Sexual Issue #3: Bad Touching, or Why You Shouldnâ€™t Let Girls Get Full Up in You.
First off, I have a girl crush. Iâ€™ll just admit it right now. Ellen Harvelle â€“ if I swung that way, yeah baby, thatâ€™s a woman Iâ€™d be all up on. Just sayinâ€™. And you know, considering that sheâ€™s not blond, I really thought sheâ€™d make it in the Supernatural world. But alas, my theory about hair color equaling death has gone by the wayside. It seems you just have to be a girl to die, or be like really frickinâ€™ evilâ€¦and/or a girlâ€¦.or Rufus (R.I.P., my love, R.I.P.). [Thatâ€™s still a fresh wound for me, so all mourn the death of Lindaâ€™s dream slash pairing, RuBob. So much potential. So much.]
So this part of our journey into Sex and Supernatural focuses on the women â€“ because as I stated in an earlier section, to have the hetero-normative sex, you kind of need the ladies. Now, we shouldâ€™ve known, right from the get-go, that being a woman in Supernatural was going toâ€¦.hmmmâ€¦how should I say this? Being a woman was going to suck big time, people! Others have made this argument, so I wonâ€™t tread over it again.
Supernatural hates womenâ€¦blah blah blahâ€¦.they kill off the good onesâ€¦.blah blahâ€¦.thereâ€™s too much homoeroticaâ€¦.weâ€™d get Destiel if Castiel were a woman, but then sheâ€™d dieâ€¦. blah blah blah. Yadda, yadda, yadda, and etc. My interest is in the sex, not the gender. So how do potential female sexual partners get portrayed in Supernatural? Well, as with all good Freudian narratives, sex starts with the mommy.
Mommy Dearest, Mommy Searest
Remember in the last part, when I wondered aloud why Dean might have issues with virgins? I think I know why â€“ the pilot framed it all so elegantly. Take a look at the series of images above. Tell me if you spot a patternâ€¦..Now, we all remember Chuck and his â€œliterary symmetry,â€ and how Jessâ€™s death is explained by Kripke (via Chuck) as a way to really underscore the horror at the center of Samâ€™s life? So the show, our story, begins with a dead mother, another dead mother (who killed her children, by the way), and a dead girlfriend/possible future motherâ€¦.all wearing various hues of white. You know who else wears white? Yep, virgin brides, or at least thatâ€™s the tradition â€“ I know, just tradition, since Iâ€™ve been to many a wedding where white was just for show, if you get my drift? So women in white, yeah thatâ€™s a no-go for the boys, especially poor Dean who remembers mommy. And of course, white as the symbol of evil and death does not stop with the first episode. Oh, no, we have a horse and itâ€™s dead, so grab the bat everyone and look below:
Little girl Lilith and the bad Mary Winchester impression
Big Girl Lilith and the bad Jessica Impression
The Birth of Eveâ€¦
Iâ€™d be afraid of white or anything connected to white as well, if I were the Winchesters. Dear god, itâ€™s like white is the color of evil. Yeah, no virgins here, thank you. And ha, I just got it, white makes mother a virgin. Oh how Catholic of you, Supernatural.
Well anywayâ€¦.that first story, the woman in white, sets a precedent around which the whole of Supernatural revolves around. Yes, my dear friends, at the center of the boysâ€™ lives stands a woman burning, waiting to kill or protect (or kill to protect) her children. And of course, letâ€™s not ignore the fact that the way both Mary and Jessica die also includes being sliced open around the approximate area of the wombâ€¦.like some kind of anti-cesarean section. Such a visual, Supernatural! It kind of reminds me of the grotesque childbirth scene from Breaking Dawn. (And yes, Iâ€™ve read the Twilight series. Donâ€™t you judge meâ€¦.I have a vampire thing, whatever.)
Side note: Bleeding wombs make for a very sterile environment, which totally makes sense given the showâ€™s need to demonstrate how evil children can be. Thatâ€™s another issue that I think the writers need to do self-reflection on. Either stop watching Stephen King movies like Children of the Corn and Firestarter, or get help, like now. You got a body count of children under the age of twelve â€“ so not healthy.
I do love you, Supernatural. I do. The very beginning of your story, book ended for us with flaming blonds plus a nice little rabid brunette ghost in the middle, shows the instability of the female character and the fact that she is either always in danger or always dangerous, especially to her children. And thatâ€™s how women will continue to be portrayed for the next six seasons, whatever color they are wearing. Now, hair color, thatâ€™s a different story. Poor Jo never had a chance with Dean â€“ like he would seriously fall in love with a blond?
Honestly, the place of women in Supernatural should really set my feminist alarms to ringinâ€™, but Jared and Jensen are too pretty to be mad at. I mean, look at them:
Note: Nothing cures feminist rage like a picture of an objectified male body. Jared, I heart your gym.
Note: Nothing cures feminist rage better than any picture of Jensen Ackles. Itâ€™s the only time in my life when I think â€œI want babies. And I want them now!â€
So, digression finished, and we are backâ€¦. to the Winchestersâ€¦.and gasp! Iâ€™m thinking serious mommy issues. Serious. And this leads, of course, to serious power issues, especially in le boudoir. (French returns. )
Now weâ€™ve all dated or married or married then divorced the stupid ass guy with the overbearing mother. Imagine having to deal with the overheated mother? ---Oooh, that burns, bad Linda, too soon? --- Anyhoo, the memory of Mommy with her glistening blond hair and red torso are a lot for a girl to work against, you know. Add to that the really weird male-dominated childhood and adolescence of both Sam and Dean (which is another issue for the homoerotic section) and you have yourself a range of issues, subscriptions, hell even whole archives, of dysfunction that a girl has to mount.
Side note again: No surprise that Dean gets it on with a mother when he settles down â€“ like that wasnâ€™t predetermined? Free will, my ass.
Flaming mommies aside, we have the issue of women being powerless but powerful. The woman in white seduces her victims, which becomes a subtextual theme (hey, look at that fancy word) of the show. Devil women and their seductive waysâ€¦.so clichÃ©.
Come on up and see me sometime, big boy (wink, wink)
So we have the mommy issues, which are totally compounded by women-devils in disguise, who are like trying to get in your pants to steal your power. Samson-complex much? My prediction for how Supernatural will end? An evil witch-woman will cut the flowing and glowing locks of power that is Sam Winchester. The universe will implode because of one lock of hair â€“ very poetic, like Popeâ€™s â€œRape of the Lockâ€ but for the contemporary audience.
Okay, so women and their wily, emasculating ways. Oh we have bunches of seductresses/killers. Letâ€™s just list them, in part:
Season 4 Ruby (Season 3 Ruby was blond and hence totally de-sexualized, except when occupied by Lilith, and again we wonâ€™t go there. Up until that point, she was the tomboy demon.)
Grown up Lilith (Because god help us, little girl Lilith is a whole other ball of wax that demonstrates the showâ€™s Twilight-level fear of children)
Madison (human heart, dog-teeth â€“ enough said)
Demon chick from â€œSin Cityâ€ (I liked herâ€¦.so sad she was evil)
Bela Talbot (not a demon, but very devilish)
Meg (Blond Meg was not too sexual; SamMeg was a total soul rapist and apparently a lesbian; Brunette Meg is the classic definition of a top, by the way)
Anna (angel turned psycho)
These women, whether they are actual sexual partners or potential sexual partners, all have one thing in common â€“ they donâ€™t own their bodies. Even Bela is tagged like a fresh loaf of bread in the bakery. They are either occupying a â€œvessel,â€ which to my mind is soul rape, or they are in servitude to another master/mistress. Sexual confusion, you say? Yeah, I think so.
Letâ€™s look at Bela, for example. Sheâ€™s all â€œI want to jump your bones, Deanâ€ but thatâ€™s all really a power play. Her flirtations are always calculated for maximum benefit, which makes her unappetizing to our womb crushing hero. Dean is almost reverent of women, and totally unhinged by insincere women. Heâ€™s also a little against demons who take possession of female bodies, except if they are angelsâ€¦.but that Dean, you know, heâ€™s got a soft spot for the heavenly.
Now before you say anything, yes Cassie was a sexual partner. Yes, Jamie was a sexual partner. Yes, Lisa was a sexual partner. And yes, all were human. But! Cassie was first season, fill out Deanâ€™s history and make him look all womb crushing, yet again. Also sheâ€™s there to show how Dean chose his life on the road. Jamie was â€œwink, winkâ€ Dean is back in the saddle again after god knows what types of torture (mental, physical, and I believe, sexual) he had to endure in hellâ€™s prison. And Lisa was third season, letâ€™s show that Dean has a lot to live for as well as fifth-sixth season, DomesticatedDean fail. Dean does tend to get the more staid and humane sexual partners, but I think thatâ€™s because of his womb crushing potential and also because heâ€™s Scully.
All in all, though, most of the sexualized women of Supernatural are evil demons or crazy angels or indentured humans, all out to use their sexual powers to retrieve information or submission.
Season 4 Ruby, for example, wanted to turn Sam into the key that would unlock Luciferâ€™s cage. I get that, cool beans. Way to empower yourself and the other female hell-spawn. So how does she do it? Simple, really, if you know Sam. Capitalize on the Dean loss. She could not have gotten in his pants before Deanâ€™s sojourn into the dreary depths of despair, aka Hell. So she meat suits herself up as a sassy little brunette, gets all â€œI can help you make Deanâ€™s sacrifice mean somethingâ€, and then seduces him into drinking her blood and filling out her meatsuit, if you know what I mean? A body has needs, even if itâ€™s occupied by psycho-demon chick #2. So Ruby, in her fourth season incarnation, sets all of her sexual power alongside her gas station oâ€™ blood. Itâ€™s all very kinky, but we are talking Sam, so nothing new there, right? This is just one angle on the female sexual fear â€“ another one is Meg.
The Rack is for Pussies
Oh Meg, how I love you. Just like Ruby you got to endure the rack as a sacrifice to the greater causeâ€¦So I have this theory, working Iâ€™ll admit, that Supernatural has some issues with rape. Now, before we start, rape is a serious and heinous crime which I will not make light of in reality, but in Supernatural? Oh all bets are off, my friends. Rape/Possession is like the standard meme in this show â€“ people getting their bodies jacked for some nefarious purpose, and as was demonstrated by the poor nurse in â€Lucifer Rising,â€ the Original!Meg, and others, these people can be conscious of whatâ€™s going on. Oh, bad, Supernatural, just bad. So possession is a double invasion â€“ body and mind. So nice of you to join us, metaphor, where have you been?
Okay, so to preserve literary symmetry, I guess, the big bad in the first two seasons was a possessed man. Boys needed to work out the daddy issues, you see, and you canâ€™t really work those out if the big bad is, like, a woman. So Yellow Eyed Demon pairs nicely to John Winchester â€“ check. So how does literary symmetry work with Meg and Ruby? Oh I think we all know this one, donâ€™t we? SAT Time, again: YED is to Daddy as ____ and _____ are to ______.
Ruby and Meg, ala the rack warmers, get to suffer some comeuppance for their nefarious and sexual ways. If you look at both scenes, which I was loathe to do because my feminist rage would return, but then I thought of thisâ€¦â€¦
And better, but still, the rack?! Seriously! Just so we are clear that this is a sexual issue, I would note two things. First, both episodes, â€œHeaven and Hellâ€ and â€œCaged Heat,â€ have an erotic encounter in them. â€œHeaven and Hellâ€ is Dean/Anna sex; â€œCaged Heatâ€ is the kiss between Meg and Cas. Second, both of these women had the knife placed or plunged in strategic areas.
Now look at the images:
This is what you get for being overly sexual girls. Itâ€™s the gynecological exam from hell. Next up, a proctologistâ€¦â€¦.Feminist rage back. Grrrâ€¦.Note that these scenes happen with male torturersâ€¦just sayinâ€™. Just sayinâ€™. Also, notice the alignment of the armsâ€¦.look familiar? Go back and look at the images near the beginning. Iâ€™ll wait for you.
So, anything look familiar? Hope so because I think all sexualized females have a particular stamp running across their untouched torsosâ€¦..Just a thought. I could be wrong.
Anyway, as I think about it, Iâ€™m not really sure what my argument says about this screen cap:
Or this oneâ€¦..
Oh yeah, I do. Thatâ€™ll be the next partâ€¦..â€Sexual Issue #4: Walk Like A Man, My Son, Or Dean is Scully, Sam is Mulder, and Why Supernatural has been Slashedâ€ (In other words, part one of the homoeroticâ€¦.Danger Will Robinson! Danger!)
By the way, you are welcome to provide captions for any of the images providedâ€¦..And one last thought before I go.
I love you, Ellen.
I love you, Rufus.
Awesome essay in your series! Look forward to the next part. They really give a me something to think about.
Thanks for the comments!
I will definitely look out for "women in white" in Season 7.
Good luck on your dissertation.
(One of my students cut and pasted an article from the internet and asserted he did not plagiarize as he changed the fonts).
The less said about Cassie, the better. She had zero chemistry with Dean, she actually makes Lisa look good.
No matter how old or young they are, any female in a white dress is dog meat. There is one exception, Marcy from WaB, but she was Bobby's girl, so maybe that saved her.
Yeah, finally Wincest.
RuBob foreva! I will not feel wrong for loving them. To quote Becky, "If this is wrong, then I don't wanna be right."
Yeah, I'm with you on Cassie. And I do think Marcy gets a pass because she's Bobby's girl. No girl in white for the Winchesters, I think.
By the way, your dissertation sounds really interesting. I'm a librarian (the Sam kind, not the Dean kind!) in a high school for girls, and we certainly get cases of copy and paste. They seem to think that because they've done the action and changed a few things here and there, i.e. fonts, that it is okay. What the world has come to with technology is a little scary.
I think the only way they can go is Sundance and Butch Cassidy - together in death, as in life.
But then, I am a big fan of wincest, so I really shouldn't say anything.
Please tell me that your wincest issue is almost done. As one sick puppy to another.
The gynaecological exam from hell (hmâ€¦ I watched episodes where demons were tortured. When torture was big in the Middle Ages during the inquisition period it was en vogue to torture the victims nakedâ€¦ men and women alike, which is very common today.) Did you see something I didnâ€™t? Any hysterectomy taking place I didnâ€™t notice? Cesarian?
Linda, I canâ€™t agree. I simply canâ€™t. The wounds on Maryâ€™s, Jessicaâ€™s and even Lisaâ€™s (weâ€™ve seen her on the ceiling, too, in one nightmare) bodies are nowhere near the womb. They run across the stomach area.
I apologize for again being nitpicky here, alas, how I read this article, it appears to me that you are trying to construe a mix of Oedipus complex, mother archetype, virgin metaphor and some Samson complex, which is, by the way, described a behavioural disturbance, manifested in the compulsion to re-enact the experience of betrayal by women, followed by destructive attacks of rage against others, and ultimately against oneâ€™s selfâ€¦ did you really find all this in the show?
To me it seems as if you want to find these issues in the show.
Iâ€™m also not quite sure what you wanted to say with your chapter on the seductresses in the show.
Dominant femmes fatales have appeared in stories since the beginning of storytelling. Lilith, Morgan le Fay, Lamia, etc. , often manifestations of male violence fantasy and their fear of female sexuality.
Looking at it from a feminist point (which you emphasize several times), I like to acknowledge the existence of strong female characters, and I count Mary, Jessica, Bela, Ruby, Lisa among those.
Of course they are being sexualized, but so are some of the men, too, even by yourself â€“ chest and gun pornâ€¦
Personally, Iâ€™d like to assume that the demons we got to know as Meg or Ruby were not necessarily female in their demon form. My guess is that they came upstairs in a female body because that would bring them faster to their intended goal. Had the Winchesters been women, they might have surfaced as Milo or Rupert. But, again, thatâ€™s just me.
I've not really taken this show with a feminist theory take. I've kinda noticed that they're rather equal opportunists on torturing both genders---and both brothers. I can see the feminist aspect, but I don't know I'd put as much stock into it.
That being said, it IS interesting, and another thing I hadn't picked up on about the pilot, that Mary is in white on the ceiling and the Woman In White is the first villain the boys face together alone. White is the color of death in some cultures, it is not a happy color. They've also put the Catholic spin on white with the virginity, but it's interesting how they've blended Easter and Western thought on that color.
Dean would be ashamed if he really knew he was the red headed woman---not Sam---since he already claimed to be Mulder.
Loved what you did here. I can't wait to see how you tackle the big can of worms that IS the slash elements of this fandom. Slash is what it is, and either you like it or you don't, but there's such subtext if you try to fit the show into it.
Actually i'd like to comment to jasminka. Actually meg and ruby are both girls. Meg is Azazel's daughter. If m not mistaked Azazel said so in devil's trap S1. Her name may not be meg because meg masters was a human body she possessed. M sure ruby is a girl. In malleus malleficarum the demon witch women knows her. All demons thinks ruby was traitor except lilith. Ruby was a demon worshipping witch when she was human back then. Actually according to supernatural universe. (Not necessary according to my own teology which defy most of the show's facts.) But m not talking about that.)
All demons used to be humans who worship the devil. They were tortured in hell then stripped of all humanity and became torturer and then became evil. So I think after that episode dean and sam should know that there's no such thing as nice demon. It's bullshit. Even after dean got out of hell he should know. Because they should know, at least Dean, what it takes to create a demon. Souls in hell must be tortured, and broken and stripped of humanity until they become torturer and takes pleasure in hurting other souls eventually when they passed this steps they will be nothing more than evil souls true and true. That 's demon. I still think sam and dean are stupid not to see this after Maleus Malleficarum. Or even after Lazarus rising. I still adore the show But just this thing bothers me.
Please forgive my rant. M sorry bookdal to speak out of context here. I love your writing here honest.