Performing Gender

The article goes into a lot of detail about individual shows. So unless you follow any of the Real Housewives shows you are unlikely to understand most of the details. However, it provides an explanation to all of the drama that we constantly see taking place on these shows.

It is not for no reason that these women overreact and pull at each others hair over seemingly trivial things. They are put up to it. According to this article, most often some piece of sensitive information that these women want to be kept private will be dragged out by the creators of the show and will then be made public to a cast member of the show whom they get along with the least. An instigator will then talk along these sensitive lines and provoke these two women to get into an argument or even better a brawl or a cat fight. However, the real reason for their anger will most often be kept off screen because one or more women don’t wish to reveal that part of their lives on the show.

As a result we get that “crazy episode of hair-pulling and name calling” which we all watch with such glee. It then seems like all these women do on this show is fight about nothing. Which then goes on to reinforce the gender stereotype of women not being able to get along with each other, or that all women can do is cook, look pretty, and bitch about each others clothes and personal lives.

Judith Butler speaks of the construction of gender and this is exactly what this show does. It plays into the patriarchal notions of what women are good by scripting the show in such a way as to highlight all of the scripted drama that goes on. It constructs the identity of a “housewife” by highlighting the characteristics that are assigned to the feminine gender and magnifying them for dramatic effect. The characteristics that are traditionally associated with masculinity, such as enterprise, leadership and independence are pushed aside so as to not confuse or mess with the traditional assignment of gender roles.

Here is the article :


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