Does Pop Culture Have a Responsibility to Educate?

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About xoJane, Jane Pratt's lifestyle site for women, is not about changing yourself to fit any mold of what others think you should be. It is about celebrating who you are. Like Sassy and Jane before it, is written by a group of women (and some token males) with strong voices, identities and opinions, many in direct opposition to each other, who are living what they are writing about.


  1. True blood is full of rape, violence, etc. What exactly could it teach apart from use lots of garlic n hope for the best? It’s fantasy, not based in reality, unless you see vampies walking around?

  2. “Girls” is an HBO tv series meant for adults. If you don’t already understand safe sex then you probably don’t have any business watching that show in the first place.

    I’ll take Starbuck being one of the best pilots without comment on “Battlestar Galactica” over a heavyhanded “ladies can do stuff too!” plot any day

    Couldn’t agree more. I think theres too much of competent females in media being portrayed as anomalies. They are treated as unique and special instead of being normalized. A show like BSG which equally portrays strong male and female characters working side by side without special attention being drawn to either will probably do a lot more for gender equality then them trying to hit us over the head with “Girl Power!!!!”.

    • Any time a show is set in present day (or the past), there’s a bit of a conundrum with how to portray “strong female characters.” If you’re trying to portray the modern day as it is, there is going to be an element of “oh what a strange woman this competent female character is” within the show, because that’s kind of how competent women are treated. Not universally any more…but I still get a lot of people in my real life that assume I can’t do a lot of things because I’m a woman…particularly anything physical. So do you portray that, highlighting the problems still in our culture? Or do you portray a desired somewhat utopian version of society in which competent women are normalized? It’s a tough call.

      Teen Wolf’s done it with regards to their gay character, for example, but kinda failed when it came to their female characters. But, like…they’ve set up this present day world that’s kind of an alternate universe where homophobia doesn’t exist. (Oh, and werewolves do exist. That too). – But see, even though it was set in the present, it’s still got a horror/sci-fi/fantasy element that allows it to portray present-day, without actually being stuck in all the social conventions of the present-day. It’s actually quite a shame the creators couldn’t manage to pull off the whole “sexism doesn’t exist,” thing too. Woulda been pretty cool.

      So, yeah, I totally agree it’d be really cool if we had more “strong female characters,” where their strength and competence were normalized…but on the other hand, I do understand why some shows choose to go for a more Girl Power version.

      Actually, what I really would LOVE to see is a show where the genders for every character were switched. Not like they did with Elementary…where the not only made Watson a woman, but decided that meant they could make her more traditionally feminine. Ugh. Naw, I mean like…someone writes a script with all the genders one way, and then they shoot it with all the genders switched. It’d be pretty cool to see.

      • Dunno about others, but I think Marge Simpson is prettty fucking strong. Seems to be the glue, the hard working mother, the way she is I find is strong, intelligent, takes charge when needed.

      • If you’re trying to portray the modern day as it is, there is going to be an element of “oh what a strange woman this competent female character is” within the show, because that’s kind of how competent women are treated. Not universally any more

        It kind of reminds me of when I recently watched the new “21 Jump Street” movie. In the film, when Channing Tatum’s character goes undercover at a high school he makes fun of a student for being gay knowing that this is what was acceptable back when he was in school. To his surprise the other students actually turn on him for. Its meant to send a clear message about how we’ve progressed as a society. Does this ring true? In certain parts of the country it absolutely does, but my cousin still goes to high school and I can tell you the students at that school would have joined Tatum in making fun of the other student and the same probably holds true for the other schools in this area.

        So maybe drawing attention to stronger female characters was necessary at one time, but I’d like to think that at a certain point it becomes counter-productive and the best thing becomes making sure our children grow up in a era where such characters are normal, even if all of society hasn’t quite caught up. My other problem is that ironically, the “strong female character” has become a cliche in of itself, and at times I can’t help but kind of roll my eyes at it. Of course, when doing a story based in the past or one thats meant to resemble ancient times like Game of Thrones, it would be a cheat not to have characters like Arya stand out. Even then though, that show usually manages to do this without falling too far into cliche territory.

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