Objectification through Sexuality

A common pattern in the writing of Joss Whedon is the establishment of whether the characters in his writing are virgins or not. However, the writing in his shows make a point to establish the women’s’ status long before the men of the shows are even considered.

One of the quickest establishments would be Buffy, the protagonist in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; whom we immediately see in white bedding, and constantly shown with white. In the episode, Prophecy Girl, she wears a white dress, an obvious representation of her virginity. Once the Master bites Buffy, does her purity is questionable, but then no longer questioned once she is thrown into the shallow water and revived. The resuscitation represents her rebirth and thus reestablishes her virginity because Buffy is to have become reborn.

Then there is Echo from Dollhouse. The first inference of her virginity is at the party she is attending, where she wears a white short cut dress. This oxymoron can confuse the audience since white represents purity, yet the dress couldn’t be described as concealing. Once Topher Brink wipes Echo of the imprint and exclaims, “The new moon has made her virgin again,” the audience knows that she truly isn’t. The audience understands from there that she is nothing but a sex doll, and the audience accepts Dollhouse as a way of objectifying people like Echo.

 

The women aboard the Serenity in Firefly do not share the same relationship status of married, so their virginity is questioned as well. Whedon uses Inara and River as contradictions to each other, and makes them valuable based on their sex lives. Inara receives special attention since she’s established as a prostitute and the audience is reminded of that continuously in the show. Inara is welcomed onto the ship, because she has become the equivalent of a passport for Serenity. Contrary to the other women of the show, River is the embodiment of innocence in the show and seen as the child of Firefly, so when there a scene in which she is shown to wake up from a dream, it is meant to represent her sexual awakening.

 

The most obvious establishment of their virginity are the characters of Jules and Dana. Jules talks to Dana about having sex with one of their professors instead of drawing him in her sketchbook and tries to set up Dana with Holden; implying that Dana is a virgin and needs to get laid. Later, Mordecai makes a point to emphasize that Jules is the whore of the group and several shots of just Jules body, urges the audience to shame her for having sex and see her as just a body to look at. As the film progresses, the virginity or lack thereof for the two women in this movie is not meant to be assurance for the audience’s faith, but a way to put value in their virginity; a major point of the film’s story line.

 

The virginity of the women in Whedon’s work is sometimes important to the story line-like Buffy or Dana for instance—the sex lives of other people are not as important and therefore don’t need to be a part of the story.

 

gif: http://cat-tully.tumblr.com/post/148350445902/buffy-summers-appreciation-week-day-2-favorite

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