Fantasy novels, feminism and misogyny.

Sady Doyle at Tiger Beatdown started an (ongoing) shitstorm on the interwebs with her critique of George RR Martin’s ‘Song of Ice and Fire’.  Essentially: “It is rape-y, he is creepy, I disapprove.”

Well and good, you might think.  But this set off a round of secondary conflicts, which are popping up in other places, like Crooked Timber, where a 300+ comment post started by Belle Waring has been thoroughly derailed into a discussion of whether Martin is bad, whether Sady approached his badness in a reasonable way, and whether she handled the ensuing mess appropriately.

I want to avoid the Martin based chronicles of messiness associated with all this and focus on 2 features which I think are valuable and being brought to the fore by the whole debacle. First is the presence of good male writers of feminist fantasy, and second is the amusing riffing on the concept of ‘mansplaining’ which begins at about comment 254 of the Crooked Timber thread.


1.  If you want good feminist fantasy, strong female characters doing strong things in ways that defy gender stereotyping, and for which they are respected as people (rather than particularly as women), look no further than Terry Pratchett.  Then read what he writes.  His female characters are never in danger of rape (indeed, the context of his world is such that that particular kind of violence is not present), and they are constantly both acting against the stereotypes present in his world, and showing those to be misguided.

2.  ‘Mansplaining’ (horrible term which I think serves no good purpose) gets linked to much more interesting things:

Fansplaining is a much-needed term. We’ve all seen it: fans who over-identify with a work, who take every critical reading of that work as a personal attack, and who think that sufficiently forceful arguments might persuade the rest of the world that their own reading is the only valid one.

Commenter ‘Gareth Rees’

Fans of Jersey Shore, of course, engage in tansplaining.

Commenter Doctor Slack

I’m going to have to unsubscribe from this blog if it degenerates into nothing but splainsplaining.

Commenter mds

Sorry mds, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of Gordon Ramsay pansplaining.

Doctor Slack again…

There’s nothing worse than someone wearing the wrong tartan who defends her error by clansplaining.


I think Brown Eyed Girl is a really good song, and Astral Weeks is in no way over-rated.

Soru  (This comment is wonderful.  Really.)

“We’re just trying to preserve our Southern culture’n’heritage, you Yankees wouldn’t understand,” Slidell klansplained.


And so on for far too much of the comment thread.  I felt as though I had no need to get invovled, really, other than to enjoy all of this.

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