Lets talk about what makes us laugh, the funny people who inspire us and make us chuckle, plus the truth about depression.
Anonymous asked: I think the problem with going off of Willow saying she's gay as being the end of the discussion is the fact that after she says she is and dates Tara she still gets attracted to guys and only sees a problem with this when somebody reminds her she's gay. Also one episode after Buffy reminded her she was gay and therefore couldn't want a male character she said she could just change him into a woman which raises a whole host of other issues
Nope. Look, I totally get why you might want Willow to be bi. I get that. But she isn’t.
A character saying they are gay/lesbian and/or a character saying they are only attracted to the same sex is all it takes for a character to be gay/lesbian.
And I’m not going to erase a gay/lesbian character’s identity.
I think it’s worth adding that Willow never calls herself a lesbian. There are jokes about sapphic/lesbian love but Willow doesn’t use the word lesbian to describe herself. She uses gay, specifically she says “I think I’m kinda gay” and then later says “it wasn’t women. It was woman, just one.” Plenty of bisexual people also call themselves gay or kinda gay, especially in a joking way as it was presented on the show.
With Willow I don’t think you can separate what the character says in the show with the faustian bargin Joss Whedon made with fans after Tara’s death. He made a lot of very biphobic statements essentially saying that he would make Willow exclusively lesbian (though she never uses the word in the show) as a mea culpa for turning Tara into a dead lesbian cliche that caused Willow to go off the rails. Essentially to appease queer women who were angry over Tara’s death, he threw bisexual women under the bus. Willow being bisexual was not ‘queer enough’ so he made her a lesbian, despite the story he’d been telling for 6 years.
Compulsory monosexuality is so socially ingrained that I think it’s problematic to join Joss Whedon in erasing Willow’s canonical attraction to Oz and Xander. This doesn’t mean she has to be bisexual, but it does mean that the behind the scenes decisions to make her not bisexual were profoundly biphobic and monosexist.
Actually there was an episode where Willow did say the line “hello! I’m gay now”, so that’s clear confirmation of a label. This was towards the end of the Buffy saga so I can’t blame people for missing it, as it is only once as I remember.
I do agree however that the writing of Willow’s sexuality was very bi erasing and shitty, and entirely falls on the head of Whedon as far as I’m concerned.
I feel this way because of his treatment of Buffy’s sexuality in the comics, where Whedon gave her an “experimental” phase where she ended up sleeping with a lady, but unlike Willow Buffy went back to identifying as straight because why have bi representation in a main character and cultural icon when you can draw in readers with a sexy girl-on-girl one night stand before pulling a big no-homo amirite?
Willow is great lesbian representation, but she was written out of pure disdain and misunderstanding of bisexuals which really makes me hate Whedon a great deal.
I’d still say that someone calling themselves gay in a joking way like “gay now!” doesn’t exclude them being bi. I mean, when we have gay marriage and gay adoption and gay rights dominating our cultural landscape, gay does at times function as an umbrella term. I call myself gay all the time.
But yeah, the monosexism is strong with Joss Whedon unfortunately. Between Willow being “gay now” and Buffy being “straight”, it is not good. Inara from Firefly was arguably bisexual, but that’s somewhat problematic because she was also a sex worker. When the only bi character you have is a sex worker in a long career, there’s a problem there…..
Now hold on first of all this is Whedon’s characters we are talking about, I think it’s very clear when he makes his characters say in any capacity that they are gay or straight they are, because these are not real people they are the symptoms of his shitty writing. Plus in the instance I’m talking about she is not using it as an umbrella term or phrased to be in a joke in that sense, otherwise it would not rule her out as bi but this is not the case, plus I think we do have confirmation for the writers that Willow was written to be wholly lesbian representation which also is a deciding point (if we’re not going to take that into account we may have to give up Orphan Black, Doctor Who and In the Flesh and representation because the only times they are confirmed directly as non-monosexual is off-screen by the creative teams).
Also Inara is not problematic bi representation because she is a sex worker, she’s actually a pretty cool character from that standpoint because she kicks ass at her job and doesn’t fall into as many tropes as usual se worker representation does (yes I know, it’s crumbs but it’s worth noting there is some good representation to be gleaned from Inara), she is problematic bi representation because (1) nobody says the b word and (2) her attraction to women is a relatively small sub plot that is presented as male titilation, which in never explored again to the point that few actually code her as multisexual because it’s not given nearly enough focus as her relationships with men. It does not help that her character is hypersexualised anyway, but that’s not the sole fault of her being a sex worker, it’s because she’s written to be a love interest cum ass-kicking fanservice with a bit of character development on the side to ensure Whedon fans can not feel bad about enjoying how tropey she is in this regard.
I know you didn’t mean that way but it was a bit poorly phrased, I could be reading too much into it because I’m tired though.
If I didn’t have the writers saying “we chose to make Willow a lesbian”, I wouldn’t see enough evidence in the show itself that she is actually not bisexual. The “gay now” line is delivered as part of a joke in Season 5 where the set up is:
WILLOW: Xander’s my best friend!
ANYA: Oh, and you don’t want anyone else to have him. I know what broke up him and Cordelia, you know. It was you! And your lips!
WILLOW: No it was not! Well, yes it was so, but … that was a long time ago. Do you think I’d do that again?
ANYA: Why not?
WILLOW: Well, hello, gay now.
I think it’s clearly a set up for a laugh and again, bisexual people call themselves gay all the time. Whedon’s authorial intent may be to have Willow being 100% homosexual, but that isn’t clearly stated in what he and his writers wrote. Jokes about “lesbo street cred” and “lesbi-dar” are different than having a character say “I am a lesbian”. Again, bisexual women joke about those kinds of things all the time. If Whedon thought what he wrote was enough to establish Willow as a lesbian, then it’s an issue of him not knowing much about bisexual women’s culture because we talk about things like that all the time. Whedon might have believed he chose his words carefully but you establish a lesbian character by saying “I am a lesbian” not by making cutesy queer jokes about it.
Also the decision to make Willow 100% homosexual was not made until after the Season 6 finale, and the “gay now” comment came from Season 5. I don’t think at that point he had decided to make Willow a lesbian, or at least, he hadn’t said anything publicly about it. Before killing Tara and the ensuing controversy, the writers were very cagey about the idea of Oz coming back or if Willow was only attracted to women now. They made multiple contradictory statements that in retrospect show that monosexist lack of understanding of how bisexuality really works. Publicly declaring Willow would never again be with a man was a peace offering because the Willow/Tara and queer women portion of the fandom spent the summer after the Season 6 finale in a screaming pile of rage. Trust me on this, I was SUPER involved in the fandom at the time and I saw it all go down.
As for Inara, I would say it’s first problematic to assume anything about the actual attractions and identifications of sex workers based on the clients they choose. We never saw Inara choose anyone outside the companion-client relationship, though she clearly had feelings for Mal. I absolutely agree that not saying the b-word and the “I’ll be in my bunk” were also problematic, but that gets to the core of my complaint about Inara in the grand scheme of Whedon’s work.
Inara’s particular portrayal as a sex worker was shown as a very sexualized character. Writing sex workers isn’t the problem, but when the only time Joss Whedon has written an (arguably) bisexual character is when she is already sexualized to high heaven, I think that’s a problem. It makes me wonder if he can only conceive of bisexuality in a sexualized/objectified state. The evidence of Inara’s bisexuality comes from the episode with the most objectification as Jayne literally uses her as wank fodder. Basically this means that if we remove Willow, Whedon has never shown a bisexual character that isn’t a sexual object and that is the problem. Sorry if that was unclear. It’s late here and I probably should go to bed.
Wow, this is a lot of angry posting about a character that I am particularly fond of and a sexuality to which I would associate myself (bisexual).
Firstly, the the Inara discussion would like to emphasise what a small body of work everyone is drawing their conclusions from. The first season never even got to its full length and who knows what situations would have been shown to display more of who Inara was. Secondly, her being a sex worker in hyphens universe is shown to be just another job and one that she does well. I agree that she doesn’t label herself as bisexual which she could be and that sucks but using her sexuality for male tittilation is exactly how some men would want in in our world, the viewers world. She is using what works, some men are turned on by women flirting with women. She does show it to be a better than than another at pleasing her clients but then we don’t get to see what she would do in a different situation.
As for Willow, one if not my absolute favourite Buffy universe character, she may not call herself bisexual but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t fall under the same umbrella of how some of us would class bisexuality.
What remains is that she chooses to represent herself as gay and shows exclusively male interest in later seasons. Not dissimilar to many many people in the real world who have relationships, love and families then decide later in life to come out as gay and be only in same sex pairings.
We can hope that these people would feel comport able identifying as bisexual but they don’t and wanting them to for convenience doesn’t work. This show was out at a very different time, and the comics reflect that original early 2000s time. Maybe one day we’ll get a character in the Whedonverse who identifies as bisexual but until them we shouldn’t be angry about the choices that were made in the past.