TV and Feminism or: Skyler White is Not a Cunt

“And the wife of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and a cunt.”

~ Thomas Hobbes

Oh wait, that’s not Hobbes. That’s a disturbingly outspoken, disturbingly large proportion of people watching tv dramas.

talking pillow skylerContext

Thought-experiment time. (Which will contain mild spoilers for season 2 of Breaking Bad). Go put the kettle on, because I am gonna really belabour the point:

Imagine you’re married. After your husband’s 50th birthday, he becomes increasingly introverted and quiet. One day, he gets a suspicious phone call, which he claims is a sales call. Calling back the number, you hear this: “Yo yo yo. 1-4-8. 3 to the 3 to the 6 to the 9, representing the ABQ. What up, biaaatch? Leave it at the tone”.

Yeah, “sales call”.

You find out who this person is [you nosy bint], and ask your husband. He says that this individual sells him pot. One night, he claims he’s working late at his second job. You tell him you’d already called work and that they’d told you he’d already quit. When he gets home, he tells you he has lung cancer. Which he’s known about for a month.

By the way, you’re already a little preoccupied with your second unplanned pregnancy. [But just chill the fuck out, you henpecking harpy.]

Your husband initially refuses an offer from his very wealthy friends, to pay for his entire treatment. He does not like that it is charity, and would prefer to die on his own terms. He then changes his mind about the offer. Finally, good news!

One evening, you ask where he’s been again, and it seems like he is about to tell the truth. He gets a phone call and leaves the room. He later reappears naked in a grocery store, with no recollection of the past 2 days. In the meantime, your DEA agent brother-in-law checked phone records and the phone call your husband got on the night he went missing, never happened. [You suspicious bitch.]

Your husband says that phonecall must have been the phone alarm reminding him to take his medication. It is a desperate, patently obvious lie. His behaviour suddenly becomes extroverted and over-compensatory. It is massively suspicious. You begin to give him the silent treatment. You eventually both have enough, and confront each other. You demand that he cut the bullshit and tell you the truth. He becomes spectacularly evasive. He admits he is not having an affair. You believe him. After that, his responses are all variations of “Tell you what?”, “What do you want to hear?”, “What do you think is going on?” etc. [You passive-aggressive, uncommunicative cunt.]

Oh hey, hate to take you out of the moment, but that kettle has probably boiled by now. Go make tea, because we will be here awhile. I’ll wait.

This continues. He calls you out on smoking 3 and a half cigarettes while pregnant. [Reckless whore]. At some point, you drop your husband off at the airport so he can finally visit his mother and tell her that he has cancer.

Your husbands wealthy friends say they can no longer pay for treatment. Your husband explains that they are bankrupt. You go back to work to pay the bills. You welcome the attention of your boss, as it is the only attention anyone has shown you in months. When you find out that he’s cooking the books at his company, you do not turn him in to the police. [You morally reprehensible CUNT! How can you do that? What kind of a monster did your meth-cooking husband marry?]. Oh, then your husband misses the birth of his daughter.

Anyhoo. Your husband goes in for surgery. While he’s under anaesthetic, you ask if he remembered to turn his cell phone off. His response is “which one?”. You call your husband’s rich friends, thinking maybe he is having an affair with one of them. As it turns out, they never paid a single dime towards his treatment. You call his mother, thinking maybe she paid it. Turns out, your husband had never even gone to see her, or told her about the cancer. If he’s telling lies like this, you reason, what on earth could he be covering up? He finally offers this: stay, and he will tell you everything. But whatever it is that this house of lies is built on, you’re afraid to know. You decide to take the kids and leave. [You absolute, fucking selfish, dumbwhore, bitchface, wholly unreasonable, inexplicably behaving THUNDERCUNT].

Oh, and is if that’s not enough, you called out your husband on spending $15.88 on printer paper, because the Mastercard is the one you don’t use. [You bitch].

And… scene. Okay, take a breath. So. That stuff in brackets was originally going to be screen captures of actual responses to these scenes, but searching for them just made me feel like punching people. It’s heinous shit.

skyler2Yeah. Holy shit, right?

Let’s have a look and see why this is such an untenable stance.

The anti-hero effect

Obviously, the main character of a work is our point-of-view. We see their world through their eyes, and so we empathize. I get that. We’ve gotten really good at rooting for the bad guy. Tony Soprano is psychopathic. Vic Mackey is an absurdly corrupt cop and serial adulterer. Jax Teller is a drug-dealing, gun-running murderer. We’ve cheered them on while they’ve done some really nasty shit. But hey, we’re living in an age where moral ambiguity is rife for exploration on tv. Fine with me. Maybe, as some people claim, this anti-Skyler malarkey is actually just because she opposes the actions of our nominal ‘hero’? Maybe it’s not misogyny? Maybe this is a reasonable stance, holding her to the same standard as any other character who opposes the ‘hero’, right? Say, for example… Hank? If anything, he’s in more of an opposition to Walt, what with him being a DEA agent and all. Let’s ask google:

  • No results found for “Hank Schrader is a cunt”.
  • 3 results for “Hank is a cunt” (none of which refer to this particular Hank).
  • 76 results for “Skyler is a cunt” (with an additional 25 for the people who spell it “Skylar”).
  • And just for fun, “Skyler is a bitch” gets 74,100 results. “Walt/er is an asshole” gets approximately a tenth of that.

In short, that theory is right out of the window. What else you got, to justify your raging misogyny?

Oh, and hey, let’s just get this out of the way: I will be using ‘misogyny’ as shorthand for ‘the denigration of women by systematically holding them to different standards than men’. Also I will be using ‘fucktard’ to mean ‘an individual who retards the progress of gender politics’. Capisce?

Hypocrisy

Oh, I’ve heard that one before! Skyler is a cunt because she behaves inconsistently. Ah, I see. She lets her boss off the hook for unreported income, but she’s super-pissed at her husband for lying to her. So she’s a hypocrite. Unlike Walt, who… oh wait, he’s a massive hypocrite. But a massive hypocrite who, for some bizarre reason, the fans don’t think deserves to be raped. Hrm. That makes fans kind of, what’s the word? Oh, that one.

This is especially hilarious (in an “if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry” sense), considering that one of the main points of Breaking Bad, and other similar dramas, is to ask questions about moral boundaries, and to ask ourselves under what circumstances we’d reassess ours.

Well, as it turns out, our moral boundaries are very flexible when it comes to Walter. Like, yoga-flexible. Give Walt an inch, and the audience will let him take a mile. Give Skyler an inch, and the audience will complain that the selfish fucking bitch has gone 4 tenths of a millimetre too far, no matter how rationally you explain that an inch is actually 2.54 centimetres.

double facepalmAt this point, I was going to mock up a sliding scale of 1-to-cunt, comparing where Skyler and Walt lie in their definite actions, and their perceived cuntishness. But then I realized that Walt’s scale would be mostly blacked-out with spoilers. So I’m gonna look at the audiences moral flexibility in the case of two other much vilified women, in a very similar situation, who have exactly the same accusations thrown at them. Corrine Mackey and Mara Vendrell, of The Shield.

You can’t please half the audience all the time

Corinne and Mara are both married to corrupt cops. Like Skyler, their family is often endangered by their husband’s actions. Both of these women have an inkling that something is very wrong in their husband’s professional life, and often have access to more money than they know their husband could earn legally. Here’s where it gets really interesting. (Between the asterisks, there will be mild spoilers for The Shield, concerning how each character sides).

*****

Corinne finally has enough, and decides that the adverse effect on her family life is not worth the money. Her focus is on keeping her children safe.

“Well, that’s honest. Sad thing is, I’ve known–maybe not the specifics, the details–but I’ve known, and I have let you infect me and our children. I’ll help you this one last time… and then the kids and I are out of your life! That is my price. And you have to pay some kind of price.”

She has exhibited agency and integrity, and she makes a moral stand worthy of respect.

Around the same time, Mara knows that Shane is in danger. Shane tries to convince her to leave him to the consequences of his actions.

Shane: Mara, you and the kids can start having a good life. And that is all that matters to me.

Mara: No. We wouldn’t. We love you.

Shane: Listen. You can’t think about me now. You can’t. Alright? You gotta go. You gotta go. Come on.

Mara: No. We’re a family. Nobody’s gonna tear us apart.

Mara also makes a stand. To her, the love she has for her husband outweighs his actions.

*****

So, here we have two women. Who both make choices stemming from a well-intentioned principle. Who have put the interests of their family and children first. And yes, despite her specific actions, Skyler has put her family first, also. I can’t talk about the subtleties of that without revealing significant plot spoilers. If (and only if!) you are up to date with season 5 though, this article raises many of those points. Anyway, Corrine and Mara are diametrically opposed on the scale of spousal support, and to an extent, always have been. The choices they make are entirely consistent with their characterization so far.

If you’re hard-wired to support the male protagonists, perhaps you’ll end up agreeing with the stance of one wife but not the other. I can see that. Or maybe you can sympathize with both of them, I think the writers did a pretty good job of covering all their bases on that.

corrine-maraOh come on! For fuck’s fucking sake!

cuntitude

Oh, and here’s two comments after these moments that I particularly liked (hated): “Hope that bitch has a date with a bullet.” and “Mara needs to die – was anyone else uncomfortable as hell listening to her whine last night?”. Oh, I forgot to mention. At this point, Mara is heavily pregnant, and has broken her arm/shoulder. But still. Quit your whining and die, you bitch! Right?

I could add more examples of Corrine/Mara hate, but I won’t, because I’m already starting to feel guilty that I have a penis, and that is not a happy way to spend a Saturday evening.

Agency

So I mentioned agency, as a means of justifying a character. Look at the entire concept of Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan deliberately set out to take a likeable character, and turn him into a dislikeable one. But we kept on rooting for him. Why? When he was a nice (but boring) guy, he was trod upon. Forced to work late, wife henpecking over trivial things, disrespected by his students. A pushover. And then he starts doing bad, bad things. But we gave him a free pass, narratively, because he does those bad things of his free will (yes, sometimes he’s forced into a corner [often his own fault], but he has a lot more choice than he claims he does).

But there’s something strange going on. Skyler has agency at the beginning of the show, but she was disliked even in the first season. Which, is perfectly fine. I thought she was henpecky and naggy in the first season (and Walt’s birthday handjob is absolutely tragic), but that should be the extent of it. ‘Henpecky’. ‘Naggy’. ‘Irritating’. ‘Moany’. Maybe even ‘whiney’. (Though there’s a subtle linguistic difference between ‘moany’ and ‘whiney’ which I don’t have the wordcount to get into). But already, in the first season, people were using far, far stronger words than that. Anyway, as the series progressed, Skyler had less and less agency, and becomes trapped in her situation.

Quick digression: Carmela Soprano is in a similar situation to Skyler. Her husband is a dangerous, powerful man, with powerful enemies (and she knows it). She, on occasion, questions this ‘blood money’, but she allows herself to be seduced by it. She lies to herself. As she says to a therapist: “You’re wrong about the accomplice part. All I do is make sure he’s got clean clothes in his closet, and dinner on his table”. (Fine, she’s not an accomplice, but legally, she is complicit). She sometimes stands up to him, but she still looks the other way on his many, many (many) infidelities. But even though there is a subset of fans who hate Carmela, it has nowhere near the vehemence and vitriol of the hate for Skyler. What gives? Is it as simple as the fact that Skyler has less agency? You can tell that (and this) is a rhetorical question, can’t you? Let’s take a look at the response when Skyler takes control, and exercises free-will, and makes choices.

The following remarks are comments taken from a review of an episode where (spoiler-free) Skyler steps up to the plate, shows some Walt-level ingenuity (that impresses Walt, of all people), which enables them to provide for their family (which is often used to defend Walt “Yeah, he’s done some terrible shit, but he’s doing it for his family. Not like that cunt Skyler.”), while also sort of making a sacrifice that threatens her self.

skyler4“Skyler especially” doesn’t care how her actions affect others? We understand Walt because he is “emasculated” and “miserable”, but not Skyler, who is trapped by, and because of Walt? Are you fucking shitting me?!?

Okay, so at this point, I realize that this is all very nasty and unsettling, so here’s a palette cleanser to restore your faith that not every fan is a fucktard:

skyler5Bob bless your cotton, gender-neutral socks.

Just to hammer the point home: this action that Skyler takes works out pretty well. She later takes some actions which kind of backfire, and of course the hate for her then gets ramped up spectacularly. Compare her to Chris Moltisanti: he is a junkie, and a constant fuck-up. He does Tony Soprano’s bidding, and on the occasions where he shows agency and what he thinks is ingenuity, he usually fucks up more. He makes life hard for Tony Soprano. He impedes progress of the protagonist. And yet…

skyler6Now, what was that comment above? “I think we can all agree that hating that passive-aggressive harpy bitch Skyler is a non-gender-dependent exercise.” Attend:

skyler7This is the first time in my life that I’ve been confident enough to go straight for a 0.01 significance level. Thoroughly depressing.

I can say with statistical certainty, that if you are claiming Skyler White is a cunt, for any of the bullshit reasons already covered, then you are a misogynistic fucktard.

Not everyone deserves a participation ribbon

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as watching TV the ‘wrong way’. The criticisms of Skyler White, and many other conflicted, multidimensional female characters, are inconsistent, and do not line up with the standards we hold male characters too. You don’t get to feign moral outrage at these women, if you defend their husband doing worse.

adolf eva dogs“No, you don’t get it. Adolf needs a guard dog ’cause he has important papers lying around, that he can’t allow to be stolen. Eva is a cunt who just likes taking animals out of their natural habitat.”

And as mentioned, much of Skyler’s lack of agency, her being trapped, is because of situations that Walt puts her in. There are of course, decisions she makes, which puts her in the shit, but many haters won’t even concede that there are distinctions there. According to them, she had a choice to get out, whenever she wanted to (erm, even when she couldn’t). This is all on her. (Of course, when Walt gets back in the shit despite the half-dozen or dozen [or more?] opportunities he has to get out, that’s never his fault. He had no choice but to turn down the kind offer to pay for all his treatment, right guys?). Anyway, back to that blaming Skyler thing.

Ugh. The next few paragraphs are gonna be depressing. Just to remind you the world is not all bad, here’s a raccoon being comically startled:

raccoon gifReady? Okay. Did that whole victim-blaming thing about Skyler being responsible for the situation she’s in sound familiar to anyone, in an “it makes me want to punch humanity in the junk” kind-of-way?

Steubenville. Where an unconscious, 16-year old girl was raped by two high-school football players. Who’s to blame? Team-building exercise leaders say “there’s no wrong answers”, but in this case, the wrong answer is any response other than “the rapists”. However, if your response was “the rapists”, I’m afraid you still don’t win a cookie, because that’s like rewarding someone for knowing that 2+2=4. Clear on that? Rape = not good.

But, this is the world we live in, somehow. That is a difficult thing to read, and I understand how nasty it is, but that is reality. And it’s not mentioned on that page, but CNN’s coverage of the verdict mainly focused on how these two young football stars with “promising lives”,  who were “good students”, have had their life ruined. Those poor, unfortunate, nice young boys. Here’s the rancid icing on the poop cake: the CNN reporter? A woman.

TV can be a good thing

Game, set and match, right? After that, it kinda feels like all hope is lost. You’d think this kind of behaviour, no matter how patriarchally pervasive, would be called out the moment a woman heard a word of it. But somehow, this attitude and mindset made it all the way through to broadcast television, a female reporter on a major network grieving the future of two rapists. Wowsers.

There’s obviously a two-way street here. How we watch TV does influence how we perceive reality (particularly gender, among other things), whether we want to admit it or not. And really, after watching any 5 minutes worth of advertisements, it’s impossible to deny how dangerous it is. And conversely, the reality we live in influences what kind of TV we write.

It’s a bad situation. Ideally, TV should present a reality that we don’t want to live in (meth-cooking cancerous teacher), in order to force us to confront big questions (are some people just plain bad? is evil created or discovered? how much is due to circumstance? does the end justify the means? is it ever too late for redemption?). Writers are smart, they want to try new things, and subvert, and challenge us. [If you disagree with that point, I mean cable or subscription drama, not network. Network tv is in a fucking nose dive, but that’s a discussion for another day. Oh, and by nose dive, I meant plane crash, but a cocaine joke also works]. Ahem. Anyway:

Obviously, for centuries, the world has been patriarchal. Myths and legends, plays and books, tv and film, most of the stories we tell, have, as a crucial part of the plot, a father-figure, who is either bested, or whose respect must be earned. But you know what? We don’t have to live in that world. We have arrived at a point in time, where our ability to communicate is absolutely unprecedented. In the 13th century, Norse children probably did not have the ability to openly discuss the phallocentric symbolism of Jörmungandr the serpent, and Thor the God of Thunder killing each other at the battle of Ragnarök. (I’d say “spoiler alert”, but you’ve had 700 years to catch up. No one should be that lazy.)

Us, though? We can have any kind of discussion we want to. Here is an extensive bibliography of Feminist Music Theory. And I mean classical music. I understand a feminist discussion on pop music (do I even need to explain? nope), but on music without lyrics? Even though I hold strong opinions about music (an abstract, universal, genderless language), I kinda like the fact that it is possible to have that discussion. And that’s where hope comes in.

raccoon gif 2Speaking of universal languages, hope is here represented by a raccoon eating popcorn.

Writers are doing something intentional. They deliberately layer subtext and symbolism and ethical contradictions and moral dissonance. They want us to discuss these issues. What viewers are continuing to do though, is (at best) to uphold the male empowerment wank-fantasy at any moral cost, and (at worst) declaring any woman who opposes this, to be a cunt. Sorry, but this is the ‘wrong’ way of watching TV. When we perpetuate this mindset, we disrespect women, we disrespect the writers, and we disrespect ourselves.

TV can (and should!) be used to inspire new ways of thinking. Instead, we keep using it to reinforce the status quo. It’s simple. Watch and enjoy. But also, think and question. You wanna turn your brain off? Go watch Catwoman, or Human Centipede 2. But taking the surface story of an intentional, deliberate, morally delicious drama, and just accepting male protagonist = hero, female opposition = bitch, is kind of like taking an expensive, miracle cream that cures cancer, and using it as a lubricant for jacking off.

And on that colourful note, I’m spent. I’ve got more to say about gender and language, and about anti-heroes wives, but that’s another post entirely. Until then, be smart, call out misogynistic bullshit when you see it, be gender-neutral with your moral standards, and discuss things openly. Right, who’s gonna put the nice people out of their misery and take this damn thing away from me?

talking pillow walt

***There will be spoilers in the comments!***

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18 Responses to TV and Feminism or: Skyler White is Not a Cunt

  1. “taking the surface story of an intentional, deliberate, morally delicious drama, and just accepting male protagonist = hero, female opposition = bitch, is kind of like taking an expensive, miracle cream that cures cancer, and using it as a lubricant for jacking off.”

    Yes – this all over the place.

    Sometimes I wonder if these people are even watching the same show.

  2. laroquod says:

    Maybe part of the reason there is much more hate for Skyler than for Walt, could have something to do with the fact that Skyler slept around on him, which Walt never did to her. Though there is no doubt that both are hypocrites and criminals, and also no doubt that Walt is the bigger hypocrite and criminal of the two, being sexually unfaithful adds a personal dimension that tends to spark a more passionate response, and I’m surprised that more people don’t remark on this. In fact, you don’t even mention her unfaithfulness, as if it’s irrelevant or something, although you devote plenty of time to trying to engender sympathy for Skyler’s mere -suspicions- (unfounded) of Walt having an affair.

    I think that there are a lot of gender-based blind spots feeding into this debate, and not all are on the side of misogynist trolls.

  3. hercles says:

    Putting aside the fact that the hate had already gotten to unsettling levels before that happened:

    You’re right, that is a part of some of the hate (which I didn’t mention because season 3 spoilers). There is a very visceral response to that (and as I mentioned, I really disliked his tragic birthday handjob), but at that point, Skyler had already served him with divorce papers and (further season 3 spoilers) she knows that he cooks meth.
    She does not want to be married to this man, and in the first act of that episode, she calls the police to remove him from the house, but they can’t. Walt knows how important it is to her that Walt Jr. not find out, so he stonewalls her, daring her to tell them. This is a cruel, shitty thing to do to your wife. So she cheats on him, to deliberately try and force him away.
    You’re right, it’s a shitty thing to do, I agree, but she did it for morally complicated reasons, many of which are Walt’s fault.

    It doesn’t change the fact that the intensity and level of the outrage is disproportionate. But still, it’s an absurd double-standard we hold her and other female characters to. We let Tony Soprano cheat on Carmela at least two or three times each season. In The Shield, Vic Mackey sleeps with the ex-wife of one of his antagonists, and it is treated as a victory by the fans. But Skyler, a trapped woman, in an unhappy, shitty marriage, does something which has room for debate on both sides, and… no one has the debate.
    I mentioned that in The Shield, Vic sleeps with the antagonist’s EX-wife. They’re not married, so it doesn’t count, right? Well, if it doesn’t count, then why does Vic get to throw it in his face and treat it as a win? Because the antagonist still has feelings for her. Skyler no longer has strongly positive feelings for Walt at this point. BUT there’s a piece of paper which says that she belongs to Walt, so she’s just a cheating bitch.

    Edit: the affair stuff I mentioned in the post wasn’t about getting sympathy for Skyler’s unfounded suspicions of an affair, it was about getting sympathy for the founded (and undeniable) truth that she is being lied to, with much of Walt’s disrespect to her being that he thinks she’s dumb enough to believe his strained, desperate lies.

  4. laroquod says:

    Well I’m not saying (and didn’t say) that you and Anna Gunn are totally wrong in your interpretation of the anger level. I’m just saying that when a character is unfaithful, this really tends to piss off viewers of the opposite sex a lot more than viewers of the same sex, demographics being what they are. I don’t think the legal considerations of their official marriage status really enters into that emotional equation — nor would female viewers stand on such ceremony when deciding which cheating males to hate on. There are absolutely double standards being employed out there by the haters; my point is that there are also double standards being employed by feminists who inexplicably fail to understand why men really don’t like characters who are sexually unfaithful and they reserve special vitriol for this — just like women tend to do whenever a male character is unfaithful. Whereas I tend to shrug my shoulders at male unfaithfulness. (I also tend to shrug my shoulders at female unfaithfulness, but that’s a more studied response: I definitely do ‘feel’ it far more, so there is a double standard but it can’t be helped in this case, and it’s not only on one side — women have the same double standard in reverse, in my opinion.)

  5. Figs says:

    That’s some powerful rationalization going on there, guy. You’re not Walter White. Why should Skyler’s infidelity hit you harder than it would have if the sexes were reversed? Because you can put yourself in Walter White’s shoes? If that’s the case, why is that, particularly? Is it because the most important thing about a person is their sex, and trifling things like murder come later?

    By the point Skyler “cheated on” Walt (yes, those quotes are there because I don’t think that properly characterizes the situation, and I’ll explain why presently), her marriage had become a series of power plays between her and her husband. He knew he had the upper hand, and he played it fiercely in forcing her to let him back into the house. Having shown her fundamental weakness on the matter of actually turning him in to the police, she played another card she knew she had to play: the one that showed him that she knew his idea of “doing this for the family” was bullshit. She didn’t feel she had any good options, at least not ones that would break up the family in a way that was visible to everyone on the outside. But she could damn well make sure that it was crystal clear between the two of them that this was no longer a family.

    Remember Walt saying he forgave Skyler for giving the money to Ted (which, in retrospect, OF COURSE SHE HAD TO DO)? Remember Walt chasing her around the bedroom shutting down all of her prospective options for getting the kids out of the house? Much as she’s seemed complicit, there’s absolutely a level, a concrete level, on which Walt has been keeping her prisoner this whole damn time. Why should I shed some tears for a woman having sex outside of a marriage TO A MONSTER just because I have a pair of balls?

  6. laroquod says:

    I’m not asking you to shed any tears for Walt. I don’t recall defending Walt in any way, not the way people are asking me to, for Skyler. It makes no sense, anyway, to call for equal forgiveness for Skyler as people give Walt, when forgiveness of Walt is not even the point of the show, and I would have to say that anyone who forgives Walt his transgressions has entirely missed that point.

    As for all the rest of it, what I am saying is very simple. People (heterosexual ones, at least) ‘feel’ it more when they see a character of the opposite sex being unfaithful, for very obvious reasons. I feel it too; there is nothing sexist about this. It’s simply a matter of the point of view from which one views onscreen relationships. It is, of course, a double standard, but intellectually I realise that and withhold expressions of dislike of Skyler and take that into account when reading others’ rationalisations of her actions — yes, your writings about all this are rationalisations, too. Others, however, may not be able to do the same, and this surprises me not at all. And the same thing occurs on the female side when a male character is unfaithful — I have seen the fangirls turn ugly. There’s no fooling me on that score.

    • hercles says:

      I know this is gonna sound like I’m just being a devil’s advocate, but it just happens to be true: I actually get more pissed off when men cheat on women, than when women cheat on men. What I’ve seen might just be a ‘statistical anomaly’ or whatever, but I find that, even though there’s an overlap (and a great deal of cheating on both sides is due to alcohol), men *tend* to cheat out of selfishness and lack-of-willpower, while women *tend* to cheat because of an emotionally distant partner. I dunno what my point is though, and what I have seen might not be representative. That’s probably a whole other discussion, too.
      (Also, I get more pissed off with men that cheat because they’re playing into, and reinforcing a negative stereotype.)

      • laroquod says:

        I respect your point-of-view because everyone has their own experiences, but in my experience, women’s infidelity is not confined to situations where the man deserves it in some way or has neglected her, at all. In Skyler’s case, however, I do agree there are those mitigating circumstances, but that’s the funny thing about jealousy: it isn’t rational. You feel the sting whether or not there are mitigating circumstances. When a male character is unfaithful, men are quite willing to point to extenuating circumstances regarding things their spouses weren’t doing for them, or respect they didn’t have for them, etc., and I find women equally willing to explain it all away when a female is being unfaithful. Some of those excuses will be justified and some will be overreaching, but whether they are justified or not does not really affect the intensity of the emotions involved. (That’s kind of what makes sleeping around on your partner such an effective form of revenge.)

        Anyway good debate! Started by a passionate defence of Skyler at the top. I don’t really have anything else to add, except… I appreciate not being called a misogynist. 8)

      • Figs says:

        Laroquod: where did Herc use the word “confined”? Answer: nowhere. He put the word “tends” in asterisks. Like this: *tends*.

      • laroquod says:

        We were comparing experiences. Mine differs. Whether or not Herc used ‘confined’ in describing his experiences is irrelevant to the way I described my experiences, but if you want a stronger statement, if my personal experience is the only guide, then men never cheat and women cheat just because they’re bored, but I don’t treat my personal experience as a univeral rule. Thus I used the construction ‘not confined at all’ to make sure my experience is included in the picture without trying (like Herc did) to assume my experiences with women are a universal rule.

      • Figs says:

        See, here’s the thing, though. In response to Herc saying things “tend” to be one way, in his experience (the clear meaning, to me, being that this is the way he’s seen things more often than not, but he’s not intending at all to say that he thinks this characterization represents all cases), you counter by saying in your experience infidelity “is not confined” to those cases. That may well be the case. Probably is. But you presented it as a rebuttal to Herc’s argument when it doesn’t really address what he said at all.

      • laroquod says:

        Actually I agreed with Hercles’s main point about there being extenuating circumstances in the case of Skyler, and went on to explain why those circumstances do not actually prevent people from having a rather natural emotional response. But you entirely ignore both herc”s and my actual conclusions to focus on the preamble of my post, which is basically irrelevant to my conclusion. Why do you focus on this? Simple. Because you are merely trying to score points and not arguing in good faith, i.e. you are intentionally misreading my posts. So there’s not much point in my writing any more of them, is there? At least not as long as you are the only one debating me.

  7. Figs says:

    Well, I must be married to a man (and I must be a woman), because my wife is MUCH MUCH MUCH more upset about Skyler’s infidelity than I am. Resorting to a silly biological argument about your opinion representing simply the fundamental nature of humanity isn’t really a great idea when it turns out that your interlocutors are, you know, also human beings.

    • laroquod says:

      My arguments and experiences are silly, are they? Well as long as we’re being honest, your arguments are reactionary and over-the-top. And if you’re questioning my assertion that demographically (meaning, odds are) men feel it more when women characters are unfaithful and vice versa, I don’t need to take a poll to see that you are on very thin ground, much thinner ground with your counterintuitive meretriciousness than me with my ‘silly biological argument’.

      • Figs says:

        You made some very broad statements about the nature of men and women. I am a man, my wife is a woman, and we contradict those conclusions pretty much entirely. As does the author of the article. It amounts to resting your argument on the notion that “everyone knows” this one piece of information, without actually citing anything that shows it to be the case. Or a biologically determinative fact, as you seem to be implying.

        So do you have anything to back the assertion up, other than your not having taken a poll?

      • laroquod says:

        Yes that’s exactly correct. I rest my argument on the notion that ‘demographically’ (as a group) men respond more strongly to women being unfaithful and women respond more strongly to the opposite situation. Neither of us has taken a poll. Your opinion is counterintuitive and highly tendentious, whereas my opinion simply describes exactly what any reasonable apolitical person would assume the situation to be.

      • Figs says:

        When you’re resting your argument on the assertion that your opinion is “exactly what any reasonable apolitical person would assume the situation to be,” you’re not really arguing in good faith.

  8. Maria says:

    Herc, I love you.
    I don’t get all the references, but if more people thought like you then the end of feminism would be more than an abstract concept. Don’t ever stop writing

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