TV’s Negative Portrayal of Pregnant Lesbians Continues

Caitlin,
struggling with this unexpected news, goes on a date with the man she met at
the shower and ends up sleeping with him. She confesses the infidelity to
Alicia, who surprisingly seems willing to accept it and continue to be with
Caitlin. But their relationship is short-lived.

In Episode 6, Alicia’s
ex-girlfriend returns and the two reconcile, causing Alicia to break up with
Caitlin just after she had accepted Alicia’s pregnancy.

While
getting pregnant and having a baby is almost always portrayed as bringing
heterosexual couples together, even when they hate each other (as can be seen in
recent film Knocked Up), childbearing
is generally presented as incompatible with happy, stable lesbian relationships.
Indeed, if television is to be believed, having a baby tears lesbian couples
apart.

These
story lines may be a deliberate device to discourage lesbians from having
children, or they may arise from an internalized hetero-centric worldview that
sees heterosexuality as the only natural means of reproduction. These story
lines reinforce the idea that it is unnatural and wrong for lesbians to bear
children together.

During the
Satisfaction episode "Jizz,"
Heather even confesses to Alex (her client and now the father of her child)
that she wonders whether "God or whoever" has decided that she, as a
lesbian and a sex worker, is not meant to be a mother. She says that when she
began this process with Ally, "it started out so normal, two people who
love each other wanting to start a family," but now her desire for Ally
has become mixed up with her desire to be a mother, and she doesn’t know where
one begins and the other ends.

Lesbian
desire in a continuum with the desire to be a mother? How exactly did the
writer come up with this idea? He is certainly not alone, however, for in the first
seasons of both Queer as Folk and The L Word, desire to have a baby seems
to completely overwhelm Lindsay and Tina’s desires for their partners.

Shows
with multiple lesbian characters such as Exes
& Ohs
or The L Word do not
seem as problematic in this regard as Satisfaction
or Queer as Folk, because having several
lesbian characters allows them to show a diversity of lesbian experiences.
However, each does still follow the same formula.

Each
series features one long-term couple among its single characters, and this
couple’s major story line — at least at first — revolves around having a baby, usually
accompanied by some discussion of "lesbian bed death," as if the
natural outcome of any long-term lesbian relationship is babies and bed death.

In Exes & Ohs, the long-term lesbian
couple, Chris (Megan Cavanagh) and Kris (Angela Featherstone), decide that they
are ready to graduate from being "puppy parents" to "people
parents." Almost as soon as the subject is broached, cracks in their
relationship begin to appear. Kris starts to feel that she’s "given
up" things for her relationship with Chris, and she reinstitutes her daily
meditation time.

Angela Featherstone (left) and Megan Cavanagh

While Chris
lovingly accepts this and also takes up an old hobby, later comments insinuate
that the two are experiencing "lesbian bed death." This suggests that
the seeds are being sown for baby-making–induced problems between the couple should
Exes & Ohs continue on for a
second season.

 

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