Why can’t women be heroes without sex appeal?

Whenever television wants to showcase a woman being a cool hero, she always has to have some sort of sex appeal. It’s like the producers of the show know how every single man works, so whenever a woman appears on screen the first thing every man thinks about is how she would look naked and whether or not he would have sex with her. In turn, this effects women’s ability to just be plain hardcore. For some reason, women can’t kill a villain without showing a bit of cleavage, and it’s not actually that fair.

A good example of this is Kate Beckett from ABC’s major ratings hit Castle, which stars Stana Katic as the heroic detective. Beckett is a kickass heroine, some might say she’s an action girl or a femme fatale, but on the whole she is the hard boiled cop who gets stuff done, takes no nonsense and isn’t afraid to shoot the bad guy dead if the case requires it. She’s pretty cool, but throughout the series we’re lead to certain scenes where Beckett is dressed up or “sexified”, likely to satisfy a male audience. The issue is that Beckett is already a great cop and she is very career centric, but she has men drag her down throughout. She’s shown as a stiff during Season 1 because of her lack of sexual encounters as she talks with Lanie Parish.

Even when it becomes kind of obvious that she has a slight thing for Rick Castle, she’s almost pandered down to by her colleagues (who just happen to be men), because they think she needs to loosen up a little bit sometime, and then when she finally does loosen up, put on a nice dress and let her hair down (essentially, now is the time she becomes “sexified”), people view her more seriously and they like her a lot more. Now that she’s showing off her sex appeal, the characters take a larger shine to her, but this never happens with men. Castle’s conquests with women make him look like the modern day Casanova.

Castle’s love life is never looked down upon however, unless it’s by a nagging female, which means it’s shown to the audience in a negative way. Castle is hardly the hero however, but Beckett is and she’s a good one too, however for some reason we have to centre on the fact that not only is she really sexy, but without a man in her life then her life is meaningless. Men don’t have this kind of portrayal on television, because they can be career focussed and be seen as a success, whereas women cannot… women need sex appeal instead.

But why can’t women be heroes without sex appeal? Is it sexist to have women glorified as objects on television whereas men regularly get away with it or not? Or are men just as objectified since you might never see an ugly hero? Is it the sex appeal we demand or is it the sex appeal the executives think we demand? Maybe we’ll never really let go of gender stereotypes because they are the norm in television.

About the author: Amy is a guest writer from digital TV recorder YouView

16 Nov

Leave a Reply