Cher from Clueless Was Totally Lesbian-Coded

Clueless (1995) changed my middle school self forever. I watched the movie probably three times in one week. Perhaps this can be credited to a slight crush on Alicia Silverstone that went unrealized at the time. Perhaps it’s just that it’s a fantastic film (which is still true). I'd always related to Cher, who is “not picky, just highly selective” when it comes to boys, disgusted with the majority of the male population. I remember my mom saying to me when we first watched it, “Hannah, that’s you!” and me agreeing with her. That was me. Being almost completely uninterested in boys wasn’t that weird, because Cher Horowitz was the same way! I hadn’t thought about the connection I felt with her for a few years, until I stumbled upon a Tumblr post that changed everything.

I must credit the realization to end all realizations to Tumblr user elenalvrez, whose blog is now unfortunately defunct. My awareness of Cher’s obvious lesbianism began with a simple text post: “every time I watch clueless I’m shocked that Cher Horowitz wasn’t intentionally written as a closeted lesbian struggling with compulsory heterosexuality because that’s literally the only interpretation of that movie that makes any sense to me whatsoever.” I was floored. Everything about my obsession with that movie made so much sense.

To give some important context, I’ll first define compulsory heterosexuality. The term, popularized by influential lesbian writer Adrienne Rich in her 1980 essay “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” refers to the societal expectation that heterosexuality is the norm. As a result of this, many lesbians have a hard time coming to terms with their attraction to women because everything in the world has tried to convince them they're attracted to men. Some manifestations of compulsory heterosexuality include being “attracted” to only fictional men, gay men, famous men and otherwise unattainable and “safe” figures.

To me, Cher is a textbook case of compulsory heterosexuality: she gets a crush on a guy who turns out to be gay, and then immediately loses romantic interest in him; she says she is “saving herself for Luke Perry”; and she says that high school boys are “like dogs.” There’s an obvious reason that younger me could relate to her character and that reason was my repressed lesbianism!

Additionally, the romantic storyline that would make far more sense would be one where Cher realizes she has a crush on Tai, not Josh. Clueless is almost a flawless movie, but even I have to admit that maybe it does have the glaring flaw of sort-of-incest. When Cher allegedly realizes she is “in love with Josh,” it’s after she witnesses Tai and Josh lightly flirting, and she wonders why she feels so weird about the whole thing. The hidden answer that I'll leave you all with is that she is jealous of Josh, not in love with him.

Of course, my analysis is to be taken with a grain of salt. I’m not saying that Clueless was intentionally written to have lesbian undertones. I’m just saying that I noticed a lot of similarities between the way Cher and I (a lesbian) look at the entire male population. Cher, genuinely attracted to men? As if!