Thursday, April 6, 2017

Gender Expectations Of The Upper East Side

An example of American pop culture that shows a variety of gender stereotypes is Gossip Girl. This popular television show, especially directed to audience of teenage girls shows a couple different gender ideologies. The classic characters from the upper east side of New York City are used to exemplify these ideas of gender. Gossip Girl reflects the ideology that upper class women need to be put together and proper. It also encourages the stereotype that men with power can have any women they want and view them as sexual objects.

In the show Gossip Girl the female characters, which are mostly girls in high school or their mothers have certain expectations because of the life they live. Living on the upper east side and going to a private prep school these girls have a particular way they must dress and present themselves. For example the character Blair Waldorf has certain expectations of what she wants her friends to wear. She is the “queen bee” and if you want to sit with her at lunch you must wear designer brands and do what she says. Her friend Serena is looked at a little differently or breaks these ideologies of what to wear by having her own style. Her mother has to force her to go to certain fancy events and dress a certain way. Serena also has this past that people always bring up, she used to be a “bad girl.” She had slept with Blair’s boyfriend, Nate, and so for that she was called a slut.  Another basic stereotype portrayed is how Blair makes a very big deal about losing her virginity. This represents the purity of girls and encourages this idea that as a teenage girl you have to have sex with someone special, or even just have sex at all.

The men in the show are portrayed as people of power. On the upper east side they live in a very patriarchal society. For example the Bass family is very wealthy and the son of the family, Chuck treats women like sex objects. In one episode he was buying a different girl every night of the week to sleep with. The way he speaks to women and treats them is sending a bad message to young boys. There is a strong male gaze in certain points of the show. Chuck Bass also opens up his own burlesque club where women strip and dance. In those episodes where it is shown the male gaze is extremely noticeable.

However, in some episodes of Gossip Girl gender stereotypes are broken. Serena breaks female stereotypes when she is dating Dan. She is the one that wanted to have sex first, when in reality we usually assume that men are the ones that encourage sex and that having sex is all about the man. But here we see that females have sexual desires as well and they do a good job of showing that. This is a meaningful comment on woman in society in the sense that girls want to have sex just as much as a guy does. The value of the show including this aspect of female sexual desire is important to help women realize that they can make the first move and that it’s okay for them to want to have sex.

The gender roles in Gossip Girl can also be found in other works of culture.  Any teen movie or show is in some way representing the female ideology that what you wear matters to help you fit in. Also the idea of sex being a bigger deal to women more than men. Now that so many people especially a teenage audience is viewing so many works of culture that enforces these gender roles it's hard not to believe they are true. Or even go about them ourselves.

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