Coach Beiste’s Tale and Why it is important

Glee is a huge thing at the moment, so I am sure you all have the most basic idea ofwhat it is.  That does not really matter, though, since I want to bring you attention to one particular part of one episode, “Never Been Kissed” (season 2 episode 6).  The storyline I am impressed with is Coach Beiste’s.  The boys and Tina begin thinking about her during make out sessions so they do not orgasm while making out with their girl/boy friends.  There are two reasons I really liked this story line.

The first is minor and clearly was not the point, but it is there anyway.  They do not say that the girls should or should not “put out”.  There is the idea that you have to respect your partner’s comfort zone and learn how to manage yourself until their comfort zone matches yours.  I like this a lot.  It does not demonize the girls who have sex or the ones who do not, it just accepts that people are at different stages at different times.

Second, and more important, is Coach Beiste’s character development.  The episode goes talks about how she may act touch and butch she still wants the same things the average straight (and she does confirm her sexuality) woman wants.  She wants a man to think she is pretty and to build a life with.  She has not changed herself to conform to social pressures on appearance and attitude and has unfortunately suffered for it.  I like how this shows a different type of woman on screen.  Just about all the female characters are pretty and typically feminine.  The exception to this might be Sue Sylvester, but she is supposed to be a character you love to hate, so her defiance of gender norms does not really help the idea of being different.  Especially since she consistently encourages them in her cheerios.

Coach Beiste, however, is completely loveable.  She is an amazingly strong, compassionate and emotional woman (she would have to be to work with that failing football team so well).  She may not fit what we consider attractive for a woman, but this episode did a decent job of saying that that is not fair.  Why does a woman have to be a stick figure and only a man have bulging muscles (in case you haven’t caught on, Dot-Marie Jones (Beiste) was a pro-arm wrestler so she is super buff)?

I am giving Glee the benefit of the doubt on this one, to be honest.  If they leave it where it stands, it is not a very strong message.  They need to keep Coach Beiste’s story going in this line.  Show her character growing more comfortable.  And I do not mean with herself.  I think she is clearly there.  Her problem is being comfortable with how other people see her.   The most obvious way is to give her a non-comical love interest.  Someone who does not love her because she is this strong, manly-looking woman, but one who loves her because she is a good teacher, compassionate and all the other traits we do not know about yet.


About Tori

I am a graduate student working on my masters in Women and Gender studies. My masters thesis is on the gender nonconformity and ambiguity in modern film.
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