Drawing on letters and writings by teenage girls and oral history interviews, this article aims to open a scholarly conversation about the existence and significance of intergenerational sexual relationships between minor girls and adult women in the years leading up to and encompassing the lesbian feminist movement of the 1970s. Lesbian history and culture say very little about sexual connections between youth and adults, sweeping them under the rug in gender-inflected ways that differ from the suppression of speech in gay male history and culture about intergenerational sex between boys and men. Nonetheless, my research suggests that, despite lesbian feminists’ caution and even negativity toward teen girls, erotic and sexual relationships with adult women provided girls access to support, pleasure, mentorship, and community.
Amanda H. Littauerearned her BA from Cornell University and her MA and PhD from UC Berkeley and is an Associate Professor of History and a member of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Northern Illinois University. Her research and teaching focuses on twentieth-century US sexual culture, the history of women and girls, and LGBTQ studies. Her first book, Bad Girls: Young Women, Sex, and Rebellion before the Sixties, was published by UNC Press in 2015. Her current research addresses the social, cultural, and political worlds of queer youth in the twentieth-century United States. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org