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Gender Roles In Desperate Housewives

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Society has evolved significantly from its initial gender stereotype of the black and white images of the hard-working husband and the loving, domestic housewife. According to Raewyn Connell in his book Gender (2009) he says that men are or at least should be the ‘producers or breadwinners’ and that women should be the ‘consumers’. However, it was around the middle of the 20thcentury during the onset of the feminist movement when the idea of the perfect woman was featured by glamorous magazines and television. Yet, there has been much controversy about the ways in which the mass media represents women and how they have been affected by these images. In the patriarchal society of the period, there was a decrease in strong women being emotionally and mentally stable, intellectual and sexually attractive. Building on that premise, this paper will examine and analyse the different stereotypical roles the female characters of Desperate Housewives portray, how they are viewed by the audience, and what impact these gender constructions have on society.
Desperate Housewives (2004) was a “primetime soap opera” shown on the ABC network and premiered as number one, with an audience of 21.6 million viewers. It is a satirical female-centric comedy-drama series about suburban life that deals with divorce, infidelity, dating, the duality of being a stay-at-home mom versus a career woman, raising children, marriage, and household struggles. During the 1950s family structure started to change, and the term housewife became known. In typical domestic soap operas, housewives are shown as “sexless” because they have only time for the family and household chores. (Cheryl N, 2007). The keyword of the title: “desperate” reflects upon common issues of w...

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...rt they have between each other show their roles as empowering and independent as they can be. Their husbands are not oppressing them but at they same time they don not lose their femininity or condition of being women because of the empowerment there is.
The media has a stereotypical way of constructing the role of women. Taking this into account what Desperate Housewives does, is to give a gender role, which is more positive and “not phallocentric” when it is compared to other shows. The show might not be as accurate to how genders are constructed but it does expand on the idea that media has developed it own type of stereotypical women. The TV program shows how women can construct their reality in several different ways, doing gender in different ways. They are not just housewives, girly women and shopaholics; they have more in their identity than their gender.
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