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ANT 300

Allie Briskin May 31, 2013 ANT 200 Professor Kahn What is Gender in a “Modern Family”? Gender plays a large role within theABC Family television show, Modern Family. Within the show, sex, gender and sexuality are often topics that are heavily discusses. When it comes to gender, nothing is black and white. Rather, gender is based on a spectrum that spans from flowery feminine to rugged masculinity. The most interesting aspect of this show is that it defies typical cultural norms of masculinity, and has no character that portrays the typical athletically rugged male. Rather it plays off the idea of feminism, and makes each character steps further from femininity. Modern Family uses gender and sexuality to take both sides in the argument of sexuality and gender; while they further amplify gender and sexuality stereotypes, they also allow viewers to understand that norm’s are irrelevant in society. “The emerging definitions of homo- and heterosexuality were built on a two-sex model of masculinity and femininity. The Victorians, for example, contrasted the sexually aggressive male with the sexually indifferent female. But this created a mystery,” (Sterling, 14). This mystery, is what I intend to uncover. The fact that masculinity and femininity are not just words that have on meaning, but rather, their meanings are spread about on a spectrum that eventually interact with one another. Every character in Modern Family, whether male or female, expresses some form of feminine traits. For this reason, I have chosen to explain these characters on a spectrum starting from the most feminine to the least, rather than most feminine to most masculine. On the one hand of the spectrum, you have the most feminine characters, Gloria Delgado Pritchett, Haley Dunphy and Lily Tucker-Pritchett. Gloria is a Hispanic woman who is married to an older man, Jay Pritchett. Gloria is usually seen wearing stilettos and tight clothing, to further emphasize her femininity. Her intelligence is also questioned often, but this could either be a stereotype due to her sex or due to her Columbian nationality. In one scene, Jay asks Gloria, “tired of walking in those heels?” and she responds by asking, “no, tired of having a hot wife?” If Gloria’s good looks and femininity were not already obvious to the audience, Gloria’s script makes sure that those ideas are reinforced. The show also uses Gloria to defy natural feminine stereotypes that women are the one’s who stay home to care for the family. Gloria is “not a natural homemaker,” but rather she is more like a trophy wife (Modern Family, Season 3, Episode 14). While Gloria is not a “Susie Home Maker” she has a highly independent, and often feminine, son, named Manny. Haley plays the stereotype of the popular, super unintelligent, pretty girl. Or, as her mother says, Haley is “a young, attractive, newly legal women” (Modern Family, Season 4, Episode 12). She never fully understands things that are said throughout the show. For instance, when her father says, “the future ain’t pretty”, she responds by questioning, “I don't understand, in the future I'm not pretty?” (Modern Family, Season 4, Episode 19). Haley is constantly recycling boyfriends and helping her sister attract men, or rather, making fun of her sister for not being able to attract men. “Oh my God, what is that outfit?Are you going goth? You still sleep with a stuffed panda,” (Modern Family, Season 4, Epsiode 3). She also prides herself on her fashion sense. “In Legally Blonde Elle won her case because she was true to herself and dressed cute,” (Modern Family, Season 4, Episode 7). Haley looks up to other fictional hyper-feminine characters. Through the show, we have seen Haley transform into a highly immature teenager who has learned her lessons the hard way. Through her maturing, she has only become more gender aware, using her old looks to further display her feminine ways. Lily is a young girl ahead of her time. The feminine models she has heavily influence her life. As a young child of three years old, hearing her say; “when am I going to get real boobs?” is almost frightening. She is the youngest of the bunch and because of this, the audience gets to see her mature into her gender. She is placed in a setting with a loving extended family, and two loving homosexual fathers. In one episode, she believes that she is “gay” because her parents are. This episode brings up the large issue of whether sexuality is biological or cultural. Rather than answering the question, theABC Family show chooses to side-step the issue and rather confront it as a child’s silly misuse of language. Lilly insists that she is gay because she thinks everyone around her is, so that is normal. In one of the more recent episodes, Lily fetches her “purse” (Modern Family, Season 4, Episode 23). Lily is a heavily influenced child that displays stereotypical feminine attributes such as being style-obsessed and stubbornness. Continuing on, rather than another female in the show taking the next position on the spectrum, I think that Cameron (Cam) Pritchett lies as the next most feminine character. Cam is a homosexual male who lives with his husband, Mitchell and daughter, Lily. While the issue is only once mildly discussed, it is clear that Cam acts as the femme in the homosexual relationship. “Why does drama keep following me everywhere I go? It just pops up out of nowhere,” (Modern Family, Season 4, Episode 24). Cam is seen as a dramatic and exaggerated character, he is also very appearance conscious, whether it has to do with “cute hair” or staying fit. It is also important to note that Cam is probably the closest to being a home-maker in the show; he stays home and watches Lily while Mitchell goes to work everyday earning money for the family. Anothe
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