1938 PSA Warns Against Evil Lesbian Menaces

Hansen’s Team Pick:

This 1938 PSA warns against the evil nature of lesbian menaces looking for any opportunity to lure you into their evil, sexy ways.

The Hollywood Code banned all references to homosexuality in 1934, but apparently PSAs warning against homosexuality were still pretty cool to make. Especially PSAs which feature women talking about burlesque, rubbing arms, and groping collars while asking for a “sleepover”. Oh yeah, it gets intense. You know, taking a girl to a burlesque show sounds like an awesome date to me.

And wouldn’t Lesbian Menace make an awesome superhero name? Dibs.


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Hansen is the former DIY & Food Editor of Autostraddle.com and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She teaches creative writing at Colorado State University and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in her free time.

Hansen has written 189 articles for us.


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    These scenes all come from the movie “Sex Madness,” which, as the name implies, was basically “Reefer Madness” but with sex. It was part of a whole genre of whacky films that got around the Hayes Code by pretending to be educational and totally, totally failing. You can watch the whole thing here: http://archive.org/details/sex_madness.

    Fun fact – nothing else happens with those menacing lesbians in the film. They pretty much just go to a strip show, hook up, and then vanish. Neither ends up dead in a swimming pool or disappears into a parking lot or anything. Meanwhile, all the straight couples get syphilis and die.

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      “Meanwhile, all the straight couples get syphilis and die.”

      This sounds like an Oregon Trail ending I could get behind.

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      Well that may because in those days overtly gay characters were more often exploited for amusement sake than fear. Homosexual was still wildly seen in gender terms. So it may have been easier to spook the audiences (who was supposed to ‘normal’ if you ever wanted to get your movie past state censors), with the prospect of getting VD than with thoughts of being seduced by predatory perverts.
      Even though this kind of movie could only be made outside the studio system, they still had content with censorship boards in more than six states in numerous cities that required a pre-screaning pending approval by law. Thus making it necessary to only portray homosexuals as oddities on the sidelines rather than the center of the focus of the story, Female homosexuality was mostly a spice for male viewers and maybe a creeping curiosity for women. Male homosexuality almost never mention.

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    I’m having trouble trying to find the “evil”. Seems like a hell of a good time. Also I was just getting invested in the story when it ended. Awww 🙁

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    I showed this to a friend who seriously has the same thing going on with a co-worker, I can’t.

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    Burlesque, rubbing arms, and sleepovers? Sounds like a great date to me. Maybe that’s what I should put in my OKC profile.

    Lesbian Menace would be my all-queer Pat Benatar cover band name.

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    When I first saw this I thought you had managed to find 1938 PSAs all up and thought “wow, that’s a lot of effort”.

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    um what, this seems like a grand ole time! This spot would actually make me feel BETTER about my sexuality (I mean other than the fact the there was publicly funded ad warning about lesbianism, but still, what an ad it was!)

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    Okay but don’t like caress your date’s arm and try to stick your hand in her shirt while you’re watching a show. That shit is disconcerting.

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