prozacpark: (Default)
[personal profile] prozacpark
I've always off-handedly known that Joss had planned a gang rape for Inara by reavers at some point, but never really pursued the details past what I had briefly come across? But it's something that comes up for me often in "Firefly" discussions in the context of So Glad It Died Before That. [livejournal.com profile] ide_cyan provided some links in my last post with more details, and it was too tempting. I now have details. And thoughts. And rage, OH SO MUCH RAGE. Because the interview linked was done by Tim Minear, aka my TV God.

Hi, fuck you, Tim Minear. I have liked you in the past because while you’ve failed before, you have also been good about admitting the fail and then correcting it where possible, which is incredibly rare with writers. So I had assumed that you had gotten past the issues you had displayed randomly on Angel? Because you gave us “The Inside,” which is a wonderful deconstruction of some very problematic tropes and will never not be epic. And “Drive.” And “Wonderfalls.” All with awesome women and no rape! But apparently, it never goes away.

He goes on for almost three minutes about the Rape of Inara plot here (around the 35 minute mark). Which apparently is what Joss Whedon used to pitch the show to him. You know, Joss the Feminist. (Honestly, at this point, I'm surprised that Buffy had five seasons before rape entered the narrative arcs.) The word “beautiful” might have been used in the context of a RAPE PLOT. Women’s suffering/death as beautiful? My thoughts on it haven't changed. Just…I kind of want to crawl under a rock and avoid fandom forever. Tim Minear was the ONLY writer I had any respect left for.

Like, I do think that Minear tends to be at his worst when working under Joss. But his failure to recognize the fail of a rape plot in the context of Man Pain? At worst, he’s a horrible misogynist, and even at best, he’s one of the Joss-is-God people who can’t see anything wrong with what Joss does. Either way, NO WORDS.

Also, I am now gleefully happy that “Firefly” got canceled. Not that I wasn’t before, but now? I can almost forgive FOX for canceling all those TV shows if it means that Inara was never raped. Also, TV, can you stop having the women with sexuality be raped or otherwise punished for having it while pretending to be edgy for having women with ‘unconventional’ sexualities?



"It opens with Mal and Inara fighting (as they do). Mal tells her she pretends to be a lady and wants everyone to bow before her and kiss her hand but she’s just a whore. Then the Reavers attack and take Inara. While trying to get her back they learn that she had something that would make anyone who had sex with her die. When they finally track down and board the ship they find all of the Reavers dead and Inara shaking and traumatized. They take her back to the ship and Zoe guards her room. Mal tries to get in to see her and Zoe tells him he’s the last person Inara needs to see. He pushes past her, kneels before Inara and kisses her hand."

So the framing of the episode is through Mal, who calls Inara a whore and then learns a lesson and is forced to acknowledge that she’s really a lady. This bugged me, but I could not figure out why because of the EPIC RAGE and despair, which eventually subsided to give way to thoughts: So, what makes her a respectable lady instead of a whore at the end of the show? Nonconsensual sex with a gang of reavers, which results in their deaths.

In other words: A woman having consensual sex that she enjoys and/or profits from is a whore, but a woman being raped can be a lady. It's the taking away of her CHOICE that elevates her to the status of a lady because it's okay as long as she didn't want it. Is it any wonder that our fiction is so filled with RAPE when we’re not COMFORTABLE with women having consensual sex, when fiction constantly feels the need to punish women for *wanting* sex, especially sex outside the bonds of a socially sanctioned monogamous relationship? Inara is, from my brief strays into the Firefly fandom, the most hated character, which is not really surprising given how uncomfortable fandom is with certain types of heroines. But this whole attitude that Inara somehow owes Mal something and all her sexing is actually cheating on him and how he doesn't deserve her? Gah. He calls her a whore repeatedly, slut shames her, and ENJOYS it. When she has asked him not to, and this is our hero. The one who learns an Important Lesson from her rape.

Jessica Valenti in “The Purity Myth” states it best, “While boys are taught that the things that make them men—good men—are universally accepted ethical ideals, women are led to believe that our moral compass lies somewhere between our legs. Literally. ”

Our fiction is made up of this double standard. This is why the romance genre is so littered with rape, because heroines can be forgiven for having sex and be heroines only when they never wanted the sex, when the hero has less than consensual sex with them and when they want sex only with that one man. So they get to experience it without ever wanting it because it’s the active desire that makes them whores, and whores are bad. The romance hero who has had a million relationships in his past finds true love and reforms, but how many romance arcs (in or outside of romance novels) have sexually adventuress heroines who reform? Because you can’t redeem whores, apparently. Their morality is not determined by how *good* they are as people, but how PURE and chaste they are. And it’s not even about their character because they can’t be redeemed simply by giving up their sexual liaisons because once they have fallen off of some pedestal, they’re irredeemable in patriarchal narratives.

When we made the list of anti-heroines, I had initially listed Inara, which was questioned by [livejournal.com profile] nicole_anell (<3), and it occurs to me that the reason I had done so was because all my studies in Western literature taught me that Hookers with a Heart of Gold are anti-heroines, and I have never really questioned it because I like anti-heroines so it’s not really a bad thing in my book?

However, Hookers with Hearts of Gold are, of course, GOOD people with good intentions who usually end up sacrificing themselves for the greater good. So why the anti with that type of heroine? Because the flaw is a moral one where morals are judged by PURITY and not actual actions or goodness. Can you imagine a male hero with that type of personality ever being referred to as an anti-hero no matter how much sex he has? We have a whole literature made up of this, of women dying for being unconventional, often in sexual terms, because if women with sexuality are not punished properly, it somehow takes away the HEROINE bit of the anti-heroine. Because they must always, ALWAYS suffer for having a sexuality. It’s probably rarely intentional, not anymore anyway, and often just seems like ‘edgy’ plotting, but our fiction is still filled with this. Do good women get punished as often? Who are the women that usually get the rape arcs? And who learns a lesson from that rape and who is hurt the most from it, narratively speaking? I…honestly haven’t consumed enough fiction with rape to start giving examples because that’s usually my cue to stop watching/reading, but I’m willing to bet that there are patterns and that they’re not pretty.

Also, lastly, the slew of comments following this planned plot detail for "Firefly" were all, "Oh, noes! I can't believe the show died before it got to that brilliance! Poor Joss." And these are the people apparently fit to decide who is and isn't a feminist? Not a single comment where anyone objected to the rape.
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Date: 2011-01-14 01:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meganbmoore.livejournal.com
Oh, great. Now I think handkissing has been ruined for me forever.

Also, romance novels...have gotten way better with that? But I still have to be choosy.

*depressed now*

You owe me PLL.

Date: 2011-01-14 01:13 am (UTC)
ext_18106: (Inara Serra thinks you're not bright)
From: [identity profile] lyssie.livejournal.com
BUT HELS. A woman being raped OBVIOUSLY has to be about the man who ~caaaaares~ about her, because it is HIS PAIN at NOT BEING ABLE TO SAVE HER. And also his confusion about whether to forgive her.

(wow, that hurt to type)

ALSO. Rape is in real life, so any woman in fiction who hasn't been raped is impossible. We can have spaceships and dragons and parasitical viruses and giant spiders that make earthquakes, BUT SUSPENDING OUR BELIEF for women with happy sexualities is IMPOSSIBLE.

(so did that)

(also, if I could just kill people with my brain, we would have better narratives, y/y?)

Date: 2011-01-14 01:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aphrodite-mine.livejournal.com
I'm so.

So.

Saddened by this.

Like you, I feel like hiding from all media. I feel betrayed. What's going to happen next?

Date: 2011-01-14 01:16 am (UTC)
ext_10249: (gina)
From: [identity profile] nicole-anell.livejournal.com
Now I think handkissing has been ruined for me forever.
God, right? That made me throw up a little in my mouth.

I have no words for this, except when I heard Morena mention it for the first time I thought "Thank GOD Firefly was cancelled" and getting the full version of the plot and its ~beautifulness~ is even grosser.

Also, I'm not quite as disillusioned as you ([livejournal.com profile] prozacpark) because I've never trusted Tim Minear in any way female-character-wise, but it does suck when someone who at least seems vaguely capable of doing better lets you down.
Edited Date: 2011-01-14 01:21 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-01-14 01:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meganbmoore.livejournal.com
Just reading the description in this post has ruined a lifelong kink, I think...

Date: 2011-01-14 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] prozacpark.livejournal.com
God, right? That made me throw up a little in my mouth.

*points to icon* Does that make it a little better? ;)

The thing with Tim Minear is that he failed a lot on AtS? But when criticized for it by a fan, he got in touch with her and had her look over scripts for new shows and made a big effort to fix the fail that was pointed out? So he earned a lot of goodwill from me for that (can you imagine Joss or Ron Moore taking sexist criticism seriously, much less making an effort to change?), and I was willing to handwave the "Angel" stuff because he did follow it up with things that were good and non-faily. But the fact that he has *no* filter for fail when it comes to his worship of Joss combined with his utter disrespect towards Inara? Just...*hates*

Date: 2011-01-14 01:35 am (UTC)
lafemmedarla: (cb. julia. first impressions.)
From: [personal profile] lafemmedarla
Oh, great. Now I think handkissing has been ruined for me forever.

THIS. Oh so much.

Date: 2011-01-14 01:40 am (UTC)
ext_18106: (Travis is not a merry man)
From: [identity profile] lyssie.livejournal.com
...er, just reading all of the sadness makes me want to run a multi-fandom hand-kissing promptathon. (I am so contrary)

Date: 2011-01-14 01:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] prozacpark.livejournal.com
ME TOO, BB! *clings*

I really just need to...never read/listen to anything the writers have to say outside of their work. This would improve much. GAH.

Date: 2011-01-14 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] prozacpark.livejournal.com
Romance novels have improved on the rape front, but not so much on having women with unconventional sexualities front? Because I keep looking for those romance novels and failing to find any.

I want a romance novel about a gold-digging con artist who also has lots of sex before possibly reforming.

Date: 2011-01-14 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] prozacpark.livejournal.com
GAH, I might have cried while listening to that fuckery in the audio clip, I AM SO TIRED OF THIS CRAP NOW.

And also his confusion about whether to forgive her.

THIS is so true. And a plot element that bugs me like no other? Because it really brings into perspective that the man's problem isn't with faithlessness (because it wasn't her choice!) but with the now perceived lack of purity because women are objects whose worth can be ruined with things like rape.

The presence of rape in SFF especially irks me because with all the world building, they can't write rape out of their narratives? And we must have rape even when we're pretending to have a society where there's no sexism. Because rape is dark and edgy and just adds to your apocalyptic world-building.

(also, if I could just kill people with my brain, we would have better narratives, y/y?)

At the very least, why can't I punch people through the intrawebs? Repeatedly? And motivate them to do better?

Date: 2011-01-14 02:10 am (UTC)
ext_7442: ([firefly] companion)
From: [identity profile] amathela.livejournal.com
Wow. That's.

Rape plots are horrible enough when it's the woman's plot (like, it's SO HARD to think of interesting things for female characters to do, rape is so EDGY AND INTERESTING), but when the focus is on someone else's epic man pain? UGH. JUST. STABBING FIERY RAGE.

Date: 2011-01-14 02:14 am (UTC)
ext_18106: (Hardison is shocked by your behavior)
From: [identity profile] lyssie.livejournal.com
I didn't cry, but I did a lot of "WHAT DID I JUST LISTEN TO WTF" faces. (WTF DID I JUST, WHAT. I DON'T HAVE WORDS)

Punching might help my outlook on life.

Date: 2011-01-14 02:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] star-healer.livejournal.com
Mal isn't good enough for Inara. His behavior towards her was just flatly unacceptable at times. I was hoping when I watched Firefly that I was supposed to think that, and not be impressed with him or anything. It seems like I'm always giving people the benefit of the doubt that "Oh, they're not endorsing this, they're just writing about it as a terrible thing, and to have an imperfect 'hero' (like in District 9) as a main character" but then I tend to find out later that I'm wrong, and I was actually intended to sympathize with some misogynistic jerk. Which, yeah... disappointment with various authors ensues.

Date: 2011-01-14 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lilacsigil.livejournal.com
Yes, I was the same. It *seriously* undermines your universe to have these high-ranked prostitutes who are universally respected, then have your main character ~coincidentally~ speak for the mainstream trope of "ew dirty girls yuk worthless whores".

Date: 2011-01-14 02:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mfirefly10.livejournal.com
This is the only time I've ever been happy about Firefly's cancelation. I can't even...I remember hearing something about the needle Inara had in the pilot being an anti-rape weapon but I never knew there was a planned gang-rape plot or that it would be told from Mal's POV. (What the frak is that about?! Inara suffers through the one of the most traumatic things that can happen to someone and it's all about Mal's man!pain?! *shakes head*)

This is why I try to avoid reading interviews with writers because it makes it much harder for me to enjoy their work and not think about the ridiculous crap they've said.

Sad, sad day...

Date: 2011-01-14 02:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seriousfic.livejournal.com
So you want a heroine who desires sex, has an unconventional sexuality, and isn't punished for it?



Poly bisexual dominatrix. Just saying.

Date: 2011-01-14 02:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] themadpoker.livejournal.com
It opens with Mal and Inara fighting (as they do). Mal tells her she pretends to be a lady and wants everyone to bow before her and kiss her hand but she’s just a whore.

Wait, that never gets better? DDDD= I watched the pilot of Firefly and one of the things that really bugged me was the way Mal talked to Inara. I kind of figured he got over that though because I know they're a big ship in the fandom. (I never watched past the first episode, it didn't really grab me) I don't get it, how are they a ship?

I can't really respond to your last point because I generally avoid fiction with rape as well but I wouldn't be surprised if you're right.

Date: 2011-01-14 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sabaceanbabe.livejournal.com
Mal isn't good enough for Inara. His behavior towards her was just flatly unacceptable at times. I was hoping when I watched Firefly that I was supposed to think that, and not be impressed with him or anything.

Me, too. :(

Date: 2011-01-14 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sabaceanbabe.livejournal.com
I really don't think I can listen to that.

Date: 2011-01-14 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaila43.livejournal.com
So I've still never watched a Whedon show, but that made me want to throw up a little anyway. And I feel obligated to chime in anyway and tell you that this is a good post which very succinctly and clearly outlines what is SO FAILY about not only that Firefly story but ALL THE DAMN RAPE, especially in these fantasy worlds where they can change anything they want and yet they hardly ever change gender roles or even have less freaking rape. Rape is always so good for the hero's emotional development! And so edgy and gritty! Ugh.

He calls her a whore repeatedly

I think this reinforces, again, my belief that I probably really don't need to watch Firefly or Buffy. Gah. (I totally believe there are redeeming things about both, and I know you like big parts of Buffy in particular. But I don't think I could stomach even the good parts of them while knowing that so many people hold Whedon up as the Most Feminist Writer Ever. When we can DO SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAT.)

Date: 2011-01-14 04:14 am (UTC)
ext_2060: (firefly: inara)
From: [identity profile] geekturnedvamp.livejournal.com
OH MY FUCKING GOD, I am so appalled by this.

And it sounds stupid from a storytelling standpoint too. Like, what would the mechanism be? I know this is science fiction, but seriously--is it some random virus she picked up the day before, or a superpower Inara has always had to kill with her evil vagenda but it only works on Reapers so she never knew about it before, or what? Because if just having sex with her killed everyone, that would have seriously cut into her ability to make a living. Plus why would the Reavers not just eat her and wear her skin or whatever after it quickly became obvious that the raping was not going so well for them? They're CRAZY, but not unable to discern cause and effect and act on their observations.

All of which pales before my horror of INARA WAS GOING TO BE GANG-RAPED. I'm SO glad I didn't know that until now.

Date: 2011-01-14 05:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meganbmoore.livejournal.com
You want to heal our souls.

Date: 2011-01-14 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] prozacpark.livejournal.com
I don't understand this narrative fascination with rape arcs. At the very least, can people not recognize what a narrative cliche it is? Gah.

Date: 2011-01-14 05:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] prozacpark.livejournal.com
Mal's treatment of Inara is horrible, and while we hear from Inara that she has called Mal worse things than a whore, I can't think of any bad word for men that holds the same stigma that the word whore does for women? But I'm pretty sure we're supposed to find Mal calling her a whore amusing and charming, when it's clear that it makes her uncomfortable. GAH.
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