Tag Archive | San Junipero

Lesbians Need A New Symbol

Note:  Please also read: Dirt’s companion piece, “Double Female Symbol-Not Lesbian-Then or Now” for additional information/explanation.

Dirt and I have been talking and writing for a while now about how Lesbian has been consistently misrepresented, used, and abused…twisted in a whirlwind of hetsplanations, pornifications, and outright lies.

Even the universally recognized symbol for Lesbian (intertwined female symbols) is NOT LESBIAN.

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“Lesbian” Symbol (NOT!)

Why?

Well, there are many reasons; Dirt’s companion piece, “Double Female Symbol-Not Lesbian-Then or Now” for more reasons/explanation.

The piece of the puzzle that I am focusing on today is: this symbol does NOT accurately represent Lesbian because 2 females kissing, holding hands, or even making love does not mean either/both are actually Lesbian. Any 2 females can do any of those things, of course, but it is NOT “Lesbian” unless the individuals involved are BOTH Lesbians.

Here’s the truth: If something doesn’t involve actual LESBIANS, it is NOT LESBIAN.

In TV shows and movies, if there is even the slightest whiff of flirtation between 2 female characters (even if either of the characters was f**cking a man 5 minutes earlier and/or goes on to f**k a man 5 minutes later)…BOOM…people will immediately start talking about a “Lesbian scene” or “Lesbian subplot” or “Lesbian subtext” or “Lesbian kiss” etc. etc. etc., ad nauseum.

The following is but a very small sample of the NON-lesbian characters/scenarios in TV and movies that have been incorrectly called “Lesbian“:  (Note that I am not talking about whether or not the actors themselves are straight; I am talking about the characters/scenarios):

1). Roseanne Barr’s famous “Lesbian” kiss with Mariel Hemingway in the episode “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. While addressing homophobia, an admirable goal, was the reason given by Barr for including this scene, unfortunately, calling kissing a married straight woman a “Lesbian” (or “gay” as some  people, including Barr, incorrectly insist on saying) scene undermines real Lesbians by implying that we are defined solely by physical contact or action. Lesbian is lesbian, and straight is straight, regardless of physical/sexual activity.

2). The entire hideously offensive “Lesbian” movie “The Kids are All Right“, in which Julianne Moore’s allegedly “Lesbian” character f**ked a male like a minx throughout the whole debacle, only to claim at the end of the movie that such straight behavior didn’t mean she wasn’t a “Lesbian“.  Um…yeah, it does, in fact, mean just that.

3). Almost every “Lesbian” storyline in Orange is the New Black, starting, but sadly not ending, with Straightbian Piper’s on-again, off-again affair with Alex. This decidedly NON-Lesbian storyline is foreshadowed in the Season 1 official trailer, in which at approximately .36-.37 seconds, Piper’s mom asks “You were a lesbian?” and Piper (sitting with her MALE fiance) replies “At the time”. No, no, no, no, no! You either are, or you’re not, a Lesbian, Piper. To make matters even worse, the OITNB Lesbian characters who are REAL Lesbians are portrayed as sexual predators (Big Boo) or killed off (Poussey).  Boo, Hiss.

4). Thelma and Louise has been applauded as an excellent example of “Lesbian” subtext. Bullshit. Both Thelma and Louise were straight women who needlessly got themselves into a difficult situation, making progressively worse and worse decisions…including Geena Davis’s character first willingly making out with a guy in the parking lot (who turned out to be a wannabe rapist) which resulted in the very reason they became outlaws, then later f**king a male thief’s brains out. The whole sad nonsense culminated in them driving themselves off a freaking cliff.  Thelma and Louise are not heroic feminist icons, and they are definitely NOT Lesbians.

5). Xena: Okay, this last example actually pains me to discuss, because I was a Xena fan. I realize now that I was so starved for Lesbian representation that I was willing to scarf up the “subtext” scraps the writers and actors threw us. I was willing to overlook the “maintext” plots involving male romantic entanglements. I was willing to deny my own discomfort when the show could not be trusted to even acknowledge us, much less actually care about us, despite the fan base being heavily Lesbian. Now it’s time to admit that the  so-called Xena “Lesbian subtext” was only a pitiful broken bone thrown to the hungry Lesbian audience, all the while maintaining the true heterosexuality of the 2 main characters to keep their ratings, and their straight privilege, intact.

The examples of such NON-Lesbian scenarios go on and on and on and ON.

It is time to stop this foolishness. We need to stop calling any female/female innuendo “Lesbian”. I know I said it before, but I will say it again and again and again:

If something doesn’t involve actual LESBIANS, it is NOT LESBIAN.

lezzie-symbol

 

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. 

brokenhearts

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