Tomboys, crushes and the construction of adolescent lesbian identities
in Tomboys and bachelor girls
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Lesbian narratives of childhood sexuality in the post-war decades, such as Diana Chapman's, reflect this uncertainty, representing childhood crushes as both common aspects of schoolgirl culture and the forerunner of adult lesbian sexuality. Lesbian narratives indicate that this association of lesbianism with masculinity persisted into the post-war period. Narrators overwhelmingly constructed their childhood selves as physically active and 'tomboyish', reflecting the common theme in medical case histories. Lesbian sexual activity was apparently perceived as a more tangible possibility in residential institutions such as boarding schools, approved schools and remand homes. Medical science remained one of the most influential forces explaining the aetiology and characteristics of female homosexuality in the post-war decades. The contradictory representation of schoolgirl sexuality in educational and medical literature in the 1940s and 50s afforded considerable flexibility for the expression of female same-sex desire in adolescence.

Tomboys and bachelor girls

A lesbian history of post-war Britain 1945–71


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