Wednesday, July 17, 2013

boston marriages

The ''Boston marriage'' was a 19th century phenomenon that is little known today. The term is derived from the 1886 novel entitled ''The Bostonians'' by Henry James. A Boston marriage involved  two women who lived together like a married couple and enjoyed all the trappings of married life without the legalities. Boston marriages were long-term domestic partnerships and, unlike romantic friendships or intimate friendships which I talk about in my post entitled Bosom buddies, were an exclusively female life-style. They were most prevalent at institutions of higher learning, or Women's colleges, amongst the professors and administration.
    These women came from affluent backgrounds. If there were Boston marriages amongst poor women there is no surviving documentation to prove it. Like Charlotte Cushman, whom I discussed yesterday, these women had there own money and education which gave them autonomy from men. It also allowed them to move in male social circles of power and influence. Many in this social circle of New England intellectuals were transcendentalist, whom I discussed in my post entitled Interracial Gay Desire as a Pretext for Egalitarianism, who had a secret advocacy for Homosexuals. There is no doubt that these Eastern, intellectual, transcendentalist knew about the possibility of sexual behavior between women in Boston marriages but they were not likely to judge or condemn them and apparently the public didn't either, because these ''marriages'' were known amongst the general population, too. It is not proven that these women had sexual relationships but it is not proven they did not. The homoerotic tone in some of their letters strongly suggest that they did!

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