Femme Problems 130: Cosmo Capitalizing on Femme Sexuality

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Femme Problems 130: Cosmo Capitalizing on Femme Sexuality

A Cosmo Magazine llustration of two naked white women with brown hair leaning in to kiss each other

I’m enjoying a romantic beach getaway with my partner. Here we are, in Key West, Florida, snorkeling in the reef and having the time of our lives. We’ve left our work and our worries at home, but then, this Cosmo article comes out. Though I try for days to resist the urge to write a response, the outraged feminist in me decides that I absolutely had to break out my laptop and address this madness.

While many reactionary pieces have chosen to focus on the illustrations of these lesbian caricatures and the laughable positions in which they find themselves, my main concern is the position that we femme lesbians are now finding ourselves within the mainstream media culture.

cosmo lesbian sex positions

Photo: © Cosmopolitan Magazine

Subscribers and LGBTQ allies may read that Cosmo piece and have a feel good moment—ah, the lesbians are finally getting their due—but they may fail to realize that we are fighting every day to gain lifestyle legitimacy in majority America. Though we have made significant political gains in our fight for marriage equality, we continually find ourselves at odds with mainstream media portrayal. We seek to reverse societal prejudices, not purport them.

This Cosmo article is yet another example of overtly idealized images of lesbian sexual stereotypes. Not all lesbians are femme lesbians, and not all sexual relationships that occur between two consenting women include two femmes. When will pop culture get that?

Sex sells. So it’s no wonder that pop songs and music videos consistently glorify the image of two feminine girls kissing. It’s no secret that many men consider bisexuality to be sexy, but only if it occurs between two women deemed attractive by societal majority norms.

We all deserve the right to feel safe, secure, and respected. Articles like Cosmo’s, which are marketed to women but secretly capitalize on the sexual gratification of men, are truly dangerous to the progress of our greater social movement.

Media has the overwhelming power to influence our ideals and perceptions on cultures other than our own. With that power comes great responsibility, and Cosmo clearly cares very little about whatever social responsibility comes with its mass readership.

I recognize the importance of visibility in mainstream culture, but if overtly hyper-sexualized femme on femme relationships is how mainstream culture hopes to assimilate us into their world, then I for one prefer to stick to my lesbian bar, my lesbian magazine, and the Cosmo in my martini glass.

Thanks for the hand out, Cosmopolitan, but no thanks.


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