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Friday 22.06.2018 | Name days: Ludmila, Laimdots, Laimiņš
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Unavoidable relationship questions: how does television explain things to society?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUIt seems the topic of relationships between men and women will always be popular. This is because many people still believe in stereotypes regarding gender roles. The same applies to the topic of gender discrimination. Products created by popular culture that play off the countless relationship questions also remain in high demand.

BNN offers a look at sexologist Artūrs Šulcs’ thoughts into gender roles, lawyer Ieva Brante’s opinion of the image of the modern woman, and theatre critic Zane Radzobe’s opinion on pop-culture products consumed by Latvian society.

Sexologist Šulcs immediately mentioned during the conversation that the world keeps changing dynamically and so gender stereotypes. «There are many different and ever-changing stereotypes when it comes to genders. Physical development and legal status alone do not mean an individual is a grown-up,» says Šulcs.

As for gender division and who should take the first steps in a relationship, the sexologist says it is important to look at a person’s conscience space, where the person is stuck and how far they are willing to go. As an example he mentioned that one of the most common stereotypes is that a woman should not be active in forming a relationship.

Right here it is worth mentioning one great example – lawyer Ieva Brante. She is noticeable from afar thanks to her looks. She has fiery curly hair, she is a lover of sports, and she says about herself: «I am a woman who knows what she wants!»

She explains here looks: «In our relationship with my first husband, I was the one who took the first kiss, I was the one who pulled him into bed and I was the one who proposed.»

Branta says that women should always keep track of what they want. She believes women should voice their desires, not remain quiet. She says the fact that she took charge over formation of relationships did not take away her husband’s masculinity.

The sexologist believes that Brante’s action – proposing to her future husband – was a wonderful step. «Why should the man be the one to approach the woman when commencing a relationship? Women can do that as well. Men like it when women say they want them. Men also expect women to have an active role in a relationship. Once women demonstrate this activity, the two can move forward,» says the sexologist.

***

At the same time, Brante believes gender discrimination still exists in some fields, especially when it comes to work. ‘I can’t think of any specific industries, but I can say that often women are paid less than men for the same job. Maybe we don’t perceive this as much in our day-to-day, but some people have gotten used to this system.’

She adds: «I think the situation with discrimination might change in the future. How far off in the future. I cannot say, but I can justify my confidence with the fact that society’s perception of things keeps changing every day. We see that women are gradually becoming more active. We have many strong women and many weak women. In modern times, women do as much as men. This might create the impression that active women take away from men the opportunity to be active in the classic sense.»

***

How are relationships portrayed in pop-culture?

«I think the situation with pop-culture’s portrayal of relationships in Latvia is somewhat complicated because most of the products we consume were made based on existing products adapted from other cultures,» says theatre critic and assistant professor of Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Latvia Zana Radzobe.

She mentioned ‘I Love Lucy’ series, which were remade and shown in Latvia in 1999. «The series Sirdsmīļā Monika conceptually portrays relationships between men and women. It should be said that there is no scientific proof, nor did the show try to accurately reflect the relationship model that was present in Latvia at the time. The series was a remake of a show made in USA in the 50s-60s. This means were are looking at the relationship model that was present in USA in that time period,» says Radzobe, adding that it is worth discussing just how much fundamentally relationships between men and women have changed over the years.

«There is another example that comes to mind looking at relationships and how complicated it is to show this process to society ruled by a varied system of values and national views.» The expert mentioned another American series – Everybody Loves Raymond – and its version adapted in Russia – Voronini. Radzobe says: «I watched a documentary about the creation process of this series. The creator mentioned that there were different problems when adapting an American show to the Russian market. This was because American culture and Russian culture are very different to one another. Both have very different views about women, what they do and what is funny.»

Radzobe notes that one major difference is the sense of humour. What seems funny to one is completely the opposite for the other. This was one of the central problems, because the genre of the series is comedy. If something is not funny, the project has failed, comments Radzobe.

She also notes that it is because of this reason that the audience is often shown certain views as to what relationships between men and women should be like.

***

When asked about pop-culture products that portray gender roles, Radzobe said: «I don’t think anyone in Latvia has put a lot of thought, as they should have, in portraying better relationships between men and women. I think shows like Saimnieks meklē sievu, Lauku seta and others are interesting to Latvian viewers because they portray our life, our understanding of our country and reality.»

Lawyer Brante is critical of products shown by Latvian television. «I think quality of television shows should be high. I think a lot of thought should be put in choosing shows and deciding why they should be shown on television. Media policy and the National Electronic Mass Media Council play important roles here. What do we want to give to society with those shows? What remains in the end? What do we see?» Brainte asks.

«The question is what producers and creators want to accomplish with their projects. I don’t want to pick on one show or the other; I am talking about shows as a whole,» said Brante.

When asked about Latvian shows that depict relationships between men and women, the sexologist said: «If we look act correctness, justice towards both genders, I think programmes whose main idea is forming relationships or ‘finding the other half’, are important to fit both genders’ interests.»

He adds: «If a man picks a partner from multiple women over a course of a single season, the second season should focus on the woman picking from multiple men. We gave to look at the script so that the number of those people is equal. This would show balance of genders. That would be correct.»

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