Monday, November 2, 2009

The Portrayal of Women in Shows

Zeisier’s article, Feminism and Pop Culture, introduces many interesting concepts. Firstly, he discusses reality television shows such as The Bachelor and how they are seen as being degrading to women making those who have watched it wonder “Who are these women? What would make them think this was a good idea? Have they no self respect?”  (128). Due to the critiques of The Bachelor’s inherent sexism, its producer produced the sister show, “The Bachelorette”. I’ve watched a season of The Bachelorette and Joe Millionaire (which is like The Bachelor) and I have to say that they do differ from each other even though they are based on the same premise. For instance it’s true that the female contestants in The Bachelor were a lot more catty, petty and were often reduced to “bitter, blubbering fools” (128). However, the male contestants on The Bachelorette (at least the season I saw with Trista which was a few years ago) were much more composed and seemed very friendly with each other. Furthermore, in The Bachelor, the most beautiful contestant was almost always chosen. Zeisier points out that “The real concern is the millions of viewers, scores of whom are young girls, who take in these misogynistic spectacles uncritically, learning that only the most stereotypically beautiful, least independent women with the lowest carb diets will be rewarded with love, financial security and the ultimate prize of male validation” (128). However, in The Bachelorette, Trista chose Ryan who was good looking but clearly not as good looking as the other contestant who he was vying against, Charlie, who was incredibly good looking. Trista even mentioned multiple times throughout the season that she and her family thought Charlie was insanely handsome but in the end she ends up picking the less attractive Ryan because he seems more like ‘husband material’; proving that looks aren’t everything for women.

Charlie (on top) and Ryan: 

Nowadays, more trashy versions of reality television shows have been released such as, Tila Tequila. Zeisier discusses how women are trying to take achieve empowerment through the freedom of choice and discusses whether “choice is now shorthand for feminism” (132). In shows like Tila Tequila, Tila is portrayed as being bisexual and both male and female contestants are shown vying for her attention, resulting in a lot of cattiness and drama. It is rumored that Tila Tequila isn’t actually bisexual, so did she just decide to star in this reality show to take on a feminist stance and prove that she has complete freedom of choice over who she chooses to love?

What about more extreme movies like The Girlfriend Experience? I’ve never actually seen this movie but it is about the life of a woman who works as an escort, and how she makes a lot of money by going out and sleeping with various men. Zeisier states that, “By performing sex work, that is, knowingly enacting what was expected of a stripper or other sex worker, women were in fact reclaiming a sexuality that had been the property of men and using it for themselves” (132). Do you think movies like these should be praised and viewed as a huge leap in the feminist movement? Do you think women are “lucky to have the choice of stripping, selling their bodies for a living?” (137), and are careers such as escorts and strippers actually “fun or empowering?” (138). 

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