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Gender Roles – That 70’s Show

Recently, I was watching That 70′s Show on television and I came across an interesting episode that relates to a recent topic we’ve covered in lecture. This particular episode focuses on gender roles and how society views what each gender should be capable of doing. I have posted the video at the end of the blog for those who are interested to view it.

The episode starts off by informing the audience that the father of the main character has been laid off from his work. Since he is laid off, he finds himself being bored often around the house. In society, men are often viewed as being great with tools and fixing things around the house. Throughout the episode, the father continuously tries to fix things around the house, even when they aren’t even broken. For instance, when the family is sitting down at the table for dinner, the father rocks the table back and forth, thinking there is an abnormal rock to the table. Thinking so, he decides he is going to fix the table by cutting the legs with a saw and leveling the table off.

Roughly around the 5 minute and 31 second mark, Eric, who is the main character, loses to his girlfriend Donna in a game of basketball. After the game, Eric meets up with his guy friends and the game between Eric and Donna is brought up. When the friends find out Eric lost, they ridiculed him because boys are not supposed to lose to girls in sports. This is another perfect example of gender roles, because a boys’ skill in sports is supposed to excel those of a girl by societal standards. Around the 12 minute mark, Eric and Donna play a game again, except this time it is air hockey rather than basketball. Once again, Donna beats Eric and this time Eric is shown in a dress afterwards. By Eric appearing in a dress, I feel this symbolizes his efforts as being girl like, so that’s why they dress him like one. This example is equivalent to the lecture example in class, where a picture of The Sandlot is posted and the slide explains how being called a girl is the biggest insult to a boy when it comes to sports/games.

This episode is full of examples of gender roles, but these are only a few that I felt necessary to discuss to get my point across. However, there is a specific quote I got from this episode that I’d like to discuss. Donna’s mother told Donna, “Women have to pretend to be weak and fragile so that men would feel superior.” I find this interesting because when it comes to sports/games and the comparison between men and women, it is often viewed that women are weaker and too fragile to play with men. With this being said, men then feel like they are superior compared to women. However, this episode shows how women use this gender role to their benefit to control the way things are done, which technically gives them the power over men. I find it pretty funny how this cycle works.


  1. hebasha says:

    Watching this again with more knowledge of the extent that patriarchal mentality is ingrained into our society, I actually feel like I can relate to this a lot. Why should women go through the trouble of considering a man’s “macho-ness”? And why should men expect all other men to be “macho” (whatever that means)?
    What’s really interesting is the threat that someone who seeks to be respected as a female and question a male-dominated society is doomed to a lonely life with a multitude of cats, as if being lonely or not getting married is the worst threat in the world for women or men? To be quite honest, threatening a woman’s eligibility for marriage or even her fertility because of her decisions and way of thought is ludicrous.
    I played volleyball better than half the guys in my gym class back in high school and the excuse that I consistently heard among the sore losers were, “Well, Volleyball is a girl’s sport anyway.”
    I don’t they ever realized how much physical strength, practice, and discipline is involved in volleyball, just as much as football (a sport supposedly designated for only guys). And when it came to (non-tackle) football in that class, most of the girls in the class sat out. The few times we did play, the ball was never thrown to us. This needs to change.

  2. hebasha says:

    *I don’t think they

  3. maelsaye says:

    I grew up watching That 70’s Show, but up until I took this class, I hadn’t noticed the endless use of gender roles exhibited throughout the series. After I re-watched this particular episode, I realized that they nailed perfectly how things used to be in the 70’s, before the feminist movement really took off. What strikes me as ironic is the fact that absolutely nothing has changed. Men are still ridiculed today if they lose to a girl in any given sport. The phrase, “you play like a girl” is constantly heard on school playground’s during recess. I guess that’s why the producers of the show were able to display the gender roles in the 70’s so perfectly, because in reality, these issues still surround us on a daily basis.

  4. zhassan2013 says:

    Before this class started and we were on winter break, I had a 70’s show netflix marathon. I noticed the sexism in many if not all the episodes. It is considered a normal thing and obviously, since it is making many people laugh, it sells. What we perceive as normal or just a joke will become reality if things don’t change.

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