In 2008 a group of Norwegian researchers ran an experiment to better understand how police investigators come to a judgment about the credibility of rape claims. Sixty-nine investigators were played video-recorded versions of a rape victim’s statement, with the role of victim played by an actress. The wording of the statement in each version was exactly the same, but the actress delivered it with varying degrees of emotion. The investigators, who prided themselves on their objectivity, turned out to be heavily influenced in their judgments by assumptions about the victim’s demeanour: she was judged most credible when crying or showing despair.
In reality, rape victims react in the immediate aftermath of the event in a variety of ways: some are visibly upset; others are subdued and undemonstrative. There is, unsurprisingly, no universal reaction to being raped. The detectives were relying on their instincts, and their instincts turned out to be constructed from inherited and unreliable notions about women in distress."
Before the late and oh-so-great Bea Arthur was an earth angel and international treasure, she was a truck driving marine who went by her birth name Bernice Frankel. Even in her afterlife, Bea Arthur is finding ways to capture more real estate in my heart and it’s…
brb going to kinkos
This happened to me while I was on a dinner date last year. We were walking back to his car when a car full of guys en route to a club or something slowed down beside us, leaned out the window, and whistled at me lewdly. I was so shocked that I stopped dead on the pavement and said, “Can you believe that just happened?”
The man I was with said, “What? They just think you’re pretty.”
I am continually staggered by my intelligent male friends’ inability to grasp that this sort of behavior is never complimentary, and never welcome.
Yeah, the “its a compliment!” line is just… argh. There’s a way to compliment a stranger, and catcalling, whistling, touching— that ain’t it. The fact that so many men insist that it is is depressingly enlightening, really.
I particularly love when you just ignore the catcalling and walk away and have them call you a bitch because you’re not flattered by whatever it is they’ve decided to say. Urgh.
I got into a huge argument with a guy friend about this, and he could simply not understand why I was not happy with stuff like this.
TELL ME SOMETHING I HAVEN’T HEARD
About halfway through drawing this, I realized what I had created was effectively a Bingo Card, but perhaps a slightly more emotive one. So I’ll explain a bit of what’s behind it.
I first got into comics through feminist criticism of comics. I’m a feminist. And I love comics. The two things for me are inseparable, and I make no apologies for it. Both are a part of who I am. I’m also a fan of superheroes and superhero comics.
When it comes to discussions about women in comics, sexism in superhero comics, and so forth, I’m always reading, sometimes linking, and commenting a bit here and there. If you pay attention for a while as a female (and possibly feminist) comics reader, and/or superhero fan, you start to hear the same things over and over again. It becomes predictable and repetitive pretty quickly.
Below I’ve expanded on what I’m talking about. It’s lengthy, so it’s behind a text cut.
EDIT: apparently “read more” text cuts don’t work on photo posts, so the full thing is HERE. Oh tumblr, you difficult thing, you.
The following day, I attended a workshop about preventing gender violence, facilitated by Katz. There, he posed a question to all of the men in the room: “Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”
Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:
“I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one.
“I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.
“I use the buddy system when I go to parties.”
“I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”
“I use my keys as a potential weapon.”
The women went on for several minutes, until their side of the blackboard was completely filled with responses. The men’s side of the blackboard was blank. I was stunned. I had never heard a group of women say these things before. I thought about all of the women in my life — including my mother, sister and girlfriend — and realized that I had a lot to learn about gender."
“When it comes to the topic of women in science, Marie Curie usually dominates the conversation. After all, she discovered two elements, was the first women to win a Nobel Prize, in 1903, and was the first person to win a second Nobel, in 1911. But Curie was not the first female scientist. Many other brilliant, dedicated and determined women have pursued science over the years.”
- Emilie du Chatelet (1706 – 1749)
- Caroline Herschel (1750 – 1848)
- Mary Anning (1799 – 1847)
- Mary Somerville (1780 – 1872)
- Maria Mitchell (1818 – 1889)
- Lise Meitner (1878 – 1968)
- Irène Curie-Joliot (1897 – 1956)
- Barbara McClintock (1902 – 1992)
- Dorothy Hodgkin (1910 – 1994)
- Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958)
Click the link to read about each woman’s brilliant contribution to the world.
Not the kind of publicity they want, but what is deserved.
I had to drop a note in here because there was a serious problem with one of the basic assumptions. Everything started out so well…
How exciting! Fantasy is so fun! You can do anything you want to your universe, because it’s fantasy - which is really great, because you’ve always wanted cats to talk and everyone else to share your distaste of squash. Plus you could have magic! Or not, you know, low-fantasy works too….
And I read for a while, and then hit this part…
Oh, you gave her a sword. Well that’s a relief, those monsters/henchmen we tossed out into your world are crawling all over the place and so it’s a good thing to keep- she can’t wield it, can she?
No, no, you gave her a broadsword. Her fingers are soft and smooth like silk, you just described this two pages ago. A swords woman has callouses. And even if you lie about that, or gloss over it, you just gave a petite blonde a broadsword. (Do you know what a broadsword is? Have you ever tried lifting one, and then swinging it around for a half hour? Never mind, don’t do that. You’ll hurt yourself trying.) She just lost the fight. …
Let’s do this over again.
I think we’d better.
Let’s take this from the top. I am 5 foot 7, and while I’m not at my optimum weight right now, I am by no means hefty and would be classed as petite if I were four inches shorter. In any case, here’s my broadsword.
It is an Oakeshott Type XIIIa made by Fulvio Del Tin of Del Tin Armi Antiche in northern Italy. Fulvio specializes in both museum-quality replicas and “hero weapons” for major motion pictures. (For example, he forged Mel Gibson’s famous hero weapon in Braveheart.) From point to pommel the sword is 39 inches long. …And there’s my hand for size comparison.
Now watch what happens when I put this sword on the kitchen scale.
It weighs twelve hundred and twenty four grams, or just under two and three-quarters pounds. This is a normal weight for a broadsword of the period. They did not weigh tons. That myth, and its fellow urban legend that armor of the period was so heavy that a knight wearing it had to be winched onto his horse and couldn’t get up again if knocked down, are the direct result of popular British music hall comedies of the Victorian period. They have no basis whatsoever in fact, as any museum’s armor curator will immediately tell you (while either groaning and tearing their hair, or snickering a lot). I mean, seriously, what possible use would there be in a weapon that either a man or woman would get tired of using after half an hour? The people who used it would select themselves out of the gene pool in very short order. (And their relatives would select the weaponsmaker out of the gene pool immediately thereafter.)
Now, on the off chance that my relatively small hand makes this seem not very much like a broadsword to you (though I guarantee you, it is one): okay, let’s pull out our other one.
Here it is, once more with my hand for scale. This is an Oakeshott Type XIII, a so-called hand-and-a-half or “bastard” broadsword of the same general type as the first one, 48 inches long from point to pommel. (Peter got it because it was a close match to the description of Khávrinen in the Middle Kingdoms books: in fact, we used it on the new ebook cover for The Door into Fire). It was meant to be used easily either one-handed or two-handed. So now let’s weigh it.
Fifteen hundred seventy-six grams, or about three and a half pounds. Again, I have to emphasize that this is the proper weight for a sword of the period, and indeed, many of similar size were lighter because they were made of better steel. (Fulvio forges his swords of steel that will be able to cope with the mishandling inherent in use on film sets, or the much more intensive banging around that’s expected when such a sword is being used by re-enactors.) Both this sword and its smaller sibling are balanced with extra weight in the hilt and pommel so that the blade is astonishingly easy to handle… as both Peter and I know from personal experience.
So can we pleeeeeeeeze get rid of the idea that a woman, even a relatively slight one, can’t handle a broadsword effectively in battle? (I was tempted to add substantiating video here, but decided against it, as I have no desire to freak out the neighbors.)
Thanks. And now I need to get back to the concept that was really the most problematic for me (and I didn’t for a moment think the original poster believed it, but I just have to say this anyway because so many people fail to think this through and take it at face value):
You can do anything you want to your universe, because it’s fantasy -
I have to stress that I really do understand the devil’s-advocate-ish dialectic style in which the original posting was being written. (And also, would agree broadly with many of its premises as regards “the masculine gaze” on fantasy in general and women appearing in it in particular.) That said, I feel strongly that it has to be stated here by someone who’s been doing this for a while: Sorry, but as regards doing whatever you want in a fantasy universe — unfortunately, you can’t.
I mean, you can write anything you want…chuck magic all over the landscape and cause all kinds of crazy things to happen… but if you do, it probably won’t be good fantasy. Absolutely crucial to well-constructed and written fantasy is a solid basis of fact and reasonable-sounding rules, so that your audience will have something to support them when you ask them to step out into the void and trust you with the fantastic elements.
This, for example, is why Peter and I own swords in the first place: so that as occasional writers of a particular school of fantasy, we can speak knowledgeably about what the favorite iconic weapon of high fantasy can genuinely do. Neither of us was willing to depend on hearsay in this regard (to the point that, long before I ever met P., I’d started studying iaido.) When you can graphically and personally describe from body memory how using a sword feels — and then take this through to the details of what it can do to the unfortunate opponent — your reader will have no choice but to believe you. This is why we research weapons vigorously: so that when we invent one, that underpinning of truth is solidly in place, and the context of fiction we construct around it makes the reader perceive it as more real than they would otherwise. This is an effect it’s tough to quantify, but it absolutely works.
Now, I’m not advocating that everybody should run out and buy swords! But you must do solid research, even on the little things. Especially on the little things. It makes all the difference in your ability to imagine what’s supposed to be happening and then communicate it effectively to your reader.
And much more to the point: even the airy-fairy stuff, even the constructed magical beings and the magic itself in fantasy, must be grounded in solid rules that can be depended on not to change at a whim. You can’t do just anything. “Just anything” is boring and impossible to stay interested in, either for the writer or the reader. Magic with rules, beings with limitations, are where the action is. You have to set rules and limitations first: then create inside the rules.
Come to think of it, isn’t this what gods are supposed to do? So we’re working from a good template here.
Anyway: thanks for your attention. Now I’m going to go make some pasta. :)
(BTW, just in passing: as for women possibly not being swordfighters in Europe in the middle ages: you really want to get your hands on some of the 13th and 14th-century combat manuals that have been turning up in the last couple of decades, and see what they were using to fight. And don’t get me started about the medieval divorce-court routine that would wind up with both parties slugging it out while dressed in greased leather body suits. …I am NOT making this up! Go do your own research.) :)