Okay, so Lost is very easily the most egregiously sexist* work I’ve ever enjoyed. Ever. There’s no use trying to dissect the incredible level of gender-stereotyping that goes on on that show — there’s just too damn much of it. If I spent time doing that, I wouldn’t have any left to wonder about the meaning of the numbers, or what happened to the Dharma Initiative, or who the Others really are. I wouldn’t have any time to think about how “Adam and Eve” could plausibly be Amelia Earhart and her navigator, or to work on writing Lost songs with Emily, or to work with Emily on creating unlikely but hot pairings of characters.
But one thing that’s jumped out at me, lately. I don’t think a single episode goes by without a mention of someone being “a good man.” As in: “You’re a good man!”
“He was a good man!”
“I know you’re really a good man!”
The reason this has me thinking. “Good man” is a phrase with meaning, and it’s a good and powerful meaning, too. It means that, on a fundamental level, the man in question is moral, upstanding, and brave. It means that he wouldn’t hurt other people, that he would instead protect them. Right?
But never in all the gendered compliments on Lost has someone been called “a good woman.” Because that phrase is meaningless, or its meaning is so disturbingly sexist one cannot use it, not even on ABC.
What would it mean to call someone “a good woman”? To tearfully proclaim, “I love you because you’re a good woman”?
I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean principled or courageous.
For this reason, I will never call someone “a good man.” When I want to say that someone is fundamentally kind, strong, righteous, noble, ethical, etc., I will use one of those adjectives, or call her, simply, “a good person” — “a good human being.” There’s nothing in the Y chromosome that brings bravery, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t hold all adults up to the same standard of risking oneself to protect others.
* And racist. And heterosexist. And…
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