inclined to make strong judgments or reduce gender and sexuality
into binary constructions.
Often, representations of bisexuality are negative,
confusing, or otherwise vague on television or in movies. This is
especially true when talking about women, as Maria San Filippo
discusses in Rescue Me (2011). “Despite female characters’ strong
personalities- and those of the actresses playing them, including
Gina Gershon, Tatum O’Neal, Susan Sarandon, and Marisa Tomei
it is hard to ignore that nearly every woman on Rescue Me is
represented as either sexually demanding and emotionally unstable,
or, alternatively, as sexually and emotionally withholding” (San
Filippo). She goes on to state that these women’s quests for
personal and sexual self-fulfillment frequently endanger their
children’s well-being or even their lives, and never not even in
the case of the female firefighters are we invited to see the
women as heroes, too (San Filippo 2013). This powerful
observation about Rescue Me can also be applied in Piper’s case,
especially if one was to look at prison as a redemptive experience
for Piper after her engagement to Larry.
By not labeling Piper’s sexuality, Orange is the New Black
creates a fluid representation of Piper’s sexuality, and the sexuality
of other characters, largely by saying that it really does not matter.
In keeping its characters on a level playing field regardless of their
crimes, their racial, ethnic, and religious affiliations, and their
gender and sexual identities, Orange is the New Black makes some
powerful statements about what matters and what doesn’t in a
communal setting. In one instance, Larry asks Piper’s brother Cal
(Michael Chernus), “What is she, exactly?” To which Cal replies,
“I’m gonna go ahead and guess that one of the issues here is your
need to say that a person is exactly anything.” Through dialogue
such as this, the series directly confronts its efforts to keep Piper’s
sexuality fluid, despite the continuous comments by her peers such
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