A Wife-Beater’s View of the World: Our Mrs. Reynolds Part TwoMay 2, 2008
*I’ve finally finished the damn thing. I won’t be allowing comments from anyone who is not a radical feminist (or pro-radical feminist) or a lesbian feminist/separatist. Yes, I am pro-censorship. Boohoo.*
I mentioned in the first post that the most disturbing potential reading of this episode is as a justification and indeed glorification of male violence/terrorism in the home. I left off in the last post talking about the romance between Mal and Jayne. In the following scenes Saffron settles in to her role as a subservient and pleasing wife, with Mal being a happy consumer of her services.
Well, that is odd.
I just don’t – I’m not one talks about his past. And here you got me…
Does your crew never show interest in your life?
No, they’re, they’re… They just know me well enough to… What about
you? What’s your history?
Not much to say. Life like yours, I fear you’d find mine terrible dull.
Oh, I long for a little dullness. Truth to say, this whole trip is getting to be just a little too interesting.
Touching stuff here. Mal beginning to see Saffron’s resources as an emotionally supportive slave as an addition to her exquisite domestic skills. What makes me even more annoyed about this scene is the fact that Mal, as always, does all the talking, leaving Saffron’s potentially interesting history unexplored. This is typical of stories written by misogynists. They are not interested in women’s stories; women are only there to further understanding of the male characters.
After Saffron dismisses her own history as uninteresting (another tactic of misogynist writers, they create female characters that hate themselves and other women in order to disguise their own misogyny). One obvious example of this in Joss Whedon’s work is in the following scene where Zoe shows herself to be completely unsympathetic to Saffron’s slavery and blames Saffron for her own subjugation.
She’s clearly out of her mind.
Well, she’s led a sheltered life.
Did you see the way she grabbed that glass from you?
Every planet’s got its own weird customs. ‘Bout a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principal form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God. Baby geese. Goslings. They were juggled.
Of course the man rushes in to defend her…
(huh?) I’m talking about geese.
Captain shouldn’t be baby-sitting a damn groupie. And he knows it.
Okay, when did this become not funny?
When you didn’t turn around and put her ass back down on Triumph where it belongs.
Oh, hey, now it’s even my fault! Is there anything else on your mind I should know about? There’s all sorts of twists and cul-de-sacs, it’s wild.
I’m getting that.
I’m going to bed.
It goes without saying that I find it highly problematic that women’s oppression is compared with the juggling of geese. What the fuck is with that even? Again, ha ha; women’s oppression = geese juggling. Tehehe.
Sigh. Men are such dicks.
And here we have Zoe blaming women for their own oppression and hating women, presumably for not being as liberated herself. Does that even make any kind of sense? And Wash borrows Mal’s unicorn outfit to ‘defend’ Saffron and her weirdness. See, that is what I just love about male supremacy. Men rape babies, they buy, sell and trade women (real, live, thinking, breathing human beings) as sex, they kill each other, they bash, rape, mutilate, torture us day in and day out, for not being subservient enough, for being too subservient, for being too ugly, for being too beautiful, for not conforming enough, for conforming too much, in short for being born female. And women are the ones who get called crazy and weird.
How the fuck are women supposed to survive what men throw at us and not go a bit crazy? And weird? Well, if hating my sisters, conforming to white male supremacy by being treated as a sex-object and possession by a white man, conforming to white male supremacy by jumping when the white man says jump and calling the white man ‘sir’ is your idea of ‘normal’ womanhood, Mr. Whedon, then I sure am glad that I am ‘weird’. But thankfully I know that your image of Black womanhood ain’t anything like the courageous, resourceful, angry, compassionate, strong, resilient, tireless, flesh and blood reality of my Black sisters.
The next part of the show is one of the most disgusting, heteropatriachal, rapist scenes that I’ve watched. So gross. Saffron shows up in Mal’s cabin completely naked. She surprises him when he comes into his room. She is in Mal’s bed, draped in his sheets, telling Mal that she has made the bed warm for him and made herself ready for him. EWWWWWWWW. I already think I need a bath. Fuck Joss has a filthy mind.
So Mal, still wearing his unicorn suit (though by this stage it is getting a bit tatty) tells her that she has her own room. Saffron is confused believing that, as they are married, they must become ‘one flesh’. EWWWWWW Joss’s words there. So Saffron quotes her planet’s bible at Mal. Remember these words were written by the great feminist Joss Whedon.
I do know my bible, sir. “On the night of their betrothal, the wife shall open to the man, as the furrow to the plough, and he shall work in her, in and again, ’till she bring him to his fall, and rest him then upon the sweat of her breast.”
Whoa. Good bible.
I’m not skilled, sir, nor a pleasure to look upon, but –
Saffron. You’re pleasing. You’re… hell, you’re all kinds of pleasing and it’s been a while… a long damn while since anybody but me took a hold a’my plough so don’t think for a second that I ain’t interested. But you and me, we ain’t married. Just ’cause you got handed to me by some couldn’t pay his debts, don’t make you beholden to me. I keep trying to explain –
Interlude: Joss Whedon’s Guide for Beginners on how to make female submissiveness sexxxxay.
Take one naked, skinny, shortish prone woman. Add one clothed, built, tallish standing man. Insert suggestive, heteropatriarchal, religious reference. Stir.
You know, something similar to this happened to me once. A vulnerable, screwed up (it almost goes without saying that she had been repeatedly raped and otherwise abused by her boyfriend, who dumped her when she stop acquiescing to her own rape), Catholic girl threw herself at me, desperate for self-validation, desperate for someone to love her a cherish her. She was in my bedroom. She pushed me onto the bed and tried to kiss me. How did I respond? I stood up and left the room. Simple.
We were flatmates. I never stopped being there for her emotionally but taking advantage of her vulnerability was NEVER an option. It was not something I could even begin to consider for one very simple reason. I DO NOT FIND FEMALE SUBMISSION AND VULNERABILITY SEXY. It is not sexy, not funny, not feminist, absolutely not ok to ever show female submission and vulnerability as being sexy. It is really, truly awful to see, love and care for women who have had their selfhood all but destroyed and royally screwed with by men. It is really, truly awful to recognise yourself in the pieces of them.
But Joss, the feminist, has his male character hang about pretending that he wants Saffron to leave, clearly hoping that she won’t. The scene culminates with Saffron dropping the sheet, walking over to Mal and kissing him. A kiss that Mal not only allows but quite happily engages in, joking that he will be going to the special hell. Ha. ha.
But then huh? What? Mal falls down unconscious after Saffron kisses him!!!! OH NOES!!!! SAFFRON IS AN EEEEEEEVIL KILLER WOMAN!!!! ARGH!
Who would have thought? A feminist writes a show depicting a victimized, vulnerable woman, who is just pretending and turns out to be an evil killer woman! Ho hum, another woman-hater at work.
Interlude: Feminism: The Joss Whedon Way.
Rote learn the following:
– Women lie. About everything really, but mostly they lie about rape, child abuse, sexual assault and harassment, male violence in the home, male violence in the street etc. Women lie and lie and lie. They can’t help it. They don’t even have a reason for lying, they just do it. It’s biological… and pathological… but still very wrong.
So Saffron wanders off, gets dressed and heads to the bridge where she encounters Wash. She closes the door, and evilly turns Wash on with her wily, feminine pretending.
She turns to him, eyes nearly moist with pleading.
My whole life, I saw nothing but roofs and steeples and the cellar door. Few days I’ll be back to that life and gone from yours. Make this night what it should be. Please…
Her face is inches from his.
Show me the stars.
They’re practically touching and she moves to kiss him, but he pulls away at the last minute.
do I wish I was somebody else right now. Somebody not married, not madly in love with a beautiful woman who can kill me with her pinky.
Reason number 9623 of why I find the whole Wash/Zoe relationship unconvincing. Wash openly admits that he wishes he could sleep with Saffron a woman who he has just met. He simultaneously believes that he loves Zoe despite the fact that he openly admits to wanting to fuck Saffron. And the primary motivation for him refusing to fuck Saffron does not seem to be because he loves Zoe, it is more because of his life may be in danger if he does. Wow, I really do just love these nice, white husbands. Whatever would women do without all these nice, white men?
Anyway, Joss writes his first remotely feminist bit thus far and Saffron kicks Wash in the head after rolling her eyes at his stupidity. WOOHOO!!!! That’s more like it sister! Now this Saffron IS sexy. Not that sexy is a word I’d use but hey. This Saffron is a woman who kicks fuckwit men in the head and that makes her pretty darn attractive in my book.
Saffron stuffs up the ship’s navigation before heading to one of the shuttles. She encounters Inara along the way. Can’t really be bothered to detail the scene. Suffice to say that Joss chucks in a bit of lesbian pornography for his wanker fans. Ho hum moment number 3948.
Saffron escapes. Inara reveals the hideous truth about Saffron to the others. She acts as though she has had training at the Academy for Companions. Shock, horror. A Companion that uses her ‘skills’ in servility for evil??? Oh noes. She must be stopped.
Jayne brings out Vera, his nice big phallic gun, which turns out to be far better, safer, and more useful than Saffron. Vera saves the day, preventing the crew from dying at the hands of the thieves working with Saffron to steal the Firefly from Mal.
Predictably, Mal hunts Saffron down. The pictures below are screen captured from the show.
Honey… I’m home…
A beat. She knocks his gun aside, it fires as she draws hers but he is in close, they tussle — he wrenches her gun from her hand as they collapse on bed, him on top.
Looks like you get your wedding night after all.
She pushes him, they go tumbling to the floor but he’s still on top and this time he’s got his gun to her chin. (In the show he holds the gun to her head rather than her chin).
It’s the first time, darlin’. I think you should be gentle with me.
She lets out a breath, smiles at him unfathomably.
You gonna kill me?
Can you conjure up a terribly compelling reason for me not to?
I didn’t kill you…
Why the act? All the seduction games, the dancing about folk — there has to be an easier way to steal.
You’re assuming the payoff is the point.
I’m not assuming anything at this juncture.
He sits, gun still well on her. She gets up on her elbows, below but facing him.
(smiling sexily) You’re quite a man, Malcolm Reynolds. I’ve waited a long while for someone good enough to take me down.
(also smiles) Saffron… you even think about playing me again I will riddle you
Her smile goes. This is the closest we’re gonna get to seeing what’s inside her, and there ain’t much to warm your hands by.
I got one question for you. Just one thing I’d like to know straight up.
What’s your real name?
She looks at him… looks away, considering the question… — and he slams the butt of his gun into her chin, knocking her out cold. He stands, regards her genuinely vulnerable form. Says with a kind of sadness:
You’d only’ve lied anyhow.
What a way to make violence against women sexy. The scripted description of Saffron in this scene make it abundantly clear that this scene is supposed to titillate. Saffron sits on the bed, pulling on her boots. She is nothing like the girl we’ve seen, much more modern and cool (though she still wears a skirt). Joss making even more porn for his wanker fans.
But perhaps most disturbingly this scene can be read as a justification for male violence in the home. Joss frequently references marriage in the scene, to bring on the funnies of course, having Mal acting like a spurned husband and Saffron the wayward wife. If we read the entire episode using this framework of reference we can see that Joss has constructed a vicious argument in favour of male violence in the domestic sphere.
First up we have the innocent virgin wife. Mal romances the innocent virgin wife, teaching her to be strong and independent, but still ultimately subservient to him, and obedient to his authority. They come to the marital bed and it turns out that she isn’t quite so innocent after all. She transforms from an innocent country girl into a manipulative, callous woman, who is strong, capable and independent. She works for herself and bows to no one, not even Mal, her husband. In fact, she willfully betrays him and uses his faults and weaknesses to get her own way. It is clear that such a woman must be brought down. By any means necessary.
Saffron leaves Mal and Mal tracks her down, invading her home by force as a husband, pushing her to the bed, using his body to pin her down while he lectures her for not conforming to proper feminine womanhood, before slamming his gun in her face. Really very disturbing stuff, all from the mind of a feminist.
The final scene we have an affirmation of proper feminine womanhood, as Mal goes back to the woman he ‘loves’.
… does the vixen live?
If you can call it that. All’s well, I suppose.
This is the typical discourse of misogynists, women fit neatly into the wife/whore dichotomy. Inara is a good woman. Her sexuality is neatly controlled by patriarchal institutions, the Academy, the Guild, her respect for Mal as Captain of the ship. She is comfortably subservient, she services men both sexually and emotionally without complaint and conforms to all the patriarchal rules of her role as both a Companion and a woman. Inara is the good whore: the wife.
Saffron on the other hand uses her ‘skills’ as a woman and as a Companion, for her own gain. She refuses to conform to patriarchal femininity by submitting gracefully to being used as a sexual and domestic slave. She turns men’s weaknesses to her own advantage. And ultimately she mast pay the price for refusing to bow to men. Saffron is the bad wife: the whore.
Inara, as a good wife must, joins with Mal in her condemnation of Saffron, and in doing so, pledges her allegiance to men and male supremacy. Inara is a model for good womanhood, she must view what happened to Saffron as a lesson in the fate afforded to women who attempt to step outside of male controlled strictures of femininity. Inara must turn away from her sisters and towards men, seeking company only with those women, like Kaylee, who also conform to male-approved, male-supremacist notions of femininity.
Blah. I’ll take sisterhood any day. But honestly, if Joss Whedon is a feminist then violence against women is sexy and empowering. Me? I’m taking a stand against Joss Whedon and his wanker fans in pursuit of true liberation for womenkind.
Final part of this series on Firefly:Objects in Space: Black masculinity through the paradigm of whitemale lust.