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I’ve been on the fence about Glee since the Britney/Brittany episode. Does one just stop watching, or hope it gets better? I’ve found that as soon as I’m ready to boycott the TV juggernaut, there’s Darren Criss being our Teenage Dream, or an episode so solid making me squee about the show’s comeback.

However, I’ve come to realize Glee has an issue worse than overblown productions, pointless guest stars, or the ridiculous plot lines; it’s ruddy sexist.

Think about it. Are there any females on the show that could be considered good people? Rachel Berry has been manipulative and self-serving since the pilot. Having the last Glee director fired because you weren’t getting solos? Classy. New girl with pipes comes to town, and Berry has her sent to a crack house. Will’s ex-wife faked a pregnancy so he wouldn’t leave her. Quinn told Finn that he knocked her up knowing it was Puck who was the baby-daddy, then sabotaged the adoptive mother to try to get her child back after she gave her up. Sensing a pattern here? Almost every female on Glee is portrayed as crazy and manipulative.

It seems to favour men over women in justice of their stories. Santana is outed by Finn, in public, but sings “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (which is what admitting to yourself and others regarding sexuality is all about, insert sarcasm here) and all is forgiven. Karofsky is outed by the guys on his football team and tries to kill himself.

The other girls seem to be just doe-eyed and submissive in the vein of Emma Pillsbury, Brittany and Tina. Mercedes seems to be the exception to this, though I’m sure if they had more screen time (someone give Tina some lines!) they would become negative stereotypes I would grow to hate as well.

Which leads me to last night’s episode, “Choke,” a great episode that seemed like it had been found in a time capsule from 2009. It had season 1 written all over it, even a storyline that I could back: Domestic abuse. Throughout it was handled wonderfully, until the end. During the beautiful version of “Shake it Out,” Coach Beiste flashes back to giving Cooter another chance after he hit her. This moment instilled me with feminist rage. What’s worse? She has the glee girls and the Sue’s (black and original recipe) trying to help her walk away; and she’s ignoring the help.

I mean, we’ve already had this whole problem in the real world with Rihanna/Chris Brown. Maybe they’re just trying to explore this issue more in the show, but I’m just overwhelmed with how not-ok this is. Teens, maybe even younger, watch this show. They may start gleaning that it’s ok if your boyfriend abuses you, because he loves you and promised he won’t do it again, and no one else is going to love you.

Part of me just wants to think, this is what comes from a show written by three men. But no! Joss Whedon has been writing strong capable women since 1997. It can be done. Hey, can Joss Whedon be the head writer for Glee? Honestly, the only male character I can think of that’s a poor representation of a human is Finn Hudson.

Does Glee just need more female/pro-female writers? Is this just bad or lazy writing? Or do all us girls need to give Ryan Murphy the smack-down on feminism?

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  • Mia

    I don’t agree with this at all especially the part about the domestic abuse. Beiste going back to Cooter even with all that help is normal! It’s very hard to get out of an abusive relationship. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of this storyline. 

    As for the other female characters: I believe Rachel is one of the most confident characters on the show (except last night). She has a dream and she wants to get there.  Santana is also a character who is self-confident.

    • http://twitter.com/Tygridia Tygridia

      Rachel can be bitchy sometimes, but she is a good person deep down and she’s been nice for most of the time lately (her talking to Kurt before the audition was cute).
      Santana is mean most of the time, but she is also honest and the way she treats Brittany is so heart-warming…
      Mercedes is good inside and outside. I was really proud of her when she said she didn’t think the best way to begin a relationship (with Sam) was after cheating on her ex, and that she wasn’t feeling a good person.

      The problem with Glee is not that the female characters are weak or mean, but that the male characters (besides Kurt) aren’t complex enough to show their bad part or to strugle with it.
      Said that, I was so mad on Saturday Night Glee-ver when Rachel said she’d give up on her deams for Finn’s (innexistent) ones…

  • Ajdhfgsks

    But it’s nothing to do with the storyline being “not-OK” or making teens think that it’s ok for their boyfriend to abuse them because he’s “promised he won’t do it again”. Women going back to their husbands after abuse (even when they have help) is a thing that happens in real life because they don’t know what else to do or, as Beiste said, they feel like no one else will want them. I don’t think it’s anything to do with bad/lazy writing, or the show being sexist. I actually think it was a pretty good portrayal of reality on Glee, for once.

  • http://twitter.com/AntaraC Antara Chowdhury

    I was actually quite happy that Glee was being realistic for once. Even though it’s awful that Beiste went back to Cooter, it’s realistic! A lot of the problems in Glee are resolved very quickly within one episode. In real life, things don’t get fixed just because someone sings a song.

    I’m sure that Glee will revisit Beiste’s storyline. It’s good that they’re showing us the struggles of domestic abuse. Coach Roz’s story set up the emphasis on how hard it is to leave someone even if they hit you. Beiste KNOWS she should leave Cooter, but she’s afraid to because she doesn’t think anyone else will ever love her.

    Just like it took a long time for Karofsky to get over his homophobia, it’s going to take a long time for Beiste to get the courage to leave Cooter. The Karofsky storyline was arguably the most well-developed storyline in Glee, which goes to show that more realistic, long-term storylines are better than having a single episode where the issue is resolved.

    • http://twitter.com/Tygridia Tygridia

      I agree with you, I would have been dissapointed if they had just solved everything in one episode. This things take time, and doing it to fast is like saying: “Hey, it’s easy, just leave, you’ll feel ok!”. What they are trying to show is that even if it’s what you have to do, it’s hard, she has to go, but most women just cope with so much shame and embarrassement and low self-steem that it takes ages for them to make the right decission.
      Just hope RIB don’t forget this story-line like they did with Santana’s grand-ma and her being lesbian!

  • oblyviate

    i think i kind of agree with you for the most part – i do love glee (again, for the most part) though every now and again i sit down and try to work out which characters on this show are actually nice people that i would want to know in real like. it’s usually a short list.
    as for the domestic violence side of the story, i volunteer in this area and a common statistic i’ve heard is that an abused woman will leave/try to leave her husband/partner 7 times before she finally leaves for good. so that part was a bit more realistic.

  • Bobout185

    Call Glee sexist….

    But completely forget to acknowledge everything wrong with the male characters as well…

    Who’s sexist now???!

  • GeekGirl101

    Wait, so Rachel always getting the lead, and always performing over other capable and wonderful voices is sexist? Look I’m a female and I see sexism and yes, Glee has a little bit of it, but so does everything else. As for Beiste, she basically confessed that she was scared no one else would love her. That is a huge thing and I’m glad that this issue wasn’t settled in one episode that would have been to lame.

    Glee has its ups and downs, but really? Look at Santana, she’s bitchy, but she can be caring and be human and hurt. They are people, with flaws. Now Tina is a little in the background and Brittany is dense, but so what? There are plenty of idiot males and background males on glee too. I think both sexes have been equally placed in this show. 

  • Vanbrig

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to compare Santana’s and Karofsky’s outings and call it sexist. Karofsky tried to kill himself because he was rejected by virtually everyone he knew and had zero support system. Santana was rejected by her grandmother, yes, but the entire glee club swarmed to help her and she also had the support of several other adults like Schuester, Sue, and Burt. I don’t think the gender had anything to do with it. 

  • CliveRogan

    Did  you just say that Karofsky being bullied to the point of attempting suicide was justice?  That’s a bit messed up.  I don’t really see how that comes into the argument anyway as surely sexism towards women would mean that it was Karofsky getting off scot free while Santana gets punished.

    Glee really isn’t sexist as it dishes out the stereotypes and borderline sociopathy pretty much equally across the board.

  • guest

    Coach Bieste’s behavior is very, very typical of women with low self esteem and those that are being abused. I don’t get how you think Glee is sending the message, “AW! Give him one more chance, girls!” You’re stretching things out that aren’t even there. You missed some very important points. Coach Bieste lied about having a sister named Denise and Sue/others will confront her soon about. Let the storyline play out people before dropping these inane accusations!

    And someone mentioned you didn’t mention the flaws of the males on the show. And pretty much every male character has a flaw.

  • guest

    Speaking as someone who has experienced Shannon’s story-line, it is one of the most realistic story-lines that glee has ever done.
    Telling people what’s happening to you is almost as bad as the abuse itself. even as the words tumble out you feel like they’re going to tell you that it’s your fault. even when they say that it’s not your fault, you feel like it is. 
    “I don’t think that anybody else is going to love me.”
    Do you have any idea how often someone who has been in an abusive relationship thinks that? how often they tell themselves that no one else is going to want them?
    every. day. every goddamn day.
    The fact that Glee had Shannon leave, and then return- i did that. i did it multiple times.
    When the person you love is telling you sorry, telling you how it’s never going to happen again, you make yourself believe it. you want to believe it. you force yourself to believe that it’s never going to happen again.
    Then there’s the fact that, well, who else is going to want you now? who is going to want to be anywhere near you now that you’ve been hit and made less of a person?
    no one.
    The only person who’s going to want you now is the person who hit you in the first place.
    And they’re sorry and promised it won’t happen again.
    So yes, Shannon went back. yes, it’s a mistake. but you have to understand how she feels. you have to understand how she feels like she has nowhere else to go.
    Even though she has friends offering to help, it’s not the same. god, it’s not even comparable.
    It only happened once, right? maybe he means it when he says that it’s not going to happen again. i’d rather take that chance than be alone.
    Don’t call Shannon dumb or stupid, or the show sexist for having her go back.
    It took me 5 years of going back before i left for good.
    I just hope she leaves for good before it’s too late.
    It wasn’t sexist, it was realistic.
    side note: i was a wreck during this episode. it triggered me in the worst way and i will never, ever misuse that word again.

  • http://about.me/dshana Shana Debusschere

    The domestic violence was handeled really great. Yes, she went back, but it’s not all black and white, and you have to remember the storyline isn’t over yet. As for strong females, I think Rachel and Santana are perfect examples of that. 

  • Wendy

    The episode was only reflecting what happens frequently in situations like this everyday (Rhianna and Chris Brown anyone??). In many situations this is the reality of how women handle domestic abuse. I for one am glad that Glee does not shirk away from sensitive topics like this. And if someone is using Glee as their morality and life compass in their decision making, there is a larger issue at hand.

  • Septima

    What happened with Beiste at the end, as everyone here is saying, was the right way to continue her story. It’s realistic and it would be stupid if they sang her a song and everything was fixed by the end of the episode. Also, most of the male characters have problems too. But you are kinda right about how the main men are more likely to be shown as victims of the women. I never thought of the show as sexist though, in fact it has very strong and independent female characters, even if they are divas or mean

  • Mdrich12

    I liked the end.  I agree with what most of the people on here have said.  It may not be pretty, but it’s relistic.  If she had just left and had everything be perfectly great now, it would’ve cheapened it.  I think this also will allow Glee to (hopefully) revisit this issue/storyline.  Though they probably won’t because Glee seems to have short term memory loss when it comes to characters and plotlines.

  • Alyssafleminga

    I’m so happy somebody finally brought this up! Sometimes I feel that the writers are completely misogynistic.

  • guest

    mercedes is bad as well… rememeber when she mistreated her friends and leave glee cause her boyfriend said so? and then she chetead on him? all her storylines are about being a diva. she is so bad written. everything on glee is bad written. santana acts nice sometimes and then she’s a total bitch again. quinn is total crazy. but the women are not the only problem in the show, i think they are good characters overall, but they can’t handle them, the writing ruin everything they could be…

    • guest

       Just because the characters have flaws and occasionally do stupid/bad things, doesn’t make a show bad. I have known people just like those characters.

  • guest

    remember* cheated* hehe

  • http://profiles.google.com/jaredaronoff Jared Aronoff

    In regards to your opening point, I believe that Glee just hasn’t been the same since Sectionals all the way back in Season 1. I keep watching because, whether an episode is good or bad, it is always a heck of a lot of fun!

    In regards to your main point, I don’t think that glee is sexist just because all the female characters are flawed. Flaws are what make characters not only interesting, but real. 
    There’s a test (the name of which starts with a B I think) which is the proper way to test whether or not a movie or TV show is sexist (although I think it is usually applied to movies) to perform it you question whether or not there are at least two female characters, with names, who speak to each other for more than a minute about something that isn’t a man. I can’t think of a specific example but I am certain that there is at least one scene with Brittany and Santana that passes this test and probably many more with other characters.

  • goldensnidget

    Oh my gosh. I’ve just had a brainwave: many of our relationships with Glee reflect what they did concerning domestic violence in this episode.

    We know the show is pretty bad at the moment, and has been for a while now, but we keep hoping that it’s going to change – that this bad spell will pass, and that we’ll find it goes back to the brilliance of series one.

    Beiste knew that the situation between her and Cooter was bad, and that she should leave him, but she gave him another chance because she loved him and thought things would eventually get back to how they were.


  • Jujubes

    As someone who has lived through domestic abuse I feel that I have to chime in.  Biste going back is something that most people who go through abuse have done.  Not because you don’t have support outside that loves you and wants to help you get out, but because of exactly what Biste said: what if no one else can love me. 

    You stay because you’re afraid: of being alone once you get out; of him being able to find out (depending on how bad it is) so you stay hoping to change him.  You lie about it also because you’re afraid: of what people will think and say to you.

    It take a lot of courage to get out and no matter how many times you went back, as long as you do leave him in the end is what matters.  And knowing you have support on the outside counts for so much.

    I know a woman should never let herself be treated that way and I think the character knows that too.  But, at least in my case, my self-esteem was so low that when he told me I’d never find anyone else, I believed him.  And I was naive enough to believe him.  And I wasn’t comfortable in my skin so I was so afraid of being alone.  Because the love of a family member or a friend is not the same as the love of your boy(or girl)friend and no matter how much they said they’d be there for me, I was so afraid of not having that kind of love again I stayed.  For a year and a half.

    I did eventually leave because it escalated, because I got older and wiser, because I got some self-esteem, but mostly because of my friends and family.  They had been telling me to get out ever since I told them how bad it was (about a year in) and eventually I heard them.

    So if you have a friend going through this: don’t stop trying.  They hear you.  It’s just not easy.  Which is why I think the portrayal was accurate.

    • Bridget

      I agree.  Although I have not been physically abused, I was in a relationship where I was used and manipulated, and at times emotionally and verbally abused.  I couldn’t leave even when he told me he wanted me to because I was scared of being alone.  It took me 7 years to get out of that relationship, and that only after someone on the outside showed me that I wasn’t unlovable.  I think even if he hit me, I would have gone back.  Hopefully either it was a one-time thing with Cooter (unlikely), or Beiste will leave him in the end.

  • RussellTurner

    Glee needs to start focusing on the story lines and stop trying to push social issues. Yes, they are important, but this show has gone from funny/enjoyable to unrealistic/boring.. 

  • Abigayle100

    Ok first off glees trying ot show u a life lesson do u think when someone comes out gay everyones gonna b all happy about it and if u were pregant with a baby who wasn’t ur boyfriends what would u do!a!ur just a frigin idiot life isn’t lollipops and candycanes, its not shoing u u can just get everything u want cuz that’s not what life is!so I call u a BIG FAT HIPPOPCRITT!!!!!!

  • http://recappersdelight.blogspot.com/2012/05/glee-episode-recap-choke.html Recappersdelight

    The funny thing is this; I thought Beiste’s decision to return to Cooter was actually the best part of that awful storyline.   Not because it was a happy ending.  Certainly it was not.  However, it was very realistic.  Women very rarely leave their abuser the first time, and Beiste feels unlovable and unattractive.  It would be very cheap and pat for her to leave for good after the first hit.  However, if she had left him, at least this storyline would be over.  I don’t think they did it at all well. 

    You are right about the rest.  The show is indeed very sexist.  

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