This week for our Top List Tuesday, we explore stereotypes in lesbian movies. While there are many discussions about how lesbians are portrayed and stereotyped in straight movies, today, we are focusing on clichés that almost every Better than Chocolate or Imagine Me & You seems to have. From mental breakdowns to intimate hair caressing, feel free to use this list as a drinking game during your next lesbian movie screening.
1. The New Girl. A new girl in class, a new girl at work, a new girl anywhere. There are plenty of straight movies where people who already know each other fall in love but for lesbians, it has to be this person completely out of left field that suddenly shows up and turns your life upside down.
2. Voiceovers. Usually the movie either begins or ends with a voiceover and many times this is accompanied by furious journal writing. Maybe a reflection of past events that lead them to their current state of depression in which they need shaken out of by a sexy, butch lesbian. Or maybe some sum up at the end that fits about four years of storyline into the last three minutes. There will almost always be a voiceover.
3. Poetry Reading. To their lover or in a classroom or at a poetry slam. A lesbian movie is not complete without someone reading angry or passionate poetry.
4. Some Sort of Sensual Art Scene. Whether it is sculpting or painting each other’s bodies, many times, these scenes do not even lead to sex. Lesbians just love them some sensual arts and crafts.
5. Sex That Lasts Less Than 10 Minutes. Some movies get this right with an all-night passion fest but for others, it’s this burst of passion that’s done in five minutes which I can only imagine was written by a straight man.
6. The Cheating Butch. If they’re not both cheating, it’ll be the butch who does. You know, just that trope of a masculine of center person not being able to keep it in their pants…or in their mouths.
7. Road Trip! Or some other crazy adventure where they get to know each other and bond. If we’re honest though, 90% of the time, it’s a road trip.
8. Merry-Go-Rounds. The kind you’d find at an old school playground. Either it’s two people spinning on them while laughing or one person laying on one while pensively looking up at the sky as it spins around. For some reason, lesbian movies love merry-go-rounds. Also, park benches. We love sitting on park benches.
9. Just Generally Intense Women. Whether it’s a woman doing drugs or into bondage or trying to dual for their love, lesbians always seem to be just on the brink of total insanity.
10. A Hunt for Sperm. At least in the movies with more settled lesbians. There is always an emotional hunt for a sperm donor and in the end, they’ll always use someone’s brother or gay best friend anyway.
11. A Moment Where Someone Stares at Themselves in the Mirror for an Elongated Amount of Time. Perhaps they are coming to terms with their newfound sexuality. Perhaps they are angry at themselves for sleeping with a married woman. Lesbians love reflecting on life decisions while staring intensely at themselves in mirrors; this may or may not include “I don’t even recognize myself anymore” face touching.
12. Straight Girl Meltdown. The “former straight woman” still stuck with the man she used to love while she has a come to Jesus moment. This usually involves her lying in bed with her boyfriend while he sleeps peacefully and her eyes are wide open because she knows she no longer loves him.
13. Also in the Straight Girl Meltdown Family, Aggressive Straight Sex Scene. You know, the awkward scene where she forces her man to have super aggressive sex as she tries to prove to herself that she’s not a lesbian or feel less guilty about cheating. Basically, it’s the worst and most uncomfortable scene in any lesbian movie.
14. Full Circle Wrap-Up. A moment where the movie comes together at the end with some recurring reference or line from the beginning of the movie, i.e. “You’re a wanker, #9!”
15. Lesbians Turning Out Straight Women. Nope, two lesbians can’t just meet and fall in love, it always has to be some straight girl just minding her own straight business until suddenly this stranger comes along and awakens the lesbianism inside of her and shows her the light and turns her gay.
16. Anything Shot With a Soft-Focus Lens. This is basically half of the movie, which almost always includes some scene where they are in bed and there is a lot of hair caressing, most likely with acoustic guitar in the background.
17. Come to Think of It, Music in General. Whether it is acoustic guitar, sad lesbian wailing, or ethereal scores, lesbian movies have a lot of music and it’s generally better than the music in most other movies out there. Take note, Hollywood.
18. Pretty White Women Falling in Love. Real talk, most lesbian movies consist of femmes or soft butches (aka femmes with leather jackets or ill-fitting jeans) falling in love. Though there are some films with butches or women of color, chances are, if you see two pretty white women making eyes at each other, chances are you’re watching a lesbian movie.
19. TRIGGER WARNING: The Woman Going Back to the Guy. For the record, the moment this happens, this no longer counts as a lesbian movie. No matter how much lady-loving you gave me during the film, a real lesbian movie just doesn’t end this way and is probably the source of almost every lesbian’s lingering fear of inadequacy or abandonment. #thankshollywood
20. And Last But Not Least, Someone Dying. There are definitely a few lesbian movies with happy endings where they run into each other’s arms or finally kiss, but chances are, if they’re two ladies in love and one doesn’t end up with a guy, someone’s going to die in the end. Sorry ladies, we just can’t have nice things.