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Spartacus: The Role of Women

Posted by Rosepixie on April 4, 2010

This is a two page magazine ad for the new television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

The text (from the left side) reads:

Mightier than the Sword

The women of Spartacus: Blood and Sand use brains (and other body parts) over brawn in an epic battle for freedom and control.

Sura (Erin Cummings): Wife of Spartacus, she has the power to foretell great and unfortunate events.

Lucretia (Lucy Lawless): Lustful, cunning and powerful, she sees Spartacus as a beast too dangerous for her husband’s gladiatorial stable.

Ilithyia (Viva Bianca): Wife of a roman commander, she finds the gladiator training school the perfect place to fight off boredom.

Naevia (Lesley-Ann Brandt): Lucretia’s personal slave, she dares go behind her mistress’s back to find forbidden love.

Mira (Katrina Law): A slave at the gladiator training school, she knows the ins and outs of getting what she wants.

They came, they saw, they conquered.

Right.  So, the women, first and foremost exist as sexual beings in relation to the men around them (notice how every one is carefully described by her relationship to the men in the show?).  And while we are told that they use their brains in the blurb about them collectively, individually most of them are only described as using their… well… feminine wiles.  And the image would seem to back that impression up, since they are dressed as Roman pin-up girls and posed like porn stars (except for sweet, innocent slave-girl Naeva there in the back, who only wants true love).

I also notice a hierarchy of skin tones in the image – Naeva, the only black woman, is in the very back and just in front of her is the next darkest-toned woman (who is awfully white), while the three lightest women are large and up front.  Granted, Sura, the very front woman, is slightly darker-skinned than the other two, but she is still pretty white looking.

As annoying as the ads for this show would have been if they had just been straight-forward about the women in the show, this is ten times worse.  It tries to argue that the women aren’t being portrayed/treated the way they are by talking about brains over brawn, but pretty much just ends up sounding stupid and shallow and false.  You can’t have it both ways and trying to sell it as such is just going to piss me off.

I actually might have checked out this show before seeing the ads for it, since I tend to find historical shows fun to watch, but after seeing this, I’m staying far away from it and might think twice before trying anything else from Starz in the future too.


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