Anonymous asked: dont you think "modern family" propagates set gender roles? in the sense that phil is all about "being a man," he does the fun stuff only with luke, etc etc. how do you view this from a gender egalitarian's point of view?
I don’t think so at all. I think Modern Family is, for the first time in decades, an accurate and faithful portrayal of modern family dynamics.
Take Phil and Claire. Claire is the more severe, wrathful, and aggressive parent. Phil is the more compassionate, gentle, and passive parent. The traditionally masculine/feminine roles are swapped. Of course, Phil can at times be severe and Claire at times compassionate, because they’re human beings. The episode where Phil makes the girls stay in and clean while Claire takes Luke out for the day addresses this.
Phil likes to play with his son because 1. he’s a good father and 2. because there’s an idea of what a father’s supposed to be like and he wants to live up to that notion of masculinity. Which reveals a vulnerability and a humanness in him that isn’t often present in father characters, but is nearly always present in actual fathers, especially in this sort of post-masculine society. See also his constant desire to prove his manly mettle to his father-in-law. That’s a thing. It’s real, it’s a dynamic that people can relate to.
Remember, good media doesn’t deny how things actually are or constantly subvert roles to the point of alienation. You don’t want to hide the image of a dad playing catch with his son. That’s a good thing. The family doesn’t have to subvert traditional roles in *every single way.* It’s supposed to reflect the reality of three dimensional human beings, who some of the time act within the roles they’ve been given but are capable of and given to acting outside of them too.
We don’t want to *switch* the limitations, we want to broaden them.
(Also, Phil just has more in common with Luke. He can’t quite relate to Haley, whose interests and role are vastly different. Claire relates to Hailey because she used to be very similar. He can’t relate as much to Alex because she’s precocious and intelligent and he’s sort of goofy and dumb. But they do bond over geekiness at times. Luke is a simple, playful, easily distracted dude—just like Phil. It makes sense that they have a buddy-buddy relationship. That’s another one of the things I love about the show—it shows realistically how friendship is possible between a parent and a kid. [Gilmore Girls does it with mother and daughter, but their similarity in age and the fact that they live alone together are major factors.])
Here’s why these posts always end in people being offended:
The cultural conversation about gender roles/gender issues is dominated by feminism. This can’t be disputed.
This is fine, because women had it much worse for much longer. If it weren’t for the feminist movement, the world wouldn’t even be starting to think about men’s issues.
Because what got us into thinking about things like body image issues and gender roles was the initial impetuses (impeti? no.), namely:
- women not being allowed to vote
- or wear pants
- or own property
- or do basically anything.
The movement started because a bunch of smart women realized that it didn’t have to be that way, they were sick of that shit, and they stood up for themselves.
In doing so they threw a wrench in the gears of the old and outdated machine called patriarchy, which began to clunk and shudder and start malfunctioning. All of a sudden, we started realizing there are scores of underlying issues beneath the surface. Things like unrealistic and suffocating beauty standards. Things like the virgin/whore dichotomy. Things like restrictive gender-performance requirements that actually don’t accommodate three dimensional human beings. And jesus christ we let it leak into television and movies that we show kids this is a fucking disaster we need to fix this.
A lot of these nuanced issues, however, affect both men and women.
But they are primarily discussed in a feminist context, as they apply to women.
So whenever I bring them up, there’s sort of an implied “also.”
(Which shouldn’t be necessary, but what the hell, it doesn’t hurt anyone.)
EVERY time I bring up an issue that is mostly discussed in a feminist context and I talk about how it applies to males
someone comes in with YEAH BUT ALSO WOMEN. DON’T YOU FORGET IT.
That’s how every one of these arguments online starts. Because then I get defensive and resentful of the fact that my “yes women but also men” is being responded to with “but also women.” It’s not a tug-o-war. Discussing problems men and boys face does not exclude women and girls from the equation, so please don’t exclude men and boys from the equation.
Young boys are under immense pressure to demonstrate and perform hetero rituals in order to avoid hazing.
“Yeah well young girls feel pressured to be skinny and have eating disorders because of it.”
Yes, I know. This isn’t a game of tennis. I feel very strongly about taking down the monolithic industry built upon selling young girls an impossible goal and products to help them mimic it.
But that’s not what I’m talking about right now. And there are thousands of other people talking about that right now. But the nightmare that middle school boys face in the locker room is not being talked about nearly as much, so please let me do that without interrupting and derailing with stats about how they’ll grow up to make more money than their female counterparts in the same miserable soul-crushing cubicle jobs.
Because right now, they’re middle schoolers, and they shouldn’t be miserable in places (such as schools) where they’re supposed to feel safe.