Lesbian erotica  

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Depictions of lesbianism have been relatively common in erotic art and pornography throughout history.


Lesbianism in visual arts


Depictions of lesbianism are included among the erotic frescoes of Pompeii. The story of Jupiter and Callisto, the only lesbian Greek myth, would provide a thematic inspiration for the early modern era.



18th century

Later, a number of European painters would include themes of eroticism between women among their work; these artists include François Boucher's Jupiter and Callisto

19th century

JMW Turner's X portfolio, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres Turkish Bath, Gustave Courbet's Le Sommeil and several works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, such as At the Moulin Rouge: The Women Dancing.

20th century

20th century erotica

Beginning in the fin de siecle with Gustav Klimt's Water Snakes I and Die Freundinnen (zerstört) and moving on to the early twentieth century with Egon Schiele's Frauenpaar (Sich umarmende Frauen) and [3], artists continued to celebrate same-sex desire among females. Christian Schad's Two Girls, Albert Marquet's work, Balthus's The Guitar Lesson, and Leonor Fini's Le Long du chemin.

Outside of the strict domain of the art world, more explicit depictions were an important part of the work of erotic illustrators such as Édouard-Henri Avril [4] [5], Franz von Bayros [6], Martin van Maële's Et délivrez-nous du mâle, ainsi soit-il, Rojan, Gerda Wegener, Vala Moro, and Tom Poulton.

The rise of photography was instrumental in the genesis of modern visual pornography, but erotic themes, including erotic lesbian themes, have been an important genre in art photography. Erotic and fetish photographers, such as Heinz von Perckhammer , David Hamilton, Steve Diet Goedde, and Bob Carlos Clarke frequently have included themes of eros between women in their work. More recently, lesbian and bisexual photographers such as Nan Goldin, Tee Corinne, Judy Francesconi , and Della Grace have focused on erotic themes, reclaiming a subject that has traditionally been mainly treated through the eye of male artists.


Explicit depictions of lovemaking between women were also an important theme in Japanese erotic shunga, including the work of such masters as Utamaro, Hokusai's Manpoku Wago-Jin and Sea-Cucumber , Katsukawa Shunchō , Utagawa Kunisada, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Yanagawa Shigenobu, Keisai Eisen , Kawanabe Kyōsai, and Ikeda Terukata . Audrey Kawasaki is a contemporary painter for whom erotic depictions of lesbianism form an important segment of her work.

Lesbian erotic themes in cinema

Lesbian erotic themes in cinema

Although both lesbian and erotic themes were restrained in early cinema, suggestive scenes of dancing between women were presented in the films Pandora's Box (1928) and The Sign of the Cross (1932). Although lesbian themes were sometimes found in European movies such as Mädchen in Uniform (1931), lesbianism was not treated openly in US cinema until the 1962 release of Walk on the Wild Side. Depictions of lovemaking between women were first shown in several movies of the late 1960s — The Fox (1967), The Killing of Sister George (1968), and Therese and Isabelle (1968).

During the 1970s, depictions of sex between women were largely restricted to semi-pornographic softcore and sexploitation films, such as Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1970), Score (1973), Emmanuelle (1974), and Bilitis (1977). Although semi-explicit heterosexual sex scenes had been part of mainstream cinema since the late 1960s, equivalent depictions of women having sex only began making their appearance in mainstream film during the 1980s. These were typically in the context of a film that was specifically lesbian-themed, such as Personal Best (1982), Lianna (1983), and Desert Hearts (1985). Vampire film The Hunger (1983) also contained a seduction and sex scene between Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.

Henry and June (1990) had several lesbian scenes, including one that was considered explicit enough to give the film an NC-17 rating. (There was some controversy as to whether the MPAA had given the film a more restrictive rating than it normally would have because of the lesbian nature of the scene in question.) Basic Instinct (1992) contained mild lesbian content, but established lesbianism as a central theme in the erotic thriller genre. Later in the 1990s, erotic thrillers such as Wild Side (1995) and Bound (1996) featured more explicit lesbian scenes.

From the 1990s onward, depictions of sex between women became fairly common in mainstream cinema, in no small part based on its ability to titilate heterosexual male audience members. Lesbian kissing also was increasingly shown in films (as well as television), often as a way to include a sexually arousing element in a movie without actually having the film gain a more restrictive rating by depicting sex or nudity.

Views about lesbianism in erotica

Historically, the majority of erotica and pornography has been produced by men for a male audience. Lesbian themes have nevertheless been extremely popular because for many heterosexual men, the depiction of sexual activity between two women is more arousing than sexual activity between a man and a woman. A study has shown that on average heterosexual men are more aroused by pornography showing lesbian activity than they are by depictions of heterosexual activity. This finding corresponds with several earlier studies (summarized in Whitley et al. (1999); see also anecdotal reports in Loftus (2002)).

Enjoyment of "girl on girl" pornography often has little connection to feelings towards homosexuals in real life. A heterosexual man may be aroused by pornographic depictions of lesbianism yet hold homophobic views. However, several studies suggest that men who perceive lesbianism as erotic may have less negative attitudes toward lesbians than they do towards gay men.

Lesbian views on sex between women in erotica are complex. Historically, women have been less involved in the production and consumption of erotica in general and visual pornography in particular than have men. Since the late 1960s, radical feminist viewpoints on pornography and the sexual objectification of women have influenced the lesbian community. Some lesbians and bisexual women object to all pornography on feminist grounds. Since the end of the 1980s "Lesbian Sex Wars", however, lesbians and bisexual women are less likely to identify with radical feminist opinions on sexuality and are more likely to have positive views about erotica and pornography. Some lesbians are even consumers of mainstream pornography, but many dislike what they perceive as inaccurate and stereotypical depictions of women and lesbianism in mainstream pornography. Some are also uncomfortable with male interest in lesbians. As of the early 2000s, there is a very strong lesbian erotic literature movement, as well as a small genre of pornography made by lesbians for a lesbian audience (see "Lesbianism in contemporary pornography" above).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lesbian erotica" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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