Summary: The 1980s movie 9 to 5 follows the story of three (female) secretaries who wish to pay their (male) boss back for treating them badly in the workplace. In light of cultural images of women as the weaker sex that needed to be “put in their place,” this clip shows one woman’s (Dolly Parton's) fantasies about murdering her boss, and making him suffer the way he made her suffer. She embarrasses him, degrades him, and treats him like an object just as he did to her days before. The clip shows that he is visibly uncomfortable with her advances, but that he has no choice considering he wants to keep his job. Viewers may find that the more common workplace discrimination (men discriminating against women) is offensive, but that this clip is humorous. Students may be encouraged to think about why they find this humorous, and what this seemingly humorous role reversal tells us about gender relations and gendered ideologies. It is a good way to introduce sexual discrimination in the workplace, and the role of power in such gender discrimination. Finally, given that lower-level occupations (e.g. secretaries) are more likely female-dominated occupations, while upper-level occupations (e.g. managers) are more likely male-dominated, students can further consider the role of occupational sex segregation as reinforcing gendered inequality and discrimination.
Submitted By: Lia Karvounis