Monday, 9 January 2012

The modern feminist

I consider myself a modern feminist, generally. What does that mean?
Well, it means I'm probably going to get shouted at for this post, but here goes nothing.

A modern feminist, to me, is:
Someone who recognises it is possible to be a feminist whether you are a mother or not
Someone who recognises that not being a mother is not dysfunctional or weird or strange; but that being a mother is not either.
Someone who understands that women are, on average paid less, but that there are contributory factors to this which need to be addressed as well as landing all of this in the laps of the 'patriarchy' including literacy and numeracy levels, combined with likely genders of carers of parents/grandparents mixed with part time working mixed get the picture.
Someone who understands bras are nothing to do with it.
Someone who recognises that women at the top (and at the bottom and the middle too) leads to a more balanced workforce with mixed outlooks, backgrounds and life experiences.
Someone who understands that sex can and is frequently used as a weapon, that situations that are not intimidating for men can be for women for this reason and that suggesting visiting a lap dancing club as part of business entertainment is so massively inappropriate it is not funny.

I deliberately didn't specify gender. Anyone can be a feminist. Anyone can have an opinion. We're all in this together, right?

Except then I come to read Helen Lewis Hasteley and Zoe Stavri discussing Steven Moffat and intimating quite strongly that he has a problem with women and I despair.

Of all the people to attack, for a start, for their attitude to women. Surely there must be better targets to devote ones time to in calling out on their attitude. Then there's the treatment of Irene Adler.

Irene Adler is redepicted in Steven Moffat's version of Sherlock as a dominatrix. Now, this profession comes in for some stick normally anyway, being as how half the feminists I know think dominatrices are a betrayal to the gender and the other half think they're taking power back and using it to have some fun and make some money while they're doing it. Lets not even get into a discussion about whether a dominatrix who is paid can ever enjoy her job - I'm simply not going there.

Where I do want to go is the assumption that switching Adler into this role took power away from her somehow. Did I imagine the scene where she beat Sherlock to the ground? Did I imagine the at least hour long sparring of minds as each tried to get the better of the other? Perhaps I misinterpreted the scene of execution as one where an agent who had failed was paying for her failure in exactly the same way as a male agent would be expected to do in that country. Was I not supposed to laugh at the changed ring tone which paid hommage to a certain film, was I not supposed to recognise the power struggle between two fiercely intelligent people, both striving continuously for the upper hand and both finding it amusing and satisfying both to be winner and runner up because neither is actually failure at all?

I don't think I have misread this episode. I have had, as evidently the two ladies discussing Moffat in the article have not, had the pleasure of adding Baskerville to my viewing arsenal when assessing Moffats attitude to women - is it accidental that the female main lead aside from the psychologist is yes, the one who is a mother and accidentally mixed up her glow in the dark rabbits but also, as it happens, is involved in unravelling the final solution to the tricky conundrum?

No. I don't think Moffat has an issue with women. I think Moffat actually understands women all too well. He paints them in variety, just as we are, as mothers, as smarter than some and less smart than others, as dominant women but also as biologists and psychologists.

What I believe requires more acknowledgement is that there is a very obviously Aspergers character on our screen being beautifully and eloquently depicted by someone who isn't, and who is being given lines and situations which highlight wonderfully the confusion, frustration and recognition of being 'other'.

I think that Sherlock is something to be celebrated, not berated.

1 comment:

  1. I think people have had more of a problem that - in a departure from the original story - Adler did not better Sherlock and her strong position against Sherlock was highly bolstered by Moriarty's aid. That and her being saved by Sherlock at the end meant that instead of being a strong, independent woman who beat Sherlock at his own game, she became a woman dependent on male help who still lost to Sherlock who needed to come to her rescue.

    I think that's the reason.