What It Takes to Be a Paradox
Graduate student Lisa Davis from The University of Akron states that rather than encourage women to channel their social frustrations into social activism, popular shows emphasize that women should take responsibility for their own problems. She’s right. Lorelai Gilmore does exactly that. By doing this, she is represented as a feminist. I know this. However, it is difficult to prove ways in which she is because she is such a complex and dynamic character. Amy Sherman-Palladino is the creator of the hit television show “Gilmore Girls,” which contains a character that exemplifies the qualities of a feminist. She embodies a headstrong, independent woman, who can survive life on her own. However, Lorelai stands in as a paradox for these qualities. Being the true feminist she is, she does not conform to what society tells her who she should be or how she should act. Rather, she fits into her own category that very few know how to reach.
Below is Emma Watson’s speech on gender equality.
This video is a message to every single person in the world on why the fight for equality and freedom are important. It describes why feminism is important. If everyone is put into a box, and told who they should or should not be, then where does individuality come from? People deserve to be free and true to themselves, just as Lorelai Gilmore is to herself.
As defined by Actress and Good Will Ambassador, Emma Watson, during her speech of gender inequality and Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on her speech concerning feminism, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory or political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. How does one gain these rights afforded them? They gain it by taking life as it was meant to be taken and becoming independent. Lorelai Gilmore represents such independence, as well as feminism. She is one of the first women in television to represent such a sustaining and successful life on her own, fighting to keep her independence. Palladino does not create this character to declare herself as a feminist, but by gaining an understanding of her mannerisms, the audience gets the strong sense that she is one. At the tender age of sixteen, she took her independence for her own and broke the mold standards her parents tried to force upon her. That mold was one coming from the ways in which old money ran the world. Where women stayed home, hosted parties and teas, and were the trophy on a man’s arm. Rather than stay and endure the life she hated, Lorelai left with and started over with her newborn. Making something out of nothing (Feddeck), some may call her brave, others may call her stupid.
Below is a video of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speech on Feminism.
This video reveals what some of the struggles are like for women in general. How females are overlooked compared to males, and what our role in society is supposed to be. As the title states, this video tells everyone why they should be a feminist. The world is unfair and has not always been kind to women, isn’t it time we change that?
Through her bravery (or stupidity), Lorelai can also be seen as self-contradictory, a true paradox. Dr. Anna Arrowsmith, with a PhD in gender studies states in her article that a feminist paradox “describes when as a woman you are made to feel you can’t do something that you would enjoy and would arguably make you grow as an individual, because of what feminism tells you should do as a member of the discriminated female sex. Yet, feminism also says that women should be able to develop themselves in whatever way they wish to personally pursue.” What she is saying is that women should be able to be true to themselves and do what fills the desires of their heart, without fear of what social norm it follows and whether or not it lines up with what a feminist says she should do. Lorelai is a great example of this paradox. She only does things that make her happy, despite what others think of her. Her parents tried to control her and force her into a mold, but she fought against it and left. Lorelai fought her entire life her independence and finally won.
Being a powerful woman can come with a lot of responsibilities. Take cooking for example: it is one of those things that men think are imbedded in the genetic makeup for a woman, but that is not always true. Looking at Lorelai Gilmore, she does a lot of things on her own, but she does not cook for herself. She and her daughter live off of pop tarts, coffee, and diner food. Because she grew up deprived of the opportunity to learn to cook for herself, she still relies heavily on someone else to cook her meals for her. The person cooking those meals is a male, which is contradictory to traditional gender roles. As Adichie points out, women are typically the ones to take care of cooking and the house chores, but in this particular television show, Lorelai does neither of those things. What she does do is raise her daughter on her own. Lorelai is the cool, calm, and collected mother that every daughter wishes she had. She and Rory are best friends, but Lorelai is quick to pull out the mom card when needed. Lorelai tries to give Rory the life she did not want, and by doing this, she wants her daughter to go to the best schools that she cannot afford to pay for. By wanting the best for her daughter, Lorelai realizes she cannot afford the schools. So for the first time since she was sixteen, she reached out to her parents for help. Through Lorelai’s strength, she is able to recognize her weakness and her need for help. Although she recognizes this, she does not accept it easily. Because she lacked having her parents in her life for sixteen years, Lorelai’s best friend, Sookie, is someone she turns to and is seen leaning on quite often, almost replacing the mother figure she lacks in her life. This contradicts the strong, independent woman she represents as a feminist.
This picture represents how scary the world, in general, can be. This picture is more than Lorelai looking at a house. It represents her facing her demons head on. Whether it be her mother or her career or life, she does it standing tall and starring at it face to face. It all may seem intimidating, but in the end, we can conquer anything we set our minds to.
Palladino portrays Lorelai as a woman who goes after what she wants, who is very headstrong, and who does not put up with nonsense. Some may call her bossy or a few other choice words. Others might call her a feminist. She does try and reach equality for herself through the numerous obstacles put forth for her when trying to open up The Dragonfly Inn. Through those obstacles, the audience also sees her struggle to hang on to relationships she forms with men; such as being engaged twice. Is it because of her independence that she cannot hang onto a relationship or are there deeper issues? Perhaps it has something to do with the relationship that she has with her parents that makes her too much to handle. Instances of other battles she constantly fights are the ones seen with the town mayor, Taylor Doose. Both individuals are stubborn and often think their ways are the right way. Lorelai metaphorically pulls her hair out with the majority of their interactions, but she does not relent until the tables turn in her favor. But grace is not always her friend when achieving these things. She speaks her mind, but not always in the kindest of ways. The aftermath of such heinous talk is a wedge being driven between the people she holds closest to her. She does not know how to relent or give in. Feminists typically don’t, because of their fight for equality. In turn, Lorelai places herself further into her own unique category.
Gender inequality and feminism go hand in hand. Emma Watson was correct when she asked “why has the word feminism become an uncomfortable one?” This is because the word is associated with having a negative connotation. People who correlate themselves to being a feminist are often revered as being intimidating (Adichie). But being one’s own person should not be seen as intimidating. Lorelai is her own person. She is independent and headstrong, as well as a paradox. She does not fit into a box, but in all honesty, who does? If everyone was in a box, then no one would stand out; not Lorelai, and certainly not the woman who created her character, Amy Sherman-Palladino. Emma Watson and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would also not be accounted among those ranks. Evolutionary feminism is moving past the traditional role of woman and accepting that it’s not simply about gender, but rather skills and abilities (Adichie).