Friday, March 27, 2009

O, No She Didn't!

Did you catch poor Oprah on Wednesday when the topic was "Living Without Labels," women leaving their husbands and boyfriends for other women? First "Work Out" star Jackie Warner came on to talk about all the straight women she attracts. (Her boy-crazy former fling Rebecca joined her, going on and on about how taken she was with her boss woman but never mentioning how she did it all for more screen time!)

Then Oprah got down to business, cross-examining all of these formerly straight women about how on earth they ended up becoming involved with woman. (BTW: Did anyone EVER think Carol Leifer was straight?) Now god knows Oprah doesn't have anything against the gays (truthfully, the ghost of Gayle King loomed large in the studio that afternoon making some of Oprah's questions sound almost tongue-in-cheek!). Yet, I couldn't help notice the intrinsic double standard that still permeates the airwaves when talking about gay men versus gay women. While "girl on girl" action is frequently fetishcized and encouraged in pop culture ("Girls Gone Wild" makeout sessions, anyone), gay men are still often painted only as the over-the-top queens that some of us are.

One of Oprah's guests was Dr. Lisa Diamond, a well-spoken women's sexuality expert who was there to promote her new book, "Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire." Sure, an Oprah plug is a writer's dream come true. But I couldn't help but cringe for her as Oprah made one juvenile comment about gay guys after the next -- at which Diamond laughed nervously at first, but eventually kind of ignored her -- not to mention repeatedly breaking into singing the title of an article about the subject in the new issue of O called "She's So Fine." (Like me, Diamond seemed to have NO IDEA WHY Oprah was doing this, although a quick Web search seems to reveal there's an Akon song with that title, so perhaps that's what O was getting at?) Some people insist that Oprah deliberately asks "naive" questions because she is trying to dumb her topics down for her Middle America audience, who may not be as worldly as she is.

Still, I think it spoke volumes about the gap that exists between the level of respect gay men and women are given by many that when the subject of men who rate themselves as a 6 on the Kinsey scale (6 being "exclusively homosexual") was broached, O felt comfortable saying: "The full-blow sixes, we can all tell. Love 'em. Really fun to be around. And they do great hair and stuff. It's harder to tell with a lot of women." (I had to rewind my DVR because I couldn't believe she'd just say that on national television!) Sure, she said it to get a laugh. Yet she bent over backward not to offend the lesbians by checking with Diamond during a commercial break before coming back to carefully and rather sheepishly ask why so many "attractive" women seem to leave men for women "who really, kinda don't look like women."

It's the little things, O. Think about it.


Matthew said...

Yeah, it's pretty ridiculous. Someone who is a 6 on the scale isn't necessarily a 6 on the stereotypically gay scale.

Anonymous said...'s_So_Fine

Leonard said...

I haven't had a chance to watch this but judging by your post, maybe I shouldn't. Why is it that gay men can be made parodies but "gay" women (and I quote that because women just know how to "love" and men just know how to "f*ck")are actually a bit more respected? I like Marc's comment about keeping Middle America dumb, you don't enlighten by by dumbing down, you actually can help people think a different way by exposing them to a different view. This is now her book of the month club, these are peoples lives, cultures and identity's she is making loose remarks about. ;) peace

rob clemenz @ said...
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