Friday, July 16, 2010

What A Manly Man He Is!!!

Meagan Laurie

July 16, 2010

Many people say that males and females are very different from each other. Besides our apparent sexual differences, there are many differences in how we act and go on living each day in our everyday lives. We categorize these differences as masculine and feminine traits. These traits vary from dichotomy words, to language differences and even body language. Living our lives based on these traits allows us to categorize other people based on what we think and not what is truly a characteristic of the other person. These opinions about how one should lead their lives by following these normative traits makes it easy for one to take notice to those who either support these character traits or venture out of the character traits. In the media, these traits are now varying amongst the sexes but many shows make sure that their characters stick to the normative rules of feminine and masculine traits. One show in particular depicts a certain character as the epitome of a masculine charcter.

When it comes to the characters Goren and Eames on the popular show, “Law and Order Criminal Intent,” many of the show’s viewers would say that the two are a perfect team for solving, what sometimes seems like impossible, cases. With strategic planning and excellent cop work, Goren and Eames seem to be an unstoppable partnership for solving many ‘whodunit’ cases. But if you take Eames, the female character, out of the picture, it is very clear that she is very expendable and that her hand in many of the cases, partnered with Goren, is next to invisible. This is due to the fact that Goren is clearly the mastermind and the brains behind many if not all of their investigations.

The character of Goren is depicted as the logically witty and the detective who has the stroke of genius when it comes to catching the bad guys. In the episode, “Silencer,” one would see these characteristics in Goren as he goes through solving the case. He takes action and is the leader to many of the clues to solve this murder investigation. Eames has little or no input as far as actually solving the case, but she does tag along with Goren to confirm that his excellent detective skills are correct. Logic is something seen as a word that is automatically assumed to be a male characteristic or a masculine trait. Indeed, Goren possesses this quality and shows it off, if you will, in the process of solving the investigation. The mere fact that he is a detective is indicative of him being automatically perceived as male being that the word detective is processed to many as a masculine job. One may assume that patriarchy is to blame for this clear gender oppression but according to Johnson, “race, gender, and class oppression are actually not oppression at all, but merely the sum of individual failings on the part of blacks, women, and the poor, who lack the right stuff to compete successfully with whites, men, and others who know how to make something of themselves”(92).

Although that statement may seem very harsh, it is indeed very true of the character of Eames. She could easily say what she feels would be the right way of solving the case but is never really allowed that opportunity. If Goren is solving the case then that allows little or no room for other’s input and therefore Eames stands no contest to that of the intellect of Goren. Speaking up or over the boisterous Goren, she would be seen in a bitchy and very negative way. Thus, the vicious cycle of patriarchy continues. Goren does not act as though he could do without his female partner but the way the show depicts his character is very indicative of how much he could do without the female counterpart. Furthermore, Goren is always the first at the scene and the front-most person in every scene. He is excellent at being the “in your face” detective and it is because of the attention he demands when solving this investigation according to Newman known as “Linguistic tendencies” (84).

Linguistics tendencies are what Newman defines as, “gender-typed conversational behaviors that actually reflect power differences rather than gender differences” (84). What this suggests is that language can establish power in everyday conversation. It doesn’t necessarily have to be male and female conversations but it also suggests that it happens more with the male being the power force in the conversation. This is evident in the character Goren. He not only demands attention, but spares no expense in interrupting people with his intellectual explanations. When he is close to actually solving a case and the prime suspect is in his grasp in the interrogation room, he controls the topics of conversations. There are clear power imbalances between the two detectives who solved the case because Goren takes over the interrogation leaving Eames to merely read the suspect his/her rights. This leaves viewers to assume that Goren has solved another case with the help of the female counterpart but rarely do the viewers see that it took both detectives to solve the case. But the viewers also feed into the fact that Goren is a brilliant detective. What they don’t see is that without his female partner, many of the cases probably would be harder to solve. Goren is sometimes very abrasive in questioning witnesses at times, and when those times arise, Eames acts as the mediator and the woman figure that is the comforting agent when in a pressuring situation such as questioning.

Goren is a very brilliant character on the show “Law and Order Criminal Intent”. He is automatically known to be not only extravagantly intelligent, but the powerful figure in his partnership and virtually the entire show. Suspects answer to him, his commander answers to him and even his partner answers to him. His masculine traits are what sets him apart form his partner and anyone else for that matter. But are all masculine traits so abrasive, aggressive, and so power seeking? Goren’s character leaves very little room for debate on that issue but as long as we assume that certain words are assumed to be masculine due to dichotomy of our vocabulary, then these masculine trait words will always be seen in the powerful light, well, just as long as Goren’s a detective!

Newman, David M.. Identities and Inequalities Exploring the Intersections of Race Class Gender and Sexuality. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2007.

Johnson, Allan G. "Patriarchy, the System: An It, Not a He, a Them or an Us." Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2003. 91-98. Print.

“Silencer.” Law and Order Criminal Intent. USA. TV-14, Australia. 3 Apr. 2007. Television.


  1. Cons:
    Firstly, I thought that your introduction, though attention grabbing, could have been more pointed. Secondly, I thought you used too much repetitive language. Thirdly, your conclusion could have had more to do with the question we had to answer. Lastly, you should have expanded on patriarchy. As is, there is no lead in to patriarchy as a topic in your paper and it felt irrelevant.

    I thought that your point about him being the "bad cop" was pertinent. You did a very good job of backing up your points with quotes. Your explanation of how this character exemplifies manliness was impeccable, but it should have been mentioned in your conclusion.

    It was an interesting topic, but it felt like it was based too much on feminism and not enough on what it means to be a man.

  2. Meagan-
    You chose a great show for your analysis.
    Your intro doesn't quite adequately capture that analysis as the basis for the paragraphs that follow.
    When you use a term vaguely or inaccurately in your thesis, you're setting yourself up for a difficult analysis in the paragraphs that follow. Make your thesis as specific as possible and don't leave anything unclear or without the definition you plan to argue.
    Intro is too vague:
    When you write your intro, keep a couple of issues in mind:
    -You need to know what you're introducing to your readers; therefore, it is helpful to write it last.
    -Avoid generalizations, such as "many people say" unless you plan on citing a statistic that illustrates that the "p-value" is statistically significant and consistent with your assertion about "many people," "most people," etc.
    -Your thesis needs to be as clear and focused as possible; therefore, the thesis needs to specify what you're analyzing (i.e. the show episode through a specific character) and for what reason (i.e. to demonstrate that this character, in the chosen episode, conveys clear messages and meanings about what it means to be a man or a woman.
    -Your readers need to know what show/character/etc you're analyzing by the end of your intro.

    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.
    The following outline can be used as a reference point (the numbers indicate the paragraph sequence) to structure and order a basic, written analysis:
    1. Intro Paragraph (with thesis at the last sentence)
    2. Point A (your first point/assertion that supports your thesis)
    3. Point A with quote from "expert witness" (author cited through the use of a direct quote to back up your point/assertion made in paragraph 2)
    4. Point B (your point/assertion that supports your thesis that can be directly linked with point A, so that your transition from point A to B is logical and adds depth to your analysis)
    5. Point B with quote from "expert witness" (author cited through the use of a direct quote to back up your point/assertion made in paragraph 4)
    repeat the steps above until your points have been made and you've adequately proven your thesis.
    #?. Conclusion (after all points have been made)

  3. See 1st of my comments below before reading this part after you see:
    The transitions between paragraphs are important places to make analytical links between the "parts" through which your analysis has been broken down into (so you can support your thesis).
    Therefore, a sentence such as:
    "Furthermore, Goren is always the first at the scene and the front-most person in every scene. He is excellent at being the “in your face” detective and it is because of the attention he demands when solving this investigation according to Newman known as “Linguistic tendencies” (84)."

    This sentence should actually be the first sentence of the next paragraph when you elaborate more on the definition of Newman's term, "linguistic tendencies":

    "Linguistics tendencies are what Newman defines as, “gender-typed conversational behaviors that actually reflect power differences rather than gender differences” (84)"

    When you cite "one may assume patriarchy is to blame..." you're really the one making the claim (as opposed to a nebulous faceless, nameless entity). Therefore, you need to use a word like "I" if you'd like to make an assertion, such as the one you made about patriarchy.
    You make some good points about gender as portrayed by the two characters you chose.
    Having a structured analysis and a clear, specific thesis will help you convey your ideas in an amazingly clearer way! You have great points; therefore, why would you want anything to detract from the reader understanding them?

  4. Meagan-

    You need to post your feedback for Christian on the comments section of his blog- just as he did for you here, then copy and paste that feedback as a new post on the class notes blog.
    Please make sure your feedback is on his blog before tomorrow's class meeting.