I’m not sure if I buy the argument that Dexter is feminist, but that could be because I’m still on season 4. The show does, however, highlight the sexual relationships of its female characters (Deb, LaGuerta, Lila, the various prostitutes…). What do you Dexter fans think?
Dexter’s eye-for-an-eye vigilantism came to a gripping fifth-season finale this week with Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller), serial rapist and murderer, brought to a bloody end by one of his victims, Lumen (Julia Stiles). If you are not familiar with the show, go here for a good feminist overview of the series, or see the series of posts here.
This season, the Showtime TV series had much to offer feminist viewers: blood-spatter analyst (and serial killer) Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) as single dad; female Lt. LaGuerta’s (Lauren Velez) betrayal of Dexter’s sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter); Deb’s mad detective skills and, at the heart of the season, a rape revenge fantasy involving Dexter and Lumen, who were bent on meting out punishment for a group of male rapists and murderers. This time around, Dexter’s partner in crime was an intelligent, articulate, tough woman–a female raped, tortured and nearly murdered who realizes that the violence done to her cannot be buried or denied and will forever change her view of the world and her place in it.
As noted at Feminists For Choice, “the show does an above-average job of accurately depicting the agony of rape trauma syndrome and PTSD.” Why is this good viewing for feminists? Yes, the violence is visceral and the blood excessive. The administered justice is very harsh–with murder on the agenda for those serial killer Dexter decides “don’t deserve to live.” But underneath its brutal exterior, the show also presents us with deeper moral questions about a legal system that consistently fails to catch or punish serial killers, rapist, and child abusers–and deeper still about what type of society breeds such violence and if, indeed, our legal system creates just as many criminals as it attempts to apprehend.