On Women’s Month, Empowerment, and Goldstars

26Mar09

My TV’s been tuned to Asian Food Channel for months because my broken remote control is lost and I’m a channel surfer who’s too lazy to channel surf without one. One night, I decided to end my late-night viewing misery by finally changing the channel from Chef at Home and Licence to Grill at midnight to the Lifestyle Network.

As I was watching Britain’s Next Top Model, I came across the network plug for Lifestyle. It featured women and girls of different ages, backgrounds, and interests who are supposedly making a their mark in society. The key communication message of the plug is strength and empowerment by the numbers so each female was to start off with a statement that contained some fascinating numerical tidbit about herself or an accomplishment of hers.

It was a pretty catchy and interesting plug, given that they featured a well-known theater actress in her late 50’s, a young girl with an IQ of 150, a full-figured woman proud of her curves, an athlete, an environmentalist, and others.

What struck me was the featured “writer” of the group. Of course someone had to represent the literary field. But instead of focusing on what this writer has done (a Palanca perhaps?), her interesting fact is that she’s had “8 boyfriends and 1 girlfriend.” I mean, really? She’s a writer and that’s the best they can come up with?

Worse, the producers of this plug had to be politically conscious so, of course, they had to include someone who had a different sexual orientation (or preference, if you will). But what really bothers me is that to make her revelation seem more palatable or acceptable, she can’t just be all lesbian. She has to have had boyfriends AND a girlfriend.

Does that imply that lesbians who’ve never had any heterosexual relationships are harder to accept into mainstream TV and in society? I don’t think it makes them less fascinating. Or more importantly, being a goldstar doesn’t make one any less succesful. So much for goldstars getting their gold stars on TV.

I guess what gets my goat is that I can name so many other women-loving-women writers — goldstar or not — who can be better representatives of our kind. Compared to the other women in that plug, writers and lesbians (or bisexuals or queers) have been shortchanged by that plug. Lugi tayo kung lugi.

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