Westeros: where men are men and women are women and everybody is fucking awesome!

2 Apr

ned

“Most of us are not so strong. What is humor compared to a woman’s love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms? Or the memory of a brother’s smile? Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory and our great tragedy.”

-Master Aemon to Jon Snow

garage

Last night, I spent the night sitting in a garage with three super-cute, super-smart young guys.  They spent most of the night swearing and cursing the fact they picked engineering to major in rather than something a little less challenging, like, oh, film theory?

No, not really.  I mean I DID spend the night in a garage, but the guys weren’t cursing their choice of major.  I was with CleverGuy and his two collaborators, LoudGuy and FunnyGuy. They are putting the final touches on a 3D printer they built from scratch!  It’s their final project, combining software, mechanical and electrical engineering, and once this is done, they will graduate and go on to bigger and better things!  While they still have several days to get the printer working perfectly, their report is due tomorrow, and it will comprise 70% of their mark.

report

Kinda weird, no?  You would think whether or not the printer actually works would be more important, but nope. The theory is given way more weight.  Typical academia.  Yeah sure, your printer WORKS, but how does it work IN THEORY?  The guys are making a rhomball out of resin, building it one slice at a time, and the 40 page report details all the theory behind what they are doing.  I was there to edit the paper.  I actually have quite a bit of experience editing technically detailed papers, as I have done it quite frequently for Mr. JB.  I don’t necessarily understand the specs, but I can certainly correct grammar and case and word choice and sentence structure.

rhomball

So that is what I was doing.  I needed to be there to ask them for clarification on certain details.

Hang in there.  I do have a point to make.

We finally finished editing the project at one thirty in the morning, and in the meantime, the guys were having a serious problem with their printer.  A very quick summary of how the printer works:  a metal sheet slides over the top of a some gooey, sticky resin and it melts some of the resin into a specific shape.  When that layer dries, the metal sheet passes through the resin and picks up another layer.  The layers are called slices.  After 700+ passes through the gooey resin, the printer will have made the rhomball according to the instructions coming from the software they programmed.

3d printer

Got that?  Okay, the problem they were having is that after 30 or 40 slices, the hard resin would detach from the metal plate.  Just fall off into the goo.  It wasn’t sticking to the plate, and that is a huge problem, obviously.  It has to stay attached to the plate.

It made me think of nail polish.  If you use hand lotion and then polish your nails, the nail polish will dry, but it won’t stick to your nails and it will just peel off in a sheet.  Nail polish is a resin.  The slightest bit of oil will prevent the polish from sticking.

nail

So, let’s clean the metal plate really well with alcohol to make sure there is no oily residue keeping the resin from sticking to the plate!  The guys had already figured out that solution, and it wasn’t working.  My suggestion that perhaps a woman should do the cleaning (you know, properly :P) was met with scorn and contempt.  They are perfectly capable of cleaning the plate, thank you very much.

Still wasn’t working.  As I watched the metal plate pass through the yellowy-viscous resin, I was unpleasantly reminded of snot. You know, the kind of sticky, gooey snot that runs down little kid’s faces when they are too young to blow their noses and they just let her go?  Snot is my ick! I can handle any other kind of bodily fluid.  Vomit, urine, pus, blood, even poo doesn’t overly bother me, but snot just makes my stomach churn.

snot

Yuck!

Like snot sticking to a screen door.  That was my next thought.  Snot sticks to a screen. Could you cover the metal plate with a fine mesh that the first slice of resin could bond to? CleverGuy seemed to think it was a possibility. It was late at night by the time I thought of a screen, so I have no idea whether they are going to try it or not.  But I woke up this morning remembering something else:  certain cuts of meat that are traditionally tied with kitchen twine now come wrapped in this very fine silicon mesh. The first time I cooked with the mesh, it was a disaster!  I had covered a pork loin with a grainy mustard and thyme crust, but when I peeled the mesh off, the whole crust came too!

meat

How annoying.

I texted CleverGuy this morning though, to let him know that such a thing existed.  The silicon mesh can withstand very high temperatures, and it’s super stretchy, so attaching it to the metal plate would be a simple matter of just pulling it over the plate, like an old-fashioned swimcap or hair net.

hairnet

Now I’m biting my fingers to see if my suggestion is going to be the one that works.  Then I will do my “I am so smart!  S-M-R-T dance!”.

homer

What the ever-loving fuck is my point?  It’s this:  I AM A GODDAMN GENIUS!

Just kidding.  It’s this:  my very specific experiences as a woman were not scoffed at or ignored by a group of very clever engineers.  Despite the fact that I have absolutely no technical qualifications to even comprehend what they are doing at a theoretical level, I could see the problem and draw analogies from my own experiences that might, in fact, solve their problems. They are dealing with stepper motors, resin and heat sinks.  I have nail polish, pork roast and “I hate snot” to draw upon.  But together, by not being intimidated or scornful of the other’s expertise, we may have solved a problem.

Any one of the guys could have looked at me and said, “oh shut up and just do your little grammar thing”, but they didn’t.  I could have just thrown up my hands and said, “oh, this is too hard thinky for me”, but I didn’t.  We all had mutual respect for one another, and although our experiences are WILDLY different, we were still able to listen to one another and learn from one another.

thrones

And that is what I think George Martin does so fucking well in Game of Thrones.  I am huge fan of the books and I am absolutely IN LOVE with the HBO adaptation of those books.  The Kingdom of Westeros is populated with a multitude of characters, both men and women, and the most striking thing about those characters is that the women are most definitely women, and the men are most assuredly men, but the respect they have for one another’s individual experiences creates characters of enormous depth and feeling and complexity.

The relationships that work in Game of Thrones are the ones in which the men and women balance one another, without having to give up their own essential identities or experiences.

Spoiler alerts:  I’ve read the books, so I know where the story goes, and some of the following might give plot details away.  So be warned.

brienne

Brienne of Tarth is held up routinely as an example of a woman who has broken free from the constraints of femininity to carve her own war-like path and take on men on their own terms.

http://feministsatlarge.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/women-of-westeros-an-introduction-to-feminism-in-game-of-thronesa-song-of-ice-and-fire/

She’s large and ugly and awkward, except with a sword.  She swears fealty to Catelyn Stark and takes on the job of escorting Jaime Lannister back to King’s Landing, where she hopes to trade him for the lives of Catelyn’s daughters, Arya and Sansa.  She is a woman on a mission to rescue other women for another woman.  In the beginning, Brienne doesn’t imagine any man will ever love her, so she has sworn off love. Rather like saying, I don’t have any ice cream so I’ve decided I don’t want any.

There is no question that Brienne has an abundance of masculine characteristics, but she is also undeniably a woman.  And when she meets a man with an abundance of feminine characteristics (beauty, in particular), but who is also undeniably a man, the sparks fly.

jamie and brienne

Feminists rail against the characters of Sansa and Catelyn Stark because they are so undeniably feminine.  Catelyn is a mother, first and foremost.  Her dedication as a wife was also admirable, and her anguish when Ned dies is rendered so palpably real that I cannot bring myself to dislike anything she does.  She loved her husband fiercely and she protects her children with the same ferocity. Ned was a powerful masculine force, perfectly balanced by Catelyn’s feminine force.

ned and catelyn

Sansa has more or less been sold off to marry Joffrey, the boy king who is nothing more than a petulant, spoiled asshole.  Sansa is undeniably sweet and innocent and compliant and oh yeah, probably the smartest woman in the whole book.  Sansa uses her femininity to protect herself, and ultimately to escape King’s Landing with her life.  It’s no mystery that Sansa’s most authentic feelings are for the Hound.  He is the counter-balance to her extreme femininity.

sansa

http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/08/26/enter-ye-myne-mystic-world-of-gayng-raype-what-the-r-stands-for-in-george-r-r-martin/

dany

Daenerys Targaryen starts out as a silly, impetuous girl under the spell of her sociopathic brother who suffers from extreme delusions of grandeur, and when she is married to Khal Drago, she accepts her fate and learns to love him.  His extreme masculinity balances her femininity.

Jon Snow and Ygritte.

Tyrion Lannister and Shae

Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre

Asha and Theon Greyjoy

asha

Asha and Theon are an interesting set of characters because they are brother and sister, but Asha has more masculine qualities and Theon has more feminine and the results of that imbalance are rather gruesome.

Martin is always trying to balance his characters, giving them measures of feminine and masculine traits and then setting them on trajectories to find the one person who has the inverse characteristics.  The relationships that work and the characters that are rewarded are the ones who get the balance right.  He presents individuals as being an unfinished part of a whole:  their purpose in life is to locate their other halves.  Cersei Baratheon, while an utterly amazing character, has no partner to balance her and therefore descends into what can only be described as psychotic levels of cruelty and self-absorption. She tries to use her brother and her son to balance her own personality, but completely fails, since brothers and sons are not substitutes for husbands.

cersei

Recently, in the Telegraph, Martin expressed his view that he considered himself a feminist in the early 1970’s when feminism seemed a natural extension of the civil rights movement, but then felt that his presence and support was not only rejected, but scorned.  None of which stopped him from writing his utterly memorable characters.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/9959063/Game-of-Throness-George-RR-Martin-Im-a-feminist.html

What I find so interesting about Game Of Thrones is that Martin has human relationships absolutely right.  He does not condemn any one individual to a gendered straight jacket, but at the same time, he doesn’t act like gender does not matter. It matters deeply.  Women are valued (and exploited) for their ability to bear children, and their sexuality. Men are valued (and exploited) for their ability to fight, and to die in battle. Some women go to battle (Brienne) and some men end up taking care of helpless children (Hodor) but everyone seeks to find the partner who balances them.

hodor

He neither hates nor exalts the feminine or the masculine.  He sees them as completely different forces with completely different advantages and disadvantages and insists on a world where both are respected, admired and utterly necessary.  The really important thing, for me, is that he insists that any one individual must have BOTH masculine and feminine attributes, and if they do not possess those characteristics in themselves, they must seek them in a partner.  The best relationships are ones that are perfectly balanced, no matter what the specific ratios.

That, in a nutshell, is why I love Game of Thrones.  It is a perfect expression of the ideal that men and women can have incredibly, wildly different experiences and abilities and perspectives and qualities, and that TOGETHER, they create human perfection.  It’s all about finding that one person who balances you.

catelyn and ned

In order to find that person, you have to be open to the idea that another person is just as valuable and worthy of consideration as you are.  You have to be willing to listen.  When feminism shrieks from the heavens that women are better than men, they are closing off the possibility of finding that balance.  There cannot be balance when one person, one gender, one way of seeing and feeling and perceiving is seen as better than another.  The only way for true equality to exist between men and women is to value men and women equally, in all their manifestations.

There is room for gentle, beautiful men, and strong, resilient women and for everything in between.  Sometimes a lady with a sword needs a man of stunning beauty.  Sometimes a lady of stunning beauty needs a man with half a face. And sometimes a group of engineers need a housewife who knows that pork roasts comes wrapped in silicon mesh that just might solve a 3D printing problem.

We’ll see. I’ll let you know how that works out.  In the meantime, if you haven’t watched Game of Thrones, get some popcorn and curl up.  You’re in for a spectacular ride!

Lots of love,

JB

22 Responses to “Westeros: where men are men and women are women and everybody is fucking awesome!”

  1. YOHAMI April 2, 2013 at 18:33 #

    Im a GOT fan. But after the hiatus and after having watched Spartacus, I find all the characters to be mellow and rather weak. I keep rooting for the Dwarf, but I annoys me how everyone spends their time complaining about shit and not getting it done.

    Like

  2. YOHAMI April 2, 2013 at 18:35 #

    Re: genders and characters, yes. In this show everyone has their own direction. Every one of these characters could run the whole show. And while there’s distinction about gender and differences, there’s no judgement whatsoever. The moral reference changes as soon as the camera does.

    Like

  3. Sherlock April 2, 2013 at 19:53 #

    JudgyBitch have you read David Deida? He writes very well on these matters. The Authentic Man Programe guys also do great work on masculine feminine polarity. They represent the future of game IMO.

    Like

  4. judgybitch April 2, 2013 at 19:54 #

    I haven’t, but I’ll be sure to check it out.

    Thanks!

    Like

  5. Amicus Curiae April 2, 2013 at 20:28 #

    I am loving the show read the books a long time ago, but how is Sansa the smartest women in GOT?

    Like

  6. Brandi Gross April 2, 2013 at 20:39 #

    I so want to watch game of thrones!!!!

    ________________________________

    Like

  7. angelowal April 2, 2013 at 21:18 #

    I wish I could watch GOT – it doesn’t come on my TV yet so I’m waiting……my son loves it and that’s a good enough endorsement for me.

    As for those wise guys stopping and really listening to you, what do you expect when they have respect for you and your genius practical insights? After all, necessity IS the Mother of invention, not the father, LOL.

    Plus, at least one of those fellows in the garage was brought up believing that there are no sexist barriers to prevent his achieving any of his dreams. He did ask for, and receive an Easy-Bake oven for his sixth birthday and can sew and cook with nary a worry about gender-appropriateness! I call him my “renaissance man”.

    XX

    Like

  8. judgybitch April 2, 2013 at 21:30 #

    He is lovely! Well done, Mama!

    Like

  9. Alex April 3, 2013 at 03:07 #

    maybe he can give me some tips on sewing, cause i can’t do it for shit, and holes are starting to pop up

    Like

  10. John April 3, 2013 at 04:56 #

    JB,

    So glad I found your site (through avoiceformen). You have a terrific writing style and it makes for wonderful reading after work.

    Just letting you know you have another avid reader.

    Like

  11. Ruxman April 3, 2013 at 07:28 #

    This is some great insight, You’re right about Asha and Theon Greyjoy, the two of them on screen are like repelling magnets, it’s quite ugly. I remember there was a scene where she puts his hand between her legs, audiences got a boner around the world for that, regardless of the incest.

    Like

  12. Liz April 3, 2013 at 11:43 #

    Great engineering outside-the-box-thinking, JB! Hope it works out for them.

    I’m a fan of the GOT series, too. Love the show, love the books. I always thought it an interesting allegory for realpolitik in our world, but I never thought of the female/male balance angle. Interesting analysis, and well done.

    My favorite character is Ned Stark. And next Khal Drago. What a waste! But if they’d survived it would be an entirely different story….

    Like

  13. Nergal April 3, 2013 at 12:24 #

    I know a bit about chemistry, what is the nature of the resin that is being used?

    Like

  14. judgybitch April 3, 2013 at 12:38 #

    I know nothing about chemistry so I can’t help you.

    It’s yellowish and goopy?

    Like

  15. EMMA April 3, 2013 at 13:09 #

    Spartacus has ruined me. All other characters (as you put it) are mellow and weak. Damn you Spartacus! I’m savoring every minute of its final season.

    Like

  16. Nergal April 3, 2013 at 16:42 #

    Lol. Well, it makes a big difference what kind of resin it is whether or not it will adhere properly in some industrial applications. Resins are actually capable of doing damn near any job you need them for, but depending on the chemical composition of the resin,you may need a different kind of solvent to apply it, the curing times might be longer (which could interfere with your printing application) or, as you’ve discovered, it might cure in such a way that it becomes brittle or the molecules which bind it to something else might form only weak bonds,doing the opposite of what you need it for.

    Resins are extremely volatile. Something as simple as the TEMPERATURE of the environment can influence the bonding process. I give your lads the benefit of the doubt that they are not using a resin suitable for high-heat applications in a low temperature environment or vice versa. It sounds to me as if the bonding or drying agent in the resin might be the culprit,but without knowing the composition of the resin,it’s hard to figure where to start.

    Like

  17. Xayadvara April 3, 2013 at 18:31 #

    Slightly offtopic here,

    JB, did you read Gordon Wadsworth’s opening article?? He writes so clearly about the roles we had earlier & what happened right now, it’s quite refreshing. All 3 of his posts are so wonderful, but you can begin with this –

    http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/feminist-governance-feminism/feminism-and-the-blind-spot/

    Like

  18. angelowal April 4, 2013 at 06:35 #

    Meh, throw the holey stuff out and buy new – it’s good for the economy 😉

    Like

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