Sexual Inadequacy: SNL and K-Y

In 2000, Joshua Jackson guest starred on SNL, with musical guest N*SYNC. In one skit, he and his frat brothers wish to see two real lesbians have sex until they all "bust a nut." (I can't remember how anyone got wishes because Saturday Night Live decided to excise "Lez Get Real" from the Internet and removed the skit from its streaming episodes on Netflix.)

At any rate, the bros make a wish and before them appear two actual lesbians, whom they do not find attractive and don't want to see having sex. The two lesbians proceed to have sex, calling each other a lot of weird New Age nicknames; making love the way a spiritual person with strong personal beliefs about partnership and erotic reverence would enjoy themselves in the bedroom. But the joke was not that these are two crunchy granola hippie ladies, the point of the skit was essentially "Oh my God, two butches together, that's so comical and shocking and repulsive."

I took a queer studies class in college, a course the English department had to offer one semester to prevent it from aging out of the curriculum. I remember having an aha! moment reading Leslie Feinberg's "Stone Butch Blues," when the narrator describes being repulsed by the idea of two butch ladies pairing off together, breaking the constraints of queer gender norms and abandoning the butch/femme dichotomy. I had never really questioned the logic of butch/sissy relationships, it had seemed natural that someone would kill spiders and someone would hang curtains, and I was like, "Maybe I'm underestimating the variety and vibrancy of the human experience and being gender essentialist about it,"* and lo and behold that was it on the nose.

At the end of this SNL skit the vision of the two butches getting sexy on one another disappears and it seems as if one of men has ejacked (which, the wish was for them to all bust nuts, but hey, let's just throw magic wishing rules right out the window) and as he's been proclaiming the entire skit, he "loves the ladies." That's it. That's the whole shitty skit. Lesbians are gross unless they are willing to be your Teenage Dream and make you go off like a Firework when they Kiss a Girl (And They Like It).

Last week K-Y released an ad featuring two ladies talking about their sex lives, and lubricant, and "special moments" represented by tasteful coital fireworks. They are both sitting on their bed in drab, comfortable clothes. And they have the following exchange:


(.doc transcript here)

There was no joke, no punchline, just two ladies making love and trying out new things. I really like this commercial—I think it is a step in the right direction.

*True Confessions: I wasn't actually aware of the concept of gender essentialism in college, I just knew that human beings were probably more complicated than my parents had initially represented them to be, with regards to categories like male and female.

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Comments

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Yes!

I really love this ad. Every time I watch it, I'm surprised that there's no punchline and that this couple is treated like all the others in this ad series. I'm really excited that someone out there is representing homosexual couples as normal, everyday couples. Kudos, K-Y!

I'll believe it...

While I commend KY for featuring "non-standard" (i.e. pretty heterosexual) couples (their other ad has two people in what look to be their late '60s), I will believe that we have truly entered a new era when we get a commercial with two GAY MALES having the same discussion as the two women. Maybe we are there, what with the gay couple on Modern Family (which I don't watch).

Lesbians are not as threatening (and are arousing, apparently no matter what they look like, per your SNL story) as gay men. And the two women in the commercial are cute.

Try the same commercial, but with the "Lez Get Real" lesbians, and see how that goes.

Yep, I'm liking the KY

Yep, I'm liking the KY commercials. The lesbians and their exchange made me laugh-I think there was an in-joke there about thriftiness...I was actually reminded a little of a mock-umentary. The general public that DOES see lesbians sees us like that-a bit drab and sensible-and that's ok. it's a damn sight better that "undermining the moral fabric of society."

A yay and a boo.

I think this commercial is subtle and nicely done. Yay for them for an honest depiction that wasn't all sensationalistic or tawdry. It's a couple having a conversation about lubricant. And I agree with an earlier comment, we'll know that we've come far when it's two men that are having a similar conversation. Anyone wonder if the major networks will even run this or if it's going to cause a stupid kerfuffle...?

The boo that I have for KY Intense is that I wish their advert featuring Asians didn't rely heavily on stereotypes. In 2011? Really?

Oh, youtube...

WHY did I scroll down and look at the comments on that video??? WHYYYYYY???????

I can see why you would find that ad problematic...at the same time, I found the couple relatable, in the sense that outward or public personalities don't always align with sexual desires/characteristics.

Overall, I think the ads are tiptoeing in the right direction, but yeah, there's still some progress to be made. I suppose they're a good compromise for a public that might dismiss anything more "radical."

Something rubs* me the wrong way

*maybe I just need to get some KY

I think that there are some many interesting things about this add. I think it IS meant to be a step toward inclusiveness (but inclusiveness in advertising is really just market expansion so I don't give a lot of social justice points there). I don't think we can just leave it at "Oh look KY included a gay couple! YAY ACCEPTANCE!" because they included a young, white, pretty, lesbian couple. The commenters above make a very good point, why aren't they gay men? Well we all know why they aren't gay men, because lesbian sex (even drab sex) if it between pretty chicks is HOTT (so saith the male gazers) and man on man action is yucky and makes us all uncomfortable, or at least it makes a lot of men uncomfortable (remember that time that guy who is totally liberal and accepting fessed up to you that although he didn't have a problem with "teh gays [men]" he didn't want to have to look at it.)

Hell, I might even feel a little better about it if they made a commercial with an interracial couple (I don't think they have done that) or a fat couple, or a couple with one fat partner. I haven't seen the older couple that some one mentioned but I think that that is a little more edgy that pretty white lesbians. And by edgy I mean the radical notion that it may not cater to the hetero male gaze.

Thanks!

I guess the guy fantasy of two girls, moaning and tossing in the sheets, really only "works" (to stimulate arousal) because of the forced bisexuality of women in porn and subsequent self-projection. It's not so much the emotional at all, so obviously take out THAT reason, but rather just the physical attraction to parts--attractive lady parts moving about...well, and imagining that he is between the two of these women.

I don't mean to offend other people if that seems wrong or unjust to say; that explanation is the only one that logically makes sense to me.

Anyway, thank you for the article! I really appreciated how you juxtaposed the KY commercial with the rather callous SNL skit--really brings into focus decent versus indecent handling of a situation in the media :D

Can we please, please stop it

Can we please, please stop it with the 'lesbians don't count' rhetoric? I'd understand it if this were like that Bud Lite ad that was obviously pandering to the presumed straight male gaze, but that's not the case! The idea that two women in a relationship isn't gay enough because a straight dude might see it and be turned on places a premium male sexuality. The idea that if someone wants to be 'really tolerant' they need to show gay men also places a premium on male sexuality.

I am enthusiastically nodding

I am enthusiastically nodding over here.

I am joining you in that.

I am joining you in that.

Yes!

Also, KY is really not the best lube for dudes to use with dudes!

But srsly, how sad is it and how much of a reflection on how consumerist and image-driven our culture has become when it seems like a political victory to have bland, smiling, fictional stand-ins for our demographic represented as potential buyers of a product on TV.

argh

meant to reply to Sanoe.

Right Direction

To say that this is a step in the right direction or night is only to be judged by when this commercial is aired if this commericial is aired at 4:30 in the morning on a random channel that no one really watches or if the commercial is aired at 12:30 at night on FOX. I do like were the commericial is going in that it is keep simple with no punchlines and the fact that the couple is a lesbian is a step in the right direction. I also like that the classical stereotypes of lesbian couples are dismissed in this commercial. One of the females is not clearly the more masculine figure in the relationship and I think that leaving this aspect out of the commericial is very important.

That's a really interesting

That's a really interesting post, and thoughtful. I also appreciate the diverse comments here. You know, I LOVED that genie SNL skit. It was at a time when gay issues were not so apparent as today, and it shocked us hetero males into thinking about being lesbian in a whole other way. Not to mention the hilarious irony of it. The skit actually made fun of straight guys lack of awareness of what being a lesbian really means, even if it WAS full of stereotypes. But humor is full of irony, and makes steps toward awareness, but laughing while doing it. So to speak.