Gender as a Social Construct

By: Alex Giacco

Gender is a major part of the society that we live in today. It is interesting to discuss the expected roles of males and females in society and especially as it applies to the sitcoms that we have explored thus far in our course. This examination of the 1950’s in America and the emergence of the sitcom’s during that time help explain how genders were constructed in this era of history.

Kristina Gupta gives a very insightful understanding of not just feminism but also masculinity as it applies to society today. She looks at the ideals we have for men in the culture we live in and what is expected of them. This continued with Steve Sheehan’s chapter in The Sitcom Reader and also his video discussing his historical background on gender. He states that it is important to understand both men and women to study the role of gender politics in society.

The Honeymooners gives a great example of life in the 1950’s with Ralph as the underachieving husband who is down on his luck. There is a lot of tension for Ralph because as a male he feels that he should be the “breadwinner” in the house and be able to provide a large life for his wife. The dialogue between Alice and Ralph is hilarious as Ralph is always panicking and afraid of the future of his life. The Honeymooners is very different from what was expected of a TV show in the 1950’s which goes against the American dream and how it is unattainable. The show works against what all Americans were seeking in their lives in post-War America. The American dream is such a large ideal of pop culture that everyone thinks should be attainable, but in reality it is much more important to make the most of the cards you are dealt and not compare yourself what everyone else is doing. This was a very creative way to look at gender and how it was thought of in the 1950’s and how society has been so slow to adapt.

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