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Free Content Lesbian chic, femme-ininity and feminist dialogue: Reflecting on The L Word

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Showtime’s The L Word, which aired from 2004–09, attracted a broad audience in part by featuring a caricature of lesbianism that is heteronormatively appealing – femme, white and cosmopolitan. Drawing on queer popular culture and scholarship on The L Word, this article analyses several of the show’s scenes in order to challenge interpretations of the show as geared for the male gaze and of the lesbian chic as un-subversive. Strategic appeal of the lesbian chic ideal seductively brings viewers in, but once there, they encounter moments of feminist dialogue on identity politics, violence against women and representation as well as a queering of dominant representations of femininity.

Keywords: L word; feminism; femme-ininity; identity; lesbian chic; representation; sexuality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Regina

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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  • Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture (QSMPC) is a refereed academic journal devoted to the study of representations and expressions of queerness in its various forms. International in scope and representing a wide variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, it publishes scholarship on topics at the intersection of media/popular culture and queerness in gender/sexuality. QSMPC invites articles and artwork pertaining to queerness in media and popular culture, as well as reviews pertaining to recently released queer media artifacts.
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