Welcome everyone to the Spring 2009 blog for Pop Culture Women. During the semester this blog will be another outlet to start dialogues, continue classroom discussions and keep each other informed about interesting websites, community and campus activities. A goal of this course is to develop a critical feminist eye when looking at the world reflected through popular culture mediums.
Sorry I didn't post this earlier. My internet cut out on me last night and, of course, I don't do anything ahead of time so it's late.
I think the most important thing I'll take away from this class is the breadth of feminism. It is really an all-encompassing, inclusive philosophy, which I have believed for a long time. Studying such a variety of feminisms, however, reveals just how expansive it is. Personally, I see feminism as so inclusive that I have a difficult time understanding why anyone could not be a feminist, though I understand people may have their reasons. The other important thing I will take from this class is the ability to use feminism to critique what I see in my culture, popular and otherwise. I already did this before I took the class, but as this is the first GWSS class I have taken at the U, it has helped refine my critical vocabulary and has introduced me to more feminist theory so I am able now to make a more nuanced critique.
I know I am a half an hour too late to receive credit for this blog, because I totally forgot due to end-of-the-semester madness, but I did still want to post this.
This class was my first GWSS class and for the first time in my life I feel like I have had the opportunity to communicate openly and honestly with other feminists. It has been hard to "grow up" in a college environment where my anger and passion about feminist issues have gone completely unnoticed among a lot of my friends.
Though I feel as if I have called myself a feminist for a long time, I have noticed so many things that I don't think I would've noticed before this class. For example, this past week/weekend when I was sick with a flu, I watched a ton of episodes of "Boy Meets World" (please don't laugh) and all I could really focus on were the bizarre gender roles that were apparent in the show, all the weird little gender-"things" that almost dominated the storylines. While I wouldn't say that these entirely diminished my embarrassing enjoyment for the show I grew up with on TGIF, noticing these things is EXTREMELY important, despite my friends' little eye-rollings at my protests for ridiculous pop culture representations of men and women.
It has been so nice to roll my eyes at gender-stereotyped media with ALL of you this semester. This class has been so much fun, so intelligent, and so inspirational. I know I haven't participated orally as much as many of you have, but I have enjoyed every minute of the classes. I am graduating in a month, and I can easily say that this class has been my favorite of any class I have EVER taken in my four years, and has even made me regret my decision of major (I would LOVE to have double-majored in psychology and GWSS, or at least minored in GWSS!). This is also probably the only class that I have actually done *every* reading for.
I have to say the reading of "To Be Real" has been one of the biggest things I will take away from this class. I have often felt guilty for things that I believed/participated in while also trying to be a "feminist", and this book helped me realize that there are SO many viewpoints of feminism and so many different ways to BE a feminist. In a lot of ways I am a "stereotypical" feminist, but in some ways I am not. Reading about other women's and men's experiences with feminism has been great in helping define myself and figure out exactly what it is that I believe in as not only a feminist, but an individual.
I want to thank you all for the incredible and intelligent discussion you have brought to the class, for the blogs you have all introduced me to, and for all the conversations we have had. I do feel close to all of you in a way, and I wish everyone the best of luck in their feministing journeys!
Final blog and I almost forgot... I think I'm a couple minutes late
I really liked this class.. It was a pleasure working with this group of people. It was a little awkward being the only guy but it's probably all good for me anyways. I found a class that I could bake cake for and that's cool. I really enjoyed the readings that we were assigned and the discussions that followed. I really enjoyed the examination of popular culture. I normally am disappointed in how my other classes treats pop culture. They treat it like it doesn't affect us and is irrelevant but I liked how this class delved into these issues and related them to past problems other generations have faced.
I have to admit the hooks piece, thalmier and gina dent piece were stand outs in my mind. I really like the discussions we had on desiring the other and issues with labels and such. I was a little dissappointed that we didn't get to talk about the hetero normative sex articles that I spent time to read but that's just a minor problem. Over all I really liked the environment of the classroom it could be the group but I think it's Mashinda's awesome teaching and tattoos. It was fun and everyone have a good summer
I’ve really enjoyed taking Pop Culture Women this semester. Everyone in our class has made the classroom an open and friendly environment (all the better for being filled with conscious pop culture junkies). I LIKE coming to class on a Thursday night, EARLY! That is no small feat. We should be proud of ourselves for being so awesome.
I’ve appreciated readings that deal with accepting oneself as a feminist, while simultaneously embracing “girliness” as well as products and institutions that could be considered part of the cultural problem. I know that I have a lot of conflict over my feminist beliefs and my addiction to America’s Next Top Model, for instance. This class has helped me to make peace with these kinds of disparities.
I have also enjoyed reading theories that are applicable to pop culture phenomena that we have grown up with and can relate to; this practice makes the theories seem vital, relevant, and fun. I’ll take away a much deeper understanding of feminist theories applied to real pop culture subjects, from Desperate Housewives to Girl Power and Nickelodeon.
Thanks for a great class, everyone! I’m going to really miss this group once our course is finished.
The main thing I will take away from this class is being able to analyze our pop culture media and implement my findings into critical analysis' of society. I have learned more about how our mainstream media shapes the way we think about ourselves, minorities, and government. I am curious to study more "reality TV" and makeover TV and how it influences and affects our economy and decisions about ourselves, careers, and over all goals for life.
I have learned more about being a "feminist" and was introduces to the "feministing" blog for the first time.
For my group project we read "I LOVE LED ZEPPELIN." One of the articles (which I have chosen as my paper topic) is about the Service Industry. We see a fair amount of movies and television that revolve around a restaurant scenerio but very little give is a complete glimpse into the life of an average waitress/cook/host/bartender/etc. I think that "Waiting" (a movie) does a good job with this and so does this website
If you work in the service industry (or find tales of moronic idiots funny) check it out. I had a lot of fun with this class and was introduced to some great shows like "Buffy" and "Desperate Housewives" which I had really never watched until class and will look to continue to watch outside of class!
As many before me have said this was my first GWSS class and I can say I did learn a lot from the class. I look at things differently than I did before. I've got my second class all set up for this summer now. I guess that means I liked my first one. I still don't know if I fully identify myself as a feminist but my eyes have been opened to more issues involving women than I can say I was aware of previously. I think more about issues that women in other countries face which I never really thought much of before. I also react to issues more than I did before. I believe I was what one would consider passive in the way women are portrayed in the world and media. I can say I'm not as passive about it as I was at the begining of the semester. I have learned to pay more attention to my surroundings as far as lyrics to music, topics on television shows anve become less judgemental towards people as a whole. Even though this class was on a Thursday night and I don't enjoy night classes I can honestly say I did enjoy my time in it and met some really great women....and Dunstan.
First, I would like to say that I'm glad that I took this course because I was able to use my pop culture knowledge as an academic tool which is rare in any of my other classes. I love talking about media, especially television and music, and this gave me an outlet to discuss that side of my personality that I don't get to express as often.
I have to say that the main thing I'll take away from this course is my impression of my semester at the U of M. My second smallest class has 180 students so I got to know you all more than any of my other fellow classmates. All of you are very beautiful and unique and I am so glad have had the opportunity to share time with you all. When others ask me about my time at the U, I'll be thinking of you all when I give them a positive review.
I feel like I have learned so much and had so much fun throughout the semester with this class that it is difficult for me to think of only one thing that I will take away. I now have an addiction to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sex and the City, and Desperate Housewives, all shows that I thought were either in my past or shows I'd never seek out. I cannot wait to start watching Battlestar Galactica now, too. So maybe the biggest thing I take away from this class is a new found addiction in television shows, and a new appreciation for their complexities beyond the surface. I used to scorn TV shows as a waste of time and brain cells, but now I see much more value in various shows. I had also never seen Maude before, but found myself laughing during most of the show. I still do not have any interests in the Disney Channel shows like "That's So Raven," but at least now I have a better appreciation for them.
One other thing that I just cannot leave out is my groups graphic novel, Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For. I loved it and thought it was extremely witty and entertaining and would recommend that anyone who has not read it or heard of it should pick it up.
I had never taken a GWSS class before but most of my classes focus on the media and pop culture so I gave this one a try. One thing I was surprised by in this class was the role of race in feminism. So many of the articles we read discussed race as a major factor in shaping the form an individual’s feminism took. I had thought of feminism as focusing on gender much more than race but the two are equally important when you’re working towards equality for all, which is a driving force in feminism.
Different definitions of feminism and how I define my own feminism is something I hadn’t discussed in depth before this class. I think it was really important for me to begin to really look at where I stand on these issues with a group of mostly women. This class helped me think about my own feminism in ways that I hadn’t before and the exposure to other opinions helped me to begin to define where I stand. This class is one of the most thought provoking classes I’ve taken thus far and I hope to take more like it.
As a journalism major, I never thought would end up taking a GWSS class. Little did I know that I would find a class that would spark my interest: this one. I never really thought I would be sitting in a class full of women (and Dustin) discussing our own personal opinions and viewpoints of gender differences, the articles we have read throughout the semester and watching Desperate Housewives during class time.
One of the most important things I will take away from this class is the importance of what it means to be a female. I have grown up my whole life surrounded by stereotypes, and still to this day, they exist. However, by reading some of the articles, I was able to put aside those stereotypes. For example, one of my favorite articles was the “Black Beauty Myth.” Although some of the pieces we were required to read were confusing and at times, dry, I thought that the discussion we had was far more interesting above everything else. I may have not said much, but I can attest that what my classmates thought of and brought to my other peers attention was very thought-provoking to me.
I am not really sure if I would label myself as a feminist, but I would, however, consider myself somewhat changed since taking this class. This was my first GWSS class, and hopefully not my last. It is empowering to sit in a room filled with women (and Dustin) and talk about issues that arise, what it means to be female, and the stereotypes that are attached to what it means to be female.
Needless to say, I will also miss doing these blogs. I was forced to blog for my news reporting class last year, and it felt as though it became a repetitive process of writing about stories that had no meaning to me. This class, however, I am able to be more opinionated in my writing as well as viewing what my peers have to say.
This class engaged more personal discussion, which, is sometimes hard to come across in most of my classes. For that aspect, I am grateful.
To end, one of my favorite Spice Girls song (I swear, they will NEVER get old):
Not to mention, I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion about cougars; I’ll miss that. Growl.
As someone else posted before me, even though this class was on a Thursday night, I found it to be rather enjoyable. When it comes to things that I have taken away from the class, I would have to say that I took the most away from all of our discussions than from theh readings themselves. Although, I did find most of the readings to be entertaining, I found the discussions that we had afterward to be far more thought provoking. The discussions helped me to pull more away from the readings than I originally had just by reading it myself because it presented other ways to read and interpret the articles that I had not considered. More specifically, the main thing that I took away from the course was that there are far more interesting outlets and discussions out there that deal with the popular culture of women.
So, wow, it really feels like this class shouldn't be over! Women in Pop Culture was my first GWSS class and I think that saying it's been my favorite class at the U is a safe statement. While I have been critical of the media for quite some time, I feel like this class has given me a more developed lens for dealing with the media.
I can't think of a time when I wouldn't have defined myself as a feminist, I think I can thank my parents for that, they always told me I could do anything I wanted as long as I worked for it. I know that I've always been more of a girly girl and for a long time I felt like that took away from my feminism, I worried that I wasn't feminist enough because I liked traditionally girly things. This class helped remind me that anyone can be a feminist. I feel like I've made some good friends in this class and I really hope that they aren't lost, I want to say that I really think you are all amazing and have enjoyed our time together.
I enjoyed the readings, for the most part. I definitely consider myself to be open minded but I think that some of the readings gave me perspectives I hadn't really thought about before. I read my first graphic novel, La Perdida, and while I honestly don't love the format (my imagination runs wild when I read, I learned that with so many pictures I can't do that!) I enjoyed the book. I also read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for my paper, and I highly recommend it to everyone. It's a great story about a woman's journey of self discovery, I laughed and cried and loved every minute of it, if you're looking for a good book I highly recommend it!
As a closer to the end of a great semester I am going to have to say that despite this class being on a Thursday night I had a lot of fun showing up.
I learned a lot from everyone and although I think I've always have come to media with a critical lens this class has taught me to perfect that and to be even more critical of the pop culture that I tend to love and love to hate.
As for materials and what not I think all of those who enjoyed reading their graphic novels should most definitely check out the "Life is a Bitch" book (or the Bitchy Bitch series) it's great and has a very interesting perspective, it helped me get an idea of why people react and think the way that they do, and I enjoyed it a lot.
I also recently started the book "...and his lovely wife" which is an interesting memoir about a woman whose husband decided to run for senate and what it was like being his liberal feminist wife. I haven't finished it yet but I definitely think it is worth a look.
I hope everyone has a good rest of the summer and good luck on the finals!!!
When signing up for this class at the end of last semester, I didn't know what to expect. I've never took a GWSS class before, and to be honest the first couple classes I did not know what to think. However, this class has opened my mind to a whole range of different feminist perspectives. The book, "To Be Real", has probably had the biggest impact on my new way of thinking about the male dominated world around me. I've realized, through reading the book, how much empowerment and respect has to do with one's attitude. This class also brought to my attention, how frequently the media uses the female figure in order to sell their product. It's something that I never really thought about before this class, but now I actually look at the ads and the message it's sending to young girls. This class has also made me realize that I am a feminist. The definition of feminism is the idea that women should have political, social, sexual, intellectual and economic rights equal to those of men, but hearing different perspectives in our class has taught me its so much more! I had a great time in the class and I can honestly say I learned alot about not only feminism, but myself.
Like all of my other GWSS courses, there are many things I will take away from this class. A couple things in particular are bell hooks’ “Eating the Other” and Shuggart & Waggoner’s “A Bit Much: Spectacle as discursive resistance.” These two articles were the topics of my critical analysis papers as I found them both to be super interesting. I think what was so cool about both of these readings was that even though both were fairly theoretical; they also both have practical correlates that can be found everywhere in popular culture. In fact, I was just writing a paper for another class of mine on “Slumdog Millionaire” and globalization, and I couldn’t help but think of “Eating the Other” and how Americans watching this movie is the perfect example of “experiencing Otherness” (unfortunately, I couldn’t put that in my paper due to an outside-source limit.) I also can’t help but think of the article “A Bit Much” quite often when I immerse myself in pop culture. It seems that every [female] pop star represents excess and spectacle in some form or another. It's as is everyone needs their gimmick to survive in the entertainment industry these days. It’s all food for thought; when current pop culture seems too crazy to understand, the ideas and analyses we have done as a class certainly help explain things.
Oh, and I also found it so interesting that “LoveSong” by Sara Bareilles was written about her record company! Nice!
I will take away many things from this class, but non more so that the readings we've discussed throughout the semester. The biggest of these is To Be Real, which I found both interesting and challenging. I will also remember some interesting web sites I have come to know about through discussion with classmates, such as TED.com. Most of all, though, this class taught me an appreciation for greater literacy of mainstream media and its resistive potentials, even though it is highly problematic. Though I do not identify as a Third Wave feminist, despite my generational link, I have also taken away a greater understanding of its politics and modes of resistance. This class engages theory while recognizing the incongruity between theory, practice, and real people's lives. Thanks for all!
The article that I read about cougars talked about how, while it is now much more acceptable for a woman to date a man that is younger than her, the idea that it happens a lot is a myth. The article featured several people who coordinate speed dating. While both have tried to set up speed dating events where the women were a little older and the men were a little younger, neither had much success. In both cases, many women signed up for the event, but not enough men signed up for the event for the speed dating to occur. The article discussed, and I agree, that although it is now not seen as much of a big deal when an older woman is dating a younger man, it is still quite uncommon because men still, for the most part, want to date women their own age or younger. The reason for this is that while it may appear that dating between men and women has changed in terms of ages, it really hasn't. Yes, more and more people are no longer put off by the thought of an older woman dating a younger man but that does not mean it is practiced often. One of the biggest problems about dating between men and women still exists today: what a woman looks like is still one of the most important factors. This is why we do not see as many cougar relationships as older men with younger women relationships in real life. Few older women have the means to look like they are 25. As someone mentioned earlier, for an older woman to look like she is 25, she needs to have money to buy all the right clothes, beauty supplies, tanning, and etc. Yes, the media is now portraying cougars in a positive light, but only those who look young. This gives off the notion that it is okay to be a cougar but only if you look like a super model while being so.
It looks like I'm not the only one who picked this particular article. What's noteworthy about this one is that Jeremy Mape and Mark Lobosco, both interviewed here, are the creators of urbancougar.com. There's a lot that's already been said about the double-standard of older woman/younger man vs. older man/younger woman. What I'd like to focus on is this bit from Mape:
"You have 30, 40, 50-year-old women who look like they're 25. And you can't tell the difference," he said.
The notion that older women can be attractive, sexual, and sexually desirable beings is a wonderful thing, certainly. Too often I feel women are expected to be sexless once they reach a certain age, and it is in this way that cougars challenge traditional ideas about aging in a positive way. But I would also note that there's something a little suspect in the way cougars are expected to go about that, as reflected in Mape's statement: older women are only regarded as desirable through passing themselves off as younger women--as convincingly as possible. That in itself doesn't manage to challenge much. I would also add that in order to pull off the quintessential cougar look, a woman ostensibly has to have access to things like botox, skin care regimens, suitable clothes and makeup, maybe a gym membership or exercise equipment or personal trainer (or at least the time in her daily life to exercise a fair bit), the money to hit the bar scene, and so forth. I don't think it's coincidental that most cougars aren't portrayed as working class by any means; I think there's potentially a fair amount in the way of disposable income that needs to go into maintaining the image and the lifestyle--at least as seen on TV.
From the article I read it seemed this woman was for older women dating men, but not being called cougars. She mentions something about how cougars are seen as predatory and older women aren't all like that. She also talks about how the times have changed, people can do things to remain younger looking and society accepts the notion of young men and older women. I honestly doubt any women like 50 years ago dated younger men (by younger I'm talking a 45 yr old dating a 22 yr old.) The reason that didn't happen was because society didn't accept it. Women were supposed to date older men who could take care of them. Now days women can easily take care of themselves, so the idea of a woman dating a man who is younger seems more plausable. I kind of don't like the whole cougar thing though. I got to say, although I'm okay with other people sleeping around for the fun of it, I just don't like that stigmas like this are associated with people sleeping around. I always felt like the one thing women had over men was our abilty to control our sexual urges, but based on this cougar idea, women basically are like men. I guess this is my own opinion and its neither right nor wrong, but I don't like how society has turned sex into an activity rather than something that is meaningful. I guess I must be old fashioned, but I also don't want a case of herpes or something either. I think its nice that these women still get hit on by younger men, because everyone likes to feel pretty and sexy. However the lengths these women take to look younger are sort of rediculous. I guess I'm not old yet so I probably shouldn't pass any sort of judgement, but I just feel like there is too much pressure to look young and beautiful when your older. Obviously no one wants to admit that they've gotten old and they look it, but its also a fact of life. I hope when I'm old that i'll be okay with it, and not do surgeries and botox and crazy fad diets to look the way men want me to. When I'm that age hopefully I'll have found a man to marry who will love me for myself and I wont have to subscribe to our societies ideals and instead I can simply be myself. However, that is an ideal, and to be realistic I think it sucks that society makes it so hard to feel beautiful.
A cougar is a woman 40 years of age or older who exclusively dates younger men, or “cubs,” if you will. A cub is a man aged 22-35 who enjoys and reciprocates the attentions of said cougars. My personal definition of a “cougar” would be: A 35+ year old female who is on the "hunt" for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male. After I hear the term cougar, I always feel rather inclined to purr or growl. Maybe it's just me.
I cannot say that I have been really exposed to what one might call a “cougar.” When I think of this term, Samantha from “Sex and the City” instantly comes to mind. With her form-fitting dresses, 5-inch heels and bright red lipstick, she gleams confidence with every step she takes: and usually, those steps lead right into the direction, or bed, of a younger man. Yes, I watch “Sex and the City” religiously (well, if you count owning the entire collection on DVD) and Samantha is the only cougar I can picture when the term comes to mind. Have I seen a “real-life” cougar? No. I have noticed in some of my other peers blogs that they posted a link to the TVLand “Cougar” show. Personally, I think the show looks entertaining and worth watching. These “cougars” are stepping outside of what is considered the “norm” and challenging traditional values. I say more power to you, Stacey, for having the drive to go out and search for love, regardless of how old the man is or how old she really is.
After some extensive research, I came upon and article titled, “Cougars and Their Cubs,” an article published on AARP.org, I found it ironic how some of the women mentioned in the article blame past relationships problems on either being married or going through a traumatic event; as a result, they chose to date younger men, thinking that perhaps they can find love in a different age group. Annette Wheeler was mentioned in this article, a 60-year-old cougar. Wheeler is a fiery redhead who lives outside Baltimore said, “I adore younger men. I liked younger guys even when I was in high school—like a year or two younger. I was a cougar before there were cougars.”
In this article the author references Valerie Gibson, author of “Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men.” The self-proclaimed cougar wrote her first book on the topic—“Younger Men: How to Find Them, Date Them, Mate Them, and Marry Them”—14 years ago. She said the book caused an awful stir—and not a good one. She said people were horrified that older women should be having sex with younger men.
I feel as though that in today’s society, more times than not, older women might be frowned upon for going after a younger male. Many might wonder, “Can’t you get someone your own age?” I say love can be found at any age, young or old.
Statistics compiled by AARP the Magazine state that 34 percent of women over 40 are dating younger men, according to a 2003 survey. The same poll, which surveyed 3,500 single people (both women and men) aged 40 to 69 years old, found that 56 percent are currently separated or divorced from a spouse, 31 percent have never been married, and seven in 10 (74 percent) of formerly married singles in their 50s have been single for five years or more.
Like the saying goes, “Age is nothing but a number.” More power to you ferocious cougars out there. GROWL.
The first thing that I noticed when looking at urbancougar.com was that the women were not that old! Even looking through the profile pictures, many of them are still quite young. From the very beginning though, it seems that the the poppular idea of a "cougar" is an overly sexy olde women. In reailty though, many of the women even in the profile section are very normal women. Still, sexaulity is brought to heightened degrees.
According to Valerie Gibson, my personal definition of a cougar is wrong. When I think of the term cougar, I picture a woman that is at least over her forties. Gibson defined it as a woman that dates a man 8 years her younger, which would really apply to any age. ABC's article seems to have a positive attitude towards cougars, but one particular section of the article struck me as odd. The a man by the name of Mape in general says that older women can look great too...women in their 30's 40's and even 50's can look as young as a 25 year old. Depending on how you view cougars, the idea of an older women being free and capable of getting a younger man may seem to be avery empowering. The comment made in the article though makes me wonder if that is really true. Is a cougar only a cougar if she is attractive, sexy, and forever looks 25? Being a rather new term, I think "cougar" can mean more than one thing to different people. It isn't a term that everyone would agree on the term. In fact, in the same article the writer discusses how some people view a cougar as an old women with a gray bun. Overall, I actual question whether or not the cougar phenomenon really has disrupted traditional conceptions of aging and traditional beauty/class standards. If one uses urbancougars.com as a decision point, I would say that this idea of a cougar doesn't really change the standards. It is depicts them as the "young" ideal women. Perhaps, a true cougar would portray a more empowering idea.
The article is: http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/Health/Story?id=731599&page=3
Traditionally women seem to lose value socially as they age. There can be tension in the workplace/social situation between older and younger women because older women can feel like they are given less attention or value. This is where the whole “trophy wife” deal comes from, old wives become worthless and younger newer models are needed. The cougar phenomenon shows that a woman’s age does not make her worth more or less. The UrbanCougar site values age for the experience it brings, but the website also pays attention to the younger “cougars-in-training” and “cubs.”
The article I read was a review on TV Land’s new show “The Cougar.” I was really surprised to find out that the contestant on the show is only 40 years old! 40 is a cougar? I feel like women in their 40s are just getting done having children and are busy raising kids. In my mind a cougar is able to spend time dating and looking around because their children are grown and the time they spent with family/taking care of kids is now open. Not that you can’t date when you have kids but I picture a cougar as being able to be much more indulgent than a person busy raising kids would be able to be.
Both website and article seem to say that to be a cougar you have to be good looking. It’s nice that older women can be seen as sexy too but sometimes women are older AND not sexy. Can these women be cougars? The woman on the cougar and many of the women on UrbanCougar pretty much have the bodies of 20 year olds. Do you have to look like a 20 something to be a sexy 40 something?
When I think of the term cougar I immediately think of some of my immature guy friends talking about my friends' moms. Pretty commonly thought of by many, a cougar is a very attractive older woman; usually white, middle to upper class.
I found an article about a celebrity cougar: Jennifer Aniston. Every one knows who she is. Almost every guy I've every talked to is attracted to her. Jennifer fits the cougar persona to a tee. She is 40 years old, perfectly in shape, and has a lot of money.
This article is about Jennifer being recently single. It also talks about John Mayer, her recent ex, and how he will never be satisfied. I was talking with one of my guy friends about this and he was amazed. He said, "how couldn't you be satisfied if you were dating Jennifer Aniston, she's hot!"
Although many of Jennifer's characteristics fit the traditional standards of beauty;fit, wealthy, smart, perfect hair and skin, others challenge some conventions of it as well. Her age is probably one of the biggest contradictions. Although 40 isn't "old," it sure is getting up there. It's not like Jen is 25 anymore. She's almost old enough to be some of our mothers.
Anyway, it can't be argued that Jen isn't a cougar. I have plenty of guys to back me up! :)
i think the idea of a cougar is very interesting because way before i had ever heard of the word 'cougar' or i was dating a boy whose friends referred to me as "tender". they would say "oh hey tender" when i came over, and i didn't understand what it meant. they were referring to being young and attractive -- apparently-- because i was only 18 at the time. so, similar to the word cougar, which tends to mean older and attractive. but i suppose the word cougar also has a 'hunting' or "on the prowl" connotation. i think its interesting, giving animalistic names to women.
for a cougar source, i was watching tvland or one of those channels that specializes in crappy reality television dating shows, and there is this new dating show about older women dating younger men. i have attached the video clip for you all:
what makes me wonder is 1) is this the male version of gold-digging? and 2) if these men were faced with a woman closer to their age with the same accomplishments and ambitions, would they be similarly attracted to them? and if not, what is the real attraction?
by the way, i just looked up the word cougar on urbandictionary.com and one of the other words that popped up, (similar to when you are on netflix and it suggests other movies based on ones that you've been browsing) was whore. nice.
My article comes from ABC news. It talks about real-life cougars and some television cougars, such as Samantha from Sex and the City. The article discusses relationship columnist Valerie Gibson' s ideas about cougars. For the most part, I liked what she said, since she focused on the independence and self-confidence of these women. It emphasizes their financial stability and the fact that they tend to be successful career women. One thing, however, bothered me. Gibson advises cougars not to reveal their age to their partners. While personally, I don't divulge my age right away on a date, I don't try to hide it, nor do I think any woman should. Maybe it's easy for me to say that because I am 21 in a relationship with a 24-year-old, not 53 in a relationship with the 24-year-old. There is stigma attached to age in general, but it seems to increase when we think about age and sexuality, especially if the person/people we're discussing is a woman. It's a sort of triple standard, an extension of the double-standard for women and sex.
Jeremey Mape, a male "cougar hunter" quoted in the article, emphasizes the centrality of beauty to dating a cougar. She must be beautiful, in the normative sense of the word. He says, "You have 30, 40, 50-year-old women who look like they're 25. And you can't tell the difference." So, Jeremy, you'll date a 50-year-old woman as long as she looks like she's 25. I don't think that is a healthy attitude. I think it reinforces the beauty myth and while it is true that many of the women I admire for beauty are older, some of that beauty comes with age. Wrinkles should not be ugly, signifying a sexless grandma; the body is sculpture and is beautiful at any stage. Come on, Jeremy, do you really think sexiness is a surface thing? It's exuded. It's attitude.
Fortunately, the article does look fairly comprehensively at what makes a cougar a cougar, stressing her independence, confidence, and discussing why successful older women often choose to date younger men. (According to the article, it's because men their age are afraid of them).
Sifting through the pictures and articles about "cougars" and I notice something. There are very few different ideals of beauty presented. Most of the pictures have been the skinny "white" ideal of beauty. I ran into this article in the huffingtonpost.com comparing "cougars" with their younger counterparts. According to the urbancougar.com there are many deeper aspects to the definition of what consists as a cougar. This article chooses to focus on a very specific aspect to cougardome, that is physical beauty.
I believe that this article falls into the commonly seen ideal that cougar only involves physical beauty. I believe that physical beauty may be a huge part of it but it seems that attitude is a significant part also. Which means in a way the cougar doesn't really quite challenge the mainstream ideal of beauty. The huffingtonpost article slightly offended me because it doesn't really present many deep differences in how cougars challenge the ideal of beauty. Other than age they present women that pretty much fall within the mainstream ideal of beauty. It seems that cougars don't have a different ideal of beauty but the same as their younger counterparts with very little deviance.
The article, “Cougar Women? Older Women Should Ignore The Age Gap And Have Fun”
By Ted Burgess at http://www.singlescene.net/cougar_relationships_older_women_should_have_more_fun.html
Discusses why older “cougar” women have become more prevelant and embody the cougar. According to this article, technology has helped cougar become more attractive and acceptable over the years. Because of advancements in medical fields, like plastic surgery women no longer have to shown their “unattractive wrinkles” yet still have the live experience to enjoy an age gaped relationship. They can be attractive to younger men in these two ways because they look “young” yet have experience (especially in bed.)
I would assume that older women are more motherly, doting, and lay what they want flat on the table. This takes the guess work out for the younger men and they are spoiled with gifts. It’s also easier for the men because it’s less likely for them to have the pressure of being the bread winner or helping raising a crew of children.
The cougar phenomenon disrupts traditional views of aging and beauty because of the medical advancements. It’s hard to tell how “old” some cougars are and their experience is a positive not a negative, unlike years ago.
The article I found about cougars (and their cubs) is interesting because it vocalizes the notion that cougars existed before they were called "cougars." Some women have just always been more attracted to younger men. One of the women in this article makes an intriguing comment about the acceptance of older men dating younger women, a 70 year-old man dating a 40 year-old woman is more acceptable, not as "creepy," as the opposite. The cougar phenomenon reifies the traditional beauty because everyone always says that cougars have to be "sexy," and they can't be sexy if they look "old." Younger men even call themselves " 'cougar hunters' when they're out on the town looking for sexy older women." Women who are often defined as cougars fight aging by keeping strict diets and working out often, especially doing yoga and pilates. Some go as far to get plastic surgery, like breast implants and Botox. These women like to show of the younger men they date to show that all their hard work paid off.
It focuses on dating "the second time around." The divorce rate in the world has been increasing, meaning that there are a lot of single 40+ women looking to date. This disrupts our traditional conceptions of aging because most people assume by the time you hit 40, the dating scene is over. You should be married and have a family, or at least be in a monogamous relationship with someone. It's all about women who are older and know what they want. They are independent and don't want or need men to run their lives or even be more than a fling in their lives.
I just have to say, when I did a Google search for Cougars, besides the standard wildlife responses, I was surprised at how many Cougar dating sites I found! I did not realize that online dating sites had gotten so specific!
I think that, generally speaking, as we age, women lose their importance in society. As men gray, they are said to look distinguished, and it's not uncommon for them to date younger women. Take a look at Hugh Heffener, his newest girlfriends aren't even able to legally drink (I had read that they were 18) and he is 84! He's hailed as a hero to many men while Demi Moore's relationship with Ashton Kutcher was talked about in slight disgust when it started. Anyway, I've gone off topic a little in that I haven't mentioned the article I read yet! In May of 2005 ABC aired a program asking "Are More Older Women with Younger Men?" bringing the term Cougar to the evening news. Apparently the term Cougar had originally been derogatory but that it has taken on a more positive meaning, referring to women in their 30's and 40's who is strong, intelligent and stable and just looking for a younger man to have fun with. I think that cougars are the women we need to remind us that no matter how old we are we can be beautiful and desired. While I do believe that beauty is only skin deep, I have learned that it is important for many women to feel desired and to feel beautiful. I do think that it's a little disheartening that there are so many cougars who have maintained their looks because of plastic surgery and not because they are just beautiful.
There was an episode of The Millionaire Matchmaker (I can't help it, I love Bravo TV!) where Patty tries to set up a millionairess, who was ironically from Minneapolis but really gave us a bad name she was a bit of a bitch, who only wanted to date much younger men who were really hot and needed no work (she wouldn't have to take him shopping or dress him). This look at the cougar was a little upsetting because Shauna was not looking for a young guy to have fun with, she was looking for an accessory, or at least that's how she was portrayed.
My understanding of a cougar, since I first learned what it meant besides being a large cat in the wild, is that it is an older woman who has relationships with and prefers younger men. The first time I remember the word was when it was used to describe Demi Moore’s relationship with Ashton Kutcher. The term for me was based on celebrity relationships more so than other women. Now, however it seems that more women want to be cougars. Within the past couple of months, it seems that the popularity of cougarness has increased. Recently Trya had an episode where she talked to cougars and as other people have discussed there is a new reality show called “The Cougar.”
I found my article on AARP.org, which is actually an organization, devoted to providing service for people over 50. The article titled "Cougars and Their Cubs," which talks about the discovery of cougarism and the double standard associated with it. The double standard they are referring to is the fact that it is often acceptable for older men to date younger women, so therefore it should be ok for older women to be with younger men. The idea of a cougar, while it’s becoming more accepted, still has a sense of taboo associated with it. In fact however, as the article discusses, women are with younger men for the same reason men choose younger women, “The mentality of having a youthful person on your arm who makes you feel good, who makes you feel ageless, makes you feel desired and desirable.” The idea that you need someone young and beautiful to in term be young and beautiful reverts back to societies ideas of traditional beauty. Young = Beautiful/Attractive, Old = Ugly. Women who consider themselves cougars often don’t want to be called cougars because of it’s reference to their age. Being a cougar means you are old, which in our culture means unattractive.
The cougar phenomenon also does a lot to disrupt traditional conceptions of aging. While aging is usually thought of as a negative, it is now being translated into a positive. Older women seeking younger men can be found more attractive both in their looks and in other attributes. Cougars are thought to have more experience, both physically and mentally, because they are likely to have been through a number of relationships. They are also thought of as more independent, the younger men are there to provide for them, but to spice up their life. The article discusses the idea of “cougar hunters”, younger men who are actually seeking out older women. Young men actually want all of the positive attributes associated with older women.
In popular culture today, being a cougar is becoming more and more embraced by women. The website describes a cougar as: in control, independent, experienced, undeniably sexy, likes attention, and she's down with the program. The website seems to be trying to get away from common stereotypes such as: a cougar has to be above a certain age, date only younger men, and they are rather loose women. These stereotypes about being a cougar woman are way to general, because cougar women vary from person to person. In the article I found online about cougar women, they defined a cougar as, "A term dreamt up by some male or possibly jealous young female to describe an older woman engaged in a relationship with a younger man. The description 'Cougar Woman' infers a predatory mature woman (35-50+) who hunts, stalks, lusts after and imposes her attentions upon some innocent, inexperienced young male". My article takes on a feminist stance on how the cougar phenomenon helps break away from patriartical standards in society, because now the woman's in charge. Looking at most cultures throughout history (even in today's society) untold numbers of innocent and inexperienced young women are being forced into unsuitable marriages. "The financial, social or political benefits from such actions pass generally to males". However, people who decide to get into relationships with "Cougar Women" or "Sugar Daddies” know that the relationship comes with certain benefits, or there is a mutual understanding of what the relationship entails. Cougar women, because labeled as independent in every aspect, do tend to have a greater status in society. When I think of a cougar woman, I think of a woman CEO of a company, who depends on only her to pay the bills. Because of technology today, women can stay younger looking for longer, therefore secretly hiding the age gap in their relationship. Traditional beauty, or beauty within, has been forgotten in my opinion. I think the mindset of more and more women (especially cougar women), is to be forever young. This alone is playing into a patriartical system because the woman thinks she has to look pretty and young for a man. After reading both the website and the article, I think that being a cougar woman plays more of a feminist role then sexist. I think because of the growing equality in the work force today, there will be more and more cougar women.
I read AARP’s blog article about ‘Cougars and Their Cubs’, seemingly directed at older readers because of the source. In the article, 60-year old Annette*(name changed) describes her attraction to younger men.
It seems as though the cougar phenomenon does a lot to reinforce typical cultural beauty standards. Even though the point is that cougars are “older” women, significant emphasis is placed on them looking young. A truly “hot” cougar would look just like Britney Spears. Rather than aging gracefully, many cougars have the reputation for getting plastic surgery. Cougar-dom seems to be acceptable and “hot” or “classy” only for a few women, who can look like they don’t have 4 kids, 2 divorces and a few wrinkles. Stacey Anderson, Urbancougar’s “cougar of the month”, and star of TV Land’s ‘The Cougar’, advises fellow cougars: “Whoa easy on the botox! And please dress age appropriate. Class is displayed in simple, elegant ways. If you’ve got what it takes, you don’t need to try hard.”
Simply by invoking the word “class”, towards modes of dress and presentation, Anderson espouses a kind of subtle classism, and cougar elitism. Again, it is clear that only the most flawlessly put-together women can be sexy, acceptable cougars, and that an “unclassy”, perhaps less wealthy cougar would appear trashy and tarnish the new cougar reputation.
One thing that bothers me about the idea of cougars (as well as older men dating significantly younger women) is that, despite exceptions, it can be difficult for people with a big rift in age to connect intellectually. It seems that a lot of emphasis is put on the sexual connection to be found in such a match. Annette claims above all that she hates “baggage”, and doesn’t want to date someone her own age, with a long history. But she herself has a history! This kind of pairing only makes for mismatched power dynamics in relationships.
I found an article on "Ezine Articles" talking about the rising phenomenon of cougar women and how they should continue to ignore the age gap between themselves and their dates. It discusses how cougars are empowered and experienced women who know how to get what they want, like the "What is a Cougar Anyway?" article on urbancougar.com. However, my article continually refers to "panther daddies" as the male counterpart to cougar women. It was this automatic equality in terminology that I have a problem with.
Cougars, in my opinion, are a social response to the normal, assumed idea that older males are more successful. Cougars say "Hey, I might be an older woman, but I am sexy, wanted, and thus powerful. Our society's patriarchal norm produced the "sugar daddy" belief--that young women should flock to older men because they are more financially stable and physically attractive. Cougars represent women who are rebelling against this idea, a true feminist reform. The article's use of the term "panther daddies" disturbed me because it refused to acknowledge the fact that cougars are an effect of patriarchy; panther daddies are the opposites of cougars, not their equal counterparts.
I find the whole cougar phenomenon very interesting. I whole thing distributes the mainstream view of older women which seems to be that if an older women is single after a certain age it must mean that there is something wrong with her. Also that a lot of people find older, independent women as unattractive and intimidating, where like so many things, these qualities in men are praised. We see this especially in Hollywood where men tend to continually get jobs, despite their age, and are still seen as sex symbols where the exact opposite is true for women. The idea of the cougar is changing this, showing that women are still available and open after a certain age and that they not only want to be with others, but others also want to be with them. This is also breaking the stereotype that women can be aggressive and the more dominant one in the relationship rather than men playing the role.
One thing that I find very annoying however about cougars is that none of the things I have read about or seen show cougars that do no look younger than they actually are. All the cougars I have seen examples of tend to be very skinny, tan, young looking women. They do not seem to be“average” (for lack of a better word) women of a certain age that are qualified as cougars. From what I have seen so far dealing with cougars I think the same stereotypes would be applied to those who do not this specific description of the young looking, skinny women looking to be with younger men.
I do think it’s interesting that culture has come to accept older men with much younger women and although older women dating younger men is very nontraditional seem to get a much bigger response about it being perverted , creepy or inappropriate.
Here's a blog I found linked on feministing today that discusses the ramifications of the term 'passing' in a racial sense and in relation to gender. The writer of this blog is an African American transwoman who is uncomfortable with the use of the word "passing" to describe transgender people living their lives because of its connection to African American history. She has an interesting perspective and I thought I'd post it since we were discussing the meaning of the word in class on Thursday.
This show is one of those reality shows in a similar format to "The Bachelor" with Stacey, 40, as the cougar (urbancougar.com's current Cougar of the Month) and 20 men who are mostly (if not all) between the ages of 21 and 30. Obviously, Stacey is disrupting traditional gender and age traditions by being an older woman dating much younger men because that is definitely a cultural faux pas. This also reinforces traditional beliefs on age because Stacey consistently talks about how a woman her age should feel like when talking about her sexual drive which only reinforces stereotypes.
Even though I do tend to get reeled into watching these types of shows (like VH1's versions), I probably won't be watching again because I really can't stand Stacey or the format of the show and my reasons why make me think of my personal judgments on gender and age. I don't like how intimate she is getting with these men so soon. I actually don't mind that she kissed two of the guys right after she was getting to know them on the very first night, but the fact that she kisses them all by the end of the show is bothersome. Stacey had to send 5 men home at the end of the night and the way she showed who was going to stay and who was going to go was by a process called "The Kiss-Off". Each man was called individually and Stacey would tell the guy to kiss her and if she let him kiss her on the lips, the man got to stay, but if she turned her cheek, that meant he was sent home. Does she really have to have all of the guys kiss her every single episode? I think that is so rude to have all these men kiss her and then watch someone else kiss her right away, even if it's only a small peck.
Stacey also has at least four children, some of which are teenagers and younger. Yes, they are probably going to see some of the show and I would never want to behave the way she does in some of the previews for the rest of the series, knowing that my children would see it. I guess my problem with the show has more to do with courtesy and parenthood (and maybe age, inadvertently) , but it wouldn't be any different if this was a man. I feel the same way about her as I do Flava Flav, it's just that the male contestants aren't nearly as interesting as the Flav's female ones were and Stacey is not as ridiculously entertaining as Flav is.
A cougar is generally meant to be an older woman who likes the company of younger men. On urbancougars.com, of course, they tried to expand upon its definition, talking about how women are diverse and changing, about how every woman who calls herself a cougar also has a unique personality of her own, and that cougars are not "old hags" who sit at the end of bars drinking and smoking too much. They went on to say that women who called themselves cougars defied traditional gender roles by defying the double standard that makes old women ugly, and by going out and aggressively getting what they want rather than always waiting around for a man to pursue them (though, of course, they said that not all cougars are "predators"). While perhaps "flipping" the standard of female passivity and decaying age, urbancougars did not talk about why they still chose to speak within the same normative terms of black and white passive/aggressive roles. Neither did they question why, even while attempting to erase the image of ugly older women compared to dignified men, they themselves still chose to label other "types" of women "hags." Neither did they question people's need to oversimplify complex individual human beings into tiny, neat, easily readable categories. Why not embrace a more ambiguous way of looking at people's behavior that doesn't easily lend itself to the creation of limiting stereotypes and elitist boundaries upon which those who don't belong ("hags") can be unproblematically collapsed as an "outsider" and dismissed? I went and found an article on askmen.com about cougars. It was interesting to read what a man wrote about these women who call themselves cougars, because he basically just said that cougars were older women who dressed in revealing tight clothes, smoked cigarettes, and did everything they could to not only look anything other than middle aged, but to attract the attention of men. He created an exact image of the stereotypical cougar: she wears a style of clothing marketed to girls about thirty years younger than themselves, smoke heavily, drink, stand around on street corners and bars, and are aggressively attracted to younger men. While he did not write in an explicitly derogatory way (he was giving men tips on how to date them) his attitude revealed the myriad complications of clinging to an modifying term. One who identifies as such may well feel that they lay claim to a diversely applicable term, which is true; however, a person who wishes to identify with this term that still speaks the same language of the existing order may find that it is unrealistic to expect others to think of the term as ambiguously as they do. It is also frequently the case that people cling to these terms in order to create boundaries around themselves, which in turn makes them "special;" something that gets in the way of an agenda that might accomplish larger structural changes that would allow people to be freer from labeling altogether and to occupy a grayer space within which outcomes could be increasingly variant and diverse. The goal of resistance is that, one day (even as it is unlikely), it will no longer be necessary.
Currently, in the shows that I watch, I feel that race, gender, and sexuality are portrayed equally, overall. With that being said, the only shows that I watch now are Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Samantha Who. The shows that I use to watch when I was younger, however, are quite different. My favorite shows when I was younger were shows like Boy Meets World, Growing Pains, Step By Step and all of the other shows that were on TGIF. One of the main threads throughout these shows is the different ways that men and women are portrayed. For the most part, the shows above all have female characters that are very intelligent and the male characters are depicted as being unintelligent bafoons, but the women love them anyway. The girls are always portrayed as being more level headed and cautious and not as wild, whereas the guys are portrayed as fun and care-free wild guys. The guys usually are seen as having to settle down and get serious about life and the girls are sometimes depicted as uptight and needing to let loose more. Like any stareotype, a negative affect of gendering on a teen comedy show is that young kids will begin to believe that the stereotypes that are being shown are the ways that they are suppose to act and behave. This is bad beause it limits what a peson can be.
A lot of shows rely on stereotypes because it makes production easy and cheap. I think shows like teen dramas (OC, The Hills, Laguna Beach, and Gossip Girl) depend on this the most. These shows always focus the popular kids at school who are mostly white, rich, and beautiful. Typically the leader of the popular group is a bitch, like the only way to become popular is high school is to be high class and cut throat. Audiences recognize that this popular girl is not a good girl, but you have to admit their position of power is appealing, I think it can lead to real life hatred between teen girls. I think only showing audiences the power of white, beautiful, rich kids, will make kids that don’t fit into those categories feel like they are unable to be in positions of power or popularity.
When shows veer from the norm and focus on teens who belong to groups other than the popular kids, they usually become comedies. Some examples of this is the show Freaks and Geeks. Freaks and Geeks depends on stereotypes also but the show offers the audiences characters with more depth than shows that focus on popular kids. Even when popular kids have problems in dramas the problem eventually comes down to a boy or their image among their friends. Even the characters of Freaks and Geeks, a comedy, deal with problems more pressing. I think shows like Freaks and Geeks allows audiences to find characters that identify with while Teen Dramas offer unrealistic characters that audiences strive to be like.
I think that it is difficult to say exactly how women, minorities, sexualities,and classes are portrayed in different genres of television, because they vary so much from show to show. There are comedies in which women are portrayed as stupid, some where they are smart, etc.
I do not have any experience with sci-fi, it is a genre that is just not for me - I literally can't remember a single time ever watching it.
I do have more knowledge of drama and comedies, but again, it changes so often. We have talked already about how gender is portrayed in television. As far as sexuality goes, I believe that in comedies, it is generally the butt of many jokes. This is true in cartoons - Family Guy definitely comes to mind. The thing about these cartoons, however, is that they seem a lot like satire - they aren't portraying these stereotypes as true-to-life, they are exaggerating them and in some cases using them to make some sort of statement about society and society's view of these issues. In dramas, I feel like GLBTQ people CAN be portrayed more accurately, but it really depends on the show. Some with a primarily GLBTQ-demographic (e.g. Queer As Folk) may be different than some that aren't primarily about sexuality (Six Feet Under comes to mind, of course, since I can't seem to write a blog post without bringing it up - e.g. there is a gay couple that does definitely not conform to most stereotypes, as well as a character sort of struggling with her sexuality).
Minorities across the board, I feel, are just not portrayed in accurate or positive ways. Especially when considering black people, I feel like they are either "white"-like or charity cases. They are either EXACTLY like their white counterparts and immersed in white culture, or they are the victims of poverty. I feel like there just aren't many realistic portrayals in any genre that I have noticed.
Class also seems to stay somewhat similar across genres I am familiar with. It is very clear that poor = trashy in our media. Also seems to be very much correlated with race; janitors, fast food workers, etc. rarely are white. Class seems to be blamed on the individuals rather than overwhelming issues and "isms" in society. It's due to laziness or some specific family problem or something along those lines.
Inaccurate (and I guess there is no true "accurate") portrayals in these areas make me really tired, and I think this is why I don't watch TV all that much. I feel like these aspects (race, gender, class, sexuality) are seriously the butt of jokes, the source of comedy, and generally contribute to these isms.
I'm not a Whedonite. But I did enjoy Firefly, despite being cognizant of its many shortcomings, and it was this very class (well, and my boyfriend, who just got the entire series on DVD) that turned me onto Buffy, which I'm working on now. I still find it really peculiar that for all the ways in which Firefly is inundated with representations of "Chinese culture," there were no Chinese or other East Asian actors on the show. I believe the article we read spoke of Inara as being an "exotic Asian" stereotype, but the actress who plays her, Morena Baccarin, is herself Brazilian. Not to mention (and I think the article might've brought this up, too, but I remember thinking of it as I was watching the episode), the second of only two remotely important black male characters appears in the last episode of the series, and his very first act is to threaten Kaylee with rape. Yikes. I'm aware of what Joss Whedon does outside of his television stuff--his involvement with Equality Now is certainly something I respect--but it's just little troubling things like this that crop up with enough regularity that I can't not be critical. And this is with good reason, as I'm told from multiple sources that feminist or no, Joss Whedon has some... problems with the way he represents race in his shows.
So I've started watching Dollhouse now, too. I like what I see. I mean, it's definitely interesting. My main issue right now is that I think there really ought to be more male "Dolls." The Dolls in their natural, non-imprinted state are very innocent, obedient, and a little childlike. They seem pretty sexualized to me as well. That they're predominantly female doesn't seem like a coincidence to me, and I wouldn't mind seeing the gender ratio balanced out a bit better. Not only to maybe offset the stereotype of that type of character being female, but also on a purely demographic basis. Women watch this show too, you know! Enough exclusive pandering to the male gaze, plzkthx. Apparently the Big Bad rogue Doll is male, but that's sort of a different character situation in my opinion. There's also a very large can of worms related to issues like human trafficking, rape, and sexual slavery, but I'm willing to treat the series as too early in its run to formulate a proper opinion about it. I'm unsure so far whether Dollhouse is commenting on such issues in a meaningful way, or if we're supposed to be titillated by a lot of the situations we're privy to. Sometimes I wonder if Dollhouse is sure, either.
Sci-fi: I don’t watch too many sci-fi shows but remember “Star Trek: The Next Generation” as a kid. The Captain and Number 2 were both tough looking, quasi- handsome men who looked like humans, they were the “normal” ones. Deanna Troi was the sexy counsler who had an ongoing love romance with Number 2, she was also telepathic. Every episode she wore a skin tight body suit and had long curly hair, I thought she was so pretty. Beverly was the ships doctor. Of course a woman would be the one to take care of everyone’s conditions! Geordi and Warf were the characters played by black men. These guys had problems! Warf was not human but a Klingon (whatever that is) with funny wrinkles on his head. He was also the big tough guy, he was in charge of security. Geordi was the engine master but they only called him a leutinnett. He was blind and less able bodied than the other men on the show. The black characters did not have love interests but the Captain and number 2 did. This sends a subliminal message to viewers. My experience as a little girl watching this show was to want to be like the pretty Deanna who was dating the “hot” number 2. Everyone always rooted for the Captain and Beverly and their on again off again struggle, but why would she never date the other guys, the black ones? This obvious dis-inclusion of romance for the black characters is a stereotype society uses to depict black men and romance, or lack there-of. It seems that many shows and movies continue to use the stereotype of the black man who’s bad at relationships or doesn’t stick around. I think that stereotype is more prevelant in the movies and news when you hear about the black woman who’s husband left her to raise there kids, but that happens to white people too it’s just not stereotyped like that.
I was just reading feministing (which reminded me to write this post) and found this article analyzing Lil' Wayne's experience of rape as an eleven-year-old child. He was on Jimmy Kimmel's show and Kimmel asked him if it was true that Lil' Wayne "lost his virginity" at age eleven. Kimmel makes light of the situation, joking about a trauma that clearly caused pain for the rapper. The feministing writer, Samhita, wonders if Kimmel would have asked Lil' Wayne about his first sexual experience if the guest were not a black, male rapper.
I think that this interview is indicative of how society portrays African-American men in particular. The stereotype is that they are promiscuous and hyper-sexual, which is highlighted when Kimmel says to the other guest that neither of them could lose their virginity at age eleven (both Kimmel and the other guest are middle-aged white men so his comment throws into relief the racial difference between himself and Lil' Wayne). I can see only negative effects of stereotyping black men as promiscuous. First, it allows society to ignore the fact that they too can be the victims of sexual assault (as Kimmel and his guest demonstrated). Secondly, stereotyping a group of people as solely sexual strips them of humanity, leading to the objectification of these groups or individuals.
Television and film are the media through which stereotypes are created, perpetrated, and broken or sustained. Because its format is discussion-based, a talk show like Kimmel's could provide a platform in which issues like sexual assault, stereotypes, and other social issues are discussed (contrary to the wisdom of the owners of whatever channel he's on, I do believe that this could sell, if done in an engaging, creative way); however, the show does not and so it perpetuates the stereotypes. If you are not actively trying to solve the problem , you are part of it, so by this logic, Kimmel just perpetuates this idea that black men are promiscuous and that rape does not happen to men.
Other mainstream television and film tends to deal with the same types of stereotypes. Racial, class, or gender groups tend to be marginalized into those categories or completely absent from television in general. Take, for instance, the absence of Asians from television. The only Asian character I can think of off the top of my head is the psychiatrist, played by B.D. Wong, on Law and Order SVU. While I have always liked his character, he does seem to conform in some ways to a general stereotype of Asians as super intelligent, soft-spoken, and reserved. Other than that, our media lacks Asian characters who portray the diversity of Asian cultures, backgrounds, and lifestyles.
I have to stop this post now because I honestly don't watch television enough to write anything more nuanced. Sorry. I hope my bit on the Lil' Wayne interview is insightful.
When thinking about portrayals in different genres of television, i think about comedy because that's what i'm most familiar with. actually, i'm going to focus on movies. because i love comedy movies. i think mostly of roles played by Anna Faris, she is this tiny little blonde actress. she was in the movie House Bunny, Hot Chick, and Just Friends, just to name a few.
Anyway, she usually plays comedic roles, but at the same time they tend to be pretty sexual, she tends to be presented as this really gorgeous or famous girl. The reason why she is funny is because her characters are very very stupid. she loses every ounce of intelligence that could possibly be in her mind. Then I look at comedy roles that Tina Fey plays. They tend to be less sexualized and more intelligent, but still funny, like 30 Rock. Rarely is there a funny and simultaneously sexy role in films or television shows, unless the humor is caused by lack of intelligence.
One of my friends does stand-up comedy, and he told me that he's been told he's too good-looking to be funny (he's not my most modest friend). he said 'you can't be really funny if you're good-looking because the audience won't even notice, they're just too busy thinking about fucking you." (trust me when i say that he isn't good-looking enough to be concerned about this, but then again, i don't think he's that funny either.) interesting theory.
anyway. i leave you with a clip of the beautiful anna faris acting like an idiot.
The first show that comes to my mind when I think of the portrayal of gender, race, and sexuality is MTV’s Real World. This Brooklyn seasons exaggerates these stereotypical portrayals of each.
First, the controversial roommate, Katelynn, is a trans-sexual who only months before the show aired had her sex change operation. Katelynn shared her story of her transformation from a male to a female with the world. Katelynn’s gender brought about many questions of gender and sexuality all together.
A second and unique roommate this season was Chet. He was a straight, metro-sexual man whom many believed him to be gay. However, as the season progressed it became clear of Chet’s sexual preferences through his langue, and rarely his actions.
Another interesting member casted for Brooklyn was JD. He served as both the only African American male and also the gay roommate in the house. JD was portrayed as the typical gay, black, man.
These three roommates, Kateylnn, Chet, and JD were stereotyped into their categories according to gender and sexuality, while JD also fell into the stereotyping of race as well.
The other roommates were stereotyped as well, even if not relating to gender or sexuality. For example, Devyn was the “black diva.” Scott was the perfect male model. Sarah was the rebel tattoo artist. And Ryan was the heroic American Veteran.
Each roommate had his or her ‘role’ to play. And each was cast based on that particular role. All eight roommates were to deliver that role: that stereotyped image that MTV desired. And next season will have a new set of seven (or eight) roommates fulfilling very similar stereotyped roles.
Shows like, Star trek: Next generation, Battlestar Galactica, Family guy, and South Park all portray race, gender, class and sexuality differently. Sci fi shows like Star trek and Battlestar Galactica has a very distinct way of their portrayal of gender, race, class, and sexuality they tend to subtext a lot of their social commentary. These shows have the freedom to create their own world and comment more freely on the true nature of the problem. For example in Star trek: next generation one can make an argument that the "Klingons" are a caricature of the stereotypical view of African-americans. Worf's struggle of his identity since he was raised by humans and is a Klingon can be seen as issues that were raised by political figures such as malcom x and Martin Luther king. He constantly struggles between being accepted in the federation and within the Klingon empire. These Sci-fi shows also tends to give a fair amount of agency among women. They are more effective in portraying women in a more atypical gender role. In battlestar galactica the mayor and many of the lead fighter pilots like starbuck are always placed in roles that are more typical of men. They are constantly in situations where they have to embody very "masculine" rolls like a political leader or an aggressive need to fight for acceptance. I really like these characters like starbuck because battle star tends to show them not only as strong women but as weak and their weakness is not due to their "womanhood" but a more universal weakness like the over zealous pursuit for power or "paradise". I think portrayal of these factors in sci-fi tends to yield more positive than many other forms of media because of their ability to create their own world.
On the other had comedy shows like family guy and south park are very hit and miss with their portrayal of race, class, gender, and sexuality. South Park has done various shows that seems to try to send a positive message. One of the most recent episodes of south park try to create a caricature of how hypocratical men's construct of what is acceptable really is. They start out with how men think farting is funny and cool and how shows like terrence and philip profit from it. But then they introduced the "Queef sisters" where queeffing is introduced and the men in the south park world starts to think that queefing is disgusting and the women start to think it is hilarious. At the end of the show the men finally get queefing banned but also finally realize the hypocracy in thier actions and try to get it unbanned. The episode tries to present a very positive message but ends up shooting itself in the foot because they tend to show that at the end only men can correct the mistake... which seems that no progress is made in the first place.
The first type of show that comes to mind when I think of gender, race, sexuality or age in television are cartoons, adult cartoons, like the Simpson’s and Family Guy. These shows usually have characters that are stereotypical portrayals of race, age, gender and sexuality. The Simpson’s have Apu, the Indian convenience store clerk, Mr. Smithers, the gay assistant of Mr. Burns and my favorite, crazy cat lady. She is the ultimate stereotype of the little old lady living alone with her hundreds of cats. Family Guy has Cleveland, the African-American deli owner, Joe, the crippled policeman and his wife Bonnie, the eternal pregnant woman, and of course the Goldman’s, the stereotypical Jewish family.
I’ve found that adult cartoons don’t have issue with discussing gender, race or sexuality issues but they’re done with stereotypes. It poses the question is a stereotype better than not discussing at all? Possibly not, but, it might get someone thinking about it that wouldn’t have thought about it before.
The one drama show that I’m very much into Law and Order has been really good about depicting gender, females, in a positive light. Lieutenant Van Buren has been the only steady female character on the series. The series started as an all male cast and after three years in they brought in her character and she’s been a part of the cast ever since, sixteen years total. They’ve done a great job in portraying her as a strong black woman who is in charge in a predominantly male career. I think this character has done wonders for the status of the black woman in television, who is usually stereotyped as unemployed, drug addict, unmarried with multiple children.
I think although we’ve come far in the portrayal’s of age, gender, race, etc. from television’s early inception, we still have a long way to go before characterization of these become mainstream and not just a negative stereotype.
I think that it depends on more than just the genre of the television show about how it portrays race, gender, class, and sexuality. Some TV shows purposefully address some issues and avoid others. In a show like Everwood, almost all of the characters are white, except for the bus driver and second husband to Edna, Irv. The town of Everwood is extremely small, and that is emphasized in the initial lack of acceptance of the interracial marriage of Irv and Edna. However, in the daily life, his non-white status is a non-issue. Class is rarely discussed, and only hinted at in the beginning with Nina being a surrogate mother not only for the woman who wants the child, but also to help make money to bring her travelling salesman husband home more often. Andy Brown, the free doctor in town, also has occassional experiences with varying classes because some patients choose his service because they like him the best, others cannot afford to pay a doctor.
The marginalization of each identity listed is shown in at least one episode throughout the run of the series, but most are not constantly addressed or dealt with in the show. Heterosexuality is the only form of sexuality shown throughout the show and expressed strongly by Ephram and his infatuation with Amy, who is in love with a boyfriend who has been in a coma for 6 months. Gender is rarely discussed, but Delia, the little sister of Ephram and youngest daughter of Dr. Brown, is often quite the tom boy. She also befriends a bully in one episode who, as it turns out, loves playing with dolls and dressing up in dresses. We find out later this boy was actually an intersex baby when he was born and his parents decided to raise him as a boy.
So as a drama, Everwood discusses various identities throughout its episodes, but it picks and chooses which identity to discuss and when the discussion is important. I think that most dramas acknowledges marginalization and privileges related to race, gender, class, and sexuality, but they are not often the constant center driving the narrative of the shows.
I think that each genre portrays race, gender, class, and sexuality differently. It all depends on the intended purpose of using the portrayals. Even though the use may be different I think that the majority of shows tend to stick within stereotypes of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Just as we have been discussing in the previous weeks with motherhood and normative women’s sexuality. There are certain ways in which each genre will show a stereotype of class, gender, race, and sexuality in order to get their point across.
I think that reality television is an example of portraying race, gender, class, and sexuality negatively. Specifically, I think that America’s Next Top Model categorizes people according to these identities. Tyra attempts to portray this diverse cast of models. However, throughout each season it seems she has picked the same types of people according to certain identity stereotypes. The white women are portrayed as the “All-American” girl, while the women of color are represented as exotic or in a sexual manner. Often lumped into a category according to skin tone. For example, addressing someone as a sexy latina, even when that isn’t their ethnic background. The show often includes women that come from lower classes. Instead of addressing this the show tries to fix this by making these women believe they can overcome their current economic status by hard work as a model on this show. The show does pick people that are diverse, but then sticks them back into the mold Tyra labels them as.
For another class, I read an article called “Fashioning Race for the Free Market on America’s Next Top Model” by Amy Adele Hasinoff, that discussed the negative representation of class and race in America’s Next Top Model. The article discusses season six and the winner Danielle who is a woman of color from a lower income family in the south. One part that I found interesting was in cycle six there was a photo shoot where the women had to krump (dance). Their mentor Jay assumed that the women of color would know how to dance and the white women wouldn’t. Jay was surprised when one of the white contestants was better at dancing. He was disappointed that Danielle couldn’t dance, because her race would suggest she would be a great dancer. I think that this just shows that television, especially reality tv, stereotypes different identities.
It's funny that this week's journal is about how gender and race is portrayed on television today. My friends and I were talking the other week about what T.V. shows we grew up with; and it must be a coincidence on which friend picked certain shows because it reflects how they view gender and race. There were three of us talking about this and all three of us have very different views on gender and race. Jen, my best friend since middle school, grew up loving "Dennis the Menace" and "The Brady Bunch". I would describe Jen as a rather conservative person, whose goal in life is to get married and raise four children. We all grew up in Iowa, which isn't very diverse, but whenever we meet or talk about a person of ethnicity she gets so excited as if exploring an unknown territory. My other friend Sheena is a free spirited liberal soul, who grew up watching “The Cosby Show" and "Home Improvement". She, like Jill (Home improvement), is a sassy, no nonsense, independent woman who seeks respect from her peers (mainly by education). She also believes that it is almost a necessity to have diverse friends in order to become a better all around human being. Finally, I grew up watching "Married with Children" and "A Different World". I believe I am a feminist and potentially have trust issues with men (Obviously not in direct correlation with the television shows). I watch "Married with Children now, and cringe at some of the things that Al says in the show. I didn't even think about the correlation until this assignment (and obviously it’s not just because of the T.V. shows), but it's funny how the shows we grew up watching demonstrate some of our opinions on gender and race today as adults! I felt I needed to share my correlation attempt, because I never thought about how gender roles and views on sex and race could potentially be embedded in people without them even knowing through forms of television.
It is significant how far along we have come in popular culture on how we portray gender roles on television. Television shows such as "Sex and the City" and "Greys Anatomy", portray women as strong, independent people who can do anything they put their mind to. Sex and Race have made little steps in my opinion, in comparison to gender roles, on positive portrayals in television today. Even in shows like “Sex and the City”, the women who play the roles are hot individuals; and I feel if they weren’t that physically attractive, the show might not have been as big of success. Sex sells, bottom line. The “L Word”, is another example of how sexuality sells. Even though the show has opened doors in the gay community, the women are all really physically attractive, which helps widen the viewer base. A good example of a television show that touches on all three of these topics is “King of Queens”. In the show, Carrie, (a very attractive woman) is a sassy, independent woman who works for a law firm in downtown Manhattan. Her husband Doug is a hard working UPS delivery man who is always hanging with his gang of buddies in the garage. In the show Doug is always kept in check by wife Carrie, which demonstrates women’s equalities and independence. However, Carrie sometimes gets way to confident with Doug when they go out, because she knows she’s way better looking than him. This sometime creates drama for the couple. Doug’s friend Deacon, is an easy going African American, that is constantly sought out as the “Cool” friend because of his skin color. For example, whenever Doug gets into a predicament with Carrie, he turns to Deacon, because he feels Deacon automatically knows how to deal with women. So overall, I think this show is overall positive, but maybe a little grey when it comes to sexuality.
Race, class, gender, and sexuality are represented in differing ways throughout different genres of television. As we talked earlier about eating the other, race is often used to "spice up" white programming, such as how Desperate Housewives uses its Latina character (and portrays her off screen) or Battle Star Galactica used Asian women, positioning them, however, not as people, but as aliens in a hostile galaxy. When class isn't treated simply as a glorification of conspicuous consumption, it is often addressed in subtle ways through such popular family sitcoms such as Roseanne and The Simpsons. Of course, the above example dealing with race also represents specifically the women of the large groups they are relied on to stand in for. Women are presented in very different ways throughout media too, with many women swaying between conventional gender roles and the disruption of those roles. Disruption of images that are racist, sexist, and otherwise reproductive of conventional norms happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes they are blatantly called out upon to be laughed at, like when Dave Chapelle has a segment of his show devoted to racial stereotypes, hyper-acted by the performers. However, things like homosexuality are seldom addressed in comics except as something to laugh at. These images matter and affect people because what is on television creates the image we have in our minds of what is real. For example, in an old Star Trek episode, Captin Kirk loses his memory on a planet where supposedly some Cherokee Native Americans are living. Of course, they think he is a god, and he marries the chief's daughter, who then later dies after she finds out she's pregnant. The Cherokees were supposed to have been taken to the planet from Earth by an ancient people, and are presented as living much as they did only about 300 years ago. Of course, this shapes our conception of what is historically real, as well as how Indigenous people are supposed to be; namely, childish and fearful. It also retells the story of the Other woman falling in love with a white man against her original Indigenous suitor.
Since I've watched about 6 hours of Golden Girls in the last 24 hours (well, I was doing other things too), I just don't know how I could write about anything else! Since the Golden Girls is purely a comedy, they don't deal with serious issues in a serious way, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist. This show deals with gender because it is focused on the lives of women and how they interact with each other with and without men. Sexuality is interesting because television often ignores the sexuality of older women as this show focuses on the dating lives of women over 50. I don't think the Golden Girls deal with race as much as it could, just several guest stars that are Black, Latino, or Asian; but when they are on, race is always made an issue and I can't tell you if that's a good thing or a bad thing. They deal with class like they do race, there are a few episodes where someone loses their job, or they volunteer at a shelter, or my favorite when they spend a night in a homeless shelter just to retrieve a lost lottery ticket for $10,000 (where they end up donating it in the end).
The episode that I'm watching this very moment has Blanche dating a minor league baseball player named Steve. She tries to help him improve his baseball even though she doesn't know anything about the sport. She suggests that Steve wear women's underwear beneath his clothes, but she later gets uncomfortable with it because Steve enjoys it so much. In one scene in the batting cage, Steve is complaining about his underwear riding up on him and Blanche makes a joke about how she isn't wearing any underwear, a common joke throughout the series. The episode ends with Steve showing up at Blanches door in a dress, claiming how much he loves wearing women's clothes. Blanche ends up breaking up with him because she can't handle that (although she doesn't give him that reason).
That episode isn't the only one that deals with crossdressing, this could be because many people think that it's funny so thye continue to make a joke out of it. Sophia's son and Dorothy's brother, Phil, is a common joke throughout the series. Phil has been dressing in women's clothing since his childhood, but unlike the many relatives we do see on the show, we never see Phil. There's also a very funny scene where Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose dress up as men to sneak into a country club's men's dressing room to see Bob Hope. It's about six minutes in on this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SftUfIrlSg8
Embedding was disabled for some reason.
Race, gender, sexuality, and class are portrayed differently throughout the different genres found on television. Obviously sitcoms usually portray these subjects as jokes. Sitcoms particularly joke about gender and class, in the generic sitcoms gender is usually joked about when a female tries to do something seen as more masculine and vise versa. Jokes made about class seem to be used within television sitcoms as a way to cope with the class system within our society.
This is very different within the sci-fi genre on TV I think sexuality is portrayed as something that is wanted, erotic and different. This is seen in many sci-fi shows that have interspecies relationships/etc. The different or other is seen to be as something exciting. In addition the other alien characters within the sci-fi genre always seem to be either good and exotic or completely evil, there never seems to be grey areas within the sci-fi shows I’ve seen.
I think that the portrayal of race, gender, sexuality and class within different genres of television shows can have a both a positive and negative effect on those watching. I think that sitcoms can be seen in a positive light for this because it can make jokes about every day dealings with race, gender, sexuality and class and can make one watching feel like they are not alone in observances. Sex in the City can be an example of this, people may be able to relate to the problems the women get themselves into, another show may be Rosanne, where the series shows a family in a more realistic setting than one may be used to seeing on TV and is able to relate more and it may help people see they are not the only ones or that their feelings of being stressed out with family, or men, etc. is okay and not unnatural.
However, with every positive there is a negative. Jokes made within a sitcom can become racist, classist, and sexist. The other or different always being portrayed as sexual objects or as exotic can become dangerous too. If one looks at the women and their relationships within the original Star Trek series we see the different being sexualized for the captain, who was always conquering other worlds including their women. This can have negative effects because people may believe that that is how the world sees those who are different or may believe that is the way one should act if one is seen as different, etc.
I don’t often admit this, but I come from a family of Star Trek-loving supernerds. As a kid, I spent every night from 9 to 10 pm huddled on my parent’s bed, watching syndicated episodes of The Next Generation. I have been to a full-blown convention, and served banana bread at one of my mother’s Star Trek parties. I even had a stuffed tribble that cooed in the night from atop my dresser (* it was only supposed to coo when shaken, so this made for several scary nights).
When looking back at all of the science fiction narratives I’ve followed growing up, it is clear that they often addressed gender and sexuality issues in interesting ways. It seems that science fiction, in its attempts to re-imagine society for alternate times and worlds, is able to make bold, groundbreaking statements because of its unique form.
A few episodes of Star Trek: TNG stick out in my mind as being particularly interesting in the way they address gender issues. The first, “Angel One” from the first season, lands the Enterprise crew on an alien planet featuring a matriarchal society. The matriarchal society mirrors and reverses past gender relations of the west, by making the women overbearing and powerful and the men subservient. Rather than reinventing a matriarchal utopia, the matriarchal values are negative to the society. The enterprise crew, Lieutenant Riker in particular, attempts to argue that equality must eventually come to this planet (because in the 24th century of TNG, the genders have absolute equality in every walk of life).
In another episode, ‘The Host’ from season 4, we find Dr. Beverly Crusher falling in love with a man who she later finds out is a ‘host’ to the somewhat parasitic race of Trills that live off of alien bodies. Though the character she fell in love with resembles a male gender, the body falls ill and the Trill needs to be moved to a different host. After taking the host of Lieutenant Riker temporarily, the host eventually is moved to a body that resembles a female. Crusher is confused and unsure of her own sexuality, because suddenly the ‘soul’ she fell in love with inhabits another gender, landing her in a potentially homosexual situation. In the end, Crusher is unable to make the leap to this new body, but it remains ambiguous as to whether or not she is able to find a woman sexually attractive—the situation gets passed off as Crusher’s inability to love something that changes bodies so frequently.
Because of these stories’ exposure to such a big audience through the television medium, it seems as though their unique perspectives could open minds and challenge the ways people usually think of gender and sexuality. The ‘science fiction’ label could alienate viewers (*no pun intended*), leading to further negative stereotyping of alternative gender identities and sexualities, but it seems like a great place to start.
*check out the babealicious hair on the matriarchs from 'Angel One'
An interesting video that I found on youtube, showing how different women have evolved in film: (kind of trippy, so beware)
While reading this question, I decided to do a little research prior to writing my blog. As I plucked away various phrases in relation to this topic in my trusty search engine, I came across an interesting article that was printed in The Huffington Post. This article titled, “Gender, Race, Class, Age... and the Media” was written by Marcia G. Yerman, and stated various statistics regarding how women are seen in the media. In this article, Yerman mentioned how during the Presidential Election, a woman named Dori Maynard remarked that in this election cycle "race and class were pitted against each other," and expressed a hope that the gathering would be "a step forward" in reaching new goals.
Although this weeks’ blog posting is not regarding the topic of the Presidential Election, it is regarding how race, gender, class and sexuality are portrayed in different genres of television.
When I think of comedy, I somehow allude to the Drew Carey Show. Why? Not quite sure. But it is interesting to note how the character “Mimi” is portrayed on this show. She is overweight, loud, obnoxious, and tries her hardest to get the attention of males. In reference to last week’s readings, she is what one might consider “Camp.” Her loud fashion statements made with her printed dresses and over-the-top make-up is not an accurate portrayal of what a woman today really is. She swears continuously and is just blunt, a few traits that accurate of the average woman.
When I think of drama, I must say that what comes to mind is the new movie featuring Beyonce called, “Obsessed.” I know we must focus on television, but I could not pass up talking about this upcoming movie! This movie is about a man named Derek Charles, a successful asset manager who has just received a huge promotion, is blissfully happy in his career and in his marriage to the beautiful Sharon, played by Beyonce. But when a woman named Lisa, a temp worker, starts stalking Derek, all hell breaks lose (According to a movie description I read). Although this movie does not come out until the 24th of April, just by watching the trailer alone, you can tell that this is not your “average woman.” Lisa is seen as extremely pushy, sexual and demanding towards Charles.
I am not a huge "South Park" fan but I do recall an episode, which was shown in one of my journalism classes where a contestant was on "The Wheel of Fortune" and the word needing to be spelled at the end was "Nagger" but this person thought it was "something else." Quite racist.
One of my favorite shows growing up was "Family Matters." I never looked at it as a show that showed class or race, I just loved it because it was funny. Looking at the show now, the family gives a positive impression of what families are like today.
Despite looking at numerous youtube videos, which I love searching for by the way, there are affects that come along with positive and negative portrayals on television. I think that negative portrayals have a strong affect on the way we see the world. More specifically and a clear example would be, if women are exposed to frail-looking, perfect, size zero women on television, this will have an affect on how they view themselves. This is just one example, even though I know that what we watch on television, what movies we watch, what magazines we pick up all has some sort of affect on how we interact, how we see ourselves, etc.
In television today, women are often portrayed in one way: supermom. To be a supermom the woman generally does not have a job (if she does work it is never a professional job such as a doctor or lawyer but a small part-time gig), she does the vast majority of the housework, and she is also the main caregiver for the children. The mothers are always the ones that appear to be closer to their children and the only parent that seems to know what is going on with the lives of their children. Men taking as active of a role in the care of their children is often made a point of humor in today's sitcom shows. When the mother has to leave town for the weekend and the dad has to run the house everything seems to go wrong because the man is "unable to parent his children in the same way that his wife can". Men are always portrayed as being unable to care for their children even close to the same way that their wives can. This false idea not only holds men back and portrays them unfairly but this excuse of men not being able to take care of their children in the same way as women makes it seem okay to put the sole responsibilty og raising the children in the hands of women.
Divine mother: ideal, unreal, buy it if you're rich and white
In paintings from the Renaissance, the Virgin Mary looks adoringly at baby Jesus, who sometimes gazes adoringly back, sometimes sits on her knees as if they were his throne. Mothers, especially new mothers, in pop culture are often portrayed in similar ways, rapturous of their screaming, stinking infants. My own mother has assured me that new mothers are actually terrified of their children (at least she was terrified of me because I scowled all the time). So, how much of that rapture is true and how much is just a cultural ideal?
I feel maternal about the vegetables I grow and look adoringly at my broccoli so I imagine that there is some truth to image of mothers, Virgin or otherwise, adoring their babies. To grow a life within your own body must create a powerful connection, so as scared as a new mother must be of her child--rather, of the responsibility of caring for the child--she must also be amazed by its existence, how quickly it grows, its curiosity with the world as it gets older and explores its environment.
But looking at mothers in this tranquil, semi-divine light is also dangerous. Motherhood may be a biological function of women, but women are not just a biological necessity. Motherhood is not the essence of womanhood any more than fatherhood is the essence of manhood. It is not essential to making women feel like women because women are more complex than ovaries and a uterus. I think that especially in this political climate, in which the Christian right has too much political sway over laws affecting women's reproductive rights and too much cultural sway over how we perceive mothers, it is dangerous to assume that motherhood is the single experience that defines women.
The idea of divine motherhood, that women must and love fulfill traditional roles (as a wife and mother) within the family and within society is not only sexist, but racist and classist as well. Upper middle class white women are the women who are able to choose to stay at home with their children because they do not need to work, although they may want to. Lower income and minority women are often forced to work because of less stable economic situations, thus they cannot stay at home to nurture their children the way the Christian right's "family values" demands. So, are they bad mothers? The divine motherhood image also ignores the difficulties many women face in balancing a career with raising children. My own mother has worked on and off at graphic design jobs, in a grocery store, and in a book store because for most of my life, it wasn't feasible for her to stay home and work on her art, even though that is all she wants to do besides raise her kids. In other situations, women are forced out of the workforce or end up working less and thus earning less and receiving fewer promotions than their male counterparts. Take a look at this video promoting the book The Motherhood Manifesto.
I knew exactly what commercial I wanted to talk about when I read this week's prompt. It's this Bounty ad that's just so phenomenally awful that it's haunted me forever. It is, in my mind, the perfect archetypal cleaning product ad. Now, I had a devil of a time actually finding the commercial by its lonesome, so you guys just get a play-by-play that I recorded in a paper I had to write about just this topic.
Yes, I am so fascinated with this commercial that I wrote a paper about it last semester for one of my classes. Household cleaning product advertisements have a particular and peculiar way of framing the family, such that Mom is this all-knowing savior-type figure who always knows just what to do about that mess, while Dad and the kids are apparently totally inept idiots and it's a wonder they survive brushing their teeth in the morning. Honestly, why don't I just quote this thing:
"I find paper towel commercials to be exceptionally salient when considering the cultural emphasis placed on a woman’s role in the home. I imagine that this is because using a paper towel to clean up a mess is such a fundamentally simple and intuitive task that a toddler could accomplish it, much less an older child or a grown man. Not so, says Bounty. In this commercial, a father and his son are stooped over a large spill that creeps ever ominously closer to the rug. “Whoa,” says Dad in a decidedly Keanu Reeves-esque fashion. “That’s a three-sheeter.” The boy argues that it must surely be a four-sheeter. From behind the kitchen counter, Mom peers at the mess and smiles a mysterious, confident smile. “Nope. One-sheeter,” she says as she plucks a paper towel off the roll and proceeds to wipe up their mess. This is the point at which I begin to tear at my hair, but it is also an event that appears to be quite common in paper towel commercials. Like the Stanley Steemer commercial, the implication is that the woman knows better than anyone else in the household about what to do in even the slightest of messy situations. Such competence is only to be expected, because this is her job. There is little wonder, then, that husbands are portrayed as so incompetent; because their job is outside the home rather than in it, they happen to be out of their element. I find it vaguely distressing that in ads for products targeted at women, the husband is quite often presented as essentially another child."
Now, because I can't find this particular commercial and I still want to post a video, I'm including here Sarah Haskins's hysterical and highly relevant focus on cleaning products in one of her Target Women segments. (If you're unfamiliar with Sarah Haskins, just thank me later. <3)
This swiffer commercial, and MOST other cleaning ads alike, are aimed for a women audience. Roles in these commercials are always played by women; it is generally assumed that women do all the cleaning in the house, so these ads target us by using female actresses. These characters promote the products by cleaning (quite happily) using the new and improved tool.
This ad specifically emphasizes the relationship between the mother of the house and cleaning because the "old mop" tries to win back the lady's attention... the "old mop" that the women has grown so close to, of course, because she obviously does all the cleaning in the house. It bothers me that today's society has these views on gender roles in the home. Cleaning commercials, as well as all home ads, shouldn't target a specific audience, but communicate their message to ALL who may find it useful.
This commercial is for shampoo and conditioner. The mother in this ad is portrayed as superwoman, doing chores, takng kids to school, trick or treating, ect. And the point of the commercial seems to be that even though your a mom you can still have good hair and get it cheap. Moms seem to be portrayed as the sole caretakers of children in commercials still today. Obviously some commercials have dad's also, but most gimmicks and ads include a mothers take. Also it is kind of frustrating to assume that all mothers care so much about their appearances or that they have to do so much that they don't have time for themselves. While this may be the case for some women, it isn't for all. I've seen other commercials, like these ones for totino's pizza rolls where the mom is right around the corner ready to feed her children and the rest of the neighborhood before the kids even arrive. Lets be serious, most mothers aren't even home when thier kids get off of school, and most parents wouldn't want to feed the entire neighborhood. There is also one where the mom makes pizza rolls and takes them out of the microwave, sets them on the counter, and the kid breaks through the wall and takes them. Instead of have a normal reaction to this, the mom just says "oh..ah okay, okay" and she is happy with what just happened. I don't know about the rest of you, but if I put a giant hole in the wall at my mother's house she would flip. Not only that, if she was making pizza rolls they would probably be for her, and she'd be pissed that I just broke through the wall and stole them. They make it seem like the mom's are only there to serve the children, when these kids are clearly old enough to make some pizza rolls themselves without the help of mommy.
In my opinion, there are two stereotypical mother figures in the media today…
First, there is the dedicated mother; she is super-mom. She is the kind of mom in the Tide or Bounty commercials. The kids can get grass stains all over their clothes and spill everything/anything in sight, but the super-mom never gets frustrated. Instead, there is a cheesy waving of the finger, which is then followed by an even cheesier smile as she does her duty. In my experience, this is not how that scenario goes. Real moms are not that happy when the kids track mud all over the floor, etc… They don’t seem to send the message: “Yay, a new mess that I can clean up!” These kind of mothers are also seen in television. Most of the time, these mothers are not happy underneath it all. Secretly, they seem to hate their roles in the home.
The second kind of mother is the career mother. She tries to balance her career and her children, but no matter what, it never works out. She either neglects the family, or her career begins a decline. The media portrays the working mother as an impossible role to fill. For instance, Lynette Scavo in Desperate Housewives is portrayed in this role when she first re-enters the career field. While I do not doubt it is hard to balance children and a career, I do believe that it is not impossible. The media seems to be making the statement that women need to choose to be women (wives, mothers, homemakers) OR professionals (independent, family-free).
Again, I cannot speak from personal experience, but I believe that the media draws too straight of a line in this area. Most mothers I know would admit that at times they do wish they were in the work force or even just want to get out of the house. I would also say that there are women who successfully balance a career and a family, but it is not easy. The media tells the women they have to be one or the other. It puts a dramatic spin on two truths women face.
so apparently kelly ripa is the new spokesmodel for Electrolux appliances. This particular commercial shown in the youtube video was not the one I started off searching. I didn't realize that there was a whole mess of them, but there is! They're multiplying at an alarming rate! First, the commercials are obviously directed at women. Not just women, but working women faced with the double-employment of their day-jobs and their domestic jobs as mothers when they get home, as demonstrated by the fabulous Kelly Ripa. The slogan for the appliances: "Be even MORE amazing".
I understand that by directing the commercials at working women and enabling them to "be even more amazing" is meant to come across as empowering, but the ads leave a sour taste in my mouth. Everytime I see the one that I was initally searching for on youtube, I say something snarky about it. First of all, how unrealistic is Kelly Ripa as a real woman? She works very hard to display herself as a down-to-earth woman (ahhh, the performance of normalcy. I just got done reading the Kamp as Bree article and this blog brings it to mind), but we all know she's not. She's married to the gorgeous Mark Consuelos, weighs around 90 pounds, and co-hosts a morning show with Regis. And viewers are supposed to believe that she's also planning sleepovers for her children, complete with apple juice ("at the right temperature") and macaroni and cheese while simultaneously hosting a dinner-party and "boiling water in 90 seconds."
Please. If I, or any other woman, was actually faced with this situation we would be barking at our husbands to help us or serving lukewarm apple juice straight out of the grocery bag. But in the commercial, superwoman Kelly Ripa manages to do everything herself. She's so self-sufficient that poor Mark didn't even get an invite to the dinner party apparently!
There are so many different ways motherhood is portrayed these days. The first thing I thought of, and heaven help me I don't know why because I've only seen this show once out of curiosity, was Wife Swap. The one episode I saw was where 2 women from completely different backgrounds swapped families. One was from upper middle class and the other from lower middle class. It was interesting how the show portrayed each woman, particularly as a mother. The upper class woman was the "perfect" mom, did everything right and yet the lower class mom was the hated one, took horrible care of the children and because of this her own children were obese and not well behaved. All of course how it was edited, or perhaps how it really is?
Mothers seemed to be portrayed alot in television as the woman who can do it all. The huge influx of reality TV has given us glimpses into families lives to see how others live and compare it to ourselves. All I know is how mothers are portrayed currently is completely different than how it was one, two or three decades ago. No longer do you see the June Cleaver's portrayed.
The first show I thought of when I read the assignment for this week was Wife Swap. The show takes two families and switches the wives in order to show them another perspective of how to live. Its interesting because they usually take families that are completely opposite in their beliefs. For example they’ll take an ultra strict mom, who makes her kids refold their clothes if they’re not perfect, and has her trade places with a mom who doesn’t have any rules for her children. I think this brings about a sense that motherhood creates competition. When you become a mom you want to raise your kids to be the best. This show magnifies the idea that there is more than one way to raise a child. However, viewers do have the ability to interpret which way they think is “better.” Other shows on television also point to this concept of there being a “right” or “wrong” way to raise a child.
Another portrayal that is represented in different mediums including the show Wife Swap is this idea that motherhood=wife. There are a number of different sitcoms that show the mother not only being a mother, but also being a wife to her husband. This is done with advertisements as well. The majority of ads that touch of motherhood=wife are those that sell products for the home. A commercial that first came to mind was the commercial for airwick. In the one that I found, it shows the mother rabbit taking care of the home and her family. The idea of motherhood in the media is often portrayed with a sense of wifehood/family as well. Motherhood does not only mean that you are the mother of a child, but that you have a husband or family setting to take care of.
So I have to try to recreate my blog post because it disappeared!
Being a mom,I know that I am coming at this motherhood post from a different perspective than everyone else.
I decided to talk about the TV show The Suite Life of Zach and Cody on the Disney Channel. The show focuses on a single mom, Carey, and her twin sons, Zach and Cody. She is a lounge singer in a high class hotel where they all live. Their father is a traveling musician who randomly visits and ends up causing a little trouble. My problem with this show is that I feel like they show Carey as a weak, easy manipulative mother. She is constantly out smarted and played by her young children. In the episode I'm posting, she gets talked into taking a trip with the boys who have planned a family cruise by promising that their mother will perform on the ship. My son is upset with me for bad mouthing a show he likes, I had to explain to him that my problem with the show is that I dislike the way the boys take advantage of her. I asked him if he would ever try to pull these stunts on me and he said "No way, I know that you would figure it out and that I would be in big trouble". I feel like the boys in the show don't receive real punishments for their actions and it seems like their mom never really gets mad. While I'd like to say that I don't get mad at my son when he misbehaves, I do. It's impossible to not be upset and react. In my opinion they could have made Carey a stronger character, a single mother who knows how to be a strong parent.
I think that motherhood and mother figures are portrayed in an ever expanding way in media and pop culture. You can start with your stereotypical mother figures like those housewife, picture perfect, moms on Leave It to Beaver, and progress to mom's closer to the 21st century like Roseanne and Amy from Judging Amy. In music, you have moms like Gwen Stefani who still go out on tour, make music, and raise their kids at the same time.
Two shows that come to my mind are Judging Amy and Grey's Anatomy. In Judging Amy, there is a house of three women, the grandma, the mom, and the daughter. It's been a while since I've seen the show, but I feel like at one point or another, they all end up taking care of each other, even the daughter helps her mom at times. This unconventional family leads to unconventional roles for all three of the family members. Both Amy and her mother go out on dates, but one always stays home with the youngest. Sometimes Amy's mother plays the motherly role for both daughter and granddaughter, but she can also spoil her granddaughter like grandma's tend to do. In Grey's Anatomy, Bailey has a son, but is extremely busy with her work as a general surgeron, and eventually chief surgeon. She wants to be there for her son as much as possible, but her work often works to tear her family apart and frustrate her husband because he often plays the stay-at-home dad. So in this situation, Bailey is shown as a working mom, who maybe cannot have it all, but she sure as hell isn't going to give up trying.
For Gwen Stefani, her private life as a mother seems to be mostly out of the spotlight. I have seen very few pictures of her and her kids or her entire family. I also don't hear much about it. I think that real life moms in pop culture tend to try to keep their family lives more private and personal. The same goes for other celebrities, like Gwyneth Paltrow. We here about her pregnancy and may see pictures of her with her family, but you don't hear too much about her life as a mom. On the reverse, some mothers do lend themselves more to the press, such as Britney Spears, who is often portrayed as an incompetent mother who cannot take care of her kids. I think it depends on the gossip and history surrounding various celebrities to how much their motherhood is criticized or talked about.
Motherhood has been portrayed in the media for years. One very popular example is that of the Migrant Mother, a picture taking during the Great Depression by Dorothea Lange. This picture depicts the idealized meaning of being a mother. In the past the ideal mother was seen to support her children and family at any and all costs. She was to completely give herself up for her children’s sake.
...So apparently I don't know how to put pictures up. Check out the links. http://maldiveshealth.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/migrant_mother.jpg
Today, some of these thoughts of motherhood remain true, but on a much smaller scale. In the media of our generation, mothers are seen more as a friend figure than that of a “give all to my child” figure. Take this photo of Madonna and her daughter for example. http://img.timeinc.net/people/i/2006/startracks/060731/madonna.jpg
The two of them look like a couple of friends who share the same fashion. This friendship between mother and daughter is very evident when it comes to celebrities. In general, it may be because women are able to relax and have some fun with their children rather than working non-stop to support them. I believe this is due to the success of women fighting for equality and the women’s rights movement.
However, equality between men and women has not been reached. This is evident in the fact that women are still sought as the caregivers, the stay-at-home moms, and the one raising the children and cleaning the home.
As for advertising, the first thing that comes to my mind is cleaning products. http://www.workhorseproductions.us/images/SwifferAd002.jpg
This is a typical cleaning advertisement, depicting a fit, young mother hustling around her perfectly kept home regardless of all the chaos of screaming children and barking dogs. Why do we generalize all mothers to look and act like this woman pictured?
While channel surfing the other day, I stopped and flipped between "Entertainment TV", and "Malcolm in the Middle". The main topic for Ryan Seacrest on "E” was young Hollywood mothers and their struggles balancing time between their career and family; while on "Malcolm in the Middle", it was an episode about Frances (the oldest son), breaking down about his childhood due to his mothers blunt parenting style. It's funny because the two programs show both ends of the spectrum of parenting styles. Young Hollywood mothers can afford hiring nannies to help raise their children, while average middle class mothers like Lois have to juggle raising three adolescent boys and a job. In my experience, I have seen both sides growing up. I grew up in middle to upper class neighborhood, so there were families in my neighborhood that were extremely wealthy and families that were just getting by. The wealthy families, like young Hollywood (Example: Britney Spears), hired live-in nannies that would basically raise the infant themselves. For the longest time this confused me because I barely ever saw my rich friend’s mother around. These types of mother/child relationships just doesn’t seem real to me and these are the types of parenting styles that kids see when they watch celebrity reality shows. I think "Malcolm in the Middle" does a great job at accurately showing the life of a middle class family lifestyle (Which was basically my upbringing). In the show, Lois (Mother) is a very anal retentive Mom that is constantly stressing out about life’s realities, such as: finances, raising three young boys, and working a middle wage job at the local grocery store. Show’s like these, teach young children that motherhood and parenting is hard, especially when you’re not making millions of dollars like celebrities. Shows like “Malcolm in the Middle” demonstrate the benefits and negative aspects of having close relationships with your parents (but hopefully the positives outweigh the negatives). I think because of my similar upbringing, I appreciate the show more then someone that grew up with allot of money. I also feel that in the midst of unrealistic shows like: “My Super Sweet Sixteen”, “Real Housewives”, and other reality shows, are a bad representation of motherhood and parenting for young viewers. More shows should realistically represent the majority of the population, instead of emphasizing wealthy, glamorous lifestyles.
“Malcolm in the Middle”. A.A. episode: www.webcrawler.com
While watching TV this afternoon, I came across Oprah and found that today’s show was appropriately themed around mothers (in anticipation of Mothers’ Day, I assume.) The show consisted of confessions and interviews by mothers who admitted to not having it together. Several real-life mothers had sent Oprah home videos of themselves confessing their “dirty little secrets” about motherhood. These secrets included harmless, even humorous, tales of skimping out on everyday motherly duties because they were too exhausted and ran out of patience. These women were tired and worn down by their children’s never-ending needs and also by the constant pressure they feel from the world to be able to do it all; raise the kids, keep the home together, be a great wife, etc., and look great doing it! This pressure, the women explained, came from images of other mothers who seemed to have it all and be able to do it so well. Oprah also had Cheryl Hines on the show talking about her experience as a mother, which seemed just as exhaustive and confused as the rest. Cheryl Hines stars in the new ABC show called “In The Motherhood” which is based on a series of webisodes about modern-day mothers juggling young kids, teenage kids, careers, husbands, ex-husbands, their own mothers, and everything else. I think it is about time that there is a show like this on TV that portrays mothers in an imperfect light because too many mother characters on TV are unrealistic. Here is the first episode of the original web series, “In the Motherhood.”
I think that the motherhood images portrayed in the media are actually fairly diverse; it really depends on the type of show or movie or ad.
Similar to Dunstan, the very first thing that came to my head when I thought about mothers in media were ads for cleaning products. Probably most specifically Swiffer, but also items like paper towels, toilet bowl cleaner, etc. The image I thought of was the busy, working mother - like, the "look how busy I am, I have children and a full-time job, which is why I need cleaning products that work fast!" Obviously, everyone has to juggle home life and work life, but I feel like the fact that it is ALWAYS the mother using cleaning products, or doing the laundry, that the media are definitely projecting an uneven "domestic" load. They are still sending the message that women are the ones that need to do the cleaning and cooking and caring for kids. The father is rarely present in such ads, unless he is the one causing a huge mess. These ads often portray mothers as kind and understanding - that is, they don't lose their temper when their kid purposely splashes the walls with grape juice. They just smile and shake their heads. I think this is sort of amusing in contrast to the way that they are often portrayed on TV - obviously, they aren't going to make their target demographic look like a bunch of evil, horrible mothers, but when they aren't trying to sell something, it tends to flip around.
I think in a lot of sitcoms, the wife is always putting up with an idiot husband who doesn't help out with the kids. It is rare that there are ever lazy, stupid mothers while husbands do housework. Cartoons definitely come to mind with this too - Family Guy, The Simpsons. I think these kind of show images of women "settling" for dumb men. I mean, there is definitely amusement with this sort of thing - Family Guy is pretty much my favorite cartoon of all time - but it would be pretty interesting to see this reversed, because it generally just isn't.
I think in most TV shows, mothers are also a cause of conflict. As others have said, the "demonizing" of mothers and mother-in-laws is a common theme. People already mentioned Arrested Development and Malcolm; I'd also throw in Everybody Loves Raymond, and I know there are others but I can't really think of them right now. And yes, it is generally common to have mothers be overbearing or stifling in some way. Fathers are often shown to be overprotective of daughters (in commercials) but mothers seem to be overprotective of both sons and daughters, and generally more involved in their children's lives.
As others brought up, Gilmore Girls is another show that comes to mind that completely turns around the perceptions. Personally I think the relationship between Lorelai and Rory is a little ... strange, but they do show the other side with Lorelai's relationship with Emily, and Emily's relationship with her mother-in-law.
Overall, though, it seems like parents, and more specifically mothers, are treated as a source of comedy - whether they are overbearing, mean, or just annoying. Interestingly, I see this mostly only with adult children... it is rarer, I think, to see an evil or overbearing mother when the kids are still young (Malcolm is an exception).
I agree that I have never seen a mother-daughter relationship on television that even remotely resembles the one I have had with my mother. Probably because it's not particularly interesting or amusing... but I think a lot of the time the messages we receive from the media tell us that we're supposed to not want to see our parents once we get older or that they are simply annoying burdens, which makes me a little sad as most parents put their entire lives into raising their children.
Personally, I'm not very happy about the general representation of motherhood in the media mainly because I rarely see anything that remotely resembles my life (from my mother or the kind of mother I would like to be). For example, as much as I love Lauren Graham, I can barely watch The Gilmore Girls. Does that kind of relationship exist? I guess so, and I'm jealous. My mother left when I was five for various reasons, and off the top of my head, I can't think of anything that's relates to me and my experiences. Most shows with absent mothers are because the mother died.
One of my favorite dysfunctional mothers (while not much like mine) is Nancy Botwin from Weeds. For those of you that don't know, the show is based on how Nancy started welling pot after her husband had died in order to maintain their lifestyle in suburbia. I love Nancy because she is such a complicated character who clearly struggles with her role in the drug business but still loves her two sons very much. This predicament leaves her in some very awkward situations and Nancy often gets caught up with her work that her boys suffer in turn. She can also be very selfish at times. I love flawed characters because they're simply more realistic.
I tried to look for a video clip with the three of them, but the best I could do was this picture:
The themes of motherhood seem to be represented in one-dimensional, simple terms when a medium lends itself well to such portrayal—like advertisements, including print ads and television commercials. The complicatedness of motherhood tends to be explored more thoroughly in mediums that allow for greater breadth, like literature, film and television.
Little Children is an example of a film that looks at the theme of motherhood very critically. Kate Winslet plays a lonely housewife, estranged from her daughter (an omniscient director calls the daughter “this unknowable little person”). Her life is further complicated by her relationship with her husband, which is becoming more distant by the day. Her unhappiness with her domestic situation seems to stem from her time alone, her relationships to the other housewives who visit the local park (Winslet’s character feels these women are trivial and superficial), and her confusion over how to be the proper mom. The film even goes a step beyond a critique of motherhood, and in addition tells the story of a confused father, whose wife supports him and their small son while he studies to pass the bar exam in a third attempt. The filmic form allows for rich dialogues, potent narration, and the development of a story. The capabilities for a film to be critical, paradoxical and powerful all point to its potential as a form. While it can certainly be a place where motherhood is a static, stereotypical role, it is an excellent place for resistant stories and subversive messages to emerge.
It seems that advertisements are unable to portray such complicatedness (due to their single-image power, or 30-second message power). Often, if an advertisement incorporates elements of motherhood, they must be clipped and simplified to ensure a quick message delivery. Indeed, ads can portray differing aspects of motherhood (and not all positive, at that), but they must show only a few elements all the same. Usually, when I think of ads for cleaning products, I think of the happy go-lucky mom whose sole purpose in the commercial (and in subsequent life) is to make her kitchen sparkle, keep her whites their whitest, and provide the best food for her family. I looked around for ads for Jiff, since they even employ the catchphrase “moms like you choose Jiff”, a message attempting to reach mothers. I found one that is especially interesting, since it hints at the difficulties mother have in making choices (it tells us that “making choices is hard”, that “motherhood is not easy”). Though it puts value on mother’s choices (and makes bad any poor or wrong choices), the commercial still makes a comment that skims the surface of mom-geared commercials deeper than many.
Motherhood and mother figures are portrayed differently in various pop culture mediums. In ads it seems mothers are cheery and wanting to do things for their kids and kids friends with a smile. A good example of this would be Elizabeth from "The View" who does ads for electrolux appliances. In her spotless, shiny, stainless steel kitchen she joyfully prepares snacks for a group of kids and tells the viewer how simple life is with these appliances.
In contrast mother on sitcoms vary from this ideal portrayed on commerical. The mother, Lois, from "Malcolm in the Middle" is a good example of a stereotypical mother that reminds me of my mother. Lois is a hard headed, manipulative, crazy mother who's the parents that, "always has to say NO" while the father says "ask you mother" she is made out to be the bad "guy" and/or embarrassments but in the end we know she does love her family. Her crazy absent minded moments and dislike for her in-laws reflects a different less cheery, (i think) me real view of motherhood. Not to say that every mother functions like Lois I see reflections of her actions within the mothers I know.
Similarly I see the cheery moms, like Elizabeth but think that is more of a role and facade then Lois' character.
Motherhood in the media often lacks a middle ground. It seems like mothers in TV and movies are either willing to do anything for their children or willing to do nothing. They are either the perfect mother or life wreckers. No one wants to be the life ruining mother so they are left with an unattainable image of the perfect mother to live up to. The perfect mother is supposed to keep the house clean, make nutritious meals, and raise successful, well-behaved children.
Besides creating either perfect or completely flawed character moms, the media takes real moms in the public eye and searches for problems. Celebrity moms are shown as perfect mothers until they make even the smallest mistake. Most recently the octo-mom is all over the media for supposedly being an awful mother. I agree that there is something odd with the situation but the media seems to focus on mothers being poor at their job because of issues like those surrounding the octo-mom but don’t focus on things like domestic abuse. I think the media judges mothers unfairly when mothers are unable for any reason to give their children constant attention.
Stepmothers on the other hand are probably depicted the worst in the media. Step moms are almost always portrayed as being evil, appearance obsessed gold-diggers. From Cinderella to the recent release The Uninvited stepmothers are seen as unusually cruel women who hate their step-children.
When I think of mothers portrayed in advertisements, commercials, music videos, music, etc. the one thing I think of is the stereotypical mother—cooking something in the kitchen while wearing an apron, wearing the “mom jeans” and being a nurturing caregiver.
One of the commercials that came to mind while doing this blog, was the “Ovaltine” commercials. I find great pleasure watching these commercials, mostly because it is a comic relief for me. The cheesiness of the commercials, with the over-the-top cheerfulness makes me chuckle. In this commercial, which I have posted, the mother is, of course, whipping up some “rich, chocolate, hot” Ovaltine for the kids as they play outside. The mother appears to be cheerful and stirs that spoon with great enthusiasm! She mentions the nutritional value as well, which, is most likely a number one priority for mothers who want their children to grow up to be strong and healthy. Overall, I think these commercials are far ridiculous.
And another Ovaltine commerical (although, this one is interesting because the Dad plays a role):
In regards to music videos, the song I could think of was “Stacey’s Mom,” a catchy song that I enjoyed listening to back in high school. Sung by the band, “Fountains of Wayne,” the mother in this music video, is NOT the stereotypical mother. She is in-shape, attractive, desired by the opposite sex, and feels it necessary to chill out by the pool in a teeny bikini. In this video, Stacey’s mom is seen cleaning in the kitchen, but is cleaning in a low-cut red sundress.
I think it was important to note how different mothers are portrayed in the media today. A mother can be seen holding a diaper bag and a few kids on her hip, or she could be seen as the complete opposite—chilling by the pool in a bikini.
Motherhood has an interesting role within the mass media, specifically pop culture. For the most part I would have to agree that mothers are demonized and usually shown as the cause of everyone's problems. This can be seen within sitcoms where the characters dread the visit from the mother to the consistent reporting on infotainment shows about the conflicts between Britney Spears or Lindsey Lohan and their mothers.
The mainstream media and pop culture tend to have a very “wicked stepmother” take on mothers and mother-in-laws. They are usually the cause of most problems and stress within a person’s life. They are usually being portrayed as controlling, judgmental, over-protective, or unsympathetic. I think the quintessential mother who displays the stereotypically characteristics of mothers is the mother Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development. Lucille criticizes, makes judgmental comments about her children’s weight, life decisions and aspirations.
One show that does seem to stand out among the rest however (and I’m sure one can see this coming from a mile away) and that is the show Gilmore Girls. The mother Lorelai and her daughter Rory have a near picture perfect relationship, one that everyone seems to wish for from their mother. However, Lorealai has a not so perfect relationship with her own mother. I believe this show, shows what many people hope for and that is to not turn into their parents, Lorealai does this by having a much different relationship with her daughter than she did with her mother.
There are various types of mothers seen portrayed within popular culture but I believe the most prevalent is the mother. The mother’s actions a lot of the times are the reason the main character does the things they do.
Swiffer... when we were told to blog about how motherhood is portrayed in the media the plethora of swiffer commercials popped into my head. Procter and Gamble the company that is responsible for the line of swiffer products and by extension the advertisements associated with it has made a lucrative business selling to "mothers". The company typically uses one model for motherhood regardless of race. That is that P&G tends to market towards white middleclass stay at home mothers.
The company rarely wavers with their portrayal of motherhood in their commercials. I have included two of their commercials at the bottom of the blog post. One is of a black woman(but one could assume she is a mother) and the other is of a white mother cleaning after her child. Other than the color of the main actresses skin there is not much difference between the two commercials. Like a couple weeks before when we discussed how barbie offers a single type of an ideal to beauty and just uses different costumes and hues to mask the lack of different in the barbie dolls these P&G commercials seems to use just one type of an ideal to motherhood and just uses non meaningful changes to "fake diversity". P&G like many other companies like them tend to use this middleclass, white stay at home mom ideal of motherhood to structure many of their advertisements and campaigns. They rarely offer a different ideal of motherhood, maybe but very rarely they use the white, middleclass single mom ideal but other than that they hardly change.
Below is the new Keira Knightly Domestic Violence PSA that is airing in England. The video gets quite intense...I'm just warning you now. She decided to do this in the wake of the Chris Brown/Rhianna situation and felt it was time to bring more attention to the issue.
I believe that the definition of normative women's sexuality is one in which the so-called "normal" way women are supposed to act in our culture.
Thanks to popular culture, as well as the media, I wish I could say that the "norm" was changed, but this simply is not the case.
For example, when I consider a norm for women and sexuality, I immediately allude to the fact that women are supposed to be seen as sexual objects to the opposite sex. Television shows today, make this statement hold more truth. Shows such as "Ugly Betty" or "Sex and the City" often challenge traditional ideas of how women should act, mostly when it pertains and relates to the topic of sex. The women on "Sex and the City" are liberated--strong, confident, a side of women that is not necessarily always shown in television shows. As popular culture continues, I often wonder if the acceptance of more liberating women will increase or be shown. More of these women should be shown more, despite what writers/producers feel---does sex really sell? Perhaps. Maybe showing a powerful woman from time to time will put aside all of the negative connotations of women being seen as sex objects. Sometimes it seems as though television has over sexified women. Not all women sleep around when they first start dating. Not all women wear "next to nothing" in order to attract the opposite sex. I feel as though the more "normal" woman should be shown more, simply put.
I am in the final countdown to my wedding. There are only 8 weeks left. I do not mean to give too much information, but I have learned a lot from this whole engagement ordeal. While many of the comments I receive focus greatly on my role as a women, many also focus on sexuality. Bridal showers with guests ranging from grandma to your experimenting-with-new-ideas best friend leaves you with lots of interesting advice, thoughts, and…gifts. My grandmother tried to discuss with me “appropriate” sexuality. My aunt lectures me about letting him chase me; otherwise, our relationship will fall apart. And a friend encourages me to have sex “even when you don’t feel like it, because you won’t.” On the other hand, my best friend gave me no lecture just lots of “naughty” gifts and tells me to have fun. While I know this is not pop culture per se, but it reflects its influence over people. These are all prominent messages portrayed on television, books, and any kind of media. One source of media I find that consistently portrays women as hopelessly emotional, needing men, and heterosexual is romance novels. I will not say that all romance novels fulfill this definition, but often the story focuses on the rampantly running emotions of the women. They often depict women as desiring mostly emotional connection and not sexual. The man is to be the aggressive pursuer, and if he is not, he will not be interested (which I also think is a very sad, distorted depiction of men as well).The primary reason I chose to share this example with you though is because it shows that we are progressively moving past these ideals for women’s sexuality. While my theory is not without flaws, I have noticed that the more “traditional” views of women’s sexuality is expressed from the older generation. As the people are younger, they are more prone to accept differing norms on women’s sexuality. Of course, this could be due to the fact that we are all in our 20’s, but there is other reason to believe this to be true. Media has changed quite a bit in the last few years. It wasn’t even that long ago that seeing a homosexual couple on television was a very rare occasion. Women pursuing a relationship is also more commonly seen in media, such as the accountant in Jericho (great series if you haven’t seen it by the way). Also, the idea of the female body as art, rather than purely sexual, has become a more prevalent message in media. All of these concepts shake-up the foundations of “traditional” women’s sexuality.
One thing I think of when I hear normative women's sexuality is idea that women are supposed to be passive participants in their relations with men. I'm often disappointed with the way women are represented in mainstream movies. Now I don't really know what I'm talking about here because I'm very picky about which movies I watch (usually bad ones or ones with my favorite actresses) but I just feel like women's sexuality is poorly represented in the movies that I have seen in the last few years. One of my favorite mainstream actresses is Diane Lane. I love the roles chooses, she's absolutely gorgeous, and very confident with work. Many of her roles have been of women that take charge of their sexuality like in both Walk on the Moon and Unfaithful where she cheats on her onscreen husbands. Diane Lane has claimed to quit acting because of the lack of good roles for women her age and I can definitely see her point. Some producers go as far as to claim that they will never produce a movie with women in single leading roles because they won't do as well in the box office. The problem is that these films are often not written well. Yes, I do know that mainstream movies do talk about women's sexuality, but from what I have observed, it's often commodified or represents women in a negative life (being "the slut").
When I read this assignment, I immediately remembered an experience I had a couple summers ago when my family had an exchange student from Bahrain. She was complaining about the lack of interaction she and the other students in her program had with Americans their age (college age). She was the only student in the group who had a host family with kids older than elementary school age. Without having the opportunity to interact with their American peers, the other students turned to Maryam to ask the important questions. "They want to know, like, do you have a boyfriend?" she asked me. When I said no, she was shocked. "I thought all American girls had boyfriends." Last summer, the experience was repeated when my family hosted Samierah, from the United Arab Emirates. Like Maryam, she had expected that American girls had boyfriends.
I think the expectation that "all American girls have boyfriends" reflects our standards for women's sexuality in an interesting way. Neither Maryam nor Samierah had ever traveled in the US before, though Maryam had actually grown up mostly in Denmark because her parents were forced to flee Bahrain for planning a coup d'etat. Their expectations of American girls were based on pop culture; they had seen the movies and the television shows (Friends is apparently popular in Bahrain) and developed this expectation, which is in effect a stereotype of American women as needing to have a man in their lives.
The "need," I think it's fair to say, for American girls to not necessarily have a boyfriend but to have or want a long term heterosexual relationship is overwhelmingly present in our culture. Girls grow up hearing stories that Prince Charming will come fight the dragon and wisk them away to the enchanted castle, being asked by curious aunts (as was my experience) throughout high school and college if there were any boys in the picture, and watching shows like Sex and the City, with its portrayal of women who yes, speak frankly about their sexuality, but who reinforce the standard that women are heterosexual, white, thin, dress in an ultra-feminine way, and feel that it is necessary to have a man in their lives. It's been posted on the blogs before mine but I'm writing it anyway: The show does more to maintain normative women's sexuality than it does to liberate it. On the one hand, we can say at least it is out there, on the air, with millions of viewers. But, on the other hand, the show demands that the women are unhappy until they find their "true love." I mean, Carrie still hadn't so they had to go make a three-hour movie detailing her failure to plan and execute a fairy tale wedding from the pages of Vogue!