Posted in Blog Posts, TV TUESDAYS

TV Tuesdays: Friends

Friends was one of the most popular television shows of all time, and ruled the world in the 90’s and early 2000’s, as it followed six 20-something friends figuring out life in New York City, and had some feminist moments while doing so.

Now, Friends isn’t exactly the epitome of feminism, in fact several story lines would not fall in line with feminist ideology at all.  However, there were moments of representation and female empowerment that definitely walked the line. 

The most feminist thing about Friends was the three, female characters: Monica, Rachel and Phoebe. All three women were very different and were pursuing different paths in life, work and love. All had their own careers and strived for advancement that didn’t just include a boyfriend. Perhaps the most feminist characterizations though, was the way the death with pregnancy and motherhood.

Motherhood is often divided from feminism  because to some, being a mother is connected with the domestic, patriarchal structure women have been forced to adhere to for generations. By excluding motherhood though, we exclude certain women which means we aren’t operating intersectional.  Nurturing and accepting a woman’s right to become a mother in whatever way she chooses is what really makes the movement inclusive.

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Credit: Scoopwhoop.com

Throughout the show, all three women deal with motherhood in very different ways which illustrates that there is no one right way to enter into motherhood or pregnancy, it is about a woman’s choices for her life and body.

Rachel becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with her ex-boyfriend Ross, and for the majority of the time they decide to keep the baby and co-parent as they live single lives. Monica is faced with fertility issues and she and her husband choose to adopt twins, after considering surrogacy and sperm-donors. Lastly, Phoebe acts as a surrogate for her brother and sister-in-law, carrying and delivering his triplets.

All very different story lines, but common themes of a woman’s right to her own body and choices when it comes to pregnancy and motherhood, which acts as representation for parents from all backgrounds.

Some of the other representation in Friends was both positive and problematic. The show aired an episode with a lesbian wedding in 1996, before same-sex marriage was legal anywhere in the world. I think that was  a great stride, but often homosexuality was the punchline to a joke which is problematic in its own way.

Pure problems with the show exist with the comedic and mocking representation of Chandler’s dad – a trans-woman and with the absolute lack of diversity. I can count on one hand the number of characters that were people of color, and all major characters were white, straight cis people.

Most of the problems with Friends’ feminism I believe existed because of the time and a lack of intersectional awareness from the writers. It would have been nice to see more representation and less mockery of diversity, but even with that Friends does have feminist undertones in regard to some women. I would say in today’s scope, the show appeals to white feminism , but did teeter on the edge of some more profound representation that just never came full circle.

 

Posted in Blog Posts, Uncategorized

Social media election response

Well, the 2016 presidential election is over. All the misogyny, horizontal hostility  and controversy came to a head on Tuesday and left us with President-elect Donald J. Trump. 

The Republican ran a campaign full of controversial statements and stances about women, people of color, Muslims, Latinx people, disabled people and other marginalized groups. Many people  in and out of those groups were adamantly against Trump becoming president, but despite the popular vote going to Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump reached 270 electoral votes and is now headed to the White House.

The win has created an uproar of anger, fear and protests both on and off the web. Millennials in particular have taken to social media to express their concerns and harsh feelings about what may happen to them and the country because of the new administration.

Social media is buzzing with movements to get Trump out of office before he’s even in and accounts of people who say they are facing hate crimes and other repercussions from Trump’s bigotry-infused campaign from the public. In turn many are lashing out against the anti-Trump posts, saying they are disrespectful and melodramatic.

This consistent controversy is turning violent both online and in real life, proving that the intersections of society are not cohesive and our privilege and oppression still divides us. The people calling the protests and backlash against Trump are coming from a place of misunderstanding and privilege. It might seem dramatic to be afraid of an election result when the results are unlikely to affect your safety and the cultural climate surrounding your family, friends and background. Some in the anti-Trump movement are succumbing to anger with the privilege-misunderstanding, and acting out in violent ways, and not identifying issues with socio-economic class, or education status that may’ve contributed to such a lapse in judgement. Neither is right.

I understand feeling helpless at the reaction. There are people in my life that  I’m looking at differently knowing they voted for Trump and supported sexual assault, bigotry, racism, sexism and fear-mongering against ethnicities. It isn’t okay, but if nothing else it makes us realize that we are more divided than we thought and those horrific things are still not priorities for much of privileged, white, patriarchal America. We can and should speak our minds, it is our right. However, social media fighting and conflict can breed even more negativity and more inhumane, inconsiderate attitudes toward differences.

A social media firestorm like this proves we need movements like feminism that represent intersectional society and its issues with classism, privilege, oppression and prejudice because society does not yet have a full understanding or concern. If it did, I doubt Trump would’ve been our President-elect.

Posted in Uncategorized

Native American cultural appropriation

A couple weeks ago we talked about cultural appropriation as a hot button feminist issue,  and one of the points was costumes parodying cultures. An intersection that has a particular issue with appropriation is the Native American culture.

Native Americans have a history of oppression, forced assimilation and violence in the United States. The white, American perception of Native Americans is stuck in the past, with many people visualizing historical paintings and images instead of living, breathing people.

That sort of disconnect contributes to cultural appropriation  which is unfortunately rampant.

In today’s festival fashion culture, Native Headdresses are often used as an accessory for non-Native people. Using such an important, cultural symbol so lightly is disrespectful and trivializes a cultural staple that many people fought and died for. This is a prime example of cultural appropriation that directly targets and hurts Native customs.

Cultural appropriation is an issue that often gets blown out of proportion, but in the case of Native American customs like wearing headdresses and costumes it is definitely real and problematic.

Native American people were the original Americans and lost land, culture and community. Now, they are still facing Issues as a disenfranchised group, struggling for many things like representation and clean water. As the fight to move forward continues, keeping these people in the past and trivializing their current customs is an issue keeping this group down. The fight to modernize and support this community, and keeping their culture unappropriated is a major issue for modern, media-savvy feminists.