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Friday, July 16, 2010

blog Post #2: exploring Femininity through the character Sam in the Tv show "Icarly"

“Imake Sam Girlier,” an episode from the TV series ICarly, demonstrates many ideas dealing with the big question of what it takes to be a woman in today’s society. The episode explores and presents qualities of women that are tied to being feminine such as being gentle, caring, nice, nurturing, and also how to dress. Sam is not like most female characters on TV, she demonstrates more what it means to be a man than a woman through her aggressive, and cutthroat nature. As we analyze Sam in this particular episode we view more and more what society believes woman to be through her masculinity.

            Throughout the episode, the show presents what it means to be feminine in various ways. The main premise of the episode is to make Sam “girlier.” When Sam asks Carly what she has to do to become more feminine Carly’s first comments were “ no spitting and no fighting”.  Fighting is tied to violence and violence is tied to being masculine. This is one view of today’s society’s that woman are meant to be gentle andnot aggressive.

            The show presents the audience with an ideology that most, or maybe all, Americans share; women are looking for the beauty that is implanted in their heads through the media. In the article, “The Beauty Myth,” Naomi Wolf demonstrates this ideology when she states, “The quality called ‘beauty’ objectively and universally exists.  Women must want to embody it and men must want posses women who embody it”(121). Sam demonstrates the importance of this quote through asking Carly to change her image. Once the makeover is complete, Sam is finally no longer manly but now a young “beautiful” lady, although, this may be through appearance alone.

            Patriarchy is another term that many TV series intertwine throughout their episodes. According to Johnson, “Patriarchy's defining elements are its male-dominated, male-identified, and male-centered character, but this is just the beginning” (94). However, in the show Icarly I believe Sam is a character who is opposing patriarchy, since she, throughout all the episodes, is always superior to the males that are introduced and has more power over the main male characters in the show. The show itself is not supporting Patriarchy because the two characters the show is mainly focused and centered on are two female characters, Sam and Carly.

            Another stereotype that has been engraved into society is that a woman’s goal in life is to achieve a man attention and for the guy of their dream to want them. Sam has supported this idea because one reason why she actually wanted to obtain this new beauty was for the attention of a boy named Craig. She believes, like most girls do, that all good-looking guys are looking for a hot girl. After the transformation, Sam finally received the attention of her dream boy. She believed it was because she was acting more “ladylike”. Later on in the show, Sam actually falls back to her masculine ways and fights another girl, without her knowing Craig was watching the whole time. Craig confesses thereafter that he actually likes her better the way she was before the transformation. The ideology that men are only looking for girly girls has been proven wrong but rather, they want women to be themselves in order to obtain the guy they want.

            Another stereotype that today’s society has engraved to our children, is that a woman should be a caretaker and should attend to her man’s every need. Pozner supports this ideology when she states “women exist for no other reason than to cater to their husbands’ every desire”(96-97). Even though it might not seem that Sam throwing away Craig’s food without him asking, supports this stereotype, it does. The show “transformed” Sam into a lady but before her transformation she would have never thrown away any guys food but now that she is more “ladylike” she innately threw away his food. More ladylike incorporates that a female must be the caretaker and must be willing to nurturing her man innately.

            Many people believe that be a man or a woman one has to have certain traits that distinguish them from the other. Allan Johnson states, “It’s about defining women and men as opposites, about the ‘naturalness’ of male aggression, competition, and dominance and of female caring, cooperation, and subordination,”(94). The following quote only supports the dominant ideology that a man has to act like a man and lady has to act like a lady. If men were to act in a feminine manner we would label him as a homo, wuss, or queer, which are demeaning labels. On the other hand, a woman can act like a man and only be labeled as a tomboy, but people’ first reaction is not to label the female a lesbian. In Sam’s case, she is not a lesbian but acts like a man, she has the aggressiveness and competitive nature like a man “should” have. Is Sam truly what it means to be a woman in the eyes of society or is she what society wants their young women to stray away from since she is far from being the prime example of a lady?

            Sam has proven that what it means to be a female in society’s eyes is not what it truly means to be a female. Icarly presents femininity in a new light rather from the dominant ideology that the media has shown throughout the years. Not all women have to conform to the ideology that women must be gentle and nurturing, and inferior to men, but rather women should be themselves and not conform solely because of all the pressure that media has put on their shoulders. Overall, Icarly is subverting society’s view on what it means to be a female and that maybe society’s view on females and males are not an accurate description on who that person is on the inside or out.

Works cited

Pozner, Jennifer L. “The Unreal World.” Women: Images & Realities, A Multicultural Anthology. Eds. Amy Kesselman, Lily D. McNair, and Nancy Schniedewind. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2006. 96-99. Print.

“Imake Sam Girlier.” Icarly. Viacom International Inc. 2010

Johnson, Allan G. “Patriarchy, The System An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us.” Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology. Ed. Estelle Disch. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2008. 91-99. Print.

Wolf, Naomi. “The Beauty Myth.” Women: Images & Realities, A Multicultural Anthology. Eds. Amy Kesselman, Lily D. McNair, and Nancy Schniedewind. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2006. 120- 125. Print.


  1. I was in total shock when I saw the show you picked is ICarly. I swore I was the only one who watched that show, but you did an awesome job analyzing, Sam my favorite character. You told of all of Sam's aggressive qualities and the way she wanted to change to impress a guy she had a crush on. You brought up the fact that society has convinced girls that acting a bit masculine is not acceptable in the real world especially when it comes to impressing guys.

    In my opinion a girl that can stand up for herself is the best kind of girl a guy can have. The image that Sam was trying to portray was not her true self but when the real Sam was revealed in front of the boy she likes he didn't ignore her he has impressed and loved the fact that she takes charge. What you said is true, '"Sam has proven that what it means to be a female in society’s eyes is not what it truly means to be a female." the only thing wrong is a couple of grammar errors here and there but your overall blog is on target.

  2. Stewart, you chose a great episode to analyze for this assignment!
    You make some great points about the ways in which iCarly depicts what it means to be a woman through the show's depiction of Sam.
    The idea that she would need to be made "girlier" sends the audience a clear message that women are supposed to be "feminine," thus a deviation from a feminine girl as the subject would signal a departure from the stereotypical norm.
    In the description you give from this show, it sounds like Sam is actually showing the audience disapproval of a woman embodying masculine traits because the show is geared toward "fixing" her. While this "feminization" of Sam does not make her a male/man, she is illustrating that departure from femininity, as a woman, is not an acceptable performance.
    When you use a term inaccurately in your thesis, you're setting yourself up for a difficult analysis in the paragraphs that follow.
    Masculine and male/man are not synonymous terms, just as feminine and female/woman aren't synonyms.
    Avoid use of the 2nd person voice in academic writing. Because "we" are hardly a cohesive group of people (anyone or everyone) it's a misrepresentation of an idea to speak of it as though there is uniform agreement on the topic.
    Be careful with your quote usage; therefore, remember to use quotes selectively to back up specific points. When you jump from a paragraph with a point from one author, directly to another paragraph that quotes a different author, the points the author makes should be backing up the same point you've made in the paragraph preceding the first paragraph with quoted work.

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