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.
Before about a year and a half ago, I was not aware of the trans* movement or trans* issues really at all. Being cis, my assigned gender matches my perceived gender, and I therefore had the privilege of not having to be aware of trans* bodies.
I bring this up because acknowledging my cis privilege was the first time I had to acknowledge a privilege that I was not previously aware existed. But still, it seemed relatively easy for me to acknowledge my cis privilege. The more I heard about trans* issues, it simply became more and more obvious it became that I, as cis, was definitely in the position of privilege over trans*-identified folks. I was aware of the concept of privilege. I could see how trans* people are marginalized today – from the systemic pathologizing of trans* bodies, to the alarmingly high incidences of rape of trans* people, to the exorbitant amounts of money trans* people must spend to obtain experiences that I, as a cis person, already have. I mean, clearly, there was privilege at work here. Clearly.
But why? Why is it that I was so easily able to recognize my cis privilege, when white people very often have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, before they’ll acknowledge white privilege?
Well, it’s not because I’m inherently better and more progressive than people who deny their privileges. It’s not because I’m a perfect ally, because I definitely have said and do say problematic things. And I continue to be called out for cissexist thoughts, words, and actions. I constantly have to strive to do better.
However, I do think it was somewhat easier for me to come to terms with cis privilege. I am a black woman. I am very aware of the ways in which I’m less privileged, and the ways in which white/male privilege adversely affects me.
For me, I think this is what made it easier for me to acknowledge my cis privilege. When faced with the facts, it seemed impossible, mind-bogglingly impossible to deny cis privilege. I think that being aware of my less privileged status also put me in a better position to see the marginalization of others. I didn’t need to be convinced that marginalization existed, I just needed to acknowledge that other people were being marginalized differently.
This is also my personal explanation for why super privileged wealthy cis straight Christian white men have such a hard time acknowledging how all those adjectives make life easier for them. The biggest privilege is being able to ignore your privileges.
Which is why it feels like an extra slap in the face when someone underprivileged in some way is a denier of their own privilege. It’s why I get more frustrated when I see marginalized groups perpetuating the oppression of other marginalized groups.
It’s why, as I have intuited before, I am so much more bothered by racism in feminism, or homophobia in trans* communities, or racism in gay communities, or transphobia in gay communities, or homophobia in feminism.
It seems like such a great way to ensure that the people with the most power and privilege stay on top – keep marginalized people squabbling amongst each other. Make them buy into a system that grants them small amounts of power while simultaneously reinforcing the ultimate power imbalances that oppress them.
Score: 1 for the kyriarchy.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying that I expect solidarity from all marginalized groups everywhere. However, I do expect recognition of privilege. I do expect that those who call out the privilege of others to acknowledge their own. I do expect people to not be hypocritical.