Women of “The Wire”

Bruce A. Williams, Andrea L. Press

Abstract

In this paper we analyze the representation of women on the popular television show The Wire. We discuss how, while writers attempt to portray race, crime, and inner-city life with sociological accuracy, characterizations of women, and of violence against women, are not especially complex or realistic. In particular, the crime of rape is underrepresented. While the show does feature certain competent, successful professional women, overall the portrayal of underclass women differs significantly from that of underclass men, featuring far fewer sympathetic female characters and demonizing several. In these ways the show succumbs to the sexist, patriarchal norms that characterize much of the representation of women in popular entertainment products. Some posit that this asymmetry of gender representation results from the male-oriented street experience of the show’s male writers.

Keywords

The Wire; Women; Rape; African-American; Mother; Television

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