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Modern Family and Gender Constructs

Women in History Final Project
by

Katie Studer

on 4 January 2013

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Transcript of Modern Family and Gender Constructs

How does Modern Family
portray gender?
By: Katie Studer Modern Family is a show on ABC that follows the lives of 3 connected families, the Dunphy family, Pritchett family, and Pritchett-Tucker family. The show takes us through the daily activities of these families, showing how they interact within the individual families and with the members of other families. The families have different structures (the traditional family structure; stepparent and stepchildren family structure; gay parent and adopted child family structure) and thus portray gender in a variety of ways, using both traditional (often satirical) portrayals of gender and more "modern," or contemporary portrayals of gender. The Dunphy Family Claire Dunphy Phil Dunphy Haley Dunphy Alex Dunphy Luke Dunphy The Pritchett Family Manny Delgado Jay Pritchett Gloria Pritchett The Pritchett-Tucker Family Cam Tucker Mitchell Pritchett Lily Pritchett-Tucker Establishes authority over her husband frequently
Stay-at-home mom
Is trying to apply for a job, and has been rejected by 5 (she wants to contribute to her children's education and buy her husband a gift with her own money)
Buys daughter condoms when she goes to college
Says: "I have the opposite of credibility. I'm her mother." Portrayal of Gender
Mixture of Gender Expectations
Defies the Cult of True Womanhood's call for women to be submissive to their husbands
Defies Republican Motherhood's expectation for mother's to be seen as the household's moral compass and respected educator on civic virtue
Reinforces the woman's role as a homemaker (Cult of True Womanhood's pillar of domesticity)
Although she is a homemaker, she reveals 2nd Wave Feminism virtues of seeking equality with her husband in her search for a job

Terrified of motorcycles but rides one to "prove he's a man"
>>Ultimately admits to being afraid of it
Cries when daughter leaves for college
Openly afraid about having a vasectomy
Very involved in his kids' lives
Portrayal of Gender
Challenges Gender Expectations Aware of the expectation to put on a "tough guise" and appear unafraid of things
>> Opposes the masculinist ideal of always acting tough and admits to his fears
He is a caring father and is very present in their lives
>>Lives up to the "New Macho," men who are father more than they work (Men's Lib) "Hot"
Dumb
Parties a lot
Wants- and gets- guys' attention
Says: "If I want to get good grades, I have to look good." Gender Portrayal
Mixture of Gender Expectations Defies Cult of True Womanhood's call to be pure
Reinforces the gender stereotypes that girls are ditzy
Reinforces that intellectuality is masculine (idea that effected Republican Motherhood)

>>Overall, Haley's character challenges gender expectations because the comedy of her character comes from the over-the-top "girly" image she portrays
Sarcastic
Super smart
Doesn't have a lot of friends Gender Expectations
Challenges Gender Expectations Her intellectual pursuits defy the gender stereotype that girls are dumb and superficial
She challenges the Cult of True Womanhood's call for women to be submissive- she is very driven and passionate
She represents 2nd Wave Feminists' goal to obtain equal education for men and women, according to the Seneca Falls Declaration Likes gross things (i.e. finding human heads)
Goofy
Mischevious
Competitive Gender Portrayal
Reinforces Gender Expectations Reinforces stereotypes of boys being interested in gory things
Reinforces stereotypes of boys being competitive and sporty

>>The comedy of Luke's character comes from him being an understandable, "classic" boy. The audience can relate Luke's behavior and ideas with other boys they've encountered The structure of the Dunphy family is very patriarchal, with the father being the breadwinner and the mother being a homemaker. However, some of the personalities of these characters and the way these characters interact defy gender expectations as well. The Dunphy family creates a mixed construction of gender, combining a patriarchal structure with some unconventional portrayals of gender. The structure of this family is atypical, consisting of a stepfather, a new (much younger) wife, and a son. Despite this unconventional structure, the father of the family is very much influenced by patriarchal ideas of manhood. However, this family's construction of gender is mixed because the interactions between the members defy traditional gender expectations. Afraid to tell his wife things that will make her angry
Always avoids talking about issues
Embarrassed to admit he sees a therapist
Still not completely accepting of his son's homosexuality Gender Portrayal
Mixture of Gender Expectations Defies male stereotype of men establishing their power in marriages: Doesn't exert his dominance over his wife because he's afraid of her response
Reinforces masculinist ideology that men are not allowed to be emotional or admit to weakness
Reinforces patriarchal ideology that believes homosexuality is the breakdown of masculinity (like the New Right "profamily" movement)

>>The comedy of Jay's character is that he clings so tightly to the stereotypical image of manhood and makes himself seem like a traditional, close-minded grump
"Sexy"
Hot head
Often has final say over her husband
Doesn't have, or want, a job
Ex-husband was rarely around, forcing her to raise Manny on her own
Columbian Gender Portrayal
Mixture of Gender Expectations Reinforces gender stereotype of women to be "trophy wives"
Reinforces the Cult of True Womanhood's pillar of domesticity
Defies the Cult of True Womanhood's pillar of submissiveness

Her experience with her ex-husband is a minor example of misogyny because, although he doesn't hate women or Gloria in particular, he was a deadbeat husband and had little respect for Gloria
Modern Family is a show on ABC that portrays the everyday lives of 3 related families. The structures of these families are a husband, wife, and 3 kids; Husband, second wife, and stepson; 2 Husbands and an adopted daughter. The show examines the relationships held between members of the individual families as well as the cross-family relationships. The personalities of these characters and their relationships with one another portray a truly "modern" construction of gender, one that is still affected by patriarchal ideas but simultaneously defies gender expectations in some areas. Modern Family is a show on ABC that follows the lives of 3 connected families, the Dunphy family, Pritchett family, and Pritchett-Tucker family. The show takes us through the daily activities of these families, showing how they interact within the individual families and with the members of other families. The families have different structures (the traditional family structure; stepparent and stepchildren family structure; gay parent and adopted child family structure) and thus portray gender in a variety of ways, using both traditional (often satirical) portrayals of gender and more "modern," or contemporary portrayals of gender. How does race impact portrayal of gender? Gloria's Columbian heritage is ever-present in her extremely thick accent and her frequent references to her life in Colombia (being babysat by a goat and learning to bribe policemen with money)

Gloria's Columbian heritage is implied to contribute to Gloria's apparent intensity and hot-headedness
>>Race impacts the portrayal of gender by bringing in a new set of expectations for women, specifically to be strong and passionate, unlike the American model for women to be submissive and meek Not competitive
Very polite
Very fashionable
Doesn't like getting dirty How does class impact the portrayal of gender? All of the "modern families" live in an upper-middle class neighborhood in California.

This economic stability impacts the portrayal of gender in 2 ways:
1. It eliminates the need for both the wife and husband to have jobs.
2. It emphasizes the significance of Claire's desire to find a job. Gender Portrayal
Challenges Gender Expectations Defies gender stereotype of boys wanting to get dirty and play sports
Almost appears feminine by appealing to the female gender stereotype that girls are more polite and fashionable than boys
Rejects the masculinist ideal of trying to prove his manhood to other boys

>> The comedy of Manny's character is that he is the complete opposite of what is expected of a boy. It causes the audience to compare Manny to what they believe is expected of a boy in an American, patriarchal society. The structure of this family is the opposite of patriarchal because it includes the domestic partnership of 2 gay men and their adopted daughter. Although it is unofficially established that Cam is the "wife" in the partnership and Mitchell is the "husband," both portray stereotypically male and female characteristics. This family challenges the traditional construction of gender by portraying 2 men taking on both masculine and feminine roles. In this way, they both challenge and reinforce gender expectations.
Feels restless and unappreciated as a homemaker
Flamboyant
Dramatic
Sensitive Gender Portrayal
Mixture of Gender Expectations Defies masculinist ideal by being dramatic and emotional
Defies male machismo by being flamboyant
Critiques Cult of True Womanhood's pillar of domesticity by highlighting the restlessness it may bring
Reinforces homosexual stereotype that gay men are theatrical and flashy Realist
Sarcastic
Lawyer
Not very sensitive
Encourages dad to speak openly about feelings Gender Portrayal
Mixture of Gender Expectations Reinforces male stereotype of pursuing intellectual pursuits
Reinforces masculinist ideal of not demonstrating emotional sensitivity to others' treatment of him
Reinforces male stereotype that it is more "manly" to be a breadwinner
Defies machismo ideal that men cannot be vulnerable with each other
Has equally involved and caring fathers
Not very affected by having no mother figure Gender Portrayal
Challenges Gender Expectations
Defies the Republican Motherhood ideology that argues only a woman can raise children effectively

>>The presence of Mitchell and Cam in her life and their success in their raising her defies the patriarchal, New Right, "profamily" ideology that posits that homosexuality breaks down family structures Bibliography
Seneca Falls Declaration
The Republican Mother (Linda K. Kerber)
Men's Lib (Andrew Romano, Tony Dokoupil)
"Antiabortion and Antifeminism" (Rosalind Pollack Petchesky)
"The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860" (Barbara Welter) The End :)
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