My pleasures are not guilty

Photo courtesy of Food Network Canada | Opinions and Editorials Editor Abrena Rowe explains how “guilty pleasure” has a sexist connotation. 

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition, a “guilty pleasure” is typically a movie, television program or piece of music that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard by society.

I enjoy spending my nights in eating junk food and watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians (KUWTK) until I fall asleep. Almost everyone has witnessed the influence this family has on social culture, especially in the U.S. KUWTK has received countless complaints from critics who claim the show is “trash,” “unintelligent” and “overly exaggerated.” After the first two regular comments are subjective in nature. The last, I don’t see why people considered it a bash on the show. It’s a reality TV show, and the selling point of any reality TV show is exaggeration. KUWTK is just doing its job. Plus, the show itself has been a success for more than over 10 years, making it the longest running reality television show in history and there is no sign of it ending now. It has also received several viewership awards. If KUWTK is so bad, why is it so successful?

Every Tuesday morning before my day begins I’ll sit in bed and watch the latest episode of The Bachelor. This show has created a sub-culture around the world. Most major countries have their own version of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. In addition, several other dating TV shows have hit networks after witnessing the success of The Bachelor/Bachelorette series. This show has created successful spinoffs, such as Bachelor in Paradise, and draws millions of viewers each week. People are so invested in the storyline of this show they will create brackets, similar to those for March Madness. Bachelor-related topics tend to trend on social media sites the nights when the show airs. If the Bachelor/Bachelorette series is not a “respectable” interest, why are there so many people tuning in every week?

If you know me at all you know I am a HUGE fan of One Direction (1D). And yes, I am still a fan even though the band is no longer together. I have a tattoo to prove it. One Direction was one of the world’s most successful boy bands since The Beatles.
During the five years of they were active, 1D had four sold-out headlining tours (three of them being stadium/arena tours), five chart-topping albums in 30+ countries, countless awards and an absurd amount of merchandise. Even after losing a member the band still broke records and continued to win over the hearts of males and females alike throughout the world. How then, can a music group this successful not be “generally held in high regard?”

So what do all three of these forms of entertainment have in common, other than being considered “guilty” pleasures? The main audience for all three are women. When was the last time someone said in a whisper, “Gosh, don’t tell anyone, but I spent all Sunday watching football. Embarrassing, I know.” Or someone criticized another for keeping up on modern politics and policy? And best of all, when was the last time someone belittled your taste in music when they raved about the new Beatles vinyl they picked up? Well, I personally have never heard any of these whispers throughout my life.

I’m not here to critique anything someone finds enjoyable. But I am here to point out how sexism seeps into every aspect of our culture. Entertainment that is targeted toward women is generally considered a “waste of time.” Just because the main target group for a facet of media is toward women does not make it “not generally held in high regard.” Our society has conditioned us to believe that things typically enjoyed by women are supposed to be considered “guilty” pleasures.

I listen to more than pop boy bands, and even if that was the only thing coming out my speakers, that does not mean I have bad taste in music. I do not have bad taste in television shows, and I do not think reality TV is real. Why can’t we just let other people live their lives the way they want? Why do we have to be so quick to judge others’ interests just because they don’t fall in line with what we consider to be “respectable” interests?

Abrena Rowe is a senior psychology major and the Opinions and Editorials Editor for Newswire from Cincinnati.