“[Fantastic fiction] is accused of giving children a false impression of the world they live in But I think no literature that children could read gives them less of a false impression. I think what profess to be realistic stories for children are far more likely to deceive them. I never expected the real world to be like the fairy tales. I think that I did expect school to be like the school stories. The fantasies did not deceive me: the school stories did.
…Do fairy tales teach children to retreat into a world of wish-fulfilment ‘fantasy’ in the technical psychological sense of the word—instead of facing the problems of the real world? …Let us again lay the fairy tale side by side with the school story or any other story which is labelled a ‘Boy’s Book’ or a ‘Girl’s Book’, as distinct from a `Children’s Book’. There is no doubt that both arouse, and imaginatively satisfy, wishes. We long to go through the looking glass, to reach fairy land. We also long to be the immensely popular and successful schoolboy or schoolgirl, or the lucky boy or girl who discovers the spy’s plot or rides the horse that none of the cowboys can manage. But the two longings are very different. The second, especially when directed on something so close as school life, is ravenous and deadly serious. …We run to it from the disappointments and humiliations of the real world: it sends us back to the real world undivinely discontented. For it is all flattery to the ego. The pleasure consists in picturing oneself the object of admiration.
The other longing, that for fairy land, is very different. In a sense a child does not long for fairy land as a boy longs to be the hero of the first eleven. Does anyone suppose that he really and prosaically longs for all the dangers and discomforts of a fairy tale?—really wants dragons in contemporary England? It is not so. It would be much truer to say that fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. …The boy reading the school story of the type I have in mind desires success and is unhappy (once the book is over) because he can’t get it: the boy reading the fairy tale desires and is happy in the very fact of desiring. For his mind has not been concentrated on himself, as it often is in the more realistic story.
I do not mean that school stories for boys and girls ought not to be written. I am only saying that they are far more liable to become ‘fantasies’ in the clinical sense than fantastic stories are. And this distinction holds for adult reading too. The dangerous fantasy is always superficially realistic. The real victim of wishful reverie does not batten on the Odyssey, The Tempest, or The Worm Ouroboros: he (or she) prefers stories about millionaires, irresistible beauties, posh hotels, palm beaches and bedroom scenes—things that really might happen, that ought to happen, that would have happened if the reader had had a fair chance. For, as I say, there are two kinds of longing. The one is an askesis, a spiritual exercise, and the other is a disease.”—C. S. Lewis, “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” (via vr-trakowski)
incandescent giants who lick their gold teeth,
whose mouths are full of crumbling cities, who breathe
death and fire and revelation and madness while
diamonds crack like splinters of bone between their gums
their whims are carved in stone, sand, pillars of salt
their feathers sticky with luminescent blood, their fingers
thunderous with creation, lightning in their eyes
that crackles and hisses from every direction of the sky
the divine is not static and humane; the divine does not play nice.
they will eat everything you are.
they will leave you reformed in a roar of light, peel away layers of you like birth
and with a saint’s conviction you will know that nothing feels more like luxury,
better to be blinded by brilliance than close your eyes to awe-
for your lips are always being kissed.
your mouth is champagne roses. you will eat lotuses. your lungs are perfumed and
your bones will blossom into stars. your blood is wine and you are clothed in light;
your skin threshed wheatlike until the gold of you shines.
Do you think the erasure of women is sometimes the fault of Marvel? Ignoring "Agents of Shield" for a moment, because the movies seem to have the bigger fandom and bulk of shipping: what women do we see? "Thor" had Frigga and Sif, who only exist in relation to the men (Jane was from another world so incompatible with Thor), "Hulk" had a woman never mentioned again, "CA" a woman dead in modern day, and "IM" had Pepper who is the SOLE female lead aside from Natasha (who exists in relation to men).
Alright, I’m going to handle this calmly like the adult I am from a biological perspective, and try to argue properly.
So, no, I don’t think that the erasure of women is Marvel’s fault; I don’t think it sometimes, I don’t think it sporadically, I never thought it even only once, and I wince whenever someone alludes to the possibility that the fandom be innocent in matters such as misogyny, if internalised. In any case, no one forces you to write male-dominated universes from which women are absent, Marvel less than everyone else because the M.C.U. actually features women who happen to be clever and competent, have agency and a mind of their own, are respected by the significant men in their lives, and have relationships with them and with one another that make sense and rely on mutual understanding. In other words, the fandom is successfully annihilating all efforts made by the source material to provide us with compelling female characters. Le wow.
What women do we see?
We see, indeed, Virginia “Pepper” Potts, 40-something C.E.O. of a multi-billion-dollar company, who worked hard to arrive where she is and who may be a bit in love with her (former) boss, she is too much of a professional to let that cloud her judgement and refuse to make private matters pass before the good of the enterprise. This woman is clever, resourceful, supportive of other women, and even though she hasn’t got any superpower of her own beside awesomeness, she knows how to make the right choice under duress. She doesn’t depend on any man.
The Incredible Hulk had Betty Ross, a clever and competent scientist who, yes, is in love with a brilliant colleague and sticks with them throughout his terrifying ordeal; instead of screaming like a ninny every two seconds, Dr. Ross works with him and does her best to try and understand the beast beneath the man. She is not afraid of what she doesn’t understand. She faces danger a little brazenly, as she isn’t perfect, but she is strong and stubborn.
Everybody knows that Iron Man 2 was a terrible movie, and many will describe the portrayal of the Black Widow as one of its downsides, but this doesn’t prevent Natasha Romanov from already appearing extremely competent and efficacious, and something very interesting happens mid-film, when we see Pepper and her get along without a trace of feminine rivalry over Tony Stark. This was a premise of the relationship hinted at in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., when it is implied that Pepper and Natasha formed a bond that extends to former Agent Maria Hill, newly employed at Stark Industries.
Do I have to remind you of the role taken by Natasha Romanov during The Avengers? She is the one who goes to find Banner, the one who introduces him to Steve Rogers, the only one to beat Loki on a head level, the one who closes the portal in the end—and all along she was the only one with a damsel in distress to save. She fought and survived an alien attack with her fists and two handguns. She is one of the Avengers. She is the one character with a redemption arc and this gets constantly glossed over.
And now, let me tell you about Thor. Or rather, let me do my best not to try to traverse your screen and smother you with a ton of meta about how this is the first feminist superhero movie ever made, a movie in which four, FOUR women have agency, power or curiosity, intelligence, and a mind for adventure and change. Let me, at least, speak to you of Jane Foster, a FUCKING ASTROPHYSICIST WHO FUCKING DISCOVERED OTHER GALAXIES AND ASGARD AND HAS MADE A FUCKING BLACK HOLE PORTAL ON HER BLOODY OWN WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE DOESN’T COUNT and what do you mean she is incompatible with Thor?!! A scientist. A fucking ground-breaking scientist who was right all along and who completely bypasses the hunky hero at first because she is too busy working and in the end the film proves her right. This never, ever happens in movies. Dr. Jane Foster was right to pursue her career and the hero loves her for her dedication to her work. He literally falls for her intelligence, here. He encourages her to go on. HE ENCOURAGES HER TO GO ON WITH HER RESEARCH. SEVERAL TIMES. And this woman shares screentime with another woman with whom she appears to have a playful, non-aggressive relationship, who supports her and with whom she beautifully PASSES THE BECHDEL TEST WITHIN THE FIRST MINUTES OF THE MOVIE.
Speaking of women and tests, the Lady Sif is introduced to us right away as someone who had to overcome her society’s sexist views on women and combat to become “one of the fiercest warriors this realm has ever met.” On her own. ON HER OWN. And the hero supported her—hey, do I not perceive like a motif in this flick? Like, the male hero actually likes the idea of strong women with agency and intelligence? Mmmh? Wonder who he might have taken this from… lemme see… mmh… hey, what about his mother the Queen? You know, the one who can handle both her very difficult, very different sons? The one who knows how to talk to Odin and stand up to him? The one who saved his life during his Odinsleep FELLING A JÖTUNN WARRIOR WITH A SINGLE BLOW? And who might have bested Malekith in fight if it hadn’t been for Kurse?
Oh, fucking bite me.
And Captain America. That bloody Captain America. In which the title character bonds with a female officer because they can relate to each other’s life experiences as people mocked for their inadequacies, her because she is a woman? You know, that one Peggy Carter character, who influences Steve’s choices because she supported him and believed in him and gave him the means to go save Bucky Barnes?!!! When all others had given up on the rescue mission, or were too busy utilising Steve like a circus monkey?
No, Peggy isn’t just fucking “dead in the present”. Peggy was Steve’s past in the absence of Bucky, a past whose memory was waning so much and so terribly that sometimes, she was the Peggy of yore; but more than that, Peggy is S.H.I.E.L.D.—she is the barely living trace of what the agency was meant to represent. What can live on is her legacy, too.
Yes, these women exist in relation to men. They are interacting with our protagonists, oh noes! What sort of female characters would you rather have had? Penny the taxi driver, barging in at some point to drop her latest client at the airpot without any relation to the story, the plot, and the main characters? The problem is not in having characters related to one another, the problem is in the type of relations and rapports. Absolutely all these female characters Marvel have given us are portrayed as clever and clear-minded, witty and funny, able to stand side-by-side with male superheroes without ever being diminished. They often make the males better, or simply come to save their sorry arse, but they DON’T DEPEND ON THESE MEN. Even Natasha Romanov, who owes a debt to one of her colleagues—Clint “Hawkeye” Barton—and one of her bosses—Nick Fury—doesn’t depend on them emotionally: her ledger is her own affair.
These are all immense characters, very rare in movies, practically unheard of in blockbusters, and more than everything, extraordinarily absent from fanfiction. No one forces a fandom to erase characters. “Erasure” means that there was something to erase. The excuse of the source material not being rich enough is getting dangerously close to being active denial of what I’d call a grand misogynistic conspiracy if I didn’t know it was made out of laziness, lack of imagination, immaturity, and a great deal of overindulgence. Fandom nurtures its own demons.
avengers au where clint’s got his hearing aids but he turns them off when hes bored so that he can try to decipher what everyones saying and no one knows he does it but they think its weird when he misses huge gaps of a story or throws in an oddly specific detail that never happened or gets a name really wrong on an official report tony and nat try to piece together whats happening through increasingly convoluted ways that may result in more than a few injuries steves convinced its just something left over from when loki was in his head and he keeps trying to get sam to talk to him about it bruce starts trying to develop a new hearing aid that’ll register the sound better (clint accepts them and then proceeds to continue turning those ones off too) and then one day thor’s telling a story about loki’s embarrassing childhood and he just offhandedly says ‘tell barton to turn his ears on, he will like the next part’ and the room just goes quiet as they realize theres absolutely nothing wrong with clint hes just been being a shit the entire time
what if the avengers spend the entire movie fighting ultron and they never get the upper hand and things are lookin’ pretty dire for them and then at the very last second pepper potts shows up and blows him up and then turns around and goes “that was okay, right? that was the bad robot? okay just checking”
“The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) has done things that are far more heinous than anything Grant Ward has ever done as far as we know, and yet, at the end of the movie, you’re rooting for him to come back on the side of the angels,”—
Worst of all — this dude is one of the execs for Agents of SHIELD, and this sounds like a prelude to a fucking redemption arc. Now I fully expect the next season to be a shitfest. Just… how can you misinterpret your characters this badly?
“So now the perception is, yes, women are here to stay. And when I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]? And I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”—Ruth Bader Ginsburg taking down the patriarchy like the fucking hero that she is. (via whoistorule)