RHOC Wants To Talk About "Straight Fragility." What?

By Sabrina Kosmas··  6 min read
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If you’re a Real Housewives fan like me, you were probably excited to see Orange County get a much-needed facelift this season with new cast members and the return of “Fancy Pants” Heather Dubrow.

Like me, you were also probably surprised by the latest woke vocabulary used on a recent episode when new cast member, Noella Bergener, accused Heather of having “straight fragility.” This may be the first time we’re hearing this term, but I have a feeling it won’t be the last... 

A Little Background, in Case You Missed It

After 5 seasons away from the franchise, Heather returned to the show with her new $21 million California mansion overlooking the Newport Coast, her plastic surgeon husband Terry, and her four kids: son Nicky and daughters Max, Kat, and Coco. Max recently came out as bi-sexual when she was 17 and wrote a book called I’ll Give it to You Straight-ish. Her book release party was featured on the show, and a few episodes later, her younger sister Kat, 15, came out as a lesbian. 

With 7% of all Americans and roughly 21% of Gen Z now identifying as LGBTQ+ according to a recent Gallup Poll, it’s very interesting that 50% of Heather’s adolescent children already identify as LGBTQ+. This isn’t the first time we’ve had celebrities publicize their children’s sexuality or gender identity: Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Dwayne Wade, Busy Philipps, the list goes on.

Roughly 21% of Gen Z now identifies as LGBTQ+.

During a cast trip to Mexico, Noella and Heather got into a fight in which Heather accused Noella of giving her daughter pornography as a gift. Noella, who like Max identifies as bi-sexual, gifted Max a LGBTQ+ card game for her book release party that she had ordered off Amazon, and some of the cards were quite explicit. Noella claims to not have known how inappropriate the cards were, but it’s hard to empathize when she literally ordered a card game about sexuality and was then shocked to find out that the cards were…well, sexual.

What was even crazier than Heather’s accusation of Noella giving a minor pornography was Noella’s response in which she accused Heather of having “straight fragility.” 

Heather’s response was "I have a couple of gay children, don't tell me that I have straight fragility,” and said that the gift was inappropriate. 

To which Noella emotionally replied, "I am a bisexual, biracial, liberal freakin’ woman who lives in Orange County – don't you dare tell me that I'm inappropriate." Heather decided it was time to read some of the cards aloud, proving that Noella was in the wrong since the cards were in fact highly inappropriate.

What on Earth Is “Straight Fragility''? 

We’re all familiar with the term “white fragility,” thanks, but really no thanks, to Robin DiAngelo. This term has been used a lot over the past two years to guilt white people into silence due to their supposedly inherent ignorance based on the color of their skin. And that, of course, isn’t racist in and of itself. 

white fragility definition

Right now when you search for the term “straight fragility” you won’t find an exact definition like you do for “white fragility.” This may be because the interchanging of the term before “fragility” ironically makes its impact weaker every time you interchange it, but most likely because it just hasn’t caught on yet. I will not be surprised if we begin to see this term used more often to recognize the supposed inherent ignorance of straight people when confronted about inequality and injustice of the LGBTQ+ community.

These "oppressed" or "ally" labels are truly a shield for the social justice warrior’s armor.

Obviously, many people who are born homosexual have faced discrimination because of it. But especially with Gen Z, young people seem quick to label themselves part of the LGBTQ+ community because they are exploring their sexuality and/or want to identify with this group so that they can be considered an oppressed minority. And if all else fails and you’re not part of a minority, whether racially or sexually, then you need to label yourself to the public as an ally so that no one can even try and label you as the oppressor. These labels are truly a shield for the social justice warrior’s armor. It’s the reason we now see things like BLM or gender pronouns in social media bios, email signatures, yard signage, etc. This is radical vocabulary 101. 

How To Use Radical Vocabulary 

Now it’s one thing to just know this radical vocabulary, it’s another to use it in your day-to-day life, especially if you can use it first-hand as the oppressed or ally to the oppressed. When your actions are questioned or you receive a negative response, you can use this vocabulary to play defense and even justify your own actions. We saw this play out on RHOC.

These Housewives are quite financially privileged. They live in one of the most expensive parts of the country, wear designer clothes, drive luxury vehicles, send their kids to private schools, etc. Yet despite their immense privilege, we see them utilizing their roles as oppressed/ally to the oppressed to validate their actions.

Despite their privilege, they utilize their roles as oppressed/ally to validate their actions.

When Heather denied having “straight fragility,” which I genuinely don’t believe she has even if it were a real thing, her defense was that she’s a supportive parent to LGBTQ+ children. Which is a fair defense since she has been so public with her support. When backed against a wall and realizing she has no facts or logic to back up the claim that Heather has “straight fragility,” we saw Noella immediately pull out the ultimate defense mechanism: throw anything and everything about you that makes you a minority and oppressed persons to garner sympathy and validate your nonsensical accusations at the wall and hope something sticks: “I am a bisexual, biracial, liberal freakin' woman who lives in Orange County.”

Putting aside the likelihood of Noella rehearsing this line over and over again before she started filming this season, this made no sense in context. Think about it. How does her sexuality, race, or even political beliefs validate giving a minor an inappropriate gift? It doesn’t. 

Will “Straight Fragility” Be the New “White Fragility”? 

Unfortunately, I believe that Noella and many other people are adapting this defense mechanism and using radical vocabulary to do it. The strategy is simple: Defend yourself by claiming your oppressed status whenever someone questions your decisions and label them as having “white fragility” or “straight fragility” or any type of fragility so that they’re depicted as the ignorant oppressor. 

This may be the first time we’re seeing this tactic play out on such a large platform under the guise of “straight fragility,” but I believe that we will see it happen more frequently both on TV and in real life. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before Evie readers like you and me are labeled as having “female fragility.” 

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