#you call it sexism i call it returning a favour
Oh, look. A giant case of “missing the point.” Look, no, this single scene isn’t sexist, no. Damsels are a really tiring trope, but absent the context of the rest of the episode, one can imagine that it was carried out in a not-so-rage-inducing way. But, changing a story where a woman outsmarts the arrogant but still generally civil Sherlock and walks away into the sunset having saved her own day into one where the callous, cruel hero gets the phone, belittles her, abandons her, and then saves her as she sits helpless, is some sexist bullshit. Granted “A Scandal in Bohemia” includes such crap higlights as “Irene the Woman Scorned” and “if she’s getting married she’ll totally not be in love with anyone else evar b/c marriages always work like that!!!1!,” but still. It was the 1890s. What’s Moffat’s excuse? And let’s not even mention “Irene her Own Agent” vs this craptastic “Irene the Agent of Moriarty” trope. I expect that shit from Guy Ritchie, but from the BBC?
So, to recap, in 1891, the woman saves herself. In 2011, she needs Sherlock to do it. In 1891, the woman gives not a fig for the existence of Sherlock except when he starts intruding on her personal life, because she has her own life, and she only acknowledges him only long enough to outwit him (in a marvelously simple way) and leave him a note that amounts to “ha! you almost got me. Well done. You lose. La’erz!” In 2011, she’s got such a big, ~sentimental~ (read: female/weak) crush on Sherlock that she ends up using his name as a ~super meaningful~ password*, allowing him to steal the analogue of the photo that in 1891 he never even sees. In 1891, Sherlock’s hubris causes him to underestimate Ms. Adler, who begins the story fooled by the detective but ends it by outwitting him. In 2011, Sherlock’s pride is proven to be justified (which is rather the opposite of hubris), as the woman who starts the story apparently in control looses her power to the great detective.
In 1891, the story ends on her terms, through her agency. In 2011, the story ends only when she has no agency at all. In 1891, she saves herself. In 2011, Sherlock saves her. How is that change not a giant, sexist, regressive pile of bullshit?
Oh, and in case anyone hasn’t actually read the original, it’s short, it’s easy, and it’s free. Have at it.
So, this post will only make sense to fellow watchers of Sherlock.