|• Main||• Contacts|
much emotion generated and if the sexual feelings are not indulged in, I
think they may do more good than harm. Later on in life, when all one's
desires and feelings are at their strongest, it is more doubtful."
That the phenomena as found in the girls' colleges of America are exactly
similar to those in Italy and England is shown, among other evidence, by
some communications sent to Mr. E.G. Lancaster, of Clark University,
Worcester, Mass., a few years ago.
Mr. E.G. Lancaster sent out a _questionnaire_ to over 800 teachers and
older pupils dealing with various points connected with adolescence, and
received answers from 91 persons containing information which bore on the
present question. Of this number, 28 male and 41 female had been in
love before the age of 25, while 11 of each sex had had no love
experiences, this indicating, since the women were in a majority, that the
absence of love experience is more common in men than in women. These
answers were from young people between 16 and 25 years of age. Two males
and 7 females have loved imaginary characters, while 3 males and not less
than 46 females speak of passionate love for the same sex. Love of the
same sex, Lancaster remarks, though not generally known, is very common;
it is not mere friendship; the love is strong, real, and passionate. It
may be remarked that these 49 cases were reported without solicitation,
since there was no reference to homosexual love in the _questionnaire_.
Many of the answers to the syllabus are so beautiful, Lancaster observes,
that if they could be printed in full no comment would be necessary. He
quotes a few of the answers. Thus a woman of 33 writes: "At 14 I had my
first case of love, but it was with a girl. It was insane, intense love,
but had the same quality and sensations as my first love with a man at 18.
In neither case was the object idealized. I was perfectly aware of their
faults; nevertheless my whole being was lost, immersed in their existence.
The first lasted two years, the second seven years. No love has since been
so intense, but now these persons, though living, are no more to me than
the veriest stranger." Another woman of 35 writes: "Girls between the ages
of 14 and 18 at college or girls' schools often fall in love with the same
sex. This is not friendship. The loved one is older, more advanced, more
charming or beautiful. When I was a freshman in college I knew at least
thirty girls who were in love with a senior. Some sought her because it
was the fashion, but I knew that my own homage and that of many others was
sincere and passionate. I loved her because she was brilliant and utterly
indifferent to the love shown her. She was not pretty, though at the time
we thought her beautiful. One of her adorers, on being slighted, was ill
for two weeks. On her return she was speaking to me when the object of our
admiration came into the room. The shock was too great and she fainted.
When I reached the senior year I was the recipient of languishing glances,
original verses, roses, and passionate letters written at midnight and
three in the morning." No similar confessions are recorded from men.
In South America corresponding phenomena have been found in schools and
colleges of the same class. There they have been especially studied by
Mercante in the convent High Schools of Buenos Aires where the students
are girls between the ages of 10 and 22. Mercante found that
homosexuality here is not clearly defined or explicit and usually it is
combined with a predisposition to romanticism and mysticism. It is usually
of a passive kind, but in this form so widespread as to constitute a kind
of epidemic. It was most manifest in institutions where the greatest
stress was placed on religious instruction.
The recreations of the school in question were quiet and enervating;
active or boisterous sports were prohibited to the end that good manners
might be cultivated. In the play-rooms, the girls observed the strictest
etiquette, and discipline was maintained independent of oversight by
teachers. Mercante could hardly believe, however, that the decorum was
more than external.
Later, when the girls broke up, they were found in pairs or small groups,
Page 4 from 5: Back 1 2 3  5 Forward