Money is a definitive image, made masculine by society and further emphasized by television. Shows like The Bachelor and The Millionaire Matchmaker default wealth as a masculine trait, suggesting that men are still the breadwinners despite small improvements in gender equality, specifically in the work force. A recent study released by Georgetown University revealed that women with PhD’s made as much as men with Bachelor Degrees – the proof is in the statistics, yet still, the image television reflects of society is seemingly modern and socially satisfied. In reality, we are trapped in the social structure of the 1950’s: men still make more money, which in capitalism driven America means men still have more power.
Family life is another restrictive topic, specifically reserved for women. While it is now acceptable for women to have a career and a family, her family is still the priority, whereas men are exempt from the care-taking task – even then, a career woman without a family is generally unheard of. The stereotype of a husbandless woman suggests that she is undesirable in the eyes of mainstream society, or has no interest in being a wife. The pressure for women, not men, t marry is still prevalent; it is presented as the logical end to a relationship, and almost a right-of-passage into the adult of world. Here, the Barbie mantra applies with a vicious subtext: “Be who you want to be” as long as you’re married, pregnant, and subservient to the men in your workplace and household. This is the image that television uses to define gender roles within a family – and is it any surprise, when men, with the exception of PBS, govern major television networks like Time Warner, CBS, and NBC.
Politics, too, claims a masculine identity, with a firm belief that only the traditional head of the house can be at the head of the country. Indeed, America can hardly stomach the idea of women in powerful political positions – the only female presidential candidate is Michelle Bachmann, and with her habit of presenting hear-say as fast, and history of negligent fact checking, she makes no attempt to disprove the slander against women in politics. By making a fool of herself, she presents an image to Americans that justifies the stereotype of stupidity as a feminine trait. In 2005, Commander-in-Chief aired for the first time, following the story of Mackenzie Allen, the first woman president. The show received high ratings, but after a winter hiatus, the ratings dropped drastically which resulted in its cancellation. The leech, of course, was American Idol. It is apparent that whether fictional or viable, society finds it difficult to take women seriously in the political realm. Military policy (the Combat Exclusion policy), for example, still bars women from serving in direct combat. This policy, not law, enforced by the Department of Defense, is dispensable, yet the Department insists that women are not qualified for positions on the front-lie. As war is not a formal ceremony, it is difficult to determine where a front-line exists, especially in combat zones like Iraq; if the barriers begin to blur, there is no point in retaining the policy. While it remains intact, women serve in direct combat without credit – in this case, the image is non-existent, and suppressed instead of promoted by television and the media.