Bitterblue: Dealing With Real Life Issues in a Fantasy Setting

(via Goodreads)

The major point of fantasy novels is, of course, showing a world that is different from ours, where magic is alive and where people have amazing powers. Despite the fact that I read them to escape my mundane life, I’m often annoyed when fantasy books include people experiencing real-life issues, such as trauma, and then gloss over said issues instead of addressing and dealing with them. Other big offenders are the lack of inclusion of LGBTQ+ people and examination of mental illness. Authors and readers seem to think that you cannot address such topics because you cannot use modern-day vocabulary in a fantasy setting. However, once in a while I find a fantasy series which doesn’t shy away from using its medium to examine issues we deal with in real life. As such, today I want to talk about the Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore, and in particular its final book—Bitterblue.

Spoilers for the Graceling trilogy below. Also, content warnings for abuse, mental illness, PTSD, and rape.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Check, Please!, the Internet’s Most Adorable Soft Bro Webcomic

web crush wednesdaysThis week’s Web Crush is one of those “I can’t believe it took me this long to write about this!” type of deals, since I’ve been reading and rereading and sighing over this webcomic for months now—but let me back up a little and actually introduce it. Today I want to tell you about a sweet little thing called Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu. It has cute art, soft bros, young men falling in love and having a healthy relationship, and for those of you who are into that sort of thing—ice hockey.

But let me elaborate (with some spoilers!) below.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Powerful Women and the Men Who Love Them

Power comes in many different forms, and there’s no one right way to be a strong female character. That said, however, there’s a clear dearth of female characters whose strength is, well, strength. We’re moving forward in media in terms of representing women in STEM professions and many other male-dominated fields, but one spot that remains lacking is the sort of woman who can bench-press a truck.

The superhuman guy + regular-human girl = love trope is a tale as old as time, and it’s one that’s getting kind of boring to me, to be honest. How many pairings of this nature can you name off the top of your head? Thor and Jane Foster; Bruce Banner and Betty Ross, Superman and Lois Lane—hell, might as well mention Belle and the Beast since I made that tale as old as time reference. And it’s not even limited to Western media—add Abel and Esther of Trinity Blood, and Tsuna and Kyoko from Reborn, among others.

Off topic, they are super cute together.

Off topic, they are super cute together.

Even in cases where the guy is not powered, per se, like Carol Danvers and James Rhodes, the guy is still a superhero of similar caliber. He isn’t, like, a brilliant scientist, or a librarian—he’s a fighter just like her. When both are equal, whether powered or not, our best bet is that they’ll have equivalent combat skills as well (think Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask, or Hawkeye and Mockingbird/Spider-Woman/Black Widow/whoever he’s dating these days).

Meanwhile, there are very few pairings in which the woman is the super-strong punchy one, and the man is just a regular dude with non-combat skills that’s occasionally in awe of his lady’s powers. This is a representational problem on two levels: one, it perpetuates the idea that it’s weird for women to be physically stronger than men, and two, that men who aren’t their girlfriend’s equal in strength are somehow lesser than men who are.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Bolin and Eska’s Relationship Is Not Funny

I’m a latecomer in the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom; I just finished watching the series a few weeks ago and I’m now making my way through The Legend of Korra. Even though I loved Avatar more than I’m enjoying Korra so far, both shows are great. But they’re not perfect. I can let a few things slide here and there, and they don’t diminish my enjoyment of the show. However, Book 2 of Korra contains one plotline that seriously bothers me: the relationship between Bolin and Eska.

bolin-uncomfortable

Yes, Bolin, I’m very uncomfortable about this relationship as well.

Trigger warning for discussion of dominance/submission, physically and emotionally abusive relationships, and PTSD. Also, spoilers for Legend of Korra Book 2.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Polyamory in the Media

We talk about a lot of different kinds of relationships on this site but we’ve never really spent much time talking about polyamory. We have recced fanfics and there have been OT3s on our Valentines lists, but we have never focused our attention on polyamory or polyamorous relationships. So that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

OT6

OT6

Polyamory is something that people, at least in the Western world, seem hesitant to discuss or even mention. There are a couple different reasons for this.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Magical Obligatory Queer Dating

In the 3B season finale of Teen Wolf last month, we were treated to one more unpleasant turn of events in a season full of unpleasant events: Danny broke up with Ethan. The moment left me with so many questions—was this just because Charlie Carver already has a new show lined up? Would they have stayed together if C. Carv didn’t get a new job, or was this just where the characters were headed anyway? Was it prejudiced for Danny to not want to date a werewolf? Why do I cry so much about fictional characters? But then I started to think about a more pivotal question: why did they start dating in the first place? It led me to a theory I call Magical Obligatory Queer Dating. Let’s take a closer look.

soooooo precious!!!

Soooooo precious!

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Theatre Thursdays: Life is a Cabaret, and Cabaret is Life

cabaret_logoCabaret is returning to Broadway next month for its ninth major production in one of the two greatest holy cities of theatre: New York and London. That’s right, nine times. Let’s count the ways: Broadway opening in 1966, West End opening in 1968, London 1986 revival, Broadway 1987 revival, London 1993 revival, Broadway 1998 revival, London 2006 revival, London 2012 revival, and the upcoming Broadway 2014 revival (not to mention a 1972 film adaptation). Whew! That’s not an accomplishment many musicals can claim. What is it about this show that makes it so enduring? What makes it a force that keeps popping up again and again, demanding to be seen and heard? Let’s take a closer look.

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