Women of the Walking Dead

(Guest contribution by Maye from Woman Writes)

Warning: minor spoilers from last nights episode ahead!

From the beginning of “The Walking Dead” there has been observations and complaints about the show containing an outrageous amount of sexism. As a writer of my own blog that includes my views on feminism and gender roles, I decided to look further into these accusations.

I read a lot of reviews of the first couple seasons from 2012 that speak strongly about the pathetic portrayal of women in the show including the stereotypical roles of the female characters like house cleaning and chores and the fact that none of them are allowed to fight physically for themselves with the exception of Andrea.

But even Andrea, the one character breaking the barrier of female gender roles gets reprimanded by Lori for not helping out enough around the house. Then Andrea gets her gun taken away while Carl, an 11-year-old boy can carry his own gun around. What’s up with that? There are so many more examples of the poor portrayal or women in this show and the hyper masculinity of the men, I could keep writing for pages. Like the anti-abortion message when Lori gets pregnant, or how none of the women have any sort of say in any leadership position.

But instead let’s move on. Not being an avid watcher of the show myself, I couldn’t comment on the most recent seasons since I stopped watching after season 2. So I decided to watch last night’s new episode.

I didn’t think the female characters were portrayed as poorly in this particular episode. Maybe the producers got the hint. Like when Maggie has Abraham at her mercy or when Rosita is the expert over Glenn, the one male in their group in the woods (although we have to admit that Glenn has never been portrayed as super masculine anyway).

But there are other scenes that made me cock my head a bit. Like the very last scene when Sasha is doing the male cop/prisoner a favor. Why would she be so stupid as to turn her back on him? She knows better than that. Or when the female cop is verbally put down by the male cop once they were captured the second time. Her plan just wasn’t good enough, the man needed to derive a better one. Also the scene in the hospital between Dawn, Beth, and the male cop, where the woman cannot override the man once he’s made his decision, even though she is supposed to be the “leader”.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that this show is so popular and loved by so many fans, but needs to work on its portrayal of female characters. It has so much potential to show strong women in leadership positions or even just women whose opinions matter and can make their own decisions. That would get a positive message out to female viewers instead of continuing to “put them in their place”, a message we females have thrown in our faces by society every day. I don’t want to watch it on TV too.

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3 responses to “Women of the Walking Dead

  1. Maye,
    Thanks for your post! I loved it.
    -Ashley

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  2. I only watched half of the first season of the Walking Dead for this exact reason. It was such a sausage fest that I couldn’t find myself interested or connected to a character, especially when the female ones are written so poorly! Great post

    Emma

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  3. I don’t know that any of the characters are that well-written, but you have to watch the episodes before declaring that the women on the show are weak. Carol almost singlehandedly rescued the entire gang from being eaten by cannibals earlier this season, and she had to make some really cold, hard decisions last season that cost her dearly. And Michone (I agree, way underwritten) has been a one-woman zombie wrecking crew since she showed up at the end of season two.

    Yes, there are a lots of macho-man asshole characters, but isn’t that how it would be? Showing men being violent and testosterone-fuled in the apocalpyse is realsim, not an endorsement.

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