the scourge of the southeast

the line between the world and the much weirder world

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009: Supernatural Fights the Patriarchy... sort of... kind of... a little bit
I've always had a bit of a problem of reading everything in the most ultra-feminist way possible. I took Byron's Don Juan and wrote a six-page paper in undergrad about how it was a liberating feminist text that demonstrated the sexual agency and independence of women. The point being: I will find just about anything "liberating" unless it is deliberately (or poorly) constructed to show women as unbearably awful stereotypes of various kinds. If your characters are flat--forget it.

Which is why I found it interesting when I did finally watch Supernatural that so many people see the text as misogynistic and anti-feminist. What I saw--especially in the early seasons--was a lot of monsters that directly embodied the pitfalls and oppressions of patriarchy being defeated by two very pretty men who seemed to be quite aware of the dismantling, un-apologetically emotional, and firmly secure in their masculinity. Now, no, it's not to the degree that Buffy's monsters embody the tribulations of teenage life. And Buffy gets to kick her own troubles in the ass rather than have pretty men swoop and save her from them (which self-saving is precisely the point of Buffy.) But it did seem to me that the monsters in Supernatural--based largely on urban legends, myths, common horror movie tropes, etc.--often represented some sort of systematic societal evil, usually leveled at women, and that killing the monsters was a way to vanquish those evils.

Now, clearly there are some serious bits of misogyny in the show--not denying that. Oftentimes that comes from fandom backlash against characters, or just plain lazy writing. And I wish I hadn't thought to write this at frickin' 11PM or I could provide some examples and some more coherent thoughts. But I did want to sort of remind myself that during my first watch I did very seriously see a lot of the monster-fighting as something like this. Once we get into both the Christian Lore and the Economy of Souls (see previous SPN related posts) I still feel like Supernatural's purpose is to somehow digest the contradictory bits of our culture and social pressures and make them usable to us as a modern audience. That, I think, is for some time that's not 11PM. I haven't tried to write proper meta in months so I think I've exhausted my efforts.


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