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26 March 2008 @ 11:06 am
A public response from a Female Browncoat  
Some of you may be aware of the post made by _allecto_ in which the poster tries to make the case for Joss Whedon being (in the words of the OP) a 'Rapist' and uses examples of dialogue and character treatment in Firefly as 'proof'.

http://users.livejournal.com/_allecto_/34718.html is where this post can be found.

Since the user is busily deleting every comment that does not agree with her point of view, I'll respond here. (I've copied and pasted in those parts of the original post I want to address in italics.)

I find much of Joss Whedon’s work to be heavily influenced by pornography, and pornographic humour.

Welcome to the world of popular culture. Pornography, erotica, pornographic humour, is/are the basis of popular culture and has been since human beings developed leisure time. American popular television is just the latest in a long line.

The first scene opens in a war with Mal and Zoë. Zoë runs around calling Mal ‘sir’ and taking orders off him. I roll my eyes. Not a good start.

The first scene opens with Mal in command of the unit and Zoë as his second in command. This is a military environment, he is a superior officer; no subordinate would call him anything that 'Sir' unless they were looking to be the subject of a court martial.

The next scene is set in the present. Mal, Jayne, and Zoë are floating about in space. They come into some danger. Mal gets all panicky.

Zoë says, “This ship's been derelict for months. Why would they –”

Mal replies, (in Chinese) “Shut up.”

So in the very second scene of the very first episode, an episode written and directed by the great feminist Joss, a white man tells a black woman to ‘shut up’ for no apparent reason. And she does shut up. And she continues to call him sir. And takes his orders, even when they are dumb orders, for the rest of the series.

In that scene, they are operating an illegal salvage operation and are talking through the communication mikes built into their suits. They are being approached by an Alliance spaceship which has communications equipment on board and as such could conceivably pick up on the communications. Mal is still in command, he tells her to be quiet, she follows his order, and they avoid detection by the ship. Explain to me how that is a "dumb" order?

The next scene we meet Kaylee, the ship’s mechanic. <- Lookee, lookee, feminist empowerment. In this scene Mal and Jayne are stowing away the cargo they just stole. Kaylee is chatting to them, happily. Jayne asks Mal to get Kaylee to stop being so cheerful. Mal replies, “Sometimes you just wanna duct tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month.” Yes, that is an exact quote, “Sometimes you just wanna DUCT TAPE HER MOUTH and DUMP HER IN THE HOLD FOR A MONTH.” Kaylee responds by grinning and giving Mal a kiss on the cheek and saying, “I love my Captain.”

What the fuck is this feminist man trying to say about women here? A black woman calling a white man ‘sir’. A white male captain who abuses and silences his female crew, with no consequences. The women are HAPPY to be abused. They enjoy it. What does this say about women, Joss? What does this say about you? Do you tell your wife to shut up? Do you threaten to duct tape her mouth? Lock her in the bedroom? Is this funny to you, Joss? Because it sure as fuck ain’t funny to me.

Now I'll grant you that in black and white the dialogue does not look good. However, Jayne is presented physically here as a bumbling idiot who thinks with his muscles and Mal's inflection and body language clearly indicate that this is a banter that is shared between Kaylee and himself out of mutual respect. Kaylee's reaction conveys that she knows Mal is an idiot and she makes it clear through her actions that she knows it is banter and she is capable of being just as abusive (to use the OP's terminology). (I could go on to talk about how the banter between the two is turned on its head in episodes like Shindig, but I'm trying to stick to answering the OP's points.)

As to the second paragraph here, devolving into personal insults of a man the OP has never met and using such abusive language is not an appropriate way to present an argument. It' is, however, an appropriate way to bring oneself to the attention of entertainment lawyers who will easily make a case for a lawsuit for libel and defamation of character.

The OP goes on to remark on the scripted directions for the introduction of Inara's character (who we first see in the show mid-coitus) and then goes on to say:

But there is one really big question that does not get answered. The women who ‘choose’ to be ‘Companions’ are shown as being intelligent, accomplished, educated, well-respected and presumably from good families. If a woman had all of these qualities and opportunities then why the fuck would she ‘choose’ to be a man’s fuck toy? Would being a fuck toy for hundreds of men give a woman like Inara personal fulfillment? Job satisfaction? A sense of purpose? Fulfill her dreams? Ambitions?

Money doesn’t seem to be the motivation behind Inara’s ‘choice’ to be a ‘Companion’, presumably she just ‘enjoys’ swanning around in ridiculous outfits. And being used as a fuck toy by men is seemingly a small price to pay for the pleasure.

The role of 'Companion' in the Firefly "'verse" is not equated with prostitution in the current climate. Inara is not a call girl, a hooker, a whore, and definitely not a "fuck toy". It is clearly presented a complex life choice in which the Companion is in control of her own decisions and (as shown in Shindig and Heart of Gold) grants the (apparently entirely female) Companions a huge element of control over society. (Nobles can be scorned and knocked down a peg by being blacklisted by the Guild).

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Joss uses his own wife in this way. Expects her to clean up his emotional messes. Expects her to be there, eternally supportive, eternally subservient and grateful to him in all his manly glory. I hope the money is worth it, Mrs. Whedon. But somehow I doubt that it is. No amount of money can buy back wasted emotional resources.

Aside from women being fuck toys, property and punching bags for the men, the women have very little importance in the series. I counted the amount of times women talk in the episode Serenity compared to the amount of times men talk. The result was unsurprising. Men: 458 Women: 175. So throughout the first episode men talk more than two and a half times as much as women do. And women talk mainly in questions whereas men talk in statements. Basically, this means that men direct the action and are active participants whereas women are merely observers and facilitators.

Again - this argument does not merely verge on libellous - it is libellous. The OP shows no signs of being acquainted with Joss Whedon or Kai Cole and yet seems to be content to say that "beyond a shadow of a doubt" Kai is the victim of spousal abuse. Again, any potentially interesting discussion is shattered by personal bigotry and prejudice on the part of the OP.

The OP goes on to discuss the violent tendencies of the male characters in the show and states that "Completely unnecessary and unprovoked violence is a spontaneous result of this hypermasculinised male character." The examples given are taken out of context and as such are difficult for me to identify, however I do not remember any such 'unprovoked' violence on the show amongst the principal characters as described by the OP.

Zoë, the token black woman, acts as a legitimiser. Her role is to support Mal’s manly obsession with himself by encouraging him, calling him ‘sir’, and even starting the fights for him. Zoë is treated as a piece of meat by both her husband (Wash, another white male) and the Captain. Wash and Mal fight each other for Zoë's attention and admiration, both relying on her submission to them to get them hard and manly. In fact there is a whole episode, War Stories, devoted to Wash and Mal’s ‘rivalry’. By the word rivalry, I mean violent, homoerotic male/male courtship conducted over the body of a woman.

It is at this point that the question arises as to whether the OP has in fact seen the show or has simply read the scripts. Going on the script alone, yes there is apparent rivalry between the two men. However, on screen, it is clearly shown that Zoë not only takes the lead in all aspects of her marriage with Wash, but also that she finds the very thought of any contest in which she would be the 'prize' laughable. The OP seems to be trying to say that through this rivalry (which does not in fact appear in any serious manner in the show other than in Wash's worries) that Zoë is being objectified.

In fact the reverse is true, Zoë blatantly objectifies and subjugates Wash. "I need this man to tear my clothes off" is not said because she is being the good little wife who bends to her husbands every will, it's said (and acted upon by Zoë grabbing Wash's collar and leading him away) because she wants sex. To imply that Zoë is anything other than an empowered woman acting in a hierarchy that she has joined by choice is ludicrous to anyone who has actually watched the show.

The OP, of course, disagrees with this: Zoë, of course, is meant to be our empowered, ass-kicking sidechick. Like all sidechicks she is objectified from the get go. Her husband, Wash, talking about how he likes to watch her bathe. Let me just say now that I have never personally known of a healthy relationship between a white man and a woman of colour. I have known a black woman whose white husband would strangle and bash her while her young children watched. My white grandfather liked black women because they were ‘exotic’, and he did not, could not treat women, especially women of colour, like human beings. I grew up watching my great aunts, my aunty and my mother all treated like shit by their white husbands, the men they loved. So you will forgive me for believing that the character, Wash, is a rapist and an abuser, particularly considering that he treats Zoë like an object and possession.

Leaving aside the personal aspect of the OP's family history, since I do not know the OP and therefore cannot comment, I would like to point out that expecting the reader will 'forgive' the writer for believing Wash to be "a rapist and an abuser" is not something one would accept in a public post such as this without some form of evidence presented other than personal experience of mixed-race relationships.

I am in no way trying to dictate what the OP can or cannot say, however the libellous comments concerning Joss Whedon and Kai Cole are unforgivable. The OP is more than welcome to her opinions, however the basis of any free society is the concept of debate. By deleting or screening the comments of people she does not agree with, the OP is essentially holding a Kangaroo Court in which those who support her viewpoint shout down those who do not.

For the record, I am an educated woman. I am currently not in a relationship. I have (thankfully) never been the victim of spousal abuse (or the like). I am a strong empowered woman who firmly believes in the power of choice.

And I'm a proud Browncoat.

Edited to add ladybug218 has replied to the OP in an eloquent manner which tries to address the issue. As of right now (12:20 GMT 26th March 2008) the comment is screened. ladybug218 has reproduced her comment on her own journal.
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Denitamenomegirl on March 26th, 2008 11:16 am (UTC)
Wonderful rebuttal to that post. Best one I've seen so far.

the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 11:24 am (UTC)
You're more than welcome, I'm glad to see there are so many people standing up and saying "hold on a minute" to the OP, it's just a shame that she's feeling the need to delete everything that doesn't conform to her opinion. Especially when on her userinfo she actively encourages debate from women who don't always agree with her.
(Deleted comment)
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 11:27 am (UTC)
Her userinfo actively encourages debate from women with opinions other than her own, whilst at the same time stating that she will automatically delete any comment that she feels undermines her ideology.

Putting such a contentious post up in such a public place seems deigned purely to attract flames and stir up drama.

If she in any way provided a reasonable arguement then it could have become an interesting debate, instead it's just biased rhetoric.
(no subject) - willowmina on March 26th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jgracio on March 26th, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
snake eyes and deja vu: Firefly text no power in the versesorchasilver on March 26th, 2008 11:35 am (UTC)
Thank you!
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 11:41 am (UTC)
You're welcome!

Seriously, it could have been an interesting debate, but she completely fails to provide any 'proof' that stands up and litters her post with profanities and libelous statements.

I don't particularly agree with the idea that profanity is the sign of a low intelligence (and not just because I personally swear like a trooper!) but when I see posts like this I can see why others do.
(no subject) - sorchasilver on March 26th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - skipp_of_ark on March 26th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 27th, 2008 10:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
Millymilly on March 26th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)
Oh thank you. Her post gave me such a headaches, and I consider myself a feminist. I'll repeat what I said elsewhere - misantropy? Just as ugly as misogyny.

Edited at 2008-03-26 11:36 am (UTC)
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 11:41 am (UTC)
misantropy? Just as ugly as misogyny.

Perfectly put!
The Teasemaster: bones - zack - not earth logictinylegacies on March 26th, 2008 11:43 am (UTC)
I have no words.

But thank you for taking the time to rebutt her arguments point by point.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC)
You're welcome!

It did take me quite a while to calm down enough to actually put this into words like this, my initial reaction is not something I'm particularly proud of but I reigned it in and didn't act on it at all.
(no subject) - tinylegacies on March 26th, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
JGjgracio on March 26th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC)
She might have good points to make, but they're lost in a sea of CRAZY.

Also, funny how it's easy to make people wrong when you're the one in control of the terms.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC)
Exactly - she could well have started a valid debate, but by taking it down into personal insults and inflammatory (and baseless) statements, she's ruined her own case.
(no subject) - jgracio on March 26th, 2008 11:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sentimental yet sardonic: What the Bork?booster17 on March 26th, 2008 11:50 am (UTC)

You are a far, far braver womanperson than I am for venturing into that mess (but I'm totally with you on all counts).

Starting the countdown till this turns up on Fandom_wank in 3, 2, 1....
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 11:54 am (UTC)
Hopefully I'm keeping a sane head on it, it annoys me immensely when fandom gets such a bad name because of hotheads and people like the OP willing to band about unfounded accusations as though they were fact.

I had a quick check to see if I could track any statements from the OP that I may have missed before I posted, and it's already on Wank_Report so I would say that by the end of today... (I'm on JF as well although I keep forgetting to post - my username over there is fandomsbitca, just in case it does get to that level).

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, but given this is fandom? Who knows?
Charmax: Eureka Jo gunscharmax on March 26th, 2008 11:57 am (UTC)
Yes and yes.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 12:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I'm hoping that if posts like this one appear, it could create the debate that the OP seems to have intended and then backed hurredly away from.
Jackiewillowmina on March 26th, 2008 11:58 am (UTC)
There's also the fact that she seems to completely miss Joss' habit of creating families - Close knit groups of friends/family (and if you're living in that small an environment you can't help but become close knit) tend to have in-jokes that sometimes can't be understood from outside the group.

Then her comment on Xander as a pro-porn sex-obsessed adolescent male - I think the majority of adolescent males go through this stage...

Plus they seem to take the commentaries seriously, next they'll be accusing Joss of being a terrorist 'cause of his comment in Serenity about not having as much fun since he blew up Sunnydale High...

Thanks for your rebuttal, 'tis good...
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
She says in one of her replies to a comment that she has seen the run of the show twice. I find that very difficult to come to terms with given her reading of the text. I'm not in any way saying that everyone will read the text the same - after all, we are all individuals with differing backgrounds and ideologies - but such a tangental reading seems to imply that the OP used the scripts as her primary source.

When discussing a visual media, the scripts - even the shooting scripts as opposed to transcripts - are a tiny fraction of the text.

I saw her comment about Xander, it actually really angered me to the point where I lost coherency. Xander is presented in the show as a teenaged boy. "I'm 17, looking at linoleum makes me think about sex.". Not a woman-hater. Far from it.

Thank you!
(no subject) - skipp_of_ark on March 26th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 27th, 2008 10:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - willowmina on March 27th, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
frogfarm on March 26th, 2008 11:59 am (UTC)
I am a fan of objectification. We are all objects in space.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC)
I must admit, I'll be interesting to see her take on River's characterisation throughout the show - and, if she continues, in the film.

The OP seems to have missed the point I made in conversation this morning (which I didn't include in this post because I was sticking to talking about the episodes/events the OP brought up): the male characters in Firefly are generally shown as ineffectual, bumbling, prone to mistakes. The female characters tend to be shown as settled, confident, accomplished in their chosen role.

River is a fascinating paradox though, and it would be good to engage in debate about that. Unfortunately, given the OP's rejection of debate, I don't think it will happen in this particular arena.

Edited at 2008-03-26 12:27 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - frogfarm on March 27th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
thedothatgirl: blackthedothatgirl on March 26th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
Well said' is a huge understatement. I am pleased to know your brain and hope your intelligence will rub off on me in some way.

I read some of her post (not seen it before) and then just got very, very angry. She must have been watching another version of the show. As for the libelous comments about Joss & his wife - just appalling.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 12:11 pm (UTC)
part of me wonders if she did actually watch the show at all, or merely read the scripts. In print form the dialogue can come across as misogynistic and woman-hating, but the visual presentation that accompanies the dialogue clearly shows the ultimate control on Serenity lies with women.

And the personal attacks on Joss (and Kai) are completely unforgiveable.
Ah yes, quite a bunch of us, isn't it?unhobbityhobbit on March 26th, 2008 12:08 pm (UTC)
I read that just now (well, I read half of it and got bored because she was saying the same thing over and over again) and skipped down to read some of the comments and now I have a question.

What the hell does "gynaffectionate" mean?
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
I have to admit it's not a word I've come across before. I suspect it may have the same kind of etymology as "sidechicks" (which really irritated me as a linguist). From context I'm guessing it relates to like/love of the female genitalia?
(no subject) - unhobbityhobbit on March 26th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 01:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - unhobbityhobbit on March 26th, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 01:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - unhobbityhobbit on March 26th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - unhobbityhobbit on March 26th, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jgracio on March 26th, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jgracio on March 26th, 2008 01:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 01:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - unhobbityhobbit on March 26th, 2008 01:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - skipp_of_ark on March 26th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - foxfire74 on March 27th, 2008 12:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
technopagan hippie chickgeminilove_ca on March 26th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
Kudos to you on an intelligent and literate response. My own was more along the lines of.. "WTF? Are you f'ing kidding me?"

Nevermind that I could link her to Joss's speech at Equality Now on YouTube. Course, she'd probably make up some quasi-linguistic response about how Equality Now is just another pro-patriarchal, propagandist machine, yadda yadda.

I need coffee before I can wade thtough this.... ugh
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
It took me quite some time to actually bring myself down to a level on which I was able to put this into words. I think it might help that my background is in media studies and textual analysis so I can see where she's trying to make her points and failing.
(no subject) - geminilove_ca on March 26th, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - whiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - geminilove_ca on March 26th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 01:55 pm (UTC)
Very good point, Joss is probably not the feminist hero that other meta writers and fans hail him to be, however this particular poster is making libelous statements without a shred of evidence bar her own biased reading of the fictional text of a TV show.

I write fiction myself, both fandom based and original works. Since I veer towards horror and/or suspense in my writing does that mean I am a serial killer who kills because the ghost of my uncle's cat tells me to? No, of course not.

Even if one could read an anti-feminist viewpoint into Firefly, that does not then equate to Joss being an anti-feminist. It definitely does not give anyone the right to call him a rapist.
bookwormsarah: idealistbookwormsarah on March 26th, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you for that measured and controlled response! I was hissing over the original post and had far to many angry thoughts to make them coherant. Plus I doubt that the original poster is interested in any kind of debate.

I hate it when people fit the misogynistic stereotype of a feminist. They give the rest of us a bad name.

also a Browncoat.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: serenity - bastardsnowwhiskyinmind on March 26th, 2008 02:19 pm (UTC)
It did take me a while to calm down enough to put what I wanted to say into words. I'm so glad there are people standing up now and saying "Hold on a minute, you're giving me a bad name". The main problem is that the OP has shown that she has no inclination to engage in debate, or even to entertain any opinion that differs to her own - despite what she claims in the userinfo on her journal.

Cooler heads look set to prevail, but this kind of thing makes all of us - fans and feminists alike - look bad.

Thanks for commenting!