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  • (1978) Thompson, Denise
    Conference Paper
    This paper was written in response to a comment by a member of the organising collective of the conference to the effect that they had received no submissions about lesbians. It initially couches the problem in terms of ‘heterosexism’ and ‘homosexuality’, although in fact it talks mainly about lesbianism. It discusses some ideological justifications which support the concealment of the existence of lesbians, including the British legislation against ‘acts of gross indecency’. Much of the paper is devoted to Freud’s theory of female sexuality, because a misuse of his theory is the foundation of most 'theories' of homosexuality, and because it is a picture of the fragmentation and alienation of female sexuality under patriarchy. The paper also points out that his ‘masculinity complex’ (the third of the outcomes for women, the other two being normal femininity and neurosis) could be read as an argument for lesbianism as resistance. Nonetheless, the oppression of lesbians is in the first place a conspiracy of silence, a silence that appears to be reproduced within the women’s movement.