a blast against insulting gentlemen

I have to throw my two cents in on the Kate Middleton/Hilary Mantel “spat” after reading this post by Kit Whitfield. I don’t understand why there was such an outcry over Mantel’s speech, except that it involves women—women who probably don’t even care about one another. I’m going to violate all the laws of “you don’t know me” here, but Kate is a woman who lives with strangers taking pictures of her day and night, so some middlebrow author saying she looks like a doll probably isn’t a mortal insult.* Maybe she really is blindingly angry, but if somebody was chasing me with a camera every time I stepped out of the house, that would definitely underpin my insanity plea when they put me away for going after bystanders with a baseball bat. London Review of Books publications wouldn’t even be a factor.** Continue reading →

the arya problem

In my last post, I went on and on about Sansa from Song of Ice and Fire. Now I have to turn to the other sister. People love the character of Arya. I know why—it’s the fantasy of being a stone-cold killer, with nothing that you have to care for but revenge. This would suck in real life, but in fantasy it’s an awesome story arc.

Arya’s storyline really kicks off when after her father’s death, she’s disguised as a boy and taken by one of her father’s allies on the journey to the Wall, the big old Alcatraz of the snowy North. It’s made very clear that Arya has to maintain her gender disguise, or otherwise Bad Things Will Happen. Since she succeeds, she’s protected. Continue reading →

the physics of rape in the grimdark universe

Have been reading Requires Only That You Hate’s response to Nerine Dorman’s review of Prince of Thorns. Dorman’s review argues that the rape scenes in Prince of Thorns are OK because “Um. Hello. This is WAR.” Dorman’s review sparked my response, because it’s pick-and-choose realism (pick-and-choose realism that’s all for more rape in books, which is even more ridiculous). Not that rape doesn’t happen during war, but that in these books rape—a tool of physical terror—suddenly “turns off” when confronted by our special protagonist. A group of hardened rapist mercenaries wouldn’t submit to the personal leadership of a thirteen-year-old boy due to his charisma or intelligence or shininess or whatever. They’d probably just rape him, too, and go off on their merry way. (“But that would be gay!” Guess what, in total war, sexual taboos tend to go by the wayside. All of them. Get used to reality, weakling.)

But the post also got me thinking—so how does rape work in the grimdark universe? I’ve come up with four ways. You may have more! Continue reading →