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Archive for the ‘violence against women’ Category

#DearJohn: Speaking of Releasing Your Privacy to Prove Rape…

National Guard members smear green and black camo paint onto their faces.So, according to the language of H.R. 3, the only way that a person would be able to have an abortion covered by any insurance covered under the new plan would be to prove rape, or incest if that person is still a minor.

This isn’t all that different from one of the military exeptioneer clauses, just strip down the uniform and still require the person to pay out of pocket. The only perk being that the rape survivor would still get to stride into a military hospital and slap the money down on the counter and say “one fetal ejection, please”. Odds dictate if this is the winning sitch, however, this servicemember has had a road, and is not in the normal range of people for whom this usually happens.

According to a Guttmacher report, the burden of unplanned pregnancy falls hardest on junior enlisted women. A junior enlisted person with three years’ experience makes about $23,000. (note: either Guttmacher is including Basic Allowances, or they are referring to E-5 personnel, according to a 2010 pay table. This is not, according to some branches, considered “junior enlisted”, but the pay amount still holds true. This would be, for some branches, a Non-Commissioned Officer, someone who holds responsibility in military rank structure, but who is still lower in the food-chain than the people above them. They are junior NCOs learning to be leaders. My point is, military people don’t make oodles of cash.)

The cost for an abortion increases with time, and a procedure that may cost about $450 dollars at 10 weeks may cost upwards of a military woman’s entire year’s salary by 20. Time is, literally, essential.

What H.R. 3 and the current policy on military abortions have in common is that they are going to (and already do) require a person to disclose and prove rape was a factor.

A military rape survivor must give up her right to a Restricted Report, telling people that she was raped in order to “prove” rape. “Forcible rape”. Whatever that means. Because you just can’t go around killin’ babies unless it was really “rape” rape. And all this time, her mental health and ability to do her job is all being questioned, and you can’t have a pregnant woman in certain places, so once she tells her commander that she was raped and is now pregnant with that rapist’s baby, she will be punished by losing her job and possibly being shipped back to the U.S. or some other unit. Maybe. Or she will just be set aside until someone can figure out “what to do with her”.

The cohesion of the unit will be disrupted, a replacement will have to be found (it costs about $50,000 to train a standard recruit from the ground up, provided they are not a specialist, like, say, a linguist!), and if that person is on a ship, or in a war zone, then they will have to be air lifted out.

If all of that manages to not happen, and she talks her commander, who is usually male and not trained in handling issues of the “lady nature”, she will be forced to disclose personal medical information to him, she will have to tell him who raped her. He will have to believe her. She will have to tolerate seeing her rapist questioned, and her whole unit taking sides (because, believe me, people talk), and she will be ostracized, even if the commander has the best of intentions.

And, undoubtedly, unit cohesion will be disrupted, and she will be trucked off to another place, because ladyfolk, we just screw up that stuff with our open legs.

Maybe she will get the chance to pay for her own abortion in a military hospital, maybe not.

Or, she may choose to stay quiet about the whole thing, beg her commander for leave if she can be spared, and spend that whole year’s salary to travel somewhere that has looser abortion laws and hope she can afford it. Like, maybe Japan. Or maybe home to the States if she can manage to go to a state that has decent reproductive health laws.

But going to another country to procure your abortion puts your life at risk, because differences in culture, medical practices, all under language barriers could cause complications. Some women may be reluctant to ask for help or escorts, and may not have extra cash for translators.

She may even try to self abort instead, if she thinks she has no other options.

The policy as it stands humiliates servicewomen, by forcing them to give up dignity that they struggle to grasp to hold onto as survivors in a world where they are already treated like they don’t belong. It prevents them from maintaining privacy. It places undue burden on them financially, and adds stress to them when they should be focused on their jobs.

Doubly (or more) so if they are rape survivors trying to prove they were “really raped”.

H.R. 3 stands to do similar to civilian women living in the U.S. It stands to harm all of us, and urging congress to say “Not in my backyard!” could help us.

But don’t forget the rest of us. The 15% of the less than one percent of the nation who are serving in uniform.

A full range of medical services, up to and including abortion, allows military women to keep their reproductive choices private and safe, and between them and their medical professionals, allowing them to get back to work more quickly and safely. It allows them to choose to whom and when they report their rapes. It allows them to exist in their world free from the scrutiny of those who would not believe them about their sexual assaults and rapes. It saves the military money, which has always been a Conservative bottom line, hasn’t it?

Except, apparently, when they can stomp on women’s rights.

As pointed out in this NARAL Fact sheet (pdf), repealing the abortion ban under the Burris Amendment would have cost no extra taxpayer money but it was stripped away. Allowing TRICARE to cover abortions is the proper thing to do. All abortions would have been pre-paid in the hospitals, and all three branches already had existing refusal clauses for medical staff (who, by the way, are already trained in abortion procedures in order to save lives, so, no extra tax dollars there).

But not even allowing military women or military dependent to pay for their own abortions with their own money in military hospitals is cruel, absurd, and sends the strong message that women’s health doesn’t matter. And that the military would rather pay for more maternity care, up to and including 18 years of pediatric medicine for an unwanted child than a simple, safe, and legal procedure.

Civilian family members, who do not have restricted reporting options for sexual assault and rape would benefit from this also while living overseas, and if the military really believes that taking care of military families is a military priority, this is a part of that plan that must be implemented.

In order to prove that the new Congress cares about more than just stomping on women, the only proper thing to do is to strike down H.R. 3 and repeal the military abortion ban, fully.

Both plans hurt rape survivors. Both strip people of their dignity. Both are fiscally irresponsible. Both send a clear message that Congress is more interested in stripping people of dignity and making their lives more difficult than solving matters of financial hardship or health care iniquity.

Follow #DearJohn on Twitter.

Photo Credit: The National Guard

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How To Dress Up Misogyny In Fantasy Fiction

Something that was marked in the “loved” side of the Love-Hate  relationship I have with Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series (which, I don’t care what he says, is a fantasy fiction series, so there. If you didn’t want to write fantasy, you should have picked a different genre, setting, concept, whatever, for your pedantic preaching… I mean, you had a dragon who could speak, and a chicken which was an incarnation of evil) was the variety of characters that showed up throughout the course of the twelve books. Incidentally, it is the longest series I have ever read, and I almost quit in the middle of Faith of the Fallen, regardless of the fact that my favorite character was developed in that particular book.

One strike in the “hate” column, were it possible for me to keep up with the number of things I hated, is the way that Goodkind took incredibly interesting women characters and wrote them into incredible tropes whose sole purpose was to serve the whims of the principle protagonist, who might be the most annoying man I have ever read written into (fantasy) fiction, ever. And I have read some Star Wars fiction, and all of the Twilight books.

I am not sure if it annoyed me more or less that these women characters were from most perspectives, well, awesome. I fell in love with them on most fronts. The first of many, Kahlan, was undoubtedly one of the most unusual characters I’ve ever met in fiction. She was a matriarch of sorts over all of the Midlands with a rare and incredible power.

As a Confessor she commanded respect from everyone who crossed her path, or that was how things were intended to be. Until, that is, she met and fell in love with Richard Cypher, who turned out to be *spoilerspoilerspoiler* the heir to the Rahl line. A woman who is used to having kings and queens bow to her ultimate and unquestionable authority suddenly has her reign usurped by her fiancée and doesn’t seem to mind because she can still rule by his side. Once they are married.

In my mind it was fun to have this woman placed in a position of ultimate power only to have her toppled by the parties of men. Another Queen, who happens to be Kahlan’s sister by a coincidence, is also dethroned, then brutally raped and beaten until she literally goes insane by a group of misogynistic marauding men working for the Ultimate Evil Socialist Baddie (I am not kidding). The women who run the Palace of the Prophets, a group of powerful sorceresses who train young wizards, have their palace usurped and destroyed out from under them. This theme did not go unnoticed. /digression

Kahlan’s father taught her everything he knew about war and survival, and as a result she knew how to train young soldiers who were outnumbered greatly and spent more time leading armies than Richard — who was prophesied to lead the final battle against the great Socialist Evil. But love conquers all, right? When Richard decides that he must throw out the laws of the old Midlands and unite them under D’Hara (even though it doesn’t work), Kahlan, flinching momentarily, does anything she can to support Richard. Goodkind even goes to great pains to show her failing when she goes against Richard’s advice — even though it doesn’t make sense given her educational background, her personality, or the strength of her character and her power. One of the most absurd aspects of the story is that some of the greatest power she wields can only be invoked on behalf of Richard. And that particular point is never fully explained. I will never be able to fully explain all the ways that I loved Kahlan so much, and was so disappointed and frustrated at the same time with how her character was written.

I don’t know, though, if it measures up to the way that I became righteously indignant in behalf of Nicci. When Nicci was first introduced, I wasn’t aware that I would ever see Nicci again since she seemed to be an aside character, one of those cardboard cutouts who serve as a momentary evil tool of the devil Keeper of the Underworld. Then I was remotely aware that she would turn up again — the whole “I’m going to kill Richard” thing gave it away — but didn’t imagine that she would develop to the point that I would find her the most amazing person in the series. Hands down.

But.

Nicci spent the last third of the series being a martyr for Richard’s needs. Worrying about Richard’s health. What was best for Richard. Sleepless weeks studying ancient tomes because Richard doesn’t know squat about his own abilities, and Nicci has more than enough for three wizards and five sorceresses. In spite of Richard knowing exactly jack about being a wizard he magically is able to pull miraculous theory out of his arse so he can save Nicci’s life. Save. Her. Life. Because the most contrived plot points meant to show that Richard can do anything no matter how many times these incredibly educated women attempt to teach him anything, he instantly proves them wrong in the most amazing ways.

During the last third of the series, Nicci is constantly being shoved to Richard as a love interest, with whom she has fallen in love but is trying to keep that feeling buried, and she goes to great pains to help him in whatever way he needs because of this. She makes herself a sacrifice to Richard, and in the end, she is fulfilled because Richard is happy, even if it almost kills her in the process. She takes on heroic acts of selflessness because it doesn’t matter if she dies so long as the thing that makes Richard happy and successful comes to fruition. These things just don’t add up to her character development.

The Mord-Sith, Cara, who is sworn to Richard’s side is one of the most feared women in all the Midlands, known for the legendary torture that turns her into a weapon for the Lord Rahl. After Richard becomes the great hero who sets all Mord-Sith free, Cara chooses to be his personal guard. Now, Cara is badass, even as the lore created by Goodkind — who has no problem describing the torture and abuse of women as a plot device to show how horrible a bad guy can be — is as fascinating to me as it is triggering and problematic. Tougher than iron spikes and determined to show you that no man can scare her let alone better her at anything, the thanks Cara gets for throwing her life in front of danger for Richard’s protection is Richard’s insistence that she needs to be “more feminine”. Somehow her lack of desire to swaddle babies and feed squirrels makes her less feminine, because there is obviously only one definition. Cara is the stereotype of “strong female character” in that she is supposed to be the “anti-female” or something, but she is witty and clever and endearing, but there is a never-ending side-story to make her into a better, softer woman.

The series is rife with graphic descriptions of violence against women. Rape and gory death drawn out in great detail. A serial killer who rapes and strangles prostitutes to ensure that everyone knows that they are less than human. A man who cuts off the nipples of women to control them with magic. Rape scene after rape scene described to ensure you know just how evil someone is. Women reduced to sex slaves by the “bad guy”. Combined with subtle message after little detail that ensures you know that gender roles are expected not only in the Midlands, D’Hara, and all of the New World, but in the heart of the philosophy that is being pounded by the beaten horse in this Randian-lite crap, the utter contempt that Terry Goodkind has for women shines through in what would have been an incredibly enjoyable series.

And I’ve only scratched the surface. I’d have to go, book by book, to get more in-depth.

It baffles me the way that someone can write incredible women with depth and amazing attributes and still demonstrate a full-on hatred for them with the stories and plots written out for them. The way their lives unfold and the arcs stretch on, at times, made me weep with anger. To this day I can’t figure out how I can hate a series so much and enjoy it at the same time.

No Good Deed (Part II)…

Cordelia Chase, as portrayed by Charisma Carpenter, a pale woman with dark brown hair, standing on stairs holding a long, slightly curved sword.Angel seems to be a neverending arch of consequences and well-intended deeds that just can’t go unpunished. Angel is constantly making decisions that seem like the right thing to do at the time but always seems to turn up with another twist later. It’s probably a nice effect of that curse.

In “I Will Remember You” he fights a demon and becomes mortal. Everything seems to be hunky-dory and sex and ice cream until it turns out that he has been taken out of the fight for Good, and that Buffy will spend the rest of her (now shortened) life trying to protect him. He makes a choice (without consulting Buffy) to take the day back and trade in his mortality. The consequence is that Buffy loses that memory while he carries it. In “Hero” Doyle sacrifices himself to save a group of half demons, like himself, and with a final kiss, passes his only valuable possession on to Cordelia — his visions from The Powers That Be. Something he was never supposed to do, or so we are lead to believe. That point is still up for debate.

But have them Cordy does. And destroy her they almost do, but not quite. Doyle’s sneaky little transfer (because it was, in all regards, a violation of Cordelia’s autonomy to have them shoved on her) builds in Cordelia like a ticking time bomb, slowly killing her over time. Yet she holds on, and no one notices. Cordelia, prior to becoming a demon or a higher being, is strong without being supernatural. Eventually she is given a choice, and though we later discover that this choice is really a setup for the mass catastrophe that is going to be Season 4, Cordelia chooses Angel and his mission after seeing how it would destroy anyone else to have them. She chooses the visions that have been killing her, and asks to be made part demon so that she can keep them without them killing her. While this undermines the idea that a woman can be strong without being supernaturally imbued, we get to see Cordy being strong for Angel because she has grown as a person, emotionally, and physically.

The results of that choice, are something that can be discussed ad nauseam, and have been before. Cordy being hijacked is a point of contention with me, and I watch S4 just to get from S3 to S5. See s.e. smith’s posts about Cordelia for further explanation. My favorite character deserved to a better ending than that. And even though I have written about her before, I need to revisit this. I don’t want to go into this at length now.

Angel is forced to free a man, by Wolfram & Hart, in order to save Cordelia, and it turns out that he is pretty much misogyny personified.

Wesley’s choice to betray Angel and steal Connor opened the path for Connor to grow up on Qor’toth, and made him the angry and hurting person that he was. His entire life was a result of manipulation, first by ancient powers to create him, then by Holtz, then by Jasmine. Connor’s anger was the weight on one side of the fulcrum that convinced Angel to take the deal with Wolfram & Hart, eventually resulting in the alteration of everyone’s memories, and prolonging Cordelia’s life, allowing her time to come back to him in the 100th episode, “You’re Welcome”.

Faith, whose choices and consequences deserves a whole post of her own, makes some important choices on Angel that viewers of Buffy alone never really see, and that Buffy really neglects to give her credit for. Faith, with Angel’s help learns to take responsibility for her poorer choices in Sunnydale and is a model prisoner until she is attacked by someone paid to off her by those killing Potentials. When Wesley comes to her because Angelus is loose and the Beast is trying to provoke him into helping he and Cordelia-Goddess-Vessel, she makes the choice to bust out of the Pen and help. She uses a vampire drug to bait Angelus into drinking from her, knowing it could very well kill her, but hoping it will do what must be done. For the first time Faith goes all the way as a Slayer, and winds up as the Guide in Angelus’ dream sequence (or whatever). In the end, she stops Connor from dusting Angel after his soul has been put away, and she is able to return to Sunnydale with Willow for the Big Finish, a redeemable player.

When Fred first touched Jasmine’s blood she saw the Goddess who forced her way into the world for what she really was. Fred couldn’t stop until someone else saw what she saw. She needed Angel to see that their free will was being taken away. In the end, she enabled Team Angel to stop Jasmine from taking over the world by peaceful force. It wasn’t until Lilah showed up to reward them with the LA branch of Wolfram & Hart that she realized that what they had actually done was, indeed, as Lilah had said, traded World Peace for Free Will. That moment revealed in Fred’s character just how much she believed that what they were doing was right, and how much she believed that she was on the good side until she saw the consequence. It was the first time she doubted their mission.

The amulet given to Angel by Wolfram & Hart by Lilah, I believe, was indeed intended for Angel to wear in Sunnydale in the case that he didn’t choose to take their deal. The way that it captured Spike and tethered him to the firm demonstrated that they intended to have Angel one way or another. Angel gave the amulet to Buffy to use as she wished, to allow it to be worn by a champion. Buffy insisted that Angel leave, to be the second defense, just in case. She gave it Spike, who wore it proudly, but who, in doing so, was wrenched into a hell devised by W&H to hold onto the wearer. Instead of redemption it brought more work at the hands of the Senior Partners in their production.

Gunn’s brain modifications give him confidence that he really, IMO, didn’t need. Gunn was more than a hired brute, but the modifications made him feel like he was more than he had ever lived up to being, that he was giving more to the team than in the past. When they went away, he panicked, and allowed himself to be manipulated by the doctor into signing papers to help import his illegal artifacts. One of those was an ancient sarcophagus requisitioned by Knox, unbeknownst to Fred. When it ended up in her department, her innate curiosity got the best of her and Illyria was set loose upon her. Gunn set off a chain of events that allowed Knox to fulfill his plan to bring Illyria back in Fred’s body so he could worship them both together. I honestly believe that he death is what ultimately causes both Wesley and Gunn to be so saddened and able to allow themselves to die, Wesley in “Shall Not Fade Away”, and Gunn later in S8 in the comic, when he is changed to a vampire.

Perhaps another re-watch would reveal more overlapping themes. I actually enjoy catching the moments where the two shows arc into each other. The thought that there is often not a clear-cut Good or Bad choice, that many times what seems like the true path to doing the right thing could result in harm somewhere along the way, even if you never see the end result yourself.

No Good Deed (Part I)…

 

No Good Deed (Part I)…

 

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, a pale woman with blonde hair. She looks on with the beginning of a smile, as if a great weight has been lifted. A pale brunette woman (Eliza Dushku as Faith) is blurred in the background.

Final image from "Chosen", Season 7 and Series Finale

It happens to be that one of the thing that I adore about the shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel is that they have a knack for spinning out the long-lasting effects of the consequences of the actions of their characters. While Buffy certainly gets much credit for, if perhaps at some points too much, and Angel is not exactly drowning in, feminist messages, I think that the theme of visiting upon the importance of understanding that all actions, even actions taken under with the best of intentions, have long abiding consequences is an important one for anyone interested in social justice to understand. These consequences might not always be what we imagined or envisioned when we set out upon our mission, and they may not always be shiny, happy, results.

 

The concept that “No good deed goes unpunished” is certainly not lost on Whedon, or, it seems, any of the many writers who helped to bring these stories into fruition. We start as early as “Prophecy Girl” in S1 of Buffy, where Buffy herself, knowing full well that her prophesied fate was to meet the Master and die, embraced that destiny full on to avoid allowing anyone she had come to care about to have to go in for her. As noble as that was, the end result was an upset in the lineage of Slayers, awakening Kendra, a second Slayer, and changing the flow of the distribution of power. As Faith says at the end of S7, they were never meant to exist together in time, and perhaps that is why the dynamics between Faith and Buffy were always in a constant state of upheaval, even though in the end they were able to pull together and discover that they were able to work as a team after all.

In a similar vein, and following with the theme of “Buffy dies a lot”, bringing Buffy back from the dead in the beginning of S6 certainly had the best of intentions. After knowing one person who went to a hell dimension in a sacrifice to save the world (albeit, unwillingly), it wasn’t a far stretch for Willow to imagine that Buffy was in a similar predicament after her own sacrifice in “The Gift” at the end of S5. In an intended noble gesture, Buffy’s friends fiddle with dark powers they didn’t fully understand, wrenching Buffy back from what we later learn is Paradise where she was at peace. What they accomplish is the creation of a malevolent spirit who must destroy her to remain in the world, and, as we find out, awakening Buffy right where they left her — in her coffin under ground. Buffy as to dig herself out to a loud and harsh world where she thinks she is indeed in a hell dimension. Finally, in S7 we find out that this one act, intended to rescue a warrior from an untimely and unnatural death weakened the Slayer line enough to allow The First to act out and attempt to wipe it from time.

When Buffy and Willow, along with Faith and all the other Potentials decide to awaken all Slayer Potentials in order to give enough power to the Potentials in order to fight The First, they succeed in stopping it from succeeding. The idea is that the power of The Slayer should be shared, not doled out to one girl in each generation simply because a group of men generations ago were too weak to fight and resorted to horribly violating a girl. For a moment I am reminded that the violation of young women by men is about power, and in my mind, the power of a Slayer, in this series is intended, however well it is delivered, is about taking that power back. The speech Buffy gives in “Chosen” still makes me cry each time I watch it, because it has a lot of not-just-television relevance to it. But that act of incredible power, while allowing them to Save The World (again) had the consequence of giving Slayer powers to people who, due to circumstances beyond their control, were not capable of handling them, such as Dana.

Dana, we meet mid-season in S5 of Angel in “Damaged”, a very disturbing episode that I have written about before and should re-visit. She has been heavily abused by a serial killer as a child. This, in addition to the dreams and visions that potential Slayer experience throughout their lives, are presumed to have made her “insane”. When her Slayer potential is awakened by Willow’s spell, power that, arguably, she probably would never have received otherwise, she breaks out of the mental hospital where she is, and is unable to control her powers because of the way her mind is coping with that abuse. This episode is one of the most difficult for me to watch. But all the same, Buffy and Willow probably never envisioned a Slayer who was not ready to handle the powers given to her. I am not sure how I feel about the exploitation of an abused women with a disability to make this point. I strongly feel that Steven S. DeKnight and Drew Goddard could have perhaps found a better way to get this message across than continuing on with the Crazy Brunette meme, or perpetuating more harmful stereotypes about mental illness. But here it is, Dana, and this story of a woman who must now be forcibly sedated for her own good because of what Buffy and Willow did.

Tomorrow I hope to continue this discussion by analyzing instances on Angel where the consequences of their well-intentioned decisions went awry, but feel free to have at it in comments. I may be laggy in approving or responding to individual comments.

 

Liar

Anthony Stewart Head, as Rupert Giles, a pale British man in a suit, holding a syringe in front of his bespectacled face.One episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that perhaps has the hardest tug on the cockles of where my heart used to be, gentle readers, is Season 3’s “Helpless”. Perhaps I am just all maudlin right now, but there is a nice knapsack full of emotions which I think are worth exploring.

One of the most important principles I hold dear is honesty. It is the guiding principle of our home. It is certainly something I expect, though have often found myself not receiving from, my family members. I have fought to always provide it, even though frequently in my younger life the ability to lie convincingly became a survival skill. Funny how the things that help you often hurt you later in life.

Often times I have found myself on the wanting end of withheld information “for my own good”. You know, that tidbit that isn’t slid to you so that you weren’t distracted from exams or to ensure that you wouldn’t come running to the bedside of a sick relative. It is a fairly regular happenstance that someone will slip up and mention when Uncle So-and So was under anesthesia and had an allergic reaction to it casually in conversation when nattering on about something else that keeps me feeling good about being far from home.

I hate having information withheld from me. I hate it more when it is from people I love.

Even worse, are the times I know something is wrong. I can feel it. Everyone I know seems to be on eggshells. Papa seems tired more so than usual and hasn’t picked up The Kid for a hug today. The air crackle with fear as thick as morning fog on Whitefish Bay. Nothing is wrong and the pancakes are burned, but suddenly my grandfather comes home with a report of a heart that has been beating completely backwards in his chest for over seventy years and needs “corrective” surgery. And I didn’t know he had a surgery at all. No one wanted me to worry or distract me from my life. I suppose I should be grateful that none of these things has ever threatened my life directly, but it did threaten my chances of knowing that I might lose people who meant a great deal in forming me into the person I have become today.

Most of all it hurts when the people who lied to you are the people you trusted with the deepest parts of you.

“Helpless” sets us up for another fun year of celebrating Buffy’s natality (here’s a hint: they always turn out exactly as planned and no one ever dies *nod nod*). Buffy is excitedly discussing with anyone who will listen about the ice show her absent father takes her to every year. He must be more absent than I have come to expect, because I don’t remember him taking her to ice shows the last two years. Wev.

Any time she becomes excited about something it seems that Buffy becomes determined to redouble her Slayer Training efforts, and she begins studying the various uses of crystals and gems with their respective properties. Part of what I love about the show is the special relationship between Buffy and Giles, the one that proves that the influence of a father (not that it is necessary) can come from a place not of blood, but of love and intention and devotion. Through his work and commitment, Buffy has come to trust Giles, possibly more than any single person we see her interact with ever, with her life. When her father fails to come through, Buffy even tries to convince him that Ice Shows aren’t as cartoon-y as everyone thins they are, hoping to get him to take the hint. (If someone were free, they’d take their daughter, or student, or their Slayer…)

Over several scenes, we see that Buffy is a little off her game. To put it in Buffy’s terms, her game has left the country. She comes to Giles, scared, asking for help in figuring out why the thing she which she always thought she wanted to happen is now happening. But even she knows that this is something for concern, because Buffy puts her life in harm’s way every day, and her powers have become a lifeline. When Giles tap dances around this, when he skirts the issue, when he seems less concerned than Buffy, who verges on tears whenever she chances her voice to talk about it, we wonder how Giles can be so calm. We know he loves Buffy like his own kin.

Which is why when she is told to meditate upon a specific crystal during her studies, and we see Giles pull out a syringe to inject Buffy with some mysterious fluid while she is entranced in the flaw deep within, it is alarming indeed. Logical conclusions made through TeeVee magic tell us that he is the cause of this mojo that has afflicted Buffy. We, the viewer are let in on the deed that Giles has committed as we watch Buff struggle with what has been not only done to her, but withheld from her as well. Giles has been intentionally aloof, and now we know why.

The scenes at the Sunnydale Arms show us that, once again, our beloved Watchers’ Council is back in the action inflicting archaic testing and rites upon Buffy when they have spent most of her life “watching” from afar. When a slayer reaches her 18th birthday she is to be tested on her abilities without her…um, abilities, and they seem to feel that the best way to do this is to trick her, without giving her any clue what is happening to her. Sending a scared woman into a boarded up house with a supercharged vampire, in this case one who was turned as a patient from a psychiatric facility, and I am sure I don’t need to go into the deep issues packed up in Whedon’s decision to go that route (how it feeds a stereotype of how people with mental illness are all dangerous, how it exotifies mental hospitals and the people in them who are quite possibly and very likely not dangerous at all) so I am not going to, is rather messed up. Giving her any hint of the test before her invalidates it. And it has been done this way for centuries, so it must be the right way, nevermind, you, that it is rare for a slayer to reach her 18th birthday.

But Giles not only knew, he did this to her. And we watched with wide eyes as Buffy’s trust and autonomy were violated.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, a pale woman in a lavendar shirt and denim ovealls with blonde hair. She is in a dark room with plaster walls, covered in tiny Poloroid photos.Predictably, because this is television, like a good plot voucher, the vampire breaks free and kills one of his attendants, changing the rules up and eventually kidnapping Buffy’s mother, giving Giles the opportunity to slink out from between his rock and hard place. As honorable as it is that Giles finally fessed up to his actions, it was only after the colloquial shit hit the fan that he came clean, inciting Buffy’s ire, breaking her heart (If you touch me, I will kill you…), and imbuing her with enough righteous indignation to realize the talents she still possessed. Lest ye misunderstand: Buffy’s anger is what drove her, not Giles’ actions. Through no good deed of Giles did Buffy realize that she was still resourceful, but I believe through her own desperate inner searching. In fact, it is only after, in an odd moment of kindness, Cordelia has driven Buffy home and she realizes that her mother is gone, that she rises to the occasion.

I tell you, ex-con vamps must have a lot of cash to blow on Poloroids.

Long Episode Synopsis is Long.

Apart from the glaring truth that lying hurts and liars kind of suck (even though we all do it and we try not to), there are serious issues with violation of autonomy here, which might even me a more important rule to me than honesty, but really they are inextricably linked in many ways. The person who knows Buffy better than anyone in the whole world should have known what a clear violation of their relationship that was, how invaded her person would break that trust. In fact, he did know, and instead of fighting against protocol that he knew was wrong, he did it anyway. He allowed people detached from Buffy’s life to make calls and enforce rules upon her body, and then insist that he lie about it to her. Then, they wanted his aid in luring her into direct danger.

In the end Buffy learns the Important Lesson that she was meant to learn in that her powers are not everything and that she is clever and resourceful beyond her supernatural abilities, but, is it any wonder that Buffy’s mistrust of the Council is so vehement? And while her relationship with Giles does manage to mend, I am of a mind that it has more to do with TeeVee magic than actual good writing of the mind of a young woman whose whole world was violated to such a degree.

Eclipse: I Had To Blog It Sooner Or Later

I put it off as long as I could… and then I rolled up to Fast Food Establishment after a swim one day to get a veggie burger and LOW AND BEHOLD I had to drink my unsweetened effing tea with THIS FACE staring at me.

FOR SERIOUS YOU GUIZE!

He is all up on my cup!

For the number of times that we eat fast food (it is certainly Not Many), I don’t feel that I deserve this.

So, Eclipse has had it coming a long time now and I just needed a PRECIPITATING EVENT! Take THAT, Stuffy Neurologist!

*ahem*

So, Eclipse. I heard some rumor of a movie coming out or something?

When we last left our Hero and Heroine… (I CAN’T EVEN TYPE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!) Bella had just come back from almost Not Dying in a great big Not Conflict at the hands of the Pope Connection The Volturi or some shit. Bella must either be turned into a vampire or killed, so sayeth the Volturi. Alice, Edward and Bella were all allowed to walk away with little more than a promise to make that happen some time in the near future. I did that once, when I gave birth. They let me leave the hospital once I promised I would poop sometime the next day. I didn’t really know that was going to happen… In all fairness, Alice touched one of the Big Bads and allowed him to see all of her sooper seekrit thoughts (OK, I fucking love Alice, but her power is used all too conveniently, and then has these way too convenient blocks). She has shown him a future that she ain’t sharin’ with no one and I guess no one ever told Alice that Secrets Don’t Make Friends, which is a lesson we teach The Kid…

*heh-hem*

So they bounce. They get home. Charlie’s rightfully pissed off cuz his kid went skating around the globe and left her pup out in the rain all forlorn. But Jacob got the last laugh, you see. In a jealous fit he brought their secret motorcycles and plopped them down on Charlie’s lawn and got Bella good and grounded. More grounded. I’m not sure.

I told you Secrets Don’t Make Friends.

So Eclipse picks up right where New Moon left off… sort of.

Bella and Edward are back together and So! In! Love!, planning their future, only not planning the same future. They are filling out all the college applications, Bella planning on going as far away as possible, like, to Alaska to avoid the sun and make sure there is plenty of wildlife so she can soak in her new vampiness that she is planning on having and sticking to that vegetarian diet (there’s that word again!). Edward, however, keeps popping in with all of these great school applications for her, like Dartmouth, assuring her that she could easily get in (umm, my realism radar went off knowing the kind of portfolio you need for that kind of school, including attendance and extra curricular activities all of which Bella’s include 1) loving my Perfect White Marble Boyfriend 2) hallucinating about him when he is gone and 3) running off to another country to save his life when my death attempt didn’t work out. Not Ivy League last I checked.). He also seems to think that 1) Bella is going to easily give in to the idea of putting off aging past 18 for another year or two, since her priorities are so well on track as it is, and 2) that the Volturi are going to be reasoned with so easily for something like “Hey, Bella just needs to go to college as a human!”.

I am thinking it is No and No.

Also, if she agrees to marry him, he will make her a vampire, himself, at the moment of her choosing, no more fight (nooooo, that’s not manipulation!). Playing on Bella’s jumpiness about nuptials. Because he is still stringing this along, even though Bella has made her choice, even though the Volturi have said that it must be so or she must die, and even though Bella put it to Edward’s whole family for a vote, because it endangers their lives too. It was nigh unanimous, BTW, save Rosalie (who IS my favourite character, and will be discussed ad nauseam in a future post), and Rosalie has her reasons, and in the end, it isn’t really that she is against Bella at all, she is just all wistful and stuff b/c Bella has a functioning womb. Edward just doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about what anyone except what Edward wants, despite who it is putting in danger. And this rightly pisses me off about Edward because we can clearly see that he is the only holdout here (except Jacob, but Jacob is also being selfish).

But, as it turns out, Charlie has granted Bella a great reprieve to this eternal grounding she received.

She has to spend more time with her friends, more specifically Jacob, because she is spending, in his opinion, too much time with Edward.

I need to take a pause here and describe this magical thing that happened between New Moon and Eclipse.

Jacob has taken a mystical transformation. Not just from boy to werewolf, but from Nice Guy ™ to Douche Bag®.

In New Moon, Jacob was a supportive friend, if not a little whiny like I expect boys of his age to be (and girls too, I am an equal opportunity former education major). He was there to be Bella’s friend when her world came crashing down, and sure, he had FEEEEEELIIINGS for her, and let that be slightly known, and we all saw that she exploited those feelings a little more than slightly to her own selfish ends. But they had a friendship nonetheless, and despite it seeming that Bella can’t go five days without her dude to lean on, Jacob was a good friend to her. But she was selfish about it, and used it to keep her thoughts away from Edward, and to fill the gap where he was gone.

In fact, just when Bella was about to “settle” and thought that life with Jacob was better than life with no boyfriend at all, that was when Alice came swooping in to knock the plot back to normal, AMIRITE?

Now, once Jacob starts speaking to her again, he mocks her friends, which, even if you hate vampires, you should have the decency to respect that the person you claim as your best friend considers some of them near family and not insult them every chance you get. He comes to her school to menace Edward (don’t worry, Eddiekins is not saved from my eyebrow arching), and it is almost as if it is more fun to taunt Edward than be a friend to Bella at this time.

The culmination of all of this douche-tasticness is when Jacob has Had Enough of Bella’s wishy-washiness (which isn’t even real, because at no point ever in the books could any critical reader ever think that Bella is going to really leave Edward and wind up with Jacob. Ever.) and FORCES HIMSELF ON HER. He kisses her even though she tells him no. Even though she tries to stop him, and then she just gives up and lets it happen, hoping it will be over soon because she knows she can not stop him.

Let me give you a lesson kids: This is sexual assault. Any time someone does anything of a sexual nature that you do not want, it is sexual assault. If you say no or do not consent to it, it is sexual assault. This scene in the book disturbed me to no end. And if you think for a moment that Bella’s giving up and allowing it to happen somehow implies consent, well, you are R-O-N-G. Many victims of assault and rape will tell you that they reached a point where they just stopped fighting and let it happen, knowing that their assailant HAD MORE POWER OVER THEM AND THEY COULD NOT STOP IT.

Then Bella punches him and pretty much breaks her wrist. This is all funny Ha Ha to Jacob, because he got his rocks.

Even better still, when they get to Bella’s house, and Charlie, and by Charlie I mean Chief of Police Swan hears the story, he pretty much congratulates Jacob on his accomplishment and they all have a hearty laugh at Bella’s expense.

Great writing there, Stephenie Meyer!

For anyone wondering why I waste my time reading and writing about this stuff, this is exactly why, because I need to be able to know that this is what is being passed off in YA Lit as romantic. This is what she has created as the basis for “Team Jacob”.

But before anyone thinks that I have given Edward a pass, his overprotective hovering is enough to make me choke. His pissing match over “If I ever get her back in any less condition than I left her in” blah blah blah… Bell is a thing… something that had best be pristine before he puts the sparklepeen in it.

He dismantles her truck to keep her from visiting her friends on the reservation. He persuades Charlie to allow he and Bella to fly to Florida to visit Renee (remember her? Bella has a mother!) instead of letting her know that Victoria (Ms. Not Appearing in the Last Novel) was sighted and that her life was potentially in danger (though Jacob would have told her this). Even when Bella convinces him that she should be safe on the reservation with her friends, she is handed over like a child in a custody drop off in a case of bad-boy ping-pong.

We always see this narrative of Bella being passes from one man’s arms to the other. Again, and again, and again.

It never seems to end even when the Epic Battle We Never See happens and the rest of the cast of the book is fighting for their lives. Now three books into the series, I wonder, why is this still exciting and romantic? Why do more people not see how sad and pathetic this is? I was ecstatic when another mom at swim lessons told me that she had discussed some of these same themes with her ten year-old, who is also a mature reader, because young girls should be thinking about how “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” are not really healthy teams that have anyone’s best interest but their own in mind.

They see Bella as a porcelain doll to be kept neatly in a box and protected (and Edward actually kind of does that in the fourth book).

I have some more themes to discuss, but they need posts of their own, and this has gotten long. Consider this introductory.

I have discussed the racism in the series as a whole, but I need to discuss the racism in the relationship framing of Sam and Emily (and there is potential for a post on romantic relationships in YA Lit overall).

Also, I want to get a little more into the dynamics of Bella, the lack of “Team Bella“, and the place where the book actually passes the Bedchel test (I think, yes it does, briefly).

So, discuss. I will trash your favorite series more later. I may need to drag it off the shelf again, as apparently reading it three or so times eight months ago doesn’t have it fresh in my memory…

STOP STARING AT ME EDWARD!

Other “Twilight Saga” blogging…

Eclipse: I Had To Blog It Sooner Or Later

I put it off as long as I could… and then I rolled up to Fast Food Establishment after a swim one day to get a veggie burger and LOW AND BEHOLD I had to drink my unsweetened effing tea with THIS FACE staring at me.

FOR SERIOUS YOU GUIZE!

He is all up on my cup!

For the number of times that we eat fast food (it is certainly Not Many), I don’t feel that I deserve this.

So, Eclipse has had it coming a long time now and I just needed a PRECIPITATING EVENT! Take THAT, Stuffy Neurologist!

*ahem*

So, Eclipse. I heard some rumor of a movie coming out or something?

When we last left our Hero and Heroine… (I CAN’T EVEN TYPE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!) Bella had just come back from almost Not Dying in a great big Not Conflict at the hands of the Pope Connection The Volturi or some shit. Bella must either be turned into a vampire or killed, so sayeth the Volturi. Alice, Edward and Bella were all allowed to walk away with little more than a promise to make that happen some time in the near future. I did that once, when I gave birth. They let me leave the hospital once I promised I would poop sometime the next day. I didn’t really know that was going to happen… In all fairness, Alice touched one of the Big Bads and allowed him to see all of her sooper seekrit thoughts (OK, I fucking love Alice, but her power is used all too conveniently, and then has these way too convenient blocks). She has shown him a future that she ain’t sharin’ with no one and I guess no one ever told Alice that Secrets Don’t Make Friends, which is a lesson we teach The Kid…

*heh-hem*

So they bounce. They get home. Charlie’s rightfully pissed off cuz his kid went skating around the globe and left her pup out in the rain all forlorn. But Jacob got the last laugh, you see. In a jealous fit he brought their secret motorcycles and plopped them down on Charlie’s lawn and got Bella good and grounded. More grounded. I’m not sure.

I told you Secrets Don’t Make Friends.

So Eclipse picks up right where New Moon left off… sort of.

Bella and Edward are back together and So! In! Love!, planning their future, only not planning the same future. They are filling out all the college applications, Bella planning on going as far away as possible, like, to Alaska to avoid the sun and make sure there is plenty of wildlife so she can soak in her new vampiness that she is planning on having and sticking to that vegetarian diet (there’s that word again!). Edward, however, keeps popping in with all of these great school applications for her, like Dartmouth, assuring her that she could easily get in (umm, my realism radar went off knowing the kind of portfolio you need for that kind of school, including attendance and extra curricular activities all of which Bella’s include 1) loving my Perfect White Marble Boyfriend 2) hallucinating about him when he is gone and 3) running off to another country to save his life when my death attempt didn’t work out. Not Ivy League last I checked.). He also seems to think that 1) Bella is going to easily give in to the idea of putting off aging past 18 for another year or two, since her priorities are so well on track as it is, and 2) that the Volturi are going to be reasoned with so easily for something like “Hey, Bella just needs to go to college as a human!”.

I am thinking it is No and No.

Also, if she agrees to marry him, he will make her a vampire, himself, at the moment of her choosing, no more fight (nooooo, that’s not manipulation!). Playing on Bella’s jumpiness about nuptials. Because he is still stringing this along, even though Bella has made her choice, even though the Volturi have said that it must be so or she must die, and even though Bella put it to Edward’s whole family for a vote, because it endangers their lives too. It was nigh unanimous, BTW, save Rosalie (who IS my favourite character, and will be discussed ad nauseam in a future post), and Rosalie has her reasons, and in the end, it isn’t really that she is against Bella at all, she is just all wistful and stuff b/c Bella has a functioning womb. Edward just doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about what anyone except what Edward wants, despite who it is putting in danger. And this rightly pisses me off about Edward because we can clearly see that he is the only holdout here (except Jacob, but Jacob is also being selfish).

But, as it turns out, Charlie has granted Bella a great reprieve to this eternal grounding she received.

She has to spend more time with her friends, more specifically Jacob, because she is spending, in his opinion, too much time with Edward.

I need to take a pause here and describe this magical thing that happened between New Moon and Eclipse.

Jacob has taken a mystical transformation. Not just from boy to werewolf, but from Nice Guy ™ to Douche Bag®.

In New Moon, Jacob was a supportive friend, if not a little whiny like I expect boys of his age to be (and girls too, I am an equal opportunity former education major). He was there to be Bella’s friend when her world came crashing down, and sure, he had FEEEEEELIIINGS for her, and let that be slightly known, and we all saw that she exploited those feelings a little more than slightly to her own selfish ends. But they had a friendship nonetheless, and despite it seeming that Bella can’t go five days without her dude to lean on, Jacob was a good friend to her. But she was selfish about it, and used it to keep her thoughts away from Edward, and to fill the gap where he was gone.

In fact, just when Bella was about to “settle” and thought that life with Jacob was better than life with no boyfriend at all, that was when Alice came swooping in to knock the plot back to normal, AMIRITE?

Now, once Jacob starts speaking to her again, he mocks her friends, which, even if you hate vampires, you should have the decency to respect that the person you claim as your best friend considers some of them near family and not insult them every chance you get. He comes to her school to menace Edward (don’t worry, Eddiekins is not saved from my eyebrow arching), and it is almost as if it is more fun to taunt Edward than be a friend to Bella at this time.

The culmination of all of this douche-tasticness is when Jacob has Had Enough of Bella’s wishy-washiness (which isn’t even real, because at no point ever in the books could any critical reader ever think that Bella is going to really leave Edward and wind up with Jacob. Ever.) and FORCES HIMSELF ON HER. He kisses her even though she tells him no. Even though she tries to stop him, and then she just gives up and lets it happen, hoping it will be over soon because she knows she can not stop him.

Let me give you a lesson kids: This is sexual assault. Any time someone does anything of a sexual nature that you do not want, it is sexual assault. If you say no or do not consent to it, it is sexual assault. This scene in the book disturbed me to no end. And if you think for a moment that Bella’s giving up and allowing it to happen somehow implies consent, well, you are R-O-N-G. Many victims of assault and rape will tell you that they reached a point where they just stopped fighting and let it happen, knowing that their assailant HAD MORE POWER OVER THEM AND THEY COULD NOT STOP IT.

Then Bella punches him and pretty much breaks her wrist. This is all funny Ha Ha to Jacob, because he got his rocks.

Even better still, when they get to Bella’s house, and Charlie, and by Charlie I mean Chief of Police Swan hears the story, he pretty much congratulates Jacob on his accomplishment and they all have a hearty laugh at Bella’s expense.

Great writing there, Stephenie Meyer!

For anyone wondering why I waste my time reading and writing about this stuff, this is exactly why, because I need to be able to know that this is what is being passed off in YA Lit as romantic. This is what she has created as the basis for “Team Jacob”.

But before anyone thinks that I have given Edward a pass, his overprotective hovering is enough to make me choke. His pissing match over “If I ever get her back in any less condition than I left her in” blah blah blah… Bell is a thing… something that had best be pristine before he puts the sparklepeen in it.

He dismantles her truck to keep her from visiting her friends on the reservation. He persuades Charlie to allow he and Bella to fly to Florida to visit Renee (remember her? Bella has a mother!) instead of letting her know that Victoria (Ms. Not Appearing in the Last Novel) was sighted and that her life was potentially in danger (though Jacob would have told her this). Even when Bella convinces him that she should be safe on the reservation with her friends, she is handed over like a child in a custody drop off in a case of bad-boy ping-pong.

We always see this narrative of Bella being passes from one man’s arms to the other. Again, and again, and again.

It never seems to end even when the Epic Battle We Never See happens and the rest of the cast of the book is fighting for their lives. Now three books into the series, I wonder, why is this still exciting and romantic? Why do more people not see how sad and pathetic this is? I was ecstatic when another mom at swim lessons told me that she had discussed some of these same themes with her ten year-old, who is also a mature reader, because young girls should be thinking about how “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” are not really healthy teams that have anyone’s best interest but their own in mind.

They see Bella as a porcelain doll to be kept neatly in a box and protected (and Edward actually kind of does that in the fourth book).

I have some more themes to discuss, but they need posts of their own, and this has gotten long. Consider this introductory.

I have discussed the racism in the series as a whole, but I need to discuss the racism in the relationship framing of Sam and Emily (and there is potential for a post on romantic relationships in YA Lit overall).

Also, I want to get a little more into the dynamics of Bella, the lack of “Team Bella“, and the place where the book actually passes the Bedchel test (I think, yes it does, briefly).

So, discuss. I will trash your favorite series more later. I may need to drag it off the shelf again, as apparently reading it three or so times eight months ago doesn’t have it fresh in my memory…

STOP STARING AT ME EDWARD!

Other “Twilight Saga” blogging…

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