Budnick, Jamie Louise (2009). Subversive Stories / Hegemonic Tales: Conversations with Non-heterosexual College Women on Sexuality, Society, and Self. Thesis, Bachelor of Arts with Joint Honors, Departments of Sociology and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan. PDF
Burnett, Lynn Patricia (2008). Purple Poppies in/and Fields of Green: Young Lesbians Speak Out. PhD Dissertaton, Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology. PDF Download. Download Page.
Conlin, Susan M (2001). The ongoing "coming out" process of lesbian parents. Master of Science Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Stout. PDF
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Davis, Amy S (2010). Suicide Survivorship Among Lesbians. PhD. Dissertation. Antioch University Seattle. Download Page.
Dopler TS (1997). Lesbophobia in feminist organizations: an examination of the effect of organizational structure and sociopolitical context on the expression of lesbophobia. M.A. Thesis, Carleton University, 145 pages, ISBN: 0-612-22073-7. PDF Download.
Dorsainvil Monique (2009). Resisting the Margins: Black Lesbian Self-Definition and Epistemology. Bachelor of Arts with Honors' Dissertation, Faculty of Emory College of Arts and Sciences of Emory University. PDF Download.
Echevarria, Ana Elisa (2011). "Because she's my mom" : an exploratory study of adult lesbian women's understanding and management of relationships with mothers who reject their sexuality. Master's Dissertation, Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass. PDF Download. Download Page.Emmens, Heather (2009). Domestications and Disruptions: Lesbian Identities in Television Adaptations of Contemporary British Novels. PhD Dissertation, Department of English, Queen's University. PDF Download. Download Page,
Erwin, Terry McVannel (2007). For, By, and About Lesbians: A Qualitative Analysis of the Lesbian Connection Discussion Forum 1974-2004. PhD. Dissertation, College of Education, Ohio University. PDF Download.French J (2009). Support of marginalized students in science: An examination of successful lesbian individuals in science career paths. PhD. Dissertation, College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University. PDF Download. Download Page.
Grey, Leslee (2009). Multiple Selves, Fractured (Un)learnings: The Pedagogical Significance of Drag Kings' Narratives. PhD. Dissertation, Educational Policy Studies, Department of Educational Policy Studies, College of Education, Georgia State University. PDF Download.
Hastie, Nicki (1991). Lesbian eXcursions: Journeying through the personal narrative. M.A. Dissertation, Leicester University, England. Full Text.Hastie, Nicki (1989). The Muted Lesbian Voice: Coming out of camouflage. Second year dissertation submitted for the degree of B.A. English Literature. Full Text.
Hopkins, Alison Julie (2009). Convenient Fictions: The Script of Lesbian Desire in the Post-Ellen Era: A New Zealand Perspective. PhD. Dissertation, Victoria University of Wellington. Download Page. PDF Download.Hudak, Jacqueline (2009). Are we not family? The transition from heterosexual marriage to partnering with a woman. PhD Dissertation, Drexel University. PDF Download. Download Page.
Markley K (2003). A
Cross-Sectional Study of the Beliefs, Practices and Circumstances of
Gay Women In a Small Southern Town and How They Compare in Each Decade
of Life From Teens to the End of the Life Continuum: A Study of
Same-Sex Experiences. PhD Dissertation. Maimonides University. PDF
Matebeni, Zethu (2011). Exploring Black Lesbian Sexualities and Identities In Johannesburg. PhD Dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand. PDF Download. Download Page.
McKenna, Susan E (2009). Seeing lesbian queerly: visibility, community, and audience in 1980s Northampton, Massachusetts. PhD. Dissertation, Department of Communication, University of Massachusetts - Amherst. PDF Download. Download Page.
McWilliam, Kelly Ann (2006). Girl Meets Girl: Lesbian Romantic Comedies and the Public Sphere. PhD. Dissertation, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, University of Queensland. PDF Download. Download Page.Moreno, Consuelo (2002). Invisible Lesbians: Latina Immigrant Lesbian Coming Out Experiences. PhD. Thesis, Maimonides University. Download.
Nelms SD (2006). The Black lesbian experience: the intertwining of race and sexuality. PhD. Dissertation, Educational Psychology, University of Texas at Austin. PDF
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Nilson, Katherine (2011). Queer Time, Affective Binds: An Erotohistoriography of Butch/Femme. Honors' Dissertation, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, Wesleyan University. PDF Download. Download Page.
Noack, Andrea (1998). Building identities, building communities: lesbian women and gaydar. Master's Dissertation, Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto, Ontario. PDF Download.Pfeffer. Carla A (2009). Trans(Formative) Relationships: What We Learn About Identities, Bodies, Work and Families from Women Partners of Trans Men. PhD. Dissertation, Sociology, University of Michigan. PDF Download. Download Page. Note: The third chapter of this dissertation is published: Pfeffer, C. A. (2008). Bodies in relation—Bodies in transition: Lesbian partners of trans men and body image. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 12(4), 325-345.
Walsh, Christine Mary Miriam (2007). Personal and professional choices, tensions, and boundaries in the lives of lesbian psychiatric mental health nurses. PhD. Dissertation, Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, Victoria University of Wellington. PDF Download. Download Page.
Abstract by author: The problem.
Lesbian identity development has been examined limitedly and usually within
the context of male homosexuality. Additionally, there is a paucity of
research on Latina lesbian identity development. This study comparing lesbian
identity development among Latina and Anglo lesbians examined the question
of whether ethnic culture affects sexual
identity development in a Latina
lesbian population. Method. Fifty-six questionnaires compiled by
Anglo lesbians were compared to 49 newly gathered questionnaires completed
by Latina lesbians. The 49 new subjects also completed a newly quantified
version of Klein’s Sexual Orientation Grid, the Acculturation Rating Scale
for Mexican Americans, and a selected
demographics questionnaire. Results.
While Latinas appear to confront and adopt a lesbian identity sooner, than
lesbians, sexual activity is equal
for both Latina and Anglo lesbians. There was no significant difference
in the rate of sexual abuse reported by either group. While Latinas reported
knowing other homosexual family members more often, there were no cultural
differences in the extent to which homosexually was discussed (rarely)
or the way it was handled in the family (usually
Adams T (1994). Paper lesbians: alternative publishing and the politics of lesbian presentation in the United States, 1950-1990. PH.D. Thesis, The University of Texas at Austin, DAI vol. 55-10A, p. 3331, 343 pages.
Abstract by author: My dissertation explores lesbian and lesbian-feminist alternative publishing, an area of institution-building largely ignored in publishing history, women's history, and literary scholarship but extraordinarily influential in the progress of the women's movement itself and the creation of lesbian-feminist theory and literary culture. Working as individuals, in collectives, in profit and non-profit enterprises, lesbian-feminists wrote some of the most influential literary and theoretical texts of the mid-century women's movement and then, when mainstream publishing outlets were slow to support or hostile to their work, they created the publishing houses, bookstores, newsletters, and journals that could disseminate their creations. They created the apparatus to record, among other things, the construction of new lesbian and lesbian-feminist cultural identities. Thus, to speak of lesbian publishing - or of paper lesbianism - is to acknowledge and formalize a primary influence on lesbian identity formation. Paper lesbianism is the record of lesbian existence forcing itself into history; it is also an important but under-examined strand of the complex of social, political, and cultural changes that are the legacy of the popular liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s. I document the relationship between a social movement and publishing, between power and paper, by examining, first, how lesbianism has been represented in U.S. culture and popular media since 1950, and second, how lesbians themselves have challenged those representations by constructing counter-institutions and generating counter-images.
Publication No. 9505939
Alquijay MA (1993). The relationship among self-esteem, acculturation and lesbian identity formation. PH.D. Thesis, California School of professional Psychology, DAI, Vol. 54-04B, p. 2269, 155 pages.
Abstract by author: This exploratory study investigated the relationship among self-esteem, acculturation, socioeconomic strata and lesbian identity formation. Ninety-two Latina Lesbians answered the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, adult, short version (1990), Mendoza’s Cultural Lifestyle Inventory (1989), Cass’s Homosexual Stage Allocation measure, and a demographic questionnaire designed specifically for this study. Results suggest that occupation status, level of education, and Cultural Resistance typology of acculturation are significant predictors of stage of homosexual identity development. It was found that a subject’s self-rating on Kinsey’s scale of sexuality and her intention regarding future sexual activity with a male were significantly correlated with stage of homosexual identity development. Additionally, it was found that subjects who participate in the Lesbian community, are more likely to endorse the more evolved stages of homosexual identity. Self-esteem was not found to be a significant predictor of homosexual identity development. A subject’s income as well as how she explained her sexual orientation were not found to correlate with homosexual identity. The findings are discussed in terms of psychosocial factors. Recommendations for future research are provided. And, the implications for clinical intervention and assessment are discussed.
Anderson K (1993). Sources of coming out self-efficacy for lesbians. PH.D. Thesis, Michigan State University, DAI, Vol. 55-04A, p. 0905, 166 pages.
Abstract by author: In their
daily lives, lesbians must repeatedly make decisions about whether or not
to disclose their sexual orientation to others in the face of potential
rejection, discrimination, alienation, or violence (Fassinger, 1991). Although
the cost of self-disclosure may be high, the benefits may include the development
of a positive lesbian identity, psychological adjustment, and enhanced
self-esteem and self-acceptance (Cass, 1979; Fassinger, 1991).
Much of the empirical literature on the act of coming out (Cody-Murphy, 1989; Kahn, 1991; Schneider, 1986; Wells & Kline, 1989) has explored the circumstantial and demographic variables related to this process. This exploratory study utilized self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1986) to investigate the extent to which each of the four sources of efficacy information (e.g., performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, or emotional arousal) contributed to coming out self-efficacy. Further, this study sought to establish the relevance of coming out self-efficacy by exploring its relationship to outness and lifestyle satisfaction. Relationships between these same variables and adjustment were also explored. Participants were 134 lesbians. Each completed a survey packet which included measures of coming-out self-efficacy, the four sources of self-efficacy information, outness, adjustment, and lifestyle satisfaction. Two novel measures were developed for this study. The first, the Sources of Coming Out Self-efficacy Scale (SCOSS), was designed to assess the four sources of efficacy information in relation to coming out. The second, the Coming Out Self-efficacy Scale (COSS), was designed to assess lesbians’ confidence in their ability to come out in a variety of ways and circumstances. Results indicated that the COSS was a highly reliable measure; the reliability of the SCOSS was marginal. Results of the regression analyses indicated that emotional arousal was the most potent predictor of coming out self-efficacy. Verbal persuasion and vicarious experience also were significant. The most theoretically salient source of self-efficacy information, performance accomplishments (Bandura, 1986), was not a significant predictor of coming out self-efficacy for this group of lesbians. Further, significant correlations were found between coming out self-efficacy and outness and life-style satisfaction. The last variable was also significantly correlated to measures of adjustment.
Anderson K (1994). Out in the fifties: the Daughters of Bilitis and the politics of identity. Master's Thesis, Sarah Lawrence College, MAI vol. 33-02, p. 402, 67 pages.
Abstract by author: This essay is an exploration of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian organization in the US founded in San Francisco in 1955. A leader of the homophile movement, DOB sought public education about homosexuality, organized around lesbian civil rights, and published the Ladder, the first magazine for lesbians. Drawing on archival materials as well as oral histories, I address the significance of DOB during the 1950s from three angles: the public and private discourse of DOB; the intersections of class, sexuality, and political strategy; and DOB's role in creating, and curtailing, lesbian communities. Positioning the Daughters of Bilitis in relationship to the lesbian bar culture, this thesis explores the multiplicity of lesbian identities and strategies of resistance in this pre-Stonewall period.
Publication No. 1359083
Bennett EL (1992). The psychological and developmental process of maintaining a positive lesbian identity. ED.D., Boston University, DAI, Vol. 52-11A, p. 3825, 244 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study, “The Psychological and Developmental Process of Maintaining a Positive Lesbian Identity” was to examine how lesbians maintain a positive sense of self given that they live in a culture that does not readily acknowledge or support their lesbianism. The three primary questions asked of participants included: What do you like and love about being a lesbian? What struggles and difficulties have you experienced in the maintenance of your lesbian identity? And, what are the sources of strength that you have drawn from to maintain a positive sense of self? The study was based in the psychosocial framework of identity development of Erik Erikson, as well as in theories of feminist psychology, Black and “minority” identity development, and lesbian identity development. Although a critique of Erikson’s work revealed limitations in his theories regarding women and homosexuals, his discussion of the identity development of African-Americans (1968) provided a helpful framework for understanding lesbian identity development. A qualitative, descriptive, phenomenological research method was employed using a subjective life history approach. Ten lesbians, between the ages of 32-50, of various racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds were interviewed.
The identity development of the ten lesbians who participated in this study was found to be a cyclical, multi-dimensional process that involved a lifelong process of coming out and was affected by the psychosocial context of each individual’s life. The most significant component of identity development discussed by all of the participants regarded connection with other people. This is consistent with Erikson (1950, 1959, 1968) who stressed the need for individuals to see themselves reflected in and validated by others. This is also consistent with the self-in-relation theorists (Miller, 1976; Surrey, 1985) and other feminist theorists (Gilligan, 1982) who assert that women’s sense of self is developed in connection with others. This study showed that for the ten lesbians interviewed, regardless of race, class, or ethnicity, positive identity development required connection with other people.
Bourne KA (1990). By the self defined: creating a lesbian identity. PH.D., University of Southern California, DAI, Vol. 51-04B, p. 2053.
Abstract by author: Forming a personal identity is the complex and uniquely human process of identifying categories and labels which define a picture of “self” as distinct from “others.” The process by which a woman takes on and integrates into her life a lesbian identity has been called “lesbian identity formation.” Through the use of intensive open-ended interviews with 18 lesbian women, this study investigated the experiential reality - the phenomenology - of lesbian identity formation, including how a woman comes to identify herself as a lesbian, how she incorporates this identity into her self-image, and how this identity may change and develop throughout her lifetime.
The product of this research effort is a set of 14 themes organized by means of a four-stage model. The model begins by describing a foundation of early life experience which adult lesbians retrospectively associate to their eventual formation of a lesbian identity. It then examines the process of questioning and weighing identity alternatives, and categorizes the events and realizations which lead to the assumption of a lesbian identity. Finally, it outlines ongoing lesbian identity issues which lesbians confront throughout the “post-identification” years of their lives. The results of this study portray the process of forming a lesbian identity as something of a “double-edged sword.” Certain of the experiences of lesbian women growing up within a society which stigmatizes and oppresses same-sex sexuality tend to undermine self-esteem through the internalization of shame and the construction of a false or conforming self. At the same time, these experiences may also facilitate the development of such personally empowering qualities as the ability to affirm self-worth from the inside out, and the capacity to perceive, question and challenge cultural blind spots from a “tangential perspective.” (Copies available exclusively from Micrographics Department, Doheny Library, USC, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0182.)
Braswell P (1995). The influence of self-monitoring on the body attitudes of lesbians at different stages of lesbian identity formation. PSY.D. Thesis, California School of Professional Psychology, Berkeley/Alameda, DAI vol. 56-06B, p. 3434, 52 pages.
Abstract by author: Most women are more dissatisfied and concerned over their body weights than are men (Fallon & Rozin, 1985; Brand, Rothblum and Solomon, 1992). However, there is clinical evidence to show that a sub-group of women - lesbians - may have more positive body attitudes than other groups of women (Brown, 1987). In order to explore the body attitudes of lesbians, this study investigates the association between levels of lesbian identity integration, self-monitoring (high and low), and body attitudes. Self-monitoring is a personality construct that describes differences in how people regulate themselves in social interactions. High self-monitors use external cues of social appropriateness, while low self-monitors depend on internal, affective cues.
Two hundred lesbians, ages 18 to 66, responded to advertisements and completed a packet of mail-out questionnaires: a background information sheet; The Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (Cash, 1985); The Self-Monitoring Scale (Snyder & Gangestad, 1986); The Stage Allocation Measure (Cass, 1984); and a comment sheet. Results of this study confirmed the hypothesis that stage of lesbian identity integration accounts for significant variation in body attitudes. On three of the MBSRQ body attitude scales, women more integrated with their lesbian identity felt significantly better about their bodies than women less integrated. This indicates that out lesbians are more positive than less out lesbians on how they evaluate their appearance, physical health, and overall body satisfaction. In addition, across seven scales, those who were more integrated with their lesbian identity had more positive body attitudes, although these differences fell short of significance.
Self-monitoring had minimal effects on body attitudes. High self-monitoring was positively associated with putting action towards appearance, which was expected from the theory of self-monitoring. However, when self- monitoring and lesbian identity were combined, unexpected results occurred from the interaction. Overall, among low self-monitors, identity was associated with positive differences in body attitudes. Among high self-monitors, stage of identity had minimal association with differences in body attitudes. Among lesbians with body image disorders, the importance of establishing lesbian identity was emphasized as a treatment goal in psychotherapy.
Brown KK (1997). Androgyny, perceived prejudice and outness among lesbian and bisexual women. M.A. Thesis, Michigan State University, MAI vol. 35-05, p. 1538, 75 pages.
Abstract by author: The more likely stigma is, the more likely a person will reveal a stigmatizing characteristic, but a person with greater resources for reacting strategically to prejudice is more likely to reveal such a characteristic. Research suggests that androgynous persons may have greater resources in the form of behavioral flexibility, interpersonal adaptability, ego development and ego strength.
The Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and measures of outness, perceived prejudice and relational satisfaction were completed by 345 lesbian and bisexual women. Subjects were classified as androgynous, masculine, feminine, or undifferentiated. The study predicted a negative correlation between perceived prejudice and outness, weakest for androgynous subjects, as well as greatest outness in public and greatest relational satisfaction for androgynous subjects. None of the predictions was observed.
Androgyny appears related to greatest outness, but masculinity plays a larger role than femininity. Femininity appears related to intimacy satisfaction.
Browning C (1995). Probing themes of silence on lesbian partner abuse: exploring the community's influence. M.A. Thesis, Carleton University, MAI vol. 34-06, p. 2255, 189 pages, ISBN: 0-612-08880-4.
Abstract by author: A tradition of silence has, and continues to constrain research on abuse in lesbian communities. This academic and community-based silence has limited the definitions, terminology, theories, and themes on lesbian partner abuse. While concern has been raised about individual actions and silence in the academy, this research establishes the role of community in mediating lesbians' individual and social experiences of silence and silencing abused lesbians. This thesis explores community's influence on silence and abused lesbians' identification with community. It concludes that community-inclusive theories and community-generated awareness, systems, and resources are crucial to breaking the tradition of silence on lesbian partner abuse.
Burkhart JM (1995). Investigating community structure in a lesbian community: positive and negative aspects. PH.D. Thesis, Kent State University, DAI vol. 56-07A, p. 2884, 284 pages.
Abstract by author: The study was a qualitative examination of the structure of a lesbian community. Six women who had experienced recent and significant life stressors were formally interviewed about the impact of membership in the community, and whether such membership helped to mediate or served to exacerbate coping with significant life stressors. Informal interviews, participant observation, and examination of relevant documents and literature were additional research techniques used to complement the information garnered from the formal interviews. Two areas of interest emerged from the data collection procedures. These included the impact of the community on identity development and the role of the community leaders. The data was analyzed using qualitative techniques including coding, triangulation, and confirmation of the findings by the participants.
The findings were as follows: (1) the community significantly impacts the lives of the community members, generally in a positive direction; (2) the community influences the manner in which one's identity as a lesbian is expressed; and (3) the leaders in the community serve primarily as shapers of the community rather than as directors of the community activities. A symbolic interactionist perspective served as the basis for the interpretation of the data. This community was compared on important characteristics to other communities, both with similar and with divergent purposes and philosophies. Many of the suggestions for future research include more systematic comparisons of particular community characteristics. The impact of the study on both the participants and on the researcher was explicated.
Burris LS (1996). Internalized homophobia, self-esteem, and chemical dependency among lesbians. PH.D. Thesis, California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno, DAI vol. 58-05B, p. 2666, 143 pages.
Abstract by author: This study examined the relationship between internalized homophobia, self-esteem, and chemical dependency among 204 adult lesbians. The analyses of survey results found that lesbians with higher levels of internalized homophobia were more likely to be alcoholic. Internalized homophobia was also found to be inversely related to self-esteem. Analyses of variables found that family history of alcoholism and drug abuse was a potent predictor of current alcoholism and drug abuse. In addition, lesbians who were very involved in the lesbian community were less likely to be alcoholic. A structural equation model of chemical dependency among lesbians was presented, utilizing three factors: Psychological Aspects, Demographics, and Family History of Substance Abuse. Implications for chemical dependency prevention and treatment were discussed.
Chao Y (1996). Embodying the invisible body politics in constructing contemporary Taiwanese lesbian identities. PH.D. Thesis, Cornell University, DAI vol. 57-04A, p. 1707, 299 pages.
Abstract by author: This dissertation is the outcome of a fourteen-month ethnographic research project with the Taiwanese lesbian community from June 1993 through July 1994, under the guidance of P. Steven Sangren. In addition to in-depth interviews with lesbians and a participant observation of their daily activities, the dissertation also analyzes mass-media products including films, novels, advertisements, newspaper articles, and TV programs, and government announcements and legal codes, as well as "grass-roots" lesbian newsletters. It deals with the following three issues: first, the linkage between nation-building and production of unconventional sexualities; second, the relationship between orthodox Chinese sex-gender ideology and the individual's acts of constructing her social and sexual identities; and, third, the ways in which lesbians act out their identities through bodily performance and the ways in which they acquire sexual pleasure.
The analysis reaches the following conclusions: first, that the lifting of Taiwanese Martial Law in 1987 conditioned the formation of an alternative social space, the "T-bar" (Taiwanese lesbian bars), which allows for lesbians to engage collectively in constructing their sexual identities and sexual roles. Second, in the post-Martial Law era many new legal regulations have been made and enforced by the government to identify new types of ordinary citizens and to regulate their socio-sexual practices. These acts of government have led to different ways of representing both female nudity and lesbianism in public culture. This representational transition, in turn, reflects a transformation in the ways in which state power is manifested and exercised. Third, lesbian identities--produced through an appropriation of orthodox gender codes and strategies and of a continual participation in social and sexual activities with other members in the lesbian community-- are an entirely new social category in Taiwan. Finally, there are two varied styles of conducting sex and enjoying sexual pleasure: one reflects a political need to practice North American feminism, the other derives from a disengagement of heterosexual language from physical boundaries and sensations.
Demattos SE (1994). Couples talk: how long-term lesbian couples construct their relationships. PH.D. Thesis, The Fielding Institute, DAI vol. 55-03B, p. 1181, 286 pages.
Abstract by author: This study explores how lesbian couples who have been in relationship at least 10 years create, construct, and reinvent the reality of their relationships in their conversations with an interviewer. The study used a method based on feminist epistemology and methodology; a voice-centered, relational approach to research; feminist hermeneutics; and a subjective model for writing. Ten white, middle-class lesbian couples, ranging from age 33 to 63, and in relationships ranging from 11 to 29 years, were recruited through friendship pyramiding and flyers to lesbian organizations and invited to be co-researchers with the interviewer in this study. Each couple was asked demographic questions and six open-ended questions about their relationship. Generally 3-4 hours long, these interviews were taped, transcribed by the interviewer, and returned to the couples for corrections and comments. The conversations were then analyzed from six hermeneutic positions (story- text, storytelling performance, conversation interaction, social process, political praxis, and intersubjectivity). The couples were again asked to correct and comment on the story-text constructed by the interviewer and on the discussion chapter. A major portion of the presentation of results consisted in the verbatim reports of the participants. These 10 couples and the interviewer and her partner (who were also interviewed and included in the analysis) did not tell linear stories but instead wove back and forth in time, reconstructing their stories to make new meaning as new events unfolded. Each of the couples constructed meaningful lives which they strove to preserve, celebrate, and perform.
Emery KL (1994). Deep subjects: lesbian in(ter)ventions in twentieth-century United States though. PH.D. Thesis, The University of Texas at Austin, DAI vol. 55-10A, p. 3188, 225 pages.
Abstract by author: This dissertation adopts a multi-disciplinary approach in examining the historical entanglement of Pragmatist semiotics, scientific discourses, and literary conventions in the representation of lesbian subjects. In so doing, it suggests the usefulness of linguistic insights to literary analysis in a general sense and also argues the particular relevance of C. S. Peirce's sign theory to the challenge of reimagining relations among literary texts and material contexts in the 20th- century U.S. The first chapter sketches out the intersections of Pragmatist sign theory and lesbian identity during their concurrent development in the turn-of-the-century U.S. and traces the tangible effects of these intersections in the 1895 novel Norma Trist; or Pure Carbon: A Story of the Inversion of the Sexes. Chapter 2 turns to the precedent-setting U.S. obscenity trial of English author Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness (1928), exploring the impact of the book on U.S. culture and arguing that critical response to Hall's novel and its representation of lesbianism continues to be limited by the legal frame in which the work was initially read. Chapters 3 and 4 compare the surprisingly subversive representations of lesbianism in Mary McCarthy's 1963 bestseller The Group to the ultimately less challenging images offered in Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle (1973). This comparison illuminates the centrality of socio-semiotic shifts to evolving ideas about lesbian identity and enables me to trace the consequences of particular strategies of engagement with such shifts (McCarthy's with the surface/depth metaphor central to both transformational grammar and popular psychoanalytic narratives of normative female sexual development; Brown's with rhetorics of the Civil Rights and Women's movements). Taken together, these four readings offer extensive evidence in support of the dissertation's working assumption that changes in the meaning of lesbian identity cannot be understood in isolation from concurrent changes in cultural assumptions about what "meaning" is and how it is that meaning gets made.
Emmenegger LR (1986). Personality characteristics of female homosexuals. PH.D. Thesis, University of Missouri - Columbia, DAI vol. 48-05B, p. 1541, 145 pages.
Abstract by author: This study was conducted to investigate the personality characteristics of female homosexuals. The women, ages 18 to 39, were recruited from lesbian organizations, social groups, and community centers. In addition, the recruiting of subjects was aided by the process of networking. The research question focused on the identification of MMPI profile patterns characteristic of this population, and the investigation of demographic and behavioral information important to the understanding of female homosexuals, their development, and their lifestyle. The MMPI and a Personal Data Questionnaire were the two instruments used. All of the profiles were valid based on standard interpretation, and the profiles were classified into identifiable types according to overall profile configuration. Seven separate classifications other than normal were identified: manic, schizoid, spike 5 scale, psychopath, 46-5 "V", 46-5 "V" with other elevations, and mixed residual. No new or unique profiles were found.
Five conclusions were drawn from the results. First, the mean MMPI profile of lesbians is well within the normal range with very little indication of sexual inversion (elevation of scale 5), and with low incidence of traditional psychopathology (neuroticism, depression, anxiety, or pre-psychotic tendencies). The 46-5 "V" pattern accounted for 44% of the sample. Secondly, the majority of the lesbians in the sample were seen as being dominant, assertive, and low in anxiety. A significant majority would also be described as aspiring to a higher socioeconomic status than they currently have, and challenging or struggling with their existing value system. Thirdly, the majority of the lesbians described themselves as tomboyish during adolescence, reported little or no interest in heterosexual dating in high school, and indicated that their psychologic and sexual attractions to other females emerged by mid-adolescence. The fourth conclusion drawn was that the majority of the lesbians had childhood home environments characterized by disruption (death of a parent, divorce) and/or inadequate, ambivalent, or negative parenting from one or both parents. Finally, the demographic and behavioral data important to the understanding of this population was not related to profile type, but rather was meaningful as descriptors of the sample as a whole.
Ferguson AD (1995). The relationship between African-American lesbians' race, gender, and sexual orientation and self-esteem. PH.D. Thesis, University of Maryland College Park, DAI vol. 56-11A, p. 4565, 205 pages.
Abstract by author: African American lesbians have multiple group memberships and belong to groups which have historically been stigmatized and oppressed. Current identity models (i.e., race, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation) provide limited insight for understanding the psychological effects for those individuals who have multiple group memberships. Moreover, many do not specifically address the issue of coping with and integrating multiple identities, particularly if the multiple identities are mutually stigmatizing. Therefore, the issues explored in this study pertained to three specific investigations: (a) examining African American lesbians' racial, womanist, and sexual orientation stage identity attitudes independently; (b) examining the interrelationships of African American lesbians' group identities (i.e., race, gender, sexual orientation); and (c) examining the relationship between their racial, womanist, and sexual orientation identities and personal and collective self-esteem. The research participants consisted of 181 women of African descent who self-identified as lesbian.
Participants completed a demographic/biographical questionnaire, three identity measures (the Racial Identity Attitude Scale, the Womanist Identity Attitude Scale, and the Group Identity Attitude Scale), and two self-esteem measures (the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Collective Self-Esteem Scale). Participants were generally contacted through social organizations, book stores, and e-mail networks that were lesbian identified, and lesbian identified support and social groups (i.e., snowball sampling). Participants were requested to complete the survey materials independent of any other participant in the study.
Results of the study revealed relationships existed between racial and womanist identity attitudes and personal self-esteem. Results also indicated that Encounter racial attitudes and Preencounter and Encounter womanist attitudes were predictive of higher personal self-esteem for this population. Internalization womanist attitudes were predictive of lower personal self-esteem. Group identity attitudes were not predictive of personal or collective self- esteem. These results suggested that many of the African American lesbians in this study may be in a continual recycling process in which they retain ties with all three social identities and communities, but to greater or lesser degrees. The consequences of openly committing to a lesbian community within the African American community may cause lesbians to diminish the importance of a lesbian identity to their self-esteem.
Finn LJ (1994). The relationship between world view, identity development, and sexual affectional orientation in Euro-American women. PH.D. Thesis, University of Missouri, Kansas City, DAI vol. 55-06B, p. 2436, 247 pages.
Abstract by author: Focus on both identity development and world view models in the multicultural counseling literature has increased over the last 20 years. However, these models have consistently focused on either the emic or the etic approaches, rarely acknowledging the complexities related to situations in which multiple oppression occurs. However, for lesbian women, insight into the selection of a strategy mediating and integrating their identities as both women and lesbians into a positive image of self is related to the relationship between etic and emic assumptions related to the development of both female and lesbian identities. The present research focused on an examination of an integrative conceptualization addressing lesbian and female identity development, world view, and sexual- affectional orientation. Data accumulated from two hundred voluntary participants were used to investigate intragroup differences and similarities of world view in lesbian women who expressed varying levels of positive female identity development and lesbian identity development; as well as intergroup similarities and differences of world view between lesbian and nonlesbian women at differing stages of female identity development. A series of multivariate analyses revealed complex intragroup patterns among lesbians as well as complex intergroup patterns between lesbian and heterosexual women relative to identity development and world view. Findings indicated that lesbians who had not successfully negotiated more advanced female identity development levels, regardless the level of lesbian identity development, tended to perceive the world as more adversarial and dangerous than did lesbian women who had negotiated more advanced female identity development levels. Intergroup similarities reflected similar world view scores for both lesbian and heterosexual women at similar female identity development levels. However, intergroup differences suggested that less advanced female identity development in lesbians was associated with a perception that the world is more dangerous, while less advanced female identity in heterosexual women is associated with acceptance of dominant culture norms.
Hall DA (1997). Self-concept and multiple reference group identity structure in lesbians of Black-African descent. PH.D. Thesis, California School of Professional Psychology, Berkeley/Alameda, DAI vol. 58-05B, p. 2718, 117 pages.
Abstract by author: This study examined the interrelationships and structure of three multiple reference group identities (race, gender, and sexual) in lesbians of Black-African descent and examined how these identities predicted both Eurocentric and Africentric self-concept. One hundred lesbians of Black-African descent ranging from 18 to 61 years of age who resided predominantly in the San Francisco/Bay Area were recruited through various community, academic, social, and spiritual avenues.
Multiple measures were used. The Tennessee Self- Concept Scale measured Eurocentric self-concept; the Social Outlook Scale measured Africentric self-concept. The Racial Identity Attitude Scale, along with its adaptations for gender and sexual identity, measured the multiple reference group identities, and the Multiple Identity Questionnaire, designed by the present researcher, measured the interrelationships among the identities. Although results indicated that the participants' race, gender, and sexual identities were interrelated, their race identity exerted the most influence on the other identities. Results were mixed regarding the structure of the multiple identities.
A statistically significant number of participants ranked their identities as equally important, yet of those participants who did rank their identities, almost a third ranked their race identity as most important. In social contexts, participants expressed their race and gender identities more easily than their sexual identity. Specifically, it was easier to express their gender than their sexual identity in a Black social context and easier to express their race than their sexual identity in a female social context. Neither race nor gender identity was perceived to be easier to express in a lesbian social context. None of the identities differentially predicted the Eurocentric self-concept, whereas gender identity accounted for most of the variance in the Africentric self-concept.
These findings stress the polycultural, multiple identity issues lesbians of Black-African descent experience. These issues are important for clinicians to understand when working with this population in individual, group, couples, or family therapy. Suggestions for future research include investigating whether the interrelationships and structure of the multiple identities change over time and how these changes affect interpersonal and social functioning.
Heffernan K (1997). Binge eating, substance abuse, and coping styles in a lesbian sample. PH.D. Thesis, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, DAI vol. 58-07B, p. 3924, 68 pages.
Abstract by author: The affect regulation model views binge eating as an attempt to manage negative emotions by eating. The precise nature of how food is used to regulate affect, and in response to which kinds of negative affects, remains unclear. A recent study of a lesbian sample found a high rate of binge eating related to the use of food for affect management. Thus, the present study addressed these questions in a lesbian sample, as a suitable population for further investigation of the mechanisms under consideration, and in order to replicate the earlier findings. It has been suggested that lesbians lack mainstream coping resources and are thus at risk for maladaptive coping efforts, which include disordered eating and substance abuse. However, data regarding stress, coping, and their relationships to disordered eating and substance use in this population are largely lacking. The present study investigated levels of stress, coping styles, rates of eating disturbances, problematic substance use, and the relationships among these variables.
Specifically, it tested the hypothesis
that stress would be more likely to be associated with binge eating, and
with problematic substance use, in individuals with avoidant coping styles.
The present study employed a self-report questionnaire to investigate these
issues among a heterogeneous sample of 263 lesbians. The rate of bulimia
nervosa was similar to that of
heterosexual women, while the rate of binge eating was higher, replicating earlier findings. Almost half of the sample were at least moderately dissatisfied with their weight, almost one third engaged in dieting, and weight was positively associated with frequency of binge eating. While stress was moderately associated with binge eating, neither stress nor an avoidant coping style in general predicted binge eating. It was the specific use of food to manage emotions that predicted binge eating in this non-clinical sample.
Emotions related to anger and frustration were most strongly associated with an increased urge to eat, particularly among individuals who reported binge eating. While participants who did not engage in binge eating reported using food significantly more for comfort than for distraction or anxiety reduction, those who reported binge eating used food equally for all three of these purposes. The level of perceived stress in this sample was not significantly higher than in the general female population. Participants also reported levels of social resources that were similar to their heterosexual counterparts. Neither high rates of heavy drinking nor drug use were found in this sample.
Among those who did engage in excessive drinking, it was associated with an avoidant coping style. Overall, levels of stress, of social support, and coping style were not predictive of problematic substance use. The most significant predictor of alcohol use, and to a lesser extent, frequency of getting high, was reliance on bars as a primary social setting. Implications for conceptual models of binge eating, for psychotherapy, and for understanding the experiences of lesbians are discussed.
Jackson JM (1995). Lesbian Identities, daily occupations, and health care experiences. PH.D. Thesis, University of Southern California, DAI vol. 57-01B, p. 0276, 319 pages.
Abstract by author: At the heart of occupational science and the occupational therapy profession lies the belief that people can create meaningful lives by engaging in occupations (i.e., activities, practices, rituals) that are symbolically significant on a personal and cultural level. Related to this notion is the assumption in occupational therapy practice that treatment must take into account the multidimensional aspects of a person. This study explored these two themes in the lives of lesbians. First, I described how lesbians created and nurtured their lives by weaving together their lesbian identities and occupations. Second, I gathered descriptions of the kinds of therapeutic environments that were constructive to versus those that hindered the provision of authentic occupational therapy to lesbians. Qualitative research methods embracing a feminist perspective were used to analyze multiple, in-depth, open-ended, interviews of twenty lesbians, ten were occupational therapists and ten had disabled. Several key findings emerged.
First, being lesbian influenced the respondents' lives in leisure, political, and spiritual spheres. Second, occupations that possessed particular qualities - homosexual social context, homosexual content, homosexual symbolism, or a tenor that encourages emotional peace about one's homosexuality - constituted expressions of lesbian identities. Third, occupations often embodied and reified heterosexual ideologies and social convention, creating discomfort for lesbians. Fourth, lesbians longed to be authentic with respect to their lesbian identities. They described rituals that they created to honored their lesbian identities, promote feelings of integration, or bridge the heterosexual and homosexual world views of friends and family. Fifth, heterosexual climates pervaded occupational therapy clinics and were maintained through heterosexual discourse, homophobic comments, assumed heterosexuality, stereotyping, and harassment. Therapists dealt with heterosexual environments by separating, passing, surveying, censoring, and strategically using anger.
Despite the prevalence of heterosexism, genuine humanistic approaches toward patients and co-workers contributed to positive occupational therapy work environments. Sixth, heterosexist attitudes and practices invaded most areas of rehabilitation and, at times, compromised treatment in ways that were not immediately evident to patients. Finally, occupation-centered occupational therapy is one way that occupational therapy clinics can become more lesbian-sensitive.
Kase AM (1996). Lesbian and bisexual women: attitudes, behaviors, and self-esteem related to self-image, weight, and eating. Master's Thesis, Loyola University of Chicago, MAI vol. 34-03, p. 1298, 45 pages.
Abstract by author: Evidence reveals that women's socialization has led them to focus on appearance and to be vulnerable to eating disorders. Yet it remains unclear whether women of various sexual orientations are equally susceptible. This study investigates lesbian and bisexual women's attitudes about body satisfaction, physical attractiveness, and eating behaviors, and feelings of self-esteem. Twenty-four lesbians and 20 bisexual women participated in the study.
Significant differences between the two groups resulted on measures of body esteem, sexual attractiveness, eating disorders, and self-esteem. Significant correlations were found between: Body esteem and age; body esteem and length of intimate relationship; attractiveness and self-esteem; weight perception and eating behaviors; and weight perception and body dissatisfaction. The sociological and clinical implications for not only the psychology of lesbian and bisexual women, but also the understanding of women's eating disorders are discussed.
Klinger AM (1995). Paper uprisings: print activism in the multicultural lesbian movement. PH.D. Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, DAI vol. 57-03A, p. 1138, 261 pages.
Abstract by author: This dissertation maps the collective accomplishment of an extensive network of lesbian writers, publishers, and booksellers operating outside of established literary channels since the second wave of the women's movement. I argue that lesbian cultural workers deployed the printed page itself in the struggle for lesbian liberation, creating in the process an enduring array of innovative textual practices and alternative publishing arrangements. The revolutionary investment of lesbians in textual production, particularly apparent in multi-racial and multi-ethnic lesbian narratives, has made writing and reading vital tools for constructing an internationally recognizable North American lesbian community.
In chapter one, I argue that contemporary lesbian writers most differ from the modernist lesbian literati of the 1920s and 1930s and from the lesbian pulp paperback writers of the 1950s and 1960s in their use of literature as a locus for political organization. I focus next on the historic undertaking of the lesbian- feminist alternative press to enable "literature" to perform simultaneously the work of cultural awareness, political cohesion, and social activism. My account of the traffic in lesbian alternative press books in the following two chapters focuses on the political narratives and anti-racist literary exchanges that imbued lesbian literature with its power to effect progressive social change.
Concentrating on lesbian-feminist movement novels in chapter three and on multi-ethnic and multi-racial lesbian narratives, what I term "prose- testimonial," in chapter four, I analyze how lesbians cultivated the printed page to foster their grass-roots struggle for self-determination. In the concluding chapter, I venture into the lavender archive in an effort both to extend the insights made by the women in print movement and to facilitate ethnographic research in the field of lesbian studies. The "paper uprisings" that lesbian discursive engagements represent provide theoretical tools for understanding the indivisibility of interconnected identities. Additionally, they document the deeply felt commitments that fuel liberatory struggles and that deliver the resistance and optimism necessary to lesbian cultural survival.
Landsdale S (1996). The issue of choice for lesbians. PH.D. Thesis, The Fielding Institute, DAI vol. 56-12B, p. 7079, 215 pages.
Abstract by author: This qualitative study examines the issue of choice for lesbians and contributes to the social constructionist/essentialist debate. Fifty-three self- identified lesbians responded to a flyer and 43 volunteered to participate in a telephone screening interview during which they indicated on a 7-point scale whether they perceived their lesbian identity to be a choice they made as an adult (7) or not a choice but an innate part of their identity (1). From this number, 19 choice and no choice participants completed in-depth interviews during which they explored significant events in their childhood, adolescence, and adulthood including their experience of identifying as a lesbian. The resulting data were deconstructed, reconstructed, and analyzed for the choice and no choice group separately and then compared. Seven different pattern groupings emerged, 5 for the choice group and 2 for the no choice group.
The choice group categories were (1) Heterosexual marriage crisis, (2) Critical factor, (3) Bisexuality, (4) Heterosexual role rejection, and (5) Adult discovery. The no choice categories were (1) Adult identification, and (2) Early identification. Even though there were sufficient data to support these pattern groupings, there was significant overlap between groupings as well. The choice and no choice comparison produced two observations, (1) The overlap in the choice and no choice experience indicates the fragile nature of the choice/no choice dichotomy which almost collapses under the diversity of lesbian experience, and (2) The distinction between the choice and no choice experience appears to support both the essentialist and social constructionist views. Both observations indicate the diversity and complexity of lesbian experience. The incidence of childhood emotional and/or sexual abuse was high for both groups indicating a possible link between lesbianism and childhood abuse. Other issues which were examined in the comparison of the choice/no choice experience were: Difficulty/ease in accepting lesbian identity; Relationships with men/women; Political influences; Community influences; and Self-esteem.
Littlefield GD (1993). Common threads and themes involved in long-term lesbian relationships. PH.D. Thesis, Texas Woman's University, DAI vol. 55-02A, p. 394, 141 pages.
Abstract by author: This study involved 32 lesbians who described themselves to be in committed long-term relationships and who were willing to participate in a qualitative research project. This was a phenomenologically and systemically oriented study that probed into the themes and personal perspectives of lesbians involved in long-term relationships. In-depth interviews were conducted, audio- taped and transcribed. Each transcription was coded and analyzed for emerging themes among the couples interviewed. The couples who participated in this study spoke of differences between their personal experiences and the perceptions of other lesbian relationships in general. For these women, relationships with their partners were seen as rewarding, supportive and ever changing.
There were systemic issues that described their relationships as cyclic rather than linear in progression. Their relationships were viewed as evolving. They began their passages as defining what it meant to be a lesbian and the struggles involved in creating and maintaining long-term relationships. Family, friends and support systems were utilized along the way in creating what they perceived to be quality relationships. Even though social and family acceptance were identified as important, they maintained a personal sense of commitment to their relationships as the primary driving force in their success.
Lubking SW (1995). Perceptions of captains of female high school teams with regard to coaching as a career. Ed.D. Thesis, Temple University, DAI, vol. 56-04A, p. 1287, 226 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of captains of female high school athletic teams with regard to coaching as a career choice. Identifying potential causes for the decrease in numbers of women coaches may provide insight to the resolution of the problem. Through initial survey and ensuing ethnographic interviews with selected subjects, perceptions of captains of female high school athletic teams toward their athletic experiences and coaching as a career were examined.
Review of the literature showed increases in participation rates for girls in sports while, at the same time, numbers of female coaches have declined as evidenced in studies by various researchers. The literature review indicated that social approval of significant others and behaviors learned from negative and/or positive models in social situations have an effect on the development of sex-roles, the self, and choices made in sport. It was also found that homophobic behaviors and gender stereotyping have an impact on girls' sports activities.
Analysis of the results of the study indicate that, with one exception, demographic factors of race, religion, and economic status had no statistically significant effect on subjects' choice of coaching as a career. Evidence was found that the educational level of the father was associated with influence on coach career decisions. Several psychosocial factors were significantly associated with coaching choice. These included social approval of significant others; stereotyping of female coaches as gay/lesbian with resultant homophobic behavior experienced toward female athletes; a perceived negative male model of coaching; and lack of motivation, encouragement, or activity from significant others in presenting coaching as a desirable career option for girls.
Subjects showed a general lack of understanding of the responsibilities and professional training requirements involved with coaching. They displayed great confidence that they possessed the skills and qualities required of coaches while recognizing that they would need some experience to be fully competent to coach. A perception that coaching was more of a part-time job than a career was prevalent, perhaps due to the model they have experienced and the absence of knowledge with respect to coaching salaries.
Lyons CC (1994). Internalized homophobia reconsidered: self-discrepancy as a tool for understanding lesbian identity and experience. PH.D. Thesis, California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, DAI vol. 55-06B, p. 2405, 281 pages.
Abstract by author: A common theme in gay-affirmative psychological literature is that homosexual individuals inevitably internalize aspects of the dominant culture's negative views about homosexuality. Typically referred to as internalized homophobia, numerous authors have suggested that such conflicting beliefs about the self contribute to the development of a range of negative psychological situations. To date, however, little empirical evidence has supported these claims. In response to this lack of information, this study examined internalized homophobia from the standpoint of self-discrepancy theory (i.e., Higgins, 1987), a model which distinguishes between different self-representational domains (i.e., "Actual," "Ideal," and "Ought" selves), as well as identifying two different standpoints from which these can be generated (i.e., one's "Own" perspective and the imagined perspective of some significant "Other"). Congruent with both the self-discrepancy and internalized homophobia literature, a series of hypotheses concerning the relationships between self- discrepancy, psychological distress and lesbian identity development were articulated.
The respondents in the study consisted of 106 self-identified lesbian women. Each completed the Selves Questionnaire (Higgins, Klein, & Strauman, 1985); the Stage Allocation Measure (Cass, 1984b); the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (Derogatis, 1977); and the Revised Depressive Experiences Questionnaire (Welkowitz, Lish, & Bond, 1985). Subjects' responses to these instruments were analyzed using both zero-order and partial correlations. A significant positive association was found between overall level of self-discrepancy and the degree of psychological distress reported by subjects, lending support to the validity of self-discrepancy theory as a framework for quantifying the extent of subjects' conflicting views about themselves as lesbians. However, the results indicated no significant relationship between total amount of self-discrepancy and level of lesbian identity development, or between types of self- discrepancy and different types of symptoms. These findings were difficult to interpret due to the unexpectedly high intercorrelations between various dimensions of the Selves Questionnaire. Possible explanations for this confounding factor are presented, followed by suggestions for future research which may minimize the degree of intercorrelation. The discussion of the results concludes with an overview of the potential clinical implications of this research.
Martin JL (1996). The butch-fem relationship; gender roles and identification. M.L.S. Thesis, Eastern Michigan University, MAI vol. 35-02, p. 464, 90 pages.
Abstract by author: The Butch-Fem relationship was the primary expression of Lesbian love relationships from 1940-1960. It was a dichotomous relationship that involved women expressing themselves through gendered behaviors. Throughout the current scholarship, there is much debate on whether such relationships were imitations of heterosexual relationships or whether they stemmed from valid primary gender identifications.
This paper will deal with the tensions between primary gender identifications and gender role playing within the Lesbian community, specifically within the Butch-Fem relationship, in an attempt to dispel some of the myths that exist regarding the concept of gender. The research used to support these conclusions are primary sources (journals and oral histories), autobiographical literature, and secondary sources (feminist/lesbian critical analyses). This paper will incorporate current scholarship in the aforementioned areas, historical perspectives, and sociological/anthropological inquiry.
McCammon LW (1996). Women, sexuality, and social control: a study in deviance. PH.D. Thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaigh, DAI vol. 57-11A, p. 4938, 125 pages.
Abstract by author: The perception of lesbian women as more criminal than heterosexual women can be seen in many facets of our culture over time. This study examines that perception as it appears in the media, government, politics, religion, entertainment, education and more. The assumption is also reviewed as it appears in sociological literature. Original data are used to examine this assumption. The data are also used in an analysis of two major sociological theories of crime; Social Bond theory (Hirschi 1969) and Self-Control Theory (Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990). Examination of these theories as they apply to women is the second main component to the study. All-female data provides a new perspective from which to evaluate the major traditions of deviance theory. The method of this study is an anonymous mail survey. This study utilizes a non-probability sample, with an over sample of lesbian and bisexual women. Response was solicited through snowball sampling and distribution to organizations. Due to the use of non-probability sampling, the sample is not necessarily representative of the population. However, this sampling method is the best alternative. Since a large number of lesbian and bisexual respondents was needed for statistical comparison, the advantage of random sampling had to be forfeited. To date, there has been no such study, despite the important role it can play in understanding women's lives and illuminating some of the possible misconceptions that have been surrounding women for hundreds of years. The study of crime is not just the study of illegal behavior, but an angle through which to understand social control, discrimination, aggressive responses to oppression, as well as the victimization of women. Discovering the true correlates of crime for women helps to reveal differences and similarities between men and women as criminals, and illuminates ways in which assumptions are made, and prejudices are used against women. Results suggest self-control, the "belief" component of the social bond, and peer crime are important factors in female crime and deviance. Sexuality contributes significantly to variance in analogous behaviors, but not in crime behaviors. The models explained significant amounts of variance.
McGuire DK (1995). Intimacy and internalized homophobia: predictors of relationship satisfaction in lesbian couples. PH.D. Thesis, The University of Akron, DAI vol. 56-08B, p. 4626, 154 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to investigate the variables of intimacy and internalized homophobia and their ability to predict relationship satisfaction in lesbian couples. The literature has focused on these variables in two ways. First, the literature suggests that the individual's rating of satisfaction is affected by the individual's perception of her own internalized homophobia and relationship intimacy. Second, the literature also suggests that partner differences on the variables of internalized homophobia and intimacy negatively affects the couple as a unit. The research design was ex post facto. The sample in this study consisted of 88 women (44 couples) who self- identified as being in a lesbian relationship for at least one year. Participants were administered three instruments which measured the stated variables and a demographic survey. A modified version of the Nungesser Homosexual Attitudes Inventory (NHAI) was used to assess internalized homophobia; the Personal Assessment of Intimacy in Relationships (PAIR) was used to assess intimacy; and the Dyadic Satisfaction subscale of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) was used to measure relationship satisfaction. Data were analyzed using a hierarchical regression model and Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficients.
Using individual scores as the unit of analysis, the results revealed that intimacy was a significant predictor of relationship satisfaction, but internalized homophobia was not significant after partialling out the effects of intimacy. Results of the couple scores revealed that both variables were significant predictors of relationship satisfaction. Intimacy was positively correlated with relationship satisfaction for both individual and couple scores, and internalized homophobia was found to have a significant inverse relationship at both levels of analysis. Limitations of the study and implications for counseling lesbians were discussed. Recommendations for future research were also presented.
Minemura E (1996). Asian Pacific Islander lesbian and bisexual women in North America: activism and politics. M.A. Thesis, Michigan State University, MAI vol. 35-01, p. 79, 83 pages.
Abstract by author: This thesis deals with activism of Asian Pacific Islander (API) lesbian and bisexual women that emerged in the 1970s. Particularly it focuses on historical, social, and psychological backgrounds of the emergence and politics around which activism has developed. As a research for this project, oral and written interviews with nine API lesbian or bisexual women were conducted. In addition, related literature was reviewed.
The research revealed that API lesbian and bisexual women activism has adopted identity politics; their specific experience of oppression that mainly stems from their multiple identities necessitates the adoption of the politics. However, as the activism progresses, it has also become apparent that the politics has a limitation that produces a weakness of the activism. The dilemma between the necessity and the limitation of the identity politics is an issue that they need to tackle today and in the future.
Morgan SM (1994). Reading and writing lesbian identities: the anxiety of representation in twentieth-century fiction. PH.D. Thesis, The George Washington University, DAI vol. 55-04A, p. 960, 312 pages.
Abstract by author: This study approaches the development of lesbian literature by examining how lesbian authors have been both limited and inspired by binary conceptual paradigms that divide gender into masculinity and femininity; sexuality into heterosexuality and homosexuality; and, periodically, lesbian signifying practices into butch and femme. It is established that sympathetic lesbian characters rarely appear in either popular or canonized literature; as a consequence, lesbian authors who strive to contribute to an emerging lesbian literary tradition have worked under the inherently political pressure to create hospitable representations that either corroborate or resist prevailing discourses on the forms of lesbian identity and desire. Thus, it is argued, representations of lesbians in literature incite anxiety, not only among lesbian authors, but also among lesbian readers, who scrutinize each provocative representation in highly charged and often contentious political contexts.
In response to contesting discourses from those representing the medical professions, social sciences, and feminism, Radclyffe Hall, June Arnold, and Audre Lorde wrote fiction through which they endeavored to influence and determine the signifiers of lesbian identity and desire and, thus, to "correct" those constructions of lesbians they found hostile, inadequate, or misleading. Judith Butler's theory of "gender performity" is employed to show how the pervasive "anxiety of representation" under which these, and other, lesbian writers work derives from largely artificial and ultimately reductionist binary categories. Through an analysis of lesbian characters in Hall's The Well of Loneliness (1928), Arnold's Sister Gin (1975), Lorde's Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982), and a discussion of the broadly various representations of lesbians appearing in contemporary fiction and media, this study describes the important shifts in strategy lesbian writers have adopted at critical historical junctures as they either corroborate, or, in Butler's terms, "trouble" binary categories of identity. Finally, this study examines how contemporary lesbian authors, inspired by the very inadequacy of binary categories, destabilize, stretch, or ignore binary conceptual borders in their representations of lesbians, and, thus, are moving a burgeoning literary tradition beyond the anxiety of representation.
Murray PR (1993). Satisfaction in lesbian relationships as compared to the qualities of mutuality, cohesion, and merging. ED.D. Thesis, Western Michigan University, DAI vol. 55-04A, p. 870, 127 pages.
Abstract by author: Recently theorists have examined women's development as relational. The ability to use empathy, the value of mutuality, and a flexible boundary structure are components, which lead to psychological growth and emphasize the importance of relating within the relationship. Lesbian relationships are likely to be highly relational, as they consist of two women relating in an intimate way. Research regarding satisfaction in lesbian relationships has been sparse; satisfaction has been correlated with mutuality, intimacy, and dyadic attachment. Other variables such as an equal power balance, commitment, and cohesion have also been positively related to satisfaction. The purpose of the present study was to examine mutuality, cohesion, and merging as correlates of relationship satisfaction.
A sample of 115 lesbians received packets containing the Mutual Psychological Development Questionnaire, Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale II, Marital Satisfaction Scale, Life Styles Questionnaire, and Personal Information Questionnaire. Usable data were received from 63 women for a return rate of 55%. The data were analyzed using correlational techniques, and a stepwise multiple regression analysis was conducted to evaluate which dependent variable was the best predictor of relationship satisfaction. Mutuality and relationship satisfaction were significantly correlated, and mutuality was found to be a highly significant predictor of relationship satisfaction. Cohesion was also significantly correlated with relationship satisfaction; merging showed a significant correlation with relationship satisfaction. Time spent together in the relationship had an inverse correlation with relationship satisfaction.
The results indicated that mutuality is a valued aspect in women's relationships, which supports Stone Center theorists' emphasis on growth through mutual interaction. The correlation between cohesion and satisfaction indicates the value which lesbians place on sharing friends and interests, mutual support, and emotional bonding. Merging was not viewed negatively by this sample. It was concluded that the negative statements which abound in the literature regarding merging in lesbian relationships do not consider the differences which exist in women's development. The need to allow norms in lesbian relationships to develop without a heterosexual or traditional developmental interpretation is essential to avoid pejorative labeling which can lower self-esteem and devalue the lesbian relationship.
Publication No. 9422877
Myer LL (1997). Lesbians and HIV/AIDS: the clean and the free? M.S.W. Thesis, University of Nevada, Reno, MAI vol. 35-05, p. 1237, 54 pages.
Abstract by author: The number of HIV positive lesbians is on the rise. Yet The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has no statistical category by which to classify female - to- female transmitted AIDS cases. Women who have sex with women are dismissed as a "low risk" group by without the benefit of empirical data. Myths regarding lesbian sexuality appear to be the primary reason for their exclusion.
A high incidence of unsafe sexual behaviors has been reported in recent surveys among the lesbian population. According to the Health Belief Model, perception of personal risk will determine health-related behaviors. Using this theoretical framework, the researcher examined the relationship between lesbians' beliefs and knowledge of HIV and their sexual behaviors. Specifically, data from this study involving subscribers of an international magazine were used to describe lesbians' beliefs and knowledge concerning their risk for HIV, and the extent of their involvement in high risk sexual behaviors.
Nielsen TM (1994). Shifting identities: the concept of lesbian community. Master's Thesis, Queen's University at Kingston, MAI vol. 33-02, p. 427, 140 pages, ISBN: 0-315-90303-1.
Abstract by author: This thesis explores the concept of "community" through an investigation of "lesbian communities". It begins with an examination of the concepts of community and identity, tracing the sociological history of these terms and showing their interconnection. I argue that there are multiple meanings of community and these have to be acknowledged in discourses about community. Next, I look specifically at the concept of "lesbian identity". The history of lesbian identities is explicated in the context of "heterosexual hegemony" in order to show how lesbian networks and subcultures have been created. I then explore the concept of "lesbian community" arguing that there are actually three uses of community employed by lesbians. These uses are then elucidated and areas for further research are suggested. Finally, contemporary critiques of community are addressed. These include the critiques that have come out of poststructuralist and postmodernist social theories and from lesbians in the everyday world. In concluding, I offer a different conception of community and show how, for lesbians, community will remain a vital concept and social arrangement.
Ponge LJ (1997). Spiritual attitudes and beliefs among lesbian women. Master's Thesis, The University of New Mexico, MAI vol. 36-01, p. 0162, 74 pages.
Abstract by author: This study explored spirituality and self-actualization among lesbians. Participants (n = 34) completed the Index of Core Spiritual Experiences Revised (Kass, 1991), the Spiritual Orientation Inventory (SOI) (Elkins, Hedstrom, Hughes, Leaf, & Saunders, 1988), and the Personal Orientation Inventory (POI) (Shostrum, 1974). Mean scores on the Inspirit-R (X = 3.3, SD =.34) and the SOI (X = 496.71, SD = 44.74) indicated a high degree of spiritual orientation. POI scores were in the self-actualization range. A significant positive correlation was found between scores on the Inspirit-R and the SOI (r =.51, p =.018). No significant correlation was found between the scores on either spirituality tool and the POI.
Qualitative research concerning lesbian women's spiritual choices is needed. Exploration of relationships between the ability to self-identify as a lesbian and degree of self-actualization is indicated. Additional research about relationships between self- actualization and spirituality is also needed.
Reuman-Hemond E (1994). Relationship stability: a qualitative psychological study of long-term lesbian couples. PH.D. Thesis, Boston College, DAI vol. 56-02B, p. 1118, 204 pages.
Abstract by author: This study investigated factors which influenced stable, primary love relationships among twelve lesbian couples who had been together at least fifteen years and had not reared children together. Each participant was interviewed separately in a retrospective, semi- structured interview that assessed the impact of selected factors over the course of the relationship. Each factor was examined to determine its influence in the beginning phase of the relationship (the first 5 years), in the middle phase (5-10 years into the relationship), and most recently (beyond 10 years into the relationship). Interpersonal dynamics as well as the influences of culture, religion, values, finances, and social supports were explored to determine their impact on relationship stability. Each interview was audio-taped and transcribed. Interview data were coded and analyzed independently by two readers for themes relevant to relationship quality and stability. Consensual agreement on the scoring was reached in all cases, and the inter-rater reliability was .84. HyperRESEARCH software was utilized to organize interview data.
Fifteen themes emerged from the data. Four early relationship themes included initial attraction, early adjustments, family reaction, and relationship expectations. Five themes encompassing interpersonal variables included communication, roles, relatedness, satisfaction, and stability. Six external themes which impacted the relationships included social supports, homophobia and societal attitudes, religion and spirituality, finances, race/ethnicity, and models. Additionally, developmental features were identified. The significance of these findings to women's psychological development, interpersonal fit in lesbian partnerships, and patterns of relationship adjustment over time were discussed.
This study found that long-term lesbian couples developed high levels of intimacy, trust, understanding, and communication in their relationships. Mutuality in decision-making and flexibility in roles were the norm. They valued an ethic of fairness and commitment. Many relationships experienced significant conflict in the 5- 10 year period, leading to a deeper sense of relatedness, intimacy, and satisfaction after 10 years. Negative influences included standardized religion, physical and mental health problems, limited social supports, and negative cultural attitudes towards gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.
Ruppenicker MRA (1996). Lesbian appearance stereotypes: an exploratory study of the butch-femme dimension. Master's Thesis, Texas Woman's University, MAI vol. 35-01, p. 0363, 65 pages.
Abstract by author: The literature on physical attractiveness is extensive. One consistent finding is that the "beauty is good" stereotype exists and has a significant influence on women. Indeed, women are held to more strict societal expectations for appearance than men (Wolf, 1991). The findings of research on attractiveness, however, may not generalize to lesbian women. Historically, there have been different attractiveness norms in lesbian communities. One important aspect of lesbian appearance is the butch- femme dimension.
The existence and importance in lesbian communities of the butch and femme dimension has been documented in many lesbian writings. Butch and femme continue to have meaning to lesbians today. This research tested the hypothesis that lesbian women would agree on judgments of butch and femme, and attractiveness. Twenty-six lesbian participants were shown 12 photographs of self-identified lesbian women. Agreement between raters was assessed with the Kendall coefficient of concordance W. Both Butch-Femme and Attractiveness scores were found to be reliable and the 12 photographs were ranked according to their mean dependent measure scores.
Salkin NB (1997). A qualitative study of body image and lesbian self-identity. PH.D. Thesis, University of Oregon, DAI vol. 58-07B, p. 3947, 175 pages.
Abstract by author: Existing research on body image and lesbianism shows many inconsistencies, primarily with regard to body satisfaction. Some studies have shown lesbians as more satisfied with their bodies and less driven to be thin than heterosexual women, whereas others suggest that lesbians struggle with common appearance and weight issues. In this qualitative study, lengthy interviews were conducted with eight college educated lesbian women in Eugene, Oregon, to elicit as much salient information on body image as possible. Body dissatisfaction was common among the women interviewed, none of whom felt lesbianism was a completely protective shield against the values and standards of the mainstream culture. Body image development was strongly influenced by this culture, and by personal relationships. Mothers had an especially strong impact. Body image did improve after the participants self-identified as lesbians, due in part to an improved overall self-acceptance, and the positive effect of lesbian relationships and/or the lesbian community. Lesbian culture also presented the participants with new body image questions because of the practice of typecasting and the pressures sometimes associated with butch, femme, and androgynous labels. Neither lesbianism nor body image could be easily understood in isolation; both self-identity and the body image construct seemed multidimensional and highly variable.
Saulnier CF (1994). Alcohol problems and marginalization: social group work with lesbians and black women. PH.D. Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, DAI vol. 56-05A, p. 1988, 348 pages.
Abstract by author: Women may be more prone than men to the negative effects of heavy drinking yet problem drinking among women has not been given sufficient attention. Marginalized women's needs are often overlooked. This study provided two intervention groups for women with histories of alcohol problems, one for lesbians, another for African- American women. The goals were: (1) to create alternative interventions; (2) to expand the range of alcohol services for women; and (3) to provide a simultaneous focus on individual and social problems. This study used a multiple methods approach: (1) case studies of the intervention groups; (2) pre-test/post- test structured questionnaires; and (3) exploratory interviews. The structured instruments were: (a) quantity frequency measures of drug and alcohol consumption (Midanik & Clark, 1993); (b) political activist behavior scales (Robinson, Rusk and Head, 1968): (c) Attitudes Toward Women Scale (Spence & Helmreich, 1978). The majority of the data was managed qualitatively using HyperCard. Quantitative data was managed using MTSTAT.
Twenty six women participated. The mean age of the black women was 38. For the lesbian group it was 34. Most participants were college educated. Lesbians scored higher on the Attitudes Toward Women scale, (p < .05) and were more likely to have been politically active (t = 2.504, df = 23, p < .05). The lesbian group. With each participant setting her own goals relative to alcohol use, consumption decreased significantly (t = 2.074, df = 7, p < .1). Frequency of drunkenness also decreased. The women used the group to reduce isolation and define appropriate uses for alcohol in their lives. They formed a peer-facilitated support group when the study ended. The black women's group. Members had stopped drinking prior to participation. Generally, the issues they addressed were not alcohol-specific but they reported valuing the opportunity to meet as a group of abstinent black women. Discussions often pertained to problems arising from the dichotomization of self and society. Results suggest that policy makers need: (1) a general approach that focuses on eliminating structural impediments to women; (2) to redesign the treatment delivery system for women to include recognition of the limitations in the notion of alcoholism as a disease.
Sandifer MH (1996). Interactions of unusual families with social institutions: lesbian mothers, adoption, and race. PH.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota, DAI vol. 57-08A, p. 3699, 498 pages.
Abstract by author: Lesbian families with adopted children of color interact with various social institutions. The thesis presents a thick description of the interactions with the educational system, the legal system, the medical system, religious institutions, extended family, neighborhoods, and the workplace. This qualitative study of the simultaneous effects of race, adoption, and lesbianism on family-social institution interactions emphasizes the multiplicity of responses and the differences in the ways they situate themselves with respect to the larger society. Themes emerging from analysis of family-institution interactions are: selection criteria, decisions, presentation of family, responses to family, and agency. A new theoretical construct, relational ideology, was formulated to explain variation.
Relational ideology is a qualitative construct consisting of (1) acknowledgment or rejection of difference, both the rejective perception of how others view the family and the internalized perception of difference, (2) identification with group or individualism, and (3) implications of identification with group on feelings of responsibility to educate, advocate, and represent. There appears to be an association between this relational ideology construct and patterns of family-institution interactions.
Schoenberg R (1989). Lesbian/gay identity development during the college years. D.S.W. Thesis, University of Pennsylvania, DAI vol. 50-03A, p. 793, 142 pages.
Abstract by author: The primary purposes of the study were, first, to explore the relationship between the experiences of lesbian women and gay men at college and the process of lesbian/gay identity development and, second, to learn how lesbian and gay college students could be better served by higher education administrators and human services professionals working in higher education settings. Interviews were conducted with 35 self-identified lesbian and gay students from seven colleges and universities divided into three categories: a large, private, urban, nonsectarian university; three small, private, suburban colleges-two coeducational, one for women only; and three coeducational, Catholic institutions of varying sizes-one urban, two suburban. Respondents' sexual identity development, particularly from college entrance to the time of the interview, was explored and characterized, using a four-stage, two-dimension conceptual framework developed for the study based on a review of relevant literature. College experiences considered significant in the lesbian/gay identity development process were identified by respondents and subsequently classified and studied according to gender and school category. Suggestions for college administrators and service providers wishing to create an environment comfortable and supportive for lesbian/gay students were elicited from respondents and subsequently classified and ranked.
Results indicated that respondents entered college in all stages of lesbian/gay identity development, most in the first two of the four stages, and that important changes in the process took place during the college years. Thirteen clusters of experiences considered significant in that process were identified. The largest experience clusters were: self-disclosure of sexual orientation, off-campus activities, meeting gay/lesbian people on campus, romance/relationships, sexual activity, and harassment/homophobia. Some notable differences according to gender and school category were found. Respondents provided nearly 200 suggestions to administrators and service providers having to do with administrative policies and practices, personnel, education/programming, and attitudes and behavior.
The study's recommendations to administrators and service providers include: developing an accepting atmosphere; preventing and counteracting sexual orientation discrimination; educating students, staff, and faculty about the concerns of lesbian/gay students and employees; supporting lesbian/gay staff and faculty; facilitating opportunities for lesbian/gay students to meet and organize; communicating regularly with lesbian/gay students; including lesbian/gay-related material in curricula; and considering the stages of lesbian/gay identity development in programming and counseling.
Sobraske PA (1995). An assessment of the social environment of children of lesbian mothers as perceived by their mothers. M.S.W. Thesis, California State university, Long Beach, MAI vol. 33-06, p. 1739, 54 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose
of this study was to explore the social environments of children of lesbian
mothers in order to determine their perceived acceptance or rejection by
various individuals involved in their lives. Participants consisted of
30 women, all self-identified as lesbians, who had children between the
ages of six and seventeen. A questionnaire designed by the researcher measuring
the children's relationship to school personnel, peers, neighbors, and
other significant people was the primary data gathering device.
Overall, the findings revealed general acceptance for children of lesbian mothers as determined by the composite score of the subscales of the questionnaire which was 4.0 on a 5.0 scale. These findings are of importance to social workers and other practitioners who should not automatically assume that a child's problems are due to the parent's identification as a lesbian.
Sprecher KM (1997). Lesbian intentional communities in rural southwestern Oregon: discussions on separatism, environmentalism, and community conflict. M.A. Thesis, California Institute of Integral Studies, MAI vol. 36-01, p. 60, 150 pages.
Abstract by author: Southwestern Oregon rural lesbian intentional communities were born of the 1970's lesbian-feminist and utopian, back-to-the-land, communal movements. The goals of these communities were to live simply and lightly on the land with respect for the natural environment, and to create new social structures based on egalitarian, peaceful, lesbian-feminist values and female safety, empowerment, and self-sufficiency. This study uses an anthropological framework to explore member perspectives on separatism, environmentalism, patterns of conflict, and conflict resolution. In this way, this ethnography establishes common values that unite the communities, common conflicts that threaten to disrupt community harmony, and theories and advice from community members and authors on how to avoid conflict, utilize conflict resolution tools, and create structures that can sustain themselves throughout conflict.
Stenson LA (1994). From carnal acts to cultural communities: Lesbian identity in twentieth century North American novels. PH.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota, DAI vol. 55-07A, p. 1959, 267 pages.
Abstract by author: This thesis, through critical inquiry and literary analysis, shows how lesbian novels form a history of lesbian identity through the interplay of lesbian subjectivities with larger cultural constructions and practices. Lesbian identity then, is not so much a fixed subject position, but rather one that shifts in relation to changing social forces. While it is difficult to find lesbian literature that is free from the pathology that has been tied to lesbianism, this thesis maps out how lesbianism has been made deviant, how this shows itself in literature, and most importantly, where subjective resistance to this pathology exists. The first chapter provides a literature review, discusses theories, methods, and definitions, nineteenth-century precedents, and the rise of the modern novel and its connection to women writers' experimentation in self-definition. Chapter Two discusses the sexologists' work in relation to Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness and the importance of this novel to the formation not only of lesbian literary identity, but also of a tradition in the genre of lesbian literature. Chapter Three discusses three novels from the 1930s and how two of these works begin a counter tradition in lesbian literature, one wherein private, subjective discourse that argues against social stigma begins to become more clearly visible in lesbian literature. Chapter Four shows how "pulp" fiction both reinforces and resists dominant ideology about lesbian identity, and the continuing subjective resistance to the dominant narrative form and the full emergence of the narrative of escape. Finally, Chapter Five discusses the second wave of the feminist movement and the Stonewall rebellion, and how lesbian identity shifts again in response to a lesbian-feminist politic. The work is primarily in the tradition of cultural criticism and studies, with particular emphasis on the history of sexuality.
Stevens A (1997). Critical incidents contributing to the development of lesbian identities in college. PH.D. Thesis, University of Maryland College Park, DAI vol. 58-09A, p. 3444, 370 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to explore and understand the critical incidents that contribute to the development of undergraduate women's lesbian identities. A Naturalistic Inquiry and corresponding methods, developed by Lincoln and Guba (1985), were used to capture the voices of self-identified lesbian women and reveal their individual as well as shared experiences. The participants included 11 self-identified lesbian women from four different local universities. The women selected for this study identified primarily as White and ranged in ages between 19-26 with varying religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. These women were predominantly fourth and fifth year students. A "constant comparative method" (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) was used to analyze the data and resulted in two separate but closely related findings.
First, 11 separate categories emerged
which revealed the various types of critical incidents reported by the
participants. These categories include exposure to homosexuality, attractions
to other women, sources of information that encourage women to question
their sexual orientation, confrontations about being lesbian, opportunities
for building self-awareness, support for identifying as lesbian, relationships
with other women, taking risks, challenges fueled by sexism, heterosexism,
and homophobia, lesbian communities, and lesbian role models. Second, a
grounded theory emerged describing the developmental purposes the
critical incidents served for these women as they formed their lesbian identities.
A combination of developmental purposes and transition periods resulted in a unique pattern of identity formation: (a) sparks and triggers, (b) searching, (c) convergence, (d) fundamental awareness, (e) shifts and turns, (f) taking control/action, and (g) affirmations/confirmations. A "critical incident model" illustrating the progression of lesbian identity development for the 11 women involved in this study is provided. In general, the findings of this study reveal similarities with previous research which center mainly around early developmental experiences. The findings of this study also underscore the complex, cyclical, and fluid nature of identity development.
Sweeney VE (1995). The social support networks of older lesbians: a creative response. M.A. Thesis, Acadia University, MAI vol. 34-03, p. 1015, 157 pages, ISBN: 0-612-04628-1.
Abstract by author: This thesis
investigates sources of social support for a group of older lesbians who
live in Nova Scotia. Using a feminist methodology has allowed the womyn,
for and about whom this research is actually undertaken, to be heard in
their own voices, sharing experiences which named and defined the research
issues. Issues named by these older lesbians are: lesbian community, partnerships,
friendships and non-lesbian support. As the patterns took shape a broader
analysis suggests older lesbians are forced by heterosexist society, which
is largely unaware of their concerns, to create their own support networks.
These womyn know what they require to meet their needs and they also know
it is not provided by heterosexual hegemonic institutions. The networks
these lesbians create are
structured not only to meet their needs but also to offer resistance against a society that would otherwise not recognize them or their relationships.
Publication No. MM04628
Talburt S (1996). Troubling lesbian identities: intellectual voice and visibility in academia. PH.D. Thesis, Vanderbilt University, DAI Vol. 57-11A, p. 4671, 419 pages.
Abstract by author: Discourses pertaining to lesbian faculty have typically focused on identity, emphasizing lesbian voice and visibility as vehicles of change. Through ethnographic case studies with three lesbian faculty members at a public research institution in the United States, this study investigates how voice and visibility, rather than representing identity, are created and used in academic practice. The study's foci include social, institutional, and individual dimensions: (1) how knowledge, pedagogy, and faculty roles are defined institutionally, departmentally, and disciplinarily; (2) how the women understand and enact teaching, research, and service within the constraints and possibilities of the university; (3) how the women's construction of self as intellectual in academia relates to their sexuality.
Participants included a white full professor of Religious Studies, a white associate professor of English, and an African-American assistant professor of Journalism. Fieldwork consisted of ongoing interviews with the women, classroom observations, and interviews with their students, Teaching Assistants, and colleagues. Investigation of institutional social and academic contexts included analysis of mission statements, policies, campus newspapers, and interviews with faculty, staff, and students across campus. Lesbian is not a salient category of self-identity for the women. In fact, lesbian is disconnected from their fluid understandings of the construct intellectual, which is based in social, political, and spiritual practices in which they engage.
In their departments, the women's abilities to excel in accepted domains even as they pursue projects counter to departmental norms combine with their use of voice as it is constructed in interactions to redefine the positions that would be conferred on them by others' recognitions of their perceived social identities. In their teaching, the women move between concealing and revealing the self, citing extant academic norms of objectivity while enacting personalized pedagogies that seek social, political, and practical change. The study suggests that identity is inadequate for conceptualizing lesbian faculty's roles in reconfiguring social and academic norms. Rather, as faculty appropriate norms for new uses, intellectual voice and visibility are constructed in practice, and may invoke but not represent lesbian identity.
Trevino B (1994). The parenting role of the nonbiological mother in a lesbian relationship: an exploratory study. M.S.W. Thesis, California State University, Long Beach, MAI vol. 33-01, p. 99, 63 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship of the non-biological mother to the children of her live-in lesbian partner. This study explored the terminology that non-biological mothers prefer in describing their parenting role and the terms used by children to refer to the non-biological parent. Twenty-eight self-identified lesbian women, 15 biological and 13 non-biological mothers, returned questionnaires that gathered demographic data on their current household and information concerning the relationship of non-biological mothers to their children. Results indicated that non-biological mothers prefer the term "co-parent" in referring to the relationship with their partner's children. Non- biological mothers were more frequently referred to by their first name, with more than half of the women being referred to by more than one term. Biological mothers reported spending slightly more time involved in childcare-related activities than did non-biological mothers.
Underwood JL (1995). Shades of pink: an exploratory study of lesbian teachers. Master's Thesis, MAI vol. 33-06, p. 1739, 268 pages.
Abstract by author: This study examined the experience and concerns of lesbian teachers around issues of remaining closeted or being out at work. It is estimated that of the 5,000 annual suicides by adolescents ages 15 to 24, over 30% may be directly related to sexual identity issues. To counter the negative impact of homophobia these youths need healthy, visible homosexual adult role models. Few homosexual educators have come out to be such role models, even when they are protected against sexual orientation discrimination by law. This study discovered that while legislation provided security, it was not the predominant factor in a participant's degree of disclosure at work. For closeted participants, internalized and external homophobia were major determinates in their closeted status. For out participants, personal history, integrity, and justice were major determinates in their out status. In addition, fears once held by out participants, when closeted, never materialize for them once out.
Whitman JS (1997). Identity management and decision-making strategies of lesbian women at various stages of identity development: an ethnographic study. PH.D. Thesis, West Virginia University, DAI vol. 58-02A, p. 0393, 401 pages.
Abstract by author: This was a qualitative study designed to explore how women at various stages of lesbian identity development manage and make decisions about managing their identities. Management of identity was explored in terms of how women came out or stayed hidden and how they made decisions to both disclose and conceal. It used Cass' (1979) Stage Allocation Measure, based on her model of homosexual identity development, as a means to categorize women at various stages of lesbian identity development.
Twenty-five adult women were individually interviewed, using a semi-structured interview schedule. In addition, participants agreed to maintain a journal for one month recording their management and decision- making strategies and to an exit interview. Qualitative analyses utilizing recommendations by Hycner (1985) were employed. The major findings indicated that women at different stages of lesbian identity development use disparate and similar identity management and decision-making strategies.
Participants discussed an assortment of strategies used to conceal and disclose which varied among the stages and which extended Cass' model in terms of depth and scope around the intrapsychic and interpersonal experiences of women at various lesbian identity development stages. Underlying and connecting lesbian identity management and development was the need to maintain self-esteem. Implications for practice, training, and future research were addressed.
Wittner JL (1994). Learning our lives: lesbian existence and experience in Washington, D.C. PH.D. Thesis, The American University, DAI vol. 56-03A, p. 1002, 201 pages.
Abstract by author: This study uses twenty-three life story narratives from lesbians of diverse backgrounds living in Washington, D.C. during 1993 as a means of identifying and articulating some of the salient features of lesbian life experience. Excerpts from these narratives are presented in a series of six essays which address the pervasive themes the women I interviewed discussed while telling me their life stories. I present these narratives within historical context in order to address two facets of lesbian life. I examine lesbian existence (the phenomenon of women identifying as lesbian) as a social form within a context of inequality and contestation, and lesbian experience (the stories lesbians tell about themselves) as sites of struggle over meaning within that context. By using life story narratives as a primary means of data collection in this analysis, lesbians are given their own voice in the articulation of their personal existence and life experience.
Woods SE (1990). The contextual realities of being a lesbian physical educator: living in two worlds. Ed.D. Thesis, University of Massachusetts, DAI, vol. 51-03A, p. 788, 256 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to describe, from their perspectives, the experiences of lesbian physical education teachers who work in the public schools and the meanings they made of their experiences. The participants were elementary and secondary school physical educators who identified themselves as lesbians. Twelve teachers were interviewed using an in-depth phenomenological approach. The teachers interviewed were women of various ages, races, and social class backgrounds who taught in rural, urban, and suburban schools. The interview materials were presented in two ways: individual profiles of eight participants and common themes. Several key points from the data emerged. First, the participants made two assumptions about being a lesbian physical educator: (a) as a lesbian, you will lose your job if you are open about your sexual orientation, and (b) female physical educators are stereotyped as being lesbians. Second, the participants actively attempted to separate their personal and professional lives. Third, the participants used a variety of strategies to manage their lesbian identities within school settings. These strategies were used both to conceal and reveal their sexual orientation. Living in two worlds was an accepted reality for the lesbian physical educators in this study. A conceptual model outlining the process by which the participants made decisions about managing their identities as lesbian physical educators was presented.
Feminism and oppression theory were used to discuss the participants' experiences. The participants' descriptions revealed the prevalence of homophobia and heterosexism within physical education environments. The lesbian label was specifically used to intimidate or harass women in physical education. The homophobia and heterosexism the participants encountered in their worlds kept them silent, isolated, fearful of discovery, and powerless. Consequently, the participants in this study did not share a collective identity as a subordinate or oppressed group. Developing a collective identity was described as a critical next step in changing the conditions of their oppression as lesbian physical educators.
Zschorkke M (1994). The other woman, from monster to vampire: the figure of the lesbian in fiction. PH.D. Thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz, DAI vol. 55-08A, p. 2386, 269 pages.
Abstract by author: This dissertation establishes a topography of the narrative construction of female, and specifically lesbian, desire. Because fictional narratives and psychoanalytic (so-called non-fictional) accounts often mirror each other, I present psychoanalysis and literature as intersecting discourses rather than prescriptive representations of separate realities. In chapter 1 I read Bronte's 1848 novel Jane Eyre against Rhys's 1966 "prequel" The Wide Sargasso Sea. The two novels together represent a paradigmatic moment of female subjectivity and offer a model for independent female desire. Chapter 2 expands further on the developmental options for female individuation. Moving from Freud to Lampl-de Groot, Deutsch, and Horney, I demonstrate the real difficulties of a "normal" heterosexual adjustment for the woman, in psychoanalysis's own terms. Chapter 3 analyzes the character of the invert or butch as a contemporary form of female resistance to compulsory heterosexuality. Beginning with the archetypal "butch" image as incarnate in Hall's Stephen Gordon, I move on to trace the type through Bannon's Beebo Brinker and end with the story of Feinberg's Jess Goldberg. I argue that the butch, as the most visible lesbian image, emblematizes the strongest refusal of heterosexual patterning, thereby becoming a powerful icon of female subjectivity and autonomy. In Chapter 4 I read the lesbian as detective, a figure of assured self-reliance for the Eighties and Nineties. Since the lesbian detective can function not only as a rescuer, friend, companion, and inspiring role model, but also as a potential lover, the romantic aspect is central to the lesbian mystery, along with other secondary plots such as coming out, familial rejection, or internalized homophobia. Chapter 5 culminates the argument by presenting the lesbian appropriation of the vampire narrative, reclaiming the figure as an embodiment of lesbian pleasure, sexuality, or endurance. The dissertation thus claims "the other woman" as the resistor, the untameable third term in the dichotomous heterosexual economy of male/female, and shows that lesbian writing creates a different narrative of female desire - excessive, autonomous, and self- determined.
Publication No. 9500559
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