Gender Analysis on “Desperate Housewives”

“Desperate Housewives” is story of Mary Alice Young, who seems to be a very perfect housewife but commits suicide due to the dark secret involving her and her husband. The friends of Mary Alice Young, Susan Mayer, Lynette Scavo, Bree Van de Kamp and Gabrielle Solis, are introduced and the story describes how they find out the reasons for Mary Alice’s suicide and how to deal with their personal problems in their lives.

The cultural text to be analyzed is the promotional video of “Desperate Housewives”. At the beginning, a woman is sitting in the bathtub bathing and three children are chasing each other while playing with the bubbles. The woman looks worried but she is depressed after the children disappear around her. Another woman is mopping the floor with red varnish but she looks very confident and arrogant. After that, a woman in a pink skirt is walking sexily and another woman just fails to cook and makes the oven full of fire but she smiles to a man bashfully. Then, there is a woman who dresses very elegantly dating a man but meanwhile she is thinking about having sex with another guy. Finally, a woman is sitting among the roses and blows out a candle, looking a man to walk across and the video shows the words – “Admit it. Everyone has a little dirty laundry.”

The promotional video reinforces some of the values and images about women. For example, women should handle the housework, behave elegantly and behave sexily. In the real world, some women behave like this because they are forced by the general ideology to do so and they are just considered the objects of men. However, in the promotional video, most of the women are independent and confident. They behave as a woman or dress as a woman because they think they are a woman so they totally have the privilege to do so.

Moreover, some women even do something which breaks the rules of daily life and the social norms. For instance, a woman mops the floor with the varnish. She is not cleaning the floor. Worse still, she is just causing a mess on the floor but she is still very satisfactory. Another woman, on the other hand, no longer protects her chastity in her thought. Although the women in the video enjoy very much, the audience may not agree with their behavior and I think there are some relationships and metaphors between the two scenes – if women do not behave well according to some of the social norms, there may be some catastrophic consequences following them.

Therefore, some social norms concerning feminism may have their values of existence. They are used to maintain the stability of society. If some of the social norms are not followed, social problems concerning morality may arouse. Thus, it is important for us to think about whether such kinds of social norms are reasonable or just the shackles which obstruct our development and deprive of our freedom.