In the West, during the 20th Century the traditional roles, views on inherent abilities and predispositions, and thus their representation in art, underwent a fundamental change, reflecting the feminist agenda that women’s role could and should be equal to that of men. Sometimes these changes reflect the changes in the world, sometimes they are propaganda to promote such change, and yet others satirise inequalities.
Contemporary representations of gender in art are consequently far different to that of their traditional gender roles, many of them subverted and even swapped; for example the dominant ideals right up to the 1970s was the male gaze, however in the 21st century the amount of media focusing on both the male and female gaze is nearer to equal. The gender roles displayed in both the Full Monty and Bridget Jones Diary differ largely from the traditional stereotypes. Both the Full Monty and Bridget Jones’ Diary show how the perception of gender roles has changed over time.
Both demonstrate how in today’s modern society females are gaining attributes that were usually associated with the male gender and vice versa. For example the Full Monty explores the female gaze – while it is usually assumed that males lust after the female body. Typical working class labourers are required to perform a strip show and the main protagonists are a father and his son, whereas in the 20th century, fathers were not really promoted in films as the dominant parents to a child, nurturing being seen as more of a female attribute.
Full Monty Cling Film
Contradictory to the traditional role, none of the main male characters in the film are breadwinners; in fact they are all unemployed. When comparing Bridget Jones to Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, which the book was loosely based upon, it is an obvious observation that Helen Fielding has brought the novel into the 21st Century. A working woman who socialises with feminists and camp homosexual men and has a desperate passion for cigarettes, chocolate and good times differs greatly from the more flaccid personality of Elizabeth.
Although it could be argued that both pieces of media show positive change in the female gender role, Bridget Jones also shows how much social and media pressure is on women. Bridget is constantly trying to change; she is almost addicted to trying to better herself even if it is half-heartedly. Every new-year there is a long list made in the binary opposite forms “I WILL” and “I WILL NOT” of unrealistic resolutions that include “Stop smoking, save up money, be more confident, reduce circumference of thighs…. (1) She is very body conscious, which is demonstrated through her “giant pants” (2) and constant calorie counting and her insecurities are only reinforced by her love interest, Daniel Clever, leaving Bridget for an American “stick insect” (3) in the modelling industry, relating to the ‘size zero’ debate, and the weight of celebrities which is all over the tabloids in popular culture, putting pressure on young female readers.
In addition to this she (Bridget) continuously comments on the pressure from family and non-single friends, to achieve the married with 2. 4 children lifestyle she feels is expected of her. Bridget Jones is about the female struggle in today’s society. However, in the Full Monty the roles are subverted. You can see the social and physical pressures that are placed on men, particularly as, after they start to practice the routine doubts begin to appear, due to some of the men not feeling secure about their appearances and lifestyles for different reasons.
While Dave wraps himself in cling film, due to the fact he is unhappy with his body, and even quits the show less than a week before their performance because he couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to see his naked body, Gerald, an unemployed steel worker who leads a middle class lifestyle, only agrees to being part of the act, as he is ashamed about not being able to financially support his wife. Providing for the family is one of the most key points rooted to the male gender tradition, just as one of the keys for women is to be a homemaker.
Unlike traditional families, the protagonist Gary or ‘Gaz’ is separated from his son’s mother, who has a new partner, and again breaking with traditional stereotypes, it is the love the father has for his son that spurs on the act, as Gary needs to pay his child support. Both films and the book of Bridget Jones were huge best sellers. It is a personal belief that the successes of both the films are partially due to the uplifting nature of stories. The happy endings result in the deviance from traditional gender roles being accepted and supported by other characters, and the end result was not a failure.
As shown on the television and often written about in the media, the UK has a problem with both obesity and eating disorders; people do deviate from the “traditional” and “ideal” physically, in their lifestyle choices and within aspects of their personality. It would appear that there is no longer a “normal” (assuming of course that there ever was! ) and moving every day closer to equality as female and male attributes merge, in our new hybrid society, both texts show that it is acceptable to digress from the traditional gender roles, which almost everyone does to some degree.
Despite Bridget’s cosmopolitan lifestyle, throughout the book she describes how she longs for a stable relationship, even though she is self-sufficient. It is clear that Bridget feels social pressures alongside those from her married friends and family, but Bridget clearly wants a relationship for her own stability and happiness despite the ‘independent-woman drunken rants’ that she partakes in with her feminist friend Jude. While Helen Fielding has managed to reflect the increase in female independence in her novel, she has not diminished the longing for intimate adult companionship.
This mirrors the marriage and divorce figures ((4)on overleaf) although there has been an increase in the number of divorces there has also been an increase in the number of people who re-marry. The data could suggest that an increase in choices and a slow progress towards equality from both genders has meant that the divorce rate has risen, but that the human need for adult company, love and affection has led to a society of serial monogamy.