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Alexia

Violence, rape, and agency in the "gritty fantasies"

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It's not like I'm talking about lesbian rape in his books, mind you, although scenes like that could be coloring my impressions more than I realize consciously.

Thank you Larry. Before I read that link, Abercrombie was on my "to read, eventually" list. Not anymore. :ack:

[[Mod edit, since the first 15 or so posts in this thread have been moved from an ongoing discussion: Do not discuss your problems with the linked blog or with the blogger's writing style, nor make any comments about the blogger's person.

The meat of the discussion really starts with this post: http://asoiaf.wester...ost__p__2857483

Thank you.]]

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As for the Abercrombie, I just don't think his prose is that excellent and the poster who compared it (favorably) to Glen Cook may be onto something as to why it feels familiar to me and why I don't like that particular style of writing. It's not like I'm talking about lesbian rape in his books, mind you, although scenes like that could be coloring my impressions more than I realize consciously. But that topic might be better suited for another thread?

That is probably the most poorly written piece of screed i've seen given as evidence of anything in a long time. What a piece of shit article, and a truly stunning display of ignorance.

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Like I said, my reasons for not thinking positively of it are different than the ones contained in that link. But that scene is revolting to me, personally.

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I'm not seeing the fallacies in the linked article - what are they that make it so terrible? It seems rather spot on to me.

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Thank you Larry. Before I read that link, Abercrombie was on my "to read, eventually" list. Not anymore. :ack:

So the author of the article reads through two and a half Abercrombie books, several torture scenes, including the torture and sexual mutilation of the torturer himself, some very horrible deaths to many people, and at the end of the trilogy is suddenly outraged because of THIS SPECIFIC horrible act, which is horrible and makes Abercrombie horrible What a joke of an article.

I finished The Windup Girl this month, which had a MUCH more egregious case of an author inserting a rape scene, in which the author actually seems to glorify in the details.

The fact is, Abercrombie is not for everyone, but don't base your decision on that scene. Horrible things happen to almost everyone in his books. Terez gets her own personal horror.

Edit: Honestly, is like the man who voiced Chef on South Park suddenly being outraged that HIS particular religion was being mocked. All other mocking was fine, just not THIS one.

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So the author of the article reads through two and a half Abercrombie books, several torture scenes, including the torture and sexual mutilation of the torturer himself, some very horrible deaths to many people, and at the end of the trilogy is suddenly outraged because of THIS SPECIFIC horrible act, which is horrible and makes Abercrombie horrible What a joke of an article.

I finished The Windup Girl this month, which had a MUCH more egregious case of an author inserting a rape scene, in which the author actually seems to glorify in the details.

The fact is, Abercrombie is not for everyone, but don't base your decision on that scene. Horrible things happen to almost everyone in his books. Terez gets her own personal horror.

Edit: Honestly, is like the man who voiced Chef on South Park suddenly being outraged that HIS particular religion was being mocked. All other mocking was fine, just not THIS one.

Funny that you mention Bacigalupi, because there are a few articles devoted to him there as well.

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Funny that you mention Bacigalupi, because there are a few articles devoted to him there as well.

Ok, as that is the same blogger, I will give them some credit for consistency. Still find the view of the Abercrombie one horribly off though.

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Hrumm. Not I wonder if I should read the Windup girl or not. Oh hell I probably will I read Bakker for fucks sake.

Last Argument of Kings had lesbian rape? I don't even remember that.

And I don't get the Cook/Ambercrombie comparisons at ALL. Two COMPLETELY differnt styles of writing. Just because two things are classified as military fantasy doesn't make them the same. Honestly, comparing Cook to Ambercrombie makes me wonder if the person doing so has actually read either, or just read a summary of Wikipedia.

As for the unremembered reviews...goodreads is overflowing with positive reviews, that all seem real. At least, I'm pretty sure Felcia Day is a real person.....

And more rambling. Anyone ever actually seen The Night Circus shelved in scifi? It's always in mainstream fiction here. Heck, the summery doesn't make it sound scifi at all.

Also if you dont like Glen Cook I hate you,

Naw I'm kidding But i WILL egg your car.

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Ok, as that is the same blogger, I will give them some credit for consistency. Still find the view of the Abercrombie one horribly off though.

Well, there is no cure for hypocrisy.

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I read The Windup Girl. There are a lot of things wrong with it, but it was an interesting yarn, I'll give it that. And disturbing. Very disturbing.

But then again, I'm not Thai so I would not have noticed what this lady is discussing.

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Like I said, my reasons for not thinking positively of it are different than the ones contained in that link. But that scene is revolting to me, personally.

The scene is obviously meant to be revolting.

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I read The Windup Girl. There are a lot of things wrong with it, but it was an interesting yarn, I'll give it that. And disturbing. Very disturbing.

But then again, I'm not Thai so I would not have noticed what this lady is discussing.

I don't always agree with her analyses, but beneath the heated rhetoric, I've found she has a lot of sound points to make about several books that have made me reconsider a few of my stances. Her takes on Miéville, Beukes, McDonald, and a few others are well worth a read.

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The scene is obviously meant to be revolting.

It may, but what did it really add to the situation, other than creating an over the top, distorted representation of the view that women had no agency?

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It may, but what did it really add to the situation, other than creating an over the top, distorted representation of the view that women had no agency?

I'm not a huge Abercrombie fan, but isn't that the point? Not even Glokta has agency; he looks like the puppeteer, but really just another puppet. Honestly that scene barely registered to me with all the other horrible shit piled on at the end of that book.

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I'm not seeing the fallacies in the linked article - what are they that make it so terrible? It seems rather spot on to me.

It's just the standard "appearance equals endorsement" argument plus extra CAPLOCKS RAGE!, with all the usual whining about how this supposedly contributes to a Culture of Rape/Sexual Violence/Whatever. I find it amusing that she actually liked Glokta, considering that he's always been a spiteful torturer - he only seemed more decent because we mostly see him from his own POV (the same problem with Tyrion, honestly). In any case, we've got over that argument about forty million times, and I don't buy in the case of what Glokta did in The Last Argument of Kings.

It may, but what did it really add to the situation, other than creating an over the top, distorted representation of the view that women had no agency?

It's a reminder that Glokta is a ruthless, spiteful torturer who can get pleasure off of his victims. It's easy to forget that, since we mostly see Glokta from his own POV ("hero of his own story" and what not) plus those who pity him. He's not someone you should really sympathize with, even if he is getting his strings pulled by Bayaz.

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It may, but what did it really add to the situation, other than creating an over the top, distorted representation of the view that women had no agency?

It's been a few years since I read the book but I would say that it firmly established Glotka as a horrible monster and Jezal as a pathetic idiot. It also explained Terez' disdain towards the marriage and Jezal. The scene is one example of the book's main theme: the shifting judgment of the characters by the reader (in many cases due to the contradiction between the characters' self-perception and their actions).

I do not believe Abercrombie intended to present any view on the agency of women at all in this scene.

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I'm not a huge Abercrombie fan, but isn't that the point? Not even Glokta has agency; he looks like the puppeteer, but really just another puppet. Honestly that scene barely registered to me with all the other horrible shit piled on at the end of that book.

And is that a point worth making? It seemed a bit distorted to take the worst excesses and then (to use a very real-world example) like Police Battalion 101 use the excuse that they had no agency over their decisions.

It's just the standard "appearance equals endorsement" argument plus extra CAPLOCKS RAGE!, with all the usual whining about how this supposedly contributes to a Culture of Rape/Sexual Violence/Whatever. I find it amusing that she actually liked Glokta, considering that he's always been a spiteful torturer - he only seemed more decent because we mostly see him from his own POV (the same problem with Tyrion, honestly). In any case, we've got over that argument about forty million times, and I don't buy in the case of what Glokta did in The Last Argument of Kings.

It's a reminder that Glokta is a ruthless, spiteful torturer who can get pleasure off of his victims. It's easy to forget that, since we mostly see Glokta from his own POV ("hero of his own story" and what not) plus those who pity him. He's not someone you should really sympathize with, even if he is getting his strings pulled by Bayaz.

And should I, as a critic, give much weight to how much I "care" for a character? I found that particular character to be a pastiche of clichés about the charismatic torturer and the "twist" of him appearing to be exactly what he is, a torturer, did not surprise or make me react in more than a hum-drum fashion. But when I think about what was the exact target to show this presumed "shock," the marital rape through threatened torture of a lesbian lover, I found myself thinking, "Why this?" It is an excess that only serves to introduce in a strained, forced fashion certain other character conflicts, ones that could have been done more naturally without the seeming resorting to (threatened) violence for the sake of violence.

Sure, the intent may have been to have a "yes, son, this world is full of shitty situations," but the result for many is "yes, this author managed to make violent hegemonic power structures into a dull, numbing affair because cruelty after cruelty just leads to desensitivation after a while." That is what led me to find each succeeding volume to be more of the same and which made it unlikely that I'll read future volumes. Reading the strong reaction to the rape only reminded me that I had been so deadened as a reader to the outrages that it was revolting to realize that such a thing was treated in a seemingly cavalier fashion. Others will differ on this.

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Actually, looking back at the article (which I read and commented on before it was linked here), I did see she liked Glokta before the scene which I think is a bit confusing.

I also disagree with:

I’ve no idea if he is straight but he’s very certainly a man, which makes this about a thousand times more repulsive and disgusting than the worst M/M rape fetishization can ever hope to be.

I don't it is productive to have contest on what kind of rape depictions for the sake of fetish are worse.

(ETA: I just asked the blog author about this, only fair to see if I was understanding her right)

As to its part in a larger context, I have to say the scene with Jezal was pretty gross and read like rape fetish porn. Better to have written it from Terez's perspective.

I think my greater agreement was with the commenter Captain Falcon, who noted how ludicrous the scene comes off as when you think about the realities of courtly life.

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It's been a few years since I read the book but I would say that it firmly established Glotka as a horrible monster and Jezal as a pathetic idiot. It also explained Terez' disdain towards the marriage and Jezal. The scene is one example of the book's main theme: the shifting judgment of the characters by the reader (in many cases due to the contradiction between the characters' self-perception and their actions).

I do not believe Abercrombie intended to present any view on the agency of women at all in this scene.

But the problem with that, at least for me, is that there was no shift (if all characters are ultimately fools/pawns, then why judge them at all?). As for the agency issue, the problem many have with female agency in certain kinds of literature is that it is assumed that they are the passive receivers of violence that it goes without saying that if rapine is taking place (outside of Bakker's setting, where even the earth is fucked), it is a woman who is introduced to be the object of said rape, even if that introduction is a collective "the women" and then moved on from there.

Abercrombie's female characters are not that good to me because either their very "exceptionality" serves to reinforce the dominant passive non-agency or their situations are just more of the same (Oh no! She might be violated!) that it is hard to see any real originality in character or action.

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Actually, looking back at the article (which I read and commented on before it was linked here), I did see she liked Glokta before the scene which I think is a bit confusing.

I also disagree with:

I don't it is productive to have contest on what kind of rape depictions for the sake of fetish are worse.

As to its part in a larger context, I have to say the scene with Jezal was pretty gross and read like rape fetish porn. Better to have written it from Terez's perspective.

I think my greater agreement was with the commenter Captain Falcon, who noted how ludicrous the scene comes off as when you think about the realities of courtly life.

True, that scene was ludicrous, especially in regards to the very real threat of rape. It just seemed trivial, which may or may not have been his intent.

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