So, I recently traveled a really long ways away from home. I flew to Istanbul (!) and back again. And on the flight there, I watched a couple of TV shows.
Now, i’m kind of out of the loop in regards to popular culture. I haven’t ever had a TV of my own, and haven’t watched much at all since i left my parents home over thirty years ago now. So there’s all this stuff going on that i know nothing about, pretty much.
But even I have heard of Glee and 30 Rock and Two and a half men. So when i was presented with the choice to watch these shows, I did. Except for two and a half men–I’ve heard enough about it, (more than enough, in fact), that I decided I was not too interested in enduring such misogyny while trapped in a tin can in the sky. So, I thought I’d watch 30 Rock, which is, after all, created by a woman. And I also watched Glee, ’cause there’s such a buzz about it.
Holy Problematic, Batman!
There was so much woman-hatred, or at least woman-dismissing going on in both of those shows, I hardly know where to begin.
I will start with the most glaring–the utter lack of any discussion of abortion as a viable option for women experiencing an un-planned pregnancy. And the pathologizing of pregnancy. In both of these episodes, one of the subplots was about a woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. In Glee, the girl was amping her boyfriend to get a job and give her money to cover medical costs (completely fucking unnecessary, too, far as I can tell, a sonogram, doctors’ visits, all that bullshit they make perfectly healthy women go through these days because, uh, hello pregnancy is an illness ffs). She’s a bit of a pill, this girl. the show is obviously written to make the boys the sympathetic characters, ALL of the boys–the newly out gay boy, the plucky young man in the wheelchair, the choir director dude, the boyfriend, AND even the boy who’s fooling around with the pregnant girl. He’s the boyfriends best friend, too, but it’s the pregnant girlfriend who is drawn as the harridan, the duplicitous nag, the spoiled princess. jesus. She’s SIXTEEN, she has no job, she’s still in high school, I don’t know where her parents are in this whole thing (only one parent was portrayed in the show, the white, working-class father of the gay boy–Mom is dead–another thing to make you go “mmmmmm”), but she’s not gonna have an easy road if she has this child, and there is not even a whisper of abortion. And this is a “progressive” show.
then, 30 Rock. Tina Frey’s character, Liz, thinks she’s pregnant. she doesn’t even like the guy who’s the suspected sperm donor, she’s not prepared for a child, but she doesn’t skip a beat–she’s decorating a room in her place to become a nursery and thinking about baby names. Again, abortion is not on the radar.
I felt like I was going crazy. These are women, too, who have access to such measures. They are both white, both middle class-ish, both have access to resources and information about options and yet–it was as if there was never such a thing as, say, even pennyroyal or mugwort, let alone free-standing abortion clinics that FEMINISTS fought damn hard for, thank you very much.
This is the way the patriarchy is winning. just ignore it and it will go away. Just forget that abortion is legal and available (not to all, not yet, we have not yet won this) and we’re losing more ground now because of this amnesia. good trick, Mister The Man. and it is, I must add, the oppressed who look like we’re in agreement with this whole ruse. it is women who are passing on the message–just expect Prince Charming (even if he is less charming than anyone else you know…) to come through for you, this is what you are supposed to do, this baby will give your life meaning. don’t bother to even think of wanting something other than motherhood, there IS nothing else you are good for, really. you know it, sisters.
Then on the way home i watched this movie called “The Switch” –and that’s about a woman who hired a sperm donor so she could get pregnant. And that was portrayed as a feminist act, that getting pregnant without a male partner thing.
I’ve gotta go now, but i’m very interested in this aspect of the backlash, this almost-but-not-quite-enforced pregnancy thing–