Traies, Jane Elizabeth (2009)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Monika Kehoe (1986) described older lesbians as "a triply invisible minority.‟ In this dissertation I seek to establish whether that description is still valid and, if so, why. I go on to ask, if older lesbians are culturally / discursively invisible, what are the circumstances which can enable them to be seen? and what could be gained from that visibility? By analysing a range of cultural texts I demonstrate that, although the visibility of women and of lesbians has steadily increased in recent years, older lesbians are still rarely represented in popular culture or the media. Academic research reflects this blindness: gerontology largely ignores non-heterosexual subjects, while lesbian and gay studies marginalise the old. I then use a case study of the documentary film Women Like Us (Neild and Pearson, 1990) to investigate the social and political forces which enable older lesbians to become visible, and to demonstrate the cultural importance of these representations. I conclude that older lesbians in Britain today are rendered invisible by a combination of sexism, ageism and hetero-sexism; that lack of media representation has been a decisive factor in maintaining their invisibility; and that there is a need for further research in this neglected area.
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