“So, you’re saying my only choice as a girl is nun or whore?”
– Tip/Ozma, Emerald City
Season 1, Episode 4, “Science and Magic
This is one of my favorite scenes in this new take on the classic “Wizard of Oz” story. In it, two witches are trying to recruit this feisty young girl into their respective orders. One offers a path of ascetic chastity, standing above and apart from others in a life devoted to knowledge and influence. The other runs a brothel, filled with her followers, and offers a life of pleasure and feeling. They represent a pair of opposing extremes, which Ozma calls them out on and refuses to accept.
Part of why I love this scene is how it applies to women specifically. It is a tragedy that they have been told, both today and throughout history, that their role and worth in society is tied to their sexuality. Either they are untouchable, or they’re cheap and easy. Whichever of those is judged to be good or bad depends on whoever is speaking at the time, but either way, it means, “Your value is determined by how much sex you have.”
So says the world, and the world is wrong.
Another reason I love this scene is because sometimes, when presented with two absurd extremes, we have to reject both of them and make a third option. That applies to both men and women alike, in all walks of life, but to keep this on point, we have the option of either avoiding or all pleasure, or drowning ourselves in it. I prefer the third option of balance between the two. Enjoy pleasure, yes, just not too much.
Any virtue taken too far becomes a vice.
Which is why I appreciate Ozma’s eventual choice. She doesn’t become either a nun or a whore. She chooses to be a queen.
Incidentally, the witch who demands chastity from her followers is not so chaste herself. She forbids them to have contact with men, yet she takes a man to her own bed. Hypocrisy much?
Meanwhile, the other which, the brothel madam, turns out to only be wallowing in her pleasures of the flesh as a means to try and avoid her overwhelming agony at a great loss she suffered some time ago.
So, the representatives of the two extremes are both liars: one lies to others, and the other lies to herself.
And Ozma? She becomes a queen only after overcoming a lie that she was told by someone else.