By now, I'm sure, you have seen the amusing New York Times review
of Game of Thrones.
If you haven't, do go check it out. It has, I am afraid, quite confused my tiny, fragile ladybrain.
You see, Tool of the Patriarchy Ginia Bellafante makes a number of interesting claims that, while appallingly sexist, run counter to the predominant sexist narratives. Case in point:
While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.
Now, while I have not read A Song of Ice and Fire
*, I am pretty sure that it's fantasy. Everybody knows that girls like fantasy and boys like sci-fi. Right? I suppose Bellafante is making an argument that girls do not like any sort of genre fiction at all and should perhaps stick to chick-lit with pink covers and illustrations of shoes.This is the only genre for me!
I am also, it seems, a literary philistine, as I had never heard of Lorrie Moore and had to look her up. She's mainly a short story writer, apparently.** Do book clubs allow short stories? At any rate, it sounds like Bellafante belongs to a really dull book club. Also, didn't we all read The Hobbit
in grade school, or was that just me?
This is deeply confusing to my evolutionarily stunted mind, but it's nowhere near as odd as the claim Bellafante makes right before it:
The imagined historical universe of “Game of Thrones” gives license for unhindered bed-jumping — here sibling intimacy is hardly confined to emotional exchange.
The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise.
If I'm reading this correctly, she is suggesting several things. One also runs counter to the cultural narrative that men are obsessed with sex, visual
creatures who must consume pornography by the bucketload, whereas women are only interested in romance novels and, perhaps, written erotica. Very tame written erotica. Well, okay. We only watch telly for the naked men, it seems. This is an odd claim to make when there are far more interesting things to watch online, if you know what I mean. But perhaps the lady is old-fashioned.
The other, even odder suggestion, is that women are really turned on by depictions of incest. I don't find that to be the case, myself, but I suppose that explains the success of Supernatural.
I take this review as a good sign that traditional constructs of masculinity and femininity are, if not disappearing, then reversing poles. I am expected, it seems, to leave behind my traditional womanly domain of fantasy stories with magical lands and ponies in favour of whatever HBO allows in terms of hardcore porn. Neither are actually my thing, but one does inevitably get sick of existing stereotypes and it is refreshing to see a new one emerge.
While we're talking about geek things, io9.com's list of the 10 greatest libertarian sci-fi stories
is also quite bollocks. William Morris: one of the great minds of socialism. Ursula K. LeGuin: anarchist all the way through. Robert Anton Wilson: also anarchist if I'm not mistaken. Did everyone just smoke a lot of crack today? * Go ahead, geeks. Scream at me. I have this aversion to high fantasy that can be overcome only through really engrossing works. You are entirely free to argue that Martin's series is one of those works, but you must support your argument with evidence from the text.
** Members of really dull book clubs: You are entirely free to argue that Moore's books are worth reading. You must, like the geeks above, support your argument with evidence from the text.
† Go on, tell me that I should watch Supernatural. I won't listen to you, but you can certainly try.