Category Archives: Television

“In addition to actively encouraging certain behaviors in their children, parents also communicate their gender expectations (Gamble, 2003)(p.202).”

I was watching a re-run of the popular 90s hit television show Friends the other day. It happened to be a significant episode involving Chandler’s dad, who is gay. When Chandler was nine, his father announced, at Thanksgiving, his intentions of divorcing Chandler’s mom because he was gay. Since that moment in Chandler’s life (and among others), Chandler has been increasingly sensitive in regards to his father’s homosexuality. His father, Charles, moved to Las Vegas and started an all-male show called ‘Viva las Gaygas’, hence the title of the show. Charles Bing’s drag name was Helena Handbasket.

Chandler has always felt uncomfortable with his father’s identity as a homosexual, not necessairly because he disagrees with being gay, but more so because of his young impressions of it. It’s easy to make impressions on young children that can last them a lifetime. Chandler was also embarrassed by his father when he was young due to society’s homophobic attitudes, as well (DeFransisco, 2007). He would become nervous and embarrassed if his father came around him and his friends. As a result, during his adulthood, Chandler is sensitive to homophobic accusations and combats them with humorous jokes as a defense mechanism, which can also connect back to his childhood memories and the embarrassment he feels when it comes to his father. By the time Chandler’s tells him that he’s gay, Chandler’s perception of a family has dramatically been altered–interupting the family impressions of gender communication that are so important to developmental health (Gamble, 2003).

Crane, D., & Kauffman, M. (Writers), & Bright, K., & Halvorson, G. (2001). The One with Chandler’s Dad. Bright, K. (Producer). Friends. Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers.

DeFrancisco, V., Palczewski, C. (2007). Communicating gender diversity: a critical approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

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“Men, on the other hand, tend to envision love as taking their partner to romantic places, having sex, or doing something that surprises and pleases a partner (Gamble, 2003)(p.175).”

Speaking of “sluts”, I recently watched one of the reunion episodes of Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels. It really made me hate “reality” love shows like that even more. Each girl was completely stereotyped and they looked like porn stars–in fact, I’m pretty sure they said one of them was a porn star. I guess the entire season of the show sent a bunch of women on a tour bus with rock star Bret Michaels from the band Poison. Michaels wanted to find love. One of the girls admitted to Michaels that she had taken a vow of purity to not have sex for three years–she evidently was voted off the show by Michaels. During the episode I saw, she confessed that she had been looking to break the vow with Michaels, and not to keeping it… but he voted her off the show when he thought he couldn’t hit-it? Is that shallow? Or is that just the way men are “programed”, if that’s how men tend to show love? But what about the other two options: taking her to a romantic place or doing something that surprises her (Gamble, 2003).

This show completely objectifies women, sticking with the stereotypes, and ultimately encourages women to objectify themselves in order to get the guy (Gamble, 2003). Deep down, I really hope that some producer had this show in mind in order to show that this is the way women should NOT behave in order to be desirable. Michaels has chosen a new girl each season, and it hasn’t quite worked out. I wonder why. But maybe that’s just the life of a rockstar? But then you watch the clips from when Michaels is talking with the show’s “runner-up” Mindy, she’s seems so sincere, just like Michaels said. Then compare it with the “winner”, and it makes you question who would have been the better girl for Michaels.

Reunion. (2009). Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels. [Reality television series]. VH1.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“Coersive power is derived from the belief that someone has the ability to punish you or harm you physically and/or psychologically (Gamble, 2003)(p.206).”

Another Gossip Girl post!

After writing a previous post about Blair Waldorf, I continued to think about other ways that she exemplified gender communication. I thought about one extremely dramatic struggle for power that happened earlier this season between Blair and one of their new teachers, Rachel Carr. At Constance (their prep school), it’s expected for your teachers to let you slide on your homework during your senior year and to give out As. Rachel, the new English teacher, gives Blair a B on a paper. Blair decides to welcome Rachel to the school by explaining the unspoken rule to her. Instead, Rachel tells Blair that she grades based on what the students earn. Blair, being the manipulative, spoiled brat that she is, decides to get revenge on her new teacher.

In the next few episodes, there continues to be a power struggle between the two women. Blair uses her abilities to try and one up the new teacher while Rachel uses her established, official power as a teacher at Constance to basically ruin Blair’s future by preventing her from getting into her dream-school, Yale. This type of situation isn’t really covered in the classroom section of the book, so instead, we’ll take a look at the power dynamics of a family. Rachel has legitimate power that is established by the fact that she’s a teacher (Gamble, 2003). Blair would have more of a coersive power that could reflect negatively on Rachel (Gamble, 2003). Blair even stumbles upon a relationship between Rachel and her student, Dan, in the beginning stages and tries to get Rachel fired from her position(Gamble, 2003). Eventually, after they struggle with one another, they both lose. Blair doesn’t get into Yale because they don’t like that she’s hazed a teacher, and Rachel loses her job because she ends up in a relationship with her student.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

McNally, A., & Rosenfeld, L. (Writers), & Allen, E. (Director). (2008). Carrnal Knowledge. Lasher, A. (Producer). Gossip Girl. New York, NY: CW Television.

“Romantic relationships are in flux; they may grow weaker or stronger, mature or go stale, be revived or end over time (Gamble, 2003)(p.168).”

Blair Waldorf Chuck Bass

Oh, Gossip Girl. The show that has us all (er, maybe just its fans) wishing we could post the dirtiest of secrets online with a mere text message. The clothes, the gossip, the love triangles–we love it all! There’s one relationship in particular, however, that is worth mentioning because it breaks gender relationship norms: Blair and Chuck. In many ways, these characters fulfill their traditional gender roles: Blair is the feminine, high class genteel young woman and Chuck is the handsome, wealthy, powerful young man. Essentially, their relationship completely defies the Ten-Stage Relationship Model featured in the text (Gamble, 2003) because their relationship jumps all over the place constantly. Mostly, they’re just “intensifying”, but then they go to “differentiating”, to “avoiding” and/or “terminating”.

Together, they create a romantic relationship that has been doomed from the start–but we all love it. Blair and Chuck are easily the most scheming, manipulative characters in the show. They defy any and all traditional relationships because they constantly say things to hurt each other. The first time they “got together”, they were in the back of Chuck’s limo and Blair was trying to get revenge against her ex-boyfriend Nate: Nate and Chuck are best friends and Blair had just found out that Nate had slept with her best friend, Serena. Eventually, Blair falls in love with Chuck right about the time that his father dies in a car accident. Chuck goes crazy, flies off to Asia, gets high on opiates, and is saved by his uncle. When Chuck gets back, Blair tries everything to get Chuck to return to normal–including confessing her love for him. Instead, he pushes Blair away. Now, the roles have essentially reversed and the game of cat and mouse continues.

Savage, S., & Schwartz, J. (Executive Producers). (2007).  Gossip Girl. [Television series]. New York, NY: CW Television Network.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Photos directly from cwtv.com.

“Symbolic interaction theory suggests that signifigant others play key roles in helping individuals develop a sense of self (Gamble, 2003)(p.40).”

The television sitcom How I Met Your Mother features a character by the name of Barney Stinson. Barney is a wonderful example of how men can be stereotyped in media. He is the ultimate womanizer (a sign of power and control over relationships or lack thereof) who is only interested in women for superficial and sexual reasons. Barney is the typical bachelor, as well. He plays laser tag, frequents strip clubs, and is a member of an elite cigar club. Barney holds a high paying position as a large Fortune 500 company in New York City (the exact type is never really described in the television show) and has the large office with multiple windows, his wealth very evident in the way he dresses and behaves.

However, Barney hasn’t always behaved this way. In the episode Game Night during season one, the gang finds a video tape that was sent to Barney from one of his ex-girlfriends. The gang teases Barney, puts the tape in and watches it. On the tape, Barney looks like a stereotypical “hippie” as he confesses his love for this girl after she breaks up with him. The story goes that his girlfriend at the time was cheating on him with a “suit”–a man who was all about being successful and getting laid. After Barney was rejected by his first love, he essentially became the same type of guy that she left him for. This is why Barney is obsessed with suits, strippers, and having no committed relationships. Later, he also reveals his softer side when he flies to San Fransisco in order to get his two best friends Lily and Marshall back together–despite the fact that he completely rejects the idea of a committed relationship. The symbolic interaction theory is applicable to this situation because Barney’s emotionally involved relationship with the girl was crushed–which effected him permanently. He mentally compared himself with the man his girlfriend went off with and changed everything he was to fit the mold in order to change the way girls saw him and to fit into the gender expectations that he saw (Gamble, 2003).

Harris, C. (Writer), & Fryman, P. (Director). (2006). Game Night. Bays, C., & Thomas, C. (Producers). How I Met Your Mother. Beverly Hills: Twentieth Century Fox.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.