Summary: I butt in on a conversation about the character Shane McCutcheon in the television series The L word. Spoilers up to about the end of season four. Press J to skip down or K to skip up.
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step by step by step: silentpunk replied to your post: I think: Bette’s going to cheat with…
[Earlier conversation omitted]
tbh I know that loads of people love Shane but I think people love her for the same reason people love bland male characters, her character is written like a male character, which means all she has to be is not a total douche and be kind of stoic and people will read between the lines, like they only have to hint she felt bad about leaving Carmen at the alter and there was no fallout she just got on with her life. There’s no depth to her character, you get what all the others are feeling and I understand that some people hide their emotions from their friends but how is it that most of her day-to-day feelings are obscured even from the all-seeing viewer?
I think I like her but I’m still waiting for her to blossom, for them to do a proper episode about her and not just her screwing people. I’m guessing, given ALL THE SERIES I’m already watched, that tht’s not going to happen =p I feel almost like she’s written to seem like she has depth to her that you don’t EVER get to know about. I liked it best when her brother was around - at that point it seemed like she was going to have a personality and not be a cliche and then he was taken away, you never see him again, and she goes back to being just the one who sleeps around
Yeah it gets sleazy after that for some reason I feel like she’s some drunk single father that’s had her kids taken away and goes out on the prowl looking for young girls to fuck instead of properly mourning all the things she’s lost.
I really like Shane in the early seasons. She has the ‘screws like a dude’ thing, which I’m kind of ambivalent about: on the one hand it’s nice to have a prominent female character having lots of casual sex with lots of partners and not being stigmatized for it; on the other hand her lots of casual sex is associated with her androgynous / butch presentation and the tendency of other characters to paint her as masculine, so it doesn’t really challenge the idea that casual sex is part of the masculine domain; then again although it doesn’t challenge that directly, it does indirectly undermine it by making it visible; and then again I dunno really.
But what I like is that, along with that, she’s a really caring character. She looks after everyone. A lot of the time she’s the most loving person in that group. Combining that with the butch presentation and the commitment-averse ‘masculine’ sexuality makes for a really interesting character, as well as some nicely complex gender-politics. On its own, having a caring and loving female character with a butch presentation would be an interesting challenge to the idea that caring is an inherently feminine thing (because although Shane is a woman she isn’t especially feminine and it’s hard to regard her care-giving as particularly ‘female’ or ‘maternal’), though possibly not a strong challenge (since she is still a woman, which weakens the point in the same sort of way that her masculine presentation weakens the challenge of her sexuality). But when you have the same character raising both those questions at the same time — being caring and nurturing while butch, being sexual and unromantic while female — that gets really interesting for me.
As well as the immediate gender-politics of the combination, it brings up some nice stuff about love and sex and friendship and family. The way Shane is loving to her friends and puts so much energy into making that group into a family, while being completely uninterested in romance, questions the assumption that love belongs primarily in biological families created and perpetuated by heterosexual reproductive sex (in contrast to Bette and Tina’s family-making, which tries to follow a more ‘traditional’ heteronormative model and faces different challenges). I think that’s one of the reasons the plot with her brother works nicely and brings her appealing qualities out.
Frustratingly the series ends up rather slut-shaming Shane after all: not by condemning her casual sex in itself, but by increasingly depicting it as unambiguously destructive. You can try to read it as a critique of the pressure on her to have a monogamous romantic relationship, but I think it ended up just being unambiguously about depicting Shane as some kind of walking disaster. I think you’re completely right that the series failed to examine her emotions, especially when things get difficult. On paper I could believe that she’d panic and run out on Carmen, but we needed to see her making that decision and, like you said, grieving over it, because nobody can tell me that someone who cares that much about people is not going to feel gutted for a long time about hurting someone like that. And after that it just got more ridiculous — as my flatmate puts it, it’s like Shane just gets a personality reboot between each season and the next. It’s a real shame.