Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Rage, Blame, and Voice, and the Dark Side of Femininity

I have no TV right now, and it's driving me crazy. But that's a digression, or an introduction, because it has to do with my point. So anyway, I'm watching these old X-Files episodes I've taped to keep myself from snapping (I know, I need help), and this one came on that I've always liked, because it (to me) sort of captures what the X-Files was meant to be about, which is human nature and its mysteries, not really aliens or the supernatural.

So in this episode, there are a bunch of mysterious deaths, involving ravens, broken mirrors, and vicious claw marks. Something primal is scaring people in reflections and killing others in a quiet small town. Turns out the killer is really a meek little housewife, taking notes from Martha Stewart, cooking eggs benedict for breakfast. Her husband has been wanting out of the marriage for several years, and has begun to sleep around, but she clings to the marriage and lives in denial, repressing her rage at her husband's infidelity and unwillingness to stay. She physically transforms into a horrible figure, perhaps suggesting a manifestation of Cathubodva or the Morrigan, accompanied by ravens, horrible to look at. She is the dark, destructive, feminine force. But she can't stand to see her own dark side (hence all the broken mirrors, which spontaneously burst as her image slides across them), it drives her insane. Mulder says something about this at the end of the episode (I can't remember the exact words) to the effect of, "It [her anger] had to come out somehow."

Women today, in much of Western culture, are not allowed to have a dark, destructive voice that is healthy. We live in denial, we hide our dark sides. (And here I'm not attempting to say, by excluding mention of men, that they are or aren't allowed to have dark sides. In some ways, this is true for both genders as we become more "civilized" in the worst sense of the word, but I especially think it true for women.) We are allowed to be birth, but not death; healers and nurturers, but not warriors or defenders; we are the "gentle" sex, we are quiet, subdued. Somewhere inside, rage bottles up, and pops out in ways that are unhealthy to us and those around us.

To tie in something that probably doesn't fit, it always seems to me that it's angry mothers who start ridiculous lawsuits. That's a huge generalization, but I read this article today sent by a friend. It's very anti-gaming in tone, which bothers me, because even though I'm not currently an active gamer, I am an avid one. The article describes a lawsuit of a woman against the makers of the game EverQuest, blaming the game for her son's suicide. It's the age-old argument about the "evils" of fantasy-- people are unhappy with their real lives, so they burrow into fantasy as some sort of wish fulfillment to hide from reality. Obviously, I don't agree with that assessment, but I want to get back to my main point, because I could go on and on about what I think fantasy really is. ;-)

Utlimately, when I read this article, for me it begs the question: what is really this woman's goal? Does she think that warning labels about a game's addictiveness will really solve anything? What got left out of the story? This woman is in battle mode, she's raging, angry (and right to be angry about her son's death), but to me her need for a scapegoat seems like a stretch (I don't really see how the game is specifically at fault, people can use anything as a tool for their addictive behavior). In what ways is she in denial? In what ways did she try to be the good nurturing mom and fail? Is she embittered that her son turned to an online game instead of her? Has she become something she can no longer bear to look at objectively?

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