Six: The Musical – The Tudor Ladies Tell Their Tale

Ladies and Gentlemen, from across the pond in London and currently showing in Chicago, we bring you a musical revue where the wives of Henry VIII take the stage!

I love finding new musicals through the Internet. Even though I don’t have an obsession with medieval history and only a vague knowledge of the Tudors, I fell in love at first listen with this album.

The premise of this show is basic: The six wives of King Henry VIII (Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr) are updated into a modern day all-girl group with each of them having a song about their lives and their marriage. It’s basically Hamilton crossed with Chicago.

Since the musical only just came to the US, I’m gonna give y’all a track-by-track review/analysis.

  1. Ex-Wives: It starts with the famous rhyme “Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.” This introduces the six ladies and gives everyone a sneak preview of what each lady is like. This is where all the comparisons to Chicago comes from.
  2. No Way: Catherine of Aragon, a woman of integrity. Her track is basically like if Beyonce collaborated with Gloria Estefan to make a break up track. From what little I know about the actual Catherine of Aragon, I think it captures her spirit quite well.
  3. Don’t Lose Ur Head: This track became very popular through the app Tik Tok. It’s a party girl song with a Brit Pop beat. Anne is an opinionated lady, but her opinions and alleged flirtations with other men led to her eventual beheading. But she is #sorrynotsorry.
  4. Heart of Stone: Jane Seymour’s track is very reminiscent of an Adele song, a heartbreaking ballad about how she will be strong no matter what. The fact that she dies after giving birth to Edward just makes this song even more heartbreaking.
  5. House of Holbein: A Eurovision style track about how Anne of Cleves gets a cosmetic makeover for her portrait. It’s a total mood whiplash after Heart of Stone, but it’s also a great commentary on how women got prettied up back in the days before Photoshop and plastic surgery.
  6. Get Down: First of all, Genesis Lynea sounds exactly like Estelle. (In the very slim chance that Estelle reads this…You need to do a cover of this track!) This track gets compared to female hip hop acts. There’s a bit of Beyonce, a bit of Lady Gaga, a bit of Nicki Minaj, Charlie XCX. It’s a very fun track, capturing the vibes of modern day trap mixed with hip hop and techno.
  7. All You Wanna Do: My inner Britney fangirl is in love with this track. But this “Womanizer” track goes tragic fast because you quickly realize that Katherine Howard was used by men throughout her life all she wants is to be loved for her, not for her body. What REALLY hurts is that there are probably a lot of girls out there who can relate to this.
  8. I Don’t Need Your Love: Catherine Parr was in love with someone before she married Henry and she’s been married twice before. But aside from her marriage, Catherine Parr has her own legacy, writing her own reflections on Scripture (which is actually true). This becomes a bridge to the ending, with all the ladies realizing that they can define themselves separate from their marriage to one man.
  9. Six: The title track and my personal favorite. Taking the sound to modern day pop, the six ex-wives rewrite a happy ending for themselves. Catherine joined a nunnery and became a gospel choir singer. Anne Boleyn remixed “Greensleeves” and now collaborates with Shakespeare (Historically inaccurate given their age difference, but if you imagine an afterlife AU, it works). Jane Seymour gets a huge family and makes a band with them. Anne of Cleves takes up with the artist that painted her portrait and goes on tour in Prussia. Catherine Howard becomes a singer, foregoing the musician who took advantage of her. Catherine Parr brings the band together.

Yes, this musical is a feminist revisionist history thing. But it WORKS. It gives you a glimpse of the lives of the wives beyond how their marriage with Henry ended. They deserved a happier ending and in this musical, they finally get it.

If you live in the Chicago area, Six is currently showing until June 30 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. For now, I’m just gonna play this album on repeat!

Captain Marvel: A Conversion Story (And A Movie Spoiler-Free Review)

Higher. Further. Faster.

This movie is worth the hype. Even though the marketing behind this movie was a bit on the pushy side, causing a lot of political controversy, I am gonna be judging this movie on its own merits.

When I first saw this trailer, I knew this movie would have me the moment that Captain Marvel fell through the roof of a Blockbuster. What I didn’t expect was that this movie was actually a conversion story a la Saint Paul.

Hear me out.

Saint Paul started out fighting on the wrong side of things. Back when he went by the name of Saul, he took his hatred of Christians to the extreme, going on missions to kill innocent people. Those who’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of SHIELD know that the Kree are a bunch of radicals bent on galactic domination and kill anything and everything that won’t bow down to their will. The problem is that the Kree have brainwashed Captain Marvel into becoming their personal living weapon.

When Captain Marvel ends up on Earth, she starts to learn the truth about her past and about the Kree. Once she reconnects with who she really is, she starts fighting for the right side, just like how Paul (once the Truth was revealed to him) became a missionary for Christ.

There are so many wonderful moments I loved in this movie. The first thing I’ll mention are the two, yes two tributes to Stan Lee. Right at the beginning, as the Marvel Logo played, I watched a montage of Stan Lee’s cameos playing in the letters. I started tearing up and the movie didn’t even start yet. Later on, Captain Marvel smiles at Stan Lee as he’s memorizing his lines for the Kevin Smith movie Mallrats. Even though I know Stan Lee didn’t really have a hand in creating Captain Marvel, the captain’s smile was heartwarming as she chose not to smile for a catcaller on a motorbike.

I also loved seeing a softer side to Nick Fury. Some people were complaining about Fury not being his usual badass self. I would like to remind everyone that some of the most popular moments in the MCU were the moments when the heroes were cutting loose. Think of the scene where all the Avengers were playing with Thor’s hammer in Age of Ultron or the cute Homecoming prep montage in Spider-Man Homecoming. We do not get enough moments of the heroes being chill. Also, Goose is the real star of the movie. Nuff said.

One other thing I loved was all the 90s aesthetic. I was born in 1990, so I count myself as a 90s kid. My ears perked up every time I recognized a song from my childhood and in a lot of ways, Captain Marvel reminds me of Buffy, too.

So speaking of feminist heroes, I will address the political aspect of this movie. In my honest opinion, the feminism was done just right. Not all the men in this movie were evil or condescending to Captain Marvel. In fact, Fury basically becomes a “buddy cop” with Carol. The sexism Carol experienced in her past felt realistic. After all, the US Air Force, at the moment, is only 20% women. Best of all, the movie held its own without the need for a forced romantic subplot. (Although if Avengers Endgame follows the comics and shows some ship tease with Captain Marvel and Rhodey, I am more than ready to ship it!)

Basically, I’m saying that politics aside, this movie is amazing. Whatever issues I have with the movie are spoiler-related minor nitpicks at best. I cannot wait to see Captain Marvel and the Avengers kick Thanos’s ass in April.

But I’m still not ready for it, okay?!

The Importance of Being Mantis

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What exactly makes Guardians of the Galaxy so beloved within the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe? Aside from the soundtracks, the real driving forces behind Guardians of the Galaxy and the sequel are the protagonists. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 gives everyone character development that takes them from being “Space Avengers” to stand-out individuals. It also introduced Mantis, Ego’s adopted daughter, played by Pom Klementieff. Mantis is a unique character compared to the others in the movie and even in the larger scope of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters.

 

Up to this point, the female characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have either been very stoic and efficient in battle (Black Widow, Gamora, Daisy Johnson) or love interests that are relegated to supporting roles (Pepper Potts, Jane Foster). Mantis, however, is neither a love interest nor an action girl. Instead, she connects to the Guardians of the Galaxy by her empathic abilities. The fact that her character arc centers on emotionally connecting with others and sharing her social awkwardness is a breath of fresh air when considering how often people want women in the media to either be tough, strong, and stoic or the emotional damsel in distress or just act as fanservice.

 

Mantis is the first character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I could say is the character who is most like me. Given that the MCU has been around since 2008, it’s hard to believe that it took almost a decade for Marvel to introduce a character like her. It’s not to say that I didn’t like The Avengers or the Guardians or the Agents of Shield or the Defenders. I love all of them to certain extents. However, something that made Marvel comics appealing was that it introduced characters that felt relatable, like an average teenage boy from Queens suddenly getting spider abilities or an average Muslim girl from New Jersey suddenly being able to stretch and shrink her body. While Mantis is by no means an average human being, she was based on a half-Asian human character from the comics. What makes her relatable to me is her social awkwardness and empathic abilities.

 

In an interview with Carson Daly, Pom Klementieff said:

In Marvel movies, we’re used to seeing badass and strong female characters, which I love…But it’s cool to show something else, you know, to show someone who’s less self-confident, who’s a bit weird.

 

Throughout the movie, Mantis connects to the other Guardians, especially Drax (played by Dave Bautista). It makes sense, given that they’re both socially awkward. However, what really seals their friendship is when she uses her empathic powers on Drax as he reflects on the loss of his wife and daughter. She breaks down in tears while he looks out at the beautiful scenery with a smile. It’s not certain whether Drax is at peace with what happened or if he happy that he’s just starting to move on. What is certain is that Drax finally found a friend who understands his grief.

 

Of course, my shipping radar went off the roof with how Drax and Mantis interacted with each other. I find relationships based on emotional connection and attraction very appealing. However, it’s made explicitly clear that Mantis and Drax find each other physically repulsive and do not want to pursue anything romantic. This averts any ideas of the emotional, empathetic one being anyone’s designated love interest.  (Apologies to the Drax/Mantis shippers.)

 

In a world that’s trying to figure out the ideal heroic woman, having a character like Mantis is a step forward in the right direction. It’s important for young girls to know that there are times that call them to be strong, but they shouldn’t discard their ability to empathize with others. The purpose of stories is to create empathy for people we wouldn’t normally connect with. Mantis shows that there is a great strength in being empathetic. Having empathy allowed Mantis to find people who cared for her as a person, a new family beyond just Ego and her empathic abilities actually helped in the inevitable final battle. I seriously can’t wait to see what she does in the next movie the Guardians appear in!

In Defense of the "Strong Independent Woman"

 

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I never thought there would come the day where I would disagree with Bishop Robert Barron on anything, but his latest article about the “You Go Girl” culture made me uneasy.

While I agree that parents in television, particularly dads, are usually portrayed as stupid at best and abusive at worst, I don’t agree with Bishop Robert Barron’s perspective that males are being made to appear weak in order to make women look stronger.

My friend Emily A. said

Men write these characters. In fact, I would claim that these are not elevations of women so much as parodies of both the male AND female characters.
These women aren’t smart, they are smart-asses. They are insufferably naggy women with impossible standards who don’t trust their spouse. And time and time again, the husband seems to prove them right.
The buffoon father is actually a stereotype perpetuated *by men* who want less responsibility.

Additionally, there is something to be said for stereotypes/archetypes: they exist because they *resonate* with people. Stereotypes are merely a compilation of common factors within a certain group. While they fail as a blanket statement, they are not altogether fictitious.
I think Father Barron is mixing up the concept of a caricature and a stereotype. They aren’t equivalent.

At the end of the day, though, we are all humans with failures, husband and wife alike. And we tolerate the worst on the bad days and sometimes have trouble recognizing and celebrating the best on good days. That’s human nature. It’s easier to laugh at those failings embodied in a character than dwell on them and get depressed.

I believe that when Bishop Robert Barron describes the “all conquering female,”  he is thinking of the “Mary Sue.” The best definition I can give of a “Mary Sue” is one I got from video blogger Tommy Oliver (no relation to the Power Rangers): “A character so perfect that they are never challenged by the events of the narrative.” Bella Swan from Twilight is a perfect example of a Mary Sue because the worst problem she ever had to deal with, according to her perspective, is when Edward Cullen dumped her in New Moon. She deals with having a baby and taking down an evil band of vampires way too easily and she gets rewarded for essentially doing nothing of substance. She gets the boyfriend she wanted, the perfect baby, a lavish lifestyle, and immortality, but she never earned or overcame anything in order to get those things.

Rey from The Force Awakens was cited as an example of the “all conquering female,” but she’s not a good example of what Bishop Barron is thinking about. It’s true that Rey is often mistaken for a Mary Sue because of how she was able to use the Force so easily. However, it’s shown throughout the movie that she has her own challenges and weaknesses to overcome. She fights toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren and also has to overcome her fears of abandoning her life in Jakku to become a Jedi. The male characters in The Force Awakens stand on equal ground with Rey. Finn especially is considered a deuteragonist because the movie focuses just as much on his character growth as it does Rey’s.

I think Bishop Robert Barron is trying to advocate for better role models for men in the movies and TV shows we watch. I think that the potential for good role models expands beyond Sully and Deepwater Horizon. Captain America, while not perfect, is a role model for any man because he’s willing to do anything for the ones that he loves.  The Flash has a few good male role models as well, including three characters who are fathers: Joe West, Henry Allen, and Harrison Wells from Earth 2. Barry Allen is also a good role model for young men because while he makes his share of mistakes, he does his best to learn from them in order to become a better person.

While I agree that women have been portrayed as weak in the past, the task of trying to make women strong and independent have led to a whole new kind of female stereotype: The Broken Bird. To quote the Nostalgia Critic:

“Women in the media for so long were always the emotional support, the damsels, the smiling pretty faces, so in the 90’s, there was a desperate need to change that. Oh, not by making them unpretty, we wouldn’t do that, but we suddenly made them cold, bitter, confrontational, and overly strong, to go out of their way to show that they’re not those old emotional stereotypes, and instead make way for new emotional stereotypes. For you see, in every 90’s film, the woman behind this strong independent wall that won’t let everybody in,  is a sad little bunny rabbit that will eventually let down her defences and reveal a tragic backstory. So you see, she wasn’t a strong, confident worker just because she was a strong, confident worker. Deep down she just wants to be held like any other fragile woman. Oh, I don’t want to think! I just want to be loved!”

In other words, the “strong, independent woman” in a lot of movies and TV still needs all her problems solved by having a man in her life. To quote my friend Mary: “Closed off? Man will open you up. Insecure? Man will make you feel better. Lonely? Man got you covered.”

There’s one example in my life of a wonderful, strong, female heroine that doesn’t sacrifice her femininity in order to be badass. And the men in her life aren’t made weaker in order for her to be stronger. Ironically, she was created by someone who loved the atheist philosophers Sartre and Nietzsche.

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I can’t imagine my life without Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The overall theme of the show is dealing with things that come with growing up and becoming an adult. While Buffy, may appear to be a good example of what Bishop Robert Barron is talking about, she is actually a great example of a well written strong female character. She is strong, but she has her moments of vulnerability. She defeats evil on a weekly basis, but she also has friends and family that she loves unconditionally. She’s a force for good, but she also makes some mistakes that she has to learn from. And no male character is made weaker so that she can be stronger. All of Buffy’s male enemies were formidable opponents. Giles, Buffy’s mentor and father figure, contributed his intellect and wisdom. Xander, in spite of his flaws, was a young man with a good heart and has saved the day a couple times. And Spike goes through a lot of changes that kept his character interesting and complex without sacrificing his own strength and charisma.

I think that strong, female characters can be created without the women needing a man or without a man becoming weak at her expense. Men and women, fictional or nonfictional, need to be treated as equals. To quote my friend Jillian:

Male characters, particularly father types, shoud not be dumbed down to make way for “strong independent female”? But should female characters be written to be the worst qualities of men in order to be strong/independent (unless it’s some kind of well fleshed out redemption arc)? Heck no. Is it possible to have a realistic strong female character alongside a realistic non-dumbed-down male character? Yes, and there are a plethora of examples. Should we stop fighting for fair treatment of and well written female characters in movies/comics/tv because some male characters are written poorly? No, because the former does not cause the latter.

Tl;dr: Strong female characters are not the cause of the bumbling dad/emasculated male character.

Seven Quick Takes on The March For Life

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In case you haven’t heard, a serious winter storm advisory has been put out throughout the DC Metropolitan area. In spite of that, the March For Life is still going to happen. I know that I haven’t lived in the Mid-Atlantic for over a decade, but I hope that everyone who’s in the Washington DC area stays safe! So for my Seven Quick Takes, I want to look into the March For Life and the Pro-Life movement in general.

 

— 1 —

Many people are cautioning people to think before travelling to the DC area. Deacon Greg Kandra and Joe Grabowski give their two cents on why it’s better to be safe than frozen and sorry. Granted, I only marched at a Pro-Life rally once. And it was during a time when it was seriously hot in Houston. While I applaud those who are going, I don’t want anyone getting hurt or injured in the name of the unborn.

That being said, for those who are already in the DC area, my prayers are going out to you. 

I expect to see a lot of this going around:

Or this:

brace yourselves

— 2 —

So for those who aren’t going to DC or a March for Life in general, what the heck can we at home do? Marge Fenelon and other Catholics are promoting #FastFriday. Taking on an old Catholic tradition, be willing to fast in some way in solidarity with the unborn and those marching for life this weekend. If you have dietary issues like me, figure out a way to fast if you seriously feel like you can’t go one day without meat. You can fast from snacking or from sweets. Other things you can fast from today include, but aren’t limited to: texting, social media, Pinterest, television, gossiping, pornography, smoking, talking about politics, etc. For more ideas on what to fast on, check out this post! (It’s also a great thing to read if you want to get a head start on figuring out your Lenten resolution. Remember, y’all, Lent’s coming early this year!)

— 3 —

If you want to know what kind of prayers you can pray for today in particular, Divine Office has a list of prayer intentions for all the mysteries of the Rosary. Have a bit of reluctance when it comes to praying the Rosary? Read up on 10 Ways You Can Pray The Rosary from my archives! Other prayers you can offer is the Angelus, usually prayed at noon, or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, usually prayed at 3PM. I highly suggest praying throughout the day. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray without ceasing.” This website lists off a lot of good short prayers, but remember, don’t rush through them. Pray with your heart as well as with your mind and lips.

— 4 —

Being pro-life isn’t just a thing for old, Republican white men. LifeTeen has a funny guide on How to Be Bro-Life on Youtube targeted towards young men:

Fellow brothers in Christ, be more involved in the Pro-Life movement!

Same goes for teenagers and young adults: Check out the Prolife Youth website.

— 5 —

Never overlook opportunities to evangelize. Check out this article from Aleteia which shows someone having a pro-life conversation with someone who is decisively pro-choice. The ending might surprise you.

Speaking of surprises, check out these videos from a pro-life feminist YouTube channel called Consistently Quirky. These ladies are not your typical pro-lifers–their crazy hair being the first indicator! There’s also an interview on Aleteia with the president of Feminists for Life.

So yes, there is such a thing as a pro-life feminist. We seriously need to redefine what feminism means. I hope being pro-life can be one step in changing that definition.

— 6 —

Don’t forget to reach out to those who have suffered from the trauma of abortion. I’m not just talking about the abortion survivors like Claire Culwell. I’m talking about the women who had abortions and the families who suffered the aftermath of it. Lysa Terkurst recently opened up about her own abortion on her website. I also have a friend who has a blog dedicated to the siblings of aborted children called Surviving Sibling which I highly recommend you check out. Finally, if you or someone you know used to work in the abortion industry or is seriously considering leaving said industry, check out And Then There Were None. It’s a nonprofit founded by former abortion leader Abby Johnson.

— 7 —

While I was gathering stories for this post, I saw that while #MarchForLife is trending, some pro-choice hashtags are also trending such as #Roe43 and #reclaimroe. If you’re not going to fast from social media today, make #whywemarch a trending hashtag. Post on Instagram and Facebook about why you’re pro-life. However, I would caution against using graphic abortion images. Read this article from Simca Fischer to find out why.

Nice Guy Syndrome, The Friendzone, and Entitlement Mentality

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Whenever I scroll through my dashboard on Tumblr, one thing that keeps popping up is this thing called “Nice Guy Syndrome.” “Nice Guy Syndrome” is (according to the Tumblr hive mind) when your average guy complains about his lack of relationships even though he acts nice to women. Most guys with “nice guy syndrome” complain about being stuck in the friendzone.

A good example of “Nice Guy Syndrome” or being stuck in the friendzone can be seen in “Prophecy Girl” (Buffy season 1, episode 12). Ian AKA Passion of the Nerd analyzes this scene in his Buffy Episode Guide. The scene I’m talking about starts at the 2:23 mark and the analysis of said scene ends at 4:17 so if you haven’t seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I recommend you stop the video at that point to avoid spoilers.

I totally get Xander wanting to ask Buffy out, but at the same time, I understand why Buffy turns Xander down, too. It’s not even that she has a crush on Angel, which Xander complains about later, but she sees him as a friend, plain and simple. (Also, kudos to Willow for refusing to be Xander’s rebound.) Xander thinks with his passion, but he lacks clear judgment and empathy, an issue that continues on for the rest of the series. One major thing I hated about the show is that they never showed Xander getting over Buffy. Even when he moved onto relationships with other girls, Xander still interferes in Buffy’s life, namely pushing her to stay in a relationship with a guy named Riley even though they’re all wrong for each other. (Not to mention the crap that went down in Season 6 but that is a completely different blog post.)

Now while it’s true girls fantasize about bad boys (I’ve mentioned my drooling over Spike on here, right?), they also fantasize about having the perfect gentleman as a husband as well. (Exhibit A: Mister Darcy from Pride and Prejudice) I don’t like guys who only act nice just so they can get a girlfriend. Guys should be nice to girls because you should love your neighbor as yourself, not as a means to an end.

But unfortunately, girls are just as guilty of acting bitter over guys they can’t have. Trust me when I say I’ve been there and done that. My boy-crazy phase was basically like Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” I would see this cute guy and immediately think that I’ve fallen in love with him. I’d act all nice to him, doing my best to flirt (usually with spectacularly awkward failure), but the minute something goes wrong, I start panicking. I start seeing any girl he’s friends with as a rival. And yeah, I’d eventually write the guy off as all wrong for me, spend some time single and then boom, onto the next guy.

Things have thankfully changed since then. I hang out with my friends, which consist of both guys and girls, but I don’t expect anything out of the guys. Even the cute ones. This is because I’ve accepted my life as a single person and don’t feel entitled to having a relationship just because I want one. Believe me when I say that I get lonely and I miss being in a relationship sometimes and I hope to have a good relationship sometime in the near future. The difference between now and then is that I recognize that the guys in my life are people too, not just means to an end.

The thing about the friendzone is that it comes from an entitlement mentality. People act nice as a means and think that they can have the perfect guy or girl if they act a certain way. But a relationship built on the expectations of getting everything you want isn’t healthy. A good example of that can be seen in Buffy and Riley’s relationship during Season 5.

 

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Buffy is the Slayer, which means that she has super strength and speed and can kick a normal guy up and down the curb without breaking a sweat. Riley, being a normal guy, felt emasculated by the relationship. It eventually led to him seeking pleasure from prostitutes and giving Buffy an ultimatum when she finds out. Riley was never considerate of Buffy’s real life issues and constantly made her feel like she had to carry the weight of their relationship. In other words, he felt entitled to having a certain kind of relationship with Buffy that she couldn’t give him. He decided to return to the army and left Buffy picking up the pieces, thinking that his leaving was her fault.

America tends to have a major entitlement mentality when it comes to things. You can see that in prosperity gospel or in the Law of Attraction. But as the Rolling Stones said “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you find you get what you need.” I think if people realize that love isn’t something you’re entitled to, we can start treating each other with more respect.

Screenshots from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are copyright to Fox and Mutant Enemy and are used for editorial purposes only.

Battle Ready Women!

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My dad and I love listening to Catholic Radio. Oftentimes, we hear advertisements about a program called “Battle Ready” as well as events centering on men. Sometimes, I would hear the radio hosts lamenting about how men aren’t as spiritually active as women.

The Battle Ready website is marketed mostly towards men. There is a page for women, but even though they say that woman are involved in the fight for souls, the emphasis is on women encouraging men, playing more of a supportive role. And I do agree that women need to encourage men who are spiritually struggling. Unfortunately, there’s nothing on the Battle Ready site that addresses women who have the same problems that men do. Because in spite of what you may see at Daily Mass or at Adoration or a youth conference, there are women out there who struggle with having a spiritual life.

I wasn’t always as spiritually active as I am today. When I started college and went to Adoration, I had to ask somebody what the Glorious Mysteries were when I started praying the Rosary. Before college, I only prayed the Rosary as a kid.

I don’t consider myself a feminist in the conventional sense. I see women as equal to men and not as “the weaker sex.” I do agree that men and women have physical and emotional differences. I acknowledge that I am most likely biased about why women should be battle ready. My favorite shows center on strong female characters, after all. But women have their own battles to fight.  And the battle for souls is just as important for women as it is for men.

And just before you think there aren’t any good examples of strong female women in the Catholic Church, I’m gonna turn your attention to one of the most badass female saints ever:

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Joan of Arc led an army in God’s name and defended France. Sure she ended up burning at the stake, but she died a warrior’s death nevertheless. Not to mention she totally owns Miley Cyrus in this Epic Rap Battle.

Other awesome women who embraced a Battle Ready lifestyle include Saint Katherine Drexel, who used her inheritance to create schools and hospitals and organizations that help people in need. Or Dorothy Day, who embraced the Catholic teachings on social justice.  Mother Teresa was also seriously badass in how she survived the harsh Calcutta lifestyle and endured persecution from people who didn’t understand her.

So what are some battles that women have to deal with when it comes to spiritual warfare?

1) Going to extremes when it comes to perspectives on gender

I think the biggest problem with gender politics is that it always feels like a war. A majority of feminists don’t like to consider men as part of the equation and the most extreme ones see men as hostile. Men’s Rights Activists see feminists as extreme as well and many countries in the Middle East have some really horrible perspectives on women to say the least. I still remember when there was a meme going around that went something like this:

“You say not all men are monsters? Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them are poisoned. Go ahead. Eat a handful. Not all M&Ms are poison.”

The problem with that kind of mentality is that for one thing, people aren’t candy. They are judging an entire gender for the actions of a handful of people. And for a group of people who claim to be tolerant, they are sure ready to condemn and punish people instead of trying to help the perpetrator understand the wrongness of his actions. But that’s none of my business. I think I’ll take the breadsticks and get outta here now.

We cannot see men as the enemy. Nor should we be competitive with other women over things like jobs and men. Instead, we need to cooperate with them and treat them as, you know, people. Men are human beings which means like every other human being out there, they won’t be perfect and will have flaws and are capable of hurting women. We gotta love them anyway, sisters in Christ, because God created men which means that men are essentially good. And if any men out there are reading this, don’t write off all women for the actions of the girl who broke your heart or the girl who left you in the friendzone. You are not entitled to whatever you want just because you act nice to them. Girls, same thing.

(I’ll probably make a separate post about entitlement applying to both genders later this week.)

2) Modesty/Body Postitivity

I will probably write a separate post on what modesty means to me. But this still falls under spiritual warfare as well. On the one hand, I don’t like seeing women trying to dress like Miley Cyrus nor do I like all the songs that talk about butts. I’ve written about self-esteem issues on this blog before, but the point is that when it comes to what we wear and how we carry ourselves, I want us women to be confident!

Modesty isn’t about how much you cover up. To me, modesty is about knowing what looks best on you and owning what you feel are your best features without being a diva about it. As Coco Chanel said: “Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show that you’re a lady.” I think that can easily apply to the way women dress overall.

But all the fashion in the world won’t help if the woman in question still sees herself as invisible. Confidence is more than just loving how one looks on the outside, but also knowing what one is good at. If you’re skilled in engineering, pursue that field. If you know how to play the piano, take the opportunity to show that talent. And men, encourage women in your life (especially if you have daughters) to learn and grow in whatever skill or talent they have, whether it be in science or arts.

3) Emotional chastity

Chasity is usually seen as applying to just physical situations. Emotional chastity however is just as important. Women objectify men just as often as men objectify women, sad to say. (Just spend some time with me and some fellow Buffy fans and watch us drool over Spike and the actor who plays him for example.) But aside from drooling over Ryan Gosling or Chris Pratt or any of the Avengers, women also have a tendency to build up unrealistic expectations when it comes to relationships and about men. Think of the really bad Katherine Heigel movies where she acts like a total control freak. Women have a tendency of building up this idea of a perfect relationship and the perfect romance. When people spend more time daydreaming of perfection, it’s still a way of using a person because they end up just being a set piece in a scenario. I think part of emotional chastity involves accepting that the imperfections of romance as well as making sure you don’t objectify people.

So how can women be Battle Ready?

1) By imitating Mary

One thing I did like about the Battle Ready site is its devotion to Mary, calling her the most valiant of women. The devil hates Mary as this article from The Catholic Gentleman goes into. But while Mary is humble and a great mother, she’s anything but weak. She’s actually sassy. (I also have this headcanon that she’s short. Partially because she was called “Little Mother” and partially because short and sassy go hand in hand. Just read Rebecca Frech’s post if you don’t believe me.)

It’s also why I love writing Bible studies for the Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship. They encourage having a heart like Mary’s, which includes Marian consecration. And to paraphrase a Catholic pick-up line, doing the Marian consecration may lead to someone marrying you in the future. You never know. (You may also end up going into religious life. Results may vary.)

2) By knowing their own value

One thing that’s majorly important when it comes to spiritual warfare is knowing what you are fighting for. That means knowing what your soul is worth and how much God loves you. It also means finding a balance between knowing your worth and not being full of yourself. The best example of this can be seen in the last episode of Agent Carter, in which Peggy does not pursue taking the credit for saving Howard Stark and New York from Hydra agents. When Sousa gets mad over Thompson taking the credit, Peggy says, “I don’t need a congressional honor. I don’t need Agent Thompson’s approval or the president’s. I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.” It took her a long time for her to get there, but that moment of confidence was just perfect!

3) By choosing the right battles and the right ways to fight

Sometimes, the greatest victory is the battle not fought. Never seek out fights or act aggressively. I’m an advocate in fighting for self-defense. Fight to protect yourself, the ones you love, and what you stand for. The combox trolls and people who will never change their minds aren’t worth attacking. Instead, pray for them. And don’t ever think you have to battle alone. Find people who will support you, from both men and women. And always remember that the God of angel armies is always by your side.

So make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?

Dracula: The Brilliance of Mina Harker

So I did a lot of reading during my four-day vacation in Florida. One book I read was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Taylor Marshall put the book on his list of his favorite Catholic novels other than Lord of the Rings, even though the book isn’t written by a Catholic.

I loved the book from beginning to end, but the one thing that sticks out at me is the character of Mina Harker, nee Murray. Despite of the way she was portrayed in adaptations and how she’s perceived in various literary analyses, Mina had all the makings of a modern woman even within the timeframe that the story was set in.

At the time that Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, the women’s sufferage movement was on the rise. Many people see Mina as the ideal Victorian woman, who was devoted to her fiancee and whose actions centered on pleasing him. Lucy, on the other hand, seemingly represented the progressive woman who charms many men and later turns into a vampire who goes after children.

However, there are many instances in the novel where Mina is proactive and takes action instead of just reacting to what’s going on around her.

If anyone was the real Damsel in Distress, it’s actually Jonathan, who almost falls victim to Dracula if not for a chance escape. His story takes up four chapters of what can be considered prologue.

When the novel shift’s to the letters and journal of Mina Murray, it establishes that she is a schoolteacher, which wasn’t something Victorian women normally did unless they were working class. Jonathan is an attorney, which puts them about the same class as Jane Austen was in her lifetime, meaning that Mina didn’t have to work for a living. She also studies shorthand and keeps up with her fiancee’s studies. It doesn’t sound like a modern thing to do, but being on equal terms with your marriage partner is actually a proto-feminist concept, dating back to when Jane Austen wrote about its importance in Pride and Prejudice.

Mina comments on articles about the New Woman and admits that while she may disagree with some aspects of that idea, her life is very similar to other aspects. I see that at Mina creating her own definition of feminism, even at a time when it was still in the process of becoming a reality. Later on, when Lucy starts sleepwalking, Mina is the one who keeps an eye on her friend. She keeps Lucy from sleepwalking.

In the edition of Dracula that I own, the introduction speculates that Lucy represents immature love in the sense that she acts like a player and goes between emotional extremes, never finding balance. Mina, however, is more emotionally composed. She still feels things, but doesn’t take things to extremes.

When she gets word about Jonathan’s whereabouts, she essentially comes to his rescue and nurses him back to health. Then, when Van Helsing comes into the picture, she gives him Jonathan’s journal in the hopes of furthering his research on Dracula. She takes notes and helps Van Helsing, Quincey, and Jonathan.

In a typical “Victorian Values” novel, keeping Mina out of the loop would’ve been better for her, but it actually made things worse because Dracula takes advantage of the situation and attacks her. He drinks from her and forces her to drink some of his blood as a way of controlling her.

To quote my friend Cordelia, who is a huge fan of Mina Harker, “Seriously, book can be renamed ‘We decided to hide things from Mina in order to protect her and now we are REALLY screwed until Mina saved us.'”

Although she can’t touch holy items and becomes scarred when Van Helsing places a communion host on her forehead, Mina refuses to stay a victim. She takes advantage of her psychic link with Dracula in order to find his location.

Tl;dr: Mina Harker is awesome and any movie that portrays her as a screaming damsel in distress who falls over her feet for Dracula won’t do her justice.

A Night at the Movies: Avengers- Age of Ultron

 

So yesterday, I finally went to the movies to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whenever I go see a movie, I’m usually able to still think and talk like an actual person. Some movies, however, have the power to leave me breathless. Serenity was one of those movies. Avengers: Age of Ultron is another one. It’s no surprise, though, given that they’re both directed by Joss Whedon.

I’ve been a fan of all things Whedon since my college days, but it’s not until recently that I learned about the kinds of cinematography he likes to use and the themes he carries with him. So for this post, I’m going to look into the movie as a fan of Whedon and showing where he made his mark and what I think of it.

SPOILERS ABOUND. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

First of all, Whedon is very fond of the one-take. He did this in the opening shot of the Angel Season 5 episode “Conviction” as well as the opening shot of Serenity. So it’s no surprise that the opening shot of Avengers: Age of Ultron is a breathtaking single shot, ending with the money shot shown in the trailers:

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I need this as a poster for my room.

 

Although this movie stands well on its own, you have to have seen some movies to get what’s going on here 100%. Aside from the first Avengers movie, the action prologue continues on the storyline of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The team of Avengers located the HYDRA base that was teased in Winter Soldier in the hopes of infiltrating it and getting Loki’s scepter.

When HYDRA’s men start attacking the town nearby, Tony sends out his Iron Legion, created from Iron Man 3. However, the robots aren’t received with open arms. It’s shown that the town does not like Tony Stark. This becomes important later.

We also see, in the action prologue, that the team developed a way to get the Hulk under control. In a scene reminiscent of Dollhouse, Black Widow uses a trigger phrase to calm the Hulk down and change back into Bruce Banner.

Inside the HYDRA base, Tony Stark downloads any information he can get. Then he discovers a secret passage where Loki’s Scepter was kept hidden. Scarlet Witch plants a seed of fear in his mind, giving him a vision of his friends dead and the Chitauri invading again. Driven by this fear, Tony takes the scepter and returns with the other Avengers to Avengers tower.

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You’d think that Tony would learn something after learning about “Phase 2” in the last movie, but Tony has major PTSD issues. So when he and the rest of the Avengers team return to Avengers Tower, he and Bruce examine the scepter and discover an artificial intelligence in the stone. Tony decides to use the artificial intelligence to create Ultron, a global defense artificial intelligence. Cue Science Bros montage!

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After the Science Bros montage, it’s time for a party. There are cameos from James Rhodes, Sam Wilson, and Maria Hill. Pepper Potts and Jane Foster, however, are way too busy with their own lives to appear in this movie. Thankfully, their boyfriends are not above bragging about them. Stan Lee makes his cameo as a WWII veteran chatting things up with Captain America. He asks Thor to give him some Asgard-level liquor and ends up getting dragged out of the party in a drunken stupor, slurring his catchphrase “Excelsior!”

Eventually, the Avengers have their own little after party where they play around with Thor’s hammer, as seen in one of the trailers. It was a hilarious scene, but I barely had a moment to breathe before Ultron made his entrance and crashed the after-party. It’s sad that Ultron was evil right from the start. The usage of Pinocchio’s “I’ve Got No Strings” from the trailers plays out here as Ultron’s units awaken, culminating in the building in Sokovia lighting up with a snippet from the original version in the best usage of soundtrack dissonance.

Once Ultron uploads himself onto the internet and into his robot drones, he meets Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver inside of a church.

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Throughout the movie, Ultron makes a lot of biblical references and has a major God complex. This is something that Joss has done before, such as creating The Anointed One in the early seasons of Buffy. But in actuality, Ultron reminds me a lot of Angelus, with his desire to break the Avengers on a personal level, childish demeanor, and desire to ultimately destroy the world.

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I will also use this scene to indulge in a bit of Slayerette fangirl squee. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch remind me a lot of Spike and Drusilla. Like Spike, Quicksilver is blonde with a hot accent who doesn’t exactly think of the long-term consequences. Like Drusilla, Scarlet Witch can hypnotize people and prey on their worst fears. The two of them have way too much chemistry to be just siblings, but that’s just the actors, I guess. However, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s motivations in this movie are revenge-based instead of wanting to cause chaos. They have a grudge against Tony Stark because his weapons killed their parents. Never mind that it was probably someone who stole Stark’s weapons. The name on the weapon was Stark’s, so he became the target of their vengeance.

The three of them go to the base in Africa where vibranium is developed by an arms dealer named Ulysses Klaue. The Avengers show up at the base, but Scarlet Witch gets into most of their heads.

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Of course, Hawkeye saves the day with a “No sell! So last season!” move, electrocuting Scarlet Witch with one of his arrows. However, that comes after a lot of hallucinations. Thor hallucinates Heimdall falling into a state of decadence and also gets glimpses of four gems. Captain America hallucinates that he’s in a USO party, where Peggy Carter is waiting to dance with him. Coming off of Agent Carter, I start bursting into tears. But by far, the worst hallucination was Natasha’s. Instead of showing her worst fears, Natasha relives the worst moments of her life: being trained as an assassin and “graduating”from her training by being sterilized.

Eventually, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver escape from the factory and Scarlet Witch implants her fear spell into The Hulk. Hulk is then seen rampaging in the city, prompting Iron Man to use his Hulkbuster suit. The battle is long with a lot of collateral damage and the Avengers are forced into hiding.

Clint flies the team over to his house on a farm, where it’s revealed that he has a wife and two kids, with one more on the way. My Clintasha ship sunk fast with this scene. It’s also in this quiet scene where Natasha and Bruce share backstories. Bruce tells her that he can never have kids because the Hulk renders him sterile and Natasha reveals that she was forcibly sterilized.

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The whole Bruce/Natasha ship along with Natasha’s backstory is the reason tumblr and twitter got all up in arms over Whedon. I was honestly surprised to see Natasha flirting with Bruce at the party, but the fact that Natasha was sterilized is not anti-feminist. It’s called backstory. She was trained to be an assassin. I saw in Agent Carter an earlier version of the training that Natasha went through. It makes sense that Natasha would be sterilized as part of a “graduation” ceremony because they want their assassins to put the mission first. Women like Natasha would be sleeping with many men as part of gaining information and babies, sad to say, get in the way of that.

Meanwhile, everyone else mulls over what to do. Hawkeye has a lot of quiet moments with his wife. Thor goes off to England to consult with Erik Selvig. Stark finds out that Nick Fury is still alive. Fury proceeds to motivate the team into stopping Ultron. Bruce looks at a picture of a butterfly that one of Hawkeye’s kids drew and realizes that Ultron wants a human body  and they know someone with the technology to create that.

Cut to Seoul, where Ultron puts scientist friend Helen Cho under the influence of the Mind Gem and asks her to create a body that he can upload himself into. In the process, Wanda uses her mind reading powers and sees that Ultron wants to destroy the world, not just the Avengers. Wanda snaps Dr. Cho out of the mind gem’s control, but it happens too little too late.

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The fight gets taken to Seoul as the Avengers fight to get the “cradle” as they call it to safety. But once the cradle gets taken back to Avenger’s Tower, the first thing Tony wants to do is upload JARVIS into it. He gets into a fight with Captain America over it. Ultimately, Thor comes in and literally charges the body inside the cradle to life. JARVIS comes out of the cradle with the Mind Stone at the center of its forehead. He isn’t JARVIS anymore, either. Thor explains that he went to London to consult Erik Selvig about the hallucination he saw. After a fanservicey trailer scene, Thor receives a vision of the Infinity Stones, foreshadowing the oncoming Infinity War. The Avengers debate as to whether or not Vision should help them out, but that question gets resolved as Vision gives Thor his hammer.

Everyone in the audience gasped at the cutaway shot that shows Vision easily holding Thor’s hammer. I had no clue that the little Hammer Pick Up scene at Thor’s party would actually be referenced again later. It was enough for me to believe that Vision was on the side of good.

The Avengers go back to Sokovia where Ultron plans on raising the capital city to the sky, using it as a meteor to destroy the world. The race is on to get all civilians to safety. Many Avengers are quick to put civilian safety as their number one priority (take that Man of Steel), including Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Fury arrives in a Helicarrier in one of the best Big Damn Heroes moments since, well, Firefly. In the midst of this fight, Hawkeye helps Wanda as she gets into a mental breakdown, overwhelmed at the fight.

“You step out the door, you’re an Avenger,” he said.

Cue Wanda stepping out just in time to save the day.

There’s this epic shot of the Avengers fighting off all the robots as they protect the flying city from falling that left me breathless and overwhelmed, but it was gorgeous cinematography.

There’s also a wonderful scene where Bruce saves Natasha from Ultron’s lair. She kisses him and then pushes him over the edge to bring the Hulk out. Fans are also up in arms about Natasha being a damsel in distress, but  I’ll let it slide because Natasha was still active even while she was captured. The two of them move on to help out with the Battle of Seoul.

Throughout the movie, lines that are called “death flags” are scattered throughout, making everyone think that Hawkeye was going to die. However, as everyone continues to rescue civilians, it’s actually Quicksilver that dies instead. (So yes, Quicksilver is also like Spike in the sense that he died helping to save the world. No, I’m still not over it!)

The city starts falling, but Thor and Iron Man work together to shatter the city and Vision confronts Ultron’s last body. It’s here that we see Joss Whedon using Vision as another Ubermensch. Ultron represents a dark version of the Ubermensch, but Vision is the more straightforward version.

In the midst of the aftermath, the Hulk goes into a stealth jet and disappears, even with Natasha wanting to communicate with him. The movie comes to an end in upstate New York with a new base and a new Avengers team.

First of all, the credits were amazing. I want that statue that appears at the end. It’s something worthy of Michaelangelo. And the mid-credits scene? Yep, I am definitely hyped about Infinity War now.

So now for my overall analysis.

I feel like this movie was amazing. It’s just a heck of a roller coaster ride. I feel like some of the characters were a bit underrused and there’s a reason I felt breathless at the end of it. The movie gives you very little room to breathe because everything happens at a breakneck pace.

I’ll admit that Bruce and Natasha’s romance wasn’t well-paced in this movie, but I feel like Joss did his best given the number of plots he had to juggle in this movie. It actually made a lot of sense once I thought about it because they have a lot in common aside from not being able to have children. I’m also okay with her being captured because, as said before, she wasn’t particularly in distress. It could’ve happened with any other character.

Joss puts all the female characters in the movie in active roles. Helen Cho is more than just Asian eye candy. She plays an essential role in the creation of vision and she doesn’t die. Iron Man and Thor compare their girlfriends instead of their own accomplishments. You see Maria Hill playing an active role in keeping things running smoothly. But the breakout female character in this movie is actually Scarlet Witch, who starts out evil but earns her redemption within the movie just because she doesn’t want to destroy the world.

I know that Joss isn’t perfect. But I still respect and love him as a person, which means that I’ll be that fan who will defend Joss Whedon when it comes to his wonderful line of female characters.

Whether you’re a Whedonite or a Marvel fan, I highly recommend that you see Avengers: Age of Ultron. Just make sure you remember to breathe after it’s done.

Still images are copyright to Marvel Entertainment and Joss Whedon and are used for editorial purposes only.

Shindig: Chivalry and Feminism

I am going to do my very best not to let my fangirl squee get in the way of analyzing this episode. I squeed about it enough in the intro to my Firefly Month.

The episode starts out at your typical bar (except for the virtual pool). Mal pickpockets a man at the pool table who bragged about coming into money by selling slaves. It’s a small indicator of Mal’s strange sense of morality given that he makes his living by smuggling and stealing from people he deems to be bad (like slave traders and the Alliance) and never from innocent people (as seen in The Train Job). The planet that the crew visits, Persephone, was where they started in the pilot.

A conversation at the dress shop eventually leads to Kaylee talking about Inara, which irks Mal into mouthing off at her. Zoe, Wash, and Kaylee return to the ship, but Mal and Jayne run into Badger. (Played by Mark Sheppard whom Supernatural fans recognize as Crowley and Doctor Who fans will recognize as Canton Delaware Everett.) Badger informs Mal and Jayne about a man in need of a smuggler, but won’t work with Badger beneath him. Coincidentally, this man is going to be a guest at the party Inara is attending and Badger just so happens to have a couple of invitations.

It’s clear at this party that the society knows Inara because she announced by her name and not as her client’s escort. As I said before, the life of a Companion is very similar to that of a geisha, who often relies on the support of a danna or patron. (I had a Memoirs of a Geisha phase.) Inara’s client, Atherton, is making such an offer to Inara when Kaylee and Mal walk in.

Meanwhile, on the ship, Book, Simon, and Jayne are playing a card game while River has a minor breakdown, removing the labels from the food in the kitchen. I think it’s because the food came from the Blue Sun corporation, which turns out to be a major antagonist in the film Serenity.

During Mal and Inara’s dance, the subject of what is legal verses what is morally right gets brought up again. Mal considers his work to be honest, even though it’s illegal and says that the society Inara is a part of is all taking part of a giant lie even though they’re considered to be Mal’s superiors. He doesn’t want to stop Inara from taking Atherton’s offer, but he later says he hope that she doesn’t because he cares about her. Captain Mal Reynolds: master of the mixed messages.

The duel in this episode is a duel of swords instead of fists or pistols (both of which are Mal’s specialty). It’s up to Inara to teach Mal how to fence and fight with a sword. Later on, when the actual duel takes place, Inara provides the distraction that gives Mal the advantage to defeat Atherton. Mal cheats, punching Atherton in the face again, and beats him down with the handle. However, instead of killing Atherton as stated by Sir Warrick Harrow as the rules of the duel, Mal decides to show mercy and just stabs Atherton a couple of times.

The icing on the cake, however, is what Inara declares when Atherton shows his true feelings for her. When Atherton threatens to her that she’ll never find work again, she throws the rules of her guild at him. His actions have blacklisted him from any other Companions. Mal’s duel leads to him successfully making a deal with Sir Warrick Harrow and the two of them return to the ship and share some homemade wine while they overlook the cargo that they’re smuggling: cows.

One underlying theme in this episode is chivalry and feminism. Most feminists do not like the idea of chivalry. However, I don’t think the two ideas are mutually exclusive. After all, the idea of chivalry and feminism are both grounded in the idea that women ought to be valued as people and not as property. Besides that, Emma Watson created a nonprofit organization called He For She, which asks for men to help support women’s rights and promotes gender equality. I think it’s a great example of how men and women can start working together to support each other.

The most obvious example of how chivalry and feminism work is the main plot involving Mal, Inara, and Atherton. Mal is motivated by his desire to defend Inara’s honor, a very chivalrous idea. However, he also calls Inara a whore to her face. As I stated before, he wasn’t calling her a whore because he’s slut shaming her. He just does not like what she does for a living. And the reason he wants to defend Inara’s honor is because he thinks Atherton is treating Inara like an object. We can see examples of that with Atherton holding onto Inara possessively and glaring with jealousy as Inara and Mal have a dance and later grabs Inara once the dance was done.

Another example of chivalry and feminism is seen in the minor subplots. A distinguished gentleman rescues Kaylee from a group of mean girls by means of slut shaming. While I will subtract points to the cool old guy for using slut shaming, he apologizes for his rudeness and says “I cannot abide useless people.” I was so wishing that the cool old guy was Sir Warrick Harrow. Later on, Kaylee is seeing talking mechanics with a large group of men, showing that a woman can have a good time with men just by being herself. She didn’t have to go out onto the dance floor to have a good time.

I’m not exactly what modern, secular society would consider a feminist. I prefer to use the term “gender equalist” because I believe that men have their own discrimination issues just as often as women do. I also believe that men and women have to support each other instead of women blaming the patriarchy and men acting entitled to whatever they want just because they’re nice guys. I’m not gonna say that Shindig is the perfect example of what I wish gender equality could be like, but it’s a start at least.