September 22, 2014

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Feminism from a Gilmore Guy

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To the Editor:

Re: “The Dawn of the Gilmore Boy,” Arts and Entertainment, Sep. 17.

When I initially encountered an article urging college males (like myself) to give the show Gilmore Girls a chance, I was excited that others saw enough comedy and virtue in the series to want to share it with the large demographic that has mostly overlooked it. While I was glad that the article pointed out the many ways in which the show is relatable to everyone, I was supremely disappointed, however, that it seemed to ignore the larger issue at hand: that men can identify with female protagonists as well.

About halfway through the article, Moser makes the point that “…Gilmore Girls is just as much about boys and men as it is about girls,” which, while true, should not be a prerequisite for male viewing. I certainly don’t think women watch male-dominated shows just to follow female sub-plots, nor should they. For one reason or another, there is a much larger stigma preventing men from openly idolizing, admiring or otherwise identifying with female characters.

A quick look at the list of the highest-grossing movies and TV shows exposes the disproportionately high saturation of male protagonists (think Harry Potter, Iron Man and Lord of the Rings, or Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead). As a result, girls, especially teenagers, often report that they follow shows with only supplemental female roles and that they identify with strong male protagonists.

Our question, then, should be, why is the reverse not true? Why doesn’t as large a portion of men watch Grey’s Anatomy as women watch House? And why do we never hear boys say they want to be just like Matilda when girls across the globe dream of being like The Boy Who Lived?

Girls are often forced to identify with male protagonists because it is the best alternative to being the sidekick (e.g. Hermione Granger). Meanwhile, boys never make such decisions given their monopoly on lead roles, and this is precisely the issue. Perhaps if men were more willing to follow women protagonists, there would be more of them around.

My frustration, overall, is not with the article, but with society, and more importantly, myself. When I found myself referring to Gilmore Girls as a “guilty pleasure” and defending my enjoyment by attributing it to my mother and sister who had the show on constantly, I realized that we have a problem. No man should ever be embarrassed about liking a quality show because it stars two strong female leads, nor should we decide as a society who will enjoy a show based on the sex of the lead actor or actress. All I ask is that on October first when Gilmore Girls finally hits Netflix, anyone who feels compelled by Rory’s and Lorelai’s stories shouldn’t feel ashamed to say so.

Christopher DeMatteo ’16

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