Lost by ppabhw



Gender. In its simplest, intended form, it is how we as humans discriminate males from females.
Dictionary.com actually defines it as -the properties that distinguish organisms on the basis of their
reproductive roles--and nothing more. However, since the very beginning, there has always been an
imbalance between the sexes that, like it or not, plagues us even to this day. The mere word has been

overemphasized to give power and allow aggression to males and a seat of submission to females. It's why -
he/she- sounds better than -she/he-, why we are accustomed to -stewardesses-, but not -stewards-.The
culture we've grown in has adopted the rules of a slanted age, and though there have been efforts to change,
many of us are unaware--even comfortable--with the way things are. But why is this? How can we not see
the inequality in front of our eyes?Where is this imbalance? The answer is simple: it's everywhere. And in a
society that is reached primarily through its media, it doesn't take long to realize that the effects our music,
our books, our movies, our magazines, and even our televisions have have reinforced roles that are not only
subtle, but seem impossible to break.

-Men were the movers, the doers, the actors. Women were the passive, submissive responders-man was
woman's superior by God's appointment-[and to] tamper with this quality [was to] tamper with the order of
the Universe.- Okay, so maybe we aren't quite that bad. But what's frightening about Barbara Welter's
message is that's where we're coming from. The roots of sexism run deep and gravely affect both men and
women, even today. Television takes this view and creates characters that we interpret as good or bad,
largely due to their compliance (or lack thereof) with the widely accepted dominant structure. A woman that
wears a lot of make-up and high-heels is promiscuous. A man that enjoys opera and wears turtlenecks is
gay. Not very forgiving, are we?

However, there are a few shows on television today that strive to take characters and present a very different
idea: the idea of gender equality. Though their representations may not completely convey an -equal-
relationship, the characters are much more well-rounded than the stereotypical ones we are bombarded with

Since its debut in the September of 2004, -Lost- has grasped the intrigue of a large, appreciative audience.
The drama has its roots in shows like -Gilligan's Island-, -Survivor-, the movie -Cast Away-, and echoes
many of the themes of William Golding's novel, -Lord of the Flies-. However, a supernatural twist inspired
by writers such as Stephen King gives the show the unique element that dedicated viewers crave.-Lost-
revolves around a plane crash that after plummeting somewhere in the Pacific, leaves 48 survivors stranded
on a mysterious island. With no form of contact to the outside world, the passengers are forced to depend on
each other as their main source of survival. Through their hardships and trials, we learn that many elements
of the survivors' pasts are intertwined. The passenger that slept in 42 F may just be your long lost half sister.
It's possible that the gentleman seated in 23 C is the son of your archrival. These strange occurrences
suggest that this group of people may not have ended up on the island coincidentally. The show's
controversial view of destiny and fate is echoed in its ominous tagline: -Everything happens for a reason.-

The sun's rays soak warmly into the adorning palms; the waves rise and fall, crashing repeatedly into the
worn but shiny rocks. Sand slowly slips between the toes and the crisp wind waltzes and whispers; while all
along, in the shadows of the twisted jungle, the embodiment of a child gushes water and garbles a
backwards message: -They're coming and they're close.---Welcome to the show. The fine line between
normality and bizarre is blurred. Suddenly, the strange seems all too familiar. The creators accomplish this
task through a variety of mediums. The use of flashbacks and flashforwards (as the show has named them)
add many other settings that we recognize (including Tallahassee, Iraq, South Korea, Miami, Australia, Los
Angeles, Tunisia, England, Scotland, Portland, China, and many, many others). These flashes also give the
audience insight into these conflicted and secretive people. Writing on the show will often reflect changes in
the -real world-. For example, in the beginning of Season 3, Benjamin Linus says, -Your flight crashed on
September 22, 2004. Today is November 29th. That means that you have been on our island for sixty-nine
days. And yes, we do have contact with the outside world, Jack. That's how we know that during those
sixty-nine days, your fellow Americans reelected George W. Bush, Christopher Reeve has passed away,
Boston Red Sox won the World Series.- Slowly, reality and television begin to fuse. Shaky camera shots
mimic the reality of vision, bringing the audience closer into the world of the island. Lighting is natural, yet
eerie. Costuming reflects the many types of people we meet every day. After a while, it's easy to begin to
wonder if there is possibly a mysterious island of stranded people out there-

-Lost- features a very large cast. It can even be argued that there is no one main character, rather

a 14-main character ensemble. The nature of the show makes it critical to highlight each character so that
none are made much more important than the others. Among the first season's fourteen stars, six are
minorities representing Spanish, African, Middle Eastern, and Asian (Oriental) descent. The rest are
Caucasian, either from the United States, Australia, or England. Though the portrayal of many different
nationalities could easily be seen as a gimmick to support the dominance of the prominent white group, it is
not. The characters are placed on a relatively even playing field not only with their past careers, but also
with the way they are portrayed. The larger variance, therefore, seems to be used to grasp a bigger, more
diversified audience. The multiple characters seem to say, -Lost is a show for everyone! No race is left out!
No nationalities are oppressed!--but what about gender portrayal?

Jack Shephard is the island's doctor. A spinal surgeon in his past life, Jack is usually the one trying to save

the day and make leadership calls. Jack makes it his personal responsibility to get everyone off the island
and back home. Jack is well-built and attractive, and one of the more -clean cut- guys on the island. He
wears a short beard and (like most of the cast aways) wears a t-shirt and jeans. On his arm he wears a tattoo
that for a while is kept a mystery. One of the cast-aways jokes and says, -It's just that you...and the tattoos...
don't add up. Were you one of those hardcore spinal surgeons, or something?- Though he does, on more
than one occasion, make it clear that he will be taking charge, Jack has an emotional side that is expressed
multiple times throughout the series. Basically, Jack can (and does) fly off the handle, but you're likely to
see him crying afterwards. At times, his personality is seen as a bit disconcerting. He is a -man of science-
who firmly states that he doesn't believe in miracles, fate, or anything that can't be proved. On an island
filled with unsolved mysteries, Jack is confronted over and over with his stubborn theology. Even when
being faced with literal pillars of smoke, Jack seems to be able to dismiss miracles as happenstance. His
masculine leadership and stubbornness combined with his female-like tendency towards emotion balances

Another main character is Kate Austen. On the island, Kate is seen as a mystery. Her usually warm
personality can rapidly turn cold. Relationships that become too involved cause her to detach and

run away. She is pristine, yet desires to go backpacking with the guys. In her past life, she was arrested for
the murder of her stepfather-- an abusive husband and severe alcoholic. Though a horrendous crime, through
flashbacks we learn that her stepfather, aside from being abusive to her mother, would go as far as to making
suggestive passes at Kate. The bad situation of abuse and sexual harassment drove Kate to protect her
mother and herself from the man that she later found was actually her biological father. After blowing up the
house that he slept in, Kate runs from the police for years. It is rare to see Kate be very emotional, though
she expresses her true feelings to those that she truly loves. Though Hurley says that Kate appears to be -
pretty hardcore- in Season 1 episode 3, a more masculine woman, Sawyer reveals that Kate is a tease. Her
slight promiscuity is seen as a negative feminine trait. In the episode -Eggtown-, he says, -I ain't gonna hold
it against you. I'm just gonna sit right here in my comfortable bed, because in about a week, you'll find some
reason to get pissed at Jack, and bounce right back to me.- Kate then slaps him and runs away.

John Locke, named after the philosopher, is the show's hunter and moral center. An older man in

his late 40s, John has suffered a lot in his life. Through a terrible circumstance with his estranged, swindling
father, Locke was pushed out of a building eight stories from the ground and paralyzed from the waist down.
For four years, John lived with the terrible condition and gradually became more and more bitter. He
attended help groups, tried to sustain relationships, but was never able to move past the ordeal with his
father. John allowed the matter consume his entire life while his father moved on with his own. However,
crashing on the island restored his faith when he was suddenly able to walk again. His complete belief in
destiny and trust in other-worldly experiences makes John the -man of faith-; Jack's antithesis.John is a
physically fit man, sharp in wit, and very positive. His supernatural healing gives him a very close
relationship with the island. He often calls it -beautiful- and is even spoken to (through dreams and visions)
by the island. Sometimes Locke's determination can be seen as stubbornness. His favorite thing to say is, -
Don't tell me what I can't do.- Though it may seem that being able to gut a boar and throw daggers makes
John a very masculine character, his blind faith and extreme intuition and trust in people gives him a
feminine flair.

James -Sawyer- Ford is another interesting character. His rough-tough exterior is harsh and

unwelcoming. He usually has a mouthful to say, and in one episode is even reprimanded from any further
name calling. Sawyer is a smoker, and early on (before the cigarettes run out) his only way of emoting is
through smoking them. Out of all the men on the island, he is the most hot-tempered and is known to
quickly execute judgment without much mercy. In the episode -Confidence Man-, Jack angrily confronts
him saying, -You attacked a kid for trying to help his sick sister.- Without a blink, Sawyer replies, -No, I
whooped a thief -cause he was goin' through my stuff.- But, we know that there is much more to Sawyer.
When he was young, Sawyer's father killed his mother in a jealous rage, then himself, orphaning him at the
age of 8. Sawyer made it his life's goal to find the man that caused the discord in his family and kill him. He
carries the letter in his pocket that he wrote as a child to his rival, hoping that someday he'll meet him and be
able to deliver it face-to-face. Sawyer is one of the most masculine characters. Many elements about his
character are portrayed as negative. After being accused of being a criminal and a thief, Sawyer says,
"You're just not looking at the big picture, Doc. You're still back in civilization. Me? I'm in the wild." His
quick embrace of their catastrophic situation causes others to harbor hate against him. However, deep down
we know he is good. In season 4, when the helicopter transporting him and other passengers back home is in
risk of crashing, Sawyer jumps off and decides to stay on the island to help the others to safety. Sawyer is
also well read, and can usually be seen with a book, usually a more feminine quality. Though he can quote
Dickens in a heartbeat, it's interesting that his diction isn't the best. He is often called a -hick- or
(sarcastically) a -southern gentleman- because of his colloquial speech.

Sayid Jarrah, a former military communications officer in Iraq, is the -smart one-. He is able to

deal with all the technical difficulties on the show, fixing walkie talkies, triangulating radio signals, and
reassembling motherboards among other things. Sayid is very strong physically and emotionally. He is able
to discern liars from honest men, but because of his work in the war, Sayid is constantly haunted by the sins
of his past. His -communications- division in the Republican Guard was a job that, in blunt terms, was the
position of a torturer. When Sayid is reunited with a loved one during the war, he is heartbroken when he
learns that she retains enemy information that he must extract from her. In an act of brash bravery, Sayid
stages an escape for his love, Nadia, keeping only a picture to remember her by. For the most part, Sayid is
very mild-mannered. He won't raise his voice or attack until it's time to defend himself. He clashes many
times with his closest foil, Sawyer (who, of course, bestows him with nicknames such as -Captain Arab- and
hints at his being a terrorist). Sayid wears his nails longer than most men and keeps his hair just above his
shoulders. His practice of the Muslim religion distinguished him from the others and gives him a sense of
hope that he seems to thrive from.

Sun and Jin Kwon are a couple from South Korea, that at first are extraordinarily

troubled. Their marriage in disarray, they hardly ever get along. Their inability to speak English secludes
them and the restrictive rules that Jin places on his wife stifle her. They are the biggest portrayal of negative
gender roles in the show. However, their relationship is so poor, that the audience is meant to realize the
harm caused by their gender inequality. Sun and Jin, once young and in love, began to change once Jin had
to take a job from Sun's father. Jin, the once vibrant and silly guy became a cold, serious man. Sun, the once
unashamed, rich girl became more and more submissive until she was finally driven into the arms of another
man. Before their renewal on the island in later seasons, the couple only gets worse. Jin is usually seen as
very agitated, domineering, and not much of a communicator. Sun is portrayed as weak, alone, and very
upset. We are able to discern that both of them need a change. While in the airport, a couple of Americans
observe Sun placing napkins on Jin's lap to try to wipe up a mess. One retorts, -If you ever catch me doing
anything like that for you, shoot me-My god, it's Memoirs of a Geisha come to life.-

Hugo -Hurley- Reyes is a 400+ pound man who is very happy-go-lucky in nature. Many times,

his overly optimistic view gets him the nickname -fun time Hurley-. In the episode -Man of Science/Man of
Faith-, when all seems lost and the survivors are on the brink of despair, Hurley pipes, -There you go! Life's
not so bad right? I mean sure the others are coming to, like, eat us all and every once in a while someone
blows up all over you, but you do get to sleep in every morning...- However, all of Hurley's jokes seem to
cover for a deeper brooding problem. When Hurley's father left as a child, it ruined him and caused him to
gain weight. Later on in his life, he steps onto a deck designed to hold eight people and feels responsible for
the deaths of the two that suffer from the deck's collapse. Though there were twenty-three others on the deck
before him, he takes full responsibility, driving him to the refuge of more food and a mental institution.
Hurley's shining personality could be seen as a positive, feminine quality. He wears his hair long and is
often found giving out hugs and singing. He is rarely angry, and usually strives for others to live in

Though the characters are pretty balanced in respect to characteristics, duties on the island ground them to
the western norms that we embrace. John hunts, Jack saves, Sayid fixes, Sawyer fights.Kate runs from one
intimate moment to the next; Sun succumbs to the background. Jin fishes for the others and Hurley helps to
keep spirits alive. Though it isn't quite as blatant as Mrs. Cleaver taking Ward's coat and shoes, there is a
subtle glitch that exists within these listed duties. The women have none. Hurley, the most -feminine- of the
male characters is given a nearly empty responsibility-which can only cause one to wonder if that decision
was purposeful. Would our perception of a singing, hugging male be one that we, as an audience, are
comfortable placing in a position of power? Apparently not. Examining the other six main characters reveals
the same results. It is almost as John Berger states, -Men act and women appear.-

Another way of measuring the severity of gender inequality in a show is by examining the levels of success
that different characters experience. Are heroic males conquering? Do vixen women get their just desserts?
Lost is a much harder to show to analyze. One of the aims of the show is to emphasize the despair of man.
We are forced to see that no matter what you've done, who you are, or who you appear to be, you are not
successful. You are not good. In a United Kingdom TV spot, the characters' voices echo these lines: -All of
us have a secret. One of us is a hero. One of us is a fraud. One of us is a junkie. One of us is a cop. One of us
is a saint. One of us is a sinner. One of us is a martyr. One of us is a murderer. All of us are guilty. All of us
are lost.-

Lost UK Spot
The characters in -Lost- are portrayed in a way that is different from many television shows. They are more
neutral than most, showing inequality in their responsibilities on the island. No character exhibits all
masculine qualities; no character exhibits all feminine qualities. In the show, there are no -good- or -bad-
characters. Characters that lean completely to one persuasion, masculine or feminine, would be -bad-
characters (however, none exist).In -Lost-, the hero and villain are found fighting within each of them. The
show takes each person, presents them in their raw form, asks you to form your own opinions, and then
warps your initial perspective of that character. How else could anyone have compassion for a cold-blooded
killer? Or understand the pain of an oppressive husband? Female or male, strong or weak, -Lost- shows that
everyone has a story-if you're only willing to find it out.

Picture References:1.{399eb513-7b4b-4f19-8734-591fdb425ca5}|{ffffffff-ffff-ffff-ffff-

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