“Lesbians Can’t Just Casually Date”: Bravo’s Work Out

May 16, 2007

A recent episode of Bravo’s Work Out raised the issue of what happens when the smoulderingly hot Jackie Warner starts playing the field in front of her male staff. Jackie owns a luxury gym, “Sky Sport,” and manages a staff of mostly male trainers. She’s a pretty tough, high-powered person, and can obviously hold her own in most situations.

This season on Work Out, Jackie’s been fooling around with both Rebecca and Tiffany. Rebecca is a trainer at the gym, and neither she nor Tiffany is used to dating a woman. Jackie is pretty clear at this point that she wants to explore and enjoy herself, with very few strings attached. She also doesn’t feel like she has to share everything in her personal life with her friends or staff, especially because she’s not emotionally invested. “She’s not my girlfriend,” she says about Rebecca. “We’re just physically into each other.” Later she confides in her therapist: “I’m finding that best friends with benefits is really the way to go.”

It Was Like a Pink Elephant in the Room

In this first clip, the whole staff goes out to a comedy show and to dinner, and everyone notices Jackie and Rebecca canoodling; their relationship hadn’t been out in the open until this point. Everyone is scandalized, but it is the male trainers who act angry and offended. One of them comments that Rebecca was “snuggling [Jackie’s] man-woman shoulder, I don’t know.”

Jesse is a male trainer who’s very close to Jackie–at dinner, he berates the two women and eventually gets up and leaves. It’s unclear whether he’s mad that Jackie didn’t tell him, truly uncomfortable with the fact that the boss is dating a trainer, or just kind of offended at the unapologetic manner in which these women are putting their sexuality out on display. (At some point, Jackie and Rebecca make out by the restaurant bathroom.)

Tiffany and I Had a Really Hot Torrid Affair

At the beginning of the next episode, we’re still at the sushi restaurant and the other woman in Jackie’s life, Tiffany, suddenly shows up. Jackie’s got Rebecca on one side and Tiffany on the other, and after a while it’s pretty clear that she’s chosen Tiffany, at least for tonight. Disgusted, one of the men asks, “What kind of freakshow is this? This is crazy!” “It’s strange seeing Rebecca and Jackie like fondling each other…and then this prostitute off the street who I don’t know…”

What’s fascinating to me about these two episodes is the reaction of the male trainers. These men have been working for Jackie for a while, and you would think they’d be comfortable both with her confident, brash personality, and certainly with her sexuality. Suddenly, though, they’re freaking out, and this time it’s the men who can’t stop talking. They say they need time to “digest” the situation, adjust to what’s going on. They bring up the ethical issue of Jackie dating staff; then, they’re morally offended when she ditches Rebecca for Tiffany. These men actually seem to be warning Jackie off their “sex-like-men” terrain, finding all kinds of issues with her manner of dating. “There are rules to this thing,” Andre declares. “If you’re out with one girl, that’s an asshole move to bring another chick out like that.”

There Are 2 Women Making Out, and There’s No Chance for Andre to Score!

When Jackie explains to Jesse that she’s only trying to have some fun, Jesse tells her, “Lesbians can’t just casually date.” The ability to have casual sex is a gendered one: gay or straight, women apparently don’t have the gift. They want to love and cherish and talk about their feelings, no matter who their partner is. It’s the same reason why lesbians can’t have anonymous sauna-sex at the gym.

Jackie also conceives of her behavior as particularly masculine. When she and Tiffany are alone at the restaurant, they flirtatiously discuss their sex lives. Jackie tells Tiffany that she’s gotten much better in bed, she’s bolder now, and more aggressive. Tiffany used to be more passive in the bedroom, feminine, “Now, what do you do?” Jackie teases. “Now I’m myself.” “Which is?” “A little more masculine,” Tiffany admits. “A little more masculine, I love it.”

It’s pretty clear to everyone that these guys feel explicitly threatened by Jackie’s power and sexuality. Jackie acknowledges that “Jesse’s drama was complete jealousy” and that Andre, who was awkwardly hitting on Tiffany at the restaurant, can’t deal with seeing “his boss with women that he secretly desires…He just unraveled.” The men are suddenly in competition with their boss, and she’s winning. “Tiffany and Rebecca, being that they’re so-called, like, heterosexual, maybe in my eyes they’re supposed to be untouchable to Jackie, but we all know that no one’s outside of Jackie’s range.” Jackie is confident and hot, and she’s got mad game. She knows it, too: “What [Andre] doesn’t understand,” she says, “is that the fish in my pond are always gonna be hotter fish, and I’m always gonna get them a lot easier than he is. “

And finally, in my favorite line of the episode, Jackie explaining why her sex life is okay: “It’s flexible in our industry.”

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