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How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, an Analysis on Gender Perception

Lee is a Social Anthropology graduate with a master’s degree in Management who has a penchant for the written word.

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, empowered, and how their social role and expectation in our existing social structure are defined.

Movie poster

Movie poster

Stereotyping Women

In totality, the movie is anchored in many 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. Composure Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief illustrated this. She was a powerful, motivated, driven woman. She has risen to a position that is mainly associated with men. As the film would have it, she is stereotyped as the boss who is callous and 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. She works her team so hard she lost any 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, is white, sexy, well-dressed, have 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 look closely, there were no women of multiple ethnicities at all—all of the characters were Caucasian women. The lead characters and supporting roles are all Caucasians; there were no women of color—no African American, no Asian, or no Latina.

Another common stereotype is that women need men to make them feel good about themselves. The film insinuates that women have to be in a relationship to be truly happy. This notion is so subtle that you would not 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 entirely content with what she has? Why was Andie’s editor a bitch? All of these women were portrayed as ‘inadequate’ in a way, despite their success because of their lack of personal relationship. In a way, it is suggestive that a woman's happiness is dependent not on self-contentment and self-fulfillment but a successful relationship with a partner.

Movie Trailer

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Women Empowerment

On a positive note, the movie empowered women and showed that they can now stand their ground. For one, it established 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 dedicated solely to them.

Another way the film shows women's empowerment is that they are no longer portrayed as airheads. A woman is interesting and desirable, not because of her physical beauty but because of her character, personality, and intelligence. That true beauty and integrity of a woman is in her 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. 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, it features several powerful and career-oriented women are a testament that women can pursue and succeed in their chosen career. Another is the option that women can pursue a career of their choice. As depicted in the latter part of the movie, when Andie realized she was not happy with Composure Magazine, 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.

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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.

Feedback

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. 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.

Comments

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!

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