Archive for the ‘Joss Whedon’ Category


A Rapist’s View of the World (repost)

August 21, 2017

This is a really long rant about Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Why? Because I’m angry and I think it is really important that feminists don’t leave popular culture out of the equation. Especially considering that popular culture is increasingly being influenced by pornography.


I have become increasingly interested in examining Joss Whedon’s work from a feminist perspective since I had a conversation with another lesbian feminist sister at the International Feminist Summit about whether Joss was a feminist. I am really quite shocked by how readily Joss is accepted as a feminist, and that his works are widely considered to be feminist. I decided to start re-watching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and also to watch Firefly and the movie Serenity.

I have to say that now that I have subjected myself to the horror that is Firefly, I really am beyond worried about how much men hate us, given that this was written by a man who calls himself a feminist.

I find much of Joss Whedon’s work to be heavily influenced by pornography, and pornographic humour. While I would argue that there are some aspects of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer that are feminist and progressive, there is much that isn’t and I find it highly problematic that there are many very woman-hating messages contained within a show that purports itself as feminism. But Firefly takes misogyny to a new level of terrifying. I am really, really worried that women can call the man who made this show a feminist.

For myself, I’m not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women’s faces, male voices drowning out our words.

There is so much hatred towards women contained within the scripts and action of the series that I doubt very much that this post will even begin to cover it. I am going to try to focus on the episodes that were written by Joss Whedon but I will also refer to the series as a whole. As Joss Whedon was responsible for the concept development and was a producer, ultimately I hold him accountable for the depiction of women in the entire season. Only one episode was written by a woman. It was no better or worse in its depiction of women than the ones written by men.

The pilot episode, Serenity, was written and directed by Joss Whedon. The basic plot of the series is Malcolm Reynolds and his second in command Zoe, have made a new life for themselves after fighting a war against the Alliance, which they lost. They bought a Firefly, an old space ship, and Mal calls it Serenity, after the last battle they fought for the Independence. The pilot of the ship, Wash, is Zoe’s husband. Kaylee is the ship’s mechanic and Jayne, the final member of the crew, is the brainless brawn. This bunch of criminals go around stealing things and generally doing lots of violence.

They also take on board passengers. There is Inara, a Companion (Joss Whedon’s euphemism for women in prostitution). She rents one of the ship’s shuttles. Simon, a doctor and his sister River. And a Shepherd (which means preacher), a black male character.

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.

Our first introduction to Inara the ‘Companion’, Joss Whedon’s euphemism for prostituted women, is when she is being raped/fucked/used by a prostitutor. I find it really interesting to read the scripted directions for this particular scene:

We are close on INARA’s face. She is being made love to by an eager, inexperienced but quite pleasingly shaped young man. She is beneath him, drawing him to his climax with languorous intensity. His face buried in her neck.

He tightens, relaxes, becomes still. She runs her hand through is hair and he pulls from her neck, looks at her with sweaty insecurity. She smiles, a worldly, almost motherly sweetness in her expression. He rests his head on her breast, still breathing hard. 

So, Joss Whedon refers to rapist/fuckers who buy women as sex, as ‘eager, inexperienced but pleasingly shaped’ who ‘make love’ to women in prostitution. Obviously, ‘love’ to men like Joss Whedon, requires female powerlessness, force and coercion. Women in prostitution enjoy the experience of being bought for sex. They feel ‘motherly’ towards the men who have just treated them as property and bought them as sex.

In Joss Whedon’s future world prostituted women are powerful and respectable. They go to an Academy, to train in the arts of being a ‘Companion’. They belong to a Guild which regulates prostitution, forces women to endure yearly health tests and comes up with rules to make prostitution sound empowering for women. For example, one Guild rule is that the ‘Companion’ chooses her rapist, not the other way around.

But there is one really big question that does not get answered. The women who ‘choose’ to be ‘Companions’ are shown as being intelligent, accomplished, educated, well-respected and presumably from good families. If a woman had all of these qualities and opportunities then why the fuck would she ‘choose’ to be a man’s fuck toy? Would being a fuck toy for hundreds of men give a woman like Inara personal fulfillment? Job satisfaction? A sense of purpose? Fulfill her dreams? Ambitions?

Money doesn’t seem to be the motivation behind Inara’s ‘choice’ to be a ‘Companion’, presumably she just ‘enjoys’ swanning around in ridiculous outfits. And being used as a fuck toy by men is seemingly a small price to pay for the pleasure.

At any rate, Inara’s apparent ‘power’ is merely a figment of Joss Whedon’s very sick imagination. In a later episode, Inara is shown to have set down three very specific rules in relation to her arrangement to hiring one of Mal’s shuttles as her base of operations. 1) No crew member, including the Captain would be allowed entrance to the shuttle without Inara’s express invitation. 2) Inara refuses to service the Captain nor anyone under his employ. And 3) the Captain cannot refer to Inara as a whore.
Mal agrees to all of these rules but he breaks every single one of them. Blatantly and deliberately. The third thing that Mal says in the first interaction between Inara and Mal is, “She’s a whore…” Does Inara stop him from calling her a whore? Nope. She just goes on smiling and being gracious. So he calls her a whore again. Lovely man this Mal is, dontcha think?

And in regards to her first rule, Mal takes every opportunity he can to break it. In the first episode Mal barges into Inara’s shuttle. The interchange goes like this:

Inara: What are you doing on my shuttle?

Mal: It’s my shuttle. You rent it.

Inara: Then when I’m behind on the rent, you can enter unasked.

Scenes like this continue to occur for the rest of the series. Mal never apologises for breaking the terms of his agreement with Inara. And although Inara gets a little annoyed, she does not get really angry at the Captain for consistently undermining her power and invading her space. She tells the Captain to get out but he rarely complies. The point is that a man should never invade a woman’s personal space to begin with. Especially when he has been told expressly that he is not invited. But Mal delights in pointing out Inara’s powerlessness, it makes him feel all manly.

In regards to her servicing the crew, she begins to service the Captain and the male passengers of the ship from day one. The following is an excerpt from the script of Serenity. Book is a black male character. He is a Preacher and disapproves of Inara’s ‘profession’.

BOOK Is this what life is, out here?

INARA Sometimes.

BOOK I’ve been out of the abbey two days, I’ve beaten a Lawman senseless, I’ve fallen in with criminals… I watched the captain shoot a man I swore to protect. And I’m not even sure if I think he was wrong.

INARA Shepherd…

He is shaking a bit, tearing up.

BOOK I believe I just… (a pained smile) I think I’m on the wrong ship.

INARA Maybe. Or maybe you’re exactly where you ought to be.

He lowers his head. She puts her hand on it, a kind of benediction. We hold on them a second. 

It is clear from the outset that a large part of Inara’s service involves addressing issues of male inadequacy and fulfilling many other emotional needs of her clients. The ability to do this IS a resource and it is therefore a service that Inara must perform. BUT Inara services all of the male passengers and the Captain in this way. She also services Kaylee but the relationship between them is a little more reciprocal. In any case, Mal makes it pretty obvious that he expects his emotional needs to be serviced by Inara and she willingly obliges. Mal also allows the male passengers to demand her emotional services and does not tell them to stop, despite the terms of his agreement with Inara. Inara is not paid by any of these men for her time, energy and emotional support.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Joss uses his own wife in this way. Expects her to clean up his emotional messes. Expects her to be there, eternally supportive, eternally subservient and grateful to him in all his manly glory. I hope the money is worth it, Kai Cole. But somehow I doubt that it is. No amount of money can buy back wasted emotional resources.

Aside from women being fuck toys, property and punching bags for the men, the women have very little importance in the series. I counted the amount of times women talk in the episode Serenity compared to the amount of times men talk. The result was unsurprising. Men: 458 Women: 175. So throughout the first episode men talk more than two and a half times as much as women do. And women talk mainly in questions whereas men talk in statements. Basically, this means that men direct the action and are active participants whereas women are merely observers and facilitators.

Given the fact that women are largely absent from the action and the dialogue of the majority of scenes it is unsurprising that the action onscreen is highly homoerotic. Men jostle with each other for power. Pushing each others buttons, and getting into scuffles. This intense homoeroticism is present from the outset as Mal asserts his rights as alpha male on the ship.

Completely unnecessary and unprovoked violence is a spontaneous result of this hypermasculinised male character. In Serenity, Mal enjoys using a character called Simon as his personal punching bag. In one scene he walks up to him and smashes him in the face, without any provocation or logical reason. In another scene Simon asks Mal a question and Mal smashes him the face again. No reason, no explanation, just violence. Violence is a part of the landscape throughout the whole series and Mal is often the instigator. He is constantly rubbing himself up against other men, and punishing wayward women, proving and solidifying his manliness through bashing the shit out of anyone and everyone.

Zoe, the token black woman, acts as a legitimiser. Her role is to support Mal’s manly obsession with himself by encouraging him, calling him ‘sir’, and even starting the fights for him. Zoe is treated as a piece of meat by both her husband (Wash, another white male) and the Captain. Wash and Mal fight each other for Zoe’s attention and admiration, both relying on her submission to them to get them hard and manly. In fact there is a whole episode, War Stories, devoted to Wash and Mal’s ‘rivalry’. By the word rivalry, I mean violent, homoerotic male/male courtship conducted over the body of a woman.

Zoe is not shown to have a personality of her own. She has no outside interests, no ideas or beliefs, no conversation with anyone other than Wash or Mal. She has no female friends, in fact she tends to dislike women. For example, she is the first one to insult Saffron in the episode Our Mrs. Reynolds, calling her ‘trouble’.

Zoe, of course, is meant to be our empowered, ass-kicking sidechick. Like all sidechicks she is objectified from the get go. Her husband, Wash, talking about how he likes to watch her bathe. Let me just say now that I have never personally known of a healthy relationship between a white man and a woman of colour. I have known a black woman whose white husband would strangle and bash her while her young children watched. My white grandfather liked black women because they were ‘exotic’, and he did not, could not treat women, especially women of colour, like human beings. I grew up watching my great aunts, my aunty and my mother all treated like shit by their white husbands, the men they loved. So you will forgive me for believing that the character, Wash, is a rapist and an abuser, particularly considering that he treats Zoe like an object and possession.

Joss Whedon does not share my view, of course, and he paints the relationship between Zoe and Wash as a perfectly happy, healthy union. If anyone is interested in portrayals of relationships between white men and black women written from black women’s point of view, I would suggest watching RadianceRabbit-Proof Fence and Serenades, skip Joss Whedon’s shit.

Also if you are interested in the reality of women in prostitution/prostituted women rather than the candy floss version that Joss Whedon has produced, I highly recommend Rebecca’s story Lie Dead. Skip Joss Whedon’s women-hating bile.

I can assure you that this is just the beginning of my rant on Firefly. There is so much more disturbing stuff later in the series. In particular, an episode called Our Mrs. Reynolds, another episode written by Joss, which completely demonises women as well as pornifying male violence against us.

More ranting about Firefly here

…and here.

Objects in Space: Black Masculinity through the paradigm of whitemale lust


Joss Whedon is so unbelievably sick

February 10, 2009

Just read part of the Season 8 Buffy comic in the library today and I am still dry retching. EWWWWWWWWW!!!!!





Repeat after me kiddies: “Pornography is not fracking empowering.”

Lesbian porn for male gratification is fucking sick. Besides DYKES DO NOT LOOK LIKE THIS JOSS WHEDON YOU PERVERT!!!!

Showing teenage girls in their underwear is fucked in the head. YOU ARE A CHILD PORNOGRAPHER, JOSS!!!!

Just needed to get that off my chest.


Objects in Space: Black masculinity through the paradigm of whitemale lust

October 15, 2008

Objects in Space was the last episode of the television series Firefly before the series was cancelled. This episode was revealing in a number of ways. I am going to look specifically at the construction of lust in the episode and the way in which Whedon charactrises lust, the differences in his treatment of lust between his whitemale characters and his Black male characters. The way that Whedon positions the Black man as a violent, sexual monster and the relationship this construction has to the characterisation of whitemales as protectors/owners of white women.

The straight whitemale is the default audience for Firefly and Whedon immediately sets up a paradigm of objectification of the female characters. In the first episode Serenity we have a deliberately provocative shot of Kaylee eating a strawberry. Soon after there is a shot of Inara half-naked, bathing in her shuttle. Both scenes cater for the whitemale sexualised gaze, setting up whitemale lust as a central and necessary part of audience engagement with the show.

The centring of whitemale lust continues throughout the series as female characters are consistently observed through the eyes of the white male characters. We have Wash objectifying Zoe, with his comments about how he wants to watch her bathe. In a separate occasion in the Bushwhacked episode, he reduces Zoe to body parts. I find this to be a very telling scene and the contrast between Zoe’s reluctance to part with the sacred details of her love for Wash, and Wash’s disgusting objectifying comments could not be more stark.

Wash: The legs. [laughter] Oh yeah, I definitely have to say it was her legs. You can put that down. Her legs and right where her legs meet her back that actually that whole area that and above it. Have you seen what she wears? Forget about it. Have you ever been with a warrior woman?

Also in the commentary for the episode Shindig they talked about how Zoe wore her necklace thingie as a symbol of her slavery (love) to Wash. Wash does not wear any ‘love’ token.

In later episodes we see vulnerability as ‘sexy’ through Mal and Jayne’s eyes in their objectification of Saffron. Obviously the more vulnerable, submissive and pliable the woman, the ‘sexier’ she is. Yet another viewpoint worth mentioning is Jayne’s objectification of Inara when she is with her female client. Don’t even get me started on the ickiness of that scenario.

Joss Whedon’s depiction of lesbianism as hot pornography for his whitemale audience is beyond excusable. This is not the first time he has depicted lesbianism as pornographic fodder for whitemale lust. He did it a few times in Buffy: the Vampire Slayer also. At the end of the fourth season there is an episode where the character Xander fantasises about Tara and Willow together for his (and the whitemale audiences’) sexual gratification. What makes this even worse is the fact that Willow is supposed to be Xander’s best friend. Later, in the seventh season Xander again fantasises about the potential slayers (15-16 year old girls) having erotic pillow fights in his bed. Really sick stuff.

Hmm. Well I really could go on forever about the many ways in which Whedon centres whitemale lust as the primary carrier for his phallosophical televisions shows but I did really want to talk specifically about the othering of Black men and women of all colours within the framework of whitemale lust as default, normal, natural.

In Firefly we see lust being constructed in different ways. I would argue that Whedon has constructed Mal’s lust as the baseline and we use his lust as a measure of normality. Mal is a rough and ready kinda guy. He lusts but his lust is tempered by his inner moral code. This inner moral code seems to justify most male behaviour. You can be a scumbag, but as long as you don’t cross that invisible line, you’re really a great guy. This is the same moral code as the one in wider society where men are congratulated for not being rapists. Also known as the Nigel phenomenon.

But the stupid men do not realise that it is only in a society where the majority of men are rapists that Nigels are congratulated for not being rapists. Stupid men. Anyway, Mal is a ‘safe’ man, because he never crosses that invisible line. Of course he rapes women. That is shown quite clearly in the episode Heart of Gold. Of course he treats women like possessions, that shines through clearly in his treatment of Inara, see episodes Shindig and War Stories. But that invisible stretchy moral line, he never crosses it. That makes him a good little Nigel.

So we have the bottom line of whitemale lusty Nigelism set by the dear Mr. Reynolds. Next up we have Wash another whitemale Nigel who likes to objectify his wife, and cut her up into little fetishised pieces. His lust is neatly contained within the bounds of holy, male supremacist matrimony, the bonds of which he never breaks (unless he knows he will get away with it). He too likes submissive women (see attraction to Saffron in the episode Our Mrs. Reynolds) but he also fetishises Zoe’s independence and strength in his pornographic fantasies of her as a dominatrix (‘warrior woman’). Most importantly his lust is not threatening to Mal’s leadership within the chain of command on the ship. Wash is tempered by Zoe as an outlet for his lust and object for ownership. Men need to own what they lust and lust what they own, therefore Wash’s possession of Zoe, within the male paradigm of imperialism, renders Wash unthreatening to Mal.

We then come to Jayne. In the comments of my last post I analysed Jayne as Whedon’s ‘fall guy’ for feminism. I think Whedon deliberately exaggerates Jayne’s whitemale lustiness in order to define ‘proper’, egalitarian lust. So Jayne’s lust is caricatured and made fun of. His overt masculinity is contrasted with Mal’s kinder, gentler, more feminist desires. The whitemale audience is supposed to distance themselves from Jayne’s unsophisticated masculinity and are invited to position themselves within Mal’s paradigm. Not only this, but Jayne is subject to Mal’s rule. He is not the Alpha male on the ship, Mal is. Jayne’s unsophisticated lust is tempered by Mal’s leadership. Jayne, in his natural state, is a dangerous man, but Mal’s control of Jayne and his rapacious nature, renders him ‘safe’. This clearly positions Alpha whitemale’s as protectors of women and children and as regulators of other men’s sexuality.

As an aside, this is why white men invade countries like Afganistan and Iraq and try to justify it by saying that their actions will spell women’s liberation. Whitemale think deplore the actions of other men, refusing to acknowledge the slaughter, terrorism and violence done in their own countries against women and children, by their own hands. Here we are talking again of the ‘good’ man Mal and the ‘bad’ man Jayne. In reality both commit violence against women, but each refuse to acknowledge their own violence.

Whedon explores a different kind of masculinity with the character of Simon. Simon’s masculinity is based on his intellectual achievements and social position. He acts as his sister River’s owner and protector, which also feeds into his sense of self. Simon’s intellect and compassion are mocked and punished by the ‘real men’: Mal and Jayne, who do their best to undermine Simon’s less valid claim to manhood. But Simon still wields his lesser manhood to some effect; his opinions matter more to Mal than the female characters opinions do. More air time is dedicated to dealing with Simon’s backstory than is given to the female characters. Simon still has male privilege, despite being a ‘lesser’ man.

Book’s character has already been commented on by a few other feminists and anti-racists, as being a stereotypical ‘magical negro’. I would agree with this assessment of his character. Book is a kind of ‘Uncle Tom’ character, the opposite of Early who is Whedon’s whitemale pornographic fantasy of the Black man as a hypersexualised, aggressive monster. Whedon neutralises this threat in his Book character by making him subject to his religious principles. It goes without saying that what regulates Book’s sexuality is a whitemale belief system. His Bible is modeled on the Judeo-Christian tradition; which is inherently whitemale supremacist. So the threat of the Black man’s lust is shown to be regulated and neutralized by the white man. Book becomes feminised, neutered, unthreatening.

In this way Whedon sets up and defines whitemale lust as characterized by Mal, as healthy, normal and natural. He also centralizes whitemale lust as essential to the audiences’ engagement in the text. (This was very much true of Buffy the Vampire Slayer also.) He defines ‘normal’ whitemale lust against an exaggerated version in order to set up whitemales as regulators of other men’s sexualities. I find it really fascinating how blatant Whedon is able to be with his misogynist masculinising. Anyway. In the episode, Objects in Space, Whedon takes this regulation of desire another step and shows the whitemale defeating the monstrous manifestation of unleashed Black male desire. Again, I find it really fascinating how blatant Joss Whedon is able to be with his pornographic race-hating depiction of Black male lust.

Gail Dines, the awesome feminist anti-pornography activist, in her essay King Kong and the white woman: Hustler magazine and the demonization of Black masculinity (read it in Not For Sale), talks about the characterization of Black men as sexual monsters. She makes many points that are pertinent to this discussion.

From the box office success of The Birth of a Nation in 1915 to the national obsession with O.J Simpson, the image of the Black male as the spoiler of white womanhood has been a staple of media representation in this country (US). The demonization of Black men as rapists and murderers has been well documented by scholars interested in film, news and rap music. While this image stands in sharp contrast to the feminized ‘Uncle Tom’ which was popular in early Hollywood films, both images serve to define Black men as outside the ‘normal’ realm of (white) masculinity by constructing them as ‘other’ .Although both the ‘Uncle Tom’ and the sexual monster continue to define the limits of Black male representation in mainstream media, it is the latter that dominates, and, according to Mercer, serves to legitimise racist practices such as mass incarceration of Black men, police brutality and right-wing government policy.

I would argue that Whedon is very definitely working within the Black man as sexual monster: Early; or neutered ‘Uncle Tom’: Book dichotomy, with his construction of Black male characters.

Early is played by a Black actor who is darker skinned and younger than the actor that plays Book. He is virile, uninhibited and very dangerous. He is depicted as cruel, depraved and not mentally balanced. His costume is a dark space suit, painted a burnished red, the colour of dried blood. The clarinet theme for the character is eerie and melancholic. Everything about the character screams malevolence.

When Early first boards the ship he immediately takes out Mal in a short and violent scene. He then locks most of the crew in their cabins while they are still asleep. Then suddenly he is in the engine room with Kaylee. Now this makes no sense to me in the scheme of the plot. Early’s supposed objective is to find River and take her to the Alliance. What the hell is he doing in the engine room? Oh, that’s right. We have to have a scene where The Black Man threatens The White Woman with rape.

James Snead, in the book White Screen, Black Images: Hollywood From the Dark Side, asserts that ‘in all Hollywood film portrayals of Blacks… the political is never far from the sexual.’ I think that this point is made very clearly in the scene where Early threatens Kaylee with rape. In this scene, Whedon is playing on all of the whitemale fears of the terrifying lust of Black men.

KAYLEE: River…?

She stands, looks. Nothing. She turns back to the toolbox, squats down to toss in a part, comes back up and Early is RIGHT behind her, she spins to see his face staring impassively inches from hers. She gasps, stumbles back. She’s up against the wall here.

EARLY: I like this ship.

She says nothing. Looks frantically around.

EARLY: (cont’d) Serenity. She’s good-looking. I mean she looks good.
KAYLEE: How did you get on…?
EARLY: It strains the mind a bit, don’t it? You think you’re all alone… Maybe I come down the chimney, Kaylee, bring presents to the good girls and boys. Maybe not, though.

He comes closer to her. She shrinks closer to the wall.

EARLY (cont’d): Maybe I’ve always been here.
KAYLEE: What do you want?

He looks at the turning engine, mesmerized.

EARLY: That’s her beating heart, isn’t it? You pull off any one of a thousand parts, she’ll just die. Such a slender thread… (still looking at the engine) Have you ever been raped?

A small beat —

KAYLEE: The captain’s right by —
EARLY: The captain’s locked in his quarters. They all are. There’s nobody can help you. Say it.
KAYLEE: There’s… there’s nobody can help me.
EARLY: I’m gonna tie you up now. And you know what I’m gonna do then? (she can’t answer) I’m gonna give you a present. Get rid of a problem you’ve got. And I won’t touch you in any wrong fashion, nor hurt you at all, unless you make some kind of ruckus. You throw a monkey wrench into my dealings in any way, your body is forfeit. Ain’t nothing but a body to me, and I can find all unseemly manner of use for it. Do you understand.
KAYLEE (tiny voice): Yes.
EARLY: Turn around and put your hands behind your back.

She slowly does, terror on her face, as he pulls out a thin roll of tape. Pulls a strip out, says:

EARLY (cont’d): Now tell me, Kaylee… where does River sleep?

Kaylee’s fear is absolutely central to this scene. Whedon emphasizes this in his commentary, excitedly describing Kaylee’s terror as ‘so achingly perfect and beautiful’. No big surprise there, white men like Joss have always gotten off on women’s pain. But the extent of the white woman’s fear is the measure of Early’s maliciousness. The more fear he inspires in her the more monstrous he becomes.

Early visits Inara too. Again, inflicting pain on a woman by hitting her. Not because he has to. Neither Inara or Kaylee are a physical threat to him in the same way that Mal and Book are portrayed.

Inara is sitting up in bed. Simon stands near the entrance of the room, looking tense. Inara, vulnerable and more than a little confused, looks from him to Early, who is peeking in the back room, gun trained steadily on Inara.

INARA: You can still walk away from this. I know you’re tired.

He violently pistol-whips her, pointing the gun back at Simon as she feels the blood on her lip.

EARLY: Don’t go visiting in my intentions. Don’t ever.

He moves to the entrance. Before he shuts the door:

EARLY (cont’d, to Inara): Man is stronger by far than woman. But only woman can create a child. That seem right to you?

Joss just loves putting pointed misogyny into the mouths of Black men, doesn’t he? In this scene Inara’s vulnerability is highlighted in the script, in sharp contrast to Early’s contempt. So Joss creates this Black male character who is a violent, malicious sexual monster. He is a bounty hunter and his bounty is River, a 16 year old white girl. Given the treatment we have seen him give Kaylee and Inara, the threat he poses to River isn’t really left up to our imagination. So whitemale lust and misogyny is the default ‘normal’ lust whereas lust and misogyny in a Black man is monstrous and must be contained and controlled by the whitemale.

We eventually find out that River has escaped the Firefly and is on board Early’s own ship. She pretends to go along with Early’s plan to steal her and give her to the Alliance but secretly she is in contact with Kaylee (after convincing the terrified white girl that the big, bad Black monster isn’t going to get her) and Mal, putting into place a plan to trick Early and escape. She tells Early to come back to his ship and she will go with him. Early believes her and steps out onto the outer hull of the Firefly in order to return. But Mal is there waiting. He pushes Early hard and Early goes spinning off into space. Then River comes floating down from Early’s ship, an ecstatic look on her face as she is gathered up in her white saviour’s arms. The whitemale role as protector could not be made any clearer than it is in this scene.

The final scene shows River playing a game with Kaylee while the defeated Black monster is floating alone in space, becoming the final object in Joss Whedon’s phallosophising wankfest. The Black monster no longer poses a threat and the whitemale has emerged victorious having put down the threat to the (whitemale) social order. To quote Dines “King Kong’s death at the end of the movie remasculinises the white man, not only by his conquering of the black menace, but also by regaining the woman.” In Objects in Space Mal is able to reassert his ownership/protection of all three of the women threatened by Early: Kaylee, Inara and River.

Well, that concludes my analysis of Objects in Space. It would be remiss of me to talk about racism in Firefly without mentioning the appropriation of Asian culture within the series. Go here and here to read critiques of the series from that perspective. Thanks to all the Whedonites who have been following my posts, I couldn’t have done this without you. (Scarily enough I actually mean that!)

First Firefly post, second, and third.


Joss Whedon and Jean-Paul Sartre: the Wanker Phallosophers

July 6, 2008

Above: Phallosopher contemplating his meaningless existence, and how deep his meaninglessness is.

Ok, so I’m currently thinking a lot about the episode of Firefly, Objects in Space. This was the last episode of the TV series before production was stopped. And as such it became one of the most important to the fans of the series. Now I did want to talk about the racism of this particular episode. And I will. I will be focusing particularly on the construction of lust, both in this episode, and in the series as a whole. But first I wanted to talk a little about male philosophy as Wank.

Joss Whedon really loves Wank. That is basically the moral of this episode Objects in Space. I will be referring to Joss Whedon as a Phallosopher throughout this entry. I envisage Phallosophers to encompass all the Great Male Phallosophers throughout the ages. From Aristotle to Camus to Sartre to Whedon. Phallosophy is characterised by self-obsession, misogyny, and a disturbing, yet relentless tendency to produce Wank. Phallosophers are generally Bores. Now, what is common to most Phallosophers is their acute susceptibility to Male Artist Syndrome, as theorized very superbly by Dissenter.

Male Artist Syndrome – a mental disorder commonly found in men who call themselves creative artists (artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers etc.) whereby the man in question is only capable of thinking and operating on the level of the foreground. His ‘art’ inevitably reproduces the values, ideas etc. of male-stream culture and the Phallic State, and is particularly characterised by misogyny, racism, the erasure of women, the erasure of radically Other ways of thinking/being/feeling, and thinly veiled egocentric self-portrayals. The work of Male Artists is highly prized by other Male Artists, and male supremacists in general, for its lack of thought, which is called ‘depth’ in a classic example of patriarchal reversal.

Male Artists are incapable of recognising women as creative beings, especially women who work and create in the Background and refuse to participate in the shallow narcissism and self-indulgent nihilism that passes for creativity in the foreground. The only acceptable role for women who exist creatively on a foreground level is to be the adoring disciples of Male Artists, always ready to listen to them, agree with them, champion them as brilliant, insightful etc., and support and reproduce their ideas. These women are forbidden to have ideas of their own, especially ideas that contradict the Male Artists, or to connect with creative women who have journeyed into the Background and rejected Male Artists and the Phallic State that supports and produces them.

Joss Whedon wrote the episode, Objects in Space, in order to explore his own Phallosophical relationship to the world and in particular to objects. He Wanks his Phallosophy onto the bodies of a Black man and a young woman, which is highly problematic of itself, but I’ll talk about that in another post.

In the commentary of the episode Objects in Space Whedon outlines why he wrote the episode and what the episode means to him. His discussion is as follows.

Now let’s go back in time to me when I was 16. It was at that age that I became old enough to realise that I had no faith and very soon after that I had, what I can very pretentiously describe as, an existential epiphany. And I had it, embarrassingly but somehow appropriately during a Spielburg movie. I was in London, by myself, during a school break, in the fall where I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind and something in me kind of snapped. I started to think for the first time in an adult fashion about life, about time, about reality, about dying, about all of the thing that are right there in front of us every day but that as children and often as adults, we take for granted, or find some easy explanation for if we can. In my case, I was presented with the totality of things but with no coherent pattern to put them in, I just suddenly understood that real life was happening.

Friend of mine gave me the most important book I ever read which was Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre. Apart from that, and a little bit of The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus I really haven’t read extensively about existentialism or absurdism, I don’t want to paint myself as an intellectual, I really don’t know anything about philosophy. But I did know that this book spoke to what I believe more accurately and completely than anything I had ever read. And what it talked about was the pain of being aware of things and their existence outside of their meaning.

Hmm… the pain of being aware of things existing. Deep stuff here.

So I decided to read this Sartre dude since Joss seems to be so enamoured. Dissenter had a copy of Nausea and I grabbed it off her and dived in. Now the guy who wrote this book was fucked in the head. The protagonist is a complete narcissist who seems to have an obsession with men who sexually assault children. The protagonist also hates women, no big surprised there.

Here are some of the highlights from Nausea:

Since the Patron was there, I had to fuck her, but it was really out of politeness. She disgusts me slightly, she is too white and besides she smells like a new-born baby… I toyed absent-mindedly with her sex under the bedclothes… I let my arm move along the woman’s side and suddenly I saw a little garden with low, wide-spreading trees from which huge hairy leaves were hanging. Ants were running everywhere, centipedes and moths. There were some even more horrible animals: their bodies were made of slices of toast such as you put under roast pigeon; they were walking sideways with crab-like legs. The broad leaves were black with animals. Behind the cacti and the Barbary fig trees, the Velleda of the municipal park was pointing to her sex. “This park smells of vomit,” I shouted.

Flattering, no?

In the following passage the protagonist describes a man exposing himself to a little girl:

I… was fascinated by the little girl’s face. Her features were drawn with fear and her heart must have been beating madly: but on that rat-like face I could also distinguish something potent and evil. It was not curiosity but rather a sort of assured expectation. I felt helpless: I was outside, on the edge of the park, on the edge of their little drama; but they were riveted to each other by the obscure power of their desires, they formed a couple.

Fucked up shit. Little girls are evil and desperately want men to come up and expose their penises to them. They desire it, you know, ‘cause women and girls can never get enough of the Phallus Supremus.

There are many more disturbing things about the book Nausea but I am not going to list all of them. I just wanted to make the point that the book is sickeningly sexist. And Sartre, like Whedon, suffers from an acute case of Male Artist Syndrome.

But I’m not all that interested in Sartre. I am interested in the way that Joss Whedon responds to him. I don’t think it is all that surprising that Joss finds a misogynist like Sartre profound, after all, Joss himself is a profound misogynist.

But let’s go back to Whedon’s little existential epiphany. I would argue that straight, white, rich, Western men like Joss are the only ones who have the luxury of waiting until they are 16 in order to realise that they exist and that their existence is meaningless. Straight, white, rich, Western men are the only ones who have the luxury of realising this and calling it philosophy. So Joss shared his touching memory about realising that he existed and that life and death happened. He called his Wank an epiphany even, as he sat in his rich, white comfort, watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

So I’m going to share my own story. Though it was not an epiphany, nor was it an existential awakening, and it certainly wasn’t philosophy. When I was about 11 I was living in a two bedroom apartment, on the second floor, in Finland. There were five children and 2 adults living in this apartment, and my mother was pregnant and suffering deep depression. We, with our dark skin and hair, were outsiders in this white supremacist country, and we felt it. But that sets the scene.

The story is me, sitting on the ledge of the second storey balcony and wanting to jump. It is my belief that the only thing that stopped me was the knowledge that it wouldn’t kill me. So I was thinking of ways of making sure that I would die when I hit the ground. If I dived from the balcony head first that would break my neck, but no, there was still a chance I would survive and then everything would be even worse than before.

I did not have the luxury of waiting until I was 16 to have an epiphany about the fact that the world existed, that I existed and that I was meaningless. I did not have the luxury of realizing that death existed in an abstract fashion while sitting in a cinema. The knowledge of death, for me, was graphically represented by the thought of my body lying lifeless on the concrete. My knowledge of life and death, my struggle to exist as a multiracial female under white male supremacy has been a struggle since the day I was born.

There were never any easy answers. But this story is not one about an epiphany, this story did not make me who I am today. The only thing that I learnt from sitting on that balcony was the fact that I am too spineless to kill myself.

But men like Whedon and Sartre take one look at the fact that their lives are meaningless and their next step is to make books and TV shows about meaninglessness and they call it philosophy!!!. The nerve of these fucking morons.

My discussions with Dissenter have provided valuable insight into the reasons that men Wank and call it philosophy. “Men’s lives are an exercise in futility,” she says, “males are essentially pointless so they have to have all of this existential angst about their lives.” This is true. Men, being rather superfluous creatures, must excrete Phallosophical Wank and believe it to be meaningful.

For women, life is not about meaninglessness. For women, life is a struggle to create meaning. Women do not write books about being nauseated by our own existence. There is a whole world FULL of men out there who are already nauseated by our existence. Women write about the power and the meaningfulness of existence, of life, in its own right. This is powerful magic; the beauty of existing, the beauty of surviving.

Let’s take me for example. A whole world full of people told me that my existence was meaningless. My first meaningful act of resistance was to love my mother, to break one of the most solid rules of male supremacy. The second was to love my sisters, and to love myself. Books, the wonderful cuntspeaking of women, helped me, more than anything else, to survive. So I learnt to write. Because myth-making and storytelling have long been used against us by men, but women were the first storytellers, we were the first poets. Believe it. We are more powerful with words than they are. And words can change the world.

At eleven, I believed that my life had no meaning. Now my life is full of meaning. I know who I am. I love. I experience beauty. I write.

I am not a philosopher. I am a poet, I am a cuntspeaker. Cuntspeaking is simple and meaningful. Cuntspeak is powerful and direct. Cuntspeak means. Cuntspeaking was a word Jane Caputi discovered by reading the work of an Athena who called Andrea Dworkin a cuntspeaker as an insult. I think cuntspeak is powerful as an image and as an ideology. You can read Caputi’s essay on cuntspeak in Not For Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography.

In conclusion, Phallosophers suck majorly. Cuntspeakers rule!!!


A Wife-Beater’s View of the World: Our Mrs. Reynolds Part Two

May 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.*

Link to Part One

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.

MAL (cont’d)
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.

ZOE (V.O.)
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.
She’s trouble
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.

SAFFRON (cont’d)
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.

MAL (cont’d)
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).

MAL (cont’d)
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
with holes.

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.
Ask me.
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:

MAL (cont’d)
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.


A Rapist’s View of the World: Our Mrs. Reynolds: Part One

April 6, 2008

*Sorry everyone. This post became so long and unwieldy I decided to split it into two. Comments will be harshly moderated. Because I am cruel and heartless. I think EVIL Saffron might be manifesting herself in me. :p*

Because I have had such an enthusiastic response to the first part of my A Rapist’s View of the World post on Joss Whedon and Firefly, I decided to continue on with part two. It was such a pleasure to write the first part (wanting to throw up for two weeks after having watched the trash notwithstanding) that I just really thought I should get on with the second part. Apart from the helpful response from no less than five happy commenters who gave me the very sage advice that I should kill myself at the earliest possible convenience, commenters varied in their response to my argument (rad fem commenters aside). Before I proceed any further I must share with you the things that I have learnt from my dear commenters.

Firstly, I am an idiot, I am also lazy and apparently I have not actually watched the show (news to me I can tell you, must have imagined those torturous hours). Moreover, I am dead-set, completely and obviously deliberately WRONG. Also, I am absolutely bonkers/off my rocker/insane. Finally, I am… wait for it… PATRIARCHAL… in my approach to deleting comments. Oh, oh and a male feminist (no, no they really do exist, like unicorns and fairies, don’t be so patriarchal) disagrees with me about all sex being rape. (I’m not sure where it is that I said that but if you find it, dear readers, let it be known that a unicorn ahem sorry, I mean a male feminist, disagrees with me.) So, dear readers, it has been put to me that the world really would be a better place if I offed myself. Unicorns would be free to roam, Whedons and Whedonites would be free to rape and daisies would sprout magically from the side-walk.

Too bad.

I can’t off myself, dear readers, because… 1) I am too stupid and I don’t know how; 2) I am too bonkers and I don’t know how; 3) I am too lazy and I can’t be fucked to find a knife; 4) I am patriarchal and we all know how much pleasure it gives men to kill us women, what right do I have to rob a man of the pleasure of killing me by offing myself?; 5) I am dazzled by all of these bright, beautiful unicorns. So sorry, my friends, you are all stuck with me until the day that a unicorn ahem sorry, male feminist, decides, out of the mercy and goodness of his heart, that my time in this world has come.

I am sorry to all of the unicorns out there, who are so oppressed by my words. But the show must go on. Let the aforementioned idiocy, lunacy, laziness, patriarchalness etc, etc be a warning to those whose reading ventures here. You enter a mad woman’s domain and you may not survive the encounter.

Umm… ok so now that is done with. Let’s get to the good part. Our Mrs. Reynolds is the sixth episode of the television series Firefly. This episode was written by the Great White Feminist himself, Joss Whedon. In this episode, Mal the captain of the ship finds out that he has married a woman when he finds a stowaway on his ship. The stowaway, whose name is Saffron, was traded to Mal as a gift because he helped the inhabitants of a planet to get rid of some bad guys.

The most disturbing reading of this particular episode is as an endorsement of male terrorism in the home. I’ll talk more about the potential for this reading in the second half of my analysis.

The first scene of the episode is set on a river. A loaded carriage is coming down the river, with what is apparently a man and a woman occupying the front seats, the man driving. A bad guy stops the carriage.

(pissed) …I think maybe you’re gonna give me a little one-on-one time with the Mrs. The Farmer lifts his head – it’s JAYNE, smiling.
You might wanna reconsider that last part. I married me a powerful ugly creature.

MAL looks up from under his bonnet, shocked.

How can you say that? How can you shame me in front of new people?
If I could make you prettier, I would.
You’re not the man I met a year ago.

So the ‘woman’ sitting by the driver of the carriage is actually Mal in drag. Shock, surprise, this is real funny shit huh, women? A man in drag, teeheehee. SO radical. And feminist, huh? What do you think, does Joss get a cookie?

Sigh. There has been loads of work done on the anti-feminism of drag and I can’t be bothered to rehash. Suffice to say Jayne gets away with spouting a whole bunch of sexist, looksist crap and it is ‘funny’ because he directs it at a man in drag. Not to mention, joking about rape. Drag is often used by men as a way of expressing woman-hatred and they dress it up as humour. Just a joke girls, now get over yourselves, right?


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.

So, Mal saves some colonists from the bad guys by killing them all while wearing a dress. Mal and the crew get back on the ship. As they take off, Mal surprises a stowaway, who tells him that she is his wife. Mal gets all panicky and calls Zoe.

Now, it is pretty obvious by this point that Saffron has been traded to Mal in exchange for his killing the bad guys. She is a wife in the sense of being a sexual and domestic slave. When Zoe is told that Saffron has been traded to Mal as a wife/slave she begins to laugh. She then calls the rest of the crew and invites them to join her in laughing at Mal’s newly acquired possession. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never met a Black woman who laughs about slavery. I can’t believe that any woman, Black or white would laugh at an incidence of men trading women. Where the hell does Joss Whedon do his research on women????? What women does Joss know that he can portray them like this????

Zoe, why do I have a wife?
You got a wife?
What’s she doing here?
All I got was that dumb-ass stick that sounds like it’s raining. How come you got a wife?
I didn’t. (to Saffron) We’re not married.
I’m sorry if I shame you…
You don’t shame me! Zoe, get Wash down here.
(hits comm) This is Zoe. We need all personnel in the cargo bay.
All — I said Wash!
Captain. everyone should have a chance to congratulate you on your day of bliss.
There’s no bliss! I don’t know this girl.
Then can I know her?
(tough) Jayne… (sensitive) Don’t sully this.

So, Saffron runs off crying because of how she is being treated. Mal goes after her. Now in the following scenes we see Mal being magically possessed by a unicorn. His transformation is astounding. In one second we see a man who screams at the female members of his crew and violently defends his position as alpha male, the next *pouf* a beautiful, gallant steed, shining white against the grey backdrop of the ship, spouting fine speeches while tossing his mane, nobly defending the Rights of the Fairer Sex. Watch.

Are you going to kill me?
What? What kind of crappy planet is that? Kill you?
In the maiden’s home, I heard talk of men who weren’t pleased with their brides, who…
Well I ain’t them. And don’t you ever stand for that sort of thing. Someone tries to kill you, you try to kill ’em right back. Wife or no, you’re no one’s property to be tossed aside. You got the ight same as anyone to live and to try to kill people. I mean, you know. People that are… That’s a dumb planet.

Ah Mal, Mal, Mal. So gallant, so kind, so noble. But just one question, Joss. Do you know what happens to women who defend themselves from violent men? Have you heard of Patreese Johnson, Renata Hill, Terraine Dandridge, Venice Brown, Dixie Shanahan, Yana Ladgari, Mary Winkler, Sherry Mariana, Marva Wallace? (This list is by no means exhaustive.) Women who defend themselves from men who are trying to kill them have their children taken away from them and are locked up. That is the stark reality of what equality means for women who live under male supremacy.

And just a tip Joss, from one writer to another. If you believe that women should kill men who try to kill them then, quite frankly, I agree with you. If you want to show your encouragement and support for women who defend themselves from men, then write a female character that kills a man who is trying to kill her AND GETS AWAY WITH IT.

Now, let’s see, do you actually show women getting away with being disloyal to men? We had Patience, a character in the first episode. How did she fare when she tried to cheat Mal? Hmm… let’s think. Oh, that’s right. You left her trapped under the carcass of a horse. Mmm. I just love that feminist empowerment, Joss.

Anyways, Saffron bonds nicely with the gallant unicorn version of Mal and skips off to make Mal some dinner like a good little wife. We then have a brief scene between Mal and Book.

She’s a nice girl.
Seems very anxious to please you.
That’s their way, I guess.
(bright, casual) I suppose so. If you take sexual advantage of her, you’re going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the
. (My emphasis.)

Now, that comment right there indicates to me that our dear Mr. Whedon is a porn user. And that it is highly likely that his pornography of choice is Hustler, given that he seems to think it funny to trivialise the sexual abuse of children. How many times has Joss wanked to our degradation in Hustler while chuckling away at Chester the Molester cartoons? I actually really want to know the answer to this question. Joss continues his race hatred by putting this ‘joke’ in the mouth of a Black man.

So, Saffron cooks Mal dinner and Mal eats while she stands by waiting on him, fetching refills etc. Does Mal use Saffron as a domestic slave because he enjoys being a slave owner? No, no. He uses Saffron in order to stop her from crying. Really, truly, it’s for her own good.

From this point on I almost want to just copy and paste the whole script. It is full of so much contempt I don’t feel like it even needs analysis.

Having yourself a little supper, Captain?
Well, Saffron insisted on… I didn’t want to make her feel… it’s damn tasty.

He can’t figure out who to be careful around – so he just starts shoveling it in.

Any more where that came from?
(downcast) I didn’t think to make enough for your friends. (to Zoe) But I’ve everything laid out if you’d like to cook for your husband…

Wash looks at Zoe for a microsecond of hope – her eyes narrow – and he laughs overcompensationally.

Ta-ha-ha– Isn’t she quaint? I’m just not hungry.

He sits, Zoe sitting as well. Her hilarious mood has abated. Saffron retires to the pantry.

White male husband wishing his black female wife was more submissive and cooked his dinner. Anyone else see a problem with this?

So, are you enjoying your own nubile little slave girl?
(mouth full) I’m not… nubile… (swallows) Look, she wanted to make me dinner. At least she’s not crying…
I might. Did she really make fresh bao? (off Zoe’s glare) Quaint!
Remember that sex we were planning to have ever again?

Black female wife being jealous of a woman she terms a ‘slave girl’. Anyone else see a problem with this?

After a brief scene with Inara, we come to a touching scene between Jayne and Mal, where Jayne offers to trade his favourite gun to Mal in exchange for ownership of Saffron. Mal once again transforms into a unicorn, delivering more impassioned speeches on The Rights of the Fairer Sex.

Six men came to kill me one time, and the best of them carried this. It’s a Callahan fullbore autolock, customized trigger and double cartridge thourough-gage. He holds it out to Mal.
JAYNE (cont’d)
It’s my very favorite gun.
The explosive diarrhea of an elephant, are you offering me a trade?
A trade? Hell, it’s theft! This is the best gun made by man, and its got extreme sentimental value! It’s miles more worthy’n what you got.
“What I got” – she has a name.
So does this! I call it Vera.

She’s not to be bought. Nor bartered, nor borrowed or lent. She’s a human woman, doesn’t know a damn thing about the world and needs our protection.

Here the audience is supposed to notice that there are two sorts of men in the world; good men: Mal, and bad men: Jayne. Me? I see two rapists. Only difference is that one is in a two-dollar-shop disguise as a unicorn.

Given that Mal nobly believes in protecting the female members on board his ship from the ravages of ‘the world’ (read: men), I find it hard to credit that he allows Jayne to stay on board his ship. In this scene Jayne talks of women as sexual and domestic property, obviously unaware that women are human beings. Men who think like this about women ARE DANGEROUS. If Mal did care about the protection of women, he would have spaced Jayne immediately, or at least locked the fucker up.

On another level, the trading of women and the naming of Phallic weapons, the sharing of homoerotic tales of male violence (Jayne’s story of how he acquired his gun), this is part of the larger romance of the show, the homoerotic, masculine connection between Mal and Jayne.

Here concludes the first half of my analysis of Our Mrs. Reynolds. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. Join me for the second installment where Saffron transforms from an innocent country girl into an evil, manipulative killer woman and Mal decides to burn his two-dollar-shop unicorn outfit.

Link to Part Two


The Whedonites Attack

March 26, 2008

A post I made ages ago A Rapist’s View of the World: Joss Whedon and Firefly has been linked to by a Joss Whedon fan site. I can’t figure out where the link is but any way it generated a lot of traffic and many funny comments. I’ve deleted most of them because they were mostly completely pointless attacks but this particular comment was so funny that I had to share.

Fuck you you assuredly ugly bull-dyke. Whedon has done more for women and equality than you ever could. He just stops at equality instead of extending it to the misandrystic matriarchy that you want. You’re just bitter because all the women you fall for leave you as soon as they realize that, despite your looks, you aren’t a man. It’s absurd to expect someone with a military background to not address the Captain as “sir.” I agree that Zeo did not get enough characterization, but it was a large ensemble cast that only lasted for 15 episodes. You can’t expect the entire cast to be completely characterized that fast. I actually can’t read the rest of this no matter how hard I try because I am rendered physically ill by your bigotry and logical fallacies. Go kill yourself and raise the average IQ of the globe substantially.

I feel quite flattered actually. I think I might put that description of myself on my about page. Assuredly ugly bull-dyke. I think it has a nice ring. It suits me.

Anyways, the wonderful interest that the post generated has got me in the mood for writing the second installment of my A Rapist’s View of the World. I’ve written half already and will probably get it finished by the end of the week. Watch this space.