Gay, Straight, or Taken?

Lifetime TV bills this new reality game show series as “the game millions of us play every day.” Basic instincts tell animals whether something is safe to eat or if it poses a danger. Lifetime feels that American women follow a similar instinctive behavior. So when we see a man we find attractive, we can’t help but think about his “status.”

They’re probably right. All of us have preferences and desires, especially on an subconscious level. Nobody can fault a reality television show for revealing  things we subconsciously think when we see someone. This show demonstrates lessons society teaches us, and that’s pretty interesting.

Homophobia and Gamophobia: The Games Millions of Us Play Every Day

This is a game show. A contestant will go on a lavish vacation. The show follows one woebegone southern Californian woman and introduces her to three very handsome southern Californian men. Initially, she learns only their names and that one is single, one is gay, and one has a girlfriend. All three men, however, act as persistent suitors, and that is where this gets interesting.

The show’s tagline reminds us: we play this game every day. Every day millions of men pretend to be straight, and millions pretend to be single. Millions of women, in turn, pretend those two states of being don’t exist. This shows us that the least positive things a man can be in our society are homosexual or in a relationship with a woman. Therefore, the ideal man is one free and unfettered to fly off to Maui with a random girl for night after night of steamy string-free sex.

Two-thirds of men in this show are lying, stuck in the silicon closet. Even though this is part of it, this is also representative of how in reality, our society demands that gay men and partnered men act in certain ways. We expect gay men to be flamboyant, but still interested in women on a platonic level. We expect partnered men to be insatiable, desiring sex from numerous women while somehow staying true to their girlfriend.

Social Stereotypes: You Knew it had to Come Up

When their efforts to impress her begin to collapse, social stereotyping bleeds through. The woman subjects these men to a variety of tests from which she garners information. She uses this data to help make her selection. A straight man with a girlfriend, is still a straight man, so all three of them men experience gay stereotyping. In the end, it seemed that those factors played a big role in picking who was gay. Was he hygienic or neat? Did he like small dogs? Was he comfortable being touched by other men? The flaw in this logic, is that gay men are socialized to be straight. They’re raised with that assumption, and therefore can adeptly camouflage themselves. The same goes for men with girlfriends, whom society tells to it’s okay to look.

Some people might think that I’m saying that this show objectifies men. On the contrary, it stereotypes men and objectifies women. The woman in this game show is reduced to a gateway. Which ever of the men can convince this woman that he is the one for her, gets to go on a vacation, regardless of their identity. In reality, when a partnered man convinces a woman that he is single and the one for her, his pay off is obvious. For gay men, it may simply be an exercise in homomasculinity, or the often-mentioned rapport gay men and women have as friends.

What If…

Lifetime Television, the first women’s television network, has a substantial gay following thanks in large part to its stockpile of Golden Girls reruns. So I am sure that a lot of gay men are watching this program and testing out their radar against the contestant’s. Lifetime knew this, and when marketing this series, it’s message that “we play this every day” is for the benefit of men as well as women.

This show is all in good fun. It is not setting out to further the destruction of society like American Idol. However, it is demonstrative of our society’s persistent problems with the equality of the sexes and with homosexuality. I would wonder how a single bisexual man would fit into this equation. I also wonder how Lesbian, Straight, or Taken? would play on Spike TV

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