The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations between Women in Nineteenth-Century America Carroll Smith-Rosenberg The female friendship of the nineteenth century, the long-lived intimate, loving friendship between two women, is an excellent example of the type of historical phenomena which most historians know something about, which few have thought much about, and which virtually no one has written about.
It is one aspect of the female experience which consciously or unconsciously we have chosen to ignore. Yet an abundance of manuscript evidence suggests that eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women routinely formed emotional ties with other women. Such deeply felt, same-sex friendships were casualty accepted in American society.
Indeed, from at least the late eighteenth through the nineteenth-century, a friendahips world of varied and yet highly structured relationships appears to have been an essential aspect of American society. These relationships ranged from the supportive love of sisters, through the enthusiasms of adolescent girls, to sensual avowals of love by mature women. It was a world in which men made but a but a shadowy appearance.
This is especially true since historians, influenced by Freud's libidinal theory, have discussed these relationships almost exclusively virtual tile context of individual psychosexual developments or, to be more explicit, psychopathology. Seeing same-sex relationships in terms of a dichotomy between normal and abnormal, they have sought the origins of such apparent deviance in childhood or amrican trauma and detected the symptoms of "latent" homosexuality in the lives of both those who later became "overtly" homosexual and those who did not.
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Yet theories concerning the nature and origins of same-sex relationships are frequently contradictory or based on questionable or arbitrary data. In recent years such hypotheses have been subjected to criticism both americsn within and without the psychological professions. Historians who seek to work within a psychological framework, therefore, are faced with two hard questions: Do sound psychodynamic theories concerning the nature and origins of girrl relationships exist?
If so, does the historical datum exist which would permit the use of such dynamic models?
I would like to suggest all alternative approach to female friendships - one which would view them within a cultural and social setting rather than from an exclusively individual psychosexual perspective. Only by thus altering our approach will we be metric position to evaluate the appropriateness of particular dynamic interpretations.
What if friendship, not marriage, was at the center of life?
Intimate friendships between men and men and women and women existed in a larger world of social relations and social values. The female friendship must not be seen in isolation; it must be analyzed as one aspect of women's overall relations with one another. The ties between mothers and daughters, sisters, female cousins and friends, at all stages of the female life cycle constitute the most suggestive framework for the historian to begin an analysis of intimacy and infection between women.
Such an analysis would not only emphasize general cultural patterns rather than the internal dynamics of a particular family or childhood; it would shift the focus of the study from a concern with deviance to that of defining configurations, of legitimate behavioral norms and options.
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This analysis will be based upon the correspondence and diaries of women and men in thirty-five families between the s and the s. These families, though limited inrepresented a broad range of the American middle class, from hard-pressed pioneer families and orphaned girls to daughters of the intellectual and social elite. It includes families from most geographic regions, rural and urban, and a spectrum of Protestant denominations ranging from Mormon to Orthodox Frienndships.
Although scarcely a comprehensive sample of America's increasingly heterogeneous population, akerican does, I believe, reflect accurately the literate middle class to which the historian working with retreats and diaries is necessarily bound. It has involved an analysis of manthousands of letters written to women friends, kin, husbands, brothers, and children at every period of life friendshiips adolescence to old age.
Some collections encompass virtually entire life spans; one contains overletters as well as diaries and books.
Childbirth, especially maerican birth of the first child, became virtually a rite de passage, with a lengthy seclusion of the woman before and after delivery, severe restrictions on her activities, and finally a dramatic reemergence. Two days before Jeannie's marriage Sarah, the in London, wrote desperately: frienfships darling - How incessantly have I thought of you these eight days - all today - the entire uncertainty, the distance, the long silence - are all new features in my separation from americzn, grevious to be borne They frequently commented on the nature of their affection: "If one day should come," Sarah wrote Jeannie in the spring of"when you failed me either through your fault or my own, I would amerkcan all human friendship, thenceforth.
Amoung rural Pennsylvania Quakers, death and mourning rituals assumed an even more extreme same-sex form, with men or women largely barred from the deathbeds of the other sex. To me it seems to have been a closer union than that of most marriages. With increasing frequency in the nineteenth century, marriage involved a girl's traumatic removal from nineteenth century, marriage involved a girl's traumatic removal from her mother and her mother's network.
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Women frequently spent their days within the social confines of such extended families. Rural women developed a pattern of more extended visits that lasted weeks and sometimes months, at times even dislodging husbands from their beds and bedrooms so that tear friends might spend every hour of every day together.
Sibling rivalry was hardly unknown, but with separation or illness the theme of deep affection and dependency reemerged. Attending school for a few feiendships, for a year, or longer, was common even among daughters of relatively poor families, while middle-class girls routinely spent at least a year in boarding school.
The point is not that these young women were hostile to young men. The regularity of their correspondence underlines the sincerity of their words.
5 stories that highlight the ties between women
Even more important to this process of maturation frifndships their mother's friends were the female friends young women made at school. Such an analysis would not only emphasize general cultural patterns rather than the internal dynamics of a particular family or childhood; it would shift the focus of the study from a concern with deviance to that of defining configurations, of legitimate behavioral norms and options.
Friendsyips Custis Lewis's love for and dependence on Elizabeth Bordley Gibson only increased after her marriage. The tone in the letters which Molly wrote to Helena changed over these years from "My dear Zmerican and ed "your attached friend," to "My dearest Helena," "My Dearest," " Beloved," and ed "Thine always" or "thine Molly. Sisters helped each other with housework, shopped and sewed for each other.
Helena responded with anger and Molly became frantic at the thought that Helena would break off their relationship.
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In one letter that Peggy wrote the absent Sally she elaborately described the depth and nature of her feelings: "I have not words to express my impatience to see My Dear Cousin, what would I not give just now for an hours sweet conversation with her, it seems as if I had a thousand things to say to thee, girk when I see thee, everything will be forgot thro' joy.
❶I don't think it was the noblest way to love you. Gril and intimacies followed the biological ebb and flow of women's lives. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women thus lived in emotional proximity to each other. When Nelly Parke Custis Lewis rushed to nurse her daughter who was critically ill while away at school, Nelly received support, not from her husband, who remained on their plantation, but from her old school friendhips, Elizabeth Bordley.
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The question of female friendships is peculiarly elusive; we know so little or perhaps have forgotten so much. Sarah began to keep a bouquet of flowers before Jeannie's portrait and wrote complaining of the intensity and anguish of her affection. Even more important to this process of maturation than their mother's friends were the female friends young women made at school.
It has involved an analysis of manthousands of letters written to women friends, kin, husbands, brothers, and children at every period of life from adolescence to old age. Eunice Callender remained enamored of her cousin Sarah Ripley for years and rejected as impossible the suggestion by another woman that their love might some day fade away. So she has told me all her loves and tried to get some confidences in return but being five or six years older than she, I know better.
The relationship, at least in its intense form, ended, though Molly and Helena continued an intimate and complex relationship for the next half-century.
And why should there not be. I have a very great friendship for several Girls yet it dont give me so much uneasiness at being absent from them as from thee|Verus visits Alex and Daisy, letting them know about a secret. As a result, the production on the series began, meant to be a "short-form pitch to networks," and it was pitched around for years untilwhen SYFY picked it up, wanting to reboot it, polish it more, and have longer episodes.
That led to the creation of the main show, Magical Girl Friendship Squad.
Stephanides also noted how this pilot show friendshipd the main show, like the idea of Nut, an animal companion and partner which helps the protagonists, and is somehow the creator of the universe, saying it is "hilarious and adorable. Reception[ edit ] Reception to the show has been mostly negative. Joyce Ammerican on Common Sense Media who called the humor mature and filled with "iffy topics," and strong languagewith the protagonists, Daisy and Alex, doing drugsdrinkingand joking about smoking pot.
She further explained how the protagonists often treat people with kindness while villains are "dispatched quickly and with no emotions. Slaton finally stated that the show is going for an Adult Swim vibe, with episodes that are under five minutes, and noted the "agreeably loopy surreal fantasy" of the show.]
As parents, we sometimes take for granted the social skills involved in starting and maintaining positive friendships.
These American Girl books. I am so thankful to all of the female friends that have graced my life. I don't know where I would be without the strong women who stand beside.
Friends: Making Them and Keeping(American Girl)This book gives simple yet good definitions of the word friends, and friendshops has some pretty colorful pictures to go.