Every Saturday I diligently click on my bookmark for Always Human, the queer sci-fi shoujo webcomic I recced on this blog back in January, and catch up with the latest happenings of Austen and Sunati. It’s quickly become one of my favorite webcomics for its love story and its discussion of disability, race, and gender, and so I recently decided to explore Webtoons, the website on which it’s hosted, to see if it had any more hidden gems. After a while, I got caught up in another great story—today’s web crush, Siren’s Lament.
There are many, many things I love to see in literature and narrative universes of any form of media. One of the things I’m particularly fond of is taking ancient mythology and giving it a fresh twist. To the detriment of Western media consumers, most of this mythology is largely coming from the Greek/Roman pantheon. While I would really love to see more influence from, say, African and Indian mythos, for example, because knowledge of the Greek and Roman pantheon is so prevalent, this mythology is easier to market. (Again, a flaw of over-saturation in the market.) Due to this, when Borderlands gives me a group of people called “sirens”, I automatically start filling in some of the blanks. But, thinking about it a little more closely, how similar are the sirens in the Borderlands universe to the songstresses from ye olde legends and myths? Spoiler warning for both Borderlands games under the cut.
The trope of the siren seductress is probably one of my least favorite things. A story involving this trope usually goes something like this: evil woman with otherworldly powers seduces good man (or men); man does her evil bidding against his will; good women are betrayed and jealous but have to save the day anyway. It’s sexist: it promotes the idea that female sexuality is an evil thing; it’s heteronormative: it assumes that men are only attracted to women, and women are only attracted to men; and it’s insulting to both men and women: it boils them down to base sexual interactions and stupidity.
Imagine my chagrin when I tuned in to watch Lady Sif guest star on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and discovered that the plot was the most boring and predictable iteration of this trope.
Trigger warning for discussion of rape beneath the cut. Continue reading