Say What You Mean

by Emma Robson

There are certain words we use for good TV. Gripping. Beautiful. Important. Cinematic. And then there are words we use for bad TV. Substanceless. Shallow. Cheesy. Girly.

Since the beginning of television, certain shows (soapy dramas, reality TV, talk shows, etc.) have been designated for women to enjoy. It makes sense. These shows focus on romance and domestic conflict, the only things women have been expected to care about since the dawn of the patriarchy. In the 40s and 50s, soap operas and celebrity talk shows would play all day, while the women were home cooking and cleaning. The news and the more hard-hitting shows, however, were saved for the evenings, when the men had returned from work. We have obviously made strides since this binary division, but we are still guilty of categorizing our shows by gender.

Take Keeping Up With the Kardashians for example. Almost anyone will admit that the show is overly dramatic, superficial, and, for lack of a better term, trash. I am not saying that this opinion is wrong. What’s wrong is the way we talk about this show, and the way we talk about it in relation to the people who watch it. A woman who watches KUWTK is simply a woman, but a man who indulges in watching Kim and Kourtney fight over a pair of shoes is likely called names that I am not comfortable saying on the internet. For some reason, men are expected to do better. Men are not supposed to enjoy something so pointless and stupid, but this level of intellectual appreciation is not expected from women.

So here’s the truth: There are a lot of problems with television that we, as feminists, cannot solve on our own. We can’t change the quality of the shows that are made for women. We can’t help the fact that sometimes women and men like to watch different things

But here’s the dare: We can stop using the word “girly” when we mean trivial or shallow. We can stop shaming men for enjoying a reality show or a romantic comedy. We can stop acting like a woman who watches House of Cards is some kind of rare intellectual goddess. And we can grow to realize that art for women is nothing more than art for humans.

Emma Robson