Monday, February 26

Blog Post #1: The Girls Next Door- Breaking Down Gender Roles And Expectations (Part 2)

During the episode “Heavy Petting,” Bridget’s character gets a new dog and tries to put bows in her hair. When the dog refuses to wear them, she refers to the dog as a “Tom Boy.” On a similar note, Bridget claims that the reason she likes holidays is because she likes to decorate. Women are told by advertisers that it is important to decorate themselves through the means of clothing, makeup, accessories (such as bows), perfumes, etc. (Kilbourne, 1999). Many times, women themselves are portrayed in the media much of the time as decorations (Crawford, 2006). Perhaps this is why Bridget has such a love for decorating. Bridget is being told that her ability to decorate is what is valued and not her intellectual ability. Bridget later on talks about a party she threw for her dogs that went “really good.” This incorrect grammar seems fake, considering the fact that Bridget has multiple master’s degrees. Later on at the Easter egg decorating party, Bridget dresses in a pink bunny costume (not a playboy bunny one, one that completely covers the body). It is incredibly hot and uncomfortable for Bridget, but she states that “sometimes you have to pay a price.” Bridget has suffered in order to look a certain way before, as shown through her dieting in the first episode of season 2. Women believe that they can achieve the standards of thinness and beauty that the media portrays (Kilbourne, 1999). “However, “The Girls Next Door” fails to tell people that it is impossible to look like these women without plastic surgery, and that“the obsession with thinness is most deeply about cutting girls and women down to size.” (Kilbourne, 1999, p.262). Bridget is suffering to look a certain way, ranging from eating less food to wearing something uncomfortable. Men do not have to try nearly as hard to be deemed attractive (Crawford, 2006).
Kendra claims that the whole concept of a dog party seems weird and that she has better things to do. Nevertheless, as soon as Heffner knocks on her door and tells her it’s time to go to the dog party, she attends. The next day, Kendra remarks that the day before made her feel like a five year old. Once again, she is being encouraged to be childlike in order to be more feminine (Kilbourne, 1999). During the Easter egg decorating party, Kendra states that she’s “not a girly girl” and that she would have never sat there painting eggs before living in the mansion. Kendra is being discouraged from being active and feisty, qualities that females are not allowed to possess (Kilbourne, 1999). Kendra doesn’t want to participate, but does so in order to fit in with the other girls. On Easter Sunday, Kendra wears a very short, pastel colored dress, just like Holly and Bridget. x. Feminine clothes are very constricting and typically difficult to play sports and be active in (Kilbourne, 1999). Nevertheless Kendra wears them, for she realizes her role is to be sexually attractive.
Throughout the episode “Heavy Petting,” Holly keeps talking about how she wants to be a mother, largely due to the fact that she’s 26 years old and feels she’s “no spring chicken anymore.” It is very rare for women over 35 years old to be portrayed in the media (Crawford, 1999). Femininity is defined by youth, and The Girls Next Door typically fails to show women older than 30.When older people are portrayed, it is typically men (Crawford, 1999). Holly sees herself as older, yet is over fifty years younger than her boyfriend. In addition, Holly mentions how she really wants to be a mother, but never mentions any career or education aspirations. Females do in fact get educated and go to college, and this is very much not portrayed in the show. When attending Bridget’s dog party, Holly wears a very short ruffled pink dress with pearls and pigtails. The way Holly dresses more or less epitomizes what females have to be: “overtly sexy and attractive but essentially passive and virginal” (Kilbourne, 1999, p. 259). Later on when talking to the secretary about Easter, they both mention how they like to see the pretty little girls in their pink dresses. Women are being told that what’s most important about them is their clothing, bodies, and beauty (Kilbourne, 1999). The only thing Holly and the secretary mention about little girls are their appearances and their clothing. At the Easter egg decorating party, Holly uses her mouth to literally blow the yolk out of an egg and jokingly says “finally I found something I’m good at!” Once girls hit adolescence, they lose their self confidence, ambition, and their sense of being a “unique and powerful self”(Kilbourne, 1999, p.259). Holly only sees herself talented at this one task that is very similar to a very sexual act. Holly could very well be talented at something not relating to sex or domestics, but she only sees herself talented at what she is expected to be talented at.
“The Girls Next Door” portrays Heffner as intelligent, powerful, famous, and wealthy man. He is the epitome of what men strive for, and the American Dream. Heffner’s girlfriends are valued predominately for their appearances and for the way they fit the expectations of femininity. The power the girls do have is derived from Heffner’s power, and not from something they themselves have accomplished. “The Girls Next Door” reinforces gender expectations, which ultimately make men the powerful and women the powerless.

References

Crawford, Mary (2006). Images of women. Transformations- Women, Gender, and Psychology, 60-96.
Kilbourne, Jean (1999). The more you subtract, the more you add- cutting girls down to size. Gender, Race, and Class in Media, 258-265.

21 comments:

Jessie said...

Liz- Overall you've made a good attempt at the first post and made several important points. A couple of easy-to-correct, but serious detractors from the writing are the lack of paragraphs and the use of paraphrased material without introducing the sources. When I see a piece of writing with a large number of parenthetical references and no quotation marks, I wonder why it was that the writer didn't use the material from the original piece and quote it directly. If the material is supporting your argument, use it and cite it directly. If the material is only peripheral and/or the material may not directly support the argument you make, don't cite so much from the work of the author, or find another source that's more relevant to your argument. Part 2 uses some direct quotes, but these need to be integrated into the sentences...the quote can't be its own sentence.
You have a lot of good ideas here...just make sure that you're presenting them in a way that they won't be missed by your reader.

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