I like Sherlock, but I have become really aware of Steven Moffat’s influence in the show and on its characters.
Moffat seems to be incapable of writing strong female characters without making them “sexy” (read: “comic book” sexy; the “recipients of the male gaze” kind of sexy).
In the hands of Steven Moffat, Amy Pond, River Song, and Irene Adler all turn into tired old tropes about women - femme fatales, damsels in distress, the “love interests.” At first introduction, they all seem like powerful female figures. Instead, they all become defined solely in relation to the men in their life.
1) River Song becomes The Doctor’s Wife. (Seriously, River Song moves back and forth in time just like the Doctor. Why is it that the only adventures of hers that we hear about have to do with her being Cleopatra or sexing up the Doctor? I’m sure she’s doing more with her time, but it’s just deemed irrelevant.)
2) Amy Pond becomes “The Girl who Waits.” (Side note: Amy Pond is always always always “girl”. Never “woman”, even though she is a grown-ass person with a goddamn kid.)
3) Irene Adler becomes The Woman Who Beat Sherlock.
Even though, as we discover near the end of the episode, Irene Adler is actually working under Moriarty. Implication: smart as she may be, Moriarty is the real mastermind.
Her feelings for Sherlock are portrayed as a weakness, one that is betrayed by her womanish sentimentality.
Also, Irene Adler’s lesbianism (Watson: “We’re not gay!” Adler: “WELL, I AM.”) is COMPLETELY ignored for the rest of the episode, and, most confusingly, not addressed *at all* when Irene Adler’s love for Sherlock is made known.
In the hands of anyone but Steven Moffat, I’d probably see this as a protest of labels, maybe a character identifying as lesbian for political reasons. Instead, it’s just another iteration of the tired old idea that “women aren’t really lesbians, they just haven’t found the right man yet.”
It all ends with Irene Adler (the dominatrix, remember?) on her knees in complete submission, only to be rescued by Sherlock, the hero. In doing so, he reclaims his position as the best, smartest, most logical and unabashedly dominant figure in the series.
It’s all very frustrating.
(Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to the fetishization and sensationalizing of Watson and Sherlock’s nonexistent gay relationship. But that’s another post.)
For the people wondering what Donald Glover had to say about jokes involving rape.
Reblogging so everyone knows how much Donald Glover sucks.
If anyone’s wondering, here’s the reasoning we’re fighting against rape jokes, specifically.
Everybody pretty much agrees that murder is bad, and that even when walking alone at night, people aren’t asking to be murdered. When people get murdered, we go “oh shit, did they find the murderer? how is their family holding up?” When women get raped, we go “what was she wearing are you sure she didnt lead the guy on maybe she liked it maybe the guy didnt hear her say no why are you automatically siding against the guy maybe hes the actual innocent party here OMG U FEMINAZIS”.
Rape isn’t taken seriously as a crime, and women who report their rapes aren’t taken seriously as victims. Even under the “best” circumstances, these women undergo incredible amounts of victim blaming and slut shaming, something really only specific to rape victims, certainly not murder victims.
So when the people who overwhelmingly commit rapes (practically with impunity, given the way we treat rape victims) are *same* guys want to joke about rape? Yeah, no, that is fucked the fuck up.
I agree with this too. I don’t think that was a smart move of Bella’s at all.
However, I feel like Bella could have made this same decision, and it still wouldn’t have been problematic if Stephenie Meyers chose to show Bella’s choices in a negative light. Instead, Meyers fetishizes it, like, literally fetishizes her sorrow and her “can’t live without you” mentality.
(Aside: Let me tell you, I have seen people who can’t live without another person. It ain’t pretty. It’s painful (not that good pain, either) and it’s pitiful and it’s not fucking romantic. At all.)
Also, Stephenie Meyers doesn’t show Bella growing from this in any real way. After it’s all over, I’m convinced that if Edward ever left again, Bella would go right back into her catatonic state. No character growth. No admission that Bella’s actions re: Edward’s leaving were stupid. Oh sure, characters tell her that her actions were stupid all the time, but it’s presented in such a way that makes it seem like those people just don’t understand.
The way Meyers solves the problem of Bella’s comatose state when Edward leaves is to say that Bella and Edward’s love is so strong that Bella will never have to worry about Edward leaving again … instead of Bella gaining the tools to deal with Edward’s leaving.
This is what I mean when I say that Meyers fetishizes dependency. Instead of allowing Bella to move on from being this dependent teenaged girl to a maturing independent woman, Bella continues to be a dependent woman who is just more secure in her dependency.
TLDR: Feminist characters don’t have to make feminist choices all the time. Their non-feminist actions and choices just need to be recognized as such, and those flaws need to be addressed within the text.
The problem that I have with a lot of feminist Twilight criticism is that it sees all aspects of Bella’s character as inherently problematic and inherently antifeminist. Bella doesn’t really want to go to college, she doesn’t really have career goals, she really really really wants to be with Edward, and she really wants to keep that demon baby.
Now, I’d argue that this doesn’t really make Bella an interesting character to me, but this isn’t enough to say that Bella isn’t a strong character, or that Twilight is anti-feminist.
Hold your horses for a sec. I’m not saying that Bella *IS* a strong character, or that Twilight *ISN’T* anti-feminist. I’m just saying that we can’t make that characterization based solely on Bella’s desires. We need to see how these desires and wants are treated in the book so that we can properly contextualize Bella’s desires and actions.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Bella wanting all of the things she wants. Even though the idea is rather foreign to me, I know that there are intelligent women who really are truly not interested in going to college, or who have no real interest in a career. Bella would be quite content, even rather happy, being solely a wife and mother and homemaker. And you know, that’s okay. She’s not being pressured into that choice, and she doesn’t have to go to college to get points towards fulfilling her feminist quota.
It becomes problematic when Bella’s desires and choices are presented as the One True Right, and everyone else who chooses differently than Bella or wants different things is evil, misguided, and/or majorly depressed.
For example, all the women in Twilight either have children or want children. Women who can’t have children are angry and bitter and carry the sorrow with them for eons (see Rosalie.) There’s nothing wrong with having these women in the story, but the representation of women who are childless and happy in Twilight is pretty much nil. And *that’s* the problem.
What I’m saying is this: Bella has goals, they’re just goals like “become a vampire” and “marry Edward” and “be Bella”. Bella just wants to be her own person. (That person is, arguably, not very interesting, but you know, whatevs.)
I think we should be careful about labeling any of Bella’s qualities as inherently unfeminist, lest you alienate women who also want what Bella wants. Twilight is unfeminist because it fetishizes female weakness and dependency, not because Bella doesn’t have traditionally feminist goals.
TLDR: Blame the book, not Bella.
This is an interesting post and a well-written, so it’s def. worth a quick look.
If I unload all of my prejudices that I can’t put my thumb on and leave all my personal experiences/feelings at the door, I’m left with one matter that seems to be washed over in this post…
the issue of pride.
“It’s primary function is to shame people who want to differentiate themselves from the status quo.” I won’t disagree with you on how the term is used. One of the primary functions is to embarass/make fun of the person that is labeled as a “special snowflake.” It’s cruel, I’ll admit. However, the other function of the word is to point out a type of behavior—“special snowflake syndrome.” This behavior can sometimes be innocent and should be ignored, but at other times it actually harms other people/groups.
I actually reblogged an example of this yesterday. The image says: “Hi! I’m a girl. I love videogames! (Reisdent Evil, COD, God of War, Final Fantasy) I can play sports too, I practice karate, and I like basket & baseball. Also, I love classical, speed metal, and progressive rock too. : ) I love my vans as much as my high heels, AND I wouldn’t mind making you a sandwich. : ) I’m REAL and it makes me sad when you say we don’t exist.”
The issue of the image isn’t her interests. She can like what she like. Shit, I like a lot of the things that she likes too. The creator of the image is implying that a “we” exists, a special group of girls that are segmented from other girls. It implies that a status quo exists where it doesn’t, encouraging people to have this [ableist slur redacted. -tuesday] concept of what a woman’s typical interests should be. This message perpetuates a stereotype. The girl who made the picture is ultimately harming other people by putting this message out, myself included. That is why I label her as being a “special snowflake.” She has the audacity to believe something that doesn’t exist and then base her individuality off of going against those interests. That’s silly and unhealthy all around. What she is doing isn’t okay because it’s harmful to other women.
That’s where the pride thing comes in.
The problem with being a “special snowflake” or having “special snowflake” isn’t believing that you’re unique. Everybody is unique. Conversely, everybody is the same. We’re walking contradictions. We all live, die, eat, have organs, have similar cognitive experiences, and live on the same planet. The minor details are what set us apart, but we all have minor details, so it’s not the individuals that stand out—it’s the combinations of characteristics.
The problem is that believing that you are special by comparing yourself to others is harmful to other people as well as yourself. Pride is an ugly thing. There’s nothing wrong with being happy with your particular experience, but there is a problem when you actually believe that a “status quo” exists for individuals. There are common traits that people carry, but there’s not a common combination. And if there is, everybody has a common combination. Think Myers-Briggs.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is this…
“Special snowflake” can be used in a lot of bad ways, but it’s not necessarily used as a means of oppression. I’ll admit that it’s a term frequently used with regards to gender, but that’s a whole `nother bag of apples to tackle. More than anything, it’s used to classify someone who is prideful about something that they shouldn’t be prideful about. Oftentimes that pride harms other, whether it’s through the enforcement of a stereotype that shouldn’t exist, or whether it’s making others feel exhausted by your behavior.
There’s a lot that I’ve missed in my response. I do agree that we should be more careful with how we use the term, but I don’t think that it’s one that should be completely thrown aside. People aren’t bad or oppressive just because they use it.
That image that you’re quoting — I don’t have a problem with that. There IS a status quo, there IS a steretoype of what women like to do and how women behave. Women are COMPLETELY overlooked or treated poorly in the video game market. Women are not viewed as serious sports players. I don’t see why it’s a problem that a woman would say that she’s into those things and express sadness that people act like she doesn’t exist. Because socially women like her DON’T exist.
She isn’t perpetuating a stereotype; she’s trying to fight a stereotype that’s enforced upon her and all women.
Similarly, this image is an example of how “special snowflake” is used against women:
It IS a problem when women try to position themselves as superior to those other women. It is a problem when women say “I only like guys, women are catty.” But that’s a result of internalized misogyny, not pride. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being proud of oneself, with being proud that one is not conforming to gender norms or social expectations. You seem to think there is no such thing as gender norms, unless I’m misunderstanding you.
Mocking these women by calling them “special snowflakes” when they try to assert their identities in the face of constant sexism and belittling… I take issue with that. To me, that’s no better than making fun of the woman on the left in that image above. It’s targeting women who are either striving to fit a gender role or striving to live in opposition to it. The actual problem here is cultural misogyny.
I think it’s telling that all of the responses to my post that are disagreeing on some level are all explaining to me that “special snowflake” is actually used towards these “types” of women, who want to differentiate from the herd. First of all, that really doesn’t invalidate my points; it reinforces them. Secondly, it’s pretty sexist. Nobody is really trying to argue that this term actually means a certain type of men, because there’s already a term for that: Nice Guy.
And yes, people are being oppressive if they use the term in the ways I was discussing. Absolutely.
This is the text of the image in discussion:
“Hi! I’m a girl. I love videogames! (Reisdent Evil, COD, God of War, Final Fantasy) I can play sports too, I practice karate, and I like basket & baseball. Also, I love classical, speed metal, and progressive rock too. : ) I love my vans as much as my high heels, AND I wouldn’t mind making you a sandwich. : ) I’m REAL and it makes me sad when you say we don’t exist.”
She has internalized sexism. I don’t think she’s railing against the lack of representation of female gamers; she’s differentiating herself from “other girls” instead of being against the whole idea of categorizing women in the first place. She’s saying, “yeah you’re right, those other girls suck! But I’ll make you a sandwich, so love me instead! I’m not like them.”
The “special snowflake” syndrome isn’t stemming from her liking video games. It’s stemming from her thinking she’s entitled to special attention from boys because she does, and she shits on other women to get it.