Bringing Up Baby: Pregnancy (and Zombies) Are Scary on The Walking Dead

Scene from the Walking Dead. Lori and Rick embracing with their child between them

I’m having a bad day. Last night, I had a nightmare about the Bella Swan birth scene from Breaking Dawn. (To summarize: I was Bella.) I’m suffering from BSO, birth scene overload. It all seems so hopeless. The woman is always suffering. She lacks control and agency; surrounded by men, she’s told what’s best for her and then chastised for making supposedly irrational demands. I just can’t watch. 

So I took a break from birth scenes to follow a lead (thanks @kristinrawls!) about last week’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, a post-apocalyptic series about a group of survivors trying to avoid zombie bites. This proved to be terrible therapy for my BSO.

Main character Lori is pregnant, but she doesn’t tell her husband Rick because she thinks it’s a bad idea to have her baby, what with all the zombies. She confides in Glenn, another of the group, and sends him to the abandoned town’s pharmacy to find morning after pills. Glenn and his companion Maggie are attacked at the pharmacy and barely make it out alive.

Side note: Morning after pills? WTF?! Lori has morning sickness. She’s already pregnant. Emergency contraception disrupts ovulation and fertilization, and maybe/possibly/probably/definitely doesn’t disrupt implantation. It certainly doesn’t abort embryos. I get the feeling the scriptwriters know they’re spreading misinformation, because at one point Lori says something vague about how she isn’t sure whether they’ll work.

Anyway. Everyone’s constantly telling Lori what to do, as if she’s some wayward teenager. Glenn, looking at her gravely like she’s about to keel over and die: “You need vitamins. Lori, you have a medical condition.” In another scene, Lori gets mad at Rick because he wants to teach their young son how to shoot a gun. He acts like she’s unreasonable/stupid and talks to her really slooowllly, explaining how the boy needs to protect himself. Lori caves.

When Maggie and Glenn return from the pharmacy, Maggie screams “Here’s your abortion pills!” Lori takes the pills (an entire handful of them…huh?), wigs out, throws them up, and in an overwrought emotional scene, tells her husband what happened. Here’s what goes down:

Rick: Instead of telling me, you sent GLENN to get PILLS?

Lori (stammering, terrified): I thought…we have no roof….


Lori: You want me to bring a baby into this? To have a short, brutal life?

Rick: HOW CAN YOU THINK LIKE THAT!!!!???? Not even giving it a chance?

Later, Rick says, “you really think I’d make you have a baby you don’t want?” Well…yeah, yes, that’s exactly what she thinks, because of how you proved her right with all the screaming and the “how can you think like that” etc. etc. Anyway, she realizes that Rick must be right (of course he’s right!!), and decides to take prenatal vitamins like everyone thinks she should. Disaster averted.

Sample comment from Walking Dead fans at this episode’s webpage (this is fairly representative): “Lori is a BITCH!!…. I hate her, I hope Rick kills her or Shane but having been said that I disagree with Rick on this, I mean WTF!, you can’t expect a woman to carry a baby in all this.”

Anyone who watches The Walking Dead knows its characters are conservative and its gender roles so traditional they’re reactionary. This anti-choice plotline isn’t exactly surprising, but the hardest pill to swallow is Lori as a sniveling, downtrodden person whose perfectly reasonable protests are framed as nagging whines. And why don’t the female characters talk to one another? Why did Lori go to Glenn in the first place? There are plenty of women folk around, but it seems they hate each other. (Divide and conquer.)

As fellow Bitch blogger Michelle Dean wrote about HBO’s Big Love, “the premise of any television show is almost irrelevant as the basis of any critique, because the key to doing a good job of depicting women is about execution, not playing to type.” When reproductive choices are navigated by a stereotyped character and manhandled by scriptwriters who don’t recognize a woman’s ability to weight options and make decisions, the woman is robbed of her individuality, humanity and dignity.

Previously, on Bringing Up Baby: The Terrifying, Transformational Birth Scene Showdown: Twilight vs. Game of Thrones, Women of Color With Wailing Babies in TVLand

Editor’s note: This post originally listed the character of Maggie as Melissa. Sorry for the mix up!

by Katherine Don
View profile »

Get Bitch Media's top 9 reads of the week delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning! Sign up for the Weekly Reader:

36 Comments Have Been Posted


OK, so Let me start off by saying that I have been a fan of Bitch magazine for many years. I'm sorry, but this post is really upsetting to me. It isn't upsetting because I don't agree, but because it's so full of misinformation. It's obvious that you have only seen this one episode. There are so many things wrong with this. Normally, I find the posts on this website to be interesting and well thought out, but this author can't even bother to get the character's names right.
1. There is no Melissa on Walking Dead. Her name is Maggie.
2. Lori sends goes to Glen rather than other characters because he is the guy that goes on scavenger runs. That's what he does. Why go to somebody else?
3. The characters are fully aware that the pills might not work. They even say so. But alas, in the Zombie apocalypse Planned Parent hood doesn't exist any more.
4. Yes there are firm gender roles, but this is a subject that is openly challenged by the characters. That's kind of Andrea's theme. Either last episode or the one before she openly said she was sick of doing laundry, and wanted to protect the camp. Now everyone (including the women) are learning to use guns.
5. Yes the female characters talk to each other, if you watched the show normally you would know that.
6. Are you really taking one comment made by a troll on the website and applying it to all Walking Dead fans?

I would argue that the female

I would argue that the female characters really don't speak that much...maybe the episode where the wife beater gets 'handled' but other than that i see very little communication going on between the women as a group. Mostly everything is filtered through the mail male characters.

Maggie apologies

I accidentally wrote Melissa (the name of one of the actresses) instead of Maggie. I stand by everything else I wrote. Also, I understand why Glenn went with Maggie to the store--he's the guy who goes. That was pretty obvious, and I did watch the previous episode (in addition to a good portion of the first season). I wrote that sentence using my imagination, based on the assumption that readers understand that TV shows are created by people who have the option of molding stories in an infinite number of ways. Also, clearly I realize that the female characters talk to one another. They just don't do it as often as the male characters to to each other, or as often as the female characters talk to the male characters. Also, I said the comment was representative of reaction to this episode---and many were disgruntled with this plotline--not that it was representative of Walking Dead fans.

As a huge fan of the show, I

As a huge fan of the show, I half agree with this post... the points Lori made about not bringing the baby into the world were some I could see myself making in that situation (zombie apocalypse)- and I am pro-life. Yet every character involved treated her like an irrational mess until she finally caved and realized Rick was right all along.
I see your point above that morning after pills were probably the only option- since the closest place to get supplies was at a pharmacy in town. Yes the message was pro-life, but that wouldn't bother me if it was actually told from the woman's point of view.
As far as the show in general goes with gender roles- they are blatantly traditional, and it annoys me. There may have been some challenges to this, mainly by Andrea. But if you noticed, as soon as she claimed she wanted to stop doing laundry and start protecting the camp- she shot Daryl in the head. Sending the message that a woman who steps out of traditional roles can do serious damage, and people can get hurt.
On last Sunday's episode, they were all doing target practice so Rick could teach his son to learn to shoot a gun. The scene showed a child hitting targets left and right, but Andrea struggled throughout the whole episode to hit a target, all the while being mentored by Shaun.

*Shane- not shaun. Oops!

*Shane- not shaun. Oops!

Thanks for your thoughts

Thanks for your thoughts Margo. As I was reading through reaction to this episode from Walking Dead fans, I saw several comments from pro-life individuals who, like you, thought Lori's misgivings were perfectly reasonable, given the situation. I agree it would have been much different if told from Lori's perspective. Some mentioned that Andrea is a strong female character because now she's a good shot, but I think we have a very, very, very low bar if we're supposed to think someone's really strong just because the men are allowing her to shoot a gun in the middle of a zombie apocalypse--I mean, I was pretty shocked when I realized that the question of whether women should be allowed to have guns was even an issue at all.

It wasn't whether women

It wasn't whether women should use guns or not, it was whether people who have not been trained to use guns properly should use guns.

I haven't seen the show

They didn't treat her like an

They didn't treat her like an irrational mess, they just didn't understand her vehement need for secrecy, especially because Glenn had to have assumed that the baby was Rick's. Remember, not all of the characters in the show know the secrets that you and the audience are aware of. It is called contextual or situational character knowledge.

as someone who watches

as someone who watches "walking dead" on a fairly regular basis, lori asked glenn to get the pills because glenn is the person who goes into town to get supplies. lori was keeping it all of this to herself initially, but when glenn made that first trip into the town pharmacy in the episode prior to this, she gave him a slip of paper that said she needed a pregnancy test.
with that secret revealed, she then asked him (again with confidence) to get the pills on the next trip, where maggie is attacked by a walker. that's why i think maggie is so outraged at lori, shouting about the "abortion pills". maggie is trying to make a scene and embarrass/out lori, because she views lori as the reason she was attacked.

and re: lori not going through with taking the pills, she did what i would have done. it's clear that she doesn't want to have this baby. she doesn't know how to not, so she thinks that maybe how taking several birth control pills can act as emergency contraceptive, maybe taking several morning after pills will act as a medical abortion. again, she's terrified. upon taking the pills, she does puke them up. i think it's less about the 'sanctity of life' and more about 'fuck, this might not work.'

yes, she is treated poorly and infantilized in this episode, but she's completely consumed by the fear of having a baby in a zombie apocalypse. otherwise, i think she's a strong character.

Apparently the birth issue

Apparently the birth issue isn't played out like this at all in the comic. I really do love the show, however, I was grossed out by the misrepresentation of morning after pills as a form of the aboriton pill, however, I did think they were emphasizing her desperation and if you are already educated on the pills, it led those vieweres to believe lori knew they weren't the actual pills you would take for an abortion. I think the point was that the pharmacy had minimal supplies. Although I think a kick in the stomach would of maybe been more efficient then swallowing 8 morning after pills. I also agree with this article commenting on how she is handled in such a fragile manner as if she was everyones daughter.

Despite this awful episode/issue, the show is fantastic on many levels, and I believe the comic has extremely developed/important female characters that the show has barely touched the surface of so far.

Pitching in

I watched the first series, and wasn't compelled enough to watch the second, so I can't really speak to this particular episode. I wanted to like it (because duh, zombies), but ultimately I thought the whole thing was rather trite, for many reasons-script, plot, camera angles, characters...etc. I do think the first season tried to push gender roles a bit, but hardly presented compelling female characters. In my subjective memory, when I think of the women in the series I think of the over-used love triangle scenario, and the image of a screaming woman clutching her scared/injured/dead child or loved one. Soooo, it's not exactly difficult for me to swallow that Lori's pregnancy might not have been handled in a very...non facepalm way.

Maybe I'll have to look up some reviews that feel more positively about the series, and seek evidence I overlooked, but part of me thinks we're inclined to try and give this series the benefit of the doubt because of our love of zombies.

I've watched every single

I've watched every single episode of this show as they've come out, and I found this whole story arc to be hugely problematic. I said the same things to myself at every stage of Lori's pregnancy. When Glenn tells her she needs to take care of herself because she has a medical condition, I cringed--most women all over the world carry on with business as usual when they get pregnant, our bodies are designed to be able to do this. Pregnancy is NOT an illness. I thought it highlighted the ignorance and common misconceptions that many men have about the process, but that's because I've had the benefit of more accurate information. Having Glenn say that doesn't challenge or educate, it reinforces the misinformation.

I think the analysis from other commenters on Maggie's reaction is short-sighted as well. She lives on farm with a father to whom sanctity of life is so important he keeps walkers alive in his barn. If your beliefs about humanity preclude you from putting down a mindless revenant, there's no way you'd be sympathetic to a woman wanting to terminate her pregnancy.

And of COURSE Lori thinks Rick would make her have a baby she didn't want--that's essentially why he came up the road to talk to her. While he's not going to chain her up until she gives birth, he's absolutely using emotional and social pressure to make her do what he wants. He fronts her off in front of their son, stripping away her authority as his mother, setting a precedent for Carl to believe that his mother is histrionic and whose silly womanly fears are easily-overridden by the menfolk.

Honestly, for once I'd like to see a woman character make the choice to terminate a pregnancy and have the story bear out that it was a solid, well-reasoned choice that ends up working well. And to the people who want to cite Andrea as evidence of any sort of break in the gender stereotypes on this show--in this same episode we get clear evidence of what happens when women try to act like men: their poor judgment and itchy trigger fingers get members of the team shot in the head. I was so angry at that plot turn--not at Andrea for her actions, but at the writers for doing something so cliche. It was like they were saying, "See? This is why the women shouldn't have guns!"

I love this show in spite of its really problematic representations of gender, but this episode featured a lot of epic fail. The only positive thing I got out of it was that Rick turned out to be really understanding when Lori came clean with him about Shane. His sensitivity was refreshing and human, especially when it would have been so easy for him to go the other direction.

"That's a good point about

"That's a good point about how he keeps walkers in the basement and would surely be against terminating a pregnancy."

Really? In the basement? The fact that you, by means of a Freudian slip, forced your own recognizable concept of life upon a setting you don't understand only reinforces my accusation that you don't understand the southern states. Hershel keeping walkers in his barn is arguably a character strength in only one possible plot outcome, where they discover the zombie encephalitis can be treated and cured and everybody will live happily ever after. Which is impossible, because they have already outlined the progression of the people who caught it, got a fever, died somewhat naturally from the illness, but then reanimated some time later. So even if they find a cure for this disease, realistically, the only outcome is that they somehow inoculate all of the zombies in the world, and they go back to just being dead bodies. While I admire the noble gesture Hershel is attempting, I also have to say putting some kind of weapon into the back of each Zombie's brain is the only plausible solution to protect the people still alive, and to end the potential suffering of the undead. It's a recurring theme throughout the series, and the genre: Morgan (first 2 episodes) not being able to shoot his undead wife (Jenny), the farmhouse family keeping and feeding zombies in the barn, Andrea holding her sister through the night only to mercy kill Amy herself the following morning.... What if an episode starts with Morgan and Duane sitting in that house from the first two episodes, and Jenny somehow gets into the house and kills them in their sleep?

Agree with AEonFlux81

The cringe factor and bad men characters...

Glad to see this!

<p>Hey, I'm so glad you wrote about this! I think your analysis is mostly spot-on, with the exception of a few fairly trivial things others have pointed out (Her name is Maggie, Glenn is the one who goes into town.).&nbsp;</p>
<p>The major thing is that, it's true, the women do talk to each other and are close. They <em>have</em> to because they're usually sequestered off doing the laundry and cooking away from the men. So, yes, they do develop relationships. But yes, they're usually resigned to extremely reactionary gender roles. But because of this, I found a few new developments kinda promising (i.e., To this point, no badass women, but Andrea seems to be turning into quite the sharpshooter, so yay! She made conscious decisions to stop being passive--becoming a fighter, as she called it, and she asserted her sexuality. And the women are finally - FINALLY - learning to shoot. Except for Lori.).</p>
<p>One of the upsetting things about what Maggie says is that she comes from a family of healthcare providers. It's not clear exactly what Maggie's role is, but her father is a veterinarian. In the zombie apocalypse, he's started treating humans, and Maggie usually assists him. Whatever her training, Maggie is competent enough with medicine that it's utterly ridiculous that she would call them "abortion pills." That said, it's clear that her family has some fairly simplistic and conservative religious beliefs - no idea what this would mean when it comes to reproductive healthcare.).</p>
<p>I don't think Lori is written as a strong woman <em>at all</em>, and I think any strength you see is because Sarah Wayne Callies transcends the writing at times. I remember the pilot (or maybe this was episode 2 or 3, not sure.). In that episode, she wants to go into town for some reason, and it's Shane who (in a very, very slow voice) condescendingly makes sure she knows how stupid that would be. She's a <em>mother</em>, <em>think of the children</em>. She stomps off, and goes into a tent, where Shane tracks her down so he can make out with her. But only after he forces her, listless and sort of dazed, to concede his rightness in the argument.</p>
<p>Now, there have certainly been moments when she comes off as stronger. This recent episode was not one of them. And I think your representation of her conversation with Rick is <em>absolutely right</em>. And of the episode in general - it's all about other people telling her what she should be doing. And they seem strangely callous about the reality they're in.<em> "How could you possibly not want to have the baby??? WHY??</em>?"</p>
<p>I actually wondered if some of the handwringing had something to do with something that happened earlier in the show. A scientist kind of clumsily asserts that "this is our extinction event." I wondered if there's a message that "women <em>must comply</em> if we're ever going to repopulate the species"? Maybe that's a stretch. I'm not sure.&nbsp;</p>
<p>This show is terrible, just terrible, when it comes to representations of women.</p>
<p>By the way, if you're interested in critiquing another horror show doing an antiquated "punish-the-pregnant-women (there are two of them) pregnancy plot and some weird ass shit on abortion, you might check out American Horror Story. The whole show is based around this house of horrors that originally became a house of horrors because a doctor performed clandestine abortions there and then cut up the pieces of the fetus and sewed them up into freakish shapes and stored them in formaldehyde in the basement. Then there's the mistress who gets murdered basically becuase she's pregnant... And the pregnant wife who seems to be destined for a very Bella-like birth scene. Seriously, Ryan Murphy <em>hates women</em> more than anyone else I can think of in TV.&nbsp;</p>
<p>And then of course the non-pregnant characters aren't any better: Teenage daughter cuts herself, and it's all very bleak. She has no support other than the ghost of a guy who shot up his high school in the '90's. And Jessica Lange playing a murderous Blanche Du Bois type with stereotypical abandon. And her developmentally disabled daughter who is shamed and humiliated for not being a "pretty girl" - and then sent to her death while trick-or-treating... And the dead maid who - quite literally - embodies the saint/whore dichotomy. Men (or at least straight men) see her as a sexy young temptress wearing the kind of maid outfit you'd buy at a sex shop... Women see her as an uptight older lady. It's worse than The Walking Dead, but in a more, "What the FUCK are you doing with this???" kind of way.</p>

Oh, another thing about

<p>Oh, another thing about American Horror Story. The maid, Moira, was actually shot and killed many years ago when the Jessica Lange character found her husband <em>raping</em> her. She did kill the husband as well, but she continuously slut shames Moira <em>and blames her for being raped</em>. No one ever really questions this interpretation on the show, not even Moira herself.</p>

sorry but Moira WAS having an

No safe haven for horror

The Maggie/Melissa really upset everyone! But honestly, that's the only mistake I made, and I'm troubled that just because Glenn's the store-going guy (yes, I get it! and i did say he's the one who went to the store, with Melissa....err, Maggie) means that Lori couldn't have dreamed up a way to go with somebody else, even with her little lady brain. Anyway, the gender thing is actually why I stopped watching the show in the first place. I love the zombie genre and was so excited about it!---and then look what we get. Honestly though I had a pretty easy time not watching. I've had some serious True Blood struggles. Sigh. BTW, there's some very very serious Lori-bashing going on at Walking Dead fan sites--like, it's really shocking.

Noooo!!!!!! Everyone keeps telling me that I'll love American Horror Story, and I've avoided it because I was SO SCARED of what Ryan Murphy would do. Goddddamnit, I just want to watch a horror show without being distracted the entire time by the women hating!!!!

That's very interesting about

<p>That's very interesting about the Lori-bashing. I remember a similar phenomenon with Skyler on Breaking Bad a couple of years ago. And she was another character who had very reasonable motivations for everything she did.</p>
<p>And American Horror Story is really good if you don't think about it. :) It's kind of addictive, but not in the healthiest way, and not because it's high quality or deeply character-driven television.&nbsp;</p>


" I remember a similar phenomenon with Skyler on Breaking Bad a couple of years ago. And she was another character who had very reasonable motivations for everything she did."

Yes, yes, yes!

And I agree with most of your observations about Walking Dead, even though I am still (so far) a fan...

A different perspective on AHS

I think you should give AHS a chance and decide for yourself. While I can completely get on board with nearly every criticism of Walking Dead's portrayal of women, I do not feel the same about American Horror Story. Mostly because all of the characters, whether male or female, are painted with that same heavy-handed brush, there is no distinction. The women are not added to the plot as an afterthought, or carved out as more crazy or incapable than the men, or used as plot advancing devices. On the contrary, in AHS the women are more the backbone of the series; they are far more substantive to the plot than the men. I think these descriptions need to be kept in context with the program as a whole, otherwise the gripe doesn't need to be with the way the female characters are portrayed, but rather with the show itself.

I only watched the first

I only watched the first season on Walking Dead and I'm not sure if I'll watch anymore. But any time Lori and who ever (Shane or Rick) had sex, I couldn't help but wonder if they were using any kind of protection. And if they were not, I wondered why they would have sex and risk a pregnancy (oral and hands can do the job). And now that I see that she has gotten pregnant, all I can do is sigh. I can't imagine how difficult it's going to be to be caring for a new born in a zombie apocalysp, espeically if they need to be on the run. And I'm not sure if its happened yet, but I can already imagine the birthing episode. Lori is having her baby right in the middle of a zombie attack! Birthing hijinks ensue.

I wish that they had more female fighters and not just the token girl fighter. I recently watched High School of the Dead, where all the women fight except for two. Though one of the two is the driver and doctor and the other one is the smart one who will usually have something intelligent to say about the situation or make observations. One of the girls who is a fighter uses a sword and is probably the best fighter of the group and the other is a martial artist. However, dont' get too excited about this series because the girls are very over sexualized. You will see hundreds of panty shots an episode and the girls are often in skimpy outfits. Oh and they wear white shirts and will often get splashed with water. There is also a scene where they all get into the bath together and hijinks ensue. It's sad, becasue if they removed all the fanservice the show would have been very good.

I was happy to see an article

I was happy to see an article about the absurdity of this episode. My partner and I scoffed through most of it and gesticulated wildly (he and I were cooking dinner so this was dangerous) . I'll just add my two cents:

I think the "you have a medical condition" line can be forgiven since, as what was intended to be a funny comment. it was obviously meant to emphasize HIS naivety rather than Lori's "weakened state"

I also thought that the writers should have committed to the anti-choice thing more or not at all. If you're going to have this (abso-fuckin-lutely ridiculous) anti- choice undercurrent - then do it right use it as a tool to examine how even under complete societal meltdown some prejudices hold up in the face of all logic. Lori was allowed to point out one or too solid points regarding why she shouldn't and doesn't want to have a baby. Rick never made a point why she should (what does "give it a chance" even mean? I'm pretty sure you can't send a baby back if it doesn't work out/gets you all killed by crying"). It's like the writers know the whole concept is too much to stomach so they're just sort of going through the (misogynistic) motions.

People need to read comments to make sure their useless "you got the name wrong" isn't already made 3 times.

I also agree that the women don't talk to each other much. Just because they've exchanged words doesn't mean, as a whole, the show emphasizes female-female communication to any degree that should be lauded.

You're referring to pills

You're referring to pills that induce "medical abortions," which are non-surgical abortions. These are not morning after pills. Some call them "abortion pills." A lot of folks don't understand the difference, which is a problem, because morning after pills don't cause abortions. They have no effect on embryos that have already implanted in the uterus (as is the case with Lori). Morning after pills prevent pregnancies from occurring.

Just my two cents

I was also upset by Maggie's "abortion pills" comment and promptly started explaining to the television and my boyfriend why it was incorrect. Having thought about it some more, I think the line was genuine for Maggie's character; she comes from what seems to be a conservative, somewhat sheltered background and it's believable that she would understand the morning-after pill as something than can end a pregnancy. That being said, I was disappointed that the writers chose not to have any other character point out Maggie's error.

I'm with the author on this one

I only watched a handful of episodes of TWD, and HAD to stop because it was so F***ing misogynistic. Women do not speak to each other to say anything significant, and their conversations certainly do not have any consequences on significant plot points.

Women's advice is repeatedly shown to be whiny and superflous. When one of them complains about the laundry, in the comic books she's an old ugly husband-domineering bitch, while in the movies she is an abused wife (and her abuse situation is only resolved by men, through manly ways - women prove useless in this scenario, especially the victim/survivor). The only woman of colour in the original group turns out to go nuts/religious-fanatic, and has no romantic attachments outside with her weird vibe with the crazy scientist. The only women who know how to shoot or are any good at it are the young, hot blondes (maybe just one of them in the TV show, can't remember well), who also happen to be super friendly with some old guy (who yes, is very nice, but COME ON) and of course aren't good friends with the rest of the ladies (they sneak out of laundry duties, if i remember correctly).

I mean, seriously, this programme is so full of tropes it becomes a caricature of itself. I love zombies, they make for super-entertaining stories, but the human stories in this are just depressing. I mean, if the zombie holocaust happened tomorrow, I would not start cleaning my partner's clothes while he runs around being a hero. I doubt women would become sheep overnight just because they are scared to die. In TWD world there are simply no empowered women... except a couple hot chicks who combine empowerment with sexual validity. And there are certainly no literate, intelligent women that I can think of.

One last point: The fact that writers cloud racial/class/gender stereotypes in all kinds of "plotlines" and "twists" and "hints" (just because they mention the pills might not work, then we have to ignore the fact that the whole episode is based on a false premise that patronizes women who use contraception?) and "character-building lines" and "character personalities"... it does not eliminate the fact that all these things are *conscious* choices of said writers. They know perfectly well what kind of world they are reproducing: the way the world is inside their heads, with some women with sass who can "open their way" in a world of men, simultaneously acting like men are supposed to act, and being attractive for those men.

Absolute bollocks.

So I am more inclined to side with the author of the post than with some of the fans here. I'm sorry, but I do not know how any feminist can watch this show without poking her own eyes out. It makes me rage vigorously (I guess that's obvious by now). All the anger is intended towards the "genius" authors of this franchise, though - this is nothing against any commenters. All the best, and by the way, I absolutely love this site.

I agree with everything you

I agree with everything you said, though I must ask which woman of color are you talking about? Are you talking about the show or the comic? I remember the African American woman who introduces herself as a city planner, and I was like, cool that could be very useful. But she got no character development and later dies after she is "too tired" of running and decides to blow herself up in the medical building. Ok if the actress really did not want to do another season, couldn't her character have been killed off in an awesome memorable emotional heroic sacrifice? because I'm sure that one of the male characters will get that down the line. I've only seen the first season, but is this show becoming whiter? The latino family leaves the group to go find family, the originally African American man and his son go their own way, another no character African American is killed in a zombie attack, the African American woman was killed for the reason I mentioned above. Unless they added more characters in the second season, they seem to be left with two token characters. And it's almost 2012. Do we still need the old storyline of, passive woman becomes tough chick to show that she can be as tough as the boys. Aren't we past that and can't we just have woman that are capable of helping to defend the camp from the get go? I would have loved if the show included a women who was in the military and completely gun savvy.

"Ok if the actress really did

"Ok if the actress really did not want to do another season, couldn't her character have been killed off in an awesome memorable emotional heroic sacrifice?"

No, because that wasn't even plausible in the storyline for the first season finale. What was she supposed to do, stop the unstoppable self destruct? Be the woman who just HAPPENED to have found the grenade in Rick's belongings, a simple plot device that must be misogynistic because Carol (the actual grenade keeper) found it while she did Rick's laundry.... so that Rick and Lori might have some time together.

"The latino family leaves the group to go find family, the originally African American man and his son go their own way..."

So what, that just leaves them open to return later in the series. As yet, the entire second season takes place on a white family's farm (in rural Georgia, pretty obvious really) or on a stretch of highway littered with abandoned cars (where the hillbilly white boy SAVES the life of one of your "two token characters." You know, Daryl, whose brother is Merle, the whack job racist who is possibly suffering from PTSD, a drug addict, a Vietnam Vet dishonorably discharged from the military, borderline atheist, and every other potentially offensive cliche stereotype that could apply to myself and offend me, if I went out of my way to apply it and thus be offended (White male, military Veteran, literally none of those other things that are stereotypically expected of me) except that I realize it is a TV show where all of the characters are boiled down, easily recognizable archetypes from a comic book.

What if I said I find the repetitive use of the young, healthy Korean kid and the able bodied former police officers an example of horribly offensive misandry? Why don't the women stay up all night pulling security on their camp? Why don't the women have to drag the infectious bodies of dead walkers to the burn pile? Why don't the women have to do anything and everything they can to scavenge parts to maintain the vehicles?

The writers made this series what it is, and what all of you crying "wolf" over perceived misogyny are failing to understand is that there are only so many characters, and the show has produced less than half of the material you could expect from one of your well adjusted suburban/city life sitcoms.

Friends, for example, where all of the women characters are fully functioning, progressively modern samples of feminist archetypes, right?
The obsessive compulsive basket case who makes her career as a chef after she lost a lot of weight in college because of something her brother's best friend once said in passing.
The beautiful but spoiled little daddy's girl who has never had to work in her life but ran out on her wedding because she was afraid of being bored in her marriage to a Jewish Dentist
The artsy hippy girl who is an avid activist for animal rights and plays guitar at the coffee house when she isn't being a professional masseuse....

Wait, all of those women are CLEARLY victims of the writer's misogyny, right?

Obvious troll is obvious!

Obvious troll is obvious!

TWD Fans

Lorobird---thank you. I'd have to agree on all that. Frankly, I'm a little taken aback by how far TWD fans will go to defend a clearly misogynistic premise with weird and irrelevant quibbles and/or fantastical scenarios dreamed up to defend the episode. I'm worried that allegiance to a (let's face it, mediocre) television series trumps all else. I like what you said here and would like to repeat it: "They know perfectly well what kind of world they are reproducing: the way the world is inside their heads, with some women with sass who can "open their way" in a world of men, simultaneously acting like men are supposed to act, and being attractive for those men." Also, I think we have a really low bar when we're supposed to be grateful that "the fact of a woman's choice was even brought up at all," as some have argued. Well, no, there's nothing even remotely uncommon about a television series---including those with a pro-life message---bringing up the fact of a woman making choices during a pregnancy. Hell, I've seen tons of pro-life storylines that have been infinitely more respectful than this one. Also, the arguments about the "deep south mentality" etc don't hold much water--sure, lots of people don't know the difference between a medical abortion and morning after pills, but you'd think maybe one out of the four characters directly involved in this plotline might have brought something up about this being weeks into a pregnancy, not "the morning after." Also, Lori knew enough about them to request them specifically. Also, and more importantly, I'm fairly certain that even in the south, some folks allow their women to speak with just as much frequency as the men, some folks are kind to women who are struggling w a pregnancy, etc etc. The way this show went down reflects the sexism of the individuals who wrote it, not "the south" (which commenters are treating like some homogenous, monolithic culture).

Forgive me -

I am ready to offend some people - but here is my opinion.
I am wondering how many of you have experienced and/or lived in the deep rural south?
If you have, I would challenge you to argue for one second what if anything is inaccurate regarding the backward mentality of what goes on in these areas?!!! The script is authentic of the time, space, and concept.


Here we go. It is a 40-42

Here we go. It is a 40-42 minute show where we follow the stories and flashbacks of a small band of survivors in Georgia. The main character, Rick, is injured in the line of duty as a police office before the encephalitis-like outbreak that causes the zombie outbreak. The show is a study in the concept of culture shock, social destabilization after a globally traumatic event, and basic survival. The zombies and the subsequent action sequences are not the meat and potatoes of this series. The social hierarchy and how to cope with events, what to do to sustain survival, and the infrequent clues that indicate a much larger storyline are the driving force of this series.

I have never read the comics/graphic novels, but I am vaguely familiar with them. I do know for a fact that the writer/creator of this series is using the television show to give different angles to his story, it's clearly not an exact adaptation.

As for the claims of misogyny, I am irritated on a few topics. There are several examples I support: the women doing laundry at the quarry (although there was a decisively misandristic conversation between the women), Carol and her bastard husband, I was really hoping she would have the chance to develop as a character and put him in his place (or a grave), but the show opted for a quicker way out. You don't know who made that call, if it was scripted that way or an on set decision, but I am still disappointed by it. Otherwise, all of season 2 thus far has been aimed in locating/rescuing a female child (Sophia) and supporting her mother (Carol) (I have dubbed TWD Season 2 as The Search for Sophia) If the writers were such pigs, I don't think they would have stretched this storyline out this long. Sadly, all 6 credited writers to date are men, most of whom have been working on the comic series, and as a fan of the Buffy series, I think TWD could use a female writer to help flesh out the women in the show.

As for Shane and Rick having conversations with Lori, and explaining things to her slowly, I have to go with my experience. I am a soldier, I have lived in both Carolinas and Georgia, and a man explaining things to a woman is better off thinking his words carefully and calmy. Lori may not be interested in learning to shoot with the group (which, given her pregnancy secret, makes indisputable sense) but she is a powerful character in her own right. Rick and Shane are like fire and ice, and she is the mediator to calm either when their temper starts up, and she is obviously the driving force for giving Rick advice in his de facto position of leadership that the group just kind of deferred to him.

As for the exchange between Lori and Rick after she tells him about the baby, let's consider some facts: Initially, Rick can only assume it is his (because she hasn't told him about Shane yet) so he is irate that she was keeping something that important secret, and that she almost made that decision without him. He may not have to carry the baby, but within a marriage, the pro-life and pro-choice debate gets exponentially more heated, and unless you have the experience and wisdom of being both the mother AND father in that situation, it's impossible to have an objective opinion for both sides.

Now, what was Lori's motivation for keeping THAT secret long enough to have to choose between prenatal vitamins or "abortion" pills (which is just a weak plot device to increase the audience's anticipation of a major plot development, whether they would have worked or not, so why bother arguing the legitimacy of the day after pill in this situation. ON A SHOW ABOUT THE FREAKING Zombie Apocalypse, PEOPLE! Seriously!)

Oh, I know. It's because she was beside herself with guilt that she slept with her husband's best friend when she had been informed that Rick was dead (by Shane, possibly deceived given the flashback where Shane leaves Rick barricaded in his hospital room) Also, given her tense and bitter relationship with Shane since Rick's return, she has to be scared shitless of the possibility that the baby could be Shane's.

Let's not forget that Lori

Let's not forget that Lori has her own gun - A .38 police issue revolver, by the looks of it. Now, you'll make the argument that "Oh, they're being mean to her character because Carl took her gun, so now it's her fault the kid had a gun" Lori, whose son jokingly if not disrespectfully called her a housewife, and instead of biting his head off, she went along with the joke while diverting it, as well.

Let me say I was impressed with Lori. She was handed her gun, she inspected it, and then she secured it. Exactly like someone who knows how to shoot would do. If ANYbody hands me any gun, I inspect the safety setting and verify there is nothing in the chamber. The problem here seems that too many (probably suburban/urban) women (who at times seem genuinely ignorant of modern Southern culture) are only half watching the show, and missing some of the more subtle nods to the strengths as well as the blatantly obvious weaknesses of these characters. And impatient to have their needs for an aggressively pro-feminist female character fulfilled.

I didn't really come here to

I didn't really come here to comment specifically about Walking Dead.

I just always wonder in movies & TV shows that involve all kinds of apocalypse (or even deserted/wilderness) type stuff (whether by zombie or something else) first two thoughts are:

How do the women deal with their periods?
Why aren't all the chicks getting knocked up??

To my general knowledge...This is really the first time I have seen an unexpected pregnancy in one of these things that makes sense. Duh. Sex + no birth control = babies. Only ONE chick got pregnant on that Lost show - and that might not even have been a result of nature...It was "the island" making shit happen...or whatever. Too many men writing things.

Ok, apparently I am using too

Ok, apparently I am using too many words and explaining myself too much.
A. Your criticism is lacking background understanding. How many episodes have you watched, in their entirety?
B. You keep emphasizing that the men talk to the women slowly at times during arguments, which you imply is meant to be derogatory and intentionally written by misogynistic writers. I myself have found it in my best interest in my 28 years to speak slowly when in an argument with any woman, to avoid accidentally saying anything I might regret. Plus, all of the men in the show are from Georgia, and the worst part of their acting is FAILING to recreate a true Suburban/ rural Georgia accent.
C. You are harshly critical of Lori's character given the few episodes you have seen, yet you refuse to acknowledge any of the background of said character that led to this behavior. It seems like you think it is scornful of the production personnel of this show, whereas anybody who has ever known somebody in as troubling of a situation as this knows it is a completely plausible portrayal of the circumstances. No married woman has ever acted irrationally after becoming pregnant after having extramarital sexual relations (the word I avoided was affair, as this was in no way an affair)
D. You mistakenly use "misogyny" to describe the writers of this show because the series lacks a female character you find sufficiently empowered in the name of feminism.

Watched more episodes of

Watched more episodes of season 2.

I can't help but ask. are the writers trying to make the female characters unlikable? Every one of them irritates me. I was starting to like Andrea but then the part where she nearly kills Daryl made her fall on my list. I wish the writers could have made her more rational in that situation. Though to be fair, most of the men aren't likable either.

Maggie comes in and I was happy to finally see a cool female character. But then she has to be ridiculous with her relationship wtih Glenn to the point that it severely annoys me.

Also lovely comment from Glenn "Are all the women on their periods?" Ugh. Glenn you were one of the only characters I liked!

If I were in a zombie apocalypse, I would not be having sex because I would not want to risk pregnancy. I can't imagine running from zombies at eight months pregnant. And in a real life situation, I'd be the one left behind. I doubt someone would run back or risk their life to save me. I bring myself to an orgasm with out the help of another person. I will happily direct the men to their hands. Or if I wanted to be intimate, there's always hands and mouths, or a damn strap on.

Add new comment