What’s Sex Got to do with… Grey’s Anatomy?

Let’s take a look at everyone’s favorite twisted threesome- Arizona Robbins, Callie Torres, and Mark Sloan.

Greys-Anatomy-6x13-State-of-Love-and-Trust-Mark-Sloan-Callie-Torres-Arizona-Robbins-Cap_mid

 

These three characters on the popular show Grey’s Anatomy, present us with a set of complicated relationships that we can analyze in a number of ways.  What seems to be particularly important in this love triangle is the nature of the different sexual identities possessed by these characters.  Mark Sloan is an overtly heterosexual male with masculine qualities in every way.  Arizona Robbins is a more feminine lesbian woman who has identified as a lesbian since high school.  Callie Torres, my personal favorite character on Grey’s, ultimately identifies as bisexual, which is an identity that plays into several outcomes of the relations between these characters on the show.  Callie starts of the show identifying as straight and marrying George, an intern at the time, and after George tragically passes away, ends up in a relationship with a woman for the first time, Dr. Erica Hahn.  After things end with Dr. Hahn, Callie and Arizona start dating, and what is known to be one of Grey’s fans’ favorite relationships begins.  However, Callie and Arizona do go through several rough patches, and in one of these period of trial, Callie sleeps with Mark, her best guy friend, and ends up pregnant with his baby.  Arizona is not happy to hear the news that Callie is having Mark’s baby, but ends up agreeing to help Mark and Callie parent the baby girl, Sophia.  At one point, Arizona contemplates Callie’s decision and whether she wants to be a part of the outcomes, and then tells herself that even though Callie is bisexual, she can’t take that to mean that she will not be faithful to Arizona in the future.

In her piece, “The Bisexual Menace Revisited,” Kristin Esterberg addresses myths that surround the identity of bisexuality.  Bisexuality is often treated as an invisible identity, or more stigmatized than homosexual or transgender identities.  Bisexuals are often seen as people who are not able to make up their minds, and who are exploiting the riding of he coattails of the gay and lesbian rights movement in order to be included.  Bisexuals are also, as we learned from the LGBTQI panel in class, often seen as people who will sleep with anyone.  The problem with these notions is that bisexual identities are too often tied to behavior, and not enough validated as actual identities that deserve the same rights as other recognized bodies.

In what ways do popular bisexual television characters like Callie Torres either combat or perpetuate popular notions of bisexuals as people who will sleep with anyone?  How can we contribute to a discourse that recognizes bisexuality as an identity that is not always tied to one’s behaviors?

 

One thought on “What’s Sex Got to do with… Grey’s Anatomy?

  1. I think Callie’s character is both positive and negative in portraying bisexual individuals. On the one hand, yes, it does seem as if Callie jumps from gender to gender and sleeps around which can confirm some preconceived notions of bisexuals, however I think this is also a good example of sexual subjectivity. Callie sleeps with Mark after Arizona leaves and essentially breaks up with her. Callie then has the “right” to sleep with whomever she pleases, whether they be male or female. She purely just had an urge for sex and acted on her right to play that out however she saw fit, regardless of the criticisms from others. I think Grey’s Anatomy with all its sex scenes is a positive in that sense that it shows women in empowering sexual positions.

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