Home' LOTL : March 2007 Contents 3
RICH DYKE, POOR DYKE
For this, our finance and careers issue, I got to thinking about The L Word – lesbian bible of representation and
primary source for all things Sapphic – where lesbians fall into two fiscal categories: affluent or impoverished.
In the first three seasons Bette and Tina, Marina, Helena, Dana, and Cherie were rich, successful and powerful,
swanning about in patrician style. Shane, Jenny, Moira, Alice, Carmen, Lara and Kit were financial fringe
dwellers, working hard and struggling to keep their jobs or businesses. Is this an accurate portrayal of lesbian
financial status? Is there a great divide in wealth and status amongst Australia’s lesbians or is this an American
phenomenon – a type of monetary anorexia and obesity.
I sometimes hear of a mythical group of high-flying power dykes who live in penthouses with water views, have
organic groceries home delivered, buy art and get $400 haircuts, but I’m yet to meet one. (If you’re out there,
call!) Unfortunately the enduring image of lesbians is as a group of low earners who hang onto the little money
they have and get by on the smell of granola. The stereotype of gay men is the reverse: they earn oodles of
cash and spend it – on personal trainers, designer apartments, the entire Madonna back catalogue, five star
restaurants, rent boys...This stereotype fed the myth of the pink dollar which in turn helped launch and sink
a thousand gay publications and businesses. It also unwittingly contributed to lesbians as a viable economic
demographic being overlooked.
The perception that lesbians are invisible want-nots had a curious outcome for US gay magazine OUT, which
enjoyed a bipartisan readership until the publishers dropped the lesbian content and went all-boy. Why? There
were simply not enough advertisers to justify the lesbian content. Why? Because lesbians don’t earn or spend
enough money. But is this true?
LOTL’s recent reader survey showed that lesbians earn more than their heterosexual sisters and buy dinners,
drinks, dance party tickets, portable technology, books, clothes, CDs, holidays, and health and beauty services
more than straight women. While advertisers flock to mainstream women’s magazines with the same tired
old beauty products they are wary of putting their big corporate toes in the lesbian market. As a gay media
company in the US recently told me, cosmetics firms shun lesbian mags because they don’t believe we even
Our cover girl Eve Salvail – an out and proud supermodel – definitely wears makeup. And in The L Word season
4 they slather it on with trowels. Speaking of which – season 3 (spoiler ahead) closes with rich bitch Helena
Peabody suddenly disinherited after using her mum’s moolah to fly the gang to Canada for Shane and Carmen’s
botched wedding. Is this what lesbians would do if they were cashed up? I wonder.
While we further ponder the fiscal portrayal of lesbians world-wide, let’s thank the loyal LOTL advertisers who
support the lesbians who use their
products and services. They help keep
our magazine accessible and free and
know that whether it’s climbing to the
top of the corporate ladder, steering
a community organisation, getting
an education, making art, serving in
the military, launching a business,
having kids, tweaking that investment
portfolio, or – yes – buying the entire
Madonna back catalogue… we’re
breaking the lavender ceiling.
Editor’s photo: Jasmine Hirst
Photo: Courtesy of
Showtime. Helena Peabody:
from riches to rags
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