Response to Lesbians: ignored by mainstream female culture?

Louise queries Ailsa's rant on how mainstream magazines ignore lesbians, and below, Ailsa responds.

, 16 February 2003

From Louise

I agreed with much of what Ailsa had to say about lesbian invisibility in women’s magazines. For too long the woman oriented publishing market has been exclusively hetero, overly macho (articles like have more/bigger/better orgasms for example) and genuinely uninspiring.

However, in the section validly pointing out the few references to woman-woman attraction in these publications, there was this boringly standard biphobic comment:

“An option on the bisexual scale, and worth TRYING if men are getting you down, i.e. “The New Lesbian Chic, are you brave enough to try it?” “

Dismissive, derogatory and disheartening. Bisexuals are more than just women who try it out because a man has let them down. Bisexuals are more than just people trying it out whatever the motivation. Not only that but bisexuality isn’t lower on some sexual hierarchy scale than lesbianism or hetersexuality (although both communities at times have tried to convince us bi’s that this is the case).

Surely such a statement undermines the argument in an article arguing for sexual diversity in women’s magazines. Surely the aim of liberating women from starkly heternormative representations of their sexuality isn’t to replace it with a two party system?

As a feminist, bisexual woman who has been out as bisexual and a feminist for years (and years and years) I get frustrated by the tension between feminisms, lesbianism and bisexuality. But I get angry in response to biphobic derision. Ailsa went on to say:

If their articles and surveys blatantly discriminated against any other section of society: Caribbean, Jewish, Hindu, African, Asian, Muslim, disabled etc then the readers (we hope) would be up in arms.

Perhaps we could add bisexuals to the list…?

Ailsa responds

I understand why you jumped to the conclusion you did regarding what you deem to be a “biphobic” respone. But: I would like to say that I was aiming to portray the MAGAZINES’ views at that precise point. THEY portray lesbianism as on the bisexual scale as this is the ONLY way these magazines can deal with women who aren’t revolving their world round a man.

MAGAZINES say lesbianism is worth trying if men are getting you down! I believe that YES, the magazines are, “dismissive, derogatory, and disheartening.” I agree that bisexuals are SO MUCH MORE than women who have been let down by men. I also agree that bisexuality is not lower on the scale than anything – there is no damn scale in real life!

However, as I was misinterpreted (understandably) I think it is fair to say that I didn’t undermine my own argument. I support ALL diversity in women’s magazines.

My final point would be to recognise and accept all sexuality view points. BUT my argument was founded on the sexual aspect and surely due to the nature of bisexuality – BISEXUALS ARE NOT COMPLETELY EXCLUDED from all the sex articles in women’s magazines but lesbians are! As far as I am aware bisexuals do like sex with men (The holy grail of women’s magazines) and therefore some aspects of their personal and sexual life IS catered for in women’s magazines.

If lesbianism was added into these surveys and pop. psychology studies then surely bisexuals would also going as the duality of bisexualism would be wholly represented!

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