By Ace Garrett
Last week, Sierra enlightened us to the limited representation for queer women and foc people on screen. Today we are going to dive into the what factors influence the perception of queer women and foc people. We do not see well-rounded representation of queer foc relationships in the media (let alone frequently), so what gives?
Note: Claims in this post not hyperlinked to a source come from my reading of the book Becoming Cliterate by psychology professor and human sexuality expert Dr. Laurie Mintz. I highly recommend it to everybody.
First of all, patriarchal control has majorly influenced the porn industry and sex on screen: for decade, the idea has proliferated that sex without a dick involved is not sex. Why do you think it is common for an entire sexual encounter to consist of a hand job or blow job, while going down on a woman is “only foreplay” leading up to the main event? This societal norm is harmful for all of us with vulvas, and it means that sex between two female people is discredited. It is difficult for queer female relationships to be respected when queer female sexuality is completely misunderstood.
Secondly, queer women actually are represented on screen—as sexual objects. If you can think of “queer women” on screen, how often are these women just making out, doing whatever the male director considers lesbian sex, or doing either of those in the company of one or more men? Queer women and foc people are mostly represented in media so far as they are a tool for male enticement and enjoyment. Even most “lesbian” porn is made through the male gaze and with the intention of pleasing men. This quote from The Atlantic suggests an explanation: “men are most aroused by visual cues that emphasize youth and downplay drama and emotional complexity. Lesbian porn, therefore, works for straight men by ‘doubling up’ those visual stimuli, Ogas told me. The only thing better than one nubile, personality-free woman is two of them.” This phenomenon somehow manages to hypersexualize queer women and foc people while tying that sexualization to men.
The resulting perspectives of queer women and foc people are that their relationships are mostly sexual, but only “for fun”—they don’t have real sex. Quite the oxymoron. People more often than not fail to see relationships between women and foc people as strong and complex romantic bonds like other partnerships, which in turn, narrows the representation of our relationships in media. As I hope we will explore in future posts, these factors also result in other sexism-driven difficulties for queer women and foc people.