I think what I find so interesting about this scene is that there are a couple of ?contradictory? things happening: on the one hand, here’s John, who’s felt lost, directionless (dare we say, “impotent”? I think the writer/producers certainly would), and he’s just killed a man - justified, perhaps, but it’s still killing - and suddenly, for the first time in the episode, he’s feeling it. He’s back - he’s a man - and now he’s going to push it a little further and try his luck with the only other thing (and I think “thing” here might be appropriate) that might cement his masculinity.
And yet - and for me this is the saving grace of the moment - when she looks at him blankly, he walks away. He doesn’t push anything with her, doesn’t continue to try to jog her memory, doesn’t re-introduce himself, certainly doesn’t force himself on her in any way. He simply takes her response as the way it is and walks away. It’s that kind of thing that keeps me coming back to him; he may be out for nothing more than a shag, he may be the world’s least observant boyfriend, he may have absolutely no idea how women work - all of them are borne out at one point or another - but he foists himself on no one, he’s never overbearing, he knows that no means no.
(I mean, there’s a whole different critique to be had about the show’s broader “ew, girls, cooties, cocktease, who can understand ‘em??” subtext, but in the main I think that’s largely separate from how John, specifically, is played. When things go wrong for him with women, as they uniformly do, he’s generally the butt of the joke, the deeper implications of the joke notwithstanding.)
So, one of the things I do with characters I write is to try to make them more explicitly feminist than in canon. This is not that hard when writing XF fic, with a very strong female protagonist and a male protagonist who obviously has a great deal of respect for her. But it’s harder when I’m writing Sherlock fic, because the show has such a problem with women.
Anyway, what I find myself looking for is the places to locate a feminist ethical impulse in the characters as they stand—because feminism isn’t one thing, it’s a wide variety of practices that have different ideas about what you do with the problems of gender in contemporary society.
And this—that John may be clueless about women, but he’s fully aware they are autonomous human beings who are empowered to make their own decisions—is where I locate his. It’s not per se a feminist position (it’s basic fucking human decency and only looks good because it’s so lacking in our society) but it’s a place to root an approach to gender justice.
(Similarly, my Sherlock believes the gender binary is a pointless social construct and that women are incomprehensible because they follow rules he doesn’t understand. As someone who finds femininity incomprehensible despite being a daily practitioner, I sympathize.)
Any way. That’s what I do when I’m writing. Something to fix canon when I can.
Reblogging for commentary—specifically that bit about Sherlock and gender binaries. I absolutely agree. Fandom = fixing canons since forever.