Gender in the Media: “Supergirl” #6

How does the TV show Supergirl represent gender? Part #6

In the Supergirl Season 2 ‘Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk’ episode, two characters – Kara and Mon El – get into an argument because Mon El started a fight with a man named Mxyzptlk. Kara tells Mon El that he was out of control, while Mon El replies back, “I’m sorry that I was busy defending your honor.” Since Mon El is starting a relationship with Kara, he thinks that as a man, he should fight Kara’s battles for her.

Kara then tells him, “I am not some damsel in distress. I am Supergirl and I can defend myself and more importantly, I told you I was handling it.”

Kara has been fighting crime as Supergirl for the past year, where she received the proper training on how to handle opponents. When Mon El decided he wants to fight alongside her, Kara taught Mon El how to fight, and of course, being the teacher, she won against him every time. Despite that she is much stronger than him, Mon El still thinks it is his responsibility to defend and protect her. Since Mxyzptlk offended Kara, Mon El had an instinct as a man to not only stand up for Kara, but he also wanted to start a physical fight with Mxyzptlk. It was Kara who intervened before the situation became violent, which also plays into the stereotype that women prefer to handle situations with words, rather than with their fists.

Mon El tells Kara, “Well, Kara, sometimes you’re not a good judge of what you can handle.” This implies that Mxyzptlk is too strong for Kara, and when this happens, she, as a woman, should seek help from a man.

Mon El questions Kara why she gave him an “earful,” rather than the real threat – Mxyzptlk. This scene reinforces the trope of a “nagging wife” or “nagging girlfriend.” Whenever a man expresses his frustrations to his wife or girlfriend, he is seen as reasonable, while a woman is seen as being overdramatic or overemotional.

Mon El is also jealous of Mxyzptlk, who can make anything appear in just a snap of his fingers – including flowers for Kara. The scene he is referring to is in my earlier blog post. He is jealous because Mxyzptlk can give Kara anything she wants, while he can’t. As Kara’s boyfriend, he wishes he could provide for her. This refers to the gender stereotype that men are taught to be the breadwinners – that it is up to them to provide for their wives and families. Again, Kara is perfectly capable of handing herself because she works a steady job at Catco Worldwide Media as a reporter.

Another stereotype scene in the clip below is that men are childish. Kara tells Mon El, “I expect bad behavior from him, but from you? I expect much much better.” The language that Kara uses sounds like it is meant from for a child who has misbehaved, not from a girlfriend to a boyfriend. This is because men are often seen as irresponsible and careless, while woman are seen as the opposite. It is as if men need women so they won’t lose control of their anger, or to make better decisions.

Mon El responds by telling Kara that he is the one who is supposed to be angry, not her, which also plays into the stereotype that women are supposed to be gentle, timid, and willing to accept the man’s anger, instead of calling him out on it.

Kara tells Mon El, “You know what? I thought you changed. I really did, but you are still the same macho, egotistical [Daximite] you’ve always been.” This gender stereotype is the belief that a ‘good girl’ can change the behavior of a ‘bad boy.’ Again, because women are seen as innocent and pure, while men are seen as violent, angry, and dangerous.

The second scene in the clip above shows Mon El going to Winn for advice, which is the stereotype that people go to their own gender for advice about the opposite gender.

Winn, who is also having “girl issues,” tells Mon El, “Hey, you’re great with girls. They throw themselves at you left and right.”

Mon El says, “Yeah, not all of them.”

He continues by saying, “Things were a lot easier on Daxam when I objectified women and didn’t care about anyone.”

The gender stereotypes in this dialogue between Winn and Mon El is that men often objectify women by treating them as sexual objects, and because this is seen as the norm, women sometimes are not aware of how poorly they are treated, and instead, they are attracted to men like this. The term “womanizer” is often used for men who can ‘get’ a lot of girls, while the terms “slut” and “whore” are used for women who ‘get’ a lot of men.

The fact that Mon El also says that he did not care about anyone also portrays the stereotype that men are emotionless and unaffectionate. The only time we actually see emotion from a man is when he is angry.

The last stereotype I will be discussing is that Mon El steals a device that can potentially kill Mxyzptlk. While Kara would rather keep him alive and defeat Mxyzptlk by outsmarting him, Mon El picks the violent option because he is a man. This reinforces the fact that he does not trust Kara to defeat Mxyzptlk on her own, and as a result, he takes matters into his own hands.

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