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Topic One

Our first topic for the month is the beating issue. Was Jamie justified? Was he a monster? Why?

Graphic by Scotty


And the Responses:

Lady Claire:

Like many of you, I'm sure, I had real problems with this and have discussed it often with friends who've read the books. I think I could have dealt with it had it been harder for Jamie to do, I didn't want to believe it was in his nature. But I think the problem I was having was lack of imagination - our society today is very different and the whole reason why DG's books are so good is that she really

makes us feel we are back in that time. So Jamie's behaviour was not only acceptable but desirable for a man in that time. As a feminist, I still find it very hard, though...however, I do realise that it helped Claire out. Although she was always treated with suspicion by many at Castle Leoch, she didn't really have her behaviour (and it was foolish, it made me cringe just as much as the beating) held against her as much as she could have and I think that is down to the fact that she had been visibly (and audibly!) punished.

Lady Janet:

Justified in beating Claire? No Way! Physical violence is never justified. It may have been an essential part of the story, but what made me angry was the general "acceptance" of the beating. Did Jamie feel lousy about beating Claire? Did he let his men know what a lousy thing it was to have beaten her? Did Claire express any opinions on the subject with anyone but Jamie? I wasn't upset that the beating was in the book, nor about the beating itself or even the reasons for it, but I was disturbed that nothing changed afterwards other than the men got their jollies knowing Claire was hurting.

Lady Mercedes:

Here is my " two cents"(perhaps more like ten cents!) worth on the Claire beating issue. It did trouble me some and I had difficulty envisioning Jamie doing it. I could easily imagine him giving Claire a good shaking while reading her the riot act. Given the way he was raised, and the role paddling had in his own discipline, I could maybe see a couple good swats. I know in raising my two kids, I have occasionally resorted to a good swat on the bum to emphasize, "NO you do not run into the street without looking!!!" But, the key word there is "kids". Claire is a grown woman, and Jamie himself mentioned how insulted he was at 16 when his father paddled him, for the last time. How then, to justify this demeaning form of punishment for Claire - not just a swift swat to emphasize a point, but a thoroughly planned thrashing? (Later I got more insight into Jamie's view of this when he insisted that young Ian paddle HIM good when they got back to Lallybrock after scaring the wits out of Jenny--I guess what was good for the goose WAS good for the gander!) I certainly appreciate his notion of justice, since lives were risked (and lost, in the case of the British guard) in rescuing Claire. I do wonder if blistering Claire's backside was the best way to serve justice. I have pretty much decided that coming to terms with this, for me (and I believe for Claire), has been a case of grappling with the cultural mores of the 1700's. It was, in Jamie's time, considered a socially acceptable thing to do. His endearingly honest admission of enjoying it made me chuckle--talk about stepping in it up to your eyeballs!! Clearly a case of adding insult to injury. Claire forgave him sooner than I would have, I think. I think Jamie's heartfelt promise to NEVER raise a hand to her again demonstrates some small amount of contrition on his part concerning the beating. If the thrashing was fully justified in his mind in this occasion, what if similar circumstances arose again --- why wouldn't it be justified again?? I look forward to reading what others have to say about this issue. I must have missed the comments related to this on the bb. I love the opportunity to hash these things around with others who are interested!

Lady Fran:

I seem to be in the minority here and I certainly don't advocate men beating women but....I believe that Jamie had to beat Claire, not because he was angry with her but so that SHE wouldn't lose face with his men. They were expected to defend her with their lives and she placed them all in great danger. If Jamie had done nothing then his men would have lost all respect for her and regarded her as a spoiled brat and Jamie as a lust blinded weakling. When he disciplined her, he made sure his men heard it and she would show evidence of it next day. If you will remember, when John Grey (the boy) stumbled across their camp during the first of the battles Jamie beat the men who were standing sentry, then he had Murtagh beat HIM for having a fire that drew John Grey to the camp to start with. It gained him a measure of respect for fairness with his men. Jamie is above all fair and expects everyone to take responsibility for their actions even if painful.

Lady Sara:

Yes and No. I understand why it was put in the book. To give a more realistic light to the times , as those things did happen and sometimes were common place. I do not like violence toward women, however it was only one part and it somehow had a slight sexual connatation to it.

Lady Lee R.:

I have thought long and hard on this question, it is not as clear cut as it first seems. I am against beating, but there is a difference between beating and spanking. In answer to the question, yes I think Jamie was justified. Claire had put the lives of everyone in the party at risk and didn't Jamie tell her that if she was a man she would have been whipped or put to death. I think that this was the only way that Jamie had to show Claire the importance of her actions and how they affected everyone else in the group. Besides, did Jamie really have a choice? Dougal and the other men were expecting Jamie to punish Claire and if he didn't I believe that they would have done it for him. But we have to remember that Jamie did swear on his sword never to beat her again, so least that is something. Now I think, the part about Jamie enjoying the beating is a totally different question altogether.

Laddie Scotty:

I re-read the chapter where the spanking with the belt took place and it is my feeling that it was ok for Jamie to have done that considering the way things were back then. The only problem I have with it is the last line where Jamie says "I said I would have to punish you. I did not say I wasna going to enjoy it." I interpret this as meaning he is going to enjoy it. You may have read that I said I could not have taken the belt to Claire in any event, and the thought of someone taking pleasure in taking the strap to a women is something that I have a hard time with. I think it would have been much easier to accept had he said, "I did not say I "was" going to enjoy it".

Lady Michelle:

Claire is very passive, reactive. Outlander is in the first person, but it's as if she's watching a screen. She is trundled about and acted upon, which is partially excused by her being born in the EARLY 20th cent., but other characters are more vivid and immediate. Claire seems just downright petulant at times. She seems to have been weaned on old Doris Day movies, which subscribe to the theory that a woman is just unreasonable sometimes, throws tantrums and just needs to be spanked. (Even in old Thin Man movies; the man as all-powerful authority figure, woman as perennial child just needing a man to "keep her in line".) She seems to like to be abused. Some scenes seemed to degenerate a bit, until at times I wondered if I were reading one of those tawdry, bodice-ripper things, in which the heroine can't seem to figure out what's happening to her though the "hero" has raped her seven times already. Rape is rape, and it's not romance. After awhile, I kept wondering how someone as sensitive and intuitive as Jamie could be ignorant of the word "foreplay." Once it started, there were a few too many of the scenes in which he just rams himself in like an ox and pounds her into submission. Foreplay is nice; the first sex scenes started out tender and humorous. I can see there would be different modes for different moods, but I felt uncomfortable at some of the later times, and feel reasonably sure that I was not Catherine the Great in another life (the thought of being jumped by an animal, palls). Given the totally paternalistic bent of the world at the time (and since), it would have been unrealistic if the issue of "disciplining" your wife physically had not come up. Given their lights, I felt Jamie was justified. I was disappointed in Claire, though; I would have loved it if she could have said, "All right. I can't tell you why I did it; I had to do it and I don't expect you to understand. I did what I had to do; do what you have to do." Instead she was more like Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man, and the "spitfire just waiting for a man to come along and show her who's boss" is not an archetype I subscribe to. I loved the conversation and understanding they reached afterward; I loved it that DG made Jamie swear never to do that to Claire again. Again, I think it would have been unrealistic if the issue had not come up. Laws at the time forbade a woman to own property; a man could virtually (and often literally) kill his wife and get away with it.

Lady Judie:

I did not think that Jamie spanking/beating Claire was unjustified, nor did I disagree with it.

This was the 1743, and the game was being played by those rules. Claire put Jamie and the Mackenzie clan in jeopardy when she was captured by Black Jack at Wentworth. As Jamie explained, when she couldn't understand why he had to give her a "beating" (1700s terminology), he had killed a man trying to rescue her, and he was now wanted more than ever by Black Jack Randall for pounding the hell out of him at Wentworth. So, she did a LOT of damage.

Claire, thinking from her 20th century perspective, is appalled that he's going to beat her, and of course protests and later resists, to no avail, of course. Not to mention that she was keeping from him the part about her trying to escape from him, her HUSBAND!!! Had she felt she could tell him about her situation (i.e. being from the 20th century) perhaps it would have made a difference. Maybe not, though, because all the clan members were intent on him "dealing with" his wife, and I believe if Jamie had not beaten her with his belt, on her butt (nowhere else), a) he would have lost all respect he had from the Mackenzie clan members, some of whom already felt him a threat to the clan leadership (him vs Dougal), b) one of the other clan members, probably Angus, would have done the beating, c) perhaps Jamie would have been killed for not doing his duty as Claire's husband.

I feel this was a justice situation and Jamie had to do what for HIM in his time and place was right. I did not think this was wife abuse. Had she been a man, perhaps she would have been killed.

Finally, I don't think Jamie WANTED to do this, although he does say he enjoyed it. I think this is just him joking. I don't think he *really* enjoyed it. Not deep down, anyway. Claire does a lot of soul searching afterwards, and she can understand why he did it. Yet, the next minute she thinks about it and gets ticked off at him again. But they patch things up, Claire tells him that if he ever touches her again in that way, she will kill him. He promises he never will. I think that if they can forgive each other, I can forgive him. :-)

Lady Ruth:

The "beating" issue was for me an example of the mind set for that time.These folks saw things in a black and white way.You do something that endangers others you have to pay the consequences.Remember Jamie didn't know Claire was trying to go home,he only new she didn't stay where she was supposed to stay and therefore created a dangerous situation for others.He was probably getting a certain amount of flack from his kinsmen about her behavior(these folks really didn't know who she was or what her motives were)she was suspect.In a convoluted way Jamie gave her credibility by "beating" her.He was saying to his kinsman "see? She's just like us,she did a stupid thing but she understands it was stupid and now she understands the results of her actions".This was a time when every action could cost your life,you had to weigh every move you made.I think Jamie sensed that Claire was some how different,I think by "beating" her he was protecting her.The radical Feminist will crucify me for this,but I think ,given the circumstances,this was an act of love.

Lady Val:

I think most of you know that I did not find this offensive at all. Quite frankly, I think she got off easy given the setting. Jamie could've just as easily "beat" her in front of the men. I think that he showed her as much consideration as he could under the circumstances. He explained to her why, and he also explained to her what would've happened if she had been a man. Times were harsh then. He was considered an outlaw and really put his neck out to get her away from Black Jack. As far as him enjoying it, I'm not sure he enjoyed the act itself or just the view. <g>

Topic Two
Date Last Modified: 2/17/98