Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sexism in the Walking Dead

My husband and I discovered the awesome television show The Walking Dead a fortnight ago. I'd heard it was good, so I took a gamble and bought the first season on itunes, it was cheap so why not? We instantly became addicted. It was well written, thrilling, exciting, and the special effects were very good. We bought the next two seasons and quickly watched them. Now we're wallowing in despair because we have no new episodes to watch until October.

So I bought the first copy of the graphic novel and started reading it on my ipad. I'd read online that the author, Robert Kirkman, was a bit sexist. It certainly does come across that way in the graphic novel. Within just a couple of pages Lori, wife of Rick, says that "It is not about women's rights it's about doing what's realistic" after another woman, Donna, complains how as women they now have to do all the chores.

In another scene Rick says "The woman could not be expected to defend themselves..." and in another scene Rick and Shane are a little condescending to Donna as she practices with a gun and is good at it. Shane says "I'm pretty sure she did not cheat and the wind did not blow the cans away..."

In the tv show the sexism is not as bad, but it is there. Andrea is the only woman in the show not interested in caring for the men and doing all the dishes and washing. Lori has a go at her about this at one point and says that she resents her for it. Andrea bites back that there are more important things for the women to be doing than making sure the lemonade has enough mint leaves in it. Andrea is the only woman who makes an effort to learn how to fire a gun and is the only one who becomes good at taking dome walkers. And she is also painted as an idiot: she shoots Darryl in the head once because she thought he was a Walker from a distance, she encouraged one woman to try and kill herself, and in season three hooks up with the governor, a violent murdering mad man who runs the town Woodbury, and actually has sex with him.

They turn the one woman who wants to be an equal with the man into an unlikable idiot. Google Andrea and you'll find tons of memes making fun of her. A lot of people were happy when she died.

Is sexism in fiction okay? Yes and no. As a woman I find it very irritating. I like the graphic novel and want to keep reading it. I am hoping that the sexism won't make it so irritating that I'll eventually stop.

Is the sexism in the Walking Dead realistic? Yes and no. I agree with Lori on some things - that in their universe someone does need to do the washing and dishes to help rebuild society - but why does it have to be the women? Doesn't it make more sense for everyone to be taught how to fire a gun so they can defend themselves? If I were in the book/show I would not be content with howling for a man to come and defending me. I would want a gun.

Also, give me one reason why the men should not help out with the chores. Why should they be able to get out of it? Because they do the hunting? How is the equal or fair? If the world does end in real life should we expect women's rights to go back several decades because it will be "realistic" for them to stay behind and care for the kids while the big, manly men go out and hunt for dinner?

I say bullshit. Equal rights for all. It shouldn't matter if the dead have risen.

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