In order to understand Legally Blonde through the Muted Group Theory, it is important to first acknowledge what the Muted Group Theory says. It starts with the assumption that language creates power. When a more powerful group has control over the language in a society, other groups have to alter their communication in order to be understood by the dominant group. It says that because our language was created by men, there aren’t words for women to use to describe their thoughts and ideas.
This theory is often viewed in terms of men being the dominant group, and women being the “muted group.” This means that unless women adopt the words and language of the men in their society, their thoughts and ideas will be ignored. There are several examples of how this works in Legally Blonde.
Before Elle goes to law school, she seems to be the stereotypical sorority girl. However, once she gets to law school, it is clear that she will not be taken seriously unless she adapts the way that she communicates. There is another character, Vivian, who is a much more serious counterpart to Elle. Vivian displays more masculine qualities, resulting in the people at Harvard taking her seriously. Elle has to change herself in order to fit in with, and be taken seriously by, her peers.
Another example of how this can help us understand the movie is in the scene where Elle’s internship advisor, Callahan, make sexual advances on her. After telling her that he was impressed by her performance in the courtroom, he encourages her to pursue her dreams. However, it is clear that he is only interested in her, not because of her intelligence, but because she looks good. Muted Group Theory helps us understand this encounter by demonstrating that in a male-dominated profession, even intelligent, thoughtful women are ignored and silenced. The men assert their power and this leaves women as a muted group.