spock: logic is sexy

An open letter to the writers of The Flash...

Summary: I throw up in my mouth a little every time a damsel in distress is rescued by a Very Brave Man.


Dear writers of The Flash,

Have you ever considered that female characters do not ALL have to be rescued from a terribly dangerous situation by a very brave man? I think not, which is disturbing since this is 2015. The Flash lives a dangerous life, and so do his companions. The occasional kidnapping by a criminal mastermind is a hazard of the job. I get that. However, seeing as it's 2015 and all, I think you should know that women can sometimes rescue themselves.

Iris was the first to become the Damsel in Distress, when she was kidnapped by Barry's super-strong childhood nemesis. She actually did defeat him with her boxing skills, but then she wrote in a blog post that Barry saved her. Later, she's part of a group who gets held hostage in the police station. She actually does fire the shot that wounds the hostage taker -- but only because her dad cooks up a plan and her wounded boyfriend tells her how to carry it out. Afterward, she gets zero acknowledgement for freeing everyone, but her boyfriend gets lots of attention for his failed attempt to shoot the bad guy. And, for the entirety of seaosn one, Iris is treated as a damsel by Barry, Eddie, and her father. Her dad doesn't even wait for her to be in danger before he declares that Barry must never, ever tell her his secret, no matter how much he has to hurt Iris in the process. Barry follows along with it, and when Eddie objects, it's only because stops having sex with him when she realizes he's keeping a secret.

Caitlyn is treated better than poor Iris because her job is integral to the Flash's success, but she's not immune from becoming the Damsel. In season one, she's kidnapped by Captain Cold. Her major act of defiance in this episode is to declare that Barry will save her. She's a very brave hostage, but not one who's capable of freeing herself. In season two, she's kidnapped by Grod, the would-be leader of the Planet of the Apes. At lesat this time she's kidnapped because her professional skills are valuable, but the dudes show up to rescue her before she can even try to get away. Here's a fun plot twist: what if Grod kidnapped the duplicate Dr. Wells so he could have his "father" back? And then Caitlyn, who's the only person who believes in the goodness of this Dr. Wells, launches the rescue attempt?

Dr. Wells' daughter exists only to be Zoom's hostage, and even Patty -- who is otherwise portrayed as a capable detective -- is kidnapped by the evil Sand guy in season two. Unable to do anything to help herself, she defiantly declares that the Flash will destroy this nefarious villain. Which, of course, he does after an appropriate amount of man pain. Meanwhile, Patty gets stuck in hurtful and confusing situations because her partner Joe doesn't trust her with information and Barry isn't willing to let her in on his secret.

Maybe you would like to argue that dudes on this show get kidnapped too. That's true, but their stories play out differently. When Cisco is kidnapped by Dr. Cold, he builds weapons and ultimately negotiates his own escape. The terms are shitty -- he has to tell Dr. Cold that Barry is the Flash -- but at least he to make a choice, and that choice says a lot about what kind of person he is. Joe gets kidnapped a couple times too, but next to Barry, he's the most fully developed character. Getting held hostage and rescued doesn't diminish his status as a person with agency.

I want to like your show, I really do. I think Barry is one of the most intensely appealing characters I've seen on television, and I respect the efforts you've made to create a racially diverse cast. Just make a little more room for the ladies, ok?

Sincerely,
Igrockspock
Haven't read this carefully because I'm only about 5 episodes into the first season, but I can already see why you take issue with the writing of Iris (a previous post). It's a fun show, but it's hard to believe how easily viewers accept this sort of writing for All. The. Ladies. *sigh*
Good lord, I have to agree with you there.

Making more room for the ladies would definitely improve some things on that show.
Couldn't agree with you more. I do like the show but I feel like I could love it if not for the way they treat the female characters. Iris, in particular, because she gets the short end of the stick more than the others and she happens to be my favorite.

And it's basically the same thing they did on Arrow for the first few seasons. Though I do think that show improved a bit on the ladies needing to be rescued versus doing the actual rescuing, but said improvement didn't happen right away.

Though, with The Flash, I do appreciate that they kind of let Iris save Linda and actually gave her credit for it a few episodes back. But one example against a dozen doesn't matter much. I just hope it's a sign that maybe things will start to change, albeit slowly.