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Pre-defined social roles blur as personalities like Emma Watson and shows like Orange is the New Black tackle issues on sexuality, gender equality, and race. As more personalities speak up about women marginalization, gender and race equality, does this mean the end of social exclusion? Do shows like Orange and is the New Black reflect accurately the social paradigm shift?
Blurring And Exploring Pre-Defined Roles
Equality among gender, race, and sexuality has been in the spotlight more often than in the last several decades. As States approve same-sex marriage and television shows become more open on exploring characters, it becomes an apparent concern whether the society has turned out to be more amenable to blurring roles than pre-defined ones. To set an example, Orange is the New Black has been garnering a considerable fan base with the show’s theme diversified into sexuality, racial identity, and social issues. Idenitities.Mic cites several ways the show has broken stereotypes:
Men can be equally gentle. Maria Ruiz’ baby daddy appeared stoic, silent, and incapable of warm social interaction with the tattoos on his neck and face as foreboding. This does not mean that man is incapable of baby talking, smiling, and acknowledging his daughter in the same ways doting dads have always been portrayed. The neck tattoos do not give justice to the man’s comforting side.
White privilege. In a society often depicted to be in favor of white more than colored people, the show offers a look into the nuances of each race. Identities.Mac applauds the healthcare scene between Taystee and Poussey as they discuss wine-tasting, yoga workshop, and quiet sex with unequal health access. The series shows and explores nuances plaguing each group while maintaining the blindsided view of what people of color go through. Unequal access to services is no longer swept under the rug.
Dismantling the felon image. The writers of the show challenge societal view of who ends up in jail. Characters of the show emphasize that they are not all brutal, inflexible, and rugged felons as most people believe.
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The diversity of characters and issues discussed in the show highlight the growing confidence among people to bring such concerns to the table. Television and online streaming are very public platforms allowing as much discussion to take place. It has encouraged a new thinking with individuals voicing out more and discussing openly previously shrugged off topics.
No More Division But More As A Spectrum
No White Noise supports the show’s take on gender claiming that it does not have a biased approach to the issue not favoring women over men. Often, when gender issues and feminism are discussed, the idea centers on women fighting for their role while men are left on to defend their positions.
No White Noise claims that the show has not downplayed men. The role of men in gender equality and feminism has not been downplayed. So is Emma Watson’s take on the matter.
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Emma Watson’s speech in behalf of HeforShe campaign claims that men, as much as women, are also faced with the issue of gender equality. To quote the actress: “Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.”
People have been confined to the idea of feminism and sex equality as a woman’s issue only that it has created an intimidating image among people. For instance, The Tennessean cites celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Carrie Underwood denying being feminists but rather claiming to be somewhat near the idea of: “Nope, I’m a strong and independent woman, but I am no feminist. Besides, I like men.”
Watson explains the shifting and more preferable ideology aiming to put an end to the divided view: Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.”
The Atlantic also cites the emerging and bolder trend in pop culture and online TV. Platforms like Amazon and Netflix have opened their doors to shows exploring traditionally marginalized position widening people’s viewing options and reshaping beliefs. Amazon goes for Transparent featuring a transgender woman during her life transition while Netflix has the previously discussed Orange is the New Black.
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Transgender was formerly included in shows depicted more as extras, victims or villains but never the centerfold. Transparent sets its sights on gender transition with the main character. Quartz quotes British Comedian Claire Parker on why such platforms decided to extend the shows and to such audience: “They have no historical boundaries in which to butt their heads against.”
The online society is more open and exploratory according to The Atlantic. This makes it easier to open discussions and issues that were once tagged as taboo. More importantly, the idea of anonymity and free expression has given online platforms and its users more confidence into delving into these matters. Digital technology strips people off of what they can be otherwise tagged with. The freedom that comes with it has the potential to free ideas and beliefs once excluded from the norms. Emma Watson says so in her speech: “If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.”
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The movement, trend, ideology or whatever people deem it better to call centers on freedom. Ideally, freedom takes the cuffs off of exclusion and prejudice. As more individuals become open to this notion of allowing others to voice out their concerns and convictions without the risk of isolation, it is possible to see social exclusion releasing more of its grip. Even the United Nations agree that the way to sustainable development is to get rid of marginalization on all forms. While a perfectly free and boundless society is impossible, at least the world appears moving closer to the idea of it.