Lipstick lesbian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Illustration of the Lipstick Lesbian pride flag (introduced in the weblog This Lesbian Life in 2010).[1][2][3]

"Lipstick lesbian" is slang for a lesbian who exhibits a greater amount of feminine gender attributes, such as wearing make-up (thus, lipstick), dresses or skirts, and having other characteristics associated with feminine women.[4] In popular usage, the term is also used to characterize the feminine gender expression of bisexual women,[4] or the broader topic of female-female sexual activity among feminine women.[5][6]

Definitions and society[edit]

The term lipstick lesbian was used in San Francisco at least as early as the 1980s. In 1982, Priscilla Rhoades, a journalist with the gay newspaper Sentinel, wrote the feature story "Lesbians for Lipstick".[7] In 1990, the gay newspaper OutWeek covered the Lesbian Ladies Society, a Washington, D.C.–based social group of "feminine lesbians" that required women to wear a dress or skirt to its functions.[8] The term is thought to have reached wide usage in the early 1990s. A 1997 episode of the television show Ellen widely publicized the phrase. In the show, Ellen DeGeneres's character, asked by her parents whether a certain woman is a "dipstick lesbian", explains that the term is lipstick lesbian, and comments, "I would be a Chapstick lesbian." An alternate term for lipstick lesbian is doily dyke.[9][10]

Some authors have commented that lipstick lesbian is commonly used broadly to refer to feminine bisexual women or to heterosexual women who temporarily show romantic or sexual interest in other women to impress men. For example, Jodie Brian, Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, Volume 1 (2009), states, "A common depiction of lipstick lesbianism includes conventionally attractive and sexually insatiable women who desire one another but only insofar as their desire is a performance for male onlookers or a precursor to sex with men."[5] In Intersectionality, Sexuality and Psychological Therapies, lipstick lesbian is defined as "a lesbian/bisexual woman who exhibits 'feminine' attributes such as wearing makeup, dresses and high heeled shoes"; the book adds that "more recent iterations of feminine forms of lesbianism such as 'femme' (e.g. wears dresses/skirts or form-fitting jeans, low cut tops, makeup, jewelry), or 'lipstick lesbian' [...], are an attempt to define as both lesbian and feminine."[4]

Some lipstick lesbians say that they choose to perform femininity rather than be subjected to it, adding that they have made an active decision to be feminine, which subverts society's demand of forced femininity.[11][12][13] They commonly modify a typical feminine style to make it less heteronormative; Inge Blackman and Kathryn Perry gave the example of "twinning short skirts with Doctor Martens (DMs) or lacy underwear with men's trousers".[11]

Author M. Paz Galupo stated, "Young women exposed to mainstream media outlets are seeing expressions of the same-sex desire between women much more frequently than ever before. However, mainstream images of same-sex desire between women are very specific, meaning they are often of hyper-feminine women ('lipstick lesbians')."[6] The prominence of lipstick lesbians in the media is echoed by Rosalind Gill, who stated, "The figure of the 'luscious lesbian' [lipstick lesbian] within advertising is notable for her extraordinarily attractive, conventionally feminine appearance."[14] Although some authors have said that the existence of lipstick lesbians is a destabilization of heterosexual ideals, by breaking the assumption that a feminine person will always desire a masculine person, and vice versa, others have said that the lipstick lesbian emergence simply fails in this regard,[12][15] as lipstick lesbians are still subject to the male gaze, and still found acceptable due to their femininity.[12][16] 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McCray, Natalie (July 28, 2010). "Lipstick Lesbian Pride!!!". This Lesbian Life. Archived from the original on November 19, 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  2. ^ McCray, Natalie (July 28, 2010). "LFlag1". This Lesbian Life. Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  3. ^ Rawles, Timothy (July 12, 2019). "The many flags of the LGBT community". San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Roshan das Nair, Catherine Butler (2012). Intersectionality, Sexuality and Psychological Therapies: Working with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Diversity. John Wiley & Sons. p. 49. ISBN 978-1119967439. Retrieved April 5, 2015.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Brien, Jodi (2009). Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, Volume 1. Sage Publications. p. 524. ISBN 978-1412909167. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Paz, M Galupo (2013). Bisexual Women: Friendship and Social Organization. Routledge. p. 55. ISBN 978-1136577123. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  7. ^ Stange, Mary Zeiss; Oyster, Carol K.; Sloan, Jane E., eds. (2011). "Sexualities: Lipstick Lesbians". The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World. SAGE Publications. pp. 549–551. ISBN 978-1412976855.
  8. ^ Lynch, Patsy (4 April 1990). "Lesbian Ladies (or where did all the femmes go?)" (PDF). OutWeek. p. 44.
  9. ^ Keshia Kola (2007-11-16). "The Shesaurus: America's First Women's Dictionary-Thesaurus". Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
  10. ^ "Issue 71" (PDF). G3 Magazine. April 2007. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2007-11-19.
  11. ^ a b Blackman, Inge; Perry, Kathryn (1990). "Skirting the Issue: Lesbian Fashion for the 1990s". Feminist Review (34): 67–78. doi:10.2307/1395306. JSTOR 1395306.
  12. ^ a b c Bell, David; Binnie, Jon; Cream, Julia; Valentine, Gill (1994). "All hyped up and no place to go". Gender, Place & Culture. 1: 31–47. doi:10.1080/09663699408721199.
  13. ^ Schorb, Jodi R.; Hammidi, Tania N. (2000). "Sho-Lo Showdown: The Do's and Don'ts of Lesbian Chic". Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature. 19 (2): 255. doi:10.2307/464429. JSTOR 464429.
  14. ^ Gill, Rosalind (2009). "Beyond the 'Sexualization of Culture' Thesis: An Intersectional Analysis of 'Sixpacks', 'Midriffs' and 'Hot Lesbians' in Advertising". Sexualities. 12 (2): 137–160. doi:10.1177/1363460708100916. S2CID 144941660.
  15. ^ Kirby, Andrew (1995). "VIEWPOINT Straight Talk on the Pomo Homo Question". Gender, Place & Culture. 2: 89–96. doi:10.1080/09663699550022125.
  16. ^ Farquhar, Clare (2000). "'Lesbian' in a Post-Lesbian World? Policing Identity, Sex and Image". Sexualities. 3 (2): 219–236. doi:10.1177/136346000003002007. S2CID 56213569.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]