Young adult fantasy is such a female dominated space that when I picked up Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar, I was surprised to discover that it had a male protagonist. Aspen Quick, our main character, comes from a family that can steal things from people. I don’t mean physical possessions; rather, they can reach into a person and take more nebulous things like good eyesight, a mole, or romantic feelings just by touching something with a connection to that person.
It’s an interesting power, but I wondered at first at the decision to make the protagonist male. However, I discovered that his maleness was essential to the development of the storyline, because the magical system in Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is perfectly set up to discuss consent and critique male entitlement.
The friendzone and the entitlement it represents are a constant topic of discussion in the feminist community. This mentality presumes that men are entitled to women’s attention, and it also paints the rejected men as the victims instead of sympathizing with the put-upon women. They were Nice Guys, after all, why didn’t women reward their kindness with sex?
Is… Is the Phantom actually wearing a fedora?
I recently had the tremendous pleasure to see Norm Lewis as the titular Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and well, the performance was spectacular. But it also got me thinking about the way that the tragedy of the Nice Guy is often an implicit part of theatrical romances. And while at first I thought that these narratives vindicated the Nice Guy struggle, I actually realized that theatre is a great place to go to see Nice Guys laid low. Continue reading →
There’s a high price tag on being a woman in our society. And I don’t mean financially, although cis and trans women both can easily spend thousands of dollars trying to meet the minimum social requirements of femininity—tampons, makeup, clothes for passing as female, gynecologist appointments, hormone treatments, as well as pepper spray and self defense classes, add up to a pretty penny. I mean the fact that women’s bodies are considered public property. In both fictional media and real life, women must be beautiful before they can be anything else, and we are at fault for not upholding those standards of beauty to an impossibly precise degree.
An oft-cited real world example is the difference between the media receptions of Lance Armstrong losing a testicle to cancer and Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy—while the former was treated as a sad but necessary loss for Armstrong in his struggle with cancer, the latter was met with significant outrage. Didn’t Jolie know she was a sex symbol? By having her breasts removed for the important and personal reason of cancer prevention, didn’t she know that she was selfishly depriving horny guys around the world the ability to jerk off to them?
This entitlement leads men to treat women as sexual objects first and people second, and this mentality is pervasive in our culture, including geek culture.
I think we can all agree that Robert Arryn from A Song of Ice and Fire is one of the most obnoxious kids to ever appear in literature or television. I can find hardly anyone who doesn’t dislike him. And watching Sansa slap him in “Mockingbird” was probably one of Game of Thrones’s more satisfying occasions since Joffrey died.
Robert is not a big character in either the books or the show—we rarely see him—but even with limited appearances, he is one of those characters who can easily and very quickly leave a negative and long-lasting impression on the viewer. For me personally, whenever I see Robert in the television show or come across a book chapter he happens to be in, I don’t know who I hate more: Robert, or every person who had a hand in his upbringing. And speaking of hating Robert, I’m not even sure it’s really fair of me to hate a small child for being a horrible product of a horrible environment. In some ways, I pity him. Sadly for Robert, as entitled, spoiled, and pampered as he is, his mother—and I suspect his father as well to some extent—has abused him since the day he was born.