Gender and Sexuality as portrayed in the Glee Episode “Feud”

This written as part of my Gender and Sexuality class.  We viewed the Glee episode “Feud.” After that, we had to write about the show’s depiction of gender and sexuality.

 

Ellis Sutton

Critical Gender and Sexualities

04/21/2014

 

The show Glee has always had lots of focus on gender and sexuality issues, and the episode “Feud” was no exception.  Just about every storyline in the episode involved gender or sexuality.

The main conflict is between Will Schuester, the coach of the glee club, and former student Finn Hudson.  Will was engaged to marry school guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury, but things ended after Finn kissed Emma.

This conflict is about two men and a sort of “competition” over the sexuality of a woman.  However, while that may be the basic conflict, the issue becomes far more complex.  Will does not view Emma as his property, let alone Finn as violating or “stealing” her.  He is betrayed.  Finn joined the military after graduating high school.  However, after some problems, he was discharged, and didn’t know what to do with his life.  Will invited Finn to help him coach the glee club, and Finn even coached the club without Will when Will left to go to Washington, D.C. to prevent the U.S. government from cutting funding of arts programs (such as the glee club).  Throughout the series, Will was a father figure towards Finn, and was always looking out for him and encouraging him to be successful.  Then Finn repays Will by disrespecting his relationship with Emma.  Clearly, a seemingly primal male-male fight over a woman’s sexuality has for more nuance than one might assume.

Another issue is between Rachel Berry and her boyfriend Brody.  Rachel’s roommate Santana believes that Brody is cheating on Rachel.  Brody is working as a male escort.  This interesting because prostitution, whether it is on the street or in hotels, is often something that is done by women.  Santana finds about Brody’s work, and tries to get him to leave Rachel.  Rachel, however, refuses to believe Santana, and she along with, Kurt, demand that she leave the apartment they share.  After this, Santana calls Finn (Rachel’s ex-boyfriend), who by then has been banished, and tells him about Brody.  Finn responds by confronting Brody, and ordering him to leave Rachel, this leads to fight where Finn brutally beats Brody, all while Finn calls Rachel his fiancée even though they have not yet even reconciled.  This depicts how protective people can be of their former romantic partners.  It’s also another example in the episode of men competing over the sexuality of women.

Another conflict is that between Ryder Lynn and Unique Adams previously known as Wade Adams.  Unique is male-to-female transgender, and Ryder refuses to acknowledge that Unique identifies as female.  Ryder refers to Unique as a boy, and rejects Unique’s identity.  Later while, chatting with his online girlfriend, Katie, about the situation, she tells him that is Unique says she’s a girl, then that’s her truth, and he needs to respect that even if he doesn’t understand that.  Katie uses the analogy that he wouldn’t like it if people told him that their relationship isn’t real because they’ve never met in real life.  Ryder comes around, and he fully acknowledges Unique as a girl.  Gender and identity is something that is hard to understand, but Glee showed how people need to be open-minded and sometimes accept things because one person’s reality may not be the same as another person’s reality.  Everyone is different, but each difference is equally valid.

 

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TV Tropes: Alpha B***h

A while ago I talked about the website TV Tropes and how much I like using it.  I also said that I would talk about my favorite tropes from time to time.  For this post I will do just that.  I will discuss the trope known as “Alpha B***h.”  This trope is a character type.  It refers to school girl who is the most popular girl in school and who is mean to those who are unpopular.  She does things like insulting people she considered lame or unfashionable.  She will also spread rumors to assert her social status.  Occasionally an example this character archetype may not be as bad a person as she might seem; she is then known as the “Lovable Alpha B***h.”

Examples of the Alpha B***h include:

Libby from the 1990s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who was an antagonist of the title character.  She was originally the namesake for this trope; however, the trope was renamed because she was neither the most well-known or first example of the trope and made her last appearance on the show approximately midway through its run.

Kate Sanders from the early 2000s Disney Channel Series Lizzie McGuire.

Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl.

Courtney Gripling from the Nickelodeon Nicktoon As Told by Ginger was the more lovable type of this character and was generally kind to the title character.

Glee has the characters of Quinn Fabray and Santana Lopez.  A rare male example is the character Sebastian Smythe on that same show; it should be noted that the male equivalent of this trope (male equivalents of female tropes are spear counterparts and female equivalents of male tropes are called distaff counterparts) is called the Jerk Jock and usually bullies his victims by using physical dominance rather than resorting to insults, humiliation, malicious rumors, and the like.  Sebastian Smythe bullied in a social and emotional manner rather than physically most of the time.

Mean Girls.  Need I say more?