A: Absolute Surrender.
First, Karen objects
to this page from Fables #50, where, after several pages of romantic words, Bigby
proposes to Snow.
"Okay, you've defeated me. You win."
Me: “Yeah, right. Defeated her. Because love metaphorically described a game where marriage involves winning for men and defeat for women isn’t at all problematic.”
Actually, my take was exactly the opposite. Traditionally, marriage has been considered a "win" for the woman, and a "loss" for the man -- whose goal is stereotypically to continue getting the "milk for free" for as long as possible. Snow's "You've defeated me" I took as a reversal of the "usual" game, with the man pressing marriage and the woman resisting.
Certainly, there is a strong argument that marriage shouldn't be "winning" or "losing" for anyone. But here it wasn't really the marriage that I saw as the "defeat", but rather Snow's inability to stay angry.
In any event, it is certainly ambiguous, and while I was not offended, it is certainly worth discussing. There are several good responses to that point in her own thread
.E: Exchanging Vows
For proposal and acceptance, we quickly move to the wedding, with King Cole officiating.
"Wilt thou obey him and serve him . . ."
Karen engages in book throwing:
Me: “She said WHAT? WILLINGHAAAAAAAAAAAAAM! *book toss*”
Straight out of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer, folks, Snow White promises to obey and serve her husband.
As the kids say these days, what the fuck?
This is a stupid, hidebound, “romantic” gesture, but it’s also a solemn oath made by a fairy tale character, and those have narrative weight. Promises come up time and again in fairy tales and there are severe penalties for breaking one’s word. I don’t for one moment think that Snow White would take this vow lightly, or pass it off as cutely romantic. She is really promising to obey and serve him.
My take was, again, a little different. Perhaps because I had a traditional Jewish wedding, where both the husband and wife recite the identical phrase: "Behold, thou art consecrated to me with this ring, according to the laws of Moses and Israel."
Yeah, the laws of Moses and Israel include such favorites as the "Ordeal of the Sotah
," which explains a husband's right to order the wife to drink bitter waters and swear and oath of cursing if he suspects infidelity. The unfaithful wife will then suffer thigh sagging and belly swelling. (Numbers, Chapter 5).
Let's say that there was never any thought on either party's part that we were agreeing to be held to ALL of the laws of Moses.
As I understand it, the "Obey" language was pretty popular until pretty recently. It wouldn't surprise me that in an isolated community like Fabletown
it would retain currency
-- as a tradition if not as an actual practice (which no one is here claiming).
Karen points out the "solemn oath" part, and there is certainly something to be said about the "Ella Enchanted" possibilities here. So, while I was certainly not offended by the traditional wedding vows, I can again see the point.I: Idiotic Response
After Karen's article was linked to from the Comic Book Journal, writer Bill Willingham responds:
If you’ll forgive me being just a bit picky about today’s Fables/Fangirls Attack bit in your blog, I don’t think Snow White’s politics had much to do with why she was willing to take a vow considered so egregiously outdated by the current standards of some. I put it down more to the fact that she (like everyone) is a part of her culture and upbringing — and granted her conservative politics issue from that too. Remember the Fables premise is that all of these characters are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old and they may, from time to time, act in character, which will perforce be a bit old fashioned by our lights. Since this series isn’t a political tract, nor a handbook of proposed conduct of any sort, I thought the story was better served by having her act more in according to her established character and background, rather than as an approved example of the current vogue in modern human enlightenment. Fables is (one hopes) a series of entertaining stories about folks who aren’t like us, not a set of lessons to be learned. I knew this choice would be seen as unforgivable by some, but that’s showbusiness.
This first paragraph demonstrates a complete missing of the point. No one was suggesting that he was not writing "entertaining stories," or that Snow White should "act in character." As I pointed out before, Snow White refuses to say the word "abortion"
and in many other ways appears to be a very Republican/Conservative character. Perhaps it completely in character to use the "obey" vow (I thought it likely was). Karen obviously disagrees, and has good reason to.Willingham's
response was not -- like mine is, I hope -- an argument that Snow acted in character and not anti-feminist. His response was, essentially, "It's just a story, and as such cannot be critiqued." That, of course, is crap.O: Over the Top Follow Through
Of course, that was just the first paragraph of the response. Paragraph two makes #1 almost not worth mentioning.
However, since I am a peacemaker at heart, allow me this opportunity to extend this olive branch to the esteemed Attacking Fangirls and any other segment of my readership that took similar offense at Snow’s wedding vow: I’ve decreed that all further printings of this story will remove the following panel where Snow turns to the audience and says, “And I require all Fables readers to follow my example.” Now, as far as Snow’s “you’ve defeated me” line. Yeah, that one was unforgivable by the standards of any age. They got me on that one. Get my suite at the re-education camp ready, I’ll come along quietly.
Because, of course, any objection to a story by a feminist is an implied call for censorship and Communist brainwashing.U: Utter Contempt
As you can see, I started out pretty pro-Willingham
in defending him against Karen's criticisms. That is, until he opened his big mouth and tried to defend himself, which is making me wonder whether I was giving him too much credit to begin with.
I still think Snow White acted largely in character, and was not upset with her choice of a traditional wedding vow. Sometimes that's just simply "how it's done," and if King Cole is the one who is performing the service, sometimes you just go with the program.
But to say I disagree with Karen's conclusions is not at all to say that I think she was wrong to raise the issues, or that I think she's trying to brainwash me, or I don't think she's making a lot of good points along the way.Sometimes Why
Sometimes I wonder why writers feel obliged to step up and defend their work. If it is written well, it should stand on its own, even if some people will always misinterpret it. Fables is still one of my favorite comic books.
, I now realize, is a jerk.
Labels: Fables, Feminism