Women Posing as Lesbians for Men: A Photographic History

In TASCHEN’s new book Lesbians for Men, Dian Hanson collects photographs showing that throughout history, men have loved women who love women. By Kristen Cochrane.

Throughout my life, I have had men say to me: “Wouldn’t it be hot to have a threesome with another girl?” Which is hot—if you are a woman who is attracted to women. But men are saying this to their straight girlfriends, who would often want the opposite (a threesome with two men).

In these random conversations where I ask men (who are typically just friendly acquaintances or friends of mine) if they hypothetically would have a male-male-female (a.k.a. MMF) threesome, they often respond with shock, sometimes with repulsion. There would probably be more reactions demonstrating repulsion if I moved beyond my socially liberal, mostly socialist friend network.

Often, women indulge their boyfriends’ fantasies of having a threesome with another woman, even if they really aren’t sexually into women. The trend of women having sex with another woman during a threesome to satisfy their male partner is linked to a history of women “playing” the lesbian for male eyes and senses. Or, we could think of that 2000s tendency of self-identifying straight women kissing women at the club. The question of whether Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it is up for debate—is she sexually fluid or was it because men generally think girls kissing girls is hot?

TASCHEN’s Sexy Books editor, historian, and writer Dian Hanson has compiled photos from the 20th century that depict this phenomenon of straight women posturing as lesbians for men. (P.S. yes, “sexy book editor” is her actual title.) Lesbians for Men The book is a historic chronology of this trend from 1890 to the present day (but honestly, it probably goes back way further), and is the first photo book to acknowledge that faux-lez photos are created to fuel male fantasy, and to explore the reasons why.

In terms of the women-posing-as-lesbians narrative, these photos are ways in which women who like women can enjoy images of women being intimate with other women. However, a lot of these images can be read as sordid and sleazy, and not exactly the images that women who like women actually feel stimulated by. At the same time, a lot of us actually like sleaziness, and that’s totally OK too.

Below are some of the photos that Hanson has compiled. What do you think?

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You can order TASCHEN’s Lesbians for Men by Dian Hanson here :)

Kristen Cochrane is a writer and graduate researcher at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her academic research is currently on queer Latin American cinema, but she also writes about art, sexuality, and life stories. Her work has appeared in Amuse/i-D, Teen Vogue, Somesuch, and VICE.  



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