Tweet of the Day: Revealing Writer
A lipstick lesbian is a lesbian who dresses and acts in a manner that is considered conventionally feminine (for instance, wearing lipstick). Main-character lesbians on TV tend to fall into this category more often, as it’s often seen as “safer”, unless the show is going for “edgy”. They also often have things like long fingernails, unlike their more masculine counterpart.
The term is self explanatory, but the reason why I chose this trope is because of how modern media tackles the complex issue of gender identity. And it is a very complex issue because:
- We don’t wear our sexuality in our skin (more on that on Friday’s Space for Rent)
- Behavior is not indicative of such things as attraction, romantic feelings or any other would be gender metrics.
In this particular case point #2 is played to the hilt. By all appearances, the character in question acts in a feminine manner (dress, speech pattern, etc,) but at some point in the story is revealed (either casually or as part of the character’s development) that she is a lesbian. Usually nothing much is made of it if the story is set in the present day or the future. In fact, the character’s sexuality is treated as nothing more than a character “quirk”. More to the point, it is used to put a another character in its place with the phrase, “You’re not my type.”
It boils down to saying, “We know that Gays/Lesbians exist and we acknowledge the fact through this token character that happens to be a lesbian.”
For this reason alone, writers should avoid this trope. Unless you are willing to explore the character in full, don’t bother with it.