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Thursday, January 26, 2006 

The L-Word....Or Is It The M-Word?

Okay, I guess I should out myself as an "L-Word" watcher. I watch it because I like being in touch with lesbian pop-culture. I wish I could say I were a fan of the slick Showtime serial. After all, it's the first lesbian-centric weekly drama on television. But as pioneering as they are, the makers of the "The L-Word" fall severely short on so many levels at making this a truly radical show. One could surmise from "The L-Word" that lesbians have no struggles with class, racism, misogyny, fascist beauty standards, or internalized homophobia. I know a television show can't be all things to all people, but is it too much to ask for a trailblazing show like "The L-Word" to aim for a little more social responsiblility? Afterall, for better or worse, many of the people (lesbian and straight alike) who watch it look to "The L-Word" for a portrayal of lesbian life and take it at face value. Nevermind that it's just as true to life as other sordid nighttime soap operas like "Nip/Tuck" or "Desperate Housewives." We're not at that point of parity where we can be as raunchy as these other shows without it being representative of all lesbians to the mainstream viewer.

I think about all of these things - racism, fascism, misogyny, beauty, internalized homophobia - while watching "The L-Word." The issues jump off the screen at me. The second episode of this season may as well have had a blazing neon DANGER: MISOGYNY/HOMOPHOBIA sign flashing across the bottom of the screen. Throughout the show lesbian sex was described and depicted in solely male, heterosexually-defined ways. "Fucking," "blue balls," fellatio performed on a dildo, one character bending over in the stereotypical, pornographic "rear entrance" pose that men love so much, an anonymous sexual encounter in an alley - all were used in the describing or depicting of lesbian sex. What's up with all this male, heterosexual imagery to describe sex between women? Lesbian sex can stand on its own without heterosexual identification. There are plenty of ways of getting a woman hot without telling her that you want to fuck her, with all of that word's dominating, woman-hating connotations. A dildo can be just as sexy without calling it a "dick" or using it to dominate. Sex between lesbians doesn't have to look like a poor imitation of heterosex.

I could go on and on about other ways "The L-Word" is off the mark, but I'll stop with this one example for now. For an examination of racism on "The L-Word" take a look at Nubian's spot on post over at Blac(k)ademic.

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I've watched one episode all season because the storylines keep getting more ridiculous. I'm over it!

OK...you watch this why?

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