s: asoiaf

I hate how in the show of Game of Thrones they portray the more masculine women as misogynistic, particularly Arya ‘Other girls are stupid’, Brienne 'you sound like a bloody woman’ and Asha using the word 'cunt’.

Despite the fact that in the books all these girls adore women, they idolise them and are angry about the way women are treated and Asha condemns men’s use of the word cunt

Like the men who created the show seem to not be able to fathom that masculine =/= misogyny and that women can be butch and not hate feminine girls

The Starks as Critiques of Fantasy and the Fantasy Audience

I’ve touched on this before but let’s expand on it here. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is an epic tragedy in the classic sense, in which a succession of characters bid for the world before being brought low by their inherent personal shortcomings. What’s particularly interesting in this is that the Starks of Winterfell embody tragic flaws that are typically presented in fantasy fiction as virtues, the very traits that both signal that the protagonists deserve to win and enable that very triumph. As such, they serve as a critique of the fantasy genre and, implicitly, the audience drawn to it who see in such protagonists an idealized vision of themselves.

Ned Stark opens the series with a tableau engineered to position him as the Good Ruler, executing a man by his own hand, illustrating a firm will, capable hand, merciful heart, eyes open to the realities of power, and shoulders to bear the burden in service of others. He is Duty, Honor, Loyalty - to Robert, to the Old Gods, to (with his incessant focus on Winter) the realm as a whole rather than any factional interest. He could plausibly have contended for the Iron Throne after the overthrow of Mad King Aerys, but left the duty - and the corruptions of court life - to Robert and returned north to the “real things” of life.

He’s the noble, capable, masculine (but not macho) hero of so much fantasy, which of course is why he fails. He doesn’t play the petty sycophantic influence-peddling games of court - so when Robert dies he has no true allies in court, no knowledge of the power dynamics at play, no ability to see the manipulation of false allies. Concerned with the formal lineage of succession - as if truth and propriety matters more than appearance and power - but insistent on working through proper channels and unwilling to act without formal legitimation, he gives his enemies all the delay, forewarning, and opportunity they need to outmaneuver him and he ends up executed by the henchman of the most Unworthy ruler.

Sansa Stark is the feminine hero of romantic fantasy - like Ned, she’s enchanted with nobility’s self-mythology and given to mistake that for actual practice. She wants to marry a prince when she grows up, and orients the entirety of her selfhood to this end - acting proper and saying the right thing, above all striving to cause no offense. Like the heroine of so many romantic fantasy novels, she finds her prince. Like the plot of so many romantic fantasy novels he’s a ruffian in need of reform who takes what he wants. Like the readers of so many romantic fantasy novels her dreamy passivity does nothing to reform him. Like the plot of so many of their lives she finds herself paired off with a succession of alternatingly abusive, ugly, and lecherous men.

Arya Stark is I’d say two things - first, she’s the classic fantasy figure of the heir to the unjustly deposed Good Ruler, who has to go off on a quest, take on a mentor, make allies, et cetera et cetera, James Frazer. Except you realize she keeps doing this but given that the world doesn’t stay still while she’s off questing, she never accomplishes anything. She doesn’t make it to Winterfell, she doesn’t make it make it back to her mother, she keeps getting sidetracked and diverted. She finds mentors in Syrio and the Kindly Man, finds allies and travelling companions in Gendry and Hot Pie and Jacquen and the Hound, but none of it amounts to anything. She revenges some of her suffering but after years has 0 influence on the actual contest for the Iron Throne and has mostly just become an increasingly cold-blooded killer.

Second, Arya is the Strong Female Character, that archetype popular in the girl-power ’90s (and before) as superior to Sansa’s “weak” femininity. She’s not into sewing and delicacy, she ‘s into sword fighting and dirt. But for all that, she ends up dragged around and at the mercy of men as much as Sansa - yes, in an idiom that allows her to consider herself as more of an agent, and with an ability to hurt people who hurt her. But it doesn’t really keep her from getting hurt. (For a series with so much rape, especially in the early books of girls noted with an increasingly eyebrow-raising regularity as being exactly thirteen years old, the Stark girls sure do spend a lot of time at the mercy of abusive men without it quite going there, don’t they.) And by the “present day” she’s spending a lot of time hanging out with the demimonde in seedy bars down by the docks. Not that she’s a prostitute, oh no. She’s a rogue. Though she does take some pride in the fact that she blends in. Look, I did renn faires in middle school. Hell, I live in Portland. There’s a certain kind of girl… look, I’m not saying, I’m just… wait, no, I am saying.

Catelyn Stark is the good mother, who wishes the boys would put down their swords and realize what’s important is family, and the real force in this world lies with the generative potential of women. She’s ’70s-’80s feminist fantasy in the Marion Zimmer Bradley mold. She cares for her children, the girls as much as the boys - which is why she releases Jaimie in hopes of returning her daughters, thus forfeiting the Stark leverage against Lannister treachery. At the same time she respects her children’s autonomy, unlike Cersei not just as means to the ends of power, failing to compel Robb to marry for dynastic advantage. Which is her undoing, dying with her beloved child at the hands of a man who treats his wives as disposable incubators. The female power of generative blood proving ultimately vulnerable to the male power of destructive steel.

Robb Stark is the charming young hero, a less seasoned Ned. Capable but burdened with a sense of honor, duty, and obligation, he could have saved a whole lot of trouble by maintaining a distinction between the loving woman you use for sex and the woman of social position you marry to start a family with.

Bran Stark I think if anything is a standin for GRRM himself - he’s incapable of doing anything directly, but as a skinchanger he can inhabit anyone, see through their eyes, act through their bodies, in a manner paralleling the series’ regular cycling through POV characters. I’m not really sure what Bran’s arc “says” about that dynamic.

Rickon Stark is like three, dude. And Jon Snow? Is not a Stark.

Now that we’re here might as well touch on some other characters.

Daenerys is another critique of audience naïveté, thinking that oppressive hierarchy is a matter of bad morality rather than economic function. She frees slaves only to realize that oppressing the lower classes generates power and supports a fellowship of upper-class allies, while freeing and raising them up costs power and makes enemies. Also, even if she crosses the sea and conquers the Seven Kingdoms what of it? As an infertile woman, she can’t found or restore a dynasty.

Jaime is kind of a reverse of the Stark dynamic. They had virtues as flaws. Jaimie is defined by the vice of narcissism - his love for himself, which defines everything he does. Even his incestuous relationship with Cersei is an instance of self-love, beginning in childhood where, she says, if they switched clothes they were indistinguishable. But it’s that very narcissism that leads him, on joining the Kingsguard, to reform himself from within, to go from Kingslayer to Goldenhand. And thus a character first defined by defenestrating a child while incestuously cuckolding the King might well prove the realm’s noble salvation.

Tyrion obviously, is the character most suited to rule the realm, his tragic flaw being the repeatedly wounded pride that keeps him from accepting that he can only rule on condition of receiving no respect for it. Had he waited out his father’s plans he obviously would have found in Tommen a malleable figurehead.

Cersei’s flaw is her inability to distinguish between her person and her role. She thinks herself a master strategist because of her track record of success as a seductress; she thinks of herself as beloved because flattered by sycophants as regent. A Feast For Crows was hacked out. I’m a writer, I know the signs. GRRM split one book into two when he really had 1.5 of material and to maintain the “850 pages of setup, then main characters die and shit gets real” structure he had to force the middle half, which took years. She overestimates herself but even she’s too competent for the cabinet of toadies, the “I’m a good queen for not punishing my servants too bad for my getting fat” bit. Cartoonish. What should’ve happened was she intercepts a letter from one of the young nobles she thinks she’s seducing as part of a power scheme and learns that he’s been seeing the thing the other way around.

And that’s what I think about that.

Songs of the Viper: A Father's Promise

A little father’s day themed fanfiction about Lady Nym and her father Oberyn Martell for Blood of my Blood’s birthday. Happy Birthday :D (again! lol)

The day word arrived from King’s Landing of her father’s death, none of the Sand Snakes believed a word of it. The Red Viper cannot die. Nymeria Sand spent most of the day in the wilderness, killing anything and everything that came across her path. They will pay, they will pay dearly for it. I’ll kill every single one of them and throw the boy king and his mother down the highest tower. I will make them bleed. She vowed with every strength in her body. She vowed to the Old Gods and the New. To the many faced god and the Red God. She vowed to send them to every hell known to men. She vowed to follow them until she perished in that rage that burned in her. Until men remembered House Lannister and House Clegane no more. Until King’s Landing was no more.

When night came, she sat beside a fire, the fire dancing lucidly, as though to some mystical or cosmic song.

She remember the day she met her father. The day she met The Red Viper.

She is not yours!“ screamed her mother, angry and hurt. "You will not take her while I still draw breath.”

She shielded her behind her colorful Volantene dress, the figure of a tall, dark haired man standing menacingly before them. “She’s mine, woman!” he said, irritated, as he tried to get a better view of the young Nymeria. “She has my eyes, she has my hair, even my nose. The Others take you Onesha, she of mine own blood.”

As her mothers long arms took to conceal her with every care, Nymeria remembered she felt more curious than afraid. ”Who is this man mother” she remembered asking, trying to show her mother she too, was brave. Pulling at the length her dress, she suffered seeing the tears, her mothers teeth gnawing against eachother, Nymeria remembered as the rage burned in her just as it did now. She’d seen it too many times as men tried breaking her mother, but only a few every fared well. But this man was different, she had rarely seen her mother feel as threatened as she did with the Red Viper. She knew then that he was a dangerous man.

“Leave my mother be!” she said breaking free of her tearful mothers grip. “Valar Morghulis” she said, as her mother once taught her to say, whenever she was afraid, but Nymeria was never afraid. The man simply smiled. His dark eyes curving forward almost like a snakes, full of amusement and pleasure. “Valar Dohaeris” he replied. “She even bites like a Viper. But you still deny she is mine. Nymeria, I mean your mother no harm. I have missed you my sweet amor.” He told her, as he knelt revealing a small dagger wrapped in thin golden snakes. Their eyes piercing red gemstones and sharp fearsome teeth.”Your father has missed you dearly. The world has tried to keep me away from you, but the world will never come between me and my blood. I will cut through the hosts of the stranger if that is what it takes to bring you all home.” 

He knelt there, watching her with a gift between his hands, waiting if she would come. “I offer you a dagger, when the world will offer you only tears of sorrow. I swear by the old gods and the new that if you accept it, you will become this world’s mistress and all will be yours. You will need naught of men nor gods.”

She remembered how she ran towards him, as if he were the sun illuminating before her. The Red Viper’s words were true.Today she was   not in need of men nor gods, but if she could see his face once more, just another day she could see him there with her sisters, with his daughters, if she could watch him sparring with Obara, his smile radiant and deadly, dancing with them as he always did. She would give it all up for that. For just one day’s respite with the Red Viper. With her beloved father…