Thank you for joining me for another round of What to Read Wednesday As you know, there are times I like to shake things up and today is one of those “shaker” days. Instead of interviewing my guest today, I’m turning the floor over to her.
Paulette is also donating all profits from the sale of her book to a no kill animal shelter in Santa Paula California. Here’s the link and I’ve also included it at the end of the post.
What’s in a Label: Lesbian Persecution
By, Paulette Mahurin
Author of, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
I’m delighted to have an opportunity to write an article for your Blog site, Christine. Thank you so much for the invite.
Being that I am a Nurse Practitioner, specializing in women’s health, and lately have been involved in issues dealing with the persecution of lesbians, the oppression that comes with labeling, bullying of them, and my book focuses on this, I thought it appropriate to write about that.
While involved in a recent project, I became very interested in the impact this label, lesbian, has on the women involved. The questions I had brought me to Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, for indecency, which was a watershed moment in history for the changing of attitudes toward same sex relationships.
The exacerbation of hostility toward lesbians (as well as gays) increased after Wilde’s imprisonment, in 1895, and as a result attitudes toward homosexuality changed from a cautious false social acceptance, a degree tolerance, to outward hatred and abuse. When the news of Wilde’s imprisonment went out, it was big news around the world, and where there were whispers in living rooms prior, open discussions of disgust followed. In the United States, the New York Times, April 5, 1895 fueled the controversy by doing an article on the immorality of homosexuality, heightening suspicion toward women friendship.
Up till Wilde’s imprisonment, women were involved in friendships that brought no attention, hugging and hand-holding were common place, socially acceptable.Two women who could afford to live together and forgo marriage were also accepted as spinsters. But, were a couple of women to be labeled lesbian, they were considered, diagnosed, insane. The treatment was rape, by their doctors or someone their doctor hired, to cure them of their inability to enjoy a man.
This, at a time when the Constitution spoke of equal rights and male citizens in The Second Amendment, and women were subjugated—when the suffrage movement was yet a glimmer, was a dangerous time for lesbians. It is therefore no wonder that the label, which became its own prison sentence is so charged, a charge that moves with it in time.
Book Synopsis/blurb/short bio:
By Paulette Mahurin
ISBN # 978-0-9771866-1-7 Price: $14.95 Kindle book: $2.99
The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for gross indecency under Britain’s recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When news of Wilde’s conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.
“Paulette Mahurin’s first novel is surefooted and unflinching in its portrayal of a singular and unique character and her compelling struggles. Compassionate and confident, Mahurin allows Mildred’s story to burn through onto the page with all its inherent outrage and tenacious, abiding love. Here is a character we can champion—flawed, striving, surviving— and fully embrace in her awkward, beautiful navigation of a world that resists her in every way.” Deb Norton, Playwrite/screenwriter of The Whole Banana
“If you need to question your values, read this book! The author captures the intolerance and hypocrisy of a 1895 Nevada town, and its transcendence in time through tolerance and understanding. The angst and pain that two women feel daily, living the ‘lie’ of their lesbian relationship, and the prejudice they must endure, is unconscionable. I was moved to tears by their struggle in the face of the conflicted values that continue to dominate our ‘modern’ society.” William K. Fox, PhD, Professor of Zoology
Paulette Mahurin, an award-winning author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs–Max and Bella. She practices women’s health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. Her book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, has the distinction of being Amazon Best Seller Rank #5.
He lapsed into a monologue of exaggerated details, altered beyond original description: The Negro must have lied, probably has some rich white women sponsoring him because he’s good in bed, and the Jew deserved to be imprisoned for having the gall to try to become something he was not born into. “People should know their place. When they are made by God to be inferior, they should just do their best to stay out of the way of the good hard-working folk who are the backbone of society.”
Mildred was disgusted. Anger welled up into her throat that wanted to be let out in a scream and she felt an urge to pick up one of the horseshoes and whack him to shut him up. As the blood began draining from her head, she felt sick to her stomach. “Oh my,” she mumbled, trying to ease out of the tirade.
He kept on and on, discharging a hatred that gave her chills. She knew then and there, beyond any doubt, that the fear she had felt when she first heard of Oscar Wilde’s conviction was not just about prejudice existing across a continent and ocean, but rather the ignorance that lives in closed minds everywhere. The seeds that grow and inflate the smallest minds into giants, those who believe they can take down anyone with their petty realities, was what she saw full-blown in Pursey. It mattered not whether his reality was based on prejudice, fear, or just plain ignorance, the end result would be the same, ruined lives. The tone in his voice reminded her of Josie that day outside the telegraph office. She now understood why up till that time this sort of talk didn’t bother her.
The hatred was now something personal and she knew, no matter the excuses, that she and Edra no longer were immune from suspicion.
VC STAR Sept. 9, 2012 Sunday Life Section:
GOOGLE PROFILE PAGE:
PLEASE REMEMBER READERS, Paulette is donating all profits from this book to the animal shelter located by following this link: