A Post

…in which I write some things other than “Hey, I’m not going to post for a while.” Specifically, some reasons why I haven’t been posting and probably still won’t for a bit.

1) Two nights ago, a spider got up my pajama pant leg while I slept, got trapped around the knee, and left me with 11 goddamn bites. This happens about once a year, and it’s hardly a big crisis, but it means that for the next several days, I will wake up with my knee on fire, and sit around whimpering and cursing the spider for 10-20 minutes until it calms down instead of posting first thing in the morning, which is usually my best time. (This is not a good reason for not posting, mind you, but since I just woke up, it’s the one that’s foremost in my mind.)

2) I just got back from a 10-day trip to New York, which was amazing in several ways, perhaps most notably that I think I went like three days without turning on the computer at all. (I  did, of course, check e-mail and Twitter on my phone. But it was still a big change for me.) Like my recent trip to Toronto, it reinforced that I spend too goddamned much time on the internet, and I actually enjoy leaving the house and speaking to other human beings face to face. So I’m still trying to figure out how to do more of that.

3) I am, as previously mentioned (I think), working on a new book proposal. Although when I was out with Amy Benfer and another writer friend last week, I said “I’m still at the proposal stage,” and Amy immediately corrected me: “She’s still at the talking-about-it-in-bars stage.” Mostly because that’s exactly what I was doing at the time instead of writing. But A) that is an important stage, dammit, and B) I have written half a proposal and would like to get the other half finished soon. So that’s ongoing.

4) Before that, though, I have to finish revising/adding to the body image chapter for the upcoming edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. How awesome is that?

5) My mother-in-law is coming to visit tomorrow.

6) In anticipation of 5 — and because I really couldn’t avoid it much longer and still have a usable space — I have spent the last two days thoroughly cleaning my office, including going through every box full of papers that’s been sitting around there for months to years, figuring out what to shred and what to save, and creating a filing system that lends itself to actually finding things when I want them, as opposed to my tried and true “throw it in a box and maybe go through it the next time I move” system. I am still not done. And now Al’s gung-ho on organizing the closets and pantry and trying to set up systems all over the place that will help our future selves avoid getting buried under heaps of clutter and I’ll Deal With It Later boxes, so if you don’t hear from me, it is probably because I will be cleaning this fucking apartment FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

But to tide you over, here’s a thing I probably would have posted about, had I been in a posting mood. In the “Flesh and Stone” episode of Doctor Who, which is the last one we’ve watched (so please don’t spoil anything past that) (and if you haven’t seen that ep and don’t want to be spoiled for it, quit reading now), new companion Amy comes back from a typically harrowing adventure and reacts in exactly the way I would if I were a young, single, heterosexual woman who’d just traveled through time and space (and nearly died) with a guy who looks like Matt Smith and is basically the most amazing dude ever, because that’s the whole point of him: She tries to get him into bed. (And gets nowhere, predictably, but still.)

Now, I should note that A) I am not remotely a Doctor Who purist (I’ve only watched the new version) and am therefore not invested in the notion that the Doctor is meant to be asexual. (Especially when he’s as hot as the last three have been, which frankly is the main reason I got into watching it.) B) I am also not remotely the kind of person who thinks sex/tension between leads ruins good shows in general. In fact, I would pretty much like everyone on TV to be fucking and/or having relationship angst all the time. So there’s that.

But even setting those things aside, I was stunned to see the internet reaction to that scene. Not only is there slut-shaming galore (I forgot to mention that Amy’s supposed to get married in the morning, so OMG HOW COULD SHE?) but there are several people advancing the theory that her hitting on the Doctor is meant to be read as evidence of mental illness (by which they seem to mean daddy issues and low self-esteem, mostly, but they’re framing it in terms of a disorder). Simply because she wants to have sex with what appears to be a very cute twentysomething guy (ok, he’s a 900-year-old alien, but still) after going through several adrenaline-pumping adventures with him. Previous companions in the new version have either mooned over the Doctor endlessly or kept it strictly platonic, and on a show about time and space travel and aliens and monsters, the fact that no one’s tried to bone him yet has strained my credulity more than just about anything else.

And I’m not alone, as I learned in this (very amusing) Doctor Who Confidential clip about the scene in question:

Around 2:05, the show runner, Steven Moffat (who’s been accused lots of times of being anti-feminist, but whatever, that’s another post) says: “Here’s this man, this generally rather good-looking man — sometimes older, sometimes younger, but generally good-looking — who’s wonderful, funny, passionate and kind, and the nicest, bestest human being (apparently), you’ll ever meet. And all those girls… didn’t notice? Ever? Not once?” GOD, THANK YOU.  ABOUT TIME. Yes, previous companions have been crazy about him, but only in a “You are my One True Love and I will wait around until you think of me that way, which I know you never will” way, so later, Moffat explicitly states the obvious:  Unlike them, Amy’s just looking for a romp, not true love, because why not? See also the part around 3:05 where Karen Gillan, who plays Amy, gives her reasoning for why the character went for it: “I don’t know, sometimes you do things in the heat of the moment…when you’re, like, excited, and you’ve shared something with someone and… [shrug].” Indeed. NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

And yet. Precisely because she just wants sex, a disturbing number of people can’t figure out her motivation. There must be something deeper — something dark and fucked up, in fact — because a young woman just wanting a roll in the hay because hey, you’re here and you’re hot and all that stuff we just did was kind of mind-blowing? Well, that makes no sense whatsoever! To take that at face value, you’d have to believe that girls like sex or something!

So, yeah. I guess I did sort of post about that just now, except if I were really posting, I’d spend 9 more paragraph reiterating the above points in increasingly ranty ways. As it is, I’m just going to issue a big, fat SHUT UP, INTERNET and turn it over to you guys. That’s all.

34 thoughts on “A Post

  1. I FUCKING LOVE AMY POND. Especially for that scene.

    I also love River Song and I’m not apologizin’ for it.

    Also, Matt Smith is hot. 11 is childish and deeply old and vaguely threatening all at once. 11 ftw.

    Who purist-fandom (and a lot of fandom) has a great deal of internalized misogyny. You see it in how much female characters are hated/written out of stories, how much Rose/Martha/Donna were slut and body shamed, called stupid, etc. It’s a damn shame. The “zomg MARY SUE” whenever there is a strong female character onscreen is problematic as well.

    “I am also not remotely the kind of person who thinks sex/tension between leads ruins good shows in general. In fact, I would pretty much like everyone on TV to be fucking and/or having relationship angst all the time. So there’s that.”

    YES! I love this!

  2. Telling themselves that women hate sex is a good way for sexist guys to make themselves feel better about never being able to get a woman to have sex with them.

    The whole idea of women hating sex in our culture actually really scares me. I guess it’s a huge part of rape culture, that no woman ever really wants sex, so you have to force her, and since everyone has to force women to have sex it’s probably not a big deal to do so. I can’t imagine ever wanting to have sex with someone who wouldn’t enjoy it. Isn’t that a big part of the appeal?

    Regarding the Doctor being asexual, I actually hadn’t known that, I used to watch about 2 doctors ago and now that I know there was no chance of him and Rose fucking I feel cheated. :(

  3. Spider bites are the creepiest thing. I’m so sorry you are going through that.

    I’m not a Who fan, but several of my friends were deeply disturbed about that scene because they saw it as a full-on sexual assault. And then the online reaction was either attacking the female character for having sexual desires and expressing them, or cheering her on and ignoring the consent issue (I gather the guy is saying “No” the whole time?), which just compounded the issues.

    DRST

  4. As it is, I’m just going to issue a big, fat SHUT UP, INTERNET and turn it over to you guys.

    Holy crap, does that work? Is there a special technique for invoking that power? Because there have been occasions when I surely could have used it, and I strongly suspect that such occasions will continue to occur with debilitating frequency.

  5. DRST, in terms of the sexual assault angle, I felt like they should have cut the scene shorter instead of having her keep after him (for laffs, natch), but it didn’t cross the line to where it made me uncomfortable. Which might have been because of their genders and/or my being conditioned to accept persistent sexual advances as comedic in a context like this, either of which would be worth unpacking. But fwiw, the conceit here was that the Doctor was first oblivious and then like, “Wait, what? This wasn’t part of the plan!” — not that he truly felt frightened or threatened. Just flustered. And she stops and he regains control pretty quickly, although it would have worked as well, minus the assault undertones, if she’d only gone in for one kiss and then backed off.

  6. Add me to the Pond Lovers Anonymous group!

    This is my first ever season of Doctor Who. I have friends who watch and they really seem to love it, and I’m trying to broaden my horizons, and I kept seeing commercials and it looked interested. And of course, you know, I thought Matt Smith was kinda cute *lol* So I figured hey, why not give it a shot.

    And I’ve loved it. I could ramble at lengths about the reasons I love the show, but I’ll limit my rambling to the subject of this post…

    After the first couple of episodes I was reading a discussion thread online about the show and someone remarked that they were glad to see a relationship between the Doctor and his companion with no sexual tension and I just thought, “What?” Because in episode one of this season Amy very happily watched the Doctor get naked. So while I didn’t get the impression that he had necessarily felt a sexual attraction towards her, I had the impression long before this episode that she was definitely attracted to him, and I was baffled that people seemed not to notice that.

    Reading this post though seals the deal for me on not venturing into the Doctor Who fandom. The idea that wanting to shag the Doctor = mental illness… that’s just beyond bananas. And I really do think that this kind of thinking is directly tied to the fact that strong women make a lot of people want to wet themselves apparently.

    Amy thus far strikes me as a strong and brave character. When we were first introduced to her she was a child, unafraid of a strange man who fell out of the sky and into her backyard in the middle of the night. She was unafraid to go with the Doctor; in fact, she couldn’t wait to go! She has faced all manner of dangerous situations without going to pieces; she even risked her own life (by opening her eyes when the Angel was in her brain) to gather more information. She knows what, and who, she wants and she isn’t afraid to go after it. What’s more, she’s realistic about her expectations; she understands that her time with the Doctor is only temporary and she’s okay with that.

    And that scares the hell out of people because that is still not what we are told to expect from women. Women have sex with someone, even just once, and that’s it; they’re in love. Men are the ones who can shag whomever they want and walk away emotionally unscathed so shag someone else the next night. Women are the ones whose lives are meant to be defined by the actions of the men around them; they are not supposed to live for themselves.

    Amy dares to make her own decisions about how to live and who to sleep with, which means she must be shamed and marginalized back into her proper place.

    Also, Matt Smith is hot. 11 is childish and deeply old and vaguely threatening all at once. 11 ftw.

    Word.

  7. RMJ, I think that’s a great analysis, too. As I said above, I wasn’t made as uncomfortable by it, but I can’t really argue those points, and I do think it fits right in with what we’ve seen a million times in romcoms, usually with the genders reversed, where someone doesn’t take no for an answer and we’re supposed to see it as funny and romantic. And I do believe that’s part of rape culture. So, like I said, I wish they’d cut that scene shorter and not gone for the “persistence is funny” approach. But I still think the reaction to Amy’s motivation for wanting to get with him, which is what I was talking about in the post, is incredibly troubling from a feminist perspective as well.

  8. I felt like they should have cut the scene shorter instead of having her keep after him (for laffs, natch), but it didn’t cross the line to where it made me uncomfortable. Which might have been because of their genders and/or my being conditioned to accept persistent sexual advances as comedic in a context like this, either of which would be worth unpacking. But fwiw, the conceit here was that the Doctor was first oblivious and then like, “Wait, what? This wasn’t part of the plan!” — not that he truly felt frightened or threatened. Just flustered. And she stops and he regains control pretty quickly, although it would have worked as well, minus the assault undertones, if she’d only gone in for one kiss and then backed off.

    I second this. I didn’t unpack the scene as a sexual assault for likely the same reasons that Kate listed, but it is problematic that these messages are being put out there regardless. I’m now imagining all the ways in which the scene could have been played differently and wondering why these choices were made.

    Well, there’s not a lot of reason to wonder… rape culture and all.

  9. So, like I said, I wish they’d cut that scene shorter and not gone for the “persistence is funny” approach.

    Or that persistence is a form of seduction.

    As I sit here thinking about this scene, I can’t help but wonder if this is the trope they were going for. Amy seemed to be trying to seduce the Doctor, what with being the “pursuer” and the innuendo, but (as is so often the issue) persistence is meant to be read as a normal part of seduction; if someone says no, it just means you haven’t found the right thing to make them say yes! And many people buy into that. I’ve had many a friend who talked about how “romantic” it was that their now-boyfriends didn’t take no for an answer the first time they turned them down. To me, this seems to be where the writers were taking Amy… if she just told the Doctor she was okay with the potential infidelity, she didn’t care about his age/lack of humanness, or the fact that they would not live omg-happily-ever-after, then it would be all systems go.

    But this all assumes that the desire is there and that answering the “roadblocks” is all it takes to seduce someone. People need to be taken at their word, and when that word is no, it means no. It doesn’t mean you just haven’t worked hard enough to get a yes.

    I imagine that many of those people slut-shaming Amy would have been fine with her actions had she been a man though, and the list of reasons that is problematic is as long as my arm.

  10. Who purist-fandom (and a lot of fandom) has a great deal of internalized misogyny.

    I started watching Doctor Who with the reboot, Christopher Eccleston as No. 9, and completely fell in love with the character. So I definitely applaud the idea of somebody finally noticing that they, the Doctor is kind of hot. David Tennant will always be my fave (check him out in the BBB Casanova miniseries if you can find it on DVD), but I’m warming up to Matt Smith, too.

    My husband, who has been a fan since the very beginning of the show, recently persuaded me to get some of the earlier episodes from Netflix. We watched a bunch of the William Hartnell eps last night, and I am floored by the differences in the female characters. They are always the ones panicking, screaming, scared of gross dead things, in need of comforting, and falling off their high heels while running after the Doctor. Then there was the whole, “You first, then the girls, and I’ll take up the rear, because it’s safer that way” explanation by the male schoolteacher when they were running from the bad guys. Plus, the Doctor was always addressing the male schoolteacher instead of the female, even when he was directly responding to something she said (because the guy is definitely more rational, amirite?).

    That kind of thing is still rampant in TV and movies today, but damn, it was blatant back then!

  11. Hhmmm…now that I’ve seen the scene it seems pretty likely that it might be an indication of an issue with time travel, or a mental illness. Not because she’s expressing herself sexually, but because she seems so…crazed. I have no doubt gender plays a role in all this, but she doesn’t seem like a woman trying to express a sexual desire, she seems like she might be on drugs. I had expected something different based on the description here than I got when I saw the actual scene, which might play a role in it. But, she’s chasing him, pushing him, kissing him, she’s ignoring his no.

    If this was happening to me, man or woman, I would be scared. I would have gotten out of that room super fast. An exploratory kiss, a hand placed on a thigh, a sly smile, that would have been reasonable. That wasn’t what happened though, and I would have to say it is a sexual assault.

    However, Kate is right about it being difficult to see it as such, because of the gender roles and because of how frequently this is used as a device in rom coms. Women frequently act like this in those movies, after which hilarity is supposed to ensue. They chase the men and the men are supposed to rebuke them so that they can make the first move later. Eh, rape culture is just charming ain’t it?

  12. I didn’t see it as sexual assault the first time. Mostly because I was cheering for Amy for trying for casual sex with The Doctor. But after reviewing the scene it would have been a lot better if she were less handsy after he kept refusing her and I would have been uncomfortable watching it if the roles were reversed. That being said, the roles weren’t reversed and context matters.

    But so far I’ve liked Amy’s comfort with her own sexuality as well as the slight gender role reversal with Rory being a nurse.

    Slut shaming needs to stop. I can’t believe people thought it was a sign of some sort of mental illness.

  13. “Two nights ago, a spider got up my pajama pant leg while I slept, got trapped around the knee, and left me with 11 goddamn bites. This happens about once a year, and it’s hardly a big crisis”

    Oh yes it damn well is. If a spider even looks at me I’m reduced to a quivering wreck. The last time I saw one I tried to tackle it myself, and ended up trapped in a corner whimpering “Just go! P-Please, just go!” And that was the bravest confrontation I’ve had with one in a long while.

  14. I hang out in totally different fandom spaces than you do. :) In my fandom-space, River Song is awesome and Amy was both reacting to the stressful situation and perhaps -perhaps! – heavily influenced by the Crack wanting to keep the Doctor distracted from investigating it, and since that Crack is so obviously tied to Amy….

    But mostly what I got out of the two-parter is Amy Pond & River Song are awesome.

  15. Not because she’s expressing herself sexually, but because she seems so…crazed.

    See, I didn’t interpret it that way, which is probably part of the problem. She’s a character who tends to be impulsive and excitable, and who often plows forward out of curiosity even when it’s a bad idea, so I read it as an extension of that — she decided she was going for it, and he didn’t get it at first, so she got all, HERE LET ME SHOW YOU WHAT I MEAN… and then took entirely too long to accept his no. And that does make her seem kind of crazed, but I just assumed they were aiming for zany slapstick and overreached.

    Paintmonkey, I’m not as afraid of spiders as you are, but this one was already gone by the time I figured out he’d been there, or there would have been more screaming involved. As it is, I just have an intermittently itchy and completely disgusting-looking leg to contend with.

  16. @kateharding…just knowing that you have been bitten will make me try to sleep tonight without even a fraction of skin peeping out the bedsheet….

  17. Actually, and this is a spoiler I think for a lot of you since no one has pointed it out, Rose does end up with the previous doctor (David Tennant) at the end of the Donna/Doctor season. Well, with a clone if him, but somehow it’s still him (I forget how it all worked out, but he was created from a hand that was previously cut off… I think). The real doctor loved her, and ended up leaving her with his clone so they could go live in an alternate dimension together. It’s obvious that he wishes he was the one who could go live in a love nest forever with Rose.

  18. @Amethyst: Not a spoiler for me; I don’t know how caught up others are on previous seasons. I’m sort of meh on the Rose was his One True Love thing, though, so I ignored it.

  19. “She’s a character who tends to be impulsive and excitable, and who often plows forward out of curiosity even when it’s a bad idea, so I read it as an extension of that”

    It makes more sense in that context. I was definitely seeing it out of context and he just looked scared and confused while she look predatory.

    @Amethyst, I hadn’t known that, and I’d be exicted enough to watch those episodes if the doctor at the times had been Christopher Eccleston. I didn’t like David Tennant (he had a very sharp face which doesn’t appeal to me personally) and so I stopped watching when the doctor changed. This new doctor looks somewhat cute, but I doubt I’ll start watching again, shows that have the main character rotating out are really appealing to me.

    Besides, I get my fill of british Sci-fi watching Primeval, which I think everyone in the world should watch. One look at Andrew Lee Potts face could bring about world peace. Plus, DINOSAURS!

  20. “shows that have the main character rotating out are really appealing to me.”

    Make that are NOT really appealing to me.

  21. @Kate, I agree, though I like it from a basic “he loved her at that time in his life” point of view. I don’t think she was his One True Love.

    @Alibelle, I felt the exact same way when they changed to David Tennant, and stopped watching. A year later, a friend who adores DT convinced me to give him a chance, and I started watching again. He’s actually kind of lovable, after a while. He grows on you.

  22. @Amethyst and Alibelle, I started watching when it was Tennant and thought I could never love another. I was super-skeptical about the casting of Smith — too young, blah blah blah — and thought I’d stop watching. But then I ran out of Tennant episodes and decided to watch the first season on Netflix, and fell completely in love with Christopher Eccleston after about an episode and a half. That made me realize I really do just love the character (and/or the casting director), so I gave Smith a shot, and he had me completely by the first episode. I love them all now.

    Oh, and Amethyst, I enjoyed that storyline in context, too. But I also felt like Rose going off with the fake Doctor was a fine ENDING for it, whereas a certain portion of fandom (and I’m not even all that engaged with it) is so madly in love with Rose and that relationship, they can never seem to get over it. And they annoy me so much, I take it out on the storyline and characters a bit. :)

  23. omg, I thought I was the only one who applauded Amy in that scene. I went “you go girl!” and one of my friends immediately fell over me with “but she’s getting married! The Doctor is asexual! She is bein a bad bad woman!” And oddly enough, I couldn’t quite explain *why* I cheered Amy on. I liked how she was being all independent, forward and sexual and plainly seducing him instead of swooning meekly from a distance; I felt that, the Doctor being this man she has had dreams and fantasies about since she was a little girl, of course she has strong feelings for him, duh? No, it’s not proper to sleep with someone else the night before your wedding, but guess what? Being on the verge of death doesn’t make you ‘proper’, and I don’t really care about Amy being ‘proper’. I still think she rocks. You go girl!

  24. I didn’t see the scene as sexually coercive, and I don’t think I would if the genders were reversed either (given a similar setup with age and power differential). She did seem a little “tipsy” but only off the adrenaline high of the whole crazy experience.

    However, in the wider context of Who fandom–

    Why is it that the fans are bitching about THIS, and not, for example, WHEN THE DOCTOR FUCKING MIND RAPED DONNA? When she was screaming, crying, and begging on her knees for him NOT to do so, and to let her die rather than wipe her mind–and yet it is *this* scene which gets read as “Amy Pond is a slut/thowing herself at the Doctor/coercing the Doctor”?

    Something to think about.

  25. Kate,

    Your blog apparently has a lot of click-happy readers, so I could hardly fail to notice that I’d been linked there. *waves to RMJ.*

    I am not sure from your comments whether you realized the scene is sexual assault before writing this post, but if you did, it is surprising to me that you did not include this anywhere in your OP. I believe that it supports rape culture to knowingly (or unknowingly, really) elide any acknowledgement that this scene (or any similar) depicted sexual assault.

    I am also concerned by other aspects of your comments with respect to the scene. I notice that several of your word choices serve to undermine, well, reality. For example, your comment refers to sexual assault “undertones,” (implication is it’s not explicit) and say that you “can’t really argue those points” (implication is you would if you could, connotation is reluctance & begrudgement.)

    Your comment also says that Amy “stops” her sexual advances, when in fact, she continues them up until she exits the scene, so she does not stop. This false assertion is part of a comment which serves to explain away the assault and say that it’s not a big deal anyway. For example, your comment characterizes the doctor as “not truly frightened or threatened, just flustered” which appears to me to minimize the significance of his physical and verbal no. Prefacing this with an “explaining” phrase (“The conceit here is”) makes your comment characteristic of rape apology: explaining what “really” happened, minimizing the assault, and presenting false facts to back up your argument.

    You might answer that you took care to agree that the scene is sexual assault and that it supports rape culture. However, your acknowledgements in both comments are followed with a “But.” In your first comment, you say that your lack of negative reaction to the sexual assault “angle” would be “worth unpacking.” Your comment follows this with “But” and then do some minimizing that I have already pointed out. In your second comment, you say that the scene was part of rape culture. Your comment follows this with “But” and then change the subject.

    I am posting this because it upsets me to see the sexual assault in this scene minimized and elided on a feminist blog. I hope my efforts to refer to your comments and not to you as a person demonstrate that I come from a place of goodwill and not of personal attack.

  26. I hope my efforts to refer to your comments and not to you as a person demonstrate that I come from a place of goodwill and not of personal attack.

    I don’t feel attacked, and I appreciate your comment and post. I do feel like I have a lot more to say about the subject but am really not up for saying it today, which is why I’ve been giving quick answers that apparently read as dismissive.

    ETA: I wasn’t trying to undermine your argument; I was trying to acknowledge it and encourage people to consider it without having the entire thread derailed by a discussion of this scene as a depiction of sexual assault, because no post can be every post, and this didn’t happen to be that post. And the very short version of why I think it’s possible to discuss the scene without highlighting that is, in fact, that similar scenes ARE so very common, and are not read or meant to be read as assault. Which is hugely problematic for all of the reasons you point out, but a lot of the media I consume (and enjoy) is problematic on a lot of levels, not every one of which I delve into when I talk about it. With regard to this same episode, I could also be talking about how the characters of color are sent to die, about how a lot of people seem to irrationally hate the character of River apparently because she’s a confident woman over 40, or how Amy is damsel in distress to the max, off the top of my head. But I talked about one specific thing: her motivation for wanting to sleep with the Doctor and fan reaction to it. Talking about how badly she acted on that desire is a whole other post — like the one you wrote — which, as I said, I wasn’t really up for today. I appreciate your argument that the two things can’t and shouldn’t be separated, but… well, I separated them for now. And tried to allow space for the sexual assault discussion in comments without getting completely sucked into a conversation I didn’t want to have.

  27. 4) Before that, though, I have to finish revising/adding to the body image chapter for the upcoming edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. How awesome is that?

    Um, A GAZILLION. One gazillion awesome.

  28. To be fair, these men are sci-fi fans (male nerdy variety). Now bear with me – I’m a sci fi fan too. But a lot of the male fans…well, they have some Women Issues. Or, you know, a metric ton of Women Issues, starting with a Madonna/Whore complex that could kill any woman unlucky enough to activate it at 100 paces.

    Women must be either pleasant looking but basically asexual figures of empathy and affection (Madonna/companion) or sexy alien priestesses/princesses/warrior women in bikinis (chainmail optional). For female characters to be both figures of empathy and affection AND sexual is just too much for their littly nerdboy brains to cope with. I mean, if that happens, how are they supposed to know which women to look down on? How can they be asked to see women characters as full people? That would distract from the male lead! (and give them a stress headache) When it comes to women we want moral absolutes that allow us to make and follow nice, simple rules, because complex social interactions are scary.

    I mean, anyone hear about the recent case of a manga writer whose own fans tried to get her fired because she wrote a scene in which a teenage girl character made out with a boy in a car? OMG, that slut! Sadly I’m not kidding – she got angry letters telling her how readers could no longer empathise with the character now she was “tainted”. By a hickey on her neck, which is clearly a sign of the Apocalypse.

    Um, yeah. I may have some issues with male nerddom that I needed to air there…

  29. Kate,

    “With regard to this same episode, I could also be talking about…”

    Those examples aren’t really comparable. They are from different scenes entirely. I was pointing out that you wrote a post about the sexual dynamics of one scene without mentioning that /that scene/ was sexual assault.

    You’re right that it’s a long discussion and no post can be every post; however, a discussion of the sexual dynamics of a sexual assault scene is not complete if it does not even mention the fact that it was sexual assault. Your post concerns ideas of empowering women’s sexuality and negative reactions to same, when in fact no sexuality can be positive if it rests on sexual assault. This omission has led to commenters here feeling comfortable praising Amy’s behavior in the scene, which is really disturbing and upsetting to read.

    I don’t read this blog, so maybe I’m not the intended audience here (although I’m a fat woman into body acceptance…) but it seems to me that avoiding even mentioning sexual assault, and being dismissive toward those who bring it up (as I outlined in my previous comment) supports rape culture and marginalizes sexual assault survivors. Yes, there are other aspects of the scene and fan reaction to it worth discussing, but some support from you as the OP and blog founder–even just a mention that it was sexual assault or a reminder to commenters–might have prevented some of the uglier comments on the thread. This would not change the fact that it is, well, dishonest* to discuss the sexual dynamics of a sexual assault scene without mentioning that it is sexual assault, but it might have made the thread less triggering. In short, trying to separate the issues is problematic and non-neutral.

    *For example, a description of Amy as “simply wanting sex” or being one of the women who just want to bone him, is rape apology in this context.

  30. @Quixotess, I kind of thought I’d made myself as clear as possible already, but here are three more points.

    1) I don’t agree with you that discussing (even applauding) Amy’s motivations is rape apology in this context.

    2) I chose to approach the scene in a certain way on my own blog, which you note you don’t read. You chose to approach it a different way on your own blog. I encouraged people to check out your post, and I praised your argument, but you apparently won’t be satisfied until I say I agree with you 100% and don’t believe there can be a conversation about that scene that doesn’t foreground the assault aspect. We’re at an impasse, then.

    3) If you read this blog, you’d probably have learned before that I’m a sexual assault survivor. And while I’m sure some people will assume I’m simply participating in my own oppression by choosing not to discuss every instance of sexual assault in pop culture, whether it’s meant to read that way or not, all I can say is, I’ve given the topic a lot of thought over the last 18 years. And how I address this subject publicly depends on the day, and what sort of conversation I feel up to having and hosting.

    I’m closing this thread now.

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