Feminism and The Big Bang Theory

big-bang-theory_lThere is a saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and this is fitting to describe Feminism because they work to make the weakest links strong so that the whole movement can be strong.

Here’s an example of some of the stuff that goes on in The Big Bang Theory. One scene shows Leonard and Sheldon attempting to enter a building with a locked door. Leonard fails using his strength, albeit comically, and then he says to Sheldon that they have a combined IQ of 360, implying that there is no reason for them not to figure out a way to gain access. Right after this, two small girl scouts walk up and push all of the call buttons and get buzzed in immediately. Sheldon then says to Leonard, “What do you think their combined IQ is?” Cue the laugh track. The joke is that the two men are physicists and therefore expected to be extremely intelligent, and the fact that the two small girls immediately gain entrance to the building implies insult to the men because they couldn’t. The old mindset that boys get told that it is embarrassing and weak to get beaten by a girl comes to play. Ageism occurs because children are not expected to be smarter than adults. The combined disadvantage of being too young and being female makes the two girls double and triple disadvantaged (one of the girls is also a minority and her face is never shown, making the minority girl all but invisible) and therefore the joke is that these two lowest members on the society totem pole outsmarted two of the most powerful members of society (two educated, presumably heterosexual, formally educated, white males).

There’s tons of gender stereotyping going on too. The one main female character (Penny) is dressed in overly tight fitting clothing and showing lots of cleavage in 95% of the scenes, and most of her on screen presence is marred with sexual humor made at her, although there are a few scenes where she is the one making the sexual jokes too. One example of this is the scene where the remote control cars being controlled by global nerds with cameras are all looking up Penny’s skirt, including one that is being controlled by Howard, a main cast member. Even the secondary women characters are always depicted in sexually humorous circumstances or talking about men and sex. Woman are diminished to twits and sexual objects to an audience of 3.3 million without a single hiccup.

The premise of the show is easy, the main characters, two white, heterosexual, educated males are smart. Everyone else, isn’t. The pretty girl next door is there to mock their intellect and lack of sexual prowess by putting her own sexuality on display for laughs. Socialist feminism, and feminism in general, works to change these harmful depictions of the status quo so that everyone can have a place as being considered capable, and therefore worthy.

Fuck the patriarchy.


“Big Bang Theory – Best of Season 1 (part 1 of 2).” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.

“Definition of Socialism in English:.” Socialism: Definition of Socialism in Oxford Dictionary (American English) (US). N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.

Hodge, Jarrah. “How to Do Feminist TV Analysis.” Gender Focus How to Do Feminist TV Analysis Comments. Gender Focus, 26 June 2013. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

Jones, Paul. “The Big Bang Theory Series Six Draws Second-highest Audience in E4’s History.” RadioTimes. Radio Times, 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

Lorber, J. (2012). Gender Inequality. New York, Oxford University Press, Inc.


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2 responses to “Feminism and The Big Bang Theory

  1. Perfect conclusion 🙂 Fuck the patriarchy! 🙂 Also, that’s a great photo 🙂

  2. elmediat

    One could also see the gag as meaning , the adult, well educated males are so over confident and narrow in their thinking that they cam not effectively problem solve the situation. Note, that like many traditional American sitcoms, the emphasis is on male inadequacy. Father does not know best, nor do any of the mothers. The females are career women, Bernadette is the most successful, followed by Amy and Penny is now moving into a whole new career where she earns more money that her fiancé (Leonard, like many in the research & teaching fields, is well educated & under-paid).

    All the characters are all growing and maturing, very gradually, which is typical of network sitcoms – the business model does not want to change too may variables for loss of target audience.

    I can see your interpretation of the incident on the show; it is not the only interpretation, since mass media contains many messages, values, beliefs & ideologies. The character arcs have grown over the seasons, too slowly for many in the audience, but understandable. The core situation is Leonard putting up with Sheldon while navigating his relationship with Penny. This situation collapses if he & Penny establish a permanent living arrangement and Sheldon achieves a complete relationship with Amy.

    Cheers with keep looking in your blog – I have media -literacy blog which may be of interest to you. I also deal with some media Literacy issues on my Implied Spaces blog.

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