do you guys realize how amazing this clip and this whole relationship is. not only bc of the clear chemistry and adoration between these two pure kids but it’s the way they speak about their beliefs: a boy confesses why he gave up on some parts of islam to a muslim girl and he knows that the girl won’t judge him. and he doesn’t judge her. they like each other and have a crush on each other, but better yet - they fucking respect each other. and to see islam presented in this way - in a new, complex way - in a tv show feels kinda fucking revolutionary and amazing to me, and im not even religious so I can only imagine how it feels for religious people!
I just have one tiny thing to say about Lyanna Mormont’s speech. I’ve seen quite a few people go after her for this particular line:
“I don’t plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me.”
A lot of people have said it was very anti-feminist and an insult to women, which I understand where they’re coming from, but Lyanna wasn’t mocking those women. She was mocking the rigid gender norms placed upon girls and women in her society. It was decrying the social construct that dictates women cannot fight their own battles and are only good for what society deems ‘feminine pursuits’. Lyanna’s speech was deconstructing what it meant to be female at that time and declaring that women do not need men to fight their battles for them; that they are perfectly capable of fighting their own battles. We, as modern day women, cannot define her speech by our understanding of feminism today. Feminist discourse would have been largely unheard of in that period of time. What women of that day value most is incomparable to what we as modern viewers value now. For such a toxic patriarchal society, giving women autonomy over their own futures, and thusly their own battles, was a far more needed pursuit. The comment about knitting by the fire was not to say those who do knit and enjoy it are weaker and thus unworthy of being a woman, but rather it was to decry these archaic gender roles placed upon them. Women are capable of far more than society has given them the chance to display.
It’s completely unfair to view Lyanna’s speech through our twenty-first-century lenses because the circumstances are different. It’s the same argument we use when we apply feminist theory to literature. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, if read through modern day goggles, would not be considered as groundbreaking a novel as it was at the time of its publication in 1847, but it very much was.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer.“
To us, these quotes would not be that powerful. As beautiful as the language is, the concept that women feel just as men feel is not revolutionary for us. But at the time, Bronte’s Jane Eyre was certainly revolutionary in its attempt to dismantle this cultural imposition on women over their need to be the passive and submissive “Angel in the House” (a concept of the penultimate feminine ideal described by Coventry Patmore in his poem published in 1854).
Imposing twenty-first-century notions of feminism on a culture that has yet to actually experience any wave or trickle of feminism is unfair. Contextually, Lyanna’s speech was for its time revolutionary and so was Jon’s decision to have both men and women fight. Even Sansa, who is not a fighter, acknowledges this by her smirk during the speech. It is not a slight towards those who are more domestic, but a slight towards culturally imposed notions of what it means to be feminine by men who see women’s worth as only mothers, caretakers and nurturers, without acknowledging them as a whole human that is far more complex than these strict roles allow them.
And for each woman, the question of femininity is always going to be different. For Lyanna, her fight has always been against those who underestimate her right to lead and the power she commands, and that is what she specifically addresses. There’s a famous conversation by lecturer and professor of literature and gender studies Ann Snitow in her 1989 essay ‘A Gender Diary’.
Her friend says in regards to the feminist movement:
“Now I can be a woman; it’s no longer so humiliating. I can stop fantasizing that secretly I am a man, as I used to, before I had children. Now I can value what was once my shame.”
In contrast, Snitow said:
“Now I don’t have to be a woman anymore. I need never become a mother. Being a woman has always been humiliating, but I used to assume there was no exit. Now the very idea of ‘woman’ is up for grabs. ‘Woman’ is my slave name; feminism will give me freedom to seek some other identity altogether.”
It’s always been these contradicting ideologies that simultaneously fuels feminism as a movement and hinders it. Feminists for decades have struggled to reconcile both ways of thinking, but personally, I believe neither is wrong. For me, feminism is the freedom to believe in either.
This is why I don’t see Lyanna’s speech as being particularly anti-feminist. Saying so is too black and white of a statement, which has never been something you can attribute to feminism. The movement itself is too nuanced, as are most movements.
For most of my life, whenever I saw a feminine aesthetic that I loved, I assumed that my appreciation of it was me wanting to adopt it as my own aesthetic.
Even as a small child, having an extremely innocent crush on Tifa from Final Fantasy VII led me to tape up the inside of my shirt to show my belly to emulate her. When I saw the curves of beautiful women it made me want to find push-up bras and corsets and long skirts, because I didn’t understand how else to articulate my attraction other than through mirroring what I saw.
But it also made me feel deeply uncomfortable, to become that mirror. I wouldn’t see myself when I saw my reflection, I would just see a collection of borrowed parts. And it never felt right in the way that looking at other women felt right.
Eventually I realized I was butch, and suddenly so much fell together– my early gender questioning despite not actually wanting to be a man, my dysphoria surrounding my hair and parts of my body, the way my fantasies of being a boy were only ever in relation to wanting to be with, to protect, to love women, even though I didn’t actually feel masculine or aligned with manhood at all.
When I had the courage to dress as myself, I could finally see myself when I looked in the mirror. This revolutionary feeling of Wow, that’s me. I look like how I picture myself. People see *me* when they look at me.
But still a guilt lingered for a long time– I knew I could be beautiful in the way of the aesthetics I found beautiful on other women. I knew I could wear skirts and dresses and low cut shirts, I could wear flowing blouses, I could wear 5 inch heels, red lipstick, all of it. And for a long time I felt like because I could wear those things, then I owed it to the world to perform that femininity. Who was I to surrender it when it was possible? And also, I did think I looked beautiful like that, I just didn’t look like myself.
But being around femmes and feminine wlw– it helps settle that discomfort. It helped me realize that I can both appreciate the beauty of women expressing themselves in those aesthetics and accept myself as butch without the guilt of feeling like I need to mirror those things in order to show appreciation. Cherishing and celebrating femmes and feminine wlw is the more honest form for me to appreciate those beautiful ways of being. I can admire them without trying to take them on as a part of myself, I can understand beauty in existing in myself even when I don’t look like other beautiful women.
A few days back, I gave my girlfriend some of my skirts and a dress I used to wear, and she looked gorgeous in them. But more importantly, she looked comfortable and at peace in them in a way I never did. And it was so wonderful to see those aesthetics I’ve appreciated in the way that feels most natural to me– admiring them on a beautiful woman whose smile makes my heart race.
The world around, just for a millisecond, seems to numb. All sound is sucked out of the atmosphere itself. All Sabo can hear is the crack of his boots on the stone below, and blood pulses through his ears like war drums in his mind. Every cell in his body aches, but he pushes on. It’s been a long journey to get here, peppered with storms and regret, and the young revolutionary can’t remember the last time he slept. He certainly doesn’t feel like the strong revolutionary he is in this tired, young body. In this world, he comes as a brother, not a soldier.
Heavy breathing. Blonde hair heavy with sweat falls into Sabo’s eyes, and he shoves another body out of the way so hard that they don’t get back up again. Ahead, shrouded in dust and smoke, Luffy has fallen to the ground – he doesn’t look the same as he did when Sabo last saw him. His chest is unscarred, eyes filled with horror, shoulders shaking. Alone on the ground, Luffy seems so small in comparison to the Pirate King that he was when his brother last laid eyes on him at the execution stand. His little brother looks young; too young to be in this war, too young to have to watch what’s about to happen.
No. Sabo won’t let it happen again, not this time. Screw timelines, screw what this might mean for the world. He had a chance to go back and change things. His devil fruit – Ace, living on somehow through Sabo’s own blood – didn’t approve. Neither did Dragon. Sabo doesn’t care. His mind has been overtaken by some alien force, a thirst for the thing he’s been missing for the decade since Ace’s death. A thirst to change things.
Sabo pushes this lean, twenty-year old body harder. The world is still numb, strangely quiet, as if drawing breath as it watches on. The weight of everything Sabo has ever wished for weighs heavily on his shoulders. This is it. This is the moment where the timeline changes. Ace lunges forward. Luffy’s eyes, brown reflecting magma and fire, widen. Sabo takes a flying leap, coat flaring out behind him, just as Akainu raises his fist.
Everything speeds back up.
Sabo barrels into his brothers with enough force to send them both flying back but makes sure to wrap an arm around each, blood singing in his veins. Ace yells out, pushing back against Sabo with rage in his eyes, and the heat radiating harshly from him is tangible. Luffy is limp at the blonde’s other side, and Sabo’s eyes are too blurred to see his face properly. Heat explodes behind them. The Red Dog is angered, magma pouring from him copiously, but his moment is over. Sabo did it. He took his chance, and the world feels like it’s shifting before his very eyes. There’s no going back now.
“Made it on time!”
The yell escapes from his throat before he can stop it, something between a victory cry and a threat. The battlefield is silent for a split second, and Sabo can hear his voice echoing through it over and over, a reinforcement of his own success. Of Ace’s survival. At the distinctive Grey Terminal lilt that laces the ex-noble’s voice, Ace freezes, a strange expression overthrowing the anger on his face. Luffy’s eyes widen, filling with hope and elation.
All three brothers hit the ground, hard. The world comes back to Sabo in a rush like a tsunami, and suddenly they’re running again, Ace and Luffy stumbling and yelling, both confused as to what’s happening but elated at what they just heard. Heat pushes at Sabo’s senses, so intense that panic floods his veins like a drug, and for a second he sees the boat burning around him. Then, it’s gone. The battlefield replaces everything from the past, and surprisingly, the young man is glad for it. Let this war encompass him. If it means Ace lives, so be it – war will come and go, but Sabo will never have another change like this again. Nothing is going to stop him.
“Who the hell are you?!” Ace asks as they run, surprisingly following Sabo. He looks shaken, as if coming so close to losing Luffy just now rattled him to the core. His voice is uncertain, eyes just as hopeful as Luffy’s now, and Sabo’s heart wrenches when he realises that somehow, deep down, they recognise him.
Luffy’s voice is small in Sabo’s ear, torso shuddering against his back. All his fight is gone. Sabo doesn’t recall slinging him onto his back but he must’ve, maybe when the first starting running. Everything is one pulsing, thronging blur. Travelling ten years back in time must be messing up his head.
Ace’s breath hitches, and his head spins around so fast that his neck must ache. His eyes meet Sabo’s for the first time, and he stumbles for a second, caught off guard. For the first time since Sabo arrived here, he can see that ten-year old kid shining out of Ace’s eyes. Too young to take on the world and wearing his big dreams like medals of honor; questioning whether he should be alive; hurt, but still hoping for something bigger than himself.
“Sabo?!” Ace’s voice breaks. Behind them, two of Whitebeard’s commanders clash with Akainu in a supernova of light and sound.
Against his will, Sabo feels tears spring into his eyes, and a grin stretches across his face even as they fall. Ahead of them, the ocean is just visible, wide and true. “I’ve missed you both,” he chokes out, and they run together still. Ace seems to have stopped even breathing. Around them the battle rages on, and Sabo feels horribly exposed without his pipe. “I missed you so much.”
Maybe this time, Sabo can stop the execution of the second pirate king before it happens, too. Maybe both Luffy and Ace will survive this time, if he just plays his cards right. Maybe Sabo and his brothers can stay together and stay alive. Maybe, just maybe, he really did change the timeline for good.
A tired cheer roars through the Whitebeard Pirates as they join the three brothers, unknowing of who Sabo is but uncaring. Ace and Luffy are still in shock, disbelieving and confused, but Sabo can see the eldest of the trio as his face begins to light up. It’s like watching the sun come out. Luffy’s arms tighten slightly around him, sluggish and weak but filled with affection, and for the first time in a long time, Sabo has no regrets. He has his brothers.
Maybe time-travel wasn’t such a bad idea.
Okay so I saw that you really loved the asl pic in the magazine so I just had to write this little thing (mostly just to get out of writer’s block lmao). I hope you like it!
I came to SAVE you. So don’t be afraid of this world where we can meet.
(Undertale and Utena are very different, but I noticed a shared thread between the two. Just what does it take to be saved? Not sure if these two fandoms overlap, but hopefully there are a few determined fans out there that appreciate the power to revolutionize the world.)
All the revolutionaries:
yes, you love your little brother, we know, you love Luffy so much, he's the light of your life, you miss him so much, you do anything to protect him, we KNOW, do anything to help him out, you fucking love Luffy ok we know, we get it, YOU LOVE your little brother. WE GET IT