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Madison Alexis

on 7 June 2013

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The Sexualization and Racialization of Women in Contemporary TV Dramas Intersectionality
and their
Stereotypes Conclusion Thank You!


-Madison The Black Jezebel The Feminine Lesbian The Geisha: The "erotization" of Asian Women Women=Sex Objects Sexualization of Women Cristina Yang, Grey's Anatomy Olivia Pope, Scandal "The pageant contains race through the promise of tolerance."
"Represent their blackness in a way that does not bring to the foreground those dominant social narratives about instabilityof the category, "black woman," a particular sign of blackness that is used in the mass media, political culture and popular culture to signify not only the welfare dependence, crack-cocaine addicted mothers, and shady characters, but also wantonness, sexual abandon, and indiscriminate promiscuity."
(Banet-Weiser, 128-129, Bodies of
Difference) Emily Fields, Pretty Little Liars By Madison Alexis Unger
Anth 305 Final Project
Dr. Jessica Johnson http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/scandal/photos http://beta.abcfamily.go.com/shows/pretty-little-liars "Unfit" Promiscious Single Mom http://abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy/photos http://www.usanetwork.com/series/whitecollar/index.html Diana Berrigan,White Collar The Feminine Lesbian Mixed Deviance The L Word http://www.sho.com/sho/the-l-word/home http://abc.go.com/shows/desperate-housewives The Geisha http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/mistresses?cid=abc_ss1_mst Karen Rhodes, Mistresses "Morality...has a much broader definition and application than its more restricted modern understanding, which sees it largely in terms of gender and sexual restrictions...Morality was both the promise of freedom and the qualification of that promise through regulation."
(Ferguson, 193, Race) " 'In the state of nature, man is governed by appetite alone; in civil society, he is ruled by justice rather than instinct...Man thus becomes a moral being who is part of a civil order that gives his actions the moral quality they previously lacked.' Rousseau's formulation of morality...can help us see the ways in which morality expresses a racialized genealogy that links emancipation and subjection."
(Ferguson, 193-194, Race) The Token of Tolerance Jessica Pearson, Suits http://www.usanetwork.com/series/suits/theshow/characterprofiles/pearson/index.html "Black contestants are evidence of...a sign that mobilizes white fear and resentment at the same time as it contains this resentment through representations of blackness that are both 'familiar and acceptable to whites'...And so, like their white middle class counterparts, and yet distinct from the black poor, images of middle-and upper class blacks with appropriate backgrounds, pedigrees, tastes, and networks were also part of the discourse of race..."
(Banet-Weiser, 125, Bodies of Difference) Joanna Locasto, Deception "We might ask at this point, how is the social practice of eroticizing difference used in the cultural marketplace? How does 'sexiness' of difference function not only to maintain a racial hierarchy but also to preserve the ideology that equates with the category of 'black woman' with aggressive and uncontrollable sexuality? The sexualizing of the black female body, the construction of this body as sex, displaces white anxieties concerning female sexuality and maintains the social practices and ideologies that make whiteness coextensive with sexual respectability and morality."
(Banet-Weiser, 141, Bodies of Difference) http://www.nbc.com/deception/ "The category of black woman as jezebel became the repository for fears and fantasies about female sexuality and constructed black women as sexually aggressive while simultaneously producing white women as chaste and moral."
(Banet-Weiser, 141, Bodies of Difference) Intern, then doctor that is known for sleeping with her bosses. Karen, a Korean immigrant, is a psychiatrist who is depicted as having had an affair with a patient Olivia is a "fixer" in DC. While solving cases, she has had an ongoing affair with the president Joanna is a detective looking into her childhood best friend's murder, causing her to reconnect with her childhood lover, Julian. Emily is one of four friends that is being black mailed concerning their best friend's death. Emily is noted for being gay and morning over the death of her black girlfriend, Maya. She works for the FBI and is trusted by the two main characters. She is also known for being lesbian, which is a surprise to her co-workers She is one of the bosses at a prominent law firm. She is known for her loyalty and ethics. http://www.cwtv.com/shows/the-vampire-diaries Vampire Diaries Desperate Housewives April malloy, Mistresses She is a single mother who has recently lost her husband. She along with her three friends become mistresses to several different men http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/mistresses/about-the-show "Beauty pageants are about reading the female body's surface as direct visible evidence of interior, invisible qualities of womanhood. It is also a direct statement about representations of racial identity, in which breed, pedigree, and appropriate backgrounds are understood as necessary to possess 'the requisite moral character, individual responsibility, and personal determination to succeed in spite of residual social impediments.'"
(Banet-Weiser, 130, Bodies of Difference) "Any random collection of homosexuals, sex workers, or miscellaneous perverts can provide heart-stopping stories of rejection and mistreatment by horrified families...In addition to economic penalties and strain on family relations, the stigma of erotic dissidence creates friction at all other levels of everyday life."
(Rubin, 293, Thinking Sex) More and more in TV dramas, women's sexuality is emphasized. Female characters' bodies are sought out by their male counterparts. Their bodies are what Foucault and Bordo refer to as docile, meant to molded and formed by the desires of men. It is as if their sexuality is reaffirming their femininity. Shows like Vampire Diaries validate mainstream female roles--roles that stereotype women as objects of desire. In the show, two brothers are fighting for the love of or rather having sex with the main female character. Essentially, this show is centered around the sexuality of the main female character and her conforming to the desires of men. In shows like this, women find their identity in their body and sexuality. This is mainly framed in heterosexual relationships. "Reading the body...is only possible within a particular kind of normative framework, where the idea that moral character is rooted in the body allows for the proliferation of narratives that there are some bodies that are biologically destined to be socially disruptive or morally corrupt."

(Banet-Weiser, 130, Bodies of Difference) "Through the pursuit of an ever-changing, homogenizing, elusive ideal of femininity--a pursuit without a terminus, requiring that women constantly attend to minute and often whimsical changes in fashion--female bodies become docile bodies--bodies whose forces and energies are habituated to external regulation, subjection, transformation, 'improvement.'"

(Bordo, 166, The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity) Morality plays an important role in framing the Asian female. By portraying her with corrupted morals, she is stereotyped as a geisha, an Asian prostitute. This conception of morality goes hand in hand with race and gender. Is it because she is an Asian female that she is portrayed as a "loose" individual? This depiction of Asian and Asian-American women as geisha is a common stereotype seen also in films such as Transporter and Charlie's Angels. It is important to understand the stereotyping of Asian women through this framework of morality and how it is used to lessen an individual based on their race, gender, and/or sexuality. Due to this stereotype, the character, Cristina is known for "her guile" sexuality versus her talented skill as a surgeon. Rousseau depicts modernized man as a moral being. Morality is a defining characteristic. By eroticizing Asian women or depicting them as immoral beings, is not only a form of racism, setting up Asian women to be less than modern beings, but it also victimizes them. It holds them entirely responsible for their perceived immorality and "uncontrollable" sexuality. Through this lens one can see how characters like Karen is framed as a victim of her own sexual desires while the man is guiltless. Scandal carries with it several stereotypes of black women--the main one being the jezebel. Although, she is a very successful woman, her sexuality and ability to seduce the white president is the shows focal point. Little is known about the character of Olivia except of her ongoing affair. This "scandal" is framed as the president's weakness. The fault lies on Olivia's ability to seduce the president away from his moral responsibility. In contrast to Olivia's character is the president's white wife. Although she is not a likable character, she is framed as "chaste and moral." It is in this framing of the black jezebel, that president is portrayed as a victim of the sexual lure of Olivia. Joanna enters the world of her dead childhood best friend, a world of whiteness. In this world she is othered and shown as different, and becomes the sexual desire of a past lover, Julian. Joanna is not depicted as an equal to Julian, who is an heir to a successful business empire. In his world, she othered. It is this othering that creates what Banet-Weiser referred to as the "sexiness of difference." Even though she is a detective and an undercover secretary, Julian views her black body simply as an object of sex. The show is built off her "deception" of her friend's family, questioning her morality. Overall, Joanna, as a black female is not framed as a successful woman, but rather a female conflicted by her sexual desire and deception. "The stigma of erotic dissidence" is overarching in the life of Emily Fields. When she "announces" she is gay, her mother rebukes her, blaming her "new found orientation" on the influence of her black partner who happens to smoke marijuana. She is immediately stigmatized by her past boyfriends and swim team. Her mother refuses to admit that she is gay. The family strain results in her girlfriend being sent away to a juvenile detention center which seeks to reform her "delinquent" ways.
Stigma is a powerful way to "other" people, and in this case people of different sexual orientation. Emily not only is gay, but is Filipino dating a black girl. The stigmatization of Emily's sexuality and race create familial and social friction framing her as dissident. Is it just coincidence that the only woman of color is lesbian? "The feminine body was analyzed--qualified and disqualified--as being thoroughly saturated with sexuality..."

(Foucault, 104, History of Sexuality) "The field of queer studies has increasingly challenged this tendency by using 'intersectional' approaches that begin from the assumption that sexuality cannot be separated from other categories of identity and social status... Heteronormativity itself must be understood, then, as a racialized concept..."

(Somerville, 190, Queer) Diana is not only a lesbian, but a black lesbian. Heteronormativity is challenged by both her sexuality and her race. Diana is a character that not only threatens heterosexual norms, but also white/racial norms. She is also a clear example of what Gayle Rubin explains when she stated that there is a fundamental difference between gender and sexuality. Thus, the fact that Diana is a lesbian who embodies femininity, not portraying the common imagery of the "dyke" may be an attempt to normalize "abnormal" sexuality. Single mothers carry with them their own set of stereotypes and stigma. On top of that add race...a black single mother invokes a different set of stereotypes. Add any type of sexual behavior and yet again a different set of stereotypes can be applied challenging one's class and background. One of those is "unfit." A single woman of color that engages in "promiscuous" sexual behavior, morality and fitness as a mother would be called into question. By showing April not only as a beautiful African American woman, but one who is engaged in sexual activity, it is challenging its audience's notions of parenthood and legislation of morality. "Diversity 'R' Us" Jessica is the token of tolerance for the show Suits, a predominantly white male show. It not only is representing the black female, but it depicts her with not only pedigree and breed, but also as a woman of ethics/morality. Instead of representing the typical stereotypes brought on by the representation of a woman of color, they identified her with an "air of whitness." Similarly to Vanessa Williams, they separated her from racial narratives and held her on a pedestal as an ideal example of sophistication and morality. Within TV dramas tokens of tolerance exist It was a tv drama highlighting the relationships of LGBTQ couples "As other ethnohistorical accounts show, the gender-sexuality nexus is implicitly connected with the issues of class and race. in their study of working class butch-fem communities in Buffalo, New York, Kennedy and Davis demonstrate how an insistence on a lesbian identity...Consequently, in contemporary mainstream gay and lesbian politics an assumption of "sameness" is employed not only to gender-appropriateness to both partners..."

(Valentine, 232-233, The Uses of Transgender) The L Word seeks to normalize people who belong to LGBTQ by creating a community of a homogeneity. It is this idea of sameness that is applied to the lesbians and bisexuals depicted in this TV show. instead of the butch-femme lesbian that becomes a dominant stereotype of the 60's-00's. Now, however, the new stereotype is the feminine lesbian. In the picture, this idea of sameness is clearly seen. The key part of Valentine's quote is: "insistence of A lesbian identity. heteronormativity is being legislated in this thought controversial show. Conclusion It is all to clear that women have been sexualized and racialized in the media specifically through the medium of contemporary TV show dramas. In analyzing several different popular shows, certain stereotypes of women of color were evident. By framing characters of color as the geisha, jezebel, femme lesbian, and unfit single mother, TV dramas are rehashing and reinforcing judgments and assumptions of race. Through course readings, discourses of morality and sameness are clear. Banet-Weiser was particularly helpful in understanding the importance of moral panic, the discourse of tokenism, and pervading stereotypes that categorize and either qualify or disqualify women. Lastly, it is important to understand the the media/TV dramas frame the female body as purely sexual, resulting in the criminalizing of women and lessening of value due to a corrupt sense of morality.
It is important to know that women of color are hypersexualized resulting in derogatory and all encompassing stereotypes.
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