Game of Thrones and Semen Receptacles

So, the most recent Game of Thrones episode.

WARNING

SPOILERS

TRIGGER WARNING

concerning rape and the victimization of women.

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 6, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

I still haven’t watched the episode.

And it’s likely I’m not gonna.

And it’s possible I won’t be watching the show at all anymore.

The day after the episode aired, Twitter was abuzz with talk about the horror of it. Since I hadn’t watched the episode, I went looking for plot summaries. I found more than I wanted to know. This was worse than the aftermath of “Red Wedding.”

Sansa raped by Ramsay both revolts me and makes me roll my eyes with plain annoyance.

First of all…really? Another instance of a woman victimized by sexual violence on this show? Come on, WRITERS…. You’re already changing tons of stuff that G.R.R. Martin wrote. Why not change the parts where women repeatedly have their agency torn from them? WRITERS, is this the only way you know how to advance a plot or a female character?

COME ON. You can do better than this. Women victimized by sexual violence has been *done*. THINK UP SOMETHING ELSE. For worship’s sake, USE YOUR IMAGINATIONS. I assume you have them — after all, you’re getting paid for this. Sheesh.

Furthermore…Sansa raped by Ramsay. Really? Like I didn’t see that one coming the second she and Petyr Baelish reined up at Winterfell. OF COURSE Ramsay raped her. He’s a lunatic sadist — what else would he do? It’s so utterly PREDICTABLE. And once again, GoT WRITERS, I implore you to use your imaginations. GIVE ME A SCENE I DIDN’T PREDICT TWO EPISODES AGO.

*eye roll*

Having Sansa suffer rape by Ramsay is a stupid (on many levels), predictable, and utterly boring choice. Find a better way to advance Sansa’s character. Since the scene is apparently meant to motivate Theon/Reek to fight back against Ramsay (as if EMASCULATION weren’t enough of a reason already), you can find a better way to advance Theon’s character, too, while you’re at it.

GoT, with all the cramazing writing you’ve delivered in four-and-a-half seasons, I know you can do better than this.

I’ve never been raped. But I imagine that seeing such a traumatic event reduced to a tired plot device OVER AND OVER does something to cheapen the sufferings of those who have experienced this particular brand of horror. Rape shouldn’t be just another set of mechanics for getting a character from here to there. Once again, the GoT writers should be able to do better than this.

Horrify us if you must…but don’t drive away an entire segment of your audience that is so sick of this as the “be all, end all” portrayal of the female experience. I expect better from GoT because, as Chuck Wendig says, “its creepy fascination with hurting and marginalizing women is increasingly gross.”

I AM SO EVERLASTINGLY SICK OF WOMEN’S PAIN HAVING NO SIGNIFICANCE BEYOND SERVING AS MOTIVATION FOR A MAN’S SPRINGING INTO ACTION.

So…do we just not portray rape in fiction, or what?

Since this episode of GoT aired the same weekend as Mad Max: Fury Road, a lot of people have been comparing the treatment of women in GoT to the treatment of women in Mad Max. Well, I haven’t seen Mad Max yet, either (more woe is me), so I had a couple of other stories pop into my head concerning rape and victimization.

YA novel Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea? by Gloria D. Miklowitz has the titular character raped and trying to put her life back together. The book directly addresses rape culture: lack of support from family, friends, and authorities; victims made to feel responsible and guilty; rapists holding power over their victims long after the crime has occurred. It’s a good read for teens (AND ADULTS), considering that rape culture truly doesn’t get discussed openly or enough.

It’s worth noting that this novel was published in 1984. And we in 2015 think we are SO advanced.

I also recently read Stephen King’s short story “Big Driver.” The main character is raped and chooses not to live as a victim. It’s a great story of a woman finding and exercising her agency, refusing to let trauma and/or stigma keep her from making sure the rapist answers for his crimes. King’s story is a thriller — in great part because it’s thrilling to see a woman successfully quest to get her power back from the one who thought he’d taken it away forever.

So…in my rant about Game of Thrones, am I saying we storytellers should never include rape in our stories?

No. I am not saying that at all.

For one thing, to say that would make me a hypocrite — because in my debut novel, Colors of Deception, I included an attempted rape. And because I was a new author (and more naive about life), I’m pretty sure I did it badly. I didn’t write the aftermath as I should have, and the story suffered for it. I just hope my readers haven’t. But the story stands as a testament to one writer’s growth — as a writer and as a human.

Furthermore, I never want to say, “We can’t or shouldn’t write about ________________.” Fill in that blank with your pet uncomfortable topic. In fiction and in real life, we need to be able to talk about what’s dark and gritty. We need to explore what’s uncomfortable. Talking about these awful things lets us be more vulnerable and open with one another and find healing where healing needs to happen. We can’t be fully human with each other until we are vulnerable and transparent.

Sometimes, vulnerability and transparency mean openly acknowledging and working through the dark stuff.

“Monsters aren’t beaten by hiding them in the dark. They’re beaten by exposing them to the light.”
–Paul Anthony Shortt (@PAShortt)

So, storytellers…tell stories about the darkness. Tell stories about rape. But do it in a way that empowers your characters instead of stripping them of their agency and humanity.

“It took Sansa from her growing place of power, cut her off at the knees, and put the focus on Theon’s ordeal.”

“There’s only so many times you can be disgusted with something you love before you can’t bring yourself to look anymore.”

The Mary Sue

In Sansa, Game of Thrones isn’t even telling the story of a woman anymore. It’s telling the story of a gamepiece moved around the board by the whims of others. It’s telling the story of an object that’s handled and used to make other people do things. At this point, Sansa might as well be an ornamental vase. A receptacle for men’s desires, schemes, and semen.

“Stark” is the German word for “strong.” The GoT writers have utterly removed from Sansa Stark the ability to step into and live up to her own name.

On the other hand, we have Gloria D. Miklowitz and Stephen King, who told stories about women who were raped but rose in strength like phoenixes from the ashes.

So, writers, tell the dark tales as you will. But let the women be women. Don’t turn us into vases. Don’t turn us into receptacles.
 

WE ARE NOT THINGS.

 

 

 

What’s the scariest book you ever read?

This post has been languishing in Drafts for a couple of eternities. I think it began life as a comment I left on someone else’s blog — possibly Chuck Wendig’s. I thought it worth sharing here.

What’s the scariest book you ever read?

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
“The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe
Teacher’s Pet by Richie Tankersley Cusick

I have to list three, because all three freaked me out the most at different times of my life.

House of Leaves really messed with my mind when I read it 5 or so years ago. Somebody named Gareth says the book gets into your head like a virus and changes the way you think. That’s how I perceived it as well, and it was deeply disturbing. House of Leaves is one of maybe three books I’ve ever read of which I say, “This is more than a book. And, to quote the book itself, ‘This is not for you.'”

I know “The Fall of the House of Usher” isn’t a book, but I’m including it anyway. It’s my blog; I can do that. “Usher” got to me because — well, because of the whole thing, but mainly the way it all comes to a point with Roderick Usher’s final words. “…Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? …She now stands without the door!” The man’s awful horror is infectious. Madeline herself never scared me; but the way Roderick turns her into an impending, unstoppable doom…. Somehow, in my head, he makes her over into Yeats’s “rough beast” that “slouches towards Bethlehem.” Horrible and terrifying.

Teacher’s Pet is in the Point Horror series. I probably read it when I was 13 or 14 — still my pre-Stephen-King days, so I was still ultra-impressionable (IT took care of that a few years later). 😉 But Teacher’s Pet got to me for two reasons: One, the main character was a teenage writer like me, and unlike me, she was immersed in a writing world I still could only dream of; two, I was spooked by the idea that you can get so very, very close to someone and not know until it’s too late that they’re murderously crazy. I haven’t re-read this book in years, but I suspect I would still get a little thrill out of it.

How ’bout you? What book scares you the most?

what happened during my twitter break

Hi loves.

Now that I type that, I want to go back and a rewrite it “Hi loaves.” As though y’all were bread. Yummy, squishy, fresh-from-the-oven bread…mmmmmmm….

Okay. Getting weird now.

Anyway. Hi. I recently took a Twitter break. There was stuff on Twitter, and people were angrier about it than usual, and I’m dealing with a lot of my own blurglemamjufloobelschnitzen right now, so other people’s helter-skelter emotions were more than I wanted to futz with. So I took a Twitter break and got into a happier place (although the blurglemamjufloobelschnitzen is still very present) and drank tea and did yoga and binge-watched Netflix’s Daredevil, which is cramazing and WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING IT.

*eyes you suspiciously*

*coughs*

But while I was on my Twitter break, I collected a series of blatherings that I would’ve tweeted had I been tweeting. I shall now share those blatherings with you. I might or might not editorialize upon them as I go. Some of these will appear on Twitter because I want to share them there. It’s my blog and my Twitter account. I can do that.

*eyes you suspiciously*

What Happened During My Twitter Break

I want a nerd cave.

Toddler: What did Donald Duck do?
Me: I’m not sure. I can’t think of where you would’ve seen him.
Toddler: No. I never met him before.

I don’t talk a lot about my faith here. But one thing I’d like to say: “High Church” has done the world a disservice by painting women into a powerless, subservient, subjugated role for the past two millennia. I just read The Day I Met Jesus etc by Frank Viola & Mary DeMuth. Whether you’re a believer or an atheist, this book challenges what you think you know about what the Bible, especially the New Testament, says about women. I dare you to read it and not find something that surprises or even shocks you.

“Women…were the first evangelists.” –@frankviola & @marydemuth

I grew up in a Christian household…and it’s only now, rereading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as an adult, that I realize the book contains a conversion experience complete with immersion (baptism) for the forgiveness of sins. Forest for the trees….

When you reach behind the couch to unplug your laptop and plunge your hand into a spider web. #no

If you consistently drive 5-10mph below the speed limit, I don’t understand you.

Also, when you speed up as I’m trying to pass you, I am, indeed, talking smack at you from the safe confines of my cafr*.

I am become an hummus addict.

It’s funny how I can tell a European by how she writes the date. 15. 12. 2012. And judging by the 1s, she’s German.

St. Booger and all the saints at the backside door of purgatory, y’all. It’s MORSE code, not Morris. Morris is a CAT, for crying out loud.

I never saw Affleck’s Daredevil, but the Netflix version looks scrumptious. Ahh, Netflix. How can you do this to me? Don’t you understand I have a life beyond your gooey deliciousness?

The business side of writing is not for sissies.
I am trying really hard not to be a sissy.

Toddler: What kind of man are you?
Me: I am no man! …I’m a woman.
Toddler: Are you a mama woman?

Sometimes I forget how to girl. I paint my nails and then go mess with tinfoil. #ruinedmanicure

Toddler dumps milk onto table, pats the puddle: I made my hand!
Me: No. That’s not nice.
Toddler: I made a ghost. I made an elephant.

“I like to have space to spread my mind out in.” Virginia Woolf

I really seriously do need to read more Yeats.

What? What ridiculously delicious and decadent dark chocolate cake? I don’t know what you’re talking about. 😉

I appreciate that she likes to clean things. I don’t appreciate that she intentionally dumps her drink out so as to have something to clean. #toddlerlife4eva

Pie. #Supernatural

Inability to go back to sleep after waking too early, YAY! That’s my FAVORITE!!!
#lying

If you follow me on Pinterest, please forgive yesterday’s overabundance of #Supernatural pins. I’m jonesing to start Season 10. #cantstandit

Toddler: Are you fond of me, Mama?

This is not for you.

All I gotta say is, when H&M opens in Oklahoma City, those clothes had better look European.

Pb&j with a dab of honey in the center. #comfortfood

Some days, when I watch a great show or read a great book: “Wow, I’m so inspired! I’m gonna go write and be awesome like *that*!”
Other days: “Wow. That was such awesome writing. I’ll never be able to write like that everything I write is crap why should I even bother….”
*sigh*

I really thought science would’ve delivered unto me a new set of sinuses by now.

*Yes. My cafr. While I drive, I drink my corffee.

it’s time to paint a tiger

it’s time to paint a tiger
by Courtney Cantrell

it’s time to paint a tiger
and i am not ready

the wildness is what gets me
i guess
sharp gleam of jade eye
power of muscle and mercurial spirit
contained in a casing of banded skin
tiger tiger burning bright
greed would turn you into a rug
your greed would break my neck drag me off
devour me

but all i want is to paint you
and i am not ready

     how do i capture this in words
     elusive feelings so resistant to the bars
     of serif font in black-and-white
     how do i chronicle a slow descent into
     sad unhappy gloomy
     life as a darkening mass above my head
     wretched forlorn forgotten

     angry

     how do i catalog despair?

the wildness is what gets me
i know
pupils dilate, track my every shudder
those powerful muscles coil
the creature waits motionless
ready to leap the moment i look away
tiger tiger burning dull
lulling me into a false sense of safety
tricking me into a belief that
i have a handle on this situation

i do not

we stare each other down, the tiger and i
my canvas screams for paint
my fingers itch to slather this blank space in wet color
but i can’t paint unless i look away from what hunts me
the tiger and i stare each other down
and the hair stands up on the back of my neck as i realize
all my paints are the color of crimson

     i stand already eviscerated
     my heart caught in the creature’s claws
     i didn’t even see it move

     my world is spattered with gore
     there’s blood everywhere

except for that damned white canvas

the creature refuses captivity

     i can only stand here
     and stare
     and bleed

it’s time to paint a tiger
and i am not ready

May 2, 2015