Representation of LGBTQ people in media is a newer phenomenon, only truly beginning to grow during this century.
However, representation is still limited and often does not portray realistic relationships, notably in lesbian relationships.
Some lesbians say they feel pop culture and media tropes avoid realistic lesbian couples that are based on love instead of sexuality.
“It’s just weird and demeaning,” food science freshman Alyssa Roney said. “You’re not going to over-sexualize your average straight couple; why would you over-sexualize a lesbian couple?”
Computer science junior Jillian Tosolt said she thinks removing all romantic aspects of partnership and forcing a sexualized narrative leads to the fetishization of lesbian couples.
“None of this media is made for queer women or lesbian women,” Tosolt said. “It’s made for straight men because they just want to ogle at pretty girls. It doesn’t realistically portray the entire spectrum of women and those who identify as lesbian or queer.”
When lesbian relationships are featured in media, the women often present more feminine characteristics, which does not represent the reality of most lesbian relationships, Tosolt said. She said she wished TV shows and movies would have characters that present androgynously to stand for better representation.
“It censors an entire part of the existence of a lot of women,” Tosolt said. “It suddenly becomes something that is so regular for us and becomes taboo for the rest of the world and you can’t really spread any information or help inform people.”
This portrayal of lesbian relationships and their eroticization creates a double standard that further proves content is produced for heterosexual men, neuroscience freshman Lizzy Irwin said.
“Lesbian relationships aren’t being taken as seriously as ones between a man and a woman,” Irwin said. “Some people might say, ‘Oh yeah, just two girls messing around, college years.’ That’s just really sad because when you’re just attracted to women, that’s what you have, so you need people to respect that relationship.”
Allowing straight men to continue sexualizing lesbian partnerships and ignoring the emotional connections delegitimizes these relationships, Irwin said.
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