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March 19 2009

GeekU: Joss Whedon - Feminist? "This week the GeekU crew ask the burning question, "Is Joss Whedon really a feminist?"". ETA: Joss weighs in on the Shoe Scandal of '09! And feminism!

Holy crap. Cry havok and let slip the fanboys of war. If they don't come down on the "right" side of that argument the ol' interwebs will break in half

This oughtta be good...

[ edited by Haunt on 2009-03-19 05:14 ]
It doesn't even sound like these people have *watched* Dollhouse. I don't understand.
Hi, Haunt! One of them questions Joss' feminism by saying, well, he writes strong female characters, but they're all miserable, so what does that say about the strong women in his life? No. 1, his male characters also can be pretty miserable and No. 2, Joss has said that he identifies with women and women who are outsiders and struggling.
Good point Suzie...plus 3. They are human beings...human beings often suffer. It's like a thing we do.

ETA: Wow...I couldn't even listen to the whole thing.

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-03-19 07:22 ]
As usual the "critics" mixes up writing a feminist ideal world with writing a TV-show that has human and interesting characters.

In the pod they points out that Xander is the best balanced and "normal" character, which is so true. But having an entire show full of ordinary, petty characters who are not miserable or get into extraordinary circumstances... would be incredibly boring.
As Suzie writes: he writes strong female characters, but they're all miserable, so what does that say about the strong women in his life?
The people of this podcast doesnít seem to realise that they probably were strong, sometimes probably miserable, but also quite normal, thus making rather bad TV if one were to transfer them without adding some epic-ness to the mix.

They also complains about Joss's standard settings: the loss of innocence, the sudden death of the innocent bystander, the lone brooding/whining leader, the sudden death of a loved one, the grinding monotony of everyday life and so on, saying that he should do something new.

The thing is, these subjects are at the core of human existence and have been at the centre of storytelling and myths since the dawn of time. Perhaps Joss is a tad predicable these days. But as he him self says, its the things that really matters he focuses on. On whatís important when you strip away all the nonsense that cloud our everyday lifes. And if you do that, this is what remains. I for one appreciate the lack of nonsense and shallowness in Joss's shows.
I just donít think some people can grasp the concept of ĎDollhouse.í I donít know how many comments Iíve seen on places like LJ and websites reviewing Dollhouse lately, with people bagging the show whilst admitting they havenít even watched an episode of it. I really have little patience for criticising something they've never even seen! How can you make an informed opinion when youíre not... informed?

I donít think people get that one way of showing an empowered woman is to have her oppressed and used before rising up and conquering that. People donít seem to want to see that, they want a woman empowered from the very start who is never compromised, never oppressed and is always perfect.

Sometimes to tackle these issues you actually have to confront them. The impression Iím getting is some fans just want them swept under the rug and never brought to the forefront at all. They say "it sounds icky and gross" not realising *that's the point.* It's not meant to be a walk in the park.

Still also confused as to why thereís so much focus on the *female* dolls but they all seem to be forgetting itís the same for the male dolls as well. Funny that!

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-03-19 09:31 ]

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-03-19 09:51 ]
I had a hard time hearing a lot of the podcast but they did seem to talk more about general themes in his work rather than things relating to feminism per se, which is a bit disappointing as I think its a good discussion topic.

I've gotta say I don't think Joss' work is massively radical, it's all pretty heteronormative and unchallenging towards gender and sexuality the majority of the time. I enjoyed BtVS when there was conflict between Riley and Buffy because of Riley's very masculine gender, but I struggle to think of any other times when this has really happened. For a show like Angel or Dollhouse or Dr. Horrible I really don't see much in the portrayal of gender or sexuality that is different to most other tv shows.

Plus the fact that Amy Acker is toddling round in high heels when she's a fricking Dollhouse doctor pisses me off. I mean seriously, I get that there are costume departments who do this stuff but surely Joss has a hand in stuff like that? What doctor would ever think it's practical to wear those heels at work? Oh I know, not a real one, just a tv one that is there more for how she looks than her brains. Smashing the patriarchy one stereotype at a time Joss.
Still also confused as to why thereís so much focus on the *female* dolls but they all seem to be forgetting itís the same for the male dolls as well. Funny that!

Because there is no tradition of exploiting and objectifying men's bodies in entertainment. On individual level you can have James Marsters being uncomfortable with the amount of nudity he had to do on BtVS and Eliza Dushku being perfectly comfortable with the T&A promotion of Dollhouse, but that doesn't change the fact that on a societal level, women are almost without exception presented as 'eye-candy' in entertainment.

For me, the problem with Dollhouse's 'feminism' is then that it's all tell and no show. I am being told in interviews and by fans that DH criticises the objectification and exploitation of women, but what I'm actually being shown by the episodes themselves is the same titillating sexy-young-woman-being-victimised entertainment that I already get from every other show on tv. Maybe this is so that some future plot development will catch viewers with their pants around their ankles, or maybe it's just because having sexy nekkid wimmin on your show makes money.

I'm not saying that Joss isn't a feminist, because he is, but that doesn't mean that he cannot sometimes be blinded by his male priviledge.
I am so sick of the incredibly tired argument that Joss isn't really a feminist because .... well actually, Satai said most everything I was thinking.

And what's the thing about "gay relationship, someone's mother dies, same thing in Angel and Firefly"?? Did I watch the same shows?
I have to admit, I stopped listening before they got around to any serious discussion of Dr. Horrible or Dollhouse, (if they did,) it was just so obvious they were fitting the material into pre-conceived conclusions, so why bother?

Bah humbug. If there had some genuine points to make or some thoughtful criticism, it would be one thing. But there didn't even seem to be that much familiarity with the body of work.
Maybe this is so that some future plot development will catch viewers with their pants around their ankles, or maybe it's just because having sexy nekkid wimmin on your show makes money.

Wonder if/hope it's more subtle than that personally. I think the show is treading on very "dangerous" ground for a feminist to tread on (especially a male feminist since he has absolutely no defence against the "male privilege" so-called argument - if he doesn't toe the party line it's never going to be because he's questioning something, always because he just doesn't quite get it, what with being a man and all) since it seems to be talking about the extent to which women are complicit in their own objectification/exploitation (Jordan vs Rayna was the most explicit about this).

Plus the fact that Amy Acker is toddling round in high heels when she's a fricking Dollhouse doctor pisses me off.

Can't say i've noticed Amy's shoes but maybe Saunders likes how they make her arse look ? Maybe her scars make her self-conscious about her femininity so that she tries to reinforce it in other ways (so it's then asking "what is femininity ?") ? This is maybe the aspect of certain kinds of feminism that bothers me the most, this idea that any time a woman says, does or wears something that's not purely about comfort or practicality it must be because the "patriarchy made her do it", as if women aren't just pressured into certain things but basically have no volition whatsoever, no decision making capacity at all, no hopes, desires or motives separate from those they're "meant" to have. As if, in short, all women are "blank slate" Echo.

Or maybe not, maybe it's purely a costume thing and maybe it is out of character and just part of how the "Hollywood machine" treats actresses. It just sort of irks me when it's presented as if there's no question whatsoever about it, that it must just be a sign of the repression of women.

Still also confused as to why thereís so much focus on the *female* dolls but they all seem to be forgetting itís the same for the male dolls as well. Funny that!

In that regard, I must admit i'd really like to see a male doll in the same situation just because it'd silence those criticisms. We viewers (if we're attentive) all "know" it's the same for male dolls but most people don't really believe something until they see it.

That said, if we see female dolls being exploited in 11 of the 13 episodes and males in only 2, that would probably still be a realistic depiction of the relative extent of the problem in the real world for men as opposed to women i.e. in reality, though society does exploit men and force men into roles they may prefer not to fill, it happens far more often to women. And maybe the show should reflect that.
This is maybe the aspect of certain kinds of feminism that bothers me the most, this idea that any time a woman says, does or wears something that's not purely about comfort or practicality it must be because the "patriarchy made her do it"

Saje, your argument doesn't work because Dr. Saunders isn't a real woman. If she wears high-heeled shoes, it is because someone made her do it.

And people would not complain about this, if it wasn't for the fact that nine times out of ten women in Hollywood entertainment are dressed to please the (male) viewers. In reality, a woman in her position would likely wear comfortable shoes but in Hollywood-land she wears high heels because in tv women must look sexy.
Right. But the show couldn't be questioning that ?

Saje, your argument doesn't work because Dr. Saunders isn't a real woman.

Ms Acker is going to approach it as if she is though and my argument also applies to her who, last time I checked, was a real woman i.e. do we know that she was just told what to wear and given no choice ? Behind the scenes stuff i've watched indicates that costuming is at least sometimes a collaboration between the actor (based on what feels appropriate for the character), the wardrobe department and the producer(s).

So, respectfully, you don't know, you're assuming it based on typical behaviour when we do know that Joss doesn't exhibit typical behaviour. In other words, as soon as he doesn't conform to our idea of what a feminist should allow it's because he's sold-out or whatever when i'm just saying that doesn't need to be the case.
ruuger-

Because there is no tradition of exploiting and objectifying men's bodies in entertainment.

So what would you suggest instead? Rather than show both men and women being sexually exploited he should only show men to even the score? An up yours to men everywhere and payback for women?

Either way you cut it, it's hypocritical to have no problem with sexually exploiting men if you have a problem when they do it to women. Thatís not equality. If I believed Joss was happy to do it with men and not to women I'd have quit watching his shows. I don't want to see either men or women sexually exploited for the titillation of viewers thankyou very much!

On individual level you can have James Marsters being uncomfortable with the amount of nudity he had to do on BtVS and Eliza Dushku being perfectly comfortable with the T&A promotion of Dollhouse, but that doesn't change the fact that on a societal level, women are almost without exception presented as 'eye-candy' in entertainment.

Anyone who watches ĎDollhouseí must clearly see that Eliza isnít simply Ďeye-candy.í Itís rather frustrating, itís painfully obvious this is going somewhere and that this isnít meant to be viewed as a good thing.

For me, the problem with Dollhouse's 'feminism' is then that it's all tell and no show. I am being told in interviews and by fans that DH criticises the objectification and exploitation of women, but what I'm actually being shown by the episodes themselves is the same titillating sexy-young-woman-being-victimised entertainment that I already get from every other show on tv.

When did this happen exactly? When under the imprint of Eleanor Penn she finally got a chance to stand up to the man who sexually assaulted her as child and face her demons? When she fought back against Richard in the forest and turned the game on him? When in her vulnerable state she saved the wounded man from the vault and declared ďshe wasnít brokenĒ? or when she defied preacher man and saved everybodyís life from the fire? Every single episode she has been portrayed in one form or another as a strong woman, a capable woman. Echo herself has been described by Boyd, Claire and even Adele as particularly smart and gifted.

And they have made it clear that this isnít right, how many times as Boyd raised ethical questions concerning the Dollhouse or shown his discomfort at what they do? Or what about Paul in the first episode ĎEchoí when he declares how wrong it is and how itís as bad as murder?

Maybe this is so that some future plot development will catch viewers with their pants around their ankles, or maybe it's just because having sexy nekkid wimmin on your show makes money.

Eliza is a sexy woman, itís hardly a crime to demonstrate this. If thatís all they were showing Iíd see your point but I think theyíve done a pretty good job at showing otherwise.

What I donít understand is why so many people fault Eliza for ďflaunting it.Ē For showing how incredibly sexy she can be, sheís a very attractive woman and shouldnít be ashamed to show that?

I saw people criticising her boots in ĎGray Hourí saying they were there simply for the titillation of males. She wore them because she looked very good in them and unless Iím seriously mistaken and have seriously misjudged the female population most women donít go around looking for clothes that make them look ugly.

Itís hardly a crime to want to show your attractiveness. Eliza should be proud of it!

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-03-19 13:01 ]

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-03-19 13:02 ]
This is maybe the aspect of certain kinds of feminism that bothers me the most, this idea that any time a woman says, does or wears something that's not purely about comfort or practicality it must be because the "patriarchy made her do it", as if women aren't just pressured into certain things but basically have no volition whatsoever, no decision making capacity at all, no hopes, desires or motives separate from those they're "meant" to have.

I agree. Two words: Third Wave (I have brought that up more times since Dollhouse began than ever, and I apologize, but it really feels like people don't know it exists sometimes.) The aspect of feminism that you are referring to belongs to a feminism that is out of date. There are definitely rifts between 2nd and 3rd wave feminists, but I believe Joss has always been amongst the third wave (look at Buffy).

I know a lot of women who wear high heels because they want to...because they like how it makes them look. Personally I like comfy shoes...but I'm not going to begrudge someone else and say they are playing into patriarchal ideals.

I donít think people get that one way of showing an empowered woman is to have her oppressed and used before rising up and conquering that. People donít seem to want to see that, they want a woman empowered from the very start who is never compromised, never oppressed and is always perfect.

Yes, and if they would just watch the show through to the end I'm sure they would be satisfied in the "rising up and conquering" part. But many, like you say, have judged the show without even watching it, let alone the first five episodes (which are slow moving...but getting there!)
Saje, your argument doesn't work because Dr. Saunders isn't a real woman. If she wears high-heeled shoes, itis because someone made her do it.

And people would not complain about this, if it wasn't for the fact that nine times out of ten women in Hollywood entertainment are dressed to please the (male) viewers.
ruuger | March 19, 11:40 CET


This is the kind of argument that just doesn't work for me (and I'm a life-long feminist). Amy Acker is playing a character that is indeed, in the show, a "real woman". Considering the rest of her wardrobe (mostly a lab coat, hardly any make-up), I can't see her being dressed "to please the male viewers.
Which also applies to your assumption that "In reality, a woman in her position would likely wear comfortable shoes but in Hollywood-land she wears high heels because in tv women must look sexy.".

That's a lot of assuming. This is L.A. (where I grew up) and I can assure you that her choice of shoes has no connection to anything sexist, it's just a choice, made by many women in large cities, in the workplace.
Yes, and if they would just watch the show through to the end I'm sure they would be satisfied in the "rising up and conquering" part. But many, like you say, have judged the show without even watching it, let alone the first five episodes (which are slow moving...but getting there!)

Completely agree ShanshuBugaboo! But then I saw people complaining about this just after 'Ghost' aired so is it really much of a surprise that five episodes was testing their patience when they were already complaining about it after the first?

Shey; Considering the rest of her wardrobe (mostly a lab coat, hardly any make-up), I can't see her being dressed "to please the male viewers.

Personally, all those horrific facial scars turn me on... Definitely done for my titillation :D

... I was joking by the way (not that Acker isn't still stunning mind you)
That's a lot of assuming. This is L.A. (where I grew up) and I can assure you that her choice of shoes has no connection to anything sexist, it's just a choice, made by many women in large cities, in the workplace.

But it is in fact not a choice that Dr Saunders made, because she doesn't exist. It's a choice the creative team made when deciding how to costume the character and yet again it was high heels.
But then I saw people complaining about this just after 'Ghost' aired so is it really much of a surprise that five episodes was testing their patience when they were already complaining about it after the first?

Not surprising...but definitely frustrating. Especially when you read stuff from people who didn't even watch the pilot.

ETA: Personally, I'm more annoyed by "barefoot baking girl" than a smart, classy professional woman in high heels. Not that there's anything wrong with being barefoot and baking...those are just my own hackles I guess. Everyone has theirs, so fair enough I suppose. When it comes down to it, it takes all types, and I think that overall Joss has done a good job of depicting different types of women, and men.

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-03-19 13:25 ]
'Barefoot baking girl' is so specifically "the meek homemaker", ticks so many of the "boxes", that i'm pretty certain she's like that for a reason, either to subvert it later on or possibly (and possibly more courageously) to make the point that that's also OK, that that too can be a choice.

I agree. Two words: Third Wave (I have brought that up more times since Dollhouse began than ever, and I apologize, but it really feels like people don't know it exists sometimes.) The aspect of feminism that you are referring to belongs to a feminism that is out of date.

*holds hands up* Yeah, must admit i'm not really au fait with all the waves and so on (absolutely no academic background in women's studies) so keep right on bringing it up as far as i'm concerned. But if it's an out of date position it seems like not everyone got the memo cos I still seem to see it come up a fair bit ;).
But it is in fact not a choice that Dr Saunders made, because she doesn't exist. It's a choice the creative team made when deciding how to costume the character and yet again it was high heels.


Which assumes that the creative teams decided to sidestep any creativity and just go for the high heels. Let me assure you that when wardrobe folks and set dressers do things, they talk to the writers and the cast about what makes sense for each character. Can they still decide to do something for the titillation factor in the end? Sure, but let's all just acknowledge the possibility that the creatives are not mindless drones of the patriarchal territorial army, okay? Especially the creatives on a Joss Whedon show. Also, why does he write such strong female characters?

RE: "barefoot baking girl" - speculation - perhaps she is that way specifically to appear as harmless and fade into the background. The better to keep on eye on Agent Ballard without provoking suspicion. Also, a side of WDDtm. <-- er, WSS, that is, lol...

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-19 14:56 ]
Also, why does he write such strong female characters?

Cos he likes what's on their iPods.


edited cos zeitgeist stole my sense ! ;)

[ edited by Saje on 2009-03-19 13:37 ]
Speaking on this maleís behalf.. I didn't even notice Clare was wearing high heels. I'm just sayin'?

Typically men don't actually notice women's shoes. Unless of course itís in some porno or sexy magazine where the girl is wearing a bikini and high heels, I understand that, thatís meant for titillation? But in everyday life.. Nope. Honestly in all the five episodes we've had so far I can't even say I remember looking down at her feet. There so much more interesting things being said and shown in the episodes that wether or not Clare is wearing heels is pretty low on the list.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-03-19 13:37 ]
Ah, that must be it. I won't speculate as to the contents of said iPods because that would ruin someone's question at the Paley Dollhouse Reunion event in a few years.

RE: Dr. Saunders/high heels. An important point to this - was she seen to wear high heels just in her office or while performing procedures? 'Cause in my life, I see Docs wearing completely impractical shoes when they are in the office and not doing any surgical work and wearing Crocs or things like that if they are specifically performing in a surgical capacity.
For a show like Angel or Dollhouse or Dr. Horrible I really don't see much in the portrayal of gender or sexuality that is different to most other tv shows.


I can't say much for Dr. Horrible or Dollhouse (so far), but as for Angel, I thought there were very different portrayals of gender, at least in terms of masculinity. The characters of Angel and Wesley especially were able to take on roles and attitudes that aren't reflective of typical masculinity, in addition to upholding ideas that were traditional. To me, that was one of Angel's biggest strengths.

As for Dollhouse, to me they can't exactly start to examine feminist ideas without laying some groundwork first. The show has to be able to find its feet before it gets into weighty things like that. Even Buffy didn't really talk about those type of concepts until it had a season or two under its belt. I know its considered the height of craziness in fandom right now, but give the show some time. I still continue to believe we will be rewarded. ;)
Sage,

i'm pretty certain she's like that for a reason, either to subvert it later on or possibly (and possibly more courageously) to make the point that that's also OK, that that too can be a choice.

Both are fine as far as I am concerned. When I say that she annoys me, it is based on my own pre-dollhouse baggage...not that I think that there's anything wrong with being that way necessarily ;)

Option three: Joss is having a big joke at our expense. I can just see him in the writer's room going: "Let's have her show up with a different pasta dish in every episode." Haha!

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-03-19 13:47 ]
With 'Dollhouse' it actually wouldn't surprise me. Starting to think that, more than any of his previous shows, Joss is willing to mess with us a bit on this one too.

When I say that she annoys me, it is based on my own pre-dollhouse baggage...

Yeah I get that to be honest, in real life she'd annoy me too I suspect (possibly because i'm a mean old man ;).
She is the cheeseman, kukukechoo.
I'm a female medical professional. I also bake. I can frequently be found in suicide heels, barefoot, in motorcycle boots, or in nursemates. I don't care what anyone in the world thinks of my appearance.

If I'm barefoot, it's because I'm wandering around at home and I really don't like shoes.

If I'm in suicide heels it's because *I* like the way they make me look, from the shape of my legs to my height to my posture.

I only wear nursemates at work because I work in a veterinary ER and heels would be dangerous.

Practicing medicine on a total of 20-40 humans, most of whom are programmed into a very submissive state... I don't see that the workload would be crazy heavy nor do I think that heels would be such a big problem.

As for the statement that someone put Saunders in those heels... whithout knowing who made that decision, it makes a very poor argument. How ironic, if it was a strong, independant female who felt that she had an understanding of the character and was making a decision that she felt the character would make...
Yeah I get that to be honest, in real life she'd annoy me too I suspect (possibly because i'm a mean old man ;).


Yeah, Saje, but then you pull that good old 'Blue Steel' face, and suddenly everything's right ;).

As for this topic of discussion: I do find it interesting. But it's basically been WSS for me this whole time, so I'll just leave him as my official spokesperson. I'll jump in as soon as he says silly things.

zeitgeist, what's this WDD, you speak of? ;)
Fnarty, fnarty, fnarty, hullabalooo, hullabaloo ! (silly enough ? ;)

And "Blue Steel" served me well but it's no "Magnum". Just wait, once I lick this minor turning issue ...
GVH - Typo, of course :).
"homosexuality in Angel"? where, when? Someone pls remind me.

[ edited by angry_puppy on 2009-03-19 15:22 ]
Fnarty, fnarty, fnarty, hullabalooo, hullabaloo ! (silly enough ? ;)


Hmm. I actually think it captures the subtelty and nuance of your point quite eloquently.

And "Blue Steel" served me well but it's no "Magnum". Just wait, once I lick this minor turning issue ...


Maybe it's time to consult with some good old AD&D clerics? I hear they're pros at that kinda stuff.

And also: zeitgeist, yeah ;). I think they should move that annoying D all the way to the other side of the keyboard, just to be safe.

(Did I just break this interesting discussion?)
Segregationist! ;) Depends on your definition of the word "break", GVH.
Which assumes that the creative teams decided to sidestep any creativity and just go for the high heels. Let me assure you that when wardrobe folks and set dressers do things, they talk to the writers and the cast about what makes sense for each character. Can they still decide to do something for the titillation factor in the end? Sure, but let's all just acknowledge the possibility that the creatives are not mindless drones of the patriarchal territorial army, okay? Especially the creatives on a Joss Whedon show.

I didn't state any assumptions about the thought processes involved, and I absolutely believe it was a thought through decision and one that involved many people and not just Joss (hence the term creative team). I merely pointed out that whatever their reasoning they ended up with the scientist in high heels. On it's own this is a tiny point and one that I wouldn't read too much into but it doesn't help me see this incredibly feminist mind-set at work on the show when coupled with all the other production decisions which have resulted in a lot of shots designed seemingly purely to show off how pretty the actresses are.
Ooh, I'm so interested in this topic, (the presumed feminism of Joss Whedon's work) but I should admit (a bit contradictorily) up-front that I'm not going to bother listening to the podcast. From what others have said, it sounds a bit silly, and I'm more interested in what you all are saying.

digupherbones said:

I've gotta say I don't think Joss' work is massively radical, it's all pretty heteronormative and unchallenging towards gender and sexuality the majority of the time. I enjoyed BtVS when there was conflict between Riley and Buffy because of Riley's very masculine gender, but I struggle to think of any other times when this has really happened.


I agree with this, pretty much. The question "Is Joss Whedon a feminist?" is pretty easy to answer. Ask him. He always says yes. Seems like he lives his life that way, and is very passionate about it. It's insulting to suggest he might not be a feminist, when he's been so clear about it. But whether his shows have some kind of particular feminist sensibility is another question, and speaking only for myself (well, obviously), I've not really seen it.

Buffy was a girl and a superhero, and the female experience and female sexuality were front and center, but I guess I never felt the show was grappling with gender issues so much as ... telling fantastic stories about fantastic (male and female) characters. If Joss's shows have a strong feminist sensibility, so does most of what I watch on TV. I say this as someone who adored her to no end, but I've never really bought Buffy as some kind of feminist icon. We talked about that a little bit on flickr once and I won't write an essay about it here. I don't think she needs to be a feminist icon either, but maybe it says more about the lack of really awesome female superheroes that she's sort of become one? If there were more, she would just be the coolest one ;).

But while I sometimes struggle to see what people mean when they talk about the feminism that is supposedly central to Joss's shows, I'm just as confused if some people are suggesting (are they?) that Dollhouse is anti-feminist because we are seeing exploitation. We've talked in other threads about the promos and the "Eliza Iz Hot!!!" element of the show but I don't think that's sexist so much as ... a little tacky, I guess.

Also not sure Amy Acker's high heels mean much. I'm clearly not a "shoe" or "foot" person because I haven't really noticed the shoes in any of the eps, besides the safe-cracking boots, which had attention so oddly drawn to them with the repeated "wear comfortable shoes" comment. (Which I still don't get... a joke? I mean, I have a pair of boots not so unlike that, and I love them and they're awesome, but no way are they comfortable :)).

ShanshuBugaboo said:
There are definitely rifts between 2nd and 3rd wave feminists, but I believe Joss has always been amongst the third wave (look at Buffy).


I think you're probably right or his shows would be very different, although it's funny he has referred to himself (I'm paraphrasing) as "old-school 1970s feminist" - I'm not sure what he meant by that exactly though.

And finally, QingTing said:
I'm a female medical professional. I also bake. I can frequently be found in suicide heels, barefoot, in motorcycle boots, or in nursemates. I don't care what anyone in the world thinks of my appearance.


That sounds like an awesome personal ad! I'd call ;-).
If I may, I have linked a few "Joss is not a feminist" sites here only to have them dumped. They were not nice, per se, but they had reasoned arguments, even if I did not agree with them. One, of course, was over the top. But, there it is. I don't think you are feminist simply because you say you are; you need to demonstrate it, and I think I could argue either side of the issue with Joss, just for academic fun.

But this: "As for the statement that someone put Saunders in those heels... whithout knowing who made that decision, it makes a very poor argument. " Well, the truth of Hollywood is, this is a decision made by people in the dress department. I know that both Marg Helgenberger and Emily Proctor, of CSI LV and CSI Miami, have addressed how their characters are dressed. Both wear exceedingly sexy clothes and yet both are crime scene investigators. When asked, the answer they give is, this is what we were told to wear. Claire in heels is a dress decision. Neither saje nor shansubugaboo know why that decision was made, but both are arguing interpretations as to what it means, absent any evidence whatsoever to support their arguments.
On the topic of dressing actresses.

A good example for this topic is the show Buffy. At first Joss had to fight hard to even keep Willow in the show, especially dressed as she is in the early seasons, because of network pressure. Later on during the course of the series this changes and the show has been criticised, from feminists among others, that the women are to good looking and gets to wear way to good looking and "inn" clothing.

The reason for the increasing hotness of the female cast and their clothing has to some part to do with the costume designer. But to a much larger part to the actresses them selves. It has been stated on several occasions by the costume designer, Joss and the actresses that as the show got popular they (the actresses) got more influential and was able to push for better and better looking clothing as well as better makeup. Which they also did with great fever.

So saying that the women are made hotter for the pleasure of the male audience is a tad simplified. Or put boldly, plain silly, as it was more for the pleasure of the women actually working on the show than anything else.
I would say Saje is arguing exactly that you can't make any interpretations about what it means because we don't know what the thought process (or even regular process) was behind the decision. So basically agreeing with you. And if I'm wrong, Saje, then sorry. I'll take those words right out of your mouth.
I'm sorry, but their 'academics' sound like children who are complaining that Joss is writing about real life pain instead of giving them the happy endings they want in all their stories. Nobody, innocent or evil, gets out of this life alive, so why should Joss feel obligated to provide only happy endings and/or sweet love stories? I'm sorry but this discussion is NOT academic or even very intelligent.
But if you argue that a TV actresses future success in the industry is in part be dependent on how pretty they are perceived as being it becomes less about the actresses ego and desire to look hot and more to do with what a woman in that field needs to do to get work. I don't believe that acting talent and beauty are intrinsically linked but if I go by what I see on TV I'd be tempted to assume they were, especially when it comes to lead actresses. The industry gets very excited when amazingly beautiful women agree to play dowdy and even unattractive looking characters but equally don't seem prepared to hire unattractive actresses to play those roles in the first place. Part of the sexism still inherent in the industry seems to me to be that for actors good looks don't seem to be as essential - especially for the character actors - though I'm sure for those looking at lead roles it still plays a part.
I don't think she needs to be a feminist icon either, but maybe it says more about the lack of really awesome female superheroes that she's sort of become one? If there were more, she would just be the coolest one ;).


I always figures that was sort-of the point, though, catherine. The fact that there was a lack of female leads and normal, regular, strong female characters, meant that Buffy was a breath of fresh air and something that clicked in the, for lack of a better word (sorry there, z ;)), zeitgeist. I never saw Buffy as a big feminist manifesto either, just a cracking good show. But having said that, I do think there were some feminist themes in the show (especially about female emporement) that were not put in there by accident and were quite important. One can argue about if these themes worked the way they were probably intented (I have seen essays on 'chosen' that said it was anything but empowering), but that's beside the point.

Segregationist! ;)


Heh, you've got to seperate those consonants. They tend to cling together, y'know, while they usually work much better when mixed with vowels.

Depends on your definition of the word "break", GVH.


Well, I guess the best way to desribe "break" here would be with the words "not at all", looking at the most recent posts ;).
Re: footwear. Sometimes a shoe is just a shoe.

QingTing said:
I'm a female medical legal professional. I also bake. I can frequently be found in suicide heels, barefoot, in motorcycle boots, or in nursemates flip-flops. I don't care what anyone in the world thinks of my appearance.

If I'm barefoot, it's because I'm wandering around at home and I really don't like shoes.

If I'm in suicide heels it's because *I* like the way they make me look, from the shape of my legs to my height to my posture.

She's my shoe-sister. :-)
Catherine, thank you for those comments. I completely and totally agree that the so-called "feminism" of Joss' television series have been highly overhyped. I don't doubt for a second that the man himself IS a feminist, but the accepted wisdom that all of his writings are feminist screeds is hard to swallow.

Of course I've always maintained that feminism is subjective and everyone has their own definition. But like Saje I have no formal education specific to the subject, so more talk of the Third Wave might not hurt. ;)
Hi guys. Just stopped in to talk seriously for a minute about this issue that is tearing at the very fabric of my fanbase: shoes.

Dr. Saunders: Didn't notice. Spent a lot of time with Costume God Shawna Trpcic talking about Amy's wardrobe; Shawna loves dressing her and was constantly designing fabulous dresses for her. It was my job to tell her when she'd gone too far and to remind her that all of these fabulous dresses would be covered by a (subtlely fabulous) labcoat. Wardrobe is one of my favorite departments, and just seeing those bolts of fabric lying about and knowing Shawna was cooking up something elegant and new for Amy filled me with a kind of peace. But I never noticed the shoes, because, well, Amy doesn't exactly stumble about.

Eliza: Yeah, she's wearing some pretty intense boots, particularly as Taffy. That's Eliza. She absolutely likes to turn up the heat wherever she thinks it's appropirate -- or close enough -- and it's part of her persona. My girl flaunts. I got no problem with it.

Mellie: She's just really tall. How were we gonna have Lubov menace her if she towers over him? And yes, her character is all about the vulnerable and the comforting. Paul, dude, notice her! (What's wrong with that boy?) But mostly: tall.

Now you have the inside scoop on the shoe scandal of '09. Coming soon: Sierra infiltrates the NSA in a ridiculous pair of pumps! TV is funny!

Sincerely, -j.
I would say Saje is arguing exactly that you can't make any interpretations about what it means because we don't know what the thought process (or even regular process) was behind the decision.

Yeah Jobo, that's what i'm saying so thanks (maybe with an added hint of "And since it's Joss maybe we should be slightly more forthcoming with the benefit of the doubt"). Dana5140, I think you might have been a bit selective as to which words in my posts you actually read (don't necessarily blame you, one of them at least was a bit long ;).


ETA: Except apparently I am a maniac and the shoes are just shoes. Hey Joss ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-03-19 16:23 ]
I agree with this, pretty much. The question "Is Joss Whedon a feminist?" ... But whether his shows have some kind of particular feminist sensibility is another question, and speaking only for myself (well, obviously), I've not really seen it.

Buffy was a girl and a superhero, and the female experience and female sexuality were front and center, but I guess I never felt the show was grappling with gender issues so much as ... telling fantastic stories about fantastic (male and female) characters. If Joss's shows have a strong feminist sensibility, so does most of what I watch on TV. But while I sometimes struggle to see what people mean when they talk about the feminism that is supposedly central to Joss's shows,...

catherine | March 19, 15:36 CET



Taken out of context everything can be made or unmade. When Buffy aired it was groundbreaking in many things that today are taken for granted. The ...and the female experience and female sexuality were front and center... was unheard of. ...telling fantastic stories about fantastic (male and female) characters... with the males and females on equal terms, or the female more powerful was equally unheard of. So saying that Buffy has a feminist sesibility like anything on TV today misses ten years of TV-development made possible by shows like Buffy.

When arguing about the feminism of Joss, lets not forget to look at things in context please!

The feminism of Joss's TV-shows may not be 100% ideological pure or 100% in line with the academic front. But sadly in many persons mind the simple notions he convay is still (to?) radical. And still a hellofa lot better then your average TV-show.

Oh! Hi Joss! I was so wrapped up in writing that I missed that you were posting. Dishonour! I will repent by spending the rest of the week studying the importance of shoes.

[ edited by Satai (with Punsch) on 2009-03-19 16:31 ]
Thank goodness, Joss. This could have torn the fandom apart!
I think judging the impact of a female character based on what she's wearing is part of the problem, myself. Also this is getting confusing. Sexy boots are bad, heels are bad, and no shoes also bad. This leaves sneakers, flat boots, and clogs?

Eliza could totally work some clogs.
And moccasins. Actually, that'd show respect to native Americans so i'd say moccasins are the politically ideal shoe.

Thank goodness, Joss. This could have torn the fandom apart!

Oh i'm still throwin' down yo ! Bring it ! Fandommmmmm, SPLIT !
*Google's Sunfire* - Ah ha! You just bought 10,000 shares of stock in a clog maker! We're on to you!

And moccasins. Actually, that'd show respect to native Americans so i'd say moccasins are the politically ideal shoe.


You say "politically ideal", I say "culturally insensitive", let's call the whole thing off!
Good call there, Joss. Lines were being drawn in the sand. Possibly with stiletto heels.
Indeed. But unfortunately, if anyone who is not a Native American writes the script it can always be seen as disrespectful :/

As zeitG, just said. Darn, Im to slow. I blame the timedifference...

[ edited by Satai (with Punsch) on 2009-03-19 16:36 ]

[ edited by Satai (with Punsch) on 2009-03-19 16:36 ]
Ah, yes, the time difference that makes some posts wait till they catch up with the preferred time zone of the day. It is one of the less enticing features of whedonesque.

(huh? ;))
All American shows have one Native American on the writing staff (usually lobbying for more moccasins). Truth. Well, truthy.

You say "politically ideal", I say "culturally insensitive" ...

You say pot-ai-to, I say po-genocidal-guil-to ;).
So glad Joss stopped by to address the shoe thing!

I guess I didn't watch enough TV pre-Buffy to have a sense of the TV landscape, Satai (with Punsch). I watched My so-called life and Roseanne and occasionally Cheers as a teen, and then there was a great long no-tv period until I discovered DVDs. But based on those three shows (hee!) I guess Buffy didn't strike me as revolutionary in its "having a female protagonist"-ness. However, I've heard a number of people talk about it as ground-breaking for female-led shows, and I'd be interested to hear more about that.

But, back to shoes:

So saying that the women are made hotter for the pleasure of the male audience is a tad simplified. Or put boldly, plain silly, as it was more for the pleasure of the women actually working on the show than anything else.


Well, I think saying it was more for the pleasure of the women working on the show is perhaps, as helcat suggested, just as simplistic as saying it's all about pleasing the male audience.

On the one hand, we have the idea that "Women in heels are in heels to please men and that's bad" and then on the other hand we have "Women in heels are in heels to please themselves and that's good" but I think the two are awfully tangled up with each other, no?

I can only speak from personal experience, but to be honest, if my honey is away and I'm spending an evening all by myself at home, I'm not likely to get dolled up or shave my legs. I try to look presentable for work, but since I don't much care about looking "hot" at work (in fact... would rather not!) I don't make that effort. If I dress to look sexy then it probably is because I want my husband to think I look sexy. That makes me happy too and I don't see a thing wrong with it. I also make a lot more effort with my appearance if I'm doing something I'm nervous about, because it makes me feel more confident (because of the impression I'm making), or if I'm going out with friends, male or female, because sometimes it's just fun to get dolled up and look good. How much is for oneself and how much is for someone else seem so caught up in each other.

Obviously, it's even more complicated for an actress, where there is more at stake than just ego or the fun of looking good. There's a career to think of, too. So I don't think it's irrelevant to discuss it, and I think there's an interesting discussion to be had re. femininity in Joss Whedon's shows, but I also don't think that putting a doctor in high heels is anti-feminist. It's not irrelevant that this is TV. I'm not sure most people notice shoes and think about it as much as we do here (!) but they are trying to create a general impression of the character. She's obviously not sexualized, in her buttoned up lab coat. But flats would possibly, on TV, look more dressed down than they want to go for. I'm sure it's all very carefully deliberate (on the part of the costume designer! obviously not on Joss's part ;)), but I don't think they put her in heels to titillate!
I wasn't going to touch the whole feminism debate, but I'm wacky sometimes. All I'll say is this: what I say about myself and my intentions should have nothing to do with your experience of my work. As Hitchcock said, "Trust the tale, not the teller." Some 'feminist' works reinforce stereotypes, some 'exploitive' works provide textured kick-ass female roles. Mostly everyone does both. If you view a piece solely from the perspective of the writer's INTENTION -- or one specific part of that intention -- it's harder to have a true response to how the work makes you feel. In this age of total disclosure (you know EVERYTHING about the shoes now!) that kind of pure watching is hard to come by. PITFALL is a startlingly bold Noir from a feminist viewpoint, but does that make Andre DeToth a feminist director? I don't know, but I do know it was much more exciting finding that movie without any preconception of what the writer or director intended. I have tried to hide in my work, and even bloging on feminist issues felt like a dangerous trap for me because once I take a stand as a public figure, that purity of watching is gone. Let the debate about me rage on: "I don't care what you think, as long as it's about me" -- yes, I just quoted Fall Out Boy -- but that debate should really ignore what I say in these, my morning-cup-of-tea postings. We are only the sum of our actions. Or our art.
So, in summary: please ignore me/pay attention to me, and judge my work on its own merits unless it has none in which case give me a pass 'cause I said I was a feminist.
Hmm. I might need stronger tea.
I'll put the kettle on ;).
Dana5140, I think you might have been a bit selective as to which words in my posts you actually read (don't necessarily blame you, one of them at least was a bit long ;).


When they're really long, I just read every other word. Sometimes they're even funnier that way :).

Hmm. I might need stronger tea.


I think it's called "coffee" :).

I like the Hitchcock quote (and Fall Out Boy, whoever he is!). Maybe some people are watching Dollhouse through the lens of "The Creator Is An Outspoken Feminist," and while an outspoken feminist is an awesome thing to be, it puts a certain kind of pressure on the show perhaps. So four episodes in, it's all about shoes and exploitation and what is he DOING? That's OK, though. Come May or June or whenever the season ends, we'll have so much more to go on, and so many more shoe-combos to discuss. Exciting!
When they're really long, I just read every other word.

Try missing the vowels out, in some posts I actually predict next week's lottery numbers in code. Also the Kennedy assassination. OK, to some that's a bit less of an achievement but I swear, at the time I honestly didn't know it was going to have already happened 35 years previously.

I'm not sure most people notice shoes and think about it as much as we do here (!)

Yeah, as mentioned, I didn't actually notice her shoes (I noticed the boots though ;) but:

... "Women in heels are in heels to please men and that's bad" and then on the other hand we have "Women in heels are in heels to please themselves and that's good" but I think the two are awfully tangled up with each other, no?

is pretty much spot on IMO. As Noel Coward (I think) said "It's nice to be fancied", it makes you feel good. There's nothing wrong with looking sexy and there's nothing wrong with wanting someone else to think you look sexy. It's only an issue when that's all they see you as. I think that's as true for actresses as it is for everyone else.
So, in summary: please ignore me/pay attention to me, and judge my work on its own merits


That is easy as they (the shows) often catch you by the gut and drag you along whether you like it or not... well I like it...

But its hard not to get annoyed at or irritated with people who ignore the tale and the context in which it is told, and focuses more on the writers gender and/or their own agenda. Iím impressed, and grateful, that you Joss still dares to walk the internet at all. I would be either broken down or very very bitter if my work was scrutinised like that.
Dark and bitter like Tim Minear!

/totally not serious
Shallow Simon wants to know how tall Miracle is.
On the one hand, we have the idea that "Women in heels are in heels to please men and that's bad" and then on the other hand we have "Women in heels are in heels to please themselves and that's good" but I think the two are awfully tangled up with each other, no?


Indeed they are. And probably impossible to untangle.


Dark and bitter like Tim Minear!

That parallel did occur to me ;) But I'd never dream of comeparing my self to T.M.

[ edited by Satai (with Punsch) on 2009-03-19 17:12 ]
If by some Horrible turn of events Joss were to decide to never post on here again, I would nevertheless be satisfied that this morning-tea-post was enough. The end. :-)
I would be either broken down or very very bitter if my work was scrutinised like that.

Better than not having one's work scrutinized at all? ;). That can result in broken down bitterness as well...

I like the idea of Joss "walking the internet." By night. In a cape.

the shows) often catch you by the gut and drag you along whether you like it or not... well I like it...

Me too :).

Try missing the vowels out, in some posts I actually predict next week's lottery numbers in code.

*goes back to pull apart all of Saje's posts, armed with a strong cup of coffee cuz tea is for wusses* ;)
You could put Amy Acker in novelty clown shoes and she'd still be ridiculously good looking.

Not sure what that has to do with anything. I'm just sayin'.
So its morning over there. Here its evening, and some strange impulse tells me to go home and watch Buffy... or read X-Men trying to find the Dark Avenger of the Internet.

cuz tea is for wusses

Then you have obviously not tasted the tasty mongolian tea*. That'll keep you going the whole day :)
(*Pu'er tea boiled with milk, butter, spices and some meat. Add salt)
Well I have to think that Joss finds himself with some time on his hands this morning...
(but I'm always pitifully grateful for a Joss post).
I'm totally lying about the strong coffee anyway. I'm drinking decaf.
Ha! I'm drinking non-decaf tea! Who's the wuss now, catherine? Hey, wait a minute, as the owner of a Murder Rubicon tea-shirt, you aren't technically ALLOWED to make fun of tea!
My life can end happy now; Joss is a reader response guy! "All I'll say is this: what I say about myself and my intentions should have nothing to do with your experience of my work."

***expires***

***The crowd goes nuts****

Okay, so no shoe crisis in fandom. And I think I read every saje word, or sage word, that sage, er saje, wrote. But of course, I know what I meant to say! So there. More to come, still digesting away.
Reading Joss's comment, I feel as though I have seen a less-sung version of "Heart, Broken." Also more serious and slightly (though only SLIGHTLY!) less funny.

Authorial intent is always irrelevant in my mind. Except in the case of the cheese man.
Im sure the cheese man knows something he's not telling us.

Decaf! The world is defenily doomed.
He knows how to wear the cheese without the cheese wearing him. Handy.

And I think I read every saje word, or sage word, that sage, er saje, wrote. But of course, I know what I meant to say!

Well, Dana5140, not sure how you could read:
Or maybe not, maybe it's purely a costume thing and maybe it is out of character and just part of how the "Hollywood machine" treats actresses. It just sort of irks me when it's presented as if there's no question whatsoever about it, that it must just be a sign of the repression of women.

and respond how you did ;-).

Well I have to think that Joss finds himself with some time on his hands this morning...

Ssshh, fercrissakes don't point out that Joss has time on his hands, when folk start to ponder the possible implications there'll be panic in the streets ! ;)
Jossir, your "in summary" segment above is quite possibly the finest thing ever, EVER written. Everyone else put down your pens, step away from your keyboards, for nothing more need ever be said. ;)

Gods bless you, sir.
Everyone else put down your pens, step away from your keyboards, for nothing more need ever be said.

Well OK, I guess if you're not interested in next week's lottery numbers (in code)...
I would have been, but I tried decoding the last and all I got was "867-5309". Which never worked for me.

Joss, re: Stronger tea - if you find one that works, please let me know. I'm up to mainlining espresso now and still having trouble staying awake at my 'puter...
No lottery for me, thank you. I watch Lost.
I think judging the impact of a female character based on what she's wearing is part of the problem, myself. Also this is getting confusing. Sexy boots are bad, heels are bad, and no shoes also bad. This leaves sneakers, flat boots, and clogs?

I think, as with many things, it's the lack of variety on offer. When people complain about a lack of ethnic diversity in TV and films it isn't saying that every character has to be non-white, it's saying that the lack of non-white characters is a problem. Same with the lack of strong women characters - it doesn't mean every female character on a show has to be strong but if none of them are it's easy to see as a form of sexism. So women in heels on TV is fine if we also had lots of examples of women in every other footwear alternative. That we don't I'd argue is more to do with the way society/Hollywood values physical attractiveness in actresses.
Saje said:
There's nothing wrong with looking sexy and there's nothing wrong with wanting someone else to think you look sexy. It's only an issue when that's all they see you as.

Thank you! I've been trying to say this for *years* and never got it put together quite as clearly. *narrows eyes* I think there's better tea in the UK. ;) I may have to put this in my signature on some other boards.

I always thought one of the strengths of Joss shows was that not only did women get to be strong but men got to be soft. People just got to be people.
helcat, I agree with what you're saying when it's human traits we're talking about. But my point is that I think it's more important that we get to see a full range of women and less important that we get to see a full range of footwear on their feet. Footwear is quite often stupid on tv. Everyone wakes up in makeup and has great hair, too. But then what do they do onscreen? Dr. Saunders wears her shoes, not the other way around.
Just want to jump in and comment on Joss's comment.

First, he nearly sidestepped the difficult question of whether Dollhouse is a feminist show. He said, basically, I'm a feminist, and my intent may or may not have been to express that in my show, but that doesn't make the meaning of the show feminist. This is, I think, basically right, and not just reader response-y either. The meaning of a work us nor just the intent of the author (or the many creators - what if Joss is feminist but the gaffer is sexist?); nor is it just the response of the viewers since viewers CAN be wrong in their responses. It lies somewhere among the author, the viewer, the text iself, and probably the whether cultural context to which it addresses itself and in which it is received.

After all, what does it mean for a show to be feminist, short of actually arguing for a particular political position? It means, I think, that it contends with issues that are central to feminist concerns, and does so in a way that seems to seek to criticize sexism/patriarchy. It doesn't mean that the show has to actually be preachy. Oh, and it absolutely can (must?) be complicit in perpetuating that which it criticizes, if it is going to be engaging as anything but a political tract.

For me, Dollhouse is feminist because it is questioning the very ideological constructs and indoctrination that lead us to argue that wearing high heels is or is not a personal choice made for oneself. Feminism is always asking that question, whether the different waves have arrived at different answers or not.
Never have I typed these words: Best Joss Post Ever.

But the shoe post was very informative. Very.

ETA: Allow me to contradict myself. Perhaps you can't judge art by the artist's intentions, but I do judge it by the artist's available options. And I do notice who combines the existing options in a way that "exceeds parameters."

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-03-19 21:54 ]
Hey, saje- but you will note I never really spoke about shoes, just about how folks on TV are dressed. I am not invested in 2nd or 3rd wave interpretations of shoes; I have my own (interpretation, that is) as a chiropractic physician- they look great, and are hell on your calves, lumbar musculature, sacrum and spine. But that's just me. :-)

Joss- Magma! Really! "nuff of this Fall Out Boy madness; let's get the real thing. Nothing better than a band around for 40 years led by a master drummer who writes in his own language epic compositions about the end of the earth. Just saying.

Tea, please.
For me, Dollhouse is feminist because it is questioning the very ideological constructs and indoctrination that lead us to argue that wearing high heels is or is not a personal choice made for oneself. Feminism is always asking that question, whether the different waves have arrived at different answers or not.


A very good point. Wheter its legit Companions, geneticaly enhanced paramilitary collegestudents, misogynist preachers, vengefull Wiccans, Werewolfes or brainwhiped hotties (with or without shoes), anything that gets people discussing gender is a good thing.
I swear I do not get unduly het up about the shoes anyone wears on TV though I do get tired of the way TV tries to tell me that the only way for a woman to be viewed as successful is that she wears great clothes and looks amazing. The high heels are just one facet of that. I also think it's good sometimes to consider such seemingly trivial elements.
Yes, but given that the choice of shoes was happenstance, I could not support the argument that DH is feminist because we talk about high heel shoes. We also talk about philosophy, and a whole lot of other things. It is also just happenstance what we talk about. What we talk about is hardly the deciding factor in making determinations of what DH is about- unless, of course, you happen to a reader response guy like me... ;-)
That sounds like an awesome personal ad! I'd call ;-).


Thanks, catherine! :D If I ever feel the need to place a personal add, I'll remember!
Ha! I'm drinking non-decaf tea! Who's the wuss now, catherine? Hey, wait a minute, as the owner of a Murder Rubicon tea-shirt, you aren't technically ALLOWED to make fun of tea!


I know. I have no idea what happened there. As a fan of the band, I revere tea and am ashamed of what I said.

Decaf! The world is defenily doomed.


Well, I am, anyway.

I would have been, but I tried decoding the last and all I got was "867-5309".


Ohmigod that's my PHONE NUMBER. No it isn't. *goes to play the lottery*

Dr. Saunders wears her shoes, not the other way around.


Hee hee. I love you Sunfire.
As a fan of the band, I revere tea and am ashamed of what I said.

It's OK, tea never lost faith in you catherine, tea forgives the odd lapse. Tea is love.

I also think it's good sometimes to consider such seemingly trivial elements.

Yeah, I agree with that helcat. If you keep saying "It's only X ..." then you eventually ignore everything - a heap still starts with a single grain. If we don't examine the grains we might end up on a heap of shit.

... I'm starting to have doubts about the heap metaphor.
It's OK, tea never lost faith in you catherine, tea forgives the odd lapse. Tea is love.

*falls on knees and weeps*
Joss says he's a feminist

That's good enough for me ;)

But I'm not about to hail Dollhhouse as some great feminist work .

Because that's problematic .

And the whole industry is problematic.

Hollywood has a problem in how it portrays people. Only size zero is thin enough, only ridicuously good looking is good looking enough only under thirty is young enough only a rippling six pack is muscular enough , only gym bunny perfect is toned enough, only California golden is tanned enough.

Take a look at your average ( heh) Hollywood cast and ask yourself where all the averagely good looking people are. Every high school is full of beauties and male models, every Police station and crime lab and hospital ditto. There are some character roles for people not fitting the mould; Hurley in Lost for example . More often if the script calls for someone out of the orinary they'll cast a stunner and dress them
"frumpily"
( Hello early season Willow) or give them kooky clothes and dental braces ( Hello, not really ugly at all, Betty).

Women over forty have a tough time getting roles other than Mother or Granny or scorned woman.

Men do a little better but there's that whole thing where you take a sixty year old actor and, instead of having him romance a beautiful mature woman you pair him with some stunning beauty old enough to be embarrasing. If you did that the other way round and had a sixty year old actress bedding a 20 year old eyebrows would be raised.

In the UK I think we do a little better. Some of our best actors can actually convincingly pull off " Normal Joe" as opposed to " Calendar model relaxing at home" . People like Robbie Coltraine and Timothy Spall, Martin Clunes, Imelda Staunton and Miriam Margoyles actually look like real people but get cast as sexy and confident leads rather than character actors. Actors over forty get cast as leads and lovers on a reassuringly frequent basis. Sometimes people are allowed to have grey hair, crows feet and a less than toned body but still be seen as attractive!

Joss didn't exactly cast trolls and my point
(honestly I have one) is that I suspect he'd have faced studio opposition if he had done so. A world where people can seriously refer to the divine Amber Benson as "fat" is a screwed up world and the entertainment industry isn't helping.

Neither, to be honest, is the type of soft porn photo shoot which was used to sell Dollhouse to the public.

So, feminism.

Anyone who honestly believes that women deserve equal pay, respect, rights and status to men can call themselves a feminist regardless of their heel height.

And the best way to make a feminist show is to make sure that women on set get the same pay rates, the same rights, the same artistic input as their male colleagues.

And casting some people who don't assist our teens to grow up despising their bodies because they're trying to conform to some impossible *ideal* would help too.

And casting more people who have grown to maturity in a wide variety of roles

And realising that tits are great but really don't need to be on display all of the time and that underwear is great but we don't need gratuitous reasons to see it and that showers are great but shower curtains were invented for a reason works for me no matter what the gender or orientation of an actor.

So yeah Dollhouse is an interesting show

But I don't see it as really challenging any stereotypes.

And I don't see it as feminist

But then that's not what I was expecting.

[ edited by debw on 2009-03-19 21:08 ]
The high heels are just one facet of that. I also think it's good sometimes to consider such seemingly trivial elements.

Yeah, I don't think we disagree on the main point here. I just think the shoes are one part of the picture, and getting blown out of proportion here, is all. I think Esther's shoes in the rescue scene are sort of like Willow's shoes in "The Weight of the World." I didn't noticed either at first but for me they don't take away from the awesome at all. They just add a little WTF moment of mild amusement for me. TVLand's predictably dumb about some things. She's running from a hell god! She's infiltrating a cult! Ok fine, but do you think this wedge looks better or the kitten heels, with that shirt?

TVLand totally got that Boyd + fiery backdrop + rescue formula right though. Honestly she could've been wearing skis and I wouldn't have noticed unless they were blocking Boyd.
Yeah the heels weren't the significant aspect of that scene for me.

But I don't see it as really challenging any stereotypes.

And I don't see it as feminist


I actually see 'Dollhouse' as challenging the stereotype of "feminist". Because Eliza was fine with that photo-shoot. And Eliza was fine with "the boots" (not just fine but the instigator by the sounds of it). And Eliza's fine with looking sexy. Etc. So the point is surely, women can make those choices for themselves ?

Maybe i'm giving the show too much credit, time may tell (or it may not ;) but it just feels like it's walking the line between "textbook" feminism and the sort that's actually going to work in the real world (i.e. the one where men also live).

*falls on knees and weeps*

*tea lays hands on catherine's head*

...

*OK, tea lays "hands" on catherine's head - tea is perfection. And perfection has no hands*
We have sort of come full circle and debw's post touches on some of the issues. My first wife was ardently a marxist feminist and saw patriarchy every where she looked. She would have supported Katherine McKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, who argued very firmly against porn because they felt it demeaned women by its very nature. Today, porn is mainstream, porn stars are getting roles on TV, sell bestseller books and someone like Paris Hilton becomes famous for doing nothing more than filming herself doing what we all do- apparently, being in the moment was not good enough for her. So today we see arguments that it is actually feminist to let women choose porn as a career, it is empowering as they embrace their sexuality. Sort of like black is white, and good is bad and I no longer know what to think. My view on DH is that is is far from being feminist in any way, no matter how much memory returns to Echo and no matter how much she ultimately embraces her power and identity. It is the trappings around that story that troubles; the depictions of flesh, the selling of bodies and desire, the giving up of identity (which is how Caroline ended up there to begin with, giving up identity like Chirhiro/Sen in Spirited Away). I am certain there wil be feminist interpretations of DH, just as there will be anti, but I find this program much harder to invest in and no character to drive my interest. Which is another story.
It is the trappings around that story that troubles; the depictions of flesh, the selling of bodies and desire, the giving up of identity


Which, to me is why it is feminist and brave. You have to depict ugly things to discuss them and to subvert them and to tell a story about why they are wrong. That's my response as a reader, and therefore its right; some guy told me that once ;).

Way to go, Saje, you encoded the title of the new album in your last post...
Eliza was fine with that photo-shoot. And Eliza was fine with "the boots" (not just fine but the instigator by the sounds of it). And Eliza's fine with looking sexy. Etc. So the point is surely, women can make those choices for themselves ?

They / we can indeed and yay to that. But I'm never quite sure what to make of the argument "the model was fine with it so that photo-shoot can't be exploitative." It's about the big picture, what she's choosing to participate in, not whether she has a choice (cuz of course she does, usually). Because she's cool with it doesn't necessarily mean it's all cool.

But I'm still a little shaky from Tea's unexpected and undeserved forgiveness, so I may not be making the best of sense.
Maybe i'm giving the show too much credit, time may tell (or it may not ;) but it just feels like it's walking the line between "textbook" feminism and the sort that's actually going to work in the real world (i.e. the one where men also live).

I'm not sure what "textbook" feminism is, but I think there's already multiple kinds of (waves of? ;)) feminism that are pretty good for the real world in which men live. Maybe I'm giving the show too little credit (or... a different kind of credit?) but while it may explore all kinds of issues while telling (we hope) absorbing and emotionally wrenching stories, I don't expect it to offer a new kind of feminism...
Eliza's okay-ness with it is more telling than would be a random model in a random photoshoot, though, as well. She is an executive producer and helped create the situation as well as sexy-ing it up whereas the model is just agreeing to be paid to appear in situation X, didn't create it and doesn't necessarily particularly like/agree with it.

While there are indeed multiple types/waves of feminism, I have been told specifically that some of them are "bad" because they disagree with Gloria Steinem/Betty Friedan ;). I almost kid!
However, if the only way to make it in the industry is to be 'fine' with all those things would you still see that as evidence that all is fine and dandy with everything?
But does Eliza's okay-ness with it make it "okay"? Only if the problem we have with it is "models / actresses do this kind of thing because they're pressured to." If the problem we have with it is "this participates in a kind of not-so-positive portrayal of female sexuality" then her being okay with it seems kind of irrelevant.

ETA what helcat said. "She's fine with it" vs. "she's under pressure" seems not so different from "she wears heels for men" vs. "she wears heels because she likes them." Not so very easy to separate.

[ edited by catherine on 2009-03-19 20:23 ]
No, all I am saying is that Eliza's being fine with it is a different form of being fine with it than other people in the industry being fine with it might entail. I wasn't declaring everything to be "fine and dandy", or to put it another way "the status is NOT quo."

catherine - that assumes that X is a non-positive portrayal of female sexuality...
Hee. Yes, OK. There are many ways to be fine with something. And yeah, if it's a positive portrayal of female sexuality and she's fine with it, then who wouldn't be fine with it? My question is, is it? (I don't have the answer. Because I just drink decaf these days).
That's part of what's under discussion - is Eliza's role now, or will it ultimately be vindicated as, a positive or even feminist role that subverts the things it is depicting. I suspect that depends on the viewer/feminist you ask to some extent, but I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt, especially given what Joss and Eliza have said in the past about it.

ETA - And I keep coming back to "you have to depict what you are trying to deconstruct" and the fact that as long as less than ideal situations exist (which is pretty much forever), one way to get people talking about what's wrong or "wrong" is to show it, especially if its the kind of wrong or "wrong" that draws people in to checking out the show as may be the discuss with Dollhouse's advertising and subject matter, respectively.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-19 20:31 ]
ZG, no, only my interpretation matters, and why only I can be right, of course! ;-)

So, it is okay to enter porn as a career as a feminist stance? There is so much porn on the net it hurts. It is a commonplace now, so perhaps we forget what kind of power it had- does porn hurt men, as well as women? Is it okay for ED to flaunt her breasts, sort of like some fellow using the N word if they are a person of color? Appropriating it and empowering it? Calling yourself queer to embrace who you are? How does this work any more? I am no prude, I enjoy sex, but I feel it is a private activity that I have no need to share with anyone but my wife. I find myself at my late age- 55- less enthralled with depictions of things like ED's breasts on TV because I don't feel it is necessary nor that it helps anything. It just deadens us. That is not feminist, in my mind. But then, what really is "feminist?" We cannot even agree here, with discussions of 1st, 2nd and 3rd wave feminism and many women refusing to even call themselves feminist these days.
zeitgeist is my positive feminist role model. Especially when bikini season arrives.
If Eliza's breasts are deadening you, then you are looking at them wrong :) Ok, ok, I'll come back and make an actual point instead of going for the cheap laugh... Again, I suspect it depends on who you ask. There are people who think all porn is negative and degrading and exploitive and there are people (some of them porn stars, some of them later wave feminists) who say it is or can be a positive thing and a powerful and fulfilling and empowering thing.

zeitgeist is my positive feminist role model. Especially when bikini season arrives.


Sexist! Also, GENDER-ist!

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-19 20:34 ]
I actually see 'Dollhouse' as challenging the stereotype of "feminist". Because Eliza was fine with that photo-shoot. And Eliza was fine with "the boots" (not just fine but the instigator by the sounds of it). And Eliza's fine with looking sexy. Etc. So the point is surely, women can make those choices for themselves ?


That may be the text (although not necessarily the underlying point) of the publicity for the show. However, within the show itself Echo/Taffy is not choosing to wear the boots. Echo, at this point, lacks the capacity to choose and Taffy doesnít exist. Sheís not a woman sheís another one of Topherís hi-tech blow up dolls. She is at least a blow-up person and not the modestly dressed (if you look past the shoes) but convenient flesh wrapping for a closed-circuit camera.

As I've said before, I usually find this kind of thing desensitizing, here the underlying horror of the situations makes it the reverse. Which from my point of view makes the show a feminist critique although other people may justifiably see it quite differently.
zeitgeist is my positive feminist role model. Especially when bikini season arrives.

Two words. Landing. Strip.

"She's fine with it" vs. "she's under pressure" seems not so different from "she wears heels for men" vs. "she wears heels because she likes them." Not so very easy to separate.

Yeah but one is all tangled up whereas the vibe about the other is that it's apparently exploitative (even though no-one feels exploited) ? I accept (just like before ;) that it's not simple but to me "not simple" means you also can't just call it exploitation because it involves sex.

Why is it exploitation just because there's a market for what you're "selling" ? Am I being exploited because i'm OK at network administration ? Or pressured because I have to (ultimately) do what my boss tells me or because I can't shout "Cocks!" in meetings and expect to succeed ? Maybe strictly but not in the sense it appears here I think.

However, if the only way to make it in the industry is to be 'fine' with all those things would you still see that as evidence that all is fine and dandy with everything?

Well, you could choose another industry to work in for instance ? That goes back to my initial problem. Because apparently a woman can't choose to do that stuff, she must be being pressured into it by society. But it follows from that that no man ever chooses to repress women or to treat them unequally either (if you say men can choose to be free of society's influence but women can't then surely you're basically admitting that men are superior to women ? Which I don't buy).

I prefer to see personal responsibility as a factor - a glorified "twinkie defence" doesn't do much for me (whomever it's applied to). That said, for me what the show asks with e.g. the ambiguity of Caroline even signing up in the first place is "What does a free choice mean for anyone (but especially women) in our society ? Is it even possible for any of us ?". It at least paints it as a question and I love it for that.

[ edited by Saje on 2009-03-19 20:36 ]
And I keep coming back to "you have to depict what you are trying to deconstruct" and the fact that as long as less than ideal situations exist (which is pretty much forever), one way to get people talking about what's wrong or "wrong" is to show it, especially if its the kind of wrong or "wrong" that draws people in to checking out the show as may be the discuss with Dollhouse's advertising and subject matter.

What confuses me about this argument is that I get that Joss is depicting what is being done to the 'dolls' as wrong. What I don't see is that the way the show is depicting its actresses is being set up as being 'wrong'. It seems I should be all for the shots of Eliza's cleavage because that's the image Eliza wants to project. So I shouldn't find them the least bit questionable and having yet another show on TV showing me the brilliance of being a hot chick is something I should view as positively feminist rather than playing to the lowest common denominator.

if you say men can choose to be free of society's influence but women can't then surely you're basically admitting that men are superior to women ?

Or that we still live in a patriarchal society where societal norms have been set primarily by men?

[ edited by helcat on 2009-03-19 20:44 ]
Again, I don't think anything about 'Dollhouse' is that clear cut personally (Topher seems - and not just because we've been told ;) - to be a fairly clear analogue to the creator of a TV show within the Hollywood system and Topher, frankly (so far), is a wanker).

It's critiquing the system it's being made within and that seems (if it ends up coherent) to be no mean achievement.
To me, that's entirely what the show and its contrast to its advertising are about. If you disagree and just see it as wrong and exploitive, that's certainly your choice, but its not that simple from where I sit. The shows depiction of its actresses IS them being depicted as the Dolls which IS being depicted as wrong. Not to meta your meta or anything, but... You can also choose to find how Eliza chooses to depict herself as anything you want, what's being said in this thread is that its not a simple call -- sexist? empowering? There is a certain eye-of-the-beholder-ness about it.

Or that we still live in a patriarchal society where societal norms have been set primarily by men?


This sounds too much like the "only the majority can be sexist/racist because the minority have no power" argument and it doesn't work for me in either case. That argument, in my opinion, is a dodge that does no one any good.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-19 20:50 ]
I think the intentions are all there and all good. There is stuff in the show that feels a little "Sexxy Sex Kitten Wow Tits!" to me... though my objection to it, insofar as I have any, is just that it feels sort of ham-handed. I think most of the stuff Joss has done participates in a particular somewhat narrow idea of femininity and what is attractive, and I don't so much expect different from Dollhouse, at least in that respect. And I don't mean that as a criticism. I don't think it's his duty as a feminist story-teller to do ... anything. I love his shows, I love his characters, I think they're sexy and that's part of what I enjoy about them. I just wonder about this whole "check out Eliza, but we're going to subvert it" thing. I'm not buying it, yet! But I've only seen four eps, and zeitgeist has probably seen more than they've filmed ;).

Why is it exploitation just because there's a market for what you're "selling" ?
Well, that's not why it's exploitation ;). I don't mean to say I think Eliza's photo-shoots were exploitative, because I dunno. (Did I mention the decaf thing? Be gentle, people!). But I have this niggling little discomfort about them. And it's not because there's a market for sex, or because she's sexy, or because I don't think we should enjoy sexy pictures. But Women's Bodies As Depicted In Magazines And On TV... well, there are issues there, I think. It just doesn't seem to me like a "no problem here!" thing. And you can play along with it, or you can play against it, or you can riff off it, or you can do something else. I don't want to say it's bad to play along with it, but nor do I want to say it's a fine feminist thing. It is what it is.

I wish I had more time for this. Maybe, just this:

What confuses me about this argument is that I get that Joss is depicting what is being done to the 'dolls' as wrong. What I don't see is that the way the show is depicting its actresses is being set up as being 'wrong'. It seems I should be all for the shots of Eliza's cleavage because that's the image Eliza wants to project. So I shouldn't find them the least bit questionable and having yet another show on TV showing me the brilliance of being a hot chick is something I should view as positively feminist rather than playing to the lowest common denominator.

Or that we still live in a patriarchal society where societal norms have been set primarily by men?

Yes but then you have a problem with "first causes" helcat - it's either "turtles all the way down" OR some initial group of men chose a course - since then the rest of us have been just as much victims as all the poor helpless women. Again, "twinkies made us do it", which I don't love ;).

You can also choose to find how Eliza chooses to depict herself as anything you want, what's being said in this thread is that its not a simple call -- sexist? empowering? There is a certain eye-of-the-beholder-ness about it.

Sure but why should any of we "beholders" count more than Eliza ? Cos there's more of us ?

Did I mention the decaf thing? Be gentle, people!

Hey, you chose to drink decaf ! ;-)


edited cos i've had caffeine and still didn't make sense ;)

[ edited by Saje on 2009-03-19 20:53 ]
"Sexxy Sex Kitten Wow Tits!"


Well, there goes the new single title... I do agree with what you are saying there, catherine. Plus, wait 'til you see the season 2 finale and season 3 openers. WOW!!!

Sure but why should any of we "beholders" count more than Eliza ? Cos there's more of us ?


I'm talking about the viewer's impression divorced of authorial intent.

p.s. - If you wanna come right down to it, its all Eliza's fault 'cause its her contract with Fox and technically Joss and co. are her employees on this production ;).
Yes, clearly trying to discuss the influence of sexism on the lives of women is all about how poor and helpless women have always been and always will be. Do you think the same holds for racism? I think I best leave this conversation here.
That'd be a great pity. Just to be clear BTW, the "poor helpless women" comment was about how I see your claim - that that's what you seem to be saying. I, on the other hand, don't see women like that - pressured yes, prejudiced against yes. Helpless not so much. That's part of my issue with this "women can't choose for themselves, men made them do it" argument - it just doesn't tally with nearly all the women I know.

I'm a bit sorry I apparently have to explain that i'm not a raving bigot but there you go, so be it.
Sure but why should any of we "beholders" count more than Eliza ? Cos there's more of us ?

Yes! We totally outnumber her! By, like, a lot. OK, that's not a good reason. I don't think we count more, just that we're all going to have an opinion about what certain kinds of depictions of female sexuality mean and how positive they are. As the Depictor (and Depictee?!) her opinion is definitely interesting, but I don't think it counts more than anyone else's, really.

And don't go helcat. I think you might have taken something the wrong way, not sure what because I'm reading / posting in a RUSH (bad idea) but we're all nice and you've said some really interesting (to me) things.
I think it would be very sad if a vital member (no sexism intended there, heh) of this discussion were to disappear :(.
Oh that's sweet of you zeitgeist but my students are arriving any minute. I'll be back later, I promise.

Oh, wait, you meant... OK never mind.
What Catherine Quoted:
What confuses me about this argument is that I get that Joss is depicting what is being done to the 'dolls' as wrong. What I don't see is that the way the show is depicting its actresses is being set up as being 'wrong'. It seems I should be all for the shots of Eliza's cleavage because that's the image Eliza wants to project. So I shouldn't find them the least bit questionable and having yet another show on TV showing me the brilliance of being a hot chick is something I should view as positively feminist rather than playing to the lowest common denominator.

... my students are arriving any minute...

Ah, just don't open the door catherine, turn the lights out and hide behind the curtains or something.

And i'm not touching "vital member". Err. Well, you know what I mean.
OhMyGod, OhMyGod, OhMyGod.

*runs around in circles with arms raised in exasperation, huffing a bit.*

I have so much to say here, and it requires a lot of digestion/analysis/pondering & careful writing that I just don't have time for at the moment. Not even more tea coffee will help.

Sorry, I do have to say this, and I know it seems cowardly to say it and run away 'til later, but tant pis - that's the way it is at the moment for me:

There does seem to be an overall flavor of mocking & belittling some genuine feminist concerns that deserve better, I think - whether or not I specifically agree with those particular concerns.

Granted, I sped through reading the thread - but I came away with a strong feeling of mockety-mock that really doesn't sit well with me. Maybe, as funny as some of these concerns may seem to some of you, they are not quite so knee-slappingly hilarious to some of us here.

Sorry to conform to the "feminists have no sense of humor" stereotype - but it makes me kinda not want to post in here at all, so I get what helcat may be feeling.
Seeing as I kinda instigated the shoe thing I just wanted to pop back and say that what catherine says here:

I think most of the stuff Joss has done participates in a particular somewhat narrow idea of femininity and what is attractive, and I don't so much expect different from Dollhouse, at least in that respect. And I don't mean that as a criticism. I don't think it's his duty as a feminist story-teller to do ... anything. I love his shows, I love his characters, I think they're sexy and that's part of what I enjoy about them. I just wonder about this whole "check out Eliza, but we're going to subvert it" thing. I'm not buying it, yet! But I've only seen four eps, and zeitgeist has probably seen more than they've filmed ;).


is pretty much how I feel. Mainly I'm frustrated at an industry that seems to only ever portray women and femininity in one narrow way and that while I certainly don't expect people to challenge this by say, dressing a doctor in shoes that are practical and don't cause health problems, I just wish they would more.

I think that how women are portrayed in the media has an influence on how they are treated in real life. Women and men are confined by gender and as short-haired, hairy, unwashed, feminist, lesbian tomboy, I know that you can pay a high price for not performing your gender appropriately. I'm not saying tv has all the answers but it would just be nice if it tried more. Then I might get that happy squishy feeling I got when Tara and Willow got to be sexual to each other.
catherine - I meant any of the folks who are posting on this thread, though, really, mainly the ones who have MR tea-shirts ;).

What confuses me about the "What confuses me..." passage that is getting quoted is that it seems to ignore that these exact points are discussed upthread and it seems to ignore my post to which it is referring in spite of having quoted it. I think the depiction of the actresses in the show and in the advertising are inextricably linked to the show's ability to examine the issue honestly. Could they have done it without it? Yes. Could it be there for titillation and not as a deliberate play on the theme of the show? Absolutely.

So, to reiterate - I'm saying it could be either way, but I have faith in the storytellers in this case and I like to think that people will try not to be dismissive of my opinions as I try not to be dismissive of theirs - especially given that my stance is not "you are wrong", but "I could see it either way, but...". I also know that Joss and Eliza are expecting parts of the show and the advertising to make us uncomfortable. Do you have to be "all for Eliza showing her cleaveage"? No, but its not innately anti-feminist if its her choice whether or not to do it or even be in a situation that would ask that of her.

QG - I don't think anyone views these concerns as particularly funny, but I could be misinterpreting what I'm reading (goodness knows I've been misinterpeted and had words put in my mouth in my time posting).

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-19 21:41 ]
Go for it, QG!
Sorry to conform to the "feminists have no sense of humor" stereotype - but it makes me kinda not want to post in here at all, so I get what helcat may be feeling.

Yeah well no offence but we're approaching it with exactly the same mix of irreverence and serious discussion that we approach every other topic on here. Perhaps it's just that this is the one topic that you're not happy doing that with QuoterGal ? It's fine if that's the case, we all have one (mine's just never really come up) but I guess castigating us for being us feels a bit rich to be honest.
I think a lot of people are trying to say that while it is Eliza's right to choose to objectify herself, her decision to do so still impacts the perception of women. Making that choice without considering it's remifications is where it gets fuzzy.

Kind of like Charles Barkley's age old argument that he'd behave badly because he didn't sign up to be a role model.
Sorry, Z. I tried to refresh the page and it double-posted. But now that I'm back again, I'm gonna quote QuoterGal:
There does seem to be an overall flavor of mocking & belittling some genuine feminist concerns that deserve better, I think - whether or not I specifically agree with those particular concerns.

Granted, I sped through reading the thread - but I came away with a strong feeling of mockety-mock that really doesn't sit well with me. Maybe, as funny as some of these concerns may seem to some of you, they are not quite so knee-slappingly hilarious to some of us here.

That's actually the sense that I get from a lot of the threads where people challenge the dogma that anything that Joss does should be assumed to be kosher with feminists. People like those feminists who praise Joss, but whenever a feminist criticizes him people either get their hackles up or get really dismissive. To the point where I'm inclined not to even bother with feminism-related "discussions" anymore. Just as I don't like preaching to the choir, I don't really like talking to a wall either. Especially when that wall wields the power to put me on "time out" again.

But then when you go bring in the shoe angle, of course I find myself sucked back in ... crap, there I go reinforcing all those negative stereotypes about women being obsessed with shoes.
The point of the show, and why I think it is fundamentally feminist, is that it has pre-conceived of this very argument.

The whole "dolls who enact and occupy an identity that they have not chosen" is a metaphor for the questions about whether Eliza's "okay-ness" with photo shoots is really her own choice or the demands of Hollywood or the demands of patriarchal society at large. The same goes for the question of why one chooses to wear particular shoes. Or, indeed, the question of why one is who one is. These are questions that are central to feminism (because the upshot of a lot of social construction has been the more or less willing subjugation of women), and these are the questions that are central to the show (the more or less willing subjugation of the dolls and the identities they enact).

For me, at least, that is enough. It is a show that cares about feminist issues and ideas. It is not (thank goodness) a show that claims to have the answers to the problems feminism identifies.
You make a good point, QingTing, but is she doing it with an eye towards discussing the issue? And if she isn't, is it our place to scold her for it?

I don't really like talking to a wall either. Especially when that wall wields the power to put me on "time out" again.


Brew - speaking for this "wall", I'm not gonna put you on time out for disagreeing with me. I'm also offended by the suggestion in the word "again" that you've been put on timeout for disagreeing with me. Please email me and we can discuss if you feel that that has ever been the case. Just because Joss discussed the idea with noted feminists before agreeing to do it and just because his co-hort is a woman, doesn't mean that all women have to like it or agree with what it says or seems to be trying to say.

The assumption that everything Joss does is okay with feminists (problematic in itself - which feminists?) is a fairly untenable position. No entire group of any kind is going to completely agree with something in its entirety... aside from North Korean voters/Kim Jong Il, of course.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-19 21:52 ]
... crap, there I go reinforcing all those negative stereotypes about women being obsessed with shoes.

I dunno, you mentioned flip-flops earlier BrewBunny and I wonder if flip-flops are even really shoes ?

People like those feminists who praise Joss, but whenever a feminist criticizes him people either get their hackles up or get really dismissive.

Whenever anyone criticises Joss for anything it tends to get hackles up on here, feminism isn't a special case in that regard unless it's made one. That said, i've seen plenty of dismissiveness on this topic (even by you BrewBunny) so I guess it's a risk for us all. I've also seen plenty of lively, clever discussion which tends to continue right up to the point someone comes in and accuses everyone that disagrees with them of being dismissive (generally without actually addressing their, y'know, points) then it becomes less interesting.

I think a lot of people are trying to say that while it is Eliza's right to choose to objectify herself ...

Well, if they literally are saying that then they've already decided she's objectifying herself. To me that's more of an open question.
That said, i've seen plenty of dismissiveness on this topic (even by you BrewBunny) so I guess it's a risk for us all.

Point taken, Saje. I do my best to debate serious issues like a grownup, but regrettably often lapse into snark, which while being emotionally satisfying, seldom wins hearts and minds.
Cheers, Brew, something we would all do well to keep in mind :).
Sometimes it's just there, y'know ? The Perfect Snarky Comment. Passing up the Perfect Snarky Comment might be asking too much of our frail human forms. I've always imagined heaven as having no snark - just one of the reasons that, one way or the other, i'm not going there ;).
No snark? Sounds more like hell.
Did someone mention tea?
""These are questions that are central to feminism."

Hate to disagree. These are questions which are central to humanity and to identity, not specific to women.
Joss Whedon says sensible things about the art/artist divide, and gushes about Eliza's boots.

This made my week. Thanks, Joss!
My two cents: flip flops are shoes. The very best shoes ever devised. I also am deeply in love with my high heel, knee high black leather boots. They make me feel very kick-assy!
Agreed, Dana5140. These are questions central to humanity. I was just trying to emphasize why they matter in a discussion of Joss's and Dollhouse's feminism.
But then that's not what I was expecting


I think when you have a man who has been out of the tv game for 5 years and has a mythology built around him and his shows in that time, no one knows quite what to expect.

Or to put it in Twitter speak ---> Sexy Joss show causes problems for fandom.
Yup, that's it in a nutshell.
"New Whedon Show 'Dollhouse' Has Its Knockers"
We're not W for Whedetta.
"Or to put it in Twitter speak ---> Sexy Joss show causes problems for fandom."


Sexy isn't an issue

Sexy is good

Arguably sexist and exploitative is another matter.

[ edited by debw on 2009-03-19 23:29 ]
Okay, we're talking about a show that's about people who choose of their own free will to give up their identity and become objects to be used, which is depicted as being something bad. So why is it hard to understand why just saying that an actress choosing of her own free will to seemingly objectify herself doesn't necessarily make it okay and non-exploitative? It's a fine line that can be endlessly debated.
Insta-poll: Is the Lingerie Football League exploitive or empowering?
Sexy isn't an issue


I think it is an issue. I don't think the fandom is used to sexy Joss and all the baggage that comes with it.
To be clear, I think the baggage associated with sexy is massive, not that this is so simple as "sexy = bad."
BrewBunny: "Insta-poll: Is the Lingerie Football League exploitive or empowering?"

Hah. The non-profit I used to work at became the recipient of funds one year from the Lingerie Bowl, and we took a lot of flack from folks who thought we were being amoral whores to do it. (We didn't sponsor the event - we were the charitable recipients of a portion of its proceeds.)

I hadda to go with the notion that we were like Melanie Wilkes in GWTW when she took gold for the "Cause" from Belle Watling - we would take money from the devil itself if it would help us find a cure for HIV/AIDS.

But I sure as hell knew what people were objecting to.
I have so much work to do, and I was never going to click on a thread titled "Joss Whedon--Feminist?" (puh-leez), but then I saw "Joss post" and now I've spent ages reading instead of working and it's all you guys' fault and I can't believe I read that many posts about shoes.
Catherine has best expressed the ambiguity I feel about this topic, Joss has demonstrated why I love him with this:
So, in summary: please ignore me/pay attention to me, and judge my work on its own merits unless it has none in which case give me a pass 'cause I said I was a feminist,
Sunfire gets my hilarity + common sense award, Saje has made me curious about which topic he is unwilling to treat with a mix of seriousness & irreverence ("mine's just never come up"), and
Brewbunny, I get why you posted that, but hope you're not seeing "Lingerie Football League" when you watch Dollhouse (the show, I mean, not the promos--because those deserve the comparison).
And lastly, I've watched most of the episodes twice & I didn't notice any of the shoes (except the boots) or the bare feet. Does this mean I'm not a real woman?
What confuses me about the "What confuses me..." passage that is getting quoted is that it seems to ignore that these exact points are discussed upthread and it seems to ignore my post to which it is referring in spite of having quoted it.


What confuses me about what confuses you about "what confuses me..." is... well, I'm lost. These points are discussed upthread, and in other threads, but I liked that passage because it clearly articulated something I'd been fumbling with. Clearly some viewers think, as you do, that "the depiction of the actresses in the show and in the advertising are inextricably linked to the show's ability to examine the issue honestly" (that sentence just screams "I have had just the right amount of caffeine" ;)) but others think... well, what helcat said. I don't think s/he was ignoring a point, just making another one. Or maybe we're all just repeating ourselves, but I'm still interested!

So, to reiterate - I'm saying it could be either way, but I have faith in the storytellers in this case and I like to think that people will try not to be dismissive of my opinions as I try not to be dismissive of theirs - especially given that my stance is not "you are wrong", but "I could see it either way, but...". I also know that Joss and Eliza are expecting parts of the show and the advertising to make us uncomfortable. Do you have to be "all for Eliza showing her cleaveage"? No, but its not innately anti-feminist if its her choice whether or not to do it or even be in a situation that would ask that of her.


You betcha! I hope nobody's being dismissive. I'm not getting that vibe. Just some disagreement. And while I can't speak for anybody else, I definitely don't think that cleavage is innately anti-feminist! (Yikes! What would I have to do to my wardrobe?). But that's not the same thing as questioning the motivations / implications of the advertising or the way sex is used in the show, is it? Or, because everybody else is more articulate than me today, this:

I think a lot of people are trying to say that while it is Eliza's right to choose to objectify herself, her decision to do so still impacts the perception of women. Making that choice without considering it's remifications is where it gets fuzzy.


Re. this:

You make a good point, QingTing, but is she doing it with an eye towards discussing the issue? And if she isn't, is it our place to scold her for it?


I don't think anybody's trying to scold Eliza for doing whatever she feels like doing! But since it's out there, it's open for us to talk about what we think the ramifications might be.

I sped through reading the thread - but I came away with a strong feeling of mockety-mock that really doesn't sit well with me. Maybe, as funny as some of these concerns may seem to some of you, they are not quite so knee-slappingly hilarious to some of us here.


I hope I haven't been mockety-mockety, and I really hadn't picked up on anyone else being so; I think most of us posting are pretty interested in the topic and consider it important in spite of differing POVs. But I hope you do come back after pondering, as I always enjoy a good dose of Quotergal.
Okay, we're talking about a show that's about people who choose of their own free will to give up their identity and become objects to be used...


Are we? Did they?
What Catherine Saidtm! ;)
Woo hoo! That's my first! Uncaffeinated, too...
Indeed WCS™ ;). With maybe less emphasis on 'hope' and more on 'know' for me cos mockery requires intent and I know that wasn't there on my part. For a cast-iron fact.

... which topic he is unwilling to treat with a mix of seriousness & irreverence ...

It's not so much 'unwilling', more 'unable' jcs. Just personal baggage like we all have, nothing special ;).

Insta-poll: Is the Lingerie Football League exploitive or empowering?

What it is is apparently incompatible with Firefox (my version anyway) so I had to load IE. My immediate gut response is "Exploitative" but when I think about it even something like this goes back to my position all along, Option 3: "I dunno, it doesn't seem straightforward to me". It's still their choice, no-one's forcing them to do it but this feels closer to exploitation (mainly because it seems like the women's aims could be served entirely without the lingerie aspect whereas for most of the viewers i'd wager it's basically the sole point).

They're definitely really playing though from the snippets in that video (i've seen clips of so-called "foxy boxing" and it's pretty much soft porn in all but name - there's no athleticism) so there's an element of genuine competitive sport to it, at least as far as the players are concerned.
I think a lot of people are trying to say that while it is Eliza's right to choose to objectify herself ...

Well, if they literally are saying that then they've already decided she's objectifying herself. To me that's more of an open question.


Yeah, that! It's definitely a big question mark for me, but I also think that her choice is a separate issue from what we make of the result.
Are we? Did they?

Well, at least we know that some of the "dolls" used their freedom OF choice to choose freedom FROM choice. *hums Devo song* Or at least, so it seems so far. Unless they said differently in the episode I missed, in which case, oops.

But not all choices we make day-to-day are as free as we'd like to think they are. Do women wear high heels, show off their boobs, and wear makeup (painting an entirely new face over their own, because apparently women's faces aren't ever considered to be pretty enough as-is) because it makes them happy to feel sexy, or because they've been made to feel inferior if they don't do that? If it's so empowering, why don't more men do that (yes, possibly including showing off the man-boobs), and why aren't we more accepting of the men who do?

(Sorry if that's jumbled. I haven't had any caffeine or food yet today, and it's almost time for dinner, so my brain is running low on think.)
You're on a roll, catherine! Also, I'm fairly sure that the lingerie part is aimed squarely and deliberately at being explotative :) Of both genders, quite possibly :) ETA - in different ways, and not equally one suspects.

Yeah, I would go so far as to say a lot of things that we choose to do carry a lot of cultural baggage of all sorts. Doesn't mean we don't choose to do it, but as with all things, as I'm fairly certain is part of your point, defying them has consequences. I certainly think women look better without makeup, though no one in the makeup or fashion industries or at Cosmo or in Hollywood asked me and I suspect the issue is more complex than could be summed up in any estimation of it as sexist. I'd also say its not a completely new face so much as accentuating parts and de-emphasizing others; a completely new face would be clown makeup.

Mine's a jumble, too :). Suffice it to say, agree or disagree, I love talking about things and learning things from you folks.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-20 01:14 ]
I wear a kilt on a regular basis. Does that count for something deanna b? ;)
Fucking watch it sunshine ;-).

(last time I wore one I was 4 and yet I still have to put up with all the "men in skirts" cracks)

Of both genders, quite possibly :)

That's also true of course, not saying men are suffering from that situation BUT if that sort of exploitation really does harm society as a whole and we're all living here too ... The exploitation is at least partly of "human nature".

Yeah, that! It's definitely a big question mark for me, but I also think that her choice is a separate issue from what we make of the result.

I don't see it as entirely separate myself but i'm gonna sidestep "objectification" because a) we've both been there, done that ;) and b) it's so nebulous that my own feeling is it's almost impossible to talk about. It's entirely in the eye of the beholder and so we end up in "How high is up ?" territory I reckon.

If it's so empowering, why don't more men do that (yes, possibly including showing off the man-boobs), and why aren't we more accepting of the men who do?

I guess that's where societal norms and the (partly) created ideas of masculinity and femininity come into it. A lot of men are trapped by the masculine role and though it looks like we're getting a great deal (being "trapped" on the side of the oppressors and all) it's worth remembering that the grass is always greener...
(last time I wore one I was 4 and yet I still have to put up with all the "men in skirts" cracks)


Even on your more enlightened side of the pond? Gah. Well I'm living (such as it is) in the good ol' Dirty South of Birmingham, Alabama and I've had a not-too-bad time of it. I'll confess though that I'm wearing Utilikilts, so it's a little less shocking I think.
Several people have asked about Second and Third Wave feminism. My two cents, which I won't guarantee are legal tender anywhere else.

In modern times, there have been three peak periods of feminist activism in Britain and America. I don't remember who dubbed them "waves". The first period lasted from the 1850s to 1920. During this period, women won a number of legal rights such as the right to higher education, to keep control of one's own property after marriage, the right to custody of children after a divorce, and the rights to vote and hold office. The second period lasted from the 1950s through the 1970s. The big issues for this period included employment opportunities and equal pay, eliminating the sexual double standard, violence against women, and cultural attitudes that ignored and trivialized women's concerns. I'm a Second Wave feminist. I'm not clear about the Third Wave's issues except that they take what was achieved in the first and second waves as a starting point, which is only natural.

I have a real problem with using "Second Wave Feminist" and "Third Wave Feminist" as labels for ideological positions or ascribed attitudes. Some of what I've read along these lines is simply stereotyping, no more sophisticated than the "Man-hating Bra-burning Women's Libber" that the media hung on us back in the day. If you are going to analyze the shortcomings of any organized movement, you have to get beyond the broad strokes (no pun intended) and look at what the internal debates were about. I don't like having View X ascribed to me simply because I was an activist during Period Y when some other activist supported that view.

A lot of Second Wave feminists cared about theory. We had deep disagreements about whether the mental and emotional differences between men and women are innate or cultural, about lesbianism, about pornography, about whether it's more tactically effective to ally with men or organize separately.

First Wave feminists had arguments over theory and tactics too.
Haunt - you know well as anyone that "enlightened" comes in pockets and rarely encompasses entire areas. The bigger the area, the less likely. Its enlightenment physics or something ;).
Darn! I left and missed the excitement.

*waves to Joss*

Dana5140

Neither saje nor shansubugaboo know why that decision was made, but both are arguing interpretations as to what it means, absent any evidence whatsoever to support their arguments.

I think Sage has already addressed this, but I've been gone so I feel the need to clarify myself. This is not what I was arguing at all. I was arguing against the idea that wearing high heels has some secret hidden meaning (like upholding patriarchal ideals). I don't know how you got that out of what I wrote. Do I know why a specific costume designer put her in heels? No, but I am more likely to believe it has to do with who the character is than anything. Point is, I don't know. But it doesn't bother me. And I am not inscribing meaning to it...I was doing the opposite of that.
Em. Some interesting points that have now sent me into a tizzy. After many years of working for many companies; I thought screw it and set up my own. The hardest part was thinking of a name and when I thought about the work I want to do there was really only one name...
Idir MnŠ

It means amongst women in Irish and as I am an Irish Theatre Company that wishes to celebrate womens accomplishments in Irish theatre, it fits.

Although it's only a week in existence we(yes we!) have discussed many of the issues that we have already been labled with... But now I see that if we are not careful we may yet fall at a great stumbling block...

What shoes will the all female cast of Glengarry Glen Ross wear?

I have called an EGM for first thing tomorrow and whilst in the shower, I am hopeful... Nay confident that we will come up with some options.

Thank you Joss. x
Congrats on your business, missyu :)!
Wow! Congrats and good luck, missyu - that sounds fantastic.
I was tempted to post jinx just to freak you out, catherine ;).
I just wanna say that the arguments against putting a fictional doctor in high heels while outside the O.R. would carry a lot more weight with me if I hadn't seen so many real-life doctors wearing high heels while outside the O.R. (a lot of real-life male doctors wear things in the office that wouldn't be appropriate in the O.R., too. Haven't noticed any of them wearing high heels, though. And now that I have that picture in my head, I'm going to do my best to make sure I don't ever notice that...)
I was tempted to post jinx just to freak you out, catherine ;).

Would have been freaked ;). Anyway, you owe me a coke now.

I don't see it as entirely separate myself but i'm gonna sidestep "objectification" because a) we've both been there, done that ;) and b) it's so nebulous that my own feeling is it's almost impossible to talk about. It's entirely in the eye of the beholder and so we end up in "How high is up ?" territory I reckon.

Like why is a mouse when it spins? No, not entirely separate I guess. I think I mean (though it's hard to tell sometimes) that if Eliza Dushku does a photo shoot, it's not so unlike Joss Whedon making a story. What we get is a result. Why s/he did what s/he did and what the intentions and motivations were behind it are interesting things to ponder, but ultimately, we have a photograph, or a story. It's out in the world, and we decide what it means and what we make of it. Saying "it's her choice" is a valid point, but only partly relevant to the question "what does it mean?"

not saying men are suffering from that situation BUT if that sort of exploitation really does harm society as a whole and we're all living here too ... The exploitation is at least partly of "human nature".

Definitely.
Does Taffy really choose to wear her boots? Does Echo choose it? Does Topher? Does Eliza? Does Joss? (okay, he says no)

Does Boyd really choose to wear a tie?
SB- not ascribing meaning is ascribing meaning. Or something like that. :-) I really meant that neither of you could really support whatever it was you were saying with any evidence, nothing more. You were offering opinions, which is fine, but not evidence, which often helps settle arguments/debates.

Completely OT, but cool to me is: Truth! I don't know if my bud saw the episode, and I am not so sure he is going to be happy about it, but I have to say, wow! How cool is that? :-)



[ edited by SoddingNancyTribe on 2009-03-20 03:58 ]
Arrgh! I read the comments on Joss and Feminism and got spoiled for Bones (which I was planning to watch later On Demand). Not cool!
SB- not ascribing meaning is ascribing meaning.

I suppose that's true ;) And yes, it was just my opinion. I honestly don't know what the costume designer's are thinking...but I also don't think that we can assume what they are thinking either (when they choose what a character will wear).

Phew. This is all very brain-tiring. Good debate though.
ACK! Dana5140! Bones hasn't aired on the West coast yet, and I'm spoiled... by you!
I'd heard about them before (I think the first reference was last September, when folks on another board were talking about a character on HBO's/Alan Ball's True Blood wearing one), they've been in the newspapers recently with Dear Abbey columns replying to some poor guy who's written in asking for advice on being put down by his family for his choice of lower wardrobe, but it's this thread that pushed me over the edge into seriously looking into Utilikilts. I blame Haunt (I may be thanking him later). We'll see. They're a little pricey. At the very least, I'm more informed now and some of the dudes wearing them in the pics on the company's page seem to be pulling it off nicely (and good to see there're modesty flaps...'cause I was wondering if you're supposed to wear underwear or what).

I never thought about it before, but pants are a relatively new invention in the history of stuff people wear. Even for men. It was robes/towels/kilts/sarongs for centuries...millenia, even ? Yeah, so this sorta ties in to what we've been conditioned to believe is normal/acceptable.
Awesome! Welcome to the brotherhood, Kris.
Argh Kris! What are you doing to me. We've finally decided that the choice of the shoes will be different for each individual and her character and now you introduce pants!!

Thanks for the well wishes. x
Wow - some lively discussion here! I will simply wait for Echo/Caroline to kick Laurence in the balls with her comfy-yet- lethal stiletto boots whilst wearing her powder puff girls t-shirt, fishnet stockings and micro mini to realize that it (whatever IT is) has finally been deconstructed.
Are you changing the script significantly for Glengarry Glenross missyu or just e.g. pronouns etc. ? Either way it sounds interesting.

I really meant that neither of you could really support whatever it was you were saying with any evidence, nothing more.

Yeah but what we're saying amounts to "We don't know" Dana5140. I'm struggling to see what evidence we could provide to support that since it's not a position, it's more like pointing out alternative possibilities. And besides, evidence surely doesn't matter to a pure reader response guy anyway, right ? ;)

Even on your more enlightened side of the pond? Gah.

Heh, one kingdom, four countries Haunt ;) i.e. the English take the piss most (mainly cos a lot of Scots will rise to it ;). Joking aside though, it does tie into masculine and feminine roles - 400 years ago no problem, nowadays it's not identified as a marker of manhood. In ancient Egypt men wore make-up as a matter of course, currently it's not really accepted in our cultures but some guys have started to wear so-called "guyliner", maybe in 50-100 years it'll be totally acceptable.

It was robes/towels/kilts/sarongs for centuries...millenia, even ?

Put it this way, the English banned the plaid (a larger, wraparound piece of material that would eventually become the kilt) partly because they didn't like the idea of a bunch of potential insurrectionists that wore what amounts to a survival kit for Scottish winters, clothes you can run away to the hills in at a moment's notice. We've better gear now but back then they were hard to beat and stood the test of time in the only way that mattered - if you wore them you didn't die when it got cold ;).
Apologies for the spoil, truly- but please join in my delight. Thanks for invistexting my words, ZG.
Damn my time zone, and my too busy at all the wrong times! :(
I've only had time to read about half of this. And I'm stupidly thrilled that Joss is still around and sees fit to engage in the occasional conversation here, as bummed as I am that I'm so far to late to say "hi Joss, can I say that I adore you without sounding like a total idiot?" (well, I just did, so be it). :)

Once again, Satai has said a lot of things I've wanted to say, well before I got the chance. And I think this comment from another poster, sums up how I personally perceive what makes Joss's work feminist, more succinctly than I ever could. .......

I always thought one of the strengths of Joss shows was that not only did women get to be strong but men got to be soft. People just got to be people.

kalia | March 19, 18:07 CET


I understand that this doesn't address the issue of not having many ordinary looking people on TV (at least not in the U.S.), but I think that's a different issue. As far as the character of Joss's, characters, ;) I think what kalia said, addresses it to perfection.

As for looks, you simply aren't going to find many unattractive people making it as lead actors. Is this sexist? I would argue that it isn't, because it applies almost equally to male actors.
Is there something fundamentally "wrong" about this? I actually don't think so. It's simply a fact of life that we all like to look at pretty people, on our TV and movie screens.
I think it's part of the "identifying with" fantasy.

I do think the age discrimination issue is much more problematic. Which is one reason I love BSG so much, neither the women or the men have to be young to be sexual and involved in romantic/sexual relationships - some are, some aren't.
Joss has yet to mine this territory, but neither do I feel he should be obligated to, just because someone else has (finally) done it, on TV, (as much as I love Ron Moore for going there).

I love Joss for going to other places. And I love that Dollhouse is so different from his previous work. I feel fortunate that he's still even willing to engage with us, his sometimes appallingly demanding fans. He's been damned for being a one trick pony on some issues and on the other hand, damned for the fact that Dollhouse isn't more like his other work, in a number of ways - not as feminist - (or a different kind of feminist), not as much with the "found family" thing, not enough whacky humor.

As for me, I'm deeply offended that he drinks tea instead of coffee. What kind of American writer does that?
Hummph.

[ edited by Shey on 2009-03-20 13:46 ]
Sorry, had to do this.

While there are indeed multiple types/waves of feminism, I have been told specifically that some of them are "bad" because they disagree with Gloria Steinem/Betty Friedan ;). I almost kid!

zeitgeist | March 19, 20:19 CET


And I have been told that Camille Paglia has rendered Steinhem and Friedan "irrelevant", which I find appalling (and I do not kid). Which certainly doesn't mean that I unquestioningly agree with everything either Steinhem or Friedan espouses. All three women can be extremely dogmatic.

Point being, someone once said (totally paraphrasing) that the true measure of the success of any social/political movement can be seen in how much disagreement is openly voiced within the ranks.
By which measure, I may still be basically on topic, re. how differently Joss's feminism is perceived, by different fans. ;)
Totally right, Shey, and lovely to "hear" from you :). Like I (and others) said upthread, there is no homogeneous "feminism" to which we can really fall back on for opinions about specific issues. There could be nearly as many feminisms as there are feminists, one might say. Insulting tea-drinkers will get you nowhere, however, for we are legion ;).
Caveat lector. In tea veritas.
I'm late to this party, but just in case anyone is still reading: In the past, when Joss said he was an "old-school 1970s feminist," that would be classified as second wave. So, no, Shanshu, I haven't seen anything that would classify him as third wave.

Saje contrasted "textbook feminism" with some sort of "real-world feminism" in which women choose to wear high heels and it has nothing to do with men. Feminism in textbooks is about as diverse as "textbook philosophy." I.e., not all philosophers agree.

And, yes, men are still setting societal norms, by and large. The top rungs of the media (including movies and TV), business, government, religion, etc., are occupied by men.

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