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 love Netflix’s Jessica Jones—even though the themes of rape, abuse, control, and PTSD make it very difficult to watch. Despite the fact that stories about female characters who have been violated is an overused and misogynistic trope, I think the way the creators of Jessica Jones approach these issues without romanticizing them is pretty great. I especially appreciate the fact these female experiences are the focus of the story and that this story doesn’t serve merely as a backstory for a “strong female character”, even though Jessica is certainly strong in more than one way. The show explores Jessica’s character and post-trauma experiences in an intimate and chilling way and that makes Jessica quite unique as a female character.
Some spoilers for Netflix’s Jessica Jones below. Also, trigger warning for rape, PTSD, alcoholism, self-harm, and abuse.
It seems that when you want to make a woman into a hero, you hurt her first. When you want to make a man into a hero, you hurt… also a woman first. (x)
Vague spoilers for Jessica Jones and a trigger warning for rape throughout this post.
I’ve spent the last week watching Marvel’s Jessica Jones miniseries on Netflix. (I’ve still got a few episodes left, so no spoilers for the finale, please!) While it’s very good, it also seems to buy into a common problem that plagues female characters, especially the hard-boiled/hero types: whether mentally or physically or both, its women have been violated.
Massive trigger warnings for rape, abuse, and mutilation up ahead.
With the possible exception of Cersei’s penance walk, the Jeyne-Theon-Ramsay storyline in A Dance with Dragons was both one of the best and also one of the worst reading experiences I’ve suffered my way through. The whole thing is incredibly uncomfortable. I can think of very few villains worse than Ramsay, and his treatment of both Jeyne and Theon is so appalling that it’s difficult to imagine anyone so evil.
Game of Thrones’s fifth season attempted to tackle this subplot. Unsurprisingly, it failed. The show was also incredibly offensive in the process. At face value, this seems like an odd thing to say. What happens in the show is nowhere near as bad as what happens in the books. In Game of Thrones, Sansa replaces Jeyne, Ramsay rapes her, and the whole thing is rather senseless. In the books, Ramsay does a lot more than rape Jeyne. He threatens to mutilate her—her body is covered in his bites marks—and he forces her into acts of bestiality. On top of all that, he rapes Theon by proxy, since he also forces him to help in Jeyne’s torment as well. It’s worse than I just made it sound. Significantly.
Yet A Song of Ice and Fire does not treat this subject matter the same way Game of Thrones does. What happens in the books is awful, but it’s not just for shock value. The storyline tells us a lot about a person’s identity and autonomy, about rape culture, and about the monsters who hurt us. There’s a lot to unpack here, so for this post, I’m going to get into Theon’s issues with identity and then talk about Jeyne and rape culture in a second post.
We here at Lady Geek Girl and Friends have analyzed fanfiction in a number of ways. We have discussed in particular how, despite what some people may believe, fanfiction is not just porn for women. And let me start off by saying I completely and utterly believe that; fanfiction is not just porn for girls. That’s not to say that erotic fanfic, or smutfic, doesn’t exist. And many fanfic readers enjoy reading them (myself included). However, many feminists have praised erotic fanfiction but talk about how evil or wrong live-action porn starring real people is. This attitude often seems to come off as people attacking porn but praising something that is almost exactly the same when it comes to fanfiction. I cannot speak for all women or all feminists, but I can at least talk about my own reasons for preferring erotic fanfiction over pornography. And this YouTube video in particular sums up many of the reasons I prefer fanfiction.
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.
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.
I really used to like True Blood at one point in time—or at least I liked it a lot better than I do now—but Season 3 has to be the worst season thus far. I wasn’t happy with Season 2 and its portrayal of religion through an extremist group, but at the very least I didn’t hate everything that was happening. That’s not true of Season 3. The Tara storyline made this season painful to watch, and though it was by far the worst storyline, it was hardly the only awful thing happening. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the writers purposefully went out of their way to make Season 3 the most offensive, difficult, triggering season possible. And Tara’s rape plot is sadly not its only devolution into straight up misogyny.
Spoilers and trigger warning for mutilation, slut-shaming, mental issues, rape, and abuse up ahead.