I admit it, I'm a *huge* fan of the 'Outlander' series which is now in its first season on Starz
(airs on Showcase in Canada
The TV series is based on the book series written by author Diana Gabaldon
, of which I read the first two books or so a few years ago before losing interest. I'll openly admit that I prefer the TV show's take on the material -for some reason I find it more romantic, despite the fact that they're being pretty faithful to the books
. Odd of me perhaps, but there it is.
Something that has been niggling at me lately was how the series would handle certain issues.Issue #1 or domestic violence perpetrated by the so-called 'romantic hero':
there is a scene where Jamie BEATS his wife. Quoting from a blog called 'Persephone Magazine' which says it very well:"When she ditches the Scottish clan she’s hanging out with to get back to the magic stones that worked as a portal, she gets herself and the Scotsmen into some trouble. Jamie Fraser, the new husband she didn’t ask for, and who unfortunately the reader has probably fallen for by that point, decides he has to punish her for this.
Claire says he can’t beat her. Jamie says, “Did I want to break your arm, or feed ye naught but bread and water, or lock ye in a closet for days–and think ye don’t tempt me, either–I could do that…”
You’re swooning, aren’t you? I’ll give you a moment.
She says she’ll scream, he basically says, “Ha, ha, you sure will,” and he reaches for a belt. When Claire accuses him of being a sadist, he thinks that’s funny, too. “I said I would have to punish you. I did not say I wasna going to enjoy it.” This ends with Claire, as she describes it, “Half smothered in the greasy quilts with a knee in my back, being beaten within an inch of my life.”"
(I'd also encourage all and sundry to read the full post at Persephone Magazine
, as I heartily agree with their comments on this.)
Surely I can't be the only one who is really disturbed by all this, as well as by the fact that some readers AND NOW SEVERAL VIEWERS AS WELL are defending this
SAY WHAT???Issue #2 or rape perpetrated by same so-called 'romantic hero':
In a later scene, Jamie RAPES Claire. Yep.
Quoting from another blog
:"Claire and Jaime get into an argument. Unable to comprehend or accept Claire’s autonomy, Jaime responds with sexual violence, stating that she is his woman and he’ll have her whenever he damn pleases. And then he rapes her. Brutally. As Gabaldon takes you through the graphic rape, I get the feeling that I’m supposed to be turned on. But instead my feminist insides were raging in a putrid turmoil. I felt sick.
The next morning the couple wakes up cute and happy. Apparently it had been some great sex, despite the pain, bleeding, and bruises. Then Jaime wants to have sex again, and Claire responds “No way, I’m way too sore.” His response? Too bad. And then he rapes her again. But he is gentler than usual, so apparently, it’s okay. And after all this violence and rape, Claire finally realizes that she loves him. So much so that presented with the chance to return to her own time (spoiler alert) she chooses to stay with Jaime, her lover, her protector, and her rapist. WTF?" (Again, the full post is here and is definitely worth reading -it discusses how this book/TV series is basically yet another example of rape culture. Here is another discussion of this, also really worth reading.)
I was, until recently, wondering what Starz' take on this problematic material would be. Especially given the fact that Ronal Moore is at the helm of the series and I was a HUGE fan of the recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica.
Now that I have an answer as to how the TV series will handle this, I'm really rethinking my decision to follow this series. Here is the answer (SPOILERS for episode #9 of the series are ahead), from Ms. Gabaldon herself:
"So, for example, in the book, there’s a scene where Jamie beats Claire, right, in the first Outlander book?
DG: Well, he doesn’t exactly beat her. He’s not punching her in the mouth or throwing her against the wall. He spanks her with his sword belt because she did something incredibly dangerous and nearly got them all killed. This was basically what the Highland justice was like. If you screwed up, you got punished for it, and then you were back in the good graces of the clan. That’s what he’s doing; it’s his duty as her husband basically to correct her, set her on the right path, and mind you, she doesn’t like it because she’s a twentieth-century woman. She’s very affronted that he’s hurting her.
But do you think that will be portrayed in the TV show the same way it was in the book?
DG: I know it will. I’ve seen it."
And Ms. Gabaldon's further comments on people's objections:
"What sort of reaction do you think that that will get from viewers?
DG: There will undoubtedly be a certain amount of knee-jerk feminism from very young women. Anybody over the age of thirty-five will appreciate both the cultural conflict in that scene—it’s one of my favorite scenes, in fact, because each person in it is completely right according to his or her own view of the situation, and yet, in this untenable situation, they aren’t both going to get their way. When push comes to shove, he outweighs her by eighty pounds. Most people, as I say, above a certain age will appreciate it for the inherent ironies and also for the considerable humor in the situation." (This is quoted from here. You can also see parts of the interview here.)
I am just raging right now, about the 'knee-jerk feminism' comment, as well as the fact that she also minimizes what the beating for one thing, by referring to it as a 'spanking'. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not comfortable with labeling a scene where a woman gets beaten 'within an inch of her life' with a belt in this way, as 'spanking' is a term rather reminiscent of consensual bedplay, for example.
For the record, I am not a 'very young woman'. Neither am I given, I think, to 'knee-jerk feminism'. To wit, the fact that I am going to reserve final judgement until I watch the show's take on this. (I already know that I agree with those commenting on the problematic nature of the books' take on it.)
Anyone else bothered by this? Anyone? (NB: Note my 'quixotic' humor choice below, since evidently with regards to mass media and popular culture thinks this is all A-OK, apparently.)
But what am I talking about, OF COURSE people think this is fine and dandy! 'Fifty Shades of Grey' was the #1 bestselling book of 2012
. Silly me!