1. Neoliberalism and the family – Ron Becker (2006) stated that “…neoliberalism overburdens the heterosexual nuclear family both ideologically and materially”, which in turn translates into primetime television with shows such as Supernanny that promote the ideology of the nuclear family consisting of a biological male father, a biological female mother and their child(ren) all because society believes that the heterosexual family is “in crisis” (p. 183). Are same-sex families the sole cause of this alleged “threat?”
To place the blame solely on same-sex families as being the reason why heterosexual families are in jeopardy is laughable. Laughable because “…gays and lesbians are certainly convenient scapegoats,” which diverts people’s attention from the facts (Becker, p. 183). Let us take a brief journey through American history to figure out why the heterosexual family is really losing its once highly regarded societal value. During the colonial era, European-American families were dependent on there being a mother, father and multiple children in order to work the land so as to survive, thus it made sense for the majority of the families to be headed by heterosexual couples because reproduction was vital to their survival and lesbian and gay couples have no way to reproduce between themselves. Even with the institution of slavery, heterosexual families were still “necessary” because the land was passed down from generation to generation and their children, girls especially, were married off into equally wealthy if not wealthier families to preserve and increase their familial wealth. Fast forward a bit to the twentieth century and we find that suddenly the divorce rates increase drastically. Why is this? For one, there was World War I and World War II, which meant that millions of men were drafted in order to “protect and serve” their country. Logically, the same number of men that left for these wars was not the same number of men who returned home. During this time, the men that served in the First World War and were lucky enough to return home suffered from post-traumatic stress, leaving their wives feeling as if a complete stranger had returned home. The same can be said for the husbands returning home after the Second World War except that more women were asked to fill the jobs vacated by men because they were needed to fight in the war. Women gained a new sense-of-self and realized that they could do more than just keep a house and raise their children; they could be productive members of society within the workforce. So, in addition to not being able to reconnect with their husbands because of their post-traumatic stress disorder, another contributing factor to the rise in divorce rates was that people were living a lot longer than their colonial predecessors. A longer lifespan meant that that increased the amount of time people could get on each other nerves, hence higher divorce rates! Since the social stigma that once came with getting a divorce is virtually non-existent, it has become that much easier and acceptable for married couples to get a divorce as people see it as being “no big deal.” Finally, the newer generations (generations ‘Y’ and ‘Z’) no longer see the appeal to get married because there is no longer a need to do so in order to survive and the celebrities they idolize, who serve as role models, are continuously heard saying that a couple can be just as committed, if not more, than those couples who are legally married and recognized by their state of residency. In the end then, the alleged “danger” same-sex couples present to the institution of marriage takes a back seat to the issues stated above.
2. Self Responsibility – In Laurie Ouellette’s (2008) research, she chose the television show Judge Judy because it was an example of “a neoliberal technology of everyday citizenship, and shows how it attempts to shape and guide the conduct and choices of lower-income women in particular” (p. 140). In her analysis, Ouellette states that while there are other shows that pass judgment on women for poor life decisions, they are not as highly regarded as Judge Judy because the “carnivalesque” nature commonly associated with Jerry Springer is absent. The main difference between Jude Judy and lower-class talk shows is that at the end of each case, one person is found guilty while the other is vindicated of any wrong doing. How is that really all that different if one takes place in a courtroom and the other on a stage?
To say that Judge Judy is above stooping to the same tactics that Jerry Springer or The Maury Show uses is incorrect. Yes she may be an actual judge and has the authority to find someone legally right or wrong, that does not mean that her show is better than any other daytime show whose ratings rely on using people’s problems for their own self promotion. The reason that Judge Sheindlin was offered the job of hosting the show was because of her “no-nonsense attitude” and outspokenness, are those not gimmicks corporations use to exploit and profit off of? Yes. So again, does throwing a robe on someone make her show more socially valuable than Jerry Springer or The Maury Show? Not really. One could make the argument that compared to Oprah, Judge Judy becomes the show that tosses and airs guests’ dirty laundry just for the sake of public condemnation. Which brings me to my other point, whereas the previously mentioned shows are in the business of airing those stories that are more scandalous, the hosts are trying to help all parties involved make amends and avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Judge Judy scolds those who need the help of the court to solve their problems, but without those social degenerates her show and profession would not be needed. So, do you condemn the very people who are providing you with a paycheck or do you realize that while there are some people who make mistakes that others would know better than to make, that not everyone is perfect, including Judge Judy herself.
3. ‘Metrosexual’ in review – Katherine Sender’s (2006) article states that the original meaning for the term ‘metrosexual’ meant any male narcissistic consumer but today has taken on a new “more positive description of a sensitive, girl- and gay-friendly straight man…” (p. 144). Is this new definition really accurate though?
I argue that it is not. I believe that the original definition still applies to today’s metrosexual as the main principle of being a metrosexual is any man who not only takes more time in preparing his daily appearance, but in order to do so must participate as a consumer on a higher level than those men who are not metrosexuals. To say that today’s metrosexual is more “girl- and gay-friendly” is a bit presumptuous since a metrosexual can still be homophobic and a womanizer. Then again, I am thinking about the men that I know who fit this category but are African-American. Which then leads me to ask are there different conceptualizations for men of different ethnicities? I just automatically assume that whenever the subject of metrosexuality comes up, that they are talking about a white male. This is probably because whenever discussing some social aspect, we always talk about it within or in comparison to mainstream society, which is white culture. How does thinking about metrosexuality with regards to African-American men change anything, if at all? Again, I think that the original definition applies more so than the new one. Some could argue that because of slavery and the lasting affects it has had on African Americans, we are more likely to be concerned with our physical appearance, hence we are more likely to spend money on name brand clothing. So, with relation to African American men and metrosexuality, it could be said that African American men are metrosexuals because they are narcissistic consumers who are more concerned with what label is on their clothing, what type of car they drive and what type of hairstyle they are “rocking” at any given time. The newer definition cannot be applied so easily to them because African American men are presented as being extremely homophobic so they would not go out of their way to be nice to a gay male or polite when coming into contact with a gale male unintentionally (restaurant, cashier, etc.).