Sunday, April 9, 2017

No Feminism in Gossip Girl

The TV drama Gossip Girl focuses on the “scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite” through the lens of an anonymous voice called “Gossip Girl.” The series talks about issues of our culture today, but also exaggerates many aspects of the wealthy characters’ lives. While the money aspect of the show in unrealistic for most viewers, the show sends important messages that both perpetuate and defy stereotypes about gender. Although some stereotypes about gender are questioned, the majority of the characters reinforce stereotypes through their personalities and behavior throughout the show.

In the episode “The 16 Year Old Virgin,” male and female romantic relationships are the main focus. The 16 year old virgin is Jenny Humphrey. Her relationship with Damien Delgarde is a prominent issue during this episode. Up until this episode, Jenny has been putting a lot of pressure on herself to grow up as quickly as she can. She has turned from an innocent and preppy girl to a goth, angsty teenager who thinks she knows everything. She wants more than anything to get with Damien because he’s older and more experienced. When she finally decides to ditch school to hook up with him, she realizes what a big mistake she is making because he only wants her for sex. When she tells him she’s a virgin, he replies with, “I figured” and “it’s not that big of a deal.” Shocked, she responds, “It kind of IS a big deal,” realizing that he has no consideration for her feelings. This is a great example of the stereotypical “sex object.” Jenny is someone Damien just wants to have sex with and does not actually care about her as a person.

While Jenny is dealing with the expectations of a stereotypical “player,” Serena is happy in her new relationship with Nate. Nate and Serena have a long history, but ever since the Shepherd wedding, Serena has been particularly unattainable. She is known as the “seductress” of the show. While Nate could be known as a “jock,” who you might consider someone who doesn’t have a single girl on their mind, he really only likes Serena. He confesses that he’s had a huge crush on her forever, and this episode is the beginning of them actually being together. Up until now, Serena has been highly unattainable to Nate, which is why she fits the stereotype of the seductress. While Serena dated Dan (the “geek”), that also fits into a stereotype that beautiful women get with less attractive men.

As for Chuck and Blair, their relationship both supports and questions stereotypes about gender. Before Chuck was with Blair, he was the stereotypical “player,” using women for his own sexual pleasure. Now him and Blair are together and Chuck has become a loyal boyfriend. He has built an empire and Blair is running her mom’s fashion company. Blair’s business success defies stereotypes that women can’t be powerful, but Chuck’s success by becoming the youngest billionaire makes Blair look completely unsuccessful in comparison. Ultimately, the stereotypes that are questioned in the show are not as prevalent as the stereotypes that are perpetuated. The character traits of these elite teenagers have, for the most part, have been made to fit traditional gender roles.

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