Playing Into Gender Stereotypes in “Black Box” and the Real World

In “Black Box”, women are taught to use how they are perceived as weapons. They purposely act clueless and obedient. This technique works because it plays into the preconceived notions that men have of women.

The “Beauties”, women contracted by the government to seduce and gain information from men, justify their actions by telling themselves that the information they are gathering is of the utmost importance and will save America. They do what they do because they think it is for the greater good.

By purposely acting ditzy and obedient, the Beauties are reinforcing negative stereotypes about women.

When I think about negative, harmful stereotypes, my mind immediately jumps to Hollywood. In film and television, stereotyping runs rampant. The girl who walks into the dark basement to investigate a mysterious sound dies, a woman who is focuses on her career doesn’t have time for love, businessman realizes he was in love with his secretary after she left him. There are a plethora of movie/TV stereotypes about women.

Although famous actresses often champion feminism, many of them continued taking one-dimensional roles. In Grease, Sandy changes everything about herself for a boy. In Jurassic World, Bryce Dallas Howard plays a career-oriented woman who is cautious of love. Actresses may only see the role as a part to play, they are helping perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

Instead of gaining power, women are giving power to demeaning stereotypes, which in turn allow men who believe in those stereotypes continue with their actions.

4 thoughts on “Playing Into Gender Stereotypes in “Black Box” and the Real World

  1. JULIA Y

    I completely agree, I think the story shows the stereotypical oversexualized version of a female spy we see in media all the time. I think it’s really interesting how they are referred to as “beauties”

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  2. Jenna K

    I absolutely see the relationship between reality and the story but I do think that times have changed and that nowadays there are more women power stories instead of the damsel in distress stories. But there is a clear connection to the “beauties” and past roles in media.

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  3. SONIA ZARTMAN

    This idea of female stereotypes has been really interesting lately, as although we seem to be living in this “new era” of female empowerment, there are still things that are perpetuating them. As you pointed out, we’ve reached an age in Hollywood in which women are coming out with sexual harassment cases and taking more leading roles in movies, but movies are still being made that seem almost outdated in their portrayal of women. For example, many new movies on streaming services portray the “girl needs saving from guy” narrative that many of us believe we have left in the past. It is interesting to see how quickly or slowly our media changes in response to our environment.

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  4. Zach B

    I agree and think this is a very interesting point to bring up. Despite the beauties being painted as these bio-genetically enhanced super humans, they still unfortunately strengthen gender roles and patriarchal dominance, even if it is an illusion. By actualizing a potentially sexist role, even if it isn’t what a female actor truly believes, she has created a picture of what women could be.

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