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    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Rescue Me: Sexist?

    I don't watch the show, but did stumble on the fact that a rape occurred on Rescue Me. Then, I read an article about in NJ Star Ledger. Here's a bit of it:

    The writers had an opportunity to incorporate a more well-rounded woman into the guys' world with Laura, the female firefighter played by Diane Farr for parts of the first two seasons. Initially, Farr seemed there to fill the same role she played on Leary and Tolan's short-lived ABC cop comedy "The Job," as the tough woman who calls the guys on all their macho idiocy. Instead, Laura was thrown into an affair with Franco (a decision Tolan later regretted) and was proven to be incompetent at the work.

    That was the whole point of that character, according to Leary, who railed at length against the real FDNY's relaxed physical standards for female and minority applicants -- "She shouldn't have been there," he said of Laura. "She wasn't capable of doing it." -- before acknowledging that "I've met female firefighters from other parts of the country who are supremely physically able to do the job."

    In fact, Leary and Tolan are considering adding a new female firefighter next season, who Tolan said might be "a lesbian or somebody who's extremely capable in the job and the guys have to deal with that. They'll do the same thing, they'll say she shouldn't be there, but she'll prove herself and they'll have to accept her. And then you'll be getting that woman's viewpoint from a woman they are forced to respect for her abilities."

    But right now, these are the female characters we have, and this is the scene we got, including Tommy's "I came, I saw, I conquered" expression as he walked out of the apartment -- which, to those who viewed the incident as rape, played as the show's endorsement of it.

    My favorite part is the suggestion that only lesbians, among women, would be capable of being firefighters. Yeah, why don't they get Jenny from The L Word? I was thinking of Starbuck from Battlestar Gallactica, but she's into guys, so I doubt she could do it.

    Now, I can't say for sure that the show is sexist having never seen it, but I don't doubt the makers are.


    Blogger Omnipotent Poobah said...

    Interesting points. Here's a few of mine:
    -- I've NEVER known Leary to be politically correct about anything, so whether he's truly sexist is a pretty hard read.

    -- I don't know if the ONLY reason the new woman is a lesbian is because the authors are sexist. It could be they want a strong woman who can excel at the job (which has nothing to do with being lesbian), but who can also introduce a new dynamic.

    If the macho guys on the squad have a hard time with women, they'd probably have an even harder time with a lesbian. The point is, it might be enlightening to not only see a woman who is strong, but also one who can hold her own against the sexism of the characters.

    -- The final possibility is that I'm full of shit, so I'm voting for that one, because it's usually true.

    9:44 PM  
    Blogger Corinne said...

    -- Um, can a straight girl be strong someday? Just wondering.

    10:04 PM  
    Blogger dustdaughter said...

    I've watched a couple of seasons of Rescue Me (damn my tv addiction!) and I can safely say that most of the characters on the series are sexist and downright misogynistic. I don't know if that extends to the writers and creators of the show. They are also out of their g*d*mn minds, so I take any of their comments and actions with a shakerful of salt. On days when I'm trying to be gracious, I think of Rescue Me as an indictment of machoness and a testiment to how sexism and misogyny hurts men. Most of the time however - and especially after watching that seemingly non-consensual sex scene - I scream WTF and turn off the television.

    EL, have you seen the Season 1 finale of The L Word? Watching that RM scene kind of reminded me of The Scene with Tina and Bette.

    6:50 PM  
    Blogger EL said...

    OP, I'm not really aware of Leary's personal opinions. When I think of him, I think of "The Ref". So ... I guess I was pretty drawn in by the writer's argument.

    I think, like Corrine, my complaint was just this assumption that a lesbian will be this tough, nontrad woman who can "hold her own" where as a hetero woman would be this mincing, pink-weight-lifting girlie girl, who didn't want to go into a fire that might smudge her nails.

    But I think I get what you're saying. I think part of it is that I come from a background in getting women into nontrad employment and being a butch lesbian, in many cases, helped the transition.

    DD, I'm glad you brought up the Bette and Tina scene from Season 1 because reading the description of the RM scene did bring that to mind. Interesting.

    12:37 PM  
    Blogger CrackerLilo said...

    Nope, I don't think I'm missing a THING!

    2:02 PM  
    Anonymous amy said...

    Well, to be fair, the amount of tears Jenny has shed throughout the show has put out quite a few fires ...

    5:47 PM  
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    12:15 PM  

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