The Gendering of Men

By: Jordan C.

Countless times on comedy television shows, the main male role frequently depicts a father or husband figure. They often are expected to be the providers for the family or to be the sole-breadwinners. Recently, research has proved this idea may not be very fair to men.

In the article, “Does Father Still Know Best? An Inductive Thematic Analysis of Popular TV Sitcoms,” by Timothy Allen Pehlke II, Charles B. Hennon, M. Elise Radina, and Katherine A. Kuvalanka, the idea of the male gender constructions on television may not be fair. The article claimed that comedy television shows “have been un- derstudied in regards to how they represent fathers and fathering to viewers” compared to how the gender constructions of females have been studied (Hennon, Kuvalanka, Pehlke, and Radina 114). Because numerous people focus on the stereotypes of women, less focus is put on the gendering of males. However, the article stresses how research should be important. It says, “Television viewing has the potential to influence people’s understanding of the diverse ways in which fathers carry out their roles in families. This in turn may have a powerful effect on how the father role is enacted and evaluated in daily family life” (Hennon, Kuvalanka, Pehlke, and Radina 115). These depictions put on comedy television may have a larger impact on the viewer’s than what most researches realize today. Because these popular shows depict male roles in this way, it can subconsciously rub off onto the viewers and impact how they act in certain situations.

A new stereotype about men that has recently come out in the past decade or so has to do with their intelligence. On the show, According to Jim, and on other shows like it, they “depict smart, witty, and attractive women who are married to inept, overweight, and immature men”(Walsh, Fursich, and Jefferson 124). According to the article, “Beauty and the Patriarchal Beast: Gender Portrayals in Sitcoms Featuring Mismatched Couples,” virtually all family sitcoms display a fat guy who has a hot wife (Walsh, Fursich, and Jefferson 124). This makes it seem like men who are fat and less intelligent will be the ones who get bossed around by their superior, better-looking wife. On shows like According to Jim, the husband figure receives tough criticism and a sense of being less worthy than his wife because of the fact that he doesn’t have the higher paying job within the marriage. This could also give male viewers the idea that they won’t be admired as much by others if they aren’t the sole breadwinner, and will therefore get looked down upon because they make less money than their wife or spouse. This stereotype also becomes alarming because it still reinforces the idea that males need to be dominant in a functional relationship in order for it to work. This becomes clear on According to Jim because the “husbands became ‘fair game’ for criticism once they had a less crucial economic role in the family” (Walsh, Fursich, and Jefferson 124). This may also subconsciously give rise to the idea that if a man does not provide as much as a woman, he will then be ridiculed and criticized constantly for being a failure.

Works Cited
Pehlke, T., C. Hennon, M. Radina, and K. Kuvalanka. "Does Father Still Know Best? An Inductive Thematic Analysis of Popular TV Sitcoms. " Fathering 7.2 (2009): 114-139. ProQuest Education Journals, ProQuest. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.

Walsh, Elfried Fursich, Bonnie S Jefferson. “Beauty and the Patriarchal Beast: Gender Role Portrayals in Sitcoms Featuring Mismatched Couples.” Journal of Popular Film & Television. EBSCO. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.