Friday, March 9, 2012
Leap Day Sexism
So there was a "Leap Day" this year, as there is every four years, but for some weird reason it seemed to be a bigger deal this time. I don't know why, but it seemed every TV show and media outlet had a "Leap Day Special" episode and the internet was full of polls with questions like "what are you doing for Leap Day?" etc. What are you doing for Leap Day? It's not a holiday or even a weekend! I'm going to work, duh.
30 Rock very effectively managed to satirize this craze, although I don't know if that was even their intention in writing the episode because I'm not sure how easy to foresee all the Leap Day hype would have been, but I appreciated it. Parks and Recreation was awesome as always, Leap Day or not, but one of my favourites, Modern Family, really disappointed me.
It wasn't the Leap Day theming of the episode that bothered me (although still, I was weirded out by how the Leap Day tradition is to take the day off work/school for all characters, as if it's some holiday) but the blatantly offensive sexism. Modern Family, I always thought you were better than that.
If you don't watch Modern Family or didn't see the episode (and don't want to read the linked recap), one of the major storylines involved all three Dunphy women landing on the same menstrual cycle, and turning into crazed, emotional wrecks ("Satan's trifecta" - actual episode quote), while the Dunphy men cower in fear and try to come up with a plan to ditch these hysterical females so they wouldn't ruin Leap Day.
Huh? This is considered to be quality comedy on a show I actually consider to be quite progressive, in terms of portraying "modern families" in a healthy way, not just for cheap laughs? Who okayed this script?
I hate having to always feel like I need to defend my comments as not overreacting or being oversensitive (things a woman would do, especially if she's on her period) when I am offended by things like this, but here's why I'm not okay with this episode and you shouldn't be either.
The attitude that menstruating women are incapable of leading their lives normally because of the inevitably accompanying "hysterics" is a totally backwards, misogynistic viewpoint, and it's STILL used today by backwards, misogynistic people to dismiss the opinions of women (check out this incredible spoof on that viewpoint for some major laughs). Your female co-worker was offended by something you said? Probably on her period. Your girlfriend is mad at you for treating her disrespectfully? Probably just overemotional from it being her time of month - it'll blow over, you did nothing wrong. Women can't be trusted to have real opinions because they have all these HORMONES and EMOTIONS getting in the way!
Obviously I realize that Modern Family wasn't intending to make an anti-woman statement with this episode - the writers just got lazy and were like "WHAT IF all the girls get their periods and all the guys are scared of them! LOLOLOL". But my point here is that when a smart, funny show like Modern Family runs an episode that degrades women with the menstruation thing, it's reinforcing the message that woman+hormones=crazypantz, contributing indirectly to the above described attitude - that women are less capable of contributing to society because they can't control their emotions. And there are still many, MANY people out there who seriously believe that.
With all the attacks on women by the American media lately, I'm especially disappointed in Modern Family for running this episode.
Plus, men who are scared of periods are weird. Seriously dudes: get over it.