I'm not saying that violence should never be shown or described. We need our movies and TV shows and games and books to address issues of the violence in our culture, and violence against women is included in that. But some of these examples just play into the same old misogyny—without asking anything more of the audience—which is a shame and a missed opportunity.
Since this series is about detective narratives in pop culture, this post was originally going to be about CSI. But at time of writing (Tuesday afternoon) everyone in our office in London came home early because of fears of another night of riots and looting, and so it's just too hard right now to set aside real-life relations between the police and the people to talk about fiction. Likewise, I don't want to risk framing what's going on in reality in terms of detective fiction.
I've come to the half-way point of the Murder, She Blogged series, and half way through my time guest blogging here at Bitch, so I just wanted to take a brief pause to address the question: Why detectives?
Tropes vs. Women is a six-part video series by Feminist Frequency that explores the reoccurring stories, themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows.
The Mystical Pregnancy is a trope writers use to create drama and terror by invading, violating and exploiting women's reproductive capabilities. Often these female characters have their ovaries harvested by aliens or serve as human incubators for demon spawn. Sometimes they are carrying the Messiah and other times Satan himself.
As well as showcasing the quintessential Spinster Detective, the Miss Marple adaptations have plenty to say about England's shifting class structures in the decades after World War II and women's changing roles. It's all played out in microcosm in the fictional village of St Mary Mead.
From the village bobby on his bicycle to elaborate games of cops and robbers in mid-20th century America, detective fiction often harks back to the past. From a feminist perspective, this is a can of worms.
Presenting an unthreatening facade to the world, older women detectives usually conceal razor-sharp investigative skills and intelligence. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple is one of the classic examples of these subversive characters.