Televsion networks airing lesbian kissing scenes need to reconsider the way it portrays being gay.
Come into my room. Turn on the television to the CW network. Relax. See a commercial promoting a lesbian kiss scene?
I thought such commercials only came on right before the 1:35 a.m. airing of Last Call with Carson Daly.
Unfortunately, the CW appears to be one of the latest of networks to join the let’s-have-girls-make-out bandwagon. More television shows are using bi-curious girls with no real beneficial gain to the plot in an attempt to see an increase in ratings.
“Heterosexual males enjoy girl-on-girl action, which used to be reserved for pornography,” said doctoral student Siobahn Stiles, who teaches the course Heterosexism in the Media and Lesbian Representation. “But as soft-core porn becomes network programming, we see the rising acceptability not of queer women but of straight women who are curious and looking to experiment for the pleasure of the male gaze and the heterosexual male audience.”
Shows such as 90210, Gossip Girl, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and the now defunct The O.C. are just a few television programs that have female lead characters kissing other women.
“Most of these characters are recuperated into the heterosexual plotline in that they ultimately end up with men, and their lesbian experience is relegated to nothing more than experimentation,” Stiles explained.
Furthermore, the kisses are filmed in a sex-sells-driven media manner and ignore that, if done properly, having women kiss other women on television could increase gay and lesbian tolerance. Instead, the scenes depict an idea of experimentation that it is exciting and sexy, reducing an intimate moment between two women into a media gimmick.
In the media, women are often used as tools to pull in ratings. Girl-on-girl action doesn’t typically occur on a romantic television drama; it’s what turns heterosexual guys on and what keeps curious adolescent girls tuning in each week.
Chalking up what is, for some, an important part of their development to mere “experimentation” is degrading to lesbians. It can be a sensitive and difficult time for people who are unsure about their sexuality.
These shows fail to consider that it may be an embarrassing and confusing time for an individual who is struggling to sort out her feelings, especially when those feelings are mocked on television as a cheap way to boost ratings and increase entertainment value.
Clearly, the days of networks limiting content are gone. In the 1950s, CBS wouldn’t even permit Lucy and Ricky Ricardo to sleep in the same bed. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that networks have loosened their reins on creative content, but it should not happen at the expense of others.
In a society where gay men and lesbian women are still faced with intense hostility, it is making a mockery of their lifestyle choices by airing lesbianism for a brief three-episode stint.
Jillian Weir-Reeves can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.