I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s GoT mourning period, but I found this tab open among the dozens that I have been too lazy to deal with and figured I had probably intended to post it here.
This article by Kameron Hurley on Aidan Moher’s A Dribble of Ink blog (sorry for linkspam) is a compelling meditation on stereotyping in narrative construction. Mostly she focuses on gender types, because she’s talking specifically about women warriors, but a lot of what she says could just as easily apply to race, religion, sexual preference, or any of the ways humanity divides us from ourselves. She uses personal illustrations to guide us through her reasoning, and some really great links to show that she’s neither alone nor making it all up. She talks about the laziness of using expected relationships, tensions, and types in narrative construction (she talks about writing, but I want to apply her ideas to all the kinds of narratives we encounter these days (most of which start out as writing, yes, but I’m not taking chances!)). The article is accompanied by a curated collection of artwork depicting female warriors of various kinds, and essential what I want to say is you should all read it. It’s called “We Have Always Fought” and I found it useful.
I wish more people would have or accept realizations like Hurley’s – that when what we think of as “realistic” and what we observe in life are extremely different, it’s our perceptions, not our observations, that are wrong – and I wish that more people cared about how their stories can affect, or at least amplify, the culture of which they are a part. I say this because I get the impression that there are plenty of writers out there employing the lazy tropes Hurley warns about whose response would amount to, “I write what I want because that’s why and so there.” Or would tell her to shut up and make a sandwich, or any of the other awful things misogynists say to feminists who have the audacity to voice opinions (I have just realized that this is pretty pointed but offered without context, so I refer you, trigger warned in advance, to this Jezebel piece). On the other hand, there is clearly hope – if Kameron Hurley can see this problem and write about it, hopefully other people can, too, and others who didn’t realize on their own can read these pieces and see what’s happening. Maybe someday our collective memory of “the way it’s always been” won’t be the imaginary 1950’s crossed with the imaginary/upper class Victorian period and we’ll remember that women have always worked, fought, provided for families, and done every single thing any other human being has done, because WE ARE ALL PEOPLE.