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What Michael Scott Can Teach Us About Feminism

Kaitlyn Luckow



“That’s what she said!”  

Someone that shouts that joke every chance he gets may not seem like he would be feminist icon material. You might be thinking, Kaitlyn, are you kidding me? Michael Scott is probably the last T.V. character I would label as a feminist.

However, after binging The Office far too many times than I care to admit, I’ve come to the realization that this is, in fact, the case.


From Sexist to Woke

Was Michael Scott always a feminist? Hell no. In fact, at the beginning of the series, he was deeply sexist. And like many people in the world, he didn't know it. He thought he was being sensitive and insightful, when in fact he was being misogynistic and ignorant.

That’s a problem.

I would argue that most of these sexist behavior strung from a few things: misinformation, societal expectations, and ignorance.

What truly matters is what Michael did once he got the correct information and learned that masculinity isn’t defined by bringing women down.


Silencing Locker Room Talk

One of the largest transformations in Michael Scott’s character happens in his relationship with his beloved pal, Todd Packer (easily, the worst character on the show). He is constantly making lewd jokes that are sexually explicit towards women such as: “What has two thumbs and likes to bone your mom? This guy!”

And Michael Scott laughs along.

Why? How does this make him a feminist?

It doesn’t.

I would like to argue that Michael Scott laughs along because he thinks that he is supposed to. This is a classic example of “locker room talk.” Men have grown up in a society and in groups that have rewarded crude, sexual comments and have considered them jokes when they are actually harassment.

Obviously, this is not okay, but for many people, this is a learned behavior that needs to be unlearned.

Luckily, Michael Scott is a wonderful example of someone who unlearned this behavior and took action to prevent it.

In the episode, “Todd Packer”, Todd returns to the office and immediately begins his tirade of offensive comments. Michael’s girlfriend, Holly, brings this offensiveness to Michael’s attention and asks that he talks to Packer. Michael gets Packer to apologize (which of course means nothing). Finally, things take a turn when Packer insults Holly. It is then that Michael realizes that Packer is an “ass” and takes action to remove him from the office.

This situation isn’t perfect. Holly shouldn’t have needed to point out the fact that a meeting needed to happen to address Packer’s sexual harassment. Nor should it have taken until Packer insulted Michael’s girlfriend for Michael to realize what a terrible person he was.

Regardless of what brought him to this realization though, Michael admitted his mistakes and took actions to correct them.


He Isn’t Perfect

Michael Scott is far from perfect. While I love his character, he definitely still has flaws and consistently makes mistakes. He says things that are sexist. He fixes them. He learns. But he still says them.

Despite this, that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a feminist. A common flaw that I see within the feminist movement is that people expect others to be perfect. They can’t say a single thing that doesn’t align with the feminist movement and their past has to be squeaky clean. But that isn’t realistic. There is not a single person on this earth that hasn’t changed their beliefs in their lifetime. We’re constantly learning new information, new ideas, and as a result, coming up with new outlooks on life.

Just because someone may have said a sexist joke in the past doesn’t mean that they can’t learn from their mistake, gather new information, and form a new opinion and behavior. If we don’t accept this growth and change within the feminist movement, then nothing will ever be accomplished.

Michael Scott is a perfect example of this. He has made mistakes and has said awful things. However, he has gathered new information, learned from others, and has let that inform a new mindset for himself: a mindset of feminism.

Just because he’s made mistakes in the past doesn’t mean that he can’t be Beyoncé, always.



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