Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Reply To: OUTLANDER ISSUES ****SPOILER ALERT****

#3428
barbc624
Participant

[quote quote=3404]Interesting-I’d love to hear more! What do you mean by “polarization and trend”?

And dont you worry-its great that we all had different shades of opinion, thats what this space is about!
[/quote]

So what I am struggling to say is about labels. I am sure I have been a feminist since before I was born – I couldn’t help it given the women in my family who were all very strong and smart. I was the one girl amongst three brothers, yet I was never made to feel that I was anything less than them. If anything the expectations for me were set higher. It was a given that I was going to go to college. Girly things were never me. I played at being Wonder Woman and Supergirl as a child and saved the world many a time over, never thinking that there was anything strange about a girl doing that. I remember the 70’s and 80’s and Gloria Steinem and MS magazine and yes feminism. (When I got married I was fortunate to find a man who was comfortable enough in his own skin to not be threatened by me. To this day he tells everyone that I am the brains in our partnership and he is sincere in saying that, even though it is not true. Like Jamie and Claire we are equals each with their own strengths and we are both the better for it.)

And I remember thinking that in 20 years or so we wouldn’t have to worry about being feminists because we would all be equal.

It didn’t work out that way. Instead the media and culture started sending the message that it had. Things had changed. Women could have it all and do it all. (Of course they were being paid 60 cents on the dollar to what men made, they were working themselves into exhaustion to do it all, and the few women who made it into the C suite were really only tokens.) But lo and behold there was no need to be feminists anymore and it became a dirty word. Feminism became a label used to put down and devalue those who called themselves feminists and the mass of people accepted that.

I hate that we live in a society where labels have now become pervasive and are used to polarize and divide us. “Liberals” and “conservatives” can’t or won’t talk to each other. Feminists are man hating emasculating bitches. etc etc etc.

I refuse to buy into that idea.I know many good men who are the first to step up and call other men on their sexist behavior. And unfortunately I know women who embrace the derogatory labels given to women who dare to challenge the patriarchal system we live under.

So I have come to think that maybe we need to reject ALL labels be they good or bad. We are humans and we are complex creatures. How can you label a human being? We are each one unique, even in our similarities. We change over the course of our lives and even from day to day.

So I respect those who call themselves feminists, yet I have come to believe we need a new name, one that is so broad and general that it cannot be used to shove people into a box that can then be painted with a Day Glo “Danger” sign. I think of myself as a humanist. A humanist is not defined by gender or color or religion or any other of the labels that can be used to polarize people. A humanist is simply another human being who does their best to respect and care for other human beings,for the beautiful and wonderful world we live in, and for all of its various creatures. A humanist rejects injustice no matter who it is perpetrated upon.

I see Jamie and Claire as humanists. In Claire’s dedication as a physician and a healer. In her refusal to submit to the prescribed role of a woman, both in 18th century Scotland and in 20th Century America.In Jamie’s acceptance of Claire for who she is and in his refusal to stop fighting for what he believes is right despite the personal costs to himself. I see it in Jamie’s recognition of the gift he is receiving when he kills an animal to feed his family. I see it in Claire’s conflict over the two men in her life and her desire to do what is right for them and for her daughter even though there is a high cost to herself. Claire and Jamie refuse to be defined by the society they live in, and in so doing they are by the very nature of their lives subversive to the perceived order of things.

And isn’t it interesting how the word subversive comes up so often when discussing Outlander. Every culture has a narrative and in order to change the culture you have to challenge and change the narrative. In a very real way Outlander does exactly that. The book has resonated with millions of people all over the world for 20+ years and now the tv show seems set to do the same thing. And the beauty of it is that it is doing so disguised as a piece of pop culture, something not to be taken seriously by those who are resistant to change. “Oh that women’s show about guys in kilts, something for the bored housewives…” said patronizingly.

Little do they know. We are the stories that we tell and I’d love to see some of the tired old stories replaced by new ones such as Outlander. Maybe then we will truly begin to see the change we need to see.