MEDIAWATCH with Car­rie Lyell

Diva (UK) - - | Trends | Voices | Person Of The Month -

As we ap­proach the 50th an­niver­sary of the par­tial de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in Eng­land and Wales, I’ve been think­ing about what life was like for les­bians and bi women in 1967. Our re­la­tion­ships were never crim­i­nalised in the same way as gay men’s, but how did the me­dia at the time re­port on our lives? And how much has changed? Two pro­grammes from the BBC ar­chive pro­vide a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight. In one, first broad­cast two years be­fore the Sex­ual Of­fences Act came into force, re­porter Wendy Jones speaks to a psy­chi­a­trist who ex­plains that lesbianism is “a con­di­tion caused by pow­er­ful emo­tional in­flu­ences within the fam­ily”, while an­other from 1967 de­scribes one in­ter­vie­wee as “ag­gres­sively mas­cu­line” and asks “can a les­bian ever find true hap­pi­ness?” Life now is al­most un­recog­nis­able. But many prej­u­dices re­main; the way mas­cu­line-pre­sent­ing women were viewed in 1967 isn’t all that dif­fer­ent to­day. Butch women still ex­pe­ri­ence de­ri­sion in the me­dia, peo­ple ask ques­tions like “who is the man?” and les­bians and bi women on the whole are viewed with in­tol­er­ance, sus­pi­cion and dis­gust by large swathes of the me­dia. Jones’ con­cern that a young woman might be “cor­rupted”, for ex­am­ple, could be lifted straight from the Daily Mail to­day. There are far too many peo­ple who be­lieve we are de­viant and dam­aged, and who would pre­fer we still lived in the shad­ows. That’s why we owe it to those who came be­fore us to be as loud and as vis­i­ble as it is safe to be. @Seej

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