Gender Identity – Movie Reflection: I Love Lucy

Gender Identity

Fassinger in the American Psychology Association (APA), defines gender as the feelings, attitude and behaviour that the culture of a particular society associates with one’s biological sex.  It further defines gender identity as a person’s sense of themselves as female, male or transgender (Fassinger, 2012). Butler defines transgender or transsexual as when one’s biological sex does not conform with the individual’s gender identity (Butler, 2011). The society today expresses gender in terms of the roles assigned, the mode of dressing, communication patterns as well as one’s interests. It also relentlessly reinforces gender identity at every stage of an individual’s life right from the time they are born and in the process imprinting social stratification to the society. The purpose of this essay therefore is to highlight gender identity differentiation from the video, I Love Lucy from the time of its original popularity to date. This essay will also discuss the reaction and feelings of the characters in the film towards the topic of discussion. It will also contain a short description of my reaction and attitude towards gender identity under various circumstances. Lastly, the essay seeks to give a glimpse of how far sexism and racism has changed in the United States since the 1950s.

The video, I Love Lucy is among the most legendary and popular comedies of the 1950s that continues to attract massive audience to date. The shows highlight the life of Lucy Ricardo who is featured as a housewife who attempts to break into the show business in New York city where her husband is very successful as a bandleader. Lucy is constantly aware of the gender prejudice, power and inequality and subordination that she deals with because of her gender. In every episode, Lucy is portrayed as striving to break off from the gender inequality that consumes her but her authoritative husband always finds a way of disregarding her (Jordan, 2003).. Ethel, her landlord and friend tries to emulate Lucy’s character by standing up to her husband but he is too authoritative. The show portrays women as incompetent, petty, materialistic and their mess always cleaned up by their authoritative husbands. The men in the show, Ricky and Fred are insensitive to the inequality that takes place in the show. They are portrayed as successful, business oriented and more intelligent compared to their wives. They do not encourage their wives to pursue and achieve any sort of career. Ricky and Fred are seen to exploit the sexist gender inequality that exists at the time. They are unaware that they are treating their wives as incompetent, dependent and immature. In the show therefore, as much as Ricky and Fred assume gender inequality, Lucy and Ethel try to accomplish their dreams despite the constant inequality and discrimination that they face.

Not much in terms of gender inequality, patriarchy, inequality in power and submissiveness has changed since the birth of the show I Love Lucy in the 1950s. At the time of the shows’ formation, most of the American families were strongly patriarchal in nature (Zens & Crosby, 2011). Then, the man was the breadwinner while his wife stayed at home to cook and bare children. This is slightly different today since most families do not necessarily follow the patriarchal family structures. Today, most women are educated and can therefore provide for their families just as much as men can do (Healey, 2014). The societal expectation and identity is almost the same as in the 1950s as explained by Healey. Up to date, the society continues to expect and dictate that men are the source breadwinner of the family while women should stay at home and deliver housewife duties.

If I woke up one day and happened to be of the opposite sex at the time of the show I Love Lucy, I would live my life in a totally different way because of the social stratifications on gender identity that existed at that time. If I woke up a man, I would feel a sense of relief because it means that I could achieve so much. I would be extremely happy because in the 1960s men were treated as intelligent and more productive compared to women. This means that my dreams of being a successful businessman at the fashion industry would come true. At the time of the show, women were discouraged from having any career. Their responsibility was to work at home. Being a man on the other hand would give me tonnes of opportunities to achieve anything that I set my mind to.

After watching several episodes of the show, I Love Lucy, my attitude towards the opposite sex has been enlightened in several ways. To begin with, I have learnt that both males and females have equal measures of talent and intelligence. No sex is better than the other and everyone needs support in order to advance in life. In the show, Lucy tried so many times to prove that she could do better than just sit home to clean. She surely could handle the show business, all she needed was a little encouragement from her husband and friends. Another aspect that I learnt is that equality should be upheld at all times. Even in real life, Lucy stands out as a role model who proves to everyone that women deserve to be treated right. After watching the show, I belief that women should be treated fairly just as men are treated. In the episode ‘’equal right’’ for instance, Lucy challenges gender norms by demanding for equality between her and Ricky in everything they do. She demands that they be treated like as if they are men. Apart from that, I have learnt that gender inequality arises due to the expectations of a society due to cultural influence (Zens & Crosby, 2011). I belief that it takes the effort of the members of the society to bring change to gender inequality and an end to stereotyping.

As a man, there are several aspects and ideas from my opposite gender that I have taken for granted. I have not fully embraced gender equality. Femininity is such a beautiful idea that the 21st century needs to admire and support. Women have a great potential of not only influencing but making this nation a better place. They need appreciation and support from every member of the society. And so in conclusion, sexism and racism has changed in several ways since the 1950s. In the 1940s and 50s for example, women were highly discriminated because of their gender (Healey, 2014). They were not allowed to participate in any kind of military service. Those who volunteered were instead assigned non-combat military jobs since they were viewed as weaklings (Crawford, 2011). Today, women are able to not only serve in any kind of military job but also in any job they aspire to undertake. In addition to that, the today’s woman is empowered. She has gone to school, is employed and independent. Gender equality is an inept issue that should be embrace by all nations because women deserve to be treated as fair as men are treated.

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