So for a really long time I've been wanting to watch Skins because I knew the following information: there was this lesbian couple that everyone liked. And then one of them had sex with a guy with ASD because she felt sorry for him, and all the lesbians on the Internet were mad because it was like she was really straight! Argh! And hearing this, I was kind of like, gosh that's fucked up for the guy with ASD though. What about him? Queer Autistic TV investigation time!
So, I watched the episode where the lesbian sleeps with the guy with autism. And it was like...I actually can't believe it exists. The character with autism is the best fictional character with ASD I've ever read about or seen. It's so easy to explain why something is wrong, and so hard to explain why something is right, so I almost don't even know how to talk about why I love him so much. (Spoilers, obviously.)
The walls of his bedroom are covered with a chart he made about his relationships with other people. And that sounds so stupid and offensive, but somehow it's not. And he walks like he has ASD and he talks like he has ASD; like, the real kind, not the TV kind. And and and...I just can't even talk about it. I'll probably end up watching the entire show and then maybe I can try to write about him again.
It was such a good episode though. Like the wall chart, the "once-only charity event" sex wasn't as offensive as it sounds. Towards the beginning of the episode, JJ says something like, "If I could be normal for one day I'd lose my virginity, and then I'd tell my friends not to fight with each other and they'd listen to me instead of ruffling my hair." Emily (the lesbian character) replies that maybe he could have the things he wants if he actually pursued them. So he sets out to tell his friends what he thinks of them, with terrible results, but in the process he and Emily become closer and she announces that they should sleep together. It's not like, "I'm going to have sex with you because no one else would ever have sex with you," it's like, "I'm going to have sex with you because you think that you'll never have sex, and this will change the way you think of yourself." Which is kind of a messed up reason to have sex with someone, but it's not insulting. (And apparently he later has a real relationship.)
The episode ends with JJ's mom watching the two friends talking and laughing together, and realizing that she doesn't need to worry about him--which was one of the things he most wanted. And then I almost cried. It was so good. I just like, couldn't even handle it, from a gay or an Autistic perspective. Emily and JJ were, like, humans!
Like, if I can put on my other hat--as a person who's gay in a weird way--I really appreciated this. I feel like if people think a lesbian sleeping with men is just inherently offensive no matter what, then they don't understand what's so offensive about most "lesbians sleeping with men" plotlines. I feel like the problem is the implication that men trump women--so women can be involved with women, have sex or even a relationship, and they can even identify as gay or bi--but a guy can change everything, or a guy is the root of everything. For example, my understanding is that on House a female character was having sex with random women because she was depressed, and afraid of a relationship with a guy she liked. This obviously devalues sex/relationships between women because it's just presented as something you do, not something important like heterosexual relationships.
But what happens on Skins is basically the opposite of this. Emily is in love with a girl, she has sex with JJ as a gesture of friendship, and at the end of the episode she's still in love with her girlfriend. It shows that lesbian feelings can be secure and stable and aren't completely dislodged the minute you get the chance to sleep with a guy.
Like, I guess I'm gold star because I've never had sex with a guy, but I feel very un-gold star sometimes because I've had so many really close, affectionate friendships with guys, which have sometimes had a sexual dimension. These guys have always thought of me as gay and I've always known when involved in these friendships that if I get married I want it to be to a woman, and that when I'm sexually moved by something involving a guy, it's in spite of the fact that he's a guy which tends to mean my reactions are weaker.
To try to explain the sex thing without being too explicit, guys are like a bunch of grapes or some Easy Mac or something. I mean I love Easy Mac, but it's not a whole meal. And I don't think the fact that guys are sexual Easy Mac to me (instead of some disgusting food that I would never eat in any circumstances) makes me any less of a lesbian. I'm sorry but it's completely heterosexist to say that my feelings towards guys are on the same level as my feelings towards girls. If you say that, it's like you're saying men are just so super important that the weight of anything involving men gets multiplied by a billion so that it automatically outweighs anything involving just women.
Yeah so anyway I really liked this episode of Skins and I think it's awesome that they showed a lesbian doing stuff with a guy and still very much being a lesbian. And it was the Best Autism Ever. And I'm excited to watch more.