Invisible After 40: The Erasure of Queer Women in Mainstream Media

Social IssuesSexuality

  • Author Sarah Briggs
  • Published June 4, 2024
  • Word count 832

Imagine scrolling through your favourite TV shows or flipping through the pages of a popular magazine, and yet, despite the sea of faces and stories, you can't help but feel like a significant part of your identity is missing. This is the reality for many queer women over 40, who are consistently erased from mainstream media, relegated to the shadows, and rendered invisible. The lack of representation is not only frustrating but also damaging, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and reinforcing the notion that queer women are not worthy of attention or validation. In this thought-provoking article, we'll delve into the alarming phenomenon of the erasure of queer women in mainstream media, exploring the ways in which this invisibility affects their lives, self-esteem, and sense of belonging, and why it's high time for change.

  1. The Erasure of Queer Women in Media: A Personal Reflection

As I reflect on my own experiences as a queer woman, I am reminded of the countless times I've felt invisible, erased, and marginalized in mainstream media. Growing up, I rarely saw myself represented on TV or in films, and when I did, it was often in a stereotypical or tokenized way. The lack of authentic and multidimensional queer female characters left me feeling like I didn't exist, like my identity was somehow less worthy of being seen and heard. I remember scrolling through my social media feeds, feeling like I was the only one who didn't fit into the narrow mold of heteronormativity. The erasure of queer women in media is not just a passing oversight, but a deliberate and systemic exclusion that has far-reaching consequences. It's a reminder that our stories, our voices, and our experiences are not valued or deemed worthy of being told. As I look around, I see a sea of straight, cisgender, and predominantly white faces, and I am left wondering: where do I fit in?

  1. The Statistics of Invisibility: A Look at the Numbers

The statistics are staggering, and yet, they're not surprising. A quick glance at the numbers reveals a glaring truth: queer women are almost invisible in mainstream media. According to a recent study, only 12% of leading ladies in Hollywood films identify as LGBTQ+, and a mere 3% of those are women over 40. The numbers are just as dismal when it comes to television, with a paltry 5% of female characters on popular TV shows identifying as queer. And if you're a queer woman of colour, forget about it - you're almost invisible, with a mere 1% of representation. These numbers are not just a reflection of the entertainment industry's lack of diversity, but also a reflection of society's erasure of queer women, particularly those over 40. The message is clear: queer women are not valuable, not worthy of representation, and certainly not worthy of attention. But the reality is, queer women are here, they're vibrant, and they're deserving of visibility and recognition. It's time to challenge these statistics and demand change.

  1. The Consequences of Erasure: How it Affects Queer Women's Lives

The erasure of queer women in mainstream media has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the realm of entertainment and into the very fabric of our daily lives. When queer women are absent or marginalized in the media, they are also rendered invisible in society. This lack of representation can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disconnection from the world around them. Queer women, particularly those over 40, are left without role models, mentors, or a sense of community, making it difficult for them to navigate their identities and find their place in the world. The erasure of queer women also perpetuates harmful stereotypes and reinforces harmful norms, making it even more challenging for them to live their lives authentically. Moreover, the lack of representation can lead to a lack of understanding, empathy, and acceptance, perpetuating discrimination and marginalization. The consequences of erasure are profound, affecting not only the self-esteem and confidence of queer women but also their mental and physical health, relationships, and overall well-being.

  1. Breaking the Silence: Why Representation Matters

The silence is deafening. For far too long, queer women over 40 have been rendered invisible in mainstream media, their stories, struggles, and triumphs relegated to the shadows. The erasure of their experiences is a profound loss, not only for the individuals affected but also for the broader LGBTQ+ community and society as a whole. The absence of representation has a profound impact on our collective psyche, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and reinforcing damaging notions of what it means to be queer, female, and aging. By breaking the silence and demanding representation, we can shatter the glass ceiling that has held queer women back for decades. We can create a world where their voices are heard, their stories are told, and their lives are valued. It's time to amplify the voices of queer women over 40, to celebrate their resilience, and to recognize the vital contributions they make to our communities. By doing so, we can forge a more inclusive, compassionate, and just society for all.

I am a budding writer looking to tackle the issues surrounding queer representation in the mainstream media.

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