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“The Loudest Whisper” – Lesbian Sexuality on Screen

The article’s objective is to tackle the main types of the representation of lesbian sexuality in film production, particularly in mainstream classics. Whereas the first lesbian love scenes in the 1930s focused on kisses, playful masquerade, cross-dressing and innuendos, lesbian imagery during the US film censorship period remained negative until the end of the 1960s, with most sexual scenes implying a prevailing Thanatos-inclination, a death-drive bordering on horror. In the aftermath of the sinister period of lesbian dramas, the 1970s came with the liberation of lesbian film imagery in art films, women’s films and feminist films from Europe and the USA, although their imagery can prove to be problematic for a lesbian viewer. The limitations of the depiction of lesbian eroticism on screen were pushed further by diverse genres, most notably by independent lesbian shorts, in which the female directors themselves took up film acting, thereby swapping the overly predictable position of the female voyeur with the active role. In the 21st century, lesbian themes in mainstream films are represented more and more overtly. The depiction of lesbian sexuality is, however, still sometimes implemented through male characters as agents of the lesbian desire, and familiar film clichés are still being effectively combined to compose new film imagery of lesbianism.


Article inside journal

Issue No. 267 - The First Sex: Critical Studies on Men and Masculinities / The Attraction of Genders
Časopis za kritiko znanosti
2017 , volume volume 45 , issue issue 267
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