Heather Hogan’s “New Girl” post yesterday rekindled the ongoing comment battle over, among other things, the cliche of lesbians on television are always pregnant. A few of the comments, and the general tenor of the discussion over pregnant lesbians in film and television, prompted me to write this response.
Trope, trope, trope on a rope. Everyone hates the lesbian tropes, right? Let’s mention a few, shall we? There’s the dead lesbian, the lesbian because of all the demon sex, and everyone’s favorite, the pregnant lesbian.
The pregnant lesbian is just the patriarchal society reinforcing the idea that every woman, even a woman who doesn’t want to sleep with men, craves the feeling of a baby in her womb. We’re all just baby-makers, right? A woman’s place is in the kitchen, barefoot, pregnant, and making dinner for her man. We don’t want none of you around these parts, what with your uterus all full of the man juice, fertilizing your lady eggs. Go on and take your wannabe heterosexual, pathetic attempt to fit into a society that requires us to have children to fit some outmoded 1950’s ideal of what a family is. You’re barely a lesbian!
We want our lesbians on television and in movies and everywhere else to be hot and sexy and having sex all over the place. We don’t want to see them pregnant, waddling around, with hormone flashes that showcase the craziest of female stereotypes (“she cries for no reason, she’s irrational, she’s emotional, she can’t control herself”). Pregnant ladies are gross, not sexy, and we don’t want lesbians turned into asexual, lesbian bed death, punch lines.
Did I get it all? Did I hit everything you have been complaining about lesbians being pregnant on television? If not, I am sure you will feel free to tell me what I missed.
Here’s my problem with all of that, some of us lesbians are parents. Forgive me Mother Lesbi-Superior for I was once a pregnant lesbian. It’s true. My med student wife knocked me up with sperm we bought and had shipped cross country. I spent almost ten whole months feeling like an alien was inside my body, and then I gave birth and everything got even weirder. I know you want your stories sexy and fun and full of delicious sexual tension, drama, and laughter. I want that too.
But I also want to see my life on television and in movies (I am not even going to discuss The Kids Are All Right). It’s why I am so excited at the prospect of Jennifer Lopez’s new ABC Family show about lesbian moms. I want my life reflected on screen as much as I want Emily Fields and Paige McCullers fighting feelings as much as they are fighting A. I love me some teen drama, I thrive on it. But I’m not a teenager any more. I’m old and married and I have two kids. I want a show that has all of that too.
I want a show that has a pregnant lesbian who is still sexy as hell. I want a show where lesbians are raising kids and sucking at it and being awesome at it because that’s real life. Sometimes you hit it out of the park and sometimes you just blow. I want a pregnant lesbian who explodes the stereotypes. One who has crazy mood swings (because hormones will eat your brain) but who doesn’t stop being amazing. Moms can be really badass, they don’t have to be boring.
I know clichés suck and having every lesbian die or get pregnant is really ridiculous. It’s dated in the same way that having the only people of color on a television show as the waiters and maids is dated. It’s offensive. But you know what, so is the discussion that makes some of us who are moms feel like we can’t be part of this big, weird, community of lesbians.
So, can we just stop that, and start asking for more from all of our lesbian characters? If they are going to be pregnant then let’s ask that they be awesomely, hilariously, authentically pregnant. Let’s ask shows to go all the way there. It’s a cop out to impregnate the lesbians and then run off like some douchebag high school boy who can’t be bothered to stick around and deal with the consequences of getting a lady pregnant. Let’s try to hold shows to that instead of bemoaning the idea that lesbians would, gasp! allow themselves to be defiled with man juice to create a baby. We’re better than that. Or at least I hope we are. Because I like our big, weird, loud, and obnoxious community and I don’t want to be chucked out just because I have kids (there are plenty of places that are already off limits with the little buggers).