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Baby, You're My Religion
The Butch Woman Inside James Dean
Viewing 1950's Butch Femme Sexual Practice As Possibly Religious Practice
Abstract This paper looks at the sexual practice of butches and femmes, particularly from bar culture during the 1950’s in North America, as a source for a possible theology of corporeality. Based on over twenty in-depth interviews with butches and femmes from that historical and contemporary period, plus written memoirs and fictionalized accounts, as well as the author’s own participant-observer status in this culture, the study focuses on the subjective experience of participants, allowing their own stories to develop. The ways in which butch-femme culture of the 1950’s fixed the gaze of the participant in the sexual act on a sacrality of experience is contrasted to the absence of this discourse in the heterosexual communities of that time. The role of memory and nostalgia is brought into consideration methodologically.
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