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Black Mirror’s San Junipero: A Happily-Ever-After Lesbian Love Story…???

!!SPOILER ALERT!!

The 4th episode of the 3rd series of Black Mirror, “San Junipero” (and if you’re unfamiliar with Black Mirror, think Twilight Zone meets the technological age) has been much-ballyhooed as a triumph over the tired, homophobic “Bury Your Gays” trope.

And, in many ways, it indeed seems to be a happy ending. After all, the 2 lead female characters (Warning: Second, and final, spoiler alert!!) ~ after back-and-forth drama ~ do end up in virtual-reality eternity together, complete with a happy end-scene montage to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth”.

But…

There seems to always be a “but” when it comes to how Lesbian love is portrayed, and this particular portrayal has a big “but”:

Only one character (Yorkie) is a Lesbian; therefore, the relationship could never be mutual, happy, or true love. (And: Yorkie is a Lesbian whose family would not accept her, leading to tragedy…an all-to-familiar outcome for many Lesbians).

The other character, Kelly, is a bored straight woman who was married for 49 years to a man. Early in the episode, Kelly vaguely alludes to some never-acted-upon same-sex attractions over the years of her heterosexual marriage:

“They were crushes…Never acted on any of it. Never did anything. I really was in love with him.

This fleeting reference to Kelly’s unrequited same-sex flirtations led some viewers to call her “queer” or “bisexual”…but the truth is, it is clear that Kelly is oriented toward males. She married and stayed with a man for decades; plus, only a week before she meets Yorkie in San Junipero, Kelly was f**king a random man for “fun”.

The creator/writer, Charlie Brooker, explains in a spoiler interview (in reference to the same-sex relationship which is central to this story):

“in terms of the writing of it, I tried not to think of that. It’s just two souls.”

The actress who played Kelly, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, chimes in with:

“And that’s sort of the beautiful thing about the characters—in relation to their sexuality—is it’s really not about that, it’s not an issue, it’s not a problem. Obviously they all have their own relationships, how they’ve come to be in San Junipero and their own histories, but I think it’s about human beings and love and souls. And it’s not about it being a problem. That wasn’t the focus of the story and I think that’s actually really refreshing.”

Of course, all of that sounds very accepting and liberal and oh-so-very-nice, doesn’t it?

But here’s the thing: That sort of “sexuality-is-fluid, it’s not about same-sex love, we’re all just people, it’s just two souls” rhetoric is completely dismissive and erasing of real Lesbians. Note that they cannot even say the word “Lesbian”; instead they both refer to us and our love as “that!

For Lesbians, our love is not just about “two sexless souls”; our orientation is not “fluid”; and furthermore, we deserve to BE the actual focus of a story.

But it’s not just the hetsplaining and (seemingly) benign ignorance of the creator/writer and the actress that  I had a problem with in this episode.

My MAIN problem is, as usual, the Lesbian was just expected to accept, even embrace, shoddy treatment from a Straightbian, as if we are somehow LUCKY to be graced by their presence.

I am referring to the scene that decisively showed Kelly’s true colors and her arrogant straight privilege: the scene in which she abusively slapped Yorkie in the face, then condescendingly lectured her:

You can’t begin to imagine. You can’t know the bond, the commitment, the boredom, the yearning, the laughter, the love of it. The fucking love.
You just cannot know! Everything we sacrificed.
The years I gave him. The years he gave me.
Did you think to ask? Did it occur to you to ask? We had a daughter. Alison.
Always difficult, always beautiful. Died at 39 years old, bless her heart.
And Richard and I, we felt that heartbreak as one.
You think you’re the only person ever suffered, go fuck yourself…I pitied you, and that’s the truth.I pitied you. Now you give me some sales pitch about how fucking peachy forever could be… You wanna spend forever somewhere nothing matters? End up like Wes? All those lost fucks at the Quagmire trying anything to feel something, go ahead. But I’m out. I’m gone.

(Gagging loudly).

Kelly obviously didn’t remember (or care) that she was the one who refused to talk about serious topics, opting on insisting on a “good time”, instead of forming a real connection. Kelly obviously thinks that Lesbian Yorkie couldn’t possibly fathom the “depth” of her heterosexual marriage. She admits she married Yorkie out of PITY…not love…or even friendship. Furthermore, Kelly is quick to dismiss and disparage the people in the Quagmire (a new-wave, punk-rock sort of “anything-goes” club) as “lost fucks” even though she herself visited there for recreational f**king! Hypocritical much, Kelly?

Many viewers discussed in reviews and in online discussions about how “touching” the above scene was, because they perceived it to show “depth” to Kelly’s character.

Um…no.

What this specific scene showed was NOT true “depth”…at all. Instead, what it showed was Kelly’s complete disrespect and disdain for someone who had been nothing but kind and loving toward her. It showed the writer’s casual and callous dismissal of Lesbian feelings in favor of the alleged fabled “bond” of a heterosexual union. It showed the underlying nastiness lurking below Kelly’s seemingly fun and free-spirited facade. It showed outright physical and emotional abuse. It showed Kelly’s true heterosexual orientation and straight privilege. It showed an utter lack of understanding of, and a complete lack of respect for, not only the Lesbian lover who Kelly purported to care about, but also for Lesbians in general. And there is absolutely zero acknowledgement of, or empathy for, the tragic and HOMOPHOBIC circumstances that ruined Yorkie’s life.

Instead of discussing the very real dilemma Kelly was facing in a way that would have shown respect for the woman she allegedly cared about, Kelly’s character was shown to lash out physically and verbally in a very mean-spirited, immature, unattractive, narcissistic, selfish, straight-privileged, and egocentric manner.

And instead of handing Kelly her ass on a platter as she should have done, the Lesbian character, Yorkie, ends up apologizing, as if she had anything whatsoever to apologize for.

Furthermore, despite Kelly offering no apology to Yorkie (nor did any scenes afterward indicate any real soul-searching on the part of Kelly), the audience is magically supposed to believe that Kelly suddenly decides to show up in San Junipero for a happily-ever-after eternity with Yorkie and we are supposed buy into the concept that Yorkie should be happy to get Kelly back.

The sad truth is that Kelly would be f**king a man within a month, and Yorkie would get her Lesbian heart broken.

This is not the happy ending Lesbians deserve. Instead, San Junipero turns out to be just another slap in the face. 

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Lesbian Bed Death: Where Myth Obscured Truth

NOTE: Please read Dirt‘s companion post on the same topic:  Lesbian Bed Death: Unstraightening the Lies

Back in 1983, a sociologist flake named Pepper Schwartz wrote a book called American Couples, which reported that Lesbian couples have less sex/intimacy than heterosexual and gay male couples.

Thus, a hypersexualized STRAIGHT academic  dillweed single-handedly brought the damaging concept of “Lesbian Bed Death” into the public’s consciousness, where it persists, even among Lesbians ourselves, like a demented stalker steadfastly ignoring a restraining order.

Schwartz’s assertions and methodology have been challenged repeatedly ever since. One fatally flawed study about the sex lives of “queer” (ugh!!!) women  even claimed to have completely debunked this myth. [That 2015 study, although well-meaning and well-received by all of us hoping to invalidate the myth once and for all, is sadly not valid because conducting a self-reported “queer” (ugh!!!) survey which was “open to all women who have sex with womendoes NOT equal Lesbian].

So, what is the truth?

Lesbians can’t trust Schwartz, and we certainly can’t trust people who think a self-report survey of  so-called “queer” (ugh!!!) women would in any way be valid for actual Lesbian experience.

In many conversations with Lesbians over the years, I have found it shocking how many of us simply accept “Lesbian Bed Death” as truth, even when conflicting experience and information is presented.

In some cases, the myth even seems to become a self-fulfilling prophecy; whereby the natural/normal decreases in sexual frequency that often typically accompany long-term relationships are misinterpreted as the death of passion, which, then, in turn, is often misinterpreted as the beginning of the end of the relationship.

I don’t have any formal research to prove it ~ (and, quite frankly, no self-report research could ever truly prove nor disprove anything anyway, and self-report is the only  way to ethically conduct sex-related research) ~ but, regardless, based on much anecdotal data from numerous friends and acquaintances, as well as many online conversations, I am confident in saying that “Lesbian Bed Death” is indeed a myth.

There are several important factors, however, that I feel contribute to the longevity and tenacity of this nonsense, and I wanted to address some of those factors in this post:

1).  Lesbians are vulnerable to the very same issues that can cause sexual desire decreases in everybody…but the difference is that we attribute these universal issues to “Lesbian Bed Death” due to Schwartz’s ridiculous fiction. These factors could include, but are not limited to: aging, chronic pain/illness, stress, grief, menopause, surgeries, injuries, relationship issues, mental health concerns, body image issues, overwhelming work or personal responsibilities, boredom, schedule conflicts, unresolved trauma, etc. etc. etc.

2).  People in general tend to believe so-called “experts” and take what they say as fact, when we all should be questioning everything that we are being spoon-fed. “Lesbian Bed Death” was reported over and over and OVER until it became generally accepted. But just because something is often-repeated does not make it true. (Earth is not actually flat, but for centuries people were TOLD it was; therefore, until someone challenged that myth, people actually believed that if they walked too far they would fall off the planet!).

3). As Dirt and I have repeatedly discussed, Straightbians perpetually wreak havoc on Lesbian lives, and sex is one of the many ways Straightbians are harmful to Lesbians. As related to the “Lesbian Bed Death” mythology: if one of the partners is NOT A LESBIAN, she is never going to share true sexual attraction/interest with a Lesbian partner…and particularly not over a long period of time. So, while a Straightbian may initially have sex with a Lesbian (due to curiosity or novelty or commitment-seeking or manipulation, etc.), once the relationship is established, it is highly likely that the frequency of sex will decrease significantly (or may even disappear totally). Note that when this happens, it is NOTLesbian Bed Death“….because one of the partners is NOT A LESBIAN!  Instead, this is a simple case of 2 people not sharing a sexual orientation, which negates true attraction.

Moral of this post: Lesbians: please forget you ever heard the term “Lesbian Bed Death“! Schwartz was wrong, but in true Straight-privileged fashion, she felt free to DICKtate and hetsplain Lesbian sex lives, and her lies have haunted us ever since.

It is time for Lesbians to tell our own stories, listen to our own intuitions, and focus on our own Lesbian selves for a change.

Our sex lives are our own, to do with as we please, and what we do, how we do it, and how often we do it is our business and within our control. We don’t have to be victims of a fictional syndrome perpetuated by a straight woman. Lesbian love is so far outside heterosexuality that what occurs emotionally/sexually between two Lesbians remains inconceivable to hets. Hets cannot and should not speak for us…we can, and should, speak for ourselves, thank you very much.

Hetsplanations for Lesbian sex consist of outright fiction and damaging myths ~ so hetsplanations need to go STRAIGHT to where they belong:

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True Love

Since I just found out today on Twitter that it is apparently Butch Appreciation Week (how did I miss that??), I would be remiss if I didn’t say how much I appreciate my Butch spouse, partner, and all-around sweetiepie, Dirt.

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Image: Ben_Kerckx/Pixabay: Creative Commons: CC0

Before I met Dirt, I had often been called “the least romantic person in the world.”  And I guess it was true. I would roll my eyes so hard at Hallmark movies and other sappy fare that I was at-risk for a concussion. I honestly thought that all the hokey romance stuff was for suckers.

And yet. I always felt an underlying vague wistfulness that I couldn’t pinpoint. On the treadmill, I would repeatedly watch one of my favorite movies of all time, The Princess Bride (a movie, by the way, that Dirt steadfastly refuses to watch with me, which I suppose is rather ironic), and I would snort with derision at the sappy kissing parts ~ but somehow underneath my cynicism and sarcasm, I must have wanted what that movie was basically about: true love.

And then I met Dirt. And suddenly, all the love songs ever written suddenly made sense to me. It was like a cartoon-style proverbial lightbulb suddenly appearing over my head. Every love cliche ever written suddenly became real. Birds singing, blue skies…well, you get the picture.

There are so many things I could say that it would take more than a dissertation to write, so here are just a few of the many things I love and appreciate about her every day:

I love that she is the most stubborn, outspoken, opinionated person I have ever met. I love it that she is completely and unapologetically herself, regardless of the approval or disapproval of others. I love that she is up by 6:00 a.m. and fully coherent.  I love that she loves our cats with a fierce yet mushy devotion. I love that she can cook anything from scratch (without a recipe), and that she comes up with creative meals every day. I love it that she realizes that she is Butch and can still love cats and cook delicious meals. I love the way she dresses, and the way her close-shaved hair feels when I rub the back of her head. I love that she works out every day, even when she is exhausted from work. I love that she makes me laugh so hard that my sides hurt. I love that she makes up silly songs about our cat, Ari. I love how she supports me and encourages me and never makes me feel bad for being a super-klutz.

I love being in love with her, because I have learned that happiness is not just about how much you love someone, it also is about how you feel about yourself when you are with her.

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