“A little bit of Monica in my life,
A little bit of Erica by my side,
A little bit of Rita is all I need,
A little bit of Tina is what I see,
A little bit of Sandra in the sun,
A little bit of Mary all night long,
A little bit of Jessica, here I am…”
If you don’t know this reference, you’re definitely too young for me.
"In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)
Uzo Aduba attends the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards
When Siri is the only person who’s there for you, it kinda makes you realise being friended is not the same thing as having friends
But you know what Outlander has? A woman at its center. That woman, Claire (Caitroina Balfe), is neither hapless nor incompetent. She has a job and we see her doing it. She has complicated thoughts about love, duty, and honor. She argues; she’s obstinate; she’s unruly. She’s passionate and sexual but not sexualized: Halfway through the first episode, there’s a sex scene in which she not only receives oral pleasure from her husband, but clearly revels in it. While not completely disrobed! “Her sexuality is part of who she is,” Balfe told BuzzFeed. “She is a very passionate woman, with such a zest for life, and her sexuality is very integral to that. She controls that; she has desires. Quelle horreur, women have desires, oh my god!”
Part of Claire’s competence stems from her pre-time travel experience in post-war Britain, where a nurse like Claire was given the sort of freedom and responsibility usually reserved for men during peacetime. She’s also alone for much of the war — surviving, apart from her husband, who’s part of MI6, while she’s on the war front — and, as such, incredibly self-reliant. Within years, Britain, much like America, would begin to recoil on the feminist advances necessitated by the war, but in those weeks and months immediately after the armistice, women were still empowered by their role in the war: They might not have been fighting on the front lines, but they were treated as capable of the same skill, labor, and intelligence as men.
When Claire is thrust into pre-feminist 18th-century Scotland, she’s still that same empowered woman; as a result, she abrades nearly everyone around her, insisting, in Gabaldon’s words, “on being taken at her own worth.” Her Scottish existence is neat allegory for what Claire would’ve experienced if she stayed in 1950s Britain: As a “modern” woman, she would’ve had access to electricity and penicillin, but like the women of the 18th century, she would’ve been expected to return to the home and bear children. “If she’d have stayed [in the ’40s] and became the professor’s wife in Oxford, I don’t know what she would’ve done with that,” Balfe explained. “She would’ve felt completely trapped.”
In this way, Claire rails against the gender politics of 18th-century Scotland the same way that she would’ve railed against the gender politics of 1950s Western culture. She’s a woman attempting to negotiate patriarchy and her own sexual and emotional desires — why, when described this way, does it sound like such a narrative innovation?
Maybe because it’s feminist one. When asked whether Outlander is a feminist text, Gabaldon smartly explained that it depends on one’s definition of feminism: “[Outlander] is about a woman, who is quite confident in who she is as a woman, and that’s one definition of feminist — you take yourself at your own worth, and you demand that others take you at your own estimation.” And the guiding love story of the text is, in many ways, the story of a man becoming a feminist as well: Surrounded by patriarchy, Jamie (Sam Heughan) is nevertheless forced to “take [Claire] at her own estimation”; when they fall in love, it’s because both realize themselves as the other’s equal.
A female and feminist protagonist, an original text that was once labeled “romance” — clearly, Starz has a lot to work against in de-gendering the text female. “The female audience for Outlander is there,” Starz head Chris Albrecht told BuzzFeed, “now we’re simply expanding that fan base [to include men].” And when asked whether men will watch the show, Moore was adamant: “Look, I read the book, I loved the book. When my wife and producing partner gave me the book, they weren’t like, ‘Oh, here’s a romance novel. See what you can do with it.’ They said, ‘Here’s a really good book.’ I don’t see any reason why men won’t watch this show.”
Moore’s right: There’s no legitimate reason why men wouldn’t watch Outlander.
But that doesn’t mean that they will. Because the way that popular culture has developed, there’s an abundance of content for white, straight, middle- and upper-class males, narratives with which they can directly identify or identify aspirationally, while people who aren’t male, white, straight, middle-class develop modes of “negotiation” to place themselves in narratives that otherwise ignore, mistreat, or symbolically annihilate them. Put differently, white men are rotten with options for narrative identification; as a result, they (often) ignore or dislike narratives that force them to step out of their subject position. (See: Rebecca Mead’s excellent argument concerning “the scourge of relatability” in the New Yorker).
In some ways, it makes sense: These men have been groomed to always expect that they will be not only represented, but as the main character. Watching a show like Outlander (or Orange Is the New Black, or Girls, or Real Housewives of Atlanta) is labor — but labor that most audience members have been doing for decades.From “Outlander Is The Feminist Answer To “Game Of Thrones” — And Men Should Be Watching It” a review that is also a clever look on tv shows, gender focus and representation. (via patsan)