Magic and sci-fi don’t have a great track record when it comes to pregnancy. I already talked about this in a previous post a while back, but thanks to Shadowhunters, it’s time to talk about it again. Shadowhunters is not a bad show. It’s not good either, not by a long shot. It’s based on a subpar book series, and although the show has taken a lot of creative liberties—most of which are for the better—the acting’s awful, and the story’s pretty campy. That said, it’s still a lot of fun, and as Noodle has pointed out, it’s giving us some greatLGBTQ+ representation. It’s even used magic in some unique ways. All in all, it has my approval. At least, that was until I starting catching up on Season 2 and reached the episode “Dust and Shadows” and Shadowhunters went right into one of my more hated tropes—the mystical pregnancy.
I hate this trope so much. It’s steeped in rape culture, has numerous implications for worldbuilding, and is rarely handled all that well. Shadowhunters may do a really good job with some things, but this is not one of them, and it’s one of the few instances where the show is actually worse than the books.
Spoilers and a trigger warning for sexual assault ahead.
Lucifer is one of my current favorite shows on television. It’s not exactly progressive, but it is entertaining as heck and has a ton of fun theology that I can sink my teeth into. However, Lucifer isn’t without faults, and while Lucifer as the devil is always somewhat problematic (it’s basically a part of his character at this point), I have had very few issues with how the show discussed sex and consent—until recently.
Trigger warning for discussions of rape culture, and spoilers for Lucifer Episodes 10 and 11 after the jump.
It is often the case that this column overlaps with an object of nostalgia: something we loved when we were younger and are now re-viewing with a critical eye. Today’s Throwback is an exception to this standard. We’ve talked about the Jessica Jones series here and there, and our general opinion of it is that it was a fantastic and feminist, if incredibly dark and triggering, show. I recently had a chance to read “Purple”, the five-issue series of Alias that was published in 2004 and upon which the first season of the miniseries was based. And although I rarely say this, I actually think I like the TV adaptation better.
Spoilers for Alias and Jessica Jones and a trigger warning for rape after the jump.
I’ve never been a big fan of James Potter’s character. Part of that, I’m sure, is colored by my love for Severus Snape, so I’ve always thought of myself as a little biased when it comes to this issue. It also doesn’t help that the fandom as a whole seems to be split down the middle when it comes to both James and Severus—I can’t find many people online who either passionately hate or passionately love both of them. A lot of fans tend to hate one and love the other, as if they have to choose a side for some reason.
I’ll admit that I’m also guilty of this. Snape is my favorite character, and after reading the fifth book, for the longest time, I loathed James Potter. However, in recent years, as I’ve come to terms with the more problematic aspects of Snape’s character, I got to thinking that I should give James another chance. Unfortunately, even then, something about James still struck me the wrong way. Despite being a widely popular character among fans, we don’t know all that much about James outside what we are told by other characters—it’s hard to say whether or not he was even a good person—and what we do know about him is that for much of his life he valued ideals that reinforced toxic masculinity.
Massive trigger warnings for rape, bestiality, mutilation, and abuse up ahead.
I don’t think I will ever stop being amazed by how badly Game of Thrones handled its Sansa-Theon-Ramsay plotline. This storyline wasn’t a joy to read about in the book either, but it was something that had a lot of meaning and purpose, and Game of Thronesmissed every single point the book made. One of the show’s more glaring problems is that it replaced Jeyne with Sansa.
Unfortunately, this switch lead to a lot of arguments about which girl should have been abused—Jeyne or Sansa. On the one hand, Sansa’s already an abuse victim. But on the other hand, so is Jeyne. This conversation can be somewhat problematic, as it can imply that one girl deserved to be abused more than the other. Let me just say that neither Sansa from the show nor Jeyne from the books deserved what happened to them. Not in the slightest. But in terms of which girl should have been the victim if we absolutely had to have a victim, that would most definitely be Jeyne.
Due to Jeyne’s socioeconomic status and the role she was born into in society, A Dance with Dragons opens up a discussion about rape culture that it otherwise couldn’t have had. Jeyne needed to be the victim, because it forces us, the readers, to confront an uncomfortable truth about how we view victims of rape.
I have noticed more than once how authors have used magic as a way to punish women when they have sex. Whether it’s in fantasy or horror, more often than not, women are punished with curses or death for enjoying sex, and it’s a trope that really needs to be put to rest. In horror movies two teens having premarital sex are almost guaranteed to be murdered by the monster. But women are punished far more often for sex than men. Heck, sometimes women are punished for sex even when it’s against their will. It sucks a lot that even in fantastical stories, we can’t get away from this mindset.
I was thinking recently about faerie food and how it never leads to anything good. Very rarely is the only consequence of eating fairy food that you’re a little less hungry afterward. At first, I thought that faerie food seems to be a metaphor in some ways for drug use and addiction, seeing how, in many myths, humans who eat it become addicted, don’t want to eat anything else, and if there is faerie food available, can’t stop eating it even past the point of being full. But then I started to realize there is a much more sinister connotation to faerie food: faerie food in a lot of ways seems to be very similar to date rape drugs, thus tying it to sexual assault.
Trigger warning for rape, date rape, and sexual assault after the jump.
Ah, Star Trek, a TV show that gives us a glimpse of a utopian future where everyone in the Federation is equal and the government secretly looks the other way and even condones sex trafficking. Wait—what was that second part? Oh, nothing much. Just the conveniently overlooked fact that in order to keep at least somewhat peaceful relations with the Orion Syndicate, the Federation sometimes ignores and even sometimes seems to condone sex trafficking. But hey, it’s okay, right? Because the Orion women like being taken advantage of and sold as slaves…
Yep, one of my least favorite things about the Star Trek universe will forever and always be the Orion slave girls.
Trigger warning for rape, rape culture, rape apologism, sexism, racism, abuse, sex trafficking, and slavery after the jump.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the first musical that I ever saw live and one of my favorite musicals that I was part of in high school. Because of this, the musical holds a lot of nostalgia for me. Now that I’m older and know my Bible a lot better than I did before, I have to say that the musical seems a lot darker to me than it used to, but it’s really, really not trying to be.
If you have never seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, let me explain. The musical is written like some very talented youth ministers decided that the Joseph story was what was going to revitalize their parish youth ministry. That’s not to say that it is bad at all; it’s just very simple. The story itself is the bare bones of the Joseph story with a variety of quirky and goofy songs and bright colors to keep the kids interested. There is even a narrator who tells the story and a kids choir in the show. So while the musical could appeal to anyone, it is definitely family-oriented and straightforward in its message. What makes this awkward (for me anyway) is the subject matter certainly is not! So we have several happy goofy songs that talk about Joseph’s brothers beating him within an inch of his life and selling him into slavery, and about Joseph being sexually assaulted and thrown into prison. Yep…
Trigger warning for rape and rape culture after the jump.
I’m almost done with my reread of Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series, and as has been the case with all her books, I’m discovering that while each book is a marvel of fast-paced plots and fantastic character development, they often have deeper issues and implications that weren’t at once clear to a younger me. Such is the case with one of the later books in the series, The Will of the Empress. In it, the mage foursome have grown up and gone on individual adventures, and when Briar, Daja, and Tris return to Sandry and Emelan, each of them find that their childhood foster siblings have changed significantly. But they don’t have time to iron out all their differences: Sandry’s great-uncle, Duke Vedris of Emelan, asks Briar, Daja, and Tris to accompany Sandry to far-off Namorn, where Sandry still holds Landreg lands and titles through her deceased mother. Though they complain about it, they each agree to go with Sandry. Once in Namorn, they quickly find that Namorn has a kidnap custom that reads like a pretty clear rape allegory.
Trigger warning for rape and rape culture after the jump. Also, spoilers for the whole of The Will of the Empress.