Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘kick ass women

I have really like a lot of USA Networks original series.  I’m a big fan of Psych, Burn Notice, White Collar, and Royal Pains.  But all of these shows focus around male leads and only have female sidekicks that are really only there to support their man/male lead.

So I was really excited to see their new show this summer, Cover Affairs.  From the previews of the show, it seemed to focus on a kick ass female CIA agent.  Granted, the previews didn’t really reveal much about the show, but at least it was a show that had a female lead.

So far, I have seen the first two episodes of Covert Affairs.  The show focuses on Annie (Piper Perabo), a new CIA agent who is thrown into the Domestic Protection Division because her language skills are needed.  She always seems to face new threats on her missions, which her boss claims is rare.  Her “guide” through her transition into the department is Auggie, a blind technician for the DPD.  Annie always seems to get herself out of the trouble that she digs herself into throughout the episode, with the help of Auggie and the occasional other CIA agent.  Annie, not surprisingly, also has a pretty flawed social and love life.

So, sounds great…a show that centers around a kick ass female CIA agent.  But as we learn at the end of the first episode, Annie was really only brought into the DPD because her past relationship with Ben Mercer.  She met Ben when she was on vacation and they spent three great weeks together before he mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the night.  Joan, the head of the DPD, and her husband Arthur, the Director of National Clandestine Services in the CIA, seem to have an invested interest in Ben Mercer.  Ben seems to have gone off the grid, and not just in Annie’s life.  Annie was only brought into the DPD in the hopes that it would bring Ben out of hiding.

I also thought it was great that there was a female director of the DPD.  Joan is a powerful woman who won’t take any crap from the people around her.  And while Joan is all of those things, she is also obsessed with the thought that her husband Arthur might be cheating on her.  She uses CIA resources to track his every move and monitor his phone calls.

I thought this was going to be a great show that focused on powerful women.  It kind of is.  But it mainly focuses on these women in terms of their relationships with men.  Annie is valuable not because of her skills, but because her relationship with Ben.  Joan is part of a CIA power couple, but focuses more on her relationship with Arthur than on the missions.

I’d love to see more story lines about how Annie acquired all of her skills than about her relationship with Ben.  And I’d like to see more of why Joan came to be the director of DPD and why she is so good at her job, than focusing on her relationship with Arthur.


I didn’t really have much of a reaction to last night’s episode of Bones, “The Bond in the Boot.”  I wasn’t terribly disappointed, but I didn’t think it was amazing either.  It was just kind of “eh.”

Bones_BondBoot-Sc8_0107The case of “The Bond in the Boot” was investigating the murder of a CIA analyst who killed a diamond courrier.  Booth and Brennan were trying to figure out what was actually in the briefcase that the diamond courrier had and was stolen by the CIA analyst after he killed him.  And who killed the CIA analyst to get the briefcase.  Honestly, it wasn’t that exciting as the previews made it out to be.

Wendell, one of the interns at the Jeffersonian that we occassionally see, has apparently lost his scholarship (due to financial troubles) so they no longer have the funding to keep him on as an intern.  But by the time he was getting ready to leave at the end of the episode, three donations were miraculously made annonymously for him to be able to keep his scholarship (cough…Brennan, Hodgins, and Cam…cough).

Also, at the end of the episode, Booth is teaching Brennan plumbing.  Their hands touch, they stare into each other’s eyes, cuddle under the sink for a while, and talk about how glad they are that they don’t keep secrets.  How touching.

What I used to love so much about Bones was that Dr. Brennan played such a key part in solving the crimes.  But tonight, she didn’t really.  The FBI stuff focused on Booth — as it usually does, but a little bit more so because they are still examining how his coma has affected him.  The work in the lab seemed to be dominated by Wendel because they were trying to make us feel sad about him leaving after not seen him for a while.  Dr. Brennan just seemed to be along for the ride for most of the episode, but not really contributing a whole lot.

We also got to see some more of Dr. Brennan being inconsiderate and emotionless when she told Wendel that he lost his scholarship.  I’ve grown really tired Dr. Brennan’s hyper-rationality being perceived as emotionless.  At some points it doesn’t even get a chuckle.  I just sit there thinking, “are they really making her seem that mean?”  We have seen Dr. Brennan grow in some areas (like wanting a child — see the this post and the comments), but she seems to be reverting in the sense of her emotions — she just keeps getting more and more emotionless in some areas, while in others (as in her feelings for Booth) the writers are trying to explore her emotions.  They can’t just have her be emotionless in one scene and they have her full of emotion in the next.  It’s not continuous, it doesn’t make sense.

And as much as I’m not sure I necessarily want to see Booth and Brennan together because I’m losing my faith in the ability of the writers to handle that relationship well, I just want them to start the relationship already.  I’m sick and tired of seeing all this foreplay, will they-won’t they crap.  We all know they are going to hook up sometime, so just cut the crap and get to it so we don’t have to see this super awkward stuff anymore.

I really hope that Bones gets its act together and soon.  I love this show and it’s not really living up to its expectations right now.

Also check out meloukhia’s review up at this ain’t livin’.

fringe-season-2-posterSo I’ve been slacking and haven’t been watching a lot of movies lately.  Instead, I’ve been trying to catch up on various TV shows, one of them being Fringe.  So, I’ve decided to change Movie Monday to Movie/TV Monday when I want to talk about a TV show in general (not just a specific episode) or I have not watched any movies recently.  I just finished the first season of Fringe on DVD this weekend, and I have to say, I loved it.  I was a little wary about it at first because it just seemed to be a knock-off of The X-Files.

Fringe is kind of a knock-off of The X-Files, but it’s different enough and good enough that I’m willing to overlook that.  Fringe follows FBI Agent Olivia Dunham who has recently been assigned to the Fringe Division, headed by Agent Boyles.  The Fringe Division is the FBI team that investigates cases involving paranormal activity or that aren’t easily explained.  Agent Dunham recruits the scientists Walter Bishop to join her team.  Walter Bishop did scientific research for the government in the 70s and early 80s but was committed to a mental hospital for the criminally insane after a fire broke out in his lab killing his lab assistant.  Agent Dunham needs Walter’s son, Peter Bishop (played by Joshua Jackson aka Pacey from Dawson’s Creek) to take custody of his father in order to get him out of the mental hospital.  Peter is kind of a con man, but they are nice enough to never really use that phrase.  He fakes his way into a lot of things, but is really smart and knows a lot about science as well, so he is able to help his father.  Peter becomes a consultant for the FBI and plays a critical role in solving many of the cases.

The Fringe Division specifically looks into cases involving what is called “The Pattern.”  The Pattern is a series of paranormal events that are believed to be the work of some group using the world and unsuspecting people as their testing ground.  We find out that Walter Bishops research before he went to the mental hospital was the basis for a lot of these paranormal events, so Walter plays an even more critical role on the team than first imagined.  We later find out that The Pattern is the handy-word of a terrorist group, ZFT.  ZFT may or may not be funded by William Bell the founder and CEO of Massive Dynamic who also just happens to be Walter’s old lab partner.  Massive Dynamic just happens to be where a lot of the technology that The Pattern involves comes from and they also sometimes provide necessary information and technology to help Agent Dunham in her cases.

So, now that we are all caught up on the general premise of the show, let’s take a look at why I got hooked on it (which, granted, doesn’t take much).  Fringe has a strong female lead.  Agent Olivia Dunham kicks ass on every episode and is not afraid to go after what she wants or to do things that won’t necessarily make her popular.  She’s the one that comes up with or readily supports the “out there” theories about a case.  She’s the one that does all the follow through.  I’m a big fan.

But, as always, because Olivia Dunham is good at her career, she’s “married” to it.  She loves what she’s doing, and that’s a good thing.  But can’t we see some of her life outside of work?  The only romantic relationship we see her in is with her partner John Scott.  But John Scott is killed in the first episode and revealed as (possibly) a traitor.  And guess what, she works with John Scott (if you couldn’t tell by the word “partner”).  I’m starting to get really sick of this trend that women who are good at their jobs can only date people that they work with.  Later in the season, we did get to see a glimpse of her personal life when her sister and niece came to live with her for a little while.  We would see them for a couple minutes almost every episode since they were introduced.  And I liked to see her interacting with people outside of work, even if they were family and not a romantic relationship.

fringe-promo_420x314And then we get to the relationship between Olivia and Peter.  Before even watching the show, I could have guessed that they would end up together in some way further down the road.  That just seems to be how shows go these days.  But in the first half (or so) of the first season, I didn’t really “sense” any romantic chemistry between the two of them.  This kind of excited me.  I thought: “finally, a show where the female and male leads don’t fall for each other.”  But then around the middle of the season, there was a turn.  I can actually remember the episode where I started to notice this change: “Bad Dreams.”  Olivia and Peter started growing closer together.  And as Peter developed a relationship with Olivia’s sister (just as friends) you could kind of tell that Olivia was getting a little jealous.  And in the opener for season 2, we can see that Peter definitely has feelings for Olivia and Olivia’s sister tells Peter that Olivia “likes” him, whatever that means.  I was just hoping that we wouldn’t get this story line thrown in.

I also sometimes have mixed feelings about how the show handles Walter’s mental illness.  You can tell that it is partly for comic relief and I don’t always appreciate the use of clear mental illness for laughs (you will notice in my post about Bones, that I do sometimes appreciate the humor in that show).  Walter is funny.  He says random things.  But this is a result of his severe mental illness.  But they do use his mental illness as something other than comic relief at times.  Walter’s mental illness is what brought him and Peter together again and what continues to connect them.  His mental illness is sometimes an obstacle in solving cases and they have to work through that as a team (but this sometimes involves yelling at Walter to focus).

I also don’t like how Walter can never remember Astrid’s name.  Astrid is an FBI agent who is a black woman and, as far as I can tell, Olivia’s assistant.  She spends most of her time in the lab with Walter.  Walter should know her name.  He remembers Olivia’s name.  He even remembers Agent Boyle whom he doesn’t really see that often.  But the one name that he can never remember is that of the black woman who is always there and is one of the ones who takes care of him on a regular basis.  Not cool.

Overall, I really like Fringe.  It’s pretty unique considering it looks at lot like The X-Files on the surface.  I will probably write a couple more posts about it as the second season progresses.  But for now, for those of you who like TV, I would highly recommend renting (or finding online) the first season of Fringe.  You’ll enjoy it…if you like those kinds of shows.

33102.gifThe X-Files was a great science-fiction show with a woman at the center.  Dana Scully was the rational, scientific, and spiritual core of the show.  She was partners with Mulder who often got lost in his impossibilities.  Dana Scully was the person who used her head to solve these cases.

I’ll be honest, I never saw all of the episodes of The X-Files.  There was a time period where I was obsessed with the show, but I never made it all the way through.  I’m thinking I’m going to need to go back and watch what I’ve missed.  But the main thing that I loved about the show was Dana Scully.  She wasn’t afraid to take charge when the time called for it.  She was the person who was rational, which is not the usual representation of women in television shows and movies.

Dana Scully was not the feminist character that she could have been.  The show couldn’t give her too much strengh, independence, etc.   She wouldn’t have been as popular in the mainstream if she was too feminist.

And we can now see a little bit (or a lot) of Scully represented in the new X-Files-esque show, Fringe.  Agent Olivia Dunham is the Scully of Fringe, although she does ‘believe’ more than Scully did.  I just started watching Fringe now that it is out on DVD and I’m only a couple episodes in, but it looks good so far.  And I am definitely liking Dunham’s strength, rationality, and belief in the show so far.

Further Reading:
Scully have I loved [Salon Broadsheet]

ellie67Last week, Ellie Greenwich died of a heart attack.  Ellie Greenwich was a singer, songwriter, and record producer whose songs were popular in the 1960s.  Maybe you haven’t heard of Ellie Greenwich necessarily, but I’m sure you have heard some on the songs she has written or producer.  Greenwich wrote songs such as “Leader of the Pack,” “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Chapel of Love,” and “Be My Baby.”

Ellie Greenwich is responsible for many of the girl group hits of the 1960s.  She was a successful woman in the music business in a time when there were not that many women (or at least severely less than there are today).  She was involved in all parts of music production, which was pretty unheard of, especially for a woman.  Some of her music and lyrics may be problematic (as much of it focuses on marriage and relationships), but she really was a pioneer!  Her songs were hits in the 1960s and are still popular today.  I knew most of her songs, but didn’t realize that they were actually hers.  No one ever really pays attention to who the songwriter was.

You can listen to NPR’s profile of Ellie Greenwich and an old interview done by Terri Gross here.  The interview centers on the role that Greenwich had as a woman in the music industry and how she gained respect.

I’m going to let Ellie’s music do the rest of the talking:

Ever since I started blogging I have wanted to write a post dedicated to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is probably one of my all time favorite shows…and I just started watching it this past winter! This probably isn’t that much of a flashback or a history lesson for many of you…but Buffy is in the past, so it’s ok for a Feminist Flashback Friday, right? Even if it’s not, it’s going to be…

Joss Whedon has made some great creations and is a pro-feminist himself, so it would make sense that his feminist beliefs rub off on his TV shows. Buffy is one of his most feminist creations.

For those of you who don’t know, the show revolves around the “chosen one,” the slayer, who at this point in time is Buffy Summers. Buffy spends every episode fighting “the big bad,” whether it is vampires or some other form of demon. She has her crew of “scoobies” that help her out and occasionally get into trouble. My favorite of the Scoobies is Willow who has some special powers of her own: she’s a witch. There’s just so much that happens over the seven seasons that I’m not even going to attempt to summarize right now, so this is the best I can do right now.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is all about strong women. Buffy herself is supernaturally, physically strong because of her status as the slayer. But she is emotionally strong as well. Sure, she has her breakdowns and times that she no longer wants to be the slayer, but overall she is a strong women, physically, emotionally, and mentally. And it’s great to see a female action hero that was so sucessful. Buffy kicked ass on a weekly basis.

Willow was a strong woman as well. She went from a shy bookworm to a powerful, confident witch throughout the show. And she’s the one example that I can think of in a mainstream, network show of a successful transition from straight to a lesbian. I don’t know if “successful transition” is the right phrase, but there have been so many shows that make a character a lesbian for a couple shows and then she’s straight again. But with Willow, she realized her sexual identity when she met Tara and she stuck with it. Yes, she did go crazy at one point, but all that did was to show how powerful and strong she actually was when it came to her magical powers.

And then there’s Anya, who was a vengence demon who lost her powers (then regained them later). Even when she didn’t have her supernatural powers, she was one of the key Scoobies. While it takes her a while to adjust to not having powers, she becomes one of the strong members of the team.

There are also some recurring minor strong women in the show. There’s Faith, the slayer-turned-evil. Glory, who was a demon god bent on getting back to her hell.

Oh Xander. One of the two men in the Scoobies (yes, I do count Giles). He goes through a lot of identity crisis’, especially in the later seasons, because he is surrounded by such powerful women and he doesn’t really have a lot to offer. Buffy’s the slayer, Willow and Tara are powerful witches, and Anya is an ex-demon. Some definite woman-power there.

One other thing that I like about Buffy is that it’s not super focused on romantic relationships. Buffy’s romantic relationships definitely play a big role in the show, but she’s not relationship-centric. When Angel goes evil and when he leaves, Buffy does have a really hard time and falls apart a little bit, but then she learns that it’s ok to be a strong woman on her own. Xander and Anya’s relationship and Willow and Tara’s relationship are key to the show as well. But in all of the relationships, each of the people are independent and strong on their own and have a pretty healthy relationship because of that (the only exception I can think of is Buffy and Spike, but that’s a whole other story).

To me, one of the undertones of the show is about being the best person that you can be, no matter what your powers. While the characters themselves are probably not feminist, I think that the show is. Buffy the Vampire Slayer portrays strong women as they are. Sure some of their strength comes from supernatural powers, but the strength that I am most concerned about is their mental and emotional strength.

What Buffy has is something that is severely lacking from television today. It has great writing, great acting, and strong women. Where are shows like this today? It’s not like Buffy was made all that long ago. Where did it go? Well, right now I am jonesing for a Buffy fix, so I think I am going to go watch an episode over on Hulu.

So, how many of you watched Buffy when it was on or have since picked it up, like me? Any thoughts about the feminist value of the show?

Feminist Flashback Friday is a feature that focuses on a feminist piece of history every Friday. This “piece of history” can be a person, event, character, movie, tv show, etc. The goal of Feminist Flashback Friday is to help connect the past (whether in historical events or entertainment or what have you) with the present and on to the future.

Amelia Earhart (July 24, 1897 – missing July 2, 1937, declared dead January 5, 1939)

Amelia Earhart: aviatrix, writer…feminist icon?

Everyone knows about Amelia Earhart’s attempt to circumnavigate the wold and her disappearance. Not as well known (despite the numerous biographies) is the feminist role model side of Earhart…other than just being the first women to do stuff (I don’t mean to sound flippant here, this is really important and I will get into it later).

Amelia’s mother raised her and her sister to not be “nice little girls.” They played outside and wore bloomers unlike the other girls in their area. She was the adventurous type who would much rather be outside. Her first experience with flying was when she secured a ramp to the top of the family toolshed, went off it in a sled, and came out of it with a “sensation of exhiliration.”

When she first started flying, she had to work to save the $1000 for flying lessons. At first, seasoned pilots critiqued her flying skills, but she was determined. She continued training and honing her skills as a pilot. She gradually gained the respect of fellow pilots after years of proving herself. She eventually became the first president of The Ninety-Nines, an organization of female pilots.

Did you know that Amelia Earhart was also a writer? She wrote numerous books about her flying experiences. She was also an associate editor at Cosmopolitan magazine (isn’t that weird, in a good way?). She used this platform to campaign for greater public acceptance of aviation, especially for women entering the field.

She was the frist woman to go on a solo flight across North America and back in August 1928. She was the first woman to complete a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in May 1932. At this point she was gaining national fame. She used her notority as a platform for increasing the awareness of women in aviation.

She did eventually marry a man named George P. Putnam. She described her marriage as a “partnership” with a “dual control.” She demanded respect from her husband.

In 1937, she was the first to attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Sadly, her plane disappeared towards the beginning of the journey around Howland Island.

Amelia Earhart was an advocate for women’s issues, especially surrounding women in aviation. She was the first woman to solo fly acorss the Atlantic, the first woman to recieve the Distinguished Flying Cross, the first president of The Ninety-Nines, the first to attempt to circumnavigate the globe. She was a powerful woman who wasn’t afraid to reach for her dreams and didn’t back down.

Even today (as of 2006), only 6% of civilian pilots were women (Wikipedia). Aviation is still a field that is hard for women to break in to. But it’s great that there is this role model, not only in the field of aviation, but for all women reaching for their dreams. Sadly, I don’t think Amelia Earhart would be as remembered and well-known (despite her numerous achievements) today if she had not disappeared, never to be seen again. But just because her fame comes from these unfortunate circumstanes does not mean that she can’t be a feminist icon.

I honestly did not know a whole lot about the life of Amelia Earhard before I started doing research or this post (most of which was done on Wikipedia). I knew she was a feminist icon, but now I want to do even more research and read some biographies of her. There is even a biopic coming out soon about the life of Amelia Earhart (starring Hillary Swank, who is amazing). Here is a trailer for it, it looks really good: