The term “Hegemony” refers to the dominance of one group of people has over others. For example, the wealthy class might have hegemony over the middle and poor class due to their ability to use money to influence aspects of society. Hegemonic masculinity is another aspect of hegemony that involves the segregation of and demotion of women from man. Although hegemonic masculinity can be seen everywhere in media and society today, one show stands to eliminate this view. The show Suits follows a college drop out, Mike Ross, who accidentally lands a job with one of New York’s best lawyers, Harvey Spector, this show illustrates their struggles trying to win cases and the friction within the firm itself. The Boss of this firm is a character named Jessica Pearson, who is a woman and is a racial minority. Her character displays reverse hegemonic roles and inverse gender roles. Usually in media, hegemony is shown in white males over other people but in this show, Jessica is shown to have masculine characteristics usually associated with the gender roles of males. Some of the characteristics she shows are: courage, inner direction and considerable amounts of toughness in mind and body, which are usually associated with males. Furthermore, suits dispels preconceived ideas of man and women. Although we see the idealistic male gender roles in Harvey Spector, he is more or less controlled by Jessica Pearson and the character shows that she “wears the pants” in the firm by taking charge and controlling the actions of the people that work under her. An example of reverse hegemonic and gender roles can be seen in the interaction of Jessica Pearson with another character from the show, “I put you out once. When I beat you this time, they’re going to have to peel you off the wall.” This quote shows a sense of aggression, courage and strength, which is usually portrayed in male characters but never female characters. Furthermore, females are often depicted as passive, not making their own decisions and beautiful. When they do make a decision or manage to convey an opinion in media, the decision is usually portrayed as a bad decision and leads to destruction. This is not the case with Jessica in suits because the characters’ decisions are shown to be wise, tactical and of a true leader. Furthermore, when one of the co-stars makes a mistake she is the one to clean it up and make it right; this is not what is usually depicted in popular culture. In popular culture we are shown that once the female makes a mistake the hero or male comes sweeping down to save her and fix the problem.
Additionally, the character Jessica Pearson is a black female, which breaks racial roles as well. In media today, not many minorities are displayed as the “boss”. Thus, media today portrays the ideal boss or hegemonic character as being white and male. Therefore, a black female being the boss is completely opposite to the views of today’s society. In addition, a study done on movies showed that “Black women are shown as being violent in movies 56% of the time compared to the 11% of white women.” (http://voices.yahoo.com/racial-stereotypes-media-38872.html?cat=9) This shows that minorities are depicted as having animal like qualities and are vulgar human beings. Which is certainly not true but is how media today displays the non-idealistic characters, meaning not being a white male or female.
In conclusion, do you think that as society matures and learns to incorporate more realistic images of races that gender roles will be exterminated? Do you think the male-female complex (hegemonic masculinity) will ever change and if so how?