Wednesday, April 28, 2010

God Bless Jennifer Garner

How we missed Elektra when it came out in 2005, I can only chalk up to the patriarchy. Jennifer Garner plays a sexy and flawed superhero who kicks serious ass throughout the film, receives a long and dangerous kiss from a beautiful woman, and ultimately emerges triumphant. How often does that happen in a Hollywood movie? Sisters, if you have not yet seen this tribute to female power, full lips, tight-fitting leather, and confident swaggering hips—see it immediately. There is even a classic lesbian theme of the older accomplished woman mentoring the promising girl. The scene in which Elektra and her protégé spar is more than a bit suggestive. Not inappropriate, but clearly flirtatious. If you're in the mood, here are some Elektra highlights with bad pop metal music.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Muriel Spark. Let's not kid ourselves.

The New York Times Book Review this morning featured a review of the new biography of Muriel Spark by Martin Stannard. The review is written by Charles McGrath, the former editor of the Book Review. McGrath strikes me as a very straight man.  The kind of man who makes the following assessment: Two sophisticated women who live together and share a life for 30 years are probably not lesbians. "The arrangement sounds pretty sexless," McGrath wrote, asking us to believe his assessment of the nature of a decades-long relationship between two women.

Spark, the creator of Miss Jean Brodie (a character who notoriously enjoyed sex), was rumored to be a lesbian even back in her New York days in the late 1950s when she had a particularly intense relationship with Rachel MacKenzie, her editor at The New Yorker. Spark always "laughingly denied" the rumors of her lesbianism, according to McGrath. But let's not kid ourselves. Muriel Spark was a complicated person, not a sweet old lady who never had sex. She shared her life with Penelope Jardine, an artist she met in Italy, and to whom Spark left her entire estate. Now, it is possible Spark and Jardine experienced "lesbian bed death," the tragic condition that strikes some of our sisters. But that's not in a million years what McGrath was suggesting. And even if it were, suffering from lesbian bed death would not disqualify Spark as a lesbian.

Let's make our own assessment. Spark was a convert to Roman Catholicism who no doubt felt deeply conflicted about her gay-abhorring and perfection-seeking religion in the face of her imperfect human behavior—which included her lifelong estrangement from her son (in her will, she made a point of leaving him nothing). Spark also suffered from "lesbian panic," according to some literary scholars, including Patricia Juliana Smith. In Lesbian Panic: Homoeroticism in Modern British Women's Fiction (Columbia University Press), Smith defines "lesbian panic" as: "quite simply, the disruptive action or reaction that occurs when a character—or, conceivably, an author—is either unable or unwilling to confront or reveal her own lesbianism or lesbian desire." That sounds about right.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Totally gay

Forgive the delay on commenting on this doozy in The New York Times. Their magazine cover story on April 4, 2010, documented not only that the animal kingdom is filled with queers, but—surprise!—the scientists who study the animal kingdom made a habit of ignoring their own scientific data in order to avoid acknowledging that homosexual behavior exists across many, many species in the animal world and is, in fact, natural.

Excerpts from the article, when read aloud on a Sunday morning, can provide rich entertainment. For example:

"A female koala might force another female against a tree and mount her, while throwing back her head and releasing what one scientist described as 'exhalated belching sounds.'"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah

If I did not have a meeting with the deans on campus this afternoon, and if I did not have a lot of grading to do, I might seriously consider packing a weekend bag (for me and my beloved) and heading to the Dinah. I've never been to The Dinah Shore Weekend, that sun-soaked bacchanal in Palm Springs that some refer to as The Dinah Score Weekend. Oh, my. Nonetheless, I'd like to go. You see, I also never attended the Michigan Womyn's Festival, because, when I was the appropriate age to go, I was listening to The Smiths and thinking I was too cool for that. Or, I might have been broke. In any case, I regret not going, especially since now it's too late. It's too late because I just simply do not want to sleep in a tent and be around that much armpit hair — even though I celebrate the crunchy lesbians. I truly, truly do.

The Dinah, however, appears to be an entirely different aesthetic. The ladies at The Dinah are all groomed, toned, and tanned for the poolside. In addition, I had a crush on Dinah Shore when I was little. She was dating a much younger Burt Reynolds in those days (Cougar! And, ironically, not a lesbian!) and therefore had had a resurgence in the press in the 1970s. Today, Dinah Shore is still relevant in my life because—upon seeing a sporty lesbian in a tennis shirt (collar up) driving a clean, white, chick car—I might make a seemingly derisive reference regarding her Dinah Shore stylings. But make no mistake. It's not disdain. It is pure admiration. Pure admiration perhaps mixed with a bit of envy. Because now you know just how much I'd like to dip my toe in the swimming pool at The Dinah...