Sapphism for Fun and Profit

Pop lit discovers lesbian chic

But if such advertising allows for a secret sapphist reading--a private homo-hermeneutics, as it were--lesbian chic transforms this insider privilege into public spectacle; it replaces a subjective lesbian reading with an explicit, heterosexualized inscription of lesbian love. Time and again the media present stoic, short-haired women in suits being courted and swooned over by long-haired chicks in traditional girl garb: high heels, bikinis, short skirts.

Ultimately, sapphism in its chic incarnation becomes a basis for women to bond with men over babes. It's no longer an alternative to female subordinance; it simply lets some women traffic in others. (Writing in Esquire, self-proclaimed lesbian sexpert Susie Bright does just that when she offers advice to guys on how to make "lesbian-style" love to a woman. "Lesbians and straight men do have a lot in common," she effuses. "We are both hung up on girls.")

The desire to position somebody else as the babe is the dirty little secret of lesbian chic. Like "do-me" feminism and black conservatism, lesbian chic fronts for the status quo, robbing us of an incentive to change a sexist system for the benefit of all. It offers a place at the table for a privileged few members of a minority--that is, provided we don't pursue the question of why it is still the women who are serving while the rest of us feast.

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