counter Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women

Availability: Ready to download

From the ancient poet Sappho to tombois in contemporary Indonesia, women throughout history and around the globe have desired, loved, and had sex with other women. In beautiful prose, Sapphistries tells their stories, capturing the multitude of ways that diverse societies have shaped female same-sex sexuality across time and place. Leila J. Rupp reveals how, from the time o From the ancient poet Sappho to tombois in contemporary Indonesia, women throughout history and around the globe have desired, loved, and had sex with other women. In beautiful prose, Sapphistries tells their stories, capturing the multitude of ways that diverse societies have shaped female same-sex sexuality across time and place. Leila J. Rupp reveals how, from the time of the very earliest societies, the possibility of love between women has been known, even when it is feared, ignored, or denied. We hear women in the sex-segregated spaces of convents and harems whispering words of love. We see women beginning to find each other on the streets of London and Amsterdam, in the aristocratic circles of Paris, in the factories of Shanghai. We find women's desire and love for women meeting the light of day as Japanese schoolgirls fall in love, and lesbian bars and clubs spread from 1920s Berlin to 1950s Buffalo. And we encounter a world of difference in the twenty-first century, as transnational concepts and lesbian identities meet local understandings of how two women might love each other. Giving voice to words from the mouths and pens of women, and from men's prohibitions, reports, literature, art, imaginings, pornography, and court cases, Rupp also creatively employs fiction to imagine possibilities when there is no historical evidence. Sapphistries combines lyrical narrative with meticulous historical research, providing an eminently readable and uniquely sweeping story of desire, love, and sex between women around the globe from the beginning of time to the present.


Compare

From the ancient poet Sappho to tombois in contemporary Indonesia, women throughout history and around the globe have desired, loved, and had sex with other women. In beautiful prose, Sapphistries tells their stories, capturing the multitude of ways that diverse societies have shaped female same-sex sexuality across time and place. Leila J. Rupp reveals how, from the time o From the ancient poet Sappho to tombois in contemporary Indonesia, women throughout history and around the globe have desired, loved, and had sex with other women. In beautiful prose, Sapphistries tells their stories, capturing the multitude of ways that diverse societies have shaped female same-sex sexuality across time and place. Leila J. Rupp reveals how, from the time of the very earliest societies, the possibility of love between women has been known, even when it is feared, ignored, or denied. We hear women in the sex-segregated spaces of convents and harems whispering words of love. We see women beginning to find each other on the streets of London and Amsterdam, in the aristocratic circles of Paris, in the factories of Shanghai. We find women's desire and love for women meeting the light of day as Japanese schoolgirls fall in love, and lesbian bars and clubs spread from 1920s Berlin to 1950s Buffalo. And we encounter a world of difference in the twenty-first century, as transnational concepts and lesbian identities meet local understandings of how two women might love each other. Giving voice to words from the mouths and pens of women, and from men's prohibitions, reports, literature, art, imaginings, pornography, and court cases, Rupp also creatively employs fiction to imagine possibilities when there is no historical evidence. Sapphistries combines lyrical narrative with meticulous historical research, providing an eminently readable and uniquely sweeping story of desire, love, and sex between women around the globe from the beginning of time to the present.

30 review for Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Juan

    I don't usually write reviews here, but it's a little disturbing to me that no one else is discussing the glaring problems in this book. Rupp markets Sapphistries as a book about "love between women", but her choices of who to include in (and exclude from) her research make it clear that what she really means is "love between any two people with vaginas". A good portion of Rupp's accounts of women loving women are, in fact, people assigned female who chose to present as men, took on he/him prono I don't usually write reviews here, but it's a little disturbing to me that no one else is discussing the glaring problems in this book. Rupp markets Sapphistries as a book about "love between women", but her choices of who to include in (and exclude from) her research make it clear that what she really means is "love between any two people with vaginas". A good portion of Rupp's accounts of women loving women are, in fact, people assigned female who chose to present as men, took on he/him pronouns, and in some cases married women in societies where a marriage between two women should have been impossible - all signs that would point to an instance of a transgender man in history, rather than a women-loving woman. In one instance, Rupp includes the account of a man who specifically asks not to be called a woman, yet she still chooses to frame him in the context of this book that she explicitly states is aboout women. I might be willing to give Rupp the benefit of the doubt in this regard, because I am aware that gender identities are complex and vary significantly across time periods and geographic areas. Rupp, however, makes no attempt to include people assigned male at birth who may well have identified as women and loved women themselves. Her only discerning point seems to be the genitals of the people in love, as a vagina is really the only thing all her subjects have in common. If she had really wanted to include trans or gender nonconforming instances of love with the intention of portraying them respectfully, it seems more logical to represent people who may have been women than people who may have been men. This, along with the blatant use of words such as "transgendered" and "hermaphrodite" leave almost no doubt in my mind that Rupp simply did not do her research regarding the trans community. "Transgendered" in particular is a word that the transgender community have stated over and over again is incorrect and shouldn't be in use, yet it appears multiple times in Sapphistries. Rupp states in the introduction of her book that she intends to read into history with the intention of drawing out lesbian representation, but I can't respect her for doing this at the expense of representation of the trans community. TL;DR: This kind of genital-essentialist argument is not a good or worthwhile representation of queer history and is something I would expect to come out of the 20th century, not 2009.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    In her introduction Leila clearly states that she is trying to set out a book that will include a Global history of same-sex desire and love between women, stating how so many focus on the "west" (ie Europe and the United States) and ignore the rest of the world. She then proceeds to write a book where she does just that! In the first few chapters she focuses entirely on the Greek and Roman traiditons, with a few paragraphs on other cultures, and often her references to the other cultures are to In her introduction Leila clearly states that she is trying to set out a book that will include a Global history of same-sex desire and love between women, stating how so many focus on the "west" (ie Europe and the United States) and ignore the rest of the world. She then proceeds to write a book where she does just that! In the first few chapters she focuses entirely on the Greek and Roman traiditons, with a few paragraphs on other cultures, and often her references to the other cultures are totally outside of the time frame she is discussing, in relation to the "Western" perspective. She mentions how she includes China in her research but in the chapters I read she didn't quote any actual Chinese historians or Sinologists, but her reference came from a book written by a science fiction writer. She mentions how in the Han dynasty there were "several" Emperors who had male favorites and were homosexual. However, she then goes on to say that during this period it was "reasonable to assume that Buddhist monasteries may have seemed a desirable place for men with same sex desires". Except there were NO Buddhist monasteries in Han China! There were a few foreign monks who visited China during that period, but it didn't become a popular religious movement in China until after the fall of the Han in the Six dynasties period, the first major translations of the Buddhist scriptures happening in the 4th century. Something any book on the history of Chinese Buddhism would tell you so clearly she'd not read one book on the subject, yet was willing to make assumptions on it based on nothing but her own imagination. There is no explanation as to why, because an Emperor did something, it would be natural to assume that Buddhists would do something. That is simply bad scholarship and at that point I gave up reading. I really can't recommend this book at all. It isn't a global history at all, just another one that focuses on the west with a couple of random (and incorrect) examples from different cultures thrown in without any thought to culture, or time period.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    I feel a little badly giving this book only two stars because it accomplished what it sought out to do, but I also feel there were several glaring omissions in content that I can't seem to ignore. The author is clear in the beginning that she is seeking to provide a complete social history of lesbianism, beginning with ancient society and ending in the present day, but I was expecting at least some insight regarding the genetic research of same-sex predisposition. The author comes close to discu I feel a little badly giving this book only two stars because it accomplished what it sought out to do, but I also feel there were several glaring omissions in content that I can't seem to ignore. The author is clear in the beginning that she is seeking to provide a complete social history of lesbianism, beginning with ancient society and ending in the present day, but I was expecting at least some insight regarding the genetic research of same-sex predisposition. The author comes close to discussing this when revealing the study of hermaphrodites as it related to women loving women, but anything beyond that is ignored. Sapphistries does a wonderful job in relaying the history of female masculinity and that of conventional butch-femme relationships in different cultures, but I can't help thinking the book ignores the depiction of lesbian relationships that don't necessarily fall into these categories. This may not be the author's fault as she is working with very limited material, especially when touching on eras in which women were scarcely able to provide written accounts of their personal lives. I may also be a little biased as someone who is considered a "lipstick lesbian" within the gay community. Still, it seemed the author is seduced by labels created by the very society that repressed (and still continues to repress) homosexuals. What exactly is a "lesbian"? Is a sexual relationship with a woman essential in defining oneself as such, or can one remain celibate while still considering herself homosexual? Also, what defines "sex" between two women? The author attempts to answer these questions in the beginning, stating that for the purpose of the text she will only be examining those who have acted upon their sexual desires for women. While this is fine for what is basically a regurgitation of female same-sex evidence throughout history, I would have liked to have gained some insight on the complexities of human sexuality on an instinctual level. Perhaps the author could have explored how a more open-minded society became more and more amenable to the study of lesbianism not as a mental affliction but as a genetic predisposition having nothing to do with psychological illness. Not that I believe lesbianism is 100% biological. But that's the thing--this book could have helped add to my knowledge of the nature vs. nurture debate as it relates to homosexuality, and it just didn't. I would still recommend this book for any lesbian looking to learn about Sapphic history, but I would also warn them not to expect much in terms of knowing what makes us tick on the inside. And expect to do a lot of re-reading--this book is chock-full of run-on sentences that tend to make things that much more convoluted.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rhi

    This might be worth a read, if you want a reasonably short introduction to 'sapphistries'. The sources amassed were wide-ranging, though mostly from a Western perspective, and many were new to me, including 'the Arab Sappho', a love spell addressed from one woman to another in Roman-era Egypt, and many Chinese 'May Fourth' writers and thinkers. Unfortunately, many of the 'primary sources' are quoted directly from other works of scholarship with no evidence that the author has sought to verify or This might be worth a read, if you want a reasonably short introduction to 'sapphistries'. The sources amassed were wide-ranging, though mostly from a Western perspective, and many were new to me, including 'the Arab Sappho', a love spell addressed from one woman to another in Roman-era Egypt, and many Chinese 'May Fourth' writers and thinkers. Unfortunately, many of the 'primary sources' are quoted directly from other works of scholarship with no evidence that the author has sought to verify or look up the original sources herself; it was very frustrating whenever I flipped to the footnotes to ascertain the origin of a primary source, only to be directed to another academic text's discussion of the source. It was fairly nuanced in some ways in its portrayal of identities, hesitating to use the word 'lesbian' as an all-encompassing term while acknowledging that in diverse ways in many places, women who loved women were recognised as, or conceived of themselves as, a potentially distinct class of people pre-20th century. The main issue I had with the book was that it neglected transgender women who loved women, and instead included several quotations from and thoughts about trans men (who are, obviously, not women) and their relationships with women. Of course, I can definitely see the benefit of discussing masculine or male-presenting people from the distant past who were assigned female at birth and who pursued women as love interests, since we often have no way of knowing how they would identify (although several of these people Rupp mentions DID express a longing to be a man, or go by he/him pronouns), and it's useless to speculate or attempt to fit them into today's idea of 'woman' or 'not woman'. But to include trans men in a study of women's love throughout global history, while neglecting to mention even a single trans woman who loved women (Lili Elbe springs to mind as important to a historical study such as this) is extremely difficult for me to understand - unless the author believes firmly that biology trumps presentation and personal identification, which I hope is not the case. It felt like a huge oversight, and did spoil my enjoyment of the book quite a bit. Overall, however, I did find the book full of sources I was interested to know more about, even if I wished they had been put to better use by the author.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    I’ve been trying to decide how to approach this one. It deserves a review, but I can’t quite figure out what to say about, so I’m going to write a pro/con list... Pros: -Comprehensive: Rupp really does cover the whole span of time and space. I will say, I thought the book was awfully light on South America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, and especially Russia and the Pacific Islands. -I greatly appreciate the simplicity and tangibility of the working definition Rulp used for the word “lesbian I’ve been trying to decide how to approach this one. It deserves a review, but I can’t quite figure out what to say about, so I’m going to write a pro/con list... Pros: -Comprehensive: Rupp really does cover the whole span of time and space. I will say, I thought the book was awfully light on South America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, and especially Russia and the Pacific Islands. -I greatly appreciate the simplicity and tangibility of the working definition Rulp used for the word “lesbian”—a biological female who pursues sexual relationships with other biological females. Queer theory generally exhausts me because authors are always falling all over themselves to overcomplicate everything to the point that conclusive statements about anything become impossible, so this book was refreshing by comparison. -I appreciated the many points at which Rupp pointed out and explained the reasons for the holes in the historical record, as well as the fact that she mostly stuck to the facts, even when they were sparse, rather than devolving into speculative fiction. -This really is a book about lesbianism, not homophobia. I found it interesting the way Rupp pointed out how certain homophobic practices were the driving forces enabling lesbian relationships. I appreciate the through lines Rupp identified that connect lesbian culture and experiences across time and space. -I learned a lot, and even if I didn’t always agree with the interpretations or conclusions drawn, those didn’t diminish the value of the factual information. Cons: -I was a little disappointed by the section on contemporary lesbianism. I expected a broad overview of the state of lesbian identity and experience around the world, and I didn’t really get that. -Rupp and I interpreted Anne Lister’s diary wildly differently. But it’s fine. -I found the whole prehistory/creation myth part at the beginning really tedious, but I get the point she was trying to make. -I felt like there was a weird disparity in what received speculative attention and what didn’t, especially in a book about lesbianism. E.g., there was all sorts of speculation about what historical women who cross-dressed felt or believed about their gender identities, which I saw no real point in in a book about lesbianism. Final thoughts: this was a great survey of lesbian love throughout human history. If you’re looking for a really deep dive, this is not it, but it IS full of fascinating history and sociology and provides a sense of connection to a grand, global history and tradition that I think is often hard to find as lesbians. I would recommend this to any lesbian who wants to understand the history of lesbian love on a macro scale, or to anyone who’s looking for a new niche of human history to explore.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mary Kathryn

    A little dry for a book on the history of lesbianism (footnotes galore), Sapphistries accomplishes its ambitious goal of providing a global history of love between women. The global and historical context is interesting as Rupp highlights the ways in which lesbian love has been defined by both sameness (eroticised friendship) and difference (femme/butch), pointing out the importance of the public/private divide in the history of a culture that has often been invisible.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    Some other readers said this was dry, but I found it remarkably accessible for an academic text. While there's some problematic stuff going on here with trans* identities (which the author, to her credit, does try to address), and while bisexuality isn't directly addressed, the information here is incredibly valuable for a sense of perspective. Some other readers said this was dry, but I found it remarkably accessible for an academic text. While there's some problematic stuff going on here with trans* identities (which the author, to her credit, does try to address), and while bisexuality isn't directly addressed, the information here is incredibly valuable for a sense of perspective.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Crowley

    TERF.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Toni Duder

    This book explores the history of love between women around the world, beginning in ancient times. It acts almost as a high level sweeping look at the subject matter, which is a good starting point for readers interested in lesbian history. What I found humbling to read was individual stories that somehow made it through history to us. They demonstrate how true it is that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. And what Rupp emphasises is that there is so much that has been silenc This book explores the history of love between women around the world, beginning in ancient times. It acts almost as a high level sweeping look at the subject matter, which is a good starting point for readers interested in lesbian history. What I found humbling to read was individual stories that somehow made it through history to us. They demonstrate how true it is that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. And what Rupp emphasises is that there is so much that has been silenced and lost of our stories - because the wants and desires of women were secondary to men throughout history. Overall, this is an interesting and well put together book. I really like that the author sets out to make such history accessible to the average reader with this book and I think she’s done it well for the most part. The critique I would make would be regarding the way Rupp treats some of the transgender elements of this history. While not ignoring it, she deals with it clumsily, and I think for someone who says that often lesbianism and gender diversity sit very close together or even overlap, she maybe could have carved out a more nuanced discussion of gender and transgender people. She also made no mention of trans women, which is an omission that seems dated, even in 2009. Despite this, I would still recommend checking out this book, at least as a starting point if you’re interested in the topic.

  10. 5 out of 5

    moritz

    A refreshing, truly global survey of wlw history. While the author does have some "hot takes," particularly when it comes to classifying transmasculine figures as wlw, she does nuance them enough to where the reader can make up their own mind about whether they belong in a discussion of lesbianism. It's peppered with relevant photos, drawings, and images, which is a nice touch. All in all, I learned a lot, and I give her a pass on the transphobia; it was a different time when this was published, A refreshing, truly global survey of wlw history. While the author does have some "hot takes," particularly when it comes to classifying transmasculine figures as wlw, she does nuance them enough to where the reader can make up their own mind about whether they belong in a discussion of lesbianism. It's peppered with relevant photos, drawings, and images, which is a nice touch. All in all, I learned a lot, and I give her a pass on the transphobia; it was a different time when this was published, and I'm never going to be angry about the chance to learn trans history.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    A thoughtful academic treatment of written records of same-sex relationships across a variety of historical and cultural context that is undermined by a problematic view of gender that loops trans men in with lesbians, largely ignores bisexuality as a distinct sexual identity, and does not include even the barest suggestion that trans lesbians might exist. If your view of wlw relationships is more inclusive than "two people with vaginas," you will be somewhat disappointed. A thoughtful academic treatment of written records of same-sex relationships across a variety of historical and cultural context that is undermined by a problematic view of gender that loops trans men in with lesbians, largely ignores bisexuality as a distinct sexual identity, and does not include even the barest suggestion that trans lesbians might exist. If your view of wlw relationships is more inclusive than "two people with vaginas," you will be somewhat disappointed.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    While this book made some interesting points, the exclusion of transwomen in a history of lesbianism is inexcusable. What's worse may be the author's complete side-stepping of the issue, obfuscating the transmisogynist politics at play. Overall, I'm shocked anyone could make a topic this interesting seem so boring. While this book made some interesting points, the exclusion of transwomen in a history of lesbianism is inexcusable. What's worse may be the author's complete side-stepping of the issue, obfuscating the transmisogynist politics at play. Overall, I'm shocked anyone could make a topic this interesting seem so boring.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Reiter

    A very good and diverse account of women loving women over time. It's sad that this book isn't many times longer, but the documentation and stories it does have were great. It's nice to see the similarities and differences among different cultures. Also I loved the pictures, vintage lesbians yesss A very good and diverse account of women loving women over time. It's sad that this book isn't many times longer, but the documentation and stories it does have were great. It's nice to see the similarities and differences among different cultures. Also I loved the pictures, vintage lesbians yesss

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glennda Blyth

    Thorough lesbian history An excellent and very extensive history of lesbians of all kinds throughout the ages. Extremely interesting and very educational, well researched.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Fascinating read, I really enjoyed it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Piers Haslam

    An interesting and worthwhile read, but perhaps a little disappointing. Lots of interesting topics are raised, but they are discussed all too briefly for me. An entire book on the semi-mythical Amazons of ancient Anatolia would be particularly welcome, if anyone could recommend such a work. But of course general introductions are in need, so this serves well enough as that. There's also the issue that the way gender-nonconforming people of the past are portrayed is very awkward. The very presenc An interesting and worthwhile read, but perhaps a little disappointing. Lots of interesting topics are raised, but they are discussed all too briefly for me. An entire book on the semi-mythical Amazons of ancient Anatolia would be particularly welcome, if anyone could recommend such a work. But of course general introductions are in need, so this serves well enough as that. There's also the issue that the way gender-nonconforming people of the past are portrayed is very awkward. The very presence in the book of people born with vaginas but who identified as men is awkward. That could be misconstrued very badly in a book on 'love between women', but I think I know where Rupp is coming from. In historical terms the idea of the sexual binary is pervasive and it splits the histories between 'men' and 'women' deeply, so it could be argued that the traditional vulva/penis division be maintained for ease of research. But none of this is discussed, and a much better history could be written. Ultimately what we need is a complete overhaul of the way queer history is done, the crucial changing point being the way that gender is perceived. Books like this feel increasingly out of date when they seem to me to tell only half the story... who loved/fucked who; there's precious little consideration of how people perceived their own gender and others around them, and this is fundamental to seeing the whole picture. In the end, Rupp didn't want to write a book about any of that. She wanted to write a traditional book on 'homosexuality', and I take it as such.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heathyr

    Excellent partial history of sapphism. This book gives a very global perspective. It has a dry, academic tone, but that's exactly how I like it. I learned so much from this book! Excellent partial history of sapphism. This book gives a very global perspective. It has a dry, academic tone, but that's exactly how I like it. I learned so much from this book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Renate

    The 2nd book I reviewed for Bust.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lucia Larsen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Care

  21. 5 out of 5

    Strained Eye

  22. 4 out of 5

    R

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sparkius

  24. 4 out of 5

    I-330

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sheridan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lucinda

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Prager

  29. 4 out of 5

    Grasser

  30. 4 out of 5

    Annie Iris

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.