Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Autumn 1998

Daughters of Desire: Lesbian Representations in Film, by Shameem Kabir

reviewed by Leni Miller

In Daughters of Desire Shameem Kabir offers a comprehensive analysis of lesbian representation in film throughout the twentieth century. From the early Mädchen In Uniform to Go Fish, she sets out to redefine the territory of film criticism by both demanding a lesbian reading of the films in question as well as defining what she means by ‘lesbian reading’. There are in-depth discussions of old time dyke favourites, such as The Killing of Sister George and Queen Christina – where questions of lesbian identity, lesbian desire and the reading of lesbian subtexts are tackled.

Kabir allows herself to draw upon a multitude of critical theories and theorists – from Freud to Bea Campbell – to inform her discussion and if film theory is your thing then this is definitely one for the bookshelf.

There is an intrinsic argument which calls for a ‘new symbolic order’ – repositioning women within a ‘non-phallocentric’ framework. Lesbian desire, therefore, becomes a radical way of informing this new order. This is a radical feminist point of view that you either take to or not. Kabir, however, maintains that as a lesbian and as an Asian woman her very marginalisation from society makes this viewpoint necessary rather than simply optional. There is much argued in the book – and perhaps much to be argued about, but the sheer amount of information and the way theories are outlined before being applied make this a useful reference text in itself.

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Created : Sunday, 1999-11-07 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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