“How many lesbians does it take to sell a t-shirt?”

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Joanna Whitehead published an essay with this title at the f-word. Below is an excerpt:

… Femme-tastic girl-on-girl action is a staple of made-for-men porn, graces the covers of most of the ‘lads’ weeklies and is frequently practiced by adolescent girls as a quick-fire way to distract the boys from their Xboxes. This frivolity, however, does not extend to my life. I am in a loving, committed, serious relationship that is constantly assumed, by both men and women, to be part-performance, part-experimentation. The jeers, cheers and pulling of dicks that tend to accompany our begrudingly vanilla affection towards each other in public spaces reduces our entire relationship to that of public spectacle.

As someone who actively avoids male attention of any description, yet who is constantly assumed to be flattered by it, the prospect of the tame public affection (and not-so-tame private activity) between my girlfriend and me being reduced to the stuff of male wank-fantasy and subject to an all-pervasive and oppressive male gaze, is infuriating, frustrating and, most significantly, fucking upsetting.

So maybe I need to toughen up and get real: red-blooded males are always going to enjoy seeing girls making out, right? This may well be true, but in my occasional moments of wild optimism, I like to think of a time when I can walk to the end of my street, holding my girlfriend’s hand, without being subjected to the catcalls, whistles and leers that currently accompany our ventures into the big, bad world. The very fact that such an ideal seems unrealistic speaks volumes to me about the distance left to run. But, call me crazy, I’m an idealist. …

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0 Responses to “How many lesbians does it take to sell a t-shirt?”

  1. Ralph M. Stein says:

    I wonder where she lives. Here in NYC there are plenty of “femme” lesbians and I see them walking in the street with their girlfriends and rarely a comment is directed at them (construction sites remain something of a challenge for women regardless of sexual orientation).

    At the core, she complains about stereotyping and she’s right – too many do that. As to the often tasteless ads that seek to entice consumers, mostly male, by hinting at or showing woman to woman sexuality, the response should be simply to tell the advertiser that their display sucks.