June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
As the site has grown quite a lot in the last month (thanks and welcome to all the fabulous new readers!), I’m moving it off WordPress and onto its own domain.
The new site is already (mostly) up at www.feministfiction.com, and automatic forwarding from this address should start working tomorrow-ish. Please forgive me if there are any hiccups along the way!
If you follow the blog by RSS and would like to keep doing so, please update it to this one.
I hope I’ll see you there. 🙂
June 28, 2012 § 4 Comments
There are true knights, Sansa Stark thinks, as she flees from the Hound. All the stories can’t be lies.
And Sansa might be right. She has one true knight searching for her, on the old story quest to rescue the fair maid and return her to her family. Brienne of Tarth is the only living character who values honor above all else, who is determined to keep all her vows, who respects life and wants to protect the weak.
She is also, of course, an unattractive woman, despised and mocked by almost everyone she encounters. She is not technically a knight. She has all the inner qualities of the storybook hero and none of the external qualities, in a world where appearances and superficialities are all that seem to count. She is a woman who does not seem to fit anywhere in her world.
June 27, 2012 § 1 Comment
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about “Mary Sue” and how it’s become a problematic, catch-all term for any female character who seems “too good.”
But in the last year, I’ve seen another term going around to describe and dismiss female characters: Manic Pixie Dreamgirl.
The Manic Pixie Dreamgirl, like the Mary Sue, had a genuine critical origin. The term was originally used to describe zany, freespirited female characters who exist solely to teach the depressed, overworked male protagonist how to see the brighter side of life. (Feminist Frequency goes into more depth here).
I say originally, because the term has mutated to the point that it is used even if a female character is well-developed and the center of her own story. It’s used to immediately dismiss any female character who is not completely mature and sensible, who is a bit hipster and unconventional, who has a sense of fun, as “not good enough.”
June 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
If I had to describe Legend in one word, it would be this: unputdownable.
This novel disrupted my sleep. It kept me up far too late, distracted me while I was trying to work, and made me google the release date of the sequel the moment I turned the final page. In the flood of YA dystopian novels, Legend is the true heir to The Hunger Games: action-packed, dark and emotional, with compelling characters and a wonderfully woven plot.
June is the Republic’s greatest prodigy. Intelligent, resilient, analytical, observant, agile and strong, she is eager to join the military and serve the great Elector, like her brother and parents have before her. Day is a slum-dweller and the Republic’s most wanted criminal, desperate to protect his estranged family from the plague that is spreading through their district. When Day kills June’s older brother in a raid for plague cures, June is recruited to lead the hunt for his capture.
Legend is the sort of novel that will make you think “just one more chapter,” over and over again, late into the night. The plot is absolutely gripping, hurtling forwards at the perfect pace, but the characters are what really make this novel shine. June and Day are both complicated and compelling individuals, with emotional arcs that feel incredibly genuine. Sometimes the inevitable romance feels a little forced, in an “I’ve known you three days, and I love you!” kind of way, but their relationship usually takes a backseat to June’s growing discoveries about the government she works for, the endless moral dilemmas, and their struggles to do the right thing, whatever that might turn out to be.
Legend isn’t going to win any awards for beautiful prose or insightful social commentary, but if you’re looking for a dark, fast-paced action-adventure with a fabulous and complex female protagonist, definitely check this one out.
June 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Everyone is watching this, right? If not, set aside about an hour and get stuck in.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in the form of video blogs, with some additional help from Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. The series is a really interesting experiment in using modern social media to tell a classic story, and it’s incredibly fun to watch events unfold in real time every week.
Although romance and the stoic Mr Darcy play major roles in the story, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries focuses on many elements of the original novel that are often overlooked. The relationship between the three sisters, Jane, Lizzie and Lydia, takes center stage, as they support and challenge one another as best friends and barely-tolerated siblings. Lizzie’s lifelong friendship with wannabe filmmaker Charlotte also plays a major role, and the occasional tension between Lizzie’s optimism and Charlotte’s cynical pragmatism is laying the ground for a painful shift in their friendship as the story goes on.
Darcy and “Bing Lee” get a look in every now and again, but so far the story is all about these sisters and friends and their relationships, ambitions, hopes, dreams and fears, as well as more mundane life problems: money, family, education, and employment. Basically Pride and Prejudice then, in a modern context, with misguided stereotypes of whirlwind romance stripped away.
It’s great fun, whether you’re an Austen nerd like me or are just looking for another videoblog to add to your subscriptions. No Austen knowledge required! A geeky appreciation of Youtube and other social media may help, though.
June 22, 2012 § 12 Comments
Every now and again, new articles appear criticizing George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire for being misogynistic. Sometimes, these articles raise valid, thought-provoking points. More often, however, they criticize the series because its women are often powerless, because they are often abused, and because the world they live in does not value them or their opinion. Westeros is a misogynistic society, and therefore, they conclude, the text itself is also misogynistic.
In my opinion, this analysis is seriously misguided. A series is not misogynistic simply because it presents and explores a highly misogynistic world. Far from it. In fact, although it has its issues, I would argue that A Song of Ice and Fire is a mostly feminist text, featuring fascinating, dynamic female characters in a variety of situations. The fact that these girls and women live in a deeply misogynistic world only adds to the realism of their struggles and ultimately to the strength of their achievements.