Sherlementary AU: The Women
In which Jamie Moriarty shares more than just an identity with Irene Adler.
Granada ♦ Warner Bros ♦ BBC
My absolute favorite thing about BBC Sherlock is how in series 1, you think it’s a show about a bunch of normal people living with a sociopath; but by series 3, you realize it’s about a clever landlady who used to work in a drug ring, a pathologist who convinced the world’s most terrifying criminal mastermind to watch Glee, an ex-CIA assassain trying to rebuild her life, an ex-army medic with an adrenaline addiction who laughs at crime scenes, a powerful British government official who cares more about his little brother’s safety than the security of the entire country, and an emotional genius who secretly loves dancing while he suppresses his feelings to prevent his heart from being broken.
Favourite post on tumblr
This is what happens when we have a two year hiatus
I’m enjoying the thing.
I am so proud to be a part of this fandom
I lost it at the Gallefreyan one
do you have a girlfriend? girlfriend? no, not really my area. oh right then. do you have a boyfriend? which is fine by the way. i know its fine. so you’ve got a boyfriend? no. right. okay. you’re unattached like me. fine. good.
If you truly wanted to escape, you’d have run faster…
After Sherlock’s best man speech.
Here are all 29 frames of them on-screen together.
Every frame is perfect.
Why the dismissal of women’s readings of Sherlock bothers me so much
Male showrunners and actors: They’re just friends. Why are you reading sex into this?
Female fans: They obviously want each other.
Male showrunners and actors: No they don’t. You’re hysterical and oversexualized and deluded.
Female fans: No we’re not. It’s OBVIOUS they desire each other.
Male showrunners and actors: NO THEY—
Female fans: YES THEY—
Film and television are visual mediums. The text comes from what we see, not just the script, and definitely not extra-text commentary. Sherlock especially is a strikingly visual story that is all about looking.
Any woman with any sense of self-preservation spends her whole life learning to read the male gaze. The reason is not because women are constantly checking to make sure they are desirable (as many men like to think); the reason is because women have to. The consequences for not noticing when a male gaze equals “desire” are very dangerous, and so obvious I don’t even have to explain them. Any woman who walks through a parking lot at night, who has to spend her days avoiding a co-worker who sexually harrasses her but not enough to make it worth it to fight back, who deals with members of the public service who laugh at her when she is being threatened (I am thinking of that woman in San Francisco who tried to get a BART bus driver to call the police when a man was threatening to rape her and got ignored)—any woman who LIVES ON THIS PLANET has to learn to be aware of the male gaze and interpret it for signs of arousal and/or danger from a young age. This is SO MUCH BIGGER than “women want romance” or “women want love” or any of that ignorant shorthand for “women aren’t reading this show correctly.” It is definitely bigger than Sherlock.
If a man stood right in my personal space and stared into my eyes I would know how to interpret that. If a man licked his lips while staring at my face I would know how to interpret that. If a man belitted and chased off my romantic partners I would know how to interpret that. If a man asked me to reach into his jacket and pull out his phone I would damn well know how to interpret that. Any time I have tried to brush aside suspicions under these circumstances, I was proved right that I should have trusted my instincts, and I wound up in dangerous situations (luckily, nothing terrible resulted thanks to being able to escape, but the danger was real). If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but at least I don’t get locked in a basement in Cleveland for a decade. Women have to err on the side of caution. People are right when they say the sexual tension moments in Sherlock are brief, but that doesn’t matter: if you’re a woman you have to take even the briefest flashes into account. There is a reason we call these moments “eyefucking.”
Sherlock is all about the power of sight, of the gaze, specifically the male gaze. (There’s a whole article in that, but I’ll resist.)
We get Sherlock POV when he interprets a scene, with those subtitles and graphics; we get John POV for everything else (that’s my reading, anyway; Watson is the narrator of the Sherlock Holmes tales, after all). There are only a few establishing shots/omniscient narrator scenes that aren’t from John or Sherlock’s POV, e.g. the victims at the beginning of ASIP, or Moriarty texting in front of Big Ben in ASIB or in a cell in THOB. We briefly see Irene’s POV as she looks at pictures of Sherlock (in that beautiful sequence where they look at pictures of each other), but that’s about it. (I’ve never been certain whether that dream sequence of Irene interpreting the “bed scene” was from her POV or Sherlock’s or both.) I have hopes we’ll see Molly’s POV in TEH but of course I haven’t seen it yet.
The denial of the male showrunners of Sherlock and the firm disagreement of the female fans just proves to me that even in the 21st century, men and women live in different worlds.
5 men: There’s no sexual tension.
Thousands of women: Yes there is.
5 men: Clearly you’re wrong!
I don’t need this ship to be canon, it’s not the differing opinions that bothers me. The writers are free to write whatever they want and I’m on board. I just want some acknowledgement—from the world at large—that women’s perspective on human interactions is just as valid as men’s and doesn’t come from wishful thinking. Quite the opposite.
[edit: Disclaimer: Not all women viewers see sexual tension. Not all male viewers don’t. You are free to interpret a piece of cultural iconography any way you want. So am I. Again, I love the show no matter what direction they take it in, though I reserve the right to offer criticism. You are free to ignore the silencing of women’s experiences if you really want to suck at life. I don’t think the showrunners are sexist even if they exhibit sexist behavior occasionally. I don’t think their disagreement is meant to be hurtful. But it is what it is.]
I bolded the top bit, because, while I’ve obviously recognized that women, in order to survive, must learn to read desire in others, I hadn’t really made the leap to see how that affects the way women might consume media.
When I watch a show/movie/whatever, and see sexual desire between two characters, if I mention this to my husband, he often makes a comment to the effect of, “wait, but they didn’t do anything. Or say anything. Where are you getting this from?”
When we’re out in a public place together and I tell him that a man is checking me out, I encounter the same…not disbelief, because he does believe me. But he’s clearly confused about where I’m getting my information. And more often than not, I can’t articulate it: I’ll just mumble something vague about the way the guy looked at me, or his body language. Because the cues are just that subtle. But I can read them.
And, moving away now from my husband as an example, it’s somehow instructive to see the relationship between men who dismiss public harassment and men who dismiss women’s readings of desire in other media.
tl;dr: this is good.
This is good. I’ve never seen this argument articulated in this particular way, but it’s a very good and very important connection of greater cultural trends to what happens in fandom. Because, of course, there’s also a reiteration of a certain power structure here, too, where the gaslighting of women’s voiced concerns serves to both re-emphasize male power and paint women (female fans) as hysterical and/or making things up. (He wasn’t being threatening, he was just giving you a compliment! He doesn’t really think you should be raped; it was just a joke!) The continually defines male voices as logical, authoritative, reasonable, over women’s emotional, subordinate, intuitive voices.
It’s not even fucking over I love this fandom
Mummy Holmes doesn’t mess around.