When the zombies come what will happen to feminism?

Having discovered that Womanist Musings and Viva la Feminista are both Walking Dead fans and then there’s also me and one of my bestest and oldest feminist friends who are completely mad for zombies, I think we can safely say based on my sample of four – feminism/womanism and zombies, it’s a thing. Are you watching The Walking Dead? It has a lot of the stuff I like – zombies!, survivalist drama and then also some brilliantly eery apocalyptic landscapes. The zombie apocalypse theme brings up some interesting questions for the role of women. It’s the end of the world as we know it, will we be doing all the cooking and cleaning in our little band of human survivors or will we, men and women alike, share the load of domestic work and warrior work according to our skills and enthusiasm? Think carefully about this, because gender discrimination costs us significant output in the world right now and one can only image what that cost would be when the zombies try coming for us.

There is some interesting discussion happening about The Walking Dead and these questions over at Balancing Jane and here on Huffington Post and also, on Tom and Lorenzo. (Spoiler warnings for all those links, they’re variously progressed through the series further than Australian television). It is lovely to see so many fan discussion boards lighting up over the issue of better character development for the female characters in the show, too. There’s definitely some writing problems happening in The Walking Dead and that’s all being duly noted at those links – all the survivors in the show are annoying, in fact so much so that the love triangle going on has absolutely no sexual tension. And I normally have quite the weakness for shaved-head, shouty men but I’m not getting anything for Shane. Still, there’s zombies and you already know how I feel about zombies.

Finally, SPOILER, it is interesting to see how the topic of abortion is handled in season 2. If there was ever a time when you could justify abortion then surely the zombie apocalyse is it, but this is television so the ‘nobody ever gets an abortion on TV ever’ rule endures.

Cross-posted at blue milk.


Categories: arts & entertainment, Culture, ethics & philosophy, fun & hobbies, gender & feminism, Life, Sociology, work and family

6 replies

  1. Having discovered that Womanist Musings and Viva la Feminista are both Walking Dead fans and then there’s also me and one of my bestest and oldest feminist friends who are completely mad for zombies, I think we can safely say based on my sample of four – feminism and zombies, it’s a thing.

    Thanks very much for the link. I understand the point that you made in this section, but I feel it necessary to point out that I identify as a womanist, not a feminist.

  2. Shakesville has had a weekly thread for a while, and Liss hates it. Glancing over her criticisms, I think the whole thing would just make me toooo cranky.

  3. My apologies Renee. Ammended.

  4. Thanks orlando, I like the Shakesville thread but as Melissa mostly hates the show I thought I couldn’t really include her in my post of feminist enthusiasm for zombies.

  5. HATE the walking dead – because I hate end of world scenarios tv (but hubby loves it, so have a general awareness of the show). Give me vampires, werewolves, succubi, x-men, and superheroes, but not zombies.
    On the abortion on TV issue, the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy (which I download so am running on a US schedule) involves a main character having an abortion because she doesn’t ever want children and wants to put her career first. She is unapologetic; she is a married, well-paid adult and yet still chooses abortion, and she is not sad or traumatised by it. Unfortunately her spouse (while intially supportive) becomes increasingly upset about it, leading to relationship breakdown – but I still thought for US tv this is pretty brave on the abortion front.
    Abortion has also came up as an issue several times in the Grey’s Anatomy spin off show, Private Practice, where they have different characters doing different responses (from religious outrage to feminist choice acceptance), but again the women who choose abortions tend not to have any medical or psychological consequences, which I think is quite a strong representation. They also have a nice twist where the main religious outrage character wants her 14 yr old daughter to have an abortion when she gets pregnant, which I thought was a nice dig at the hypocrisy, but was also handled well in that the main religious outrage character also understood her hypocrisy and discussed her thinking which gave the discussion more depth.

  6. I haven’t seen The Walking Dead so I can’t comment on that part of the post.
    As far as the abortion in TV issue, I’ve recently been rewatching all of the Degrassi series (Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High).In Degrassi High there is a girl who gets pregnant and has an abortion. I found the depiction to be quite realistic; she stressed about the proceedure, she was harassed for it outside th clinic and at school, her sister has a hard time “forgiving” her for “killing” a baby.
    But she doesn’t regret it. When quizzed, she says “Regret that I got pregnant, sure, but regret the abortion? No.” I was also impressed that, when her sister tried to get the local Teen Mum involved, her response was “Having Emma was the right choice for me, abortion might be the right choice for her.”
    I think the issue of abortion in television is incredibly interesting, especially when the show gets it right.

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