Friday, May 4, 2007

Whose Got the Power?!?!

Power is defined as the possession of control or command over others. In society, men are depicted as the dominant and authoritative figures. They possess control in politics, in relationships, and in the "typical" family household.

The Girls Next Door confirms this norm with Hef being the dominant, assertive figure in control of his thriving corporation, his mansion, and the three girls. However, he is not the only one in the show that possesses power.

Many people who watch the show believe that the girls are just "sex objects" and are there for the sole purpose of male pleasure. In contrast, they can be seen as empowering figures who have used their "femininity" to their advantage to get where they are today. They come off as naive, weak, and unable to care for themselves, and as a result, the strong, dominative Hef must fulfill his role and protect and provide for these fragile women. He does this by launching their careers, providing them a home, setting their status, and spoiling them.

How else are these girls empowering? Their overtly sexual behavior and dress gives them power over the males who succumb to their flirting and temptation. Holly, Bridget, and Kendra were successful at embracing this stereotype of women since they transformed from "nobodies" to famous Playboy girlfriends by luring the right man.

In addition, power is demonstrated in many less overt ways. On the show, there is little representation of any other race or sexuality than the White, heterosexual. The only minorities shown are those doing manual labor in the kitchen or garden, and there are no gays present at all. This speaks volumes about where minorities and homosexuals are placed on the hierarchy of power in today's world. These individuals are seen as inferior and unworthy of representation or power.

Ultimately, the show provides many images of power and empowerment through its characters and lack thereof. The White male may be the main focus of power in the patriarchal society. However, beneath the act, the women are empowering. They have conformed to society's definition of femininity and used it to control men's minds and wallets. Gays & Lesbians, as well as racial minorities are not given any recognition by the show and therefore, are seized of any power or authority over the predominately white, straight world.

Overall, The Girls Next Door carries a lot weight in regards to the hegemonic norms and images of power/empowerment that it sends to its viewers. There is plenty to be analyzed and an increasing amount to be learned from what some would consider just "another TV show."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blog buddy work with Melissa author of "Gender and Race through Flavor of Love and Celebreality"

Where has your Blog buddy shown strong analytical work (be specific—is it a particular post, a type of analysis, a site for analysis that seemed to click more so than others, etc)?

How could your Blog buddy use this strength for the final Blog post and presentation?

Think about the following statements in relation to your Blog buddy’s Blog and then provide feedback on each area (constructive praise/criticism):

The Blog is on a topic that has been clearly evident in the Blog posts throughout the semester

The Blog is on a topic that seems to interest my Blog buddy

My Blog buddy’s topic is one that has produced a good set of posts that were analytical used gender as a primary category of analysis

The posts make analytical arguments.

The posts are understandable and each post logically outlines and supports the argument presented.

The posts were clear, provided insight, evidence, and analysis to connect the topic with the assignment for each of the posts

The sources cited in each post are relevant to the topic and help to aid the understanding of the argument and/or assisted in proving the argument.

The quotes used illustrate a broad range of course readings throughout the semester.

The quotes were clear and succinct; additionally, the material was presented so that I could differentiate the Blog buddy’s ideas from that of the author cited.

Finally, complete the following:I thought it was great when you...
I found it confusing when you…
You’re really great at…
I wish you could focus (more) on/alter/edit/explain/expand on/etc these three things…

(Basically, when you read the Blog posts, what do you wish your buddy had done differently, more of, etc?)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Holly wants a baby! The Media & Motherhood

In today’s society there is great pressure placed upon women to have children and to fit the ideal of the so-called “good” mother. When a woman does not seem to fit the ideal, such as Holly who is seen as too sexy and childish, desires to become a mother she is ostracized by the media and denied the ability to succeed at motherhood. However, how come the media draws little to no attention to males and their abilities of being "good" fathers?

Did you know that Hugh Hefner has four children from previous relationships? Surprising? This is because there is no mention of them in the media. The children are not present on the show and they do not live in the million dollar mansion with his girlfriends. Oddly, Hef is not criticized for his possible negligence of being a father, and he is not punished for being a "bad" father or for setting a poor example for his children.

So why does society place such pressure and set such high standards for women to achieve in terms of motherhood. Why should Holly’s potential to be a mother be criticized, while Hef’s actual lack of being a "father" and providing a "normal" and civilized home for his four children be completely ignored. In "Moms Don't Rock: The Popular Demonization of Courtney Love," Courtney Love is blamed for her inadequate role as mother, while her husband receives no attention regarding his role as a father. This proves that the media and society as a whole focus on those inferior, women, and label them as weak and incapable of being successful, even if its at something that they are stereotypically suppose to be good at, motherhood.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


This collage shows the very sexual and provocative lifestyles of the girlfriends. The girls are depicted as the epitome of sexuality in their racy and barely-there outfits flaunting their large breasts and slim figures every chance they can. But what does this behavior, which some would ostracize as self-degrading and disrespectful, do for these blondes? It provides a medium for them to be recognized and to gain attention, particularly from the male audience. "Sexuality provides a resource that can be used to get attention and communicate instantly." 1

If these ladies wore blazers revealing little skin with other conservative apparel, they would not be considered "sex icons" and therefore would not gain as much attention or have the reputation they have today. Ultimately, this collage proves that sex, sin and skin sells in modern society when it comes to females gaining attention, popularity, and fame.

1. Gender, Race, and Class in the Media.Image-Based Culture.p.253.

GND's- Encouraging Hegemonic Norms

Some viewers may claim that "The Girls Next Door" is simply a show for entertainment purposes and that it does not serve any role or have any influence on society. However, the show enlists hegemonic norms of society making it a valuable part of popular culture.

In "Inventing the Cosmo Girl", the author identifies the hegemonic norm that "single women are depicted as shrews or 'gold diggers' while bachelors are advised to pursue sex on a casual basis to avoid getting snared in a 'long term contract.'"1 This norm is presented in "The Girls Next Door" through the girls and Hef. The girls receive whatever they want (whether its going on shopping sprees, throwing lavishing parties, or being in Playboy) as long as they keep Hef pleased. This provides much motivation for the girls to pursue sex and a relationship with the 80 year old and allows them to portrayed as "gold diggers" by the media.

The girls also represent the hegemonic norm regarding women and their status. In society, women are seen as gentle, childlike, attention graving, and inferior, and that their only purpose in life is to please their man and look pretty. On the show, the girls act more like little girls than mature women. They dance around the Playboy mansion playing and giggling deprived of any responsibility. Their only demand is to provide a "pretty" and "sexy" persona, but never to appear over-bearing or controlling.

On the episode, "Calender Girls" Holly, Bridget, and Kendra are posing in their own Playboy calender. The girls obsess about their appearance trying to look perfect for Hef. "I just want Hef to like it. I'm doing this all for him." said Kendra after photoshooting the month of June which resembles that of Christina Aguilera's "Dirrrty" video in the boxing ring. The girls constantly critique their appearance, questioning whether they look just sexy and sweet enough for Hef. This encourages the norm that women are expected to look attractive all the time in order to impress their man and remain on top.

Therefore, the girls display some hegemonic norms of society pertaining to the role of feminine characters. In the media, women lack authority and are seen more as objects who obsess about their appearance than as strong figures with confidence and power. The girls encourage this view and send out a powerful message to its viewers about femininity- that women are meant to be beautiful and keep the dominant males in their lives satisfied even if it means excessive dieting, spending long hours in the beauty salon, or being overtly sexual behavior.

1. Gender, Race, and Class in the Media. Inventing the Cosmo Girl. p.120

Monday, March 12, 2007

LitterBlog speaks up about The Girls Next Door
The Girls Next Door

The show has such a weird dynamic, with Hef seeming more like an overindulgent father than a co-equal boyfriend. And this girlfriend-as-child trope is definitely what bothers Alice, with good reason, obviously. So I have come to hold her position. The show is just gross. There is a book about girls like the ones on the show and it definitely applies here. I heard the author on NPR, and I'm not sure I agree with all her analysis, but for the Girls Next Door, her point definitely stands. It doesn't really seem to me like the Girls Next Door are empowered feminists, who manipulate men with sex appeal to increase the scope of their freedom. They are just sex objects.

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture is a 2005 book by Ariel Levy.

Levy takes issue with two breeds of feminists: "lipstick feminists" and "loophole women." According to Levy, lipstick feminists believe, for example, that stripping is empowering and that putting on a show to attract men (be it through makeup, clothing, or girl-on-girl gyration) is not contrary to the goals and ideals of feminism. Levy disagrees with this view.
On the other end of the spectrum, Levy takes issue with women who make their way in a man's world by playing by men's rules. Sometimes, she argues, these women even make their fame and fortune by objectifying other women; for example, Levy finds it interesting that
Playboy is currently run by a woman. Even to those women who make their way in their field legitimately, but shy away from feminism, Levy protests: "But if you are the exception that proves the rule, and the rule is that women are inferior, you haven't made any progress." (p. 117) From Wikipedia

My Comment:
Recently, I created a blog on The Girls Next Door for my gender and popular culture class. I noticed your opinion about the Girls Next Door that the girls are just sex objects and that they are not empowering feminist, who manipulate men for money and freedom. I think that a further analysis must be done in order to make this assumption clear.

The girls are obviously portrayed in the show as being "sex objects". Their over the top sexy appearance- wearing barely anything- is apparent in the show. And it may seem as though they are Hugh Hefner's property, his girlfriends, who he protects and provides for on a daily basis. However, these girls may not be as ditzy or stupid as they are portrayed in the show. This may as well be an act to get what they want. Why else would three beautiful young girls drool over an 80 year old man? These women know what they are doing, and if they weren't satisfied then why would they continue to produce a show and be a girlfriend?

In society, women are encouraged to put on a ditzy persona and be very sexually appealing in order to climb the ladder of success. This makes them look weak and needy, which in return, encourages the "dominant" males - strong with potential- to help them. Holly, Kendra, and Bridget are embracing this hegemonic norm and it seems to be working in their favor.

There is much to be analyzed in terms of gender, race, and class in this show which could bring light to the hegemonic norms and messages that are being fulfilled by the girls. Feel free to comment.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

"The Girls Next Door"- concepts of masculinity and femininity Part I

"The Girls Next Door" is a reality TV show that depicts the everyday life of billionaire Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends who live and play in the infamous Playboy Mansion. In the first season's episode, "80 is the New 40" Hef is turning the big 8-0 and the girls are determined to make it his best yet. The show demonstrates many concepts of masculinity and femininity to its viewers through Hef and his three favorite Playboy bunnies.

What is masculinity and femininity? Masculinity is what makes a man a "man". It means being physically and emotionally strong, powerful, successful, and of course, experienced sexually. Femininity on the other hand is usually represented in the media as being one that is weak, gentle and powerless. One that is "ditzy", attention-craving and thus of great sexuality.
On the show, Hef is the only male figure present, and with this is portrayed as the epitome of masculinity. At the age of 80, he maintains a high fitness level and his appearance as a result of aging does not limit him from getting what he wants- the ladies, the ladies one-forth his age. With his exceptionally active sex life and his ability to shamelessly have three girlfriends, Hef is considered the "ultimate'" man. Hef is shown as highly interpersonal, constantly throwing parties, building relationships, and dominating his girlfriends and his endless billion dollar Playboy Industry. And when it seems he can't get any more "masculine", his success, ambition, and fame prove he is the subject of every man's envy.

Femininity in "The Girls Next Door" Part II

The main stars of the show are Hef's favorite girlfriends, Holly, Bridget, and Kendra. Through these girls, we can see how the concepts of femininity are expressed in the media to the show's viewers. The girls all share the same physical appearance- bleached blond hair, bronzed skin, skinny waists and voluptuous breasts. Each girl has a unique personality apart from the whole "ditzy", very materialistic, and over-sexed side. For example, Holly is the cheerleader, Bridget is the nerd with a M.D., and Kendra is the sports-loving tom boy.

On the show, femininity is seen as being very sexual. The girls are all very open and comfortable with their sexuality and bearing a lot of skin. Kendra dances around in front of the mirror with only underwear and a bra on, while Bridget performs Hef's birthday strip tease for her mother and father with only a string thong on and flower-shaped pasties covering her nipples. "Sexuality provides a resource that can be used to get attention and communicate instantly."
1. Thus, women are assumed to use their physical assests to gain attention and be admired.

The girlfriends portray American women as being desperate "gold diggers" hungry for money, status and fame. They spend their lives trying to please a man that is well "over the hill" in order to live comfortably in his mansion and gather the perks that come along with his status and power. For Hef's birthday, Holly, Bridget, Kendra are stressed about buying Hef a remarkable birthday present(with his money, of course). Bridget worries about how her body will look during the strip tease, and eats almost nothing (with a beer) for dinner in hopes to look flawless for Hef. Thus, in society "single women are depicted as shrews or 'gold diggers' while bachelors are advised to pursue sex on a casual basis to avoid getting snared in a 'long term contract.'"

It is evident that Hef as the masculine figure has superiority over his girlfriends. Their relationships resemble more of a father-daughter one than one of an intimate nature. Hef only gives affection to his girls in the form of a hug or peck on the cheeks or lips. Everything they do is to please him. Obviously, his money and status show his power over the girls and displays them as weak and inferior. Without Hef's political power and wealth to support the girls, it would be nearly impossible for them to achieve the status they have today.

Ultimately, "The Girls Next Door" is an example of how the concepts of masculinity such as power, strength, and status, and those of femininity- inferiority, sexuality, and desperation, are portrayed in the media. The show relates femininity with big breasts, skinny bodies, and blond hair accompanied by "ditzy" thoughts and very sexual behaviors. In constrast, masculinity is shown through being wealthy, successful and a life-time bachelor.

1. Gender, Race, and Class in the Media.Image-Based Culture.p.253.

2. Gender, Race, and Class in the Media. Inventing the Cosmo Girl. p.120

Monday, February 19, 2007

Check out the Links

I did a little research and found a variety of interesting sites regarding gender and reality TV. There are some sites/blogs that take more of a feminist perspective than others. Some also look at a specific reality TV shows, and discuss the role gender plays in each. Some very interesting points of views and analyses.