Women invented all the core technologies that made civilization possible. This isn’t some feminist myth; it’s what modern anthropologists believe. Women are thought to have invented pottery, basketmaking, weaving, textiles, horticulture, and agriculture. That’s right: without women’s inventions, we wouldn’t be able to carry things or store things or tie things up or go fishing or hunt with nets or haft a blade or wear clothes or grow our food or live in permanent settlements. Suck on that.
Women have continued to be involved in the creation and advancement of civilization throughout history, whether you know it or not. Pick anything—a technology, a science, an art form, a school of thought—and start digging into the background. You’ll find women there, I guarantee, making critical contributions and often inventing the damn shit in the first place.
Women have made those contributions in spite of astonishing hurdles. Hurdles like not being allowed to go to school. Hurdles like not being allowed to work in an office with men, or join a professional society, or walk on the street, or own property. Example: look up Lise Meitner some time. When she was born in 1878 it was illegal in Austria for girls to attend school past the age of 13. Once the laws finally eased up and she could go to university, she wasn’t allowed to study with the men. Then she got a research post but wasn’t allowed to use the lab on account of girl cooties. Her whole life was like this, but she still managed to discover nuclear fucking fission. Then the Nobel committee gave the prize to her junior male colleague and ignored her existence completely.
Men in all patriarchal civilizations, including ours, have worked to downplay or deny women’s creative contributions. That’s because patriarchy is founded on the belief that women are breeding stock and men are the only people who can think. The easiest way for men to erase women’s contributions is to simply ignore that they happened. Because when you ignore something, it gets forgotten. People in the next generation don’t hear about it, and so they grow up thinking that no women have ever done anything. And then when women in their generation do stuff, they think “it’s a fluke, never happened before in the history of the world, ignore it.” And so they ignore it, and it gets forgotten. And on and on and on. The New York Times article is a perfect illustration of this principle in action.
Finally, and this is important: even those women who weren’t inventors and intellectuals, even those women who really did spend all their lives doing stereotypical “women’s work”—they also built this world. The mundane labor of life is what makes everything else possible. Before you can have scientists and engineers and artists, you have to have a whole bunch of people (and it’s usually women) to hold down the basics: to grow and harvest and cook the food, to provide clothes and shelter, to fetch the firewood and the water, to nurture and nurse, to tend and teach. Every single scrap of civilized inventing and dreaming and thinking rides on top of that foundation. Never forget that."
from a post by Reclusive Leftist on women’s erasure in history.
her comments relate specifically to an article by the NYT thanking “the men” who invented modern technology, but pick absolutely any academic field of study, and women’s contributions are minimized, if not outright ignored.
literature has been a huge part of my life for a long time, and i grew up reading the classics—which, of course, are typically books written by white men, depicting their experiences. i was taught that the first “modern novel” was Don Quixote, written in the early 1600s by a guy (Cervantes). i don’t think i know of a word to accurately describe my mixture of outrage, shock, and pride, when i discovered later that actually, the first modern novel was written 600 years earlier—by a woman! (it’s The Tale of Genji, written by a Japanese lady-in-waiting who was known as Murasaki Shikibu.)
this might not seem important, but if you’re a woman you know just how vital this knowledge is. even now, when women are being told that we can do anything we set our minds to, the historical, literary, and scientific figures we learn about are all men. it’s a much more insidious way to discourage women from aiming high—because what’s the point in putting in so much hard work if it’s not even going to be remembered after you’re dead?
holmes in new york? acceptable.
watson, a woman? acceptable.
moriarty, a woman? acceptable.
irene as moriarty? never.
it seems that the writers didn’t quite grasp the relationship between irene and sherlock from the books. just because you can use a bunch of famous and iconic characters without charge doesn’t mean you have the right to humiliate them and their memories. elementary started off really well and continued to do so for the 22 episodes that followed. but the finale was just disappointing. twist for the sake of it. if they stick to this, it’ll be for the lack of imagination. if they change their tune to try and give a gripping season two finale by revealing someone else to be moriarty, it’ll be for the lack of imagination!
they messed everything up. some changes are tolerable. appreciative, really. i understand the reasons and the fact that change is inevitable. however, some things should be left alone. and this was one of those. it’s a shame, really. i liked the show. but, alas! count on prime time networks to take it too far just for the sake of it.
I thought it was a wonderful move. Yes, it was a serious deviation for Irene’s character. But then, ALL the modern adaptions I’ve seen have made serious deviations for Irene’s character.
Having Irene be an alias for Moriarty is brilliant though. It subverts so much of the sexist cliches that normally surround Irene’s modern portrayals. She is not just some henchman there to manipulate Sherlock’s manpain like she has been in both the BBC Show and the RDJ movies.
Irene/Moriarty BEATS Sherlock. She IS the woman. She IS the Napoleon of crime. She is his greatest foe, his rival, his equal, his better in all the ways that really count. And that’s fucking awesome.
Irene Adler is significant in the ACD tradition because she is the woman who defeats Holmes. Her story is incredibly short, if you’ve read it you’ll know. There’s not much to it other than “the story where sherlock looses.” Looses BECAUSE Irene pretends to be far more innocent than she really is.
and in Elementary? Irene beats Sherlock by pretending to be far more innocent than she really is.
The essence and importance of her character is maintained and expanded.
Okay can we talk about how Elementary totally fucking subverted the idea of fridging a woman for Sherlock’s manpain
BECAUSE OH MY GOD
like the one major thing I was pressed with the show about was fridging Irene and then it turns out she’s not dead and I’m like omg yay show!!! IRENE!!!
So I finally feel somewhat ready to collect my thoughts about Irene/Moriarty. So many people have written so many smart things. One thing I have noticed tho is people saying they’re so happy about the Moriarty reveal because they ‘hated’ Irene before, cos she was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, cos she was a ‘Mary Sue’, cos she was too girly and pretty and Sherlock was in love with her, and i want to kindly object. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is an annoying trope and i’m so glad Elementary subverted it, but it’s important when we critique these sexist tropes that we don’t end up hating/critiquing women who embody these tropes, thus losing sight of the larger (white male) power structure controlling their narratives. There’s nothing wrong with a woman being girly, spunky, bouncy, flirtatious, quirky, soft, sweet, vulnerable etc. What’s problematic is when these traits are presented through a white male gaze, and become a composite of ‘ideal womanhood’ at the expense of other women, and are centered around serving the white male character’s needs.
How far the show went out of its way to make it clear that Holmes wasn’t sexually pressuring Irene. He offered her his “bet,” and I can imagine a zillion other shows that just would have left it there as a sexy “edgy” flirtation, but no - Holmes stopped himself in the middle of the flirt to make it clear that he was not conditioning his silence about her thefts on her going on a date with him.
Similarly, when he came to see her after she refused to go out with him again, obviously someone somewhere was afraid he’d look like a stalker, and so he began his speech by making it very clear that he understood it was her right to refuse him - I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a show actually spell that out in words before, because we’re all supposed to understand that the romantic couple is meant to be and therefore all’s fair, etc etc."
in a media landscape where men pressuring women and violating their boundaries is portrayed as natural in many ~innocent and romantic~ relationships and pretty much obligatory in ~edgy dangerous~ dynamics, I still love this to ABSOLUTE PIECES
I’ve been harping on this subject a lot lately, but I feel like somebody has to. The fact that Khan has been changed to a white man is quietly being accepted, and the performance lauded. I’ve seen people trying to say JJ did a good thing by taking color out of the equation, and that they are tired of POC being cast as the villains.
Do people not realize the history that was made when Khan appeared on network television? Let’s look at what was going on around the time Khan made his debut on network TV.
- August 28, 1963: 20,000 blacks and whites gather at the Lincoln Memorial to hear speeches against racism; among them is Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream.”
- June 12, 1963: Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers is gunned down outside of his home. His killer is not convicted until the year 1994.
- Summer 1964: The Mississippi Summer Freedom Project begins; civil rights workers help blacks register to vote. 3 are killed and many black churches and homes are burned in retaliation.
- August 4, 1964: Civil rights workers James E. Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.
- March 7, 1965: Martin Luther King Jr. leads a 54-mile march to support black voter registration. They marched from Selma to Montgomery.
- June 12, 1967:Banning interracial marriage is ruled unconstitutional by Supreme Court.
- July 1967: More race riots occur in Detroit and New York; they are the worst riots in US history and result in 43 Detroit deaths.
- April 4, 1968: While outside his home, Martin Luther King Jr. is murdered by James Earl Ray; riots broke out in 125 cities in response.
“Space Seed” premiered on television in February of 1967, right smack dab in the middle of all this. Before Khan, Star Trek included a black woman, and Asian man, and a Russian character as main parts of the crew on the Enterprise. All three had vitals roles on the ship, and Captain Kirk looked to them for answers, and trusted them to help him complete his mission.
Do you not realize how huge this was? This was something people had never seen before, and to date, still don’t see it all that often. This broke the ground for so many of the actors and actresses we all know and love. This was history being made.
Then came Khan. While Ricardo Montalban was not a man of Indian descent, he was still a man of color. He was a man of color, playing a character that rivaled Captain Kirk. He was a character that commanded respect and admiration from those around him, because he was smart, cunning, charismatic, and powerful.
Khan Noonien Singh was a man that could out think and out muscle any person on the Enterprise. To state it more simply, a man of color was more powerful and more intelligent than all the other men and women aboard the Enterprise. Without Marla McGivers help, Kirk would not have been able to stop him.
A man of color would have defeated the crew of the Enterprise were it not for a guilty conscience and the use of a club. Khan’s strength could have easily overpowered Kirk’s, and it would have, had he not hit him over the head with a heavy tool.
This is what makes Khan more than the stereotypical POC villain. Khan is super human. He is created to be stronger, faster, smarter and better than a normal human being. He rises above the stereotype because he is BETTER than all aboard the Enterprise.
On top of that, a white woman falls in love with a man of color. In 1967. She gives up everything she’s known to be with him. The fact that Khan was a POC, and he was far more powerful and far more capable than all the others makes him stand apart from your stereotypical role POC are given when they play the part of the villain.Khan is an icon of television for being a groundbreaking character in the middle of our Civil Rights movement, just like Uhura and Sulu are.
Would you be okay if someone changed the race of Uhura or Sulu? I can’t see how you could be. There would be outrage from here to the moon if anyone tried to cast either of them as anything other than an Asian man, and an African American woman.
Yet with Khan, because he’s the villain, people think it’s okay to erase what he was because of what we’ve gone through over the past decade or so. Don’t you see? It’s because of that that Khan should have been cast as a man of Indian descent, as his biography clearly states he is. I know Ricardo was not Indian, as I’ve stated before, but back then getting POC on TV in roles that were main parts of the story wasn’t as easy as it is now. That’s why this is even more inexcusable. There is nothing to stop Paramount or JJ Abrams from casting any person from any ethnicity on the planet, and they chose to take one of the most iconic roles that belonged to POC, and give it to a white man.
It’s like taking the history of Star Trek, taking all the things it did to pave the way for so many people by refusing to stick to what was accepted, and throwing it in the mud. Everything about Star Trek was promoting acceptance of those different than ourselves, whether those people were green skinned aliens, or African American, or Asian.
Look at all the POC on TV or in movies today. Who do you think started the path to stardom for them? Who do you think started chipping away at those barriers that would have prevented them from becoming big name stars in the media?
Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Gene Roddenberry, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Ricardo Montalban.
Now, after reading all of this, if you can look me in the eye and still tell me you see nothing wrong with the fact that a white man is playing the role of Khan, well then, I guess that’s the opinion you’re going to stay with.But my hope is that maybe, just maybe, you can see why there are people out there who are so upset, and why the silent acceptance of this casting choice needs to be stopped.