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Innerbrat
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Joss makes me think. This is a good thing. 
6th-Mar-2008 10:09 am
buffy
"All [his] actions were selfishly motivated.Everything he did, he did out of a love for a woman who could never love him back. Plus, you can tell it's not going to have a happy ending when the main guy's all bumpy."
- Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5.14 Crush
I'm re-watching Buffy and Angel at a slow-but-sureish rate, and this quote suddenly jumped out at me- I hadn't noticed it before. This textual reference is pretty much why I love the show. And the quote itself goes a way towards explaining why I never liked Spuffy.

On the way to work today you can guarantee I will swing by the comic shop and pick up 8.12. I may even go early enough to sit down with a cup of something and read the thing before work, but that never works because there's always something for me to do when I turn up, and I have to do it because I'm me. Nevertheless, I did read the 'spoiler' sdelmonte alluded to in the NY Times, and which catalyst2 transcribed in full yesterday. So, yes, here I am blogging about a comic issue I haven't read yet. HOWEVER I am well aware of this and am not passing judgement on the issue yet. I hear it's good; I expect it to be good.

So, Buffy sleeps with a woman. Nice.

The part of the NY Times article that stood out to me was this:

Numerous fans appreciated Willow's revelation. "When it became clear how much this meant to people, we knew we could not take it back," Mr. Whedon said. "O.K., this was a life change."

Not so for Buffy. "I whouldn't even call it a phase," he said of her intimate moment with Satsu. "It's just something that happens."
This is OK! It happens! Female sexuality in my experience and opinion is a fluid, adaptable thing. Very very few people are at either end of the Kinsey Scale, or dead set in the centre. Young women of our age* experiment  - that word has implications I don't like - we explore and push our limits, especially sexually, because we have to reconcile the conflicting messages society is sending us about what is and isn't OK about sexuality. [It's OK to be gay, but it's icky; It's OK to be a virgin, but you're missing out/socially backward; It's OK to like sex but degrading to be promiscuous; It's OK to explore but kinks are dirty; It's OK to not be that fussed about sex but it means you have a disorder; You will be treated like a sexual object but ostracised when you play to this treatment.] To have this acknowledged - to have a nominally straight woman sleep with another woman just as one of those things is awesome: it really is. YAY JOSS.

On the other hand: I'm also vaguely disappointed. Mostly by the polarisation of the whole thing with respect to Willow. Now, I wasn't a vocal fan back then, but I remember one thing: I didn't appreciate Willow's 'revelation'. I would have if it had been a different revelation, but a character who was in love with a man, in her own words, realised [she] was gay (6.16: Hells Bells). With Buffy, it looks like it's a straight woman who has a one-night thing. You're either gay (except for one two-year relationship with fiction's most popular werewolf) or you're straight and fool around. I'm disappointed because - there's no middle ground.

I shouldn't be disappointed. It'd be naff as all hells if Buffy, with her history what it is, suddenly went: OMG BI. But the problem is- Buffy was where I went for people of my own age to identify with, even to the extent that re-watching it now with the hindsight of both canon and my own experience, allows me to see new things I hadn't seen before (and not just Quasimodo-Spike analogies.) For ages after Willow started seeing Tara, I was insisting: Willow's not gay, she's BISEXUAL, dammit, not just because the evidence was right there (people Willow had been in love with by this point: 2, gender ratio 1:1), but because I was (am) bisexual, and I wanted - wanted hard - to identify with that in Willow.

Bisexual characters are woefully short of the ground in fiction- a qualitative scan down the shows in this list in Wikipedia show that they tend to appear in :
  • LGBT-oriented stories, where it's just 'hey look, there are bis, too!',
  • soap operas for the OMG DRAMUH
  • Comedies, because bisexual=funny.
  • Official televised Doctor Who slashfic Torchwood.

OR they make the list because of a one-off for-the-shock/drama/lulz situation in which someone shocks other characters by sleeping with someone not of their 'preferred' gender. (Joss, I'm looking at you again). There are very very few - and I can't think of any, offhand, truly identifiable, normal "one-of-us look they're people too" characters who are truly bi. What I mean by that is there are no bisexual characters that I - as a young woman who defines herself in other ways too but is still bisexual - there's no character I can identify with in that way.

Oh, except Angela. I'm not poly, but she comes closest to a character with a sexuality I can see myself in. But webcomics have low readership, and I'd like to see a more high profile character.

So, yes. I'm perfectly fine with Buffy and Satsu. I think in theory it's perfectly IC and I'm looking forward to reading it (Drew Goddard was never my favourite Buffy writer, but he's not terrible). It's just that Buffy burned me once by denying the possibility of bisexuality. I don't want it to happen again.

OK, enough of that rambling. There are other Joss-penned things to discuss while I have this window open: namely, The Dollhouse, and why I'm not sure if I will watch it.

The drama, stars Dushku as Echo, a member of a group of men and women who are imprinted with different personalities for different assignments. In between tasks they are mind-wiped, living like children in Dollhouse, a futuristic dorm/lab. A group of people, known as "Actives" (or "Dolls"), have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas and hired out for particular jobs, crimes, fantasies and occasional good deeds. When not imprinted, the Actives live, childlike and unremembering, in a hidden facility nicknamed "The Dollhouse". Although the Actives are ostensibly volunteers, the operation is highly illegal, and under constant threat from a determined federal agent on one end and an insane rogue Active on the other. The story hinges around a greater and more subtle threat: Echo, a female Active, begins, in her mind-wiped state, to become self-aware."
So, it's a show about mind control - which already makes me feel uncomfortable, and with the strong  implication of rape (in that the 'dolls' are often hired out for 'fantasies'. The story hinges around a brothel/slave dealership. I've seen the character listings, and TBH I'm worried that I might not feel sympathy for a single one of them.

I'm not saying the whole thing is going to be gratuitous sex/violence/story of the week pornography. I trust Joss a little more than that.It's just that I suspect, with mind control being such a predominant theme, that every single episode might invoke the kind of reaction I got with Jubal Early and Kaylee, with no let up in between. And I don't know if I want to sit through that every week.

- well, that's my fear, anyway.

* Buffy Summers the character has a birthday a month before my own. One of the reasons Buffy is so important to me is because we developed from girls to women concurrently.
Opinions 
6th-Mar-2008 10:45 am (UTC)
STILL haven't seen Buffy.

OR they make the list because of a one-off for-the-shock/drama/lulz situation in which someone shocks other characters by sleeping with someone not of their 'preferred' gender.

...I'm thinking of Inara in Firefly here. Except she states/agrees that "sometimes it's nice to be with a women..." (and she's a courtesan, and very open about sexuality) implying that she's probably bisexual. But it only happens in that one episode and isn't referred to any other time...
6th-Mar-2008 10:58 am (UTC)
The 'either or' attitude to sexuality is also one that really, really annoys me. Like you said, people are rarely at each end of the scale, or dead in the centre.

Actually, it's interesting - I have a series of books that...don't actually have a series name and I forget who is writing them as I am lame. Anyway. The main character, Rachel, is living with a vamp, Ivy, who is bisexual. And also in love with Rachel and the whole dynamic is really, really interesting.

But I'm not sure if vampires count.
6th-Mar-2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
It's Kim Harrison! ... And damn, it doesn't seem to have a series-name. And also I now need to buy like, 5 sequels OMG.

Edited at 2008-03-06 15:02 (UTC)
6th-Mar-2008 11:09 am (UTC)
I always thought Willow was bisexual, too. But I think Willow was not comfortable with seeing herself as bisexual--she wanted a clean break with her previous self, and has some capital I Issues, as anyone who eventually flays a man alive has.

Coupled to that, we see her blow off the Wicca support group almost immediately for not being awesome enough. I suspect she didn't really plug herself into any kind of community to learn... anything. She just went GAY NOW and plunged ahead.
6th-Mar-2008 11:24 am (UTC)
Well, yes, that's a great analysis and fitting with Willow's character- it just wasn't ever presented as a forced thing, just accepted that her opinion was right.

I mean - Willow says a lot of things I consider untrue, but which not only the characters accept as true, but the writing implies we're meant to. The unrelated example being that 'Buffy is THE Slayer' and Faith's an extra, when in fact I'm sure the mythology only works if Faith's THE Slayer and Buffy just someone who won't retire when they're meant to.

So if Willow says OH HAI GAY NOW, the writers in general fail to show that she's flawed in saying that.
6th-Mar-2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Just in regards to Willow, she's definitely either a Kinsiean 3 or 4.

Why? Because Dialogue means Dick in terms of figuring out the truth of anything in a medium such as film and television. What a character says and what is shown on screen can be completely different things.

Willow may call herself "Gay" on occasion, and may think of herself as such, but the visual evidence speaks otherwise.
6th-Mar-2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
*holds up lighter, sways, sings along*

I loved Willow and Tara as a couple, I loved that Joss went there when so few shows had done so, and I never thought that discovering she was attracted to Tara was out of character for Willow-as-established.

If Willow had been presented as truly discovering an attraction to women and realizing she was not physically attracted to men and had been denying something, I would have bought "Gay Now."

But... not so much. Instead she presented all the signs of someone who fell for a person, who happened to be female and yes this was a big discovery for her but it didn't come with 'so this explains why I've been sneaking looks in the girls' locker room all these years.' And she had to move on from her previous love, who happened to be male, not because he was male, but because he'd left when she needed him, and she'd developed a deep connection with someone else.
(Deleted comment)
6th-Mar-2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
I've read the issue now- but not your post, if you've written one.

I agree with the take- I don't think Buffy's suddenly anything, and it's great that she's all open and doing stuff. And orgasms. I believe that very little that results in mutual orgasms can be all bad.

I just wish she were like me.
6th-Mar-2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
Re the "I'm straight" / "I'm gay" thing: I think that in this case fiction is just carrying over from views you see a lot in reality.

Of the five people who I know personally and who I know have experimented/explored/whatever with both sexes, three of them identify very strongly as "straight", and two of them identify very strongly as "gay". I think all five would be about equally offended if I said I considered them "bi".

I suspect that for social reasons many people consider it very important to identify with a sexual orientation, and for some reason (maybe because there are high-profile 'straight' groups and high-profile 'gay' groups but no very visible 'bi' groups?) most people don't consider "bi" to be a valid choice, but rather an "out" used by people who won't make a choice.

Seems silly to me, but so does a lot of stuff.
6th-Mar-2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
(people Willow had been in love with by this point: 2, gender ratio 1:1)

Much, much more significantly?

People Willow had been in lust with by this point, and given in to it despite awareness that it was a Very Bad Idea: 1, gender ratio 1:0.
7th-Mar-2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
It quite agree on the representation of bisexuals (or rather the lack thereof), but as someone pointed out above it seems to be the way a lot of people perceive sexual identity, despite that everyone seems aware of Kinsey's theories. Which doesn't make it any less annoying, of course. It seems that as homosexuality has become more accepted than it used to be, the borders are still considered equally important to maintain.

I'm a little ambivalent to Joss's depictions of women in general, and I never did find the Willow/Tara relationship that interesting, although I liked both characters and really wanted to like them as a couple. Perhaps it was that they were so sweet. ;) But I did like the fact that their relationship was shown and clearly spelled out.

I'm starting to think the categorising, in society and thus influencing fiction, is more of a choice which part of ourselves we want to live and which part not to express. Of course the choice is limited by who we are attracted to, but in a long term relationship every different person can be like a choice of a particular type of life. So now I usually thing that someone who says they're gay or straight has made that choice, based on their attraction options, hopefully, and not that it's a label defining exactly who they would, in their fantasies, consider having sex with.

And because I don't want to be different ...for porn
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