Friday, January 18, 2013

How I Met Your Mother

Another hilarious TV show I love an recommend is How I Met Your Mother. It is funny and smart, but I also really like that older story lines aren't ever forgotten. As a story, it is really well written.

I also want to talk about this point from a feminist standpoint. Because YAAAYY!!! I love feminism.

There are actually some interesting feminist points that are brought up in some of the episodes in the show. The one that stands out the most to me is in season two, an episode called "Single Stamina." In this episode, the female friends, Robin and Lily, complain to the men, Ted, Marshall, and Barney, about the sexual harassment they receive in bars and clubs. The men scoff at them, saying, "Yeah, it must be terrible having guys want to sleep with you and buy you free drinks." All of them go to a gay bar, where the women are happy they are not getting hit on and the men start out being flattered that they are. Eventually, the men realize that it's actually quite annoying and bothersome to be constantly solicited by men.

Of course, all of that is kind of undermined when the girls end their time at the gay club by saying that they miss getting hit on. BUT STILL. I think that it helps that a popular show is putting ideas like that out there for people to think about and question.

At the same time, the show also does many stereotypical things that perpetuate harmful societal norms. Barney is an exaggeratedly disgusting pig who will do anything to trick "dumb bimbos" into sleeping with him. (It's funny because the actor who plays Barney, Neil Patrick Harris, is very gay.) He is extremely stereotypical, which makes him more of a caricature, but I don't know if your average audience really catches onto stuff like that. Instead, they see the whole twins fantasy as legitimate. (Tangent: THIS IS INCEST. HOW COME SOCIETY HASN'T CAUGHT ON TO THAT YET?!)

The characters on the show make a point of calling Barney's behavior disgusting and wrong and do not condone it, so that helps.

Another thing that bothers me is when Robin is accused of being a slut in season four, an episode called "The Naked Man." In this episode, Robin brings home a first date. While she is on the phone, he gets naked and waits for her. It's a "play" the man uses to get women to sleep with him. Women see it as a confident and funny move. Robin comes back to find her date naked, and does, in fact sleep with him. Later, Marshall accuses her of being a slut.

I guess one of the good things about that is that there isn't a double standard with genders. It's not like Barney is being celebrated for his conquests while Robin is being judged. But the difference is that Robin had consensual sex in a situation where both parties understood that it was only meant to be a casual, one night event. Barney tells women that he wants to be in relationships with them, then leaves when they're taking their after-sex shower.

So I guess the moral of the story is, watch it because it's hilarious, but be aware of its pitfalls. Right?


  1. There is totally a double standard with Barney and other women. The girls (including Robin)that Barney sleeps with are often shamed, called stupid, sluts, bimbos, etc. Barney is the most promiscuous and he is being celebrated for his conquests (i.e. the threesome belt, the perfect week, the constant "respect" he gets.) The men make fun of women during Halloween and Robin's walk of shame. Barney takes advantage of women, openly manipulates them, gets them drunk, contributes to rape culture and the criticism he receives is never what he really deserves. The group brushes it off saying women deserve it for being so stupid.