Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Men's TV is on the Defensive

Jezebel had a really interesting article yesterday discussing some of the backlash our culture is seeing to women's advancement. Specifically, this season on television, we're seeing a host of new shows trying to put men and women back into their gender essentialist places, where men build civilizations, kill things, and don't act gentlemanly and women are servants and/or sex objects.
In all of the aforementioned shows, men and/or masculinity is threatened by women and/or femininity. You can thank the mancession for that; the media has so hammered into men's brains that they're the real victims while women in the workforce aren't in such bad shape. Now we see television capitalizing on that. Be it consciously or otherwise, these male-targeted shows are creating blatant ties between the rise of women and the fall of the economy.
The problem with gender-essentialism is that it is limiting, and not just to women. Rigid conservative gender roles say that women don't belong in the workplace, but they also say that men don't belong in the home as caregivers to children. They may say that women must dress modestly or else they deserve to be assaulted, but they also say that men can't be trusted to see a woman in a mini-skirt and not rape her. They say that women are overly emotional and thus irrational and that men should bottle up all of their feelings and only deal with problems through violence. None of this sounds very healthy or fulfilling.

There isn't a finite pool of human rights. If I gain/claim more of my rights, that doesn't mean that there are fewer rights for you. Everyone deserves freedom to be who they are, to express their personality, to pursue their chosen career, to have involvement with their families, and to express their emotions constructively. We only forfeit those rights when we do something wrong (such as commit a crime), and even then some rights are inalienable. Everyone has the right to be safe from violence. There aren't male rights and female rights, there are human rights, and by opening all options to all people by dismantling rigid gender roles, we are expanding those rights for everyone.

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