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'Outlander' Gives Us a Champion of Womens' Rights Who Also Has Great Abs

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 18, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 18, 2014 |

I think it’s ridiculous for anyone to refer to Outlander as the feminist 50 Shades of Grey because comparisons to 50 Shades will cheapen anything, but I kind of understand that comparable dynamics. Claire Randall has not signed a contract to become Jamie’s sexual submissive, but she is falling in love with a man who is essentially her captor. It’s more like the feminist version of Robert Redford’s Three Days of the Condor .

But while the Redford movie was deeply troubling (Faye Dunaway’s character seems to fall in love with him because he kidnapped her, and not in spite of it), the dynamic here not only allows Claire more agency in her obvious attraction toward Jamie, but Jamie is proving himself to be worthy of that attraction.

Why? Well, there are those abs, of course. But he’s also a good guy, who is willing to take a flogging from Captain Jack Randall in lieu of his sister being raped. Compare that to Colum MacKenzie (Billy Elliot’s Gary Lewis), who seems to imply that rape is potentially OK, you know, if “there’s a good reason” and a “good reason” seem to be “if he’s an officer.” That flogging interestingly also gives Claire another reason to nurse Jamie, and as long as Claire is tending to Jamie’s wounds, she also holds a certain power of him, and while it doesn’t necessarily neutralize the captor/captive dynamic, it certainly doesn’t hurt.



Neither does it hurt that Jamie woos Claire the hard way — by showing off his position against violence against women by accepting a few blows to the head, chest, and stomach on behalf of another woman, accused of being a whore by her own goddamn father. That’s chivalry folks, and don’t tell me he wasn’t counting on the fact that Claire was out in the audience with her new witch best friend eating that up. “No big deal,” Jamie tells Claire later. “I barely knew her, you know. But a whooping like that would traumatize a woman. But me? I am skilled in the art of getting the sh*t kicked out of me.”


And now that Claire also knows that Captain Jack has a price on Jamie’s head, the two have something else in common besides a intense sexual chemistry. No doubt, a change in wardrobe has only exacerbated the intensity of their attraction. I mean, Claire may be the only 18th century feminist in Scotland, but she’s not above fitting in, even if that means squeezing into a corset and boosting the ladies out for more sunlight.


That sunlight may be harder to come by in the basement that Colum moves her into at the end of the episode. He and Dougal are convinced that Claire is an English spy (or at least, that she’s not who she says she is), and they’re right to be suspicious of her. More importantly, their suspicions give Jamie and Claire more time to act on their attraction with one another, much to the dismay of Claire’s 20th century husband, who she believes would rather her be dead than with another man. She’s not giving her husband much credit, is she? Nor is she helping us to sympathize him with statements like that.

It’ll be nice to have a healer around, anyway, especially now that her new pro-choice friend has taught her about the local abortifacients. That knowledge could come in handy for other locals, or herself.

Random Thoughts

— Thank God the voice overs were down by a good 45 percent this week.

— Although I liked Mrs. Fitz, the way she reminded me of Downton Abbey characters only brought home how much this show is like other stuffy British period dramas (not in a bad way).

— Man, I wouldn’t want to be a woman in 18th century Scotland. It must have taken an hour just to put on their damn clothes. No wonder life expectancy was shorter back then. No one could fucking breathe.

— Column’s degenerative disease has done a nasty number on those ankles. It is not a handsome sight. I was kind of hoping that Claire had enough medical knowledge to fix them, but the use of the word “degenerative” seems to rule out that possibility.

— For those of us who hate Captain Jack Randall and are watching Honorable Woman (all six of us), we at least got some satisfaction this week, didn’t we?

— Lotte Verbeek, who plays the pro-choice witch Geillis Duncan, is no stranger to porn-y historical dramas, as she was also the mistress in The Borgias.

— Gaelic speakers are going to be very popular on tumblr this week.

— You think when Jamie is being flogged, he thinks, “Limit yourself to flogging my back. Please don’t mess with these pecs.”

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.