Fangirl Linguistics 101

A few months ago, I had a moment of awakening when I realized that my teenage son did not know what the acronym BAMF stood for. Further probing led me to the realization that he did not know the majority of lingo that makes up my vocabulary. This fact, along with the multiple times I’ve had to explain to my mother what a “ship” is led me to this moment right now.

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Gather round friends as we go on a journey of discovery!

I have gathered together a small collection of the words your average fangirl might throw out on any given day. No longer wonder what the hell a Feelings Emergency is or if you should ask your doctor to test you for OTPs. This handy reference guide can get you through even the most feverish fangirl situations.

The Fangirl Glossary

Shipping – Shipping is shorthand for desiring to see two fictional characters in a relationship. The term basically means that your fangirl believes two people are compatible and would make a fantastic couple.

I’ve shipped Janet and Sam since the coffee incident in “One Hundred Days”.

OTP – (One True Pairing) This is the relationship that you ship above all other relationships. It is the couple that you would give up your first-born to make canon. Do not be fooled by the ‘One’.  Fangirls have multiple OTPs.

If Teslen isn’t your Sanctuary OTP, I’m not sure we can be friends!

BROTP – Similar to the OTP, however the BROTP, is a relationship based on mutual respect and friendship.

The Tenth Doctor and Donna give me all of the BROTP feels.

Feelings Emergency (FE) –  This one was actually coined by my dear friend Possum, but since it’s gaining traction on Twitter, I’m adding it to the lesson.  A Feelings Emergency is an instance when a fangirl is experiencing an extreme swell of emotion about a character or middle-aged actress.  The term is generally prefaced by said character’s initials.

My entire life is turning into a giant LRFE (Laura Roslin Feelings Emergency).

Situation – (Generally prefaced with a character/actress’s name). While Situations and FEs are common occurrences in the average fangirl’s life, they are not interchangeable terms. A Situation is when a fangirl is overcome by the attractiveness of her favorite.

I’ve spent the last hour staring at Torri Higginson’s face and worked myself into a full-blown Torri Situation! Why is she so hot?!?

HBIC – (Head Bitch In Charge) While not specific to fandom realms, this is a term to describe the lead female character. She often swaggers into a room, wearing heels, and proceeds to dominate the conversation and lean all over desks, chairs, or anything else she can find.

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Look at this HBIC right here

BAMF – (Bad Ass Mother Fucker) – Don’t be confused, in fangirl circles, a BAMF is almost always a strong, female character. She drinks male tears to make her hair shiny and full.

Helen Magnus is one BAMF you don’t want to mess with!

Amanda Was In The Scene (AWITS) – This serves as a fully-acceptable reason to miss major plot points relating to an episode or series that Amanda Tapping stars in. While this is Amanda Tapping-specific, it’s completely justified to replace her initial with whoever the fangirl’s favorite is.

I totally missed all of the John/James in my first watch of Sanctuary, but it’s not my fault. AWITS.

Adversely, a fangirl can claim that Amanda(or their favorite) Was Not In The Scene and therefore, the fangirl wasn’t following the story line.

I wish I knew the whole Ori origin story, but AWNITS and I ain’t watching it.

These key phrases will certainly help you engage more effectively with the fangirl in your life!

Stay tuned for Part II coming soon…

 

Combating heteronormativity – one conversation at a time.

Often male celebrities are fawned over well into their 60s or even 70s. The older they get, the more distinguished they’re thought to be.

Let me apologize in advance for how long this rant has the potential to be.  I’ve been bothered by this for a while now, as my best friend, and partner in crime, Suz can attest to.  She’s listened to me bitch about this on more than one occasion. And bless her heart, she never tells me to shut up and get over it. Since this is a fandom-related blog, I’ve decided that it’s important to discuss social issues I’ve been dealing with in relatable terms. I also have no desire to discuss more personal relationships in such a public format.

Every few weeks a well-enough-intentioned acquaintance whom I’ve recently befriended on Facebook will start asking questions about my fascination with Mary McDonnell. While I rarely shy away from discussing Mary’s work or my affection for her, these conversations cause a bit of aggravation for me because the term ‘role model’ invariably gets thrown out by the other party as the summation of my Mary Situation. Now don’t get me wrong, Mary has many, many characteristics that make her worthy of being a role-model: her feminism, her charitable endeavors, and her genuinely kind spirit. All these qualities certainly inspire and push me to become the best version of myself. However, to simply refer to Mary as my role model is to deny a very real and important facet of her appeal – my attraction to her.

preemmy06This just in! Sarah is physically attracted to Mary McDonnell!

I do not hide the fact that I’m attracted to Mary. I am very specific – if hyperbolic – in my language, using clear indicators of physical attraction which are far too numerous to include here but include any number of references to her legs, her mouth, her décolletage and/or my being in love(lust) with her.  The fact that these indicators are so consistently construed as an attraction-free, role model paradigm is not only a microaggression against my identity, it’s a sign of our society’s heteronormativity and ageism.

Heteronormativity is the belief that heterosexuality is the inherent ‘default’ sexual orientation; every other orientation then exists as a deviation from the norm. It is the belief that people are straight until proven otherwise.  It is the reason that when I meet new people, they ask if I have a boyfriend, not a girlfriend.  It is the reason that playful toddler-aged boys are called “future ladies’ men” and why it is considered “a shame” when attractive, successful men come out as homosexual. These ideals are instilled in us from childhood.  All one has to do is think of the numerous fairy tales they were taught as a child. Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid – heteronormative conditioning. This conditioning is so thorough that when a woman is literally standing in front of someone discussing her attraction to another woman, so often the listener infers a platonic admiration from the exchange.

When the moment of clarity dawns on these acquaintances, as it always does, their realization that I’m physically attracted to Mary is almost always followed with some variation of “How old is she?” Even more predictable is the “she’s old enough to be your mother!” response upon being informed that Mary’s in her 60s. I do not, in any way, see her age as a barrier to my attraction. Instead, her age is one of her most attractive features. And if one were privy to my far more personal crushes, they’d soon learn that I tend to be attracted to women significantly older than I am. Mary is the rule, not the exception.

dc33I guarantee you, at no point, am I ever surprised by how old she is.  So, I’m quite well aware of how her age compares to mine, thank you very much.

Here’s the kicker though: why does it matter?  If you were to replace Mary’s name with say George Clooney’s or even Sean Connery’s there would be no such similar surprise. Often male celebrities are fawned over well into their 60s or even 70s. The older they get, the more distinguished they’re thought to be. Why then, is it so abhorrent to people that a woman in her 30s could unquestioningly – and unapologetically – be attracted to a woman in her 60s?

SirSeanConneryMy friend has literally never been reminded that this man is old enough to be her grandfather.

It’s because our ageist society instills in us that a woman is only attractive and desirable in her prime years – prior to her turning 40 (or increasingly 35). A few years ago, Allure magazine conducted an aging study that found men believe female beauty peaks at 29. This means that women – just as they are coming into their own, gaining life experience and the confidence that comes with it – they’re relegated to the category of undesirable. Youth is prioritized over knowledge, experience, confidence and wisdom. Ageism goes hand in hand with heteronormativity because women are held to a standard of beauty that aligns with the expectations of heterosexual males. This doesn’t just hurt queer women constantly forced to defend their attraction to older women – it impacts all women.

The moral of all this: don’t automatically assume that every single person that you meet day in and day out is heterosexual. They aren’t. When someone clearly tells you that they are not heterosexual, do not attempt to force them back into your narrow view of society. Instead, try to understand why your view of socially accepted attractions is so narrow and expand your horizons.

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And finally, Mary McDonnell is smoking hot, whether you agree or not!

Post-Convention Blues

This weekend I traveled to Houston, Texas for Comicpalooza. It was two hectic days of over-the-top, geeky delight with tens of thousands of my geek brethren. While I usually attend conventions with friends, this was a solo trip. I had been a bit nervous about attending alone, until I walked into the George R. Brown Convention Center. At that point, the excitement for the weekend took over.  Of course, this could be due to Mary McDonnell’s photo op session being the very first thing on my convention schedule.

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If you’ve ever read this blog before, or had a conversation with me that lasted longer than five minutes, you already knew that Mary had to be involved in some way for me to travel all the way to Houston. I had two days of photographs, autographs, and panels ranging from Mary’s Mother’s Day panel to a panel on the science behind Victorian weapons. Everywhere I turned, I was surrounded by fellow fans, young and old, reveling in their private fandoms as we all collectively geeked out in the packed convention center. I strolled through the Exhibit Hall spotting the General Lee (racist and outdated, but who am I to judge), a Winchester Impala, Ten’s Tardis and on the other side of the Hall Eleven’s as well, and almost all of the fandom related merchandise your heart could desire. Then, Sunday evening, it was time to catch a plane home and just as quickly as I’d been immersed in Comicpalooza, I was knocked back into reality.

Sadly, one of the oft neglected results of convention attendance is the post-convention blues that strike once you get back home. You can no longer look in any direction and see at least four women dressed as Harley Quinn. You can’t hop on the elevator and admire a cosplayer’s commitment to Nick Fury.  (Seriously, it was 85 degrees and he still had the full-length jacket on!) You can’t even eat your lunch in the shadow of a hundred Darth Vaders marching by. You certainly can’t walk around a corner and see Mary McDonnell, in all of her perfection, sitting at her table talking to fans. Basically, it sucks!

 

 

Continuing Series: Why Isn’t Major Crimes a Better Show?

For a person who has stopped watching Major Crimes, I sure do watch a lot of Major Crimes.  I woke up this morning to a message about last night’s episode. Two minutes on Tumblr made it perfectly clear that I was going to have to watch the episode as I saw gif after gif of Sharon being punched in the face by a suspect. I was, as expected, boiling with anger.

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Now, I’m not saying that a storyline can never involve a female character getting punched in the face (even by a man). I watch a steady supply of sci-fi and police procedurals. I’ve watched Olivia Benson be slapped in the face for 16 seasons. First as Samantha Carter, and then as Helen Magnus, I’ve seen Amanda Tapping’s characters punched, or otherwise physically assaulted, more times than I can count. Helen spent a full ten minutes of “Breach” being knocked down, repeatedly. (Spoiler alert: “Breach” is a better episode than anything ever produced on The Closer or Major Crimes)

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Sharon walked into that interrogation room with the intention of pushing the suspect over the edge.  This is confirmed when she tells Andrea Hobbs that assaulting a police officer will allow them to hold him for as long as necessary. Sharon pushed him, watched him grow increasingly volatile, yet when both Provenza and Sanchez tried to intervene, she stopped them. She continued to needle him, hoping to provoke such a response. All of this helps to establish Sharon Raydor, not as victim, but as expert officer willing to sacrifice her personal safety and comfort in order to catch a killer.

Where Major Crimes falters is in its recovery of said event. Immediately, Sanchez pins the suspect to the floor and handcuffs him. Andy Flynn bursts through the door moments later, pushing Sanchez out of the way so that he can threaten the suspect. While this is taking place Amy Sykes (the only other female in the department), stands behind Sharon. After they leave the room, Andy pulls Sharon away from Andrea saying “we’re getting her some ice.”  The two walk off, Andy’s hand on the small of Sharon’s back, coddling her as one would a child.  “Wow, my mom’s a bad ass,” Rusty says as the episode cuts to the next scene of Sharon whimpering in pain and touching her face.  Andy’s hands clutch both her arm and her back, as if she would fall down without his assistance. Is she a bad ass, Rusty?  Because the messages seem to be getting crossed.

Toward the end of the episode, there’s a scene between Acting Chief Howard and Sharon. Sharon holds an ice pack to her face, presumably to remind all of the viewers that she was just punched. However, the lasting effect is more thank goodness this poor, delicate flower has all these men around to protect and coddle her, rather than look at this BAMF right here.

James Duff struggles with female characters.  This is a trend that began with The Closer but has certainly grown increasingly problematic with Major Crimes. This is most evident in the concurrent storyline of Winnie Davis, Deputy Chief of Operations. Winnie, portrayed by Camryn Manheim, was introduced as “competition” for the open Chief position that Sharon should be pursuing. If there is any doubt that Davis is in fact Sharon 2.0, in their first interaction in this episode, Davis was haranguing Sharon over Provenza’s rule breaking, to which Sharon said Provenza had been strongly reprimanded. This entire conversation could have been lifted, nearly word for word, from Sharon’s introductory episode “Red Tape”. The posturing of the two, in front of Chief Howard, further completes the comparison between Brenda and Sharon’s continued tense meetings with Chief Pope. All of this has been done before.  Unfortunately, all of this is being done again.

In this week’s episode, Andy expressed concern that Sharon would be undermined by Davis, to which Sharon replied “Let her.  I’m happy where I am.” What happened to the Sharon Raydor that pushed Brenda Leigh to apply for the Chief of Police position? What happened to the woman who felt Brenda Leigh had an obligation – as a female – to advance as far up the ranks as possible?  The Sharon Raydor introduced in the fifth season of The Closer would not recognize the Sharon Raydor of Major Crimes.

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“You don’t think that I wanted to spend my career in Internal Affairs, doing a job that leaves me disliked and mistrusted by my fellow officers every day of my life? No.  I chose IA because I thought it was the quickest way to achieve rank.  And I also thought it would be good for the department to see a woman in a captain’s uniform.”

Sadly for Sharon, in Duff’s world, only the female antagonist gets to be the capable, feminist voice of reason. The protagonist is left as a prop for the male characters to protect in order to bolster their masculinity. Or, in the words of my friend, isn’t it a shame Major Crimes ended after three seasons? At this point, I wish that were the reality.

Fangirls and Politics – A Survival Guide

There is a man currently in the public eye that I despise – perhaps more than I despise anyone else. I outright loathe this man and do not shy away from saying so whenever I’m given the opportunity. Sometimes I feel the need to create that opportunity if one does not naturally arise.

This man is a perpetual crybaby who whines constantly.

This man wants to be adored for mediocre work.

This man is a raging misogynist and has a terribly sexist relationship with women.

This man’s supporters claim that anyone who doesn’t like his work simply lacks the intelligence to understand it.

This man claims to love the institution he helms, yet he dismantles it at every opportunity.

This man actively seeks to destroy the legacy of his predecessor.

I find myself counting down the days until his reign of terror is finally over.

Dear reader, no I’m not talking about Donald Trump. Rather, I’m discussing the blight on society known as Steven Moffat. Unfortunately for all of us, Moffat’s influence will likely far outlast that of Trump’s.

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If your Facebook newsfeed looks anything like mine has over the past several months, then nary a day goes by without political posts making you want to claw your eyes out.

Whether you agree or disagree, there comes a point of saturation where you consider deleting your Facebook page, removing yourself from modern society, relocating to a desolate ice cave in Antarctica (You can get Netflix there, right?), and never speaking to another human being again. Or maybe that’s just me.

Either way, navigating the waters of fandom have given fangirls an advantage in dealing with these tumultuous political times.

RULE NO. 1 – DON’T ENGAGE THE ENEMY CAMP

I’m not advising you to stop talking to everyone who disagrees with your political beliefs.  That would be pretty ridiculous.  Some of the best friends I’ve had haven’t always agreed with me on social or financial political issues.  If my friendships weren’t created on purely political reasons, why would I end them because of political reasons?

There are times when you can have very open and honest discussions, without either side getting offended, about topics important to you. I have a few friends who are hardcore Swan Queen shippers. They all know that I am not. On many occasions we have discussed why they ship this pairing as well as the problematic issues that I raised about them. Each of us listened for understanding, not in an attempt to convince the other that they were wrong.  I’ll offer you a hint, these discussions rarely happen on Facebook, or message boards, or comment sections, or pretty much anywhere on the internet. They happen when each person involved in genuinely concerned not only with the other person’s opinions, but also with their feelings.

I am not going to seek out Moffat-stans in an attempt to convince them that Steven Moffat is a terrible show runner whose “strong female characters” are as tropey as they come. I won’t even point out to them that Moffat not only contradicts the history of Doctor Who, but also previous versions of his own Doctor Who. You seriously want me to believe that no one saw a giant Statue of Liberty strolling around NYC? Seriously? Not one person? Nobody looked up and thought ‘hey, that doesn’t belong here!’

Basically, unless it is a close personal friend, they don’t care about your opinion and you are only wasting your time and your energy. Your time could be better spent asking people in New York if they’d notice if one day the Statue of Liberty just started walking around town.  

RULE NO. 2 – IT IS OK TO TUNE OUT

In all of these political posts circulating, I’m consistently seeing people admonished for failing to keep up to date on every single minute political issue. At the end of the day, we all have the issues that are significant for us – and ones that aren’t.  It is ok that we don’t all find the same issues important.  In fact, this is how we can insure that the issues get covered; even if you don’t necessarily care about them, there is someone out there who does.

Not only is it fully acceptable to ignore certain issues, it is also fully acceptable to turn it all off and tune out at times.  Sometimes it is a necessary step in self-care.

I have spoken extensively on this blog about my falling out with Major Crimes. Even though I stopped watching the show a year ago, this does not mean that I harbor any ill-will toward Mary or her character. It simply means that I cannot watch the show because it does not align with my personal beliefs. Or my sense of entertainment.

When something important does happen, I tune back in to find out what it was. Nobody should be surprised that I tuned back in for the very important Sharon’s going to turn all of the women queer pant suit episode!

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We all have to tune out at times.  That’s the nature of modern society.  Whether it’s your once favorite show or the current political scandal, there’s nothing wrong with shutting it out and walking away.

RULE NO. 3 – WE (HOPEFULLY) ALL LOVE THE THING

This rule doesn’t really apply to the extremists on either side.  There will always be people who declare that Steven Moffat is the greatest show runner that Doctor Who will ever have.  There are also who will fail to give him credit even when he has a good idea. (Even I can admit that I thoroughly enjoyed “The Doctor Dances”) Ultimately though, both sides of the Moffat debate are people who, arguably, enjoy Doctor Who and want to see the program succeed. While critics raise issues about Moffat’s tendency of having the Doctor imprinting on young girls or his treatment of queer characters, these critiques are offered out of a genuine desire to see Doctor Who succeed. Sometimes we get so focused in the minutia that we forget to look at the greater picture; we are all working to protect something that is greater than all of its parts.

Follow these three simple rules and hopefully the next few years will be slightly more tolerable. If all else fails, at least we can all start watching Doctor Who again in 2019. Lastly, above all else, if you ever see the Statue of Liberty out for an evening stroll around Manhattan, whatever you do Don’t Blink!

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  This light-hearted list is in no way meant to belittle the struggle of minority groups. We must continue to support disenfranchised members of our society. It’s simply pointing out the connections between real-life politics and fandom politics.

An Open Letter to the Woman Who Broke My Heart

Pam,

I know that you don’t know the last time that we were in contact, so allow me to tell you.  March 6, 2016.  It was your birthday.  I texted you to wish you a happy birthday because I never was able to get a hold of you on the phone without miraculous intervention. You never responded. Not so much as a “Thank you.” You stopped responding to me a long time ago. So long ago, in fact, that I never got to discuss with you my returning to college – let alone my graduating.  I graduated in May of last year. You never responded to that invitation either. So, you can imagine how unsurprised I was last month, when you didn’t respond to my deleting you on Facebook.

I know that what happened was a terrible, tragic thing.  I cannot even begin to comprehend the pain that you went through – that you continue to go through – every day. To lose a daughter is an injury no mother should ever have to endure. You did have, and forever will have, my most sincere sympathies.  I have tried on so many occasions to reach out to you, to grieve with you, to check on you, or to update you on important things in my life.  Each attempt has been met with resounding silence. At first, I believed it to be excessive grief.  You didn’t want to talk to anyone.  You needed to adjust to a new normal.  I understand this. Yet, even as you adjusted to this new way of life, and began venturing out again, my messages went unread, unanswered.

I have not heard your voice, nor seen your face in over three years.  This is the longest span of time that we have gone without speaking since I first met you when I was 15 years old. It has been so long that I cannot remember the sound of your voice. I cannot begin to describe the pain that this silence causes me. My heart is broken.  It is shattered into pieces too small for me to reassemble. I am lost – alone, trying to navigate the world without my voice of reason – the person I turn to for guidance.

Most days, I do my absolute best not to think about you. Everyday I make the active decision to not allow my hurt to disrupt my day. I push the pain that lingers in my heart to the back of my mind so that I don’t have to remember how very much I miss you.  This weekend, that coping method has been impossible.  I met a woman so very similar to you in so many ways.  Three years ago, I would have delighted in the presence of your doppelganger and told you all about it when we saw each other next. This year, it took everything that I could to keep my composure and not become the poor sobbing girl at the dinner table.

“Have you talked to Pam?” Grandaddy asked me when I visited him last month.

“No,” I sighed. And added silently, “That would require her speaking to me.”

I don’t know what I did. I will likely never know what it was that caused you to stop speaking to me. I’m not sure that you even know that you did. But every day, I wake up a day further away from the Sarah that you knew.  So much has happened in my life, so many things have changed.  There have been so many huge decisions that I remain unsure if I made the correct choice because I wasn’t able to talk them over with you and seek your guidance. This weekend has proven to me that I still miss you.  As much as I ever did. I miss your spirit, and your encouragement, the way that you could always sense when I needed an uplifting word. I miss your laughter and how much fun we could have just sitting in your kitchen drinking coffee. I miss your wisdom and your enveloping hugs. I miss you.  And I’m afraid that I won’t ever stop missing you.

You always used to say that I gave you too much credit.  Too much credit for pulling me up out of the mud.  Too much credit from pulling me off the ledge when all I wanted to do was jump off of it and make all of the pain stop. My response to you was always that you never took the credit that you deserved. I can say with absolute certainty that without you, I would not be sitting at this computer tonight writing this letter.  I would be in the ground. That’s the reality that you pulled me away from.  You saved my life. What you didn’t do was teach me how to live in a world without you. I don’t know how to do that. I hate that I have to learn how to.

My eternal love,

Sarah

Queer Awakenings and the Middle-Aged Actress

Last month, my external hard drive failed and sent every piece of media saved on it into oblivion.  It was the shit topping of an already terrible year. My hard drive had nearly every movie, television show, interview and convention appearance Mary McDonnell has ever appeared in/at. My Mary folder was the culmination of hundreds of hours of searching the internet, downloading, lamenting the terrible quality of older YT videos, ripping DVDs, and trading with other Mary fans to fill out our collections. It was a near-complete anthology of Mary’s work.  And, in one corruption, it was all gone.  I was (and still am) devastated.

Hot on the heels of my Christmas to New Years rewatch of Battlestar Galactica, I began the arduous task of rebuilding my collection. This evening, in my searching, I stumbled across a fan video that I had never seen before. I paused my efforts to watch it. I’m not sure what my expectations were, but they were exceeded in every way imaginable.

Senior Year: A Nonfiction Musical from CASH|MARY on Vimeo.

Initially, I was pulled in by the title because of an inside joke between a friend and I last year. I almost didn’t survive the video when the first song began. However, I pushed through and I am so glad that I did. I was dumbfounded at how these people had stolen my life. Topics I have discussed in the last 24 hours include: The line “Fuck you too, Carlos” in Passion Fish, Mary’s hair, Mary’s legs, Mary’s giggling, and Mary’s mouth. It is a fair assessment that I relate to this video on a spiritual level.

Once I finished wondering how these people turned my life into a short, I found myself considering the significance of the lead character’s queer awakening courtesy of Mary McDonnell.

“I’ve come to realize this afternoon

Mary makes me swoon.

I think I might be kind of gay for Mary.”

There is more truth in these lyrics than one would believe. I have a group of friends who have all, at one point in their lives or another, gone through a “Mary phase”. While I am by far the most outspoken of the group – and most likely to post on social media and bug my non-fandom friends with my constant Mary talk – we all are/have been attracted to Mary McDonnell.

There are dozens of women in their twenties and thirties walking around this world at any given moment daydreaming about Mary McDonnell.  Don’t believe me? All you have to do is go to the Mary McDonnell tag on Tumblr.  You will find women falling all over themselves for Mary.

blogHere’s a small sampling of my favorite tags taken off a run-of-the-mill picture of Mary as Sharon Raydor on TNT’s Major Crimes.

While Mary McDonnell is my own personal favorite brand of hilarious, fiercely feminist, outspoken, middle-aged woman who refuses to take herself too seriously, I recognize that she is not every woman’s cup of tea. Nearly every older actress in Hollywood today has a group of significantly younger queer fans.

For many queer female fans, these older women are not only crushes; they serve as a girl’s ‘queer awakening’. Queer awakenings are those magical, terrifying moments when a person realizes that they are not straight. Many, many moons ago when I was first experiencing this phenomenon I developed a massive, very scary crush on one of my co-workers. Since I was about 75% sure she was het and I was not at all comfortable with expressing my confusing emotions at that time, I turned to a safer alternative: my blossoming attraction to Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU.

Law & Order: Special Victims  Unit -- Season 15 There’s a 0% chance that I’m the only one who’s ever had a queer awakening thanks to Olivia Benson

More recently, I was privy to a dear friend’s awakening. One moment she was completely confident in her heterosexuality.  The next moment, she found herself questioning her identity. All it took was Mary McDonnell and a sugar cube. Ok, and maybe a fair amount of soul searching…

The circumstances vary for each woman, but there are always astounding similarities.

  • One of my dear friends is madly in love with Cher – who’s only about 5 decades older than her
  • Another friend has a serious thing for Carla Gugino (who is the youngest actress in this blog post – but still a full decade older than my friend)
  • My best friend shares my tastes and is smitten with both Mary McDonnell and Amanda Tapping.
  • Then there are all of my Tumblr friends falling all over themselves most recently for Sidse Babett Knudsen from Westworld.

While this is all rather anecdotal, there is growing evidence to support this phenomenon. In Allure’s first “Anti-Aging” survey, they found that “LGBT respondents are more likely to be attracted to people older than them by more than 10 years compared to straight respondents” (Source).

Maxim is well known for their Hot 100 in which the men’s magazine ranks the hottest female celebrities of the year.  Similarly, After Ellen – a site for queer women – comprises their own list ranking “the hottest women, according to women.” While the politics of ‘ranking’ women according to physical attractiveness is a post for another day, it’s important to remember that we all find people attractive. There is merit in examining these two lists because the lists’ demographics provides an excellent contrast between what heterosexual men and queer women find attractive.

Maxim’s list features 3 women over the age of 40: Sofia Vegara (44), Eva Longoria (42), and Penelope Cruz (42).  All of these women fall into the bottom half of the list with Penelope Cruz ranking highest.

By contrast, After Ellen’s list features 22 women in their 40s. Two women in their 50s make the list: Jennifer Beals (53) and Mariska Hargitay (52). There are also two women in their 60s: Dana Delany (60) and Lorraine Bracco (62).  With the exception of Jennifer Beals, who comes in at 77th, the women over 50 land in the top half of the list.  Mariska ranks the highest at 29th – putting her squarely in the top third.

Not only is After Ellen’s list comprised of older women, those women rank higher up the list. While Penelope Cruz (41) holds the 64th spot on Maxim’s list, Angie Harmon (44) is the highest ranking woman over 40 on After Ellen’s Hot 100.  Angie Harmon holds the 5th spot. Danielle Cormack (46) holds the 9th spot and Sasha Alexander (43) is 11th.

There are as many women over the age of 40 in After Ellen’s Top 15 as there are in Maxim’s entire list.

The average age of Maxim’s Hot 100 is 28.42 years old.  After Ellen’s average age is 33.17 years old.

blog-chartFor more visual people, let the charts speak for themselves.  Women skew towards older female celebrities more than men do – in every measurable way.

While it’s impossible to know the ages of women responding to After Ellen’s ranking, it’s obvious that they find a wide range of female celebrities attractive.

So what’s the point of all of this? That “serious kink for women twice my age” trait isn’t as unusual as you might think it is. If you find yourself swooning over an older actress, you are far from alone. Sexuality is a complicated and dynamic human trait. It does not fit into the tight constraints that society often tries to force it into. Exploring one’s sexuality with celebrities or fictional characters is a completely normal practice. In some instances, it can provide a safe alternative not available in the real world – especially if you live in a conservative atmosphere. So you go on and do your thing. Love that older lady in all of her perfection!

And, if you find yourself falling for Mary McDonnell in particular, please come find me.  I haven’t discussed Mary’s legs in about twelve hours now and I can already feel myself going through withdrawal!