Just Keep Quiet and Look Pretty…That’s Called Empowerment, Baby!

Coming soon to TV are shows attempting to cash in on nostalgia for a 1960’s that did not actually happen.  Thanks to the success of Mad Men, networks want to cash in on this love of a time where it was great to be a white guy.  The newer shows, Pan Am and the Playboy Club are all about female, empowerment, of course.  You can tell this because the actresses all say so.

“Men and women are equal in so many ways, but if there’s a way that women have a bit more power over men, it’s the power of their sexuality if used smartly. And I just wish more women would be OK with that.”

Those are the words of Pan Am tar Kelli Garner.  Then there is co-star Christina Ricci:

“Sexism on Pan Am is a misconception and unraveling that is actually what drew me to the role.  [Air travel] is something that’s exciting for these women. We’re as excited as the passengers are. As soon as anyone sees 10 minutes of this show, the misconception [of sexism] will be gone. It’s really a great message for young girls and women.”

Amber Heard (of the Playboy Club) said, “I think it’s just chauvinistic to deny women their sexuality.”

These are nifty soundbites, but they also deny something.  The chauvenism that was, in fact, a pretty big part of the work culture.  The fact is, people are not conderned about allowing women to own their sexuality (okay, some might be).  What concerns them is these shows will, at best, gloss over very real sexism that women faced in these jobs.  And worse, seem to romanticize the sexism under the guise of empowerment.

Maybe the people who are worried are wrong.  It is possible that these shows will portray the women in a positive light.  Show them to be women of strength, overcoming the sexism they face along with their “sexy and soapy” exploits.  But this seems pretty unlikely, since it seems like their real plan is to just pretend there was no sexism.

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