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Tenure Turbulence

May 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Personal

I’ve been reading a lot about rape culture lately, with Steubenville and then what happened to Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia. The reading I’ve been doing and the videos I’ve watched has left me hyper aware of women being sexualized in pop culture.

And this has lead to my recent dislike of Big Bang Theory. I have been a Big Bang Theory fan since the second season. I know there are lots of people who don’t find it funny, but I do. I enjoy the Raj character and I think Jim Parsons is funny. I’ve never been too fond of Penny but the addition of Bernadette and Amy Farrah Fowler made the show better. It’s nice to have female scientists represented on TV. As demonstrated in a recent episode of the show, girls need women to look up to in those kinds of jobs.

That was good.

And then there was an episode that involved three of the main characters, along with a secondary character, fighting for tenure. All of these men – except for Sheldon, who is incapable of such things – tried first to flirt with a woman who was part of the selection committee. When that failed, Leonard took Penny to a funeral so she could look hot in a tight dress and impress the male members of the selection committee. When they talked about Penny sticking her breasts out and indicated that Amy was not attractive enough to do the same, that started making me uncomfortable. I couldn’t laugh at that. Penny, typically portrayed as dumb, is now used as a sex object because that’s what she’s good at. That’s what she’s for.

This is the basis of the problems we are currently seeing with young men who don’t understand the concept of consent: They think that girls are things for them to use. That’s what women are for. Women are supposed to want to be treated that way.

Little cues like this all over the place – books, movies, TV, music, magazines, comedy – are telling men that women are there for them. Men are the reason we dress how we choose to and walk and talk the way we do and men are the reason we go out to parties. We wouldn’t be there, we wouldn’t be dancing or wearing that dress, or drinking those drinks unless we wanted men to take advantage. Right?

Nope. Not at all.

And after the past year and the things I’ve seen and the things I’ve read about other people’s experiences, I’m pretty sure that I know have to be one of those people who stands up to say that it’s just not funny. It’s not funny any more.

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