GoT Update…Still Reading, Sort-of

Here’s a continuation of our ongoing GoT discussion!

We last left the conversation off here.

Holly’s review of Game of Thrones can be found here.

Amanda: I think I hate this book – in part because of the hype. I thought I’d love it right away.

Holly: Do you just think everyone is the worst? Because they sort of are.

Amanda: Yeah I think I hate everyone except Bran and Jon Snow. Maybe Ned. I don’t hate Ned.

Holly: Oh, Ned.

Amanda: Also, why is this mf’er so LONG?

Holly: It doesn’t get any shorter.

Amanda: Catelyn just called out Tyrion. This might have just gotten more interesting.

<interlude for more reading>

Amanda: I hate this book because nearly no one except Neddie and the kids (so far) is who they’re supposed to be.  It’s getting tiresome.  Maybe Dany, but she’s so minor right now I just don’t know if I care – 45% in.

Holly: I think that’s true, but it’s not necessarily a problem for me. The whole story is really about the Starks: Starks v. Lannisters, and Starks v. the whole f’ed up kingdom. I hated that the men were complex characters while the women and girls were all one dimensional…but that seems to change. Or else I am developing immunity.

from http://glockgal.tumblr.com/image/19440986541

How awesome is this picture? from http://glockgal.tumblr.com/image/19440986541

Amanda: Hmmmm.

Holly: Hmmm like I am profound?

<interlude while Amanda considers my profundity. Or continues to hate-read.>

Amanda: Yes, Holly I always find you to be profound!

I admit I’ve given up at this point.  I will go back because I am afraid of you.  Just a little.  Since that one time you punched me.  Or I’m mostly just afraid that if I don’t finish you won’t read anything else I might try to make you read.  And since your life will not be complete if you don’t read Quintana of Charyn, I’ll finish this monstrosity.

But I’ve realized a new issue that I have due to all the hype around this book – Rape Anxiety.  I just don’t want to read about it. And due to all the facebook posts and tweets about the show and the books, I know it’s coming and I just could do without reading about rape.

I know I’m a total nut for Seanan McGuire, but she wrote a great blog piece about why sexual violence doesn’t have to happen in her books and I love her even more for it.  I think we hear enough about situations in real life in which women have their power taken away from them due to sexual violence. and I don’t need it in my fiction too. I’m not saying I don’t read books where rape happens or that I put down books because of it, because I don’t. But when its an issue enough that people who don’t read the books or watch the show Game of Thrones are talking all about the rapes, I think it crosses a line for me.

Holly: Don’t worry sister! As I was waxing poetic about the library , I searched to see if they had Quintana yet, and they do. So, that should be waiting for me to pick up soon.

However, now I sort of feel between a rock and a hard place – because I do want you to read GoT, but I also can’t really defend against the rape aspect. Obviously, I wrote a whole post about how I felt George R.R. Martin hates women, and at least 45% of the statements that come out of my mouth can be directly linked to a feminist-worldview, and well, the other 55% are probably less than 6 degrees away.

So I get it. And I shall respond very very carefully. 

What bothers me in GoT, and in any book, is when rape is used as a characterization – like, we are supposed to understand something about the Dothraki culture based on the preponderance of rape among Dothrakis. And among the wildings. And even among the brothers of the Night’s Watch, which is an escape outlet for rapers.

Not cool, George.

On the other hand, sometimes terrible things happen to the people in the GoT world, rape included. Daenerys’s sexual experiences are integral to the story, and to her development as a character. And the way her story is written seems…realistic, for lack of a better word, for a 13 year old married to a warrior several times her age. For a non-GoT example, think about Lisbeth Salander in the Millenium Trilogy – there is a really really awful rape scene in that book, which plays a pivotal role in Lisbeth’s life. Fun to read? No, obviously. But I don’t think that negates the rest of the story. And, I’ll add that it is possible to write about rape in a way that neither normalizes or excuses it – see Froi of the Exiles…which you demanded I read, no?

For what it’s worth, the storylines in the books really run the gamut in the s-e-x department: consensual sex, sex with prostitutes, young love & young lust, (unexpected) protection against rape, and women using their sexuality as a weapon.

And well, if all else fails, just take your tips from this brilliant piece of satire. You know, turn off that feminist consciousness for a minute, kick back, and read: http://www.theonion.com/articles/woman-takes-short-halfhour-break-from-being-femini,35026/

Also, oh dear. Did you just tell the internet that I punched you one time? For the record, I think I was 6. I have since learned healthier ways to deal with anger. I swear!

Amanda:  You are the funniest person I know over the age of 3.  Back to reading I go.  Heavy sigh.

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10 Comments

  1. Holly, I love the fact that I’ve now officially met your sister (hi Amanda!) and so now can more fully envision this conversation happening between the two of you.

    Also, while I do so love Game of Thrones, I understand where you two are coming from. But if you want to read where George R.R. Martin is coming from, I have an article for you: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/05/06/game-of-thrones-author-to-critics-dishonest-to-omit-rape-from-war-narratives/.

    All this being said, I’m shades of gray on this and almost all other matters. I can’t form my own opinion to save my life!

  2. WAIT! The more I think about it, you may want to hold off on reading my article. I’ve just now realized that it would probably give away a spoiler from the books. I don’t want to ruin anything from you!

    I’ll just quote what Martin says instead: “To omit [rape] from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters. (And the heroes too). Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil.”

    That is all :). Miss you!

  3. I love these reviews the best- when the two of you are going back and forth. You make me wish I had a sister or that I could get my best friend to read the books I like! You won’t get me to read GoT, though. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I also have rape issues. I can’t read “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” because the rape scenes in the movie disturbed me too much. Sigh.

    • Yeah, I agree that was really difficult to watch – though, I think stuff like that is probably worse when it’s visual. I remember all these articles when the Hunger Games movie was coming out, about how it’s completely trippy to watch children killing one another in the movie…but people were less concerned about that happening in book form!

      • I was totally worked up about the kids killing each other in Hunger Games. I would actually lay in bed worrying about how it could possibly get resolved in any way that I could find acceptable. Yeah, I got pretty vested in those books! Right now I am fighting with myself about whether I am more disturbed by images in movies or in books. Damn! I can’t decide. I have pretty good examples on either side.

  4. Desperately trying to not write spoilers here… the impression I got from the female characters in the book was that in book one they started basically in “their place” in that society. Some like Arya were already wanting to break free of the life set out for them, but as the book/s go on there is opportunity for growth and displays of strength and knowledge beyond that of the roles they were born into. I really hope this makes sense without good examples. Think about Tyrion… in that society he would normally have been killed as a baby because he was an “Imp”, because of his who his family was this didn’t happen, but at every opportunity he made more of himself and bettered himself. He accomplished feats that other “imps” in that society could never dream of, he worked to become more than his “role” and more than the sum of his parts. Man I hope this makes sense 🙂

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