My project involves studying lesbian erotica produced during the late-20th century, to see if it reflects societal realities of misogyny and homophobia. The most interesting digital archive that I’ve found so far belongs to Duke University. Duke’s gender studies department has digitized copies of woman-produced lesbian pornography from the 1970’s into the 90’s. Their collection includes obscure, rare, and out-of-print zines from small companies based out of liberal enclaves such as San Francisco, Park Slope, and Portland. These zines don’t just include erotic photography, but they include interviews with the models and photographers. These underground publications stand in stark contrast to the impersonal and inauthentic lesbian erotica found in Georgetown’s collection of Hustler and Penthouse magazines.
Being able to compare how lesbians of this era viewed themselves, compared to how they were viewed by men, is a central and necessary component of my project. By synthesizing the artistic decisions and stylistic differences between these two worlds, I should be able to find political realities channeled through lesbian pornography.