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12 Responses

  1. EG
    EG November 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |

    I strongly disagree with this reading. I found the first season of American Horror Story fascinating in part for its normalization of female sexuality: Vivien masturbates while thinking of a man who is not her husband, Jessica Lange has an affair with a man much her junior, Lange’s daughter, who has Down Syndrome, whose name I can’t remember is also portrayed as having sexual desires and being very positive about the fact that she is not a virgin, Violet is not made into a sexual object, and her loss of virginity happens off-screen; afterwards she’s clothed and we get to leer at Tate lounging around naked if that’s our thing.

    I agree that Moira’s youthful self is sexually objectified (and the husband rapes her, by the way, which is what is happening when Lange shoots her), but it’s made clear that being made into a sexual object for the titallation of men makes her suffer. It’s not what she wants, it doesn’t bring her pleasure; it’s part of the hell that being a ghost in this house is.

    1. Sarah
      Sarah November 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm |

      Totally agreed. I just finished watching the first season and Moira herself even says that her changeable image is really a result of certain people seeing only what they want.

      I did find her a fascinating character for a lot of reasons and she did seem down on her own past sexuality (referring to herself as a “sl*t” in one episode), which I saw as part of her ongoing torment inside the house.

      1. pheenobarbidoll
        pheenobarbidoll November 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

        That’s how I saw it as well.

    2. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable November 6, 2012 at 11:09 pm |

      I agree with many of your points, but I’d argue that in cases where women characters cross a certain line (compare Moira’s sexuality to Vivien’s), the characters get fucked.


      Compare it to this season. You have one woman who is institutionalized because she cheated on her husband (maybe the issue is cheating?), and when her doctor fails to rape her, he literally cuts her off at the knees. Holy fuck, right?


      Notably, Vivien and Adelaide were both killed. It’s not directly tied to their sex (though I think you could make the argument that Vivien got punished for getting raped as she died while birthing the spawn of Satan).

      The issue that I have with the first season, though, is that it’s hard to explicitly link sex to “punishment” – fucking everyone but Constance and the medium (who plays Lana this season and whose name escapes me) died. I’d argue they couldn’t kill off Jessica Lange because she’s fucking fabulous, but there you go.

      1. EG
        EG November 7, 2012 at 12:03 am |

        The thing is, I don’t think we ever actually see Moira’s sexuality; the sexpot persona isn’t her sexuality. It’s a representation of male fantasies that she’s forced to live, pretty explicitly a torture, and she’s not suffering, I would argue, any worse than any of the other ghosts, with maybe the exception of Hayden, who seems to be enjoying her self. Vivien and Adelaide do both get killed, but as you note, so does almost everybody else who isn’t already dead (does anybody but Jessica Lange and the medium make it?), including men (except for hot Morris Chestnut) and boys. Jessica Lange’s hot young boytoy gets killed, too, for instance, and I don’t see that as any kind of punishment for sexuality, even though it happens as he’s cheating on Jessica. It’s just the house claiming another victim.

        I find this season so much more appalling that I stopped watching after the second episode. What I loved about the first season (at least the first, say, six episodes) was the depth of the characterization and the plot intricacies, and this season just seems like a string of vignettes made up of somebody’s sado-masochistic masturbation fantasies. After the first two episodes I wasn’t curious or excited about finding anything out plot-wise, and all the characters seemed like cardboard cut-outs to me, just marking time until they get caned again.

        Which is a shame, because I think the show could have done a really awesome season in an asylum, with ghosts or monsters of some kind being visible only to the inmates, who could be legitimately mentally ill, and of course nobody would believe them. But American Horror Story decided to go with creepily eroticized rape/humiliation/sadism scenes. It’s a shame.

        Burnt Larry! Burnt Larry didn’t die!

        1. EG
          EG November 7, 2012 at 12:05 am |

          Argh, I mean, Moira is suffering. That’s what I mean.

        2. EG
          EG November 7, 2012 at 12:06 am |

          No, wait, I was right the first time. Jeez. I think I should just go to bed. Sorry about all that. She’s not suffering more than most of the other ghosts.

        3. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable November 7, 2012 at 12:09 am |

          I’m actually really disturbed by how often rape has come up in this season. If you’re telling a ghost story, or a ridiculously outlandish tale involving aliens, some kind of unexorciseable demon, and a possibly immortal serial killer, why are you including rape alongside that? It’s not mystic. It happens all of the flipping time. Let’s stop acting like it’s something that only exists in a classic horror movie.

          I’m hopeful. We’ll see how it turns out, I guess.

  2. mortadella
    mortadella November 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

    I never saw older Moira as powerless. She seemed more lucid and thoughtful than her younger incarnation. Yeah, younger Moira may be more overtly dangerous, but if the male gaze wasn’t a thing, would she in fact have the power to seduce and kill? It depends on who’s looking at her, and it’s a sad reminder that we can’t stop people from projecting their ideals (and fears) onto us.
    It’s funny that when Ben finally starts to see the truth of the house and everything around him, he sees the older version of Moira — even though in real life, she did not look like that at all. He’s finally able to see her, maybe the most important parts…though we all know sexuality isn’t a bad thing.

  3. Athenia
    Athenia November 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm |

    I found young Moira’s come hither looks annoying. I think it would have been much more interesting if her looks changed, but her personality did not.

    Also, I think AHS tries to say a lot without saying anything so….

  4. Cranes
    Cranes November 7, 2012 at 1:38 am |

    I had watched (read? but actually watched) one of the” horror” aspects of American Horror Story being these oppressive stereotypes. In fact, I thought the horror aspect of the whole first season was this undercurrent of the nature of the haunting of the house being that it exacerbated the worst of the American stereotype for each character. The troubled male teen becomes an over the top bad boy. The slightly mopey teen girl becomes a needy suicidal tragedy. The cheating father becomes an aggressively dominant sexually motivated parody of masculinity. The cheated upon mother becomes obsessed with pregnancy and mommyhood. One gay dude can’t stand monogamy, the other is effeminate. The young maid becomes a slutty maid stereotype and then a stereotype of a conniving elderly maid…

    Long story short, I thought that all of the things that people are calling “problematic” on in the first season were INTENDED to be problematic as part of the story, because they are all specifically American stereotypes, and they are all horrific and damaging, and them all being trapped in the house represents their inability to escape these stereotypes.

    Kind of like how the kids in Cabin in the Woods all became more and more like their intended archetype even if they didn’t start out as extreme versions of archetypes/stereotypes, the nature of the rules of the horror universe set up for the film (and show) pushed them to an extreme stereotype. That’s part of the horror.

    1. EG
      EG November 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm |

      I agree. Part of the horror was being part of the American Family, which is why I found the ending so stupid and unsatisfying.

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