The future's pink
Does everyone who writes for The Guardian or Observer need to be called Polly? Today, in The Guardian, Polly Curtis turned her attention to the pink pound.
Lesbians earn £6,000 more than the national average for women, take two more holidays a year and spend £400 a month on credit cards, according to the survey of 1,118 readers of Diva and Gay Times by the marketing consultancy Out Now.
So - just how representative are the self-selecting people who agree to complete marketing surveys of this type? Let's think now. Two more holidays a year than the national average for women? Where does that leave me and my one holiday a year? Ok, so last year I had three nights in Blackpool and three nights in Brighton. That could be considered two holidays, but it still leaves the average woman with no holidays whatsoever. £400 on credit cards? I don't think so! I'm a Maestro girl who spends within her means. And what I earn is between me and my employer.
Yesterday I may have sounded obsessed with the millions spent on hair removal - but you can't blame me for that. Polly (Vernon) got there first; I was simply responding. Now we're to marvel at the multi-millions spent by gay men and lesbians on frivolous kinds of entertainment. Outrageous!
Gay men spent more on holidays, DVDs and clothing last year than lesbians, but lesbians outspent gay men on mobile telephone bills and buying pet food.
What does that tell us? Lesbians are practical and gay men are pleasure-seeking? Lesbians try harder at long-distance relationships and make up for it by pampering their cats and dogs, who (quite frankly) don't care if their lesbians wear clothes or not. Is this helping the stereotypes any?
And then we get to the crutch of the matter.
It's not really the money that Polly (Curtis) wants to draw attention to. It's femininity! The big issue here is the femininity of lesbians. But of course - silly me - that must cost them millions!
Diva magazine doesn't help, running it's own 'Fashion survey'. Jane Czyzselska, Diva's editor, is quoted as saying:
The stereotypical idea of lesbians - particularly from people with prejudices - is that we are not feminine and that's almost considered a crime. It's therefore interesting to note how many women describe themselves as feminine.
Apparently 33% who answered the survey describe themselves this way. And that's my point, really. 33% who answered the survey. It's a fashion survey, right. With questions about knickers and bras, accessories and cosmetics. Who is more likely to fill in this survey? Those who wear bras (95%) and high heels (25% own at least one pair) and make-up (75%). That's 75% of those who answered the survey, Diva. Not, as the magazine states, "three out of four readers". Did I answer the survey? No. Did three out of four readers answer the survey. I doubt it. I doubt very much if Diva are prepared to say how many responses they got. At least the marketing survey by Out Now gives us numbers.
So why is a lesbian magazine so keen to shout about the femininity of lesbians?
The point of these new surveys seems to be to demonstrate to companies that lesbians have signifcant disposable income and are prepared to dispose of it in large lumps if only advertisers would wake up and recognise the potential of lesbians as consumers.
My point is this. Why are lesbians being sold as attractive to advertisers only if they can be shown off as feminine? Even if only one-third feminine. Whose stereotypes are being bolstered here? By all means show lesbians buying make-up, wearing skirts and high heels (which is as TV drama prefers it), but even the most feminine of lesbians takes her high heels and make-up off from time to time. I want to see the adverts that play to the strengths of the other 66%.
Is it something of a backlash; is it at all significant that Diva's fashion survey appeared in the December 2005 issue with the hairy-armpitted model and main cover headline of 'Beauty and the Butch'?
Money makes the world go round. Or is that femininity?
Labels: LGBTQ culture