Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Mystical Pregnancies - a gynophobic, hateful trope

Feminist Frequency nails it.

Watch, listen, learn. Fundamentalist religious zealots love these.


Niles said...

Couldn't it be said that such storylines, when they're not atrociously written...

(STNG 'the child' episode being one excretious example. I wasted most of the month after that episode ranting about its sexist idiocy to anyone who didn't run away fast enough. You know why it was never mentioned again in the show? Because everyone made a pact that it was so disgusting and crap in its treatment of the events that it must be negated out of canon. The really sad thing? The plot was ripped off from an even earlier storyline in Marvel comics concerning Ms. Marvel which, if possible, was treated even more execrably)

...are fitted to the Horror genre thread that often runs through other fantasy genres in 'monster' themes? As the video host noted, real life anxiety abounds, felt by all cis-women(and some transmen) about rape and subsequent forced pregnancy by 'superior' powers, which are essentially 'gods' and 'god' enablers.

I'd ask if it's the fantasy show horror trope/cliche that is fertilizing real life atmosphere of women oppression, or is it generations of real life power tripping by religions and sexist law makers that has fertilized the dread that fantasy storylines mine for conflict?

As she said, a core legend that people are *supposed* to consider a Good and Wonderful story is that of Mary umJoshua (although the Greek gods were raping and impregnating women long before that) Women can't get away from constant haranguing that they should be grateful to be pregnant, no matter how it happens (Senator Santorum et al I'm looking at you).

What pisses me off is that in any of these cases and in films, and even in comedies, the 'mystical' pregnancy (a drunken one night stand with some stranger dude must tahdah result in pregnancy and MUST result in childbirth and marrying said dude?? Pardon?) is never ever terminated by abortion. I can see where the idea occurs 'dude, she'll just abort - oh I know, we'll make the pregnancy super fast so she can't or that it will kill her too' but really? Never an abortion and never the forcibly impregnated woman, now unpregnified, picks up a large missile cannon, loads and locks it and goes hunting impregnifier to return the favour in irradiated shells?

I think the closest we've come to that is Ripley in Alien and Aliens (There is no Alien3, there just isn't) where:
a/she avoids becoming impregnated and
b/gets rid of the impregnators.

I think those films were also the closest we've come to this trope being reversed. Men were raped and impregnated and didn't have it treated as camp.

If the intent is mining horror and not just doing over women for entertainment, unleash the kraken of 'so you don't have a womb? So what? it's mystical and the male body would adapt to magic/sf arglebargle just fine. Haven't you heard of Caesarian delivery? Whaddya mean it's not natural? It's-just-as-natural-happening-to-a-man-that-way-as-it-is-happening-to-a-woman-that-way.'

Námo Mandos said...

That was pretty good, but...

In come the fandoods! Including me, of course, I mean I'm called "Mandos"!

As a (yes d00dly) sci-fi nut, I am also here to mansplain the fandude perspective. I've always been a little conflicted about this trope, because reproduction is central to human social structure one way or another, and science fiction at its best is about human social structure, so a long-running science fiction (or fantasy) series that *didn't* involve pregnancy would seem odd to me. But I agree that TV SF especially does it often in a stupid way.

On that note, I wonder what the creator of the video thinks about Alien and the use of the horror-pregnancy symbolism there...

Niles said...

Caution: a continuation of geeking.

I forgot about one of the modern sf/horror classics of 'mystical pregnancy' storylines. 'Midwich Cuckoos/Village of the Damned'.

And I think it's fair to add another real life source of human psychology/anxiety that needed to pre-exist for the fantasy show storylines to mine. UFO abduction testimonies; where helplessness, lab animal status, bodily probing, accelerated pregnancy, sperm/egg harvesting, implantation and 'godly' captors are all common parts of the 'survivor' narratives. Abduction testimonials are both sexes, possibly weighting towards women.

(By the way, forcible confinement aside, equating Starbuck's (Battlestar Galactica reboot) eggs being looted with a mystical pregnancy strikes me as a false equivalency. She was captured by a war enemy and biological material was surgically removed from her, said event making the basis of a lie later. She escaped, leaving a trail of destruction.)

I also toss in the theocratic horror trope that the Anti-Christ needs to be born. That's a mystical pregnancy brought on by Gawd again. 'Rosemary's Baby' 'The Omen' and others have exploited that well-implanted religious anxiety. 'The Seventh Sign' skipped over Anti-Christ to have Jesus starting the Apocalypso on a married woman's pregnancy, which seems in line with the evangelical Christian anti-abortion horror fantasy 'The Life Zone' where Gawd lets Satan torture women with eternal mystical pregnancy for trying to have abortions.

The forced pregnancy trope also overlaps with the parasitic 'kreaturez in ower boddeeez taking over ower mindz/livez' idea, the difference being incubation vs human as permanent vessel.

Harkening to the 'nice' bits/'naughty' bits motif that's been highlighted of recent in the "Komen Affair", fantasy storylines often implant the parasite above the waist to avoid impressions of rape, ala 'Wrath of Khan'(via the ear). 'Stargate' had parasites enter at the neck area, but also had a juvenile version being 'pouched' amid the guts of both human sexes at belly level.

Alien might make an argument for 'above the waist' but I suspect everyone and their dog has heard of the 'facefu**er' oral rape analogy(and that was impregnation rather than possession). 'Dreamcatcher'(erful, and a horrible waste of Damian Lewis) used anal rape and implantation theme on men.

There have been positive fantasy depictions of kick-ass women being pregnant because they want to be pregnant and remaining kick-ass throughout. 'Stargate Atlantis' and 'Farscape' both had major characters doing so. 'Sanctuary' has had a secondary character's form-shifter partner become pregnant through ordinary consenting means and the storyline dealt with 'ordinary' complications she was willing to bear. Conversation actually mentioned abortion.

None of that negates the idiot storylines of 'woman as passive incubator object for goggle-wearing gods in labs going muahaahah', but with all the negatives of society's fiction struggling with sexist themes, altverse fantasy is sadly still the go-to genre for having the courage to tell stories where women are more than decorative adjuncts to men.

deBeauxOs said...

The whole 'Alien' franchise is based on the premise that something growing in your body - whether one is male or female - is parasitic, especially if it can and will kill the host.

Prochoice? Yep. 'Aliens' was resolutely, amazingly feminist as well.

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