Back to the wife-beating in Outlander

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Domestic Abuse Wife Beating 2 Sonya Heaney - Copy

So, the wife-beating episode of Outlander has been out there for a couple of weeks now, and I might be more upset about the reactions of people who haven’t read the books than people who have.

You go to any TV discussion site, or any review of the show, and the conversations are full of discussions with titles like “Claire is a Fucking Bitch!” (sorry, but that truly is one I’ve seen) followed by everyone saying she deserved worse than the beating she got.

Annnd… so much for feminism, equality and White Ribbon Days! No wonder we’re getting nowhere with domestic violence in the present, when the people in the present are still overjoyed with scenes like this.

The thing about Outlander is that the “It’s historically accurate! Jamie said a man would have been punished in a worse way!” argument is total crap. Diana Gabaldon picked choice pieces of history, mixed them up with the popular tropes of the bodice ripper era the book was written in, and then made a whole lot of stuff up.

Claire wasn’t beaten because history made Gabaldon write the book that way. Gabaldon wanted to include a scene where Claire got beaten with a leather belt, and so she twisted her understanding of Georgian era Scotland to justify the violence.

It’s exactly the same as the ludicrous claims women could expect to be raped every time they stepped out of their house, and by every single man they saw. “But, but, but… it’s history!” doesn’t work there, either.

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Domestic Abuse 1 Sonya Heaney

Don’t believe me, look up the message boards where she rants at her UK editors who tried to correct some of her mistakes before releasing Outlander in Britain. Not knowing when World War Two ended was one biggie.

The Outlander show twisted the wife-beating scene into the episode’s comic relief, which disgusted me. Because now next to nobody is having a discussion about domestic violence or misogyny, OR questionable research.

Instead, everyone has decided it’s yet another opportunity to hate on women.

4 thoughts on “Back to the wife-beating in Outlander

  1. Pingback: The Week: 13th – 19th April | Sonya's Stuff

  2. Elisabeth

    Thank you! Someone finally said exactly what I was thinking!

    I just picked up this book and decided to give it a read and I read about twenty-one chapters in two days because I was just captivated with the story and characters but when I came to this part of the book I was completely jarred. And what I hate most is how Claire completely forgave him in under a day for beating her with a leather belt. I would have expected a lot more after that! A lot more! And I was planning on watching the show after I finished the book and now I’m not sure I want to. I’m not sure I can even finish the book because I just can’t take it seriously. I think what’s even worse than the fact that he beat his wife with a leather whip is that Claire forgave him so quickly like it never even happened. Had the author made Claire a little angrier at the fact she’d just been whipped like an animal I would at least find the story believable.

    1. The thing that really gets to me is how the author has doubled-down on the whole thing, instead of admitting that the book was written in the bodice ripper era and that domestic abuse is never okay.

      Even if you put yourself in a historical mindset, there’s just no way a wife in any era would be okay with being assaulted, and get over it that fast.

      I decided to stop watching the show halfway through the first season, because all the gratuitous violence – including sexual violence – and all the nudity annoyed me.

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