Why Ladies Being Mad About Jamie Spanking Claire Shouldn’t Be Surprising

Claire and Jamie FightingCAU: 3

Okay. So I’m watching the newly-released Outlander DVDs of season one part two (Yipee!) with the podcast audio commentary on from Ron Moore and Matt Roberts.

There was a comment they made about when they played the spanking scene for “the room” they were surprised that the women wanted it played darker.

They tiptoed around the scene being “controversial” but it absolutely should be. It’s not simply an issue of it being the 18th Century and this was how it was. The issue is that we as viewers have had seven and a half episodes of a story (and if you’re a reader of the books, the entirety of the story [thus far?]) told from Claire’s perspective.

And what happens for the female viewer is that she projects herself onto the Claire character. Not because we can relate to a woman from the 1940’s but because her character is carefully crafted as someone with feminine strength and agency that is well ahead of even her time—even for the forties. Claire is told as a modern—nearly 21st century, in practice—woman who demands respect from her husband and all men in 1945, so, to see her subjected to corporeal abuse was definitely an affront.

I remember seeing this scene at PaleyFest last March and being gob smacked at the fact that the (mostly female) audience was laughing. Here Claire was fighting against being attacked by her husband after nearly being raped and killed by another man, yet Jamie’s unrequited playfulness and the plucky music had ladies chuckling. I felt like the only sane person in the theater thinking, “What the fuck!? She’s fighting back against being physically abused and these people are laughing!” Were they giggling because they didn’t know what else to do?

I guess I’m just surprised that Ron and Matt, knowing the source material, didn’t see it, in kind to their female peers, as being really dark. Claire was very unwillingly being physically punished by the man she loved and trusted. That’s a massive betrayal. One that Jamie later realizes. But that later realization is diminished because the weight of the betrayal was played-down at the time it occurred.


What I’m saying is that their emotional reconciliation could’ve been more poignant if the betrayal had been framed with more gravity.

This is not, as Ron said, “separate” from domestic abuse. Whether something is or is not abuse is not in accordance with the perspective of the physical abuser, it’s the way it’s interpreted by the one being abused.

And just because Jamie doesn’t do it in a fit of rage doesn’t mean he didn’t see, nor fail to enjoy (as implied later) that she did not want to be subjugated to physical domination. Doing so against her will, is abuse.

I’m not hating. I’ll admit that I’m a reader and had plenty of luxurious pages and time to be fully pissed off at Jamie, then put the book down, stew for a while, and come back and hate him some more, before I got over what he did to Claire. This is not a luxury afforded to television.

Matt and Ron had to make his offense forgivable within the time allotted. I get it. But I just wanted, in way more than 140 characters, to make the desire from the women at the table to play the scene more darkly a little less surprising.

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