Where are all the lesbians?

Posted on July 27, 2010

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Is it me, or does the one on the right have long hair?

We all know what a lesbian looks like. Dungarees, short hair, digital watch. Kinda manly. You’d think they’d be easy to spot – so where are they all hiding?

Negative steroetypes are nothing new in the UK – we seem to thrive on them, weirdly – but the image of gay men has improved considerably. Yes, we do still have camp men prancing around the television channels but, hey, some men are like that. We also have a good amount of non-camp, I’d-never-know-you’re-gay-unless-you-hit-on-me men gracing our screens. Crucially, they’re not seen as ‘weird’ anymore. But…lesbians? Hmm.

Name me five lesbians on television. In fact, name me five lesbians full stop. After years since the hype over gay kisses on tv (though even in 2003, 21 viewers complained when Corrie screened a gay kiss due to ‘pre-watershed homosexuality’ – ’cause gays only come out after 9pm, folks), female homosexuality is something we still don’t see on television in general. Not unless it’s on some raunchy teen drama, or some prison series where the cells are full of butch lesbians. Obviously.

According to Jane Czyzselska’s comment in the Guardian (whose post name, Where are all the lesbians?, I did borrow…it sort of sums up the point), one study showed that out of 126 hours of programming popular with young people, gay people were portrayed positively and realistically for a grand total of – wait for it – 46 minutes. And though the study didn’t point it out, we can pretty much assume that this primarily means men.

Even on Big Brother, who can always be relied upon to produce people of all varieties from under the woodwork, the resident lesbians are (were) either so blatent it’s not funny (i.e. Shabby) or what most men would like their lesbian porn-star to look like (i.e. Corin), a suggestion helpfully encouraged by the description of her on the BB website which outlines how Corin, though attached to a lady right now, would probably choose a man for her next relationship. That’s right, because pretty lesbians aren’t really lesbians. They’re just performing to please the boys until a real man comes along.

So, where are the positive, gay, female role models? Looks like our only option for the time being comes from, ironically, Coronation Street. I wonder how many old biddies will be calling in to object to that one.

Image from phillipe leroyer‘s photostream.

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