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Gender roles
Topic Started: 11 Jul 2018, 20:19 (676 Views)
MrSunshine
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Something has bothered me the more I thought about it - why is it up to Mick who stays and goes from the vic?

In yesterdays episode, Stuart was threatening toward Linda. She told Mick. And Mick gets to decide whether Stuart is forgiven or not. Stuart has to apologise to Linda of course, but in the end, Mick gets to decide if he is banished.

After Linda told Mick what happened, the first thing Mick did was get Stuart over to apologise. Would Linda have been comfortable having Stuart over again? Apparently that didn't matter because Mick wanted an apology.

Before anyone says I hate Mick and I'm looking for faults with him: I'm not. I think this was supposed to be a good thing; Mick protecting his wife. But it's an interesting element in the writing I've noticed a lot recently.

The other day there was references to the show being written by radical feminists but I'm now noticing more and more men being put into traditionally masculine roles and women being put into traditional feminine roles.

Before I give examples, I just want to say that I think some of these character choices do make sense. I'm not suggesting all men should be deballed and all women should be ruling the roost.

But examples would be:

Sharon had to ask her husband to watch her child...for an hour. And then had to bribe him with sex. Is the suggestion that that's all Sharon has to offer? Or that Phil calls all the shots?

We have Keegan behaving aggresively yet still being described as "a good kid" and we have two young girls (Bex and Louise) he bullied mercilessly giggling away with him. One of them even has a crush on him. Is the message that's just how young men are and it's fine? Women should learn to forgive while they're young because boys will be boys?

Whitney cannot exist without a boyfriend. The character went from (and this is all I remember): Todd, Billie, Peter, Fatboy, Tyler, Lee, Mick, Woody, Halfway. The last four were within a year. Is the lesson that a women's value lies in a man? Without a man she's nothing/not interesting?

It may not seem like it but Martin seems to call the shots with Stacey. We have Stacey running around, cleaning the house, getting her family to shut up, shagging in bathrooms, and ignoring Martin's picking on their child. Again, I'm not saying Stacey shouldn't be doing this but I'm noticing it's harder and harder to find a woman not answering to a man on the show.

We have Rainie not being able to control herself without some kind words from Phil and Max. Do women require men to save them?

And Mel relied solely on Jack solving the money mystery. She couldn't do it on her own. Thank goodness there was a man around to solve her problems? Not to mention the manipulation from her son, which I'm sure Jack will reveal (or some other man). Jack is presented as Mel's hero. If that's not a traditional male/female role, I don't know what is. The same happens with Mick/Linda and Martin/Stacey (attacking the man being rude to Stacey in the club, punching the policeman).

Alfie is always presented as the man who will save Kat. Because she can't save herself, right?

We even have Kathy as the exhausted mother looking after her feuding brats - Ian and Masood. Before this she would run to Phil to solve Ian's problems with Max at christmas. And we had Sharon run to Phil when she ditched her son on her wedding day...yeah, because she couldn't have picked him up on her own when she returned in 2012?

^All questions above are rhetorical.

So what do you think? Do EastEnders characters fall into traditional gender roles? Is that a bad thing? Do you think there are characters that don't?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts below.
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Professor Plum
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Yes, I have thought this for a while. I was hopeful Mel would prove to be the independent business woman that women have become, but no, she is making googly eyes at Jack before the end credits roll.
Sharon use to be her own woman before she became Phils mattress.
Kathy was once a strong woman who kept her family together through understanding and support.

God, I miss Janine, but then, I hate to think what they would do to her nowadays!
Dot is about the only one who can exist without a man, but she needs her family around her to exist



Maybe its a city thing, but even the men arent really, well, men. They just seem to be like overgrown children.
Just livin' in perfect New Zealand!
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MrSunshine
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Professor Plum
12 Jul 2018, 00:10
Yes, I have thought this for a while. I was hopeful Mel would prove to be the independent business woman that women have become, but no, she is making googly eyes at Jack before the end credits roll.
Sharon use to be her own woman before she became Phils mattress.
Kathy was once a strong woman who kept her family together through understanding and support.

God, I miss Janine, but then, I hate to think what they would do to her nowadays!
Dot is about the only one who can exist without a man, but she needs her family around her to exist



Maybe its a city thing, but even the men arent really, well, men. They just seem to be like overgrown children.
I think it's the idea of what men should be that's bothersome. The options are so basic:

Emotionally unavailable dickhead (Phil, Max)

Whiny Loser (Martin, Robbie, Ian, Billy)

Perfect Hero (Mick, Jack)

And the women are no better as we're told they're one thing but it doesn't translate that way onscreen:

Mel is supposed to be strong and independant but we have her running to Jack every time she has a problem.

Sharon is supposed to be ballsy but she's now began begging for scraps off Phil's table. We recently had her complaining that Phil wasn't finding her attractive anymore. The Sharon of old would've told Phil to look in the mirror before he made her think she wasn't good enough for him.

In thinking about the other female characters I can honestly say I'm not sure what they're supposed to be anymore. Most of them exist to further the stories of men (Kathy, Rainie, Louise, Bex, Linda, Shirley, Tina).

And the others seem to just become whatever the plot wants them to be that week (Kat, Stacey, Hayley).

Janine was interesting as she developed into someone that didn't need love from a man to validate her. This was an interesting development for the girl that grew up wanting nothing more than love, affection and stability from her father. Frank would up and leave Janine constantly so she began relying on other men to take care of her (Terry) and then started to use them to further her own interests (Barry).

When she returned in 2008, she seemed to just want to be loved by Ryan then by Michael. One cheated on her and the other lied to her, left her and their baby on their own all the time and made her paranoid.

However, after her postnatal depression, she returned wanting her baby and just her baby. She existed on her own and was no longer chasing the love of a man. She just wanted her daughter. This was a truly interesting development for the girl who always just wanted to be loved. She really did stop being defined by men. Such a fantastic character journey.
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Desdemona
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Soap is considered a conservative genre in terms of gender-and sexual politics but in the early days, the British community soap was regarded as a more matriarchal type of soap, challenging patriarchal power structures that dominate in American ‘dynastic’ and ‘dyadic’ soap models.
There is not much left of this matriarchal tradition in EE (a character like Cora reminds me of what could be)

Soap does allow for the occasional transgression vis-a-vis ‘gender-normative’ behaviour (the bitch and/or the woman who kills) to provide female viewers with a shortlived moment of rebellious pleasure but only to put these deviant characters in their place again (through punishment, containment or death). This is why I am not waiting for Janine’s return in this reactionary climate. She’d be cut down in no time
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BiancaCarter2008
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Well on the flip side, we have Kat pulling down Martin's towel and making remarks about his anatomy in public and the other slater women just giggled and accepted it.

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NeilN
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BiancaCarter2008
12 Jul 2018, 14:35
Well on the flip side, we have Kat pulling down Martin's towel and making remarks about his anatomy in public and the other slater women just giggled and accepted it.

If it was the other way round and Martin made comments about Kat's vagina, they'd be an outcry!
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ShakilsManBun
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Corrie always shines when it's "Strong" female leads are in the spotlight...from the days of Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner ...to Becky McDonald. Eastenders used to have strong females but I feel these days they have dampened those females down, made them less ballsey. Even Kat and Mel feel less strong this time around... It's a shame.
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Startedin2014
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Hmmm. Yes, I've always wondered this. But sometimes they don't do this. You are right on all of these points (Oh, and by the way, MICK AND WHITNEY WERE NEVER TOGETHER!), but characters aren't always like this. For example, Janine is quite the opposite. She mostly controls the men in her life. And Linda told Stacey about the rape before she told Mick. Sharon and Phil are mostly shown as equals (I think they are an overhated couple), and Martin never seems to be controlling Stacey in any way. Stacey's the stay-at-home mum. It's natural she'd act like this. So, I do agree, you're just taking it a step too far.
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Shazza
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Things started to take a strange turn with the heist and then it spiraled out from there. Two of my biggest grievances are that in Walford a woman over 40 has to hate being a woman over 40 (middle-aged is Elstree speak for half-dead) and women can't have their own things.

Once upon a time women were movers and shakers on this show. Kylie Jenner is currently making headlines for the success of the lip kit. Certaintly the Kardashians are controversial, but the point is that there will always be an interest in enterprenurship and EE excelled at this.

Pat's Cabs, Sharon owning The Vic and later Angie's Den. Kathy in the cafe and before her Sue Osman. The salon and its many female owners. If not ownership then women in prominent positions. I had no idea that Michelle used to work for social services until I saw a clip of her trying to help the Jacksons find housing. The woman that is great at work and goes through make-ups and break-ups is par for the course. That's what makes Meredith Grey, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating and many other female characters so compelling. Sharon might as well have been a Shondaland character during her second stint.

I'd like to see women as actual people with contradictions and shades of grey. Not just strong or weak, good or bad, nice or bitchy. I'm not interested in idealistic or symbolic versions of virtuous, independent womanhood. Mel being single and an employee isn't better than Linda being a wife and business partner. Supporting women means supporting their lifestyle choices.

Women have multitudes. A woman can succesfully run a business and drink every night because her husband is cheating on her. We knew that Ang was great at the books but she was popping pills because of her nerves. That's just life.

Soaps are typically seen as a women's genre because in story, "women's problems" take center stage instead of being seen as frivolous. Soaps are also a women's genre because they offer an escape (romance, power) from all the obligations and pressures of simply existing as a woman. Desmonda mentioned that US soaps can be very patriarchal and that isn't entirely untrue (Victor Newman, Sonny Corinthos), but there have been very important matriarchal characters as well. Katherine Chancellor and Stephanie Forrester come to mind. EE in particular wouldn't have rose to the popularity without the alpha male starting with Den. Criminality and hypermasculinity have also co-existed with this archetype.

The options that women have and the choices that women make will always be an issue. Especially as women continue to confront the limitations imposed on them by the heteronormative world that we live in. However, I've come to realize that the fanbase isn't entirely flexible when it comes to how women are depicted. It's difficult for me to reconcile the calls for better writing for women, with the claims that women that choose to style themselves in a particular way serve as some sort of blight on womanhood instead of styling being a personal choice that allows women to feel empowered and good about themselves. If the ultimate goal of a woman is to conform to whatever is generally perceived to be respectable, honorable or dignified, then that's just more constraint, not liberation.

If the expectation is that EE will be reflective of the conversations being had in regards to gender roles, then body and respectability politics are a part of that conversation and as we've seen with Sharon's sudden insecurity complex and bitchiness towards Mel (who we've been told is far more attractive and desirable than just about anyone on the Square), I really don't know if Elstree has the capacity to go aganist the grain.
Edited by Shazza, 12 Jul 2018, 17:21.
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MrSunshine
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BiancaCarter2008
12 Jul 2018, 14:35
Well on the flip side, we have Kat pulling down Martin's towel and making remarks about his anatomy in public and the other slater women just giggled and accepted it.

But I wouldn't describe this as a typically masculine behaviour.
Startedin2014
12 Jul 2018, 16:44
Hmmm. Yes, I've always wondered this. But sometimes they don't do this. You are right on all of these points (Oh, and by the way, MICK AND WHITNEY WERE NEVER TOGETHER!), but characters aren't always like this. For example, Janine is quite the opposite. She mostly controls the men in her life. And Linda told Stacey about the rape before she told Mick. Sharon and Phil are mostly shown as equals (I think they are an overhated couple), and Martin never seems to be controlling Stacey in any way. Stacey's the stay-at-home mum. It's natural she'd act like this. So, I do agree, you're just taking it a step too far.
I didn't say I disagreed with some of the character choices but that they fall into typically male and female gender roles. I don't think it's too far to analyse how the male characters and female characters are written in a way that confines them to typical gender roles.

I think Linda is treated more as a prop to further Mick stories now. Her feelings are less important except in how they impact Mick. And all Carter women act as though he is their hero.

I don't think Sharon and Phil have been written as equals at all. Sharon exists to serve Phil stories. And she's mostly reduced to the sad housewife who can never do right for her husband.
Edited by MrSunshine, 12 Jul 2018, 18:31.
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Cal.
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Sharon had to ask her husband to watch her child...for an hour. And then had to bribe him with sex. Is the suggestion that that's all Sharon has to offer? Or that Phil calls all the shots?

Quote:
 
We have Keegan behaving aggresively yet still being described as "a good kid" and we have two young girls (Bex and Louise) he bullied mercilessly giggling away with him. One of them even has a crush on him. Is the message that's just how young men are and it's fine? Women should learn to forgive while they're young because boys will be boys?


Janine manipulates, schemes and kills and yet is 'misunderstood'.

Quote:
 
Whitney cannot exist without a boyfriend. The character went from (and this is all I remember): Todd, Billie, Peter, Fatboy, Tyler, Lee, Mick, Woody, Halfway. The last four were within a year. Is the lesson that a women's value lies in a man? Without a man she's nothing/not interesting?


Max, Ian and to a lesser extent nowadays Jack seemingly cannot exist without a girlfriend. Jack impregnated a whole family, Max has slept his way around the Square and Ian has had a multitude of wives.

Quote:
 
It may not seem like it but Martin seems to call the shots with Stacey. We have Stacey running around, cleaning the house, getting her family to shut up, shagging in bathrooms, and ignoring Martin's picking on their child. Again, I'm not saying Stacey shouldn't be doing this but I'm noticing it's harder and harder to find a woman not answering to a man on the show.


I honestly don't see that - Martin is very much controlled by Stacey IMO. The likes of Billy, however, was always quite under Honey's thumb and we have the likes of Ian running around like a teenager after Mel and let's not get started about the dynamics of Zainab and Masooods relationship

Quote:
 
We have Rainie not being able to control herself without some kind words from Phil and Max. Do women require men to save them?


Just like we have women handing out sage advice as 'Matriarchs' Masood cannot seem to act like a grown man without Miriam giving him words of wisdom. Kathy always seems to put Ian in line.

Quote:
 
And Mel relied solely on Jack solving the money mystery. She couldn't do it on her own. Thank goodness there was a man around to solve her problems? Not to mention the manipulation from her son, which I'm sure Jack will reveal (or some other man). Jack is presented as Mel's hero. If that's not a traditional male/female role, I don't know what is. The same happens with Mick/Linda and Martin/Stacey (attacking the man being rude to Stacey in the club, punching the policeman).


Mel seems to be able to sort Ian and Masood out by herself, though and she's more than up for a spar with Phil - tricking him into blackmail.

Quote:
 
Alfie is always presented as the man who will save Kat. Because she can't save herself, right?


She's here flying solo running a business.

Quote:
 
We even have Kathy as the exhausted mother looking after her feuding brats - Ian and Masood. Before this she would run to Phil to solve Ian's problems with Max at christmas. And we had Sharon run to Phil when she ditched her son on her wedding day...yeah, because she couldn't have picked him up on her own when she returned in 2012?


So if they run to a man to solve their problems it's not okay but Kathy sorting out and reigning over Masood and Ian is also not okay.

---

I don't see these are gender issues - they are simply in the make up of certain characters - for each example there is a counter example with signifies that these are less about what gender they are and more about the natural and organic dynamics between characters. I feel, anyway.
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MrSunshine
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Cal.
12 Jul 2018, 18:51
Sharon had to ask her husband to watch her child...for an hour. And then had to bribe him with sex. Is the suggestion that that's all Sharon has to offer? Or that Phil calls all the shots?

Quote:
 
We have Keegan behaving aggresively yet still being described as "a good kid" and we have two young girls (Bex and Louise) he bullied mercilessly giggling away with him. One of them even has a crush on him. Is the message that's just how young men are and it's fine? Women should learn to forgive while they're young because boys will be boys?


Janine manipulates, schemes and kills and yet is 'misunderstood'.

Quote:
 
Whitney cannot exist without a boyfriend. The character went from (and this is all I remember): Todd, Billie, Peter, Fatboy, Tyler, Lee, Mick, Woody, Halfway. The last four were within a year. Is the lesson that a women's value lies in a man? Without a man she's nothing/not interesting?


Max, Ian and to a lesser extent nowadays Jack seemingly cannot exist without a girlfriend. Jack impregnated a whole family, Max has slept his way around the Square and Ian has had a multitude of wives.

Quote:
 
It may not seem like it but Martin seems to call the shots with Stacey. We have Stacey running around, cleaning the house, getting her family to shut up, shagging in bathrooms, and ignoring Martin's picking on their child. Again, I'm not saying Stacey shouldn't be doing this but I'm noticing it's harder and harder to find a woman not answering to a man on the show.


I honestly don't see that - Martin is very much controlled by Stacey IMO. The likes of Billy, however, was always quite under Honey's thumb and we have the likes of Ian running around like a teenager after Mel and let's not get started about the dynamics of Zainab and Masooods relationship

Quote:
 
We have Rainie not being able to control herself without some kind words from Phil and Max. Do women require men to save them?


Just like we have women handing out sage advice as 'Matriarchs' Masood cannot seem to act like a grown man without Miriam giving him words of wisdom. Kathy always seems to put Ian in line.

Quote:
 
And Mel relied solely on Jack solving the money mystery. She couldn't do it on her own. Thank goodness there was a man around to solve her problems? Not to mention the manipulation from her son, which I'm sure Jack will reveal (or some other man). Jack is presented as Mel's hero. If that's not a traditional male/female role, I don't know what is. The same happens with Mick/Linda and Martin/Stacey (attacking the man being rude to Stacey in the club, punching the policeman).


Mel seems to be able to sort Ian and Masood out by herself, though and she's more than up for a spar with Phil - tricking him into blackmail.

Quote:
 
Alfie is always presented as the man who will save Kat. Because she can't save herself, right?


She's here flying solo running a business.

Quote:
 
We even have Kathy as the exhausted mother looking after her feuding brats - Ian and Masood. Before this she would run to Phil to solve Ian's problems with Max at christmas. And we had Sharon run to Phil when she ditched her son on her wedding day...yeah, because she couldn't have picked him up on her own when she returned in 2012?


So if they run to a man to solve their problems it's not okay but Kathy sorting out and reigning over Masood and Ian is also not okay.

---

I don't see these are gender issues - they are simply in the make up of certain characters - for each example there is a counter example with signifies that these are less about what gender they are and more about the natural and organic dynamics between characters. I feel, anyway.
You make an interesting point.

I think Janine is a complex character that eventually broke away from traditional gender role. She became a businesswoman and didn't chase after the love of a man.

Again, I'm not saying it's a bad thing that some characters fall into traditional gender roles. Women can be just as powerful as men and still retain their femininity. It's just that I feel more female characters are back to being defined by men.

I would've agreed with the Jack comparison till he stayed single for over a year after Ronnie died. And Max and Ian have had major stories that aren't about their love life. Whitney hasn't. She's either being abused by a man or falling in or out of love with one.

I would agree that Martin is more defined by Stacey than she is by him. I just noticed an interesting power play between them on Tuesday. Honey has only ever existed as an extension of Billy. And there was constant scenes of Masood shouting at Zainab that he wouldn't be disrespected in his house. And she recieved the sole blame for the breakdown of their marriage and suffered a character assassination when offscreen.

But wouldn't the older woman giving advice be a traditional gender role? Just as the infantile older man would be.

Mel tricked Phil by using her sexuality. And she was put in her place by Masood and Ian.

We always have the spectre of Alfie in the background where Kat's concerned.

I think all arguments are valid of course but I was just noticing more and more that everyone seemed either typically male or typically female. Again, not a bad thing. But I'd like to see one or two characters that went outside those gender lines.

Let Mel solve her own problems. Let Phil feel vulnerable about Sharon's feelings for him. Let Mick ask Linda to help him. Let Honey have a story that isn't about Billy. Etc.
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