Diversity in Grey’s Anatomy

One of my favorite tv shows is Grey’s Anatomy. For those of you that do not know, this is a fictional show about doctors who all work together in the same hospital and all of the drama that goes on in each one of their busy lives. One of the reasons I like this show is because of how extremely diverse it is throughout the entire thing. Starting in season one, there were four males who were casted as lead roles as well as four women casting as lead roles. Within this cast, there were two men of color, one women of color and another women from an Asian ethnicity. As the show went on the numbers increased in diversity as well as having lead roles increase their diversity as well. Not only does this show incorporate women of color or different ethnicity playing the roles of high up professionals of surgeons in the medical field, it also incorporates diversity among other social statuses such as lesbians, bisexuals, and gays. Throughout the show, there are a few different characters who play the roles of lesbians, while also having lead roles on the medical staff within this television series. The show incorporates bisexuality by taking one of the lesbian females and putting her into a relationship with another guy on the show for a more dramatic feel to get the audience wondering what is going to happen next.

Another social topic that is addressed that can be a diverse conversation is the topic of abortion. As a tv show that takes place in the hospital, some of the episodes have pregnant women in them wether the pregnancy was intended or not. With this, the option of abortion arises. Not only does that take place in the patients on the tv show though, there are episodes where even the main characters are in this position of deciding what to do. The director and writer of the show both do a tremendous job of keeping biased opinions out of the show and making it very equal for everyone to enjoy no matter what your standpoints are on any of the above topics or statuses. Lastly, this show has a tendency to lose a lot of its main characters or doctors if you will. Weather that is from them dying in a horrible accident, or them moving to another practice for the sake of the show, they end up not being casted anymore. With that, I really appreciate how well they “replace” these characters with new characters who add equal diversity to the show, if not more.

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Captain Jack Harkness: A 51st century guy

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In the Doctor Who series, Captain Jack Harkness is a character that is extremely important. John Barrowman’s character, Captain Jack Harkness, first appeared in the episode “The Empty Child”. The first lines that we hear him say are “Excellent bottom.” and “Sorry, old man. I gotta go meet a girl, but you’ve got an excellent bottom too.”, referring to Rose and Algy’s backsides, respectively. This was the first indicator for me that Jack was not 100% straight like most of the Doctor Who characters that we had been introduced to. In fact, the 9th Doctor and Rose talk about how open he is with flirting with everyone. The 9th Doctor says that because Jack is from the 51st century, he is “more flexible when it comes to dancing”, which I am assuming means sex or something similar.

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One reason why I think that Jack’s character is so important to Doctor Who is because he is one of the few characters that is portrayed as not being heterosexual. There are others throughout the series, but most, with the exception of River Song, do not appear in as many episodes as Jack does. While it is never explicitly said that Jack has a specific label, it is clear that he takes interest in more than just men and women. The LGBTQ community has become more widely accepted, but it is still not portrayed as much in the media. The media does a good job including gay or lesbian characters, but bisexual, pansexual, transgender, and others are not portrayed. In this sense, I feel like the media has failed because it excludes those who may not want to label themselves, do not conform to a specific gender, or have different preferences.

A second reason why I think that Jack’s character is so important is because John Barrowman, who plays Jack, is an openly gay actor. In 2013, California’s Supreme Court had overturned the ban on same sex weddings, and Barrowman was able to marry his partner of 22 years. I think that it’s a great thing that the director and casting crew of Doctor Who chose a person of the LGBTQ community to play a non-heterosexual character. I think that a lot of times the casting of a movie or tv show is done poorly because a heterosexual actor/actress will be cast as a character of the LGBTQ community or maybe vice versa, although I do not know of any examples of that. There are other casting mistakes that the media makes in terms of diversity, such as a Caucasian actor/actress playing a character of another race. Even though I am not a member of the LGBTQ community, it was very refreshing and exciting to see representation. I have many friends that are a part of the LGBTQ community and have often heard that some people say that bisexual people don’t exist or that bisexuality is a phase and other things like that. It’s important that all spectrums are represented because it’s comforting to see something in the media that you identify with.

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Sex & Gender in Society

Last week in class, our topic centered around gender and sex in society. I found this to be one of the more interesting discussions about diversity, because of how relative it is in today’s society. We determined that sex was the biological makeup of your body determining whether you male or female parts, while gender was how you expressed yourself. Gender and sex play a major role in our political decisions, moral actions, and attitude towards identity. Only being a small fraction of the idea of identity, gender and sex also relate to customs, sexuality, and social experiences.

The idea of sex versus gender could be looking at from an understanding of nature versus nurture. Nature refers to the sex of individual while nurture refers to the gender of the individual and how they were raised by society; however, in today’s society, these ideas become more complex and sensitive. Culture and socialization group individuals into categories based on their representation of gender. “Several agents of socialization exist, including the family, peers, schools, the mass media, and religion, and all these institutions help to socialize people into their gender roles and also help them develop their gender identity” (Andersen & Hysock, 2011). Each one of these aspects affects an individual’s daily life; therefore, affecting their perception of themselves and others.

The main standard in society when determining someone’s gender is based off the mass media. The media portrays strict beauty guidelines and behaviors that must be followed in order to fit into a certain gender category: male, female, male that acts like a female, and a female that acts like a male. Language and the way we address people becomes extremely important and purposeful. Allowing people to be comfortable with their personal self expression, allows the rest of society to form higher priorities of respect.

Aside from my views on gender and respect for self expression, after the class discussion last week, I have realized how prominent this issue is in our society. Gender and sex are constantly portrayed in the news, political thoughts, and personal moral decisions made by individuals everyday. Being a cisgender female in society, I have not had to overcome difficulties with my gender expression. I do however, hope to gain a greater knowledge of other individuals expressions. Sex and gender is a topic that brings multiple opinions and actions towards others. With its ability to be complex and sensitive, this is a topic I hope society can find more compassion and respect towards.

Andersen, M., & Hysock, D. (2011). Thinking about women: Sociological perspectives on sex and gender (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

http://open.lib.umn.edu/socialproblems/chapter/4-1-understanding-sex-and-gender/

Asexuals on Television

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On September 8th, 2017 the hit animated TV series “BoJack Horseman” became the first ever television show to say the word asexual aloud.  At the same time, one of the leading characters, Todd, became the first ever confirmed asexual character on television.

Throughout the series, Todd seemed to struggle with his identity.  Several scenes showed Todd not picking up on sexualy or romantically suggestive situations, and in season four Todd is quoted as saying, “I’m not gay. I mean, I don’t think I am, but… I don’t think I’m straight, either. I don’t know what I am. I think I might be nothing.”

i don't know what I am Todd Chavez

This line resonated with a lot of people in the asexual community who admitted they felt similarly before realizing they were asexual.  A lack of representation hits the asexual community especially hard.  Few characters on television or in movies have ever shown asexual characteristics, making it hard for a-spec people to find themselves in popular media.  Some characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon Cooper, and Jughead have been accepted into the asexual community as a-spec characters, but up until Todd Chavez, none have been confirmed as such, much less said the word out loud.

In a heteronormative world with next to zero representation in the media, asexuals and aromantics have an extra hard time coming to terms with their identity.  For some people, Todd exclaiming that he’s asexual on television may have been the first time they had heard the word, period.  And in a sex-obsessed world, it’s no wonder so many a-spec people take so long to realize who they are.

Todd Chavez coming out on television is especially important because of who he is as a character.  First of all, he’s lovable.  He has a quirky, likeable personality, and he’s interesting; someone you’d want to be friends with.  Second, he has several close and loving relationships on the show, and he’s got feelings.  He’s not an unfeeling robot and his lack of sexual attraction doesn’t make him any less human than his companion characters.  This can’t be said for almost all headcannoned asexual characters.  Both Sherlock Holmes and Sheldon Cooper have very stiff, stuffy personalities.  They lack almost any sort of affection whether it be toward friends or romantic partners.  And for the most part, they’re emotionless shells, barely human.  But very few headcannoned asexuals are protagonists in movies or television shows.  Most are cold, unfeeling villains such as Voldemort from Harry Potter, Moriarty from Sherlock, or Dexter Morgan from Dexter.  And if they’re not villains, they’re mentally insane, or both.  This creates a toxic image of asexual people as being less than human.  Todd is one of the very few characters to portray asexuality in a positive light.  

Todd’s asexual announcement has made asexual history, and will hopefully pave the way for even more positive a-spec representation in all forms of entertainment.  Todd Chavez has become an asexual television idol for a-spec people to see themselves represented in.  I have no doubt that by actually hearing the word asexual on television will help many non-asexual people understand the orientation, and many a-spec people come to better realize who they are.

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Diversity in Doctor Who

Since Doctor Who rebooted in 2005 it has made strides in representing diversity on television.  Strides that can’t be said for many other television shows.  We open with episode one, “Rose” set in England, 2005, on a rare scene for television.  Rose is a working class woman who really is working class, not a dramatized version of this.  She lives in a small apartment with her single mother and wakes early every day to clock-in at her job in a department store.  She’s casual, dressing in clothes that certainly aren’t the height of fashion for the time, she isn’t dolled up in makeup only a professional could do, and what’s more; she isn’t the tiny waisted, long-legged pretty girl we’re used to seeing on TV.  Rose sets the pace for the growing diversity we’re about to be treated to in “Doctor Who”.

Not long after we get Captain Jack Harkness, the first openly pansexual in the history of “Doctor Who” who equally and openly shows attraction to men, women, aliens, and the non-gender conforming.  This was a huge leap for sexual and romantic diversity in “Doctor Who”, and one of the very first times queer people could see themselves in a character on television that wasn’t harmful.  

Next comes Martha, the first black companion on “Doctor Who”.  She’s intelligent and able to keep up with the Doctor’s rambling better, perhaps, than most other companions.  For people of colour, Martha is a big deal.  She’s a strong, woman of colour, in a leading role on one of the most popular television shows of all time.  With Martha, the television series continues to push forward for more diversity in their cast.

The next three companions, Donna, Amy, and Clara continue to portray strong female leads with diverse histories and personalities.  Along the way we meet a couple more sexually diverse characters, and characters from all different walks of life.  

Now we come to the most recent companion, Bill, who is both a woman of colour and openly gay.  She is one of the very first leading characters like this on television, a huge influence for women, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.  We finally have a leading character that many minorities can view themselves in in a positive way.

Soon we’ll be treated with something that came unexpected: a female Doctor.  Jodie Whittaker will soon take on the role of the Doctor and make history as the first female Doctor.  Many people are very excited about this.  We get a leading female, and also confirmation that Gallifreyans, or at least the Doctor, experience gender fluidity, which could be a nod toward the transgender community.

But when it comes to diversity, is it enough?  Though Doctor Who has done a great job positively representing different groups of people, we still are left itching for more.  Several groups who wish to see any kind of representation on television have been left out.  Doctor Who has come a long way, but I believe it can, and should, go much farther.  I hope that as the episodes continue to air we will continue to see a rise in representation in the cast.