How to tell if feminists are hiding in your TV:

Byl Holte
5 min readNov 18, 2017

I’m a 56-year-old man and for a large part of my life my television has been my best friend. As a child I thrilled to the animated adventures of 8th Man, Marine Boy, Prince Planet and Astro Boy (all of whose titles I now recognize as decidedly male!) My pre-teen years were filled with the manly exploits of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. This was TV for me and I had no idea that these shows would someday come to be looked upon as offensively male. Gender Politics wasn’t even a concept then, and the idea that the female population of America would rise up and demand that all things TV and film include more of them — even in stories where they would not normally be and in depictions both impossible and ridiculous — never even occurred to me. That is, until The Conspiracy made its unannounced presence known to me in no uncertain terms.

I first noticed The Female Conspiracy to takeover Television during the 2010 season of Law and Order during which, unlike the previous 19 years of the show, viewers began inexplicably going home with female Detective Anita Van Buren in a story which detailed her abrupt (and completely irrelevant to the show) cancer scare.

Prior to this time, none of the characters ever had extraneous plot lines and the show remained true to its procedural origins. But this was something different as it created an unneeded fork in the road of the shows twisting crime stories. Thus it was here that I first noticed what I have come to call “the female cutaway”. Why was this happening now, in the show’s final year on the air? Apparently this was the first shot to be fired in the soon-to-be-ubiquitous female war on the Hollywood patriarchy.

I immediately gave the show up because I had seen every episode from the beginning and this was somehow not Law and Order; this was something subversive and alarming — the idea that I could be sand-bagged into watching a totally offensive (all the women in my family had died of Cancer) and completely irrelevant storyline because it had been trojan-horsed into my favorite TV show. But it didn’t end there.

Today The Conspiracy is in full swing and has chased me screaming from my beloved TV more times than I can mention. But it’s not (as some of you are already thinking) because i'm a misogynist pig (I’m not); it’s because a lot of female empowerment writing doesn't jibe with the world I know or the women who inhabit it.

To illustrate what i mean, I’ve comprised a list of the most frequently-used Feminist TV tropes and what they mean to me as a male viewer:

Male lead has female “tether”

Today’s male leads (in both TV and film) are now conspicuously surrounded by women! I have come to call this “tethering” because these female characters usually perform the function of blocking or holding back the central male character while simultaneously stealing valuable screen time from him. In the recent Blade Runner 2049, Ryan Gosling’s lead character (as well as Tom Cruise’s lead in Oblivion) both inexplicably had female bosses in settings which would normally engender a male one (the military and law enforcement) Because no alpha male (both were soldiers of a kind) looks forward to answering to a female boss, I’m making the leap that a feminist held sway over both scripts.

Ressurected Female Warrior

TV is notorious for bringing characters back from the dead but in recent years these characters have become “females whose resurrection gives them power over men”. The recent American Gods featured a super-violent “back from the dead” wife who spends most of the series beating up men!!! But the most glaring example of this are the current seasons of the beloved horror show Supernatural in which lead males Sam and Dean’s dead-for-11-years mom is resurrected and is inexplicably written to be “a better monster-hunter than both her sons” who have been doing it for the entire run of the show!!! How could this be given that she was always just a demon-killed stain on the ceiling for all the previous years? Why there’s a feminist in the writer’s room, of course! In fact Supernatural goes off the chart for Feminist writing with its creation of:

a) Gods more powerful sister (I’m still trying to figure THAT one out);

b) a monster-killing organization known as the “Men of Letters” (inexplicably led by a woman and whose top agent is an ass-kicking British woman);

c) one of the “princes of hell” is a woman (as is one of the four horsemen);

All children are girls

Watch any prime-time broadcast drama and if your paying any attention (and as I gradually came to realize) all the children mentioned — seen or unseen — are daughters!!! No matter how many shows you watch in a row, if a child is mentioned or depicted it will be a daughter. I might never have noticed this before the age of binge watching and DVRs, but I heard it so much one day that I came to think of it as a signal to anyone watching that feminists are on board. Similarly, any prime time character who has family has only the female members (mom, daughter, sister, aunt and sometimes even a lesbian wife).

Women defeat men in any competition

My biggest feminist bugaboo (and the one that caused me to give up network shows entirely) is the idea that women are now better fighters than men. You see it everywhere now with the glut of superhero shows on the air: Agents of Shield, Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, Battlestar Galactica (which gratuitously re-cast a male character as female but one without any female traits whatsoever) — any male action show with female combatants will invariably have at least one scene where the tough warrior chick takes down her male opponent.

As I said before spotting these tropes doesn’t make me a misogynist nor does not liking them. I’m just a guy who wants his plotlines to make sense. Portraying women in ways that are not accurate to today’s culture is always going to be a red flag just as it would if men were miswritten that way. For the American media to suggest that women can only be seen as brave, strong, and smart (like men) while eschewing their more gentle values tells me that there’s an agenda in place and where there’s an agenda, logic often goes out the window.