As written by GHH member TVAcademic

I've been thinking about the stability of women on GH a lot lately...and things have really reached a fever pitch with the trial, among other things. Time to think it through.

First, however, I have to say that there are some excellent things happening on GH. While I know that some fans bristle at the pacing, I appreciate that each episode is, to at least some degree, designed as a cohesive piece. When we jump from scene-to-scene, the characters are related to each other in clear ways. There is a shift between space and a sense of time. A great example was the day of Sam's dad reveal. Sam and Silas were having a conversation/make-out situation and were interrupted by people leaving the gallery. Cut to interior of gallery. Cut to Morgan and Michael, who just left the gallery, on the docks. Everything was linked. Even during the trial, the cuts between Anna and Robert in the lab and the trial were linked by Mac's concern over their location. There's no reason to have Julian Jerome and Robin on during the same episode, so it's avoided, for the most part. I don't remember episodes ever being this cohesively designed. It actually makes daily viewing pretty enjoyable because it feels seamless...not like whiplash.

On to the Crazy Trap:

I'm not sure what this is about. Men in charge? A primarily female viewership? Whatever it is, the trend of women not knowing their own minds, making horrible choices, being treated like children, or being unstable is cropping back up again en masse. It's an unfortunate trope that has cropped up throughout literary history back as far as...forever, and that has been discussed and deconstructed by literary and media theorists as long as they have existed. I'm exhausted by it.

It's not that women cannot be wrong, make mistakes, or be crazy. It's that they are pitted, scene after scene, against men who "know better," assume they "know better," or are just undeniably better. Then, of course, there's the other thing: "girl, you should know better." It's about women being emotional, in the moment, even hysterical while men are rational and forward-thinking. These tropes are so old that even those who employ them may not realize how large they can loom. Some current concerns:

1) The worst offender is the Maxie/Lulu Babygate. The trial illustrated that both women are, in some ways, unstable and unfit. They are irrational. This irrationality is pinned partially on their desire to be mothers (another long-time literary trope -- mother hysteria), but the historical element of the trial, while interesting from a long-time viewer standpoint, serves to illustrate that being irrational is merely a general character flaw for both women. In contrast, Dante and Spinelli make rational choices. They're honest and straight-forward. Their character is not at all in question; in fact, their character anchors the sympathy for either side of the argument during the trial.

In the meantime, it is Alexis and Diane, two women (both self-proclaimed feminists), who are mercilessly pitting these two women against each other. Forget that Dante's father is a mafia kingpin or that Spin is a mob computer hacker. Forget any of their flaws at all -- it's the women who have to be proven unstable, and it's women who must seek the worst tale to tell -- with no interest in accuracy or objectivity. Lulu's choice to have an abortion was handled fairly well by Alexis (though Diane's calling it a murder was particularly troubling); however, what lawyer would not have brought Maxie's doctor, Britt, to the stand after she was accused of carelessly losing a baby? When Maxie miscarried, Britt clearly stated that it would have happened no matter what. Time constraints and this-ain't-the-real-world and all of that taken into account, the effect was to not only have two irrational mothers, but pretty irrational female legal counsel, as well.

2) Sabrina. The worst thing about Sabrina is that there's nothing particularly wrong with her. She's fairly milquetoast (not unlike Robin, really). But the arrival of Carlos brings all sorts of problematic tropes. Let's set aside the machismo problem for a moment (Latino guy telling a woman what she wants? Maybe we could avoid this one, Carlivati...) and discuss its implications: Carlos is tenacious about telling Sabrina who she is, what she wants, and how Patrick does not really want her. This would all be just blatantly misogynist if it wasn't kind of...true. The problem is not in showing a remarkably (typical) chauvinist character but in giving him agency through what we know the future will bring. We can all assume that, within the next few months, Patrick and Robin will be reunited. That's not a spoiler -- it's just having eyes and a brain. So, ultimately, all the changes Sabrina has gone through (ducking to swan!) will have been for naught (since the transformation was all about a man). And the guy who really loved her as she was (ducking) will have been right. What's more, he knows that she will be rejected (she's still that ducking inside, after all), essentially knowing her future -- and her mind, presumably -- better than she does. He's a shady character and a misogynist, but he's right. What does that say about her? About what she deserves?

3) Britt. I actually like her. I dig complicated characters. The team has managed to make her quite sympathetic...but they're also setting her up for a clear failure with Nik given that we know she has secrets she's still keeping (I'm just assuming this to be true based on context clues). This could be a great redemption story for her; however, there seems to be a greater desire to redeem men through the love of a great woman than the other way around. Women (and AJ, I suppose) get punished.

While we're on Britt, people just have to stop referring to Brad as a "baby daddy" and telling him to take responsibility for "his child." This is not offensive toward Brad -- it's offensive toward Britt. Presuming Brad was the sperm donor (which Britt has indicated is not true), it was her choice to have a donor who would have no role in the baby's life. Her choice. Men who are constantly browbeating Brad out of some sort of misplaced sense of honor (regardless of whether it's being played ironically because the audience knows he's not actually the bio-dad) or effort to show that the men on GH are "good guys" actually degrades Britt. It presumes that she has not made her own objective choices and considered all possible outcomes. It presumes that she needs some random guy to "step up." Luckily, she has been pretty direct about treating this as misplaced chivalry, but the fact that even Nik does it, even as he presumably cares for and respects her, lends the whole ridiculousness some sort of credence.

4) Liz and Carly and Alexis. Love them all. Awesome women and characters (when Liz is on). And all are consistently used to illustrate that attracting the wrong man is a special skill. The truth is, I love Carly and Franco--because the actors are ridiculous together, and it doesn't matter what their roles are. But their relationship is deeply problematic when one pulls away from their electric chemistry, and the loser in the sanity category, given all factors, is actually Carly.

There's more, but I'll stop here. I'm not saying that there's any real problem with any of these stories in isolation (okay, I have a pretty real problem with #1 and the Brad thing), but looking at the canvas overall right now reveals that far too many women "don't know their own minds" on some basic level. That they need a) rational men to care for them or b) they are drawn to irrational or violent men. It's hard because female viewers are drawn to stories in which women drive the drama, and that's ostensibly what's happening on GH right now. Women are driving these stories; however, it's important to take a step back and look at how they're driving them. I think the development of character-driven stories on GH has elevated a bit with this current crop, but I think, too, has a problematic view of women. I'm happy overall, but I'd like to see this balance out a bit. This team is smart. I'm pretty sure they can do it...but I don't think they even realize that they're even weaving this particular problematic web.