Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster

Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster

by Joanne E. Passet

Jeannette Howard Foster was to lesbianism in the mid-twentieth century what out authors such as Gore Vidal and James Baldwin were to gay men. She unapologetically blew the lid off Cold War sexual repression in 1956 with her Sex Variant Women in

  • Language: English
  • Category: Biography
  • Rating: 4.05
  • Pages: 353
  • Publish Date: June 10th 2008 by Da Capo Press
  • Isbn10: 0786718226
  • Isbn13: 9780786718221

Read the Book "Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster" Online

If you want daring, theres plenty in this account of how she came to write Sex Variant Women in Literature, the first book to show that lesbian, bisexual and cross-dressing women could be traced back at least 3,000 years through more than 300 texts. If you want drama, consider Fosters four year stint working with Alfred Kinsey at the Institute for Sex Research, right after his controversial 1948 publication of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. So Joanne Passets incisive new biography, Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster, is especially welcome not just because Foster deserves to be better known as a lesbian author, poet and translator, but because her life spanned all but the last decade of the 20th century, and opens a window on lesbians in the Midwest and South. Living and working in 17 states brought her unprecedented access to lesbian literature in public and private collections from Chicago to Boston to Atlanta, which she cataloged in a single volume for the first time.

If you would like to learn more about lesbian history, this is a captivating read. And I have come to love Jeannette not only as a foremother of lesbian scholarship but as a person.

Passets biography of this great woman, constructed through a historians careful consideration of all possible sources, offers invaluable insights not only into the life and mind of Jeannette Howard Foster, but also into the times she lived in, the influence they had on her, and the influence she had on them. In the ever-shifting circumstances of her life, we find the constant reminder of all that has been accomplished by Foster and women like her for all women, and lesbians in particular. Sex Variant Woman has some minor flaws in that it doesnt follow the easy chronological order of many biographies and tends to travel back and forth through time as Passet tackles one subject after another in Fosters life.

Well-known to seventies lesbians seeking visions of themselves in literature, Jeannette Howard Foster's "Sex Variant Women in Literature," was actually the work of a lifetime, originally published in the 1950s. She returned to school to get a Master's degree in English and Creative Writing and again turned to high school and college teaching.

For women of Foster's generation, loving women really was the love that dare not speak its name. My one quibble with this biography is that it tells very little about her personal relationships with lovers.

Her Sex Variant Women in Literature is a classic work of research.

This is a well researched biography of a woman born in the early 20th century who meticulously documented references to lesbian women, activity and inclination in history. A woman driven by her own need to find others like her stretching back through the centuries, and then share her knowledge with other women with the same need.