Rape in Veronica Mars: Part 2

In which I address the idea that since Veronica Mars is a great female role model, it’s okay to mock feminists.

I can appreciate where Rob Thomas is coming from here. I do think Veronica is phenomenal–she’s smart, snappy, and real. She’s had a tough time and dealt with traumas including her own drug-induced rape, and while she’s certainly jaded, she’s capable of love, growth and generosity. She’s balancing appreciating and needing people with independence. I don’t, however, think that writing one such character gives a writer carte blanche with respect to every other female he creates, not least because that means that “strong, smart, snappy woman who deals with her baggage constructively at least some of the time” represents the exception to the rule, while women in general are either weak or responding to violence and bullying with violence and bullying of their own.

In addition, these are the only explicit feminists he’s created. Apparently it’s okay to be a strong woman, but as soon as you start identifying as part of the feminist movement, as caring about women’s collective strength in society or about systemic violence and oppression, you lose all of your functioning brain cells. I appreciate the moral ambiguity of the noir genre, but there’s a difference between not holding feminists up as sacred and untouchable paragons of virtue and turning them into mere caricature. The fact that the serial rapist shaved the heads of his victims made this even worse: do we really need to see these angry, man-hating feminists looking exactly like a conventional caricature of an angry, man-hating militant?

Posts in this Series

  1. Rape in Veronica Mars: Part 1
  2. Rape in Veronica Mars: Part 2
  3. Rape in Veronica Mars: Third (and final)


  1. says

    For the most part, beliefs tend to follow Chekhov’s gun principle. People are not Christians, atheists, feminists, Democrats, or anything if it’s not important to the plot. For example primetime TV leads people to believe if someone is part of a small religion, they’re either going to kill themselves or someone else. Any other explicit feminists he created were going to be because a feminist was needed to further the plot.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    And his preconception of a feminist, like the preconception of “small religion” members always behaving like Jim Jones, exhibited a reckless disregard for the reputation of those he is stereotyping.

    Both are wrong.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    I don’t watch the show, but it seems to me that Thomas is deliberately presenting Veronica as a correct example of being a strong woman, and the others are offered as an incorrect example of being strong women. The message I get here is: “See, you don’t have to be a man-hating wacko to be strong, like those feminists are all doing.”

    And that’s only one step up from Rush Limbaugh calling any woman who doesn’t worship him a Femi-Nazi. Thomas is reinforcing the idea that feminism is a declaration of war against men, and offering Veronica as a post-feminist alternative to women who want to be strong, but not part of a movement that challenges men to think beyond their own privileges, god forbid.

    A meta-message here is that the way for women to become equal with men – well, as much as men feel like letting us – is NOT by forming collectives. Stand down, ye scurvy packs of she-wolves! Yer each of ye on yer own!

    And I’m scared to think what message rape survivors are getting from this.

  4. SunlessNick says

    And that’s only one step up from Rush Limbaugh calling any woman who doesn’t worship him a Femi-Nazi. – BetaCandy

    This doesn’t have anything to do with Veronica Mars, but I wonder if the term Femi-Nazi is deliberately meant to obfuscate the fact that the real Nazis would have been on Limbaugh’s side.

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