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GRRM vs #metoo

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W.R.T. the "that's how it was" argument, Martin is depicting a society whose moral standards are breaking down, during the course of a civil war.  

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6 hours ago, Vaith said:

In a world of dragons, does our 13-14 year old female protagonist really need to be maritally raped by an older man in order for those dragons to hatch?

The dragons hatch because of blood sacrifices (the murder of another woman - vengange not justice - the murder of a disable man and the killing of a baby, a lot of disturbing things).. But I get the point.

There are tons of stories with magic and dragons, whose female protagonists do not undergo any bad things.
They are called fairy tales.

Personally, as non lover of fantasy per se, I love the ASOIF serie just because of its... realism.

That said, arranged marriages between young girls and men were a fact in medieval societies (and still are in many places around the globe). To deny that is - imo - of any use. To describe how patriarchy works - if you want people to understand why it is... bad - that is useful. How a woman can find her way, how she can become strong, independent, relying on herself, not giving up etc... no matter the odds and the circumstaces, that is something I find interesting as a reader and ispiring somehow.

How a good person may become a zealot and a "villain" or "tragic hero" because of that, that's another intresting theme.

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1 hour ago, lalt said:

The dragons hatch because of blood sacrifices (the murder of another woman - vengange not justice - the murder of a disable man and the killing of a baby, a lot of disturbing things).. But I get the point.

There are tons of stories with magic and dragons, whose female protagonists do not undergo any bad things.
They are called fairy tales.

Personally, as non lover of fantasy per se, I love the ASOIF serie just because of its... realism.

That said, arranged marriages between young girls and men were a fact in medieval societies (and still are in many places around the globe). To deny that is - imo - of any use. To describe how patriarchy works - if you want people to understand why it is... bad - that is useful. How a woman can find her way, how she can become strong, independent, relying on herself, not giving up etc... no matter the odds and the circumstaces, that is something I find interesting as a reader and ispiring somehow.

How a good person may become a zealot and a "villain" or "tragic hero" because of that, that's another intresting theme.

“Young”, yes, but just how young? 13 was certainly not conventional for the real Middle Ages, as it is quite observable that both mother and child suffer from pregnancy when puberty is still incomplete, the mother is not grown. And Daenerys is not portrayed as particularly unusual — Rohanne Webber gave birth at 13; Aemma Arryn married at 11 and suffered miscarriages and a son dying in the cradle before she had her daughter at 15.

And nobody’s denying that women suffered in the Middle Ages — but let’s look at an absence of women’s courts in ASOIAF. Catelyn seems to have no female friends, and nameless “ladies” who gossip about Ashara Dayne. Could she not have been close with Vayon Poole’s wife, said her goodbyes to Rodrik Cassel’s? It would certainly be a counterbalance to all the negative things that happen to women. Cersei apparently has no ladies in waiting at all, and while she would be vile to them, there appears to be a dearth of female courtiers in the earlier novels until the Tyrells arrive. 

I am not going to say that the Middle Ages were a peachy time, but realism is a two way street. Also just to note, I love ASOIAF and think it does do a lot to criticise sexism in of itself, it is just not 100% problem free in how it does this.

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50 minutes ago, Vaith said:

“Young”, yes, but just how young? 13 was certainly not conventional for the real Middle Ages, as it is quite observable that both mother and child suffer from pregnancy when puberty is still incomplete, the mother is not grown. And Daenerys is not portrayed as particularly unusual — Rohanne Webber gave birth at 13; Aemma Arryn married at 11 and suffered miscarriages and a son dying in the cradle before she had her daughter at 15.

And nobody’s denying that women suffered in the Middle Ages — but let’s look at an absence of women’s courts in ASOIAF. Catelyn seems to have no female friends, and nameless “ladies” who gossip about Ashara Dayne. Could she not have been close with Vayon Poole’s wife, said her goodbyes to Rodrik Cassel’s? It would certainly be a counterbalance to all the negative things that happen to women. Cersei apparently has no ladies in waiting at all, and while she would be vile to them, there appears to be a dearth of female courtiers in the earlier novels until the Tyrells arrive. 

I am not going to say that the Middle Ages were a peachy time, but realism is a two way street. Also just to note, I love ASOIAF and think it does do a lot to criticise sexism in of itself, it is just not 100% problem free in how it does this.

First thing that come up to my mind... Margaret Beaufort. She was 12 when she married Edmund Tudor. He died soon after, leaving her as a 13-year-old widow pregnant with her son (Henry the 7th).  I can go on houres, but let's move on...

Intresting point, that of female friendship.

In all honesty, I still hear - in my real life - some women say... that friendship between women is impossible. 

My life proves the contrary. And when I hear a woman saying that... and I do, that to me proves how much strong some mind set are, that some women cannot help but apply or live by a sexist mind set. That's the problem.

That said, I believe that Cersei rapresents that. And Cat too, even tho in a different way. Not only these women live in a men word, the play a male game... according to the role and the rules men made or gave them. 
They are both obsessed with the game and their pov are focused on that.
And if you ask me, that's why friendship between women is revolutionary. Because sooner or later it helps to understand some details we tend to miss, just because we still live in a male world.

So yes... at least somewhere else, with other characters, I would have loved to see more of that counterpoint.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Vaith said:

“Young”, yes, but just how young? 13 was certainly not conventional for the real Middle Ages, as it is quite observable that both mother and child suffer from pregnancy when puberty is still incomplete, the mother is not grown. And Daenerys is not portrayed as particularly unusual — Rohanne Webber gave birth at 13; Aemma Arryn married at 11 and suffered miscarriages and a son dying in the cradle before she had her daughter at 15.

And nobody’s denying that women suffered in the Middle Ages — but let’s look at an absence of women’s courts in ASOIAF. Catelyn seems to have no female friends, and nameless “ladies” who gossip about Ashara Dayne. Could she not have been close with Vayon Poole’s wife, said her goodbyes to Rodrik Cassel’s? It would certainly be a counterbalance to all the negative things that happen to women. Cersei apparently has no ladies in waiting at all, and while she would be vile to them, there appears to be a dearth of female courtiers in the earlier novels until the Tyrells arrive. 

I am not going to say that the Middle Ages were a peachy time, but realism is a two way street. Also just to note, I love ASOIAF and think it does do a lot to criticise sexism in of itself, it is just not 100% problem free in how it does this.

I'd say that in general, women in Westeros have it worse than women in England in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Daenerys is more of a special case.  She has an appalling brother who would use her for sex, if she were not of more value being sold to a warlord.  If the price was attractive enough, he'd have sold her as a slave into a brothel.

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2 hours ago, lalt said:

First thing that come up to my mind... Margaret Beaufort. She was 12 when she married Edmund Tudor. He died soon after, leaving her as a 13-year-old widow pregnant with her son (Henry the 7th). 

Sure, but she was incapable of having other children after his birth. Generally, a brief look at some genealogical trees at wikipedia and elsewhere shows me that while it was usual for royal and high noble women to marry at 14, they normally had first children or at least those who lived at 18 and later. Younger than that and particularly also having children at such ages was an exception rather than the rule. And Westerosi has maesters, who know that it is a bad idea for anybody who wants healthy offspring. So, I am not sure why GRRM doubled down on this in his history books. In AGoT Viserys(!) implied that Drogo was somewhat disgusting for wanting Dany at her age and still looking childish.

 

2 hours ago, lalt said:

That said, I believe that Cersei rapresents that. And Cat too, even tho in a different way. Not only these women live in a men word, the play a male game... according to the role and the rules men made or gave them.

It doesn't matter. Medieval women always had female attendants - both companions and servants. Both Cat and Cersei should have had them. And there is no reason to think that Cat in particular couldn't have had a female confidant, as many ladies had iRL. Unlike Cersei she was not hyper-sexist and didn't think that other women were worthless. There was a conspicious lack of named adult women among the population in WF - it were just Cat and Old Nan until Osha is brought in. Both Vayon Poole and Ser Roderick were conveniently widowed, Cat implausibly didn't have any ladies-in-waiting or personal maids, etc. It was one of those things that didn't make Winterfell entirely believable to me, and was also a typical ommission for writers to make, because there is a long-standing tradition of seeing women as boring and disposable in fiction, unless they are exceptional in some way.

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1 hour ago, Maia said:

Sure, but she was incapable of having other children after his birth. Generally, a brief look at some genealogical trees at wikipedia and elsewhere shows me that while it was usual for royal and high noble women to marry at 14, they normally had first children or at least those who lived at 18 and later. Younger than that and particularly also having children at such ages was an exception rather than the rule. And Westerosi has maesters, who know that it is a bad idea for anybody who wants healthy offspring. So, I am not sure why GRRM doubled down on this in his history books. In AGoT Viserys(!) implied that Drogo was somewhat disgusting for wanting Dany at her age and still looking childish.

Did I say it was a wondeful habit? I said it was an habit. As it is nowadays in many places around the world.
And as historian I can tell you it was a fairly widespread habit and not only among the noble classes. 
Even the popular classes did the same: there are many interesting studies about the so-called "dowry" that prove it.
However, this is not to say that it was the "rule". It is to say that it was not uncommon. In some periods it was more, in others less. And not always, as the centuries (and science) progressed, the phenomenon / habit diminished. Because unfortunately other (economic) factors determined it.

Beside that, my point was that just because I don't like patriarchy I believe that denial of a sad truth is not useful.

And because of that, what I personally find disturbing... is the idea that Dany ended up "loving" Drogo.
That's gross to me.

1 hour ago, Maia said:

It doesn't matter. Medieval women always had female attendants - both companions and servants.

Being a lady-in-waiting at court was not a matter of friendship or trust.
But the acknowledgment of the power of the family from which every lady-in-waiting came.
Those women were there not because they were "friends" of the dame they served, but to protect and represent the interests of their own families at court.  

As for the rest, if you want to believe that the upper classe women were "friends" with their attendans, for real, you're free to do it. I surely believe there may have been mutual respect, familiarity... But "friendship"?

I don't think it wasn't a given.

That said, I miss too - like I said - a good female friendship in the novels. But I just don't see Cat or Cersei as one of those women intrested in that. They are focused... on war. Their pov are about... that.

Cat has not idea that she lives in a sexist world. For her, that's the only possible world to live in and she plays by those rules.
As a paradox (maybe), Cersei is more aware of that...  I would say that she's "neurotic" because of that. 

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1 hour ago, Maia said:

Sure, but she was incapable of having other children after his birth. Generally, a brief look at some genealogical trees at wikipedia and elsewhere shows me that while it was usual for royal and high noble women to marry at 14, they normally had first children or at least those who lived at 18 and later. Younger than that and particularly also having children at such ages was an exception rather than the rule. And Westerosi has maesters, who know that it is a bad idea for anybody who wants healthy offspring. So, I am not sure why GRRM doubled down on this in his history books. In AGoT Viserys(!) implied that Drogo was somewhat disgusting for wanting Dany at her age and still looking childish.

 

It doesn't matter. Medieval women always had female attendants - both companions and servants. Both Cat and Cersei should have had them. And there is no reason to think that Cat in particular couldn't have had a female confidant, as many ladies had iRL. Unlike Cersei she was not hyper-sexist and didn't think that other women were worthless. There was a conspicious lack of named adult women among the population in WF - it were just Cat and Old Nan until Osha is brought in. Both Vayon Poole and Ser Roderick were conveniently widowed, Cat implausibly didn't have any ladies-in-waiting or personal maids, etc. It was one of those things that didn't make Winterfell entirely believable to me, and was also a typical ommission for writers to make, because there is a long-standing tradition of seeing women as boring and disposable in fiction, unless they are exceptional in some way.

Cersei had Senelle (who came to a horrible death) Dorcas, and Taena.  

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5 hours ago, SeanF said:

Cersei had Senelle (who came to a horrible death) Dorcas, and Taena.  

Senelle and Dorcas are both lowborn, and Taena Merryweather was moved to her household from Margaery’s. The only noblewoman in her household beforehand seems to be Jocelyn Swyft. 

Are we really to believe that the queen consort had only one noble companion for ten years? She need not like them, that’s Cersei’s thing. It’s just not very realistic. There are so many ladies gathered in the Queen’s Ballroom in ACOK but apart from the Stokeworths, who are any of these women?

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On 5/11/2019 at 10:44 AM, Vaith said:

I think that cinematography can certainly be used to show an internal thought process. The Handmaid's Tale, for example, has things where the camera will pan to a pair of shears when they're getting ground down by the villains -- so we know that, at the moment, the character is thinking of potentially murdering people to get out of the system. Game of Thrones, however, has usually used quite boring techniques like shot-reverse-shot in character interactions -- there is some great direction on the show, but it's usually during the big battles and not during the intimate moments (or just the general gist of being able to see anything on your screen...)

Just so. This brings back to me the scene where Sansa is contemplating toppling Joffrey off a parapet, but is held back by Sandor. Also, to a lesser extent, Sansa's "you can't frighten me" scenes with Myranda at Winterfell. Other than that, we don't get inside her head much.

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It would be very nice, if you could keep real history out of "ASOIAF". Westeros is a fantasy continent. It is not the medievil times. GRRM didn't had to include racism, rape, sexism, bestiality and so on. He choose to include those. Stop making the insane argument that he had to make a made-up world like medievil Europe. He wanted to. He could have made the Westerosi of all kinds of colours. He choose to make them white. He could have made the women being the rulers of Westeros. He choose to make them male. A fantasy World doesn't have to look like our world, and still be realistic.

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16 hours ago, T and A said:

It would be very nice, if you could keep real history out of "ASOIAF". Westeros is a fantasy continent. It is not the medievil times. GRRM didn't had to include racism, rape, sexism, bestiality and so on. He choose to include those. Stop making the insane argument that he had to make a made-up world like medievil Europe. He wanted to. He could have made the Westerosi of all kinds of colours. He choose to make them white. He could have made the women being the rulers of Westeros. He choose to make them male. A fantasy World doesn't have to look like our world, and still be realistic.

Quote

I agree that these books have sexist writing in them, from the most superficial to the disturbing. It has nothing to do with~~medieval accuracy~~ since this is not the Middle Ages, it's a fantasy land created by a man who is certainly guilty of sexist and racist writing.

I really don't like arguments like these. Ultimately they hinge on the belief that the setting of a series is utterly unimportant which I found very strange in series that are supposed to have good world building. 

If you're setting is heavily based on the middle ages and a very dark and unromantic version of the middle ages at that then it makes sense to stick with the middle ages. It makes sense both artistically since you reinforces your theme and commercially because people just have a very clear picture of the middle ages and it doesn't include native American knights or sassy black Parisian shopkeepers. I don't see the value in weakening the setting just to commercially hinder your protect. To what end? Just because you're broadcasting to a multicultural American audience? And its not like people of color are absent. Westeros is Europe with Dorne having some influence from Islamic Spain, The free cities are a cross between Italy and the middle east and the Dothraki are essentially the Mongols. This make the world seem large and diverse with people from all sorts of races and beliefs crafting their own sociaty, as opposed of Westeros just being a generic theme park medieval town that's suspiciously American. 

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4 minutes ago, Daemon of the Blacks said:

I really don't like arguments like these. Ultimately they hinge on the belief that the setting of a series is utterly unimportant which I found very strange in series that are supposed to have good world building. 

If you're setting is heavily based on the middle ages and a very dark and unromantic version of the middle ages at that then it makes sense to stick with the middle ages. It makes sense both artistically since you reinforces your theme and commercially because people just have a very clear picture of the middle ages and it doesn't include native American knights or sassy black Parisian shopkeepers. I don't see the value in weakening the setting just to commercially hinder your protect. To what end? Just because you're broadcasting to a multicultural American audience? And its not like people of color are absent. Westeros is Europe with Dorne having some influence from Islamic Spain, The free cities are a cross between Italy and the middle east and the Dothraki are essentially the Mongols. This make the world seem large and diverse with people from all sorts of races and beliefs crafting their own sociaty, as opposed of Westeros just being a generic theme park medieval town that's suspiciously American. 

Please don't put my coments next to someone who claims GRRM is racist. You took my coment, and put it next to someone who claims those absurdities. 

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2 minutes ago, T and A said:

Please don't put my coments next to someone who claims GRRM is racist. You took my coment, and put it next to someone who claims those absurdities. 

You may have different reasons for coming to your conclusions and you may differ in opinion on Martin's beliefs but you two did post similar remarks in the vein that a medieval setting doesn't need to so strictly resemble medieval Europe. So that's why they are next to each other.

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8 minutes ago, Daemon of the Blacks said:

You may have different reasons for coming to your conclusions and you may differ in opinion on Martin's beliefs but you two did post similar remarks in the vein that a medieval setting doesn't need to so strictly resemble medieval Europe. So that's why they are next to each other.

Saying that Westeros doesn't have to be like medievil Europe, or that it can be like medievil Europe, with the same culture of the Westerosi that exists as of now but a different skin colour, and claiming that the Author is racist, aren't the same remarks. Not even close. But yeah, you could have let Westeros as it is, with the exception that all the Westerosis are black instead of white. How would that change the story? It would not. 

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1 hour ago, T and A said:

Saying that Westeros doesn't have to be like medievil Europe, or that it can be like medievil Europe, with the same culture of the Westerosi that exists as of now but a different skin colour, and claiming that the Author is racist, aren't the same remarks. Not even close. But yeah, you could have let Westeros as it is, with the exception that all the Westerosis are black instead of white. How would that change the story? It would not. 

Yes theoretically. Doesn't mean its a good idea though.

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9 minutes ago, Daemon of the Blacks said:

Yes theoretically. Doesn't mean its a good idea though.

And why? 

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4 minutes ago, T and A said:

And why? 

Part of the reason I already said. People already have such a clear depiction of the middle ages that black knights would likely turn people off. Um...well unless the armor is black. 

And why exactly would putting black people in a medieval European setting be the best thing to do? Why not a fantasy setting based on Nubia, the Mali empire or the Zulu? There's so little settings inspired by Africa because western audiences don't know much about it so if ''Games of Thrones but in Mali'' would end up a huge hit it could drastically increase variety in the fantasy market. 

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With respect to the question of underage marriages, I can think of only three marriages of\\where the bride was under 15; Daenerys, Sansa, and Jeyne Poole.  And in all three cases, political considerations necessitated, at least from the arrangers' perspective, an immediate marriage, despite, not because of, the bride's age.  And at least in the case of Daenerys and Sansa, it is clear that, even in-world, they are regarded as being awfully young for marriage.

So I think that using these as examples of what is considered normal and acceptable in Westeros is probably inaccurate.  These appear to have been exceptions, and ones in which eyebrows were raised. 

By the way, I am not counting Tommen's marriage because nobody believed it was going to be consummated in any event, nor Tyrion and Tysha, as that was done of their own volition and unsanctioned in any event.

It would appear that normal age for first intercourse was at least 16, from what I can tell, with occasional exceptions. 

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It is difficult to hear people discuss how this definitely isn't the medieval ages when GRRM directly incorporates concepts like primogeniture, male succession (decided by the realm in 101 AC by an overwhelming margin), right of pit and gallows, lord's right of the first night and even more minor aspects of medieval governance not only by theory but even by name. Of course there are dragons and it is a different world, but it is silly to claim that the author didn't intend a general historical backdrop as a cognitive shortcut for the reader. But it isn't just general when GRRM directly uses the terms as well as the concepts. 

Makes it seem pretty obvious that he wants us to use the general rules of the age, enhanced and clarified by his fantasy spin.

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