On the (Rest of the) Net.

jessica simpson rolling stone cover

Cleaning is still women’s work. [New Republic]

Is Jennifer Lawrence really as body-positive as she’s made out to be? [Sweaters for Days]

Unpacking the dissolving friendship between Meredith and Cristina on Grey’s Anatomy. [Vulture]

TV: Modern Family is Anything But.

modern family mud portrait

After a recent spat with my housemate about the apparent modernity of Modern Family, in which he defended the show for its gay couple with an adopted Vietnamese baby and a strong Latino presence while I cried stereotyping, I decided I should actually watch an episode or two of it before I denounce Modern Family as an archetype perpetuating farce.

Now, with three and a half seasons and some informed opinions under my belt, I can wholeheartedly say I abhor the sexist tropes of the fiery Latina, Gloria, and the shrill, controlling housewife, Claire, and Modern Family’s blatant racism, homophobia and slut-shaming. Let me count the ways…

Right off the bat in the sixth episode of season one, “Run for Your Wife”, there were some troubling stereotypes about stay-at-home mums. When the Dunphy kids head off to their first day of school for the year, mum Claire looks forward to some downtime to get started on a new book. Phil, who’s supposed to be the breadwinner of the family, is also home and wants to hang out with his wife. After blowing off some open-houses he’s supposed to be putting on as part of, you know, his job as a real estate agent, Phil gets embroiled in a mid-afternoon jogging race with Claire.

As a child who grew up with a stay-at-home mum, I can tell you that I never once saw her sitting down to read a book in the middle of the day or challenge my dad to a childish competition. There was too much cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping and picking up to do. In fact, my dad was barely home and often working more than one job in order to put food on the table and keep us in a home one fifth of the size of the Dunphy’s, which is more than we can say for Phil who is rarely shown at work.

While the acting of Ty Burrell (Phil) and Julie Bowen (Claire) is something to write home (or at least the awards shows) about, their characters leave a lot to be desired. Phil is always dropping the ball (or getting it thrown into his face, as in “Door to Door” in season three) on being a functioning human being, let alone a good husband and father, and Claire often refers to him as her fourth child (she technically only has three: Haley, Alex and Luke). The trope of wife-as-replacement-mother is a tired one, but that doesn’t stop Modern Family for milking it for all it’s worth.

This brings us to Gloria, who is anything but. She’s young, sexy and, most notably, a loud, sassy Latin woman who’s always getting arked up about something. In season one’s “Up All Night”, Gloria’s son Manny’s dad comes to visit. While Gloria is now remarried to the older and dependable Jay, ex-husband Javier is a fellow fiery Latino who tries to make up for his absence by showering Manny with extravagant gifts. In the episode, Javier takes Jay and Manny to a baseball field in the middle of the night, and the next day comes bearing motorbikes. Gloria becomes audibly incensed that Jay’s falling for Javier’s tricks, like she used to, and storms off, yelling in Spanish. Every portrayal of a Hispanic woman in pop culture doesn’t have to be that of the “hot blooded” Latin mama; just look at the gay, Latina orthopedic surgeon Dr. Callie Torres in Grey’s Anatomy, a show that is far more modern than one with that word in its title, for example.

Speaking of the gays, what portrayal of contemporary American life would be complete without the requisite homosexual couple with an adopted Asian baby? Certainly not Modern Family, which turns the gay dial up to eleven with stay-at-home dad, former farm-dweller and part-time clown Cam, the uptight, dogmatic (unsurprisingly the brother of Claire) lawyer Mitchell and their über inappropriate ways. For example, in “Run for Your Wife”, Mitchell accidentally bumps baby Lily’s head against a door frame, and they take her to the doctor. The doctor happens to be Asian-American, so Cam embarks on a sermon about how he and Mitchell intend to raise Lily with influences from her Asian roots, completely disregarding the fact that the doctor was born and raised somewhere in middle America and identifies first and foremost as an American.

Later on, in season two’s “Unplugged”, Cam and Mitchell try to get Lily into a preschool. When they realise Lily’s going up against an adopted African-American boy with disabled-lesbian parents for the last spot at a prestigious private school, Cam flubs the interview by emphasising his 1/16th Cherokee heritage and speaking in pidgin English. As someone who is also 1/16th Cherokee, I’m sure you can imagine my offence at this.

Cam, as I’m sure you can imagine if you don’t already watch Modern Family, is the flamboyant half of the couple, and enjoys dressing Lily up as famous gay icons and encouraging her creative side. In the episode “Chirp”, in season two, Cam goes against Mitchell’s wishes and has Lily film a commercial for a furniture store. The ad is completely racist, using emphasised Asian accent voiceovers and Godzilla, and when Mitchell points this out, Cam uses the defence of hipsters the world over: “It’s ironic.” I suppose because they have an Asian kid, they’re allowed to be racist…?

While there are some redeeming qualities throughout the show’s run, such as the “Mother’s Day” (season two), “After the Fire” (season three), and “Schooled” (recently aired as part of season four) episodes which seek to unpack gay parenting and stereotypes of femininity, masculinity and homosexuality, it’s also rife with slut-shaming (Jägermeister is a magic potion that puts girls to sleep but instead of waking up “in a castle, you wake up in a frat house with a bad reputation” in “Moon Landing”, whilst Phil marvels in “Travels with Scout” that with his “emotionally distant father” it’s a miracle he didn’t end up as a stripper), homo- and transphobia (dad Jay insinuates that Mitchell is a cross-dresser because he’s also gay in “Starry Night”), and jokes about domestic violence (when Mitchell asks his dad to teach him how to fight in “Game Changer”, Jay asks if he’s having problems with Cam).

As I’m sure Glee can attest, an after school special-esque episode here and there doesn’t make up for Modern Family’s utter lack of modernity the majority of the time.

Elsewhere: [Chica & the City] Casting Call for “Hot Blooded” Latina Moms Makes My Blood Boil.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “On My Way” Episode.

Image via BuddyTV.

Event: The Golden Age of Television.

I thought a panel about how great American television is was a bit of a misnomer for the Wheeler Centre’s “America” week. I mean, has anyone seen Here Comes Honey Boo Boo or any of the Real Housewives series?

But once the panel, consisting of pop culture expert Jess McGuire, television reviewer Debi Enker and producer Amanda Higgs and emceed by the director of the Wheeler Centre, Michael Williams, got started on their favourite American feats of TV, I warmed to the notion.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: American TV is the type I consume the most. I usually only watch Aussie shows in case I can get some blog or freelance fodder, and British television? Fugedaboutit! But the shows the panel named as their top idiot box must-sees are some real high-brow shit, most of which I’ve never seen an episode of in my life. Think Mad Men, The Soprano’s, The Wire, Six Feet Under. I like my TV a bit fluffier.

Having said that, though, the panellists got me thinking about my favourite shows. While they struggled to whittle down their favourite to just five, I realised I can only count two faultless series: Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order: SVU. Most of the other shows I watch (Glee, for example) infuriate me to no end with their racist, sexist, classist, ableist and homophobic undertones. Grey’s and SVU don’t always have happy endings, at least, and aren’t afraid to push the boundaries, get rid of popular characters if it strengthens the story (or they cause trouble on set, like Isaiah Washington, or can’t settle their pay disputes, as with Chris Meloni’s departure), and portray really real characters.

I love the way Grey’s has unlikeable characters who still get as much screen time and storylines as the title character, and their personality quirks are those that people in real life actually have. For example, April’s uptight, shrill virgin character bordered on stereotype, but at the same time everyone else’s obsession with her sexless existence is what you would expect from unenlightened real people. Alternatively, you have Cristina, who always looks out for number one and refuses to discuss the possibility of having children with her husband. Ordinarily that would make for a hateful character, but Sandra Oh portrays the nuances of Cristina perfectly. The medical storylines always have a synergy with the doctors’ personal ones, and while it sometimes gets a bit after-school special-y when Miranda has to give a “long speech” or a patient makes a doctor realise something, I don’t think it never not works. Except for that whole Gizzie/Izzie sees dead people thing…

In terms of Special Victims Unit, though, you’d think watching a weekly police procedural about sexual assault for fourteen seasons would be morbid but, for me, I find it one of the most enjoyable shows to sit through. I love how the beginning of an episode is set up so that the audience thinks it’s going to be about one crime but, oftentimes, there can be two or three criminal storylines by the time the forty minutes is up. While it’s almost always about the crime first, character storylines second, you never lose sight of Munch’s conspiracy theorist paranoia, Elliot’s (when he was still in it. Sob!) fiery temper and Olivia’s feminist heroics. And they have some top notch guest stars portraying the lowest of the low and the creepiest of the creepy. Some memorable performances include Cynthia Nixon as a fake sufferer of multiple personality disorder, John Ritter as a distraught husband who attacks his pregnant wife when he finds out the baby might not be his, and Chloe Sevigny as a bored housewife who cries rape.

Both shows deal with things like disability, sexual politics and mental illness in a sensitive and true way which they have to be commended for.

In terms of what television does wrong, though, the discussion turned to Aussie networks. We seem to have a penchant for “flogging” successful shows to death, as both McGuire and Higgs noted. The success of Underbelly meant copious amount of spin-offs with links so tenuous to the original premise that they might as well be standalone shows. And using the success of an overseas import, like Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Two & a Half Men and, earlier, Friends, to flog the show to death in double-episode reruns is another hallmark of Aussie networks.

There was also talk of our modern viewing habits. While Vanity Fair may have declared movies usurped by television in a recent issue, which served as the jumping off point for the panel, not a lot of people sit down at the same time each week to watch their shows ritualistically. McGuire admitted to watching “box sets” illegal downloads and streams of her favourite shows, because Australia still has a ways to go when it comes to airing shows consistently and on par with American air dates. I liked it last year when Ten aired Glee the same week it premiered in the U.S., however with events like Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Superbowl interrupting the schedule north of the equator, this means that repeats and “returning in two weeks” promos take the place of consistency Down Under. And don’t even get me started on the treatment of SVU: new episode followed by repeat followed by months of nothing followed by new episode without promotion so most loyal viewers miss it. No wonder there’s an epidemic of illegal interwebs watching: the networks are just so unreliable.

So while it may be the “golden age” of television, it seems to be edging closer to a golden age of twenty-to-forty (or fifty for HBO productions) minute feats of film to be watched on the laptop or iPad, not so much the silver screen.

Related: Glee: The Right & Wrong of It.

What’s Eating April Kempner?

The Underlying Message in Grey’s Anatomy‘s “Superfreak” Episode. 

Cristina Yang as Feminist.

Grey’s Anatomy Final Asks “When Does Life Begin?”

Image via Wheeler Centre.

TV: What’s Eating April Kempner?

One of the couples I’ve been wanting to get together forever on Grey’s Anatomy finally did a couple of weeks ago: April and Jackson. But, as a virgin who has apparently now broken her promise to Jesus, their love wasn’t meant to be (well, except for that second go around in the men’s bathroom during their boards!).

I just don’t get how you can be a doctor—an occupation where science, fact and the tangible reign supreme—and be religious at the same time. A job which involves you, and other skilled scientists like you, saving someone’s life cannot be clouded by “God’s way” and “oh well, they’ve moved on to a better place.”

I really hate the direction April’s character seems to be going in after her outburst during her examination, in which she tells the facilitators that first and foremost she would pray for her patients and that she’s sick of “holding back my relationship with God” from a bunch of scientists. Did the writers really have to make April’s virginity a direct correlation to her faith? I know a few older virgins who haven’t had the opportunity or are waiting to be in a serious relationship to have sex, not because they think premarital sex is “inappropriate” or that Jesus will hate them if they engage in it. April even goes as far as to say that the reason she’s even more highly strung than usual isn’t because “I broke my promise… The problem is… that it felt good.” Ahh, and so sin rears its ugly Jesse Williams-esque head.

Further to this, when it turns out all of April’s potential attending jobs have been pulled after tanking her boards and Jackson tries to comfort her, she says he just feels guilty because now “no one wants me”. She may have just been referring to hospitals, but I have a sneaking suspicion April also meant potential suitors.

Grey’s Anatomy is usually so progressive when it comes to matters of sex and stereotypes, so I really hope this God-fearing version of April Kempner remedies itself by next season.

Related: The Underlying Message in Grey’s Anatomy’s “Superfreak” Episode.

Image via Putlocker.

TV: Grey’s Anatomy—You’re Abnormal if You Don’t Want Children.

According to Owen Hunt, anyway.

He’s still having issues with Cristina’s abortion four months after the fact. Cristina laments that he was supportive and held her hand through the procedure and the next thing she knows “you’re screaming, ‘You killed our baby,’ in front of all our friends.”

I’ve written before that Owen is rightfully upset that Cristina essentially made the decision to terminate her pregnancy solo, without his input, but it seems he’s now moved on to being frustrated with Cristina’s utter lack of desire to have children.

He says it’s not normal to not want children and that seeing as she and Meredith do everything together, Cristina should want a kid, too. Cristina yells, “there is no deeper reason” for her not wanting a baby; she just doesn’t. “It’s alright to never want kids,” she offers.

This episode touches on the very real stigma against women who don’t want kids. As I grow older and my priorities evolve, I’ve come to better understand this disinterest in raising children. That’s not to say I don’t want kids (I know I definitely do not want biological children, and in that respect I can relate to Cristina), but the fact that I want to adopt means there’s a very real possibility that I will not have children at all. But not everyone is as empathetic to Cristina’s plight, as Owen demonstrates. Dealing with such delicate circumstances within the confines of a relationship must make it that much harder.

Related: Grey’s Anatomy—“You Killed Our Baby”.

Grey’s Anatomy Final Asks “When Does Life Begin”?

Cristina Yang as Feminist.  

Image via Watch Shows Now.

TV: Private Practice—“Rape is Rape”.

While at times it felt like Violet and Sheldon were reading from press releases regarding sexual assault in the military and the sexual assault of men (the episode was shot in partnership with RAINN, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network), you have to applaud Private Practice for being the most progressive of Shonda Rimes creations, what with last season’s rape of Charlotte and Addison’s speech about being one of only 1700 abortion providers in the United States.

Last night, Sheldon treated a soldier who’d been raped by his supervisor while on a tour of duty in the Middle East. There’s always stigma attached to male victims of sexual assault, and Rick questions his masculinity and his inability to fight his attacker off. As Sheldon says, “If a man doesn’t fight back, it makes him question whether he’s really a man.”

Rick hasn’t told his wife, Kelly, about his assault, but she knows he’s suffering from some kind of PTSD because he flinches at her touch and their sex life is non-existant.

When Rick finally gets the courage to confess what happened to Kelly, with Sheldon’s support, she pulls away from him, asking if he’s trying to tell her he’s gay because he didn’t escape the assault.

“How is that [being raped by one man] even possible? You’re a soldier,” Kelly marvels, as if the two are mutually exclusive. “Why didn’t you stop him?”

Selfishly, Kelly confesses to Sam, a friend of the family, that Rick is supposed to protect her; yeah, ’cause I’m sure that’s the first thing that ran through his mind when he was ambushed from behind and sodomised.

Credit to a show that is often overlooked in favour of its older sister show, Grey’s Anatomy (how else do you explain Seven pushing the show back to an 11:15 start time on a Thursday night? Some people have to work on Friday morning!), for a sensitive, realistic and non-judgemental portrayal of a not-often-discussed topic: male rape in the military.

Related: Top 11 TV Moments of 2011.

Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

Image via Pop Talk.

TV: Grey’s Anatomy—“You Killed Our Baby”.

Owen has always struggled with Cristina’s decision to have an abortion at the end of last season, and it seems he’s still holding it over her head halfway into this one.

From the point of view of Owen, this is fair enough: Cristina never allowed him a say in the termination, and he struggled with her exerting her right to choose.

On the other hand, though: it’s just an abortion. It’s not like Cristina killed an actual living, breathing human with a personality and autonomy outside the womb. She killed his hopes and dreams that he projected onto something that could have been. Tragic on both counts for both characters who can’t seem to grasp where the other is coming from.

Cristina takes the position I do: a foetus is not a human. It doesn’t have rights. It’s subject to whatever the woman whose body it’s residing in chooses to do. Cristina had an operation to get rid of unwanted matter in her body, and now she’s moving on with her life.

I don’t pretend to really understand how the pro-life side, to which Owen evidently belongs, can get so hung up on the (non-existent) rights of the foetus which, at the time of Cristina’s abortion, would have been none the wiser.

Owen seems to think that Cristina committed murder, when he shouts at her during an argument in Meredith and Derek’s kitchen whilst Zola’s birthday/Richard’s 10,000th surgery party is happening in the next room, “you killed our baby!”

Personally, if you have the view that abortion is murder, then I don’t think you should be a doctor. A pro-life campaigner/terrorist out the front of an abortion clinic, perhaps? It’s less dangerous that way.

Related: Grey’s Anatomy Final Asks “When Does Life Begin?”

Cristina Yang as Feminist.

Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

Image via YouTube.

TV: Is Charmed Pushing a Conservative Agenda?

For all its feminist butt kicking, I have noticed a pattern as I’ve rewatched Charmed over the last few months: its seemingly conservative agenda.

Sure, there are monstrous demons from throughout the ages; single, sexy, confident females kicking ass and taking names (mostly braless, might I add?!); and an on-the-surface progressive feel to the show, but there might be more at work on Charmed.

Take, for example, in season two when Phoebe tries to help Eric and his father, who have transcribed the ancient Akashic records, and are threatened with brain death by the Collectors, who want the information stored in their minds. While Eric manages to escape the Collectors with the help of the Charmed ones, his father remains in a coma in hospital. When the sisters urge Eric to leave his father to save himself, he refuses, saying his dad is still alive. If we’ve learnt anything from Grey’s Anatomy and all the other doctor dramas, it’s that people rarely recover from brain injury and, in my opinion, the humane thing to do is turn off the life support system.

Also in season two, when Prue is cursed by a Darklighter for trying to save a Whitelighter-to-be (played by Amy Adams, if you’re interested in a bit of trivia), Leo says that suicide prevents someone earmarked to become a future Whitelighter from doing so. Kind of like suicide can prevent a person from going to heaven…?

On the topic of religion, in one episode (for the life of me I can’t recall which one, I just wrote down the quote. Don’t take my word on this, but I think it may have been “Apocalypse, Not”, in season two.) Leo mentions that good and evil have been embroiled in “6,000 years of conflict”. What else allegedly began 6,000 years ago? The creation of the world. A not-very-subtle nod to the creationism theory.

Perhaps there was an especially conservative writer or producer working on season two only, as all these examples stem from that season. A quick IMDb and Wikipedia search yielded not many results supporting this theory.

What are your thoughts on the conservative nature of the series?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Power of Work/Life Balance.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Making a Protest Statement… with Cleavage!

Image via CharmedWiki.

12 Posts of Christmas: Will Boys Be Boys When It Comes to Objectifying Women?

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th.

This post was one of my favourites for the year. Sure, the actual experience wasn’t all that riotous, but it’s given me loads of blog fodder and, I think, has promoted growth from the people involved, including myself. There are updated versions available here and here. The original is here, and below.

It’s been a beauty-centric week here at The Early Bird.

We’ve talked about Grey’s Anatomy and beauty as represented by Cristina Yang, and brains over beauty.

I’d already planned to post those two articles last week before a beauty-related scandal came to light at my workplace.

Apparently, two of my male co-workers had devised a “ranking system” for the hottest to nottest girls in our department.

This is sickening on four levels.

One: it’s sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender and appearance, and those who were victimised by the “ranking” could take those who were responsible for it to H.R. Just look at the Pricewaterhouse Coopers incident. Or the Duke “Fuck List”, on the other side of the coin.

Two: we interact with these men boys (as that’s what they are: one has just turned 21, and the other is 23. But age really has nothing to do with maturity) as friends, colleagues; PEOPLE. Not as objects for them to rate and pit against each other in terms of how we look and nothing else.

Three: I don’t want to have to stoop to their level, but if we were ranking them, one would be at the top in terms of looks, but both would be at the bottom in terms of personality, morals and decency, which is all that really matters. So what gives them the right to judge us?

Four: this is not the ’50s and women are not reduced to what they look like.

The men boys who devised this ranking are sexist misogynists, one of whom I am deeply ashamed to have dated for a short period. Thank god I never got naked with him, ’cause who knows what he would have to say about me then!

What gives them the right to rank us? The same right men’s magazine editors have to rank female celebrities in terms of hotness, I suppose. But the difference there is that, while it’s still pretty sexist but somewhat understandable and accepted, most of the women on the list don’t work with and consider(ed) them friends.

How can you separate the things you know about someone—their personalities, interests, history, temperament etc.—with how they look? I know I can’t.

I was taken aback recently when a coworker praised me for being close friends with a man who’s not super attractive. Unlike the two who ranked me, I don’t make friends in terms of looks. If anything, I find it easier to be myself around and make friends with men I don’t find attractive.

But my so-called “ugly” friend has an awesome personality; anyone would agree. And that makes him attractive. And at the end of the day, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

As I mentioned above, one of the boys who devised this ranking is probably about an eight in terms of looks, but knowing this about him, in addition to other undesirable traits that lead to our dating demise, makes him a one in the personality department.

Now, I don’t know where I ranked on this list and, frankly, I don’t care. My self-esteem is high enough to not give a shit about what other people think of the way I look. But that’s not the point. How would someone who doesn’t have such high self-esteem feel? As much as we say looks don’t—or shouldn’t—matter, to them, it does.

So is this just a case of “boys will be boys”, as one co-worker who knows about the list put it?

I don’t think it is. You will notice that two out of about thirty were involved in this. The overwhelming majority chose not to act as boys do, whatever that means these days. Again, this is 2011: not 1951.

Another co-worker said “judging” is just what people do. Sure, I judge young mothers who leave their kids with a babysitter so they can go out clubbing, the guidos/ettes from Jersey Shore and, certainly, these two men in light of this list. But I’m judging them on their behaviours and attitudes, not what they look like. And who am I, really, to judge them based on any factor? No one. The same as the makers of this list are to judge us. Nobodies.

At the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Ellen DeGeneres brought this up when she interviewed FHM AND Maxim’s Most Beautiful Woman, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, on her show last week. DeGeneres compared Rosie’s “ranking” to her own as “Most Beautiful Woman” on This Old House magazine’s cover. We know Ellen, we like her, and that’s what makes her beautiful, in addition to her physical beauty. Bitch looks good at 53!

And true beauty comes from within. Don’t ever let someone else’s “ranking” of how you look make you forget that.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Will Boys Be Boys When It Comes to Objectifying Women?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] UPDATED: Will Boys Be Boys When It Comes to Objectifying Women?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] UPDATED: Will Boys Be Boys When It Comes to Objectifying Women 2?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Beauty VS. Brains.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Cristina Yang as Feminist.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Snooki & the Jersey Shore Girls as Feminists?

Elsewhere: [Gawker] The “Top 10” Office Email That’s Scandalising Ireland.

[Jezebel] College Girl’s PowerPoint “Fuck List” Goes Viral.

12 Posts of Christmas: Cristina Yang as Feminist.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th.

It’s no secret I love underdogs and Grey’s Anatomy, so what better way than to combine the doctor drama with one of its most dramatic doctors, Cristina Yang, in a post about—what else?—feminism? The original post is here.

When it comes to “likeable” female characters on TV, you might think of Buffy Summers. Or Rachel Green. Or the Gilmore girls. But Grey’s Anatomy’s Cristina Yang probably isn’t one of them.

She’s abrasive, unfeeling, career-driven, ruthless and selfish. Everything a woman shouldn’t be, according to patriarchal norms.

Perhaps she could be more like the ousted Izzie Stevens, who was bubbly and sexy and baked cookies. Or the virginal and highly-strung April Kempner, whom Cristina praises for having “virgin super powers”, enabling her to be super-organised.

But I like Cristina just the way she is. She’s got her eye on the prize, won’t compromise her personal beliefs or goals to be liked or for a man, and she’s got “tiny little genius” hands that enable her to roll with the big guns.

This is why Cristina Yang is one of the only “feminist”—or “strong female”—characters on television. Nay, in all of fiction.

For one thing, she refuses to rely on her looks or her feminine wiles to get ahead. In “This is How We Do It” in season seven, she rejects Owen’s compliment about her beauty, saying, “If you want to appease me, compliment my brain.”

And in last week’s final, we saw Cristina exercise her right to choose, and schedule her second abortion on the show, after much (mostly solo) deliberation. While excluding the opinion of her significant other and father of the future child wasn’t the most respectful thing to do, ultimately it came down to her choice, and she chose to terminate the pregnancy.

In season two, Cristina divulges that she’s pregnant to Dr. Burke and, again, makes the decision to get an abortion on her own. Whereas a character like Izzie seems to serve the pro-life agenda (she gave up her own baby for adoption when she was a teenager growing up in a trailer park, and convinced a HIV-positive woman to carry her pregnancy to term), Cristina resists the societal pressures to tap into her maternal instincts and give birth to a child she does not want.

Regardless of whose agenda could be seen as being served by Cristina’s character, she acts without fear of what other people will think of her.

As a person, no matter what gender, it is seemingly second nature to want others to like us, and to portray our best selves to them. Just look at the ritual of the date or the job interview. That Cristina defies this action (though we have seen her star struck when meeting surgeons like Tom Evans, and Preston Burke for the first time) makes her not just a feminist character, but a truly humanist one.

There are people in this world who challenge us, grate on us, and whom we genuinely don’t like or approve of. But that’s what makes the world go around. Cristina Yang being one of these kinds of people, and being portrayed to us as a whole person on television, with hopes and dreams and trials and tribulations and relationships and a career and no desire for children, and not just as the bitchy mother-in-law who lives off her husband’s money and needs a good fuck, is truly a sight to behold.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Cristina Yang as Feminist.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Grey’s Anatomy Final Asks “When Does Life Begin?”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Meaning in Grey’s Anatomy’s “Superfreak” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Sookie as Feminist? Hear Her Roar.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Elsewhere: [The Feel of Free] Cristina Yang + You Can’t Compromise on a Baby.

[Marinagraphy] Motherhood, Cristina Yang & Grey’s Anatomy.