What’s With All the Brienne Hate Among George R.R. Martin fans?

I’m one of those people who checks every couple weeks to see if George R.R. Martin has finished the fifth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Martin is widely hailed as one of the best authors writing in fantasy today, and has a large following. I also occasionally browse the fan forums at Westeros.org. I’m not a huge forum poster. I mostly lurk to see if other people’s theories agree with mine. And I love the fact that there’s a space in which people are having detailed dialogue about the books.

However. Forum posters there have this annoying– and disturbing– habit of referring to women using the language from the books. (eg: “The wench needs a good ride.”) It’s fairly ludicrous to have a bunch of fans using that sort of language on the boards without a sense of irony. Who uses the word “wench” in 2007? This language is all over the books, but that doesn’t make it appropriate. I think it’s obvious from the way Martin writes his female characters that the language he uses in the book derives from the fact that he’s writing about a violent war from a pseudo-historical perspective, and has a particular interest in debunking the chivalry myth. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t go around in real life thinking that way about women. Since each chapter is told from a different POV, it’s also clear that not everyone in Westeros feels that way either. With many dark characters, you have about a 50/50 or more chance that the chapter you’re reading is narrated by someone who’s a huge jerk. Therefore it blows my mind to see outdated misogynistic language tossed around casually on the boards by fanboy-types. I have noticed a few female (or intelligent, logical male) posters admonishing others for this type of crap, but far too often the community appears to let it slide.

In my latest trip to the Westeros boards, I noticed a disturbing trend. Everyone has POVs they like and dislike. But what’s with the overwhelming hate for Brienne? The character Brienne is a female knight. Oh sure, you think, one of those. But wait. Because it’s Martin, this isn’t going to be one of those cute girl-with-a-sword stories. Brienne is described as a muscular, homely woman, larger than most men. She’d have to be to handle a sword, realistically, and it’s refreshing to see an author pick up on that for once. She is doggedly devoted to chivalry in a world going to hell all around her. She’s naive, true, but the character’s purpose seems to be to serve as a spot of light in the increasingly bloody series. She’s also there to be a foil to Jaime Lannister, the bad boy character who insults her constantly yet feels a strange connection to her. And Brienne stubbornly insists on being seen as a knight despite the fact that everyone thinks she’s a joke. I really enjoy the character.

But there’s a surprisingly vicious amount of Brienne hate out there. And it seems like a lot of it is based simply upon the fact that Brienne is ugly. Some fans would like to see Jaime get over his superficiality and end up with Brienne, for instance, but if someone posts something to this effect, the fanboys will often freak out. There is a disconnect between the way male characters described by Martin as ugly (and there are lots) are regarded by fans, and how Brienne is regarded. To illustrate how ridiculous the bias is, consider the example of the POV character Tyrion.

Tyrion is a vastly popular character. He is also a dwarf, with a giant mass of scar tissue where his nose used to be. In a recent book, he was placed in an arranged marriage to a 13-year-old girl who wouldn’t consummate the marriage because she was terrified of how ugly he was. I have actually seen many posters say, “OMG I hate Sansa! What a ___. How could she do that to Tyrion he’s all kinds of awesome, I hope she gets raped by a ____.” And then they’ll be like, “I think Martin should hook Tyrion up with (insert beautiful female character) or (insert beautiful female character).” Yet if someone mentions Brienne hooking up with someone, anyone, there’s an outcry of fan eeeeew that derails entire threads.

Yeah. Because every beautiful woman wants to have sex with a noseless dwarf just because it’s your favorite character. But an unattractive woman doesn’t deserve love. It’s that old double standard again, and it’s getting tired.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    The privilege and entitlement in forums that include a lot of fanboys is nothing short of amazing. I rarely go near them, but the other day I stumbled into one talking about ST:DS9, and the second post I read concluded with this little gem: “But then Sisko was always bragging to the bitches.”

    Hard not to conclude the speaker is an unpopular boy who can’t understand why all his boasting hasn’t won him a girlfriend yet.

    The double standard the fanboys are applying in your example has just simply been tolerated for too long. Forum owners don’t see what’s wrong with such comments because they agree it’s the woman’s job to be purty and the man’s job to be cool, so if some uppity female suggests that she’d rather be cool herself OR that male coolness isn’t good enough without male beauty, an alarm goes off somewhere: “Status Quo Violation In Progress. Fanboys, Report to Duty Stations. Flaming: Begin!”

  2. Gategrrl says

    What a vile sounding board. Makes me glad most of the places I’ve hung out have a majority of women in them.

  3. says

    It’s not that the whole board is horrid. There are quite a few female fans on there, as far as I can tell. But they seem to always have to kick the fanboys out of their threads. Like there was one amusing thread about what male/male pairing or hot hetero pairing people would like to see. And in the thread title it is clearly stated something like, “This is for the girls… if slash offends you don’t click… if hot guys don’t interest you don’t click.” Yet of course there are fanboys coming in saying, “This is gross” and “Well the majority of fantasy readers are male, so too bad.” Never mind the billion threads about such and such female character being hot.

    There’s also a lot of intelligent discussion. With over 7,000 members you’re bound to have the good and the bad. But it is rather jarring to hop in there from the sites I’m used to frequenting, and see the language and statements that go unmoderated. In fact I’m sure it’s this board that inspired the LJ community, Sane ASOIAF Fans, which includes a bunch of rants against rampant fanboyism.

  4. teacup says

    Oy, this right here is why I stick to livejournal. The majority of fans I’ve met there are women. And Brienne rules!

  5. says

    Ditto! I’m one of the members of sane ASOIAF fans, although I can’t say I go much to Ran’s board… It annoys me even after a few minutes of mere lurking. Plus, I am a huge Brienne fan (and *coughcough*Jaime/Brienne shipper*cough*) so go figure. she’s one of the characters I feel more sympathy for and I really can’t understand the hate.

  6. Redcandle17 says

    Very nice post. I’m trying to stay away from that forum because of how upset some of the comments made by posters make me. Like the people who argue that rape is normal and acceptable in Westeros despite the examples of men being punished for it(Stannis and Randyll Tarly castrate soldiers who commit rape).

    From my observation, the only female character who isn’t hated(like Catelyn) or marginalized(like Dany) is Arya. I don’t think it’s because she is a fighter since Brienne is a warrior and she’s not liked. Do you think the fact that Arya is prepubescent has anything to do with it?

  7. Mecha says

    I am reminded of someone’s discussion of how Larxenne from one of the Kingdom Hearts games is hated/sexually fetishized incredibly despite not really showing a background. Darned if I can remember the place. And it wouldn’t be the first example I’ve seen of that(I have seen a very disturbing number of people fetishize _Relm_ from FF4.)

    I’m fairly sure the whole thing’s a big tied together expression of the common fanperson ‘bend them to my will/belief of what they really are’ (which happens in every fandom, male or female dominated) gone to the point of specific standard societal objectification and the like on already-fantasy characters. I have seen one too many strange somewhat-to-very out-of-character fetishizations of one character or another.

    -Mecha

  8. says

    As the founder of the current incarnation of the ASoIaF board, I figured I should put in a word, although I see it’s much delayed (I’ve only just learned of this now). In fact, I pretty much agree with everything Sarah has written regarding the problems with how some of the members of the forum perceive and discuss some of the characters (and it’s not just the female characters — Renly and Loras get their fair share of bashing based on their being gay).

    Though I’m sure the first responder (BetaCandy) was speaking generally rather than specifically, I should note that I’m pretty annoyed with the bashing of female characters myself. I was one of the few (male or female) readers who was happy to hear Brienne was going to be a POV, and I’ve defended Catelyn any number of times. So I would not say that I (or the moderators) are happy with the bashing that does go on, that so often does seem to smack of sexism.

    But …

    Just because something annoys me doesn’t mean I should act against it at a moderation-level. We try to leave a relatively open debate, and try to use a light touch. These are, ultimately, fictional characters we’re talking about, and though attacks on them may well be symptomatic of sexism in the greater world, it also may not be anything more than a reader’s pique.

    Generally, short of personal attacks and disruptive behavior, we’re not going to put a foot down. There is a reporting function, for users to notify the moderators (who, in the end, are a mere handful of people trying to police an increasingly larger forum) of posts that users feel may cross such boundaries as we do have. We almost never get any reports from the book forum, but we’d certainly look into those reports if we did receive them.

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    Generally, short of personal attacks and disruptive behavior, we’re not going to put a foot down.

    Forgive me, but that’s what TheForce.Net used to say years ago when I went there, and then they’d turn around and ban people for intelligently criticizing someone’s bogus interpretation of the Bible while allowing virulent atheist-bashing to go unchecked. Sometimes not being the one under attack distorts a moderator’s view of what should be taken as a “personal attack”.

    I don’t know your forum, and I was speaking generally but the problem applies. How does one respond to someone posting they wish a female character would get raped for not being grateful for the opportunity to sexually service a dwarf? Should offended people retaliate that they hope the dwarf gets raped for being ugly, or killed? Or should they attack the poster? The first is not how they feel; the second is… oh, yeah, the only thing you don’t allow.

    No, they have to take the high road and report the poster and hope the moderators do something.

    See, when there is no parallel argument to a statement other than to attack the attacker, it starts to feel pretty damn personal to me. When I’m forced to wonder if this person would think I should be raped for turning down requests for dates, it starts to feel pretty damn personal to me.

    Again, not being the one under attack makes it easy to dismiss me as oversensitive.

  10. says

    Forgive me, but that’s what TheForce.Net used to say years ago when I went there…

    That is as it may be, but as you indicate, you don’t know our forum. It’s not TheForce.Net.

    How does one respond to someone posting they wish a female character would get raped for not being grateful for the opportunity to sexually service a dwarf? Should offended people retaliate that they hope the dwarf gets raped for being ugly, or killed? Or should they attack the poster? The first is not how they feel; the second is… oh, yeah, the only thing you don’t allow.

    I would say that in the face of such an argument, you either argue the issue on its merits, or you ignore the person rather than stooping to personal attacks.

    There’s an Ignore function on our forum which some users have find very handy. If there’s a poster whose arguments you can’t stand, put them on Ignore and you won’t have to see what they’re posting. It allows users to customize their experience of the board for themselves to some degree.

    Again, not being the one under attack makes it easy to dismiss me as oversensitive.

    I don’t think it’s at all oversensitive to be troubled by the fact that there are people who quite eagerly make misogynistic arguments regarding characters of the series. But there is certainly a little bit of distance from their advocating rape of a character, and their advocating rape of _you_, so I think construing these things as attacks on yourself (or on women generally) could very well be excessive.

  11. Jennifer Kesler says

    But there is certainly a little bit of distance from their advocating rape of a character, and their advocating rape of _you_, so I think construing these things as attacks on yourself (or on women generally) could very well be excessive.

    I used to think it was, too. But I’d like to share with you why I went from thinking I was oversensitive to this stuff to thinking I am entitled not to hear it.

    Would you tell someone to use ignore if someone was saying “That n—— needs a good tarring and feathering for looking at that white woman?” That’s not a personal attack, is it? What if the person reading it has ancestors who were tarred and feathered way back when?

    What if someone said it was a real pity Hitler didn’t stick some Jewish character in an oven where s/he belonged? I mean, that’s not a “personal attack” either, is it? He probably doesn’t mean a particular Jewish reader should be put in an oven.

    How would you moderate? You leave it in? Because it’s exactly parallel to the example we’re talking about, in which rape is advocated as a punishment of the less empowered group for not “knowing your place”.

    People descended from slaves or Holocaust era Jews are aware that people who don’t share that personal history at best generally don’t give a shit that it happened, or they think it’s good fodder for jokes and stuff, or they actually think those things are just what ought to happen to “those people”.

    There is no reason to host people putting them through additional reminders of this. It’s not constructive. Maybe it’s not a personal attack, but what the hell is it? An intercultural attack.

    Women live daily with the awareness that we have a 1 in 4 chance of being raped. That is not something you can easily relate to, which is not your fault. There simply is no crime that a man currently has a 1 in 4 chance of experiencing. I know quite a few women who have been raped. You must too, statistically, whether they’ve shared this with you or not.

    We live daily with the awareness we’re often blamed for attacks against us, or at best people don’t give a shit. As in the above examples, there are people who think rape should happen to women who get “out of their place” or whatever.

    And then rape happens so goddamn much, it’s really hard to convince yourself, “Well, I’m sure this guy doesn’t mean it.”

    Statistically, some of the guys on your forum must be rapists. I can’t shake my awareness of that. No other crime is so prevalent; no other crime carries the stigma of a society not believing we’re entitled to avoid it.

    If there was a horrific violent crime you stood a 1 in 4 chance of experiencing and already knew quite a few friends and loved ones who’d experienced it, you might see my concerns in a very different light.

    Ignoring the fanboys doesn’t teach them another point of view, which I think is the very damn least they deserve to be exposed to, and it’s what my conscience demands. There is no way for another user to do this effectively – if we’re polite and reasonable, they laugh and enjoy the attention. If we retaliate similarly to show them what an ass they’re being since demonstration is often the only thing that comes close to working, WE are the ones who get in trouble for “personal attacks”, not them.

    If a moderator tells them something different, it carries the weight of the delete and ban buttons.

    And that’s why I started this site.

  12. says

    As the other half of the Westeros.org owner pair, and as a woman (though I think bringing gender into the issue of whether one understands the problem or not is plain stupid), I do have to admit that I find these sort of complaints pretty darn silly and, yes, a sign of over-sensitivity.

    Do I think its silly and even worse for posters (of any gender) to post that they wish that X happened to a certain character? Well, yeah, in most cases. But I really don’t think the likelihood that event X could befall me in real-life has anything to do with how I should be reacting to said post.

    Ignoring the little idiots, or noting the utter stupidity of their comments, are two perfectly fine approaches to such behaviour. One spares you from having to read what they have to say and the other allows you to educate them without necessarily making it a personal attack. If they prove too stupid to educate … well, not much one can do.

    Unfortunately, banning people for being stupid isn’t something we can get into. If that wasn’t the case, I’d be the one handling the bannings on the board, and suddenly everyone who held an opinion I found offensive would be gone.

    Finally, bringing racial issues into it doesn’t really make for a reasonable comparison. For one thing, women aren’t a threatened minority. And for another thing, it would be an entirely different matter if someone went on the board advocating the rape of all women. In that case, they’d be saying that X should happen because someone is a woman and for no other reason. That’s not the case when someone attacks a specific character.

  13. Mecha says

    Linda,

    I’m sorry to say, but women _are_ just as much a minority as blacks, in terms of history. For hundreds (thousands?) of years, women had to have sex with their husbands, no matter what. Imagine if black slavery weren’t just work, but forced sex too (yes, sometimes it was.)

    Oh, wait a minute. Women also had to do specific work once they were married, too, like slaves. And were sold off as if property, much like blacks were. And, and, and…

    The parallels are not exact (they never are), but they are _very_ similar. If one accepts that racial slurs are of a ‘special class’, than gender slurs can be argued more or less the same way, for more or less the same reasons.

    Back to the main discussion, the issue with things like treating things like ‘this woman should be raped’ as isolated, is much the same as saying ‘this black person should be lynched.’ Rape/Lynching are words (and crimes) which are specific to the class in question, specifically used to remind people that they are the lesser. They’re crimes against a class.

    Furthermore, how often have you seen a criticism of a male character, in the generic, which said, say, ‘Yeah, that guy should have his balls cut off and shoved down his mouth lol.’ Rarely, possibly never? I wonder why. How often do you hear about male rape, or castration? How often do you see it in media? Rarely never? Now go turn on L&O:SVU, and bask in the female rape. Or a number of other things. It’s not hard.

    That’s part of the difference. Rape is commonplace, talked about, warned about. Feared daily. When was the last time a father or mother told their son, ‘Watch out when you walk down the street, someone might chop off your balls?’ It’s _different_. But you can certainly imagine a black parent telling their son or daughter, ‘Don’t do this, people might think you’re out of your place, and you’ll get lynched.’

    Finally, on identification, main characters are typically heroes. You’re supposed to identify with them. So what does it mean when a character you identify with/like should be raped for no real reason, and that’s cool in that environment? It’s disheartening, discouraging, saddening, angering. That’s not a valid argument. That’s not a valid criticism. That’s not a valid _anything_. It’s just an attempt to create a hostile environment, to hurt people. It has no value. What positive (or neutral) purpose does such a statement have? Because we’re seeing very clearly here that it’s having a negative effect.

    And people get real, real, real, real tired of hostile environments, after a while. Especially if there’s more than one. So as administrators, you have a choice to make: Whether the hostility bothers you, or not. Is that an action you will tacitly support, or not. That’s your call. But it doesn’t mean people have to agree, or approve. Nor do they have to agree or approve when it happens a hundred other times.

    It’s not just about you or your board. Your board’s just an example of a much, much, much larger trend.

    -Mecha

  14. Jennifer Kesler says

    What Mecha said. We’re the only group with a 1 in 4 (to 1 in 8, depending which study you read – 1 in 8 is bad enough) chance of having a violent, invasive crime being perpetrated against us. I call that “threatened”.

    If that wasn’t the case, I’d be the one handling the bannings on the board, and suddenly everyone who held an opinion I found offensive would be gone.

    Why? Have you no objectivity? I moderate this site pretty heavily because that’s appropriate for the type of site this is. I disagree with you and your partner on several points, but I don’t think you’re derailing the discussion or attacking anyone, so your comments stay. It’s not rocket science. And yes, I’ve moderated on fan sites, too, full of crazies.

    I don’t see the arbitrary difference you see (neat sidestep, there) between “I hope she gets raped” and “I hope he gets tarred and feathered.” Neither are usually lethal, both are about punishment, there’s no reason to think the poster would actually do either to anyone in real life but we both know there are people in the world who think those activities are just what certain groups deserve. And hell, rape is actually an ongoing problem now whereas tarring and feathering is a crime of the past. Interesting how someone objecting to an inappropriate rape reference is more sensitive in your book than someone objecting to a reference to a crime that doesn’t even happen nowadays.

  15. Rosa Aquafire says

    I’m a female and a feminist, and I dislike Brienne. I’ll admit, once AFFC came out and I read from her own point of view, I slowly began to feel for her — and I also didn’t mind her so much in ACoK. But in ASoS? Dear god, it was agony. I hate that she is presented completely as a foil for Jaime, an “easy” way to have him resolve his issues, to villainize the fascinating, strong female character of Cersei Lannister, to the point where her own character and personality, her own journey, is trivialized in comparison. Her backstory, her unrequited love for Renly Baratheon, her personality, her sense of honour, all of that, I’ve been very intrigued by, but 99% of the time, all Brienne does is mentally wax melodramatic over Jaime and end up in increasingly more contrived situations to set them together.

    I’m glad she’s ugly, and I’m glad she’s freakishly large, and, in fact, I greatly prefer it to a cute, tiny, pert little female fighter. I enjoy the facet it adds to her characters.

    There are MANY female readers I’ve seen who dislike Brienne for just these reasons. Saying that all Brienne haters are mysoginists is the same as saying all Dany fans are femnazis or all Tyrion haters are dwarfists, and I resent your implication that I’m just a gaelor woman in disguise for my distaste of the character and her entire contrived situation.

  16. says

    Rosa Aquafire–

    I’ll admit that Brienne is not the most charismatic character. I totally respect people’s rights not to like her. But it is just frustrating that on the whole, when you look at which characters seem to draw the most vitriolic responses from the fan community, those characters are female. Dany, Catelyn, and Sansa also get their fair share of the hate. (And for that matter, Cersei, who gets the most hate, with perhaps the greatest reason, but also with the most pathos… if she’d been born a man, what a different situation her life would be.) What is up, for instance, with people who can’t seem to get their heads around Danaerys simply being queen of Westeros, without having to “share” with Jon (the most popular theory) or Tyrion or another male character? Now, I’m not necessarily saying she’ll be queen in Westeros, as I think the situation is more complicated than that, and GRRM is not as black and white as that, and Dany’s own motives for going there are questionable and it’s clear she hasn’t put a lot of thought into them. It’s just an example.

    I believe GRRM has a good variety of interesting female characters, yet they seem to polarize the fan community the most. Why can’t we read more into this? What’s wrong with having a discussion about how maybe– just maybe– it’s because it’s not customary for female characters in fantasy to play so many different roles? Look at The Wheel of Time, where the female characters are largely the same personality with different names and hair. The women in ASOIAF are differentiable, and for whatever reason that polarizes people in a way that just does not seem to happen to the same level with the male characters.

    Your comments about Brienne? I could definitely have a conversation about them, because they have to do with the text. And you have a good argument. What I resist is the idea that, in order to talk about the character in many threads, you usually have to sift through umpteen snarky comments about how she’s big and ugly. I think there is something about her ugliness combined with her heroism (or would-be heroism, whichever you prefer) that makes many readers distinctly uncomfortable.

    I’m much more interested in that than in “fangirling” her.

  17. Jennifer Kesler says

    Rosa, for what it’s worth – perhaps not much – as an outsider (to the forum and the books) reading Duru’s post, I did not think she meant that everyone who dislikes the character has wrong reasons for doing so. I thought she was just pointing out the surprising amount of vitriol that’s based mostly on the character not being a traditionally pretty female.

  18. Rosa Aquafire says

    Duru, thank you very much for your clarification, and to that much, I can certainly agree, myself. I apologize for jumping to the defensive, I have just heard many, many female readers become angry at me for disliking Brienne. I often feel as if a strong, enlightened person, male or female, MUST like Brienne, simply because she appeals to many feminist ideals.

    I also find it interesting that, as you say, the female characters DO come under more scrunity. Sansa, who is traditional, soft-spoken, polite, and pretty, is as hated by readers as Brienne, the big, beefy, “mannish” female fighter. I wonder why exactly this happens, when male characters who exhibit the same behaviour are forgiven. Cersei vs. Robert, for example. Cersei is so often attacked for being a “slut” and yet I think Robert is above and beyond her to the extreme. Yet Robert is a well loved character, while Cersei is the most hated of all.

    So, once again, I suppose I misread your initial post, and I’m glad that you respect my right to dislike Brienne for textual, intelligent reasons.

  19. says

    Mecha wrote that “the whole thing’s a big tied together expression of the common fanperson ‘bend them to my will/belief of what they really are’ (which happens in every fandom, male or female dominated)”…

    This behavior intrigues me. Where does it come from? When fanboys express casual misogynism, why do they think it can be propped up by their favorite fictional characters? (Think about it: How on earth could an imaginary person support your beliefs and prejudices?)
    :-S

  20. Xeke says

    BetaCandy:

    As a member of the jewish community and someone with relatives who suffered through the Holocaust, I’m deeply offended that you would so cheaply dismiss the attempted extermination of my entire race by comparing it to a few misogynistic remarks by a bunch of pre-pubescent males.

    I’m all for gender equality but some of the notions found within this thread are not only misguided, but truly laughable to any reasoned individual.

  21. says

    Mecha,

    I don’t think one can call women a minority based on gender inequality in the past or present in certain areas. Gender bias is a form of discrimination, sure, but its different from that that can be directed at an actual minority. You could hardly set about trying to exterminate women, after all.

    Since I am Swedish, I tend to feel that our ‘hate speech’ laws (which forbid speech inciting violence or strong negative feelings against an identifiable minority) are a good guideline for what shouldn’t be allowed on a message board. These laws disallow ‘hate speech’ that focuses on someone’s race, skincolour, nationality, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Gender, however, is not covered.

    Still, I think one could go one step further and disallow ‘hate speech’ directed towards any gender in _general_. However, statements that concern a specific character are not reasonble to construe as being directed towards their gender in general. Saying ‘that black person should be lynched’ clearly focuses on the person’s skincolour, whereas saying ‘Sansa should be raped’ focuses on the individual.

    I think most everyone does agree that such statements don’t exactly add anything useful to the discussion, but that can’t be the criteria for moderation unless we actually ban stupidity. Which would be nice, but not very doable.

    BetaCandy,

    That women are more likely to fall victim to violent crime is not relevant. We are not talking about general statements wishing ill on all women. They may be interpreted as such, but an interpretation is not the same as it being stated outright.

    Regarding moderation, my point is that if I said ‘okay, this statement isn’t technically illegal or anything, but I dislike it’, then I’d open up a nice big can of worms, because there are a lot of things said on the board that I dislike. I really don’t see any difference between those things and the ‘I’d like Sansa to be raped’ statements. So if we moderate the latter, why not the former?

  22. Mecha says

    A.R.: Well, I was being a bit oblique, but there’s a number of clear examples from both sexes. For example, the (mostly female) slash community, to a point, also ‘bends characters to their will’, to allow them to be slashed. At least, some do. (And the various waves of slash specifically has waves where ‘source characterization doesn’t matter, what I want to write matters.’) At the same time (although not necessarily the same thing, different argument) there’s this kind of thing as punishment, or guys nudging their friends and going, ‘I bet that chick puts out/screams/etc, etc, etc, let’s draw a hentai picture/write a story about it’ You get the point on description there. It’s something that happens quite frequently at a heavy level, but also at a light level too. People just are more likely to interpret things how they want (OTP, anyone?)

    When it comes to misogyny, though, I think to a point that it is a ‘natural’ objectification step. The characters exist in a fiction, to some point someone could argue or think, for your enjoyment as a reader. It doesn’t necessarily take much for people to take that enjoyment bad places. In my mind, although this seems obvious, (as it’s partly what this post is talking about) it is also something that can be done, whether implicitly or explicitly, to ‘normalize’ a female character (they can always be reduced to a sex object/rape object, stripping away everything else about them, thereby being the most effective and yet least relevant criticism/conceptualization/discussion of a character ever. It was talked about above how the female chars in this particular situation were criticized more (and with more violent language) than the male characters, and this relates to that.)

    As I mentioned later in the discussion, I think it does tie into the recent comic book discussions bringing out the concept of the ‘Paper Mirror’ and how portraying characters as victims as opposed to heroes can really hurt people, when it’s your character that gets turned into a sex/rape object. (And since women have so few female role models to begin with, that pain can be very, very common. This is slightly different from general rape disgust, which can happen to chars you don’t identify with, in my mind, but… anyway.)

    There are people who specifically think that ‘it’s okay, because they’re not real.’ That mindset, whether right or wrong in part or in whole, can give someone without a real concept of how bad rape, or how PC isn’t just something minorities whine about, is a whole lot of leeway in what is okay.

    Linda:

    Okay. So you admit they add nothing. But the second question is: Do they _detract_ from the conversation?

    Well, let’s see. From my (and others?) perspective, it’s offensive in multiple ways, it _specifically_ treats women like sex objects, treats rape as an ‘okay’ punishment for someone you don’t like (which becomes _very_ real for some people), has clearly driven off more than one reasonable person from more than one board over the course of time, makes an unfriendly environment for a vast number of feminists and women…

    There’s being stupid/OT (do you punish OT? I dunno) and then there’s doing conversation and social damage. Again. Maybe you don’t mind that. Free expression without any control or example setting from the top. Some people approach things that way.

    But then the board ends up reflecting the overwhelmingly sexist male-centered internet culture. And just like it has with gaming, with comics, with pretty much everything as time goes on… it drives away women, makes an environment in which they feel unsafe, objectified, and creates an environment where rape’s an okay punishment for a character’s… whatever. (And then it happens for real, with people like Katie Sierra and numerous others being told that they deserve to be raped. Reality mimicing fantasy? Well, they get away with it in one place…)

    This is all in concept of course, as I am not a member of your board (never read the series), but it’s sort of an old story, as internet things go. And people get real tired of it. (And sometimes feel like analyzing it!)

    (And as to your response to Beta, I’ll interject and point out that one can _always_ draw lines around _why_ certain things are bad, and it is generally good to do so, especially as an administrator. You never have to censor everything.)

    -Mecha

  23. Jennifer Kesler says

    As a member of the jewish community and someone with relatives who suffered through the Holocaust, I’m deeply offended that you would so cheaply dismiss the attempted extermination of my entire race by comparing it to a few misogynistic remarks by a bunch of pre-pubescent males.

    I compared off-handed misogynistic remarks to the possibility of similarly off-handed anti-semitic remarks. It is a fair comparison. Both the Holocaust and the rapes of 1/4 of American women are wrong, should never have happened and are born of hate.

    I admit the comparison may have been ill-advised as a tactic for understanding, but my original question remains: if the moderators would take action against a casual racist comment, why not against a casual misogynist comment? I’m still at a loss to see where people are getting the idea that sexism and racism are so different. Hate of a group is hate of a group. It’s always a bit different from one case to another, but the core is always rotten.

    Rape isn’t a crime of theft; it’s not someone stealing sex. It’s a crime of entitlement, which is encouraged by a culture that doesn’t tell people it’s wrong.

  24. Jennifer Kesler says

    You could hardly set about trying to exterminate women, after all.

    No, not if you want more children. That’s why you have to set about to own and control women. And punishments like rape, along with intimidations like casual rape threats, go a long way toward accomplishing that. It creates a “rape culture”.

    Perhaps the best way to neutralize the problem is for your female posters to start wishing rape, gang-rape, and others violations against the male characters – even if they don’t really feel that way, just to demonstrate the point. Not only should they wish these punishments, but they should laugh about how the male character will love it and beg for more and be unable to have normal sex once he’s had some good rapin’.

    These are all remarks I’ve heard offline men make about real, living women before. Not just fanboys on boards where they have anonymity. Real life.

    And they should be certain to input some of these little gems into every single thread where otherwise intelligent discussion takes place regarding that character, as Duru has observed about Brienne threads.

    That would not violate your rules, but it would
    perhaps demonstrate the problem from a different perspective.

  25. Purtek says

    Still, I think one could go one step further and disallow ‘hate speech’ directed towards any gender in _general_. However, statements that concern a specific character are not reasonble to construe as being directed towards their gender in general. Saying ‘that black person should be lynched’ clearly focuses on the person’s skincolour, whereas saying ‘Sansa should be raped’ focuses on the individual.

    It strikes me that this argument requires some careful semantic dancing in order to work on any level. So if someone were to say “[black character's name] should be lynched” that’s okay, because it focuses on the character, not on his race? The word “lynching” carries the connotation (if not the explicit denotation) of a crime carried out by whites against blacks, just as rape is predominantly a crime carried out by men against women (and that’s certainly the implication raised in the minds of anyone who hears the word without additionally clarifying information). It’s a fine line to walk to say that the character vs. category focus is really what’s making the difference here.

    I’ve never read these books and I’ve never been to the forum, but I’d also point out that your argument is somewhat undermined by Duru Antilles original post which quotes a phrase like “that wench needs a good ride” as common. In what way does that phrasing, even if it’s referring to a specific female character (which it is, but then, so is your example of “that black character”), not focus on the character’s gender?

    Also, I’m not sure if it’s been pointed out yet, but in your (Linda’s) first comment, you suggested that “bringing gender into the issue of whether one understands the problem or not is plain stupid”. No one here is suggesting that the quality of being male prevents someone from being able to understand issues surrounding rape or casual discussions of rape. The women in this thread (and not all of the participants are women) have tried to clarify that the perception of someone who has experienced rape and/or heard the stories of dozens of other women who have experienced rape may be different from that of a man who has neither been in that position or attempted to see it from that perspective. The idea that our past experience has an impact on how we perceive something is far from stupid, and the idea that someone who doesn’t share those experiences might learn something in hearing about them in order to better moderate, say, is not condescending.

  26. says

    Xexe: And as a Jewish woman I’m offended, but not at all surprised, that you would dismiss the suffering that all women, including Jewish ones, have faced because of misogyny by fabricating a connection that BetaCandy never made. Unless she’s pulling a PETA or a Genocide Awareness Project moment where she says, “Casual Misogyny: Like the Holocaust In a Way”, the only one who is cheapening the genocide of our people is you by using it as a “get out of male privilege free” card.

    Maybe next time you try to weasel your way out of valid criticism you’ll remember that “Jewish” doesn’t just extend to the male part of the population.

  27. SerScot says

    I’m a frequent poster at the Westeros forum. I’m male. I would like to say that there is some bashing of Brienne’s character, but not to the level portrayed in the above referenced article. We are a very diverse board with frequent discussions of feminist issues.

  28. says

    SerScot–

    I agree that there are some very good threads over there. For instance there’s one going on about Catelyn bashing currently, with some well thought-out snippets. Example here,

    I’m mostly dismayed at the outright misogyny that is hauled out when boarders wish to bash certain female characters. Dislike the character, fine. But expressing it in such disgusting terms, and advocating they be raped and killed, says absolutely nothing of credit about YOU, the boarder, and it also has no place in a community like this. I wish more people would ponder the impact of their words before typing them.

    And,

    I characterized this as a strawman and pointed out that there’s a difference between these two statements:

    1. People who dislike Catelyn are sexist.

    2. People dislike Catelyn more than is warranted, for sexist reasons.

    I contend that most of the Catelyn defenders who are citing sexism are arguing point #2.

    So obviously this is a place where good discussion on just these topics can take place. (I’m not just saying that because those two posters happen to agree with my opinion; the rest of the thread is also an interesting discussion with minimal idiocy.)

    And, to everyone more generally, my Brienne post was planned to be the first in a series. Because, as I mentioned above, I don’t think it’s just Brienne. I think it’s Catelyn, Sansa, Dany, etc. Oh, I’m not done! There’s a trend of female characters being either put on a pedestal or demonized. I think this is a larger issue in society in general than a few idiots at one board, and I think it’s indicative of gender stereotypes that are deeply ingrained in us. Woman characters across many different types of media are typically responded to by being placed on a romantic pedestal or seen as evil. In hindsight, I think this article might have been poorly written, because I’ve really brought up two issues at once. People are focusing on the part about the forum, which I think is somewhat distracting from the other point I made about Brienne. Admittedly, this is my fault for putting the two issues into one post. When I wrote it, I wasn’t sure how much intro the topic of Brienne needed.

    When I talk about gender stereotypes being deeply ingrained, I’m going to give a personal example. When my posts come under scrutiny, there is a part of me that squirms uncomfortably and wants to placate people. Why is that? I certainly stand by my opinion. I believe it’s because as women we’re raised with more of an emphasis on pleasing people, on compromise, on being communicators and peacemakers. We’re trained that we’re supposed to interact more passively with the world around us. Why is it that, even though I think I’m right, a small part of me feels badly about being offended by stuff I saw in a forum? Like, “Oh, sorry guys, I’m going to shuffle off now, it must be my fault that I’m offended, never mind…”

    I am a feminist, with majors in Philosophy and English and a minor in Gender Studies. And I’m putting out there that I fight against feeling this way even though I realize I, as a woman, am conditioned by society to feel this way. If I struggle against feeling like the mean girl who ruined people’s fun, imagine all the women who aren’t aware of what’s going on and how it feels to them. “Oh, I guess every other woman ignores rape jokes by idiot 13-year-olds because it comes with liking fantasy novels. There must be something wrong with me because I’m offended. It’s my fault for reading ‘boy’ books.”

    OK, so some of us might not want heavier forum moderation. But me? I don’t want any woman reader to feel the way I just described. As I said, larger issues at play here than one forum.

  29. Jennifer Kesler says

    I apologize – I started off the thread with a remark about the forum, so I’m the one who caused it to follow that line of thought.

    There’s a trend of female characters being either put on a pedestal or demonized.

    This is very true, and even though women engage in it, I think it comes from the male-centric view our society has – the lens of male perspective we’re all trained to see the world through even as we’re attempting in childhood to develop our own perspective. We all tend to view others as they relate to us before viewing them as complete humans, utterly separate from us, who had a past before we met them and who may have a future without us. That’s a natural human tendency, but in a gender imbalanced society, it leads to people seeing women only as a man sees them before he develops the skills to see them more fully (which sometimes never happens because there’s certainly little incentive in our society for doing so).

    So women are objects to be worshipped or defiled, loved or despised, admired or punished. Even when a female character has a philosophy or a quest – something that defines her as a person – the audience sometimes strips her down, as Mecha was saying, to just those elements that a non-woman in the very beginning of perceiving The Other would notice.

  30. says

    BetaCandy– Don’t apologize. I think it’s a good issue. Plus your very first comment (“Status Quo Violation In Progress. Fanboys, Report to Duty Stations. Flaming: Begin!”) made me laugh out loud because it’s so right on.

    But I’ve had some interesting thoughts this morning, which are causing me to become convinced (largely because of a few of the responses to my post in a comment thread on a different site) that some people would rather focus on “you bashed the forum!” because it’s easier to do that than to examine the deeper issues of the gender imbalances we all bring to the table. So I wanted to emphasize my other thoughts.

    That, and something my significant other said last night when he pointed out that men are accustomed to seeing a woman as a romantic object or not at all. Basically, what you are saying above: that some men are made uncomfortable by seeing a woman (or female character) who does not fall into that role, because they don’t know what mental box to place her in. And it occurred to me that Brienne and Catelyn are the two female characters in ASOIAF who engender the most hate… and Brienne is ugly (therefore not able to be placed in the romantic object role), and Catelyn is the wife of the main character and a mother of five (therefore off limits for being placed in the romantic object role– romance is just not an issue in her storyline). [I'm avoiding a huge spoiler here, obviously, because there are those who haven't read the books. So no one else mess it up!] To me, this cannot be a coincidence.

    As for forums, I think it’s easier for those — even women– who haven’t thought about things like gender stereotypes, rape, and female passivity in depth, or studied them, to ignore little comments from idiots. But it’s very hard for someone like me to do so. I think once you’re begun to look at things through a certain lens, you can’t go back. And then you’re stuck in the uncomfortable position of, “Should I participate in this discussion knowing full well everyone will think I am a drag and I will feel like I have to be the gender police?” or “Should I go to another space to discuss these things?”

    Earlier I was debating actually going into some threads on Westeros and finding examples of some particularly gross comments, but I kind of got sidetracked in an intelligent thread and decided to comment about that instead. Basically the original post was a rant, which I wrote after re-reading the latest book, A Feast for Crows, and browsing the forum to see what theories people had. I can’t remember which threads I was in, so I’m in this unfortunate situation where I didn’t back up my points above with evidence, but I KNOW I remember feeling like I was being beaten over the head with the word “wench” repeatedly. Sometimes, “wench… LOL wink wink”… but still. And some of it was just… stuff I’ve gotten used to not seeing in the spaces I frequent. Stuff that was not outwardly sexist but displayed an attitude of casual dismissiveness toward the female characters. It was like an hourlong eye roll for me, and then my eyes got tired of rolling, and I left the boards and ranted.

  31. says

    I think you’re looking at a phenomenon from the wrong angle.

    Tyrion is likable because he’s incredibly clever and gets a lot of good one-liners. Plus, he has chutzpah the size of a small continent. He is a joy to read because he’s got a big brain and a sharp tongue on him, and he’s usually been at the center of a lot of exciting, action-filled plots.

    Brienne likability is limited to certain ideals that don’t appeal to everyone. She’s rather dumb, she lacks the wit to say anything clever, and she’s stupidly devoted to two people: one, being my second most-hated character of the entire series (Catelyn), and the other, one of my favourite characters in the entire series (Jaime) who treats her like shit. She’s not intelligent, makes bad decisions, and has low self esteem. Her POV is a pain to read because her voice is pretty dull, and this is further exacerbated by the fact that there’s not much action in her chapters. I think she’s a necessary POV, and there’s things I like about the character (mostly the break from the stereotype), but I don’t like *her*.

    If Brienne were intelligent and had a modicum of self esteem, she would be, by far, my favourite character.

    As it is, my absolute favourite character of the entire series is a female who’s physically unattractive, no one’s romantic interest, and is not by any means a passive female: Arya. (Actually, many friends have speculated that I hate Catelyn and Sansa so much *because* I identify so closely with Arya.)

    Sure, there might be some people who hate Brienne because she’s ugly, but you’re making blanket generalisations without any evidence supporting your claims about their reasoning. I’ve told you why *I* like one and dislike the other. I’d be interested to see how many people tell you they hate Brienne for the reasons you cite.

    Perhaps you could run some polls for each character, to see how many people like or hate each one. I bet you’ll find a lot of Cersei haters (she’s gorgeous and a romantic interest), and a lot of Arya fans (she’s ugly and not a romantic interest).

  32. says

    I think someone mentioned upward in the thread how there aren’t a lot of Arya haters. As a homicidal nine-year-old, she’s a unique female character. But then, as a nine-year-old she is not sexualized in the way the other female characters are.

    I want to talk about Arya and Sansa in the future. I find there are very few fans who like both Arya and Sansa’s chapters (I am one of them). I don’t have any scientific method here, just general anecdotal evidence. Mostly Sansa fascinates me because, once you stop rolling your eyes and skipping her chapters, you realize she’s actually well-written. By this I mean, Martin has written an almost entirely passive character, whose views are so naive that it’s fun to try to read between the lines and figure out what’s really happening. It’s frustrating to read Sansa because she rarely does anything, yet she is undeniably well-written. Therefore I enjoy her chapters. I like to imagine he’s going somewhere with them, maybe he’s going to pull a Malta Vestrit with the character (Robin Hobb’s Liveship series), and it’s going to be really good. I hope.

    I can enjoy Sansa’s chapters without wanting to hang out and have a beer with her. I wouldn’t want to hang out with Brienne either, because she doesn’t have a sense of humor. But I do find her interesting because Martin chose to veer away from the stereotypical “female warrior” archetype.

  33. Isis says

    I think it’s extremely unfair to condemn the moderation of an entire message board without actually experiencing it for yourself (for more than five minutes). The board in question is the best-moderated site I have known on the net compared to other well known sites I have been involved with for years.

  34. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’d be interested to see how many people tell you they hate Brienne for the reasons you cite.

    That would likely be zero. As she pointed out, they are often unconscious motivators for some people, as we’ve noted in fandoms aside from just this one board.

    Again, as was said in response to someone who made similar points to yours, no one else took Duru to be saying that everyone who dislikes the character is wrong; she is saying that some people are disliking her for very gendered and superficial reasons, and let’s talk about that. That’s all.

    I think it’s extremely unfair to condemn the moderation of an entire message board without actually experiencing it for yourself (for more than five minutes).

    Criticism is not condemnation. It’s a learning opportunity. I actually got some constructive criticism about my points in this very thread from someone offsite, and learned something I didn’t know. I’m glad of it.

  35. The Wolf Maid says

    Duru,

    IMHO, some of the most ‘frustrating’ characters in ASoIaF are the best written ones, such as Sansa and Catelyn. I’m not a big fan of them for various reasons, yet I consider them among the best characters because they’re so well-written and realistic.

    I like Brienne. When I ‘met’ Brienne for the first time, I was like, “Finally! The answer to all those ridiculous women-warrior in fantasy.” I like her because she’s very realistic with her awkwardness, her physical appearance, her reactions. For me, she’s a great character.

    I find it utterly disgusting when people advocate rape as some sort of punishment (which is one of the major reasons why I absolutely hate Terry Goodkind and mock him to no end).

    BetaCandy, redcandle17,

    In the boards, we get people like that several times, but majority of them are ignored, mocked, if not downright sniped at by the more intelligent and sensible members of the board.

    I’ve always found the boards as a sensible place for discussion. They’re bound to be several immature posters there as it’s a big board, but I just ignore them and don’t let them distarct me for the merits of the board or the discussion at hand.

  36. Rosa Aquafire says

    I really don’t think there’s a connection to romantic interest and the amount of hated a character receives. The most hated characters in ASOIAF are, probably, Catelyn, Sansa, and Cersei. Possibly Brienne, but this seems to be hit or miss, or highly dependant on what circles you travel in. I was shocked to find such a large hub of Brienne haters in Westeros.org (though, of course, in the wrong WAY), since every single other community I’ve found devoted to the books seem to adore Brienne … admittedly more from her interaction with Jaime to her as a person. Apologies for the Brienne aside, but I find it hard to call her a “most hated,” because I really don’t see much UNIVERSAL hate for her, but rather some particularly vitriolic packets of people who dislike for the wrong reasons.

    From my wandering the forums of the world, it seems to me that Cat, Sansa, and Cersei have it the worst of the cast.

    Catelyn, of course, is a largely romantically unavailable character … though I believe there’s enough fodder from her childhood to incite the imaginations of those who want to sexualize her. Pursued by several men, dueled for, lusted after in agony from afar for years … But women and men alike universally despise her.

    Sansa is a blossoming, sought after, beautiful, passive, perfect little lady in the most “desirable” time of her life, and is presented as such by Martin. In fact, Sansa is the most representative of that age old perfect female standard in the books. Yet she’s hated by most men and women alike, mostly FOR her passive, girlish, naive nature.

    Cersei is the most sexual female character in the series, as well as being one of the most beautiful — at least in the top five. As with the other two, men AND women both completely despise the character. I constantly think that a ruthless, powerful, confident, emotional matriarch should at least have some sort of cult following, but it seems she … doesn’t.

    These characters present three completely different pictures of womanhood — Catelyn is strong in a quiet way, a mother eagle sort of way, protecting her children and pictured as a matron, but one of iron will. Sansa is passive and naive, a dreamy, sheltered little thing who never seems to learn her lesson and builds her worth completely in the perceptions of others. And Cersei is a machiavellian, cunning, high-strung beauty who does whatever she can to get what she wants.

    I can’t agree that it’s all about the sexualization of women in fiction because that seems far, far too easy. Insofar as I can see, these are the three most universally hated characters (and the only one of them I feel even a passing dislike for is Catelyn’s early character) across almost every demographic, and I find it so curious why.

    They’re all wonderfully well written, complex, deep, human, sympathetic (yes, even Cersei, after AFFC) … they do have their flaws, but those flaws seem to condridict one another. And there IS something in the fact that they’re women, I know that there is, even though men and women alike dislike them.

    The fact that the only characters who can compare to the level of hate they receive are ALSO women — Brienne and Lysa, from my perception — just proves there’s something going on. Honestly, I really believe sexualizing the issue on such lowest common denominator terms isn’t the right way to approach the issue.

  37. Qit el-Remel says

    I rather like Brienne. (Although not among the sharpest of the major characters, IMHO she doesn’t seem so much “dumb” as naïve and single-minded.) Mind you, I do find Arya and Dany more interesting…but I’m surprised to find out that there’s that much Brienne-hate in the fan forums.

    I don’t like Sansa (prissy little snot) much. Ditto Lysa (pathetic creep); but I don’t hate either of them. I maintain that Jaime is a putz. And I’m not fond of Tyrion or Cersei, but I’m beginning to develop a grudging respect for both.

    The only characters whom I really despised—the big butcher and the petulant squeal; hope I haven’t spoiled anything—are both dead anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

  38. Miako says

    I really really like Brianne, and I can’t wait to see what happens to her… oh, whenever the sixth book comes out. grr…

    Cersei? I can’t exactly like her… she IS the villainess, and… looks entirely too much like me in her bullying attitude. Also, she’s none too bright — Tyrion’s reaction to growing paranoia is far more admirable. Still, the series would not be the same without her, and I would miss her a lot.

    Catelyn? I’m not sure I ever had any reaction to her. Seriously, I got Arya’s annoyance, but it didn’t seem enough to be upset about. And now Catelyn is broken.

    Lysa is broken, but seems more like she deserves to be, than poor Cat.

    Arya’s not broken yet, but it’s a close thing.

    Sansa? First book I wanted her to get a sharp kick in the ass. Now it seems like she’s gotten it, I’m far more sympathetic to her — she’s got a world to learn about.

    Dany too, needed a sharp kick in the tooshie. Now that she’s had it, I find her much more appealing.

    I really like Tyrion, he’s compelling and wicked sharp.

    Tywin? For all he’s smart, he’s not smart enough to use the tools at hand (like, say, Tyrion).

    I’m really enjoying the character growth and development here — I hope Brianne gets her share, eventually.

    Blood and Vengeance seem to be taking such a large role on the stage.

    Do remember, children, men get raped too. I’ve even heard it said that more rapes happen to men that women in America, each year. [note carefully the syntax of that sentence. mashing up the words is not recommended].

  39. Gategrrl says

    And Rape isn’t only a female issue, as you pointed out – but that’s also something the feminism is about. NO one should be subjected to domination by another, whether they are a child, a woman or a man.

    On NPR there was an interview by a man who’d been in prison when he was a teen, stuck in a grown up’s prison, and was promptly drugged, raped, and taken as a possession by the older inmates. He’d written a book about his experiences and recovery. But the most horrifying thing he talked about was how “accepted” it was by the gaurds and administrators that rape was considered part of the punishment. He’d stolen from a store, but hadn’t done anything life-threatening to anyone else.

    I think rape of anyone, for any “reason” is abhorrent.

  40. Jennifer Kesler says

    Do remember, children, men get raped too.

    Well, duh. Just because we don’t discuss it in threads where it’s not relevant doesn’t mean we’re unaware. And without “mashing” up your words, I have to wonder why you felt impelled to bring up the fact that men get raped in a thread about men and boys wishing rape on female characters as a punishment for the female characters not sexually servicing the male characters they feel they should. In your mind, the two issues connect how?

    I find it very hard to imagine that more than 25% of American men have been raped, yet they haven’t started a protest movement about it (nor joined in ours). I find it rather easy to imagine that a small minority of American men feel so confused whenever something’s not All About Them that they think, like seven-year-olds, they’ll just make a false statistical claim on the internet and demand everyone feel more sorry for them than the real victims.

  41. Miako says

    Thank you betacandy for misreading that.

    Seriously. Take a look again and try not to take the converse, which I explicitly stated was not factual. What I wrote is true, what you read is false.

    It’s a pet peeve of mine.

    I had a whole comment up about capture marriages, but I’m going to wait to post that until I reread some summaries.

    Oh, and thank you so very much for deciding to tell me what gender I am! It’s so very impressive of you! What other Lies and Slanders do you have Handy?

    Seriously, cut the gender essentialist crapola out. And forgive my snark, it’s kindly meant.

  42. Miako says

    @betacandy

    I may just be reading the summaries, but it really does seem like we only get Tyrion’s point of view on how disgusted Sansa is with him. It really seems like it might be more a case of grief and general pique (she could be more refusing to go along with the whole Lannister plan).

    She’s twelve, and is being used here as a foil to make Tyrion seem better (sorta. he is still cheating on her). Again, being twelve and with a mother like Catelyn, I’m not so sure that she would know that the marriage is supposed to be consummated (as purely a way to ‘prove’ that the marriage happened).

    If she was fifteen, I should by damn say that she knew her duty — and that she should know that whatever disobedience she shows, she is likely to get raped. That’s just brutal facts, and I’d be saying the same about Arya. (and this is something i’d expect for any medieval setting. one consummation per marriage. that’s how the thing works).

    It’s the fact that she’s twelve that makes the contemporary morality of mating with her suspect.

    If she were fifteen, and we had textual context to assume that she was more upset with Lannisters in general rather than Tyrion and associated ugliness, I’d be likely to assume that the resistance was pro forma, and that the rape would be analogous to a “capture marriage,” where the woman feels obligated by society to resist. At that point, Tyrion’s societal obligation to rape her is paired with Sansa’s obligation to resist. But both sides are being socially appropriate.

    Society has the morals that it can afford, and medieval marriages were contracts, pure and simple, strategic alliances between families. As such, the consummation would not be up for ‘negotiation’ — that would entail leaving a contract unsigned.

    In medieval societies, the thought was of courtly love wherein someone pined for someone who they could not marry (think Dante and Beatrice).

    I’m thinking that Martin has changed some of the medieval aspects of love, so that we can consider the characters more identifiable.

    But in a true medieval context, Tyrion appears to be following his own morality. Sansa may or may not be stupidly rejecting his advances, but it certainly isn’t immoral for her to do so. If she were say five years older, I should say that her not consummating the marriage might be judged immoral (particularly because it fizzles the opportunity for an alliance between Stark and Lannister).

    I think we should be pretty clear from Martin’s books that rape, even during a marriage, is immoral. However, that does not say that an unwilling consummation is considered immoral (or to go further, is not culturally accepted).

    Maybe if I go look back at the summaries for Catelyn/Cierce’s earlier chapters it might help.

  43. Jennifer Kesler says

    Miako, at no point did I assess your gender. I was assessing the gender of those who would claim more men than women are raped.

    And I didn’t interpret what you said – I merely wondered aloud why you felt the need to bring it up in a thread where it’s not relevant because we’re talking about males wishing rape on females.

  44. Jennifer Kesler says

    No, I rather thought you were. While we’re all well-aware men get raped, it was specifically female rape being discussed here. Why you felt the need to bring up male rape, I couldn’t figure out.

  45. Miako says

    One other thing about if Sansa was fifteen — Tyrion raping her on her wedding night would be protecting her honor. They would not be assuming that Tyrion was just too much of a ‘puss’ to take his wife — they would be assuming that she wasn’t a virgin. Again, this is just my take on things, and it is undoubtedly influenced by my knowledge of places where capture-marriage and arranged marriages were popular.

    It is fairly clear that rape is not fun, and is not considered societally appropriate even within the bounds of marriage (imho from a modern perspective makes the rape all the worse). However, the specific details of ‘consummating the marriage’ make for a /different/ situation than a rape.

    In real life Rennaisance, there was a woman who was raped when she was 14. Her family’s response was to ask the rapist to marry her. It was only after he ‘refused to do his duty’ that they got angry at him.

  46. Miako says

    @betacandy

    At ease, if you will. I’ve the stomach for fighting, but not the heart — until and unless you’re smiling at the other side of the ‘net.

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