Home / Views & Opinion / "Smart" women and "stupid men" in the media: do women have too much power now?
"Smart" women and "stupid men" in the media: do women have too much power now?

"Smart" women and "stupid men" in the media: do women have too much power now?

My significant other and I have been noticing something–on TV these days, it seems to us that sitcoms and TV commercials are all about women making men look stupid.   There's a formula for sitcoms: Burly guy who isn't that great looking is married to a bombshell that is smarter and somehow more mature than he is.  Take this episode of What About Jim? where Jim pays his sister in law to buy Cheryl an anniversary gift.  The sister doesn't get into trouble with Cheryl–it's all about Jim looking dumb–yeah okay, he made a mistake, but this seems to go overboard to make the point:

King of Queens is another example of a burly guy being married to a bombshell, with her working extra hard to make him look dumb:

It's all about her making him look dumb because he forgot to pay the electric bill. She takes the paycheck, she pays the bills, she gets on him about his decisions.  Now don't get me wrong.  I'm all for equality.  What I'm not for is women making men look dumb and bullying men on TV as if that is supposed to be the norm.  Men's Activism.org talks about "Man Up" and other empty headed men sitcoms:

And that's the real issue. When did TV decide that empty heads were the hallmarks of manhood, or that anything that smacks of education or cultural refinement was somehow unmasculine? The problem with this trio isn't that they're unmanly; it's that they're morons. And to compound that problem, they're moronic on our TVs.

With any luck, that problem at least should take care of itself.'

I don't normally agree with the conservative view that Newsbusters makes, but this time, I wonder if the male author has a point if even the men are noticing it:

In today's media, anti-male sexism is the rule far more than anti-female sexism. Whether it's calling men "idiots," creating smart mom/stupid dad TV shows, publishing books with titles like "Are Men Necessary," our culture is full of what some scholars are calling the "WAW effect," short for Women are Wonderful. These days, it's tough to catch a break if you're an unapologetic male.

What's interesting about the situation is that it's not really that removed from the way things used to be in Western society in which men were the preferred sex. In a fascinating address provocatively titled "Is There Anything Good About Men?" Florida State University professor Roy Baumeister discusses how we've moved from male superiority to male inferiority as well as the reasons behind that shift (h/t Helen Smith):

I said that today most people hold more favorable stereotypes of women than men. It was not always thus. Up until about the 1960s, psychology (like society) tended to see men as the norm and women as the slightly inferior version. During the 1970s, there was a brief period of saying there were no real differences, just stereotypes. Only since about 1980 has the dominant view been that women are better and men are the inferior version.

The surprising thing to me is that it took little more than a decade to go from one view to its opposite, that is, from thinking men are better than women to thinking women are better than men. How is this possible?

What's worse is that this sort of "normalizing" behavior in the media–well, I wonder what effect it has on men being actively abused by women.  According to Women Abusing Men.org, men are victims of abuse by women 50% of the time, yet shelters are targeted for women, not men, and men are often flat out not believed when they are abused by women.  And the abuse can often be just as devastating emotionally, mentally and physically as when a man abuses a woman.  Oregon Counseling.org says that it's almost unknown "the actual number of men who are in a domestic relationship in which they are abused or treated violently by women.  In 100 domestic violence situations approximately 40 cases involve violence by women against men.  An estimated 400,000 women per year are abused or treated violently in the United States by their spouse or intimate partner.  This means that roughly 300,000 to 400,000 men are treated violently by their wife or girl friend."

In one case,  a man was beaten by his wife regularly, made to feel stupid, and inferior on a regular basis, and physical abuse was disguised as "rough sex," which was forcefully initiated by the woman (once at gunpoint).  Men are taught that they are not supposed to hit women–so often, these sorts of men take the abuse.  If this same man had been doing what she had done to the woman, it is almost assured he would have been jailed and a restraining order placed upon him immediately if not sooner.   She violated her restraining order repeatedly, with no repercussions from the police–why?  Because in the eyes of the law, oftentimes, abuse only happens to women.

What message are the media sending to men and women anyway?  The movie Disclosure with Demi Moore and Michael Douglas is one of the few that I have seen that addresses the issue of sex equaling power for some women–and the devastating results thereof.

The next time you watch TV, see if you notice what I mean–do women have too much power now, or is that just the perception the media wants you to make?  And hey, if I'm wrong here, feel free to sound off in the comments.

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
  • Tim
    • What a great response! Thanks, Tim!

      • Tim

        Haha, I couldn't resist. She's my favorite comedian!

        Glad you enjoyed it. There definitely are media stereotypes… I wonder how much they are really unconsciously effecting the way we view our world. I'm afraid to know the answer…

  • I think it is becoming a trend, “dumb man” is the current pick! I think it is directed more towards the 'Husbands' not bachelor men. Men are being portrayed in television shows and sitcoms as buffoons, simpletons and weak, helpless idiots who cannot survive without the wife who is smarter, more grounded and the boss. I had read this interesting comment somewhere, don't remember where "And by this logic, I suppose we’re left to assume that households with male same-sex couples are just toxic hazard wastelands."

    Anyways, being married i enjoy this, i know my wife also shares the same opinion about me, but i dont mind, i let her think that way, it eventually works out in my favor!

  • rhonda

    Unfortunatly most men in this society neglect to read their Bible (ALL WISDOM COMES FROM GOD)so they do not lead their familys or have any wisdom in order not to look stupid. Hopefully in the next several years we can train our sons to be real men follow GOD and they will deserve respect.

  • I think so. Most women are getting smarter each day, they are very practical and powerful. They do not want to loose their personal ability to man. As the sayings says "if the woman can make man's work, they can possibly rule our world.

  • If women rule the world, maybe everything will change for the better. 🙂

  • Christie

    It's actually pretty simple. I think the impetus in writing for TV is to make fun of everybody, but it is not politically correct to have men put one over on women, but it is OK for the reverse.

    It doesn't take much to tip the balance.

    Unfortunately, I can only see one way to fix this: Make it politically incorrect to have women get one over on men.

    As a writer, I'd like to say: "No, No …just balance out the numbers" but studios are lazy – they aren't going to fix it unless it makes them look really bad.

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