Note: Please also read: Dirt’s companion piece, “Double Female Symbol-Not Lesbian-Then or Now” for additional information/explanation.
Dirt and I have been talking and writing for a while now about how Lesbian has been consistently misrepresented, used, and abused…twisted in a whirlwind of hetsplanations, pornifications, and outright lies.
Even the universally recognized symbol for Lesbian (intertwined female symbols) is NOT LESBIAN.
Why? Well, there are many reasons; Dirt’s companion piece, “Double Female Symbol-Not Lesbian-Then or Now” for more reasons/explanation.
The piece of the puzzle that I am focusing on today is: this symbol does NOT accurately represent Lesbian because 2 females kissing, holding hands, or even making love does not mean either/both of them are actually Lesbian(s).
Any 2 females can do any of those things, of course, but it is NOT “
Lesbian” unless the individuals involved are BOTH Lesbians.
Here’s the thing: If something doesn’t involve actual LESBIANS, it is NOT LESBIAN.
In TV shows and movies, if there is even the slightest whiff of flirtation between 2 female characters (even if either of the characters was having sex with a man 5 minutes earlier and/or goes on to have sex with a man 5 minutes later)…BOOM…people will immediately start talking about a “
Lesbian scene” or “ Lesbian subplot” or “ Lesbian subtext” or “ Lesbian kiss” etc. etc. etc., ad nauseum.
The following is but a very small sample of the NON-lesbian characters/scenarios in TV and movies that have been incorrectly called “
Lesbian“: (Note that I am not talking about whether or not the actors themselves are straight; I am talking about the characters/scenarios):
1). Roseanne Barr’s famous “
Lesbian” kiss with Mariel Hemingway in the episode “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. While addressing homophobia, an admirable goal, was the reason given by Barr for including this scene, unfortunately, calling kissing a married straight woman a “ Lesbian” (or “ gay” as some people, including Barr, incorrectly insist on saying) scene undermines real Lesbians by implying that we are defined solely by physical contact or action. Lesbian is lesbian, and straight is straight, regardless of physical/sexual activity.
2). The entire hideously offensive “
Lesbian” movie “The Kids are All Right”, in which Julianne Moore’s allegedly “ Lesbian” character had copious heterosexual sex throughout the whole debacle, only to claim at the end of the movie that such straight behavior didn’t mean she wasn’t a “ Lesbian“. Um…yeah, it does, in fact, mean just that.
3). Almost every “
Lesbian” storyline in Orange is the New Black, starting, but sadly not ending, with Straightbian Piper’s on-again, off-again affair with Alex. This decidedly NON-Lesbian storyline is foreshadowed in the Season 1 official trailer, in which at approximately .36-.37 seconds, Piper’s mom asks “You were a lesbian?” and Piper (sitting with her MALE fiance) replies “At the time”. No, no, no, no, no! You either are, or you’re not, a Lesbian, Piper. To make matters even worse, the OITNB Lesbian characters who are supposed to be REAL Lesbians are portrayed as sexual predators (Big Boo) or killed off (Poussey). Boo, Hiss.
4). Thelma and Louise has been applauded as an excellent example of “
Lesbian” subtext. Bullshit. Both Thelma and Louise were straight women who needlessly got themselves into a difficult situation, making progressively worse and worse decisions…including Geena Davis’s character first willingly making out with a guy in the parking lot (who turned out to be a wannabe rapist) which resulted in the very reason they became outlaws, then later having wild sex with a male thief. The whole sad nonsense culminated in them driving themselves off a freaking cliff. Thelma and Louise are not heroic feminist icons, and they are definitely NOT Lesbians.
5). Xena: Okay, this last example actually pains me to discuss, because I was a Xena fan. I realize now that I was so starved for Lesbian representation that I was willing to scarf up the “subtext” scraps the writers and actors threw us. I was willing to overlook the “maintext” plots involving male romantic entanglements. I was willing to deny my own discomfort when the show could not be trusted to even acknowledge us, much less actually care about us, despite the fan base being heavily Lesbian. Now it’s time to admit that the so-called Xena “
Lesbian subtext” was only a pitiful broken bone thrown to the hungry Lesbian audience, all the while maintaining the true heterosexuality of the 2 main characters to keep their ratings, and their straight privilege, intact.
The examples of such NON-Lesbian scenarios go on and on and on and ON.
It is time to stop this foolishness. We need to stop calling any female/female innuendo “Lesbian”. I know I said it before, but I will say it again and again and again:
If something doesn’t involve actual LESBIANS, it is NOT LESBIAN.