Friday, March 2, 2007

We All Love "The 'L' Word"?

I get the sense that a lot of lesbians think that we're all obsessed with the show "The 'L' Word." I definitely know some who are obsessed with the show, think everyone else who watches the show is just as obssesed, and seem to think that any lesbian-leaning woman who has not seen the show will become obsessed upon seeing it.

If you read my first entry about the show, you know I definitely have some problems with it. I want to make clear that that post was definitely not my most elegant moment, since I wasn't really taking time out to think carefully about what I wanted to say and then come up with a completely clear way of saying those things. But the bottom line is the show bothers me more and more every season, and, though I like to watch it, I am nowhere near obsessed.

A few thoughts:

Several women acted as if her dying was not only the end of the show, but the end of the world. I mean, the reaction just reminded me of how my sisters and I used to watch soaps when I was, like, in kindergarden, found out one of our favorite characters was going to die off the show and would prepare for an out-and-out bawlfest. I'm not saying I don't get upset over TV storylines anymore. What I don't do is act like I'm in the storyline. And is it just me, or did every lesbian all of a sudden have a thing for Dana when she died? Suddenly, she was this saint worth boycotting the show over. I just don't understand the whole thing. This one girl told me that she couldn't find any episodes from season 3 online because everyone was so pissed that Dana died that they all deleted that season.

I know it's the first lesbian show on TV and everything, but...I don't know, I just don't get excited about these things.

Lesbian Looks
I think I somewhat did a poor job of discussing this. First of all, there are all types of looks among lesbians. Second, I have gotten the sense that the diversity of lesbian looks depends on the location. So, for example, I have heard a couple people say that the show is more reflective of Los Angeles than anywhere else. And, whad'dya know, the hottest, most feminine-looking lesbian I've ever seen up close and personal is from the L.A. area. But, to be honest about two things--and I don't mean to offend anyone, so understand that this is just my personal view--I like feminine-looking girls, and this one lesbian from L.A. is the only lesbian I've ever found really attractive in person.

I am "brainwashed," in a sense. I am closer to the mainstream, heterosexual American viewpoint when it comes to what is attractive. So I've lived in and visited all these different states and cities--never anywhere out west, though--and have seen lesbians in these places, and I've only met one lesbian that I've really been physically attracted to in my entire life. I've seen several pretty women who are bisexual, but lesbian is a different story. Now, I think my viewpoint might be broadening a bit, because lately I have been seeing more women who are definitely not femme and have thought they were kinda cute. And I think before, I wouldn't have thought that about them.

When I say that I think lesbians generally have a different look to them vs mainstream heterosexual women, what I mean is that whenever I've seen lesbians in the various places I've lived they have almost uniformly not been the feminine type, in my opinion. I listed in my other post a few giveaways, such as hair, body type, clothes and the way a woman carries herself. But there are others--some related to looks and some not. So let me use "The 'L' Word" to try to make myself more clear.

I view Helena as the most feminine character on the show in terms of the total package. If we're just evaluating looks, then obviously the number of feminine characters shoots up. But I'd argue that, for Tina, she doesn't have the kind of look that I'd be completely shocked to find out she's a lesbian. She's definitely feminine, but I don't think she's an "Oh my G*d, you're a lesbian???" kind because she's not stereotypically "pretty enough," you know what I mean?

It's hard to explain. But if you put her right beside someone who looks like, for example, Portia de Rossi and ask straight people which one is the lesbian, more people would probably say Tina because they wouldn't be able to believe someone "as pretty as Portia" is into women...because that's the logic of a lot of straight people..and I even think some of us fall into it, which is why when we see a really "gorgeous" female, we kind of wish she's a lesbian but dismiss the possibility in our minds that she really is one. Many people think we're gay or lesbian women because we can't get a man, and when they learn certain types of women are not straight--such as a Portia or a Kristanna Lokken type--they are thinking, "Wow--but you could have any man you want!"

For Bette, I would argue that she looks feminine but she acts kind of...well, you know. She is like a "power lesbian." And, unfortunately, a woman being successful, assertive--and being the breadwinner--all that knocks femininity points from her score. I'm not knocking it, because that's basically the kind of woman I'm in training to become. And you could argue Helena is, or was, the same kind of woman. The difference to me is Helena was powerful by birthright, not from working her way up. She was given power; she didn't earn it. She was essentially nothing but a spoiled brat, and she doesn't know how to do anything...and if being handicapped in life and needing to depend on other people isn't viewed by society as more feminine, then I don't know what is.

Anyway, Bette is the kind of lesbian that once you see how she carries herself, how she handles herself...well, people would immediately start calling her a "dyke" before she even gets a word out of her mouth. And that's not to say all powerful women are lesbians...just that that's how powerful women are perceived in America. I mean, I've been asked if I am a lesbian before just based on the fact that I don't want to have kids. So anytime a woman is openly bucking a gender role, her sexual orientation is in question.

Jenny is so weird that within five minutes of speaking to her, you know something's not quite right. She prides herself on being "different" too much, and that's why I think it was so funny that her character was the confused bisexual of the show. I think all of us gays are associated with "weirdness," but especially bisexuals and transgendered individuals. And I view people who love to be different as the kind of people who will do anything to be seen as different, including date women (if she is a woman) even if they're not truly bisexuals or lesbians.

I think it's funny that the show is now trying to play Alice up as a femme, because I never viewed her as that before. Heck, theoretically Dana just died a few months ago, but she acts like she's the happiest she has ever been. They've definitely got her being more girly. But, like Tina, she doesn't have that look that says "No way am I a lesbian." And she's another one I have always found weird and, lookey, lookey--another "former" bisexual.

And Dana--last example. Whenever I see women with the "sporty" look, I kind of assume they are lesbians. That might just be me. She was never feminine to me.

I think that, even saying all this about how unfeminine these girls are in my eyes, I never see girls that look like these girls do in everyday life. I'm right there with anyone who says, "Okay, where is a Jennifer Beals lookalike in my world???" Most lesbians I see who are anything like this are a Tina or Alice type, and that's at best. I might see a Dana type even more than that, but still...most lesbians I see are not represented on this show. My hot L.A. girl is hotter and more feminine than every cast member, to me. But I probably see more women who are something like Max, only they still consider themselves women. Usually, though, the lesbians I see are somewhere very much in between hot L.A. girl/the feminine-looking women of the cast and Max.

Truthfully, I don't really find the cast of "The 'L' Word" "hot." I used that word because a lot of lesbians do find them "hot." Part of it is the fact that they are not the kind of feminine girls I am attracted to. I think Jennifer Beals and Mia Kirshner are pretty women, but they don't compare to some other women I've seen. And this is what I meant when I wrote that I think that lesbians have different standards than heterosexuals. Obviously, there are a lot of lesbians who are with me on liking very feminine girls in terms of looks. But my L.A. girl is often trampled on by lesbians running to get to her girlfriend, who is a bit on the soft butch side or so. She was shocked as hell when she realized I seriously thought she was the "hot" one in their relationship, because, according to her, that has never happened before.

As a black female, I don't relate to "The 'L' Word." I realize Bette and Kit are on the show, and that they are bringing in other black characters, as well as "Latinas." But what TV execs still don't understand is you have to do more than simply have blacks or other minorities on the show. And I'll just say it--interracial dating pisses a lot of blacks--particularly black women--off. I mean, am I fine with it? Yes...and no. It's a hard question to answer. So it's like nearly every TV show with blacks on it is doing this one major thing that actually pisses a lot of black people off, and they are all just clueless. I would be perfectly happy if Bette would date a black female just once! One of my problems with interracial dating is when someone is consistently dating outside their race, and I definitely don't want to see that on a TV show because that's actually a part of real life that I'd like to escape from. Bette has slept with, like, 3 white women and one non-black minority. Come on.

And I'm sorry, but Kit is boring. And if Kit is boring to me, then I know she's got to be boring to white lesbians as a black straight woman. If this had been, say, a basic cable TV show with Kit being as boring as she is on it, she would have been fired halfway through the first season. But, oh you white want to pretend like you're "inclusive," so you're just keeping dead weight! I don't care about Kit and Angus, and then...! Another interracial relationship! And now the new black woman on the show is getting into one with goofy-ass Alice, of all people. I mean...! Some black person on here has got to date some black person sooner or later, I mean it!

And that's another thing, re: the goofy-ass Alice comment. The white girls on this show are really white. And by that, I mean white in personality, not looks or the number of white women on the show (although...). I mean, I know it's L.A....but these are not white women I'd be hanging out with, even in L.A. And it's like Bette went all off about Angelica being raised by white people, and the clique just kind of stood there and/or never commented on it. It was hysterical. All the white friends I have, we talk about race with each other. It is a conversation, too--they start talking about it sometimes, and I respond...and vice versa. And Alice is, like, one of the whitest on that show, which is why I can't figure out why they're putting her with the blackest person they've ever had on there. I mean, it blew my mind when the writers claimed that Alice had slept with Bette, and Bette is about the whitest black person to ever be on TV. But even that is way more believable than Alice and this army girl.

Anyway, once again, I will have to continue examining "The 'L' Word" another time. So this shall be continued...