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Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review

Mockingjay Part 1 Movie ReviewMockingjay Part 1 Movie Review

Thanks to a Regal gift certificate I was able to go to the theater to see Mockingjay Part 1. If you didn’t know this movie is based on the book Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and is part of The Hunger Games series. There will be four movies, even though there are three books.

Just as an aside, I did see some neat movie previews, Cinderella being the chief of those, but I also saw a preview for Insurgent. I did not have a favorable review of the movie Divergent because it was just terrible compared to the book. Fans of the Divergent series better pray to the movie gods that Insurgent is better than Divergent.

Summary

The movie opens on Katniss in medical care. She has been rescued from the hunger games. Peetah isn’t there. He was taken captive by the capital. Katniss is in District 13, which still exists. It turns out the District was bombed by Panem, but District 13 survived. They dug down underground and built an entire society below the earth. President Coin wants Katniss to be their symbol. She and Havensbee are planning propaganda films. Beetee can probably break into the capital’s communications and get the videos shown to everyone.

Katniss isn’t too good at acting and is taken out to one of the districts where the capital has unleashed its force. A hospital is bombed while she is there and Katniss is outraged. She agrees to fight with the people against the capital and President Snow.

The entire time Peetah is broadcast on television, but he doesn’t seem himself. He ends up warning Katniss that District 13 is going to be bombed. Everyone is able to survive. A rescues mission is staged to get Peetah out, but Peetah is not the same a Katniss remembers.

Observations

The atmosphere of the movie was great. I mean it wasn’t happy-go-lucky, I mean the film makers did an amazing job of creating an atmosphere of warfare and revolution. There were atrocities. There was anger and grief. The acts ordered by President Snow are horrendous. I loved the people who rebelled. They banded together under a symbol and fought back. This was depicted so well in this movie. I’m honestly going to say that this was the best movie installment yet.

Differences

Obviously, there are going to be two movies out of one book and that’s a big difference. I don’t recall that Finnick talked on television in the book, but I could be wrong. There is obviously some background stuff missing. The makeup team is missing. Some of the relationships and friendships aren’t as detailed in the movie as they are in the book.

What I liked

Just as Harry Potter appeals to children, but also tackles deep social issues, The Hunger Games also serves the same role. The Hunger Games appeals to teenagers. All these little kids running around wanting to be Katniss have no idea what that really means. Katniss is a symbol for a downtrodden people to get behind and follow. They take back their country. They rise up. They realize that they do not have to be peaceful. They don’t want anymore children sacrificed. They rise up. They sing together. They bomb a dam. They march together. They’re just not going to take anymore.

Honestly the scene with the people singing and marching on the dam is amazing. It’s a scene of true rebellion and revolution. Those people marched together. They banded together for a greater cause, one that would make the country a better place for their children on down the line and they risked their lives. True patriotism, in my opinion, is not about always sticking with the government, but about being willing to risk everything to make your country a better place.

Remember guys, we’re all here because of revolution. Our history was made by revolution. Our history was made by people who stood up and quit taking crap from corrupt ruling parties.

I liked District 13. I’m a fan of the Wool series by Hugh Howey, which is a dystopian series about people who live underground. District 13 made it easier for me to imagine the silos of the Wool series. I imagine that one of the silos would look much like the living quarters of District 13.

What I didn’t like

I really, really liked this movie, it’s the best one yet in my opinion, but it’s a little light. It’s a little light on Katniss. It’s a little light on Peetah. It’s light on Haymitch. It’s light on romance. It’s light on Katniss’ relationships with her family. It’s light on a whole heck of a lot. The entire movie, although great, seems like an introduction to the real action and the real problems. It almost doesn’t seem a movie in and of itself. It’s suffering from lacking a bit of meat, although, it’s nowhere near the vicinity of Divergent.

There is action in this movie and there isn’t action in this movie. There is warfare and destruction in this movie, but it’s a safe type of destruction. Look, the destroyed District twelve is full of bodies and bones, but otherwise, the movie is lacking on the downright dark side of warfare. I’m not a big fan of movie blood, but honestly, I think the message might have gotten across better with a little more blood, but I do understand this is a movie generally appealing to teenagers and younger children and they didn’t want to put a bunch of gore in it.

Parental Advice

There isn’t a lot of cussing. There is no nudity of course. Plenty of parents take children younger than 13 to see this movie, you could too if you really wanted to. Of course, they’re not going to get it. They’re not going to get the deeper meanings in this movie. They’re going to see Katniss shooting her arrows and making eyes at Liam Hemsworth. They’re not going to see how terrible the whole thing is. They’re not going to see a brutal ruling power that people are risking their lives to dethrone.

With all that said, The Hunger Games series may be a good dialog to open with children about the idea of corruption in government. I may be weird, but if I had kids, I would want them to know that governments don’t always do what’s best for the people and sometimes the people have to take their country back. A healthy respect for authority is good, but a healthy questioning of authority is also good.

Overall

I have my beefs with this movie, but it really was good.

 
corrupt government, Katniss, mockingjay by suzanne collins, mockingjay movie, Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review, mockingjay review, Panem, Peetah, rebellion, revolution, Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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Deduction: Men are kind of StupidDeduction: Men are kind of Stupid

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I had a commenter leave me this very long and winded comment about  feminism, women, domestic violence, and the fact that men are also stereotyped against. I thought about it some more and the Sherlock stories definitely have a male stereotype that is sexist and repeated over and over and over again. The men of the Sherlock Holmes stories, besides Sherlock, are kind of stupid. There’s no getting around it. They’re idiots.

There are male stereotypes, even in our modern-day world, that depict men as idiots. We say that men are terrible with directions. We say that men can’t take care of the house or the baby. We say that men would screw up everything a woman did. We say that men are clueless when it comes to their interaction with the opposite sex. We put down men more than we think we put men down. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve read where the male character of a story is all like, “What’s this hot flat thing? It burned my shirt. What do you mean I put the baby’s diaper on backwards? Look, I’m not going to ask for directions. This isn’t the ghetto; it’s just a scenic detour. Those aren’t prostitutes either.”

Yeah, men can be stupid, but to be fair women can be stupid as well. Everybody is stupid at one point or another. We get into this argument as to whether men are really clueless when it comes to certain things or they know they’re expected to be clueless when it comes to certain things so they just don’t try. How much of your husband being inept at changing the baby’s diaper is really his lack of intelligence? Could it just be that he’s always heard men are bad at that sort of thing and acts on that societal expectation?

The Sherlock Holmes stories are just filled with idiotic men. I mean filled. Sherlock, seems to be the exception, but even he sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong. He doesn’t get that he shouldn’t be in some situations. He doesn’t take social clues. John Watson is a doctor, but sometimes I wonder how the man is alive. He always seems so surprised when Sherlock figures something out. Doctors are detectives. If you’re a doctor, you have to rely on your education and knowledge to figure out what is wrong with somebody. It’s not just luck. Doctors really are detectives. I often think that the show House is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes in a way, maybe I’ll explore that idea one day.

In many of the cases Sherlock comes across there is only a problem because some man was an idiot. There are several cases of men carrying around items they should not be carrying around and those items are lost or stolen and then all chaos ensues. The Adventure of the Second Stain, The Naval Treaty, and The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. What is so hard to understand about leaving something in one place? If something is that important, you don’t carry it around with you from place to place. You lock it away in a vault somewhere, with a guard. Why did these men think this was a good idea? Oh, clearly, this object of great value to my client and/or country is so valuable that surely it would be safer with me than in a vault somewhere. That’s a man being stupid and also arrogant. He’s arrogant to such an extent that he’s become stupid.

We have these others stories of idiot criminals. Hide the pearl in a bust of Napoleon. Shove a jewel down a goose. How is that a good idea? A goose moves around. A goose could get run over. A statue made for sale, might get sold, and then you would have to go looking for it. These were both men by the way. Again, this sort of goes back to the idea that if something is important, put it in a safe place.

Even the mastermind male criminals who are quite smart seem kind of dumb. Moriarty gets close enough to a waterfall for Sherlock to push him over. Milverton apparently doesn’t go armed to his negotiations and also apparently doesn’t suspect a woman of trying to kill him.

We could go on. We could talk about the men who are stupid enough to think they won’t get caught. There’s the student who cheats on his test, for example.

Another one I really like are the men in the Sherlock stories that are so stupid they believe that someone will pay them to copy out of the encyclopedia. This happened, or rather very similar circumstances, happened in two Sherlock stories. In The Red-Headed League, a man believes other red-headed men are paying him lots of money every year to copy out of an encyclopedia. In The Stock Broker’s Clerk, another man believes that some guy is paying him lots of money to copy out addresses. In what world does a person get paid to copy out of the encyclopedia? The monks who copied the Bible didn’t even get paid to copy it. They did it for free because it was their duty. People don’t pay you, or anybody, to copy out of the encyclopedia, no matter how good the job offer sounds.

Moving on, it’s not only the bad guys who are idiots in the Sherlock Holmes stories. I’ve already spoken of John and how I don’t think he’s exactly as smart as he should be, but let’s talk of other people. Let’s talk about Stanley Hopkins. Stanley is smart, but not smart enough. He misses things that Sherlock finds and Sherlock calls him an idiot. Well, he doesn’t come out and say that Stanley is an idiot, but it’s implied in his insults. Sherlock constantly looks down on Lestrade and he’s a smart guy too.

Basically, the idea is that every single man in the Sherlock stories, besides Sherlock, is an idiot. All these men more than prove this. They do quite a few stupid things.

Now, conversely, the women of the Sherlock stories are guilty of being too gullible, but none of them are straight-up depicted as unintelligent, not a one. All of the women of Sherlock Holmes are smart. They know what they’re doing. They may seem clueless as to what’s going on, but they really know what’s going on.

Why is this important? Well, it’s important because the women of the Sherlock Holmes stories, although guilty of being gullible, are never depicted as being stupid. The men of the Sherlock Holmes stories on the other hand, are kind of idiots. In fact, without the idea of male stupidity, the Sherlock Holmes stories would be rather sparse. Remember, the only villain who ever truly outsmarted Sherlock was Irene Adler.

There wouldn’t be a Sherlock Holmes consulting detective without the stupidity of men.

What does all of this mean? All of this means that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created an entire literary world based on the idea that men are dumb and they’re going to screw up and the world needs a man like Sherlock Holmes who happens to be smarter than all these other men to straighten out all this stupidity, but you know, the women, they’re smart and pretty.

So, do shut up Anderson, you’re lowering the IQ of the entire street.



Deduction: Men are kind of stupid, depiecting men as unintelligent, john watson, men are stupid, men screw up, sexism, sexism against men, sexism in sherlock holmes stories, sherlock, sherlock holmes, The Red-Headed League
Essays, Sherlock Holmes
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Deduction: Married Women Should Tell AllDeduction: Married Women Should Tell All

For the past three Deduction posts we’ve talked about how progressive women seemed in the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but that’s come to an end. We have to talk of other things now and those things are not as nice as the things we were talking about. We’re going to talk about a bit of sexism, but do realize, we’ve already been talking about sexism a bit in the Sherlock Holmes stories in the previous posts.

This post is about secrets in Sherlock Holmes, specifically secrets that married women keep. Why only married women? Here’s the thing, every story concerning Sherlock contains multiple secrets kept by everybody. Men have secrets. Women have secrets. Sailors have secrets. Sherlock has secrets. Everybody running around in all of these stories has secrets, but apparently not John because Sherlock figures out everything about him and even what he’s thinking from time to time. We’re going to talk of the secrets of married women because things are a bit lopsided.

We’re going to reference two stories in particular The Yellow Face and The Adventure of the Dancing Men. We’re going to be speaking of Effie and Elsie respectively. Why their names both begin with E I don’t know. There are multiple marriages that Sherlock steps into during his mystery solving. Sometimes the husband is dead and Sherlock is trying to figure out who killed him. Sometimes the husband is missing, but he’s really a panhandler. Sometimes the husband plays on some sports team and his teammates want to know where he’s at. The point is, there are lots of marriages that Sherlock finds himself around.

What makes Effie and Elsie’s stories stand out is that a husband comes to Sherlock Holmes and tells him that his wife has a secret and he must know it. This doesn’t happen in any of the other stories. A wife does come to Sherlock concerned about where her husband is in The Man with the Twisted Lip, but she simply wants to know where he is. She’s not there to find out his secrets, even though she ultimately ends up finding out his secrets. A woman never comes to Sherlock and asks Sherlock to figure out her husband’s secrets. It’s only men that do this. It’s only men that see fit to go to a private detective and ask him to stick his nose all up in his wife’s business.

In The Yellow Face a man finds that his wife asks for money when she usually never asks for money and she leaves the house at strange hours. When he asks her about all of this, she promises that she will tell him what is going on. In The Adventure of the Dancing Men Elsie gets strange drawings of dancing men. Her husband demands to know what it means, but she tells him that she cannot tell him our of fear. It also just happens that both of these women are American; I don’t know if that contributes to all this mystery any.

In both cases, I believe these women would have told their husbands these secrets of their own accord had the husband just backed down. If the man had been patient and waited, these women would have opened up to their husbands and said, “Yes, my kid from my first marriage is still alive and she’s black,” and, “Well, those dancing men are a secret code used by a crime family I used to be associated with, but I live here now and I was afraid to tell you about this because I didn’t want anybody to get hurt.”

These men couldn’t wait. They felt it was their right to know everything, and I mean everything about their wives. They couldn’t just let their wives have one little secret, ok, one big secret. None of the women in the Sherlock stories do this to their husbands. None of them. It’s only the men that demand to know secrets of their wives.

Oh, but women, we know these men have their secrets. This was the 1800s and early 1900s; men had their secrets. Women assumed that their husband to be had secrets and didn’t ask too much about them. Women knew their husbands had probably been to a brothel. They’ve probably had a lot of sex before they met their wife. They might have a gambling problem. They might have an alcohol problem. They might even have this entire secret family, but do any of the women demand of Sherlock to find any of this out? No, they do not.

Having a kid is a pretty big secret. I guess formerly belonging to a crime family is also a big secret. Those are big secrets. What’s also a big secret is having syphilis you caught from a prostitute down by the river. Do you think any of the husbands told their wives about this when they were married? Probably not. It’s a double-standard and it’s sexist.

The man should know everything about his wife, but the wife should just accept that her husband has a past that she shouldn’t know about. That’s essentially what we’re getting from these Sherlock stories.

I’m a woman. I’m married. I honestly don’t ask about every event in my husband’s past. I’ve asked about a lot, but I just assume the man had a life before me and what’s in the past is in the past. I don’t tell my husband everything about my past either. Should I? I’m not a marriage counselor so I don’t know, but you know, if I did have a kid, I’d probably have to tell him that I had a kid. Likewise, if my husband had a secret kid, he better fess up.

People used to be really accepting of the idea that husbands might have illegitimate children running around. They would call it “sewing wild oats.”  If you were a woman you just expected that your husband had gotten around a bit before you were married and maybe he had a kid, or two. If you were a woman, you were supposed to be above reproach, always. They better not catch you alone with a man before you were married. You better still have your hymen. Don’t laugh at jokes. Behave like a lady. Don’t even hint at the idea that you might be anything but a sweet little angel ready for a future husband to deflower.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stays with this idea. Men are wild and women should be mostly sweet, even if they’re the villains, you still have to feel sorry for them. Women are simple creatures and should have no nefarious secrets. Really, Arthur, really? Arthur wrote some of these women to be so intelligent and even devious, but in the cases of Effie and Elsie, he writes them to be with men who are demanding and can’t let their wives have anything to themselves. They even got another person, two in fact, involved in their married life.

Look, I don’t know about you guys, but I would be ticked off if my husband ran to someone else and got them involved in a dispute that he and I were having. It’s none of their business. Seriously. None of your business. If two strange men showed up at my house because of some secret I wouldn’t tell my husband I would be ticked off. First of all, your husband is supposed to respect you as a person, which means if you don’t want to talk about it, you don’t want to talk about it, end of story. This also means that a man should have enough respect for his wife not to embarrass her.

I say embarrass because Effie and Elsie were embarrassed by their husbands dragging John and Sherlock into their lives. Elsie wanted to hide her past. She didn’t want everyone to know that she came from a family of criminals. Effie wanted to let her husband in on her black daughter lightly. She didn’t want it to be this huge shock. They would have released the information of their own accord to their husbands when the time was right in confidence that their husbands did not tell anyone else. When the husbands brought John and Sherlock in, they embarrassed their wives. Sure, the wife might have warmed up enough to the husband to tell, but he forced the truth out.

There are two problems with forcing the truth out in these situations. The first problem is that everybody knows and the wife gets embarrassed. The husbands know now. John and Sherlock know now and all of their readers know now. All the people who read John’s summations of cases now know that Effie whoever has a black child from a previous interracial marriage. It’s nothing to be ashamed of today, but people were ashamed of it in the past. People are going to stop Effie in the street when she’s out with her daughter to ask her if she was that woman from that story. The husband has essentially ruined life for Effie in England by forcing this secret out.

The second problem with forcing a secret out is that the wife isn’t going to trust the husband. Would you trust your husband with any little confidence after he pried a confidence out of you? The husband crossed a line. It would make it very difficult to open up to him after that. The wife is not only embarrassed, but feels her trust is betrayed. The husband doesn’t trust the wife enough to let her take her time. The wife is going to think, “Well, I can’t even hint at this thing, because he’ll pry and then try to force it out of me, so it’s just better if he doesn’t know at all.” Forcing one secret out is going to breed more secrets. The wife is going to become more closed off to the husband and it’s his own darn fault.

In the end I think it’s stupid that wives were expected to tell everything to their husbands, but the men were not expected to tell everything to their wives. I also think it’s stupid that Sherlock got involved in these cases; he had no right to be there.



Deduction, Deduction: Married Women Should Tell All, effie, elsie, john watson, married men demand to know secrets, married women, secrets and married women, sexism, sexism in sherlock holmes, sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, the tale of the dancing men, The Yellow Face
Essays, Sherlock Holmes
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Deduction: Women can be Independent Deduction: Women can be Independent

We know this. You know this. I know this. Women don’t need a man to live life, right? Yeah, of course I’m right. There are plenty of women living it up on their own making decisions and doing things their way. They don’t need a man. Having a man is nice, but not necessary. Let’s roll back the clock about a hundred and twenty years though. A woman needed a man. That was beginning to change, but a woman needed a man. In the Sherlock Holmes stories, we see some women doing some awfully independent things and it’s refreshing.

I find that the Sherlock Holmes have an interesting view on women. In many aspects women are key players in many of the Sherlock stories and they’re doing things a woman might not do in the day and age.

I would like to start with a few examples. In the story The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist, a woman rides a bicycle to and from the train station by herself. In A Scandal in Bohemia, Irene Adler not only travels by herself, but runs and entire household and will sometimes dress as a man. In several others stories women have independent wealth, that suitors are trying to steal, including Violet from The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist. Another point we can look at is that several of the women Holmes deals with have jobs. They’re working women. They’re not women of wealth who sit around all day doing nothing.

Why is a woman riding a bicycle to and from a train station in the late 1800s and early 1900s a big deal? It’s a big deal for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that she’s alone. She doesn’t have a chaperone. I cannot stress what a big deal this is. Even if you were a poor women, most likely, someone tagged along with you when you went somewhere. You did not go to a place by yourself. The second reason this is such a big deal is because it’s a bicycle.

Here’s what Susan B. Anthony said about bicycles:

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

Susan B. Anthony was a women’s rights activist if you didn’t know. She even had her own dollar for a while, but I haven’t seen one in years. Why did Susan say this about bicycles? Susan said this about bicycles because bicycles allowed a woman to go a place on her own. She could get on a bicycle, under the pretext of getting some fresh air and/or exercise and ride off alone without a chaperone. It’s a big deal. Women now had the means to get on a bike and ride to see their friends, or boyfriends. A woman could go to the store by herself. She could ride out in the country, by herself.

I know we as woman may not appreciate a lot of the solitary time we have, especially if we’re single women living alone, but appreciate it. You need to appreciate it. Before a certain point in history a woman was hardly ever alone. You lived with your parents. You dated the man you married with your parents watching. Your friends came to visit you at your house and you visited them at their house. You went out of the house with a chaperone. You had a waiting maid if you were from a wealthier family. When you did get married, someone was always there. There was a maid. There was your husband. There was your passel of children. If you were of any standing in society you participated in little groups and church outings. You were never alone. Thanks to women’s rights movements, you can be alone. You can go places by yourself as a woman.

With the bicycle and other things going on, it became more acceptable for women to be out on their own. Violet could ride her bicycle in peace. She could go to and from her job on her bicycle. It was still a bit dangerous as we found out, but that bicycle gave her the independence to be alone and make up her own schedule.

We’re going to talk about Irene Adler again. Irene is really amazing. She travels alone, she does have a maid, but she travels without a male chaperone. She goes all over Europe it seems. She has her own household. What is significant about Irene and her own household is that she isn’t married. She does get married, but she’s not married when we first meet her. She ran this household by herself. That was uncommon. Women usually lived at home or with relatives until they were married, unless they had to work, of course. Irene was of a station that she probably didn’t have to work and could have lived at home. Irene’s smart of course, which I’ve already explained is really neat. The last thing about Irene is that she dressed like a man to follow Sherlock Holmes to Baker Street.

Women did not dress like men, ever, seriously. Men more often dressed as women than women dressed as men. If you know anything about theater you’ll know that men have played women’s role for a heck of a long time, consider especially early Shakespearean and Roman theater. Women did not wear pants. Going back to the bicycle thing, women started to wear bloomers, basically really long panties, with the advent of bicycles. Women couldn’t ride a bicycle with a bunch of petticoats they got caught in the wheels. Women switched the bloomers. Let me tell you, it was quite the scandal. People were like, “Don’t hang your bloomers on the clothesline. People are going to think you’re an immoral slut.”

Bloomers were a huge deal to people. They were outraged. They were outraged at one piece of clothing that you’re generally not going to see. Let me repeat that again. A whole bunch of people were losing their minds over the fact that a woman changed what kind of underwear she wore. If people were that upset about a woman changing her underwear, imagine how upset they would be if a woman just walked in the place dressed like a man. Think about it. Irene dressing like a man is quite progressive.

Moving onto money, we’re going to talk about two facets of women and money. There were several women who had their own wealth in the Sherlock Holmes stories. This is a big deal because women had not been previously allowed to actually have their own money. You could say, “Hey, I’m leaving this money to my daughter,” but almost always that money was entrusted to another male member of the family or husband. The women didn’t just get her hands on her own money to buy the things she wanted. There are several women, including Irene Adler, who have their own darn money in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Men are always trying to marry them for it. Dude, marry her, she has money.

There were also women in the Sherlock Holmes stories that worked. They’re mostly governesses, but they had their own jobs. Being a governess was really one of the only acceptable professions for women at the time and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stuck with the societal tradition here. He doesn’t write about a woman who is a banker or whatever. The women who work are governesses, which is basically a private teacher. Still though, the general consensus was that women shouldn’t be working. People hired governesses seemingly as a necessary evil. The fact that Sherlock runs into several women who are governesses and manage their own money is impressive. The fact that these women appeal to a private detective on their own is even more impressive.

Going back to that chaperone thing, women didn’t call upon men by themselves, usually. These governesses we run into show up at Sherlock’s house by themselves. They don’t bring a man. They don’t bring a maid. They show up and express their concerns on their own. They hire a private detective on their own. Lots of women do that today, but this was also highly unusual during the time period.

The women of the Sherlock Holmes stories are more independent than other women written by other male authors at the time in many aspects. I’m not saying Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a straight-up feminist because he just wasn’t and we’ll get into that in later posts, but he wrote women to be more independent than the time period seemed to allow.



Deduction: Women can be Independent, feminism, independent women in the sherlock holmes stories, irene adler, sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, susan b anthony, women and bicycles, women with their own households, women without chaperones
Essays, Sherlock Holmes
One-elevenbooks

Deduction: Hitting Girls Isn't CoolDeduction: Hitting Girls Isn’t Cool

Domestic abuse has been a problem for a long, long time. Pretty much ever since men and women have decided to cohabit together, there have been men who see fit to physically abuse their wives. In some places domestic abuse still isn’t even against the law, think Russia and some middle-eastern countries. I know, you would think Russia would have some better laws against domestic violence with its ranking about the big and forward-thinking countries, but it doesn’t. No wonder all the Russian women want to leave. It’s very difficult for women in Russia to prove domestic violence. The ones who want out, many of them, have to end up running away instead of appealing to actual legal channels.

Domestic abuse was a problem during the time of Sherlock Holmes. When I saw the time of the Sherlock stories I roughly mean 1890-1910, but some of the Sherlock stories do fall out of that time line. I’m just using a rough time period for Sherlock. The thing about the time period of Sherlock though is that women were picking up momentum. They were gaining rights. I have already briefly mentioned property laws passed in England around the time of some of the Sherlock stories. Before this point women weren’t legally allowed to inherit. Their money could be entirely controlled by the men in their lives. The year 1865 also saw some laws passed that helped protect women in abusive relationships, but as you can probably tell, it took some time for these laws to take effect.

Men still beat their wives. Even with women becoming more independent and riding bicycles and gaining the right to vote, men still beat their wives. Men still beat their wives today even though it’s illegal as all get out, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom. It’s not nearly as common as it used to be though, which is saying something. We’ve accomplished something, probably not as much as we should have, but we’ve done something.

The atmosphere of social reform was in the air when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his Sherlock stories. The world was changing. Things were progressing. Women and people of color, any color, were gaining more rights to do the same things white men could do.

There are three cases of domestic abuse I would like to cite in the Sherlock Holmes stories. They come from The Adventure of Abbey Grange, The Adventure of Black Peter, and The Adventure of the Cardboard Box. Now, there may be stories I’m missing that tell of domestic abuse, but I’m going to go with these three stories.

In The Adventure of Abbey Grange a woman concocts a story about her dead husband. That woman is named Mary. It turns out that a man who likes her killed her husband because her husband was an alcoholic and he had been beating her. Sherlock decides that no one should go to prison. In The Adventure of Black Peter, Black Peter is known to chase his wife and daughter about the village hitting them while drunk. In The Adventure of the Cardboard Box Browner is known to get a little violent and argumentative with his wife when he’s drunk, he ultimately kills her.

In all three adventures alcohol is involved. Arthur must have assumed that only drunk men beat their wives, but that isn’t the case and we know it. Sober men can beat their wives too, but usually it’s because they have anger issues or mental disorders, or maybe they’re just jerks. Alcohol does not make men beat their wives. It’s true that some men get so angry when they’re drunk that they behave in a manner they would never behave in while sober. It happens, that’s why it’s a good idea to evaluate how alcohol reacts with you and choose to take it or not to take it.

What is so fascinating about the Sherlock stories in relation to women being beaten is that they get what’s coming to them. Sherlock thinks these men are deplorable. He thinks that anybody who kills one of them is doing a service not only to the wife, but to society.

You have to remember that for a long time, and even today depending on where you live at and what kind of people you hang out with, people said a man beating his wife was his business. Nobody stepped in to help a battered woman. They said she probably did something to deserve it. They said she had made him angry. They always blamed it on the woman. Mothers would tell their daughters to have dinner on the table at 6:00pm on the dot and have sex when they didn’t want to, all to avoid being beaten. Mothers would not rescue their daughters, because they themselves had probably been beaten during their marriage. Fathers didn’t rescue their daughters because it was expected that a man could be his wife. People just didn’t get involved, because they didn’t want to be dragged into anything.

I mentioned Russia earlier, that’s because Russia has a huge problem with domestic violence, even bigger than the United States or the United Kingdom. Lots of women die every year in Russia because their husbands kill them. Killing a person is illegal, but somehow people get away with it. In India a lot of men also get away with killing their wives. There is still this attitude that somehow the woman did something to merit being physically abused.

This was the attitude people had about wife-beating back in the day of Sherlock, but like I said, that was changing. People were beginning to speak up about women’s rights. Laws were being passed to basically say that women were people too.

Get this, Arthur was a man and Sherlock was a man. As a man in England in the 1800s you may have dressed all fancy and been up on the latest fashions for men of the day, but you were a manly man. You drank your whiskey. You shot your guns. You farted at the dinner table, ok, I don’t know about that one, but you behaved like a man. You didn’t stand up for women. No man stood up for women. They were like, “Oh, those women and their silly problems.”

Arthur was a well-known man who created Sherlock Holmes, who was also a man, until proven otherwise. You have to admit that Sherlock secretly being a woman would put a whole new twist on the Sherlock Holmes stories, but this isn’t the case. Sherlock was a well-known and respected man. People admired him. People looked up to him. People came to him for advice. The amazing thing about Sherlock Holmes is that he breaks that stereotypical image of a man’s man. Sherlock stands up for women. Sherlock thinks that beating your wife is bad. He helps women who have been beaten. When he finds out that someone murdered two of these men because they were beating their wives, he lets the guys go.

What these men did is still illegal. Murdering a man is illegal ok? These men should have been prosecuted theoretically, but Sherlock says, “Well, he was a jerk, we’ll let this one slide.”

This says something about the men who kill these men as well. They were people-enough to stand up against these men because they were terrible people and strike them down for their wrong doings. One man did it out of self-interest in the case of Black Peter, but in the case of Abbey Grange, this sailor outright killed a man because he was beating his wife. He risked prison for this woman. He risked prison because she was being beaten. That’s saying something; it really is. If you’re man enough to do that, then you’re a real man. Even Browner, who murdered his own wife, realized that he was a despicable jerk. He realized how wrongly he had behaved and wished to be dead.

You have to understand that lots of people read these Sherlock stories. Arthur basically made a statement. I don’t know if he did it on accident or he meant to do it just for publicity or he meant to do it because he really believed in it, but he made a statement about violence against women. He got it across to thousands upon thousands of people. Via his character Sherlock Holmes he basically made the statement, “If you beat your wife, you’re a terrible person. If someone happens to kill you, then, too bad, so sad. The murderer shouldn’t be prosecuted because you’re a terrible example of a human being.” This is huge. It’s a big deal.

A prominent author and a prominent literary character speak out against violence to women. People didn’t do this. I’m telling you. People who rocked the boat and spoke out against things like this were laughed at for a long time. Whether Arthur did this out of good intention or not I don’t know, but it had a positive effect. People could say that if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed hitting your wife was bad and he wrote Sherlock to think it was wrong, then maybe you too should think it is wrong.

In the end, I bet you never suspected Sherlock Holmes of being feminist.



an essay about domestic violence in sherlock holmes, Deduction: Hitting Girls Isn’t Cool, domestic violence, feminism, sherlock holmes, sherlock holmes as a feminist, sir arthur conan doyle, violence against women, wife beating, women’s rights
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Deduction: Women can be Villains TooDeduction: Women can be Villains Too

Delilah was the original female villain. She seduced her husband. She got the secret of his weakness out of him and then she ultimately caused his demise, but also her own. Women have always been considered the more gentle of the two sexes. If there was some scheme or some evil deed, no one assumed it was a woman, despite the fact that we have Delilah from the Bible to look to. Likewise, in the 1890s when the Sherlock stories were really getting a good hold with the good people of England, no one suspected the woman. That’s different in the Sherlock stories.

In this essay, we’ll look at the idea of women being villains in the Sherlock Holmes series.

Ursula is probably the foremost Disney villain in my head. The Little Mermaid came out in 1989 and it was probably the Disney movie I watched the most. Ursula is kind of scary, but she wasn’t the only Disney villain. There was always an evil step-mother or a witch lurking around causing terrible things to happen, but generally, what they did, at least according to Disney, wasn’t so bad. I have already read the Grimm’s Fairy Tales at length and what the evil women of those stories did was not Disney rated.

We’ve had evil women in literature a long time before the Sherlock Holmes series came about. There were the evil women of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales which was published in 1812 for the first time. There was Delilah and Jezebel from the Bible. There were witches in literature. There were evil step-mothers. We could go on and on about the female villains pre-Sherlock Holmes.

We could also look at historical female villains, yes, there were a few. The primary female villain that comes to mind is Elizabeth Bathory. The countess, The Blood Countess, who was responsible for the deaths of around 600 young women, possibly more. We have women accused of being witches all throughout history. Quite frankly, when I look at people like Queen Mary, otherwise known as Bloody Mary, I kind of consider her a villain. She had her own cousin executed. History has its female villains, but they’re not nearly as prolific as the male villains wandering around.

The female villains of Sherlock Holmes strike me a little differently than the villains in literature before the time of Sherlock Holmes. The female villains of Sherlock Holmes seem smarter and more independent than the female villains of fairy tales. Irene Adler is the first Sherlock Holmes villain that springs to mind. She’s not a murderer. She doesn’t commit treason, ok think the actual literary series, not the show Sherlock. In Sherlock Irene does actually commit treason, but that’s a television show and we’re talking about works of literature. Irene is simply a blackmailer in the stories.

I already pointed out in my posts about A Scandal in Bohemia that I don’t think Irene was necessarily acting out of malice. I think she was a villain, but she was a villain by necessity. She was committing blackmail because she was trying to protect herself, but she was also incredibly smart. She dressed up and pretended to be someone else, much like Sherlock. She was able to keep her own house and have her own money by herself. That’s such a big deal. Women didn’t go have entire households by themselves. Irene was a smart cookie; she wasn’t necessarily the most dastardly villain, but she was still an intelligent female villain.

Then we move onto to Anna from The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez. Anna was a villain and she was a murderer. She was also a revolutionary, political prisoner, and even illegal alien. Anna had herself a list of villainy. Some of her evil-doings weren’t necessarily that evil. Being a political prisoner means the government doesn’t like you. The government may not like you because you’re really, really terrible, but it may also be that they don’t like your ideas. The government not liking your ideas doesn’t make your ideas wrong or stupid; it just means the government is not open to your ideas and considers your ideas threatening and that’s why it locks you away.

Anna illegally enters a house. She murders a man. She doesn’t mean to murder this man, but he ends up dead. Murder is murder. She’s a sympathetic villain, but she’s still a villain. She then commits suicide, which seems to add another sin onto her list of sins. Suicide wasn’t something that was celebrated back in the days of Sherlock Holmes. Suicide was frowned upon and a lot of people thought you were going straight to Hell if you committed suicide and your body was buried outside of the church yard.

Another female Sherlock Villain is the woman who kills Charles Augustus Milverton in The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. We don’t know her name. We never know her name. She comes in the room with a black veil and shoots Milverton repeatedly. She knows full well what she is doing. Milverton blackmailed her and she fought back. Sherlock doesn’t think she deserves to go to jail so he never tells who murdered Milverton. The fact of the matter is that she still knowingly killed someone. This wasn’t the same case as Anna who murdered someone out of fright and accident. This was a case of a woman being pissed off and killing a man in cold blood. He’s freaking dead, really, really dead, because she unloaded an entire gun into him.

Women shot men in the 1890s and early 1900s. It happened, but Sherlock seems to run into more female villains than the average detective. It’s probably because he works with Scotland Yard and Scotland Yard is largely responsible for dealing with most crime in England, seemingly, during the Sherlock Holmes stories.

We have minor female villains in the Sherlock stories. We have women who hide things from their husbands. We have women who commit adultery and lie. These seems like minor infractions compared to the three biggies I already mentioned Irene Adler, Anna, and the veiled woman.

There is something all of the female villains in the Sherlock series have in common. All of the female villains, either minor or major, elicit pity and sympathy. Even the veiled woman who murders Milverton elicits a heck of a lot of sympathy. If it were us, we would probably kill him too. None of the female villains are just cold-blooded killers. We don’t have any witches. We don’t have any blood countesses or serial killers. All of the female villains are women who are fairly justified in their actions. Their actions are still against the law, but we, as readers, feel their actions were necessary and completely ok, our feelings don’t actually make these actions ok.

Now, compare that to the male villains in the Sherlock stories. We don’t have a lot of sympathy for them. They’re just bad. There is no, “Oh, this guy has three kids.” No, the bad guys are really the bad guys. They’re not justified in their actions; they’re just criminals.

Looking at it straight on, it’s unfair. It’s not fair that the female villains aren’t all bad. The male villains are all bad, but not the women. It’s sexist. It’s a double-standard. Arthur is essentially saying that yes, a woman could be a villain, but she has a justified reason to be a villain. The male villains don’t have reasons, they’re just bad.

Another point I would like to make is that the female villains of the Sherlock stories are smart. They are intelligent. Irene Adler is very smart. Anna is very smart. I believe that our veiled woman was also probably very smart. These women can hold their own in the world of men, mentally. You have to remember that the 1890s was the tail-end of an era that thought women just weren’t as smart as men. Some people said women’s brains didn’t have as much power. Women couldn’t understand math. Women couldn’t do this. Women couldn’t do that. Sure women could learn to read and write, but they couldn’t understand all that technical stuff. The female villains of Sherlock Holmes can understand all that stuff.

Although, the sad thing is that none of the female villains of Sherlock Holmes are involved in any of the highly technical cases that Sherlock runs into; they’re still quite smart though.

In the end Arthur gets a cigar for casting women as intelligent villains in his stories, but he gets part of that cigar taken away for not having them be more evil and not having them participate in some of the more complicated cases Sherlock encounters. Maybe that sounds stupid, but if you want true equality between the sexes, you do have to admit that one is not better than the other in any aspect. That means women can be just as evil as men.


 
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Deduction

Deduction Deduction

I’m finished with reading the Sherlock Holmes stories, but we’re not through with Sherlock just yet. I’m going to do a short series of essays about Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The purpose of this post is to provide you with a menu of what you can or could expect. I may change the topics up a bit as I go along.

  • Feminism and Sherlock Holmes
  • Sexism in the Sherlock Holmes Stories
  • The prolific use of the word ejaculation
  • Homosexuality and Sherlock Holmes
  • Sherlock Holmes as a Busybody
  • The possibility of mental disorders in Sherlock Holmes
  • John Watson’s wife is really lenient
  • Arthur didn’t do his research very well
  • Arthur was interested in secret societies
  • The same names are repeated over and over
  • Religion in the Sherlock stories

I may add and subtract to this list as I am moved to do so. I’m calling the series Deduction by the way.

As an overall review of the Sherlock stories I find him both fascinating and exhausting. Sherlock does not act as a normal person would. He seems to ignore social traditions and behaviors while expertly solving mysteries. He has strange and self-damaging habits. He seems to put himself above emotion, but he is not above emotion. I think I’ve often had arguments with him in my head. It is true that I had to take a couple of breaks while doing this project. Sherlock is a lot to handle and it’s difficult to keep up with him for long periods of time.

I’m actually relieved that I’m done with Sherlock, but I definitely have a new-found appreciation for the famous literary character. I’ll pick him apart for just a little longer.



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