Why women hate to love “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”

Oppositional Gaze Blog

Maggie Balow

2/18/15

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is about a girl named Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) who works for a Cosmo-like magazine.  When her friend continually gets dumped after relationships lasting a week, Andie decides to do an experiment for an article for her magazine where she starts dating a guy and then tries to drive him away using all of the “annoying, girl habits” that “drive men crazy.”  Meanwhile, Ben Berry (Matthew McConaughey), in order to get what he wants at his job, claims that he can make any woman fall in love with him in 10 days.  This ends up being Andie, but little does he know, he is being set up to fail so that his co-workers win the bet and get the promotion.

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This movie portrays a lot of negative images and stereotypes of women.  Andie starts off in their relationship as being a really fun, interesting girl and tries to win him over by getting them two tickets to an NBA finals game.  At the game, she decides to start the “act” and makes him leave during the last minutes of a close game to get her a soda.  When he comes back, she’s mad because it’s not diet, so he leaves again and misses the end of the game, portraying women as needy and controlling.  Later when they go to a movie, Andie is very disruptive and talks throughout a large portion of it, making it seem like girls have no manners.  As their relationship progresses, Andie starts to leave some of her belongings in his apartment, including feminine products.  This freaks Ben out, which is concerning because this is something everyone woman has to deal with so why does it have to freak them out? And also, it portrays Andie as “moving too fast” in their relationship and as women always being the ones wanting more than the man does.  Andie also spontaneously becomes a vegetarian.  Ben spends a long time cooking dinner (lamb) for her, and after it is all served, Andie tells him that she doesn’t eat meat, poking fun of women for becoming vegetarians.  When they leave to go out for dinner after this, Andie starts crying and tells the waitress that Ben thinks she is fat, and she can’t eat in front of him, making it seem as though a lot of women need to have eating disorders and be super skinny in order to make men find them attractive.

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At another point in the story, Andie decides to show up on “guys poker night,” portraying women as intruding and not allowing them to have their “bro-time.”  As in every other chick flick, there comes a point in the movie where they start to fall for each other.  They go to his parents house and Andie must act “normal” for his family. While on their trip, Ben teaches Andie how to drive his motorcycle.  Andie struggles and takes off with Ben falling off the back and having to run and save her from her “ditzy” mistake, making it look like women are incapable of driving any machinery (Cantin, 2009).

This reading is flawed because it puts women in a negative light.  It makes it seem as though all of the “usual/crazy” things that women do in relationships push guys away and scare them into thinking all women are “crazy.”  In reality, a lot of women do not act the way Andie acts when she is trying to push Ben away.  As stated before, Andie tries to mimic the ways that women “behave” in relationships: being needy and controlling, disruptive, coming on too strong, intruding on ‘guys night,’ incapable of operating heavy machinery, and other various ‘unattractive qualities.’  This is a problem because there are so many women in the world that don’t act this way, and this is misrepresenting the population as a whole.  It is also offensive to women who do possess some of these qualities.  If that’s the way they are, then we should let them be themselves.  We shouldn’t have to change who we are to get a man’s attention.

Before taking this class, I really loved this movie, and I honestly still do. It is very funny, and let’s be real, Matthew McConaughey is pretty nice to look at.  I had never thought about the ways in which it negatively portrayed women because, maybe, I just didn’t want to see it.  After taking this class, I see that this movie definitely has some flaws.  However, movies aim at satisfying audiences, and I think a lot of women don’t look for these flaws or see them as a negative image of women, they can only see the humor and their desire for the main characters to end up together.  The way I shifted my gaze was in a negotiable focus.  As McCabe states, “…’negotiation’ is achieved by looking at the institutions, texts, and reception. Drawing on a number of principles…while at the same time challenging the textual determinism and formalism of these approaches allows Gledhill to claim that the work of ideology is far more fluid than the 1970s ideological analyses would have us believe,” (page 47).  What I mean by a negotiable focus is that I understand what the message of this movie is and what it is trying to say, however, I don’t have the same personal values.  I don’t see myself or most of the women I know as having most of these qualities. I can look past the gender stereotypes portrayed in this movie and appreciate and find pleasure in the humor and the story line, and identify with the main character, but I also feel that is not necessarily good for the image of women.  As Mulvey states, “The cinema satisfies a primordial wish for pleasurable looking, but it goes further, developing scopophilia in its narcissistic aspect.  The conventions of mainstream film focus attention on the human form… Here, curiosity and the wish to look intermingle with a fascination with likeness and recognition: the human face, the human body, the relationship between the human form and its surroundings, the visible presence of the person in the world,” (para 9).  This is an explanation of why we find pleasure in the cinema.  We find pleasure looking at things that are familiar, like other people and their relationships with each other.  We like to see that other peoples’ lives aren’t necessarily perfect, but they still get their “happy ending.”  Even though the cinema isn’t real life, we like to think that it could be for us and are thus blinded by false the representation it gives us.

References:

Cantin, E. (2009, November 20). 7 Popular ‘Chick Flicks’ That Secretly         Hate Women. Retrieved from http://www.cracked.com/article/194_7-popular-chick-flicks-that-secretly-hate-women_p2/

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