GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Firefly Feminist Debate

POSTED BY: ARCADIA
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 17:30
SHORT URL:
VIEWED: 1855
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Thursday, June 5, 2008 12:44 AM

ARCADIA


Well, I'm a little pissed. Recently, I ran across a blog entry on livejournal that features a reading of Firefly as a misogynistic television show -- which of course, is total bs. The essay is so harsh in its language and so off in its interpretation that I was inspired to spend an hour and a half writing a 2,500+ response article -- only to find out that her blog only allows comments from "fiends", so I couldn't post my response to her essay. Yeah, missed.

Here is a link to her essay: http://users.livejournal.com/_allecto_/34718.html

Here is a sample:

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

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

Zoe 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.

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...."


Really, omg...

Here's a link to my response, at my livejournal: http://greyfable.livejournal.com/33824.html

And a sample:
...You are objecting that the fact that Zoe calls Mal “sir”? Hmm. If Zoe were calling Mal “sir” because he is a man and she is a woman, I could see your objection. If she were calling him “sir” because she was a woman of color and he was white, I could understand. But that isn’t the context at all. Zoe is calling Mal “sir” because they are both soldiers – not just soldiers, mind you, but soldiers on the font line of a war in the middle of combat – and Mal is Zoe’s superior officer. It is a sign no of submission, but a sign of respect that Zoe gives freely. Zoe does not have to call him “sir”. She is not in a situation where she would face any negative consequences for not calling him sir.

An even if she was, Zoe is a physically strong female who is well-trained in the art of combat. As seen in scenes such as the bar fight in the beginning of “The Train Job” – an episode co-written by Joss Whedon, which served as a replacement pilot when Fox chose not to air the “Serenity” pilot for their own reasons – Zoe is portrayed as a fighter who is, if anything, superior to Mal in training and cleverness, if not physical strength. (I honestly cannot tell if she is supposed to have more raw strength than Mal – maybe; regardless of intellectual ideals, biology dictates that men’s bodies are designed to be stronger than woman’s bodies.) In short, Zoe does not have to take shit from anyone. More so than any other female character on the show, save perhaps for Inara (I will get to her later), everything Zoe does is a CHOICE.

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….

Actually, there was a reason. As you yourself pointed out, they were in danger and Mal was beginning to panic a little. Regardless of whether you are male or female, black, white, or purple, people who realize they are in danger tend to drop some pretenses of politeness. That’s just being human. And in this case, it was the smart thing for a leader to do – get people quiet and focused, fast, so that they are able to deal with the impending danger. It’s not like he’s telling her to shut up because she said his favorite movie sucked and he doesn’t want to hear it. They are facing real, physical danger...


What really pissed me off was how many of her commenters seen to agree with her. Mind you, I think she deletes the comments that disagree with her, but still. I read her essay thinking I would find it funny, but instead I was really pissed! Firefly doesn't have the core feminist themes that Buffy has, but in no way does it disempower women. What a crazy woman.

Arcadia (aka Greyfable and/or Katie)
www.stillflying.net -- picking up Firefly were Joss left off. We will hold 'til he gets back.


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Thursday, June 5, 2008 1:31 AM

PHYRELIGHT


They're still going on about that?? *rolls eyes*



Darksiders can keep their cookies. We have better writers.

Grrr. Argghh.

Patiently waiting to see Cap'n Hammerpants sing!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 2:55 AM

JONGSSTRAW

We carry in our hearts the true country, and that cannot be stolen.


The sad reality of this particular situation is that there are legions of Star Wars fans out there...most of whom refuse to admit that the franchise went down the drain, more than that, it destroyed and tore down sci-fi more than the original Star Wars revived and rejuvenated the genre. Those last 3 movies were utter garbage of the lowest common denominator kind...an embarrassment to all sci-fi enthusiasts. These folks will never accept Firefly, and that's just how it is. They would rather ridicule and attack Firefly than accept the harsh fact that it's a vastly superior product...something in the genre geared for ADULTS...not pc-protected fuzzy, warm kiddie fare designed to sell McDonalds kid meals and lunchpails. I would also say it was a show that totally empowered women...a cast of strong women who each had amazing talents and could stand on their own if they had to. So what if Zoe says "sir" to Mal. I like it. It shows respect...he is the Captain after all...and it's a nice balance to Inara's ever-present "petty-thief" barb she uses whenever Mal gets her a tad off balance.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 7:14 AM

NBZ


Going totally off topic, but why does Joss *HAVE* to empower women?

IMO you can only empower yourself, not others.

It can be argued that Joss empowers women. The opposite can can also be argued - Joss fetishises (those very same) women.

As long as the story is enjoyable (albeit sometimes such themes CAN wreck a story), who cares?

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 7:42 AM

DARKFLY


Thats some of the biggest pile of sh*t ever to grace the internet & she has the issues not Joss, she's taken almost everything out of context & skipped writing why the characters have done most of the actions.

And for the commenters who agree so back to your tv & watch Episode 1-3. Firefly is awesome & Joss in particular is a man who stands up for equality even supports a charity which us Browncoats raise thousands of dollars for everyone.

I really don't get why I read beyond the first paragraph of this disgraceful essay BS.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.myspace.com/darkfly7
Knightfly on Xfire, www.xfire.com/profile/knightfly/
Want pics, vids, ringtones,ect releated to Serenity and Firefly...
http://www.fireflyfans.net/thread.asp?b=2&t=26986

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 7:44 AM

KWICKO

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." -- William Casey, Reagan's presidential campaign manager & CIA Director (from first staff meeting in 1981)


PUH-LEEZE! This idiot is upset because Zoe takes orders from Mal? What, she shouldn't take orders from her superior in the armed forces during a time or war, or she shouldn't take orders from the captain and owner of the ship she seves on in time of peace? Oooooo-KAY.

Look at the dynamics in the show. Invariably, the female characters are shown as stronger, tougher, smarter, or just *better* peopel than the males. The males are buffoonish, stereotypical "guy" roles, while the women are anything but typical. And this is Joss through and through. I've maintained for a long time that Joss has, ever since about the age of 13, been simply in awe of the power of young women.

To the blogger, I'd just offer this: Joss is a much better feminist than you are a "male-ist". You do nothing but bash men, and claim that somehow THAT is fair. Bullshit. Fair's fair, and if I can't treat a woman a certain way, then you can't do the same to men.



Mike

"I supported Bush in 2000 and 2004 and intellegence[sic] had very little to do with that decision." - Hero, Real World Event Discussions

I can't help the sinking feeling that my country is now being run by people who read "1984" not as a cautionary tale, but rather as an instruction manual. - Michael Mock

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 9:24 AM

CRUITHNE3753


I've got one little nitpick... Zöe has a career military background, while Mal was a wartime volunteer. Wouldn't be more likely that Zöe would be in the superior position?

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 2:22 PM

PHYRELIGHT


Quote:

Originally posted by nbz:
Going totally off topic, but why does Joss *HAVE* to empower women?

Joss has answered a similar question like this. Several times in one speech, as a matter of fact. My favorite answers are, "Why aren't you asking a hundred other guys why they aren't writing strong female characters?" and, "Because they're hot." In seriousness, he also talks about how his parents influenced him. It's really sweet!

You can see the speech here:

. Meryl Streep's intro speech is pretty awesome too.



Darksiders can keep their cookies. We have better writers.

Grrr. Argghh.

Patiently waiting to see Cap'n Tightpants sing!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 2:44 PM

DEEPGIRL187


Weren't we griping over this one a few months ago? It's just as sad and pathetic now as it was then (the blog, not the discussion). It's a shame how some people can only see their own distorted perceptions in a given situation.

****************************************************

"This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff. Also, it can boil an egg at 30 paces, whether you want it to or not, actually, so I've learned to stay away from hens. It's not pretty when they blow."

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 2:48 PM

PHYRELIGHT


Yup. See my comment up towards the top^.



Darksiders can keep their cookies. We have better writers.

Grrr. Argghh.

Patiently waiting to see Cap'n Tightpants sing!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 3:14 PM

ALLIETHORN7


Sad, sad... I remember commenting on the bullshit of the article not two months back... meh.
Some folks need to learn that not everything requires a crusade.

-Danny

Sweet berries ready for two
Ghosts are no different than you
Ghosts are now waiting for you
Are you dreaming


Dreaming the night
Dreaming all right


Do we, do we know
When we fly
When we, when we go
Do we die?

The Band of the week is... System of a Down

Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein.
http://www.myspace.com/otherrandomdude

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 3:17 PM

NBZ


You lot may also enjoy that authors new blog at wordpress. Specifically the posts on OMR:

http://allecto.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/a-rapists-view-of-the-world-ou
r-mrs-reynolds-part-one
/

http://allecto.wordpress.com/2008/05/02/a-wife-beaters-view-of-the-wor
ld-our-mrs-reynolds-part-two
/

She. Does. Not. Get. It.

Some of it is funny. As an aside - is it all serious, or just very dark/dry humour? how can you not laugh at

Quote:

A bit later Mal talks about how he likes to wear dresses with Inara. “Like woman,
I am a mystery,” he says of his enjoyment of wearing dresses. Sorry, Joss, score zero for that one. Women aren’t a mystery, WE ARE FULLY CONSCIOUS HUMAN BEINGS. And Mal is a wanker and wankers aren’t a bit mysterious. At least they aren’t to me. Maybe wankers are mysterious to unicorns. Who knows. I think I’m starting to hate unicorns.



Go on. Tell me noone found that funny.

@Phyrelight: what he answers is why he does. Not why he "has to". In short, he doesn't have to. No one has to.

(I will also go against the grain as my opinion is that he is less empowering them, more fetishising them.)

You have to also take his answer for River Tam in the BDM with a grain of salt - he is defending his work. (I would also suggest River is NOT an empowered character. Not at all. Zoe may be the most empowered followed by the others. River would come a distant last.)

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 4:17 PM

TRAVELER


Give on to those who rant brainlessly their brainless rant.

She is free to stomp all over Joss and then says she is going to control the responses she gets. In other words only positive responses will be considered.

As I have learned here about Trolls, don't feed them. Let them die a lonely death. Or in this case with their own kind. She does seem to attract flies.


http://www.imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=28764731
Traveler

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 4:18 PM

PHYRELIGHT


Quote:

Originally posted by nbz:
You lot may also enjoy that authors new blog at wordpress. Specifically the posts on OMR:

http://allecto.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/a-rapists-view-of-the-world-ou
r-mrs-reynolds-part-one
/

http://allecto.wordpress.com/2008/05/02/a-wife-beaters-view-of-the-wor
ld-our-mrs-reynolds-part-two
/

She. Does. Not. Get. It.

Some of it is funny. As an aside - is it all serious, or just very dark/dry humour? how can you not laugh at

Quote:

A bit later Mal talks about how he likes to wear dresses with Inara. “Like woman,
I am a mystery,” he says of his enjoyment of wearing dresses. Sorry, Joss, score zero for that one. Women aren’t a mystery, WE ARE FULLY CONSCIOUS HUMAN BEINGS. And Mal is a wanker and wankers aren’t a bit mysterious. At least they aren’t to me. Maybe wankers are mysterious to unicorns. Who knows. I think I’m starting to hate unicorns.



Go on. Tell me noone found that funny.

@Phyrelight: what he answers is why he does. Not why he "has to". In short, he doesn't have to. No one has to.

(I will also go against the grain as my opinion is that he is less empowering them, more fetishising them.)

You have to also take his answer for River Tam in the BDM with a grain of salt - he is defending his work. (I would also suggest River is NOT an empowered character. Not at all. Zoe may be the most empowered followed by the others. River would come a distant last.)

If you really study what drives an individual in life, you'll learn that sometimes there is no difference in "doing" and "have to do". For example, no one has to fall in love, but people do it anyways. For Joss, he doesn't have to write empowered women, but he still does it and he'll continue to do it. Imho, that shouldn't change because it is part of his collective style and his style sets him apart from all the other writers out there.

All of his characters--male and female--all have their strengths and weaknesses, thus making them all believable as human. Not all of them are whole individually. Not all of the women he writes are the strongest and the fastest, and not all of them are “fetishized”. But, when they are together in their "families", they complement each other and get through whatever trial lays before them. Like River, for example, mentally she's not all there, but her abilities leads Mal to regain the belief that no government can make people “better”, only the individual person can do that for him- or herself. And, he wouldn’t be able to do a fraction of his jobs without the entirety of the crew.

And I know this kind of sounds like a dumb question, but can you give me your definition of how Joss is fetishing women? Sure, Zoe is one of the deadliest of the crew, but Mal, Jayne, and River are just as deadly or dealier in their own ways. However, she’s not all battle and blood. She also enjoys being pampered like so many other women with things like warm baths and slinky dresses, she dearly loved Wash, had a very normal marriage, and wanted to have children with him.

As for reading the feminist blog on OMR, I’m not going to bother. I think it would be a waste of my time and energy. As the saying goes, never argue with an idiot (or zealot). They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. Besides, I’m sure the article’s author never took it to mind that Mal’s first instinct once he learned that he was married was not to take Saffron off to his bunk. As a matter of fact, Mal turned her away again and again because he thought that trading off a woman as a sort of payment was wrong. And yes, he did eventually fall for her wiles, but like I said before he’s human, and I know few men who would have an easy time turning down a naked woman who uses that kind of verbal, sexual imagery (that is not in the Bible, btw).



Darksiders can keep their cookies. We have better writers.

Grrr. Argghh.

Patiently waiting to see Cap'n Tightpants sing!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 4:19 PM

MAL4PREZ


OK. Does anyone else get the feeling that this idiot is some disgruntled anti-feminist posing as a feminist just to make feminists look insane? Cause this person's posts are without a doubt

INSANE!!!!



-----------------------------------------------
hmm-burble-blah, blah-blah-blah, take a left

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 6:52 PM

JEWELSTAITEFAN


This has already been covered. However, with recent posts bantying about the 'misogynist' label, it is appropriate to come up again here. Some here have not learned to not cry wolf so their knee-jerk over-reaction to claim anything they don't understand as misogynist renders their comments mute.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008 9:58 PM

SHINYGOODGUY


Firefly may have some flaws, but misogynistic?

I read the essay and found that the author saw a great many things that, quite frankly, wasn't there. Much of her argument was selective in nature and taken way out of context.

I also read your response and found it to be quite informative, in other words, I learned something. The show is indeed meant for thinking adults who value a good story and character development. She obviously did not "get" the show.

Thanks for posting this it was enlightening.

Shiny! Let's be bad guys!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008 5:27 AM

DIGIFICWRITER


I think the essayist is criticizing the wrong show. If she's going to get pissy about the way Joss treats some of his female characters, she should really be going after BtVS and ANGEL (although they're still inherently feministic and empowering of women overall in their outlook, message, and portrayal of female characters).

Check out the continuing adventures of the Big Damn Heroes of Joss Whedon's Firefly in [url= http://www.stillflying.net]Virtual Firefly: Here's How It Might Have Been[/url]

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008 11:30 AM

WYTCHCROFT


Quote:

Originally posted by nbz:


You have to also take his answer for River Tam in the BDM with a grain of salt - he is defending his work. (I would also suggest River is NOT an empowered character. Not at all. Zoe may be the most empowered followed by the others. River would come a distant last.)



these are interesting points - and few posts or fics - or rants (ha ha) have addressed them.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008 11:37 AM

BIGGESTDAMNHERO


My main gripe is that the men in FF/S are at times portrayed as Neanderthals and the women as bad asses. The first maybe, the second not based in reality. Unless your a former east German "Female" athlete.

"And I'm thinking you weren't
burdened with an overabundance of
schooling"

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 5:30 PM

FUTUREMRSFILLION


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
OK. Does anyone else get the feeling that this idiot is some disgruntled anti-feminist posing as a feminist just to make feminists look insane? Cause this person's posts are without a doubt

INSANE!!!!



-----------------------------------------------
hmm-burble-blah, blah-blah-blah, take a left



I think she is a "feminist" that wouldnt know feminism if it bit her in the ass.

And the only way to combat this kind of crap is consider the source and then let it go, continuing the debate only lends this idiot credibility

I am on The List. We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

FORSAKEN original


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