Outlander the show and DG’s books depict sexual and other violence in a way that adds depth to the characters and story. The fact that the sexual violence is shown in a way that makes me want to look away in horror as much as seeing an arm amputated is entirely appropriate, I think.
As some others have mentioned, we’re almost numb to violence in society. Rape, sexual violence and the objectification of women are used today to control women, or worse, taken for granted as the way women “should be” in society. The fact that show is taking the trouble to convey the horror of the sexual violence/rapes also deserves attention. So much of what we see in media (advertising, video games, TV and movies) reinforce women as sex objects. It’s easy to see why violence against women, portrayed as objects, continues to be tolerated in society, given the dominance of such images.
I commend Ron and the whole team for the way Outlander is taking on Claire as a strong, sexual being, and taking on the violence she experiences, and presumably how others will do so. It’s not WHY I’m watching the series, but it is why I’m talking about it on my blog and with other people who are not watching or fans of the books.
It is really helpful to hear that viewers and fans are “getting it”. Even if most people do not, knowing that there are those that do, really makes a difference.
Terry & elizlk nail it here. The primary difference for me in the GOT approach and the Outlander approach has to do with narrative structure and world building. GOT, because of the nature of the source material, is interested in building a vast narrative landscape-many stories, many characters, many locations. I dont perceive GOT to be very interested in subjectivity and by that I mean, interested in deeply investing the viewer in the mind of a single character at a time. More often, you are shown how and what the characters think through their interactions, dialogue, actions on screen. Very rarely do we see beyond a brief glimpse or glimmer of who these people are in their core. GOT derives a LOT of narrative suspense from this. It is shocking, surprising, and jarring due in large part to the way in which the show is constructed. We spend such a sort amount of time with each character that there just isnt space to enter fully into their subjectivity. More often than not, even with the “powerful” women of GOT we are not given ample time/space to really access them for all the goodness they have to offer.
Subjectivity is BIG when examining popular culture through a feminist lens. Why? Well, the history of popular cinema has been unequivocally dominated by the male gaze. When Terry cites other shows that use the female form as furniture-THAT is a very obvious example of the “male gaze” and its as old as cinema itself. Like so many professions, working in cinema was so male dominated, that it makes sense that the predominate visual language we have to show women on screen is a decidedly male approach. The “male gaze” is essentially fetishizing/objectifying the female form and the female experience for the pleasure of the male viewer. Now, when you give a female character subjectivity through various formal means, (Outlander does this with Voice Over, POV shots, and many more) you give her the ability to be MORE than just a body. When other folks have mentioned they liked the wedding episode because it felt “real” well that is due in large part to the creative team behind Outlander allowing us to experience Claire as more than a body-she was a woman, a person, a fully realized character with doubts, fears, desires and a whole range of emotions and intellectual abilities.