On the whole, paperback novel publishers were not interested in literary content but rather in achieving large sales through wide distribution and low costs. Titles that promoted alternatives to the dominance of family-centred monogamous heterosexuality were profitable but came at the price of attracting the attention of moral authorities.
To avoid the scrutiny of the censors, many publishers urged their authors to produce stories that perpetuated 1950s societal perceptions and stereotypes of lesbians. Sympathetic lesbian depictions and realistic portrayals of discrimination against lesbians were the exceptions to the rule. Stories that objectified lesbians for male entertainment were more common.
Browse the MSVU Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection for some of the common themes found in the paperback novels.
Power differences within relationships
- Age-difference relationship
- Butch/Femme dynamic
- Predatory lesbian
- Sexual dominance and submission