Outside of fandom, I work for a women's social service agency. The largest in the world, in fact, dedicated to battling racism and fighting sexual violence. It is, for all intents and purposes, a feminist organization. As a self-described womanist, I've never been so happy to have distanced myself from that particular label. Because this hateful, misinformed piece of tunnel-vision propaganda is, quite frankly, the biggest piece of self-righteous shit I've ever tried to digest.
Let's get something straight off the bat: I am a raging Browncoat. I think Zoe Washburn is one of the strongest women television has seen in years. I believe Joss Whedon is the closest thing women have to a feminist in male-dominated Hollywood. Now, let's set that aside. Because what I'm about to say has little to do with outrage on Whedon's, or Firefly's, behalf.
To say that women are shortchanged in popular media would be an understatement. It's the ugly reality of an industry headed and consumed by men at large. The dingbats, the sexpots, the master manipulators... all par for the course. I can think of a million and one instances of skewed female portrayals, compared to a relative handful of strong, healthy ones. There are countless productive ways to combat that fact. Spewing broad conclusions and sweeping generalizations, all based on personal opinion and presented as fact, is not one of them.
Ignoring the fact that Firefly is presented here in bits and pieces, taken out of context and twisted to fit the author's needs (could it be, my dear twit, that Zoe calls Mal "sir" because he's a ranking officer, and not because she's Hazel to his Massah? No? We're not using logic? Okay then.), lets touch on the first of the two glaring offenses in this drivel. First, the cavalier use (and definition) of "rape".
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.
In Joss Whedon’s future world prostituted women are powerful and respectable. They go to an Academy, to train in the arts of being a ‘Companion’. They belong to a Guild which regulates prostitution, forces women to endure yearly health tests and comes up with rules to make prostitution sound empowering for women. For example, one Guild rule is that the ‘Companion’ chooses her rapist, not the other way around.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Rape is a violation. It is an assault, often violent, and too many times a betrayal of trust. It is the theft of the first thing you own: your body. And it's often rooted in anger, yes, but it's always rooted in power. Accepting money for sex is a way to maintain that power. So is selecting your sexual partner. I work with sexual violence victims, and I don't know a single one who got to hand-pick their rapist. But maybe that's just me. Is there a catalog I'm not aware of?
Whatever your issues are with prostitution, marriage, and heterosexual sex in general, stop labeling random things "rape". Prodding from your husband/boyfriend/fuckbuddy does not a rape make, I don't care what your Gloria Steinhem dictionary says. It's a slap in the face to every woman, man and child who has been a victim of sexual assault, and trivializing something this significant just to make your point (and further your own agenda) doesn't help your argument in the least. Which brings me to my second massive issue.
When you can't defend without crucifying, you're doing it wrong.
The first time you brought up Mal and Zoe's relationship in not just a gender context, but a race one, I was a little confused. I thought we were arguing the feminist here. The second time, in an exchange that had everything to do with their dynamic and nothing to do with the respective colors of their skin, I bristled. But the third time was a charm.
Zoe, 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. Zoe 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 Zoe’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.
Zoe, 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 Zoe like an object and possession.
Oh, fembrat. You fail. You fail on a level that does not compute. And any shred of credibility you maintained past the first sentence of this mess (though obviously not with me) has now officially been lost on the seas of insanity.
I can appreciate personal experience. As the product of not one interracial relationship, but several, I have lots of my own. And as a woman of color in an interracial relationship (with a biracial man, no less), this is where the stupidity stopped amusing me, and I reached that teetering-on-the-edge, point-of-no-return, "how dare you?" place.
No, honey, we won't forgive you. Because you are everything that is wrong with the angry face of feminism. To fight one ism with another is not only ignorant, it's lazy. It's cowardly. You have thrown the apples at the oranges and hoped for separate juice. You want to take a stand for women, fine. But rising on the backs of the same racist stereotypes you loathed just a few paragraphs ago? That's shaky ground, and you'll soon find yourself flat on your ass. Men abuse women. Women abuse men. Parents abuse kids. You yourself have abused grammar and punctuation. It has shit to do with race. Abuse comes in every color.
Faced with a white man married to a woman of color - a woman he, to me, respected and feared more than a little, and with good reason on both counts - you draw the immediate conclusion that he's an abusive rapist (and there you go with that word again!). From your own limited personal experience with situations that are only similar on a skin-deep level. And this is how you present your argument. Through questionable opinion that has no basis in fact. Through knee-jerk reactions and conclusions you've pulled from thin air, which I need only look to my own relationship, my parents' marriage, my grandparents' sixty-four-year union, to refute.
You'll forgive me, then, for completely writing you off.
If that hadn't done it, your implication that Joss' wife maintains her marriage for money was a doozy. How very... feminist of you.