Saturday, March 31, 2007

Patriarchy in "The Office"

“The Office” embodies many of the hegemonic norms pertaining to patriarchy and gender roles. As Alan Johnson describes patriarchy, “It’s about the standards of feminine beauty and masculine toughness, images of feminine vulnerability and masculine protectiveness, of older men coupled with young women, of elderly women alone. It’s about defining women and men as opposites, about the ‘naturalness’ of male aggression, competition, and dominance and of female caring, cooperation, and subordination. It’s about the valuing of masculinity and maleness and the devaluing of femininity and femaleness” (Johnson, 94). These views make constant appearances in “The Office.” In the show, the men are seen as aggressive and outgoing, while the women are seen as gentle and passive. The men are in control of almost everything that goes on in the office, besides the all female party planning committee. Although Michael Scott has a female boss, she has minimal control over him and is portrayed herself as being somewhat emotionally unstable. There is only one saleswoman working at the company, and the one time she is portrayed making a sale, she makes it by relying solely on her looks. These few examples help show that the men and women in “The Office” are on different ends of the patriarchal hierarchy, and there is no attempt to hide this. As seen in the collage, the men are on top of the hierarchy, with the women below them.


Johnson, Alan G. (1997). Patriarchy, the System. An it, Not a He, a Them, or an Us. The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy. Temple University Press.

The pictures of Michael and Dwight playing basketball and Pam sitting on the sideline are from:;episode_stills

The pictures of Phyllis in a tiara and Michael between Jim and Kevin are from:

The pictures of Phyllis sewing, Angela reading a card, Jan on the phone, and Michael and Stanley sitting next to each other are from:

The picture of Michael in front of Phyllis, Angela, Pam, and Meredith is from:

The photo of Jim, Dwight, and Michael is from:

The photo of Pam at her desk with Jim, Dwight, Ryan, and Michael is from: