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A Feminist Critique of ASoIaF
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:15 pm    Post subject: A Feminist Critique of ASoIaF Reply with quote

Enter Ye Myne Mystic World of Gayng-Raype: What the “R” Stands for in “George R.R. Martin”

And a rebuttal.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hrmmm. well, the first one was an entertaining but annoying read.
cleverly written. sady is obviously a good writer. and from what i
can see on the interwebs, becoming a credible voice for some brand
of feminism.
that she is criticizing something that i like is neither here nor there,
she did it well. if i were of that frame of reference i'd give her a big
"right on!".
after reading this i went to find other work of hers to read. much of it
reads the same as this piece but she is so vitriolic that i found myself
bored after a couple of pieces.
i did however find one piece that i thought was more than entertaining
on which i agree with her 100%.

http://globalcomment.com/2011/schlaflys-daughters-the-contradictory-legacy-of-one-conservative-women/


the other piece hit the nail on the head in refuting sady but was not as
entertaining a read and sort of fed right into sady's prediction that she'd
ruffle "nerdom's" feathers with the piece. Laughing

whereas i read sady's entire piece, i cannot say the same of the refutation.
thus, i'd say sady is the better writer. she kept me reading.
i agree with the second author but was not as entertained. Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, the rebuttal is fairly weak. I'd give it a C. It doesn't engage the original author (spending way too much time on ad hominem attacks), doesn't strike the same tone or reach the same audience as effectively, doesn't adequately rebut many of the points made, and drastically fails at incorporating the source material. While the author makes a couple good points, they're usually outside the argument.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's less of a rebuttal to the Martin criticism and more a critique of a certain mode of feminist criticism.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lucimay wrote:
hrmmm. well, the first one was an entertaining but annoying read.
cleverly written. sady is obviously a good writer. and from what i
can see on the interwebs, becoming a credible voice for some brand
of feminism.
that she is criticizing something that i like is neither here nor there,
she did it well. if i were of that frame of reference i'd give her a big
"right on!".
after reading this i went to find other work of hers to read. much of it
reads the same as this piece but she is so vitriolic that i found myself
bored after a couple of pieces.
i did however find one piece that i thought was more than entertaining
on which i agree with her 100%.

http://globalcomment.com/2011/schlaflys-daughters-the-contradictory-legacy-of-one-conservative-women/


the other piece hit the nail on the head in refuting sady but was not as
entertaining a read and sort of fed right into sady's prediction that she'd
ruffle "nerdom's" feathers with the piece. Laughing

whereas i read sady's entire piece, i cannot say the same of the refutation.
thus, i'd say sady is the better writer. she kept me reading.
i agree with the second author but was not as entertained. Laughing

I agree almost entirely. It's interesting though that sadly's ruffling of feathers was done using some of the tools of ordinary nerdom against them...while the refutation disdained to use them.
Reminded me of debates around early feminist poli-philosophical works by women using "masculine" reason against them, and male responses in emotional/non-rational ["feminine"] modes...was the use by the women subversion? or submission? was the men's response [intentionally or not] ironic? or irate?
I guess it just shows that chopping off heads is inherently more exciting than leaving the head on and trying to persuade it to think carefully.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Syl] wrote:
Yeah, the rebuttal is fairly weak. I'd give it a C. It doesn't engage the original author (spending way too much time on ad hominem attacks), doesn't strike the same tone or reach the same audience as effectively, doesn't adequately rebut many of the points made, and drastically fails at incorporating the source material. While the author makes a couple good points, they're usually outside the argument.



Murrin wrote:
I think it's less of a rebuttal to the Martin criticism and more a critique of a certain mode of feminist criticism.


yep yep. agree on both counts. but thanks for posting anyway sheriff. it was fun to have my morning coffee by. Big Grin
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Yes, it’s true; in Ye Olde Medieval Europe, female tweens were oft wed to the grown-ups. A Song of Ice and Fire is known for being “gritty” and “authentic,” so really, aren’t I just objecting to the realism? Reader, here are the things that George R. R. Martin changed about Ye Olde Medieval Europe, when he set out to write A Song of Ice and Fire: Religion. Geography. History. Politics. Zombies. Werewolves. Dragons. At one point, when asked why his characters were taller, healthier, and longer-lived than actual Medieval people, George R. R. Martin explained that human genetics and biology do not work the same way in Westeros as they do in the real world. So George R. R. Martin considered that he could change all of that while maintaining “authenticity.” Here’s what he left in, however: Institutionalized pedophilia.

That was funny, anyway.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After reading this woman's critique I have to wonder does she thing anyone can write an authentically Medeival Fantasy setting without falling into the sterotypes of race and sex she rails against?
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought the critique of the names was unfair. If you start with a society with western-sounding names and then have to introduce characters from a very different society with a different culture and background, what is an author to do if giving them names that sound exotic to a westerner is racist?
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Murrin wrote:
I thought the critique of the names was unfair. If you start with a society with western-sounding names and then have to introduce characters from a very different society with a different culture and background, what is an author to do if giving them names that sound exotic to a westerner is racist?

You could switch it up -- give the exotic names to the Western-ish society, and "our" kinds of names to the so-called exotic society. Or break the mold entirely and write a story that didn't include Middle Ages imagery at all: no castles, no kings, etc. But then it wouldn't be the kind of epic fantasy that fans of "authentically medieval" stories are looking for, and it probably wouldn't sell as well, either.

I think the original author has a point (and Vraith, I see you called her "Sadly", inadvertently or not -- every time I read Sady, I had to stop myself from reading it as Sadly Laughing). But she neglects to take into consideration that *all* of Martin's world is brutal -- the men aren't escaping unscathed. Which the 2nd author points out, but I agree that she's not as much fun to read.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aliantha wrote:
(and Vraith, I see you called her "Sadly", inadvertently or not -- every time I read Sady, I had to stop myself from reading it as Sadly Laughing). But she neglects to take into consideration that *all* of Martin's world is brutal -- the men aren't escaping unscathed. Which the 2nd author points out, but I agree that she's not as much fun to read.


Damn, now I wish I'd done it on purpose. Extra funny to me, cuz I initially typed "saldy," then retyped to fix it. /facepalm.

and
SS wrote:
After reading this woman's critique I have to wonder does she thing anyone can write an authentically Medeival Fantasy setting without falling into the sterotypes of race and sex she rails against?

I don't know what she thinks, obviously...but I'd say the answer is that it can't be done...you have to give up, or at least seriously reduce, one of the three [authenticity, medieval, fantasy].
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
aliantha wrote:
(and Vraith, I see you called her "Sadly", inadvertently or not -- every time I read Sady, I had to stop myself from reading it as Sadly Laughing). But she neglects to take into consideration that *all* of Martin's world is brutal -- the men aren't escaping unscathed. Which the 2nd author points out, but I agree that she's not as much fun to read.


Damn, now I wish I'd done it on purpose. Extra funny to me, cuz I initially typed "saldy," then retyped to fix it. /facepalm

Laughing We've all been reading too much Malazan! Laughing
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SerScot wrote:
After reading this woman's critique I have to wonder does she thing anyone can write an authentically Medeival Fantasy setting without falling into the sterotypes of race and sex she rails against?

It's not about whether you write about it, it's how you write about it. Do you villify it or glorify it. Apparently GRRM (whom I have only read his first book, and that a long time ago, and I remember not a smidge of it, and you would think I would with all this kinkiness I hear of, so I can only conclude it was that bad) not only glorifies some bad stuff, he revels in it.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a side note, I used a Donaldson quote as an introductory quote for one my English papers last semester ("Do not be too quick to judge the makers of worlds. Will you ever write a story for which no character will have cause to reproach you?"). Next to the quote, my professor wrote "I liked this guy when I was in high school and then realized how misogynistic his fiction is!"

While I tend to agree with Sady and disagree with Dr. W (who is an amazing professor, as well as my advisor), it's kind of hard to ignore that epic fiction is pretty much the literary stomping ground of white, male privilege. How much this owes to Tolkien...

And this just reminds me how much I need to do a critical reread of the Chrons.

[edit]And if anybody wants to know, the paper was titled Beyond Sadism: A Response to Everybody's Protest Novel, responding to James Baldwin's criticism of Stowe for writing "a catalogue of violence" with "the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion." If you substitute gender for race, the criticism of Martin is not much different. There is a thin line between using violence to prove a point or using it, as Wayfriend suggests, to revel in it.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Syl] wrote:
On a side note, I used a Donaldson quote as an introductory quote for one my English papers last semester ("Do not be too quick to judge the makers of worlds. Will you ever write a story for which no character will have cause to reproach you?"). Next to the quote, [Dr. W, Syl's professor and advisor] wrote "I liked this guy when I was in high school and then realized how misogynistic his fiction is!"

My days of attempting literary criticism that measures up to academic standards is more than three decades in my rear-view mirror, but I strongly suspect that there is a very strong case to be made that Dr. W has misjudged SRD by not reading in sufficient depth.

There is no question that SRD's female characters have a rough time. Lena and Morn get raped, Morn repeatedly so. Teresa might as well have; it is probably only because Mordant's Need was pitched at a lighter audience that it was not so. Ginny, whose story is not yet fully told, has been permanently crippled. Linden...well, however one feels about her, it is beyond question that she has been subject to a lot of trials in her real life and in the Land. Atiaran, Lena, Elena all come to less-than-heroic ends, as do many other lesser characters in the Chrons, in Mordant's Need, in The Gap, in the Man Who books, and in the short stories.

However, virtually every major female character (as well as most of the supporting cast) manages to overcome what besets them and rise above themselves to accomplish more than each believed herself capable of. Indeed, so do most of the the male characters. This is a fundamental dynamic in SRD's stories.

To dismiss SRD's fiction with "I liked this guy when I was in high school and then realized how misogynistic his fiction is!" strikes me as shallow and misplaced as those who dismiss Heinlein because they are more familiar with his later writings and overlook his innovations in science fiction by considering him to be a thinly-veiled purveyor of soft-core erotica for adolescent nerds.

I am well aware that this is far from a scholarly critique. I warned you at the beginning that it would not be...
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Syl] wrote:
it's kind of hard to ignore that epic fiction is pretty much the literary stomping ground of white, male privilege. How much this owes to Tolkien...

But is that something exclusionary, sexist, racist, power-based? [more importantly does it mean the WORKS are exclusionary, etc...] Or is it because other groups have other interests/territory they'd prefer to explore?
I love me some white male privileged epic fiction.
But I also sometimes want a hot shot of short stories...and for the last couple decades most of the truly original, challenging, and/or interesting stuff is by women, some foreign some domestic [so to speak].
I dig some real metal sometimes [also white, male].
But also like to hang with some jazz improv, especially live [around here, perhaps not generally: black, male,[except the singers...lots of them are female]...umm privileged? sure, in a certain context].

It bugs me, sometimes, that a significant portion of criticism is nothing more than the remapping of types, exclusions, and unfair/dismissive categorizations onto other territory...they draw the lines to suit the purpose/prove the point, ignore whatever doesn't fit.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Syl] wrote:
There is a thin line between using violence to prove a point or using it, as Wayfriend suggests, to revel in it.

Well, sure. And I do think there's a lot of gratuitous violence in ASoIaF, and that "violence porn", if you will, is every bit as corrosive to one's humanity as sexual porn. And I'm not wild about "gritty" becoming synonymous with "R-rated".

But then, I saw "Blade Runner" for the first time last weekend and was kind of shocked at the level of violence in *that* movie, and it's, what, 20 years old? 30?

(Never mind my disgust at Detroit. They'd better get a move on if we're gonna have hovercars by 2019. Evil or Very Mad )

And then I think about all the action flicks I don't watch because I don't like "violence porn", and I realize, y'know, it's not just GRRM who's littering his work with this stuff. It's no wonder that so many adults are buying YA novels....
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find that critiques tend to be 'better written' and more 'clever' then reviews that praise a novel/film/whatever. They also tend to be a bit ridiculous in that aspect, they are just as guilty of catering more to 'entertainment' then 'substance' as GRRM is. Perhaps more so.

As far as grittiness is concerned, I think there's a difference between 'grittiness' and 'violence porn.' Grittiness results when someone reads a good book they enjoy but say to themselves, "but really, if someone is thrown against a wall like that, wouldn't they have broken bones?" It's an attempt to ground at least physical consequences more in the 'real world' and not go easy on characters because they may be needed in the story. 'Violence porn' is the exact opposite. It's when someone says, "wouldn't it be cool if so and so died by having his leg shoved down his throat and through his chest?" As you can see, 'violence porn' does not have any basis in reality.

So, is aSoIaF 'violence porn' or 'gritty'? I'd say it's gritty, cause you need action going on to have 'violence porn' Wink (I kid! I kid!) And if it is gritty, unfortunately the real world doesn't give a damn about your ideals, and you either adapt or get your head cut off.

Sady doesn't realize this. She seems to only believe that literature is only an one-to-one symbolic allegory... something like Animal Farm or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. If Martin puts X as a princess, it must be because he's a racist, sexist, creepwawd. She doesn't understand that there's a whole spectrum of literature where meaning is left to the reader, or that multiple things are going on, or even that Martin just wants to see if he can write a progressive character study and to hell with anything else.

Hell, she seems the type of person who'd willfully ignore the message of the Holy Chronicles and say it's about 'man's superiority' because Elena messed things up while Mhoram was able to stab a Raver Giant in the face. That's not good critiquing, that's just using any bone tossed your way as a soap box to proclaim your views.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dunno if you looked at any of the comments under Sady's critique, Orlion, but the very first commenter said she threw LFB aside when she got to Chapter 4. I don't even have to crack the book open to figure out what happened in that chapter. Wink

I think of "violence porn" as making something as violent and disgusting as it can possibly be. So, it's not just: "He stabbed him with a sword and he died."

But: "The sword ripped through mail and leather, cutting a swath from breastbone to groin. The champion clutched ineffectually at the gaping wound as his guts slid like so many slimy eels into the dirt. As his strength left him, he fell to his knees and watched as one of his testicles rolled to a stop at the foot of his attacker, who then casually stepped on it."

Talk about TMI...

GRRM actually used the phrase "slimy eels" in one disembowelment scene in ADWD.
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lucimay
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'm pretty much of the mind that if you don't like something you're reading, stop reading it and read something else! Laughing

there are so many different ways and methods of analyzing literature that it's kind of astounding. i recognize that feminist literary criticism is only ONE of those many and varied ways of analyzing texts. for a bit of an overview you can check out the wiki on literary theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_theory

for my own part, i'm still a Northrop Frye-type structuralist. Big Grin

(altho we did get into a bit of gender analysis in the detective fiction class i took twice!)
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