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[personal profile] ravelqueen
Ok yes, I'm sorry I guess I really need to do a meta as an ETA to my review of last nights episode of glee.

Because I may have made the general mistake of letting myself be distracted by the gays and Blaines shining face and the fact that trans issues where actually treated with respect. And also, because this problem isn't new and I need to say something about it every episode and I kind of accepted it with a heavy heart, like I accept so many things about glee, because it has one of my few canon couples being adorable on screen and also hilarious movies.

But once in a while it is time to put on my big feminist hat and speak about the fact, that while Glee has made excellent episodes and changes for gay people in mass-media and at home. Has tackled quite a few interesting and controversial topics well and made a difference for many people socially, over the boundaries of what a silly little Musical show probably expected. But it has never, never, ever been able to do gender right.

Don't get me wrong, they did quite a bit about gender representations, but they were often tied into Kurts storylines and as such became very much about the Gay Issue and the Masculinity Issue. Which is fine! It's amazing! We need story lines that challenge prevelant ideas of what "masculinity" is and means.

But what the writers have always been crap at has been writing women right. Maybe it's because of the all-male writing staff, I don't know, but Jesus there are few womens storylines, that haven't been completely bonkers, often dealing with issues super well, when it concerns male characters and then totally screwing that when it comes to the women. Taking to horrible heights with the absolute disaster that was "I kissed a girl", in which not only Santana had to be totally ok with being outed, because she will be happier if she is honest with and about herself.

Which would have been an ok, if not great storyline. Accidental outing does sometimes just happen. I don't even blame Finn that much, because he may look like he is nearly 30 (XD), but he is supposed to be a teenager and things sometimes just slip out in the heat of the moment. And he was angry at Santana when he said it and nobody is perfect. But the way it was resolved was just horrible, because Finn never actually apologized for doing what he did. Santana needed to be ok with that, because obviously other people, especially men, know what is best for her and her life. Even though we had a season long subplot, about how this was Not Okay with David Karofksy.

Mike got a storyline and Tina was allowed to be the supportive girlfriend, nothing else. Quinn and Puck had to give away their baby and Quinn tries to steal it back, while Puck (PUCK!! The guy who apparently doesn't use condoms with his string of one-night stands) is the mature one who tries to connect to his baby daughter and baby adoptive mother, because he knows it was the right choice, but wants to be a part of her life. Beiste was never kissed, because our society has fucked up gender norms and one pity-kiss makes it all better.

And then last nights episode, which I in general enjoyed as I said, had all the problems the writers have with gender encorporated by the two characters that most often got the shittiest end of the gender stick.

First off is Santana and I will just redirect you to a recapper who said it better than I did. Basically it continues the proud tradition with Santana that I touched on above - that even though she is supposed to be this no-nonsense HBIC character, who knows what she wants, in all the important decisions the agency is taken away from her. You pretty female, so precious telling everyone off, but don't worry when the real life comes along, someone will take the decisions away from you, so you don't make the wrong choices. It doesn't even matter, that in this case the choice was mainly taken away by a woman. She still wasn't allowed to choose for herself in the end and her privacy was invaded and she had to be grateful.

It's on par if in last weeks episode Kurt had made a video of Blaine confessing his problems with Cooper and then showed it to him. Taking the choice if he even wants to work things out, out of Blaines hand. But he didn't.

Which brings us to our second female of the discussion: Rachel. Oh dear, dear Rachel. Every time I look at you, I'm really not sure if I want my favourites to have a lot of screentime, because that way the writers don't have as much space to fuck it up. I think Rachel has embodied every bad character trait you could possibly have over the course of three seasons.

She has also displayed a lot of good ones, but unfortunately one of the longest lasting negative ones - being high-maintance and extremely egocentric - is one that is very much associated with women being women (= silly), while the ones that have been portrayed the most positive by the show has been being extremely self sacrificing. Not empathic or sympathetic or understanding. No Rachel apparently has only two modes: "It's all about me" and "I don't matter at all! My happiness is the others happiness! Here take my hard work and sacrifices and experiences! They are nothing if I don't have anybody to hold my hand! Even though I have proven that I'm strong, I'm obviously not strong enough with a Man By My Side to show me how worthy I am!" (implied: "Because I'm a woman! And women take their entire self-worth out of being loved, adored and needed.)

This attitude came to head in last nights episode, but it has always been there, especially in Season 3. While Kurt was allowed to grow up, by being less bitchy and spiteful, by letting things go, Rachel was allowed to grow up into giving up all her ambition and dreams for other people. Which is not the response to being self centered. The real "growing up" you do if you are a person like Rachel is in being sympathetic, taking the back seat to let others shine, understanding that your dreams aren't the most important thing to others. But it can still be the most important thing for yourself. That isn't immature, that is just about trying to be happy.

(Btw. Mercedes is another runner-up in that again, she finds her self-worth in the validation of others. First Shane is the one to tell her that she is just as good as Rachel and now Sam is her confidence crutch. In general it's fine to need help, support and a nice word about your abilites sometimes to pick you out of a funk. But the problem is that we don't see all the other times, the ones where she does do it herself, or at least not often enough for this to be a portrayal of "sometimes I have a confidence crisis and need ego-stroking" and not "if I am not validated as talented I will not perceive myself as such")
As I said in the beginning, this is not a new problem. If I had to pick a show that does queer presentation right (at least more than others) glee would be in my mind in a heartbeat. But when it comes to female representation it would maybe not be the last one, but definitely way down the list (even Supernatural is better and there every woman dies!)



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