Thursday, November 19, 2009

The "Lesbian Narrative"

The chapter "I Love Laverne and Shirley" talked about the existence of a "lesbian narrative", which Doty defines as a "contra-heterosexual, women-bonding narrative" (40). These narratives commonly portray female main characters as strong and loving, while male characters remain in the background or completely nonexistent. Doty attributes the criticism of lesbian narratives to the "patriarchal heterosexual culture", which tends to justify strong women roles by labeling these individuals as lesbians.

While Doty's constructs his analysis using television sitcoms, I found that this argument is relevant in other areas of mass media. It seems that many contemporary lesbian narratives use comedy in order to downplay criticism received from shows such as I Love Lucy. In one example, the film Baby Mama involves two strong female leads. Similar to the sitcoms that Doty analyzes, the movie "finds its happy ending in the work, friendship, and love between two women" (40), which is a key aspect of the lesbian narrative. The "lesbian" jokes in the film seemingly put the viewer at ease as they are simply able to laugh off the tension.

I also believe that Doty's aforementioned theory can be expanded to include public figures. There have been many powerful, smart, and successful women that have been in the public eye that are often depicted as lesbians in the media - Doty himself states that "these misogynistic and homophobic public discursive and media tactics are nothing new, of course" (41). It can be argued that our patriarchal society is threatened by these women who exert these "masculine" qualities, and must therefore justify or inhibit their existence by critiquing them in this way.

Overall, both Doty and Jagose present definitions of "queerness" that go beyond the general use of the term. It will be interesting to see if in the future their inclusive definitions will be accepted by the general population.

1 comment:

  1. YEAH! I think Oprah and Gayle are the Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance of today-- in terms of the lesbian misunderstanding anyway. I guess women just can't be BFF with each other anymore! Kidding.