Women & Television (Young & Old)

March 15, 2009 at 10:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I had never thought about how older women were portrayed in the media before reading chapter 36 of the Media Literacy book. 

In Bewitched, Endora is the older woman of the series.  She is Samantha’s mother and is also a witch.  Her character does not approve of Samantha’s husband, Darrin, nor does she approve of the fact that Samantha is attempting to live a “mortal” life.   In the show Endora is portrayed as being ecce2ntric and her “grotesque by comparison” to her daughter.  Her clothing is strange, as well as her choice of makeup and especially her mannerisms.   A big thing that this section of the chapter examines is the fact that men are not supposed to be attracted to Endora, she is the mother figure, the older woman, the crazy uninhibited older woman.

Its remarkable how much women’s roles have changed throughout the past 50 years.  Women are now prominent figures in many previously male dominated careers.  Although we are continuously making huge strides in women’s rights throughout the world, television shows and movies continuously depict women in stereotypical “women’s roles”.  Family oriented TV shows and movies continuously show the mother in the kitchen, driving kids around, etc.  While it is up to the man to make the money and provide for the family.

When women are portrayed as career oriented and driven, they are often ostracized.  Shows like Lipstick Jungle and Cashmere Mafia are about women in business with strong and prosperous careers.  However, while they succeed in their careers, they are often depicted in dysfunctional relationships, or unable to have a relationship.  The reason for these dysfunctional relationships is often because the men (or women) in the relationship feel as though the career woman is too work oriented.  Women are not allowed to put their career’s first.  Women are expected to put their families and significant others before their careers.  When a woman does put her career first, she is seen as different and abnormal.

In chapter 36 the character of Samantha is examined in respect to her role as the lead of the show as well as a woman within the show.  For example, she is a witch and therefore could easily use her magical abilities to clean the house in a second.  Although she has this ability, Samantha decides to perform these household chores the “mortal way”, believing this is what the “typical mortal woman” would do.  Samantha also tries not to use her natural magical gifts, as Darrin, her husband, does not like it.  Darrin wants to be a normal family and for Samantha to perform her normal matronly duties.  She is prescribing to the ideal that the man is the head of the household, and he expects certain things. 

Bewitched allowed its female viewers to really think about their prescribed place within the family.  It allowed these women to, for 30 minutes a day, live outside of their typical life.  Thankfully women today no longer need this television escape, they can live independent lives.



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