The XX Factor

The Gender Role Reversal of “Jersey Shore”

Kerry, the young novelists that DoubleX contributor Katie Roiphe discusses in her essay for the New York Times Book Review may be “boys too busy gazing at themselves in the mirror to think much about girls,” but the men of the MTV reality show Jersey Shore are displaying another sort of modern male sexuality, one that involves both gazing at themselves in the mirror and thinking about girls.

So much has been written about the Jersey Shore phenomenon-there’s another article about the show in today’s New York Times -but one aspect that has not been discussed much is the appearance of the men of Jersey Shore when compared with the appearance of the women. All the men have an exaggerated version of the ideal male form: Mike, aka “The Situation,” shows his abs to the world whenever possible and says he “basically looks like Rambo.” They all spend a ton of time at the gym and are part of a steroid-loving culture. The women of Jersey Shore , however, are notably softer. While there is a lot of upkeep involved in their look-tanning, nails, and hair extensions are de rigueur -you never see them going to the gym, and they don’t seem to mind having normal figures. Though the men of the Jersey Shore are undeniably narcissistic, they have no problem displaying their Updikean carnal sides.