I had a good idea for a post today, but, of course, I didn't write it down and now I can't remember it. So please excuse me as I indulge in a bit of "thinking out loud" -- which is what I suppose blogs are usually meant to be. Following the fine example of Sophia's Favourite (see the sidebar) I'll go in point form:

  • In preparation for next Sunday (29th)'s episode of Restoration Radio, I've been reading a few articles about The Hunger Games. One had a rather good turn of phrase concerning the nearly-mandatory warrior woman in action/adventure film and literature these days: "in occult, gender-bending fashion, a young woman performs the pugilistic feats required to defend her family". I think the writer was using the word "occult" incorrectly but I do like the phrase "gender-bending pugilism". I do not like the whole obsession with warrior women. I can handle a Joan of Arc character who's an EXCEPTION. But really, men are meant to fight and it's contrary to a woman's nature. Not to mention, as the Israeli's found out the hard way, it's just a really bad idea due to human nature. It's all the more annoying that it's omnipresent in anything action/adventure but seemingly even more so in fantasy and sci fi. At this point it would be downright edgy to do something where only the men fight.
  • Which reminds me of the trailer I saw while at The Hunger Games for this new "Snow White and the Huntsman" (apparently sans dwarves). I was initially impressed with the trailer. Upon second watching not so sure. Per my above comment, OF COURSE, Snow White herself has to don plate mail and take up the sword. Anyway, here's the video:

  • Here's another reason why I love Games Workshop's Warhammer -- they're not afraid to put fantastic mustaches on their heroes. Check out this post from their blog: Our top 5 Moustaches of the Warhammer world. For my money, Kurt Helborg wins hands-down. Almost enough to make me want to build an Empire army if I ever finish my 40K Imperial Guard ... but no, I shall stay true to Bretonnia and rebuild the army of Duke Lucien le Juste eventually.
  • Star Wars can provide occasions for philosophical discussion and teaching moments. At breakfast today my 5 year-old son and I talked about Captain Needa (the officer who gets his throat crushed by Vader after losing the Millennium Falcon in Empire Strikes back). I explained to him that Captain Needa was an honourable man and a good captain who protected his crew from Darth Vader's wrath. So then my son thought he was a Rebel and I had to explain how even though the Emperor and Vader are clearly evil, that doesn't mean every Imperial Officer and every storm trooper is evil and how they still need to obey lawful orders. A bit of a blow struck against Donatist tendencies there, I think.


Sophia's Favorite said...

I've found Japanese stuff handles the warrior-woman thing well; I just caught up on the (350+ 15-page) chapters of "Hayate the Combat Butler", a comic about the single least-fortunate teenage boy in all of fiction (his parents leave him with a 1.8 million dollar debt to the yakuza, which they racked up by gambling away his last paycheck after they get him fired from his job...and give him the I.O.U as a Christmas present), who becomes butler, and bodyguard (hence "combat butler), to a spoiled-brat-with-a-good-heart heiress. One of the characters is the female president of their school's kendo club (kendo is not real swordfighting—my sister studied the real thing, battodo—but it's better than nothing when actual swords are drawn). The girl, named Hinagiku ("Daisy"—literally "sunny chrysanthemum") is the only female character who can fight alongside the protagonist—but she has a crush on him, and wishes he'd protect her like he does the other girls. Even then, he does protect her once in a while: she can only stand heights if he holds her hand (though never dirtier than PG-13, its comedy makes the darkest American stuff look tame—and then it turns around and pulls eye-misting romance on you).

Aside from how the Japanese rightly consider "don't hit girls" to be something "feminists" should believe, and how the intrinsic difference between male and female is a vital part of their cosmology ("male" and "female" are just "yang" and "yin" in the context of sex), another factor in their handling it better might come from the fact women of samurai clans went armed at all times, like their husbands (with a dagger instead of a short and long sword), and learned to fight with spears instead of swords (to offset their reach disadvantage). Then again in the High Middle Ages noblewomen sometimes commanded troops, notably in the Second Crusade, and also St. Louis's wife while he was sick or imprisoned, during his two. The "women completely out of fighting entirely" ideal of the 19th century had something to say for itself, but was probably unrealistic; most warfare throughout history has had roughly the US military's current setup, of women less-common but not unrepresented, in everything but "frontline" roles.

Nicholas D.C. Wansbutter said...

I suspect that another reason the Japanese handle it better, is that they're not a "post-Christian" society. Therefore, they don't have the "need" to oppose everything good and true and can still accept some natural law.

I think you're right on your assessment of the realities of warfare. My big beef is with (a) women in "frontline" fighting, (b) women as the big martial heroes in sci fi/fantasy, and (c) the prevalence of (b) to the point of total domination of the genre.

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