This paper examines a representative sampling of girl–girl pictorials in Penthouse magazine to understand the relationship between its girl–girl images and the institution of heterosexuality to which the magazine is expressly devoted. We identify four types of girl–girl pictorials that portray “lesbian” sex as a performance, as convenience or excursion, as an imitation, or simply as deviant sex. The females within the images are variously heterosexualized by a complex of features, including the positioning of the bodies for the pleasure of the spectators, whom Penthouse has explicitly identified as heterosexual males; the representation of sexual climax solely through the metaphoric substitution of vaginal and anal penetration shots while regulating penetration as an exclusively male preserve; and the stabilization of gender polarity. These and other mutually reinforcing representational strategies function to colonize “lesbian” sex and commodify it as an erotic variation available in the (hetero)sexual supermarket. Consequently, girl–girl representations effectively reinscribe and renaturalize heterosexuality.
Women's Studies International Forum – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 1998
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