Tag Archives: gender roles

What the Modern Sitcom Says about Millennials, Our Fears, and Our Obsession with Love

The Mindy Project, New Girl, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Man Seeking Woman, and How I Met Your Mother.

What do all those shows have in common?

Well, for one, they all feature a millennial as their main protagonist. This protagonist is also single. In fact, most of them even kick off their pilot with a break-up of some sort.

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This introductory break-up signals that love is going to be the end goal of the series. Of course there will be other ambitions and goals to meet along the way- especially for female protagonists (apparently women still have to prove that marriage isn’t our only goal in life)- but each of these comedies revolves around a quirky protagonist’s struggle to find a partner.

The “searching for love” trope has become even more common in contemporary sitcoms than the “quirky but loveable family” trope that was so common when we were kids.

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Even just by comparing hit TV shows, I think it’s safe to say that we Millennials tend to struggle with different issues than our parents did at our age.  After all, what is a sitcom for but to mock our deepest fears and help us laugh at ourselves?

Having binge watched most of The Mindy Project, New Girl, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Man Seeking Woman, and How I Met Your Mother, I’ve noticed a couple of common themes running through these shows.  

1. Women worry that they’ve been too successful, while men worry that they haven’t been successful enough

Mindy (The Mindy Project) is a OB/GYN, Jess (New Girl) is a school principal, Rebecca (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) is a lawyer, and even Liz (sister of main character Josh in Man Seeking Woman) is a lawyer. When all of these women find themselves unexpectedly single, they are introduced to a kind of panic none of the male protagonists are forced to face: will I be too old to have kids by the time I find someone?

In contrast, Nick (New Girl) and Greg (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) are bartenders, Josh (Man Seeking Woman) is a temp, Josh (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) works at a “laid-back” tech store, and even Mindy has dated the occasional DJ.

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This is a bit of a red herring, since Ted did eventually become a pretty successful architect.

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In Defence of the Dress Code

There are so many things I hate about dress codes. I hate that they usually target girls and their sexuality, implying that a) if girls don’t cover their bodies boys will have no choice but to “lust” after them and b) a girl’s sexuality is something to fear. I hate that they imply that a woman’s character is based on her level of purity.

I hate that they become an opportunity for grown men to ogle young girls in order to better police what those young girls should wearI hate that they project gender roles onto young people. I hate that they go hand in hand with body- shaming young girls just when their bodies have started to change and they are still learning how to deal with those changes.

In contrast, I love seeing young women standing up for themselves on social media with hashtags like #IAmNotAnObject, #MyBodyMyBusiness, and #MoreThanADistraction. I love seeing them reclaim their bodies as their own, rather than some grown (or young) man’s fantasy. I love seeing them call out our education systems for continuing to prioritize boys over girls. I love seeing them call out the innate sexism at the centre of most dress codes Continue reading

There Is Neither Male Nor Female – Rethinking Gender Roles

…And for those of you concerned, Evan has mandated a cut-off for these posts. As important as they are, and as many interesting questions as they raise, there’s only so many weeks in a row we can dedicate to beating a dead horse.

I feel first that I should clarify some of my points in my original response. When I was first drafting it, I was concerned that Kat (who had written a rather personal piece) might take it the wrong way- I’m glad that she gave me the benefit of the doubt on it. Truth is, my issue isn’t with Kat (who I think would agree with most of what I’m about to argue) but with the wider implications of Deschanel’s statements (though there were a few points I take issue with in Kat’s response- but we’ll get to that).

Deschanel argued that “we can be powerful in our own way, our own feminine way“. My response was “No, you ****ing can’t”.

Not “no, you *****ing can’t be powerful”, not “no, you can’t be feminine” (whatever “feminine” means), but rather “no, you can’t have your ‘own feminine way.'”

Why? Continue reading

Why I Decided to Stop Being a “Tough Girl” and Just Be Me

I used to cry a lot as a kid. A lot. I had all the feels and I didn’t know what to do with them. 

I was also a pretty uncoordinated kid. I mean, nothing spectacular (I only broke a couple bones), but enough to make me suck at the only thing that mattered in elementary school: winning stuff. Being stuck as “it” for hours at a time in grounders or tag really gets the spirit low, so, as you might expect, I spent a lot of recesses crying.

My mom loves to tell this one story from back when she worked at my school. She had been helping a friend of mine with her homework one day and when this friend became frustrated she had reminded her that “Some people are good at spelling, some people are good at sports, etc. Everyone has something that they are good at, and everybody has something we need to work on.”

Later that day, I came dead last in a race (my mom likes to emphasize this part when she tells the story, often repeating herself with “and I mean dead last“). Anyways, after coming dead last in this race I retreated to a distance to cry my eyes out. This same friend of mine came over and put her arm around me. Then she started to tell me “You know Katherine, some people are good at spelling, some people are good at sports…”

You get the gist of it. I used to cry a lot. Then, one day on the playground, a kid called me a “cry-baby”. I don’t remember who it was, but I remember clenching my fists and swearing to myself “I will never cry again!” Continue reading

2 Music Videos That Flipped The Sexual Script [And Failed]

People have been flipping gender roles and sexual scripts for longer back than I care to research. It’s as simple as a sitcom depicting a wife coming back from a long day’s work and her husband meeting her with a pair of slippers and the evening paper. “This doesn’t match up with life as we know it to be!” the audience thinks. They shake their heads, they laugh, they go on with their lives.

Since then we’ve arguably become more open-minded, largely due to pop culture that communicates that women can in fact have professional careers, men can be sentimental and form embarrassingly close relationships with one another, et cetera. That obviously doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain areas that overall continue to be stuck in trends others are making moves to abandon. Take for example, an art form I’ve barely if ever discussed: music videos. Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Disney Movies and Gender Roles

KAT: Hello there ladies and gentlemen, princesses and princes, woodland creatures and dwarfs and all those who fall somewhere in between. Today, if you haven’t already guessed, Evan and I will be discussing Disney films and gender roles.

EVAN: I’ve been reading blogger extraordinaire the Unshaved Mouse review each installment in the Disney animated canon beginning with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and believe you me there is a lot for us to go through-

KAT: Speaking of Snow White, I also unexpectedly came across the Disney film in my literary theory class. In their essay “The Madwoman in the Attic” Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar use Snow White as an example of the angel/ monster dichotomy imposed on women. Snow White is quite literally the personification of purity, meanwhile the only powerful woman in the film (the Queen) is purely evil.

That being said, I feel like gender roles in Disney films have evolved considerably since then.

What kind of gender issues was the Unshaved Mouse bringing up on his blog post about the character? Continue reading

Feminism, Homemakers, and Stepford Wives

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the words “wife and homemaker”?

Exactly.

Now as you probably know by now I’m getting married this summer. I’m super stoked about spending the rest of my life with John because he is my best friend and we have awesome adventures, but I’ve been struggling with what it means to become a wife within our cultural context.

Look at us! We’re married! Now we can jump on the bed!

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