Women’s Sexuality in “Firefly” and “Serenity”

Realization: the female characters in Firefly and Serenity have personalities that can be defined by their sexuality as seen through the heteronormative gaze.

 

How is Kaylie sexually?  Open, enthusiastic, available, nonassertive.  What is Kaylie like?  Open/friendly, enthusiastic/cheerful, available/helpful-she does the most work on that ship, and nonassertive.  She wants Simon right away, but it’s never really her choice whether they actually have sex or not.  In her line of work-she knows her stuff from the start, but nothing she does is really her decision-she takes orders from others.  How are we told to see this character?  As nice, likeable.  Why?  Because sexually available, while not officially considered the best way to live, is seen as a desirable thing in a woman by the patriarchal culture.  Hence, we are shown that Kaylie can be happy, deserves happiness, but she rarely fully achieves it since, after all, officially she is judged as a slut.

 

How is Inara sexually?  In control, independent, calculated, dramatic, and confident.  What is Inara’s personality like?  She’s highly independent, confident, she calculates her moves/picks her clients and location, has the ultimate say in her life instead of listening even to Mal, and her presence tends to be dramatic in the show-sexual tension, exotic stories, having a large presence.  Yet, as basically a courtesan, we are shown that she will never achieve happiness-this calculating, independent way of life/sexuality stands between her and Mal, and basically Inara and happiness.  Why?  Because the current culture frowns on courtesans.

 

How is Saffron sexually?  Manipulative, calculating, opportunistic, and dangerous insomuch as she uses seduction as a weapon.  What is Saffron like?  Manipulative, calculating, opportunistic, and dangerous inasmuch as she uses everything in her arsenal as a weapon.  Does Saffron ever really win?  Nope, she always ends up the worse for wear.  After all, can’t have a woman who uses sex to her own gain, or as a weapon, ever be happy, unless it’s proved to be an illusion.

 

How is Zoe sexually?  As a married woman with a clearly active sex life she’s loyal, athletic, private, and always working in a relationship.  How does Zoe function as a character?  She’s loyal, athletic, private inasmuch as whenever Zoe tells a story from the past it’s a big deal, and always working within a relationship-even when she’s apart from Mal she’s generally operating within orders given by him or previously worked out with him.  This is not to say she’s the lesser partner in her relationships-she’s often the commander, the more dominant one, but still-always within relationships instead of on her own.  Is Zoe happy?  As the woman in the heteronormatively approved marriage relationship, yes, Zoe is generally seen as happy (dangerous exploits notwithstanding).

 

River, naturally, is harder to talk about but basically is seen as a nonsexual entity, just as she’s viewed as something-other-than-normal-human category in life, so the trend continues.

 

This is not meant to detract from the show, but rather the sharing of a sudden realization I had while looking at Firefly paraphernalia.  Any thoughts yea/nay?

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Women's Sexuality in ?Firefly? and ?Serenity? ? wheresmytower | Short Mother Poem
  2. Trackback: Women's Sexuality in ?Firefly? and ?Serenity? ? wheresmytowermojohorne.com | mojohorne.com
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