Anastasia Korolov | Back to the Present
Feminism ruined TV for me
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 09:02
Over the summer I discovered the world of feminism, and promptly had most media ruined for me. Yes, I know I have been female all my life. But I had never thought about feminism as a concept that applied to me before. Growing up in western Massachusetts, there wasn’t a lot of gender discrimination. Most of my math teachers were female. All the science teachers I had were female. Most television shows I watched had female protagonists. It never occurred to me that there was anything missing.
As it turns out, I was wrong.
It started with a couple simple articles. Why you need feminism, what’s wrong with the image of feminism, a couple articles decrying the “feminazi” stereotype. The articles made me reconsider my stance on a lot of sensitive topics I never knew were sensitive. Stuff I never realized was a problem, but should have.
It started with webcomics. Not all webcomics are written by guys, obviously. I don’t know the statistics, but I’m sure plenty are written by women. But most of the ones I read are written by guys. Certainly the most sexist ones I read are. In a lot of them — although, again, not all — the only time there’s a female character is when the joke specifically requires a female. She’s a girlfriend, or a potential lover, or even a maternal figure. Never is she just a person. Now, I get it. A lot of webcomic artists are guys, and people tend to stick to characters of their own gender, right?
Well, no, not really. Women usually have no trouble with male characters. There are lots of examples of female authors writing male protagonists. It’s easier for women to write about the opposite gender because male characters are everywhere. It’s easy to think of a male character as the protagonist in hundreds of different stories, because we’ve been raised seeing men doings hundreds of different things. It’s a lot harder to think of a female protagonist in anything that doesn’t involve men still at the center of the story: a woman trying to find love, or overcoming male oppression in the workplace. Why can’t a woman just do something for the sake of doing it? Why do all her actions have to be inspired and influenced by men? Not that there’s anything wrong with a woman finding love or overcoming male oppression. But I would like to see more stories about women doing things without any male influence.
And that brings me to television. There are a lot of shows I think are great, and that I watch when I have the time. Few of these shows feature female characters as the lead. Oh sure, all of them have female characters. A token woman, here or there. The wife of the main character, a love interest. A strong independent woman who’s reduced to being a detail in the story of the male protagonist.
When I watch television now, I analyze. I can’t help it. I look at the ratio of female to male characters. It’s usually a lot less than the 50/50 ratio that exists in real life. I look at the roles of female characters. Can they stand on their own? Do they have their own stuff going on that doesn’t involve men? After all, the male characters have stuff going on that doesn’t involve women. So why doesn’t the same hold true for women?
I haven’t stopped watching television, even the shows that are predominantly male. But I am more aware now.
So yes, feminism kind of ruined television for me. But I’m glad.
Anastasia Korolov is freshman who has not declared a major. She can be reached at Anastasia.Trombly@tufts.edu.