Women as Bunnies: TV Falls Back
While the new fall television lineup is showcasing plenty of strong women – including Christina Applegate, Zooey Deschanel, Debra Messing, Chelsea Handler, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Kristin Chenoweth – there’s an undercurrent of anti-feminist backlash – which is oddly pitched as feminist.
We’ve got Charlies Angels, who are all wet within the first 15 minutes.
Pan Am offers a throwback to air travel’s “‘good old days’ when women didn’t sit in First Class, they just served men who did,” observed New York Times’ Maureen Dowd. Stewardesses strut, Stepford style, “Uniform in every sense of the word. Young, pretty, thin and unmarried, well-groomed and white-gloved… and offering blank smiles of compliance,” says Caitlin Flanagan at the Wall Street Journal.
Not unlike the bunnies who populate The Playboy Club, a show pitched as being all about female empowerment. That’s right. Scantily clad in painful costumes, living in a world where women seemingly exist for the sole purpose of arousing men and being ogled by them. But that’s not demeaning, the producers insist. They’re bunnies, not centerfolds – as though that marks an important difference. Meanwhile the bunnies nakedly play in a pool as men watch them “as if at SeaWorld, only much, much better.”
One observer asked, “Is there something just a little weird about women objectifying themselves (and other women) in the name of empowerment?”
Men are subject. Women, object. Men are human. Women are bunnies, who sometimes reemerge as sea life. Dowd quotes one TV producer describing it all as:
A hot fudge sundae for men: a time when women were not allowed to get uppity or make demands. If the woman got pregnant, she had to drive to a back-alley abortionist in New Jersey. If you got tired of women, they had to go away.
Female empowerment, indeed.
When The Playboy Club’s star bunny was asked at press conference how the show empowered women, she supposed, “It’s just chauvinistic to deny women their sexuality.” But does this show encourage women’s sexual enjoyment, or are they primarily objects in service of others’ desire?
Sold as female empowerment, the shows serve up a subversive message.
Still, the fact that these programs are even posing as feminist suggests we’ve come a long way, baby!
Posted on September 14, 2011, in feminism, gender, objectification, sexism, women and tagged Charlies Angels, feminism, gender, objectification, Pan Am, pop culture, sexism, The Playboy Club. 2011 fall television lineup, women. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.