Glee, Frigidity, and the Young Folk
Sorry I'm slacking on my blog writing. It's been almost 2 weeks. I know you have been going crazy checking this blog waiting to see what I write next. Well now it's revealed. I'm going to write about GLEE. Yeah GLEE. I am highly ambivalent about this show. Does the plot and characters make sense from show to show? Not really. Do I hate the singing voices of Rachel and Finn (the two who unfortunately sing the most) and also hate most aspects of their character and plot lines? Absolutely. Does any storyline involving Will (the glee club director) bore the hell out of me? You know it! How about the strangely confused and unconvincing story arch about how nerdy and unpopular the GLEE club is even though it's full of cheerleaders, football players, hot bad-boys, and funky stylish, attractive outsider kids. And, whenever they do any show for the school they get a wildly exciting standing ovation...But I guess no one likes them...
However, do I enjoy Sue Sylvester, the ever present full-on back-up band available whenever a song needs to be sung, some of those crazy musical numbers, the dumb and mean cheerleaders, the soap opera like drama, looking at Puck, and the occasional witty writing that pops up every now and then? Of course I do. Glee is not perfect, and sometimes it's not that good, and even sometimes still it's actually offensive to my sensibilities of responsible character writing, but there are some things that this show does right. However this blog is not about a critique of the series Glee, and it's not even a critique about an episode. It is really just a quick discussion about a comment in the episode "Sexy," because I think it has to do a little with my movie.
So this is the deal. The episode "Sexy" is the Glee sex ed show. There are some ideas promoted in this show, particularly regarding the image of both "sexual" and "non-sexual" girls, that I find annoying. However, I'm trying to stick to critiques of physical female sexual response in media instead of critiquing the broader subject of overall female sexuality. I think getting into overall female sexuality in the media is much more complicated and unclear. Plus I think that there are already plenty of people tackling that issue, and I believe misunderstandings of physical female sexual response is a root cause of many poisonous depictions of overall female sexuality in the media...so I'm trying to stay focused on that.
So here it is. For some reason the Gwenyth Paltrow fun substitute teacher character convinced the Glee Club director to
sing a song to teach the kids about sex. However, as she's telling the students that, one of the two students (Quinn and Rachel) who we had previously seen attending the rather small Celibacy Club meeting asks, "What about those of us who choose to remain celibate?"
Paltrow returns, "Well...I admire you. Although I do think you are naive and possibly frigid, I do admire your choice." The glee director quickly says he thinks it's time for a song and they go on to do a sexy version of Joan Jett's "Do You Wanna Touch Me"
So, "frigid" is still part of our popular culture, and even if it was losing favor, it has now been used on one of the most popular teen shows ever. In case you need a refresher, the word frigid was used to describe women who could not have "vaginal orgasms." Freud, and most experts through the 40's to the 70's (and really still some today), believed the clitoral orgasm was immature, and that a woman did not reach sexual maturity until she could achieve a "vaginal orgasm." If she couldn't do this, she was frigid, which was some kind of mental hang-up that a woman would need psychological therapy for. However, it was also used less specifically to describe a woman that wasn't appropriately sexual - and specifically that for whatever reason, she wasn't able to be sexually responsive...not easily aroused or orgasmic. I can't tell you how many times the women surveyed in the Hite Report of the mid 70's used the words frigid and hang-up when talking about their sexual inadequacies.
So maybe the 15 year olds watching Glee won't put together the history of Freud and vaginal orgasms, and immature sexuality when they hear "frigid," but I think they got the idea..And the idea is that some women have some kind of psychological hang-up blocking their ability to be appropriately sexual. They are sexually pathetic, and we don't want to be like them.
I think that the fear of being "frigid" is just as strong now as it was in the days of Freudian clitoral vs. vaginal thinking. Yes, the Freudian thinking on this has been largely weeded out of psychology, but the idea that there is an orgasm induced through the stimulation of the vagina during intercourse and that a sexually fulfilled women should be having these has remained strong. Sometimes this type of orgasm is still called vaginal orgasm, sometimes g-spot or uterine orgasm, but they are all the same now and in the past...They are bullshit.
Read just about any sex advice, watch any porn or sex scene in a movie that you (and any 15 year old) might find, particularly on the internet, and you'll quickly see that women are supposed to enjoy intercourse induced orgasms. You (and of course, any 15 year old) will also find an overwhelming amount of discussion involving the G-Spot and how awesome it is, and how to hit it during intercourse, and how g-spot orgasms are the most amazing and fulfilling. However, what you won't find is that there has been no recorded physical evidence that stimulation of the vagina or the g-spot causes an orgasm. That little piece of information always seems to be swept under the rug.
People, including those 15 year-olds, are likely to think that a person who cannot achieve the level of sexual response seen so commonly in modern media are, well...frigid. It is a fake depiction of sexual response and it is no different than the women who couldn't have the made-up "mature orgasms" back in the day. The times have changed. Sane experts don't say vaginal orgasms are the only type of mature orgasm anymore. However, they won't deny their existence either, and that is just as harmful. The truth is, experts don't need to tell us having a g-spot/vaginal orgasm is necessary for our sexual fulfillment. We quickly figure this out early on from our exposure to media. We can see in the media that every other woman has them and that they are awesome. We used to feel bad about being immature. Now we feel bad about being less sexually responsive, less of a real woman. We still have a fear of being frigid, and yes, Glee reminded me that this certainly applies to our young people too - whether they feel it strongly now or some years later as they become more sexually involved.