Whoosh! Issue 45 - June 2000


Xena: The Zenith of Evolving Gender Roles from 1950 to the Present




Living Without Men

Joxer is finally busted for scene stealing

Joxer, in trouble, in KINDRED SPIRITS.
[37] The women of Xena can live without men. Xena and Gabrielle travel throughout Greece without male companions. Joxer often joins them, but he usually needs to be rescued more often than they do. Even without males to protect them, the duo fends off common thugs while traveling. They do not seem to mind their single status either. Though Xena takes a number of male lovers, including, on occasion, Hercules, she never settles down with any of them. "That will never happen," promises Rob Tapert [Note 24].

[38] Both Xena and Gabrielle have many suitors, but most of them wind up dead or do not stay for longer than one episode. In MORTAL BELOVED and ULYSSES (43/219), Xena seems to have found "the right man", yet she refuses to give up her path of atonement for him. Meanwhile, Gabrielle's suitors are usually killed before the episode is over. Men in the Xenaverse, a term coined by the fans and producers of the show used to describe the fantastic quality of the show, do not last for long and therefore seem dispensable. "The Xena-Gabrielle friendship is a deeply committed one. The women risk their lives for each other, [and] refuse to leave each other for men" [Note 25].

[39] Gabrielle is also Queen of the Amazons, a group of women who live without men. The Amazon tribes demonstrate that women can maintain a thriving civilization without men's influence. Their villages train warriors and healers alike. The women take care of themselves and defend their villages if necessary. Historians argue about the actual existence of these tribes of women warriors. Whether or not the Amazons existed, Xena uses them as a model to illustrate that women do not always need men to be content.

"[Television] is like a giant Rorschach test, which runs around five years behind culture rather than drives it. What [the audience] sees on TV is more often a mirror than a model...Television is taking dictation from the culture's social agenda" [Note 26].

[40] The standards and expectations for women in American society have changed greatly since the 1950s. Women have worked hard and sacrificed much to earn the respect they deserve. The television show, Xena: Warrior Princess reflects the evolution of the American female's role. The opening credits state that "her courage will change the world" but the courage of women in past generations already has.


Notes


Note 01:
The Official Barbie Doll Website
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Note 02:
Lorraine Glennon, ed. Our Times. New York: Turner Publishing, 1995, page 492
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Note 03:
Ibid., 456.
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Note 04:
Juliane Gestone, "Booming Bodies and Healthy Minds"
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Note 05:
Michael S. Goldstein, The Health Movement. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992. Page 85.
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Note 06:
Sally B. Donnely. "Work That Body." Time 18 November 1991: 88
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Note 07:
Donna Minkowitz, "Xena. She's Big, Tall, Strong--and Popular" MS. Vol. 7, No. 1. July/August 1996. Page 79.
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Note 08:
Robert Weisbrot. The Official Guide to the Xenaverse. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1998, page 158-9.
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Note 09:
Minkowitz, 79.
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Note 10:
Karen Dior Webpage
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Note 11:
Daniel Defoe, The Education of Women (1719)
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Note 12:
Susan J. Douglas, Where the Girls Are. New York: Times Books, 1995, page 176.
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Note 13:
Barbara Miller Solomon, "In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America." New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985, page 44.
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Note 14:
Sue Heinemann, Timelines of American Women's History. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 1996. Page 187-94.
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Note 15:
Douglas, p. 200.
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Note 16:
Heinemann, page 128-30.
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Note 17:
Bonnie J. Dow, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996. Page 26-7.
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Note 18:
Heinemann, page 131, 5-6, 8-9.
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Note 19:
Janet Cawley, "The 25 Most Powerful Women in America." Biography. April 1999, pages 69-71, 76, 80.
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Note 20:
Margaret J. Heide, Television Culture and Women's Lives. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995, page 33.
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Note 21:
Heide, page 34.
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Note 22:
Heinemann, page 128-39.
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Note 23:
See the marital status chart at http://ddi.digital.net/~laurieg/marriage/marriags.htm
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Note 24:
Mnkowitz, 81
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Note 25:
Ibid.
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Note 26:
Gloria Goodale, "Television's Superwomen: Gutsy Young Females are the Stars Driving Some of Today's Most Successful TV Shows." Christian Science Monitor. 5 February 1999, page 15.

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Biography

Ilin Chen Ilin Chen
A woman of mystery

Favorite episode: BITTER SUITE
Least favorite episode: KEYS TO THE KINGDOM
First episode seen: COMEDY OF EROS

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