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The Lesbian Body — a Monstrous or a Transcendental Signifier?

Lesbian Representation and Cultural Construction
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Part of the Schriftenreihe der Internationalen Frauenuniversität »Technik und Kultur« book series (SIFU, volume 6)

Abstract

In 1999, the ‘Society for German language’ together with a group of German journalists and scholars formed a jury in order to select the “one hundred words of the century”. Among these words we find the word ‘schwul’ (which is the German word for gay, but in German it is reserved for men, for male homosexuality), which, according to Volkmar Sigusch, a well known psychotherapist and sexologist, still is a derogatory term that is used to insult homosexual men at the same time as it is a signifier of emancipation (Sigusch, 1999). According to Sigusch, a process of normalisation occurs (for instance, along with current political activities for legal recognition of homosexual partnerships), because “to be normal is the best thing in the world” as he puts it. However, one might ask why the jury did not also choose the word for female homosexuality, ‘lesbisch’ (lesbian). Sigusch suggests that the gay movement is a movement dominated by men and that therefore the jury could not find an adequate and comparable term that would point to a lesbian movement. He claims that lesbian women continue to remain in a state of subversion and stubbornness. Sigusch uses the terms ‘lesbian’ and ‘lesbian movement’, but does not want to see them as representative terms. This little anecdote of a performative contradiction shows that there is still a specific problem with lesbian representation that seems to impact on the mode of representation itself, which appears to be hybrid and unstable.

Keywords

Gender Identity Lesbian Woman Hybrid Representation Cultural Construction Compulsory Heterosexuality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2002

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