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"Das gesprengte Korsett": Gender in lesbian periodicals in Berlin, 1924--1933

Amy Dawn Young, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study begins by looking at the status of women during the Weimar Republic in Germany. This serves as a context for looking at how gender is constructed during that period in time. Women's employment, reproductive issues and women's suffrage are all examined to get a sense of what life for women in general might have been like during the Weimar Republic. ^ The details about the production of lesbian publications at that time provide interesting insights into how the lesbian community was structured during the Weimar Republic, to the extent that it is possible to discuss a “community” as such. The interconnections between individual publications, and the relationships between publications and various social, political and scientific groups help illuminate the context out of which discussions of gender arose. ^ Each of the texts types has its own unique way of creating and/or disrupting gender, ranging from attempts to categorize specific behaviors as being an inherent part of one gender, to assertions that such attempts are artificial and therefore not innate. The examination of the construction of gender and attempts to refute gender as a binary system in theoretical texts, personal narratives, reprinted news articles and fiction shows the tendency to focus on a few key themes. The discussions between sex researchers concerning the cause of both lesbianism and transvestitism are reflected not only in the theoretical texts, but show influence in personal accounts and fiction as well. Masculinization, cross-dressing and intersexuality are all significant topics regardless of text type, because of their centrality to discussions of gender and sex in spite of attempts to push them to the margins. The inclusion of “heterosexual transvestites” in lesbian publications further complicates the discussions of sex and gender, leading to the questions about the potential for reaffirmation of gender binaries by people otherwise invested in crossing gender boundaries. ^

Subject Area

Literature, Germanic|Women's Studies

Recommended Citation

Young, Amy Dawn, ""Das gesprengte Korsett": Gender in lesbian periodicals in Berlin, 1924--1933" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3159570.