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Gender, Violence, and Love in Jessica Jones

by Sarah Feeney

In this clip, Kilgrave believes that he has finally managed to “recapture” Jessica - ie, she is once again controllable though his superpowers after she had managed to resist. He at first believes that she is faking her obedience to get closer to him, but once he threatens to enslave and rape her foster sister and Jessica does nothing, he is convinced beyond all doubt that she is powerless. This clip demonstrates the powerful relationship of friendship and sisterhood between Trish and Jessica that rejects common tropes of women in competition with each other, particularly for male attention. The only thing that could possibly convince Kilgrave that Jessica was being controlled by him was her lack of action to save her sister. Jessica reenforces this bond when she turns to Trish and says “I love you,” a code they had previously established to indicate that Jessica was not actually under Kilgrave’s power, because it was something that Jessica never says. This poignant moment shows Jessica in a rare moment of emotional vulnerability, using the “code” to express her genuine love for her sister, which she rarely expresses, before she kills Kilgrave. She didn’t have to say this - once she had killed Kilgrave, it would have certainly been obvious to Trish that Jessica was not being controlled. However, she does it anyway, perhaps wanting to honestly express her love for Trish before facing the consequences for the murder she commits in front of dozens of witnesses. In this way Jessica displays a more conventionally masculine approach to dealing with her emotions - speaking the truth of her emotional vulnerability only immediately before it is “too late.”

Gender Tropes in Jessica Jones

Marvel's original Netflix series starring Krysten Ritter as a superpowered private eye - episode 13

from Marvel's Jessica Jones (2015)
Creator: Melissa Rosenberg
Distributor: Netflix
Posted by Sarah Feeney