Queerbaiting: The (Mis)representation Of The Queer Community

Queerbaiting: The (Mis)representation Of The Queer Community

We are real people who deserve real representation.
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Dean Winchester and Castiel. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Quinn Fabray and Rachel Berry. Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper.

What do all of these pairs of characters have in common? They are prime examples of queerbaiting.

Queerbaiting is a phenomenon that has become increasingly prevalent in TV shows as society has grown more accepting and open toward homosexuality. Essentially, it is a tactic used by writers in order to draw attention to the show, especially from the queer population. Platonic conversations between two same-gendered heterosexual characters are suddenly riddled with homoerotic undertones. The line between friends and lovers is blurred and people from the queer community begin to watch in hopes of the characters’ relationship ascending to the romantic level.

Sadly, in queerbaiting, this will never happen. The two characters will ultimately continue being strictly heterosexual, all while still making the pseudo-homoerotic remarks to one another in order to maintain the queer population’s interest. At the end of the day, the queer community is being exploited for their views.

If you are straight, you might not understand why we fall for queerbaiting. We can sometimes recognize instances of queerbaiting, so why do we still watch the shows after we have identified it?

The answer is simple: we continue watching in hopes of representation, or even just for the illusion of representation. While, yes, the LGBT community is getting increasingly positive and more common representation across shows (see: "Supergirl"’s Alex Danvers and Maggie Sawyer and "Legend of Korra"’s Asami and Korra), it is still limited.

In shows, we often only get one LGBT couple – sometimes two if we are lucky. Straight people and couples are still largely in the majority. Sometimes, we might identify with one pair of queer (or queerbait) characters more than another pair. Thus, we take what we can get, even if we know deep down inside that the writers are using us for our views.

We can take a look at “Supergirl” for a good example of representation as well as potential queerbaiting. The “Supergirl” writers were able to create one of the most authentic, relatable lesbian relationships in a long time between Alex and Maggie. Alex’s coming out story was down-to-earth and a tearjerker. Also, her relationship with Maggie is absolutely believable. However, fans are also buzzing about the relationship between Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor, commonly referred to as Supercorp by fans of the show.

The queer viewers have noted the homoerotic nature of Kara and Lena’s interactions. These underlying pseudo-romantic tensions spiked to an all-time max during last week’s episode “Luthors.” Throughout the episode, Kara became increasingly frustrated that no one would believe that Lena was framed for being evil. At the end, Lena overflows Kara’s office with flowers and says in a flirtatious manner, “Supergirl may have saved me, but Kara Danvers, you are my hero.”

It could be argued that the queer community that ships Supercorp is being delusional and making explicitly platonic interactions into romantic ones through their own Queer Goggles, however, you can’t deny that there is a spark between them. There is a certain amount of chemistry that the two share that doesn’t exist between her and her current love interest, Mon-El. The writers make it blatantly obvious to the viewers that Kara is, indeed, straight, and going to be involved with Mon-El.

A lot of viewers against Supercorp have a common argument along the lines of “You already have one lesbian relationship. Isn’t that enough?”

This argument isn’t unique to only Supergirl. It’s used whenever viewers of other shows with one queer couple start to ship another set of characters. There are a number of things that are explicitly wrong with this, though.

Using this argument suggests that there should only ever be one LGBT couple on any show, just to appease the queer community. Anything more than that is overbearing and unrealistic. It suggests that we are being selfish in asking for more representation, as if we do not need anymore.

The queer community should never be reduced to just one queer couple per show. Queer couples are not items to be rationed. They are people and, in real life, the number of queer-identifying people (especially youth) is increasing.

So, how does Supercorp versus Sanvers relate to queerbaiting? How can a show with a queer couple be queerbaiting? The popularity of Supercorp is overwhelming. In polls, I have never seen Kara’s relationship with Mon-El win over her relationship with Lena. The writers are aware of their popularity and, since episodes are written as the season passes with the viewers in mind, it could definitely be argued that Supercorp’s interactions are becoming increasingly more homoerotic to reel in even more queer viewers.

But, most of all, I want to focus on one of the biggest offenders of queerbaiting today: Riverdale’s Betty and Veronica (Beronica).

I have only watched one episode myself, but, even from that, along with the prevalence of how much buzz Beronica get on social media, it is blatantly obvious that the two girls are queerbait.

The way that these girls are being marketed to viewers is a form of queerbaiting that is highly more potent than any other instances because there is absolutely no question about the homoerotic nature of the pair’s interactions. In every single episode, their interactions suggest something deeper than friendship – in just the first episode, the two kiss for absolutely no reason at all.

That is what sets Beronica apart from other queerbait pairs. Dean and Castiel never kissed. Not every single one of Quinn and Rachel’s interactions screamed: “We’re more than just friends!” With every other queerbait couple, there has been at least a little room for the possibility that their queerness is being misinterpreted. There is absolutely no room for that with Beronica.

Many supporters of the show claim that Beronica is not queerbait because the writers and actors themselves explicitly stated that the relationship would never transcend beyond the platonic level.

But that does not mean it isn’t queerbait. Let me ask the people who believe that Beronica isn’t queerbait a few questions.

Do you believe that Betty and Veronica’s interactions are purely platonic?

Do you believe that Betty and Veronica have better chemistry with each other than they would with any male character?

Do you think that Betty and Veronica would be a cute couple? Do you ship it above any other heterosexual couple on the show?

Judging solely from my glimpse into people’s views on the show, I can already guess what people’s answers are. Every Thursday at 9:00 PM, I see people on my timeline on Twitter screaming about Betty and Veronica. They scream about how the two would be a perfect couple, how they should kiss, and how they should be canon.

I also see queer people inquiring about the show, simply because of this relationship. People are starting to watch this show for Beronica, even though writers have declared that it will never happen.

So, yes, it’s clear that they won’t ever actually be together, but that doesn’t stop the masses from being attracted to the show solely because of their presence. That doesn’t stop the fact that they are continuing to share pseudo-romantic interactions every single episode. Thus, I would, in fact, consider Beronica queerbaiting and an extremely ugly form of it.

Queerbaiting exploits the queer community’s views. Writers know how popular queer couples are and how they draw massive amounts of viewers to the show, but, at the same time, they are hesitant to ever make more than one couple queer. It is time for writers to realize that we are more than just numbers – we are actual people who deserve real, authentic, representation.

Either write characters as explicitly queer with the intentions of them being queer or write them explicitly straight with the intentions of them being straight. No more blurred lines.

Cover Image Credit: The Mary Sue

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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10 Microaggressions That I'm Completely Over You Saying

No, you're not being sensitive, that was actually kinda rude.

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I have always noticed little phrases that make me tick a little bit. You know, the ones that make you tilt your head a bit and think "Did they really mean that, like I think they meant that?" but then you just brush it off. However, the other day I was having a conversation with my best guy friend. He was explaining to me a funny story involving his older brother and at one point I said "I relate" to which he responded, "it's different for girls."

Wait, what?

Here are some subtle, everyday micro-aggressions that are getting a little old:

1. "You don't get it, it's different for boys."

Honestly, you're right. It is different, and that's why this comment bothers me, because it shouldn't be different for guys. We should be held to the same exact standards and experiences.

2. "Is it like... that time of the month?"

What if it is? That shouldn't be any of your concern. You mean to tell me you wouldn't be a happy-go-lucky ray of sunshine if it felt like there were jackknives playing hopscotch in your uterus? That's what I thought.

3. "Don't be such a girl."

That's exactly what I'm going to be. Partially because I am a girl, and partially because whatever it is you're trying to force me to do, I genuinely don't want to do. Leave me alone.

4. "Lol am I totally being friend zoned right now?"

Hahahahaha... yes. Just because you're a boy, I'm a girl and we have struck up a conversation does not mean there are butterflies going crazy in my stomach, nor will I reconsider my "friendship" status simply because you have verbally stated it. Sorry, not sorry.

5. "Are you sure you want to wear that?"

Oh, this? You mean the article of clothing I purposely picked out of my closet and have put on my body and not taken off? No, I'm actually not sure if I want to wear it yet. I'll let you know at the end of the night.

6. "Why don't you smile more? You're cuter when you smile."

And you're cuter when your mouth is shut and you're not telling me what to do. Also, I always look cute.

7. "You're being dramatic, it's not that deep."

Fun fact: It's actually as deep as I want it to be. Everything you say is up for my interpretation. I don't know how you're thinking or how you want me to process what you're saying... so if I think it's that deep, it's that deep.

8. "Well, you do this better than I do anyway."

First of all, you're most likely not even trying. Second, I don't know what I'm doing half the time and I asked you to do it for a reason. So, just do it.

9. "How could you possibly not want children?"

By not wanting them. See? That was easy to understand.

10. "There's no way you guys are 'just friends'."

There actually is a way. By being friends. The same way you're just friends with your bros and with that girl in your math class that sends you the notes. Friendship is very much possible.

* * *

To be completely honest, I've said some of these phrases. Some of them even to men. Every day I try to stop myself, even if it's mid-conversation, from saying phrases like such because every little step is another one towards a society that doesn't need to demean one gender in order to be "funny" or "relatable."

I don't expect there to be a magical day in the future where none of these phrases are spoken, but the less they're heard, the better.

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