May 8 2014 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 14

A Song of Ice and Fire George R R Martin Feast for CrowsWelcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 14 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 20 (“Brienne”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

Chapter 20: Brienne

What Happens
As they travel, Dick Crabb tries to convince Brienne he is trustworthy, but Brienne instructs Podrick to watch him, and is proved right when she catches him searching through her bags; she hopes he is a better guide than he is a thief. He tells them stories of the lords of Crackclaw Point, who he says were all loyal to the Targaryens, and is unimpressed by Brienne’s stories from her region. He is irritated by her continuing lack of trust for him, and Brienne thinks of how she once believed that all men were as noble as her father, but was soon disabused of that notion. She remembers her “suitors” at Harrenhal, and how she had sought them out at the Bitterbridge tourney and trounced them all.

As they go further north, Dick warns Brienne of “squishers”, scaly fish monsters who steal bad children at night. Brienne doesn’t believe a word of it. She wishes Jaime were with her, but knows his place is with the king. She thinks of how she had sworn to protect both Renly and Lady Catelyn, and failed them both.

They climb a cliff up to the Dyre’s Den, and Podrick points out a rider following them; Dick swears he has nothing to do with whoever it is. They reach the top, and Dick urges them to ride on before Lord Brune gets suspicious of their presence. Brienne is uneasy about the rider at their rear, but agrees. They enter a boggy pine forest which unnerves all of them; Podrick opines that it is “a bad place”, but Brienne tells him there is nothing to worry about. She frets privately that Dick is luring them somewhere to murder them, but determines to carry on for lack of any better option. She remembers how her old master-at-arms had worried that she was too soft to kill when necessary, and promises herself that she will not flinch from it.

They reach the ruins of The Whispers. Dick becomes nervous that the fool will be angry at him that he lied about smugglers still coming there, but Brienne says the gold she’ll give him will be more than enough to placate him—if he is even there. They find signs that someone has been to the ruins recently, and Brienne doubts that Sansa and Dontos were ever here, but thinks someone else was, and she must check to be sure. She gives Crabb her ordinary sword, to his surprise, before they enter the castle, and takes Oathkeeper out for herself.

They enter the ruins, leaving Podrick behind to guard the horses, but instead of Dontos and Sansa, they find Pyg, Shagwell, and Timeon, from Vargo Hoat’s crew. Shagwell kills Crabb, and cheerfully threatens to rape Brienne. Timeon tells Brienne she pretty much doomed Vargo with the bite to his ear, and how Gregor Clegane finally killed him. Brienne blurts that she is looking for a daughter of Lord Stark, and Timeon tells her Sandor Clegane has her, and went toward Riverrun.

Then they attack, and Brienne swiftly kills Pyg. Timeon and Shagwell are about to flank her when a stone come out of nowhere and hits Shagwell; Brienne seizes the opportunity and kills Timeon. Podrick hits Shagwell with another rock and shouts to Brienne that he can fight, see? Shagwell tries to plead for mercy, saying he is too funny to die, and Brienne makes him dig a grave for Crabb. He tries to attack her as she buries Crabb, and Brienne pulls out her dagger.

She knocked aside his arm and punched the steel into his bowels. “Laugh,” she snarled at him. He moaned instead. “Laugh,” she repeated, grabbing his throat with one hand and stabbing at his belly with the other.

Laugh!” She kept saying it, over and over, until her hand was red up to the wrist and the stink of the fool’s dying was like to choke her. But Shagwell never laughed. The sobs that Brienne heard were all her own. When she realized that, she threw down her knife and shuddered.

Hyle Hunt appears as they are burying Crabb, and says Lord Randyll bid him to follow her in case she came upon Sansa Stark. He asks what she will do, and she decides she will find the Hound and see if he has Sansa. Hyle helps her bury Nimble Dick.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, about heroines vs. heroes and whether the divide between the two needs to be as big as it seems to be, and I’m still fairly conflicted about the entire question.

Because functionally, Brienne is no different from any hero on a quest we’ve ever read about: she is an honorable warrior, she has a person to rescue (a damsel in distress, even), she encounters obstacles to that objective and overcomes them (at least so far), she has crises of conscience/worries of worthiness along the way. On a bare-bones level, her story arc is no different from any similar hero you might come across in the fantasy genre, or even outside of it.

And yet it is not similar at all, because she is a woman in a society that does not recognize her right to be “a hero”, and so she deals with that obstacle on top of all the other obstacles a male hero would expect to occur. Because, I’m pretty sure that a male knight on a quest wouldn’t have to deal with literally every opponent he comes across threatening to rape him as well as kill him. Not in your average fantasy literature, anyway.

Which is interesting, because you know, technically there is no reason why a man can’t get raped by another man just as easily as a woman can be, and there is quite a bit of evidence that (especially in the absence of any women being available) that is something that is more likely than not to actually occur, and yet that is the kind of thing that we rarely or never see happen in the stories we get told, in books or in movies or on TV.

And at some point, you know, as long as we’re doing the gritty realism thing (which Martin certainly seems to be striving for, within the “epic fantasy” box, of course), I have to begin to wonder how much of that dichotomy is “realism”, and how much of it is just conforming to gendered expectations, and an instinctive aversion to applying the threat of rape across the board. Because (disgustingly enough) we are conditioned as a culture to expect that the threat of rape is an ever-present (and therefore disturbingly normal) one to women, but the idea of raping men is still either completely taboo, or so far beyond the pale that it is only presented as a possibility in the most extreme of conditions, and not something that really happens otherwise.

And I am… not convinced that that is an accurate portrayal of how things were, back in the day. Or even how things are, in the here and now. It has too often turned out to be that the things which are not talked about at all are the things that are the most pervasive (and horrifying) demons of our society, until they are forcibly brought to light, and I have always had a sneaking suspicion that this particular issue is one of them.

My point being, in reference to Brienne, is that I am starting to have conflicted feelings about the way her story is portrayed. On the one hand, I applaud that it is bringing such things to light about what it would be to be a female hero in a world that doesn’t acknowledge such a thing is possible. But on the other, I begin to have a certain irritation that the only aspect of her story anyone seems to dwell on (including Brienne herself) is the fact of her femaleness, and the automatic and ever-present sexualization of that fact.

I don’t know. It is a dilemma, because on the one hand, yes, that is a thing and it must be acknowledged, but on the other, does it always have to be this acknowledged? Does literally every opponent Brienne meets have to threaten or actually attempt to rape her? At what point does it stop being about “realism” and start being about… well, fetishization?

I’m not sure. But I do think it is something to consider.

In less meta news, whoops, it seems like Brienne is now accidentally on Arya’s trail instead of Sansa’s! I’m… not actually upset by this, because even though Sansa probably could use more rescuing as a general thing than Arya does, the idea of Brienne and Arya getting together and sharing Warrior Women Tips with each other is totally squee-worthy material as far as I am concerned.

Of course, Arya isn’t even on the continent anymore, and tracking her is probably going to be even more difficult than tracking Sansa, so it’s perfectly possible that my pipe dream of Arya and Brienne being besties is, well, a pipe dream, but hey, I can have wild fantasies if I want to, okay! HATERS TO THE LEFT. Thbbt!

“Squishers”: totally not real. Unless they are, in which case I’ll say wow I totally knew they were real, go me. Okay, not really. But I could have!

Just as an FYI, pine forests are totally ten times creepier than regular forests. I personally think it’s something to do with the pine needles, and how the dead ones completely carpet the ground, all springy and deep, and they muffle all the sounds, even your own footsteps, so that it kind of feels like you aren’t even there. Maybe you were never there. Maybe you NEVER EXISTED, and you’ll never find your way out of this pine forest because you’re NOT REAL.

Or, you know. Something like that. This is totally not based on that time I got lost in a pine forest in Mississippi as a child and got kind of hysterical about it before I was finally found. Nope, not at all.

Am I to understand, by the way, that this is the first time Brienne has actually killed someone? I don’t think that that’s right, but given the way she reacted to it, it sort of seems like it is. Either way, though, I certainly hope she doesn’t bother to grieve over killing those three.

And that’s what I got for now, kids! Have a weekend, and I’ll see you next Thursday!

Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
1. Lisamarie
Your thoughts on acknowledgement vs. fetishization sum up pretty nicely my conflicting thoughts towards the show...
2. DougL
It's pretty clear from the text in my estimation that it was Brienne's first kill, but it must be nice when your first kills gets to be monsters, well, as much as men can be monsters.
Tricia Irish
3. Tektonica
You do have a way of parsing a subject, Leigh. You bring up points that I hadn't even imagined. Good.

Pine forests can be creepy, but they can also smell incredibly good in the heat of the afternoon. ;-)
Adam S.
I don't view Brienne's journey as fetishistic or overly dwelling on her sexuality. The fact is, she lives in a society with much more clearly defined gender roles than 21st century America, and she is operating outside of her assigned role, which forces her to confront it more than someone like Cat (it's also why Asha faces the same issue). As for this particuar chapter, she's facing 3 of the f-ing Brave Companions, a collection of the worst scum of Westeros, Essos, or Mos Eisley, so of course she would face graphic threats of rape from them.If Pod had been down there instead of up on a wall, he might have faced the same for all I know.
Nimble Dick was untrustworthy, of course, but it turned out he was telling the truth about the fool. I kind of started to like him by the end, he had a likeable scum quality that was endearing, especially since he wasn't a very capable or threatening thief.
I liked the ending to this chapter, with the heads of forgotten kings whispering secrets...
Sky Thibedeau
5. SkylarkThibedeau
I thought Brienne had killed those Northmen when she and Jaime were together. The ones who hung the Barmaids in the Riverlands.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
And at some point, you know, as long as we’re doing the gritty realism thing (which Martin certainly seems to be striving for, within the “epic fantasy” box, of course), I have to begin to wonder how much of that dichotomy is “realism”, and how much of it is just conforming to gendered expectations, and an instinctive aversion to applying the threat of rape across the board.

That's a pretty neat article, but avoid the comments, there are spoilers.
7. Lyanna Mormont
@5 I think that's a show-ism.

I grew up around pine forests, so to me they're not particularly creepy, they're just the way forests are supposed to be. Now, beech forests... those are just spooky. Beautiful, but spooky. Nothing growing under the trees!

Podrick is such a kid in this. "I'm a squire. I can fight" and later "I told you I can fight!"

And of course Brienne throws money into a grave. I mean, it's honorable and all, but aren't there lots of starving families in this wartorn country that would need that money more than a corpse would? Sometimes you can take that concept of honor too far.
8. Ryamano
When she was with Jaime, I think Brienne killed the men that were following them in the river (in the first Jaime chapter of ASOS). I don't remember if the text says they died, but I think they were wearing chainmail on a river, so they could've drowned.

Which is interesting, because you know, technically there is no reason why a man can’t get raped by another man just as easily as a woman can be, and there is quite a bit of evidence that (especially in the absence of any women being available) that is something that is more likely than not to actually occur, and yet that is the kind of thing that we rarely or never see happen in the stories we get told, in books or in movies or on TV.

We mostly see that on TV shows and movies about prison. That's when male rape comes in most of our societies. Sometimes storytellers try to make it funny (because rape is funny, if it's a man being raped), sometimes they try to make it horrific.

Not every adversary Brienne faced threatened her with rape. It's just that the Brave Companions are the scum of the earth, so they do these kind of things (when they captured her and Jaime and now). When Loras Tyrell tried to confront her about killing Renly, he didn't threaten to rape her, just to kill her for having betrayed her king. When Brienne and Jaime were fighting with their swords (and attracting the Brave Companions with their noise), Jaime didn't threaten to rape her.
9. andNowMyWatchBegins
Very interesting observations on male hero vs. female hero's journey here and the inherent thornyness of the whole thing vis a vis storytelling

As for the "you dont see many men being threatened with rape". so far in the story it seems that there is almost always females around (even at the wall) and the homosexual men in the story (inferred or otherwise) seem to be generally more human than some of the more macho hetero-male characters (see. Ranyll Tarly: inhuman monster TM)

Also. you may want to glance back at the previous chapter and the 'creaking door' based on your discussion here and see if you end up with the same theory that some others in the fandom have thought up...Jus' sayin'
10. DougL
@7. Lyanna Mormont

I agree, but she can't know for sure when she will run across someone worthy. It was technically his money even if she hadn't handed over yet, since he had done his job, and even died for it. He didn't seem the charitable sort. I don't know where I stand on her throwing money into the grave.
Michael Duran
11. MRHD
"Which is interesting, because you know, technically there is no reason why a man can’t get raped by another man just as easily as a woman can be, and there is quite a bit of evidence that (especially in the absence of any women being available) that is something that is more likely than not to actually occur, and yet that is the kind of thing that we rarely or never see happen in the stories we get told, in books or in movies or on TV."

Well, this is ASoIaF, so keep reading.

Anyways, I think rape comes up so much in respect to Brienne because she is a woman that has dared to defy the gender role she has been assigned by being a woman of noble birth. Whereas a man in her place would earn respect, she instead earns scorn for not ascribing to some fate of birth. With rape being about power or control, I think many of the meatheads in the mysgonistic society of Westeros see it as a way to "put her in her place". Of course, Brienne has been putting them in their place instead.

It is also interesting to compare her to Asha, who also bucks gender traditions. Asha obviously doesn't get near the amount of bile that Brienne does (not that she doesn't face any backlash as she certainly does, but still not to the same level as Brienne). Does that mean that the Ironborn's somewhat more democratic philosophy (at least to their own self-governance) makes them ever so slighty open to a woman in a "man's" role? Or is it Asha's personality, her wit and her sharp tongue, that gives her the tools to stand up to her critics and detractors in a way that socially awkward Brienne can't?
George Jong
12. IndependentGeorge
On reading Brienne's thoughts on killing, I think it's worth noting that at this point in the story, Arya's killed more people than Brienne has. If I'm not mistaken, she's about ten years old right now - about half of Brienne's age.

As much as she might think otherwise, there's a kind of innocence to Brienne's POV that we haven't seen in a long, long time.
Sky Thibedeau
13. SkylarkThibedeau
@7 You may be right. I swear I remember reading it but looks like it is not in a Storm of Swords. It must have occured in the sideways Westeros of the HBO film. If that's the case looking at Brienne's history so far, she might be a knight better suited for the Lists than the Battlefield.
14. Bill D5
I think a more interesting question, re: Brienne as a woman on a quest is "Why?" Most men are required to have a good reason to take up arms. Fighting for glory or for its own sake are generally looked upon with suspicion by contemporary readers, but that's pretty much what Brienne's career has been.

If we ignore the fact that she is a woman, then her actions, like riding off to answer the summons of a usurper, making decisions based on whom the warrior in question has a crush, randomly swearing fealty to a veritable stranger, especially as the only child of one's House, and then running off fighting for this, that or the other person, might be similar to many traditional fantasy adventurers' careers, but not a SoI&F character. I mean, look at the context of our introductions to her - Catelyn's visits to Renly's mobile court, where she looked askance on all those youthful idiots imagining they are on an adventure or some grand epic fantasy, calling them the knights of summer, "and winter is coming," yet, it is this group of idiots with whom Brienne identifies and which she defends, even after the whole virginity pool incident. Later Catelyn confronts Robar Royce about his taking service with Renly, receiving as the only justification, that he is superfluous to the family, being only a second son (because eldest sons are immortal, of course). Plainly, for an heir to take service with a lord or lady not his House's traditional liege would be unthinkable, and yet, that is exactly what Brienne does later with Catelyn, lacking only Robar's excuse of being a superfluous child.

It's just kind of interesting how the traditional rules of conduct for someone in a particular situation are tossed out in contemporary discussion when it is women seeking to assert themselves. And in more than one area of activity (sexual profligacy or evading parental obligations come to mind).

As for the sexualization of Brienne, the only people who have threatened to rape her have been from the lowest of scum, held in disdain by all, whose recent late leader had already tried to rape her. She has already been presented to them as a sexual target. The idea that Vargo Hoat represents any sort of societal norm is as appaling as Cersei being representative of women in power.

The rape references concerning Brienne have been expressions by people attempting to curtail her activity out of concern or patronization, and their predictions could also be seen as hyperbole intended to intimidate her. Even the danger of rape in her viriginity pool was only speculation from a man with rather extreme attitudes.

As for the threats made by the erstwhile Brave Companions, while in the case of these particular gentlemen, they might generally be sincere (Shagwell at the very least admits to being a serial rapist - as such, it is hard to see the continuation of that behavior as some sort of vendetta against empowerment; I doubt a significant proportion of his prior victims were women who outraged his patriarchal sensibilities by bearing arms), as I alluded last week in my discussion of the gender-driven criticism of Asha's claim, it could simply be trash-talking. Until you have faced a woman threatening your life with a deadly weapon, don't tell me you would not say the most vile thing you could if there was a chance it might frighten her into not stabbing you. Not that I am saying Timeon & co were justified or that she was wrong to threaten them, but everyone is the hero of his own story, and few people are willing to acknowledge the justification of others' claims against them.

It is hardly fair to call the attitudes of the scum and rejects from society indicative of society's attitudes on a particular subject. Society rejected Timeon & Shagwell, forcing them to seek employment among a company reviled even among a generally-scorned profession. Society put Rorge in a cage.

Finally, there is the fact that people make casual comments all the time without thought, that others find offensive. Certain fantasy novel bloggers not excepted. Somethings you just have to shrug off and roll with, rather than nitpick over every little word and hypothetical context.
Chris Nelly
15. Aeryl
@9, Sexual orientation matters little when it comes to rape. Rape is about power and dominance, not sexual frustration.

There should be endemic male on male rape at the Wall, it's a heirarchal society, a military one, and one that accepts sexual predators. But it's not, because it doesn't fit the narrative Martin wishes to tell, which is of a society of women as victim class. That's why you have legit princesses and heirs still using "feminine wiles" instead of political power to achieve their ends, why you have effective contraception and an apparent widespread conspiracy to keep it from noble women, because nobody DOES anything about it, and the complete glossing over of male rape.
Rob Munnelly
16. RobMRobM
There was an express male rape threatened on the TV show (in a scene that deviated from the books). That's about as close as we've come, I think.

Agree with Ryanamo that B probably killed some of the Tully folk in the Jaime escape. This is probably her first close-in kills.

During the Nimble Dick chapters, I kept waiting for the trap and backstab - a feeling GRRM expressly fed into in his writing style. I was surprised to the point of shocked that Dick was honest after all. And, yes, I was irritated by her throwing in the gold coins. Ridiculous.

I remember the first time reading this that I had no memory of who these Hoat henchmen were. Still struggle with it.

Very nice theme in her about how all of the Westeros regions have all of their own histories and legends. Very vibrantly told tales by Dick. Then you look back to the Vale in ASOS and young Robert Arryn is all about tales of the Winged Knight. Great, deep color that adds to the story.
17. JaimenotJamie
Did she not kill anyone in Renly's tent?
18. litg
In A Clash of Kings, I believe Arya recieves a similar threat from Rorge when everyone still believes she is a boy. So there is at least one example, though admittedly there are differences threatening a boy vice a man, even apart from the extra-horrific aspects of threatening a child in this manner.
Andrew Berenson
19. AndrewHB
Leigh said: "so it’s perfectly possible that my pipe dream of Arya and Brienne being besties is, well, a pipe dream, but hey, I can have wild fantasies if I want to, okay!"

If that is your idea of "wild fantasies" then you in I live in a much different world. And I am not talking about you living in the New Orleans area and me living in the Philadelphia area.

Just saying. To each their own.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Rob Munnelly
20. RobMRobM
@17 - that's another TV show-ism. She didn't kill anyone in Renly's tent. (Loras did, however).
21. Ryamano
Why do you talk about effective contraception, Aeryl? Tansy seems to have caused a lot of trouble to Lysa Tully. It's not like "the pill" of nowadays, more like an abortficent (sp), something that makes a pregnant woman abort, with all the dangers that come with that regarding health and future fertility.

(Roll over for spoilers)
Regarding male rape, we haven't reached yet the Alayne/Sansa chapter where Littlefinger reveals what he used to buy Lyn Corbray's loyalty: the offer of little boys for him to have fun with. Also, no attention was given in this read or the comments on the corrupted septon that was a member of the Brave Companions, the guy that got captured in an Arya chapter in ASOS and admitted to molesting boys because he couldn't control himself. GRRM does put male rape in this (and other) books, it just hasn't got attention so far in the comments (probably because it's very tangential to the main story).

Regarding the Wall and why there isn't that much rape between Night Watch members. I always suspected that the less savory among the NW not only went to the brothel in Mole's Town, but also raped wildling women they came to confront (spearwives and noncombatants), once they were in patrols composed only of "bad apples". So far we saw mostly the "good apples" of the NW in action, like in the patrol commaned by the Halfhand (who ordered Jon "just" to kill Ygritte, not to rape and share her) and saw the "bad apples" take over only in the mutiny in Craster's keep. But there probably were patrols of only "bad apples" sometimes. To make a comparison with the real world, the Imperial Japanese Army was brutal in its training, just as the Night's Watch seemed to be (see Alister Thorne). But their brutality didn't involve raping the recruits in neither case. What happened in the IJA was that the brutalized recruits later externalized their frustration on other people outside the IJA (including raping civilians in occupied territory*). So my guess would be that the wildlings aren't also unjustified in living in a state of almost perpetual war with the Southerners. I don't think most of the rapists in the NW would prefer to stay inside the castles, living only with men and trying to rape them, instead of going out on patrols, where their raping needs could be satisfied by the wildling women(who are "fair game" in the minds of many members of the NW, that see them only as "the enemy").

* a sidenote: most of the western prisioners raped by the IJA were women (comfort women), even though there were many, many more men captured by them (American, British and Dutch prisioners of war), and they clearly disregarded the prisioners humanity (see Bataan Death March). So, I think when the bunch of male rapists has an external outlet to their raping ways that's kind of approved by the powers above them, they'll use it instead of raping each other.
Eric McCabe
22. Zizoz
So, I may have forgotten -- when did Brienne have "suitors" at Harrenhal? I'm struggling to think why she would have been there.
Maiane Bakroeva
23. Isilel
I always found it a bit strange that Brienne thought that this was going to be her first kill, since she was attacked by Renly's guards after his death and I disctinctly remember limbs being lopped off and blood spurting. Of course, it was from Cat's PoV, but it looked to me that at least one of the guardsmen had to be dead. Maybe Brienne was in affect and didn't realize it?
Oh, and she also dropped that rock on Tully men pursuing her, Jaime and Cleos in a barge... As has been mentioned, some of them probably drowned, wearing armor and all.

So, yea. I guess, this encounter was the first time that Brienne was fully cognizant of her opponents' deaths?

I have also always found it odd that everybody immediately recognizes Brienne as female, when in a society with dressing and occupation code somebody like her should have easily passed for an (odd) man, perhaps a eunuch due to some unfortunate wound.
Of course, the Brave Companions actually knew who she was, but I found it jarring when chance encounters like those hedge knights a few chapters back or guards at Maidenpool were immediately aware that she was a woman.

Re: threats of rape, I guess it is about "putting her in her place" and also about the refusal to aknowledge her as a dangerous opponent. IMHO, women and children being the usual targets of rape historically could, besides everything else, be pragmatic. I.e. it is assumed that they'd be easier to subdue without danger of injury to oneself. Certainly, boys were often enough targeted during sacks and such - i.e. fall of Constantinople to the Turks.
24. GarrettC
There is, of course, one prominent rape of a major male character in ASOIAF, but people largely gloss over it because he's male, and men are supposed to be grateful for any sex they can get. I'm talking about Jon Snow.

When I've mentioned it before, it's seemed an unpopular interpretation of what happened to him, but I can't read it any other way. He spends chapters on chapters agonizing over the fact that he might have to have sex when he doesn't want to, and then Ygritte puts him in a position where his choices are literally "sex or death." That's not consent in my book.

I'm not saying this as a "hey guys the rape is fair men are raped too" kind of comment. I hope it's obvious that a single example of one character, which the text doesn't even seem to take seriously as a rape situation (where's the trauma or recovery, Jon Snow?), doesn't balance the rape scales, especially considering (as Aeryl points out) how completely unbelievable it is that a place like the Wall isn't overrun with the problem.

But if people are looking for an example, there is one standing in front of all of our faces, waving enthusiastically.
Deana Whitney
25. Braid_Tug
Re: Brienne as heir - Well that is one place where Randall Tarlley propably treated her the same if she was a boy. "You kid, go back home and do your duty to your farther. Produce an heir before you are killed by your foolish behavior."
Works the same for a young male heir as a female heir.

You know his youngest is probably going to be married as soon as possible to produce the next generation of Tarlley’s. Since his younger son was considered “worthy” where Sam was not.

And sad to say, would Brienne get more respect if she was a little prettier? There's a whole different box.

@19: Not those types of wild fantasies. Behave. :-)
There are more than one type of wild fantasies.

And yes, I agree with the others about the Brave Companions being the lowest of dirtbags. So threat of rape from them is pretty expected. She just keeps running into that type. So we hear it every time we see her.
But Randal’s comment of “Don’t come to me when you get raped” does not help anything.
26. Ithilanor
Leigh, your thoughts about "realism" vs. fetishization hit the nail on the head about my biggest problem with this series. I think GRRM walks a very fine line, and sometimes falls on the wrong side of it.
Chris Nelly
27. Aeryl
@21, There's also all the young maidens using because of Tom Sevenstrings. There are lots of references to people using it with no side effects. The thing that happened with Lysa, seems to be implied she was forced to take late in her term. ROLL OVER FOR SPOILER Asha uses it monthly, as a contraceptive, with no ill effects.

Church Tucker
28. Church
@15 Fair point on the threat of male rape. You'd think Sam, at least, would have encountered some of that.

Re. Effective Contraception, that actually existed in Roman times. Predictably, it was harvested to extinction.
Chris Nelly
29. Aeryl
@28, I've heard that, but I have my doubts. The Romans did understand agriculture.
Maiane Bakroeva
30. Isilel
Bill D5 @14:

Brienne supported Renly because he was her liege-lord. Everybody in the Stormlands was obliged to support him. And his case against Cersei (which necessarily also pitted him against her kids) was actually rather persuasive.
Despite Stannis's delusional ravings, Robert naming Renly the lord paramount of the Stormlands was completely legal. Now, Brienne's devotion went beyond that, but such could have been the case if she had been a man too. Renly did have qualities that could have elicited such loyalty.
After he was murdered by Stannis, 2 things happened:

Brienne had to know that the Stormlands would now go over to Stannis, the last Baratheon apart from Cersei's kids and Renly's murderer. And the one who was right the to go over to, unlike the former. If she went home, she'd have had to support him too or risk him attacking Tarth. She couldn't stomach this, as a honorable man in her position couldn't have either. Instead, she vowed to avenge Renly , ditto.

Cat saved her life. Brienne needed somewhere to go to that wasn't Tarth and something to do (for her keep, if nothing else) and Cat looked like a worthy opportunity for both.

So, I am sorry to say, BillD5, but it looks to me like you are condemning Brienne for something that you wouldn't have condemned a somewhat idealistic male knight for.

Royce's situation was completely different, because he was from the Vale, which has remained neutral in the conflict. So, he was in it only to snatch some glory and/or make a place for himself. Which is also nothing to look down onto, IMHO, but Cat was understandably biased, fearing for her son and her House.

Aeryl @29:

Some plants are very difficult to cultivate, because they have very specific and difficult to fathom requirements. There are some that can't be cultivated even now, they grow in the wild only.
Amey Chinchorkar
31. ameyc
Heh, Brienne and Arya being BFFs makes me want "Brienne and Arya in the mooorning". They can get together and talk "dancing".
32. Ragnarredbeard
On Brienne throwing the money in the grave, I saw that as normal for her character. She's honest and honorable, hired a man to do a job and paid him off at the end. If he had said with his dieing breath that he had a wife and 3 kids back in town, I guarantee Brienne would have promised to deliver the money to them.

Its also possible she does it for herself as well. She's probably pretty conflicted over the whole deal and throwing the money is a way to close the books.
Martin Cohn
33. arixan
Quick poll in re male on male rape:

How many times in this series has someone or another threatened to "shove that up your arse?"

That is where male on male rape seems to live in our culture and that of medievil Westeros.
Church Tucker
34. Church

Not conclusive, but prolly enough for a fantasy series (c.f. ESP in SciFi.)
35. Henry R.
Great discussion all.

Regarding Brienne's reaction to killing Hoat's men, I am reminded of an episode of ST:DS9 where O'Brian is talking to a Cardassian at a bar about why he has shown hatred toward his kind. O'Brian hated the kind of person the Cardassian turned him into during their war.

I think Brienne might have been having a similar reaction. She is not a killer. She tried to disable the boat to stop the pursuit of Jaime. She reactively defended herself after the death of Renly, and at a time when her emotions were still processing Renly's death. Here she finally comes to grip with the act of killing and hates what those scumbags made her become.

I don't know, maybe not...
36. officialpietester

The first one that comes to mind is Jaime threatening to stick a sword up Loras so far Renly couldn't find it
Vincent Lane
37. Aegnor
I have read statistics that indicate male rape nearly as common as female rape, except it is significantly underreported as there is a much greater stigma against it for a male victim. And it isn't taken as seriously when it is reported. I've actually read accounts of female on male rape and the consensus of those victims was NOT to report it. because you are more likely to be charged with rape yourself, rather than finding justice against the perpetrator.
Steven Halter
38. stevenhalter
Chapter 20 - Brienne:Nimble Dick is not doing very well in showing trustworthiness. Is his bungled thievery really a ploy to make him seem more incompetent than he really is? Hmm, we'll have to see on that.
"Lucifer" Hardy. That's a fairly specific Latin word to be using here. Most of the names we've met have not been that specifically derivative.
I don't doubt the existence of squishers quite so much as Brienne seems to do. They have a nicely Innsmouth sound to them. Actually this whole setting seems Lovecraftian in a way.
Well, GRRM is certainly piling on the "It's a trap" iconography here. Nice increase in tension.
Interesting twist. Dick wasn't leading them to a trap, it seems, but here are three of the Bloody Mummers none the less. Brienne kills them with a notable assist from Pod. Good teamwork there.
This was a nicely structured chapter. While embedded in the overall quest that Brienne is on, this was a nice standalone. It has that Lovecraftian feel about it to me, but also a bit of old school Sword and Sorcery feel.
It seems that Brienne is now going to go off on Arya's path. I wonder if she will follow it all the way to Braavos. And, how she would get into the Faceless Temple of Death.
39. Bill D5
Isilel @30:
I'm not condemning Brienne's behavior, I'm pointing out that she is not getting the same sort of questioning that a male in her situation would expect. I did not condemn her answering Renly's summons as such, only pointed out that she was probably more motivated by her crush than any duty. But let's examine the duties to a liege lord. In the first place, those duties go both ways, so what about the Tarth soldiers she led to Renly's side? Either she abandoned them, or else Tarth didn't send any, which deflates your argument about Tarth absolutely having to respond to Renly's call. As for the requirement that she serve Stannis, that is completely absurd. Even a man in her position might have been able to quit and go home. There was certainly no obligation on any woman's part to answer any levy or muster. The point is, she did not have to go, and the cause was not remotely just. You can talk about survival and Cersei's vengeance all you like, but that was purely speculative and completely out of character for Tywin, who is supposedly the real authority behind Cersei's illusory power (at least according to all the feminists), to enact preemptive vengeance against one of the most powerful and popular noblemen without any overt acts of hostility on the part of the other party. And in the end, his cause amounted to nothing less than the deprivation of his own juvenile nephews and niece. Olenna gets to talk smack about Renly's vainglorious claim, Catelyn gets to look with condescension at the knights who eagerly follow him, but Brienne is noble and heroic for joining in their company and giving her all to that bad cause, when there was absolutely nothing compelling her to do so.

That last point, BTW, is one of the more grating minor aspects about the demands for women's "rights" in military service, considering how often thoughout history that same service was not only compulsory, but deliberately made unpleasant to an extreme degree for men.

Finally, you bring up the issue of revenge on the man she suspects of murdering Renly (a highly dubious accusation, even taking all the facts of the matter into account), but that motivation is, again, almost universally presented as suspect to the contemporary reader, (a distinction I made in the original post) throughout the series. Catelyn is constantly counseling Robb against revenge and dismissing it as a motivation, and argued against the continution of the war in revenge of a victim much more innocent and righteous than Renly on his best day. The narrative perspective tends to support her position too - the sense of the books, to the exent that there is any judgment, is that she was right on that score. Robb is constantly being suspected of vengeful (and thus illegitimate) motivations by Catelyn, despite the peace terms he offered having absolutely nothing to do with vengeance or requiring any restitution or justice for Ned's murder (and his demand for self-governance, decent treatment of the bodies of his family and retainers, release of his captive relatives, and return of his family heirloom is "too much". How dare that arrogant male ask for such things and refuse to give up his war until he gets them!) Oberyn's desire for revenge is for the most part, presented by the series overall as a tragic flaw. "Good" or "wise" characters are constantly counselling against revenge and reprisal, for male characters. But because Brienne is a Woman Asserting Herself, the issue of motivation is ignored, and she is presumed to be in the right.

SoI&F is constantly bucking and dismissing and puncturing the image of the hero on a quest, or the bold knight errant, highlighting flaws or exposing hypocrisies about the legendary chivalric heroes in its own world, and parodying or deconstructing the ideas of the genre, with the implication that knights on quests, and knightly codes of honor are more likely to be the cause of problems than the solution. Except in the case of Brienne, who gets to be taken at face value as a bold hero bucking adversity, rather than an ignorant and simplisitc young person gratifying adventurous impulses. "he was in it only to snatch some glory and/or make a place for himself" is a pretty fair description of Brienne, unless you also throw in "in love with a married person" to fully clarify her motivations.

I simply don't think the books would be as kind in the presentation, nor contemporary readers as universally accepting of a male character who volunteered for a war he had no need to be a part of, simply because of a crush on the married woman leading the usurping side he joined, in spite her own indifference to his affections and homosexual preferences. What's more, it's perfectly fine for women to contemptuously speak of men who would give their lives to prevent disrespect to those same women, using terminology replete with insinuations of stupidity, belligerence, brutality and general ineptitude, but Renly & Loras' similar attitude toward Brienne is mean and cruel and sexist and whatnot.

The whole attitude I am suggesting is hardly a major injustice, nor is it particularly unfair to men in Brienne's situation, I am simply pointing out that things are not nearly as simple as cries of sexism make them out to be.
Sasha P
40. AeronaGreenjoy
The first time I listened to this chapter on audio, I left the room when Nimble Dick was killed, certain that Brienne was about to be raped, mutilated, and/or killed and unwilling to bear the details. But I enjoy it on re-reads, in a macabre way. Here it’s refreshing when a set of violent criminals get righteously killed by one who’s suffered at their hands, especially the long-beleaguered Brienne.

In hindsight, it’s weird that ND was willing to go with her and confront the people he’d fleeced. I guess he was that greedy for gold and hoped they truly were two girls and a frightened fool instead of three armed and angry men. In any case, his death still saddens me.

Re: the money. I think Brienne, like many nobles, doesn’t fully understand the value of gold in her world. I didn’t either, until the AFFC prologue brought us the POV of a peasant for whom one golden dragon was an impossible dream unless he risked (and ended up losing) everything.

I agree that Brienne’s arc is more praised and accepted by many readers than those of her male counterparts. But other characters generally give her a much harder time about it, so that’s little comfort to her.

@Whoever said the Tarly heir would marry young -- he did. He was about to get married in Maidenpool when Brienne went there earlier in the book, and she thought he might be eight or ten, by her recollection.

Another moon tea reference: Arianne assured Arys she had drunk it before bedding him so he needn't worry about breaking his vow not to father children. We don't know if that was true, but she clearly seemed not worry about it.

I’m not sure how angry to be at Hyle for watching her fight and not helping. Don’t know exactly what he could’ve done, but she would probably have died there without Pod’s help, so…thanks for nothing!

When Timeon told Brienne to “Send me back to Dorne,” it occurred to me to wonder why he hadn’t gone back toward Dorne after the Bloody Mummer’s (BMs, heehee) split up, instead of trying to leave Westeros? Was he too notorious an outlaw there to hide out in the vast blinkin’ desert? Or did he not actually want to go home?

Was “Pyg” the guy’s actual name, or a nickname due to his pig-like face? If the latter, why couldn’t GRRM call him “Pig” and abstain from the weird spelling for once?

@33: Offhand, I can think of three so far in the Read: Rorge-“Arry,” Sandor-Anguy, Jaime-Loras. There may be others.

@38: Yes indeed. I think of Squishers as the Deep Ones of Westeros, and greatly approve. :-D
41. Ryamano
@ 40 Why Pyg?

Because poor literacy is kewl (Linkara reference).

And I completely forgot about the many moon tea references. But I hadn't known as well that the Romans had that effective contraceptive. So, it makes one wonder. Did the sexual revolution and second wave feminism came because of the contraceptive pill (materialistic theory argument) or not?
42. zambi76
I always found it a bit strange that Brienne thought that this was going to be her first kill, since she was attacked by Renly's guards after his death and I disctinctly remember limbs being lopped off and blood
spurting. Of course, it was from Cat's PoV, but it looked to me that at least one of the guardsmen had to be dead. Maybe Brienne was in affect and didn't realize it?
Like RobMRobM already said this did not happen in the books, it's purley show stuff, Isilel. In the books Catelyn can calm down Robar who holds back Emmon, so no blood is shed (until Loras shows up after the women fled).

So yes, this is is the first time Brienne actually killed someone in the books.
Pirmin Schanne
43. Torvald_Nom
Aerona, why are you counting Jaime's threat against Loras as an allusion to rape? From what I remember, Jaime meant to use his sword quite literally.
44. Maddy1990
Interesting that a lot of your thoughts sum up the controversy surrounding the TV show at the moment. It's an interesting question - at what point does depiction become endorsement? There's a certain point when it becomes too much - although of course people's level of sensititivy on that question is a personal one.

People are too quick with the 'realism' argument IMO - it's set in a quasi-medieval setting but Martin as an author makes choices about how he depicts certain things. It seems clear to me that the narrative itself isn't endorsing the sexual violence in the setting, but for some people that messaage isn't overt enough. It's an interesting question for sure.

ILY Brienne! I always have such a fangirl squee whenever she thinks about Jaime (I ship them and I'm not going to apologise for it!)
45. Maddy1990
I'm pretty sure it is her first kill in the books? I'm pretty sure she's fairly young - 19? Definitely younger than her show counterpart which depicts her as a much more hardened warrior
Sasha P
46. AeronaGreenjoy
@43: That seems to be how it's generally interpreted, as noted in comment 36 and some earlier discussions.
47. AsbjornGV
Roll over for spoilers for later in the book. Or was it ADWD? I don't remember.

As for rape of men in the series, I don't think anyone has mentioned the maester who is with Victarion on his way to Meereen, the one who gets raped by the other Ironborn. Kerwyn, I think his name was.
The male whores/slaves that are mentioned in Dany-chapters and encountered by Victarion also qualify.
Maiane Bakroeva
49. Isilel
Folks, please! I know my books. This is what happens in Renly's tent:

"Another man thrust a flaming torch at her back, but the rainbow cloak was too sodden with blood to burn. Brienne spun and cut, and torch and hand went flying. Flames crept across the carpet. The maimed man began to scream. Ser Emmon dropped the axe and fumbled for his sword. The second man-at-arms lunged, Brienne parried, and their swords danced and clanged against each other. When Emmon Cuy came wading back in, Brienne was forced to retreat, yet somehow she held them both at bay.

She glanced back, saw the second guardsman fall, his blade dropping from limp fingers. Outside there was shouting."

So, yea, it certainly looks to me like one or even both of these guardsmen were/could have been killed by Brienne. Which is why I thought that her ruminations in AFFC about whether she'd hesitate in a real fight to the death odd, back when the book first came out, which was before the show. Because Brienne already had been in such a situation in ACoK and demonstrably didn't hesitate.
I can only rationalize it by postulating that she was in affect in the aftermath of Renly's death and doesn't clearly remember what happened once he was gone.
Tabby Alleman
50. Tabbyfl55
@44 "at what point does depiction become endorsement?"

At the risk of mentioning it too many times, this is an easy question for anyone who's ever read a Gor novel. : )

aSoIaF: Far, far, farrrrr from endorsement.
51. Lyanna Mormont
@43 - using an item to rape someone with still makes it rape.

@ 40, 41 - I always assumed his name was Pygett or Pygwell or some such, and they just shortened it to Pyg because they thought it suited him.

Re: Brienne - I think this is the first time she kills someone in combat. There was that time she sank a boat during the escape from Riverrun, and it was mentioned that some bowmen in it were splashing around like they didn't know how to swim, so they could've drowned. But that's not quite the same thing as shoving your sword through someone and getting splashed with the blood.
Deana Whitney
52. Braid_Tug
@ 24, GarrettC : John’s rape. I’m pretty sure Leigh had an issue with it when it happened. But I don’t have time to find what part of the read it happened. It was similar to something that happened in the WoT, which is a hot button for her.
When the ability to say “no” is removed, and there can be no willing consent, it’s rape. The whole, “Say yes, or I will kill you” or “If you don’t sleep with me, Mance will know you are still loyal to the NW and kill you. Thus removing the reason you killed a fellow brother in the first place. “

The fact that John fell in love with Ygritte, complicates and muddies the water. But so does stockholm syndrome.

So I guess the major difference in the threat is the personal relationship between the rapist and the raped.
Brienne is contently being treated with “stranger rape”. The kind we all are taught to fear and think about.
Date rape and spousal rape is less in our mindsets, in that the “They knew each other, therefore it probably wasn’t rape” argument some jackasses spout gets endorsed more.

@40, AeronaGreenjoy: Tarly heir - yeah I was right! I just didn’t remember he was already a groom at such a tender age.

@49, Isilel: In the tent, Brienne could mentally blame the deaths on the shadow baby. She maimed a guy bad enough that blood loss could kill him, but she can still blame the death on the shadow. And yes, she’s focused on Renly’s death and that confusion.

This was her first face-to-face, heat of battle kill she then has to deal with the dead laying around her.

Not the right analogy, but I’m reminded of a M.A.S.H. episode. A pilot who had been dropping bombs on areas, thus killing people, got stranded at the M.A.S.H. unit for a bit. He had to see the results of his bombs for the first time. It freaked him out. Prior to that, he had been able to remove himself from the results of his actions. Now he was seeing those results first hand.
Julian Niquille
53. Gesar
Honestly I think we talk way too much about rape when it comes to this series of books, in a way that is not driven by text. The criticism I've read the most so far: he doesn't use rape well, he uses it in the background to make characters look worse. Well it seems like the criticism here is that it's in the background and we don't get much from a victim's point of view, which is true. But I would argue that that's because GRRM doesn't want to talk about rape.

Again, my general thesis on ASOIAF is that everything Martin does is a deconstruction of fantasy. In that deconstruction, it makes sense that rape has to be mentioned, because war, violence and gender inequalities are kind of central points. But if you were to dwell on it, like have it take center stage, or seen from the point of view of the victim, then you aren't doing anything that is related to fantasy. You can't really deconstruct "rape in fantasy", because it just doesn't happen all that often, it's not a trope of the genre, and so you don't have anything to comment about it.

edit: lol that was some quick mod edit action^^ fair enough, I forgot what edition site I was on. It was kind of important for my point, though, so I'm a bit sad about that =')
Maiane Bakroeva
55. Isilel
Lyanna Mormont @51:

But Brienne did lop off a guy's hand and severely wounded or killed the other guardsman, who fell limply to the ground during the fight in Renly's tent. That was a fight in close quarters, she was splashed with her opponents blood, etc.
And she did remember that Cat saved her by braining Cuy and convincing Royce.
So, oughtn't she know that there was a deadly fight and that she didn't freeze in it?
I dunno, it always seemed like a plothole to me and now that I have refreshed my knowledge of the chapter and have seen that Brienne did remember Cat's role in their escape, it gets even more difficult for me to rationalize Brienne somehow thinking that her confrontation with the ex-Mummers was going to be her first real fight.


I am not sure why you are so certain that Brienne's storyline is not going to be a deconstruction also? It is early days yet.
And, of course, we do have an endorsement of a male knight errant in Dunk and Egg stories. And in the end, Dunk achieved everything that Brienne aspires to. He was a legendary knight, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, etc. This is from one of the preceding chapters of AFFC, BTW, no spoilers here.

Re: Brienne having a crush on Renly, I am not sure why an idealistic crush is blameworthy? Ned had a platonic mancrush on Robert, what with his many reminiscences about young Robert's muscles and physical beauty, I don't remember you suggesting that it tainted him? If LF had remained true to Ned because of his love for Cat, would you have disparaged him for it?
In fact, do you disparage idealistic chivalry on the part of men, if they happen to feel something for an unattainable woman and help her and hers without asking anything in return? Just because there is that crush?

Tarths are vassals of Storm's End, they had to support Renly in any case.

I also happen to think that Renly's cause wasn't substantially worse than Robb's or Robert's during the Rebellion. Cersei _did_ kill his brother and she couldn't be brought to justice as long as her children remained on the throne.
Stannis wasn't doing anything for months (and likely wouldn't have been acceptable to the Reach anyway), so Renly stepped up.

Whether Renly's conviction that she intended to kill him as well was accurate, we don't know. Tywin expressed a sentiment that Renly would need to be "dealt with" before Renly crowned himself, IIRC, there was enmity between him and Cersei and he presented the same kind of problem for her as Robert's bastards did. So, I am inclined to say that it was quite likely that he was right on that score.

We have seen tons of only heirs being with the army, often together with their fathers. Or childless lords doing dangerous stuff, such as Beric Dondarrion.
Military experience, reputation and gratitude of one's overlord/king that can be gained are all quite valuable for families in question, so nobles take those risks. I don't remember you criticizing them for it.

Yes, Brienne had to leave Tarth men (Renly mentioned them during the parley, so they were part of his army), because if she had stayed, Renly's loyalists would have killed her.
Her conviction that Stannis killed Renly was in no way "dubious" - both she and Cat saw that the shadow looked like Stannis.
Should she have been like all the other honorless turncloaks and supported a kinslayer who she _knows_ murdered her previous overlord by foul magic? Really?
So, what according to you nobody is allowed to seek justice/revenge for Robb either? They should just meekly knuckle down before Bolton and let bygones be bygones?

Now, I am far from saying that revenge is something admirable and should be lauded. It is frequently highly destructive. But in Westeros it is also often inextricably entwined with justice...

It ought to be understandable that any honorable person in Brienne's shoes wouldn't want to support Stannis or be in a place that is forced to support him (Tarth). Not that there was any feasible way for her to return there, even, with everything that was going on.
And it also shouldn't be surprising that she opted to serve people/causes that seemed worthy to her to make her way in the meantime.

The difference with Robb is that Brienne is just one person, rather than a ruler ready to sacrifice everyone under his power and neglecting his other responsibilities for the sake of his revenge.

Also, it seems to me that Brienne has pretty much given up on her revenge on Stannis at this point and is trying to fulfill other obligations that she has undertaken since.
She is hardly as consumed with her revenge as Robb was.

Hence the idea that Brienne is going to be exalted for taking her revenge, while men are condemned for it seems really far-fetched, IMHO.
In fact, the whole notion that a man would be disparaged for acting like Brienne did is incredibly contrived.
56. R0bert
#16 The reason you didn't remember those guys was probably because Shagwell was the only one of them who warranted more than a brief, passing mention in previous books. I'm not sure if Timeon was mentioned by name or just in the "and there's a Dornish dude with all the other rapists and murderers" and Pyg was just an anonymous dude, I think, which is probably why he was the one who was killed immediately.

I have a twisted sense of humor, so when I was reading this chapter, the main thing going through my head while Shagwell and Timeon were bantering before the fight got serious was that those two missed their calling as Westeros' Worst Stand-up Comedian Duo. Go around, bantering about horrible acts and deeds and then kill their audience when no one laughs before going on to the next town. Kind of a combination of Gregor Clegane and the "Crossing the Line Twice" trope.
57. DougL
@55. Isilel

That fight in the tent was reactionary and instinctive, I agree that she should have gained some confidence from it, but perhaps she was distinguishing between that and a fight where she has time to plan her own actions. Still, I agree, she didn't need to worry, Brienne is not the type to just kill people, it will always be in defense of herself or someone else.
Sasha P
58. AeronaGreenjoy
A notable bit of realism in ASOIAF's rape depiction overall is the evidence that it's primarily (though not always) based on control and cruelty, not attraction. Some fantasy (I'm looking at you, Piers "ra-whoops, love" Anthony) explicitly portrays rape as what happens when a beautiful young woman gets within reach of a man who lacks the exceptional self-discipline to restrain his passionate desire, a common message in our own culture. Beautiful young women get raped in ASOIAF -- but so do old women, ugly women, children, etc. Many are killed afterward -- not an act of love! And (((same-sex rape is committed by heterosexuals, male and female))). Culprits often go un-punished, but readers aren't fed quite as toxic a message.

@56: I agree, there's a deadpan silliness about them which is enjoyable when I know they're not actually going to do those things to Brienne. Even the bit where they say she's "mad with moonblood." I don't like womens' valid anger being always blamed on female hormones, but menstruation is very bad for one's temper and "never give a woman a sword when she's bleeding" is my favorite Jaime line.
59. my thoughts
there are certainly instances of male rape or threats of male rape/sexual abuse in the stories.

Leah actually spotted one just last week, though admittidily it is somewhat oblique. Also a few other comments characters have had aimed at them... loras has one i can think of.

I think two things. 1) There's a point about gender stereotyping. 2) If we assume westeros society is very losely based off of midieval society, women outside of marriage (and inside sometimes too sure) were very vulnerable to that type of thing. Even some of the strongest women of that era... Eleanor of Aquitaine for example... were at risk of being kidnapped and forced into a marriage (which would essentially be rape) or at the mercy of the men around them.

Another reality of the difference between rape stuff aimed at men versus women... again kind of gets back to gender stereotyping. For a man to insinuate an attraction to another man... even a violant non-consensual one... is going to be an 'insult' to the prepretrators own 'manliness'.

Or in other words... men may rape other men, but you dont go around trumpeting the fact because homosexual relations of any sort make you less worthhy of respect in a stereotype filled society such as this.

To use your prison analogy. How many of those men in prison never mention or acknowledge what happened once they leave prison out of fear people will think they prefer homosexual relations?

Anyway, my point being that the reason you dont see men going on about raping other men as often... even if they would do so... is because due to gender stereotypes that sort of bragging would make you seem less manly... whereas the same isnt true for wanting sex with a woman. You are scum either way of course. But one you are a manly scum, the other your unmanly/weak/deviant scum.... in the eyes of their society.

I also imagine since, while not impossible, it is unlikely in a setting like this for women to be raping men... less likely or common anyway... and if we assume roughly 1/10th of the male population is homosexuially attracted to other men (I beleive thats the right percent?) then mathamaticaly you would think that there are nine times as many men who would rape a woman compared to raping a man? If you assume people only do that to the gender they are physically attracted to. I dont know if those sort of trends hold out in real life, but yeah.
60. Bruce T
I'd like to weigh in on the realism vs. fetishization issue, as well as the issue of male characters not being threatened by rape as much as the female characters.

Trigger Warning for rape and threats of rape.

One opinion I have is that the actual rape that takes place on page is greatly exaggerated my most of the people who accuse the author of fetishization. As for the threat and danger of rape, I agree that it is extremely high, certainly many orders of magnitude higher than it is for male characeters. But the reason I think it's realistic is this:

Almost every feminist blog I've read says that women need to be constantly evaluating risk factors in a way that men will never understand. They talk about Schrodinger's rapist for example. Someone once described a trip to the grocery store involving a whole bunch of things like getting her keys in her hand before she opes the door, checking the back seat of her car, and en entire host of precautions that men don't have to worry about. And I believe it. The fact that I only remember two of the precautions she takes is testament to the fact that I don't need to worry about these things.

Other women have posted chat logs where men default to sexual insults and threats of rape as soon as they feel denied. Or whenever they feel a woman is "out of her place". And I believe that. Take the reactions to Anita Sarkeesian for example. It's foul, it's vile and it's all too common. My own fourteen year old cousin has told me it happen to her all the time in chatrooms. I have absolutely no reason to disbelieve any of this.

And this is a modern day, first-world country with a strong rule of law. And war multiplies all that tremendously. Just look at our recent history. I won't mention any example because they'll be sure to offend some nationality or another. With that in mind, I do not think that the threat and fear of rape for female characters, or the lack thereof for male characters presented in ASoIaF is excessive for a pseudo-medeival society in the middle of all the chaos and anarchy that a continent spanning war would cause.

I absolutely do not think it is unrealistic. And there is no reason to assume fetishization on the author's part. I do believe that the main moral message of this series, if indeed there is one, is an anti-war message. And again this is just my opinion. I have absolutely no education in literary analysis of feminist theory.

If someone finds the sexual violence too troublesome to make reading these books worthwhile, that's a perfectly valid argument. But to accuse the author of fetishization is uncalled for. If anything, I believe he is trying to comment on how horrible rape is.
Chris Nelly
61. Aeryl
@60, All of that is very true. My issue with how rape is portrayed, is that the victims aren't "real" people, in the sense that they are established characters we can empathize with, instead it's just these faceless masses most of whom don't even get names.

It's not that rape isn't, or shouldn't be, endemic to this setting. It's the care, or lack of, with which victims are handled and the uneveness of application.
Lauren Hartman
62. naupathia
I don't believe Brienne is "always" threatened with rape. I think that's more a confirmation bias on readers' parts. You only notice the rape threats more because you expect them to be there - the times she isn't threatened with rape don't stick in your mind.

And there is plenty of male-on-male rape in the books. Again I think it's part confirmation bias and part people just wanting to make a big scandal. I could list the men that have been raped/sexually tortured but I think I might stray into spoiler territory. But suffice to say I can count 3 male main character examples who have actually been raped, and a scattering of minor ones (men without POV but who are not "faceless" goons). The female leads who have been only been threatened with rape are limited to pretty much Brienne and Arya (who half the time was thought to be a boy anyhow).

So yes I think a lot of it is just confirmation bias. I think the rape instances in the book are discussed ad-nauseum which make it seem much worse than it is. It's a crapsack world by every definition. Of course rape is going to be present. And any "uneveness" in application is due only to the colorings from the reader's perspective.
63. Wepsnah
While I agree that Brienne easily could have killed someone with her rock in the boat stunt, I'm pretty sure she didn't. I believe there is a later Cat point of view in which the boat crew gets back to Riverrun and she is relieved to find out both that they failed to stop Brienne and that they all survived. I remember it because I was surprised - I'd assumed that sinking a boat filled with armored people who might or might not be able to swim was guaranteed to kill at least a couple. Anyway, I don't know that Brienne has any way to know that she hadn't killed anyone then.
Tabby Alleman
64. Tabbyfl55
Can we agree that Brienne hasn't yet killed anyone (that we know of) who died while Brienne was still in the act of sticking them with a weapon, as opposed to someone who may or may not have died later?

Cuz I imagine there's a bit of a difference.

Or maybe there's a difference because Brienne had a history with these three and actively hated them and wanted them to die, whereas up to now it's been nothing personal.
Joe Vondracek
65. joev
I liked all the bits of history that Nimble Dick related for the area that they traveled through. Supposedly, this area is part of the crown lands, and is directly "administered" by King's Landing, not part of one of the great houses, so everyone here is a direct vassal to the Iron Throne. And Dyre’s Den is the seat of House Brune. So Lothor Brune, Littlefinger's guy at the Aerie, is from this area. Details, details...

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