Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dames of Our Lives: She'll Get Hers

Every once in a while, Alex just dazzles me.

Sometimes he’ll go on endlessly about computers, gadgets, robots, military history, politics, or zombies, and my poor, drug-addled brain will have the hardest time wrapping itself around whatever the hell he’s talking about.  Not to say we don’t have hundreds of other things in common.  In fact, one of the things we have in common is Y&R, much to the surprise of just about everyone we know.

How the hell did that happen?

 Every Sunday, Alex would watch Game of Thrones (aka “Game of Groans” – a title bestowed upon it by my weak stomach).  I told him that it was essentially a soap opera with swords.  He disagreed.  I presented my case, and, in the end, I won.  Not just because I was louder and kept talking over the show’s dialogue, forcing him to press pause every three minutes.  Game of Thrones is a serial drama.  You’re a soap fan.  You know what I’m talking about, right?

Anyways, Alex started watching Y&R with me after seeing those stupid needle-point pillows in Diane Jenkins’ room interspersed with clips of the entire cast of the show looking guilty as arse.  Obviously not Y&R’s best era, but he enjoyed it enough to actually start sitting and watching it with me every day.  He’s the reason I went back to watching the show regularly.  He won’t miss an episode, no matter how frustrated he gets with it.   

Some people admire their significant other for remembering the anniversary of their first kiss, or for showing up with flowers for no reason.  Me?  Nothing makes me swoon like watching poor Alex bravely and stubbornly sitting through an entire episode of Y&R at its stupidest.  It’s like watching Joan of Arc burning at the stake while a loved one stands nearby shouting, “Recant! Just recant, already!”  But Joan remains nobly steadfast as a tin soldier, letting the flames lick higher and higher.  It wears off quickly enough, though, when Joan starts yelling, “How can Jack even maintain an erection?  He has a severe spinal injury!”, “How the fuck do you travel from Japan to Wisconsin in seven minutes?” or “How the hell is Devon able to make and take phone calls when he’s deaf?!”

Why doesn’t Alex watch Days with me as regularly?  He doesn’t like many of the characters.  I asked him who he did like.  It was a very short list.  EJ and Stefano.  That’s it.  He’s pretty much indifferent to everyone else, though, when I asked him which characters he didn’t like, there were far more women on the list than men.  At first I thought it was because he was a pig, but no.  Well, I mean he could still be a pig, but it has nothing to do with hating women.  He doesn’t hate women.  He hates Days’ women.

I didn’t have to ask him to elaborate (he tends to do that with little encouragement).  He said he hated the women on Days because Days seems to hate the women on Days.  For a show aimed at a largely female audience, the show presents a very limited, unflattering portrayal of women, he explained.  “Out of Y&R and Days, Days is obviously the far worse offender.”

We ladies won't notice, though, because we'll be too busy playing "Guess the Chest".

Alex, of course, is right.  Days is just about as misogynistic as soaps can get.

He made points, all of which I agreed with because they were all facts of which I was already painfully aware.  The origin stories behind Kate and Nicole’s “evilness” stems from the same thing – their sexuality – something that, as far as Days is concerned, is about as debased as it gets.  If you’re a comic or sci-fi geek (like myself), you’ll know that many villains come with a sob story of some sort.  They came to some sort of crossroads and went down the wrong path.  Kate and Nicole’s paths are similar in that both had them relying on sex in some way for survival.  Nicole was forced into the porn industry when she was just a teenager by her abusive father.  Kate, in the meantime, worked as a prostitute.  No matter what Kate and Nicole do, the stigma is always there.  It doesn’t matter that they did what they did to survive, or that it made them fiercely protective of both themselves and the people and things they hold most dear.  To this day, Kate is still the butt of many a hooker joke, and Nicole is still called a whore.  Keep in mind that it’s acceptable or not acceptable depending on who the words are coming from. 

Last August, when it had absolutely no bearing on the conversation whatsoever, Hope threw Nicole’s past as an adult film star in her face, using it as a reason to not believe a word that came out of her mouth.  Hope is the show’s heroine.  She would never in a million years sell her body for money, of course.  Madison started pretty early on in her tenure with the “old hooker” jokes.  We, of course, were expected to find it fun and catty.  Madison was the new resident good girl.  She sashayed onto the scene in her peach soft-serve dress, immediately and inexplicably bolstered by Salem good guy Brady Black and newly redeemed-by-red-hot-love Victor Kiriakis (who, out of nowhere, decided that Kate needed to be destroyed).  Later, when we found out that Madison wasn’t the self-made woman we were led to believe she was – the wealthy and sophisticated Ian McCallister was pulling the strings – Madison was a victim of unfortunate circumstance.  She wasn’t a prostitute.  She wasn’t a hooker.  She has yet to be called a “lying, back-stabbing slut”.  She’s one of Days’ heroines, though, so even if it quacks a lot like Kate’s duck, and walks a lot like Kate’s duck, it somehow still ain’t the same breed of duck.

Because Kate is the devil, she is unworthy of having a soul mate, or any sort of lasting loyalty from friends or family.  What, exactly, did Kate do to Victor to have him want to crush her company like a bug?  She kept his grandson’s dirty sarcophagus secret.  She dispatched of Chloe – something he was very grateful for at the time.  She even offered to flirt with him in front of a pissy Maggie, motivating her to finally make a move on the old coot.  What the hell happened?

Let’s look at Sami for a second.  Sami has done a lot of bad, bad things, but, for all the horrible things she’s done over the years, one thing she hasn’t done is have sex for money. 
Sami, for no really good reason, decided to try to screw Kate and her company over.  Kate responded by threatening to have her put in jail, something that, as EJ mercifully pointed out before I tore my hair out of my head, she was legally entitled to do after what Sami had done.  Stefano, a man Lucas hates, took his mother’s company and threw her out of his house, leaving his mother homeless and his ass unemployed.  Kate, in a fit of rage after having the only thing that was ever really hers ripped out of her hands, declares (perfectly legal) war on Sami – the woman who gleefully taped her name over top of Kate’s on the office door.  So how does Lucas end up working for both Sami and Stefano?  Kate is a villainess.  Kate is not allowed to be happy for any real length of time.  Though her actions are, once again, all about protecting herself and something she holds close to her heart, no more or less than those of any other woman on the show, she’s wearing that sash that says, “Happily Never After”.  Never to be forgiven, past never to be forgotten.

Not that this casts Sami in a flattering light, either.  Lucas’ reasoning for siding with his ex is that Sami needs to be saved from herself, and that, as the mother of his children, she must be protected at all costs. 
By the way, pardon me for the tangent, but I don’t buy the whole “I’m going to protect the mother of my children” thing.  Let’s face it, mother of my children or not, if you’re forcing my children into the emotionally-polarizing position of having to cover up your crimes lest their family be torn apart, trying to destroy my mother’s livelihood, or calling my mother a whore, the only protection you’re getting from me is that maybe when I put my foot up your ass, I won’t wear silver-toe rand cowboy boots.  A shitty human being is a shitty human being.  She shouldn’t be protected simply because she’s a mother.  Hell, Casey Anthony was somebody’s mother.  

As wonderful and romantic as all of this “I will never hurt the mother of my children” stuff sounds, if you think about it, it’s all rather anti-feminist.  Sami is a woman in her thirties who is being written as someone who still can’t take care of herself.  No wonder Autumn dumped Lucas.  Who the hell wants to date a guy who insists he has to take a leave of absence from his job to travel halfway around the world because he thinks his thirty-something ex-wife can’t be left to her own devices for more than a few days?  For that matter, why the hell did Sami have to call him in the first place?  For all the fun she makes of both Nicole and Kate, at least the two of them have proven time and time again (until very recently) that, when the world comes crashing down around them, they can pick themselves up and dust themselves off with no outside emotional support whatsoever.  Sami has always had her family and a parade of lovers to fall back on when things fall spectacularly to pieces.

If you started out as a good girl, you’re good as gold on Days.  Bo will always have Hope’s back.  Her children will always love her.  Her parents will always cherish her.  Carly slept with the husband Hope dumped (in their bed, as Hope has pointed out time and time again), and she left Salem a shivering, weeping wreck of a woman.  Women who sleep with other women’s husbands are whores, no matter the circumstances, right?  Unless you’re a Brady or a Horton, there’s no get out of jail free card for you. 

Right now Days expects me to root for Carrie and Rafe to get together despite the fact that Carrie has a history of cheating on the men she’s with, and despite the fact that it’s her sister’s husband.  Sami having sex with EJ was terrible, but Carrie’s intentions to fuck up her sister’s marriage are pure because she’s doing it in the name of true love.  Kate is trying to protect Lucas from Sami (by the way - I’m waiting for a man with a saviour complex to swoop in from Hong Kong to save Lucas from himself, but I’m willing to bet that isn’t going to happen any time soon), but Carrie – a daughter-in-law who is currently in the throes of cheating on her other son a second time – is untouchable?  I understand that Kate has a creepy relationship with Lucas in comparison to those that she has with her other children, but come on.

 For a show that is constantly making claims that they’re trying to make viewers happy by modernizing the medium, Days’ idea of “contemporary” is pretty bloody antiquated.  The happiest women on the show are those that find themselves married, raising kids, and working in fields that serve the public (insert old hooker joke here) – doctors, nurses, cops, lawyers.  Nicole has yet to have any one of those things.  For some reason, that very elusive trifecta is the only thing that will make her happy, because that’s what makes every woman happy, isn’t it?  Isn’t that what we all want - a career, a happy marriage, and a litter of kids? 

Like Tom and Alice, right? 


I don’t have kids.  I don’t want kids.  A lot of the dialogue on Days has me wondering why the powers that be seem to still think that, in this day and age, life is an empty husk without marriage and children.  I resent the occasional implication that having no interest in having children makes me selfish or self-absorbed.
Not that I think that Days has declared war on all single mothers or women who don’t want to procreate, though, every once in a while, I have to wonder what the hell is going on in their minds.

Okay, seriously.  Whoever worded this should be beaten up on with a stick that has “Welcome to the real world” burned into its side.  I could go down the list of reasons why Nicole is an idiot for even considering taking EJ back, but I won’t.  I have only two options here.  I could go the sassy route by voting that EJ had his chance and blew it, or I could vote that Nicole go back to him because, no matter how badly he’s treated her, he’s “the rightful father of her child”.  Nice.

I’m still rather ticked off about the fact that Nicole had to have a miracle pregnancy.  I hate it when I read shit like “Nicole deserves to have a baby”.  First of all, “deserves” is ridiculous way of putting it.  Giving birth isn’t the be all and end all of happiness, despite what Days is telling you.  Many women who want to have babies, even the most kindhearted, wonderful women who desperately want to be mothers, can’t get pregnant or carry a baby to term.  Perfectly “deserving” women.  Nicole wanting to raise a child, but not being able to biologically have one of her own, could have yielded many different storylines, including – GASP! – an adoption storyline.  There are women out there who can’t have children and look into adoption.  I’m not shitting you.  Actual women out there are dealing with similar issues.  Modern women, man.  How many women out there who can’t have children for whatever reason actually one day find themselves miraculously pregnant?  I’m willing to bet a helluva lot less.

What do you suppose would happen if Nicole adopted a child and then went ahead and tried to raise it on her own?  Yikes!  What if she then went on to have a perfectly healthy sex life?  With someone who isn’t her husband?  ACK!

Seriously, is Ken Corday trying to protect his own head from exploding, or ours?  Because I honestly think I’ll be okay.  I have a feeling you’ll be fine, too.