“Bad Girls” in the Bible and The Social Network
Dr. Lynn Japinga
Written and visual media have never been a safe place for women who defy gender norms and expectations. The media’s negative treatment of female characters who attempt to break out of their socially-prescribed “sphere” can trace its lineage, quite literally, all the way back to Eve. In an effort to draw critical attention to the ways in which Old Testament writers and commentators treat women, I draw some comparisons between the stories of three biblical women, Dinah (Genesis 34), Jezebel (I Kings 21 and II Kings 30-37), and Delilah (Judges 16), with the character Christy Lee from the 2010 motion picture The Social Network. Though the specifics of storytelling may have changed over the years, the current treatment of women in modern media is strikingly, and often dishearteningly, similar to the way women are treated in the Bible. Christy’s character is written in such a way as to reflect the silence of Dinah, the unfair one-sided storytelling that surrounds Jezebel, and the downright demonization for which Delilah is so well known. In pointing out these similarities in storytelling between ancient and modern media I call for not only a re-imagination of Biblical women, but a concerted effort to imagine women more complexly in current writing, television, and film as well.
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