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This is sort of a follow-up to my previous post about Women, Sex, and Power in relation to Sherlock (and Sherlock fandom)...in that rant, I stated the following:

           How about we stop making every single female on television the representative for all women? Is Sherlock the representative for all men? No? Why not? Oh, because he's a possible asexual sociopath and most men aren't. Well, most women aren't dominatrixes that want to blackmail the British government, so how about we stop forcing Irene to represent our ideal of the perfect woman. Why aren't we talking the same way about Mrs. Hudson? She's pretty badass...

Now, my lovely rant was written before The Reichenbach Fall aired...and, I, like Sherlock, overlooked a lovely example of a woman that was under my nose the whole time: Molly Hooper.

Okay, maybe I didn't overlook her - I did mention her in the original rant, but then erased her, because I had already seen the fandom complaining about how Molly was "a doormat" and "weak"...and I just didn't want to open that can of worms. Luckily, I don't have to, because Miss Transmission does it for me!

In The Real Woman? Why Molly Hooper is the One Who Counts, Miss Transmission does a great job of pointing out how absolutely awesome Molly is as actually representing women. How we were so distracted by "The Woman" that we forgot that other female characters were also female. 

The truth is that I think film and television do as much of a disservice to women by making every single female character the epitome of a "strong female character", as they would do if we went back to the days of I Dream of Jeannie. (Personally, I think it's very similar to the "noble Indian" trope, it still fails to represent the subject as a complex/normal/relate-able person). Women come in all shapes and sizes and personalities...and you may hate Molly for being a doormat, but I bet it's because you hate yourself for all the times you were a doormat...and the fact is, that in the end, Molly counted the most. She was the most important person. She saved Sherlock's life...and she did it all while still being a 3 dimensional person with just as many faults as features. I'm not saying she represents all women, because my whole point with my previous statement was that NO woman should be charged with representing all women...but she does represent a PORTION of women, and she does it extraordinarily well.

Anyway...yeah, I guess this is kind of another crazy rant too. But, guys, I just...have a lot of feelings, okay! Plus, my landlord is being a prick (again) so I'm in ranty-mood tonight. (T-minus 13 days until I am rid of him).


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 17th, 2012 08:55 am (UTC)
I totally agree. Besides, I think people judge female characters a little more harshly than than men, and that part of the reason is because it's like looking at yourself from a third person view and not liking what you saw and knowing that there's always something that you could have done that you didn't.

On another note, look forward to your new house!
Feb. 17th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think that does have something to do with it. Whether you do or don't see something of yourself in the character, that doesn't make it less of a true character. I mean, you don't necessarily see something of yourself in every single female you meet on the street either.

It's like that girl I met the other week who made me weep for the future of feminism. If she had been on TV, I would have been absolutely appalled at the portrayal of women...yet, here she is, existing in my reality...sure, she's a product of a sexist society, but so are a lot of men that we see on TV, and we're usually always able to recognize that their behaviour is not condoned.

And Molly is a product of society too - avoid conflict, be nice even when someone cuts you down... and the show DOES point out that this isn't the best way to go about things. It's not like they've raised Molly up to be the standard to which we should all strive to reflect. :P

On another note: I am REALLY looking forward to my new place!! The move is going to be horrendously stressful, but it'll be worth it. :)
Feb. 17th, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the link; wonderful thoughtful article, and your thoughts; I so very much agree. This is a theme very much on my mind these days as I am gearing up to writing a large paper on why we don’t allow ourselves to see people as true individuals but instead see representations of gender and sexual orientation.
Feb. 17th, 2012 06:41 pm (UTC)
Ooo, that sounds like an interesting paper! I hope the writing of it goes well :)

Feb. 19th, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I’m still in the very first phase with planning and choosing which books to use and which theoretical writers I want to focus on. I’m meeting with my advisor in a week or so, and hopefully he will tell me I’m on the right track! Or nudge me in the right direction.
Feb. 17th, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
Yes. Just, yes. Everywhere. Everything. Molly is amazing, and, unfortunately, as is all-too-common with fandom, she's not liked. I mean, I know why. Fandom doesn't like women, and it especially doesn't like women who portray women as anything other than badass. It's like they can't grasp a woman who can be different and vulnerable and more like us that we want to admit. And Moffat and Gatiss did a wonderful job subverting what you expected by making Molly the most important.
Feb. 17th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
Genau. Exactement. Yes.

I don't think it does anyone any favours to pretend that women don't have faults.
Feb. 18th, 2012 12:29 am (UTC)
Actually, Molly is a great example of a woman. We don't think much of her. She seems nice enough but tries too hard with Sherlock. But then when he needs her, Molly shines. She offers her help with no strings attached and is able to do something for Sherlock he cannot himself. How many people have I thought similar but then there is some situation that showcases the strength that is not readily seen?
Feb. 18th, 2012 12:44 am (UTC)
Very true!
Feb. 20th, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
I do see what you're saying, and I often argue with people about the fact that while I like badass women, and shows with them, my favorite character is often not the badass ones. I mean- why lie? I heart the sidekicks, the relatable characters who stand there and say- oh my god I don't want to die. But at the same time, I am guilty of this with Muslim characters- I don't want the terrorist stereotype. I also don't want the anti-terrorist stereotype- omg there are plenty of us that neither work for al Qaeda nor work for the secret government agency of your choice. So there is a part of me that looks at Molly at first and cringes at the thought of the cliche of the pining, helpful woman who loves the oblivious hero because aside from Earth mother, that was one of the most common portrayals of women until not so long ago. So I do get what you are saying, but I think, in all fairness, that is a very small part of me, and there are other issues with her.

Personally, I think part of the issue is also that she's not ACD canon, and people judge her more because she's been added. The other characters are different from ACD canon but still have some basic traits, especially your central people, so we judge them for their differences. But when they add her (and Donovan, because let's face it- ACD's time didn't have many female cops and coroners) it makes us think- why? what purpose does she have? Is it just so you can have women as recurring characters without having it be John Watson's girlfriend, who a vocal minority of your audience will hate because it takes away from slashing? And if she is just there to represent women, why not judge her as such? It's sort of that conundrum of adding characters to a story that's already written and loved- everyone is going to judge them, but they will also object if you give them a show where there are no women in those positions in this day and age (and rightfully so- I still look at Downton Abbey and think- where are all the people of color?)

Another part of the issue is that- I am Molly. I'm intelligent, and I'm good at what I can do (oddly I can say it but not hear it from other people), but one of the things I most remember someone saying about me (in a very shocked voice) is wow, you're actually really smart. Because I come off as an idiot in my daily life. I like my books and my typed up words but I say the wrong thing constantly and am the instigator of a million awkward pauses and have been since I was a child- and yes, I'm not that bad but I believe I am, and that makes me worse and it comes out to the same thing in the end. We (and by we I mean the average viewer) are all Molly, in a way that we can NEVER be Adler. Molly is our neuroses, the mirror that shows what we all see when we look at ourselves. Is she more than that- yes, we all know that because we are (we hope) more than that too, but in the meantime Molly breaks my heart a good dozen times. She is that most heart-breaking and overlooked of fictional characters- the completely relatable one. A lot of people think John is, but he's completely insane and very, very self-assured in his own right. Much more than I am, and more, I think, than most people are. But Molly is relatable to the flaws in us, and more than that, the humiliation we have all felt and hate to re-live.

Did Molly have to save Sherlock (and um, all presumption here that she does) in order to "redeem herself?" No, of course not, and most of us don't get a chance to save people's lives when no one else could in order to show ourselves that we are more than our worst moments. For some of us, it's that moment in high school when you are only the one who can solve a math problem that no one else can, or when you go to court and run circles around a lawyer who makes twice what you do and has 4 years of experience on you. Is it fantastic that she did? Yes, I cheered. Will I still forward through the Christmas scene? Oh God yes, it makes my heart hurt.
Feb. 20th, 2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
And I should say- in paragraph one, when I cringe at seeing Molly as reminiscent of those cliches, I fully acknowledge that isn't fair to her. It is something I consciously recognize and try to reprimand myself for because I don't think women have to be badass to be great.
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
I don't think Molly had to save Sherlock in order to redeem herself, but I think - in the end - her doing so showed a strength of character that we needed to see. People could argue with me, of course, because it's a woman who is helping a man who usually pushes her around - and that's hardly a good thing...but at the same time, it's her saying "You're mean to me, and you overlook me, but your not going to make it out of here alive without my help and I'm going to help you, because I'm not petty or vindictive...I'm a good and intelligent person, and you will regret ever saying a mean word now that you've realized it."

And no, the Christmas scene is still horrendous to watch - not only for Molly's embarrassment, but also for Sherlock's...and nothing that comes afterward will ever make it easy to watch, unless we had found out that Molly was secretly an arch-nemesis in league with Moriarty and it was all an act. And then I STILL wouldn't be able to watch the Christmas scene without cringing, because I'd still feel embarrassed for Sherlock and everyone else in the room.

Personally, I think part of the issue is also that she's not ACD canon, and people judge her more because she's been added. The other characters are different from ACD canon but still have some basic traits, especially your central people, so we judge them for their differences. But when they add her (and Donovan, because let's face it- ACD's time didn't have many female cops and coroners) it makes us think- why? what purpose does she have?...And if she is just there to represent women, why not judge her as such?

Well, let's face it, the way modern day looks, it wouldn't have made sense if they didn't have women around...and they NEEDED those roles, because it's hardly as though Sherlock could have Lestrade bring up dead bodies to 221B (like in the RDJ films). So, I think, when Gatiss and Moffatt had to add a (possible) recurring character, they made sure to add them in equal parts male and female...so you get Molly and you get Sally...and yes, you can certainly charge them for representing women - but they don't represent women anymore than Irene or Mrs Hudson do, just because they are non-canon. And if you are going to charge them with representing all women, then you must charge John, Sherlock, Anderson, and Lestrade with the task of representing all men.

And, I mean, if you were just going to look at the non-canon recurring characters...I'd guess you'd just have Anderson representing men. Wow. The cheating husband cliche. In my experience that does represent a lot of men, my father included (though my father is much more charismatic, I must say.) It's not a nice representation though.

I guess my point is that there are a lot of different women in the world, and we should not only be showing the ideal ones. I think we should be honest - and honestly, there ARE a lot of women like Molly, and a lot of women like Sally...and a lot of men like Anderson.

Ideally, we'd all be badass women who control our own sexuality and bodies. We'd all be clever. We'd all easily stand toe to toe with the genius in the room...we'd all be able to outwit that genius if we wanted. But we're not like that...some of us are embarrassingly pining for unattainable wankers - some of us our resentful that some man thinks he can come into our job and boss us around, just because he thinks he's smart...and we're perhaps going to be a bit petty about it. And we might not like those things about ourselves, but that doesn't make them not true.

On a completely unrelated note: I don't watch Downton Abbey, so I don't know anything about it...but I get a bit of a kick out of the way Merlin casts it's actors. Because, although Merlin is set in medieval Camelot - they cast actors of colour regardless about whether it makes "historical" sense, or any sense at all. I think this is a strategy that Brits use a lot when they decided that historical accuracy doesn't matter...because it was the same in the Frankenstein play that BC did...his father was played by a black guy, and that was really the first time I had ever seen casting that completely ignored logic - I must admit it threw me a bit, but after watching Merlin, I've really warmed up to it.
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, I haven't seen Merlin- I'm actually too fond of Arthur and not fond enough of Merlin to sit through too much of it before I shut it off in the interest of keeping my favorite childhood myths as they are ;) And I'm always in two places on race-blind casting because it ignores that there are real race issues- if you don't acknowledge that someone is a minority, you never touch on that minority's experiences. Perhaps there were no minorities in Arthurian times (not familiar enough with the region's history at that time), but I have to admit to having some issues with Downton Abbey because I was raised in South Asia, where we still resent how brown people are sort of treated as canon fodder, where our deaths don't count. In the war scenes, there was an opportunity to acknowledge that other races WERE present (some because they were promised independence for fighting, but that is a whole other story), but all I saw there were white people. There is no race blind casting in Downton Abbey and people like them would not hire minorities as servants, so everyone is white- which I think as an American takes me back because let's face it, the NAACP would never let a popular prime time tv show get away with that. It's funny because while I get that people don't want things to change, it's hard to relate to being nostalgic for a time when I was so very unwelcome in the servant's quarters as well as in the living room.

As for Molly- I completely agree about women not needing to represent all womanhood. I was saying that I think there's where a certain judgment for Molly comes from, not that it's right. I also agree that women wouldn't have been in that world and we must acknowledge that we are there now- that we are in the courtrooms (still so glad that in the US we don't have those wigs, BTW), police stations and medical examiner's offices.

As for your paragraph beginning "Ideally.." that was what I was trying to say but you said much more ideally. That is why I relate to Molly- I think as people we are far closer to her than to spies, etc. And as for Sally, I don't hate her though I don't respect her choices (Anderson has nothing going for him and a lot going against him, IMO, and she's too hot to make that choice) until she takes that joy in needling John when he's reeling. But my point about non-canon characters is that the men we see the most of are canon, but not the women. Which makes total sense, but leads to more judgment of women in my opinion. Wrongly so, but sort of natural.

The truth is that we women make up more than half the world, and there is no one shape we can ever take. Some of us may not want to be in a position of power, even over ourselves- the trick is to be happy with where and who you are. What Molly represents, to me, is the very difficulty of that.
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
*you said more eloquently (cannot type properly today!!!)
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
Haha, no worries...I thought you did it on purpose and it was a joke. Like, me saying that we can't be our ideals, and you saying that I said that in the most ideal way. ;)
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
Well, as Arthur is a myth, there aren't really "Arthurian times" - which, I think, gives them license to be race blind. The entire show is a metaphor for gay rights (in my opinion), with some mention of women's rights...so really, I guess they have their "minority issues" covered there. :P

Again, I really don't know anything about Downton Abbey...but, yeah, I can see what you're saying about it. Also, I hear you on the war-movies thing...I can't stand watching American movies about WW2 for that reason. It's like the only people who fought and mattered in the war were white Americans...oh and two dimensional evil Germans/Japanese. :P

It sounds like we are in agreement with Molly and women...and it's true, the fact that the women are non-canon (by necessity) does lead to them being judged more harshly.

I didn't mind Sally doing her job and following through and making sure that Sherlock really wasn't a psychopathic murderer...but she kind of lost all sympathy from me when she needled John. Everyone they meet knows that John is "in love" with Sherlock - you don't speak that way about the love of someone's life, I don't care if Sherlock really was a psychopathic murderer. But..uh...that's off topic.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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