As I mentioned in the previous post, much of what we believe about men is the result of male propaganda. Propaganda is a major aspect of any war. It is used to gain compliance from the enemy, to demoralize her and in the case of male propaganda against women and girls to groom her. This post has a lot to do with the power of fiction, which men understand very well – they live their lives in a fantasy world in which they are heroes and sages. Non-fiction is regarded as being more important by many people, but the fact is that fiction is by far more powerful than any non-fiction. I plan to discuss the power of fiction more in a future post. Propaganda through fiction is how men mold our image of them, of ourselves, and of the social order – it shapes what we see as being natural and inherent. But, it is only men’s fiction.
Men’s propaganda war against women and girls is a very broad topic because it is all around us. You’ll find it in literature, music, and art going back for century after century. You’ll see it in most of the supposed non-fiction on television and in film, such as news and documentaries (in which the propaganda war is sometimes far more apparent), as well as in all the fiction, such as movies and television series, whether they are dramas, comedies, reality television or virtually any other format. You’ll see it in the newspapers and now the online news – just take a look at an outlet like the U.K. Daily Mail any day of the week, especially look at the celebrity news and the Femail section – all you will see is anti-woman propaganda. You will see objectification of women and sometimes even little girls. You’ll see who looks good, in some man’s opinion, whether dressed or undressed, who had a “nipple slip,” who has a “baby bump,” and all kinds of reinforcement of the slave institutions of gender and marriage.
The propaganda war is perpetuated by individual men and sometimes women, too. They enforce gender restrictions on their own children and males enforce it on girls and women they don’t even know – all the time. If you go out in public, especially in a high-population concentration area, there will be a man who will remind you that you are nothing but a walking hole to him in one way or another. He may do it in a “polite” way, even. But, the idea that there are certain roles for men and women is deeply ingrained and enforced, regularly and often, against women and girls.
In order to narrow the scope of this subject of the propaganda war on women, which is ubiquitous, I am going to limit my discussion to television. Since I don’t have television and have seen very little of it aside from clips and probably pirated posts of television shows on Youtube, I will describe the kind of programming I remember in television programs when I was growing up and the few that I have seen recently.
My favorite television series have mostly been sit-coms – in fact, I think comedies are the most insidious forms of propaganda against women and girls because they cause us and others to laugh at our oppression and abuse. I mention some examples of this in my review of the comedy series “The King of Queens.”
Almost any comedy series you can think of is an offender: The Andy Griffith Show; I Love Lucy; Leave It to Beaver; Bewitched; I Dream of Jeannie; All in the Family; Happy Days; Bosom Buddies; Three’s Company; The Roseanne Show; The George Lopez Show.
There are some older series I’ve seen only an episode or two of because they were so perverse and disturbing to me. Some of these are regarded as being very wholesome. For instance, there is an episode of Ozzie and Harriet, in which Ozzie, the ideal American father, is ogling a woman on the golf course.
There is an old television drama program called the Kraft Theater. I once watched an episode written by Rod Serling, featuring an appearance by Elizabeth Montgomery, from 1955, called “Patterns.” You can watch it at the link provided. This old program was very disturbing to me because I used to work in offices back in the 1980s and this is the same kind of mistreatment, dismissiveness, and sexism I frequently experienced. Serling often writes morality plays – many of his Twilight series episodes are modern morality plays, which deal with ethics and fair treatment, especially of oft maligned, oppressed individuals. This is the case unless, of course, the oft maligned, oppressed individuals are women – this is entirely ignored as if it does not exist and you will see that in this particular program. There is a question of a man’s business ethics in relation to other men – but, never in his treatment of women in the office, who are nothing but underpaid servants.
Other old drama series, in particular Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Perry Mason, and some other dramas include anti-woman propaganda. But, it is most insidious, and often more difficult to discern, in comedies that make us laugh – or, at least, make people who aren’t “humorless radical feminists” laugh!
Some of the nastiest comedies are those that are touted as “family” shows, in particular, The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, both of which featured a wise father imparting his “morals,” as such, to his sons. As I said two posts back, men are angry with women because what is moral to them is immoral to us – and vice versa. What is moral in a Christian-dominated, male-dominated culture is for men to have unfettered access to and control over women’s bodies. Our resistance to this is immoral, according to them, because we are not obeying God’s command to submit to males. This makes the men angry; it makes them feel justified in raping, torturing, and killing us.
The Andy Griffith Show is extremely authoritarian. The sheriff is a gentle tyrant, who almost always knows better than everyone else. Usually, the only time he ever gets it wrong is when he over-disciplines his son, Opie. Then, he always makes good and apologizes to the boy. Girls and women are all secondary characters in this show. Aunt Bea takes the place of the boy’s mother and is the sheriff’s live-in cook and housekeeper. She’s a silly old woman, who makes bad pickles and falls for con men, which we see in several episodes.
Even though Andy is an ugly and undesirable old man, he uses his power and authority as sheriff to pick up on women, whether they are residents, have just moved to town, or are just passing through. His hilarious, bug-eyed sidekick. Barney, also, has a little gal of his own and many episodes are devoted to the sheriff and his deputies’ dating escapades.
I recall two particularly disturbing episodes of this show: “Andy and the Woman Speeder” and “The Manicurist.”
In “Andy and the Woman Speeder,” Barney and Andy pull over a woman who is speeding through town in a convertible. They take her to jail and the old trope of the attractive woman trying to use her feminine wiles to get out of a ticket unfolds. There are many sexually suggestive scenes, in particular, there is one in which the prisoner, a “stubborn female,” is shown undressing in silhouette while provocative striptease music plays in the background. The combination of patriarchal police authority and sexual situations involving male authority over an imprisoned woman make for a very perverse episode in the disguise of wholesome, all-American television viewing.
In “The Manicurist,” starring Barbara Eden, we see another testosterone-soaked morality play. The men in town all line up for manicures when a pretty, blonde, single woman, who is presumably hot for every old geezer in town, turns up in what she thinks looks like a nice, friendly town, in search of work. After all the women in town are inflamed by this woman’s existence (remember: men write these things, actresses just mouth the words they are given), due to the male’s undisguised, panting perversions, Andy advises her to go back to her possibly abusive boyfriend since that’s her rightful place – at the side of a man, not causing trouble and upsetting the system by daring to become an entrepreneur and trying to live as an independent person. She thanks Andy for his manly and fatherly wisdom.
The message is that men know best. Women have a certain limited place. Even the best, good, God-fearin’, folksy men cannot help their disgusting behavior toward women, which we see from long camera strokes up and down Barbara Eden’s legs in “The Manicurist.” It is man’s role to ogle women and it is women’s role to be ogled and to either ignore it (a big joke – and the message is that women are stupid and don’t see what men are doing to them) or to enjoy it (women are whores and love being treated as objects by males).
In Happy Days, we see a total reinforcement of “boys will be boys” type of behavior. There is the family patriarch, Mr. C, and his wife, Mrs. C, and both reinforce gender roles on their children and every one else’s. Mr. C advises his son on how to deal with girls. The female characters including the wife and daughter are secondary to the male characters, as is common in almost every television show ever made. The Fonz is a pick-up-artist, who advises Richie and the other fellows on the show, including Potsie and Ralph Malph on how to pick up women, how to treat women, how to get what they want from these women. The Fonz is irresistible to women, as if he has some hypnotic powers – like Dracula. He snaps his fingers and women cling to him and they walk off together and it is often more than suggested that he is going off to fuck them. We never see this, but the suggestion and the assumption can be found in every show. But, the Fonz, far from being a villain, is the hero of the show who is pitied by the Cunnighams as a overgrown orphan.
One of the most disturbing episodes of this show I remember – and almost every episode is riddled with perverse filth in the name of family entertainment – is one called “Hard Cover,” in which Potsie and Ralph conduct a “panty raid,” at a local college dorm. Yes, felonious sex crimes are funny in TV Land. The two break into women’s bedrooms at night and terrorize them, chasing them around – women screaming in terror at strange men in their bedrooms at night, is humor – to men, anyway. This is a way of making sex crimes seem frivolous and funny. The victims are just humorless, falsely accusing bitches. The perpetrators are just boys having a little fun – boys being boys.
In every episode, we see the reinforcement of gender roles. We see that women long for relationships with men. They are unhappy when they are not in a relationship with a male. The goal of the young girls, all secondary characters, is to pair up with a man and the men – even those presented as the best, most wholesome examples of Americana – are sex predators, oglers, and PUAs.
There is an episode of Happy Days that I think of every time I’ve been harassed by a man in the produce section of a grocery store. In it, the Fonz teaches Richie how to pick up women at the grocery store by ramming his shopping cart into theirs and then starting up a conversation about melons and bananas. How much did this show influence males growing up in the 1970s? I would say quite a lot. I think it influenced girls, too – to look for a heroic male, however abusive, authoritarian, and perverse he is.
If you examine the television shows going back for several decades you will see a pattern of men and their sons as primary characters. The only exceptions are those relative few in which you see men fathering or foster-fathering daughters. Some of these examples are especially disturbing. For instance, if you haven’t taken a close look at some of those old shows that used to run on television featuring Shirley Temple, they are worth a second look to see the pedophilia programming. There is constant reassurance that old men can be trusted with little girls. Shirley sits on old men’s laps and tugs at their beards and the men are always gentle and kind. Statistically, we know that men who have access to little girls, especially those who are not their biological daughters, have a very high instance of rape and sexual assault of the girls. You would never guess it by watching these old programs, though.
Another one that always disturbed me – it’s not a sitcom, but a movie that always runs on television around Christmas time – is the film, Miracle on 42nd Street, which involves a cute, little girl and a fat, old department store Santa Claus. Something is just not right about the old man in the little girl’s bedroom and his perverse interest in a fatherless little girl whose absentee mother almost makes her an orphan.
Most of the sitcoms I can recall feature men and boys, though. After all, girls aren’t good for much except sewing, cooking and being fucked by men. So we see in Lassie, My Three Sons, and the Courtship of Eddie’s Father. We, also, see that two men are very capable of raising a girl (and a boy) in A Family Affair, a 1970s sitcom. Would you trust Mr. French with your daughter? I wouldn’t. But, the message is that men are safe for girls and women to be around – and, not only safe, but this is a desirable situation. In fact, it is a dangerous situation, but this is something that no one discussed openly until, at least, the late 1970s or maybe the 1980s.
Often when I am watching a television series, I wonder about women characters who open their doors to whoever knocks. Is this something women really did back in the 1940s or ’50s? You’ll even see this in The King of Queens, in which Carrie will open her door – in Queens! in 2004! – to whoever happens to be knocking. She doesn’t even look out the peephole, but just throws the door wide open.
In both comedy and drama series, women who are concerned about men trying to kill them are portrayed as crazy – sometimes it’s even funny that women fear male predators. For instance, there is an episode of Maude, called “Maude’s Desperate Hours,” – a particularly funny one, in fact – in which Maude has hired a Greek painter, who made sexual advances at her, then threatened to kill her. The whole episode makes light and fun of her terror and that of her friend, Vivian, who quite perversely loves to hear tales of sexual abuse by men. This, too, is accompanied by a laugh track and appears in many episodes.
In this episode, Maude is shown being both sexually attracted to and terrified by the painter. The message is, again, that women secretly long to be abused and terrorized by men. Men threatening women is not a serious matter. Women who insist that it is serious, are hysterical, to be ridiculed, are over-reacting, are really wanting it, enjoy the drama, wanting the attention – all the things we hear from males whenever a woman is assaulted can probably be found somewhere in this episode. And, of course, it is all very funny – I can’t help laughing anytime I watch it, although I clearly see the programming and realize that it is at my own expense and at the expense of women and girls and it is all to the benefit of males who wish to harm us.
This the most insidious propaganda because we women buy into it, ourselves, all too often and laugh at it, despite ourselves.
The propaganda serves the purpose of numbing, desensitizing, and trivializing the abuse of women and girls, grooming us, making it easier for men to harm us, abuse us, kill us, and get away with it. It gains our compliance and the compliance of everyone around us.
This is the power of fiction. It is a demonstration of its power because all of this is simply a reflection of the male’s patriarchal system of abuse of females, which is, itself, predicated on a fictional story – a lie.
Men’s fictional propaganda goes back, at least, as far as their silly Garden of Eden story and everything we see on television and everywhere else in pop culture and all around us is a variation on this basic fictional story.
In my next post, I hope to discuss this a little further using a popular old, Gothic soap opera called “Dark Shadows,”as a further example of this propaganda and the power of fiction.