hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Friday, May 04, 2007

...And the Slut Gets Cancer

There's this trend I've been noticing on television that I don't particularly like. Many shows that include a female character who "sleeps around" often decide to inflict some sort of awful, unpleasant, and at times fatal, medical predicament upon that character.

*Spoiler Warning* If you care about Grey's Anatomy, like surprises and have yet to watch last night's episode, you may not want to read on (sorry Jason!).

Exhibit #1: Dawson's Creek, Jen Lindely.
When we first meet Jen, she is the mysterious NYC girl with a "checkered past", ie: she used to do E and have sex. Throughout the course of the series she's given more complexity and depth (or as much as Dawson's can muster seeing as how it's a WB show). But ultimately, her days as a slut catch up with her when she's killed off in the last episode by a mysterious heart condition.

Exhibit #2: Sex in the City, Samantha Jones.
This hardly requires an explanation. The most "sexually liberated" of the fearsome foursome, Samantha is diagnosed with breast cancer in the show's final season. Although she triumphantly beats it, this plot line didn't sit well with me. I really felt like they were punishing the character for her lifestyle.

Exhibit #3: Grey's Anatomy, Addison Montgomery.
Addie cheats on her husband with his best friend, gets pregnant, terminates with an abortion, later learns she can no longer have children because she is now infertile. In words, she "screwed up" her only chance at having a child with her evil, evil abortion. Gag.

Obviously, there are consequences to reckless sexual behavior. People who have a lot of different partners and who don't use protection are almost certain to get a sexually transmitted infection (the PC term for STD in case you didn't know). But why must TV go a-moralizing on us by giving its more overtly sexual female characters cancer, heart disease and infertility? When was the last time a television man-whore came down with a life threatening illness? What is up with the double standards? Can we please finally do away with the whole virgin/whore dichotomy? It's getting old.

Speaking of sex and illnesses...What's the deal with jokes about STIs? I've noticed a definite trend among my peers to crack jokes about STIs and refer to them as the "worst things ever" and people who have them as "nasty" or "dirty" or whathaveyou. Given the prevalence of certain strains of these infections, chances are that many of the people who make such comments may be carrying them themselves. And stigmatizing them isn't going to make public awareness any higher. Having an STI doesn't make you a bad person. It might indicate that you made some reckless choices, but even that isn't always the case.

Many people contract STIs from partners who have cheated. Others contract them from partners they thought were healthy because they didn't display any symptoms. Sure, many people who sleep around with no regard for their or other peoples' emotional or physical well beings carry STIs. But not everyone who has one does because they're a dirty slut. So let's stop stigmatizing and start being a little more understanding and accepting. If you suspect you have something, go get tested. Wear a condom, abstain, whatever. And remember, what goes around, comes around.


And on that note, I leave you to your weekends. Be safe, kids!

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7 Comments:

Blogger Jason said...

You owe me -- without a "spoiler warning" you have effectively scuttled my planned Grey's viewing on the old DVR this weekend.

Boo.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Belle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Belle said...

Right on, Pretty. What's the stat for herpes? Something like 1/3 of the college population is infected? That can only increase with time, since there's no cure... It's a pretty safe bet that at least one person in a group has something. And it's not okay to make them feel like they'll be lumped into the dirty whore category if they are up front about it. That only compounds the problem by making people hide or deny it rather than to get tested, and treat anything or deal with it the best way they can.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Is STI a euphemism for DISEASE?

I've worked around the field of medicine for years and have yet to hear that term from anyone else.

6:42 PM  
Blogger lorelai236 said...

How insightful! Could a similar (ill) fate be true for characters who exhibit the polar opposite "extreme" behavior? I'm thinking of the self-righteous goody goodies, like Ned Flanders' wife.

8:08 PM  
Blogger mysterygirl! said...

I noticed this on (please don't judge too harshly) Days of our Lives, when Mimi had an abortion and then became infertile. Ah, sweet daytime morality.

I think they call them STIs now because it's more precise, because a lot of them aren't diseases (like any of the bacterial ones). Either way, I, too, get annoyed when people use them as slurs.

8:19 PM  
Blogger jess said...

I found your blog via Candy Sandwich. If you haven't already seen it, I though this article (did she read your blog or what?) was an interesting tie-in to your post:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/05/arts/television/05grey.html

I couldn't agree more with what you wrote. I think the only show I watch on TV that consistently gets women right is 'Lost' -- because they are equally complex as the men around them....

3:13 PM  

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