On his hourly news discussion program, the O'Reilly Factor on Fox cable, yesterday, Bill O'Reilly pointed to the increasingly widespread media presentation of lesbianism on television and in movies, usually of women kissing each other in passion. Noting this lesbianism chic, he asked, what is driving it? His guest commentators really had no explanation, except to say that lesbianism is present in society and media generally reflect society. I don't think this explanation is correct. Male homosexuality is present in society, yet image representation of male homosexual lovemaking is rare and certainly is not chic.
I have a hypothesis about what is driving the media presentation of lesbianism. The driving force is, basically, the enormous money to be made if and when hard core pornography is freely broadcast. (I define hard core pornography as visual display of genitalia in sex acts, especially the penis in intercourse.)
For the mainstream media industry, the issue is how to get public acceptance so that they can broadcast to the very large market for pornography that the pornography industry now supplies (a market that would be much larger if it were legitimated by public broadcast). Viewing lesbianism is chosen as the first step on the path to pornography, because lesbian sex technique does not connote the sexual technique of male homosexual sexual interaction. At the same time, lesbianism is a common component of heterosexual male sex fantasy, which is largely the product of visual imagination, so lesbianism draws the train of association of acceptibility toward heterosexual pornography.
I am making a slippery-slope argument here, of course, where increasing public display of sexual behavior decreases public sensitivity to it and thereby increases public tolerance, eventually acceptance. Nonetheless, short of a mainstream values revolution, I am convinced that within a decade from now, HBO (a subscription service that already a purveys soft pornography) will broadcast hard core pornography; legitimate public broadcast will not long lag.
My argument here is also that lesbianism chic is not, ultimately, about gays and gay love. What the legitimate media are doing is using the increased public acceptance of gay love--both lesbian and male homosexual--as a subliminal route of association to public broadcast of hard core heterosexual pornography, for which there is a larger market than for homosexual pornography.