(Why is) the act of being a free, attractive, self-assertive woman punishable by torture and death? In the case of this upcoming torture-porn, fictional. In the case of Dua Khalil, mundanely, unthinkably real. And both available for your viewing pleasure.
I know at other times Whedon can be accused of being misogynist. This is not surprising - none of us exist outside of our culture. There's a long discussion on Pandagon about whether Firefly is sexist, and whether Whedon is right to root the oppression of women in envy: a reaction to male feelings of inferiority. I think discussions like that are great, though I get a little annoyed with some feminists (not on that thread) who seem to feel angrier at guys like Whedon than they do at men who are actively working to hurt women.
As a more-or-less Marxist my argument would be that the torture and abuse of women is not so much about envy as about the appropriation of women's labour (in all senses). As Hegel says, the will of the slave can never be in perfect alignment with the will of the master, and so every slave is seen as defective. Torture is an expression of the tension between the desire to eliminate and need for the other. Control can never be absolute, so the controlled class is always a threat, and will always be hated. Men don't want women to cease to exist (because they need us) and yet every actual woman that exists is defective, and in need of control and correction. As Amanda says:
There is no obedient, correct choice. The rules are impossible to follow: You must simultaneously be sexually attractive and not sexually attractive, because you’ll get punished either way. You must be sexually available but also a virgin. You must be a mother, but once you become one, nothing you can do will be good enough. You can’t win—so obedience is not really much of an issue. Women who kill themselves trying to be good girls still get hated on, which I think was Joss’s point about the film “Captivity” — it’s all about punishing a young woman for being beautiful and appealing, in other words doing what she as supposed to do.