Okay, so lesbian characters in television and movies aren’t as scarce as they used to be. From The Fosters and Faking it to Pariah and Blue Is The Warmest Color, the universe is slowly but surely acknowledging that there are girls out there who–gasp–like other girls. Wow, it’s almost like this has been the case since the dawn of time or something.
With that said, there are still so many popular movies out there–a few of which are old favorites of yours, for sure–that utilize offensive stereotypes about lesbians. From the idea that butch lesbians are all aggressive to the trope of lesbians previously being traumatized by penises, here are seven offensive lesbian stereotypes that movies really need to stay away from.
All Female P.E. Teachers Are LesbiansI love Clueless, but it definitely had its handful of eye roll worthy cliches. That includes the depiction of her P.E. teacher, whom Cher describes as "same-sex oriented" in the "grand tradition of P.E. teachers." This stereotype erroneously connects an interest in sports to masculinity, which is then connected to lesbianism. Because all women who are jocks are lesbians, right? Obviously there are plenty of sporty girls who are lesbians, and there's nothing wrong with that, but this stereotype is definitely depicted in a negative way in the media for laughs. Clueless
Lesbian Sex Is Totally Hot (And Made For Dudes)There are a lot of mixed reactions to Blue Is The Warmest Color, but many queer critics have an issue with the way that lesbian sex is depicted in the film. Kelly Fox of Guerilla Feminism described the scenes as, "Gratuitous 10 minute long pornographic-for-the-straight-male-gaze ‘lesbian sex’ scenes that a 17 year-old boy choreographed." This, along with the fact that the actresses in the film have said that they felt exploited filming this sex scene (directed by a straight man), definitely makes this scene super side eye worthy. But are girl on girl sex scenes made for the straight--and often male--gaze particular to Blue Is The Warmest Color? Absolutely not. How many gratuitous make out scenes between women have you seen in movies or TV shows for the purpose of looking hot? Blue Is The Warmest Color
Butch Lesbians Are Aggressive And ViolentThere's this ridiculous scene in the '70s classic blaxploitation film Foxy Brown in which Foxy gets into a bar fight with a bunch of aggressive, violent, butch lesbians. Right, because every self-identified butch lesbian is looking for a fight. Can we not? Foxy Brown
Lesbians Just Need Some Penis To Become StraightOkay, so one of the most egregious examples of this in a film can be seen in the movie Gigli...a movie that the universe has unanimously declared is a totally garbage movie. Anyway, JLo's character literally gets the gay banged out of her by Ben Affleck's character's magic penis. Lesbians are not these broken things that can be fixed by the power of straight men. Gigli
Lesbian Relationships Are Always TragicThis is probably one of the most common tropes in just about any LGBTQ romance, and lesbian relationships really kick up the melodrama (because women are so over the top and emotional, right?). Obviously in a heteronormative world, it can and usually is tough to be gay or come out, especially if you live in a conservative household or community. And yes, violence and bigotry against gay people definitely didn't disappear just because gay people can get married in more countries than they used to. So tragedy can obviously be a part of a gay person's life, but the fact that so many gay narratives end in tragedy--murder, violence, suicide--is...a downer. There are happy, stable lesbian couples out there in the universe, but you'd be hard pressed to believe that if your only understanding of a lesbian relationship came from movies. Lost And Delirious
Lesbians Are Predatory And Don't Understand BoundariesCan we talk about Cynthia Rose in the Pitch Perfect franchise? She's just one example of lesbian characters in movies who are depicted as hypersexual and predatory. She doesn't even have an understanding of physical boundaries, as seen by her tendency to touch women's boobs and butts without their consent. Movies need to lay off the cliches of lesbian women being straight up sexual deviants. It's not funny and it perpetuates lazy stereotypes. Pitch Perfect
Lesbians Are All Super Unhinged And Mentally UnstableWow, there are so many movies out there that depict mentally unstable and violent lesbian women. Hm, let's see...There's Basic Instinct, Chloe, Girl Interrupted, Cracks, The Hours, High Tension, Black Swan...I could go on. There are lesbian women who have mental health issues, that's a fact. But it's really messed up that so much of the representation that lesbians see of themselves in movies are of women who are violent or obsessive stalkers. Movies that utilize this stereotype perpetuate the notion that mentally ill people are inherently dangerous, which just isn't true. Black Swan
What other movies should be in this list? Are any of these movies admittedly your jam? Tell us in the comments!