Girls on Top: Sapphology

Lucille Cairns

in Sapphism on Screen

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2006 | ISBN: 9780748621651
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651108 | DOI:
Girls on Top: Sapphology

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This chapter focuses on certain filmic moments that may provide less limiting perspectives on inter-female desire – or may, indeed, herald a new ‘science’ of lesbianism – what is termed sapphology. First, it discusses scenarios that emphasise the problem not of lesbian desire, but of the socio-discursive barriers its subjects face, and usually surmount (including, prominently, the challenge of coming out to family members). Second, the chapter describes scenes of erotic arousal and jouissance (albeit not always problem free) between women. Third, moving from the inveterate, whether homo- or heteroinstantiated, ephemera of desire, it turns to love between women and its possible issue, such as creation and procreation, focusing on art as mediator of (lesboerotic) desire in the first case. Self-evidently, a lesbian couple cannot jointly conceive a child biologically, but one of the two (or indeed, both, following separate medical procedures) may now have recourse to artificial insemination within a joint commitment to lesbian parenting, with the non-biological mother assuming the role of the ‘social parent’.

Keywords: lesbianism; lesbian desire; erotic arousal; jouissance; creation; procreation; art; artificial insemination; social parent; sapphology

Chapter.  18830 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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