Saturday, June 15, 2013

Feminism and the Women of Firefly

One might not look at Joss Whedon and think, “Yeah, he is totally a feminist.” Because by today’s standards (and by today’s standards I mean society’s standards) feminists are angry radicals who hate men.  While some feminists are angry radicals who hate men, not all of them are.  Feminism is about having equality between men and women, eliminating gender roles created by society, and establishing proper rights for women around the world.  During high school, I would have balked at the idea of being a feminist.  But now that I’ve grown and become more educated about the world, I am completely proud to call myself a feminist.  

Joss Whedon has owned part of my soul since I first saw the show Firefly (it’s a Western, in space. Yeah, mind blown).  Now, years later and several shows and films, he still has a part of my soul and now it is an even larger portion.  One of the things I love so much about Joss Whedon is his dedication to writing powerful female characters.  Firefly has several female characters, all awesome and all in some way representative of feminist ideals.  Go Joss Whedon, you are a beast.


The Captain’s right hand WOMAN, she is part of the rebel group the Browncoats and fights to help keep the Alliance from taking over.  Even though the Independence loses, Zoe remains the Captain’s confidant and his second in command.  Zoe is strong, kick-ass, and sassy.  She’s married to the pilot of the Serenity, ‘Wash,’ but this is definitely a relationship where she wears the pants.  And he loves it!  In one of the early episodes when the crew is being questioned by the Alliance, he says, “Have you seen what she wears? Forget about it. Have you ever been with a warrior woman?”  Zoe is known for wearing characteristically more masculine outfits, and Wash is not only pleased with it but also enjoys her strength as well.


As the mechanic of the ship, Kaylee has a job that is typically a male oriented profession.  Not only is she incredibly gifted at it, she schools men in knowledge of spaceships.  At a party, all the guys are hanging around her asking her questions.  And the way she gets the job in the first place is by owning the guy she’s hooking up with in knowledge about the ship, and he is supposed to be the mechanic of Serenity.  Kaylee is also the heart of the ship.  She’s the warmth and sweetness of character that accepts everyone and makes the Serenity a pleasant place to live.


In regards to feminism, Inara addresses the idea of female sexuality being in the hands of the female themselves.  Inara is educated and works as a companion, the futuristic approach of prostitution.  While feminism takes both sides on prostitution, the common denominator is that it is the woman’s decision because it is her body.  The Firefly aspect of companionship also includes education.  Women go to a school where they learn about sex, but also varying topics so that they can converse fluently with their clients.  An important part of companionship is also the health factor.  Companions are given physicals every year to keep medically safe, and if a client ever mistreats them, the companion can have the client blacklisted, so no companion ever runs the same risk of harm.


Shown to have been essentially kidnapped and then subsequently experimented on, River’s character is severely damaged from the work done to her.  She was accepted into an elite academy for youth because of her marvelous intellect.  Her incredibly smart brother, who is a doctor says, “So when I tell you that my little sister makes me look like an idiot child, I want you to understand my full meaning. River was more than gifted. She... she was a gift. Everything she did, music, math, theoretical physics - even-even dance - there was nothing that didn't come as naturally to her as breathing does to us.”  River’s character is showing the innate strength and smarts that women have, that can come out if given a good education.  Everyone has innate talent that if nurtured properly can blossom into amazing gifts.  Women and especially young girls can often be dissuaded from pursuing these intellectual passions by today’s societal goals.

All of these female characters embody something that feminism works to promote or achieve.  Joss Whedon created these amazing characters.  His other works also feature women of strength and power (i.e. Buffy, Willow, Winifred, Cordelia, Echo, etc).  He likes strong women, and he resents the lack of strong women as main characters.

Whedon discussed his daughter and her take on the females of the Avengers, who were her favorites. Of course they were! Maria Hill and Black Widow are BAMFs.  His newest flick coming out is Much Ado About Nothing.  In the article, he comments on his like of Beatrice as a character and later realized her power as a feminist.  The article can be read here.  As someone who appreciates powerful females in film and knowing there is at least one male out there who feels the same, fills me with a little bit of faith in the future of cinema.  Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespearean work, so I’m beyond excited to see what Joss has done.  

(photos from Fox)

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