A recent episode of CSI Miami titled "Delko for Defense" continues the trend of bizarre and inaccurate portrayals of intersex individuals on television. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. After all, every ethnic, cultural, and social minority has had its time in the evil villain spotlight. Why should intersex people be any different, right?
If you haven't seen the episode and don't mind wasting a half hour, the link to the show is here:
If you don't care to watch, want to see my analysis, and don't mind spoilers, read on:
In sum, a typical, mild-mannered looking, boy-next-door type is chased down after the murder of a famous actress/model in her Miami home. Plentiful evidence clearly points to the man's guilt, until it is discovered by the coroner that the woman had been raped, sometime before her death. The suspect denies his involvement in the murder but refuses to submit to DNA tests, admitting he is hiding something - something so horrible that he rather go to prison than have the tests clear him of all guilt.
Just what is that horrible secret? A forced blood and DNA test clears him of the rape, but reveals the man is androgen insensitive. A forced physical examination in the men's room next reveals he doesn't have the right equipment for raping a woman either. We're led to believe that not only is this man unusually NOT well endowed... He's not really endowed at all. We're not told whether his genitals look more like a clitoris, but our imaginations are instead left to run wild.
Fast forward a bit, and the investigators learn of another woman who had been forced to an equally horrific and eerily similar ordeal to the dead woman's - but survived. (Apparently the killer had forced both of the women to cook him breakfast after the rape--why it is never explained.) The woman had survived narrowly escapes death because some kids come to the door selling cookies or something similar and the killer runs off. Interviewing the surviving woman, investigators realize that this is a tag team of killers. At least two were involved.
Fast forward yet again, they find the rapist, confirm it's his DNA that has been left on the dead woman's body, and confirm a close connection between him and the original suspect. After another very light interrogation of the original suspect, we discover he did kill the beautiful actress. He hastily admits to teaming up with the other psycho (who happens to be a sociopathic computer hacker/tech support nerd). The "real" man would do the raping. And our AIS man -- the "eunuch" the killing. It's poetry really... (sarcasm)
When asked why he would do such a thing, we discover the killer's horrific motive: It was the only way he could really be close with these women. Or something like that. Denied his masculinity, and denied the ability to seek sexual gratification with these ladies by lack of the "proper" anatomy, it seems the natural next step is murder.
So many things wrong with this episode. Don't get me wrong - it was a good laugh. Kind of like one long joke. And the killer's last line - his motive - was like the punchline.
If we want to deconstruct this all a bit though, I am having some trouble believing that the actor portraying the AIS individual could have had AIS. Though there are various grades of AIS... from a very mild form ("1" on a scale of "1 to 7") to complete AIS (a "7"), I don't see where this person would have fit. With a typical masculine face and facial hair, one would guess on the mild end of the spectrum -- yet this would have made his genitals typically male, or just a bit smaller than usual I believe. If he had been extremely androgen insensitive, which is what one would conclude on lack of male-looking equipment, this would have likely come with a significantly more feminine face and build. Heck - most complete AISers are indistinguishable from typical women.
I am not a doctor, but I would conclude that said individual did not have AIS at all, but something completely different.
Medicine and biology aside, I am also bugged by the continuation of themes portraying intersex people, or people who don't conform to gender stereotypes, as evil. You can go back to black and white films to find plenty of evil eunuchs (on a side note, usually Chinese). And movies from the past few decades are filled with lots of gay villains. Does the public really eat these up so much that this bizarre theme continues?
Furthermore, I think the idea that this "evil eunuch" has in his head that he cannot be with a woman sexually because he lacks the right goods down there - says a LOT about our society and our assumptions that one needs a traditional plug and a socket, a male cable and a female port, a ... well you get the picture, for sexual gratification. Get with it people!!!
Perhaps I will never understand...