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Another reason to love Joss Whedon

20 May, 2007

Another Reason to Love Joss Whedon

Via a friend on LJ:

Joss wants to know what is wrong with women.
This is in the context of an honor killing that was filmed and is available via CNN. And an upcoming film about the kidnapping and torture of a young woman. He asks:

What is wrong with women?

I mean wrong. Physically. Spiritually. Something unnatural, something destructive, something that needs to be corrected.

How did more than half the people in the world come out incorrectly? I have spent a good part of my life trying to do that math, and I’m no closer to a viable equation. And I have yet to find a culture that doesn’t buy into it. Women’s inferiority – in fact, their malevolence — is as ingrained in American popular culture as it is anywhere they’re sporting burkhas. I find it in movies, I hear it in the jokes of colleagues, I see it plastered on billboards, and not just the ones for horror movies. Women are weak. Women are manipulative. Women are somehow morally unfinished. (Objectification: another tangential rant avoided.) And the logical extension of this line of thinking is that women are, at the very least, expendable.

I try to think how we got here. The theory I developed in college (shared by many I’m sure) is one I have yet to beat: Womb Envy. Biology: women are generally smaller and weaker than men. But they’re also much tougher. Put simply, men are strong enough to overpower a woman and propagate. Women are tough enough to have and nurture children, with or without the aid of a man. Oh, and they’ve also got the equipment to do that, to be part of the life cycle, to create and bond in a way no man ever really will. Somewhere a long time ago a bunch of men got together and said, “If all we do is hunt and gather, let’s make hunting and gathering the awesomest achievement, and let’s make childbirth kinda weak and shameful.” It’s a rather silly simplification, but I believe on a mass, unconscious level, it’s entirely true. How else to explain the fact that cultures who would die to eradicate each other have always agreed on one issue? That every popular religion puts restrictions on women’s behavior that are practically untenable? That the act of being a free, attractive, self-assertive woman is punishable by torture and death? In the case of this upcoming torture-porn, fictional. In the case of Dua Khalil, mundanely, unthinkably real. And both available for your viewing pleasure.

The whole thing is worth reading. I know, he’s pretty much preaching to the choir, if his readers are like mine. And this is pretty much the subtext of BtVS. But it never hurts to remind people. Again.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 May, 2007 5:18 pm

    I’d say I agree with this, but with an addition: I think a big part of it is that men hate not being in control, especially of their own bodies, but they have one body part that has a mind of its own. Beginning at puberty, their penises react whether they want them to or not, and since they react to even the idea of, much less the sight of, women and women’s bodies, in most cultures women are blamed for being sexual temptresses. In other words, it’s the fault of women that men can’t control their penises. And they are supposedly the rational sex!

  2. 20 May, 2007 5:39 pm

    Well, Women are no more in control of their own bodies. We have to deal with wonky reproductive systems, and many of us have clear physical reactions when we’re attracted to someone, so I’m not sure how well that argument holds up, unless we accept the premise that men are trained that it’s bad to have erections unless they want them.

  3. 20 May, 2007 7:53 pm

    I’m inclined to think that it’s the Ur-case of identifying (and then demonizing and envying) an Other.Who’s the first writer to talk about that, anyway? Schiller and Kant are the earliest I can think of, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Augustine or Plotinus had pondered the question somewhere.

  4. 21 May, 2007 1:50 am

    I don’t know — I think it’s pretty well ingrained in Augustine, so much that I’m not sure he considered it. But then I’m lazy about Augusting. OTOH, maybe Origen?

  5. 21 May, 2007 7:02 pm

    Ah, Joss, I do so love him!

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