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Sexuality on Lost Girl: No Slut-Shaming — Episode 4

June 18, 2013 by Drinks at The Dal


Bo in Faetal Attraction
In an interview with The Watercooler, Lost Girl series creator Michelle Lovretta discussed the sexual content of the show. She outlined the rules she devised for portraying sex and sexuality, but she admitted that the show isn’t always completely successful at following them all of the time.

We discuss how the show succeeds and falters at sticking to these rules with our guest, writer and filmmaker Melanie Killingsworth. Melanie writes about film and television, including Lost Girl, at her blog mehlsbells, and you can follow her on Twitter @mehlsbells.

Our discussion was so lively that it needed to be split over two episodes. In this episode, we discuss Michelle Lovretta’s first rule about slut-shaming.

Rule 1: No slut-shaming – Bo is allowed to have sex outside of relationships

Slut-shaming: making someone (usually a woman) feel ashamed about being or appearing sexual; you can slut-shame someone without using the word “slut” and calling someone a “slut” isn’t always slut-shaming

“The Mourning After”
  • By having an albaster as the villain, this episode has a very clear message that shaming or punishing women for enjoying sex is wrong. The women targeted by the albaster are not judged for being sexual.
  • Because she also becomes a target of the albaster, Bo as a succubus becomes a stand-in for women who enjoy sex.
  • While this episode reinforces the show as being very sex positive, it shows that there is a line that can be crossed in regards to sexually through Aife’s (Saskia’s) actions.
Christianity and Sex
  • Bo coming from a conservative Christian background emphasizes the shame and guilt that she felt because she’s a woman, she enjoys sex, and she is bisexual.
Threesomes
  • Bo has threesomes and isn’t judged or punished for participating in them.
  • Bo, Ryan & Marissa (“Table for Fae”): Some people have problems with this scene for a variety of reasons. First, Ryan doesn’t specifically ask Bo about having sex with Marissa before he brings her over. Second, the scene feels very voyeuristic with Ryan standing back and watching the two women. Third, Ryan presents Marissa as “a gift” to Bo, and no one challenges him.
  • Bo, Samir & Olivia (“Faetal Attraction”): This threesome set the tone for how sex would be portrayed on the show in a lot of ways. Bo really seems free and confident in her succubus abilities for the first time in this scene.
  • If the show chooses to do another threesome, it would be great to see a different configuration of genders besides two women and one man. (Though we should have mentioned that it’s significant that the show made Bo the center of the threesome with Samir and Olivia instead of the man.)

Bo, Samir & Olivia in Faetal Attraction

Bo Having Sex with Women ≠ Woman Out of Control
  • Oftentimes in film and television, women having sex with women is associated with a woman going out of control or having a lot of personal problems. Recent examples of this trend on TV include Thirteen on House and Marissa on The O.C.
  • Bo’s sexual encounters with women do not follow this trend. In fact, the show almost seems to go out of its way to avoid this suggestion. Almost all of Bo’s really urgent feeds are men.
Both Male and Female Characters Portrayed as Sexual Instigators
  • Both male and female characters instigate sexual encounters, and the characters are fluid in the roles that they take in these encounters.
  • Ciara and Dyson’s dynamic in their sexual encounters challenges people’s expectations because Ciara, the delicate fairy queen, tends to be the sexual instigator with Dyson, the alpha male. Lauren, who is generally a more submissive character, has a more assertive side that comes out in her sexual encounters with Bo.
Does Tamsin Slut-Shame the Kitsune in 3.13?
  • Melanie says no, because Tamsin has a history with the kitsune, and she is being self-deprecatory and calling herself a slut too when she refers to being in “slut heaven.”
  • Stephanie says yes, because even if she is referring to herself as a slut as well, she is not calling the kitsune and herself “slut” in a reclaimed, positive way.
  • What do you think?

Listener Feedback

I appreciate how sexuality is portrayed in Lost Girl. I think the show is sex-positive and I appreciate the vision of a world where sexuality and sexual expression are not sources of shame….I think that in current society in the USA, not to mention in many/most places around the world, this vision of a sex-positive society without shame is a long way away. Sexual violence is rampant, and most people have probably heard phrases like “the walk of shame” to denote a morning walk home in last night’s clothes after a hookup or one-night stand. This is a common phrase even if everyone was consenting and had a good time. -Sally (@sheaven)

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13 comments »

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  1. Kj (@kedrie) says:

    Fantastic conversation ladies–> Nice to hear from Melanie. I laughed a lot at the whole Ryan/Bo/Blondie chat. The show has done this a few times, where the objectification of women is used as a male gaze present. But it only happens when Bo isn’t the camera//or when Bo is so emotionally involved with her partner(s) that it’s more about the relationship than just the sex, or Bo is a center in charge of everything in the situation.

    When it’s Bo as the viewer, it’s “ok”, right? Feels ok. Bo is in control of the view.

    The Kitsune//Marissa were great examples of the antithesis of this. The sex club in 3.04 felt like an equal opportunity as the gaze was everyone (Dyson/Tamsin/Bo/Kenzi/Lauren/Us). I’ve heard a great deal of more casual fans talk about that episode as simply body gratuitous, and there was way too much sex and nakedness in the first half of season 3. I countered that a few months back by clocking all of “sexytimes” and found that no really, there was more sex by episode 6 of S1 than there was by episode 6 of S3. The issue was it was more f/f sexuality than m/f sexuality.

    Because this has been negatively discussed on so many podcasts//reviews, I think the actual differences in sex and gender would be a fantastic topic for one of your podcasts. Audience reaction//Twitter//Review Forums are great places to see how the episode or patterns in episodes affect people from all sides of the coin.

    Wolves gotta mate.. Nice job. Since the inception of the show, the show has been shy towards male homosexuality. We had the male guard who was gay in 1.6, and that nice episode 3.08 with the husbands, but neither of those were sexual in nature beyond affection, and I have to admit I’ve been shocked that there is a hesitation there. It would be great to see it a bit more fleshed out, but I laugh if anyone thinks that will ever involve Dyson. I think there is too much tied up in his “place” in the show, he’s the alpha man (even if his actions make me think Beta) and I just don’t think they will ever tamper with something that might challenge that.

    I look forward to these weekly. Do you have a certain day//time that you release or “do” the podcast? I’m terrible at directions, so if it’s posted just point me to the obvious. Sometimes not having a clear idea of this makes it more difficult to participate

    • Thanks for your thoughtful remarks, Kj. We talk about the lack of m/m sexuality more in next week’s episode actually.

      We post new episodes every Tuesday. When I’m on top of things, they are posted by noon Central time, but last week was busy so it posted around 8 p.m. Central instead.

  2. […] – *Whether Bo could be considered a perpetrator pre-episode-one or at the end 03.01 is a long discussion, but it’s clear right here, right now, she is not, and she is conflicted about her past. If you want more talk on how Lost Girl treats sexuality, stay tuned tomorrow and next week for some podcasts I was recently a guest in! EDIT: First half of the podcast is out, you should listen here. […]

  3. […] Dal for a podcast about Lost Girl and sexuality. Part Two will be out next week, but Part One is right here, right now, for your listening pleasure. Many thanks to Stephanie and Annie for having […]

  4. Aaron says:

    Another interesting discussion; I can’t wait to hear part 2! 🙂

  5. I enjoyed the in-depth discussion about sexuality. When watching the show, I’m usually so into the story and what’s happening that I don’t always take the time to consider the deeper implications for what the show is saying about various issues, including sexuality. Your podcast has helped me to think about these things.

    Re: the threesome with Ryan and Marissa and Bo and the objectification of Marissa as “a gift” and then Bo saying “It’s a good one.” I think that we were supposed to be uncomfortable with that. Bo definitely has a dark side, and during this season she was exploring it especially with Ryan. I think it was deliberately written that way to evoke discomfort.

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Sally. I hadn’t really considered it that way, but it’s a good point. (Another of my blog readers also messaged me that’s how he read the scene; Bo’s dark side slowly peeking through, whether it was brought out by Ryan or whether it was just slowly foreshadowing the darkness we saw near the end of S2 / beginning of S3. )

      While you may be right, I hesitate to call this ‘a good move’ on the part of the writers. At the least, it should come after Bo’s darker side is more established. To this point, while Bos sometimes been confused, she’s pretty much worked as a Bastion of Good, fighting for equality in the Fae/human world as well as in general, in the way she constantly comes to the rescue of women who are being objectified, shamed, taken advantage of, etc. Ryan is the ‘morally gray’ component in the relationship, but he’s not supposed to be Evil, he’s just generally unprincipled. Though he ultimately is a drag on Bo, pulling her to side against women she’s fought for so long, this quickly, is a poor move as character development goes. Not to say women can’t be complicated and do things other women call ‘backwards’ or ‘negative,’ but this is far out of character. If they’re trying to foreshadow darkness by starting with this, they’re sending a really unclear message; as evidenced by this entire discussion.

      In short: if you’re right, I’m not quite as annoyed, and for different reasons, but I’m still decidedly disgruntled.

  6. Aaron S. had sent in these thoughts:

    Loved the bit about Ciara taking control, that was a great scene; I can actually see why she would be the top possibly in that situation – fairy warriors were who helped train the wolves, at least that’s the impression based off the blurb in “Brotherfae Of The Wolves” I think it was, so Ciara is actually the alpha in that relationship with Dyson. She’s always held power over him, in multiple ways, so being the top in the bedroom isn’t really that big of a stretch when you think about it just from a character stand point. The knife just cemented the fact she was the one in control I think; and as you all said it was a great scene to watch because it isn’t the typical male character on top thing.

    That was a good discussion about the role reversals period, about how you have characters either taking turns being on top or you have a character who’s on top in the bedroom who might not be the top outside of that position. I also like you touched on the double standards with males and females and both having a lot of sex and how one is for some reason accepted more over the other even though they’re both doing the exact same thing; I was kind of disappointed you didn’t talk more on it in this podcast but maybe that’s to come in part two with the debate about how there’s a seeming majority of f/f scenes but never really any m/m scenes and why one is more accepted you could say than the other.

    There’s only been three times on the entire series we’ve seen a gay male character – one was the security guard in “Food For Thought” during season 1, the second was Trick’s friend Donnie in season two “Death Didn’t Become Him” and three was the couple Bo did therapy with in season 3. Compare that to the various amounts of f/f on the series be it for a feeding scene, love, or sadly just cheap thrills (looking at you kitsune sisters in season 3) it’s basically almost non existent on the show. This isn’t to say they need a m/m relationship in the series now or in every episode, but with all the sex clubs Bo finds herself at it seems you’re telling me they can’t put at least one m/m couple in the background at least as the camera pans through? Or as was mentioned in the podcast episode, have one of the male characters make a comment about a past m/m relationship…they’re fae, they’re above labels! Even though one might prefer women mostly it doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a run in with a male companion at least once; and while it would be GREAT to hear Dyson admit that at least once because I don’t think it’s beyond his character to at least experience that type of pleasure at least once in his life, I agree with Kedrie we’ll never see it on screen but that still leaves a character like Vex who’s open to basically anything so not comment on it at the very least?

    I liked the debate about Ryan/Bo/Marisa and how the scene could be very off putting for a number of reasons – be it Ryan seeming quite presumptuous in suggesting a threesome out of the seeming blue, the referring to Marisa as a gift instead of a person even if she was there consensually, or whether you were put off because of the concern they could be doing it just in fact to have a threesome in the season with a more “lean towards the darkside” Bo. To me the season 1 threesome was a better handled situation because 1) we don’t know if the couple knew Bo was a succubus or not or if this was something they just did with fae of any kind it didn’t matter…even if they did know her fae type – while a little presumpteous to assume she’d want to play they still did it in a more respectful manner it seemed by approaching Bo and asking politely and clearly if this was something she’d want to do where as Ryan knew she was a succubus so him bringing someone in felt more presumptuous because he clearly knew what she was but we didn’t get that clear asking if Bo was okay with this – yes there was that throw away conversation at the restaurant but I’m not sure at that moment Bo was really focused on what he was saying since she was trying to save the HORRIBLE lunch date that was going down. Yes Bo could have said no to the threesome with Marisa and Ryan like she did the couple in season 1 but while the couple in season 1 respected Bo’s right to say no I think Ryan’s playboy and childlike attitude at times would have been kind of hurt and offended that Bo didn’t like his gift so it could have easily gotten awkward quick with the Ryan situation.

    2) While both were consensual by all sides involved, season 1 had the feel that Bo (even though she was nervous at the start) was an equal participant before kind of taking over basically where as with Ryan and Marisa there was a very voyeurism feel to it which was kind of creepy and a little dirty feeling because for a moment Ryan was just hanging back enjoying the view instead of playing along instantly like the season 1 couple did. S1 was more like a traditional respectful threesome scene where as S2 was more like Ryan brought over Bo’s favorite ice cream, she had a few bites, and then they decided to get kinky with the ice cream because again while Marisa was consenting the term “gift” just made it feel all kinds of awkward and wrong. As you and guests said the fact Bo didn’t refer to her as a person felt off for the character of Bo and again kind of creepy; I don’t even think a dark Bo version would be that cold. She might not care about how consenting you were and just whammy you more with her touch because it’s about what she wants not you but she’d at least still refer to you as a being instead of some simple object to be used even if you get treated like that in the end.

    Again the season 1 threesome to me was just better done with style and class and sexiness because everyone understood what they were in for – there was a one time only agreement, no one was jealous in the group, everyone was equal within it, Bo was approached the correct way in regards to it…it was just better handled than the threesome that was the awkwardness of Ryan/Marisa/Bo where although it ended with Bo most likely in charge, the build up to it felt very much like Ryan’s hands were all over it which they were and it just felt dirty in a way. Still it is not the worse handled situation on the show so it can be happy about its place there. Ha. 🙂 Another interesting podcast; I can’t wait to hear part two!

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Aaron!

      Not only was the S1 threesome better from a ‘sex positive’ perspective, it’s filmed and edited in better style. Again, assuming (as I do) the second threesome’s voyeurism was intentional, it takes as much thought, work, talent, and craftsmanship to convey, but the first one is so much more aesthetically pleasing and rewatchable.

      I mean, if one is rewatching both scenes. For purposes of scientific comparison.

  7. […] for your listening pleasure. Click here to listen to that smorgasbord, and check out the other two here and here, if you haven’t […]

  8. […] you want a much more detailed analysis of this scene, I was the guest on a podcast which discussed it at length. For expediency, here’s the short […]

  9. JessieJ says:

    I find the idea of slut shaming being a bad thing a bit silly, but hear me out, im not being sexist.

    Back when(and it still happens) men call women who engage in allot of sex “sluts”, the idea that some people came to was that caling them sluts was wrong, that they should be able to sleep with as many people as they want without being called a slut for it, rather then simply going for the equality route and calling men who engage in the same behavior sluts as well.

    Ie. If you sleep around allot whether you are male or female, you are a SLUT.

    Going the route of trying to make it normal, rather then treating both sexs the same wont change the opinion of those that think sleeping with allot of people is a slutty thing to do.

    I guess it comes down what you have a problem with. Do you have a problem with people being called sluts or do you have a problem with all people not being called sluts equally?

    I think everyone is entitled to their opinion and you will NEVER change peoples minds that someone who sleeps around is a slut, and its not just men that think this. There is also nothing wrong with that opinion, its a question of whether you find the act of sleeping around moral(and i dont mean religion wise).

    If you are fighting for being a slut to not be seen as being a slut, its a pointless battle as everyone is entitled to their views. I think energy is much better spent making sure all male and female sluts are called sluts equally. In reality its all a silly argument because you are arguing over whether the acts should be seen as moral and arguing about what you want to call them. what word you use doesnt change the act or the definition of it.

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