Seeing the topic of gender and expectations reminds me of a pet peeve I have. It’s the role of female characters in romantic comedies.
Several years ago, I started to notice a trend where the vast majority of women in these films are either preschool teachers or nurses. Don’t get me wrong. Both are admirable professions that take an enormous amount of dedication and hard work. But with so many other professions available to women, it would be nice to see more of a variety in movies. That way, young women who are watching will know there is a huge selection of vocations to choose from, and they won’t feel limited in their possibilities. Make the lead female character a nuclear physicist or a member of the secret service. Maybe she could be a park ranger or a train engineer.
Instead, Hollywood seems caught up in these more traditional jobs. Occasionally, the lead will be a doctor, generally a pediatrician, but I suspect it’s because the director thought the actress would look fetching in a white coat.
Romantic comedies tend to follow a fairly standard formula to begin with, but I’m not sure why Hollywood isn’t more creative with its characters in such films. Is it because when the producers and script writers try to think up female professions, teacher is the first one that pops into their head since it’s long been connected with women? Is it because these professions provide a shortcut to character development? After all, if the female romantic partner is a teacher or nurse, then that implies she’s loving and patient and good with people, particularly children. By picking such a job, it cuts down on those extra scenes needed to fully develop the character.
Whatever the reason, I look forward to the day when how a female character earns her living surprises me with its uniqueness. I’d love for a woman to gaze into her potential beau’s eyes and say, “I’m a caretaker at a cemetery.” Maybe that will happen someday!