Category Archives: Media Theory
I’m not an expert on feminist theory, and I don’t want to act like I am. But I do have a lot of thoughts on it. I’m a guy who grew up with feminist values (at least the core belief in gender equality)–though I didn’t even know the word “feminist” until high school. I was not taught typical patriarchal attitudes in my household, where both my mother and father seemed equal. Sure, my dad did typical “guy” stuff like work on things in his garage and take care of the lawn. My mother cleaned the house and did the laundry. But they both seemed to make important family decisions together. They both were equally critical in my upbringing.
My mother and my father both worked full time jobs and both were active in raising my sister and me. My sister was good at math; I was good at writing: the opposite of the stereotype. The idea that women are capable of achieving everything men can was something I never questioned until I started to grow up in the world and actually see how slanted things were (especially certain occupations) towards the benefit of men. The explanations given to me regarding this were either “because women are inferior to men,” or something like “Western society continues to perpetuate patriarchy through society and culture.” I believe it’s the latter, though there are many people who believe in the former.
Men and women are undoubtedly different, but you can’t measure whether one is inferior to the other. Whatever you believe, when it comes down to it, the most important and indisputable thing is that women, men, or any kind of transgendered persons (for brevity’s sake, in the future, you can assume I’m including transgendered when I say “men and women”) are more alike than they are different. If you are misogynist or misandric, you’re probably hating more of yourself than you realize.
We’ve come a long way as a society in a relatively short amount of time considering our long history of unwavering patriarchy, save for a few exceptions. From first-wave to third-wave feminism to today, it’s a struggle that continues. If you think men and women are pretty much on an equal playing field today, that’s symptomatic of feminism’s (as a movement) current failings. The original concept I had for this post is where men are today. But I can’t talk about that without also talking about women because I risk belittling the feminist movement. I’m also drawing parallels between the sexes and both of their struggles with gender identity. I’m not creating this post demanding sympathy for men–just understanding between everyone. We’re all in this together, after all.
Where Almost No Man Has Gone Before
Growing up in the 90s, one of my most important fictional role models was Captain Picard. Here was a man who didn’t achieve victory through brute force (though, when faced with the absolute necessity to apply it, he could). Picard used diplomacy and multifaceted tactics to overcome difficult situations. Picard was more than a ship’s captain; he was an archaeologist, a philosopher, an intellectual. You could often find him reading a book in his quarters during his off-time. He rode horses and directed Shakespeare plays on the Holodeck. He practiced fencing. He was intensely introspective. These things are far, far from your typical male protagonist–especially the lead role. Compare Picard to Kirk and you’ll see that it’s quite a step for man.
“Cinema, radio, television, magazines are a school of inattention: people look without seeing, listen in without hearing.”
I don’t completely agree with the above quote. Part of me is quite annoyed by it, actually. However, there are undoubtedly millions of people out there that consume media with an insatiable hunger, and digest it as quickly as they devour it. There are some would say that this is the fault of new popular media specifically, but it can easily be universal. It is the ubiquitous, fast-paced and accessible qualities of today’s media that makes it so easily consumable. Also, just because something can be quickly consumed does not necessarily diminish its merit. After all, brevity is the soul of wit, right?
The television programs, movies, and games of today’s popular culture are often watered down to appease obsessive advertisers, paranoid parents, cantankerous critics, and even their own touchy audiences. Thus, many elitists tout the print form as the last remaining academic beacon of higher learning. But let’s not forget about the genre fiction and magazines these highbrow academics unfairly toss aside like some unrelated, arbitrary, inane waste of time. Print form can be “corrupted” by the good old dollar bill like any other medium.