Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sodomy vs. Lesbianism

Update: ABC cancels Adam Lambert appearances

Alfredo Triff

Man-to-man kiss: CENSORED.


Woman-to-woman kiss: [OK].


"Sodomy" is taboo. "Lesbianism," on the other hand, is a male-coveted bourgeois perversion. There's a long history of patriarchal flirtation with sapphic themes in literature and art. Baudelaire's lesbian poems in Fleurs du Mal, Gautier Mademoiselle de Maupin, and Balzac The Girl with the Golden Eyes (amongst many others) use lesbian sexuality as a field in which to play out male confusion with prescribed roles for men and women. Through lesbian personae, late-Nineteenth Century men cross-over into the forbidden territory of feminine feeling and bodily sensations. No doubt, but there is a limit.

Eliseu Visconti's In Summertime (1891)

Tolouse Lautrec's The Kiss (1892)

Louis Corinth's Friends (1904)

Man's fin de siècle heterocentric representations of lesbian sexuality are surprisingly flat and one-dimensional. They privilege the stereotype of the "passive" lesbian, which poses little threat to patriarchal mastery of desire.* Yet, inevitably, man's playing on with lesbianism brings forth the possibility of softer, lenient man-to-man ideations.**

The system will not tolerate any subversion of patriarchal power.
*Lesbian pulp fiction in the 1950's was marketed to heterosexual men. **It may explain late-Victorian "effeminate" representations of homosexuality:

Simeon Salomon's Love Dreaming by the Sea (1871)