Lesbianism: Is it unnatural?

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While science and art have adapted to the phenomena of lesbianism and found theories behind it, religion has always debunked the relationship of a woman with another, writes nimrat kaur ahuja.

It’s more like human falling for another human being. By far it isn’t at the least causing war! On Valentines we bring forth the phenomena of love; irrespective of caste, race and GENDER of course! Unlike major love stories talked about.

Ever wondered where did lesbian the word come from? To where does the relationship of a woman to another date back to? It surely hasn’t been another statement by the Americans, nor have they been a controversy lately founded by Indians. It’s probably a way of poetry, a style of living and an inhabitant around the 600BCE, some 2600 years ago.
While a Greek poet lived on the land of Lesvos (Lesbos) and wrote poetry for woman and with woman. You must have fancied Sappho if you’d been around then, I know that I would have!

Although no contemporary descriptions or paintings of Sappho remain, many artists have depicted her as being classically beautiful with flowing dark curly hair, slim but with womanly curves, swarthy skin and deeply mysterious eyes. What adds to it is that she was from an aristocratic family. Help me make a time machine, anyone?

Sappho had a romantic heart is certain, as her poetry expresses her love for women, and for beauty. It is also known that young women came to Sappho for tutoring once they had finished their formal schooling but before marriage, and she often composed poetry in reference to these women. She sang about love and beauty, invoked scandal in her personal life, attracted hordes of followers and died young, reputedly by suicide though an element of mystery surrounds her death.

From the discovery of the word lesbian to the use of it and depiction in poetics, literature and soon a part of the medical knowledge was a long way that the term had been scrutinized into. As the term suggests, a lesbian is a female homosexual: a female who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other females.

Sappho had a romantic heart is certain, as her poetry expresses her love for women, and for beauty. It is also known that young women came to Sappho for tutoring once they had finished their formal schooling but before marriage, and she often composed poetry in reference to these women. She sang about love and beauty, invoked scandal in her personal life, attracted hordes of followers and died young, reputedly by suicide though an element of mystery surrounds her death.

From the discovery of the word lesbian to the use of it and depiction in poetics, literature and soon a part of the medical knowledge was a long way that the term had been scrutinized into. As the term suggests, a lesbian is a female homosexual: a female who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other females.

When early sexologists in the late 19th century began to categorize and describe homosexual behavior, hampered by a lack of knowledge about homosexuality or women’s sexuality, they distinguished lesbians as women who did not adhere to female gender roles and incorrectly designated them mentally ill—a designation which has been reversed in the global scientific community.

Literature has professed of Homoerotic elements as pervasive, specifically the masquerade of one gender for another to fool an unsuspecting woman into being seduced. Such plot devices were used in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (1601), The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser in 1590, and James Shirley’s The Bird in a Cage (1633). Extraordinary cases during the Renaissance of women taking on male personae and going undetected for years or decades have been recorded.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. And you shall not lie with any beast and defile yourself with it; neither shall any woman give herself to a beast to lie with it: it is perversion.” Leviticus 18:22-23 RSV

While religion and the holy books have absolutely criticized and dishonored women or men who have same sex relationship, science has openly stood forth to realize the fact that it’s not unnatural. The fight between religion and science has always been so prominent and it continues to be even now. As the Bible talks of God creating Adam and Eve, the first man and woman on earth and not the creation of two women or two men on earth. In the same way Quran and various other holy books controvert the relation of a woman with another as far as it has to do with romancing or physical relationship.

Psychologist like Freud believed that all humans were bisexual, by which he primarily meant that everyone incorporates aspects of both sexes. Everyone is sexually attracted to both sexes. In his view, this was true anatomically and therefore also mentally and psychologically.

As one of the causes of homosexuality Freud mentions the distressing heterosexual experience. He believed that humans are born with unfocused sexual libidinal drives, and therefore argued that homosexuality might be a deviation from this. Nevertheless, he also felt that certain deeply rooted forms of homosexuality were difficult or impossible to change.

In a conversation with Renne Singh, a psychologist, we asked her how was it to experience a female walking into your cabin and confessing of being sexually attracted to another female.

“The first time I came across the case of a girl who was a lesbian, I wasn’t too happy about it. I am from a generation which is still conservative. But, today’s generation is more adaptive to cases like these. I believe it’s a personal choice of a person to decide what they want. It’s a very personal thing. These cases are on a rise as people are more open about their feelings while in the earlier times they used to feel shy and embarrassed. But with the growing social acceptability, people have started to confess openly and not be ashamed of their preferences at all. From the last 2-3 years there is increasing number of such cases. The cases that I had come across so far were mostly bi-sexual. The percentage is more in the salon industry.

Generally, girls in the age group of 18-25 realize that they have such feelings. The feelings generally grow when two girls reside together like in hostels, boarding etc. They go into convenience relationships. Sometimes it’s a natural instinct too. Girls experience such feelings since childhood and it grows further with age.”

The commotion that religion, along with science and law has created for lesbians has produced a confusion of its own.

We spoke with people from different fields of work and understood what they had to say about a woman romancing another woman in India and other countries.

Ressica Ahuja, from UILS says, “It’s a sheer matter of personal choice. You can’t be going out telling people that their preferences are incorrect or that it’s unnatural. I have celebrity friends who are homosexual and are absolutely as natural and functional as I am.”

Alex, studying Arts from New York says, “I am a lesbian myself and it doesn’t put me to shame to be one of ‘those’. I am just like any one of else; the only differences are the ones that people have created.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender in India face legal and social difficulties that are not experienced by non-LGBT persons. Sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is criminalized, and is punishable by incarceration in India as a criminal offence under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. India does, however, legally recognize Hijras as a gender separate from men or women, making the country one of the few in the world to legally recognize a third gender.

Celebrities like Celina Jaitly are endorsing lesbians, and public is becoming as aware and majorly comfortable with the being and existence of a woman with another.

“If the society will change, so will the law. Once the society accepts an individual as he/she is, laws will eventually amend. Laws are for the society and not vice versa,” says Eklavya Gupta, a lawyer with the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Dr Narula, orthopedic and spine surgeon, says, “It’s all based on an emotional or a mental connect more than physical. Biological sex was designed by nature for procreation and since the homosexual contact does not reproduce so it’s perceived as going against the nature. But man is more evolved mentally than other animals. There is an additional need for love that goes beyond sex actually.”

A university student, on condition of anonymity, said, “Coming to that, the mental and the social decision that women are supposedly perceived to be clear about is the dilemma I find hard to conclude. Staying with girls in a hostel for five long years made me look into the mirror and give it a thought, if I myself was straight enough any further? If the extended warmth of a girl was better than any man I had ever hugged!? Everything was set in a hazy foggy mirror that took me lots of time to figure out that I was a bisexual. Even today when I am with a group of girls compared to a group of men, my mind and body always find sheer comfort in the company of women than that of girls.”

Asking Shreen, who has stayed in a girls’ hostel for three years already, shares how it still feels confusing for her to realize if she is a bisexual, a lesbian or a straight. On asking her what would her preference be, she says, “It’s difficult, to put it that simply in words. There are times I feel I am a bisexual and there are times I feel I am straight. It’s kind of complicating.”
Nibedita Karmakar, a runway model for Lakme Fashion Week, says, “It’s more like humans falling for each other. I have friends who are in the same sex relationship and in this industry it’s something as common as waking up in the morning. Society is changing and people are accepting novel ideas and discoveries. In a city like Mumbai I see people take it absolutely frankly and easy.” We spoke with a lesbian couple, Deeksha and Naina, who share their story with us about how romancing a girl hasn’t felt any better.

Students of Delhi University who had met in the class of economics four years back have now decided to settle together. “We had been living together in the same flat in order to save on expenses. Slowly and steadily we started hanging out more often and one fine day when I was getting ready for my class I saw her sleeping and realized it did something to me that never happened before. I thought I should consult a doctor or speak to a psychologist. However, it did happen and after a month or two of feeling for her I confessed to her over dinner. What made me feel better was the fact that the two of us were equally attracted to each other. I loved her and she loved me too.”

Did you both fall for each other because you both had discovered this now, or were any of you always aware of the preferences?
“I am not sure if I had felt this before but I am glad I discovered it now. I had a boyfriend before I met her, so probably that technically calls me a bisexual,” says Deeksha. While Naina says, “I had felt attracted to women before and I had always been confused what kind of liking and attraction that had to do with.”

How comfortable is a woman’s company?
“It’s a different world all together, I don’t think any man could be as warm as a woman, girls are always more expressive and giving. There is different kind of warmth I always experience with her.”

How would you deal with the legal issues when you think you of settling down?
“We have already confessed it to our families and thought of staying like this for as long as we can’t legally get married. Or we might fly to another country and settle there. Frankly, we haven’t bothered to give it much thought as long as we are together.”

There has been a lot of talk about lesbians being unaccepted socially. However, a lot of people have come around to realize how it’s not anything that’s unnatural to feel. The disturbance of trying to figure out if you are in love with a man or with a woman continues massively among the teenagers today.

Spread love, be love, encourage love this valentines! After all, love is all that saves
us!

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