Daughters who do not speak, mothers who do not listen : erotic relationships among women in contemporary Greece.
The present thesis is about shifting narrations of desire, changing stories of family, sexuality,
and the self uttered by same-sex desiring women in contemporary Greece. It is
chronologically situated from the end of the I 970s —when a feminist and lesbian discourse,
mainly Western imported, emerged in Greece- up to the present, and is primarily based in
Athens, the capital city, and Eressos, a summer resort on the island of Lesvos.
Narrations of desire should be examined in relation to the specific socio-cultural contexts in
which they appear, since they are largely depending on the specificities of each society and
shaped by local cultures. In Greece this context is formed by the significance of family,
kinship and the importance of motherhood, and the influence of Western imported discourses
on lesbianism and same-sex sexualities. From the end of the lOs onwards, a lesbian
movement began to emerge in Greece, groups were formed, articles were published, bars
were opened and Eressos was established as an international lesbian meeting place. Yet,
same-sex desiring women's participation in the so-called 'lesbian scene' is relatively small
and they are reluctant to adopt the term 'lesbian' for their self-identification. The reason is
that, although recent global and economic forces enabled the diffusion of global identities and
the transformation of intimacy beyond the homo/hetero divide, the way such changes are
accepted, negated and negotiated in each society is intrinsically related to traditional and more
dominant stories on gender and sexuality. In Greece such stories are imbued with the
imperatives of marriage and procreation. Therefore new narrations of desire and stories of the
self are being uttered, but they do not claim for a lesbian identity nor do they claim for a
gender deconstniction, according to the Western example. What they are about is the claim
for the recognition of an autonomous desire, a desire which is independent of men or the
acquisition of children, the right to be one's self and to be recognized as a whole person. Due
to the importance of family and kinship ties these stories are told not in public but in the
privacy of homes and usually when parents are absent. But even if daughters feel 'brave'
enough to speak about their lives, desires and hopes, there are parents, -especially mothers
acting as guardians of domestic order-, who refuse to listen, with the outcome that silence
enhances itself as the primary means for sustaining family relations.