Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Doctor Who magazine feminist overviews - 504 (The Cybermen)

Apart from reviewing Doctor Who episodes from a feminist point of view, I've been thinking of doing some similar overviews (only a bit shorter and more schematic) of the Doctor Who Magazine numbers, so here's the first one :)
Description of issue
  • Yes (Feminist content, empowered female characters, representation and/or subversion)
-Inside back cover: Silurian warrior queen. Points for #Women Leaders and for #Non-objectified and realistic female warriors.

-Evolution of the Cybermen: This feature interviews the creator of the first Cybermen designs, who is actually a woman , Sandra Reid/Tynan

-Comic ('Moving In'): Subversion of traditional gender roles with the Twelfth Doctor cooking (open in new tab for larger image):

-Silver Nemesis: I haven't seen this episode yet, so I can't really comment on it, but the things I've liked in the review feature: Ace as an empowered, non-objectified female companion; Lady Peinforte, a 16th Century noblewoman, is skilled in archery; and a society-critical anti-marriage quote: "Am I to remain a prisoner in my own house, while world dominion awaits beyond the door? I would have married if I'd wanted that!". Lady Peinforte is a 'villain', a 'sorceress and poisoner', so she's not seen in a good light (as is so usual when it comes to indepedent powerful women in history and tales :/), but this quote is definitely feminism material (apart from the villain-related 'world domination' thing,of course xD).
Ace fighting Cybermen
  • For consideration (potentially problematic content)
-Evolution of the Cybermen: Alexandra Reid on thinking that the ‘girls’ skirts were too short’ (she's referring to companion Polly wearing miniskirts):

I appreciate the designer noting that retrograde religious 'pro-modesty' mindsets are harmful and wrong. They totally are. One should definitely not judge a woman for wearing miniskirts or shorter skirts, if she likes wearing them.

 However, the context should also be taken into consideration in order to ascertain if the character is being sexualized or not. For example, female Starfleet officers (Star Trek) wearing miniskirts is unrealistic and ridiculous - and thus, objectifying - because the logical thing would be to wear protective and practical clothing in that context (weather, risk of injury to the exposed or poorly protected legs, lack of mobility, among others). Doctor Who's context also involves adventures, running, danger and hazardous situations and environments, so I guess that if a female character were wearing, say, a short skirt with bare legs or very thin leggings, that could pose a problem (again, weather, higher risk of injury, lack of mobility). 

This of course depends on the kind of adventure - Amy Pond, for example, often wears short skirts with leggings, and, as a daily wearer of this kind of look, I can say that, if the skirt is reasonably elastic and the leggings are warm enough, this look is quite realistic when it comes to running, moving around, and protecting yourself from scratches and (non-extreme) weather.

 Other important point to consider about this issue is to see if, by contrast, all male characters are always wearing pants and generally comfy and practical clothing while the women are generally wearing more revealing clothing just because they're women (double standard) and they must be seen as adequately attractive for the male gaze (a quote by Frazer Hines (see below) supports that quite a handful of men see it like that :/ And is character, incidentally, wore a kilt, so double double standard because he, as a man, doesn't get that kind of comments for showing his legs). So context definitely has a say in this matter.
  • Nope (Presence of sexism - Such as objectification and sexualization, double standards, glorification of gender roles, problematic relationships, etc. Presence of racism, heteronormativity, classism and/or other problematic content)
-Evolution of the Cybermen: Like I commented above, Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon) makes quite a problematic objectifying comment about him and Patrick Troughton ‘not complaining’ about Deborah Watling (Victoria) wearing miniskirts.
This makes one think just how many people were thinking that these girls were wearing miniskirts for their watching pleasure (this is a current issue, don't be mistaken), and also to what extent were these actresses given miniskirts as part of their costumes so that they'd look attractive to the male gaze (this is also a current issue), because, like I also mentioned before, some of these adventures don't partcularly ask for a short skirt with bare legs, so there must be another - societally more important - factors at play :/
Hines 'wasn't complaning' about his female colleagues showing their legs, but I guess people didn't just go around being disrespectful and objectifying to him for the very same reason - because he's *gasp* male
-Cyber-Plans: Torchwood’s Cyberwoman is an excellent and oh-so-subtle example of objectification and double standards. Male Cybermen are - obviously! - never objectified and are always wearing realistic, practical and non-sexualized armour and outfits. But the (sexist) genius who thought about this design must have thought that women were a different story, and that the male gaze as paramount:

Also, it's worth noting that Cybermen are called ‘Cyber-men’ even though both men and women are converted, at least in New!Who. An example of the sexist use of the masculine as a generalized term to refer to both men and women. Also, if converted women wear the boob-plate-free Cyber-outfits that everyone wears, Torchwood's Cyberwoman is not only sexualized - she is also incoherent.

-Comic ('Moving In'): Even though the Doctor cooks the family meal in this comic strip (and has been subverting this role in other comic stories as well), regarding  the ‘family’ proper the wife - Mrs Collins - is  the only one to cook in the house (we're to assume that she's a stay-at-home wife and mother). We're talking about the 70s and all, but the fact that too many women, housewives or not, are still the ones primarily taking care of the cooking and other housework stuff today is an important and very current issue. The traditional gender role involving women=cooking and women=housework is still going strong in too many cases (and that's why it's so important to show subversion, such as the Doctor's in this strip).

This comic also feeds us the cliché that the women (stay-at-home or not, but mainly stay-at-home in this context) are really the ones to ‘have the power’ and ‘take the decisions at home'. Even though the husband has the societal upper hand (male privilege) and the money is his (even though the women may administer it - that's less work for the dude, really, I'm sure many think of it that way), we're often told that the wives are the ones with the ‘power’, the ones who ‘rule over’ their husbands. 

This misleading cliché bothers me to no end, because in a patriarchal system the truth is the complete opposite. In a patriarchal-based system men have the real executive power, while women’s potential 'power' is only (relatively) valid in private spheres, and this kind of power often comes from indirect methods (persuasion and/or advice, for example), or from patriarchal-based methods (seduction, the only kind of power – alongside deception and indirect persuasion – that women really have in this system). So don't give me this kind of rubbish. Housewives who are 100% financially dependent on their husbands do not have the 'real power' in the equation (and 'choice' - because I can already hear the liberal-choice-feminists complaining - has nothing constructive to add on the matter because 'choice' doesn't immediately mean 'feminist' or 'anti-system'). Husbands in such a situation may want to humour their wives so that they think that they have the kind of 'real' power to make the decisions, or they may be afraid of them (as the controlling party often is when it comes to the controlled party who may rebel and strike back), but if they wanted they could easily show that the 'power' is theirs simply because they're in possession of the money and the societal privilege.

 That's why being financially independent is so important if you're a woman.
1) Being financially dependent makes you way easier to control and oppress. You literally have no freedom if you don't have any economical means of your own. You're depending on the goodwill of the one who holds the money, usually the man.
2) Stay-at-home women are being oppressed in the patriarchy system by definition, ‘choice’ or ‘no choice’, because that's how the patriarchal system works. The one without the money (in this case, the woman) is the one with the least power of decision.
3) And this is, again, for choice-feminists and liberal feminism: Of course a woman can 'choose' to be a housewife, but 1) Choices don't come from a vacuum and 2) Shouting 'choice!' is derailing because we’re talking about the system and not about ‘personal choice here.

-Silver Nemesis: Like I said, I haven't watched the episode yet, but Lady Peinforte seems to fall into the 'villainous sorceress' stereotypical category that so many women fill when they display independence and power.
  • Bonus geeky stuff I liked
Twelve is Team Cap :)! Suits him :D

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Critisizing Plain Jane: Jona part I

Continuing after a brief-ish hiatus with my snarky reviews of the horrendously sexist 'Plain Jane' makeover show, here's part one of the second episode! (Many topics will be repeating themselves, so the reviews of the remaining episodes of season 1 will probably be a bit shorter than the posts about the first episode).

Former posts:
-First episode: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

So...let's begin:


-Sexism in the title: The cliché of the ‘obsessive-compulsive’/'bossy'/'control-freak' (woman), which, according to this show, apparently refers to practically every woman who speaks her mind and likes to keep her own lists, her own decisions and her own standards about things in her life.  Something that, in my opinion, is highly positive (gender-neutral problems of stress and perfectionism aside), but apparently not if you’re a woman. If you’re a ‘control-freak’, you’re unattractive, and you’re probably not going to get a man (which is such a big deal), not only because of the inherent ugliness of wanting to control your own life, but also because it means you’re also going to be self-conscious and ‘awkwardly dressed’.

Starting with the episode's brief initial sneak-peek, we can already spot a lot of similarities with the Cristen episode:
  • Like episode one, this one starts with a young woman dressed casually and sans make-up. The very opposite of what we're looking for in a ‘feminine’, ‘womanly’ and ‘sexy’ woman who wants to date a guy!    After all, what this show is trying to drill in our heads, apart from the fact that a woman without a man is nothing, is that a woman who dresses this casually and in such a natural, carefree, and comfy way is 1) ‘not sexy and feminine enough’ and 2) Shy and self-conscious. And being 'shy and self-conscious' means, obviously, that she's in desperate need of guidance when it comes to ask a man out. 
She wants to be 'spontaneous'! Oh, and, you know, 'womanly'. We all know a woman's not a woman in casual wear and withot make-up!
-Confusing personal style with gender stereotypes
I hate this show's twisted idea that dressing casually is equal to being 'shy', 'messy' and 'unkempt' (and of course, 'unfeminine'). We already know, thanks to the first episode, that all women have a very narrow set of (compulsory) 'feminine' and 'sexy' options in order to be considered 'women' and 'attractive', and many of them seem to be on the mobility-impairing and uncomfortable side (heels, tube skirts).

In real life, we all have our own style, disregardless of our sex and/or gender. Some people prefer to dress in a more formal/less casual way (me, for example), and some people’s style is more casual. Both styles are very much allowed to include 'comfort' - the opposite of ‘casual’ isn’t the high-heeled, tight tube-skirted model the show promotes as the only ‘good’ one for womenAnd ‘casual’ does not mean ‘careless’ or ‘unkempt’, either. And I know it’s sooo surprising, but there are quite a few women who actually don’t even dress for the men, you know?!

So let’s not create wrong, illogical and simplistic gender stereotypes linking our dress sense and general style with our personality, for heaven's sake. According to this misogynistic show, there are only two options, the 'good' option and the 'bad' option: 1) ‘Sexy (but their definition of 'sexy') and for the menz’ ("good") and 2) 'Shy and awkward because she doesn’t know how to cater to the menz’ ("Bad". In need of assistance)
  • Her apartment and room are messy, so she must be an 'unfeminine Plain Jane' without love in her life ('This is...revolting!!')
  • She is forced to 'face her fears', again in an unnecessary and ridiculous way which also teaches women to totally choose the wrong priorities in life ('If you can do this, Jonathan is nothing')
Viewers are able to get a kick again out of watching a frightened woman having no control over her actions! Aka...the 'face your fears' test :/
  • She is told to change her whole clothing style in order to attract the guy. As always, sexiness (and self-objectification, because she obviously doesn't do it for her) is the key. 
  • She is told that she must learn to flirt and entertain men. Bonus of having to deal with the racism of the guys in a speed-dating totes healthy class ('I've never dated an Asian girl before')
  • Makeover, haircut very much included (because these girls always need a haircut or extensions, nothing's ever fine to begin with).
  • The pressure of risking losing her 'friendship' with the guy unless she's deemed 'feminine' and 'beautiful' enough for him to consider her for a romantic relationship. Final decision's his, as usual, with her risking losing him both as a friend and partner if her make-over isn't successful (also featuring the simplistic idea that people in a romantic relationship are the complete opposite of  'friends').
Totally judging you here. Male entitlement TM
  • Sappy, hypocritical brainwashed 'romantic' ending. 
  • And the stylist is the same obnoxious sexist individual we have come to love in episode 1. 
  • And again, we don't really care about her job, studies or personality. As long as she gets a sexy makeover and a man, she's complete in our eyes, right?
The episode finally begins after this fascinating sneak-peek full of the same boring sexism:
Like we said, this episode's protagonist victim is a young girl called Jona who is dressed casually, and obviously is going to pay for it in a moment (just...the nerve of it!).  This time, she does mention something about her actual life (she's an art student), but don't worry, that's not going to come up again. Not important.

Here starts the 'control freak' part. Jona is stressed and 'really needs' the stylist's help 'in all different ways' because she wants to be 'in control of everything', and we're not talking about unisex perfectionism, overthinking or OCD issues here. This episode makes it quite clear that if you're a woman, making plans about your life and generally having agency about your actions totally stresses you out, makes you lack any spontaneity and transforms you into a crazy control freak with - look for it - no love in your life! Because women are apparently really delicate and volatile (crazy?) people who get stressed out easily if they're trying to make plans about their life or be in control of their decisions! Jona says, in a grief-ridden tone, that 'it always stresses me out so much [being in control], I always have to plan and if I don't I freak out. That's why I never take any risks in life (risks=asking a boy out, don't think it's deeper stuff), and that really holds me back'. And this sentence is followed by, I kid ye not, this:
Decision making and planning stresses women out so much!
Way to be subtle about your sexist bullshit stereotypes, Plain Jane! And we're just started on the episode!
Cut out the horseshit already, Plain Jane
Jona's lack of spontaneity is also reflected on her wardrobe - She isn't catering to the menz enough because she 'likes to play it safe'! In this edition of  'Are we really living in the 21st Century? Aka Is this sexist bullshit for real?' we learn that wearing T-shirts is unfeminine and earns you a dramatic 'Oh nooo!' from the stylist. 
She's so ashamed of owning multiple T-shirts - What is wrong with this world??
Interesting that both Jona and Cristen justify their casual, 'unfeminine' choice of clothes. Cristen said she 'dressed like a guy', Jona says she wants to ‘play it safe’ with her clothing as well as with her life (but that she wishes she could be more spontaneous – and ergo, supposedly also more ‘womanly’, I guess). And so, the stylist gives us the first display of her despair when shown Jona's choice of clothes. So basically, this show exists to flame women who dress casually, equating them to women who are shy, self-conscious, repressed and in need of spontaneity in their lives, or who only hang out with guys and, therefore, friendzone them. All of them incapable of getting their crush because of their wardrobe choices. The stylist of course decides that 'She needs the help, that's for sure'.

We have to be careful about the 'I think she looks great without X' sentence, because entitled men (mostly) are appropriating that initially empowering phrase that intended to go against the need to wear X (a clothing style, heels, make-up, you name it) in order to be 'attractive', turning it into another controlling form of entitlement. That being said, I actually do think Jona looks lovely in all her natural casual glory. Let no obnoxious fashionista/man/woman/anyone tell you you don’t look great like this if you like to dress in a similar way, or if you prefer not to wear make-up or whatever. And same if you do like to wear make-up/less casual clothes/whatever. You don't need to change your style to please anyone! 

Enter the crush, aka Entitled Boy. Like what happened with Cristen, Jona remarks that her crush is 'cute, tall, sweet' also focusing on his appearance. But also 'extremely smart'. Is Jona smart? We don't care. In this show, the fact that she mentioned that she's a student and what she studies is already like really subversive, so it's not like we can hope for more (also, instead of doing some studying or something, what Jona actually does every night is stalking Entitled Boy's Facebook and squeeing about how cute he is). 

Enter the 'friends' whose turn is to bash Jona's character. Entitled Boy gets all the positive traits, but what do they choose to say about Jona?: She has fear of failure and is a control freak.   Basically all that is highlighted are ‘negative’ aspects of her, plus her unfeminine style, all in need of a sexy, 'confident' makeover. We never learn that these girls are smart or find out about their personality in a positive way, and we don't get the opposite either, where it's a shy guy who wants to ask a girl out (that wouldn't be 'manly' enough!).
Jona goes out to meet her future stylist and the camera slowly shows us her entire outfit and appearance from shoes to hair in an obviously disapproving way - Because I suppose that wearing trainers, fitted sweatpants and her hair in a messy bunned ponytail is so unfeminine, jeesh. The stylist scathingly asks if she's been on a run, and when Jona tells her that she just finds that kind of clothing comfy, she freaks out. Apparently, it's only acceptable to wear that kind of 'casual wear' if you've just gone on a run. The fact that it's 'comfy' isn't a valid option. 

The clothing bashing this show so loves continues, as the stylist exclaims: 'You came to meet your fairy godmother [facepalm] who's going to help you with style and fashion wearing sweats with ink splashed all over it. You're winding me up?' . Because ‘casual wear’ goes always hand in hand with ‘unkempt, dirty and messy’, apart from 'unfeminine'. Obviously.
Logic, logic everywhere here!
'Can you take your hair down, show me your hair a bit?'  I'm evaluating you here!  Also, wearing your hair in a comfy way (messy updos and the like) is not a good move, who cares if you're comfy and/or if you like to wear your hair that way. Apparently, you're not making an effort, and it's every woman's job to keep their hair and body attractive to the menz! Messy updos? Ewwww.

'When was the last time you washed it?'  Again - Women who wear casual clothing apparently wear it splashed with ink and don't wash their hair! ‘Unfeminine’ women who don't wear ‘sexy’ clothing for the menz don't wash themselves and wear stained clothing! SUUUUURE. Why would  a woman be interested in keeping herself clean unless she was making herself up to be seen by a man? The thought of it!

Interesting that she actually asks a bit about her personality! But her question is full of offensive stereotypes already. She's so messed-up because she likes casual-wear and doesn't have a guy, so, ‘are you the shy girl?’ ‘The nerdy girl?’ (thanks for saying being nerdy is a wrong thing if you’re a woman, that’s another famous stereotype I so needed to hear. Plus you obviously don’t know what being ‘nerdy’ even means! Beng a freak, I assume you're assuming). 

So this 'personality' question has helped viewers to arrive to this wonderful stereotype: The girls who focus on school must be shy girls with dirty hair and unfeminine clothes, with the optional addition of some parents who prevent you from dating.
Professor Badass McGonagall is having none of your crap, Plain Jane
'Let's talk about your love-life. How many dates have you been on in the past year?' Didn't talk so long about her personality there, even in order to create ridiculous sexist stereotypes (plus she actually didn't have any time to tell you anything about her personality, but anyway).  OK, so why does a woman have to present you a list of a sufficient number of dates for you to consider her worthy? Maybe a woman's just not interested in dating until an specific moment? That doesn’t mean she has to be a "hopeless shy case of an unfeminine woman"! And maybe another hypothetical woman isn't interested in dating now, or ever? Maybe their sexual orientation is also different? But this show's sexist narrow-mindedness obviously doesn't take such things into account. The horror!

It is concluded that Jona is shy and unkempt because she likes to study and doesn't go on a sufficient number of dates, so the stylist takes it unto herself to be a 'fairy godmother' and help her poor charge out by arranging the blind date with Entitled Boy. Again, this is a process in which the supposed 'confident-to-be' girl doesn't have any agency at all.
Yeah, not at all.
And after the very logical fact that the guys always accept these blind dates from complete strangers calling (I guess they want us to tell us that 'manly, macho' men are always happy to date anyone, and who cares about who she is...as long as she's pretty, of course), we continue glorifying Entitled Boy. Jona has fear of failure, panics a lot, yadda, yadda, yadda, but 'Everybody loves Jonathan. Very polite and very debonnair.' Classy, sweet, talkative (and Jona's 'friends' remark that he's great for Jona in that respect because she's 'such a great listener'. Guess we all know who's going to do all the talking post-makeover!). All good things, many about his personality. As usual, he doesn't need to change a thing about himself - Including the fact that his body type is what people could call 'plus size' if he were a woman. But men are generally allowed to be thicker or bigger without, you know, starving, or feeling so insecure they're convinced they're practically worthless. Hell, the stereotype of the 'bigger guy who is entitled to the gorgeous thin voluptuous girl is still going strong! 
But I'm not privileged at all, you know?
Dubious process of stalking Entitled Boy, and teaching women the 'feminine' methods of being indirect at everything.
This is the healthy way to approach someone!
He's in the library, and apparently that doesn't put his attractiveness or masculinity at risk! Oh my gods, and he isn’t portrayed as ‘shy’ or ‘unkempt’ because of it! But they've more than implied that the fact that Jona focuses on her studies is more bad than good. That a woman who likes to study is probably a shy nerd with dirty clothes and hair, who doesn't have love in her life and is miserable about it. Not a double standard here, oh no, my Precious.
Entitled Male TM: "Double standard? I don't see any double-"
Jona's personality, the fact that she prefers to be in control of everything she can, is going to have to change, primarily because that makes her shy about asking Entitled Boy out, for some (oh so logical) reason. I can also interpret this as a criticism of women trying to be in control of things - they are often called 'paranoids', ‘bossy’, ‘control freaks’ (a bit like the bashing Clara Oswald in Doctor Who receives during season 7.5 and 8, actually :/. Thankfully, season 9 appeased me for season 7/8’s sexism on this respect)- And they're also 'in need to loosen up' because of it, while men are usually encouraged to be in full control of their lives.
 Clara Oswald has her eyes on you, sexist Plain Jane!
'With no guts there's no glory'. Apart from the ridiculous idea that people (and especially 'manly' men) somehow have to prove to the world that they're 'tough' and 'brave' and 'cool' - and that doesn't involve interesting, deep stuff, but mainly being reckless and using bravado in the wrong situations-, there's too much meddling with people's personality here (some people like taking more risks than others, and no one should be forced). Looks like the same thing as trying to change an introvert into an extrovert. That really doesn't work by forcing them to do things out of their personality league. Being out of your comfort zone isn't always good or beneficial. And forcing someone to do that usually demonstrates lack of empathy, narrow-mindedness and controlling urges – Actually, while Jona is being labelled as the ‘control freak’ for wanting to be in control of her life, the stylist’s the one who should be called that, because her job revolves around controlling and changing  other women’s lives all the time!
Oh, snap!
Ah, the phobia torture experience! Oh, how we've missed it! Jona is now going to be doing outdoors skydiving in order to let the control out of her life and summon her will to face her (arranged) date! So logical! So healthy! I'd like to know, what's exactly the link between not being a fan of high-excitement sports and being apprehensive about asking someone out? Like I said at the beginning of this post, methinks the aim of this stupid 'first step in your transformation', as the stylist puts it, is just to add a scene where people can get a kick out of seeing a woman being frightened, freaking out and having no control over her decisions.
Jona resists the first step in her transformation: An unnecessary dangerous sports session!
You know, you really need to stop treating women like weak, self-conscious, paranoid beings who are not capable of making a decision or summoning their will to do something, unless they've been forced to face their biggest fear before.  Also, some people are shier than others, and you know, we should also respect that, respect that some people have more difficulty at some situations  and need more time than others. And some people don't like high-risk or high-excitement sports, and that doesn't make them less able to face situations in life. Forcing shouldn't be an option in any case, for anyone, unless the situation were critical and really asked for it. Which is not the case here.   Also, I find it fascinating that the stylist gets offended and goes 'you didn't call me so that I would just put some mascara and lipstick on you'...like, that's one of the main parts of the term 'makeover'? Forcing make-up (and other things) on women in order to attract a man?

'This is the first step in your transformation (...) not taking risks is holding you back. Not just with boys, forget about Jonathan for a second (but only a second!), but with life! If you can do this, Jonathan is nothing. (so it's not really about life, the main thing is Entitled Boy)'

So she basically has to jump off a plane in order to summon her courage to ask Entitled Boy out. Doesn’t anyone else think this is utterly ridiculous? Also, she isn’t even asking him out, she’s attending an already arranged blind date with him! For heaven's sake!
I know you do! Me too.  
'I met you a few hours ago and now you're making me jump off a plane!' And you're still not running away, Jona! How many red alerts do you need?

The logic and lack of empathy in this scene is simply outstanding. We get the stylist saying things such as 'No tears! Smiles' (yeah, someone facing a phobia needlessly must be so happy) and 'This is the biggest thing she's ever done' (and it's oh so necessary).  In the plane, Jona complains about being nauseous and not being able to breath well, and the guys in the plane are really patronizing, rude and actually harass her - We get sentences such as ‘I'd give you a free t-shirt if you peed your pants’. Where the freaking hell is these guys' professionalism??
While Jona is literally screaming her head off at 12,500 feet above the ground, the stylist really seems to be enjoying having Jona experiencing 'no control'. 'She must so be really freaking out right now'. This is no way to 'conquer your fears', you know. Nor is it a necessary or logical moment to 'face your phobia', and both Spock and Bones (who would also totally sympathise because he suffers from fear of flying and heights) would 100% agree with me. You face your fear when you must, and when it's necessary contextually. This is simply another way for the sexist viewers to have fun watching scared women without any control over their decisions. 

Smirking guys vs terrified girl. I find this scene pretty disturbing.
Also, Jona's biggest fear, according to the stylist, is not 'fear of heights', but 'not having control'. So the cure for that is basically non-consent, which is what's happening here, and it's actually potentially triggering and very problematic, because what we get is a terrified Jona yelling 'No!' while the guys manhandle and drag her out of and off the plane (and the stylist saying 'She's conquering her fears, this is it!'). Which is totally not cool, because if this is OK, then where do these people put the line in other non-consent issues? Also, Jona ends up 'enjoying' this, despite having been forced to do it, which is a twisted argument that comes up in sexual assault issues, for example.
For once, Spock and Bones both agree that there are many things that are very much not OK with this scene
'Yes! She did it!' Like, did she have any other choice??
And suddenly she enjoys it and finds meaning in her life thanks to having been forced to jump off a plane ('That was aaaaaawesome!!! I feel great! Thank you for making me do it!'). Then the stylist remarks that she just risked her life, so that makes the date with Entitled Boy 'not such a big deal'. All the dazzling logic again. The script continues to surprise with its originality...and problematic issues.
I found meaning and bravery in my life thanks to non-consent. Now I'm ready to go on an arranged date!
So yeah, we all need to go fall off some planes in order to feel like asking someone on a date is not a big deal.

Part 2 coming soon...ish

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Feminist reviews - Masaan (2016)

I saw this film yesterday after reading a review that claimed that the film (among oher things) was focused on the oppressive roles of women in India, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, in my opinion.  

When it comes to recent films that denounce the condition of women in India I’m definitely sticking to Angry Indian Goddesses and, to a lesser extent (because it includes unnecessary graphic/gratuitous scenes that add nothing), Parched. Masaan showed (some of) the misogyny, but never actually actively denounced it, rather focusing on the male characters and actually trying to turn them into sympathetic figures in spite of their patriarchal behaviour, arising too often  There were only two things which were critisized, and the film didn’t dwell on them that much, either:

-The fact that extramarital sex is considered as ‘indecent behaviour’ in some parts of the country -The film begins with a couple engaging in sexual activities in a hotel and being treated by the police like criminals. The man ends up commiting suicide, and the woman faces scandal and prison - unless they pay the police (or, specifically, a blackmailing corrupted policeman) a very high sum.

-The caste system - The difficulties faced by people from different castes from pursuing a relationship, for example.

But apart from that? Here are just some of the things that bugged me, apart from the fact that the film was ridiculously slow-paced and quite low-quality regarding technique and aesthetics, in my opinion:

-No women interacting or helping each other. Apart from a brief scene in a bus, where one of the (two) female characters is playing with her friends, there is no female interaction and we could say that there’s no Bechdel, really, because we never get two women actually really having a conversation. This is an important point if we compare this film with  Angry Indian Goddesses and Parched, where female bonding and women helping other women are central themes. 

-Gender roles and general misogyny are not questioned  - Women do all the cooking and cleaning, are molested by guys at work, are forbidden to access the cremation sites...Without the plot actively denouncing any of it, really.

-Cringeworhty flirting attempts from young male protagonist + dubious techniques (legit online and physical stalking seen as ‘sweet’ or ‘romantic’, angry outbursts) make for a pretty terrible romantic plot. Upper-caste female love interest, Shaalu, is ready to elope with lower-caste “Awkward Loverboy” after barely getting to know him, which sounds about right. All the caste system criticism you want, but relationship-wise, this romantic plot it’s hardly a healthy or even realistic scenario. 
If I might elaborate about Awkward Loverboy (aka Deepak)'s methods? I'm glad you asked:

He starts drooling over Shaalu's Facebook pictures surrounded by his male friends, and then proceeds to basically stalk her Facebook profile, printing part of it so that he can gaze at her profile pic in his bedroom at night (obsessive behaviour is somehow romantic or something). Instead of walking over to her like a normal person, he prefers to watch her from afar surrounded by his male friends. Once they have actually started talking and going on dates, he overall tries very awkwardly to be all romantic, basically so that he can get sex going on (aka get married, because that seems to be the only option where they live or they'll face 'public indecency' charges and scandal!). He seems to appear interested in her hobbies and likings in a very forced manner, to give some impression of him being interested in something more than her looks. To sum it up, very short, and very, veeeeeery cringeworthy courting period, and bam! he’s already asking her to marry him. 

Moments after this, Awkward Loverboy loses his temper because he’s hiding his whereabouts and lower caste from her. Points for lack of truthfulness in a relationship (yes, I know that the caste system discrimination is a thing, but hiding information while asking someone to commit to a long-term relationship is not cool - Yes, I'm looking at you, Aladdin). Plus more points for showing us that his sweet attempts at romance don’t mean he’s not going to get all angry and aggressive with women when the situation asks for it, same as most of the other males we’ve been seeing in the film! Also, she’s supposed to forgive him and actually keep wanting to marry him seconds after that! Everything is so healthy and romantic!

It's also worth nothing that in a country (among many others) where women are systematically assaulted and raped, he also doesn't stop to think about Shaalu's comfort level when asking her to step off the bus (where she's among her girlfriends) and go off with him on a borrowed bike. With the level of Deepak's secretiveness and lack of communication about himself, how is she to know it's safe to go out alone with him to an isolated place? And I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Shaalu basically is all for eloping with Awkward Loverboy to the cremation sites (has she even thought about the kind of life she would lead as a woman there?) after barely getting to know him, and just after witnessing Awkward Loverboy's anger outburst and the fact that he was keeping all the information about himself hidden.

-Female love interest is fridged just after this last scene where Awkward Loverboy proposes and has an anger outburst and confessed he's been lying. Yay, let's give him some emotional pain and an excuse to find himself again and grow as a person! While killing his female love interest!

-The father character in the film hits her daughter for bringing "dishonour" to herself and him (by having sex in a hotel with a fellow guy from university who then commited suicide), shouts at her, lets her do all the cooking and housework, manipulates her emotionally when she wants to leave home to continue her studies (apparently he cannot care after himself), and also exploits and hits a young child who works for him (and I think that he doesn't have a pay, so he’s basically a slave). FILM STILL SYMPATHISES WITH HIM AND TRIES TO MAKE US THINK HE’S SUCH A GOOD FATHER AND GOOD PERSON. How the hell is that ‘feminist’?? 
-Devi, the daughter, actively tries to get jobs and ends up being able to continue her university studies far from home (because Exploited Kid has severe Stockholm syndrome and cares for her father)…but obviously Awkward Loverboy who had his romantic interest fridged for his character development begins to make advances to her at the end of the film. Heavens forbid we don’t make heteronormative, stereotype-conforming relationships the central topic of this ‘critical’ film.

By our world’s standards, there are no hardcore graphic scenes of abuse on this film, but I exited the cinema thinking that this film (and others) have a trend gong that is pretty problematic:  Showing misogyny and abuse without actively denouncing it, plus actually trying to make the perpretrators sympathetic, isn’t only problematic per se, it also makes the abuse seem gratuitous and nothing else (we have the exact same problem with Game of Thrones, only with the graphic and gratuitous elements multiplied exponentially). 

 For example? 

The father gets to be the ‘good guy’ despite treating her daughter and the young boy pretty terribly (physical abuse and emotional manipulation for both). Devi is supposed to feel sorry for him and guilty for various reasons which are definitely not her fault. The film revolves more about the plights of the father than around the fact that Devi faces freaking scandal and prison just for having consensual sex in a hotel (and also because if the guy decides to commit suicide that makes her an accomplice, somehow). The boy is supposed to also feel sorry for the father, to the extent of giving him all the money he gets and end up caring after him. If anyone should be caring after anyone, it’s after the young boy, for heaven’s sake! Shaalu, the teenaged love interest, is supposed to forgive Awkward Loverboy’s anger outburst in five seconds and be ready to elope with him without really knowing anything about him… I felt like this film revolves mainly around the comfort and plots of the male characters, with the women being love interests, commodities and persons who feel guilty instead of denouncing what’s wrong and sexist about their society. All this masked with brief topics of social critic and lots of clichéd 'romance' - 2D heteronormative relationships which have no depth and include a number of problematic points, every much in the style of Disney movies.

So feminist? Not really, no.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Goodreads feminist reviews - Time Lord Fairytales (Doctor Who)

I've been reviewing the individual stories of Time Lord Fairytales (a series of whovianized versions of traditional fairytales) in my Goodreads account, but I thought I'd post the full review here as well.

Warning (kinda): Long post! Also, there's a lot of snarky bashing of traditional fairytales, because I take special pleasure slaughtering them, seeing as it's where children actually learn a lot of damaging stereotypes and constructs.

1. The Garden of Statues: 4/5
A Weeping Angels story read by Joanna Page aka Elisabeth I :) 

+1 Engaging plot

+1 I loved the fact that the two main characters, Izmay and Tarmin, seem to remain friends in a platonic relationship all through their lives, rather than fall in love and get married once they became a 'handsome man and a beautiful woman', as it would happen in most fairytales - and in most of the media as well -, where apparently a man and woman can't just be friends, they always have to end up in a romantic relationship of some sort (thank you, heteronormativity!) The children actually seem to think that the old man and woman are married ('the old couple', 'her husband'), but I'm hoping they just assumed that because they lived together, seeing that in the end it's nowhere stated that Izmay and Tarmin are a couple ('it semeed the most natural thing for the two friends to stay in the house'). Male/female friendship is woefully under-represented, and I loved that this tale did something about that :) 

-1 Taking risks just because of peer pressure and being dared. Not a sufficient reason or motivation to face danger. 
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named): 1- Izmay/Old woman
-Other women (unnamed): Female children
-Bechdel: No
-Female bonding: No
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?:  Izmay is active and participates in the action alongside Tarmin. However, she's the one who's described as 'gasping' or 'crying out'. Both are scared, but it's the female character the one who's most vocal about it (traditional 'feminine' behaviour).
-Subversion: Male/female platonic friendship
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: No

2. Frozen Beauty: 2/5

This whovianized version of Sleeping Beauty has some interesting twists and progressive elements ('Sleeping Beauty' being a renowned starship commander, for example), but the cringeworthy element of the tale kind of remains. Even though the non-consensual kiss has a slightly more acceptable reason this time -intended to make her breathe instead of the creepy 'true love's kiss' these sleeping women in fairytales are never asking for -, the sleeping, passive position of the woman is still glamourized and objectified by the male gaze. The male captain (aka 'the prince'), forgetting his professionalism in his quest to rescue and revive his fellow captain, stops to think just how beautiful she looks in her 'frozen beauty' more than once. I find this glorification of the passive (and unconscious!) female as 'beautiful' and 'alluring' nothing short of problematic. Especially when opposed to the reaction of the female character, who thinks his active, conscious smile is as beautiful as 'her frozen beauty was to him'. 

+1 'Sleeping Beauty' is actually a commander of a starship renowned for her bravery and abilities, so that's a huge progressive element as opposed to the original character.

-1 However, she remains unnamed, and her brother, who impacts on the tale less, is given a name. The male captain (aka 'the prince') also remains unnamed, but the detail about the brother being given a name while the female protagonist remained unnamed was jarring to me.
Come on, you knew I had to include this gif xD!
-1 She also remains in her passive, frozen position for 99% of the tale, and her passive state is glamourized as 'alluring' and 'beautiful' by the active male gaze of the male captain who comes to rescue her.

+1 The kiss has a slightly more logical and less 'non-consensual' reason (mouth to mouth resuscitation) as opposed to the 100% free-access 'true love's kiss'. The male gaze still remains, though.

-1 Cringeworthy last sentence where the male gaze is glorified and the female feels attracted to his active, conscious self instead: 'his smile was as beautiful to her as her sleeping, frozen beauty had been to him'.
Even though the 'kiss' is kind of more justified than the original textbook harassment, the male captain has like 0% professionalism when it comes to waking up his female fellow captain. He behaves like an entitled creep with a degree in male gaze and dubious intentions :/
+1 Female crew in both starships (it's to be assumed, only one female crewmember appears).

-1 The only female crewmember mentioned is the one described as less active with 'her voice taut with nerves'.

-1 No Bechdel or female bonding
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named)0
-Other women (unnamed): 2 - The female captain and a crewwoman
-Bechdel: No
-Female bonding: No
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?: There seem to be crewwomen in both starships, and the tale's 'Sleeping Beauty' is a renowned captain, but she remains passive for the entire tale.
-Subversion: Sleeping Beauty as a starship captain.
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: Male gaze. Glorification of dubious consent situations. Passive and unconscious women as 'alluring'.

3. Cinderella and the Magic Box: 2.5-3/5

As a long-ish disclaimer, I want to say that Cinderella is one of the Patriarchal traditional fairy tales I dislike the most: It equates 'beautiful' (regarding a woman, that is) with 'valid' and 'good' (Cinderella is beautiful and 'good', her stepsisters are 'selfish' and 'evil', so they're ugly); it equates 'good' with being practically a pushover who puts up with everyone's rubbish (she might have no other choice in that kind of society, but that doesn't mean she has to sell her position as a happy one just because she's 'good'); there's a nearly complete lack of female bonding (mother who dies, 'evil' stepmother and sisters as competition regarding other men), apart from the fairy godmather, who pretty much supports patriarchy and only helps her by giving her a makeover so that she can attract a man who will support her (where was she when she was miserable and toiling away in the house before the ball??); meanwhile, the father figure, who actually pretty much neglects her 'kind' daughter, is forever glorified; On the other hand, a man is the woman's recompense for being good (and beautiful!) -practically the only choice for a woman lacking her own means in those times, but definitely not the ideal 'happy ending' or even a 'choice', as it's exalted in such an anachronistic way today; the man is interested in her mainly because of her good looks, and the ball was there in the first place so that he could choose a (pretty) bride - and he's also so stupid he needs the freaking slipper to recognise her in the first place when she's not in her make-overed ball look. I could go on.

So why 2.5-3 stars? Well, apart from the fact that it's Ingrid Oliver aka Osgood reading :), I have to admit that the Whovian and less traditional twists of this tale were refreshing, compared to the stifling patriarchy of the original one (although nothing beats the feminist rendition of Ever After, in my opinion, and even that one is still traditional in many aspects), so, although the general idea of the tale remains the same, there are some interesting changes:

-The fairy godmother is the Eleventh Doctor, and that's pretty cool (wink, wink), and also pretty subversive :D. 
I enjoyed the descriptions about the TARDIS' bath (time-locked so that you can take as long as you want in your bath without any time actually passing outside) and wardrobe. And although Cinderella ends up wearing the Whovian variation of glass slippers ('Midnight crystal', a softer variation which adapts to the shape of your foot), I enjoyed Eleven confirming that 'glass shoes would just be silly', something that I've always thought xD (also, HIGH-heeled glass slippers? So obvious these tales were written by men who don't have to wear such shoes!!) 
Empowerment means not being able to walk. Thank you for your simplistic hypothesis, choice feminism.
-The ball is hosted by Lord and Lady Darke, and it's not meant to search for a bride for any prince, it's just a masquerade ball. The Doctor actually sends Cinderella on a mission against the  actually vampire nobles (he's unable to do it himself because they'd instantly notice the artron energy in him). So the 12 a.m deadline does not involve Cinderella escaping from the prince, but actually beating the vampires with the sonic screwdriver, and saving the story's prince and everyone else in the process. A more proactive Cinderella, which I appreciate.

-The prince is not seeking a bride (he was a guest at the ball, lured by the Darkes), and, while Cinderella ends up getting engaged to him in the end, in the typical we-have-just-met-but-who-cares way of (heteronormative) traditional fairy tales, at least he doesn't do the stupid stunt with the slipper (he just gives it back a short while after she loses it, and doesn't chase her without her consent, as in the original tale), and thanks her for saving his life. Not enough reasons to actually immediately want to marry someone (I guess he thinks she's pretty and she still has no other way out in that kind of society), but ah well.
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named): 2- Cinderella (kinda named) and Lady Darke (also kinda named)
-Other women (unnamed): 3 - Stepmother and stepsisters
-Bechdel: No
-Female bonding: No
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?: A more proactive Cinderella.
-Subversion: Eleventh Doctor as the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella sent on a mission.
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: Instant heteronormative relationship and marriage.

4. The Twins in the Wood: 2.5/5
Even though Anne Reid's reading is pleasant to listen to, I didn't find the plot of this tale very engaging, to be honest...

+1 A female character (the sister, Ella) ruling alongside her brother
+1 Gallifrey makes an appearance
+1 No romantic sublot anywhere, quite refreshing when it comes to most fairytales

-1 Exaltation of monarchy
-1 As usual, the children's mother does not appear in the tale
-1 No female bonding or Bechdel
-1 Plot was not very engaging imo
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named): 1 - Ella
-Other women (unnamed): No
-Bechdel: No
-Female bonding: No
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?:  Both characters, male and female, are pretty passive, to be honest, but we could argue that both manage to subsist in the wild on their own.
-Subversion: Female ruler alongside her brother
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: No

5. The Three Little Sontarans: 1.5-2/5
Really liked the Sontaran impressions by Dan Starkey (who plays Strax), but not a fan of war, binarism and violence à la Sontaran style. 

6. Jak and the Wormhole: 2-2.5/5
+1 Additional female character who doesn't appear in the original tale (Jahanna) and who turns out to be reasonably proactive a couple of times, shouldering a Nimon off a window and turning off the wormhole creator with her technological knowledge.
+1 Nimon instead of that creepy giant.

-1 Emphasis on Jahanna being a 'princess': classism (the importance of status) + sexist stereotypes associated with the damsel in distress trope and her beauty (male gaze) - 'You don't look like a princess' (because she was in prison wearing rags) ; 'How do I look?' 'Like a princess' (when changing into another dress at the end of the story).
-1 Awkward romantic subplot wannabe?
-1 Damsel in distress trope
-1 No Bechdel or female bonding
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named)1 - Jahanna
-Other women (unnamed)1 - Jak's mother
-Bechdel: No
-Female bonding: No
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?:  Jahanna shows some agency and wits a couple of times. Not much, though.
-Subversion:  Not really
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: Awkward romantic subplot revolving around Jak evaluating Jahanna's appearance, and how much she looks 'like a princess'.

7. Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday: 4/5
This whovianized Snow White is an improved, less sexist version of the original tale, in my opinion. The Queen, who thankfully this time at least has got a name (Queen Selima), is still 'evil' and 'power-hungry', but there are mentions of male cruel kings as well, and, most importantly, there's no problematic (step)mother-daughter female competition and the (usually male) mirror hasn't got the function of determining 'Who is the fairest of them all'. No apple. A more proactive Snow White. No romantic subplot! No prince! No sexual assault of a sleeping Snow White by the random prince! - Really, really happy about that, and wish they would have done the same about the male-gaze problematic issue in Sleeping Beauty (Frozen Beauty).
There's nothing of this :D!
Or this :D! 
+1 No patriarchal notion of female competition to see who's more beautiful.
+1 No non-consensual kiss of an unconscious woman.
+1 No prince! No romantic subplot! See, it isn't necessary.
+1 A more proactive Snow White who comes up with the plan to find the keys and who destroys them.
+1 The minesmen (aka the Dwarfs) are just comrades of her father who help her, instead of being random dudes who let Snow White stay in their home provided she cleans it.
+1 Snow White as daughter of castle staff instead of being made into a servant Cinderella style. Her mother actually being alive and having a name (Elsa)!
+1 No creepy huntsman chasing anyone's heart.
+1 Mention of a cruel tyrant king before the reign of Queen Selima (not only the women with power are the 'cruel' ones).
+1 The Queen actually having a name.
+1 Ace aka Sophie Aldred reading.

-1 The Queen still being depicted as the stereotypical 2D cruel female monarch who has power and is therefore 'evil'. The appearance of a former tyrant male monarch may alleviate this sterotype, but still.
-1 Idealized realm where classism isn't disputed and the rulers and aristocrats 'generally' want the best for the people.
-1 The woman who poisoned the former tyrant king being depicted as her 'treacherous lover'.
-1 No female bonding or Bechdel.
-1 Emphasis on Snow White's beauty. A bit just because.
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named): 3 - Snow White, Queen Selima, Elsa
-Other women (unnamed): No
-Bechdel: No
-Female bonding: No
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?:  A more proactive Snow White who saves the day.
-Subversion: No romantic subplot!
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: No romantic relationships. Healthier relationship between Snow White and the Dwarves.

8. Little Rose Riding Hood: 3.5-4/5
This whovianized version of Little Red Riding Hood is much improved as opposed to the original tale, in my opinion:

+1 Red Riding Hood as Rose (Tyler ;) ). Described as 'brave, fearless and clever' as well as just 'beautiful'. A more proactive and less naïve character: She doesn't fall to the deception of the Zygon (who plays the part of the Wolf here), finds where her real grandmother is and successfully escapes the Zygon in the cellar in order to get help instead of just cowering (or being swallowed up by the wolf as in the original tale).
+1 No Wolf who creepily stalks and deceives Riding Hood. Instead, we have references to the Bad Wolf, a legend 'scrawled across walls and daubed on pavements in the town'.

+1 Ninth Doctor as the woodcutter, complete with shed (aka the TARDIS). Fantastic!

+1 Affection and female bonding between women: Rose, her mother and her grandmother.

-1 I thought the Doctor' method of dealing with the Zygon (shouldering the Zygon down the steps of the cellar, which supposedly killed it) was a bit too violent and out of character...He says 'I cut out the dead wood (...) I weed out the poisonous, strangling vines'. That's not what the Doctor does, he helps people, not kills enemies (and the Ninth Doctor, toughness aside, talks openly about appreciating life). Too much binarism. 

-1 Rose and her grandmother are saved by the male, but this Riding Hood was way more proactive and less of a naïve damsel in distress. Also, it's the Doctor's 'role' to help people, so... 
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named)1 - Rose Riding Hood
-Other women (unnamed)2 - Rose's mother and grandmother
-Bechdel: Yes
-Female bonding: Yes
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?:  Rose is more proactive and less naïve than the original character.
-Subversion: A more proactive Little Red Riding Hood. The idea of  'Bad Wolf' instead of the wolf.
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: No

9. The Gingerbread Trap: 1.5/5
+1 The (sexist) cliché of the jealous (step)mother who manipulates her husband into abandoning his children (who vie with her for the love of the man) fortunately does not appear. This tale's Hansel and Gretel (aka Markus and Everlyne) simply set out after a fallen star (spaceship) without being abandoned and without leaving any bread crumbs behind.

+1 Everlyne shows some wits-
-1 but in this version of the tale it's Markus who does most of the action (while in the original tale it was the sister)

-1 Sexist cliché of the woman who is old and thus 'ugly', evil and a 'witch' (a Krillitane in this tale, but same idea). Elderly men tend to be kindly in many tales (wisemen, wizards, etc), but older women are too often seen as 'evil' and 'ugly'.

-1 No female bonding or Bechdel

-1 Fragile masculinity: Markus doesn't want to admit that he's tired, hungry and scared when lost in the woods. He feels relieved when Everlyne mentions it and proceeds to comfort her, basking in his active, virile role and façade.

-1 I'm biased because I'm not a fan of Danny, but I did not enjoy the reading a lot either.
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named)1 - Everlyne
-Other women (unnamed)2 - Krillitane (old woman), Markus and Everlyne's mother
-Bechdel: No
-Female bonding: No
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?:  Not really.
-Subversion: Not really.
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: Fragile masculinity.

10. The Scruffy Piper: 4/5
I quite enjoyed this Whovianized version of the Flautist of Hamelin with the Second Doctor (and his recorder/tin-whistle) against the cybermats. 
+1 Nicholas Briggs narrating
+1 Second Doctor and his recorder
+1 Engaging
-1 No women

11. Helana and the Beast: 0/5 (or, if I have to choose anything from 1 to 5: 1/5)
As with Cinderella, here's a longish disclaimer of why I don't like this fairytale (and thus my first 1/5 rating in Goodreads): 'The Beauty and the Beast' is probably the fairytale I abhor the most alongside Cinderella and the non-consensual kisses in Sleeping Beauty and Snow-White
-First of all, 'Beauty and the Beast' in all its variations (regrettably this whovianized version is not an exception) is full to the brim with double standards (the male is allowed to be 'ugly' *and* loved, but the female is always young and beautiful and must prove her lack of shallowness and her kindness by putting up with the Beast's very problematic behaviour and actually falling in love with him). 

-It also includes the ever-present clichés of the invisible (dead) mother, the idolized father figure, and, most importantly, the daughter who would sacrifice anything (including her life and freedom) for her father, supporting the problematic idea that a woman's life and freedom goes after the one of the males around her (father, husband, etc) and that this kind of (gendered) sacrifice where the woman loses her freedom is somehow necessary and even 'empowering'. 

-But the most cringeworthy and very, very problematic aspect of this kind of tale is that it glorifies and romanticizes abusive relationships and controlling behaviour, and it's pretty much an exaltation of the 'romantic' aspects of Stockolm Syndrome (she's a prisoner, for heaven's sake). That anyone, and especially a woman, view sacrifice, abusive behaviour and Stockholm as 'love' and/or 'empowering' is something beyond my comprehension. Seriously. Sue me.

-Also, the infamous and very problematic cliché of the woman who has to put up with a man's abusive and controlling behaviour because she knows there's a 'sliver of kindness deep inside', and it's somehow her job as a woman to 'make him better'.
This whovianized version has it all and it's not progressive or subversive at all.

----1: All the aspects I mentioned above
-1 Also the fact that the Beast is a whiny, egocentric, selfish individual who wants to have someone prisoner in their home just in order to have company, and because 'if he's miserable, then others must be too'. He's also shallow as hell, suddenly becoming oh-so-gentle-and-loving when he's pretty again. I personally don't think Helana's life will be so different, though. Still stuck with this dude alone in his house *shudders*

-1 And also the fact that many people actually believe that Helana/Belle is oh-so-empowered just because she likes reading and goes off on her own to search for her father. OK, but she still willingly puts up with all kinds of problematic abuse in the relationship, so...Just, sorry, I can't see anything empowering in Helana/Belle. She justifies abusive relationships, for heaven's sake. That's not empowering, that's simply stupid. The fact that someone (a woman) makes a 'choice' 'willingly' doesn't mean that choice is 'feminist'.
-1 And, of course, no female bonding or Bechdel. What a surprise! Isolation and Patriarchy are the order of the day here.

+1 The only thing I actually liked was the presence of the Twelfth Doctor, who's one of my fave Doctors. I also felt like Helana had a bit of decent, non-abusive support while the Doctor was around, and felt like she was left pretty much defenceless when he left at the end leaving her with the transformed Beast, which speaks volumes for the kind of relationship she got herself into. Helana mentions the way the Beast scares her quite a lot of times, and when she gives him the antidote and the Beast thinks he's being poisoned, she actually has to escape in terror to the library to find the Doctor because the Beast wanted to freaking hurt her. So damn romantic.
...for not helping Helana escape such an abusive relationship!
+1 The way the Beast transforms - thanks to Twelve's potion and not because of Belle's 'teary declaration of love' when the Beast is dying (you didn't know when you were well off, girl) - is pretty much the only slightly improved thing in this tale.
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named)1 - Helana
-Other women (unnamed): Haha! No.
-Bechdel: Hahahaha! Nope.
-Female bonding: Still nope.
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?:  Hahahahaahahah! More nope.
-Subversion: *Hikaru Sulu's voice* 

-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: EVERYTHING. 

12. Andiba and the Four Slitheen: 4/5
+1 Proactive female protagonist, described as 'brave' and 'intelligent' (instead of just being 'beautiful': Her appearance is actually never even mentioned).

+1 Vash seems to treat Andiba in a reasonably egalitarian way, appreciating her intelligence and resourcefulness, and doesn't steal her proactivity. Reasonably realistic and healthy relationship from friends to lovers without Andiba loosing empowerment because of it (gains a job at the factory and doesn't revert to a more traditionally passive role).

+1 Andiba is treated in a reasonably egalitarian way by Vash's father as well.

+1 She's given a job as coordinator in the factory as a way to thank her for her resourcefulness

+-1 Compulsory (heteronormative) love plot, but it's pretty secondary and it's pretty much the most equal relationship in this book.

-1 No Bechdel or female bonding
-1 Potential fat shaming (Slitheen skin suits)
-1 Death of the Slitheens is treated a bit lightly. Bit of binarism.
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named)1 - Andiba
-Other women (unnamed): No
-Bechdel: No
-Female bonding: No
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?:  Andiba is proactive and shows agency, wits and resourcefulness.
-Subversion: Active female protagonist who saves the day
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: No. Actually quite a healthy relationship, considering.

13. The Grief Collector: 3.5/5 (and a 5/5 to Michelle Gomez reading)
Tale based on Rumpelstiltskin. It has quite a lot of traditional and idealized messages revolving around marriage ('the happiest day of her life') and the 'love conquers all' cliché (as in 'we can be happy even though we're poor because we love each other' and so on) - These kind of glorified gender-roles, the systematic glorification of the marriage system and heteronormative messages are one of the reasons why I tend to dislike traditional fairytales, but I can never say no to a whovianized tale, and it's always nice to hear Michelle Gomez reading. Also enjoyed Ten's cameo :).
The problem I have with many fairytales is that Romance=Glorifying financially dependent women married with guys who are mainly interested in their looks...in the freaking 21st Century, when women's only choice isn't to marry a man in order to survive.
Traditional messages aside (also, there isn't any female bonding and this doesn't pass the Bechdel test), I did like the fact that Melina - the female protagonist - showed quite a bit of agency, has a reasonably proactive role and ended up saving Varan, the male protagonist (who doesn't even have any lines in the tale). And she did most of the work, too, because the (Tenth) Doctor just gave her info and encouragement (and made her tea xD).
  • Feminist infographic;
-Number of women (named)1 - Melina
-Other women (unnamed): Village women
-Bechdel: No
-Female bonding: No
-Proactive female characters? Empowered traits in at least one female character?:  Melina shows agency and saves the male character.
-Subversion: Woman saving the man
-Problematic stereotypes or relationships?: Glorification of the marriage system in a traditional village. The idea that being poor is unimportant when a couple can be together.

14. The Three Brothers Gruff: 2/5
+1 Paul McGann (aka the Eight Doctor) reading.
+1 Siblings (in this case, brothers) not being competitive and helping each other.

-1 Some hypermasculinity ('bravery'='taking great risks to bring glory and honour', and the like). However, Naze fights the Sontarans' hypermasculinity with his wits in a subversive way.
-1 The brothers 'laughing and joking' about the Sontaran's death. He did imprison and torture them, but not a fan of 'chuckling' about anyone's death.
-1 No women

15. Sirgwain and the Green Knight: 2.5/5
+1 Whovianized version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight featuring an Ice Warrior 
+1 Plot was reasonably engaging

-1 Male-dominated society with a lot of hypermasculinity values (bravery, strength, 'honour')
-1 Monarchy
-1 No women