What is the root behind WLW relationships being over-sexualized and how is it still a prevalent issue?
On June 28 of 1969, the New York City police department raided a gay club located in the Stonewall Inn. Patrons of the bar were brutally beaten and assaulted by officers, forcing them to flee the bar, resulting in protests and riots for the next six days until July 3, 1969. The Stonewall riots served as a catalyst for LGBTQ+ activism across the world. While the Stonewall Inn incident and riots were not what kickstarted the demand for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, it did serve a critical role in showcasing the discriminatory actions taken against LGBTQ+ people and the lack of rights and humanity they are given all because of their self-identity.
Since then, the LGBTQ+ community has grown, allowing same-sex couples to marry legally nation-wide as of June 2015 and continually acknowledging new communities to validate their self-identities. However, there are still many issues regarding how certain LGBTQ+ people are treated, and a few of these issues are in regard to women-love-women fetishization.
Women-loving-women -- WLW, or lesbian[ism] -- is a way to describe a relationship where both individuals identify as a woman or woman-presenting. For a long-time, extending into even today’s society, same-sex relationships have been frowned upon due to homophobia, resulting in assaults such as Melania Geymonat and her girlfriend -- Christine Hannigan -- as of 2019 and several more brutal cases throughout the 20th century and early 21st century. Lesbians are treated like objects more than people, convincing homophobes that they somehow have the right to judge, harass, assault, or even sexually assault them. Their mentality roots from the idea that lesbians solely exist to satisfy male consumption.
In the mainstream media, the vast majority of WLW relationships showcase lesbians as hypersexual people whose lives exist only in the bedroom, demonstrating a relationship that lacks a romantic side to it and shaping the relationship to cater to male audiences. This exaggerated light of WLW relationships further objectives and encourages the fetishization of their relationships.
According to the most infamous porn consumption website, PornHub, the term “Lesbian” was the third most searched term in 2019, and the term was the second most viewed genre across the whole platform. Their insights also show that all of the North American continent, bits of South America and Europe, and then the entirety of Australia’s most viewed category relates to the “Lesbian” genre.
PornHub is infamous for their several legal cases taken against them that relate to unauthorized sex tapes and “revenge porn” videos being released onto the platform with a lack of communication if someone reports the videos, furthering the fact that companies value their “products” more than the people in the published videos, emphasizing the fact that WLW relationships are prone to obsessive objectification.
These instances of WLW fetishization are a few of many, and it has steadily become more and more problematic over the years as more lesbians and bisexual women come out the closet. This objectification and fetishization leave the lesbian community in a negative light, painting them to be mere objects of sexualization created for the male gaze and consumption and discouraging people to be open with their sexual orientation.
If you or a loved one are struggling with their LGBTQ+ identity, please seek out the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Hotline:
Or, if you or a loved one is seeking community support within the LGBTQ+ community, consider researching the LGBTribe organization which offers different peer community groups depending on which part of the community you are in.