Gender Dynamics in Spartacus
Explore the gender dynamics in the Starz original series Spartacus. Possible themes to analyze:
-"Equal opportunity" nudity: While there is a good deal of female nudity in Spartacus, there’s also a fair amount of male nudity. How are bodies used visually? Is there a difference depending on gender, or is it truly equal? The concept of the male gaze could be discussed here, as well as shows criticized for an imbalance skewed toward far more female nudity than male.
-Power Dynamics, Agency, and Sexual Violence: In the show, there are stark power issues between the Roman elite and the enslaved (and later freed) individuals. Power is something that permeates this entire topic, even above when considering how the show treats nudity. Spartacus also contains sexual violence, and attention is given to female rape survivors such as Aurelia and Naevia, but it is also worth mentioning that, in the case of enslaved men such as Spartacus, Crixus, and Varro, they are often shown engaging in intercourse with Roman upperclass women (Lucretia and Ilithyia) or, in Varro’s case, enslaved women for the benefit of entertaining the Romans.
In these circumstances, the enslaved men are stripped of their agency and have no means to refuse these interactions. Because their consent is never taken into account, these acts are rape. Analyzing the difference between how male and female rape survivors are treated, as well as how their abusers and the abuse is framed (such as male-on-female assault in contrast to female-on-male), could be beneficial.
-Marriages and expectations: Spartacus also deals with societal gender expectations. As an example, Batiatus and Lucretia are happily married despite troubles conceiving (an issue Lucretia internalizes as her fault, possibly due to not being younger) and infidelity. Lucretia specifically calls out the double standard of women being shamed for their needs and adultery much more than men. Also, because she does conceive with a man who is not her husband, the blame toward her inability to get pregnant is misplaced, but still something that puts far more pressure on her than Batiatus.
-Tropes such as the warrior woman (most of the freed women) and the Lost Lenore (Sura’s death, which motivates Spartacus to rebel)
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