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Glee's Gender Issues: It Has Them


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#1

blarney

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 12:46 AM

I've looked and I couldn't find a thread to discuss such important subjects as: why effeminite gay boys can't possibly expect to get prominent roles in musical theater, why ambition turns girls into slavering wackjobs who send their competition to crackhouses, and of course, the big one: why even mentioning the word "pregnancy" drives female characters batshit crazy for seasons on end.

Is it really just a (manly) man's world, and we women should retire gracefully to the kitchen, or would RIB benefit from just a tiny bit of sensitivity training?

#2

Superflyse

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 3:27 AM

My biggest issue with the Gender Bias is in Blame It On the Alcohol and the various drunken archetypes, not going into the fact that Finn even knows what an archetype is, but why is only the girl archetypes and only the girls being crazy?
There are drunken boy archetypes, and frequently they double over! Angry Guy drunks are totally a thing. Why is only the girls that are singled out?

Even in the drunken behaviour it was the girls that went really crazy.
With the angry girl drunks with Quinn and Lauren berating Puck and Puck is just looking at them like they are crazy, but what is his drunk archetype and why isn't he reacting like that?

Finn was just such a douche when he called Rachel the needy girl!drunk. When I think that drunk!Blaine falls into a very similar drunken archetype.

the big one: why even mentioning the word "pregnancy" drives female characters batshit crazy for seasons on end.

Well, I have more issues with a pregnant woman could not do the dance moves that Quinn is cracking out in Funk and Journey to Regionals.
Though, I think the Crazy!Quinn issue is more than just because of the pregnancy but there is a line of her crazy making sense for me. Girl's messed up. Needs all kinds of help, but totally on the wrong show to make good use of the character.
However, as a rule, I think giving up your child at 16 is going to mess you up and would change the character. The issue is that it hasn't been addressed.

why ambition turns girls into slavering wackjobs who send their competition to crackhouses

That's character consistency! In the Pilot Rachel got Sandy Ryerson fired so she could get more solos. Rachel is just ruthless and will destroy the competition anyway she can!

I just don't understand why it's always the girls that have the crazy and the guys are just hapless to react. There is an imbalance with the crazy.

#3

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 9:28 AM

Finn was just such a douche when he called Rachel the needy girl!drunk. When I think that drunk!Blaine falls into a very similar drunken archetype.

They're both horny drunks. Of course since Rachel's a girl they changed it to 'needy'.

I think one gender issue I have is why we don't have a genuinely friendly, relaxed, kind, easy going, clever, girl character. (Just talking about the kids) Ok Tina can probably fit this, but she's hardly a proper character. I was hoping with the new girls being added this season we might get something, but instead we get Sugar who is a little ditzy and not the brightest (like Brittany) and we get Harmony who is crazy ambitious, it gets a little scary (like a caricature of Rachel). Why is that we can have Sam and Blaine and Mike and Rory who are soooo nice and sooooo easy to like (you know, that stereotypical boy next door all round good guy) but no equivalent for the girls?

Another gender issue I have is Klaine vs Brittana. Why is it that the boys are so innocent and adorable, they talk to each other, sing cute duets, we follow their relationship on each of their major milestones etc, but the girls don't get that? So the girls are the slutty cheerleaders who've slept around, they make one girl the bitch and the other a dumb ditzy blonde. And their relationship is all jumbled up, sex first, talk later. I think if Brittana got a Klaine treatment I'd ship them so hard. Sometimes I wish Klaine could get gender-swapped just so the girls can get something.

And wait, another gender issue: I wish there was a proper girl/girl friendship on this show. Mercedes/Rachel is about the closest we've got and judging by Asian F I don't think it's a very good one at all. And this leads to another gender issue I have: I wish they can show a decent straight girl/straight boy friendship without romance getting in the way.

Edited by fireangel611, Jan 11, 2012 @ 9:31 AM.


#4

Colonel Green

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 9:37 AM

So the girls are the slutty cheerleaders who've slept around, they make one girl the bitch and the other a dumb ditzy blonde. And their relationship is all jumbled up, sex first, talk later.

That's because they weren't intended to be gay, and the relationship just developed over time from a joke to something that is supposed to be serious. They'd probably be very different characters if they'd been intended for this from the start.

#5

Superflyse

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 10:31 AM

And wait, another gender issue: I wish there was a proper girl/girl friendship on this show. Mercedes/Rachel is about the closest we've got and judging by Asian F I don't think it's a very good one at all. And this leads to another gender issue I have: I wish they can show a decent straight girl/straight boy friendship without romance getting in the way.


I always thought there was a friendship between Tina and Mercedes, but I think I might just be stuck in my Blame It On the Alcohol train of thought since they were happy drunks together. Though, considering Tina doesn't get lines and when she does they are all about Mike. Tina has been massively screwed over in the world of character development or character anything really.

There has been some moments. There was the friendship moment between Mercedes, Brittany, Santana and Quinn in Hold on to Sixteen, and mild friendship between Quinn and Rachel as well. But I can think of way more friendship moments from the first season, especially between Tina, Mercedes and Rachel. Now everything is all romance, romance, romance in newly repetitive and cliched ways. Though it was nice when all the girls came together for Santana. That was way better than the Finn parts and the poor song choice.

I got the feeling they have been doing a bit of Sam and Quinn friendship in Rumours, as well as the bit of pep talk in an Extraordinary Merry Christmas and maybe the tough love approach in Hold to Sixteen. Not particularly good, but that's the closest straight girl/straight boy friendship.
Though, the Sam and Quinn scene from Hold to Sixteen, some lovely gender inequality there when Sam states that Quinn's problems are "rich, white girl problems". Which is not reflective of the situation at all and in fact it is insulting, Quinn knows what it is like to be homeless, Sam and helped you out, so shut up.

Why is that we can have Sam and Blaine and Mike and Rory who are soooo nice and sooooo easy to like (you know, that stereotypical boy next door all round good guy) but no equivalent for the girls?

I think Finn is also meant to be a nice good guy, or I get the feeling I am meant to think that but I do think he is a douche... a self right righteous douche at that.
Mr Schue is in a similar boat.
But there aren't any girls like that. All the girls are bitchy, manipulative, crazy, diva-errific or pretty evil in general. Tina is the most unscathed, but that's because she doesn't do anything except break out into tears and needs to be saved by Mike. Oh, Silly Love Songs, fuck you.

In terms of the slutty girl factor, it's pretty clear that Brittany, Santana and Puck all have slept around, has it ever been treated particularly different?
Not going into the Brittana vs Klaine, but in how cliches of TV treat the slutty girl vs the slutty guy, is that really a factor in Glee?
I'm just trying to think of some examples and can't think of anything, but it is a good thing to talk about when gender issues.
The only thing I can think of that Rachel and Quinn get crap for being in celibacy club, but nothing so much for anyone sleeping around.

#6

a finn gleek

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 11:38 AM

This is a very good topic, since I think girls and boys are treated very differently in this show, at least when it comes to the kids. With adults it might be less evident, mainly cause there aren't really any male adults in this show. Will is the only one (we have Figgins as well, but he's a caricature, and Burt who doesn't really interact with anyone but Kurt) and about all the female adults are or have been his love interests. Will has made pretty stereotypically "female" choices in his past, like sacrificed his dreams and his career for his bat shit crazy wife and again stayed in Lima because of Emma and the ND kids.

My biggest annoyances are the treatment Rachel and Brittana get. Rachel has morphed from this really ambitious career-oriented strong girl to a needy one whose actions are all about Finn and/or Kurt. Rachel's big decision this season is NY vs. love and Finn. She angsted about this a lot in 2x22. It wouldn't actually bother me THAT much (allthought still some) if Finn was shown to have these same issues, but he doesn't. He wanted to go to OSU, but we got zero consideration from him about Rachel's place in this plan. She was in no way involved in it, he just found out that he will not be going there which led to Rachel giving up her virginity out of pity. Now I don't feel strongly about virginity, I think it's just natural to have sex, but Rachel clearly did and the way she lost it was just stupid and all about Finn.

Kurt is pretty similar to Rachel in his dreams, but without the NY vs. love/Blaine aspect. He whined to Blaine about wanting HIS senior year to be perfect, which made Blaine, a JUNIOR, transfer from his prestigious boarding school to the hell hole that is McKinley. Of course he said he wants to be close to Kurt, but what about next year? Why does Kurt not have to consider Blaine like Rachel considers Finn? Doesn't he care that Blaine will be stuck alone in WMHS while he goes off to NYADA with Rachel? This is not really a criticism of Kurt, because I think he is in the right (about going to NYADA and leaving Blaine in Lima, that is) but it's so stereotypical that Rachel has to angst so much about love vs. career but Kurt doesn't. And then there is Rachel being concerned about Kurt getting into NYADA. She should worry about herself, not him. Kurt's future is not Rachel's responsability and we live in the 21st century, I'm sure Rachel would manage in NY without her "favorite gay" so I don't understand why she thinks she wouldn't. Of course she WANTS him to get in, but at the risk of her own future? Wrong. The ballot stuffing was so stupid.

#7

HappyHeart

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 2:26 PM

Rachel throwing herself under a bus for Kurt in the election has been getting on my nerves for ages. Rachel's framed as the bad guy for daring to have a back-up plan and acting on it. I could understand Kurt being a little miffed at not being told a little sooner, but Rachel isn't answerable to him. She had as much a right to compete as he did. Kurt giving Rachel the cold shoulder until she caved and apologised for even trying to be president was pretty horrible. He's going to have a really hard time maintaining some kind of social circle with other performers if he goes into the huff every time one of his friends auditions for the same part as him. Moreover, Kurt's never had to apologise for guilt-tripping Blaine into leaving behind a first-class education because a long-distance relationship didn't fit in with his aims for a perfect senior year. Ambition is evil, but only for girls.

As for Klaine vs. Brittana, I've heard comments from fans that they thought it was meant to be a role reversal for stereotypical views of gays and lesbians - that the guys are all about sex and nothing else while the girls don't seem to have any interest in sex at all - but there's no way to confirm that this was RIB's intention. To be honest, I think it's more to do with Klaine getting way more attention and being more deliberate from the get-go, whereas Brittana has just been one great big fumble after another.

Edited by HappyHeart, Jan 11, 2012 @ 2:27 PM.


#8

a finn gleek

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 2:50 PM

but there's no way to confirm that this was RIB's intention.


I rather think it's just a result of RIB+'s inability to write for characters who are not in posession of a penis.

Well, maybe I'm a bit harsh, they seem to have no idea what to do with Puck or Will either. But Glee does have some male characters that seem to be consistent, constantly possess a brain, don't seem to have mental illnesses, who are friends with someone of the same sex, are actually nice, have parents and are not lectured constantly for having ambition.

I think Santana is probably their best female character: she has a rather complicated and interesting characterization, she gets storylines AND songs but still hasn't lost all her edge. But even with her they ignore her relationship completely and when she comes out of the closet, instead of her GIRLFRIEND, they have a straight guy (FINN, of all people! he's the one who outed her!) somehow "guiding" her through the difficult times with the gift of song. Huh?

#9

Demian

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 3:03 PM

He's going to have a really hard time maintaining some kind of social circle with other performers if he goes into the huff every time one of his friends auditions for the same part as him.

Not really, because it's a TV show. He'll maintain whatever the script says he maintains.

#10

Lazy Writer

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Posted Jan 11, 2012 @ 6:31 PM

[delurks]

I think this topic is very interesting, but it’s problematic to pick out a specific scene from the entire show and then make generalizations about the show as a whole and whether it fits into societal expectations.
I think it’s better to go the other way. To critique the way the show handles gender, to first consider what traits are culturally coded as stereotypically “female” and “male”. A starting list (mostly dealing with negative stereotypes):

Female: Objectified, Madonna/whore with no in-between, success measured by romantic success, passive in storyline, needy, controlling, crazy, emotions=prominent drive
Male: Incompetent, childlike, active agent in storyline, sex=prominent drive

So to see whether Glee is falling into these stereotypical patterns, I would want to see whether the characters met these traits in a gendered way—if there’s a pattern. In my opinion, the main characters (that most storylines revolve around) are more important here-I consider them to be Rachel, Finn, Kurt, Santana, Will and Quinn. (Quinn mostly because the pregnancy storyline was SO important season one and continues to have effects in multiple story arcs now). That’s 3 of each gender, although if you think the show feminizes Kurt you might look to see him grouped with “female” traits more. I’ve put their names in bold.

Visual objectification:
High (by show canon): Santana, Brittany, Quinn, Puck, Sebastian
Objectified somewhat (show portrays as desirable in less sexualized way): Finn, Rachel, Blaine, Will/Emma
Not objectified by show: Mercedes, Tina, Mike, Artie, Sugar
Special case: Kurt (the shows has mixed messages here, and gets into some ideas about what’s sexually desirable for men; I don’t think it’s come down on a side yet. I know this forum isn’t a place to discuss fandom, but there’s a pretty big gulf between canon and fan response here, let’s just say.)

Conclusion: Female characters are objectified more, especially if they’re major characters, fitting the stereotype.

Madonna/whore (cult of virginity)
Clearly set up as Madonna/pure: Rachel, Quinn, Emma, Kurt
Clearly set up as “whore”: Santana, Brittany, Puck, Sebastian
Not forced to one extreme or the other: Finn, Blaine, Mercedes, Tina, Mike Artie, Sugar, Will? (I don’t think the show judges him as a whore, but I kind of do)

Conclusion: HEAVILY fits the stereotype. Female characters (and Kurt) are more likely to be strongly either/or; male characters are less likely to be put into a box based on their sexual history.

Success measured by:
Romantic success: Quinn, Santana, Emma,
Other measures: Finn, Mike
Both: Rachel, Kurt, Will, Blaine
Unclear: Puck, Artie, Sebastian, Tina, Brittany, Mercedes, Sugar

Conclusions: This somewhat fits the stereotype, and also reveals weak writing. Characterization is sometimes defined by what the character desires and what stands in the way of that desire… and look how many characters have unclear desires! Unsurprisingly, the most developed characters on the show have more than one desire. But the ones that do fall into the success OR career dichotomy are 100% gendered.

Agency in Storyline (Do they cause things to happen or do things happen TO them? Do they start storylines or react to them?)
Active: Rachel, Blaine, Sebastian,
Passive: Finn, Mike, Artie, Mercedes,
Mix: Kurt, Santana, Quinn, Will, Brittany, Puck, Tina, Sugar, Emma

Conclusions: Completely opposite from the stereotype! We get to know characters based on the choices they make, and more based on choices they make of their own volition than choices that are forced upon them. Therefore, protagonists are often very “active” characters. This fits when you look at Glee; Rachel is more of the “main” character than Finn, and she has more agency.
Kurt and Santana are almost always very active agents too (think of Kurt’s pursuit of Finn vs. Finn’s hoping the situation would go away if he ignored it), but they were both made passive in storylines ostensibly about them (Kurt and bullying, Santana and coming out). And I’ve seen a lot of criticism of those arcs for that very reason.

Neediness:
High: Finn, Kurt, Will*, Rachel, Quinn, Santana*
Medium/unclear: Puck, Mike, Artie, Blaine, Sebastian, Tina, Brittany, Mercedes, Emma, Sugar

Conclusions: Well, well, isn’t this interesting? All of the main characters are very needy. Finn’s need to be liked impedes his leadership. Kurt needs constant validation from his dad. You could quibble with Will’s inclusion here, but I think a lot of his choices come from his desire to be the best/coolest/most inspirational teacher and mentor. Rachel and Quinn should be obvious here, and as Santana became a main character it was clear that a lot of her choices are driven by fear about losing her social status.
So it doesn’t fall into gender stereotypes, and is in fact quite fitting for a show with mostly teen characters/set in “teen” mindset.


See, this is why I always lurk. I’m terrible at being concise!
I’d also offer the disclaimers that:
-Glee is at least partially a satire, so stated messages shouldn’t always be taken at face value.
-By three seasons in, lots of factors influence character behavior other than their genders.

I have more partially formed thoughts, but that’s probably more than anyone ever wanted anyway….

#11

J True

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 6:53 AM

Count me among those here wondering why we've been given a whole host of "good guys", but no true "good girls". For a show so fond of stereotypes, where's our "girl next door"? We have like 5 easy-going good-natured guy types (Finn, Sam, Will, Mike, Blaine) who basically have a built in excuse for whenever they do something douchey... "Oh no, they didn't mean anything by it, they're juts good guys trying to do the right thing and sometimes they get mixed up because they're so sweet and well-intentioned butthe world and women are so mean and scary." But when the girls do something wrong it's because they're crazy/hysterical/bitchy/manipulative/selfish/insecure/irrational.

Even cheating seems to be a female problem on the show despite the fact that guys have cheated as well... Quinn and Rachel each cheat and they both suffer consequences for it. They need to be yelled at by Finn and told how wrong their behavior is. Finn cheats on Quinn in early season 1 and I don't think it's ever mentioned. It's like it didn't happen and he later goes on to lecture Rachel about the evils of kissing someone else while you're in a relationship despite having done so himself. Because when Quinn cheated on him, she was being selfish and manipulative, and when Rachel cheated on him, she was being insecure and spiteful.. but when Finn cheated on Quinn it was because he was confused about his feelings... because he's a good guy who means well and he's just trying to find his way. That's another issue, when the guys do make mistakes they tend to be glossed over in a sort of "well, boys will be boys" way and that's that. But when Quinn or Rachel make a mistake we have to watch them stew in their misery for a while as they learn the error of their ways and make a change for the better. I mean how many times has Rachel had to learn her place?

I've stated this in a previous thread (although I don't recall which one), but all of the female characters are either stereotypes or caricatures. For a show that touts itself as progressive, it's really quite alarming. This was my earlier reading of the ladies of Glee as they're presented to us, and not much has changed since I first posted it a few months ago:

Rachel = Selfish overly-ambitious brat
Quinn = Psychotic manipulative bitch
Brittany = Ditzy slutty blonde
Mercedes = Lazy sassy diva
Santana = Angry bitchy lesbian
Tina = Hysterical mute vampire
Emma = Saintly neurotic virgin

I don't mind flaws in characters, I actually prefer them because they make characters complex and interesting, but there's no real complexity to these girls and their flaws are so cliched. It just becomes tiring to watch.

Edited by J True, Jan 12, 2012 @ 9:01 AM.


#12

SNeaker

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 7:28 AM

We have like 5 easy-going good-natured guy types (Finn, Sam, Will, Mike, Blaine) who basically have a built in excuse for whenever they do something douchey...

Honestly, you can add Puck to this list too. He's a "bad boy" in name only at this point. He too, has become just a sweet, well-meaning, easygoing guy, and helpless victim of these kee-razy bitches. Out of the Shelby/Puck/Quinn mess, he came out of it squeaky clean while the women were dragged through the dirt.

And that's the thing. In the first season, I remember seeing some reviews of the show that talked about gender bias, and I thought most of them were off-base, largely because the way I saw it, most of the people on this show were assholes or super flawed, so there was equality in the portrayal, and I also felt that Rachel and Quinn had agency in their lives that wasn't just about being defined by boyfriends. But even the guy who started off as a bully, a best friend's girlfriend fucker, and a snarky asshole, has become yet another dopey nice guy, while his female equivalents Santana and Quinn just kept on bitch bitch bitching. Which isn't to complain about his growth (though I think they went too far too fast) -- the issue is that the girls have not been allowed to grow in the same way (or that it took waaaaaaaaaay longer.) This is another reason the guys all get along so well and seem to have this camaraderie while the girls are constantly cat-fighting with each other over one thing or another -- Cheer captain, boys, solos, etc.

Edited by SNeaker, Jan 12, 2012 @ 8:34 AM.


#13

fireangel611

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 8:51 AM

They'd probably be very different characters if they'd been intended for this from the start.

Then I guess what annoys me is that only the boys were given a great romantic story, i.e. they didn't even consider to give one to the girls. Is it because RIB are all guys? They have a gay quota? Or maybe they just can't write good female characters. They pandered to fans and wrote Brittana but I think due to this pandering it's not something I can ship as easily as Klaine because it was never written well to begin with.

I always thought there was a friendship between Tina and Mercedes...

There has been some moments. There was the friendship moment between Mercedes, Brittany, Santana and Quinn in Hold on to Sixteen, and mild friendship between Quinn and Rachel as well.

I consider Quinn/Rachel to be quite unhealthy for Rachel. It's like a bully/grovelling dynamic so I wouldn't call that a friendship. As for the others they are so so mild. They are nothing when compared to Hummelberry. I love Hummelberry, I want more with those 2 but sometimes I do stop and wonder why the lead girl character has a guy as her best friend. Actually, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, some girls are more comfortable hanging out with guys so I'll leave Rachel to be. To make up for it, it'd be nice to have some other solid girl/girl friendships going on. Except we don't. Which all added together makes Rachel's lack of girlfriends more glaring.

I got the feeling they have been doing a bit of Sam and Quinn friendship in Rumours

Whatever bit of friendship that managed to form in Rumours is now ruined because Quinn wanted to date Sam again in Hold on to 16. (See! Straight boy/straight girl - they just can't write them being just friends. Argh)

And something else I want to add: I'm curious as to how far they'll try to make Finn and Santana friends. I think if we look past I Kissed a Girl those 2 do have potential to be very interesting on screen together (yeah, I loved them in the Madonna episode), but I can't help but notice that Finn/Santana is a perfect parallel to Hummelberry. Straight guy/gay girl and gay guy/straight girl. Are the writers like allergic to straight guy/straight girl combinations? I promise you those friendships exist in real life, they function perfectly well and aren't rarities. As of now I'm putting all my hopes on Sam/Rachel. In my head canon those 2 are having the time of their lives living at Rachel's parentless house.

Visual objectification:
High (by show canon): Santana, Brittany, Quinn, Puck, Sebastian

I don't think Sebastian is objectified though. I can't unsee a cartoonish version of a meerkat face now. I would also add Sam and Mike to the list of high visual objectification. I mean, come on, all their shirtless scenes and talk of abs and what not. I actually don't think Glee objectify the girls much at all, or, if they do, the boys pretty much get equal treatment. The girls have to wear dresses for the sex scenes, can't have them in bras when making out. And we've had about 1000 scenes in the boys' locker room with shirtless guys but I wonder if they'll ever show the girls room with girls walking around in various states of undress.

Special case: Kurt (the shows has mixed messages here, and gets into some ideas about what’s sexually desirable for men; I don’t think it’s come down on a side yet. I know this forum isn’t a place to discuss fandom, but there’s a pretty big gulf between canon and fan response here, let’s just say.)

Awww, as a big Kurt lover, I'm glad he's considered special ;D

Edited by fireangel611, Jan 12, 2012 @ 9:06 AM.


#14

Starchild

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 8:52 AM

Nice analysis, Lazy Writer. I might apply that approach to other shows I watch.

#15

a finn gleek

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 9:05 AM

I would also add Sam and Mike to the list of high visual objectification.


Yes, Sam is probably the most objectified character on the show. He's been shirtless countless of times, and his part in Rocky Horror was basically standing on the stage dressed in an equivalent of a golden speedo. Then the first time we saw him this season was dancing shirtless with old ladies throwing money at him. I've no doubt they're making him a swimmer just to show the abs. The show has made fun of Rachel's nose and boobs and Finn's weight (though Cory Monteith and Lea Michele are both simply gorgeous, Cory is drool-worthy with the stubble!) but about every other Sam-scene, if he's not half naked, has mention of his "Trouty Mouth". And yes, whenever Mike shows his abs it's simply gratuitous. Maybe this is one branch where Glee doesn't resort to stereotypes.

#16

Colonel Green

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:18 AM

Even cheating seems to be a female problem on the show despite the fact that guys have cheated as well

Not entirely. Both of Artie's girlfriends cheated on him, and yet he ended up the villain both times. When Tina cheated on him with Mike it was played as Artie's fault. Brittany's continuing her preexisting relationship with Santana on the side was even weirder, because Artie actually got this spiel about how cheating on him was bad, but then calling her dumb became the trump card in the situation and he ended up begging Brittany's forgiveness and asking her to date him again. And now he's seemingly pals with both the people who cuckolded him, neither of whom ever said a single word of apology either (and, in Santana's case, she was openly vituperative, though mostly not to his face).

The most consistent thing on cheating seems to be that it's okay (or not cheating) if the two people cheating are designated the couple we're supposed to root for (or if the person being cheated on is someone we're supposed to root against).

On issues like cheating, there are two major flaws in the show's writing in effect:

1) The show rewrites the rules for every scenario, so there's no consistency.
2) The writers rarely take into account characters' past behaviour in similar situations, so people (Finn) end up looking like hypocrites.

#17

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:42 AM

Artie is the exception on this show it seems. He's the only male character that is portrayed as less than right or unfavorably. His mistakes are his own and sometimes he acts like a jerk and is portrayed as such. That said, most of his jerky qualities are written off as "teenage boy" IMO.

Sometimes he gets the short end of the blame stick. Then again, him getting the raw narrative deal when Brittany was cheating on him sort of counteracted the way he slut-shamed Brittany in Duets and was painted as a victim in that scenario rather than a willing partner with buyer's remorse.

Edited by Breadstix, Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:46 AM.


#18

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 12:33 PM

character. (Just talking about the kids) Ok Tina can probably fit this, but she's hardly a proper character. I was hoping with the new girls being added this season we might get something, but instead we get Sugar who is a little ditzy and not the brightest (like Brittany) and we get Harmony who is crazy ambitious, it gets a little scary (like a caricature of Rachel). Why is that we can have Sam and Blaine and Mike and Rory who are soooo nice and sooooo easy to like (you know, that stereotypical boy next door all round good guy) but no equivalent for the girls?


I think, in general, Glee has a problem writing for female characters, yes. I think it's worrisome that the girls are defined by whether or not they are dating somebody, and I think it's worrisome that once Kurt met Blaine, he became the female in that relationship and is now also validated and given worth only has Blaine's lover. However, I am not really all that sorry that we don't have any Girl Next Door character besides Tina. On the whole, the Boys Next Door are an insipid, dull lot who can't really drive a compelling story. Tina's the only bland female character, and it's probably only because Jenna can't act. Also, the bland nice male characters are all newer characters. Mike is the only one from the first season, and he was almost wallpaper back then. What has really happened is that the first season of Glee created mostly interesting characters with bite and problems; in the second season, they lost that edge. Blaine's boring because they can't figure out what the hell they want to do with him and they keep retconning him, Mike can only really dance, and they almost bailed on Sam completely. Rory was the wrong winner of a reality show and he has got to be the worst actor in the history of Glee.

I am not sorry there's no girl like these guys. Now, if they could please let Rachel be less concerned about pleasing all the men around her, and make Finn accountable when he spends an entire season behaving like a douchebag, we'd be good to go.

Edited by Bookworm06, Jan 12, 2012 @ 12:34 PM.


#19

Lazy Writer

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 2:14 PM

I can't believe I forgot about Sam! I definitely should have used him instead of Sebastian to get an equal number of male/female characters; my bad (I just excised his clumsy reintroduction to the show from my brain, apparently). And I agree that he and Mike are shirtless all the time- I think knowledge of the show's promotion and how Lea and Dianna are shot for magazines played into my consideration of objectification, too. But even in-universe, although you don't get a lot of slow camera pans over them or states of undress, I do think Rachel and Quinn are portrayed as objects of desire.

I'm the last person to defend the quality of writing on this show, I really am. I just want to be careful about ascribing my personal readings of characters to a larger attitude about gender. For example, Finn as been described here as a bland, likable everyman. But this is how you could also see him, based on his actions in canon:
immature, cartoonishly slow ("did you know you can check books out from libraries?"), hypocritical (every cheating arc ever), embodiment of white straight male privilege (why is he the co-lead; because he's the best singer or dancer, or most committed to the club? I think not), homophobic (albeit getting better), need to be liked overriding personal integrity (starting from the first scene we ever see him in, if I recall correctly).

(For the record, I don't hate Finn. But I do think that's a legitimate reading of him, which doesn't exactly smack of "he's being portrayed better because he's male").

I do think the show has a gender problem, maybe because the writers are still mostly men, or maybe just because they're intellectually lazy. I just think that's a secondary problem that would be much less in evidence if it weren't for the other more powerful forces:
-trying to maintain at least 3 different tones (satire, realism, Very Special Message)
-favoring the needs of an individual scene or arc above overall character/plot continuity
-the need to always return to "endgame" couples, no matter what kind of (manufactured) obstacle has been put between them
-splitting focus between a number of characters that was already bigger than the writers could handle season 1, and just adding more and more

But of course, more about any of those points would need to go to the writing thread.
To drag this back to gender on Glee: honestly, I think "controlling manipulative bitch" for female characters is offensive. But I also think that it's offensive when (re: male characters) shows

specifically attack[s] them for emotional ineptitude while simultaneously attacking them for having emotions.



(That's from this article).

I tend notice the offensive treatment of female characters more, and it bothers me more in a way, because it's just that common, and because I'm a woman. I wish I could say I was equally outraged over male and female objectification, but if I'm honest, I'm really not the way I should be. I like seeing attractive shirtless men, after all, and since scantily-clad ladies don't do much for me, I'm freer to think about the message being sent. But when a show has a gender issue, I think it damages characters of both genders. Or as Joss Whedon said,

...the misogony that is part of every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who's confronted with it."


I think it really is a "gender" problem, not a "girl" problem, and the complaints we make in this thread should reflect that.

#20

Colonel Green

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Posted Jan 12, 2012 @ 6:35 PM

I just want to be careful about ascribing my personal readings of characters to a larger attitude about gender. For example, Finn as been described here as a bland, likable everyman. But this is how you could also see him, based on his actions in canon:
immature, cartoonishly slow ("did you know you can check books out from libraries?"), hypocritical (every cheating arc ever), embodiment of white straight male privilege (why is he the co-lead; because he's the best singer or dancer, or most committed to the club? I think not), homophobic (albeit getting better), need to be liked overriding personal integrity (starting from the first scene we ever see him in, if I recall correctly).

(For the record, I don't hate Finn. But I do think that's a legitimate reading of him, which doesn't exactly smack of "he's being portrayed better because he's male").

You could legitimately read his actions that way, but that isn't the show's presentation of him (for the most part. the immaturity is mostly acknowledged). The show wants you to see him as a likeable everyman.

This show initially came across like it really embraced gray shadings to its characters, but increasingly it appears that they just failed to understand that the situations they were portraying weren't black-and-white.

#21

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Posted Jan 13, 2012 @ 10:19 AM

But this is how you could also see him, based on his actions in canon:
immature, cartoonishly slow ("did you know you can check books out from libraries?"), hypocritical (every cheating arc ever), embodiment of white straight male privilege (why is he the co-lead; because he's the best singer or dancer, or most committed to the club? I think not), homophobic (albeit getting better), need to be liked overriding personal integrity (starting from the first scene we ever see him in, if I recall correctly).

This show initially came across like it really embraced gray shadings to its characters, but increasingly it appears that they just failed to understand that the situations they were portraying weren't black-and-white.

In the beginning of this show, when Glee was still a biting satire, Finn's flaws were not really set up as character weaknesses. They were either the source of this show's biting humor (i.e. Finn not knowing how to check out books, Finn hitting the mailman, Finn not understanding how babies are conceived, Finn being dumb enough to take Vitamin D) or his flaws set up conflict for the the storylines (the repetitive Football VS Glee Club storylines in Season One were all instigated by Finn's need to be validated by his peers, and his need to be popular).

And whenever Glee needed a plotline and a good conflict, a lot of the conflict source is originated by Finn. (Finn spurting out the homophobic F-word set a lot of plotlines spinning which ultimately resulted in a GG award for Chris Colfer.) We have him being tempted by Rachel to cheat on Quinn (in the second episode of this show), which set the Finchel storyline for Season 1 and then Finn tempting Quinn to cheat on Sam, which set the Finchel storyline for Season 2. However, the show showed no motivation ever for Finn going back to Quinn.

The show wants you to see him as a likeable everyman, but at the same time, by making him do OOC stuff, he becomes the OOC empty carrier of plots, the instigator of a lot of conflict. But the writers do not examine what those actions affect Finn himself or show how Finn has grown as a character by making mistakes.

I'm not denying that this show has gender issues. There are legitimate points that need to be made. But I don't think it's only the girls that are written badly. The boys are written badly too.

#22

Mnemosyne78

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Posted Jan 13, 2012 @ 10:42 AM

I don't think it can be argued that both male and female characters are victims of bad writing on Glee. It's just the added hint of sexism and at times misogyny that gives a lot of people pause. I'm still blown away by I Kissed a Girl. It was the vilest thing I had watched on tv in 2011. And I watch Secret Life for crist's sake!

#23

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Posted Jan 13, 2012 @ 10:50 AM

Yes, every character on this show is written badly, but it's the way they're written badly that causes a problem. If Finn had been called to task for any of his douchey behavior in Season 2, it would have been fine. They could have also given him sympathetic motivations for acting out ("I just got cheated on again, no more Mr. Nice Guy, I'm gonna be a bad boy too!"), but what they did was that they had him behave awfully and still presented him as a Nice Guy Boy Next Door who was never once called out on how shitty he was behaving. He never had to suffer any consequences for it. Who, Finn? Aw, shucks, he's just a nice guy and a victim of these crazy bitches who cheat on him or are obsessed with Prom. Even when he dumped Quinn at a funeral, they had her respond so ridiculously that once again he was absolved of blame.

#24

Sara2009

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Posted Jan 13, 2012 @ 2:00 PM

Artie is the exception on this show it seems. He's the only male character that is portrayed as less than right or unfavorably. His mistakes are his own and sometimes he acts like a jerk and is portrayed as such.


With the exception of plot device moments(ie. Allowing the arguments in the choir room, rules about bullying changing as often as the weather), I actually think Will is written the same way. When he REALLY screwed up in "Rhodes," "Britney/Brittany," and "Rocky Horror" to name a few, he was called on it by at least one of the other characters.

Finn, on the other hand, got away with everything he did wrong last season especially.

#25

catherin

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Posted Jan 13, 2012 @ 3:49 PM

Finn, on the other hand, got away with everything he did wrong last season especially.

I'm not excusing Finn's actions. I'm thinking about why the writers do not think Finn is acting badly and why he's not held accountable for his actions. Let's think about the things Finn did wrong last season...mostly they are related to the relationship with his girlfriends. Being self-righteous about Rachel cheating on Puck. Ok. Urging Quinn to cheat on Sam with him. Getting back with Quinn and shoving it in Rachel's face. Breaking up with Quinn in Funeral because he didn't feel "tethered" to her. And trying to get back with Rachel in the very next episode. And shoving it in Quinn's face.

Finn, Rachel and Quinn are the three leads in the romance plot of the show. As always on this show, the romance plot takes precedence over things like character motivation or inherent characteristic. They could have broken up Finn and Rachel without having Rachel OOC cheat on Finn, but they didn't. They could have started the Finn/Quinn redux without Finn urging Quinn to cheat, also OOC, but they didn't. I think Finn "gets away" with what he does because the writers don't think this is acting badly, or they don't want to admit Finn is acting badly. If they acknowlege that Finn is acting badly, the plot they want breaks down. Because, again, Finn acting badly is the instigator of their storyline and the start of the conflict between the characters. The boy and girl break up. The boy gets with another girl. The boy and the other girl break up. The boy gets back with his first girl. If the writers acknowlege that the boy is acting badly, and if the consequence is the boy not getting the girl, there is no pay-off romantic ending, and the romance plot breaks down. Of course, the basic problem here is that these writers can't start up a storyline without a character acting badly.

All this said, the writers could still have the girl get back with the boy but have the girl put the boy through the wringers over his actions. But they don't. Therein lies the problem. The least they do is suddenly have the girl's ambition (which had disappeared over the last few episodes) make an appearance again to put a condition on their relationship.

Edited by catherin, Jan 13, 2012 @ 9:16 PM.


#26

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Posted Jan 13, 2012 @ 4:11 PM

I completely agree with all of that, catherin. The writers are bad, and they write bad stories badly. But the problem is that the end result is not just bad, it's rather sexist. Unintended, perhaps, but still extant. In the same way that Mercedes's storyline in "Asian F" came off racist. It was probably not meant to. But it still was.

#27

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Posted Jan 14, 2012 @ 1:57 AM

If Finn had been called to task for any of his douchey behavior in Season 2, it would have been fine. They could have also given him sympathetic motivations for acting out ("I just got cheated on again, no more Mr. Nice Guy, I'm gonna be a bad boy too!"), but what they did was that they had him behave awfully and still presented him as a Nice Guy Boy Next Door who was never once called out on how shitty he was behaving. He never had to suffer any consequences for it. Who, Finn? Aw, shucks, he's just a nice guy and a victim of these crazy bitches who cheat on him or are obsessed with Prom. Even when he dumped Quinn at a funeral, they had her respond so ridiculously that once again he was absolved of blame.


This is basically the problem I have with Finn, and I like Finn, but his lack of accountability annoys the hell out of me. The whole unnecessary re-hashing of the Rachel/Finn/Quinn love triangle in season 2 made my head spin. They didn't present any motivation to explain why Finn goes back to Quinn, so we see him dump one girl for cheating and go back to another who cheated in a much worse way. And in order to get Quinn back, he encourages her to cheat on Sam... after crying about how much being cheated on hurt him. This makes him look like a huge hypocrite, but instead of presenting it as Finn doing all this because he's tired of being the "nice guy", we get nothing and it's not supposed to be a big deal. Sam was his friend, but he shows absolutely no remorse for stealing his girlfriend and doesn't hesitate to encourage Quinn's behavior, and this is our "good guy"? Even his response to Quinn when she expresses concern about cheating on Sam in Comeback is a very dismissive, "your boyfriend's a boy." Like it doesn't matter that Finn is about to do something that will hurt Sam... but it sure as hell mattered when it was Finn being hurt by the girls and he was kicking chairs and leaving Rachel alone at a Christmas tree lot to cry. But Finn gets no blame from a narrative standpoint for his part in Sam's pain, instead it's all Quinn's fault... because that's just what girls do on this show, hurt these poor unsuspecting nice guys. And then after Finn is with Quinn for a while he decides he wants Rachel again and there's all the fallout from that... but never once is it acknowledged that Finn basically strung two girls along while he decided which he wanted for sure... it's just, "look at how in love he is with Rachel! Isn't that sweet! And he brought her a flower! What a nice guy!"

Nice guys can do shitty things every once in a while, but just because he's supposed to be a nice guy doesn't mean there shouldn't be any acknowledgement of his shitty behavior.

And whenever it seems Finn will be held accountable for his poor behavior he's always absolved by the supposedly worse behavior of the girl... i.e. Rachel cheating in response to Finn lying to her about sleeping with Santana, finding out Quinn cheated and lied about the baby after he cheated on Quinn with Rachel, and as you mentioned, Quinn's borderline psychotic response to him breaking up with her at a funeral. Even the slap from Santana is somewhat of an absolution for him outing her... they couldn't just leave it as Finn doing something wrong and having to atone for it, he had to be wronged in return so his actions don't look that bad. In fact, he's presented as doing her a favor for covering up the slap with Figgins so she doesn't get suspended.

I just wish the writers would get over this "nice guy" thing because it's boring and not all that accurate.

#28

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Posted Jan 15, 2012 @ 2:30 AM

What I don't get is why Quinn didn't break up with Finn at the Prom?

Finn spent the entire night staring at Rachel and clearly very upset that she was there with Jesse and then started a fight with Jesse once Finn deemed Jesse and Rachel too close.
Jesse and Finn have a fight over Rachel while Quinn just stands there. Then again, she does put way more of an effort to stop the shoving then Rachel, so go Quinn on that account.

So, Quinn has spent months obsessing about the Prom Queen issue and I'd say her night is pretty much ruined by Finn.

And what does Quinn do in response? Slap Rachel and blame her. Which granted is a very high school response to the situation but she admits there that Finn is in love with Rachel and she is never going to be able to compete with that.

Why with that information did Quinn just not break up with Finn? She had so much more grounds. But no, Finn breaks up with her at a funeral and Quinn gets the ridiculous reaction and Finn does not get called on more of his douchey behaviour and Quinn gets another mark against her name for being psychotic.
The only reason why Quinn wouldn't break up with Finn isn't because she only defined by who she is dating, which is just so bad that I have no words for it.

The other one where it is more Finn's fault but the girl gets blamed is with the kiss at Nationals, Rachel gets a whole lot of abuse (mainly from Santana) but what happens to Finn?
Where is angry Spanish to Finn? I know he is in the room, but it seems to be more aimed at Rachel than Finn.

What I find particularly strange about Quinn's characterization is that she is the one that makes these feminist statements, in the Power of Madonna and whatever episode calls the girlfriend's boyfriend's together in particular, but she is the one most likely to be defined by who she is dating.
I do enjoy Feminist Quinn though.

Oh, since I am talking Prom Queen, Quinn and gender issues in Glee, Quinn being quite sane "for a girl".
For starters, that is really not true. Quinn IS crazy, the girl needs all kinds of help but that's a separate issue, but that is just emphasizing all the girls are crazy and the poor menfolk can only react.
There has to be a way to make the same joke and not have it come across so very sexist.

#29

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Posted Jan 15, 2012 @ 3:33 AM

Oh, since I am talking Prom Queen, Quinn and gender issues in Glee, Quinn being quite sane "for a girl".
For starters, that is really not true. Quinn IS crazy, the girl needs all kinds of help but that's a separate issue, but that is just emphasizing all the girls are crazy and the poor menfolk can only react.
There has to be a way to make the same joke and not have it come across so very sexist.


The whole "crazy girl" thing is kind of a recurring theme on Glee, and the joke seems to be that these girls, particularly Quinn and Rachel, are completely crazy and their all-around good guy boyfriend (Finn) is just the opposite, but he puts up with it because he's such a nice guy and that's just how girls are. But it's not enough that the girls are presented as crazy, the guys are usually there to tell them they're being crazy. There's instances like Finn reacting to Quinn's anger with, "whoa, scary Quinn!" like she suffers from some sort of personality disorder. There's also him referencing her "mood swings" in the Rumors episode, plus a bunch of hormonal/pregnancy jokes. And going back a bit, in his early days with Rachel, Finn says to her, "I thought you were kind of insane. I mean, you talk a lot more than you should, and to be honest with you, I looked under the bed and made sure that you weren't hanging out under there." And also about Rachel: "She kind of freaks me out in a Swim Fan kind of way." I've never seen Swim Fan but my understanding is it's about an unstable girl who becomes scarily obsessed with some dude, so not the kindest comparison. And obviously these are all supposed to be funny because Glee is a comedy after all, but it is kind of telling that it's always the girl who's crazy or unstable, and the guys are always the sweet, calm, even-keeled people on the receiving end of these crazy bitches' fits.

Edited by J True, Jan 15, 2012 @ 3:39 AM.


#30

Megardron

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Posted Jan 15, 2012 @ 4:07 AM

I think what bothers me most is that I get something very different than what the show is obviously intending, especially when it comes to Finn. He does a lot of douchey, horrible things but the show seems stuck on the idea that he is a good guy. Schue gets the same treatment. But if any of the girls were to do what the guys do they would be crucified (think of if Rachel had outed Santana, for example). Watching the show, I come out of it thinking that overall the behaviour of the girls on average is really not that much worse (there are exceptions, obviously), but the fact that they guys never get called on it makes it seem like the show erasing their bad behaviour.

I'm not even sure if that made sense. It was kind of just a rant.