Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Well, duh. I just found a 2004 book that says Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead were lovers, to which I said, well, duh. I hadn't thought of it. It makes much sense, partly because Mead tended to have sexual relationships with people she worked closely with. Early on, she married, serially, two or three men she worked on anthropology projects with.

It was much known that Benedict was a big influence on Mead. I read in the book she was fifteen years older than Mead--I would have guessed more.

The book is based on newly released papers. It says, I think, that Mead didn't want the hassle of just going with women. Benedict never married.

There was a period in lesbian novels where one of them tended to commit suicide at the end. Ann Bannon, who wrote pulp lesbian novels in the fifties, said in a documentary I saw that you could have the characters have many pleasant times as long as one of them (at least) died in the end.

Then time passed, and lesbian fiction changed a big so that often the situation was that one person cared about the social hassle a lot and the other person cared about social hassle much less. In the Benedict/Mead relationship, Mead cared more.

Now I think lesbian novels matter less because you can see that such folks exist in the media both in fiction on TV and non-fiction interviews.

Once about the only lesbian novel any average person was likely to have heard of was "The Well of Loneliness" by Ranclyffee Hall. The local library might have it. In the end of that book, the butch woman tells the femme woman who can pass to go forth and marry a guy and pass.

Then, in the sixties, the most famous lesbian novel was "Rubyfruit Jungle" by Rita Mae Brown, which implied it ain't easy to leave your background and be who you are but once you do there are lots of fun choices.

Look down at the power between you legs. It changed from being a well of loneliness to a rubyfruit jungle.

--The book referred to in the beginning is "Intertwined Lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Their Circle" by Lois W. Banner