As the tension between third wave and second wave feminists grew, the depiction of women interacting with other women on television also was facing dramatic change. The producers and writers of many popular television shows saw this as an opportunity to exploit such issues, and highlight the tensions between feminism and anti-feminism. As of recent, the theme revolving around the shows we’ve been viewing have focused on female independence and proving themselves worthy of recognition. However, as tensions rise we see a different tone resonating within the females on screen.
In class we watched an episode of Charlie’s Angels titled, Angels in Chains, and an episode of Cagney and Lacey titled, Affirmative Action. In these two shows alone the shifting relationship between feminists and anti-feminists is quite evident.
In this episode of Charlie’s Angels, we see three sympathetic and helpful women looking out and protecting other helpless women. These three beautiful women don’t need men to help them, they are quite fine on their own. Their mission is to check out a sketchy prison. This prison has been picking up women on drug charges and later the women somehow disappear completely. The “Angels” are sent undercover into prison. There are several women working in the prison that seem to be in on the funny stuff. The warden herself is running the whole scam. The girls discover that the prison is turning their prisoners into prostitutes and sending them to parties with the suppliers.
The main problem here is that the women working in the prison and the warden are exploiting their own sex. Who needs men when women treat other women just as degrading? This is anti-feminism at its peak. While the Angels are trying to help other women, these women are just bring other women down a notch. The anti-feminist message here is clear, and quite disturbing.
Cagney and Lacey also showed a strong sense of the fight between feminism and anti-feminism. In this episode titled, Affirmative Action, a new police woman is put on the force. Cagney and Lacey are a bit put off by the idea of having another woman on the force and also are annoyed by how well received she was by the other men. Diane, the new girl, is assigned to work with Cagney and Lacey. They are told to patrol and see if they can find anything they can help with. While driving around they come upon a fire and start to investigate. Diane claims its a murder but Cagney and Lacey disagree. It turns out Diane was right, it was a murder. This only furthers their annoyance. The tensions between Cagney, Lacey and Diane are quite evident. They are jealous and don’t want other any other women stealing their thunder. They are quite content being the only females on the squad, and are obviously pretty proud of how far they’ve come and how much they’ve achieved. In this episode the tensions are clear, these women don’t care that she is one of them. It’s every man for himself, or in this case, every woman for herself.
As a side note and a reference to our intertextuality discussions, I found it interesting how in this episode Diane goes off by herself and finds herself in a great deal of trouble. Usually when the woman goes off by herself, like in Police Woman, the men come to save the day. However, in this episode Cagney and Lacey appear to save the day and save the damsel in distress. In this situation we see that maybe Cagney and Lacey aren’t as hard as they seem, and when it is necessary they can drop their facade and help another woman out. Although, that is their job.