Why the #$*@ does everybody dig Shane so much? [Explicit]

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Let’s talk about Shane McCutcheon without talking about having sex with her. Is it possible? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to try. If you don’t know who Shane is, you’re probably straight. She is either famous or infamous (but mostly famous) among lesbians and anyone else who watches The L Word (but let’s face it, that’s mostly lesbians).

The L Word, to quickly describe, is the same-sex version of Sex and the City, except it airs on Showtime because it’s really more like lesbian porn. Lots of explicit sex scenes weaved together by a complicated and drama-filled story-line. Is it addicting? Yes. Does it sometimes get on my nerves? Yes again.

If I had to describe a few of the characters on The L Word with only one sentence each, Alice would be the self-doubting but staunchly bisexual chick who holds the whole group of friends together, Bette would be the seductive patriarch who believes she has an inalienable right to control everything, and Shane would be the promiscuous androgyne with a heart of gold who doesn’t need a dick to be one.

Shane The L Word Scholtes

If you’re on the show (aside from her friends), you hate to love her or you love to hate her. Usually both at once. If you watch the show, you love her, because you don’t have to deal with her anti-commitment issues but you get to watch all of her sex scenes, so it’s a much more cut and dry bargain.

Her obsessive fan-base is crazed. Don’t believe me? I Google image searched the word “shane” alone and the majority of the results were the Shane I was looking for. That just doesn’t happen. On the first page of my Google search for “shane tumblr” I found one, two, three, four, right away, top results, fully developed! And even the fans who don’t create blogs in her honor mean business. In every conversation I’ve had about The L Word with someone who actually watches it, Shane’s name is dropped in the first two sentences, usually with a swoon or a wink or some other crude gesture implying the unyielding desire to be given to Shane as a wrapped Christmas present.

So this is my own way of having some control over the conversation.

I finally found a tumblr which addresses the question that interests me: What makes Shane so desirable? Sifting through the dozens of people who don’t know what it is or why she’s so sexy but she just…is, and the people who find her, just, so hard not to love, I did find five decently thoughtful and plausible answers. Here they are:

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  1. pareidolia- answered: She’s the fierce hot bitch everyone wishes they had the guts to act like.
  2.  karanakem answered: she’s the bad girl that you wanna make good. simple and sweet HAHA
  3.  sowhatilied answered: because even though she has immense swag, and shes hot as fuck, she still has her adorable innocent and venerable moments. (I think this person meant vulnerable.)
  4.  2fast4you answered: Her eyes. Her personality that says “I dare you.”
  5.  encirclegeorgia answered: cause no one can have her. Everyone desires what they can’t have.

I think these ideas have a lot of merit, and they give more depth to my developing theory. You see, whether you like it or not, Shane is undeniably the most stereo-typically masculine character on the show. She’s the butch poster girl, with her lanky body, husky voice, and killer smile. She has confidence and a fear of commitment; she is always sexually ready but emotionally unavailable. She has other traits as well, of course, but these are the standbys of her character. She is the definition of “dyke” as we understand the word. Not lesbian. Dyke. There is a subtle but important difference.

I find it disturbing that a character which reinforces these and other gay promiscuity stereotypes of the past can be so revered and adored by the community she is doing nothing to help. But it’s more than that.

I’m convinced that if Shane were a male character—if nothing were different about her except for her anatomy—she would be considered an asshole with no exceptions. Because she is a biological woman, we make different assumptions about what she says and does than we would make for a man.

For instance, we see her moments of caring and insight to be her true self shining through, but for a man, moments like these would be considered exceptions to a rule. She claims wisdom about women that is granted to her because she is a woman, regardless of her actions, but a man who claimed such wisdom would be marked as arrogant and annoying. In fact, she makes a surprising amount of sexist and over-generalized comments about women that are forgiven because she is one.

The whole idea that Shane can understand how women think and feel because she is a woman is based on the assumption that all women think and feel the same way! A “woman’s experience” is not biological, it’s cultural, and if you live a different culture, you have a different experience. Shane is a nice person and a good friend because she is an observer and she sees what makes her friends feel better and what they like. That’s not the trait of a woman; that’s the trait of a smart person.

Shane is famously inconsiderate of women she sleeps with, and kind of a jerk to them. She assumes most women want to fuck her and if they give her the chance, she will take it. This is a classic male behavior. She is a famously loyal friend. But the two worlds never collide. This is also a classic male behavior. For Shane, women can be her friends or they can be her temporary lovers, but never both.

I’m all for cutting men some slack and giving them the benefit of the doubt, and I don’t think it’s right that these things are considered to be masculine, but they are.

So why do strong-willed feminists (as most lesbians are) who would shudder at the thought of handing themselves over to a sexist, arrogant, emotionally unavailable, commitment-phobic man have no problem giving themselves to Shane?

Why is it safer and sexier because she is a woman?

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14 responses to “Why the #$*@ does everybody dig Shane so much? [Explicit]

  1. I love your discussion on Shane. I think you are right on the money. I could never understand why anyone thought she was the slightest bit attractive. It’s not like she’s pretty or anything. I used to feel frustrated by this dynamic you describe. She really annoyed me. Now I know why.

    • Yeah but she is really bad but thanks to feminism this character gets applauded, its not fair that women let people with seemingly bad childhoods get away with everything and then they are completely unforgiving to good men and good women without commitment issues.

    • Yeah but she is really bad but thanks to feminism this character gets applauded, its not fair that women let people with seemingly bad childhoods get away with everything and then they are completely unforgiving to good men and good women without commitment issues whilst raising the bar of expectations on the real good hearted types of the world..
      Also its really disgusting when women assume that good men and good women are no fun at all when in fact bad girls can be very repetitive unoriginal and pretty boring by struggling with the same issues they had ten years ago.

  2. I always thought the reason Shane was so sexy to people in the show is because she them feel like they matter and she’s good at having fun. She listens to people to find out how they work/what they want and she uses that to make them feel comfortable with her. Now, whether that’s moral or not, I can’t say. You can call that manipulation, but she doesn’t lead people on. Like you, I think if a guy acted the same way, he would be trash talked way more often than Shane is.
    Now, the reason Shane is sexy to the viewers is different. The people who watch the show see that side of her and also see how she acts with her friends. And that is why I think she’s so sexy to me. Shane’s inclination towards listening, solid moral compass, and relaxed personality, combined with her good looks, is attractive to the viewer. That, I think, would not be different if Shane was a guy. Nor do I think that being attracted to those characteristics is weird for strong-willed feminists.

  3. I thought maybe it’s not because she is a woman, but because she is fictional and they like how she looks.
    Take Dennis Finch from Just Shoot Me. I’m pansexual, I love when people are short and blond. Dude is an asshole, I wouldn’t want to fuck him if he was a real person, but I still want to fuck him as a fictional person. Partly because, as he is fictional, if he were to come to life I would be in control, I can imagine myself in control. If he was real, I would feel like it’s the classic, hmmm, thing? that I don’t want to have with people IRL even if I find them hot. I would be in a role that I would dislike and that I can’t be in as a real person fucking with a fictional (almost typed fucktional) character.
    Though he is probably less of an asshole than Shane from what I read, but the comments he does about women outside of the bed would send me big “asshole” vibes IRL.

  4. I really dislike how you had to relate all her behaviors to being “mannish.” There’s nothing inherently masculine about being a sexy asshole, just like there’s nothing inherently feminine about being a simpering doormat. And while Shane is much much more physically attractive, the “asshole with sweet moments” character has been done before, in the form of Alex Karev on Grey’s Anatomy. The soap opera watching world loved him too. It’s not that Shane is getting off the hook for being a dickwad because of her vagina, America just loves a dickwad with a heart of gold.

    And for the record, that is -not- butch. Androgynous, yes. A little bit dykey, yes. But most definitely not butch. Before Max started transitioning, wen he lived as Moira, that was butch. Medium butch. But you saw the wrinkle in Shane’s norse when he referred to her as one of “us butches”. Even Shane doesn’t think she’s butch.

    And personally, there are butch women I know that are way, way hotter than shane. 😉

  5. The reason I loved Shane while watching the L word was because she was the character that I could understand the most. She was an adopted child who decided that because of these abandonments in her life, she would avoid commitment and enjoy casual relationships. Shane matured and learned what love really was about; she loved hard, she hurt others and learned from that, showed vulnerability and understood her mistakes. She was also very honest and a great friend. It definitely didn’t hurt that she was a hottie with a laid back personality, a forgiving heart and very accepting of others (Jenny).

  6. so i’m way behind the game on this one however i was only recently introduced to the series and i had some thoughts.
    when you say “I’m convinced that if Shane were a male character—if nothing were different about her except for her anatomy—she would be considered an asshole with no exceptions.” shane is pretty much the exact female counter part to Brain Kinney from Queer As Folk, in fact im pretty sure they modeled a lot of her behavior (a lot of the show) from Brian Kinney and QAF. while yes Brian acts the same way to men and not women, the same concept still applies; even though he is a dickhead people love him, adore him.

    in my opinion i see nothing wrong with her character. men are portrayed as emotionally unavailable, sex crazed, womanizing, but still sexy and loved characters all the time and generally if a women is played the same its put in a negative light, that its immoral or slutty, but here we have a strong woman who knows what she wants and takes it. Why does it have to be “classic male behavior”? why can’t she sleep around and still be a well developed, caring, attractive female character? I think she can, and does it brilliantly.

  7. I don’t think it’s that surprising that so many of us adore Shane, regardless of sex or gender. Anyone who watched Gilmore Girls had the discussion about Jess (who I think is a baby version of Shane). I, personally, have gone to bat for Jess on many occasions. Those who feel more mature, they think Jess is clearly bad news, his commitment issues aren’t endearing and his hot-and-cold emotions aren’t intriguing, they are childish. I am not one of those people. I loved him, still do, and found him undeniably sexy. You are more than right, though, because I’ve never once hat to go to bat for Shane. Everyone gets it with her. I think it’s easier to give Shane the benefit of the doubt because, unfortunately, we still think women are naturally more sensitive, more caring, and less emotionally detached. Hopefully that won’t last forever.

  8. The author pretty much answered the question of “why is Shane attractive?” in her 5 point list, but “asshole” and “attractive” are not mutually exclusive, and even so, I disagree that Shane is an asshole. Shane doesn’t pretend to want a relationship until she gets laid; she is straightforward in what she wants (sex, fun times) and what she doesn’t (commitment, emotional attachment). There is nothing wrong about wanting casual sex so long as you are honest about it.

    • Not once has the character made it clear that she only wants it to be casual from the start That is why she had a stalker in the beginning. She does what she can to get into their pants – she herself has said this. She acts super interested in them, gets them to open up(hello vulnerability!) and beds them. Then she leaves. So please, don’t act like, oh these people knew it was light and it was always an understood, consensual fling! …coz within the first few episodes, that is blatantly shown to not be true, lmfao. I mean, come on, who are you kidding? …I mean, yourself clearly. But wake up. This character is a wretched person for how she treats others. I don’t see how anyone can argue that. & don’t even get me started on the constant fucking pity party being thrown in her name. It’s gross. & looks, well, I wouldn’t even know. Seriously. I can’t get past the character’s personality to even seriously consider an unbiased view on that. I’m not even kidding. :{ haha. & my bad for that, but eh. Oh well.

      If you wanna argue this point, you can feel free. You’ll likely even get the last word, since I doubt I’ll be back. But I had to say something. Coz… y’know. Yikes.

  9. The reason everyone wanted Shane is because they were all characters written that way. So they had too. The character was written first and could have been anyone. Then the actress was cast and it was her job to tell that story. That’s the only reason. She is not a real person and therefore: no one wants her. But I did whit this article!! 🙂

    Oh and she was hot as hell also 🙂

  10. I went looking for the same question and found this thread. I would like to say that I would have also added “Why is Shane McCutcheon so attractive to straight women?” And I think that’s well portrayed in the show. I’m watching it years later on Netflix. And I’m pretty straight, probably that cliche of I coulda fooled around in college but that’s it. I do like the show a lot, and I think it’s because it’s a story of a community of female relationships, and who doesn’t want a well written group of intimate friends at the end of the day? I would agree that the sex is lesbian soft porn, and I wish I was more turned on by it, but I do think it’s beautifully done. But Shane, my god, so hot. I think it’s because Katherine Moennig is beautiful of course, really uniquely beautiful. The way that she and/or Shane carries herself is self-possessed, empowered, unapologetic about desire, and also intimately present with everyone she’s with, whether it’s sexual or not. Of course I want to be more like that. I’m guessing it’s her masculinity that is part of the attraction too, a safe, and even sensitive masculinity. Who doesn’t want that in this sick soup of patriarchy? I like how the character subtly brings up a lot of those kinds of questions.

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