Friday, January 16, 2009

WORK OUT (your lesbian fantasies)

I already wrote about WORK OUT a few days ago (under "Real Housewives" things I love right now) but today I read a New York Times article about the cult of personality around Jackie. According to the article, straight housewives are her biggest fans and many say they have crushes on her and that they would swing her way.

Jackie thinks many of these women are closet cases who, thanks to her, have realized that they are missing out. Other hypotheses are that the women want to BE her, they feel envy for her perfect (?!??) body and assertive personality and successful business. I could see how some women might see Jackie as an ideal: confident, charismatic, determined, successful, seemingly unfettered by societal norms, aggressive sexually. It's sad to think that some women might feel that they cannot be any of those things and therefore have to live vicariously through her!

Another interesting facet of the article is that with characteristic narcissism, Jackie says that she thinks that the men on the show envy her for taking what they feel entitled to, the best looking straight trainer on staff (romantic drama of last season, now she has another girl-toy). It doesn't occur to her that one man is her gay sidekick and feels left out, and that the whole staff found it inappropriate and unethical to see her having an affair with an employee. She was aping the sexual harassment power dynamic that men normally perpetuate.

The writer does not consider that Jackie's soft butch persona might be a non-threatening image for straight women who may or may not be potentially attracted to other women. This is instead of a very butch woman, who in many cases elicits homophobic reactions. Nor do the writer or Jackie consider that some women (including this one) are bisexual. The dirty little secret in both the gay "community" and among heterosexuals. No one wants to go there. Mistrusted by both as an interloper who won't pick sides, characterized as promiscuous, deceitful, or, as an internally homophobic closet case by many gay women, an object of exotic titillation for straight men, and secretly fetishized by other lesbians as hard-to-get objects (although "converting" a straight woman is a much more prestigious achievement), most often bisexuals just don't exist.

In any case, even if I were not a "hasbean" already I would never go there. I don't find her attractive at all mainly because of her narcissistic personality. Mostly I watch with shame as one would when staring at a car crash, worrying that this is one of the few representations of gay women on television. Her, and that horrible Tequila woman who sadly was allegedly attracted to both men and women. At least we always have Ellen. And Oprah. And Hillary Clinton. And Condi Rice. Oh, sorry the last three are not gay. Right.

Aside from all of my sanctimonious breast-beating, maybe I secretly love Jackie too, because while watching WORK-OUT with my poor homophobic mother, who knows all about me, Jackie made out with her employee, Rebecca and so my mom had to be exposed to her first girl-on-girl kiss. Thanks, Jackie, for being there.

For Housewives, She’s the Hot Ticket
Published: April 13, 2008
Jackie Warner, the lesbian fitness trainer in the Bravo reality series “Work Out," has become the subject of many housewives' crushes.


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