The ‘chick flick’ and its warped gender portrayals

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The chick flick depiction of women

The average protagonist in the modern chick flick can be commonly defined in three words: rich, shallow, confused. She is skinny, American, effortlessly beautiful, and her uniform perpetually consists of figure-hugging high-end designer apparel. The sight of a pair of Jimmy Choos makes her drool (because shoes = happiness). She wakes up and goes to sleep wearing a full mask of make-up. She doesn’t remove her bra when having sex. She works in a high-power job (journalism is always a favourite, because she cares about issues and shit), and her wage far exceeds that of the average Joe Schlub, meaning she can afford to live in a high-ceilinged Manhattan apartment with its own doorman overlooking Central Park West and within walking distance of a Starbucks. She hangs around with a group of comically entertaining, equally affluent girlfriends, who love and support her.

Sounds like a pretty privileged life, no? But something’s missing. Although she’s independently wealthy, with a strong support system of close friends and a life most of us would envy, she’s just not a whole person until she meets Mr Right in a humorously farfetched cutesy scenario that usually involves some degree of comical misunderstanding. It’s also common for the pair to hate each other at first but eventually see beyond their differences, reconcile, and fall into each other’s arms, just in the nick of time, after a lengthy race to the airport. Her life is complete. She now gets to be a princess for a day or whatever. I’m sure myself and all women can agree, isn’t that all we ever want?

The chick flick depiction of men

The chick flick’s depiction of the average man is slightly more laden with conflict. Any way it chooses to explore the opposing gender, the message is always clear: men have no personalities or defining characteristics, and are there purely as devices to help our protagonist find her way to being less confused.

Type 1: The swaggering blokey dimwit who needs to be taught a lesson. He’s a ‘player’, he represents the majority of men, and although he may look good, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing who will use up and spit out our heroine, no doubt driving her to the giant tub of ice cream which frequents every chick flick, ever (Ben & Jerry’s: the only solution).

Type 2: The Ken doll. He has no lines, is not entitled to opinions, and is there to hold the shopping. He’s a disposable, blank canvas of a background character, and will usually be given the boot by our protagonist when she finds The One. Of course, he won’t put up a fight.

Type 3: The One. He’s an overtly sensitive, unrealistically perfect Prince Charming who will come along and solve all of our main character’s vacuous problems. Often times, the chick flick may throw us a curve ball and initially present him in the first two Acts as a Type 1. This presents our protagonist with a fun challenge. Can she change him? (Answer: yes. Obviously. It’s easy to change people.)

In summary, chick flicks promote ‘girl power’ ideals while completely succumbing to sexist stereotypes. In this way they are a bit like hen parties – underneath paper-thin notions of liberation and independence, it’s just shallowness, penis-shaped sweets and a cesspool of silly girly emotions. The chick flick perpetuates the idea that marriage is every woman’s ‘end goal’ and will bring instant happiness, and is concerned with completely shallow, consumerist, ‘first world’ problems. If I, as a modern woman, am supposed to in any way relate to these horribly vacuous, disgustingly wealthy people whose only concerns are sex, designer shoes, how skinny they are and when they get to finally tie the knot, then please, take my womanhood and throw it down a well along with all feminist ideals.

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