web
analytics
It Will Always Be Yours
Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]
Add Reply
Female Warriors & "Traditional" Gender Roles; Brienne's "manliness" revisited
Topic Started: Feb 13 2018, 08:19 AM (451 Views)
Aerest
Member Avatar
HYPEkeeper
When we speak about Brienne and her "manliness" the lines start to blur. In which culture is she perceived as manly? What does "manly" even mean? Can we transfer the Westerosi traditions to our world and time? Do we want that? If not, why do we keep doing it?

What is femininity? What is female?
What defines a woman? In comparison to a man?

What does "traditional" mean? Whose traditions do we speak of? Are we speaking Westerosi traditions? Do we speak Christian traditions? Do we speak Ancient traditions?

Let's clarify this before we create a mess of subjective perceptions and assumptions, and put ourselves into boxes.
Let's search for answers, inform ourselves and each other, find a common language.

Quote:
 
“Because it was buried with weapons, [people assumed] it must be a man,” Gowland says. “I think that’s a mistake that archaeologists make quite often. When we do that, we’re just reproducing the past in our image.”
(https://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2017/sep/12/does-new-dna-evidence-prove-that-there-were-female-viking-warlords)




(Taken from the "Anti" thread, because this topic is, in my eyes, too big and important to drown in there.)
Edited by Aerest, Feb 13 2018, 08:21 AM.
offline profile quote Top
 
koops
Member Avatar
Not the Valonqar
This is a very interesting topic, so thanks for opening a thread about it.

Personally, when I say Brienne is "manly", I mean it in the way that term is used in canon (i.e. within the context of Westerosi parameters for masculinity and femininity) and in our current society. And I think that the whole point of Brienne as a character is also precisely to ask ourselves "what does feminine even mean?" and does it make sense to even use these labels and to what extent is their use taken too far?
Basically, my answer to what is "masculine" and what is "feminine" is, for the most part, "whatever that particular society, in that particular point in time, has decided it is". I honestly don't think that, with a few exceptions, there's any such thing as a inherent, immutable and predetermined "feminine" versus "masculine". Most of the time what dictates it is just the fashions and/or necessities of the time we are analyzing. The fact that when it comes to gender roles these fashions and necessities become much more ingrained and therefore harder to change (also thanks to suppression and repression from certain institutions/individuals/groups that do not want them to change) than when it comes to other aspects of the human condition, and therefore last much much longer through the decades/centuries, has, IMO, given us the misleading impression that they are somehow innate and inherent.

But I think we need to keep in mind that when someone is talking about "feminine" and "masculine" they do not necessarily mean that they believe them to be some kind of immutable, innate standard that all women or men abide by, but are, for simplicity, using those terms to get a general point across. And given how long these "standards" tend to last for (see my point above), one can't really be faulted for using those terms to refer to what we currently consider them to be.
offline profile quote Top
 
Valentine
Member Avatar
Ser Cleos
Very interesting subject.

Speaking of the world of ASOAIF, I think Sansa represents the feminine ideal for part of the Westerosi society. The part that worships the Faith of the Seven and is considered 'civilized' by people as Sansa herself, Catelyn, Cersei, and Septa Mordane, for example. Brienne also belongs to this society, but some circumstances and her own will led her to follow a different path. She represents a shift of paradigm in that society and people as Randyll Tarly and the knights at Renly's camp aren't prepared to deal with her. Even Podrick had doubts on how to approach Brienne when first meeting her.

There are other example of Warrior women in Westeros, such as the Mormont ladies and Asha/Yara. These women come from different cultural backgrounds and their 'male' pursuits are accepted by their pairs up to a certain extent (e.g. Robb and the Mormont ladies) . Contrarily to Brienne, these women seem to be comfortable in their own skin and doesn't seem conflicted about their gender or gender roles.

Speaking of our world, I think Brienne is a shift of paradigm for how female warriors are portrayed in fiction. And a lot of people isn't prepared to deal with her.
Edited by Valentine, Feb 13 2018, 09:36 PM.
offline profile quote Top
 
koops
Member Avatar
Not the Valonqar
That's a good point, Valentine, that even within Westerosi standards, culture has a huge influence on what is deemed appropriate for a female. Had Brienne grown up in the North, would she have had developed the same insecurities and issues over her "failure" as a woman for her looks and her interests? It seems like Southern regions are more tied to the Sansa-like idea of femininity than the North. Of course, Brienne is mocked for her looks wherever she goes, and I do think she wouldn't have been spared had she been a Northerner, but she might have had an easier time, perhaps? It's similar to the T.ormund thing in the show (as annoying as the fans have made it), or what we often discussed might become attractive qualities in a woman during the Long Night, as opposed to summer. Culture can have an effect on what one finds attractive, desirable or appropriate.
offline profile quote Top
 
Mikki
Member Avatar
ChillLord
Just a personal note, as I was thinking about this on my drive in today.

I have good hair and can do it quickly and easily. I can and do apply makeup. I have nice bags and can put togther an outfit. I follow fashion blogs. Those are all what many societies categorize as feminine things.

However, I have a troubled relationship with cleaning. I look at those commercials of women holding mops and looking satisfied at a clean kitchen and think ‘What the fuck?’ I can’t sew worth a damn. I can cook but I feel no joy in cooking. I do not craft. I despise infants and have a strong dislike of children. Interior decorating is mostly beyond me. I easily differentiate my sexual needs from my emotional ones. So, I have a strong aversion to those ‘feminine’ things.

I have often thrown out the line, “My ability to apply eyeliner does not make me your maid.”

Bringing it back to the show, Sansa is the epitome of those things, pretty and delicate and skilled in running a home. She is that stereotype. Which is one of the things that frustrates me about her.
Edited by Mikki, Feb 13 2018, 02:03 PM.
offline profile quote Top
 
MamaBarely
Member Avatar
Shipper
Posted Image

I'm so glad you started this thread! It made me think of this New Girl quote.

In the interest of full disclosure, I spent a good portion of my young life trying desperately to turn myself into a tomboy. I had genuine interest in some more "masculine" endeavors like softball and video games, but ultimately I wanted to go to my ballet classes, play with dolls, sew, craft, etc. I thought I needed to be a tomboy because I have an average looking face, prominent nose, and I've almost always been overweight. I didn't think I was allowed to be as girly as I felt, because I wasn't as small or pretty as my friends. This is what makes me relate to Brienne so much, I see my middle school self in her insecurities. Now, I see myself as pretty stereotypically feminine, especially since I'm also now a stay at home mom. Not that I enjoy cleaning or cooking, but I don't feel guilty or feel like anyone's servant; I'm probably the happiest I've been in years. Maybe that's why I sympathize with Sansa too; being girly isn't always "cool."

I say all this to say that our society definitely chooses who gets to cross the gender lines and who doesn't. Like, Arya receives no criticism from fans for not wanting more feminine roles because she's cute, where Brienne is also physically strong and dangerous, but she's more than a mindless murder machine, and they treat someone being attracted to her like it's a joke. The idea of Brienne being a formidable warrior seems to bar her from also deserving to be loved by her own knight in shining armor.

Imagine if they had introduced Val on the show. Hot and a bad-ass warrior? She'd be more popular than Dany.

Gaaahh, I have more thoughts on this, but I'm stopping for now...
offline profile quote Top
 
Mikki
Member Avatar
ChillLord
Agree Mama. I was pushed into some tomboy roles because it was 'cooler' to be a tomboy than a 'girly girl.' But I think lipstick and softball aren't mutually exclusive. Cooking and martial arts certainly aren't.

Instead of describing myself as 'girly' or 'feminine', I've often just used the gender neutral 'vain.' Our physical appearances shouldn't define our skill set. Our appearances certainly don't define our wants and needs.
offline profile quote Top
 
MissJanet
Member Avatar
Ser Cleos
I was the small, thin, rather fragile blonde girl. I had this cute smile. And I HATED it. I have a twin brother, who was free while there were thousand of things I couldn't or wasn't allowed to do. So unfair! German suburbs aren't for 10 years old feminists. Well, it got worse, I'm in no way a model, but at 16, I already had a bra-size of DD on my small frame. Cosmic joke - not funnny at all. I made stop being "the girl" a priority. For the longest time I never felt good enough, I felt so judged for my appearance and was unable to feel myself when I tried to act feminine, that was just not me, womanly as my physis might was. Nowadays, I don't wear make-up, own no skirt or dress, never wear tight clothes, have never once worn a pair of high heels and have the most practical haircut. My friends try to get me to go shopping with them, they say I have impeccable taste for clothes and styling, I do see what looks good, but I won't bother for me. I also don't cook, never cry and I have as much spunk as every man I know. But whatever I do, is only my way of feeling free, to get around the gender stereotypes that my exterior serves so much. Every woman goes her own way, it's all good if it leads to personal freedom and happiness.
Edited by MissJanet, Feb 13 2018, 03:16 PM.
offline profile quote Top
 
MamaBarely
Member Avatar
Shipper
Mikki
Feb 13 2018, 02:43 PM
But I think lipstick and softball aren't mutually exclusive. Cooking and martial arts certainly aren't.
Our appearances certainly don't define our wants and needs.


I think this was the point I was working toward, but got side tracked, so thanks for digging that out of my brain and polishing it up, haha.

Our appearances might not dictate what we actually feel inside, but it doesn't stop others from making assumptions. Jaime is a great example of that, in his first few one-on-one interactions with Brienne. Who knows how much he truly believed and how much he was just trying to rile her up, but I'd argue there's some truth and behind his jokes, and it tells us a bit more about their culture.
Just based on how she presents herself, he:
- Assumes she sees herself as a son instead of a daughter***
- At least passively assumes she's a lesbian
- Assumes that she would enjoy a bit of a rape, to make her "feel like a woman."
Brienne is treated differently first and foremost because of how she looks. How do we think Jaime would've treated her if she was big, strong, but had a beautiful face? I like what Koops said, about how if she had been born in the North her interest in swordplay might not have been such a big deal, but she still would have had a hard time for being huge and ugly.

I'm curious to hear what y'all think about Arya in this convo. Granted she is from the North, where they're not as strict about gender roles, but her parents would still rather she be more traditionally feminine like Sansa or Cat. Yet Ned hires a teacher who is basically perfect for Arya, to teach her on a weapon very well suited to her smaller size.


*** When I read the books, I had assumed Brienne was going to say she was "her father's only s(urviving child)" or something to that effect, but since we hear it from Jaime's POV, he assumes she meant to say "my father's only s(on)."
offline profile quote Top
 
koops
Member Avatar
Not the Valonqar
I have been a tomboy all my life: always preferred boys games, always preferred boys clothes, always preferred my hair cut short, always hated traditionally girly activities and games, always had an easier time relating and wanting to emulate male characters because until I was in my teens and I stumbled upon Scully, I saw most female character as passive and boring and uninteresting. Needless to say, adding to this the fact that I am fairly tall and was tall for my age and androgynous looking, I got bullied and mocked from about age 10 throughout my teens for "being a boy" and I constantly have people assuming I am a lesbian. The "being a boy" thing and being mistaken for one (where, btw, the reaction was always laughter when they figured out they got it wrong - like, these people aren't even embarrassed they were wrong, the joke was on me) has stopped since I hit my mid-20s and my looks just naturally changed to be slightly more feminine (although I haven't changed the way I dress or cut my hair much), but the "I assume you're gay because you dress like you dress and don't like wearing skirts and dresses" is still very much a thing. And it makes me want to bang my head against the wall. I don't care if people think I'm gay, but the reasons why they assume that are just ...

I don't know if guys get it the same way, but I feel like the whole experience of being bullied for being mistaken for the opposite gender is something that is a fairly exclusively female experience. I think there are way more girls getting mistaken for boys than the other way around.

As for Arya, I think I relate in many ways in the way Cat and Ned handled her and my parents handled me. I think the idea of gender roles luckily are becoming more and more fluid through the generations, but they are so ingrained into us that even the most understanding and open minded parents will fall into the trap every once in a while. My parents let me do most stuff I wanted to do, but they had some really arbitrary (thankfully few) lines they wouldn't let me cross because that was "too much boy stuff". And even with people my age who are now beginning to have kids I see that some of that stuff is just so subconsciously ingrained that they can't help it, almost. So, yes, I think Cat and Ned probably would have preferred Arya to take on more traditionally feminine roles because it was simply what they were used to as "appropriate" for a noble family and it would have made everyone's life easier and more straightforward. But I think being in the North helped them being more lenient with Arya than they might have otherwise been. And Arya also doesn't have the issue of her looks making her stand out and attract (nasty) attention on herself.
offline profile quote Top
 
Aerest
Member Avatar
HYPEkeeper
koops
Feb 13 2018, 05:05 PM
I have been a tomboy all my life: always preferred boys games, always preferred boys clothes, always preferred my hair cut short, always hated traditionally girly activities and games, always had an easier time relating and wanting to emulate male characters because until I was in my teens and I stumbled upon Scully, I saw most female character as passive and boring and uninteresting.

(...)

And even with people my age who are now beginning to have kids I see that some of that stuff is just so subconsciously ingrained that they can't help it, almost.
Yes, that's the thing: It is ingrained deeply.
Deeply enough, that playing outside, doing sporty games, playing with cars, dinosaurs, whatever... is still called "boys games". That trousers, practical clothes, anything that isn't a dress/skirt, is called "boys clothes", that short hair is (still!!!) connected to men...
And the other way around, the colors pink and violet, doing "careful" games, liking horses, fairies, princesses, are called "girls games" and boys get mocked if they prefer these.
It's in the language, because language often uses the most commonly know picture to describe things quickly. Like saying "boys games", and everyone knows what you mean. But by doing so, we pass the information on that these are, indeed, boys games! And that's the danger of speaking the way we do, and the chance of checking our habits and words.

Same, when we describe Brienne as "manly" to say she's a warrior. What exactly is masculine about her? Her tall build? Her short hair? Her freckles? Her twice-broken nose? Her too big lips? Her too broad hips? Her long legs? Her blue eyes? Her strong hands? Her tiny breasts? Her dreams? Her ability to wield a sword? Her love for Jaime? Her shame of being a disappointment for her father? Her loyalty? Her belief in honor?

In Westerosi standards (at least the "noble" ones, as we hardly see any "normal" peoples' lives) she is an outsider, a freak, someone who decided to not fulfill society's demands (because society, on the other hand, made it impossible for her to fulfill these AND stay true to herself) and by that earned herself a twisted kind of "freedom". People mock her, laugh at her, bully her - but leave her be.
In our world's standards she carries many traits of the average woman, the one hardly ever portrayed in media. That's why so many here find something in Brienne to identify with.
Which may be the reason I cringe whenever Brienne is described as "manly" or "not feminine" by us. Or sentences like "she looks lesbian" or "she holds masculine interests" are dropped. Because we, as "normal" women, should know better.
offline profile quote Top
 
koops
Member Avatar
Not the Valonqar
Absolutely. It is indeed the danger of language. Or, rather, what people infer from language.

There is nothing wrong, IMO, in calling something "boys games" when, statistically speaking, most of those who play them are boys. What is wrong, is to infer that "boys game" means anything other than "most commonly played by boys right now" and extrapolate from it that it means they are games innately made for boys, only right for boys, naturally better suited for boys and so on. And that these things don't change with time. Coding, for example, used to be a very female dominated field until some time in the 90's it started becoming branded more and more as a male endeavor and now computer science is one of the most sexist fields there are to work in for a woman. Or that pink used to be a "boys color" and blue a "girls color" and now it's the other way around. That is the issue to me; not using words to describe our current societal standards, but to not acknowledge that they are nothing more than arbitrary societal standards.

ETA: About Brienne... I think that most of the time when people here refer to her as "manly" or "not feminine", they use inverted commas a lot. I don't think that if one forgets to use them necessarily means that there's such a thing as inherently manly. That's why around here I don't get too hung up about it, because I think we mostly know what we mean. In the real world I would probably get all uppity at people for using the same terms I used here, if I don't know them well enough to know they are using these words "responsibly" or if I think they genuinely mean it. I agree that it would be good to try and avoid these words, but sometimes for the sake of argument and brevity they are useful. If I had to type "Brienne is considered unconventionally looking in ways that are statistically found in males in this particular time period" then my already long winded posts would become even more long winded. That's what I mean by being willing to give people here th benefit of the doubt when they use these terms, because I doubt someone who genuinely believes it would be a fan of Brienne's.
Edited by koops, Feb 13 2018, 06:37 PM.
offline profile quote Top
 
BluHamster
Member Avatar
Almost a Knight
koops
Feb 13 2018, 05:05 PM
I have been a tomboy all my life: always preferred boys games, always preferred boys clothes, always preferred my hair cut short, always hated traditionally girly activities and games, always had an easier time relating and wanting to emulate male characters because until I was in my teens and I stumbled upon Scully, I saw most female character as passive and boring and uninteresting. Needless to say, adding to this the fact that I am fairly tall and was tall for my age and androgynous looking, I got bullied and mocked from about age 10 throughout my teens for "being a boy" and I constantly have people assuming I am a lesbian. The "being a boy" thing and being mistaken for one (where, btw, the reaction was always laughter when they figured out they got it wrong - like, these people aren't even embarrassed they were wrong, the joke was on me) has stopped since I hit my mid-20s and my looks just naturally changed to be slightly more feminine (although I haven't changed the way I dress or cut my hair much), but the "I assume you're gay because you dress like you dress and don't like wearing skirts and dresses" is still very much a thing. And it makes me want to bang my head against the wall. I don't care if people think I'm gay, but the reasons why they assume that are just ...
Yes, I can relate to this. My hair was really thick and I didn't like to do anything about it so my mom just cut it off. Once I got old enough to take care of my hair I have never cut it short again. I have nothing at all against short hair, but those years during Elementary school and early high school when people thought I was a boy really did impact me for the rest of my life. Never mind the gay thing as well. I went and got my ears pierced when I was quite young so I would look like a girl, but I only wore studs and people just thought they were "gay men's earrings" bah, I got that a lot.

I think part of the problem is that on TV for a female character she is usually just a male written character with a female body because of the lack of female writers and/or written by a male who doesn't know how to properly write anything other than a stereotypical female in TV and movies. And I don't blame them, I can't write a man. It just annoys me that a character like Brienne is very, very rare. It's why I love Brienne so much. (Ripley from Alien is the best too, and Scully, and Cpt. Janeway)

As a tall woman just because I don't wear dresses doesn't mean I don't like dresses, I just don't fit in them unless I get them custom made, which I can't sew and I am way too lazy to get that done, so that isn't going to happen. In Brienne's case she probably did get custom made clothes when she was at her home, but was probably ridiculed when she got fittings done for them, and because of such bad experiences she never wanted to get fitted for a dress again, just like how I don't want to cut my hair even again even though I have not been called a boy in ten plus years.

<3 I love how everyone here made such large posts. Good job guys.
online profile quote Top
 
koops
Member Avatar
Not the Valonqar
I don't think male writers can't write females or viceversa. Like we said, what does it even mean to be a man or a woman? There's far more overlap than there are differences. I think we just have been exposed to far too much mediocre and stereotyped writing from older generations. People that felt like they had to write a "woman" rather than a character, and therefore shoved all possible cliches onto her.

Btw, I totally understand your "trauma" with being mistaken for a boy. I don't have really long hair even now at all, but I don't have the guts to cut it more than a certain length (even if I would like to) because I don't want to go through that again. And it's not because I feel like there's anything inherently embarrassing about being misgendered but because of the way people react to finding out they misgendered you. Every single time, people start laughing and mocking like I'm somehow the joke and not them for being idiots. And these were even grown ups, so essentially mocking a little kid for their looks to their face. That scene where Jaime and Brienne come across the three Stark soldiers at the beginning of their road trip? That hit so close to home, it was pretty much my life age 10-22.
Edited by koops, Feb 13 2018, 07:51 PM.
offline profile quote Top
 
Erin
Member Avatar
Oathkeeper
Aerest
Feb 13 2018, 06:07 PM
Which may be the reason I cringe whenever Brienne is described as "manly" or "not feminine" by us. Or sentences like "she looks lesbian" or "she holds masculine interests" are dropped. Because we, as "normal" women, should know better.

In the context of the real world, I think we're probably more open minded and don't see masculinity and femininity as black and white and inflexible. When we have discussions about Brienne, I don't have an issue with people speaking in the context of how Westerosi society views her or any other character. Westeros isn't exactly progressive, and we can't ignore that their society (and by extension our own) has historically viewed certain things as masculine and feminine. By ignoring it, we ignore Brienne's life experiences, and what has shaped her as a character. Sure, as readers/viewers, we can can be open minded about what she choses to be even if it breaks Westerosi norms. In fact, I think that's probably a part of her appeal as a character and one of many reasons why we celebrate her. I think we know better and realize people don't perfectly fit into one category or the other. The people Brienne comes in contact with? Not so much.

Navigating what society expects of her is a big part of Brienne's arc. For example, we have Catelyn shocked to see a woman fighting, pities Brienne as an ugly woman, and tries to give her dresses. We have Jaime accusing Brienne of wishing she were a man. We have Randyll Tarly being gross and sexist towards her. We have complete strangers assuming Brienne's a man at first glance based on the way she's dressed. We have Hyle Hunt trying to convince Brienne she has no business playing knight, and that she'd be better off marrying him and having his children. In Brienne's own POV thoughts, she remembers Ronnet making her feel worthless because she doesn't meet his standards as a woman. Ser Goodwin telling her, "You have a man’s strength in your arms, but your heart is as soft as any maid's." Septa Roelle telling Brienne she's mannish. We have Brienne thinking she isn't a good daughter because a good daughter should be able to sing, grace her father's halls, and give him grandsons.

I think a lot of our discussions are just reiterating how Westerosi society perceives Brienne. That's not necessarily the same way we perceive Brienne, or even masculinity and femininity. Themes of masculinity and femininity canonically shape who Brienne is, and it's hard to have a discussion without acknowledging that those things are factors, as frustrating as it may be. But ignoring those factors diminishes Brienne's life experiences.
offline profile quote Top
 
BluHamster
Member Avatar
Almost a Knight
koops
Feb 13 2018, 07:50 PM
I don't think male writers can't write females or viceversa. Like we said, what does it even mean to be a man or a woman? There's far more overlap than there are differences. I think we just have been exposed to far too much mediocre and stereotyped writing from older generations. People that felt like they had to write a "woman" rather than a character, and therefore shoved all possible cliches onto her.

Btw, I totally understand your "trauma" with being mistaken for a boy. I don't have really long hair even now at all, but I don't have the guts to cut it more than a certain length (even if I would like to) because I don't want to go through that again. And it's not because I feel like there's anything inherently embarrassing about being misgendered but because of the way people react to finding out they misgendered you. Every single time, people start laughing and mocking like I'm somehow the joke and not them for being idiots. And these were even grown ups, so essentially mocking a little kid for their looks to their face. That scene where Jaime and Brienne come across the three Stark soldiers at the beginning of their road trip? That hit so close to home, it was pretty much my life age 10-22.
Yeah, that's what I was getting at. Not that men can't ever write women or women can't ever write men (Brienne is written by a man). Just that stereotypes are something that you fall back on when you don't have enough experience and there are more men in the writing business. ( or people with a male experience maybe I want to say)

Because it is easier to rely on stereotypes, movies are often made for a male audience or for a female audience, and a character like brienne is more likely to be in the movie for the male audience and because of this will probably be written for a male audience and be less "feminine". I am being super general here and I don't even know what I'm trying to say anymore, lol. Basically writing is difficult and it is nice when many different experiences are acknowledged.

And, yes, the way people reacted by laughing, especially as a kid and adults are the ones laughing. Kids fight and tease, it happens. But when an adult laughs at you it's like you did something wrong.
online profile quote Top
 
Marion
Kingsguard
Aerest
Feb 13 2018, 06:07 PM

Which may be the reason I cringe whenever Brienne is described as "manly" or "not feminine" by us. Or sentences like "she looks lesbian" or "she holds masculine interests" are dropped. Because we, as "normal" women, should know better.


This is a tough discussion but an important one.

Fascinating thread, Aerest :wub: Thanks especially for challenging some of the hurtful assumptions that seem to surface in the wake of all gendered language.

It hurts and disappoints when people say things like this but it's a fact that our privileges always intersect with our experience of gendered oppression, masculinities and femininities. To assume that two women would be allies is a huge mistake. In fact one is very likely to be benefiting in many ways from the same systems of thinking that oppress another. We need to engage these differences if any progress is not going to be narrow and elitist.

While it's easy to think about men and sexism, I find it harder to deal with how women reproduce patriarchy and oppress other women.

There are lots of dimensions to this, especially when you think cross-culturally, but I'll just point to two issues that seem relevant:

Race and beauty
Misogynoir is misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias. Black women have to deal with misogyny in the Hollywood + Photoshop ideals of beauty that tell women grown up female bodies are shameful, unattractive or even disgusting, and at the same time black women are subject to racism of Western beauty ideals and perspectives on black skin, hair, body shapes and facial features.
Sexuality
I've lived in both straight and gay worlds and there are massive privileges that go to those straight women who conform to hetero versions of femininity.Yet at the same time huge differences exist between women who love women. For example, even just in my own country wealthier lesbians or bisexual women like myself are able to flourish in spaces where queerness is the norm or even trendy and where we are protected constitutionally against discrimination on the basis of sexuality. These privileged spaces are very distant from the reality of impoverished black lesbians in South African townships who run the risk of being raped and murdered by men attempting to "convert" them to heterosexuality.

Given your warrior woman theme, I'm also interested in how fantasies of strength, war and violence engage other aspects of our identities. For example, white middle class Christian parents who happily give their daughters "empowering" Brienne swords and outfits might not be keen to give them plastic machine guns and combat fatigues or a computer to program a toy drone.

Speaking of machine guns, here's one of Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai's haunting woman guerilla figures to add to your collection of women warriors.I am mesmerised by Chiurai's dystopic take on war, race, and gendering.
It's hard to engage with this art and then come back to watered down versions of girl power, Wonder Woman, or even the fantasy wokeness of Wakanda.
Posted Image
Dare I say it, I've developed a similar skepticism about our own enthusiasm for pairing off the inimitable Brienne.

I'll have a bit more to contribute later. These questions are plaguing me as I attempt to pull together my course on gender, sexuality and fandoms!

In the meantime, please accept this Valentine's Day poem in lieu of a more coherent contribution to the debate:

"Roses are red
Gender is performative
Commodified romance
Is heteronormative"
offline profile quote Top
 
koops
Member Avatar
Not the Valonqar
Marion
Feb 14 2018, 10:51 AM
Dare I say it, I've developed a similar skepticism about our own enthusiasm for pairing off the inimitable Brienne.
May I ask, what do you mean by this? Because there have been debates in other contexts about how Brienne having or not having a love interest influences her status as "groundbreaking character" and I've always found it very problematic to bring in romantic love as something that makes or breaks a female character.

ETA: As far as weapons go... I don't know, would white western parents be against, say, dressing up their child as Trinity from the Matrix and give the child guns instead of a sword? Or lightsabers? I don't know that guns and machine guns are frowned upon because of gender, but rather because our modern society has more of an issue with violent crime involving guns than swords, and therefore some parents are reluctant to let their children engage in play with those kind of weapons (and I think that's also true for boys - I know there are parents who aren't comfortable getting toy guns for their children) because of fear it might desensitize them to violence, whereas they're unlikely to go out and buy a sword and start challenging people to duels. Lightsaber are a fantasy weapon. So are phasers from Star Trek. I think guns just hit too close to our reality, especially in the States, for some parents.
Edited by koops, Feb 14 2018, 11:36 AM.
offline profile quote Top
 
1 user reading this topic (1 Guest and 0 Anonymous)
ZetaBoards - Free Forum Hosting
Join the millions that use us for their forum communities. Create your own forum today.
« Previous Topic · General Show Discussion · Next Topic »
Add Reply