As with a lot of my comments about “Cordelia” in S4, I’m having a tough time balancing what I think this story is in context of all the other awful stories about women on AtS. The pattern is bad, and Darla’s pregnancy fits the bad pattern, no doubt. I stand behind everything I wrote in one of my first fandom meta posts nearly five years ago, about this very issue. (UGH THE SONOGRAM, where she actually has that OMG THERE'S A BABY IN THERE I SURRENDER MY LIFE AND IDENTITY FORTHWITH moment that anti-choicers are still trying to press on women!)
And yet. If this were the only such storyline throughout the series, I would say it is absolutely gorgeous.
Darla: I can feel this body dying, Lindsey. It’s eating away at me like a cancer. This soul.
To Darla, a soul is first and foremost vulnerability. Weakness. I don’t think it’s quite true that she can’t love without a soul, that she can only love Connor because she is sharing a soul with him. She loved Angel; she may have even loved the Master and Dru. (Spike, not so much.) What I think she means is that she loves him in a way that she would put her child before herself. This isn’t totally alien to Darla – while re-ensouled as a human in S2, she tried to put a stop to the trial that would kill him even though she knew she would die if he stopped. I’m actually not entirely certain that this was strictly about the soul, so much as it was about her hopelessness and powerlessness in her terminal condition – while a vampire, she could ride off and leave Angel at Holtz’s mercy because she was pretty confident she could come back, and if not, at least the sacrifice was certain to pay off by preserving her immortal life, whereas the administrator of the trials was clearly as untrustworthy as he proved to be, and even if he had awarded Darla her life it would have been at most a sickly, lonely few decades completely at the mercy of Wolfram and Hart.
I’ve thought about it to that extent because I’m not entirely comfortable with that? Darla’s radical sense of self-worth was and is one of my favorite things about the character, and I hated seeing her lose it at all, let alone because ~having a baby changes you, selfish woman, you just don’t know until you have the loooooove~ - but at the same time that’s obviously a totally valid experience, that people prioritize their own families in ways that surprise them, and I don’t want to imply that some aspect of the human experience should be off-limits for conversation because male storytellers sometimes have creepy Madonna-fetish issues. (Say it ain’t so!) But nothing happens outside of cultural context generally, and nothing on AtS happens outside of a specific context, to wit, AtS. And the cultural context is: that self-interested women are bad, that the only way to be a good woman is to give yourself over entirely to motherhood without a trace, preferably not even an unseemly corpse.
And I’m not sure why this one leaves such a bad taste in my mouth even though I’m such a big defender of the Jasmine!”Cordy.” I make no claim to impartiality, here: I was fiercely attached to Darla in a way I never was to Cordelia. But I do think at least part of my unease comes from the respective normative positioning of the stories? I can totally handle “this character’s pregnancy usurps her life and identity AND THAT IS A BAD THING.” I am seriously creeped out by “this character’s pregnancy radically alters some of her most fundamental traits and that is a beautiful and lovely story about motherhood and sacrifice!”
I don’t know. I get so stuck on the unfortunate implications here that I am having a tough time getting to any actual thoughts on how the soul itself does or doesn’t become a part of Darla. STILL SO PRESSED SORRY KELSEY.
This entry was originally posted at http://pocochina.dreamwidth.org/323229.h