuality centered on sexual inversion
, or malformed gender.
explains homosexual desire as a physiological misplaced heterosexuality; a principle of gender dimorphism is insinuated within desire in order to distantiate the sameness of bodies.
18 Sexual Inversion
by Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds, Amo Press
Simplifying Krafft-Ebing's taxonomy somewhat, Havelock Ellis' essay on 'Sexual Inversion
in Women' (1895) stressed the difference between 'masculine' and 'feminine' female inverts, viewing the latter as social, rather than sexual 'deviants'.