Well, everyone, this is our last post before our summer vacation! We’ll be off for the next two weeks or so, but in the meantime, Game of Thrones is back on the air, and I don’t think many of you will be surprised to learn that I still hate it and question everything that’s happening. As such, I figured it was time to take another look at a minor character who has always stuck with me: Shae. Shae’s book and show counterparts couldn’t be farther apart. But if I’m being honest with myself, it’s another change from the books that I somehow actually enjoyed in the show. Part of that is because I doubt the show could handle Shae’s book storyline well because it’s consistently proven itself incapable of treating its female characters with any kind of respect.
Trigger warning for victim blaming, rape, sexual abuse, and murder up ahead.
I finished the second Assassin’s Creed game sometime last week, and now that I’m working my way through Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, I think I can safely say that the series is becoming one of my favorites. I loved the first game, despite its faults, and the same is true here. Thankfully, Assassin’s Creed II attempted to fix a lot of the problems from the first game, such as the lack of female characters. It wasn’t perfect, but it was still pretty enjoyable.
We at Lady Geek Girl and Friends are ardent supporters of sex workers’ rights and sex positivity. Because of this, we find the portrayal of sex workers in musicals, well, troubling at best. As with many other forms of media, prostitution is shown as pretty much the lowest possible rung a woman can reach. Sometimes it’s used as a code word that means ‘she has a tragic backstory’; sometimes it’s used to show just how low she has been brought. Either way, if you’re a sex worker in a musical, odds are you’re gonna have a bad time.
Fantine from Les Miserables probably comes to mind first. Fantine, left with no other way, is forced to turn to prostitution. Her compatriots, who all seem to be hookers with hearts of gold sing raucously about their trade at first and seem to be pretty content with their lot, but as Fantine’s situation worsens, their lyrics as well as her lyrics get more and more tragic:
[Ensemble] Lovely ladies, going for a song
Got a lot of callers but they never stay for long
[Fantine] Come on, captain, you can wear your shoes
Don’t it make a change to have a girl who can’t refuse
Easy money, lying on a bed,
just as well they never see the hate that’s in your head
don’t they know they’re making love to one already dead?
There are a couple topics within feminism that really polarize feminists. One of the biggest ones is sex workers and sex worker rights. There are a lot of issues that come to play here, such as sex trafficking (which is the forcing of women and men into sex work and is not the same as someone who chooses to be a sex worker), poverty, objectification of women, and much more. Still, the rights of sex workers has become a divisive issue for feminists around the world.
In the TV show Firefly and the movie Serenity (though to a lesser extent in Serenity) Inara Serra is one of the main characters and also a sex worker. In the world of Firefly, Inara is considered a Companion, which is similar to a very bastardized western appropriated version of a geisha. A Companion entertains, has tea ceremonies, attends parties/events with their clients, provides for their clients’ spiritual and emotional well-being as needed, and yes, has sex with their clients. Despite the general acceptance in society of Inara’s profession and even her standing as a member of an elite class of people, she often comes under fire for her profession as a sex worker.
So today, I am going to explore whether or not Joss Whedon, the writer of Firefly, intended Inara to be a positive example for the rights of sex workers or if he is attempting to show that sex workers are a symptom of an inherently problematic society.