Definition of Sapphism

Sapphism, also known as lesbianism, refers to the romantic or sexual attraction between women, or the expression of this attraction through emotional, physical, or sexual relationships. The term is derived from the Greek poet Sappho, who lived on the island of Lesbos during the 6th century BC and wrote poems expressing her love and desire for other women.

Characteristics of Sapphism

  • Same-sex Relationships: Sapphism primarily focuses on romantic or sexual relationships between women.
  • Affectionate Bonds: It involves emotional connections, intimacy, and affection shared between women.
  • Gender Identity: Sapphism is independent of gender identity, meaning women who identify as lesbian can be cisgender or transgender.
  • Sexual Orientation: Sapphism specifically encompasses women who are attracted to other women.
  • Historical Significance: Sapphism has been present throughout history, often in the form of hidden or repressed relationships due to societal norms and prejudices.

Forms of Sapphic Relationships

Sapphism can manifest in various ways, including:

  1. Romantic Relationships: Women in romantic relationships with each other, expressing love, care, and commitment.
  2. Sexual Relationships: Women engaging in consensual sexual activities or acts of physical intimacy.
  3. Emotional Connections: Women who share deep emotional bonds, companionship, and support without necessarily engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship.
  4. Community Building: Sapphism often fosters a sense of community, providing support, acceptance, and solidarity among women attracted to other women.

Acceptance and Challenges

Sapphism faces unique societal challenges, including discrimination, prejudice, and marginalization. While visibility and acceptance have improved over time, there is still progress to be made in achieving equality and combating homophobia. Many regions and communities have social and legal structures in place to protect LGBTQ+ rights, providing a safer environment for individuals who identify as lesbian.


Sapphism encompasses the diverse experiences of women who are romantically, sexually, or emotionally attracted to other women. It is an integral part of human sexuality and identity, representing a rich tapestry of love, desire, and relationships among women.