cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (speed blur)
Cimorene ([personal profile] cimorene) wrote2013-02-12 06:20 pm
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Lizzie Bennet Diaries reactions related to Lydia, sex, gender, and P&P

When I watched the new LBD this morning, I read it as a strong commentary on Pride & Prejudice with Lydia in this version articulating, essentially, Lizzie's stance on her in P&P - the basic slut-shaming stance of "It's Tragic but She Kinda Deserved It for Acting Like a Slut". Unlike in LBD, in P&P Lydia never apparently considers that there's anything wrong with publicly losing one's reputation (she was content to shack up in London indefinitely until the marriage was suggested, which I think in terms of reputation and shame is like if she had known about the website and consented to it being made and didn't give a fuck), and Lizzie finds her lack of shame mortifying. There's a sense that a lower future standard of living and a loveless marriage are consequences she brought on herself through slutty behavior, and while Lizzie predicts these in Lydia's future and feels sorry for her, she doesn't seem to in any sense regard Lydia as the victim. And in the last episode of LBD, that blame - basically "she was asking for it" - is what Lydia pours out in her grief*. This turns the viewer's gaze on that "she was asking for it" and - at least to me - implies, "that's a fucked-up attitude that everyone in P&P except for Mrs Bennett had, and Mrs B's lack of slut-shaming is basically portrayed as tragic stupidity".

The video hasn't been out very long yet but I tried to use Google to see if anybody was talking more articulately about this, because I haven't been involved in the fandom around the show or the past conversations that I know have taken place around it. And also, I've got a cold and my head is full of green slime, so I'm not at my most articulate right now.

Anyway, what I found was thought-provoking. It wasn't quite what I was thinking: rather it's part of a larger discussion of LBD's metatextual stance on sex and slut-shaming, mostly in relation to modern culture and not as a commentary on the source text (not that I don't care about its relationship to modern culture and society too, it's just that I always also look for how a transformative work illuminates the source text, so if anybody has any more links for me I'd be grateful!)

*Lizzie tells her she wasn't asking for it because he manipulated her, which is problematic, as a couple of people pointed out:

Courtney Milan - I have nothing to say that others haven't said...
I think the narrative is trying to be written as one that is anti-slut-shaming, but I think that it’s internalized so much of the culture of slut-shaming that it fails. A narrative that is really anti-slut-shaming would not exonerate Lydia because Lizzie misjudged her. It would recognize that Lizzie’s view of her sexual inclination was irrelevant, because she does not need exoneration for being a sexual creature.

I think the narrative is trying to be one that takes on serious social issues like emotional abuse, but I think it’s fallen down there, too, simply because the narrative is treating the sex tape as the horrible thing that happened to Lydia, when in fact the abusive relationship is the problem that will linger longer.

Also on that subject:

glitterandgrit in response to ladysaviours

#what the shit was this episode #p.s. ten points for simultaneously managing to basically martyr lydia and still slutshame #it’s my fault i filmed the video #yeah but you only did it cuz you were sad and manipulated #i mean it’s not like you’re a real whoreish slut!!!!!!!! #still so basically angry at everything this narrative structure chooses to be
(via delladilly)

#lol right #the story keeps trying to seem anti-slutshaming/abuse #but that doesn't actually work when you set up a whole thing of 'HE CONVINCES ~SMART~ WOMEN TO DO ~DUMB~ THINGS' #thus casting the abused women in question as less intelligent for suffering through abuse #even as you supposedly condemn the guy #and then set up another thing of HE'S RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL OF THIS HURT AND PAIN NOT LYDIA #because she isn't really one of ~those~ girls and would never do such a thing #pls #abuse cw #slutshaming cw

Other posts commenting on the episode that I found interesting: in response to ihavenotaclue:

as tumblr user glamaphonic pointed out, there are no textual instances in the lizzie bennet diaries of young women having sex where they are not somehow punished for it by the other characters or by the narrative. that is problematic regardless of authorial intent.

alltheladiesyouhate again later in the conversation
I think “Lizzie learns a lesson about calling her sister a slut” is what they’re doing. I think Rachel Kiley has said as much on her tumblr. It happened in today’s episode, in fact. But the lesson Lizzie learned seems really myopic to me, because it was more like she learned a lesson about being mean and pre-judging her little sister than that she learned a lesson about why slut-shaming is wrong.

This also doesn’t excuse the narrative from its other sexist, slut-shamey aspects. When you take it all into account all of the narrative attitudes LBD has about sex and sexuality, this arc is problematic. You can’t isolate this one instance of discussion of sexuality by the characters from all the other ones, even if there is a lot more going on on an emotional level for the characters.

maybewerethepieces in response to the same discussion
My Bottom Line: I don’t think the writers are taking a stand on slut-shaming. I think they’re exploring it and its ramifications in our culture. Further, I think Lizzie’s journey to revamping her mindset sets a good example for others struggling with the same issue.


But rather than saying LBD employs slut-shaming, maybe it could also be a comment on our times? The idea that a young woman could potentially be discriminated against in the future because there is video proof that she did something everyone else already does.

I think I wanted to say something else about these but... head, green slime. Maybe later. Anyway, yes, links to other discussion of these types of issues welcome!
metanewsmods: Abed wearing goggles (Default)

[personal profile] metanewsmods 2013-02-13 12:25 am (UTC)(link)
Hi, can I link this at metanews?
sqbr: A happy dragon on a pile of books (happy dragon)

[personal profile] sqbr 2013-02-13 08:42 am (UTC)(link)
I've been following the discussion on tumblr, but this is a nice summary, thanks!