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Boston Marriages

Romantic but Asexual Relationships among Contemporary Lesbians

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For decades the term "Boston marriage" was used to describe single women who lived together and shared their lives. The presumption then was that these partnerships were nonsexual. In recent years, however, the opposite assumption has prevailed, causing some women involved in such relationships to hide the asexual nature of their attachments in the lesbian community.

Convinced that Boston marriages are both legitimate and important, Esther D. Rothblum and Kathleen A. Brehony argue that in a society that defines intimacy by the occurrence of sexual activity, we have no word for--and thus no understanding of--the intensely romantic but asexual relationships that some lesbians form. By bringing these relationships "out of the closet" and discussing them openly, the editors and other contributors to this volume challenge our views about lesbianism and address larger questions concerning the construction of sexuality and sexual identity. How, for example, do we define a lesbian relationship? What constitutes a romantic involvement? If a couple does not engage in sex, are they still considered lovers?

This book includes ten personal accounts by women involved in Boston marriages as well as theoretical essays by Lillian Faderman, Marnie Hall, JoAnn Loulan, Suzanna Rose, Debra Zand, Marie Cini, and Laura Brown.

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