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Season 2

Episode 1

We are introduced to our next example of people who are not heterosexual, Mord’Sith. The Mord’Sith in the show are more functional than the ones in the book. They have their own politics going on all the time instead of just until Richard needs to call on them. And we learn that Cara is bisexual so yay, bisexuals exist. I do take issue with all the confirmed non-heterosexuals except Cara being out of the picture by the end of the season. The total comes to a gay joke, a dead woman, a woman whose entire life was retconned away, and a heavy Zedd/Panis subtext. Fore the record, I read Triana and Cara as bi and Dahlia as a lesbian who makes exceptions for Darken when she has to. I’m open to other interpretations. Transgender, third gender, intersexed, gender neutral, bigender, and asexual people still don’t exist but growing up in Western culture has taught me to expect that.

Anyway, we have our first woman on woman kiss, we have dominance games, and we have a dead woman. We have Shota turning up to tell Zedd about all the horrible things that will happen if he doesn’t name a new Seeker. Even though in the three times we’ve seen Shota previously she’s been right about the future, Zedd decides nepotism wins. Martha and Rachel are again placed as passive damsels in distress who need the heroes to save them. I realize this is realistic for a nine-year-old girl and a cook. They’re even less active than their previous appearance and they never come back on screen.

All in all, 1x22 and 2x01 rush through their plot points like it’s a checklist. Both would benefit from slowing down and taking about three episodes apiece to complete.

Episode 2

Oh Kahlan and Cara. Why can’t you share the Awesome Ball? Richard and Kahlan take it on themselves to educate Cara, to turn her into a proper human being. I have so many issues with this that they have issues worthy of their own five thousand word essays. In brief, interrogating someone is not the same as getting to know them.

Kahlan lectures Cara about needing to be more sympathetic and pay attention to people’s feelings. Be compassionate and caring. You know. Womanly stuff. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. I agree Cara needs to learn social skills for her new situation. But I think it’s just that, social skills. I don’t think her pragmatic approach is a sign of a gaping hole in her soul. Then, I adore Cara and think she’s awesome to watch on screen as she is.

Besides the leads, the other woman in this story is the Baneling mother. Note, yet another ineffectual single mother. After I’m done going through episode by episode I will come back to what’s wrong with that running theme. She’s also another feminine angel of vengeance character because she became a Baneling to protect her son. It’s shown to be wrong but sympathetic. In addition, the boy is dead anyway, so it’s futile.

Cara uses sex to manipulate Flynn and it’s played for laughs. I’ll just point to the big long Goodkind paragraphs to show why I think that’s a problem. Again, not something that I find troubling as a scene or set of scenes, but in the context of the rest of the show it just adds to the nasty undercurrents.

I still think death camp imagery is inappropriate and death camps without mass transit are an affront to political history.

Episode 3

This is the episode where we learn that Cara is another of those feminine angels of vengeance. She only killed her father because she was lied to and in order to protect her sister. I have written many, many words on the subject of the way Richard treats Cara in this episode. I think he’s emotionally abusive towards her with the belief that it’s ok because he’s trying to save her. This is a recurring theme all the way back to Richard and Kahlan’s first meeting.

I do think crimes committed to save others are more forgivable than crimes committed for personal gain, whims, or out of callousness. However, it’s exceedingly rare for anyone other than Our Heroes to kill someone in self-defense. Something else I’ll bring up after I’m done going through episode by episode.

The female characters for the episode are a brief appearance from the Priestess of Casca, Mistress Nathair, Grace and Ella. The Priestess is an expository character to let us know that Dennee is dead again. Ella is there to make Grace’s husband protective and Grace is another passive character. We see nothing of how Grace responds to the way Silas has Cara arrested. She exists to give Cara someplace to go and be captured. She exists to give Cara a reason to kill their father. Fair enough. That’s what family is good for when you’re a main character. However, Grace, Silas, and Ella are characters added specifically for the show. In the books, Mord’Sith were always only children and they killed both parents. By making the Mord’Sith training about fathers and daughters, it makes the father more important than the mother. It also means that we see Cara’s father and are told what a good, kind man he was but don’t know more about Cara’s mother than Dead Of Grief. By giving Cara a sister to protect instead of just wanting to see her first home again it makes her birth as a Mord’Sith about someone other than herself. It turns it into something more selfless which gives me the impression they don’t think torturing a child into killing her father in order to make the abuse stop is sympathetic enough.

This brings me to my complaint about the crime this episode makes a big deal out of. As a Mord’Sith Cara has tortured men into submission, she’s gone on special missions for Darken Rahl. We know she has done terrible things in the Rahl name. On the one hand, the Council want to punish Cara for every crime the Mord’Sith have committed against them. On the other, Kahlan wants to punish Cara for a crime she definitely committed. I don’t think killing Dennee and Finn is the worst thing Cara ever did. From her perspective at the time, they were two extremely dangerous fugitives. My point being, she’s done something worth capital punishment by the village’s laws. That’s what the Mord’Sith do and they’ve never tried to hide that. Someone who proudly belongs to an organization that commits war crimes is not being oppressed when they’re brought to trial and sentenced based on their membership to an organization that commits war crimes. Cara’s fate is an excellent argument against capital punishment but not much else.

Then Mistress Nathair adds herself to the list of people who sacrifice themselves for others. The timing of her attempt to defend Cara makes me think she’s trying to serve her Lord Rahl. Whether she’s sacrificing herself to try to save Cara or to try to save Cara for her Lord Rahl, she’s still someone who only comes forward in order to defend someone else.

Episode 4

There are two more instances of woman on man rape in this episode. Josephine rapes Callum which we see as a series of flashbacks where neither she nor Callum’s sweetheart have any dialogue. His love is driven away and he’s saddled with a daughter he doesn’t dare allow to inherit. Annabelle’s treatment deliberately echoes Kahlan’s childhood but with Kahlan’s being worse (more special). Both of them are raised primarily by their fathers after their mothers die, thus releasing Frederick and Callum. Frederick tied his girls up and used them to Confess people into giving him money. Callum locked his daughter away in a tower. Both are examples of single fathers being abusive.

Due to Annabelle being cut off from the Confessors who would have trained Annabelle to only enslave responsibly, she enslaves willy-nilly. She wasn’t taught by Confessors so she doesn’t know the knife fighting that would allow her to protect herself. Since her father kept her, she’s in position to be kidnapped by the episode’s bad guys. Since she hasn’t been trained by Confessors, she’s easily tricked into believing lies. And of course, the source of her reason for turning against Our Heroes is that she’s being denied a life with marriage and babies. Because what woman in her right mind doesn’t want that?

I’m not sure what the big deal is with why Flynn is a bad choice for mate. He seems less likely to blame his children for their mother ruining his life than Callum. I have issues with Kahlan telling Annabelle her dreams weren’t happening and then being unwilling to talk about the positive aspects of being a Confessor. (Can’t help but notice we only saw what Confessors were supposed to be in 1x04.) It’s interesting that this is the episode where they show Kahlan to be lacking in compassion and it’s towards a girl more like her than anyone else we see.

The other two women are TWWSB #4 who gave Annabelle to the sorcerer and the old servant who tells Richard and Kahlan about Annabelle’s family history and the woman who tells Cara and Zedd about the Banelings. All the other characters are thugs, Banelings, and D’Haran Banelings who are all men.

The biggest issue I have with Annabelle/Flynn is the contrast with Josephine/Callum. Flynn was ok with being Confessed when Callum wasn’t. Callum jeopardized everybody by withholding Annabelle’s Confessor education from her because he wasn’t ok with being raped. That gives the impression that the problem is Callum reacting badly to being raped.

Then there’s the mess between Confesed!Richard and Kahlan. This plays back into the point of Kahlan and Richard’s relationship. Good women want to have sex and babies with men who love them and no one else. Turning down sex with Richard becomes a sign of her virtue and how true and epic her love for Richard is. (Frankly, I don’t see Kahlan as being very interested in having children beyond “That’s what [she’s] supposed to do” but I suspect that’s unintentional.)

Episode 5

Shota tries to save the world and in her efforts becomes TWWSB #5 instead of #3. And she does it by offering Zedd a fruit. Charming. The information she’s working on is something she has every reason to believe is correct but she can’t act on it alone and Zedd refuses to help her. Therefore, she takes matters into her own hands and is not only shown to be wrong but tortured for her efforts. (Side note, this is why I do not buy that Cara has actually changed very much from her first appearance. For all that she is remorseful that she killed her father without just cause, she’s still torturing and killing in the name of her Lord Rahl.) Shota’s method of trying to control Zeddicus leads to nearly losing Zeddicus, Richard and the Sword.

Salindra is the other woman with a speaking role. She’s a prostitute Zedd picks up because without his wisdom, Zedd is just another man with urges. She’s TWWSB #6. Well, not so much backfire as fail to follow through. First, she shows she’s shallow by turning down sex with a man she doesn’t find attractive and then being willing to bed him once he’s handsome and has shown an ability to shower her with wealth. Zedd’s behavior on that is another example of Nice Guy thinking. He showers her with unasked gifts to win her over. He doesn't care if she likes or respects him. He doesn’t care who she is. He can give her stuff and that makes him manly and deserving of nookie. Then she accepts the Keeper’s bargain to save herself from pain and nearly dooms the world. This tells me two things. One, Zedd’s taste in women has not improved. Two, women want men for the things they can get out of them. (Shota wants a new Seeker. Salindra wants a pretty castle.) Except for Kahlan because her love for Richard is Pure and Epic. Yet again, men want to dominate and the reason better men don’t is because they know better.

Episode 6

We now reach the second time Richard leads a group of people on mass slaughter. Sine he’s the hero it’s not his fault. The magic did it. This is where my problems with season 2 Kahlan start. Zedd sees something inside Richard that calls the anger forth and he’s right. Being a man, he sees that Richard’s need to dominate is pressing to the forefront and needs to be released. Kahlan, being a woman, believes that only an outside force could make her love behave like a beast. I like Kahlan but not when she’s being Richard codependent shadow.

Cara is busy learning the value of pacifism and vegetarianism. These lessons are ignored by the next episode but the learning curve continues. It seems the things she needs to learn are how to be open about her emotions, empathy towards others... compassion. Considering that she dislikes hunting, the vegetarian lessons are useful but I get an echo from 1x04 where hunting was what made men manly.

We have our first co-ed fighting force. And they’re all fountains of uncontrollable rage. The moral of the story, is that you shouldn’t mess with people’s local customs unless it’s stop them from being enslaved by bad people people who aren’t Our Heroes and then it might blow up in your face but only bad people were killed so it’s ok and look they found the puzzle piece they were after and now they’ve freed the pacifists from the binding spell so they can be violent and eat meat, as God intended. The characters dragged into Our Heroes’ story this episode are the pacifists and the slavers. Slavers led by a man and the pacifists led by a woman. Beasts and angels. It’s made even more obvious by the rage issues originating with one of Richard’s male ancestors.

This episode nearly made me stop watching altogether.

Episode 7

Denna is TWWSB #7 with a wonderful plan to make Lord Rahl her slave. It works pretty well too. She gets to manipulate herself into being the power behind the throne. She runs her plot out of the back of a very high-class brothel. I suspect her job as a Madame is intended to be fallen circumstances from being one of the Mord’Sith. It seems to offer her a lot more freedom though. She has her own pet sorcerer and her own business. Therefore, she has her own income and her own weapons of mass destruction. She’s her own boss but she wants more. She wants to dominate. How many women in this show do you see who have their own jobs, no husbands or children, enjoy being their own bosses and are not villains? Denna tries to separate Cara from the others by turning her against Kahlan rather than Richard. Playing women off each other is another way of saying “women are catty.” It applies to both what Denna seems to believe and how the writers approach the dynamics between the three women.

We learn Dennee killed her own son, which makes more sense since Darken wanted the kid alive. At the end, she gets a replacement baby in the form of her current body’s biological son. Not creepy at all. Lucinda, the body’s original occupant, is another single mother who has to work to support her son. Do I even need to spell out the implications of killing Lucinda, Salindra, and Denna while having no other prostitutes with more than a few seconds’ screen time?

Grix was a man who gave in to his lust and thus allowed Denna to capture him. Because men are base creatures led around by their animal desires. He’s also the one who wants control over his fellow generals and kills Richard. So; bloodthirsty, lustful, power hungry, and allows himself to be led around by those traits. Richard claims to be the opposite of this and I think the writers believe that. Richard turns down a prostitute, showing that he really loves Kahlan. He talks to Lucinda and she immediately tells him about her family. Because that’s exactly what you do when you know your boss is a Mord’Sith. Her last words are about her son, which prove her worthiness to be avenged.

Richard is also the stated reason Kahlan hasn’t killed a known murderer, Cara. “Kahlan trusts Richard’s sense of morality more than her own” is shown to be a sign of Kahlan’s emotional growth. She also claims Cara has changed. In what way, I’m not sure. From what I can tell, Richard has replaced Darken and Kahlan has replaced Cara’s fellow Mord’Sith. A few minutes before that we heard Cara talking about how the leader of D’Hara needs to be ruthless. (Also, I find apologizing when you know it won’t be accepted to be a selfish act. “I needed to say it” makes it about the apologist and not the person who was hurt.)

Episode 8

Denna dies, Verna is introduced, and overall there are roughly the same number of men as women in this episode. A woman dies to save Richard because... their Order is sworn to serve him. Haven’t heard that one more than three times. Verna is awesome and is even allowed to point out Richard’s flawed logic a few times. Of course, she’s also implied to be wrong about the big picture because Richard Is Right.

Denna is still scheming and Zedd shows his worthiness by being able to pity the poor woman who is railing against her place in the universe. She only hurts people because deep down she’s a lonely little girl. No way could a woman who was nearly in charge of the Empire possibly be an adult. It has to be because she’s trying to fill the gaping hole in her soul.

Episode 9

Oh look, Shota was right. A new Seeker is needed. If only Shota had had the patience passivity to wait for Zedd to realize she was right. Then the entire conflict of 2x05 could have been avoided. There are more women than men in this episode. We meet Verna who betrays Richard on orders and is betrayed by her superior, Annalinna, who is TWWSB #8. Nicci fills the role of TWWSB#9. Both of them are fulfilling the roles they had in the book so I’m not going to make a big deal of it. I’ll just note how high that number is getting. The Sister with the annoying laugh is evil and Liliana is less of a sociopath than in the books but I think that’s more about time than anything else.

Cara offers to help Kahlan control her emotions so they can get on with their quest and Kahlan turns her down. Later, Kahlan offers Cara advice on dealing with Leo and doesn’t really take no for an answer. Kahlan has certain ideas about how love is supposed to work and pressures Cara in a friendly way to meet her standards for relationships. As I noted in my comments on 2x06, Richard and Kahlan’s attempts to “humanize” Cara end up being attempts to “feminize” her. She’s “supposed” to be more compassionate, caring, and loving. She’s had sexual relations multiple times during her previous appearances but when she has ~feelings~ for a man, it’s all different. I kind of like Leo. I don’t like the way his relationship with Cara was handled.

Richard is to planning what Bloody Stupid Johnson is to architecture.

Episode 10

The Sisters of the Dark defect from the Palace of the Prophets. Annalinna is revealed to be dangerously fanatic about saving the world. Our second example of the season about what happens when a woman tries to save the world. She botches it and turns to underhanded means like keeping people hostage in order to save the world. Which is totally different from Richard giving the most powerful Han in generations to his enemies on purpose. There are more women than men with speaking roles in this episode.

The other plot is all about Richard’s mental state and fears. Richard is afraid of the Love of His Life making babies with someone else. I find it interesting that he isn’t scared she’ll produce another male Confessor. Instead, it’s a girl child, which could be construed as him fearing the connection between Kahlan and her child. A boy baby would have no hold on her heart. Richard fears being replaced both in Kahlan’s life and as Seeker. The script goes out of its way to show that his greater fear is about being replaced as Seeker. There were two between him and Philip and Kahlan’s response to Richard’s accusation that he’s been replaced is about that rather than about how long she waited before hooking up with Philip. He fears watching the women he thinks should help him commit suicide. He fears Kahlan losing her powers (specialness). He fears Cara turning to evil. In contrast, he fears Zedd’s death. He trusts Zedd to continue fighting until the end and to not take the Keeper’s Bargain. Watching Kahlan die when he could help her but she turns him down in favor of going to be with another man and the child they had together is the only thing that we’ve seen rock Richard’s confidence since the first couple episodes. Deep down, Richard is afraid that if Kahlan weren’t prevented by her powers she would run out and have sex with other men.

This is where Cara’s love life starts to feel like punishment. Having a Leona instead of a Leo wouldn’t be better in terms of Dead Lesbians but it would be a lesbian character who wasn’t a Mord’Sith and a Seeker who wasn’t a man. Kahlan’s ~womanly intuition~ tells her Cara has ~feelings~ for Leo. They have sex, admit it might not be a forever thing, and he dies. They’re the only ones who admit that they have feelings that might not be forever. It’s possible Cara might be being punished by the universe for her past crimes, but it feels a lot more like she’s being punished for having a different view on sex than Richard does.

We meet our second all female fighting force. This brings the tally up to one co-ed fighting force of rageholics, one female fighting force bent on destroying the world, one female force intent on helping their master subjugate the world, one male force bent on dominating the world for their master, and one ambiguous male fighting force that helps the Seeker when it’s plot convenient. ”Women can fight too!” is not a statement of female ability when the women who don’t fight for evil are portrayed as exceptional cases. In addition, all the fighting forces follow male figures: Richard, Darken, and the Keeper.

Episode 11

Cara gets put on the back burner for this episode and the only female character other than the regulars is a girl who barely appears. The girl’s a victim in that kissing her is the reason her boyfriend is threatened by thugs. Having two Kahlans does not make the discrepancy in the cast. For the sake of clarity, I’ll be referring to them as Kahlan and the Mother Confessor.

Kahlan is clingy, jealous, has emotional outbursts, and helpless at inconvenient moments. She likes romance and is on the bottom when she has sex. The Mother Confessor is ruthless, merciless, and very rational. She tops when she has sex and picks her mate in accordance with her training. The reason we’re given for the split is that Kahan’s heart wants to be with Richard while her mind knows her duty is in Aydindril. The Mother Confessor has a frank attitude towards sex (“I’ll please in ways you can’t imagine.” “I doubt it. You can try.”) while Kahlan is coy, (“I don’t have my powers.... No, not that. I don’t have my powers.”).

Fyren is a ruthless warrior, which the Mother Confessor sees as a reason to make him her mate. He’s a leader, strong, of good breeding stock. Kahlan has sex with Richard because she LOVES him. The Mother Confessor’s purely rational decisions are seen as evil because they lack mercy. She declares love to be a luxury. She fires the Council who failed to stop Fyren (in case anyone is interested, I think the ideal solution would be appointing a new Council). She charges Zedd with treason when technically he is plotting against her. Kahlan wants to run away and hide with her LOVE. She needs Richard to save her in battle. The unfeminine Mother Confessor is evil and the hyper feminine Kahlan is weak. The script goes so far as to compare Mother Confessor to male Confessors, making her state as unwomanly text and not subtext.

Admittedly, nearly being executed would make anyone cranky but the rest of Our Heroes are incredibly blasé about killing two women who look like someone they claim to love. Neither of them can conceive children because they aren’t real women. If Richard had brought up the prophecy about the Mother Confessor’s pure heart, I could believe he killed them for unselfish reasons. As it is, he is killing two women to get the one he wants. And that’s an ok thing to do apparently.

Episode 12

This episode has our second ineffectual mother who becomes a Baneling for the good of her child. She succeeds about as well as the first one. The other Banelings are implied to be men who are afraid to die. This episode also has Sebastian and Thaddicus returning to fleece the undead. The people running the Baneling meat market are men. Many of their victims are men. The only other woman is the one who tearfully informs the Seeker that her husband’s been kidnapped.

I really like the relationship between Cara and Darken. I would like more episodes where they play head games with each other. Cara dying from “one bad day” doesn’t bother me. I’m disappointed the effects are dealt with so quickly. I don’t have a problem with this use in particular but Cara doing yet another round of killing people in order to help someone else adds more to the subtext that women commit violence in order to protect others.

Episode 13

This episode is hilarious. It also says some really awful things about relationships between men and women. Nicci makes her return with several Sisters of the Dark making there more women than men in this episode.

The Countess embodies “women are catty” through mocking Cara and “women want men to get stuff” through wanting the Margrave in order to obtain immortality. Our Heroes use sex and the promise of sex to manipulate both the Margrave and his Herald but it’s ok because they’re evil. The Margrave is left alive at the end despite being willing to sell damsel in distress, Kahlan, to the Keeper, trade his wife in for a new model, and make women compete for his “affections.” That he has no ready bedmate is implied to be a terrible punishment. Then there’s the issue of the Margrave’s sister. I realize that in order to criticize patriarchy you have to show it. The subplot still seems to imply that the Margrave’s sister is in the wrong for trying to get laid. It also plays back to mocking Cara’s less feminine status while Zedd makes cracks about her virtue.

Episode 14

At last we have some women besides Mord’Sith who take a hands-on approach to getting rid of their enemies. They’re all evil of course. We also have gender equal representation of rape victims. The problem I have with both Frederick and Nicci’s response to criticism, is that using rape as an excuse is portraying rape victims as monsters has troubling connotations. We don’t see rape victims who don’t do terrible things because they been raped (child abuse, attempting to destroy the world) and Cara and Kahlan are the only ones we see overcoming child abuse, the stated reason for why Mord’Sith and Darken Rahl are evil. Again, exceptional cases only prove the rule that rape makes you evil.

Then there’s the way the script goes back to implying that fathers are more important than mothers are. Frederick gets a chance to try to get his elder daughter’s forgiveness while Kahlan’s mother appears for a short stint as a glowy ghost.

The two rape victims are not given even treatment either. Frederick was considered an acceptable target by his rapist because he was a D’Haran POW. Nicci was merely available. Frederick was under a deliberate spell for six years while Nicci was raped twice. In the books, Nicci’s rationale for why humanity deserves to die has a lot more to do with her parents, specifically her mother’s ideas about fairness and her father’s inability to say no to her mother. Making it Annalinna’s fault that Nicci went back to her rapist a second time keeps up the dynamic. That Nicci took no more precautions the second time than the first is suspicious. The responsibility for rape is entirely on the rapist. By making the situation an act of idiocy that drives Nicci to attempt omnicide... it adds a feeling of “Why did you do that?” that could easily have been avoided.

Episode 15

The Creator of life is female. The one bent on destroying life is male. They were in love but he felt that she cared more about her children than she did about him. He’s set on destroying the distraction and she’s unwilling/powerless to prevent him. ...Yeah.

They deliberately never state whether Maia is the real Creator or not. They act like doubting Richard on the basis of his poor decision-making is a bad thing. She’s the first person we see in a position to question Richard and not be ignored. Richard responds like a three-year-old asked to explain what happened to the cookies. Even if she weren’t the Creator, I think she has excellent questions.

Of course, Kahlan prayed only for other people as a child. She’s compassionate and loving and giving.

There are more women than men in this episode because all the Sisters still in the Palace gave their magic to Maia. Maia ran off with a boy at one point because that proves she’s really a woman and has ~feelings~. There’s no way she could have a human experience without romance. Heterosexual romance.

Episode 16

Cara and Kahlan are simultaneously damsels in distress. They even get to argue about which one will be the more self-sacrificial while they wait to be saved. Also worth noting, Kahlan is the one who succeeds in pressuring Cara to have fun, which leads to their capture.

Cormac is the first father we see who fails to protect his children from the world. The result is that he calls forth a mummy to avenge his sons’ deaths. The fathers who prevented their sons from serving are portrayed as wrong but is doing it out of love, a father’s love. Since it’s about paternal love for sons, men greatly outnumber women.

Episode 17

I love this episode. It has an interesting plot and conflict. It also puts Cara and Kahlan in the background. The only other women who appear are Sisters of the Dark who seem to live in roving bands, some pretty ladies for Zedd to hit on, and a nursemaid/sorceress. I find it fascinating to watch the contortions the plot undergoes in order to avoid mentioning more women.

This episode is all about the family drama surrounding Darken and Richard’s conception. Carracticus, Zeddicus, Thaddicus, Richard, Darken, and Panis all have their parts to play. The women in the family are never seen. Most of them are never even mentioned. Zedd’s mother is still alive when Zedd goes over the boundary so she’s alive when Carracticus is killed. She’s not mentioned. Tarralyn is brought up only in terms of being Richard’s mother, Zedd’s daughter, and Panis’s baby maker. Tarralyn’s mother goes completely without mention. Jennsen isn’t mentioned at all. Darken’s mother is mentioned as the Queen but is otherwise kept off-screen. The focus is once again on the bond between fathers and sons, brothers, and other forms of male family relationships. (Does Thaddicus even know he has a niece?)

Episode 18

Women are not as outnumbered as in the previous episode. It’s a fairly typical fantasy with the heroes of the episode getting treasure and women. Walter/Mika is cute but I have strong feelings on the subject of love interests as good behavior prizes. Yes, Walter underwent a lot of rather nasty things. He meets Mika and they’re both captives together and then they fall into the same trap as Rachel and Martha did in 1x09. If it’s that easy to get out, why not leave before? If it’s that easy to get out with a prisoner, why didn’t Mika leave on her own? Why wait until she hears that Walter’s going to be put to death? She doesn’t escape for herself; she takes action for someone else.

Episode 19

The only women besides the regulars are Sister Marianna who plays an errand girl, some Mord’Sith on Darken’s business, and the Sisters who look after orphaned children with magic. Kahlan and Cara do the work with saving the pregnant pixie while Zedd fetches the Listener. This provides an opportunity to hear that Cara is not an emotionless freak but otherwise is really contrived. Since the Sisters of Light have a prophecy saying the Seeker will help the Keeper, it’s not surprising that they would be unwilling to help the Seeker. It’d make more sense for Cara to go with Zedd. Tabrett Bethell is an excellent actress who played talking into hands very well. It still becomes another example of how Cara’s “growth” is becoming more feminine and more how Richard and Kahlan think she ought to be.

Episode 20

In terms of numbers, this episode has more women than men. It’s subtext on reproduction is where I take issue with it. We learn that Cara is the mother of Darken’s child or one of his children, it’s hard to tell. Also worth noting, the child is a son. Richard and Kahlan are told that their mystical destiny is to spawn the children who will inherit the world after the Keeper’s done with it.

On its own, I like this episode. In conjunction with the next two, I have a problem with the emphasis on baby making and a woman being in love being the way out of the valley. She betrayed her community when really, the plan Richard and Kahlan were told about sounds... I’m not sure reasonable is the right word. In a world where you have proof of gods and an afterlife being told about a divine plan that makes sense seems like the sort of thing you’d listen to.

Darken tortures Cara back into being his servant. It’s not anything remotely close to appropriate behavior but he is the villain. She succeeds in the mission he gives her and he decides it’s time to off the Sisters of the Dark. The femmeslash relationship is the one that trips Cara up and leads her back to evil.

Episode 21

People who are better at talking about heterosexism than I am have talked about the problem with making Cara’s “normal” lead to marriage to a man and babies, with saying that Leo was the love of Cara’s life and with focusing on Richard and Kahlan’s marriage after having undone Cara’s sexual history with women. On the subject of misogynist themes, both Cara and Kahlan see themselves as mothers in this episode. No one asks Cara what she wants or what she wants for her children. Both sides decide this version of her is either inconvenient or not as important as the “real” Cara. Now that she can no longer fight, it’s acceptable for Zedd to use her as a spell component.

Richard and Kahlan pressuring Cara into saving her son has some rather nasty implications too. I would call it an example of them being shown to be wrong except that Zedd fixes everything so they never even know about it. They want her to save her son rather than help them save the world. It says a lot about unwillingness to consider other people’s priorities and their belief that blood is more important than other considerations. They’re seemingly oblivious either to how they’re manipulating Cara into meeting their expectations or to why that might be a bad thing. Their expectation being that her son she’s never met will be best served by her saving him. If he does matter to her, she shouldn’t be the one doing the rescuing because it would cloud her judgment. If he doesn’t matter to her, then saving the world would be her priority.

Episode 22

Zedd knows how to fix the world. ERASE THE FEMMESLASH!!! So now that Dahlia was never a Mord’Sith, how did Richard and Kahlan leave the valley, what other things are different now that someone else is doing Dahlia’s job? We’re never told. Issues of rationality and logic aside, how on Earth do you think writing that is ok and get enough people to agree with you in order to get it greenlit?

Anyway, Richard’s Epic and Pure Love for Kahlan saves him from Confession. The cast again is predominantly women and most of them are cannon fodder as they would be if they were men.

However, it also continues Cara’s punishment. At the end, Richard and Kahlan are sharing a kiss secure in the knowledge that their love can now be consummated. Cara is looking very alone.

Conclusion

While Legend of the Seeker fixes many of the overt problems with misogyny that the Sword of Truth novels suffer from, it still manages to add in subtler touches of it. There is still the running theme that women use sex and love to ensnare and trap men. There is still the implication that women are more likely to be underhanded in their villainy while men are more likely to be violent. It implies that fathers are more important than mothers by giving them more screen time when they’re related to the main characters and focusing only on the mothers when there’s no father in the picture. Single fathers are shown to be more likely to be abusive while single mothers are shown to be more likely to be ineffectual in providing protection or instilling a moral compass. My point with this statement being that it isn’t that single fathers are shown to be better or worse parents, but that they’re shown to be bad parents in patterns that reinforce misogynist gender norms.

I understand the need to show misogyny in order to criticize it. My problem is not that James locks Livia away or says she’s not enough to give her son a moral compass. My problem is that when he says those things no one says “But Aidan’s mother is right there” or “Livia should be the one to pick male role models for her son.” My problem is not that Jed and Gryff treat women in a creepy manner. My problem is that Kahlan doesn’t tell Bronwyn, “Hey, he just tried to talk me into having sex with him.” My problem is that Miranda doesn’t slap Jed and tell him she already told him to stay away. My problem is not that female antagonists are often shown to be schemers (9) but that there are fewer male schemers (3) and they often go unpunished (2/3).

I wouldn’t make a big deal out of this except that the creators seem to think this is female positive.

I disagree.

Part 1

Date: 2010-12-15 12:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
I considered putting this in an audio file but I think my voice would give out.

Date: 2010-12-12 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] philstar22.livejournal.com
I agreea with most of what you said, and a lot of this is stuff I would have said. I few things I would like to add/comment on...

- I always read the hair thing in the books as Goodkind's own long-hair kink seeping into the books. Because long-hair on women comes up way too much in way too many societies to be anything else.

- I never read Nadine as a comment on women who sleep with men before marriage. Because that isn't what Nadine does. What Nadine does is sleep with one man she doesn't want in front of the man she does want in order to make him jealous. And that is not okay no matter your gender.

- I agree with you on the show as well. Some of the stuff I think they are stuck with as a holdover from the books such as male confessors being necessarily evil because only women are capable of compassion and able to handle that kind of power. Other stuff they could have gotten rid of, though, and they certainly shouldn't have added their own misogyny.

- I've basically found that I have to enjoy my shows/fandoms in spite of the misogyny. Because it crops up everywhere, even in the most awesome programs.

- I think part of the issue with Cara is that they tried to shove some of the characterization of other Mord'Sith onto her in the series. Because book!Cara is not a lesbian or bisexual. So it always felt awkward in the series and not true to the character, at least to me, when they had her with women. And it sort of almost felt like the series tried to say that all Mord'Sith were bisexual in a way that maybe Darken forced them because he liked to watch and in a way that sex was used as dominance. Although that part I liked, because usually you only see men using sex as dominance, so it was almost nice that the show said that women could too.

- Also, I don't think it is necessarily sexist that men outnumber women on the show. This isn't a show about women or focused on them. It is a show where a man is the hero and the main villain, both in the show and in the series it was adapted from. And there is nothing wrong with that. It would be nice if we had more shows that were centered around women, but that isn't what Seeker is.

Date: 2010-12-13 03:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Hair kink makes sense. I'm not sure it can be separated from cultural context.

I'd never say what Nadine did was ok. I think it was foolish to the point where I don't know anyone who wasn't a caricature who'd do that. Sleeping with siblings of love interests, yes. Expecting the other sibling to join in, no. I should have made the women who enjoy sex comment clearer. I was referring to Pasha and a couple other Sisters.

Misogyny does crop up everywhere. I don't dislike things when they have negative -isms but I do dislike it when the creators pat themselves on the back for being the opposite of the -isms they display. The commentary on parts of the Making Of featurettes rubbed me the wrong way. Some of the commentary I saw from fans on 2x22 bothered me too. Then I started rewatching them and went, "Oh. That is so much less subtle than I remember." I do like the show. I like the acting mostly. The cinematography is very good. There are characters I could watch over and over. I also enjoy bitching about the flaws in things I like. Sort of a, "This is good but you know what would make it more awesome?" sort of thing. I find it a useful thought exercise for my own original work. I do get that that's not everyone's taste and so I do my best to mark it clearly.

I'd argue that Cara was shown to be with Benjamin so she was shown to have a romantic attachment to a man, but it doesn't prove her to be heterosexual. Book!Cara might be bisexual and we don't know. I'm also hesitant to define characters by their sexual orientation Whether it'd be in character for her to be attracted to Triana or Dahlia, I can see the arguments going either way.I bring up the examples of heterosexism because I've found that most people who have a problem with women also have a problem with other people who don't fit into their idea of Spheres of Influence and how relationships "ought" to work. I thought the show was displaying Mord'Sith as bisexual as a side effect of their training. I could see some of the stuff in WFR between Constance and Denna hinting that way. I can also see your interpretation. I agree about it being good to see examples of women dominating through sex.

My commentary on the discrepancy is that it's an added factor. It doesn't matter on its own. And yes, the books are clear that they're about a guy fighting guys with the help of the men and women sworn to his service. The creative team like to pretend that Kahlan is portrayed as well as Richard. I'm not sure how much of that is marketing and how much of that they actually believe.

Date: 2010-12-12 05:47 pm (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (legend of the seeker: shota)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
I kept splitting up my response but it would have taken so many comments to post it here (stupid comment length restrictions!) I posted at my journal instead. It's mostly yay, with a few hmm, I hadn't thought of that, a side of I'm not entirely convinced on that point and a moment of less of the ageism. Overall this is a really well thought essay that should provoke a lot of discussion and thinking about the text in question.
And you referenced Pratchett. I think that bears repeating. I love that you referenced Bloody Stupid Johnson!

Date: 2010-12-13 03:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. I'm sorry about the ageism. I will fix that after I finish reading your response.

Pratchett is awesome. :D

Reply part 1

Date: 2010-12-12 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ivanolix.livejournal.com
This essay was very interesting, but as much as I agree with your general meta points, I think you're far too quick to apply them. Sometimes they're applicable, to be sure, but other times I read your analysis and went "Waiiiiiit, what?". In other words, I think context and the understanding that tropes are not always bad is lacking in a lot of your points. On the other hand, you're definitely not all wrong, and I'm not trying to say that. I can't address all the issues I had with the essay, but here are a few things:

I think your "men are beasts, women are angels" point is applicable to some of the places you mention, but I think you have to overlook the exceptions a lot to make it truly fit. It was far more applicable to the books, where women who weren't angels were always stupid or evil, but in the show I think you have a good mixture types of women.

And also, sometimes men are beasts because they're told that's what they are. Obviously Seeker-verse is a misogynistic universe—it's not like they erased that from existence. So it would be unrealistic if men in that universe didn't act like men in our universe. I.e., when they're given the bullshit arguments about "boys will be boys" and such, they start acting in accordance to it. It's a societal issue, and one that the show mirrors. I don't think it's the same as saying "men are beasts", I think it's just an understanding that patriarchal and misogynistic societies make men behave more badly than they naturally would. A showing of male-privilege, not natural tendencies.

Likewise, when the male characters have many compassion/nurturing storylines, I think that undermines the potential misogyny of women also having them. Obviously the writers value that trait regardless of gender, even if sometimes it does fall into tired tropes (just not all the times you mention, IMO)

I thought your point about the Con Dar was kind of...hmm, too influenced by the book? To someone who only read the books after seeing the show, I always thought the Con Dar was an overflow of pure rage, not related to protecting anyone. That's the way it comes across. Of course threatening Richard, Dennee, Nicci, etc., technically goes along with that. But the show never tries to make a point about anything but the rage aspect, so I don't think there's an underlying problem like in the books.

Reply part 2

Date: 2010-12-12 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ivanolix.livejournal.com
By giving Cara a sister to protect instead of just wanting to see her first home again it makes her birth as a Mord’Sith about someone other than herself.

I have no idea where you're getting this from, the idea that Cara did anything to save her sister.

women who don’t fight for evil are portrayed as exceptional cases

I don't get this at all. Aside from all the Confessors and the Sisters of the Light, we have Du Chaillu and quite a few guest stars (who you may think are being portrayed as exceptional, but I think are just being portrayed as all good-side guest stars).

As it is, he is killing two women to get the one he wants.

I think the point of this whole episode was that it was what *Kahlan* would have wanted just as much as anything. It's about not letting Kahlan disappear because of powerful magic. What happened was like killing *her*, and they have a duty to get her back if they can. Saying it like this dismisses way too much of the plot.

women commit violence in order to protect others

But so do all of the good men. I fail to see how this is gender-specific.

she’s unwilling/powerless to prevent him

I think this is far more ambiguous than you're presenting. As, when dealing with deities, stories usually are to avoid the literal deus ex machina.

My problem is not that female antagonists are often shown to be schemers (9) but that there are fewer male schemers (3)

I disagree that this is a problem. Far too often, shows don't give us female villains at all, which just reinforces the idea that women can't be smart and ruthless. Since not all women are schemers on the show, I think including schemers (and not in a comic relief way, like some of the men) is a big step up.

And when it comes down to it, what makes the show female-positive is not that it's perfect or free from genderfail. It's not. But what it does that so few shows do is: a) give lots of women lots of screentime, and not purely as love interests; b) show many kinds of women from pure white to pure black and everything in between, with different kinds of personalities and goals; c) have women and men fill the same roles, even if not totally equally; d) let women have relationships with each other that are just as important as their relationships with men (while the reverse cannot be said to be true). Just the fact that the show finds women to be interesting and important, more than any bromance, makes it way more female-positive than 95% of popular shows out there. I don't think anyone's saying it's perfect, but when perfection is such a distant concept, we have to judge shows comparatively.

Re: Reply part 2

Date: 2010-12-12 06:27 pm (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (legend of the seeker: cara in profile)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
I think the point of this whole episode was that it was what *Kahlan* would have wanted just as much as anything. It's about not letting Kahlan disappear because of powerful magic. What happened was like killing *her*, and they have a duty to get her back if they can. Saying it like this dismisses way too much of the plot. Exactly. I touched on this, but I forgot that it was indeed what Kahlan would want. Respecting someone's wishes might even result in their death (I'm thinking about living wills) but it's not about what you want, but what *they* want.

Re: Reply part 2

Date: 2010-12-15 04:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Mistress Nathair told Cara that her father sold her to the Mord'Sith and that he planned to sell Grace to them too. That he wouldn't be there and she wouldn't be there if he hadn't been weak not once but twice.

Confessors and Sisters of the Kight are already exceptional cases because they have powers beyond that of normal humans. The Confessors also fail at staying alive. The co-ed army is fueled by rage. The only ambiguously good fighting force (I hesitate to call guerrillas an army) is shown to be composed of men. Where are the female resistance fighters? The women who did the protest in Brennidon were influenced by the Seeker's presence in their village. Where are the women who chose to fight the D'Harans without Richard showing them the way?

Since my primary objection is that the axis on which Kahlan is split is misogynist, I'm not sure this alters my point. Richard and Zedd never seem to ask themselves how what they're doing is different from Denna killing Lucinda to bring back Dennee.

That sentence fragment is vague enough that I'm not quite sure which portion of the essay you're pulling it from. If it's were I think it's from, that's a typo. It should read "women only commit violence to protect others" as in no secondary or tertiary is shown to commit a violent act of self-defense.

And yet it's also a story we see repeated several times as a recurring theme.

I don't see how showing women being more manipulative than men and punished more severely than men for the same behavior is a step up. You left off the punishment portion which I feel is very important. Snow White and Cinderella are examples of the Good Girl that's ingrained in our culture. The evil stepmother who plots and schemes as the Manipulative Woman is just as deeply ingrained. I don't consider it a step up because I don't consider it a step. We were already there.

I would argue that better than 95% of other shows about being pro woman != being pro-woman. I'd also say that there is no one more important to Zedd than Richard, no one more important to Thaddicus than Zedd, and no one more important to Panis than Zedd and Richard.

I do judge the show comparatively. I judge it compared to my ideals. I don't think failure to be perfect is a reason to dislike the show and I don't think liking the show is a reason not to talk about its flaws. (You should see my rant about the things Karen Traviss does to Star Wars. It makes this look like a tiny thing.) By my estimation the creative team did not make a show about a hero and a heroine, they made a show about a hero and his sidekicks.

Re: Reply part 2

Date: 2010-12-15 08:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ivanolix.livejournal.com
Mistress Nathair told Cara that her father sold her to the Mord'Sith and that he planned to sell Grace to them too.

But when we see Cara getting ready to kill her father, it's a look of betrayal and rage, not one of "OMG I need to protect my sister!" I'm pretty sure that I've never seen anyone make that connection, and Cara herself says she killed her father because he was weak and despicable, not to protect anyone. That was why she was going to be executed, because it was violence that she enjoyed and for no truly good purpose.

Where are the female resistance fighters?

Off the top of my head - Bronwyn, Du Chaillu, and the resistance fighters from Fury. Who were not fuelled by rage when they first volunteered. I'll admit, I'd have been happier if we'd seen more. But I think the universe is clearly portrayed as misogynist, so it doesn't surprise me that there aren't any. And I don't see it as the flaw of the show itself, for the most part.

"women only commit violence to protect others" as in no secondary or tertiary is shown to commit a violent act of self-defense.

Since the primary, i.e. our heroines, do so regularly, I don't see this as a downside. Were secondary or tertiary women in a kind of position requiring self-defense, it would mean that they were being placed in the role of victim instead of protector. While the latter may be overused and become cliche, it's a lot better than the former IMO.

The evil stepmother who plots and schemes as the Manipulative Woman is just as deeply ingrained.

But such women are almost never given rational motivation, nor are they painted as ambiguous, as are the women of LotS. That's why most of them are fan-favorites. The thing is, there are tropes for EVERY type of female out there, just like there are tropes for every type of male. Just about any character can fit a stereotype if looked at superficially. A good writer fleshes out and adds ambiguity to those characters. I think nearly every manipulative women you mention on Seeker fits that category, rather the "Oh look, such a stereotype" one.

And frankly, I'd rather those women characters being treated seriously, as needing retribution, rather than as comic relief, like the tricksters allowed to roam free. Women getting serious treatment as complex villain is rare.

I would argue that better than 95% of other shows about being pro woman != being pro-woman

And I would argue that taking consistent steps away from the mainstream, the majority, shows a conscious pro-women stance. Maybe they don't go all the way, but taking that first step is a pro-women action, even if it's not perfect-for-women.

they made a show about a hero and his sidekicks

You say this like it's a bad thing. If the hero was always right, and got 90% of the screentime, and was in charge of all the storylines...perhaps it would be. But this is not the case, and so I see no problem with the show's basic set-up.

As I said in my first response, I think some of your points are valid. But I still think you're too quick to label things as black that are more grey in my perspective.

Re: Reply part 2

Date: 2010-12-18 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] samvimes-ftw.livejournal.com
Vorq isn't saying it's bad for LotS to be about a hero and his sidekicks, she's unhappy that the guy with the beard is saying it's show about a hero and a heroine.

Re: Reply part 2

Date: 2010-12-18 04:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Cara herself says she killed her father because he was weak and despicable

Cara says a lot of things in that episode that are implied to be lies. She says she doesn't know why she went back to her childhood home.

I'm pretty sure that I've never seen anyone make that connection

Now you have.

Off the top of my head - Bronwyn, Du Chaillu, and the resistance fighters from Fury.

The resistance fighters wouldn't have been fuelled by rage if they hadn't volunteered against their culture's rules. They were being punished for fighting. Bronwyn and Du Chaillu, I'll agree. Compared to the number of men in the Resistance which has no reason to turn away anyone capable of carrying a weapon, the discrepancy bugs me.

Were secondary or tertiary women in a kind of position requiring self-defense

I saw women being captured by Mord'Sith, living in castles run by bloodthirsty royalty, being captured in a magical painting, being kept as slaves, and other situations where taking steps to protect themselves wouldn't be out of place. On the subject of the heroines' self defense; they're sworn to protect Richard and most of the fighting they do comes from following him around. I don't consider acts of war to be self defense either.

That's why most of them are fan-favorites.

Denna, Shota, and Nicci are fan favorites but I don't see much following for the other six, several of whom are more severely punished than the men who do the same behaviors. Of those three, I'd consider them sympathetic but I think only Shota is ambiguous. Good writing can flesh characters out but most of the characters only appear in relation to the leads because of the nature of the show. Most of the time they get one word motivations like "greed."

And I would argue that taking consistent steps away from the mainstream, the majority, shows a conscious pro-women stance.

True. I don't see that as a reason not to criticize either. I know people IRL who do. I also know people IRL who think that a show with a lead female character can't be misogynist. I've also seen people point to the success of Tobey Daye and Anita Blake as a sign that now there's more women centric fantasy than men.

You say this like it's a bad thing.

Where? When?

If someone makes me a chocolate chip cookie and calls it a brownie, I think it's weird. When they congratulate themselves on their brownie making skills, I'm going to point out that what they gave me wasn't a brownie. There's nothing wrong with brownies and there's nothing wrong with chocolate chip cookies.

As I said in my first response, I think some of your points are valid. But I still think you're too quick to label things as black that are more grey in my perspective.

Thanks.

Re: Reply part 1

Date: 2010-12-13 06:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
I'm not ignoring you and I haven't forgotten you. I will respond.

Re: Reply part 1

Date: 2010-12-15 03:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Tropes aren't always bad, no. Tropes aren't good by default either. Some tropes have negative implications. Lampshading a trope doesn't erase the negative implications. Some tropes annoy me. Some tropes I'm lukewarm about until I've seen them three or four times and then I roll my eyes and think, "Oh, this again." Some tropes are things I've had shoved in my face repeatedly with the sentiment that I should be more like that. Some tropes I like in small doses. Some I like even if they aren't done well. It depends on the trope.

I think you have to overlook the exceptions a lot to make it truly fit.

I'd like to know who I overlooked because I tried to include everyone. I think by showing exceptions to the gender roles as exceptional undermines any claim that gender roles are false.

but in the show I think you have a good mixture types of women

I don't see that. To me, it looks like a handful of similar types used repeatedly. Admittedly, I feel the same way about the men.

I believe in radical freedom so I'd argue that patriarchal society doesn't make men behave badly, it makes it easier for them to think behaving badly is right or get away with bad behavior. Their choices are still their own and the responsibility for those choices is still their own. Patriarchal and misogynistic societies encourage bad behavior but not all patriarchal and misogynistic societies work the same way. One of the things that never ceases to amuse me about the show is the anachronisms. The idea of a woman's place being in the home is a product of the Industrial Revolution. Medieval Europe believed women were possessions, yes, but they believed a poor woman's proper place was beside her husband in the field. Women worked because society couldn't function with half its potential work force not contributing. The writers chose to include sexist anachronisms that weren't in the books.

The male nurturing story lines that I remember are all focused around either Zedd, Richard, or Panis as the nurturer and I'm hesitant to include Panis's apologia in that list because it's so clearly "me me me."

In 1x15 she calls it forth to protect Richard and when Richard asks she says she was thinking about Darken enslaving Richard when it took over. In 1x19 she calls on it to protect other people and tries to call it forward to protect herself and fails. in 2x03 she calls on it in the first wave of her completely understandable grief for Dennee. In 2x22 she's trying to protect Nicci. In 1x19 she has reason to be angry about being betrayed. She has reason to be angry about the coming D'Harans. It looks to me like she can only call on it when someone she loves is in danger.

Re: Reply part 1

Date: 2010-12-15 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ivanolix.livejournal.com
I think by showing exceptions to the gender roles as exceptional undermines any claim that gender roles are false.

But that's the very nature of the show - it's about exceptions to the rule. Fantasy in general follows this style of storytelling. It's not about providing an example of a good society, but instead, about a handful of people who are better than the rest. Our heroes are meant to serve as ideals to strive for, not necessarily as merely one in a million of others just like them.

ETA since I forgot: To me, it looks like a handful of similar types used repeatedly. Admittedly, I feel the same way about the men.

I don't have space to go into all the variety shown right here, but I greatly disagree on this point. Any character can be narrowed down to a trope or a basic "type", but the same can be said about real people. Hence personality tests only providing 8 or so results for all of humanity. In practice, the characters are hardly repetitions of themselves at all.

Their choices are still their own and the responsibility for those choices is still their own.

I don't deny that. I'm just saying that people encouraged from childhood to fit into a pattern of misogyny are more likely to internalize that misogyny and not fight it. Therefore leading to men more likely to act in misogynistic ways, and women more likely to accept them.

The idea of a woman's place being in the home is a product of the Industrial Revolution.

Where do you see this being expressed consistently in the show, rather than the books? One thing I lauded the show for changing was the removal of misogynistic slurs being constantly thrown at the women in power. The heroes, and even many of the villains, don't oppose powerful women on the grounds that they're women. They don't object to being led by them either. We see many women working alongside their husbands in some form or another, not merely resigned to raising children at home.

The male nurturing story lines that I remember are all focused around either Zedd, Richard, or Panis

I'd add Leo and occasionally Darken to that list, but considering that all of the heroes are often given such emotional and/or nurturing storylines...I don't see how that gets rid of my point. Especially the fact that Richard, our hero, is the most compassionate and possibly the most emotionally-led member of the group. Obviously the writers, who consider him manly as well, don't see it as a genderized trait.

It looks to me like she can only call on it when someone she loves is in danger.

I'm not denying that at the core it may be that, but that's not the impression given—and I think it would have been mentioned if the writers thought it was that important to the concept. And even the first time she uses it, the environment and focus is on saving her own life more than Richard's (even if that may be the final impulse that triggers it).
Edited Date: 2010-12-15 09:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Reply part 1

Date: 2010-12-18 03:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
I feel like I'm wearing a green shirt and you're arguing that green is a good color. No matter how vehemently you're going to state your case for the color green, I'm going to agree.

But that's the very nature of the show - it's about exceptions to the rule.

Yes, it is. Once they are exceptions to the rule, the point is that they are unusual. Statements that apply to them, do not necessarily apply to the rest of humanity because they're exceptional cases. So traits they have are what people should have and not representative of what people actually have. For what the writers show of men and women, we have to look at secondary and tertiary characters. For example, any statement about how strong Kahlan is, is not a statement about the strength of women because she's already not like those other women.

Hence personality tests only providing 8 or so results for all of humanity.

Except that both the Keirsey and Briggs-Meyers tests will say that each person is a blend of all personality types. I'm primarily an INTP but I'm not that far from an ISTJ or an INFJ depending on the day. No one is perfectly one type. I see them using the same couple tropes but sometimes doing a different plot with that character type. Example, Annabelle and Jennsen are used differently but aren't that different.

I'm just saying that people encouraged from childhood to fit into a pattern of misogyny are more likely to internalize that misogyny and not fight it.

True.

Where do you see this being expressed consistently in the show, rather than the books?

Sorry, I was trying to pay attention to character limits and I removed too much. My point was that different misogynistic cultures have different values. Our culture tends to assume women aren't interested in sex while the Greeks and Romans assumed women were never uninterested in sex. In the show we don't see common women in careers that aren't part of Western culture's idea of what sorts of jobs women hold. We see serving maids, a cook, a schoolteacher, a midwife, a librarian, and so forth. When we do see the wife of a manual laborer, she's in the kitchen. The librarian and schoolteacher have no reason for existing in the setting we're shown. The show does better about misogynistic slurs, agreed.

Especially the fact that Richard, our hero, is the most compassionate and possibly the most emotionally-led member of the group.

I'd say that Leo courted Cara rather than nurtured her. I'd also say that Richard was passionate but I didn't see much compassion for anyone besides those who thought like he did and Nicci. Darken has some emotional storylines but I'd hesitate to call him compassionate or nurturing. Even so, their position as heroes means it doesn't apply to standards for men or women. The emphasis on secondary and tertiary women being compassionate and nurturing makes it about women.

but that's not the impression given

The writers purposely show her trying to call on it in her defense and failing. Her answer to Richard's question was that she was thinking of him, not that she was thinking of ways to defeat Rahl or protect herself. That gives me the impression it's a tool for protecting others.

Re: Reply part 1

Date: 2010-12-18 05:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ivanolix.livejournal.com
I feel like I'm wearing a green shirt and you're arguing that green is a good color. No matter how vehemently you're going to state your case for the color green, I'm going to agree.

I feel like it's more like you're wearing a teal shirt and saying it's green, and while technically teal is a derivative of green, it's not the same. And since I prefer teal in this metaphor, I think it deserves credit as being different from green. But in either case, it's an inherent kind of disagreement, and so probably best to agree to disagree. :-)

Re: Reply part 1

Date: 2010-12-26 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
I have no idea what this means.

In case this makes what I said clearer:

From your responses I get the feeling that you might think I'm giving reasons to dislike the show. I'm not a mind reader and I'm very aware I might be totally wrong. My goal isn't to convince people the show is bad.

Date: 2010-12-13 07:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xdreams-of-love.livejournal.com
I have a comment on a part of your discussion of the reproduction issue:

The way I saw it, Kahlan aborting her child with Richard would be a betrayal of him because (1)it is half his, and she is making this decision without him (2)he is pro-life, and Kahlan is going against his views with their child (3)the baby is a symbol of their love (at least I think Kahlan saw it that way), and aborting would on some level be rejecting an aspect of their love. Basically, it's not so much about the baby as it is about their relationship. I don't think it's misogynistic to believe that a woman aborting a baby she is having with someone she loves who would want the baby and doesn't know about the abortion is, in a way, a betrayal. Of course the baby doesn't completely belong to the father, but it partly does, and though I am pro-choice and believe that, in the end, it is the woman's decision, I think that going ahead and aborting the baby without at least discussing the decision with the father (especially if the woman is in a relationship with the father) is wrong. If I were a man, and a woman I loved did that to me, I would certainly feel betrayed.

Your points concerning other things in the book (I haven't read the parts about the show yet) are really interesting, but I don't think I agree with you. I'd have to read them again more carefully to really say.

Date: 2010-12-18 02:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
I stated my point badly. I think that if possible, the male partner's opinion on abortion should be consulted. I don't think he or anyone else should be allowed to force her to remain pregnant. Every time Goodkind touches on abortion, it's never about how the mother feels about being pregnant. It's always about Richard's opinion on abortion. Kahlan is a main character and how she feels about being pregnant with the potential Worst Monster of All Time is never touched on outside her duty to protect the world. I agree that aborting against his express wishes would be a betrayal.

If you reread the books and want to discuss some more, I'd like that. Thanks for responding. :)

Date: 2010-12-18 06:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xdreams-of-love.livejournal.com
Every time Goodkind touches on abortion, it's never about how the mother feels about being pregnant. It's always about Richard's opinion on abortion.

I think Richard's whole pro-life thing is probably a complex, because his mother was raped. The evidence I see for that is how abortion isn't even mentioned until after Richard finds out about the circumstances of his conception, in the second book (if I remember correctly...). He begs Du Chaillu not to abort her baby when she is determined to get rid of it because he sees himself in that baby's place, and therefore he asks her not to do it on behalf of the child, saying that it's not the child's fault she was raped, and she should keep it for that reason. That's why I didn't see it as a misogynistic thing.

Kahlan is a main character and how she feels about being pregnant with the potential Worst Monster of All Time is never touched on outside her duty to protect the world.

If I remember it correctly, when Kahlan found out she was pregnant, she was worried because she knew it was a terrible time to bring a child into the world, in the middle of a war. There's a scene in Soul of the Fire when she comes on to Richard and he stops her, telling her what she already knew he'd say: that by having sex without the magic of Shota's necklace working, they would risk Kahlan conceiving and it is not the right time for them to be having children. By this time, Kahlan was already really worried about being pregnant for that exact reason (I think the big thing was the timing of the pregnancy, not Shota's "prophecy" about the baby), and hearing Richard echo her thoughts was what made her decide to take the abortifacient. There's an earlier scene where she's talking to Du Chaillu, when we first find out she'd pregnant, where she expresses how she wishes things were different, because she wants to want the baby. In fact, I think what makes her decide to keep it in the end is the fact that she wants it, even though her not wanting to betray Richard was a big part of it.

Date: 2010-12-26 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
I hope you don't mind if I respond to this at your essay. Christmasy family stuff came up.

Date: 2010-12-18 06:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xdreams-of-love.livejournal.com
Also, I just want to add that I don't think the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" really apply in this situation. Richard is against abortion, but he's not exactly what we today consider "pro-life." He never told Du Chaillu that she doesn't have the right to make that decision, he just strongly advised her to keep the baby. I think he understands that it is up to the woman to make the choice in the end, that it is her body, but he just doesn't like the idea of abortion because he feels bad for the baby.

Date: 2010-12-13 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hrhrionastar.livejournal.com
A few problems:

This episode is all about the family drama surrounding Darken and Richard’s conception. Carracticus, Zeddicus, Thaddicus, Richard, Darken, and Panis all have their parts to play. The women in the family are never seen. Most of them are never even mentioned.

I don't see this as misogyny in the show; my impression was more that it's Panis Rahl's misogyny. Not only does he not consider his wife or Taralyn's feelings, but he almost completely ignores Cara and Kahlan throughout the episode. Furthermore, the way he tells Zedd he's figured out he can't sire children, it's clear he only views women as sex objects and baby-makers.

(Does Thaddicus even know he has a niece?)

I think not--but then, if you were Taralyn, would you tell Thaddicus? He strikes me as a weak reed.

You pointed out that Panis Rahl gets the chance to tell Richard his side of the story, while Taralyn hardly speaks to him. Is this really surprising, in the context of Panis Rahl's magical power and status as a former Lord Rahl? I think we can infer that Taralyn (and possibly Zedd's mother) have no magic, and thus less power.


The Creator of life is female. The one bent on destroying life is male. They were in love but he felt that she cared more about her children than she did about him. He’s set on destroying the distraction and she’s unwilling/powerless to prevent him. ...Yeah.


Powerless to prevent him? I completely disagree with this. Throughout the show, prophecies appear in the Palace of the Prophets (and are misinterpreted by everyone). The Creator put those prophecies there, including the one about Richard giving the Stone to the Enemy of the Light and the Keeper leading him by the hand as a child. The Keeper falls for this, lock, stock, and barrel. He believes Richard is really either on his side or easy to use, and also that, by following the outline of events described in the prophecy, he will be fulfilling a checklist of conditions, leading to his victory. Instead, by following the prophecies, the Keeper collaborates in making events easier to control and understand, making the Creator's victory that much more inevitable (really, if the Keeper is really against the Creator, why is he following her instructions?)

Also, how can the message of the show be misogynist when Kahlan takes on some attributes of the Creator when she cries a new Stone of Tears?


Zedd knows how to fix the world. ERASE THE FEMMESLASH!!!


This may be decidedly heterocentric, but is it misogynist?

I think the show has definite sexist elements (although, considering the source material, I can't help but feel that the show has risen far above the books), but I don't find that equivalent to misogyny. After all, as you pointed out, it has a male hero and both villains are male, so it can hardly be a feminist show. Also, does the stereotype that women are the weaker sex imply hatred?

As far as the books go, complete agreement; I would add that they're misandrist as well, and that rape as a plot device is reprehensible--particularly so often!

The hair thing bothers me--long hair, historically, is a sign of women's subjugation to men, since it takes more work to take care of and gets in the way, thus tying women to the home.

Date: 2010-12-18 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
I don't see this as misogyny in the show; my impression was more that it's Panis Rahl's misogyny.

Yes, but then no one calls him on it. The writers could have written Zedd or Richard being less willing to accept his excuses for bedding Tarralyn. Richard could have asked about why Panis abandoned Tarralyn. There are many other writing decisions that could have been made to make the heroes less ok with Panis's misogyny.

I was thinking Zedd might want to tell Thaddicus about Jennsen.

I think we can infer that Taralyn (and possibly Zedd's mother) have no magic, and thus less power.

I don't think having less power means being less important. She's certainly portrayed as a pawn but I don't think it's a necessary conclusion from her lack of magic.

Instead, by following the prophecies, the Keeper collaborates in making events easier to control and understand, making the Creator's victory that much more inevitable (really, if the Keeper is really against the Creator, why is he following her instructions?)

I like alternate interpretations of the mythology too. I was more pointing out how weird it is that all these people believe the Creator is sitting back and watching the Zombie Apocalypse. There's also troubling implications if she's unwilling to do more than write on the Sisters' wall.

Also, how can the message of the show be misogynist when Kahlan takes on some attributes of the Creator when she cries a new Stone of Tears?

I don't see how Kahlan being like a goddess counters the misogynist undertones in so many other places. Also, Kahlan saved the world through no choice of her own. She didn't choose to become like the Creator, it was a role forced on her through the choices of others. I have the same problem with Willow awakening the Slayers all over the world.

This may be decidedly heterocentric, but is it misogynist?

I see it as misogynist in terms of Cara being punished for her sexual decisions.

Also, does the stereotype that women are the weaker sex imply hatred?

Yes. For one, it isn't true. There are many kinds of strength: strength of will, strength of conviction, emotional strength, intelligence, physical strength, etc. Most of them are distributed without regard to sex or gender. The average woman is physically weaker than the average man because women are smaller on average. A man with the same height, build, physical activity level, and training as Bridget Regan is not going to be significantly stronger than her. Secondly, being weak is not a positive trait. Saying women are this negative thing, when it isn't true, is hateful.

*shrugs* I think cutting your hair every couple weeks would take more time than that little bit extra in the annual bath.

Thanks for reading and responding. :)

Date: 2010-12-20 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hrhrionastar.livejournal.com
Richard could have asked about why Panis abandoned Tarralyn. I wish he had--poor Richard; he barely gets to meet his birth parents and then he's all shell-shocked most of the time.

I was thinking Zedd might want to tell Thaddicus about Jennsen. Now that you mention it, I do find this surprising. Zedd doesn't seem to care as much about his female relatives as he does his male ones (Richard, Thaddicus...), since he abandoned Taralyn in order to save Richard, and we've never even seen or heard about Taralyn's mother. On the other hand, they all ignore Jennsen in season 2; Richard said they would meet up, and then they never go find her.

There's also troubling implications if she's unwilling to do more than write on the Sisters' wall. Possibly I read more into the Creator's actions--we only see her in the episode where the Creator/Maya tells off Richard. But I've always had the impression that her effects were more far-reaching--in that episode, she made it clear that Kahlan has always been one of her favorite mortals, and I think she keeps looking out for Kahlan, in a sort of vague, otherworldly way. Maybe this doesn't make much sense, but, in a show where gods are real, there has to be some deus ex machina--like when Kahlan cries a new Stone.

(Also, on a side note--in the books, the Creator is male, right? So then both the gods are male, which just leaves women out of the story entirely. So the books are more misogynist.)

Saying women are this negative thing, when it isn't true, is hateful. This makes me sad, because I think there's still a lot of that (sexism, and other isms) in real life.


Date: 2010-12-26 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
In the books the creator and Keeper seem to be commentaries on the Devil and God. The devil does stuff and God mostly arranges things in such a way to foil the devil's plans. Then Goodkind got some sort of bee in his bonnet and decided that even though the characters had called on ghosts and made trips to the Underworld, they couldn't really know what happened after death. Even so, yes. It's more misogynistic than what's in the show. That doesn't mean that the show isn't misogynistic.

Part of my problem with Maia is aesthetics. I feel that if the writers are going to add characters, then the characters should do something. Maia stands around being ambiguously divine and cluttering up the narrative. What do making her female or her actions in 2x15 add to the story?

Date: 2011-01-03 02:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hrhrionastar.livejournal.com
Then Goodkind got some sort of bee in his bonnet and decided that even though the characters had called on ghosts and made trips to the Underworld, they couldn't really know what happened after death. That is ridiculous.

Maia stands around being ambiguously divine and cluttering up the narrative. Well, yes. I get the feeling this is another episode like Home, where we have to relive what's already happened because the writers couldn't come up with enough plot for a whole episode.

Still, there is some point: the Creator/Maia has doubts about Richard, and Kahlan defends him, much in the same way Richard defends Cara in Broken.

(Oh, also--your comment that Zedd fixes the world by erasing the femmeslash has inspired me to write fic where the femmeslash does not entirely get erased, hopefully in a canon way, which I'm working on.)

Date: 2010-12-26 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xdreams-of-love.livejournal.com
Hello again,

Now that I'm on break and have more time, I'm gonna give a more in-depth response to your post (:

It doesn't fit in the comment box, though, so I just posted it here: http://xdreams-of-love.livejournal.com/10869.html#cutid1

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