Summary: This clip is from the Seinfeld episode entitled "The Note," which is the first episode of the show's third season (note: the audio is low; turn up the volume when screening this clip). After receiving a massage from a man, George shows up at Jerry's apartment, clearly distraught. George reveals to Jerry that he thinks he might have had an erection during the massage and he fearfully exclaims: "That's the sign! The test…if a man makes it move." Jerry reassures George saying, "That's not the test. Contact is the test. If it moves as a result of contact." This clip can be used to teach several concepts. First, the clip can be use to illustrate how sexuality is not a fixed concept; it is fluid and not easily defined. For example, is sexuality defined by sexual desire? Sexual behavior? Sexual identity? In this case, George focuses on sexual desire. Despite not identifying as gay or engaging in sexual behavior with men, George wonders if his erection is a sign of same-sex desire, a desire presumably unbeknownst to him. Jerry shifts the focus by narrowing in on behavior, stating that the sign of gay entails physical contact that results in sexual arousal. This discussion points to the complexity of sexuality. Viewers can be encouraged to consider various scenarios in order to highlight this complexity. For example, if George dates women, has sex with women, self-identifies as straight, yet is aroused by a man, is he gay? What if he identifies as gay but has sex with women? Viewers can further be encouraged to question our cultural obsession with defining sexuality in the first place. In his book The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault calls this a discourse of knowledge and, similarly, power. The clip also illustrates how heterosexuality gets renormalized in our culture through social interactions—that is, there is no need for George and Jerry to debate the definition of being straight. Presumably, that's just known and normal. Finally, the clip also supports elements of Michael Kimmel's concept of masculinity as homophobia, or the notion that men are terrified to be gay or, even more, be perceived as gay.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp