What romantic comedies have taught me about lesbians
Lately I’ve been in the mood to watch romantic comedies. Many of those types of movies that I’ve saved on my Netflix “Watch It Now” queue have involved at least one lesbian relationship in their plotline. I added one that looked interesting, then Netflix suggested other movies based on that, and I wound up with a string of lesbian-focused rom-coms on my Roku. These are not really serious dramas about gay and lesbian trials and tribulations; these are movies such as Goldfish Memory, Gray Matters, Puccini for Beginners, and Steam (which is not a romantic comedy but features a plotline with a lesbian character that seems to fit here). Here’s what I have learned about lesbians from these movies:
- Lesbians are all femme.
- There are two kinds of lesbians: the ones who were always that way and the ones who become lesbians after a bad breakup with a guy.
- Lesbians hit on straight girls all the time, and the straight girls are always willing to immediately get it on with a lesbian, despite having been straight till this point.
- Newly converted lesbians see their new life as “freeing”, jump into lesbianism 100%, and don’t ever have to deal with any repercussions of coming out.
- At some point, all lesbians who were always that way will sleep with a guy.
- It will be the best sex of their lives.
- All lesbians who were always that way are militant feminists, as evidenced by their participation in protests or a pet cause, their choice of conversation topics, or framed pictures of Gloria Steinem on their apartment walls.
- All lesbians have that one ball-busting, man-hating friend who wears business suits all the time (but she’s still pretty femme).
- All lesbians have at least one straight girl friend who always asks, “Why haven’t you ever hit on me?”
- Lesbians are really, really into PDA and nobody ever harasses them about it. In general, they are accepted everywhere they go.
OK, so I’m not a lesbian and one could argue that perhaps this really is the lesbian experience. I am, however, not stupid. It would be nice for #10 to be true, and if only it were so easy for people to come out (as in #4). #5 and #6 are preposterous, and while this might actually happen, it’s definitely not as inevitable as Hollywood makes it out to be. This is part of our heteronormative culture at work. Lesbians are hot, but they can all be conquered by the right man. Yeah, right.
So while it was nice to see more than just the regular old guy-girl pairings in these movies, it was still pretty discouraging to see how sanitized and stereotypical these relationships are portrayed as. As with all romantic comedies, if there wasn’t some sort of strange triangle or shenanigans going on, then there wouldn’t be a movie about it, but still, we can do better than this. Better yet, let’s just get rid of the entire rom-com genre and stop it with the unrealistic portrayals of love entirely. Please?