I was in bed watching The Good Wife Sunday night, a show my wife and I both enjoy, when the gratuitous lesbian scene between the fashionista Indian investigator—Kalinda played by Archie Panjabi who apparently is a stay-at-home mother and wife in real life when not taping—and equally attractive African-American prosecutor, Dana. It’s the first time we hit the fast-forward button (we had TiVo’d the episode, thankfully). The whole thing just felt so contrived and meant for sleazy male attention.
To figure out what actually happened in order to write this blog I had to consult the Wall Street Journal of all places for the recap, under the headline: Kalinda gets Dana drunk, Dana gets lesbian lessons.
“What’s the point, anyway?” Dana wants to know as they sit at a bar. “Without a penis involved? It’s like baseball without a bat.” Kalinda offers some insight, including, “When you get a woman excited, it’s not like a man. It’s not aggressive. It’s slow, suspenseful.”
Dana tells Kalinda that Cary wants to hurt her “through me,” but then seems to switch subjects, revealing that Wendy has been hired as special prosecutor and “we’re going after Will Gardner….bribery…banging judges…did I say banging? I meant bribing…I need to get a cab.”
The next shot is of Dana’s clothes on the floor—but she’s in bed with Cary, not Kalinda, though sharing Kalinda’s single sex tips. “She won’t touch you,” he says, but clearly he’s enjoying the vicarious girl on girl action.
Of course, The Good Wife is just taking the bisexual hotie one step further than House (Thirteen is gorgeous, terminally ill, and has a thing for gals) and Grey’s Anatomy (two lead characters are lesbians just trying to work it out).
I was reminded of visiting a well-meaning neighbor who had recently recent rented Milk, Sean Penn’s portrayal gay San Fransico mayor Harvey Milk. “We just had to turn it off,” he said. ”The guys kissing each other was really too much for me to take.”
I know for a fact that this same guy would have no problem watching women kiss each other. In fact, I am sure he has. And he is certainly not alone in our culture.
Why the male obsession with lesbians?
In graduate school I met a lesbian couple, named Sam and Sara that seemed well suited for each other. And then at a party one day I saw a much older woman named Beth hanging around them and couldn’t quite figure out how she fit in. It turned out that Sam and Beth had been a couple for years but Beth had gotten gravely ill with breast cancer. Beth had been told she would likely not live more than a year. She did not want Sam to be alone so she went looking for someone to take her place. Enter Sara. Sam and Sara became a couple with Beth’s blessing while she supposedly lay dying in the hospital. Only one problem: Beth made a miraculous recovery.
So by the time I met them the three women—Sam, Sara, and Beth—had decided to all live together sleeping in one big happy bed. And honestly from what I could tell, granted an outsider looking in, it seemed like an arrangement with as much as potential as any heterosexual marriage.
The thing that fascinated me most was that my reaction, and those of my friends, was not to be weirded out but to feel a kind of warmth and empathy for the female three-way. If there had been a man involved, it would not have been perceived so nonchalantly. Visions of abuse, pornography, and Mormon cult leaders would have jumped to the fore.
My only guess at the cult of lesbianism among straight men is out of fear of female sexuality to begin with. We as men are taught to be horny. To want to have sex whenever possible. Our lizard brains are bombarded with images of tits and ass as object rather than human soul. Yet somewhere in the recesses of our brains we wonder whether behind the boobs there is a person with sexual desire, with flesh and bones, with a heart.
Lesbianism is a way to witness what female sexuality looks like without risking anything. To ask your own wife or girlfriend what she likes or needs is the obvious way to explore female sexuality. But that isn’t what we have been taught to do. We’ve been taught to watch and objectify.
All of which makes me more than a little sad. I really like The Good Wife. Why did that have to stoop to play the lesbian erotica card on Sunday night prime time? Really guys?