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07 January 2010 @ 09:51 am
OOC-The Victimization of Agent Scully  
I've had this rant brewing for a week now. It is one of my pet peeves. It stems from a rant I wrote about once on my normal LJ, at beshter, involving a different fic, but the same exact idea. The victimization of women for the sake of storytelling. It's a favorite storytelling device, used by serious writers and fanfiction writers alike. We have a character, often female, (though not always), who is brutalized in some fashion, usually by a strange male or evil male lead baddy, and it is left to heroic male, (sometimes female), to come to rescue our victimized hero from the clutches of the evil rape/torture/mind-fuckery and try to coax them back from the brink of emotional crises by proving to be "strong" for them.

My friend Patric, who has been storytelling RPG games for fifteen years, calls it the "rape-fantasy scenario". The character is brutalized, and the ensuing angst gives some sort of emotional high to the player/author. You get to live through the agony and comfort of a situation without the danger of having to experience it in real life. And there is something to be said for this technique being used in stories, if done well. I've seen it done very, very well in some stories, ones I dearly love. Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series does it extremely well at the end of the first book, and its a theme that carries out through the subsequent books. The Kushiel series also does it very, very well, which works for the world if you know anything about it.

But then you get the stories that victimize people for the sake of a wibble-enducing, tear fest. And now we get to my rant. Years ago when I started watching X-files, (and yes, I am old enough that I did watch its original run on television with gleeful, baited breath), I fell in love with two things. David first off, cause damn he was hot, but then the character of Dana Scully. If you know me well in real life, the first reason is obvious, I'm a red head in real life, a strong, independent young woman, who could identify with many of the woes Scully face, career or family, stick with principles or go up a career track, how does my faith play into the very secular view of the world I have? Dana was my role model in college at a time when the only other strong models on television I had were Alley McBeal and Xena: Warrior Princess.

The one thing I always admired about Scully wasn't the fact that she was gorgeous, (Gillian is), or the fact even that she was so unbelievably smart as a character, (I am not a regular scientist, I'm a historian, thus a social scientist.) I was much more struck by the fact that Dana was such a strong person. Yeah, sure, it was a favorite game of the writers to have Scully, being the woman, kidnapped by one nefarious character after another. But the best part was that she never, ever let it break her. She had moments of falling apart, who wouldn't, case in point, Donnie Pfaster. Everyone will do that at some point. But this is a woman who was literally plucked out of the obscurity of Quantico and stuck with the most brilliant and most crazy man in all of the FBI, lost her father, lost her sister, lost a daughter, lost a son, lost her dog, lost her career, her ability to have children even, and still came out fighting in the end. Even when it would have been smarter to say, "Fuck this Mulder and the horse he rode in on," she remained. It was her inner strength I think that always kept Mulder grounded when he was the one falling to pieces. Likewise, the times she did fall apart, and there were times, Mulder would be there waiting with a shoulder to cry on and a stupid joke or two. It was the dynamic of their relationship.

Shipper or noromo on the Mulder/Scully score, the one thing you can't deny is that they loved each other. Now I'm not talking romantic love, I'm talking about the most basic idea of what love is...they would die for one another, they would give anything for one another. That's great. Why in the hell do we need to test this in fanfic by victimizing poor Scully? Yes, I know she's a woman, yes I know she is stubborn, thus it makes it all the more fun to break her, but please! I've now run across story after story of Scully being kidnapped, raped, brutalized, left for dead, and only clawing her way back because of the heroics/love of her partner. Which perhaps is fine for Judy Garwood or some Harlequin Romance, but that isn't X-files to me, and it certainly isn't Dana Scully. What is romantic about brutalization? There is nothing romantic about it. Rape is rape, it is a horrible crime to inflict on anyone, a debase, degrading crime that should not be romanticized or used as a clever plot device to prove the love and affection of two characters. And yet I see it, again and again in different fiction. Beyond it bothering me in general, it bothers me with Scully because first off, hasn't the poor woman been through enough with the alien viruses and serial killers? Now we have to rape her too, to break a strong woman so she'll fall magically in love with the partner we know she loves already? Why would we want to inflict this on her? Why in the hell would I, as a writer, want to inflict this on a person like that, without reason? I don't understand.

Perhaps its something to do with out society, the mixed signals we keep giving out girls, be a strong woman, but be a little needy, a little broken so some man can come and fix you. Our culture in the West still hasn't figured out where it wants to land on this question. And I get that. But I know far too many people who have been victimized this way in real life, who have faced beatings and rape in their lives, and it isn't romantic. And for them to get over that, to get past that, and often with no romantic hero to save them, it required an inner strength in them that I admire. There weren't rainbows and fuzzy bunnies at the end for them, there were no moonlight kisses. But they survived, and they made it. It isn't a plot device for them in real life. and I don't think it should be a plot device for anyone in fiction unless they can treat it with the gravity that it really deserves.
Current Mood: angryangry
Liz Sherman: Weird Talesopen_flame on January 7th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
I love you.
I love the rant.
and I really love your Scully :D

It's a trap lots of folks with chick muses fall into and they (we?) need people like you to smack us around and tell us to pull out heads out of our asses sometimes XD

and yes, you may beat me for calling them 'chick muses'

Crime and victimization for no good reason is never "cute". Ever. Ever...EEEEEVER.


1breath1breath on January 7th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
*smooches babe*

I'm glad you love Scully...and I love you too! And it is a trap we all fall in a lot. I do too. But I find it so overwhelming sometimes, especially with younger writers.

I love my Scully because she smart and strong, all the things I idealized about the character. Perhaps she wasn't as much that way in the show, I don't know. But it pains me to see people feeling the need to break her. She has moments when she is a bit broken, a bit vulnerable, who doesn't. But she is also an FBI agent, a woman who knows the dangers and risks of her job, and I feel sometimes people forget that aspect of her personality.

Ranty, ranty, rant!
Liz Shermanopen_flame on January 7th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)

I know Liz has done it to me more often than I'd like to admit. Sometimes I have to take her and shake her and go "Do you remember what you did in the second movie at ALL!?!? Quit being a pansy, you dumb girl!"


I love how knowing Dana makes Liz better, and how knowing you makes me better :D

Edited at 2010-01-07 06:45 pm (UTC)
1breath1breath on January 7th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it makes Liz better. Dana gets to be a big sister in a way, something she was to her younger brother Charlie, but not to a younger sister, (her only sister was older).
Liz Shermanopen_flame on January 7th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)

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1breath1breath on January 7th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
*smooches* Fantasy is wonderful hon, and I have that fantasy of a man coming to rescue me as well. *grin* I suppose its the flippant, almost trivial way that rape is handled in so many fics that really bothers me, a lot. Especially when its fluffed up and made romantic, when for so many people I know, it isn't. And that bothers the hell out of me.

I'm lucky, I have never had to deal with that. But I've seen it happen to friend after friend, and it is heartbreaking.
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1breath1breath on January 7th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
Being Christian, I like to think of smiting for the wicked. Living in LA I also believe in karma. So I think that what goes around comes around, and someone will fry the fuckers ass.

What, I have lots of Jewish friends, they like the idea of smiting? LOL
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1breath1breath on January 7th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
I can drink to that.

You'll find that for a seminarian, I'm about as open minded as they come.
1breath1breath on January 7th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
I can drink to that.

You'll find that for a seminarian, I'm about as open minded as they come.
Liz Shermanopen_flame on January 7th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
*hugs you tightly because you are beautiful and amazing*
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Liz Shermanopen_flame on January 7th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)