Friday, January 18, 2013

And then there was television

Hello again world. Welcome to 2013. We made it. I resolved to watch less television. When I go back to college. I am very thankful for the addendum about college to my original resolution since I watched two full seasons of Lost Girl and a lot of Bones and a shameful amount of other shows mostly of the Joss Whedon variety all within the new year. Oh and I almost forgot my Heroes obsession. Except I quit Heroes when it got to complicated. So anyway I wanna talk about Lost Girl. More specifically the first episode of the third season. *disclaimer* this is not a recap. I don't have the time or patience to recap at the moment. Maybe this summer... Anyway this is a response to a recap I read that was written by someone who has as much respect for the show as I do but clearly comes from a different part of society than me. Which is interesting. I am pretty sure she was also a feminist. However she was straight so her recap forced me to look at the show in an entirely different way. Which I did not appreciate. She should have let me ship Lauren and Bo quietly and in peace. Because damn, they're hot.

But before we jump into that I want to discuss the fact  that I recommended Lost Girl to a friend of mine who is totally the most annoying film geek/enthusiast that I know and she had the nerve to tell me that I promised her banter and it wasn't there and that the acting was bad. Can we take a moment of silence for the fact that my best friend insulted my favorite show at the moment? I might not enjoy Donwton Abbey or Sherlock but I know better than to tell her. I may have enjoyed Mama Mia but I don't need her telling me everything that is wrong with it. I think that television is meant to be a reflection of society in some way. It is meant to show us what we could do if we wanted, and to give us a bit of an escape from the totally insanity that is our everyday lives. I think if you can relate to a character then the actor is doing their job. Television is all about being relatable.

Anyway I have a couple points that I would like to discuss in my not a recap of Lost Girl 3.1.

1) Objectification of women in prison for the sexual pleasure of the viewing audience.

The recap I read complained a lot about the fact that this episode took a step away from the former sex positivity associated with the show. However I don't think that accurately portraying the brutality of a women's prison is objectification. I can't speak for male viewers, but as a lesbian viewer I was not sexually pleased by any of the compromising positions that Bo was forced into. I wasn't checking her out when they showed her from the neck up in decontamination. She's been more naked in happier scenes, so why would I cling to that one? There is also another scene in which she is hosed down as punishment and then felt up by the warden. I think we can just all agree that the warden is creepy and is objectifying the prisoners. Perhaps this is some of the corruption that Bo and Lauren are trying to expose. I think the objectification isn't actually objectification by the audience. It is objectification by the other characters in the show and therefore I feel that it is still a societal comment on our own problems without saying that objectification of women is ok.

The original recap that I read discussed the second time that Bo is hosed down and compared it to a scene in an earlier episode in which Bo hosed down Dyson and his old Pack friend to break up a fight. I really want to say that neither of these were objectification. The original author discusses the objectification of the men but I must admit I didn't notice it at all. I thought they were just two soaked guys because they were fighting and Bo didn't know that it was friendly. I fail to see how that is bad. Although the original author seemed to think the scene with the two men was acceptable. Because it was fun. I want to argue that she thought it was ok because she likes men. And so she was able to appreciate the way that the characters looked while drenched in water while the water scene did still manage to advance the plot so viewers like me, of the uninterested in men variety, would continue to watch the show as though that was just a scene that happened and not think anything of it. The original writer therefore is objectifying the men just as much as the tv show is if not more. I also think that my view point as a gay woman allows me to not take the Bo drenching scene in the most recent episode as sexual is because I recognize how uncomfortable Bo is. And I personally am incapable of separating that kind of discomfort from a scene to subjectively see it as hot. It is all or nothing for me and something degrading to women is not a source of my sexual pleasure. I felt accused of enjoying this scene for sexual reasons... Clearly I am a little defensive at the moment.

2) The idea that the man is better for the bisexual heroine than the girl.

My next complaint about the recap that I read was the enthusiasm that was evident in her personal assertion that Dyson was of better stock than Lauren. I know within every fan base there is this contention. But I want to take a moment to discuss both Lauren and Dyson from my point of view. The issues of sexual orientation will be discussed in bullet point 3. Anyway I always found Dyson annoying. And I must admit that this is in part because he is named after a vacuum cleaner. But it is more because he was jealous and possessive of Bo and incredibly mean to Lauren after he had told Bo that he didn't want to be monogamous. If you say see other people than you have to be willing to let your partner do that too. Additionally he was keeping secrets from Bo, secrets about her mom and I think it's acceptable to keep some secrets from your partner but not that ones that you know she is killing herself over. The argument against Lauren is of course that she slept with Bo because the Ash commanded it and then she didn't tell Bo about her random girlfriend who had been in a coma for five years. But I have a response to these. Yes it sucks that the Ash commanded it, but because the Ash commanded it the act of refusing him would probably have been kind of deathly or at least locked in a cellar-y. Self-preservation anyone? And the latter I equate to the case of the MIA partner or spouse. The person is essentially dead to you except you still have a glimmer of hope for them. I think that through that lens it is reasonable for Lauren to not tell Bo about Nadia. Nadia is essentially MIA due to the coma.

3) Fragmentation of the fan base. And future fan bases. And Gay vs. Straight in the shipping of couples.

So building of my previous points the splintering of any fan base comes down to OTPs a lot. Or at least to who ships whom. In my opinion the trouble with the bisexual heroine, is of course not actually trouble, because I am all for more accurate representation of all orientations on tv, but the trouble none the less is the division of fans along lines of orientation. the straight female viewers root for Bo and Dyson. The gay female viewers root for Bo and Lauren. I am sure there are exceptions, because there always are, but it does become an interesting fractioning. And I find it problematic on both ends because I am obviously rooting for Lauren both because she is hot and because I like seeing queer people represented on tv but also because I just don't relate to straight couples as much, I don't enjoy their scenes, and I become bored when a show becomes too much about heterosexual romance. That isn't to say that I don't have some favorite boy-girl couples from tv history. For example Willow and Oz from Buffy are one of my all time favorite couples. Because I love the characters as individuals and because Oz was so so good for Willow and I appreciated that. So I do think that straight people can root for queer couples too but I do see the trend of the angry lesbian faction when the girl chooses boy in the end, for the long run, because we simply don't have the long term happy relationships besides some of the classics like Willow and Tara (despite Tara's untimely demise) and yeah, that's about it. Brittney and Santana barely get a mention given all the flaws in glee but that is another rant. All the classic romances are Boy gets Girl. Titanic. The Notebook. Even Les Mis. It is how it was. So it's hard now to root for the boy girl couple when I see a glimmer of hope for a girl girl classic. And yet I wonder how the bi girls feel? the pan girls? the other kinds of queer? Why is TV so complicated?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Home is where the heart is?

I was happy to report that after the first few weeks of college my OCD and depression which I struggled with all through out high school were gone. I am sad to report that within just two weeks of being home they are back. I don't want to blame my cousins, my aunt and uncle, my grandfather, my parents, my girlfriend, my old friends. I don't want to blame any of them. But then what is it? What is about this place that has me feeling small and broken because I spilled some water? Why am I hiding in my room feeling so alone and lost instead of getting a towel and cleaning it up? I know why. It was my mom's new floor. In her shiny new kitchen. And she yelled when the water spilled and it hurt my ears and I couldn't think and I didn't close the pourer fast enough. And she asked why and I didn't have a reason. And she yelled and she told me to use a different water jug and my ears rang and all the words just seemed to say that I was a disappointment.

My family is supremely excellent at making me feel not good enough. They make me feel small. They tease me about my inability to do athletics. My inability to cook. How much I sleep. How I'm too nerdy. And it all weighs on me. I laugh it off. But it feels like they don't like me and it hurts. It hurts because I try so hard to love them all as much as I can. Because I try so hard for them to like me. And yet I am the running joke. And none of them even know that it hurts. They should, they should get it, my mental illness didn't just spring up out of nowhere, it's genetic and I know they've struggled too but no one will talk to me about it and they manage to make me feel so damn alone and that kills me. It makes me start adding numbers. It makes the lights too bright. It makes me bite myself to make sure I still exist because they treat me like nothing.

All these feelings because I spilled some effing water.

In college I would have just cleaned it up. People would have laughed, jokes would have been made. But I would have dealt with it. Here I can't do that. And I can't figure out why.

Some Pictures from home





Monday, December 17, 2012


After a semester at mac I can pretty confidently say that normal is a social construct. But it still seems real to me. It is a wish that I have, a wish to be normal. At college I forget that queer is unusual. I manage to forget that the username "lesbro" is awkward to share, and then when I try to tell it to my cousin I find that I just don't have the words.

People say I look good with short hair. But, honestly, I want long hair again in part so I seem normal. I look fine with short hair, but I also look gay. I am gay, but I want to blend into the straight crowd. I want to be unique and normal.

Normal isn't possible when I had a fling with a girl on my cousin's basketball team. Normal isn't possible when one of the guys who sexually assaulted me asked out my friend and I don't know if I know her well enough to tell her why she should say no. Normal isn't possible when I am trying to figure out adequate rules for my long distance relationship that I want to make work but I don't know the words to say what I need.

But maybe this is all just teenage angst. Maybe everyone deals with things like this. Maybe there is really no normal. Because normal is socially constructed and so rare that the one kid who is normal feels abnormal, because even though normal as an ideal exists, the media also perpetuates the vision of the abnormal and of teenagers who embarrass themselves and what not.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

And then there was snow

Hey look. That there is snow. I thought it would never come. Too bad I have things to study for and an important porn paper to finish editing. I don't really have much to say. I'm just crazy homesick and plotting like crazy to ask various girls out for coffee. But I really just want to go home and skate and see my cousins. So here are some more pictures of snow. And the reasons why people should not ride bikes in MN in the winter and also one of my friend studying like a boss. I may steal his strategy eventually. 

And just in case there was any doubt about the way that chocolate loves you, dove has now solved that problem.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I am the action and I am the choice to act

A little over ten years ago I told my parents all I wanted for Christmas were cross-country skis. My younger cousins had recently taken up downhill skiing but I was adamant that I would never want to downhill ski. I said I was afraid of the speed and the height of the chairlift. My parents (or should I say “Santa”?) bought me the cross-country skis and for a few weeks I was content to ski all over the deer trails on my family’s six acres. But once I found the hill and went down it, cross-country skiing was all over for me. All I wanted was to go down more and more hills. I wanted to go faster and to feel the wind in my face. It was then that I began the crusade to downhill ski.
            I started downhill skiing not long after that, and I found that I was naturally good at it. I had learned how to parallel ski after about a month and I was crazy about going fast. I loved to bomb the bottom of hills and I loved how my legs would ache after a day of hard skiing. I loved the way my ski boots fit; they were hard and stiff and forced my body to work differently than usual. I felt less awkward about my body when I had skis attached to the rock hard boots on my feet.
            As I got older I thought I would try my hand at other sports. I played volleyball in seventh grade but I found that it was too much pressure. My coach wanted us to win. And all I ever wanted was to have fun. I liked volleyball because I could see myself getting better. I could feel my legs getting stronger and my arms getting larger. I just didn’t have any desire to win. I didn’t make the team as an eighth grader and I told everyone I was ok with that. I considered running track but I never had the courage to go for it. For me skiing was the best sport. I didn’t have to be a part of a team, to work for some greater good, because, for me, team sports were awful as someone (either your team or the opposing team) has to lose and be disappointed. I was my own team when I skied. Skiing was also the best way to take out frustration. I never wanted to hit people to take out my anger; it was the rush I got from catching air that made me feel free from my stresses. I could feel myself free falling afterwards and that was the best feeling in the world. I have had OCD for as long as I can remember and this was letting go for me. I wasn’t mean to my body; I just let go. To go over a jump wasn’t to be perfect. It was to feel my heart sore and to feel myself drop and to feel my body thud to the ground and go speeding down the hill.
            Two years ago I started experimenting in the terrain parks. I have alpine skis, and not trick skis, and, as most people notice very soon after meeting me, almost no sense of balance. My trying out the terrain parks had a very direct correlation to my love of flying and free fall, I was seeking out my thrills. I managed a couple rails. I also managed some higher jumps than I had ever done. My favorite feeling is still the feeling of being in free fall. It is when I am most aware of body. I can feel everything about myself when I am free falling. For those few seconds I feel entirely free and entirely aware. I know how to angle my skis and how to bend my knees. It all feels instinctual now. My friends ask me how I do it and I just can’t explain. My body knows what it is supposed to do and it knows how to do it with skis on. I find it amazing how easy it was for me to incorporate my skis into my being. As soon as I put them on I move like a different person. I move as though my feet are the 170 cm skis and as though my ankles really don’t roll at all.
            The last few winters have been hard for me. I haven’t been able to ski since there hasn’t been any snow in New York. I have spent my winters holed up in my room watching television instead. And to be totally realistic you can’t free fall in bed. It just doesn’t work. I started rollerblading again my senior year of high school, I hadn’t roller bladed or done any sort of skating since a botched attempt at figure skating when I was about four. I found that the speed of skating was very similar to the rush of the free fall and I also knew that if I got to be good enough at skating I would be able to frequent skate parks. I saved up paychecks and finally bought myself nice roller blades. I skated up and down the hills near my house for most of the summer. It was something to do, a way to clear my mind and a way to move fast. I am all about the speed that I can force my body to achieve. I love the rush of the wind on my face and in my hair just as much as I love to free-fall. I also biked like a maniac this past summer. I was never much of a speed demon on my bike, but a bike is naturally faster than walking so it was good enough, and going down hills was perfection.
            When I got to Macalester I knew I wanted to play a sport. I really didn’t know what sport but I had all sorts of pressure from various people back home. I have multiple friends who row for D1 schools and they were all rooting for me to pick crew. I also have two cousins who play every sport known to man, who wanted me to go back to volleyball. Neither of these options really appealed to me. So in the beginning I just assumed that I would bike a lot. The problem was that I didn’t know exactly where I was going, and I was in a new city. I also learned very quickly that I despise going up hills. And if you are going somewhere and back you have to go up and down. I spent a lot of time wishing that I had brought my roller blades with me, but I hadn’t.
            Then I was watching one of my friends in a rugby match and I started thinking about the appeal of team sports. I know I already talked about how much I dislike them, but I was lonely and a team seemed like an excellent way to meet people. At that point it was too late to join rugby or crew, or any other club sport that plays in the fall. So I made the brilliant decision to join the hockey team. I emailed the captains and made my way onto the roster. I found that hockey skating was not the same as roller blading. I have actually found it to be more like skiing. When I play hockey I am on the ice and I hear coaches yelling to go faster I let go and go as fast as I can. It’s a harder sport than skiing for my muscles but it’s proved to definitely be worth it for me. The beauty of it being team sport for me is that I feel like the team is one body. I know we’re individuals but for the team to be effective (which honestly we’re not very) we have to work as one. We block the opposing team as though they are also a body playing parts of it that are opposite to our own.
            For me the beauty of hockey has been finding a place where my body is smaller than just a body, it is also a place that I feel like I escape from societal pressures for some amount of time. I am a unit of a whole team body. We are all covered in pads to protect our individual bodies, but the pads also serve to give us no reason to worry about looking female. I don’t need to think or worry about anything but my job as a wing when I am on the ice. My legs only need to go faster and faster, and I know that each game I play in they do go faster and faster.
            Through sports I have found a way for my body to escape from my mind. I give in to instinct and I just go. It doesn’t matter if I have added skis or skates to my body. Whether I am flying in the air after a jump, riding a rail, jumping a speed bump, or skating as hard as I can to try and get open I feel free from societies pressures and free from my own worries. The physicality of all of these activities makes me reevaluate what exactly it means to be alive. I think I have finally come up with an answer.  For me being alive is to feel your body, to be aware of it. It is to let go of your self-consciousness and to just be. For me athletics is the way for me to be just a body in a way that it totally different from the self-deprecating way that I usually feel I am just a body. When I am just a body in sports I am just a body in motion. I am the action, and I am the choice to act. Athletics make me feel alive like nothing else does. 

Disclaimer: This is a "body story" that I wrote for a class in college. I am just proud of it, so I thought I would post it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Yeah yeah I eavesdrop...

So I got to hang out with my cousin for pretty much the first time ever over this break. We went to this cute little grill for lunch and spent her dad's money on some really awesome food. I felt like a pig because I pretty much inhaled my food. But it was all good, her dad didn't really feed me much while I was there. Anyway we talked politics and stuff. She was glad both of the vote no's we voted no and all the good stuff.

After we finished that conversation there was a pause while we were both eating and I heard the people at the next table having a heated discussion on gay people on TV. The complaint was that sure gay people were fine and everything but they don't need to be in every TV show. And they definitely don't need to be shown making out more than straight people.

So. Much. Anger. So much was wrong with that statement first of all. For one thing, nowhere near every TV show has a gay character. If that was actually the case I would be the happiest person ever. But no. I have to actively seek out my gay people. I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on huluplus and Pretty Little Liars, and Glee. These are my shows that I watch for the gay characters. I watch Revolution, Big Bang Theory, Legend of Korra and Once Upon a Time for the show itself, and let me tell you, no gays in those shows. And back to the fact that the gays in TV shows do not kiss with the same frequency as straight couples. Back when Brittany and Santana were together on Glee I waited for episodes and episodes for them to kiss. And then they finally did. But it was no where near as frequently occurring as say Finn and Rachel. (Maybe this is bad of me because I don't really pay attention to gay men, only gay women in TV, but still I think my point holds.)

So wrong and wrong on account of gay people not being in every show and not making out more than straight people. But really, for me the biggest thing is that these people don't understand why having gay people on TV is important. For me that is huge. I grew up watching TV, not all the time, not the way I do now... but it was a part of my childhood and a part of my early teenage years. And for me, being represented on TV is something that everyone wants. It validates you as a person in certain ways. I used to watch Friends for Ross's ex-wife and her wife. The fact that they were doing the whole gay-married thing validated me, even if they were minor characters who very rarely if ever kissed they made me feel like being with a woman was acceptable.

Also stray thought, there aren't gay people in advertisements yet. Gay people are still polarizing and don't sell products well. This is interesting to me. I think that advertisements are the ultimate acceptance. Most races are represented even if it is not proportional. However there are very few, if any, muslims in advertisements, just like gay people. I believe this is because these two groups of people are still polarizing to the public and therefore they don't sell products effectively.

Anyway, back to the uninformed TV watchers in the restaurant. The fact that they were even having the conversation helps my case more than theirs. By this I mean that, the fact that they think an increasing number of gay characters equates to at least one in every show shows that they are not yet comfortable with seeing gay people. They are seeing one and taking it to be way more. Also the way that they are assuming that because gays are now ok to kiss on TV that equates to making out or more in their heads, just proves that they need more exposure to this stuff. It makes me happy that kids will grow up being exposed to this stuff on a far larger scale than I was. Even if I do believe there is still a long way to go.