George R.R. Martin, Come Get Your People


A SYTYCB entry

It’s hard out there for a geek girl who loves fantasy. A genre which frequently gets labeled “for boys,” strong female characters are in short supply. It soured me on the genre for a long time, and it was only after friends I trusted recommended I watch “Game of Thrones” that I even heard of  George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series. I watched the first season, quickly devoured all 5 books in about 2 months, and nearly danced over finally finding a fantasy series which was not only well-written but featured female characters who were complex, intelligent characters whose value was not boiled down to “love interest” or “evil witch.”

Except the show is pretty problematic, both racially and with gender. There are massive changes from book to show which “dumb down” female characters in order to push forward the story lines of the male characters, and there’s a definite “white savior” feel to Daenarys Targaryen’s life in Essos.  There are also those who think the entire series is both anti-feminist and disgusting as well as those who argue that such critiques ignore that the women in the series are the shrewdest players of the game. But even as problematic as these things were, I liked this series and, being the kind of geek girl who gets involved with online fandom, I went looking for like-minded people with whom I could discuss the series, warts and all. What I found was far more problematic than the source material.

Meet Linda Antonsson. She helps run the largest website for the ASOIAF series on the internet, with her partner, Elio Garcia. Angry about the criticisms concerning what female users saw to be tacit approval of sexism and racism on the website’s forums, Linda created  a tumblr to address her detractors. What followed could only be described as downright disgusting.

There’s the rationale as to why you cannot join’s role playing game and play a POC.  There are the explanations as to why POC should not play characters who are Caucasian in the books under the guise of “book purity.”  There is a truly troubling post making light of a female character’s domestic abuse and marital rape  followed by an entry about why what was stated as abuse in the text is not abuse.  Let’s not forget the labeling of female fans who confront her on her statements “feminazis.”  And more recently it is the fervent arguing that canonical POC are not really POC. It has gotten so bad that one female fan  has created a petition in hopes of getting George RR Martin’s attention in regards to the treatment of the fans, a petition currently signed by 345 women and men, many of whom explain their feelings on the things she says.

As terrible as so much of this, it is worse because Linda is a co-author of the upcoming ASOIAF compendium “A World of Ice and Fire,” written with Elio Garcia and Martin himself. She was credited in the dedication in “A Dance With Dragons,” the most recent book. She is one of the most public faces for ASOIAF fandom and helps create an environment where female fans and fans of color are only accepted if they tow the line. This is perfectly encapsulated in a quote from Linda herself:

“You can’t come from a largely female community into a community where the majority of posters are male and expect the same mode of expression to be welcome.”

I still love ASOIAF. I am deeply invested in what happens to Arya, Sansa, Cersei, Brienne, Daenarys, and Arianne. I have met wonderful people in the fandom. But so long as Martin turns a blind eye to what Antonsson does and says, it tells a portion of fandom that our voices and concerns clearly don’t matter.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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