Thursday, June 26, 2008

(shamefully) quick response to a feminist critique of firefly

an epilogue [edit: OK, that would be a prologue. Have I ever mentioned I am perpetually sleep-deprived before? KTHXBAI.]

gack, i know... it's been really a fangirly blog lately. fanwomany. fangrrly, there. yeah. very whedon-rich content. it's a phase, i'll move onto pretty drawings and mommy angst soon.

I wasn't going to blog it, then I was. I don't have time to make a lengthy and well thought out reaction to the entire rant, but I'm addressing one tiny portion of a post by Dani, or _allecto_, that eviscerates Joss's feminist reputation. I'm responding mainly to the writer's assessment of Inara:
Our first introduction to Inara the ‘Companion’, Joss Whedon’s euphemism for prostituted women, is when she is being raped/fucked/used by a prostitutor. I find it really interesting to read the scripted directions for this particular scene:

We are close on INARA's face. She is being made love to by an eager, inexperienced but quite pleasingly shaped young man. She is beneath him, drawing him to his climax with languorous intensity. His face buried in her neck.

He tightens, relaxes, becomes still. She runs her hand through is hair and he pulls from her neck, looks at her with sweaty insecurity. She smiles, a worldly, almost motherly sweetness in her expression. He rests his head on her breast, still breathing hard.

So, Joss Whedon refers to rapist/fuckers who buy women as sex, as ‘eager, inexperienced but pleasingly shaped’ who ‘make love’ to women in prostitution. Obviously, ‘love’ to men like Joss Whedon, requires female powerlessness, force and coercion. Women in prostitution enjoy the experience of being bought for sex. They feel ‘motherly’ towards the men who have just treated them as property and bought them as sex.
  1. We'll start with the biggie: This is not a rape scene. Trust me- I've seen it way more times than this womyn. Lots. Paused, slowed down, zoomed:) This is a sexy and tender scene as you can read in the script passage she has excerpted.
  2. Sex worker =/= victim. Not by definition.
  3. Companion =/= prostitute, not exaaactly. Whedon goes to great lengths to establish the profession as something we (living in the antiquated now, her on Earth-that-was) have not encountered.
  4. I concede that the other character critiques are very valid feminist readings.
  5. But, to create a character is not to endorse that character's behavior or ideology. (If it were, the very existence of Jayne Cobb would mean Joss should be prosecuted for... something bad.) Malcolm Reynolds, aka the fictional male character who has officially replaced Spike in heaviest rotation is Daisy's fantasies, is a cowboy. He is old-fashioned more than a little and he has an idealism that includes a patriarchal sort of thing going on with River, Kaylee, and Inara. (My take on him and Zoe is that it's a war buddy thing that is utterly devoid of any gender awareness but as mentioned the blogger makes strong arguements.) Yes, that is inherently sexist but
  6. Some sexism stems from a reverence for femaleness. I can be just as condescending, and quite harmful and ridiculous, but I maintain that it's not as bad as straight up women-hating.


  1. I read most of the woman's post, because it was P A I N F U L to read it in its entirety and I was reminded how fantastically insular academia is.

    Her premise that the female characters are being abused is, in itself, devaluing those characters. She fails to account for the fact that women are agents of action, not objects being acted upon.

    A sloppy attempt at intellectualism.

    But, what do I know, being a stupid het who lets herself get raped all the time.

  2. Thanks, Clevermom! That was way erudite-er than what I said:) I gotta go check you out now...

  3. You already know me, gorgeous ;)

    Teehee! I'm a butterfly, becoming more beautiful!