Describe the representation of women within a serial televisual text. What are the implications for feminist discourse?

Essay by tinyjazUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, June 2006

download word file, 6 pages 3.3

Television is widely known to represent and reinforce the mainstream ideology of contemporary western culture: patriarchy. While television representations of women have changed greatly in the last twenty years alone, in order to accommodate the changing role of women in society, one is led to ask how much the ideology has changed behind the post-modern representations of women. The television genre of soap operas is often criticized for offering stereotypical and unrealistic images of women, which confirm women in their subordination (Brunson, 1997). Soaps often portray women through the construction of specific gendered identities revolving around domestication and objectification or, in opposition, social liberation and economic independence. However, these opposing representations are both rigid in construct and limited, which ultimately still devalues women's roles as suppression to a socially dominant patriarchy. In this essay, I seek to examine the roles of the four central female characters in "Desperate Housewives" and reinforce the notion that portrayals of women are still limited, stereotypical, and rigidly constructed.

Intrinsic to feminism, with its emphasis on women's rights and self-realization, is the effort to liberate women from what it perceives to be a male-dominated society. Radical feminist ideology, in particular, contends that the traditional concepts of gender roles and family relations are part of a patriarchal social construct that is designed to control and oppress women (Glenn, 2000). The feminist assault on traditional gender roles and families began in earnest in the 1960s and increasingly turned radical in the 1970s. This "second wave" of feminism targeted the family because women could not realize their potential in society as long as they were still tied to childbearing, childraising, and housekeeping as their primary responsibilities (Glenn, 2000). Betty Friedan (1963), author of the celebrated work, The Feminine Mystique, contended that women were victims of the delusion that...