Friday, May 12, 2006

Why I have some hope for Rosie O'Donnell

Lesbians often associate all the positive personality traits of being feminine with oppression. Niceness and grace, they believe, are symptoms of social control. As a result, many lesbians end up with personalities they can only think are acceptable by telling themselves that a cold, humorless demeanor is somehow liberating for women. I can't help but think this is the reason gay men have been so much more successful at gaining cultural influence than lesbians.

So where does Rosie O'Donnell fit into this? She was the heterosexual "Queen of Nice," then for some reason coincided a complete and unbearable personality shift with her coming out. She seemed to fall into the same trap that so many lesbians do: believing that by eliminating everything good about femininity she would gain a positive, masculine persona. My hope for the lesbian community is that Rosie O'Donnell, when she inevitably goes back to her former personality on The View, will set a good example of how to be at once pleasant and an out, non-oppressed lesbian.

18 Comments:

Blogger Anna said...

It depends on whether she will bring an attitude of victimhood to her talk show persona. If she does, chances are she will be "post-coming out" Rosie.

9:01 AM  
Blogger pc said...

hmmm, that is a rather unflattering protrayal of lesbians you give. There are far better examples you could have used rather than Rosie - but, it seems you have a point you're trying to make.

10:20 AM  
Blogger pc said...

portrayal*

10:22 AM  
Blogger Bissage said...

I can't help but feel that something very valuable is lost whenever someone alters his or her demeanor in service to a political cause.

10:52 AM  
Blogger TWM said...

Didn't Ellen sort of follow the same pattern? While she didn't really get "mean" like Rosie (not that Rosie got mean -- she is reported to be mean by nature -- the nice deal was an act), she became far more cause-oriented and concentrated on her sexuality rather than herself as a whole. This lost her fans and viewers.

But once Ellen moved back to presenting herself as a whole person rather than as a just a lesbian, she regained her popularity. It helped that Ellen is sincerely a nice person I am sure.

Can Rosie do the same thing? Perhaps. But I wouldn't bet on it.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Seven Machos said...

America loves to give second chances but hates inauthenticity. It will be interesting to see what happens.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Goesh said...

I never much cared for the old heifer whether or not she was straight or gay.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Brent said...

So,okay, like, I must identify myself as one of those evangelicals who believe that homosexuality is condemned in the Bible. I do believe that it is not possible to square gay sexual relations as being "okay" with any reading of the Holy Scriptures.

That said, many, if not most, will turn off completely to anything further I might want to say on above subject. But here goes anyway.

My family and I, by virtue of vocations (music, theater, teaching) and academia, have frequent contact with gay life. Our experience with lesbians as opposed to gay men is often similar to what Christopher wrote. A good friend, who is lesbian (spare me the old "some of my best friends are black" references)and some one that I have had hours of conversation with about being lesbian, is a formerly abused, and still internally angry young woman . . . and that is her definition, not mine. While I do not believe that every lesbian has been abused or is "angry" at men or society, there is certainly a very large amount who are. Add to that the heartbreak of being often publicly ostracised, and you have an awful lot of sadness in many lives.

By the way, I have found myself in over half-a-dozen situations where I felt I needed to step in to halt rude remarks and unfit comments being made in public towards a gay person.

Perhaps the most ironic was telling a group of peers at a college seminar to quit teasing a gay cafeteria worker. I was told that I "must be gay" and "how ironic - I thought you Christians hated gays".
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Hecla Ma said...

Good post, Brent. It's always amazing to me how many people will assume that because I am a Catholic Christian and opposed to gay marriage (although I don't have a problem with "civil unions") that I am immediately a "homophobe." Aside from having gay family members with whom I am very close, I take a page from everything my religion has taught me - that you "hate the sin and love the sinner" (and don't start with me - I'm not being "judgemental"; we're ALL sinners in one way or another) and that every human being is entitled to be treated respectfully, as a whole person, not as an "identifiable sub-group enemy."

I think our American politics would be well-served if we could all start looking at each other as whole people instead of "identifiable sub-group enemies." My classically liberal parents - who believed (and taught me) that everyone was entitled to their opinion and their privacy, and no one should have to "justify" themselves to another - would be turning in their graves if they saw what has happened to political and social discourse in this country, and how illiberal so many who call themselves "liberal" have become.

The fact is, a Christian should not HAVE to put up a "I do not denounce gay people" disclaimer before making a post such as yours or mine...but between the behavior of some Christans - which have done us damage - and the media stereotyping of Christians which has done MORE damage,it is sadly necessary.

I find my beliefs align with conservatives on many issues, but the fact is, if you ask me...I'll still call myself a liberal - a Classical Liberal - a Hubert Humphrey liberal. I miss liberalism I didn't have to qualify and sub-set.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

twm: Ellen became completely unfunny and lost her popularity because, as with Rosie, she was unable to be a political activist without turning into a humorless bore. I think, on her show, that she's doing the same thing I hope Rosie ends up doing on The View.

brent: There is a clear difference, though, between gay men and lesbians, even though gay men have every reason to be "angry" as lesbians do.

It's nice that sophisticated conservative Christians have realized, as the gay rights movement progresses, that they can't be outwardly bigoted towards gays anymore. Brent, you seem to have good intentions, and people like you should serve as role models for those who believe homosexuality to be a sin and are unwilling to let go of that view. But I still think that to call someone's fundamental sexual nature sinful is denouncing them on some level, no matter how much you sugar coat it or how friendly you are with them in real life. I'm sure you've heard that before, though.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

("Every" in the second paragraph of the last comment should have been "as much".)

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree to the fact that everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Appreciate to see that there are more progressive Christian views...however I must add, barf (and gag) to the evangelical/Bible BS!

Civil Unions? Isn't a Civil Union anything but a 2nd class marriage?

Anyone remember the US Constitution talks about The Separation of Church and State? You can be a Christian or a devotee of any of the hundreds of religions that exist, however pushing your "Holy Scriptures" into government and basic human rights should not mix.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous hilary said...

Do you actually know any lesbians? And how, exactly, did Rosie become mean? She continued to do charity work and correspond with her fans. Be honest, was it her haircut and no apologies attitude that you found offensive?

And what traits exactly is it that you are associating with femininity? Is being "nice" strictly a feminine quality?

10:17 PM  
Blogger Falter Ego said...

I wouldn't hold out too much hope. I certainly wouldn't give a rat's ass what her opinion is gay, straight, butch or lipstick. She's an actress. She is not a teacher...or a leader of any type. She runs her mouth off for money. We are not forced to listen...

10:28 PM  
Blogger esk said...

hilary, it is possible his entire experience with 'lesbians' is indeed Rosie O'Donnell.

But, this is what some blogs tend to be about, bring a point of view to the table and only showcase that which supports it.

This post would not have worked had he used any other celebrity 'coming out' story, such as: Ellen; Melissa; K.D; to name a few.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find your comments a bit bizarre. Exactly how many lesbians do you know?

I know plenty of them and the range of personalities is quite extensive. Mostl of them are very warm women with great senses of humor. Some of them are quite liberal politically and some, quite conservative. Of course I've known some who are boring, awful, unpleasant, just like anyone. It strikes me that most people who make careers as celebrities are pretty shallow and narcissistic, no matter their sexuality.

I'm also not sure why you think gay men have more cultural influence than lesbians. Maybe behind the scenes, (but of course men have more influence in general), but it seems to me there are more "out" lesbian celebrities... KD Laing, Melissa Etheridge, Ellen, Rosie, Mary Cheney (LoL).. How many gay men? Ian McKlellan, Elton John, George Michael.. all English!! AMericans? Not so many I think that are "out"

2:21 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

For those of you who are stuck on the question, "How many lesbians do you know?" try coming up with something substantive to say in response to my post instead of just asserting that I must have no personal experience with what I made an observation about. I've known a lot of lesbians, actually, and if you have too I have a hard time believing you haven't noticed yourself the personality trait I've described.

And by the way, Ellen became a humorless bore as soon as she came out, and only years later returned to her pre-coming out level of pleasantness, so the analogy applies to her pretty well also.

The issue of there not being a whole lot of openly gay male actors is a separate, also pretty complex issue. Hollywood shuns gay actors and it's extremely hard for them to get roles. There is a huge presence of gay men throughout entertainment, and I'm not just talking about writers and producers. I'm talking about the presence of the idea of gay men in Brokeback Mountain, Queer Eye For the Straight, various movies with gay male characters. What's the last big movie or successful reality show that had a prominent lesbian character? Remember when that lesbian spin-off tanked? There's a reason for stuff like that.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Wickedpinto said...

I think rosie was, to quote john lovitz "ACTING!"for the first season of her show, then she got control, and Rosie became "The Queen of Nice" because she had so much control over who appared on her show.

If I had absolute control of the people I interact with in public, then, I'm a VERY nice person, cuz I WANT to meet the people I chose to interact with. Rosie is a rabid politicist, who hid her political motives until she had enough power to actually excercise it.

I disagree with her politics, but I don't have a problem with her method, thats fine, and she paid for it as soon as she thought she was safe enough to hate.

As for Ellen. Ellen was infinately woman in her stand up bits, telling stories about the lousy jobs women get forced into, she was very feminist, but not lesbian in her stand up bits, I forget the Fox show she was on where she was a secretary for a real estate agent, and Ellen delivered perfectly. By the time "Friends of Ellen" became "Ellen" it was already known she was a lesbian in the broad sense, and I think she approached the exposure of her personal life in her sit com with dignity, and challenge, but it killed the sitcom.

The sitcom became a farcical white house briefing for the second most famous lesbian in show business, and it failed. after a couple years, Ellen learned how to have fun again, and while I don't treat her talk show as "must see" I know people who do (my sister in law) and when I do see it? I don't see a lesbian playing at being nice, I see a woman having fun, and happens to be a lesbian.

As for homosexuals. I don't know the causation for men want to bang men, or women to bang women (though I am less averse to the latter than I am to the former, simply cuz I'm a contemporary male heterosexual) but I don't know what goes through their heads while they are looking for or finding joy.

Homosexuals, are on the same path as all of us, we are looking for joy in life, and it just so happens that they find it with individuals of the same gender, is that so wrong?

I'm never gonna marry, I'm never gonna procreate, what does that make me?

OH! I will lay seed, but not on firtile grounds, but I will never be a husband or a father. If it is a sin to find joy with one person, what is a person who refuses a lasting joy?

"we are all sinners" yet many are happy to identify the "sins" of others. The point of "judge not" is not about knowing for yourself what sin is before you judge others, but it is that you will never understand the will of god.

The Faithful, tend to be the most arrogantly forgiving, which is in many ways worse, because you don't just judge the forgivable sinners, but you are also standing above the sinners. You are TWICE counter to the teachings of your lord.

Grown men and women, are grown men and women, the only thing that will judge their choices is their own sense of what is right, what is wrong, and in general, those left to their own devices in terms of moralism, are often the most moral.

6:14 PM  

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