A recent situation has gotten me to wonder something, well, really two things. The first is are lesbians really acceptable in literature because of male prurient interests and the second is are gay men only allowable so long as they fit into the social stereotype?
This is what I start thinking about when I have too few decent stories in the news and far too much time to think.
One of the things that has bothered me since I saw the first episode of The L Word, and continued to bother me since then, is the seeming equating of lesbianism with sex. It seems as if lesbians, in order to be lesbians, must be shown having sexual relations nearly constantly. This holds true even with movies such as The Kids Are All Right, and just about every book out there seems to focus at some point on the erotic nature of two women being together. It seems odd given the fact that it is quite possible for a straight couple to go an entire movie doing nothing more than holding hands or kissing.
To date, I have found only a handful of books that have lesbian couples that focus on romance or on emotional development and not on sex. It sometimes feels like lesbians are being pushed to be the sexual fantasies of men no matter what, and that is even if the people behind the literature or the television show are lesbians as well.
Perhaps this has something to do with not only the need to sell stuff, and by focusing in on lesbian sex it is likely to gain more attention than it normally would not, but I have had to wonder if this is because society kind of assumes that women are automatically suppose to sleep with men and that lesbians in literature must prove that they are not.
Hear me out for just a moment. Western society as a whole tends to assume that someone is straight until proven otherwise. Social norms are that men are suppose to have sex with women and women have sex with men. In order to show that the character is not like that, it seems like there is pressure to do one of two things- show the same-sex characters as having sex with someone of the same sex or play them like a walking stereotype.
Take for instance The New Normal, or for that matter anything by Ryan Murphy involving gay men. I’ve met quite a number of gay men in my lifetime, but almost none of them have behaved the way that we see in The New Normal. In fact, I know of very, very few gay men who are that, well, femme, and usually not in a relationship together. I am not saying that it does not happen, but I am saying that it seems to be the minority. There are gay men who play up the stereotype as well, but it seems as if Murphy’s gay characters are inordinately stereotypical. In fact, I find it hard to remember any gay characters who aren’t fairly stereotypical with the exception of, well, Will from Will & Grace, but I didn’t watch the series all that much.
There may be non-stereotypical gay characters out there, but it seems like entertainment pushes these stereotypes. It just seems like the entertainment industry has pushed two things- sex crazed lesbians and stereotypical gay men all because society is threatened by the idea that someone can be male or female and still be gay. I would, of course, be interested in hearing other’s opinions on this subject. I fully admit, I could be wrong and I’m misperceiving things.
I hope I’m not rambling. Still not feeling great, but feeling blessed that the news is so light lately.