Gender Roles in Movies and Life

By: Dez Wortham

From looking at movies like White Chicks, Big Momma, Mrs Doubtfire, and Madea you it is clear to see this trend of the main character playing a male macho role but also see them playing the role of a woman this is done through cross dressing. Is cross dressing a problem? Many think it is funny and very well accepted in film today. The question I pose though is why society accepts this act in media but has a problem with it in society. Is it right for individuals to play such a role without criticism, but the lifestyle itself gets a large amount of criticism or being transgender receives just as many social issues.  I get that in these movies this act is usually used for a comical purpose but at the same time these are other people’s everyday lives. One theory why it might be more accepted in film is that it is not directly affecting any one’s lives, they are not related to or dating that person, they are not having to go through the transitioning stages with that person. Another theory might be that in all of the movies, although the man is dresses as a woman he still tends to possess masculine traits. For example in Madea she takes the role similar to the father of the house hold trying to settle all of the conflicts as well as being head of house, she is even slightly intimidating. However, in real life many transgendered individuals are trying to suppress these actions of the gender they were given in the switch to the gender they identify with.

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(White chicks June 23, 2004)

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( Orange is The New Black, Season 1 episode 3 Lesbian requested denied)

When searching about Cross-gender perspectives I came across a page filled with articles. On the website I found an article it was the second one on the page titled A Cross-Dressing Perspective .It explained that many people love the life they live even though it is filled with hatred often times. In this article it breaks down relationships, why it is only men and also very importantly it distinguishes the difference between a Cross-Dresser from a Transgendered person. This thought randomly occurred to me on a twelve and a half road trip I opened my mind and allowed myself to learn something new. Take a look on this article I think the connection will click with some of you.

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7 Responses to Gender Roles in Movies and Life

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I think this is a difficult topic to discuss, but very interesting and complex! Maybe you could potentially write on of your papers on this topic. My favorite point you made is that while in “movies this act is usually used for a comical purpose but at the same time these are other people’s everyday lives”. Is it okay for comedians to use every day scenarios of comedy?

    Katherine Naylor

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I agree with Katherine’s statement this is a very difficult topic to discuss. It is something we face in our society but isn’t accepted but is a sell-out in theaters. Its very comical and good for movies , but a thing that should be accepted even in society.

    – John Armstrong

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I think your post is extremely insightful. It is almost unbelievable that society would find comedy in cross dressing while disapproving in reality. I agree with Katherine that this could be a really cool paper. I think media needs to start showing cross dressing in a non-comedic form in order for it to be taken seriously in reality. -Caitlin Herlihy

  4. mediaphiles says:

    That’s something I never really thought about. Cross-dressing does happen a lot in film, even In “She’s the Man”, though that is a woman dressed like a man. I think it really is something that will be changing relatively soon though. If you ever watch the Christmas classic “Holiday Inn”, you will find that black face paint is used by white characters during a celebration of Abe Lincoln. This movie contains many acts considered racist today, but during the time were acceptable. Ridiculous as it may be, “White Christmas” the song, was created in this film.

    -Michel Cyphers

  5. mediaphiles says:

    This is a very interesting topic to touch on and also very relevant in our current lives. I suppose as our society becomes more progressive and accepting of different lifestyle choices, a given sense of sensitvity should follow. Many organizations, universities, and media now emphasize the importance of political correctness. There should be continued a discussion on the way transgenders/crossdressers are protrayed on screen and I would enjoy insightful from someone who is personally affected by this. I think the media has a duty to evolve their political context with the evolving norms of society.

    -Sarah Holt

  6. marymdalton says:

    Thoughtful post.

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