Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Glee: Decide for Yourself

Glee: decide for yourself.

Glee, the new primetime sitcom on FOX, is doing great rating-wise but has sparked some controversy among feminists and activists alike. The show revolves around an over-the-top high school in the mid west, specifically the activities of the newly formed Glee Club. The show includes witty, cheesy dialogue, large dance numbers, great singing, and an eclectic group of high school stereotypes.

It’s the stereotypes that need to be examined in this case. The show originally introduces you to each of these seemingly one-dimensional stereotypical characters that can indeed be seen as offensive. The roster is as follows: Kurt the flamboyant gay character obsessed with fashion, Mercedes the sassy big African-American girl with huge pipes, and Tina the almost completely silent Asian-American Goth girl.

While the idea of these stereotypes doesn’t seem too offensive, the actions and lines that they each have seem to be a bit controversial. In the second episode of the season “Showmance” Tina said next to nothing and Mercedes sang the lead in their rendition of “Goldigger” and, when frustrated with having small roles within the club, threatened to “cut” someone.

In the next episode, Mercedes’s shining moment came as she was hurt by Kurt’s apparent lack of romantic affection for her, and she proceeded to throw a rock through his truck’s windshield. This is perhaps the most upsetting of the behavior because she clearly is portraying the angry black girl stereotype.

However, the show also has some great messages and completely breaks stereotypes within the series. In the same episode as Mercedes’s tantrum, Kurt comes out to her and she is completely understanding and loving to him. This could be seen as breaking a stereotype because of how extremely taboo homosexuality often is in African-American culture. Mercedes’s care and understanding with Kurt illustrates a changing world.

Furthermore, Kurt (to impress his father) tries out to be the kicker for the football team and not only gets in, but also helps them win the game in the end. He and Mr. Schuster (Glee Club’s head) teach the football team to dance, which allows them to open themselves up and be the best they can be. The most recent episode also included Kurt’s coming out to his father who said that while he wasn’t “in love with the idea” he loves Kurt no matter what and is very proud of him.

Another feminist-friendly moment in Glee is when the lead singer, Rachel Berry, attends a meeting of the celibacy club. After being fed up with what the club was preaching she went on a small tirade about how the club members should be smart and knowledgeable about contraception. Furthermore, she goes against the idea that only the male students want sex and states that girls have urges just like the boys and it’s natural and healthy.

I can obviously see how this show, which is essentially a dark comedy, can be offensive. However, the positive messages associated with it beg the question whether one perhaps cancels out the other. If the show is partly informative and partly offensive is it ok? You decide.

Think about it.


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