Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mr. Bates, You're a Jerk

I just finished watching Episodes 6 and 7 of Downton Abbey Season 4. I love the show - I'm such a geek for historical fiction, and then throw in some romance and fancy lacy outfits (plus the sassy Dowager Countess - Maggie Smith just makes everything better!) and I'm hooked.

I love so many of the characters too, particularly the women. They're portrayed as full-fledged people, with faults and interests and it's just so wonderful. Even with its Victorian ideals and setting, the show passes the Bechdel test without hardly trying, or so it appears.

I'm gonna start getting into spoilers here, so if you haven't watched as far as me, just know I'm mad at Mr. Bates and I'll see you later.

So Mr. Bates...he's supposed to be worthy of Anna, supposed to be kind, supposed to be sensitive, supposed to be good. And on the outside, he seems that way. But really, he's actually making Anna's life so much harder. His reaction to her rape, making it all about him, wanting revenge, diminishes him into someone who is just adding to the burden she's already surviving with. Her biggest concern is whether or not he'll kill her attacker, and that's not ok. A woman should be able to tell her husband anything and trust that if she asks him to, he'll keep his hands to himself, like any good kindergartener.

But no, even though she's done everything possible to keep him from knowing who attacked her, and everything possible to try to convince him that she doesn't want him to take revenge, he leaves town and shoves her rapist (who by the way, he doesn't have any proof on. Not that the guy didn't do it...but Mr. Bates doesn't know that) into oncoming traffic.

Mr. Bates has his revenge and he gets to feel just fine, relieving himself of the burden of anger. But his wife doesn't. Now she not only has the anger and fear and shame stemming from the attack to deal with, but also a betrayal by her husband, added fear that he'll be arrested, and the inability, should she ever be ready for it, to bring her own attacker to justice.

Ugh. I rarely side with Thomas on anything, but Bates, you're a jerk.

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