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Lesbian Culture Essay

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The modern day understanding of lesbianism can best be described as nebulous. Although most know that a lesbian is a woman that loves other women, the public opinion surrounding lesbianism mainly consists of half-formed stereotypes and vague disapproval or begrudging acceptance. When considering the LGBT community, most people picture the gay male and neglect the rest of the acronym. There a multitude of reasons for this nebulous perception of the modern day lesbian, but in actuality, lesbian culture is a vast and solid connection between woman that history has often refused to acknowledge. Although lesbian culture is often forgotten or overlooked, it encapsulates the broad variety of actions and appearances reclaimed by thousands of women,…show more content…
In situations in which women are clearly lesbians, whether in fiction or reality, their identity still tends to be disregarded. In her book The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture, Terry Castle writes that “When it comes to lesbians… many people have trouble seeing what’s in front of them” (2). She is specifically commenting on the actress Greta Garbo, a known lesbian, who plays Queen Christina of Sweden, who was a real woman and also historically a lesbian. Castle remarks that regardless of the sexualities of these women, the movie focuses on a romance between Queen Christina and a male ambassador. The largely heterosexual audience remains oblivious to the sexualities of both women and when Garbo dies, her relationships with the women she loved are barely mentioned. In history and in fiction, the lesbian is an unknown, unnamed entity. The lesbian’s contribution is forgotten by all but her fellow lesbian. This is not the only example of this happening. In an interview about the impact of sports on lesbian culture and vice versa, Lucy Bledsoe mentions that even with the stereotype that women who play sports are all lesbians, the lesbian is too often forgotten. Bledsoe states that “What's painful about the whole WNBA straight image for lesbians is that lesbians did so much to pave the way for women in sports, only to be erased from the picture” (9).…show more content…
While these labels are not undertaken by every single woman in the lesbian community, many women choose to do so and feel it is an essential part of their identities. Femmes tend to dress more femininely, but this does not mean they imitate the style of straight women. Instead, femme identities tend to rewrite the expected submissive role of women. Heidi Levitt writes that “Femme sexuality did not erase a woman’s agency but demonstrated that she could withstand being vulnerable to the gaze of others. It subverted heterosexual feminine sexuality by consciously attempting to arouse desire in other women” (Levitt and Hiestand 44). The main purpose of the femme identification is to subvert the expected gender role. Femme lesbians will wear blouses and skirts, but will also occasionally refrain from shaving or wearing makeup. While this style may be more feminine, it is a subversion of gender expectations because femmes are taking typical female beauty routines and using them to specifically attract women. While femmes subvert heterosexual gender roles and redefine them, butches reject female gender roles entirely. Butch women will dress more masculine in their attempts to attract other women. They disregard the typical female style and will often wear suits and men’s clothing. While this may seem to imitate heterosexuality to straight men and women, for lesbians, its is more of a parody and willful
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