Guilty Pleasure and Contesting the Real-ness of “The Real L Word”

xQ RealLword

You see the promo for The Real L Word and immediately you begin to cringe because you know that it will misrepresent most of us. You continue to watch the promo and realize that “hey, there are a couple women of color.” But you know all to well that it’s Hollywood and that doesn’t necessarily translate to “progressive” representations of marginalized community. You feel like you’ve been here one too many times, anticipating to see yourself or someone like you on TV, only to be left stood up time after time. Still, you tune in every week to watch and follow the drama and the women in The Real L Word, leaving your politics at the door.

The Real L Word is situated in a post-feminist and homonormative environment, where on the one hand LGBT visibility in the media is growing, and on the other hand, Proposition 8 and other marriage equality initiatives are being challenged in courts throughout the country. This creates an environment where only limited acceptable representations of LGBTs are allowed. This environment follows and is fostered by post-feminist trends of media visibility. The danger lies in that we have learned to expect and accept stereotypes from “Hollywood.” Or at least that is what creator of The Real L Word, Ilene Chaken, expects us to do. Post-feminism is about the “pasteness” of feminism; it assumes that women have achieved equality via consumption, thus erasing struggles about race and class. What is most troubling about post-feminism is that it “invalidates systemic critiques.” This is important when considering The Real L Word, because the reality television show uses post-feminism to its advantage by negating to address issues of class, race, gender identity, size, nationality, etc. This narrative enforces and limits LGBT representations to only those of a homonormative lifestyle.

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About the author

Audrey Silvestre is a queer chicana feminist with chingon@ politics from long beach, california. She is a fierce campus and community organizer who through the collectivo Conciencia Femenil she is disrupting heteropatriarchy, sexism, and homophobia by calling out institutionalized ways that violence is produced and reproduced. She has also presented at several conferences by conducting workshops on gender, sexuality, homphobia, DIY media, zines, etc. Audrey is a mentor for ImMEDIAte Justice and one of the co-founders of HollaBackSoCal. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

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  • http://www.xqsimagazine.com Jonathan Menendez

    I love your bio Audrey and so happy to see your contributions by way of writing on behalf and about our community. I am so excited to see your continued media criticisms on movies, TV and other media.

    • Audrey Silvestre

      Jonathan, thank you and I look forward to working with everyone at xQsí!

  • arezdream

    Great article. I’m looking forward to some more of your posts- Arely

  • Brian Pacheco Corleto

    Audrey, this is great. Have you checked out Jennifer Pozner’s book “Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV”?

  • clarissa rojas

    love your chingon@ politics=
    “Post-feminism is about the “pasteness” of feminism; it assumes that women have achieved equality via consumption, thus erasing struggles about race and class. What is most troubling about post-feminism is that it invalidates systemic critiques…the show uses post-feminism to its advantage by negating issues of class, race, gender identity, size, nationality, etc. This narrative enforces and limits LGBT representations to only those of a homonormative lifestyle.”