Lee is a Masters in Management graduate who has been working as a freelance writer and researcher since 2009.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is a movie that provides a template for analyzing the current social perception of women. It shows how women are generally stereotyped, how they are empowered, and how their social role and expectation in our current social structure is defined.
In totality, the movie is anchored in a bunch of stereotypes in its application of ideas and themes on tackling issues about women. For instance, women who are driven and powerful are always portrayed as bitches. This was portrayed by Composure Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief. She was a very powerful, motivated, driven woman. She has risen to a position that is mostly associated with men and as the film would have it, she is stereotyped as the boss who is callous and who has no regard for the feelings of her staff—someone who is blinded by her career-driven life and her will to stay on top that she works for her staff so hard she lost the human touch that is so often associated with women.
Another typical stereotyping of women was the concept of beauty employed in the film. There was no diversity among women. The stereotypical concept of beautiful women as being propagated by the mass media, including television and movie, are women who are white, sexy, well-dressed, shiny hair, smells great and all these superficial things. And at first, audiences tend to be unmindful of the women in the film. After all, they do have various hair colors. But if you would look closely, there were no women of various ethnicities at all—all of the characters were Caucasian women. The lead characters, the supporting roles are all Caucasians, there were no women of color—no African American, no Asian, no Latina.
Another common stereotyping is that women need men to make them feel good about themselves. To be truly happy, the film was insinuating that women have to be in a relationship. This notion is so subtle that you would not really think of it directly. But why was Andie, the protagonist, bitter in the end anyway? Why was the billionaire old woman, despite her success was not fully content with what she has? Why was Andie’s editor a bitch? All of these women were portrayed to be ‘inadequate’ in a way, despite their achieved success because of their lack of personal relationship. In a way, it is suggestive that the happiness of a woman is dependent not on self-contentment and self-fulfillment but on a successful relationship with a partner.
Want to watch the movie?
On the positive note, the movie was able to empower women and show that they are now able to stand their ground. For one, it was able to establish that women could pursue and excel in whatever endeavor they put their mind to just like men. Composure is a great symbolism because it is not just a magazine for women, it is an empire dedicated to women and caters to what women want. It might not be about hardcore journalism, but it shows the presence of women in society is powerful enough to impact the demand for a magazine that is dedicated solely to them.
Another way that women are empowered in the film is that they are no longer portrayed as airheads. That true beauty and integrity of a woman could be attributed to her intelligence. A woman is interesting and desirable, not because of her physical beauty, but because of her character, personality, and intelligence. It is this inner beauty that women should find their strength that true beauty goes beyond skin deep. As proof, Andie’s true character—her charm, her sense of humor, her intelligence, her love for basketball is what catches Benjamin’s attraction for her in the first place; and when she started acting out like a bimbo, then that’s the time that their relationship started to fall apart.
There are several instances that women were empowered in the movie. For instance, the fact that it features several powerful and career-oriented women are a testament that women are able to pursue and succeed in their chosen career. Another is the option that women can pursue a career of their choice. As was depicted in the latter part of the movie, when Andie realized she was not happy with Composure Magazine and it was not the type of work she wanted.
Social Roles and Gender Expectations
Another issue that was tackled in the movie is social roles and gender expectations. Women are of equal-footing with men and thus have the same expectations and responsibilities as well. Sometimes, people tend to forget that with empowerment, there are also responsibilities associated with it. The nice thing about the movie is that thought it did not highlight the contrast per se, it showed the glimpse of the social roles that women play in the society and the gender expectations associated with it.
For instance, women have the options to pursue a career or be a homemaker. Benjamin’s mother, for instance, opted to have, the more traditional role of having to stay at home and take care of the family. Sometimes, people assumed that just because women are empowered, that they all have to pursue a career. But in this case, women empowerment could also mean having the option of choosing what gender role to fill so as to know what social expectation is required. As a career woman, Andie was focused on fulfilling the expectations of her editor-creating good articles worthy to be published in their magazine. As a homemaker, Benjamin’s mother is not expected to earn income but is expected to take care of the home and the children and I think that having the option to choose is the true meaning of empowerment. Either role could be empowering and should not be downgraded in any way.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days approach towards gender was very light and nobody would immediately associate it with a template for women’s study. I think that a more in-depth approach towards presenting women in films could be done. For instance, the movie could have utilized more heterogeneous actors in terms of using women of color rather than just sticking to just Caucasian actors. But then again, maybe, they are indeed trying to prove a point, that they are stereotyped women.
lee custodio (author) on February 01, 2012:
thanks jen, and yes. i do agree that we have a very long way to go.
jenniferg78 from Philadelphia, PA on January 26, 2012:
Wow, this is a great hub. Very well thought out and presented. You did a good job with both sides and I agree- especially with the part about all the women in the movie being the "stereotypical concept of beautiful". I think the poster that they chose for advertising -beautiful sexy woman in a nice dress- shows we still have a long way to go!
lee custodio (author) on January 25, 2012:
thanks Alecia. glad you found my hub academically engaging.
Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on December 10, 2011:
Lee, I really enjoyed this hub. Your points about gender portrayals and gender expectations especially ran true. I took a Women's Studies course my senior year of college and we did a project with a very similar focus. And we brought up a lot of points similar to what you discussed in this hub.
I agree movies oversimplify the complex issues women face in the work place mainly because I think studios look at the bottom line instead of social and cultural impact. And we feel compelled to watch these films because it reflects what we want- which is everything.
Of course even after studying these films, it's hard to stop watching them but it's very interesting to look at it through this lens. Awesome hub!