There always been something innately sexual about possession in the Supernatural universe, I think. In Born Under a Bad Sign (2.14), after they've exorcised Meg from Sam's body, Dean points out, "Dude, you like full on had a girl up inside of you for like a week. That's pretty naughty."

Even Jimmy's language to Castiel in The Rapture (4.20) is, in my opinion, closer to that of a lover than anything, especially when he cries to him, "I gave you everything you asked me to give, I gave you more!" Jimmy's joy when he first encounters Castiel, before he is possessed, is very much an infatuation, one that is lost after Castiel is torn from him.

Even the language of possession in the show is sexual - the angel or demon in question "takes" the person. They've used both the term of wearing people and riding people, the latter also having distinct sexual connotations. Beyond Meg-Sam's actions toward Jo in Born Under a Bad Sign, which are overtly sexual (Sam, get off me! Sam, get off me! ), the language used after the exorcism is sexual as well, the language of being inside another person, of taking another person.

Sympathy For the Devil (5.01) only made this utterly transparent. Zachariah, Dean, and Lucifer don't mince words. They know what they're talking about and if the audience wasn't aware that Michael and Lucifer were noncorporeal beings seeking bodies, it would be easy to assume that they were looking for sex - and Michael and his buddies seem to have no qualms about using force.

It makes my insides unhappy to think that we've only seen one possession with enthusiastic consent, if, indeed, possession is relatable to sexual intercourse. Jimmy was willing and even happy the first time he welcome Castiel into his body. (And isn't that sexual language right there as well?) However, Castiel also takes Jimmy's daughter, Claire, and then only goes back inside Jimmy when Jimmy begs him, not wanting this for his daughter. And now - well, presumably, Jimmy is dead, killed by Castiel's comrades-in-arms. And now Castiel (his lover? his rapist? the man who was inside his daughter?) wears his face as he walks the earth. I wonder how Jimmy would feel about that.

Dean's fight with Zachariah, where he keeps telling him that no, he won't let Michael take him is both heart breaking and terrifying. It is one thing to think of a demon - Meg or Lucifer or Azazel - taking someone against their will, but the brutality of the angels is beyond cruel.

Zachariah says to Dean, "You're Michael's weapon or, rather, his receptacle... Michael's vessel. You're chosen. It's a great honor... I am completely and utterly through screwing around.... Now, Michael is going to take his vessel... You understand me?"

I think part of the terror is how easily Zachariah dehumanizes Dean. Dean isn't a person. His consent doesn't really matter (or, in Zachariah's words, the angels' god-given need for consent is "unfortunate"). Dean is an object - he is a receptacle and a vessel. Dean is empty until Michael fills him and uses him. Dean is nothing; he is empty until Michael rides him.

I really don't blame Dean for saying no to that.

Then Zachariah takes it a step further. He broke Sam's legs because Dean was mouthing off at him, but when Dean actually dares to say no - dares to assert himself as a person - Zachariah is visibly furious. He offers to heal Bobby, if Dean will say yes, but says that if Dean says no again, Bobby will never be able to walk. After Dean says no again, Zachariah gives Dean stage four stomach cancer, saying he will heal him if he allows Michael to take him. (Stage IV gastric cancers are usually metastasized tumors that have spread to other parts of the body - probably Dean's only hope of recovery is a miracle.) At another no, Zachariah removes Sam's lungs.

Unsurprisingly, Dean begs for death at this point. Zachariah has, after all, pretty much run out of people to hurt and Dean is in visible agony from his gastric cancer, while Sam struggles behind him. Zachariah, however, tells him, "Are we having fun, yes? ... Kill you? Oh no, I'm just getting started." Zachariah is ready to torture Dean into allowing Michael to ride him.

Lucifer is a little more friendly with Nick, even if he does take the form of Nick's murdered wife. He, of all the angels, is up front with Nick, saying, "To be honest, it'll probably be unpleasant for you." (Even Jimmy talks about how painful it is to be taken by angel. Just think about that statement and its implications.) Lucifer, I suppose, by fannish standards, is closer to dub-con than to Zachariah, Castiel, and Meg's total non-con.

He whispers sweet words to Nick through the lips of his dead wife. He says, "This is your choice. You need to invite me in.... What I need is you. Nick, I need you to say yes."

How many times have those last two sentences been written in romance novels? Slash? Really bad porn? Is there another time, in our society, that person would say, "You need my consent.... The answer's no," except in a sexual one? As writers, how many times have we written about a character taking another, riding another, being inside another? As people, how many times have we talked about that, meaning sex?

I think it's deliberate that these situations are happening exclusively to men, that Anna was born as she is. Even Meg Masters, who comes to Dean in Are You There God? (4.02) and calls him a monster for not seeing that she was alive, doesn't use the sexual language of being ridden, of being taken, of being empty until a demon used her.

It makes us think. For Dean, it's male-on-male violence. A male holds him down, tries to torture him into allowing another male to take him. (Whether or not angels are gendered and how is brought into question by Castiel and Lucifer, but Zachariah holds a male body and Michael is a masculine name.) For Nick, in his dream, he is being taken by his late wife. It's creepy and vaguely reminisce of necrophilia and I do think it's part of why he agrees - it's harder to imagine his beloved as Satan than a stranger. But if it is violence - and I'm not sure in his case that it is as much as it is highly morally questionable - it is, to the eyes of the viewer, female-on-male. Going back to season two, we generally view Meg as female, though, again, we don't know how/if demons are gendered, so we tend to view Sam's possession as female-on-male violence.

However, Castiel is an exception. We became accustomed to viewing the entity as male - he, after all, takes a male body when we see him most of the time. Yet, he takes a little girl, the daughter of the man he has been inside all season. He's a bit of a BAMF when he's inside Claire and there's the issue of Sam's addiction, so I didn't really think about it, but it's disturbing and creepy.

I don't know what to make of it. The angels don't appear to take consent any more seriously than the demons do. If they have to torture a person into saying yes, into begging for death before being taken, then that's fine. That's... bothersome. It throws into relief the idea that humans are the only good guys - they're the only ones who seem to know what "No" and "Stop" mean.

The writers know they are writing for a primarily female audience, I think. And, especially as a woman who has been violated in this way myself, what they're saying is obvious: If you didn't get the message before, YOU CAN'T TRUST ANYONE.

I really don't know, though, how I feel about the writer's using this as their parallel. It's sickening and it's obvious and it screams the message in huge, neon letters. However, I don't know if I want to say that it highlights that men can be victims of this kind of violence as well - especially as Sam has been possessed and Dean is reduced to a receptacle to be filled and even Bobby and John, our male fighting heroes, are possessed. I've seen it written all over livejournal that this episode took them by surprise, that surely Bobby would know how to protect himself from being taken like that. And isn't that a message? But does it diminish real sexual violence in the real world? I just don't know.

ETA: Since this post seems to be causing a great deal of confusion among commenters, I would like to redirect readers to this.
Tags:

From: [identity profile] virginia-fell.livejournal.com


This is incredibly profound, and kind of makes me want to watch this show just to see what it looks like in context.
ext_21906: (sparkle highway)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


As soon as I saw how Zachariah was talking about Dean-as-object, I knew I needed to write this. I am so on the fence about interpretation that I really want to see what other people think - but I am leaning toward seeing it as anyone-can-be-victim and another way to discuss such an important topic.

From: [identity profile] familiardevil.livejournal.com


This is a great meta =) There are definitely a lot of sexual undertones & subtext on SPN, especially of the slash variety. It's part of why I love the show SO MUCH.

I think it's deliberate that these situations are happening exclusively to men.
This I disagree with ENTIRELY though. What about Ruby? She used both an unwilling host and an empty host- empty so that Sam would consent to working with her, and later, it would be the factor that would consumate their relationship. Sam can have sex with Ruby BECAUSE she's in an empty body. Both Dean and Sam have also sexalized Ruby herself, and her host. In I Know What You Did Last Summer, when Ruby is possessing the secretary, he asks her 'whose body are you riding?' or something along those lines. Though the bodies Ruby possesses are female, and we associate Ruby with the feminine, and we do not normally associate feminine attributes with penetration or possession, she totally gets all up in girls. Repeatedly. She even uses one canonly for sex. Ruby and her host - especially her third one, played by Genevieve - are very sexualized characters, and are put in very sexualized situations. Especially violent sexual situations. She and Sam have wrong dirty sex in which he penetrates her rather violently. He also cuts her to drink her blood. And I feel that, in a way, it is Ruby doing those things, since she is giving consent to Sam to ride the body just as she does.

Which I think is very interesting and may be an unconscious factor as to why so many female viewers dislike and are uncomfortable with Ruby, especially Ruby 2.0, and Sam/Ruby. Possession of males is all good and fine - they're 'big and strong and can handle it', and a good portion enjoy the gay undertones - but when it's women being used in these overtly sexual situations that contain these dark themes, sometimes complete lack of consent, and violence, I think many fans feel betrayed by the show. And at the same time, some enjoy it, maybe because subconsciously some would enjoy being possessed in such a manner, especially by Sam, and being roughed up, raped, and controlled is a fantasy. Of course, some have fantasies like that and still don't like Ruby. But it's something to think about.

I mean, even the way she DIED was sexual. Dean stabbing her in the gut while Sam holds her so she can't escape? I almost feel like it's an ode to Sam, and to Dean as well, because Ruby became a part of Sam with her blood, and controlled his actions (however manipulatively she did it). And Sam is a large part of Dean. So Dean was killing that part of Ruby in Sam, and Sam was helping to kill that part in himself. Ruby did more than possess bodies; she also possessed a part of Sam, the very dark and desperate part of him, and it was a part that needed to die. The action of stabbing her came across as very sexual, but it was more than that, too. It was symbolic in that she had taken over part of Sam and by penetrating her and killing her, Dean was taking that part back.

-c-

From: [identity profile] familiardevil.livejournal.com


There's also something to be said about Lilith, who we've seen possess more bodies than almost any other demon on SPN. Mostly little girls. The show never sexualizes the possessions of the little girls, but all the same...the older blonde women she possesses, she only gets all up in to have sex with Sam. So I think there's definitely something to be said about female possessions as well.

I think Claire's possession was the most interesting, though. It is...a great violation to take a little girl's body to use it, even in the way Castiel did it, and I think that was very poignant for Castiel's character at that moment. His disregard for human emotion and human life, which he later displays in When the Levee Breaks when he lets Sam go, but later reveals his true nature in caring for humans when he sends Dean to go save Sam. By possessing Claire we see that Castiel just does not give a fuck who he's possessing, be it a little girl or an adult man, but we also see a sliver of doubt in there when he agrees to jump back into Jimmy's body.

Anna's was interesting, too, in that she was born into her body. I think that was a key element for Dean/Anna, as a parallel to Sam/Ruby. Sam/Ruby is dirty and wrong and disgusting, something that has no love or affection and barely any pleasure in it, if any pleasure at all. Ruby's a demon, she's in a body that is not hers, and it's non-consensual in the fact that the body is NOT Ruby's and she is in no real position to give it to Sam to use. But Anna's body is her own, and she gives it to Dean so that they can both feel good, not bad like Sam and Ruby. So I'm not sure if Anna being born into her own body means that they don't want to have her possess anyone. I think it's more of her position in Dean/Anna, and just the plot for those two episodes and needing to get her grace back and the angel radio and blah blah blah.

Anyways, like I said before. A+ meta.

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From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-09-15 03:08 am (UTC) - Expand
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


We don't get the language of the sexual with Ruby, just as we don't get the same language with Meg (or Casey or any number of other female-bodied demons - like the crossroads demons). Yes, they are possessed and, yes, we can and should extrapolate this information, but it is not explicit in the text. We get the language for Nick and Dean and Sam and Jimmy, but not for Coma Girl or Meg Masters or Casey or, even, Claire. My discussion of Claire is an extrapolation of the language given to Jimmy.

I think the show is trying to get us to look at this idea that because Sam/Dean/John/Bobby/Jimmy/Nick is 'big and strong and can handle it.' They can't. Sam is absolutely broken after Born Under a Bad Sign. Jimmy can't find another reason to want Castiel until his daughter is taken. I think it is a huge mistake to say that because these characters have penises, they "can handle" the violation we so strongly object to in characters who possess breasts.

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From: [identity profile] smallcaps.livejournal.com


Ruby is not the same because we never met her hosts. The men are all people. We have been introduced to Nick. We know Sam and Bobby and Dean and Jimmy. They are people who are having this horrible thing happen to them.

Meg was only a person three seasons later (and only as a twisted version of her former self). We haven't 'met' any of Ruby's hosts as characters, or Lilith's. Ruby may fuck Sam but Ruby's host isn't sexualised because we are encouraged to think that Ruby's host doesn't exist. None of the women exist. If they don't exist they can't be raped. Possession of males is the only possession that the show tells us matters, it is the only time we are expected to care about the victim.

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From: [identity profile] hearseeno.livejournal.com


You've got some really interesting things to say about this and it's making me think about things in new ways, always something that feels like a gift from the meta-writer. So, thank you.

One of the things that I wonder, after reading your meta, is the influence of the restrictions of our language. Is it because our language doesn't differentiate between types of violation? I wonder if it's because we as a society hold sexual violation as the worst kind of violation that one person can do to another, and still live through it? Do we then perceive other forms of violation through that lens? Other forms of violation definitely exist, and yet they, too are often couched in sexual terms. I think of some of the language used even in cases of emotional violation, where the knowledge of who you are is used to demean and overpower. There we use such terms as "a mind fuck," an "emotional rape.

Or is it that violations are intimate, and very often our society equates all kinds of intimacy with sexuality? And so our vocabulary of intimacy, whether positive or negative, is informed by sexual imagery?

Do we have other imagery, other words with different connotations, to describe the intimate abuse of power? Or are we restricted by our language, which grew out of the context of our society's values?
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


I am not sure. In my experience, we do have language for non-sexual physical violations (non-sexual beatings, for example) and we have ways, as a society, to de-sexualise sexual violations. (As for the latter, I learned to be an expert in couching the discussion of my sexual violation in non-sexual terms whenever possible.)

However, I think we sexualize the language of violation when we want to underscore the severity of the violation - sexual violence and violation are things that we're, at least, peripherally aware of as a society.

On the other hand, I've been part of discussions about how sexual violence is so often dismissed in our society - you want wanted it, you were asking for it, if you just didn't do x. And what intrigues me is the way the fandom is using this language to discuss Bobby's possession - that it's bad writing because Bobby knows better, Bobby would never do that, Bobby must have done something stupid for a demon to possess him. (And don't the hunters do the same when Sam is possessed? He was possessed because of his blood, a theory that protects the other hunters from the same fate.)

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From: [identity profile] lydia-petze.livejournal.com


This was incredibly interesting - thankyou. I had picked up on the implications but I hadn't really thought it through as hard as this. And reading over the comments, I'm getting even more to think about. (Yay, thinky fandom ;-))

Jimmy was willing and even happy the first time he welcome Castiel into his body. (And isn't that sexual language right there as well?

Re Jimmy's initial consent - yes, he may have been completely willing, but he certainly did not give informed consent. He couldn't have. To extend the sexual metaphor a little further (possibly overextending it) I'd compare it to a kind of statutory rape - much like a young person may not know all the implications of the act, even with consent*, neither did he.

*I know an underage person can't give consent at all, but I'm already hammering this metaphor into a shape it probably wasn't ever meant to be. Forgive me.

From: [identity profile] blackcat333-99.livejournal.com


Very interesting meta. I noticed that this ep had both brothers being violated, essentially. Sam with his "unaware/uncaring of proper boundaries" fangirl feeling him up, and Dean with the explicit "attack" by Meg. Hmm. Must think more on this.

Although I would slightly disgree with this:

Even Meg Masters, who comes to Dean in Are You There God? (4.02) and calls him a monster for not seeing that she was alive, doesn't use the sexual language of being ridden, of being taken, of being empty until a demon used her.

Meg did use that language, if I recall correctly. She (well, GhostMeg) asked Dean, "Do you have any idea what it's like to be ridden by evil for months?"

Which I found to be an interesting correlation to the fact that yeah, Dean's just gotten out of Hell, where he was ridden by evil for 40 years, 30 of which he was actively victimized. And Alastair's later words to Dean on the subject of what went down as part of the torture, "all those pokes and prods"... definitely a sexual rape connotation. And Dean eventually broke because of it. So I got the message that even big strong guys can be victims of assault and in a position of not being able to protect themselves from it, and yeah, it can break them too.
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


It's been a *long* time since I watched Are You There, God? so I missed that.

And I totally forgot the rape implications between Alastair and Dean. Those were terribly, terribly obvious. And what it also meant to Dean, for Uriel and Castiel, to put him in the same room as his torturer (rapist) and told to do the same to Alastair as Alastair did to him. Absolutely horrifying - and utterly underscoring that these terrible, terrible things can and do happen to men, even when we, as a society, choose to look away.
ext_1310: (atrocities done in your name)

From: [identity profile] musesfool.livejournal.com


Ruby's death is framed like a rape - Sam holds her down and Dean penetrates her with a knife that has been explicitly associated in the text - by him - with his penis.
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


While that's true - Sam does hold her down and Dean does knife her and this does have further connotations - I don't see what that has to do with the language of possession in the show.

From: [identity profile] m-pellegrino.livejournal.com


Ruby's death has fuck-all to do with this meta. This post is talking about the possession of males and the parallels it holds to male rape. Please direct all useless and diversionary comments to someone who cares.

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From: [identity profile] dollarchan.livejournal.com


Excuse me, but when did Dean associate the knife with his penis? Not sarcasm, I'm genuinelly curious bc I don't remember this. Do you know what ep that was?

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ext_29986: (strength)

From: [identity profile] fannishliss.livejournal.com


I'd like offer two pieces of historical context influencing this language and set of ideas.

1. The Exorcist. Probably the most influential text on possession in US culture. Definitely portrays the possessed person as utterly, utterly raped. Also, dramatizes the horror of that rape by having the victim being a young girl, and by using religious imagery.

2. Voodoo. I have strongly associated the language of "riding" with Voodoo. It is the term applied by voodoo practitioners who invite the Loa to "possess" them, usually resulting in ecstatic dance or miraculous feats. The person "ridden" is sometimes actually called the Horse. -- I would love it if someone more knowledgable about Voodoo would speak to this, as I realize that Voodoo is a living religion, and I have no wish to offend or misportray.
--- In voodoo, as I understand it, the Horse almost always INVITES the rider, so this usage is not in line with being ridden without giving consent.

I very much agreed with your point re Bobby. As viewers, we have the luxury of knowing everything, and think that Bobby OBVIOUSLY should have gotten the same tattoo the boys have... whatever.... I remember that he himself uses protective talismans... Demons have multiplied exponentially since Bobby first became a hunter (after he killed his possessed wife by stabbing her, remember) -- so it's not that odd, really, that when Bobby thought he was "safe" he wasn't -- ie, he could have been jumped when he stopped for gas and his talisman torn off --VERY much an image of rape, being overpowered, divested, and aggressively penetrated. Thank you for reminding us not to blame the victim.

I do want to go back to Castiel for a second. We don't know whether or not he asked Claire for her permission, because it happened offscreen, but we must assume she said yes, because "those are the rules". I wouldn't be too quick to say "she is too young to consent" because although there are parallels, she is not engaging in sex -- she is offering herself as a vessel. To put it another way, she is old enough to have taken first communion -- do you see my point? As viewers, we see Claire through Jimmy's eyes -- he sees his daughter's life being nullified by the Angel that has apparently used him and thrown him away, and he is desperate to give his daughter her life back. Also, remember that Claire is in the clutches of her mother, who is possessed by a demon -- so allowing Castiel to possess her is a way to protect herself -- and, actually, her consent does allow Castiel to help save her, her mother, and the Winchesters. So yes, possession and sex are very similar, but not the same.

In this most recent ep, Z came off as a torturer, to be sure, and politically, that is what perked up my ears. It means a lot in the age of heroes like Jack Bauer for a Show to unequivocally condemn torture the way Supernatural has -- up to and including the idea that when a Righteous Man picks up the knife, it starts the ball rolling for Apocalypse. Clearly Z and his "frat brothers" have no qualms about torture or about non-consent -- because they are EVIL, Angels or not.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's a very difficult topic to reason about. namaste
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


As for Claire's capability to give consent to give up her personal sovereignty to save her family, I am having a discussion about the with [livejournal.com profile] lydia_petze about that. Though it does save her family, it is, at the very least, consent under duress and does appear to traumatize her.

Riding, to my knowledge, is a complicated state, but it would not, religiously, be considered the same as possession. As it's a living religion - and while I've had contact with voodoo, I am far from a practitioner - I would hesitate to say anything further and fully respect the right of fans who are practitioners not to discuss this. I have often taken that route with my personal beliefs because such discussions, almost inevitably, cause more problems than they solve.

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From: [identity profile] esorlehcar.livejournal.com


Hmmm. First of all, I'd disagree that Jimmy was willing and happy to be possessed by Castiel; he was manipulated, misled, and isolated from his family before he made that choice, which read to me much more like desperation than joyful consent (and the second time there's no question of any consent at all; he sacrificed himself because his only choices were hell for himself or hell for his daughter. That's about as consensual as the "choice" offered to Dean in Sympathy for the Devil). I also take issue with your assumption that Jimmy is dead; everything canon has told us so far is that angels can only possess living bodies who have given consent, and Castiel explicitly told Jimmy that he'd be stuck in there as long as Castiel had possession of the body. It's possible that whatever happened to Castiel changed the rules, but I don't think you can take that as a given without further information.

As to your meta as a whole, I think you're ignoring a larger point by simply focusing on language, which is that the female demons in SPN are overtly sexualized nearly all the time, while the male demons are not. SPN has an unfortunate history of reducing women to merely their bodies, and there's no interpretation necessary to see the sexual component of possession with women; it's all over the screen. They're dressed in highly sexualized ways; they interact with male characters on a highly sexualized level. This is not true of the male demons, and further, we as viewers of SPN and consumers of pop culture in general are not used to seeing men treating as simply "meat." We conceive of male characters having power and agency in a way that is almost foreign to us when it comes to female characters, and SPN makes that explicit in the routine sexualization of nearly every female victim possessed by a demon we've seen on the show, something that is very much not done for the possessed males. So while I take your point that the language may be more sexualized with male victims (when it comes to demon possession, not in general), I think the larger point you're extrapolating from it is flawed. It's entirely possible, if not probable, that the language is more sexualized with men because the women are routinely so sexualized that no other work is needed.

Or, put more simply, I think the phenomenon you're noticing probably has more to do with differences in how men and women are treated in general, and how male and female characters are treated on SPN, than in any deliberate choice made by the writers. SPN, like the larger culture, sexualizes women so often that it's assumed, but with men, they have to do quite a bit more work.
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From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


I think you're mistaking a deliberate choice for ignorance. I saw something specific in Sympathy For the Devil - the use of the language of consent - and wish to discuss that. It is specific and deliberate and it has echoes in previous episodes (Born Under a Bad Sign, The Rapture) but it is, as I see it, only made explicit in Sympathy for the Devil.

I am not denying that the possessed women of the show have been made sexual. They have. However, they have not been subjected to the specific sexualised language that struck me in Sympathy for the Devil. That doesn't mean that, in another meta, I wouldn't want to discuss them. It also doesn't mean that I don't want to talk about Claire or what it means that Anna has her own body. It means that I want to talk about language here. This meta was long enough (perhaps, even, too long) when I am just discussing language.

I am, in fact, increasingly bothered that I find the sexualisation specific to Sympathy for the Devil and the language used therein, the lack of consent specific to Sympathy for the Devil and language used therein to be bothersome and people are deliberately saying, "It doesn't matter as much as x." I have, quite happily, discussed the sexualisation of women in SPN as problematic and probably will again. However - that's not what I'm talking about here.

Also, I am assuming that Jimmy is dead because the angels exploded him to the point that Chuck found his molar in his hair. If Jimmy is still alive, I think that's great and miraculous, but given that Zachariah could barely believe that Castiel-in-Jimmy's-guise was standing before him with the sword of Lucifer, I am going to continue with an assumption that Jimmy's hanging out with John somewhere.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] esorlehcar.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-09-14 04:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
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From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


There seems to be a lot of confusion as to my point in this post. I have clarified my point (I hope) here, if you are interested in commenting on that.

From: [identity profile] nina1179.livejournal.com


I know its a whole day later and I'm completely butting in here so this may not be appreciated but you bring up a point that I just had to weigh in on. You say, and I agree, that the show uses imagery to sexualize female demons by having them interact with male characters on a sexualized level, but then you go on to say that this isn't true of the male demons. I would argue that the male demons are also sexualized in a more subtle way. Azazel, while possessing John is way up in Deans space in an uncomfortably sexual way in Devil's Trap and again, in In The Beginning when he possesses Grandpa Winchester he gets way into Dean's face, even sniffing him. There are definite sexual overtones. Then there's Sam when possessed by Meg in BUABS, he is highly sexualized in his attack on Jo, and there are sexual overtones to his attack of Dean in the end as well. So while I totally agree that the sexual component of a possessed woman is exploited, I don't think you can ignore that it is present in the male victims as well, just maybe more subtly.
ext_23814: sam (spn - me myself)

From: [identity profile] datenshiblue.livejournal.com


Apologies in advance as I get off the track. These are just some thoughts that your meta provoked.

1. You are specifically focusing on language, which is fine. Language is not the only way information/concepts are presented in a visual medium, but it is a very explicit and powerful way, and episodes start as discussion (language) and then script (written language) before they are given to the director to be wrapped in visual imagery, so the written and spoken words are the skeletal bones of the ideas and concepts.

2. 1.22 Devil's Trap, with the exorcism of "demon Meg" from the girl, Meg, was the first real look "inside" possession by demons that the writers gave us. When the demon is exorcised, human Meg lives long enough to thank the brothers and Bobby for releasing her, even though it costs her life as her injuries take effect. Clearly, death is preferable.

3. When angels become a part of the mythos, we don't know at first what they are until Dean confronts Castiel to reveal that the angel is possessing (according to Castiel) a willing human host. Castiel says Jimmy "prayed for this". Like you, I'm skeptical, especially after seeing 4.20, The Rapture, that Jimmy knew enough to pray specifically for an angel to possess his body. My guess is that he prayed to give his life in service to God, without really understanding what was involved. Castiel showed him that he could survive physical harm (the arm in boiling water), and we don't know what else he was told, but clearly when he is dis-possessed, the experience wasn't what he had expected, or wanted. He hadn't been warned explicitly, perhaps, that it would cause pain and anguish to his family, or Jimmy was too dumb to realize that was part of the bargain. In sexual terms, he was courted and seduced.

(It is arguable that Castiel, a non-sexual being, and definitely with little understanding of human beings when he first arrives, really had no clue himself what he was asking of Jimmy, but clearly wasn't concerned with that, the end justifying the means, which is a moral principle all angels except Anna seem to adhere to.)

4. The heroes of Supernatural are all flawed, not a one has ever been unrealistically perfect. Bobby kicks ass all the way around and six times on Sunday, but the message to me here is less that of writers bending reality for their convenience and more of reinforcing the message that the stakes are incredible and no one is above paying for the inevitable slip.

In other words, along with YOU CAN'T TRUST ANYONE, put 'NO ONE IS SAFE'. Not just from harm, but from possession (violation, suffering, disability). As fans, we should know this, just as in the world of the Show, the hunters should, but all parties seem to be taken by surprise by this one.

5. One of the things that amazes me (and yes, at times cuts me up) about this Show is the willingness they have had from the beginning to have heroes, main protagonists, who go through everything possible, including loss, torture, violation and death. They break and they fall, but they can't stop, even when they want to.

If there's an allegory in there, maybe it has something to do with the notion that no matter how such loss and violation bends, warps or even breaks a human being, there is life to be dealt with. It's not right, it's not fair, but it's the reality that victims must face every day.

6. Some of the sexual language in 5.01 that you didn't mention (it may be off topic, but is used around the subject of possession):
* Michale's "sword" - sword = penis
* Dean is the "sword" (afraid to even go there, but what a bizarre coincidence (?) since Dean is referred to in that famous/infamous episode "Yellow Fever" as a 'dick' *headdesks*)
* Dean goes there: "life as an angel condom" (he's not the dick, Michael is -_-;;;)



I don't know if the use of these concepts and language by the show's writers diminish real sexual violence in the real world so much as they acknowledge it, by making it part of the show's mythos. Allegory and symbolism are how subjects too raw for discussion can be examined in a fictional context, and that is not, at least in some instances, without value.

Thanks for provoking thoughts about this subject, especially given the discomfort level it has for you.
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From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


I have a bit of further discussion in which you might be interested here.

From: [identity profile] boom-queen.livejournal.com


Hi! This was rec'd at [livejournal.com profile] crack_impala here (http://community.livejournal.com/crack_impala/231008.html) :D

From: [identity profile] amonitrate.livejournal.com


I just found this meta via link, and wanted to tell you how much it resonated and clarified some thoughts for me. Great post.

From: [identity profile] amonitrate.livejournal.com


and I should note that I ended up quoting part of your post in a post of my own, with credit and a link. (uh, if you're interested, it's here: http://amonitrate.livejournal.com/498713.html)
Edited Date: 2010-02-14 07:03 pm (UTC)
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