Violence against women in fantasy, or why we need #metoo especially in fantasy
By Ulff Lehmann
If you belong to that part of fandom that will now moan and say I’m politicizing the hobby, please fuck off, I don’t have anything to say to you. Well, other than fuck off.
We’ve heard it all before… “Rape happens, it happened in the Middle Ages, so it’s only realistic that it happens in fantasy.” Sure, that’s why it’s called historical fiction… oh, wait, it’s called fantasy. So, like dragons, magic, elves, orcs and all the other fantastical things, it’s up to the writer to change this one historical constant as well.
Will there always be some assholes who abused women? Of course! But this is fantasy, and in fantasyland we can actually have laws that work, or are supposed to work, or at least have there be consequences for the rapists. Maybe there’s actually a deity who says, “Thou shalt not rape!” and anyone who does rape has his balls and dick slowly, painfully rot off.
Some may now say that this would be a deterrent for rape, and, of course, the always relevant historical accuracy. Sadly, it is not a deterrent, we see such every day in this world, you have money and power, and suddenly you’re treated differently, even or especially the devout.
Rape, same as being an orphan, is usually a point on a character’s CV, nothing more, whether they participated in raping someone or were the victim. Such is life, right? Sadly, it is such, but it is not merely a bullet point in the character’s background. A rapist is an asshole at best, a psychopath at worst, plain and simple. A rape victim is broken, and will act accordingly. Healing is never an option, this is not a broken bone that will get well once set, the scars are too deep. It may scab over, but a certain amount of distrust in the offender’s sex will always be there, paired with a nauseating fear of the locale where the rape took place.
#metoo has been working on unveiling the abuse women go through by the hands of more powerful, influential men. Mostly it is men; I’m not denying that women can rape men as well, but the majority of rapes are committed by men against women.
One can go out and create an adequate analogy to the Middle Ages, of course, GRRM did so, but not to the extent as the TV show makes many believe. Fantasy, like any other genre, thrives on conflict, some authors gloss over the violence of such conflicts, others do not. In the case of Grimdark it’s blood and guts and, in some cases, rape. If a character rapes and the author then expects me to still root for said character because he has a (cue the ominous music) destiny, the author has lost me as reader. If the character rapes while drunk, and is tortured because of it and prevents others from raping as penance, the author has put some thought into it. If the character rapes as much as he eviscerates enemies as pretty much a by-the-by, the author is either writing satire or actually thinks this is part and parcel of the genre without a thought about the implications or consequences.
Rape is not a necessity!
Rape is not a plot point!
Rape is not a part of someone’s CV!
Most men will never experience rape, most women already have. That’s a fact. And to then view it as “historical accuracy” is demonstrating, to me, that these people basically ignore the needs of 50% of the population. How many times do we see women warriors castrate the defeated mal enemies? How many men would complain about that particular violence? How many of those men will still argue that rape is historical accuracy? It disgusts me to be part of the gender.
Do all men rape? No! Of course not! But most men won’t lift a finger to prevent a rape, and even less will refuse to tolerate if the courts release a rapist because of money and influence.
Instead they bury their heads in their asses and say that’s the system. That’s the system is the equivalent excuse to historical accuracy.
We’re talking fantasy here, for fuck’s sake. Men have less of a problem with rape than they have with women being portrayed as strong and independent, because, well, that’s how it’s always been, damsel in distress and victim, and don’t we dare color outside the lines of patriarchy and history. But dragons are okay.
Fantasy was a boys’ domain, despite the genius female writers. Because womenfolk were supposed to be the victims, the domestics at home, never on par with us menfolk. Curiously, the spellchecker has no problem acknowledging “womenfolk” while “menfolk” is seen as error.
#metoo belongs in fantasy as much as it belongs in every aspect of our lives!
Again some people will piss and moan, #metoo destroys the industry and innocents will be hurt by it, that people, trolls, will abuse this to tank authors’ careers. Truth will out in these cases, but if anyone thinks it’s better to protect a handful individuals careers over hundreds of abused women, please check your fucking empathy levels!
Would you think the same if the victim was your wife, girlfriend, sister, mother? How would you react if someone then told you “Oh, but she dressed that way, she was asking for it”? Or boys will be boys, after some high caliber author or personage pawed at your girlfriend? Would you react the same way?
The reality is that rape and harassment happens, and it’s better to shine a light on the situation than to ignore it. Treat the victims with respect, not the perpetrators!
Yes, it’s fantasy! Yes, men are typically stronger than women. But one man against two or three armed and trained women has no chance either, and then please don’t bitch if they rape him with a blunt sword or worse, because after all, rape happens, same as revenge.
In a fantasy world we don’t have to obey the same shit that fucks up people’s lives in our world, there can be justice, there can be women who castrate rapists, there can be gods who will strike the genitals of rapists with incurable rot. It’s FANTASY, for fuck’s sake!