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April 4th, 2016

firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Monday, April 4th, 2016 01:23 am
So I was reading stonecarapace's excellent Breaking Through fic, which features female Valjean and Javert meeting in Montreuil-sur-mer, and it got me thinking: how would their character arcs differ if they were born women? Valjean would retain her immense (almost supernatural) strength as in the brick, which would give her some advantages in her sexist society, but she would be sent to a women's prison, not a bagne for breaking the law. And would Javert even be able to join the police force? It's doubtful historically, but if we're going to suspend disbelief for this thought experiment, I can see her going from a guard in a women's prison to an officer under the patronage of M. Chabouillet. She would likely be sent on undercover missions in which a policeman would be too conspicuous, such as spying in a nunnery, an all-girl's school, or restricted parts of a brothel. So there'd be a reason for a man like M. Chabouillet to keep her around on the force.

Anyway, I think I can tell a very interesting feminist story with genderswapped Valjean and Javert. It would contrast Valjean's feminist values of nurturing and compassion with Javert's patriarchal values as the father's daughter, supporting the patriarchy against other women.

Specific Scene Ideas )

I'm unsure what other major scenes matter after this. I can see Gorbeau House being interesting with the rape threat to Valjean, and also with Javert taking down a dangerous gang, something her colleagues doubted she could do as a woman.

The big change would come at the barricades. What would be clever thematically is to have it mirror the Punish me M. le maire scene, except with Javert crossdressed as a man and Valjean as herself. This shows how Javert, who starts out womanly, eventually must hide herself completely beneath the identity of a man, symbolizing her allegiance to the patriarchy, while Valjean goes in the opposite direction: from taking on male privilege as M. Madeleine to becoming a motherly, nurturing figure to Cosette. But I'm not sure how to make this work in the context of the barricades, since the brick has women standing by Les Amis, while the musical has Eponine crossdressing as a man to sneak in. Which is it?

I'm also stuck on Javert's revelation: I originally conceived this as male Valjean showing her that no, criminals aren't all rapists, just like male authority figures can't all be trusted (implying that M. Chabouillet sexually exploited Javert). But I'm not sure what to do here with a female Valjean. In that case, it's an identity crisis, where Javert must realize she's been in the wrong all along by aligning with patriarchal figures, while Valjean lived authentically. Perhaps Javert expects Valjean to kill her because that's the cowardly thing to do? And Javert has always looked down on "those other women" as weak and cowardly? However, Valjean lets her go free, and in so doing, shows her that the feminist value of forgiveness is a source of strength. I still don't know how this would lead to her derailment though.