COLUMN: Netflix original “You” portraying subtleties of patriarchy


Ian Palacios, Columnist

Season 3 of the Netflix original series “You” was released last Friday, Oct. 15. And the first two seasons were great. The show begins by following bookstore manager Joe Goldberg as he becomes obsessed with and soon stalks poetry student Guinevere Beck using social media to follow her around and sneak into her private life.

Though the show touches on many important topics—social media and self-identity, effects of traumatic experiences, the myriad ways women are oppressed in our a patriarchal society—I would like to focus on one small point made in episode one: Men need to stop misinterpreting women as flirting with them when women are just being normal, everyday people.

Attempting (and failing) to read Beck like a piece of literature, Joe impresses his own interpretation of what Beck is secretly insinuating. Essentially, using bad and objectifying reasons, Joe believes she’s flirting with him.

He notes that, since Beck’s “blouse is loose” and her bracelets jangle, she is “not [t]here to be ogled” but still “like[s] a little attention.”

Later, when she grabs a book from a high shelf—choosing to get the book herself instead of letting Joe do it—Joe thinks, “Oh! Are you not wearing a bra? And you want me to notice. If this was a movie I’d grab you and we’d go at it right in the stacks.”

When Beck purchases the book, she uses her credit card because, according to Joe, “You have enough cash to cover [the book], but you want me to know your name.” He reflects on the encounter with awe in his eyes: “You smiled, laughed at my jokes. Told me your name, asked for mine,” from which Joe’s coworker concludes that “She was on you hard” and asks, “she write her number on there?”

So why is this important?

Joe thinks that, as many men do, just because a person is nice to you, laughing at your jokes or smiling, that they must be attracted to you.

First, none of Joe’s reasons are good enough for believing that Beck is attracted to him, since they are perfectly compatible (and even expected) if Beck had not been attracted to Joe and was instead just being nice.

Second, Joe’s mindset puts Beck at a disadvantage by forcing her to either be helpless by letting Joe get the book for her or be independent but come off as wanting to show off her breasts.

Third, Joe’s thoughts are not even consistent. How can Beck not be there to be ogled yet also want Joe to notice her breasts? And Joe’s coworker shows that this mindset isn’t just specific to only Joe.

What “You” gets at, all comments considered, is that heterosexual men often see women as being there for them, who show off for them. We need to make this clear: Just because someone is being nice to you, it doesn’t mean they are attracted to you.

Ian Palacios is a junior English and philosophy major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or