Showtime’s version of Rome is… well… It has Jonathan Rhys Meyers, so it can’t be all bad?
It’s pretty, and there’s politics, and, Jonathan Rhys Meyers? But holy hell, man, all the women in this story are sex bunnies used and abused by their respective male owners. You’ve got the Bolyn girls’ father basically selling them out for sex to the King (there’s a huge difference, I’m sorry to say, between a woman deciding to advance herself by seducing the king and a woman seducing the king cause her daddy tells her to).
I get that sex and women’s bodies are historical commodities, but I just can’t buy into a show that shows so many women as completely passive vessels. Where are the powerful matriarchs and scheming wives and willful daughters (Did Rome spoil me? And that’s the sad thing, right, there were still way more male characters in Rome than female, but hot damn, the women charcters *didn’t suck*)? One of the most dispicable lies in history is that women were just always passive slaves to men. That, historically, women had no power and no voice and contented themselves with their lot in life. If that was true, nobody would have burned witches, there would have been no laws against women owning property or having jobs, nobody would have considered wrapping up women’s bodies or binding their feet or cutting off their clits.
You know why you make laws and powerful social mores that enslave a group of people? Cause they scare the living shit out of you. Because they have a lot of power. Because they are people too. And those people do what people do, and they often do it by whatever means necessary and whatever they have in their power.
Yes, women were confined by the restrictions of the times and societies they lived in, but you find ways to negotiate power and get want you want even with the worst of restrictions. You make it work. You play the game (a la Dangerous Liasons). There are always women with voices and women who get shit done. Not just the daily living stuff, but the deliberate work of kicking your husband’s ass so he makes something of himself, getting your kids into worthwhile matches and positions, political backstabbing through gossip and rumor (and fashion!!), and whatever the hell else you have at your disposal. You use it because those are the only tools you have.
The tragedy of so much film and television and history books is pretending that these women never existed.
It makes me want to puke.