facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
[personal profile] facetofcathy
This is not a review of SPN 6.6.  This is me rambling about a J2 story and how it relates to this episode.  J2 story remains unnamed to protect the guilty and the innocent. 

So a few days ago I was reading a J2 AU fic. I wasn't looking for much, just a diversion, and it had a plot identical to one I'd read before, not something you can afford to be put off by in J2 fandom.  It also had a lot of women in it, of various types, narrowly defined by the context of the story which was still celebrity focused. 

It had some technical issues as a story.  It could have been edited to half the length without missing anything and it used a lot of internal monologue of the POV character (Jensen) in a passive way that made the story feel like it happened in the blank white space in his head, not a real world.  But it also had some almost sly and very cogent digs at celebrity culture, fannish culture and Our Modern World®. 

It also had, relentlessly, Jensen making judgments about all the women that added up to policing of their sexuality, sexual expression, gender presentation and physical shape and size.  All this was politely phrased, even inside his head Jensen never called anyone a slut in so many words.  But he does think athletic women are mannish and strippers are whores and having big breasts is better than small, but not if you show too much of them.  And it goes on and on. 

In fact the story has this rhythm where you get:

Jensen is insecure
Jensen worries his friend will mock him
Jensen judges women (and very occasionally men who don't present as masculine as Jared)
Jensen is physically attracted to Jared to the point that it makes him insecure

No need to rinse--just keep that loop on repeat.

Now, I had my delicious bookmark written in my head before I even bailed on this story and it was snarky and blunt and had a few jokes in it about how Jensen spends so much time policing women's behaviour this should have been labeled as a cop!AU.  Then I thought about that rhythm and how relentless a cycle it was.  I stopped being able to pretend that the voice I was hearing was really Jensen's.  I lost all suspension of disbelief, and I felt like I was reading a transcription of the voices the author hears all the damn time.  The voices that tell her she will never measure up, no matter what.

And then I watched the new episode of SPN, You Can't Handle the Truth, and I got to see a few more examples of women who hear that chorus of disapproval and judgment from without and within all the damn time.  They got used as mere plot devices of course, there's no narrative concern for them or the hell of a world they inhabit.  This episode upped the ante a little and made the men in the show irredeemable asshats who actually do go around judging and objectifying every woman they see, rather than, you know, worrying about their bills or that funny noise the car makes like in the reality-based world we are presumably meant to be escaping by watching this show.

This was actually not a bad episode taken in total, but all of the relentless women are worthless or just their breasts or sexually exploitable or attention whores or what the fuck ever--none of that really had anything to do with the damn plot.  Bobby had fun truths to tell, humanizing truths; everyone else lives in a sick and diseased world of misery and pain.  I agree with [personal profile] musesfool  who thinks that the show can be interpreted through a noir lens in season 6, but the way they are choosing to show the corruption of humanity is revealing of some infection of the authors themselves, not just setting a tone.

This episode was written (partly, in the way these things work) by a woman.  Just like that J2 story was. 

I don't want to judge Nicole Snyder and her career choices.  She's working in a system of such entrenched ideological grotesqueness that I can't even begin to imagine what that's like.  I don't know what to say to Nicole or to Sera Gamble who seems to be presenting the television industry with a resume of the ways she too can be one of the boys with one horrid stereotypical woman after another.  It's not their job to save the television industry from itself.

I don't even know what to say to that J2 author, because the only thing I can think of is to say dammit, you do measure up, no matter how you look, act or feel.  But that sounds patronising as all shit. 

I didn't finish your story.  I hope someday you read it again from a place where you can see what it says.  Yes, dammit, you do measure up, no matter what.

Date: 2010-10-31 04:47 pm (UTC)
noracharles: (Default)
From: [personal profile] noracharles
It's a shame you didn't finish reading the fic, because then you missed the scene where Jensen and Jared roleplay Jensen's favorite scene from that one movie, you know the one he jerks off to all the time, where the romantic heroine apologizes to the romantic hero for having a sexuality, and expresses her shame and how her father would disapprove, but then the hero tells her that it's okay that she has a sexuality as long as she keeps it secret! ♥ *swoon*

I don't know what to say. You're right, I agree, but at the same time I laughed all the way through that fic, and I look forward to the final chapter. A callous part of me keeps saying "well, then stop hitting yourself" to women like that. Not very far removed from chanting "bootstraps, bootstraps, bootstraps", I know :-/

Date: 2010-10-31 06:35 pm (UTC)
noracharles: (Default)
From: [personal profile] noracharles
I'm glad I didn't too thinly disguise the fic in question!

Ha! :-D

I know. Sometimes I have sympathy, and sometimes I'm too tired and fed-up to feel any. I have intellectual sympathy, at least enough to not attack women like that directly and berate them for being victims of the patriarchy. But here I am punishing them indirectly with my scorn.

Date: 2010-11-11 06:57 pm (UTC)
zillah975: Painting of my Night Elf, Tyrnathera Stormcaller (Default)
From: [personal profile] zillah975
But here I am punishing them indirectly with my scorn.

Well, you're not really punishing them, since they're not aware of it. At least for myself, though, I find that feeling scorn for someone typically makes me feel worse than feeling sympathy for them does, especially if I feel that there's something there worth sympathizing with.

Date: 2010-11-11 07:37 pm (UTC)
noracharles: (Default)
From: [personal profile] noracharles
I'm not out to punish anyone, but I did state my feelings about their behavior and attitudes in public. I'd be surprised if none of the women reading this have ever had self-destructive thoughts where they've held themselves up against an impossible, gendered ideal, or judged other women according to that ideal.

Perhaps my hyperbole read a bit too literally for you. That's the danger of communicating in writing :-)
I can still love and respect a person even if I disagree with some of her ingrained attitudes, for the record.

I was exaggerating a bit, because I find it problematical when feminists police women according to their value for "the cause". I've read some extreme and aggressive opinions about Katy Perry that have sickened me, and I don't ever want to go there.

Date: 2010-11-01 01:16 am (UTC)
torachan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] torachan
Wow, that fic sounds really horrible, but when you put it that way, it is kind of understandable.

Date: 2010-11-01 01:47 am (UTC)
torachan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] torachan
Yeah, I don't feel it excuses the fic.

Date: 2010-11-11 03:16 pm (UTC)
gozer: I made this! (Default)
From: [personal profile] gozer
Here via a rec by [personal profile] torachan -- I see this in fic a lot, and it's not just something that pops up in SP fandom.

I was in the middle of reading a really fascinating "Avatar: The Last Airbender" fic; it was written much as Ces' "Written By The Victors" (SGA) is written, as if historians are writing essays about what happened to the characters after the last episode. So each chapter is a little historical narrative, really cool and authentic-sounding, and as I go from chapter to chapter, I slowly realize that the women are being written out of history. The writer minimized what they'd done on the show itself and then relegated these incredibly powerful female characters to "and then they stayed home and baked cookies for the kids" status, or she killed them off young. And I honestly don't think she did it as a comment on historians, the way they actually *do* minimize the actions of women in history, though it was a textbook case. She got a metric ton of comments, everybody praising her excellently-written story, nobody picking up on what she'd done to the female characters. I had to stop reading about 2/3 of the way through and close the tab in disgust. Now I can't find the stupid story, and I want to write an essay on it much like this one.

Date: 2010-11-11 06:57 pm (UTC)
zillah975: Painting of my Night Elf, Tyrnathera Stormcaller (Default)
From: [personal profile] zillah975
This is a very cogent post, and I'm glad you made it.
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