Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Challenging Gender Roles is Only a Fantasy?

I really enjoyed Projansky and Vande Berg's article on Sabrina the Teenage Witch because it made me realize and understand things about the show I didn't quite grasp when I was a kid. When I watched the show when I was younger I loved Sabrina because I could relate to her but I also looked up to and admired her. She was kind of dorky but didn't really care, wasn't the popular girl but still had friends, she made mistakes but was strong enough to fix them. I loved that the show was a little quirky and weird but still relevant, and I think it took reading this article to understand why it was so successful.

One thing I didn't understand (or really couldn't because I was a kid) was how the show challenged gender roles. The article points out that Sabrina takes on many male roles, while her boyfriend, Harvey, plays traditionally female roles. I like how this was pointed out in the article because it made me realize how strong of a feminist character Sabrina really was. Even the small details like how she was good at math and science, or that she was the one saving Harvey from trouble, prove that a seemingly average girl could have really strong feminist qualities.

Another really interesting thing the article points out is how they relate the secret of being a witch to the struggle of homosexuality in adolescents. I found it really interesting how the way they portray Sabrina telling her grandmother she is a witch to be comparable to a teen coming out to their parents. This was something I wouldn't have been able to piece together when I was younger, but the show still taught their audience the importance of self-confidence and acceptance of others.

I was also really interested by the comparison of Sabrina's aunts Hilda and Zelda as a lesbian couple. They were at times concerned about what others would think of them living together, but the show also positively presented them as loving caregivers neither playing the mother or the father role.

Still I wonder if challenging these gender roles and presenting a young teenager as a strong feminist could only be done through the fantasy of a teenage witch. She lives in half a fantasy world, so would that suggest that two women can only live happily together in a fantasy world? Can a girl be stronger than her boyfriend only through magic? Is there another show that compares to Sabrina's character where magic is not used?

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