Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games to entertain an audience who enjoys love, passion, controversy, and conquest. While doing so, she created a gendered trilogy that sociologists could explore. On April 2nd, our class had the opportunity to sit in on a lecture by Dr. Raley. She explained the idea of gender and how it is incorporated throughout The Hunger Games.
The first point Dr. Raley made is that everything is gendered. Whether we realize it or not, certain objects and ideas are directed more towards men or women. For example, alcoholic drinks such as beer are more related to men whereas wine and sweeter drinks are related to women.
Next, Dr. Raley explained how gender is a socially constructed concept. This means that we as a society make the decisions on what gender truly means. We perform gender every single day and we look for a variety of clues in others.
Gender is not the same across all cultures. In fact, in some cultures women are seen as the hunters and gatherers while men are at home with the family. In the United States, gender has varied greatly across time. Our founding fathers wore extravagant clothing and created different “pillars of masculinity” than what are recognized today. Pink used to be a masculine color but that has changed now as well. Women are known to dress more extravagantly with expensive clothing and accessories. Men tend to dress more polished, plain, and simple. These are typical stereotypes but they do not apply to everyone. In addition, men usually are known for being strong, unemotional, and fighters. Women are soft, emotional, and portrayed as “damsels in distress.” Far too often in movies and the media, women are hypersexualized and seem to “need a man” to complete them. Dr. Raley discussed the Bechdal Test which makes us ask ourselves three questions when watching a movie: Are there more than 2 women? Do they have names? Do they talk to each other about anything than the men in the story? These questions prove whether or not women are being portrayed as strong, independent leading roles.
In The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta have seemed to almost switch gender roles. Katniss is known as a modern day heroine, fighting for herself and what she believes in. While she does get caught between two men, she also focuses on saving herself and her family while rebelling against the Capitol. Peeta is portrayed as a sensitive and emotional young man who has no issues telling people how he feels. Katniss’s characterization shows more signs of masculinity and femininity. She is the biggest fighter and source of support for her family. Peeta is more like the typical “movie girlfriend.” He is selfless in order to achieve the main goal of saving Katniss. He acts more charming and feminine in his interviews with Katniss as well.
The trilogy is a modern day example of how gender roles can and continue to vary across a period of time. Katniss still portrays feminine qualities while Peeta still portrays masculine qualities. However, this is the first love story in a while that focuses on more than just a strong man fighting for a damsel in distress.
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