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Written for Moffat Appreciaton Day
I am very fond of this scene, because I think it represents who Molly is as a character. As a woman and a feminist, I love Molly Hooper – she is realistic, simple yet not simplistic, and from ASIP to TRF we watch her grow and mature. Most importantly, she has agency, she is never a puppet and she never blindly obeys Sherlock. Everything that she does, she does because she wants to, which is evidenced by the fact that she questions him when she feels she needs to, and she tells him off when he’s gone too far. There’s a difference between lacking agency and wanting to please someone you love and/or are infatuated with. The last is not necessarily right, but it’s human nature and, as such, it’s also not necessarily wrong.
ASIP Molly has a crush on Sherlock, she’s shy around him, she tries to attract his attention, but she’s self-conscious about her appearance. How many of us have been there, done that? There’s nothing wrong with a female character going through a completely normal human experience. She doesn’t stagnate there, though – as the show progresses, so does Molly. She eventually realizes that Sherlock isn’t interested in her that way and, instead of turning her back on him (because she cares about him) she offers her friendship. And Sherlock, the man who believes that sentiment is a flaw, accepts it. Molly and Mrs. Hudson are the only people he ever makes an effort to be kind to (he doesn’t need to be kind to John, because John accepts him the way he is).
And even though she has a crush on him, Molly’s not afraid to call Sherlock on his bullshit (pardon my French). Like Moffat said, she challenges him, she tells him off, she puts him in his place. And Sherlock respects her and listens to her (I love the scene in TRF where she tells him that, whatever he needs, he can count on her, for what it adds to their character development and their friendship). She makes him say sorry and thank you, and she’s probably working on getting him to say please, as well.
She’s lonely and shy, and she thinks that she doesn’t count. That, however, doesn’t make her a negative representation of women, it makes her a realistic one that respects the diversity of personalities that people who self-identify as women have*. A lot of us believe that or used to believe that about ourselves. Personally, I find it refreshing to have a woman on a TV show who proves that you can still function even if you second guess yourself, that you can be incredibly successful at one thing and still doubt yourself in other aspects of your life. The demand for perfection that society makes of women is exhausting, the need to be successful in your professional life and your personal life and be at the top of everything is unrealistic and a burden that I don’t need to nor do I want to carry.
Molly is definitely accomplished in her career, or she wouldn’t be where she is (others with better knowledge of the educational system in the UK have already explained exactly how many years it would have taken her to get her degree, and how highly coveted and competitive the job she has is [x] [x]). And still, Molly makes mistakes, she falls for the wrong person, she doesn’t see herself clearly and she doesn’t love herself as much as she should. She’s intelligent and capable, but she’s also flawed and human, and that’s all right. She grows, she learns, she changes, she challenges Sherlock an in doing so she challenges herself.
Why do I love Molly Hooper? Because the message I get from her is that it’s okay to be weak, it’s okay to be insecure sometimes, it’s okay to do silly things when you’re infatuated with someone. Its okay to let down your guard and be vulnerable in front of others, it’s okay to get mad when people try to walk all over you, it’s okay to want to take care of others, and don’t beat yourself up too hard if you forget to take care of yourself in the process. It’s okay to want more and it’s okay to move on. It’s always, always okay to change, and it’s also okay if changing is hard, if you move one step forward and two steps backwards. Eventually, you will get where you’re trying to go.
*If you haven’t seen it yet (although it’s been around tumblr a lot), I recommend reading Lori’s post about writing female characters, it’s absolutely brilliant.