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Thread: Women in fantasy

  1. #621
    Senior Member Zero Angel's Avatar
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    Holy crap I cannot stand Sansa for all the reasons I thought everyone else here would detest her too.

    So the moral of Sansa's story is put up with your lot in life until you luck into somehow coming out being able to manipulate people? Is that what some people are implying here? Because this is the sort of thing that women were only ever supposed to do throughout history. Let the men take center stage and then be the voice behind the curtain. I'm not saying it's not a realistic character, but she makes me sick.

    I thought MAYBE, just MAYBE, she would be kind to Tyrion in more than the stereotypical "women are nice to everyone to their face" bullcrap.

    I stopped reading when GRR Martin dropped half the characters from one of the novels (whichever one that was), so maybe she got better after that, but I couldn't stand Sansa and I couldn't stand the churning of my stomach of Littlefinger's handling of her or everything else. Even when she has facts thrown in her face she still lives in this denial of reality.

    I am going to be sick just thinking about how frustrating I found her chapters.
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  2. #622
    Moderator Steerpike's Avatar
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    I don't get the Sansa hate. Whether someone actively likes her or not is a different story, I guess. Here's an interesting discussion of the character:

    In Defense of Sansa Stark | Feminist Fiction
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  4. #623
    Senior Member Penpilot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero Angel View Post
    So the moral of Sansa's story is put up with your lot in life until you luck into somehow coming out being able to manipulate people? Is that what some people are implying here? Because this is the sort of thing that women were only ever supposed to do throughout history. Let the men take center stage and then be the voice behind the curtain. I'm not saying it's not a realistic character, but she makes me sick.

    I don't know. Did you take into account that Sansa is, as of the fourth novel, three-and-ten. Thirteen. At thirteen she's had to deal with the loss of her parents (one whose head was literally chopped off in front of her), her siblings, her home and everyone she's ever known in the course of what? Two years? On top of that she's has to learn to live in a hostile environment where she's beaten and degraded and, in the eyes of many, just a way to seize control of the North, a prize.

    After enduring all that, which IMHO would reduce many adults into a blubbering ball of goo curled up in the fetal position, she's managed to keep her dignity, her sense of self, in addition to sticking her neck out to save a drunken knight.

    Not bad for a thirteen-year-old.

    This is how I'd characterize her moral. Life doesn't always work out the way you expect. There will be pain and there will be tragedy, and things may seem out of your control. But how you deal with things, how you learn from them, and how you choose to let them change you or not, ultimately defines who you are.

    Notice even after witnessing very bad things by very bad people she expects the best out of those she meets. Maybe that's naivety. Maybe it's stupidity. Maybe it's just because she isn't a cynic yet.

    Again, she thirteen. Lots of kids that age are a bit clueless and give too much respect/power to authority figures and haven't found their voice yet. But Sansa's learning her lessons, and if she learns them well, I'm willing to bet when she's like twenty, she'll be someone with some serious clout.
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  6. #624
    I don't have any animosity for Sansa. I just don't get the love (or the hate). She seems like the typical character people have been complaining about in this thread. Worse, it very much feels like GRRM is telling her story to mock her and what she stands for more than anything.

    I see Joffrey, and Cersei, and the Hound, and the Tyrells, and Tyrion, and Littlefinger teaching Sansa how foolish she is and how cruel and manipulative everyone else is, but I don't see her growing in a way that will help her to approach the manipulative powers of any of these characters.

    With all this teaching, she has so far figured out exactly one detail for herself: That a lesser Lord was being paid to act the way he was acting. Maybe that's enough to show an arc that might lead towards giving Sansa her moment, but I don't think it'll be enough to make her a real player in the Game of Thrones.

    Everything is happening to her, not of her own doing. I don't think she's there to grow; she's there to show us how cruel, manipulative and badass everyone else is.
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  8. #625
    Quote Originally Posted by Penpilot View Post
    I don't know. Did you take into account that Sansa is, as of the fourth novel, three-and-ten. Thirteen. At thirteen she's had to deal with the loss of her parents (one whose head was literally chopped off in front of her), her siblings, her home and everyone she's ever known in the course of what? Two years? On top of that she's has to learn to live in a hostile environment where she's beaten and degraded and, in the eyes of many, just a way to seize control of the North, a prize.
    Arya went through the exact same thing, but handled it much differently.

    I'm a Sansa-basher.... she's cowardly and passive (always) and self-centered (usually). She embodies a large number of negative so-called "feminine" traits that irritate the crap out of me.

    I have more respect for Cersei, for all that the woman is self-centered and EVIL (ALWAYS!). At least Cersei has a backbone and is not passive and helpless.

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  10. #626
    Senior Member Ophiucha's Avatar
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    Sansa is, by no means, the icon of feminism in the show (not that any one character is really ideal, either within the show or in a meta sense as they are analysed by the way the writers handled them), but I think she is important because she is a major character who is still what her society deems feminine, with all that entails. I often find that 'strong female characters' are, in many ways, women who embody their (and our) society's masculine traits. They have masculine professions, masculine personalities, and while they might not be masculine in appearance, they are often masculine in the worst ways otherwise. By this I mean... I kind of find the way many of these characters are written to be a bit misogynistic? Like, writers will take a strong woman and emphasize that she's "not like the other girls" and have her say things like "other women and their pretty dresses and their pretty boys". And while having a wide range of female characters is great, it just sort of emphasizes this "boys good; girls bad" dichotomy, just switching it up to say "feminine bad; masculine good" while ignoring everything in the (fictional or otherwise) society that teaches girls to be feminine and boys to be masculine.

    So I like Sansa because she's a Stark who names her huge bloodthirsty wolf 'Lady', who still likes pretty boys even though she's learned that they're not all nice, who was taught from birth to be a perfect lady and sticks with what her father told her no matter how bad things get, who has lost everything - her family, her home, her one chance at power (when Margaery replaces her as Joffrey's fiancée) - and still can smile, who takes what small acts of rebellion she can without acting out of place. She's passive, she's 'weak', but she is still a fully developed character. And while I love a good warrior woman as much as the next girl, I like seeing the women who are so often ignored. Because our stories prioritize the women who are like men, but throughout history most women have been... like women. It's what they're taught and how they're raised, yet it's only the exceptions who make it into the stories. I like Sansa because, yes, she's a very typical woman. She doesn't poison her lovers or demand to be named heir or cut her hair short and take up arms. She's every other woman in Westeros who GRRM never even bothers to name.

    “Knights die in battle,” Catelyn reminded her. Brienne looked at her with those blue and beautiful eyes. “As ladies die in childbed. No one sings songs about them.”
    I feel like Sansa is a rare exception. I appreciate it. I understand why you wouldn't like her character; in a series of political manipulations, assassinations, massacres, frost giants, the undead, and dragons, a little girl who seems little more than a pawn for others to play with is hardly going to be anyone's focus. But I am very grateful that she is such a prominent character in the story despite that.
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  12. #627
    Senior Member Philip Overby's Avatar
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    Mild spoilers?

    I didn't realize there were such diverse opinions on Sansa. Interesting. I agree that on the surface she is exactly what is problematic with the "damsel in distress." But as the story goes on, she starts to understand how to play the game better than anyone else. She's sitting at the learning tree of some of the best master manipulators in all of the realm: Cersei, Margery, Tyrion, and Littlefinger. While Arya trains to be some sort of master assassin, Sansa in turn is soaking in how to play the political game from some of the best. I'm sure that's intentional. How it will play into the overall story is something I'm interested to see.

    She also starts to see that all pretty knights and handsome kings aren't what the stories told her. She learns that ugly, horrifying men like the Hound are the true knights.

    The article Steerpike linked above is a must-read for anyone who hates (or for that matter loves) Sansa. Maybe you can glean while others appreciate her more.
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  13. #628
    Senior Member A. E. Lowan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiucha View Post
    We're also wildly off topic, guys, so here's a topic: female goons, zombies, background characters. Anyone else notice this? You have a hoarde of zombies, odds are 80% of them will be (ex-?)men. You go into a dungeon in your standard RPG and often all of the generic barbarians and bandits will be men. (In the Bethesda [Elder Scrolls, Fallout] games, they often have a trait that gives you a 10% bonus against the opposite sex. Since I always play as a girl, I always pick this trait since like 7 out of 10 enemies in the game are male.) Your storm troopers, red shirts, etc. - almost always men. I get why females aren't always major characters (even if I disagree with it), but I can't fathom why they turn up so rarely among the nameless drones of lambs being brought to the slaughter, you know?
    I saw a review for a REALLY creepy survival horror game that took place in a in a defunct in a defunct insane asylum that had female adversaries. Granted, they were scantily clad, creepy, faceless female adversaries in nurses uniforms, but partial credit is better than none, huh? But, yeah, still lambs to the slaughter.
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  14. #629
    Senior Member Penpilot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kit View Post
    Arya went through the exact same thing, but handled it much differently.
    Yes, but notice how the traits that many admire, and which people point to as being strong traits, gets her and others into trouble time and time again. That's a bit of naivety/stupidity on her part to pair up with Sansa's. To me they're the two sides of the same coin. Both have flaws that get them into situations where they're over their heads by action or inaction. I can't remember specifics, but I'm sure there are a few innocent people who would be alive if they never met Arya.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiucha View Post
    I often find that 'strong female characters' are, in many ways, women who embody their (and our) society's masculine traits. They have masculine professions, masculine personalities, and while they might not be masculine in appearance, they are often masculine in the worst ways otherwise. By this I mean... I kind of find the way many of these characters are written to be a bit misogynistic? Like, writers will take a strong woman and emphasize that she's "not like the other girls" and have her say things like "other women and their pretty dresses and their pretty boys". And while having a wide range of female characters is great, it just sort of emphasizes this "boys good; girls bad" dichotomy, just switching it up to say "feminine bad; masculine good" while ignoring everything in the (fictional or otherwise) society that teaches girls to be feminine and boys to be masculine.
    Yeah, I've been thinking about this. If a female character punches somebody out, generally speaking, why are they automatically assumed to be a strong female character? Many probably think Arya and Brienne are strong female characters because they can kick arse in the male playground. I don't think that's true. I think it's their mental make up, their ability to endure and overcome the hardships that come their way that make them strong. I mean what if Brienne with all her physical skills intact went home to an abusive husband and withered in his presence? If that were the case despite her being a kick arse knight, she'd still be a weak character.


    Sansa plays the game on her turf, politics and the court. She doesn't take up arms because it'd be foolish. She's useless on the battlefield. And I don't think she should be judged on those terms. Judge her on how she preforms in the court when she gets to play by the rules she knows.
    -Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.
    -A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate.

  15. #630
    Moderator Steerpike's Avatar
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    Some people assume the only way to have a strong female character is to basically write a male character but call the character female. That's a mistake in and of itself. It's not like you can't have a strong female character operating within traditional gender roles.
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