Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Female Husbands in the 19th Century

NPR explores female husbands throughout American history

Particularly interesting is Lucy Ann/Joseph Lobdell and Mary Louise Perry Wilson who reportedly kept a pet bear as a couple.

"Lots of evidence exists, she says, "contrary to the idea that small communities are always judgmental, that your behavior as a neighbor was often more important to other community members than your behavior in your own home. So people often turned a blind eye to behaviors or dress that in later years might occasion more suspicion and hostility."She adds: "This is not to say that these communities were tolerant of open homosexuality."After the Civil War, the government became more stringent about the definition of a legal marriage, Coontz says. "But this was also the heyday of the doctrine of separate spheres and true womanhood, when women were assumed to be pure and asexual — and also completely different from men, who were often referred to as 'the grosser sex.' "
Common themes that NPR identified in these relationships were abandonment and poverty. Many women, including Lucy Ann, were abandoned by their first husbands before marrying other women or posing as men.

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