The ‘all-out career woman’ and narratives of lesbianism at work
in Tomboys and bachelor girls
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Feminine occupations tended to encourage women workers to project a heterosexual identity at work and were therefore environments which proved insignificant to and problematic for the construction of a lesbian identity. In a conflation of the patterns of development of the lesbian and the career woman, both were women who had failed to develop a maternal instinct and thus mature beyond the adolescent phase of homosexuality. The influence of medical discourses characterising lesbians as emotionally abnormal and potentially predatory, meant that single women teachers were increasingly regarded as poor role models for girls. Cultural associations of masculinity and women-only environments with lesbianism meant that the women employed in such workplaces were constructed as potentially sexually deviant. Under the leadership of Margaret Damer Dawson and Mary Allen, both of whom were lesbians, the Women Police Service (WPS) made an important contribution to women's policing during the First World War.

Tomboys and bachelor girls

A lesbian history of post-war Britain 1945–71



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