Monday, February 20, 2012

"That was all ball!": Tomboys in the Media Today

In the article “Little Butches: Tomboys in Hollywood Film”, hatch discusses the qualities and transformations of tomboys in the media over time. Hatch references movies from the last several decades, including Gidget, Bad News Bears, and Annie Get Your Gun. In most tomboy texts, the tomboy undergoes a transformation from masculinity to femininity and heteronormativity. While the transformation usually involves physical appearance, it more often stresses changes in behavior and relationships towards men. It is almost never a question of gender, as the audience can always tell that the character is female (through music cues, fitted “boyish” clothes, undergarments, and other “markings”). These transformations almost always end in the female becoming submissive in one way or another to a man, thus reinforcing the woman’s “place” in heteronormative society.

While reading this article, I couldn’t help but connect the “tomboy” to the show “Whitney!” currently on NBC. In “Whitney!” the main character Whitney is dating a man named Alex. While Whitney is attractive and clearly female/straight, her character is far from heteronormative. She has a low voice, very masculine tendencies, does not believe in marriage, references same-sex relationships/encounters in her past, is very opinionated, is not very emotional… Alex and the other males are feminine and relatively submissive to the three women on the show; the women are all very attractive and currently in straight relationships, but all three exhibit most of the masculine characteristics that Whitney possesses. In this clip, Whitney is challenged to a basketball game with Alex:

This clip is reminiscent of the article we read for today, but also shows many differences in the tomboy model Hatch discussed. In contrast to the "musical cues" hatch references of sweet music, pay attention to the music played when Whitney enters the court. Whitney is clearly feminine, but her attire is baggy, not form fitting, and her demeanor is incredibly masculine. She does not back off to let Alex win or become submissive in any way; she trash talks, insults, and totally schools him on the court. Whitney shows that the woman can dominate, be incredibly masculine, and be athletic without shoving the heteronormative ideals of women down our throats.

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