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curled around these images
just enough to make us dangerous
A question... 
12th-Aug-2011 08:42 pm
Thinky thougts
for my thinky flisters.

A while ago bythedamned and I posted figures and meta on deaths of males and females on Supernatural. It generated some healthy discussion and some interesting questions.

One thing that came up a few times, was that how many men or women died isn't as important as HOW they died.

The question is: What is critical or important about the way the characters die? My assumption is that male characters die differently to female characters and therefore there's an imbalance, or maybe there's bias toward one sex over the other (?). My further assumption is that women's deaths are more sexualised then men (deduced by the various comments made). IF this is true what is considered a "sexualised" death? What they are wearing when they die? Their position when they die? Who kills them? Does penetration with a knife symbolise sexual penetration? etc.

Deep I know (and damned heavy! sorry about that..), but I am genuinely curious. Maybe there's meta out there already on this? If not.... ;)

(if anyone looked at the past dozen posts of mine they'd swear I was ADD or something.../o\)
12th-Aug-2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
I'll take a stab at this (no pun intended)!

Mary Winchester, Jessica Moore, and Constance Welch die sexualized deaths.
--they are wearing their nightclothes.
--Mary and Jess die in the bedroom.
--Mary and Jess receive stabwounds to the lower abdomen -- the bloody gash is a sexualized wound.
--Constance Welch dies as an "unfaithful woman" -- so her death is defined sexually (and as retribution).

From the top of my head, the three deaths of the pilot are the most heavily sexualized.

Stabbing deaths are very, very sexualized. Some people who are stabbed are: Alastair (the scene between Dean and Alastair is an amazing study of Dean's failed attempt to top his persecutor); Tammy (the demoniac in Malleus Maleficarum); Dean (no knife is used but the John!YED psychically stabs him against the wall); and of course, Ruby -- Sam holds her and Dean twists the knife.

Strangulation and bondage are sexualized violence. See Sammy in eps too numerous to list.

In general, the camera ogles the orgasmic death throes of the dying person in a sexualized death.

My favorite sexualized death of all time is from Michael Moorcock's Elric saga. In the saga, Elric has fallen in love and married a beautiful princess, who is stolen from him by the forces of chaos. When he finds her at last, she has been partially transformed into a hideous mass and begs him to kill her. Unfortunately, his weapon is a cursed black runesword that drinks souls and feeds their power to him. Hoping to release her from her suffering, and also hoping maybe to unite her soul to his, Elric stabs her with the sword. He goes into an ecstacy as her soul pours into him, and she expires in agony, crying out "I didn't know it would be this terrible!" !!!!!

In philosophical terms, the linkage between sex and death is the Thanatos/Eros coupling.... so that the life force is always in tension with death.

In, like, romance languages, orgasm is called "the little death".... so watching a person die on screen is like watching them come.

There, that should be food for discussion!!

Edited to say how much I admire y'all for attempting the survey and for taking on such a loaded and controversial topic!! YOU ROCK.

Edited at 2011-08-12 02:12 pm (UTC)
13th-Aug-2011 01:23 am (UTC)
Thank you! This is great. I have to say I wouldn't have considered a lot of those sexualised and therefore I can see that approaching any sort of meta or thinky thoughts on the topic would be quite controversial (and why it's not something that talked about that often I suspect.). It would be interesting though.

We might look at purely getting the stats on this. Just list how each character died. We're not sure how hard or time consuming that will be yet. I figure that if we had a list of that stuff then people can draw their own conclusions. Because I think where one person sees a death as sexualised another may not. I'm not sure there are hard and fast rules on that. Or...*head scratch* .. maybe there is. :)

Thanks so much for the info. Just what I was after.
12th-Aug-2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
You do know that this is exactly the type of information I could plug into the networking program I have at work.

Talk to me...
13th-Aug-2011 01:23 am (UTC)
So curious...

I've pm'd you. :D
12th-Aug-2011 07:28 pm (UTC)
The one sexualized death that sticks out for me is definitely Ruby. When it happened, I even pointed it out to my girlfriend. Sam holds her shoulders while controlling her from behind and leads her into Dean, who is standing in front of her and thrusts the knife in an upward movement, not high on her chest or near her head, but low near her abdomen. That scene always struck me as some weird symbolic sexualized threesome and always bothered me.
13th-Aug-2011 01:31 am (UTC)
Yes. Ruby. I've heard this example a few times and I tend to agree. Out of all the deaths this would be the one I would consider the most sexualised. Though I suppose if you take that element out (and how I initially saw the scene) it could be seen as Sam finally acknowledging he wrong doing and offering up his mistake to Dean to kill. Also a way of showing Dean his change of direction. I also saw them as (finally) working together to make a kill. I didn't see the sexual nature of it until I started to see the scene being discussed. (I'm kinda slow on the uptake sometimes..)

Thanks hun.
12th-Aug-2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
I don't have the best memory for show scenes but some of the sexualized violence happens to people before the Now portion of the show or by the monster of the week. Seems to me we've had a woman murdered in the shower, Lucas's mom was almost murdered naked in the bathtub, and then there was the makeout session gone wrong at the beginning of My Bloody Valentine. Does that count? If clothing makes it sexualized, there's a whole cadre of women in white nightgowns (some mentioned elsewhere) including Lilith and the virgin pitched in the hole to become Eve. Ellie's death is caused by a midrift stab wound. I'm not sure how much of the sexualized deaths are men vs women. There are plenty of stabbed angels, etc. Seems like there is a lot of sexualized violence in general on the show not always leading to death, including a pile where both Sam and Dean are victims. Don't guess I know where that leaves this discussion but it's an interesting one.
13th-Aug-2011 01:36 am (UTC)
These are great examples. There's a hell of a lot of stabbing on the show and if each one of those is considered a sexualised death then there sure are a lot of them.

I'm pretty naive when it comes to knowing what would be considered a sexualised death or not. I am suspecting I might need to search out some further reading. I sure many essays have been written about it in context of movies and other TV shows.

We're (my meta partner in crime *g*) considering listing the types of deaths on the show and leaving it open to interpretation. I know that where some would see a a death as sexualised others wouldn't.

Hmmm... I wonder if "almost" deaths would count. Lucas's mum in the bathtub for instance...

Thanks so much for this.
13th-Aug-2011 03:23 am (UTC)
A list by type of death might be interesting but without the context such as position, clothing, aggressor, it might not answer the sexualized violence question. Still it might be worth doing. These kinds of discussions seem to come up often and it's nice to have concrete details to add to the discussion. On this show you'd have to have column for death by falling piano, crazed mannequin, garage door, fork in the dish drainer.....
13th-Aug-2011 03:50 am (UTC)
Yes. I was just thinking about all the other relevant info that could go with that and suddenly the whole thing looks like an enormous amount of work. But also... with a show like this it's not so cut and dried.

I was thinking about the Woman in White for example. She's a ghost who has already died and then she gets "killed" by the boys (or rather, helped to leave by the boys.). We'd have to have a rule about which deaths we count. Argh..

Hee.. and yes. The methods of deaths would be quite something to read I reckon. We could have death by window or maybe list it as "decapitated" and then list "by window". Or "strangled" by "hands", "cord" etc. Jeeez... might be counting left for a rainy day. :)

(sorry, musing out loud there. I think if bythedamned sees this she'll be shaking her head. *G*)


12th-Aug-2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
The woman who died in Crossroad Blues, her death was very definitely sexualized. Contrast Dean's death by hellhound, which was very definitely not.
13th-Aug-2011 01:40 am (UTC)
Ahh... interesting. I remember reading someone's comment on the stats meta that said they considered Dean's hellhound death as being sexualised because of the way he was laying on the table. ( And yet, he was ripped off the table and mauled). So maybe the lead up was sexualised but not the tearing apart.

Hmmm... has I've mentioned above a couple of times. This is a huge can of worms and I can see that peoples interpretations will varying. And hence running a mile from any potential meta on the subject.

Purely a list of types of deaths maybe. :)

Thank you.
13th-Aug-2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I thought Dean's death was pretty sexualized, perhaps even more explicitly sexualized than the woman in Crossroad Blues. He was splayed out crotch to the camera at one point, etc. The show inflicts more sexualized violence on Dean than on the other male characters, in my opinion. I think there's a tendency to not read violence against male characters as sexualized even if the same scene would be read as sexualized if the character was a woman, and there are some good reasons (violence towards women is more often sexualized in reality and in entertainment) but I think we do a disservice to the topic if we ignore when violence towards male characters is sexualized. As you said earlier, the cabin scene with YED!John is another example, though it's less blatant than Dean's death in 3.16.
(Deleted comment)
13th-Aug-2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
Yes. I have to say I've never considered Mary's death as sexualised either. Womanly or motherly maybe but not sexual. Though some do and it's these varying interpretations that will keep me (and bythedamned away from writing meta on this.

We are, however, contemplating gathering the "method of death" data. We are in the throes of deciding what info will be relevant and not tooooo time consuming to collect.

It will be rather cold data - as in facts only - but maybe anyone searching for these facts might find it useful if they then wanted to right meta on it.

Dicey topic because there are various interpretations about what consists of a sexualised death. And it's not just about the dying it would seem. Threatened death or danger would have to be looked at also. There are a number of potentially sexualised scenes (ruby and meg torture for example) that don't end in death. (and -damnit! - Sam was always fully clothed for his tortured scenes...)

This has been very helpful. Thank you. :)

13th-Aug-2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
Unpopular opinion may be unpopular, but SPN is a child of the horror genre, and the horror genre has always used women as victims and sexualised their deaths. I don't get the hate for show on that; it's a genre show, and people get so excited when it circles back to that in every other aspect, but it's horrible and misogynistic for it in everything relating to women? Yeah, no.

13th-Aug-2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
Yes yes! see.. that's the thing. Understanding the genre and the nature of this show.

And there's no denying that the horror genre is based on gore porn (recently seen written as "gorn" ), torture porn and sexualised victims and death scenes. I suppose the question is does it apply to both males and females? Females are more obvious but maybe there are male deaths that can be considered "sexualised" in the show. I actually don't know if that's true. I'm hoping the data gathering might shed some light on that. From the above comments I'd say women are more sexualised. But then... damn... there's Sam and Dean. They suffer all sorts of (what might be considered) sexualised violence. So maybe it's evened out...

13th-Aug-2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
I'd have to dive into the subject further and with a bit more thought than right now, but I do thinkg it applies to both. There are so many things to consider, though, for example, it depends on how much you see the possession as a sexualised form of violation. And if you do count that? Then the boys basically spent a whole season running from and trying to prevent themselves from being assaulted. Unsuccessfully, in Sam's case. Then there's the heavily implied practice of rape in hell that Dean mentioned more than once... So yeah, the show might make heavy use of the genre practice of sexualising women and their deaths, but something that kind of redeems them a little, IMO, is that they are so suggestive about their two main characters in a similar way.

(You're getting me all thinky and creative today. *gg*)

Edited at 2011-08-13 02:41 pm (UTC)
13th-Aug-2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
(You're getting me all thinky and creative today. *gg*)


Essentially... yes. The boys experience many more sexualised situations than probably all of the other men and women on the show combined. (

Just look at Meg possessing Sam in Born Under a Bad Sign. I know Jo is seen as the victim here (which she was) but so was Sam. Not only possessed but having to carry out those actions... and worse. Or when Meg taunts Sam in Shadow, or the vamp kisses Dean in Dead Man's Blood. Lilith kissing Sam in No Rest for the Wicked..Dean having to kiss female demons to seal deals...

Damn it. Now I've become all thinky. I hadn't really considered all that until chatting about it here.


13th-Aug-2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
Not so sure that IS a good thing... *lol* Oh man.

Yeah, exactly. They are put in situations that carry sexual (and violent) overtones so often and sometimes worse or more direct than they've done or usually do with female characters, and as long as that holds true, I'm not going to complain about misogyny.

Damn it. Now I've become all thinky. I hadn't really considered all that until chatting about it here.
You're welcome. :P
14th-Aug-2011 08:33 pm (UTC)
If I thought Supernatural were misogynist, I would not be watching it. I've dropped many other shows for reasons of sexism. To the contrary, I think spn is gutsy with the tropes and challenges it takes on in terms of gender across the board.

That's one reason why I was so excited to be able to open the discussion with a gender neutral approach to sexualized deaths. The Women in White aspect is really important to acknowledge, but it's by no means the whole story.

14th-Aug-2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Sure, SPN has female victims. But it also has kick-ass female side characters and female baddies, and in the end, I think, it evens out.

No, it isn't. It's natural that it's being pushed to the forefront often, seeing as it is where the whole story STARTS, but there's so much more to it.
15th-Aug-2011 06:34 pm (UTC) - Deaths and violent incidents by episode
This is in no way comprehensive and I'm sure I've forgotten or missed things, but this is the information I have put together so far up through Magnificent 7. Will be split over a couple of posts because there is a lot of information.

Pilot: Jess and Mary burned on ceiling. Woman in White destroyed when she returns to her home and is confronted by children.
Wendigo: Opener guy steps out to relive himself. Attacked by Wendigo. Second male hiker shown strung up screaming as Wendigo comes closer and eventually attacks and eats him. Dean and Haley also shown strung up in Wendigo lair as well as Haley’s brother Tommy.
Dead In the Water Girl in swimsuit drowns while swimming in the lake. Lucas’s mom almost drowns in bathtub clearly nude.
Phantom Traveler plane crash victims
Bloody Mary Father, Friend seen briefly in panties and shirt before she dies standing in front of mirror only upper body visible so appeared fully clothed.
Skin: Two women tortured by shapeshifter-tied up both in street clothes.
Contact between shifter and Sam more sexually charged than attacks on women.
Hookman: Boyfriend strung up upside down and bled out above car after trying to go farther than his date wanted. Taylor in bed in gown covered with sheets to just above the waist already dead. Large amount of blood visible.
Bugs woman in shower sent into a panic by spiders. Falls through glass and dies unclothed. Man in hole killed by beetles
Home no deaths. Sam strangled by lamp cord and later pinned to wall by spirit
Asylum: officer’s wife in bed reading. Mostly covered by blankets. Upper body briefly seen clothed in gown. Shot. Neither death nor aftermath shown. Sam attacked by Dr. Ellicot. Dean shot by Sam. Dean attacked by Dr. Ellicot.
Scarecrow: Teaser husband and wife both killed. Both fully clothed. Wife’s death not shown. Dean and Emily bound to trees. llots of focus on Deans bound wrists and bruised face.
Faith: Dean electrocuted. Lots of writhing, arching and moaning. Female jogger running in woods alone killed by Reaper. Fully clothed. Sue Ellen also killed by Reaper. Also fully clothed. Dean attacked by reaper at the end.
Route 66: No female deaths
Nightmare: No actual female deaths although mother was seen in vision being stabbed through the eye.
Benders: No female deaths. Dean bound and tortured by Bender family including being burned by a fireplace poker and menaced with a knife by 13 yr old girl. Sam and Female officer caged.

16th-Aug-2011 12:50 pm (UTC) - Re: Deaths and violent incidents by episode
Hi anonymous person! WOW! This is amazing. There's a lot of data here. Thank you for sharing this. If we go ahead and collate data on how people died in each episode this will come in handy.

Thank you. <3
15th-Aug-2011 06:36 pm (UTC) - part 2
Shadow: Meredith fully clothed. Meg falls from window after some very sexually charged contact with a bound Sam in which she straddles him crawls up his body and makes lewd comments and offers of sexual favors, nibbling ear and kissing neck. Fully clothed. Shown not to be dead. Sam, Dean and John all attacked and injured by Daeva’s. Sam thrown to ground on stomach. John thrown and pinned against the wall with his back on the ground, shoulders against wall and hands pinned above him.
Hell House: Hanged girl. Fully clothed
Something Wicked: no deaths shown Sam thrown to ground with Shtriga leaning over him in a near kiss as it sucks his life force.
Provenance: Husband and wife both killed. Wife shown dead. Difficult to see clothing as there is a lot of blood but she is presumably in a night gown. Husband shown in very vulnerable position on ground in nothing but boxers backing against bed trying to get away from attacker death clear but not shown. Sarah’s friend killed in her house fully clothed sitting in chair drinking tea.
Bloodlust: Female Vamp shot with arrow but no actual female deaths shown. Dean forcibly kissed by female vamp. Sam strangled by vamp. Female prisoner turned in very sexual manner including F/F kiss.
Salvation: No actual female deaths. Pastor Jim and Caleb murdered by Meg. Monica shown in nightgown in a vision and later being attacked by demon. Rescued by boys. John shown pinned spread-eagled to the wall
Devil’s Trap: Meg dies after being exorcised. Fully clothed. Demon! John gets entirely too far into Dean’s personal space in a disturbingly sexually charged confrontation. Dean tortured by Demon! John while pinned to wall. Lots of screaming, gasping, panting, and begging.
In My Time Of Dying: Nurse fully clothed. Dean shown with naked torso as he is being coded. John also shown with naked torso as attempts to bring him back fail.
Everybody Loves a Clown: Husband and wife in bed. Wife never clearly seen. Husband shown to be the one vulnerable and in peril. Later possible victims rescued by Winchesters, husband in wifebeater, wife in very modest cotton gown.
Bloodlust: Female vamp killed in teaser by beheading. Fully clothed. Male Vamp impaled and decapitated. Lenore tortured by Gordon. Rescued by Sam and Dean.
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dean Things: Angela killed in wreck. Angela kills Boyfriend, Friend and attempts to kill roommate who is fully clothed in jeans and shirt. Angela killed again impaled in casket. Wearing white dress.
Simon Said: Man shot. Another man hit by bus. Fully clothed woman douses herself with gasoline and sets fire to self. Tracy seen in slip jumping from bridge in vision. Tracy in car with Anson beginning to unbutton dress. Intended sexual assault heavily implied. Tracy on bridge but still dressed in real time.
15th-Aug-2011 06:37 pm (UTC) - part 3
No Exit: Two Female victims. Attacked when fully clothed. Involved in mundane daily activities. Jo menaced by serial killer ghost in tight enclosed space. Face caressed etc. Fully clothed.
Usual suspects: Karen in full PJ’s and long heavy sweater
Crossroad Blues: Robert Johnson dies in teaser. Dr. later dragged off by Hellhounds. Fully clothed.
Croatoan: Mr. Tanner shot. Mrs. Tanner shot while presenting no immediate threat. Nurse shot while attacking Sam. Sarge killed by demon.
Hunted: Scott stabbed I teaser. Lingering, drawn out shot. Ava’s finacee murdered in his bed. Shown in basically same position as Taylor from season one but covers rucked up higher so actually more bare skin shown. Also slow pan up bare leg.
Playthings: No female deaths
Nightshifter: Shifter killed in female form wearing slip after vicious fight with Dean. Male victim shown bound and in boxers. Ron shot, two SWAT officers shown knocked out in boxers with hands bound behind backs
Houses of The Holy: No female deaths. Stabbing death of at least one man. Impalement death of man who had attempted assault his date. All deaths of men who had in some way assaulted or was likely to assault or in some way harm a female.
Born Under a Bad Sign: No female deaths. Jo menaced by Meg!Sam. Attempted sexual assault heavily implied. Remained fully clothed.
Tall Tales: No female deaths although two scantily clad girls beat the crap out of Dean and Sam.
Roadkill: No female deaths. Molly is already dead at the time of the episode. She was bound and tortured by the male ghost.
Heart: Madison’s boss shown spread eagled on desk. Male police officer killed, Male werewolf shot by Dean while attacking a hooker. Madison shot by Sam off screen. Wearing Sam’s shirt.
Hollywood Babylon: No female deaths
Fulsom Prison Blues: No female Deaths. Ghost is female.
What is and What Should Never Be: No female deaths. Girl in warehouse strung up and caressed by djinn. Dean also strung up in warehouse. Much focus on bound wrists.
All Hell I Ava’s dead fiance shown in teaser, Lily hung, Andy eviscerated by Ava, Ava’s neck broken by Jake as she attempts to kill Sam, Sam stabbed in back by Jake. Sam collapses forward and is held in Dean’s arms as he dies.
All Hell II: Jake shot by Sam No female deaths. Sam pinned to tree.
15th-Aug-2011 06:38 pm (UTC) - part 4
Mag 7: Three bodies 2 male 1 female. 1 male shirtless, 1 male in wife beater. Female in sleeveless dress. Driven by Envy 1 woman bashed another woman’s head in for a pair of shoes on the sidewalk in boad daylight. Both fully dressed. Isaac killed by demons in bar. Envy demon’s host (male) killed during exorcism by Tamara. Female demon’s host killed by Ruby. Pride (male host) killed by Ruby. Lust Demon (the one Dean dunked in holy water) exorcised and survived
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