My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

Dawson’s Creek

on May 4, 2012

I have probably seen this entire series 4 or 5 times.  I love it.  It’s like my emotional comfort food.  And what could be wrong with Dawson’s Creek? (Besides the fact that, if we’re being honest, it’s a pretty lame show.)  It’s a pretty tame, fun-for-the-whole family type of show.  There is not a lot of objectionable content.  They don’t drink or have sex unless something is terribly wrong, or they are in deep, passionate love (respectively).  There is no swearing.  They are all just trying to be the best people they can be.

This is especially true for the earlier episodes.  I am now into the last season, which is a little bit less tame, and a little bit more objectionable.  Dawson is now working with Todd on a movie, and Pacey is working as a… financial something-or-other with a bunch of douche bags.  And both Dawson and Pacey are very much being influenced by the men they work with who are quite sexist and likely to objectify women.

We hear Dawson talk about how looking at his girlfriend Natasha makes him think only about sex.  This is something season 1 Dawson would never have said.  Natasha is cheating on Dawson, lying about their relationship, and lying to him, but he doesn’t really mind cause he gets to keep ‘shagging’ her (in the words of his director Todd).  Natasha is pretty clearly there for her sexuality.  She uses it in the film she is acting in.  She uses it to try to get into a concert.  She uses it to play a trick on Dawson on Halloween, and to continue a sexual relationship with him while also sleeping with someone else.  (Not that I have anything against multiple casual sex partners.  I just think all involved should know that they’re casual sex partners and not think that they’re in a romantic relationship).

We also see Dawson tell his director Todd that he will ‘get him some extras’ to have sex with.  Sorry??  How exactly do you ‘get extras’ for someone to fuck?  Is there a purchase you can make?  Or do you just use your authority position to sexually exploit them?

Later in the season Dawson pitches a movie to a middle aged, white, male producer.  Of course, Dawson wants to tell the story of his own quaint life, but the producer will only support the movie if there are “a minimum of 3 nude scenes.”  He wants the movie to be “wall to wall boobs.”  And actually, I think this is a really important comment on the industry.  This part is not really fiction, is it?  A lot of movies are wall to wall boobs.  Because the people making these movies are middle aged, white men who want to see topless young women.  It seemed kind of ridiculous to see this old man demanding topless teens, but unfortunately I don’t think it’s too far from the truth.  

In ‘the college years’ both Joey and Audrey have scary encounters with would-be rapists.  Luckily, it’s super easy to fight off a man who wants to rape you if you actually don’t want to be raped.  What?!  After kicking her would-be rapist’s ass, Joey says, “I guess those kickboxing classes really paid off.”  Right.  Because one kickboxing class can ensure that any woman can kick any man’s ass.  If we were all just better prepared, we wouldn’t have to worry about ever being raped.

And Audrey is alone in a parking lot, drunk, with a guy who is trying to pull her into his car to rape her.  But no worries.  She also kicked his ass like it was nothing.  I’m going to assume that the makers of the show wanted to comment on rape without having to deal with the consequences of it actually happening.  But I think the comment they ended up making just played into the myth that if women really didn’t want to be raped, they could fight it off.

When Chad Michael Murray was in the show as Charlie (yum), there was also a bit of a comment of female sexuality.  Jenn was very into him, and was very clear about that.  She started what she thought was a relationship with him, which included a lot of sex (hello, it’s Chad Michael Murray!).  Apparently he didn’t think they were exclusive, so he cheated on her with another woman.  They broke up.

Then Charlie met Joey.  She was very standoffish, and said she didn’t want anything to do with him since he cheated on Jenn and clearly lies to get laid.  Charlie fell for her, and was extremely persistent (following her to LA when she told him not to).  So I guess there are two ways to read this.  Option one is that Charlie would actually be more likely to fall in love with Joey (who is super annoying and uptight, though admittedly less-so during the college episodes) than Jenn (who is adorable and fun and open).  Option two, nobody likes easy, slutty girls, only girls who are hard to get.

Take that as you will.   Maybe I’m reading too much into it.  After all, Joey is supposedly this amazing girl who “doesn’t know how beautiful she is*,” as they say all the time, and is the love of both Dawson and Pacey’s lives.   So maybe we’re just supposed to believe that Charlie actually loved her too.

And now I must talk about Pacey.   I love Pacey as much as the next girl (actually, I love him way more than the next girl, but this is not about my obsession with fictional men), but what he did to Emma was verging on unforgivable.  Pacey was always a chivalrous ladies’ man, and stayed that way ’til the end, but there were a couple glitches which I would like to think were caused by his perverted, male chauvinist boss Rich.  

Pacey talked his roommate Emma into being his date for a work function.  She then found out from other women at that function that the guy with the hottest date won $1000.  When she confronted Pacey about this, he gave a lame ass apology (compared to the dramatic, heartfelt apologies he has given Joey for really stupid things), but said that he brought her because he really thought she would win.  And then she kissed him! 

Like the using her as an accessory, trying to make money off her sexuality, allowing all the men at his office to judge her body, all without her consent doesn’t matter, cuz O-M-G he thinks she’s hot!  What?! 

I hate that!  I hate that whenever anyone says anything nice about a woman, they talk about what she looks like.  Even Pacey does this all the time.  Any song about a woman, whether it’s a love song or a drinking song talks about what she looks like.  The best complement you can give a woman is that she looks good.  And the worst thing you can say is that she’s ugly and fat.  I’m so tired of it.  And as much as I love Pacey, he would have to do a lot better than just telling me I was hot to make me get past that.

He would also have to listen to a lot of feminist rants, and let me make him into a true feminist.  Then he would be perfect!  (I’m guna be single forever aren’t I…?)

Anyway, I love Dawson’s Creek (as lame as it is sometimes), and in terms of sexism and misogyny it’s really not bad.  Watching these episodes this time around just really bothered me. 

*But it is very important that she is beautiful, and equally important that she doesn’t think she is.  Ugly women are obviously no good.  And neither are confident women who can see their own beauty and think they look damn good.

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