One couple, two perspectives, tons of geekery

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Princess’s Garden: An Open Letter to Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times

I'll have my sword AND my tiara, thank you very much!

Dear Ms. Bellafante,
After reading your recent article, "A Fantasy World of Strange Feuding Kingdoms", which reviews the upcoming HBO series, A Game of Thrones, I felt compelled to comment.
I found this review to be offensive to fantasy lovers, particularly female fantasy lovers. Now, I will state for the record that yes, I am a fan of fantasy, I am a fan of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, and yes I regularly play D&D and LARP. However, the way you come off in your article you seem to attack the idea that females cannot enjoy these things and if they do that somehow makes them not feminine. Fantasy, this one or otherwise, is not gender specific. It is an interest just as RPGs are a hobby. It may not be something you are interested in, fine. But please do not presume all because you personally don't consort with women interested in the fantasy genre, that we aren't out there and those that are, are somehow flawed in some way. In fact, most of the fantasy lovers I happen to know (male and female alike) are very well-read, intelligent, creative and poised people. You may wish to consider having more of an open mind if you are to make judgment calls and critiques about things you are not familiar with. You are a writer. Do your research. It's part of your job.
Furthermore, from your jumbled piece I fail to understand exactly what it is that you do not enjoy or appreciate about the show. The message you sent with your review comes off as "I don't like fantasy, no woman out there could possibly like fantasy over any other genre, and this is just a fanboy service show to watch naked wenches." That is not a constructive nor professional review. What exactly didn't you like? What the quality of the writing poor? Were the performances stilted? Was the story too confusing and/or too contrived?
Now you may be under the impression that as a fan of the series, I am just giving you are hard time. But I assure you that is not the case. I am very interested in hearing about reviews (both positive and negative) from critics who are new to the story. I like hearing about what aspects of the production work or don't work for you and why they do or do not.
All I ask is that next time you write a review please refrain from making such sweeping generalities and attacks on a fan base and on my gender. That is not what you are supposed to be writing about - you are supposed to be reviewing the product and telling us specifically what merits and/or flaws the product has. End of story.

The Princess Comments:
Yes, I did send that email to Ms. Bellafante after reading her poorly written article in the New York Times. Here are a few quotes from the “review” (if you can even call it that based on what little journalistic merit it actual has):
The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.”
Excuse me? So because I am female, I can’t like fantasy? And if I do, does that make me somehow strange, flawed or defective in some way? Or unfeminine? Articles like this and people like Ms. Bellafante are part of the reason why the Warlock and I have this blog. To show the perspectives of two fantasy lovers – one male, one female.  
Ms. Bellafante you have offended me as a geek and but what’s more, as a woman.
What is it to you that makes someone feminine? Do I have to watch “Sex in the City”, have only girlfriends, shop at the Gap, carry a Prada bag, only watch rom-coms, drink cosmopolitans and spend my free time reading Nicholas Spark novels? Because while that great for some women, that is not who I am. And while I will not make judgments on those ladies, I want the same respect and not have you judge me on my own merit as a woman.
Because some days this princess gets dolled up in lolita fashion, while other days she runs around in a Slytherin t-shirt, hoodie and jeans. She drinks both mint flavored bubble tea and beer (not together, mind you).  She has a collection of graphic novels, RPG manuals and children’s books. She gives to charity and does volunteer work. She spends her time running through forests pretending to be an Elven warrior, while sometimes she has tea with her friends. She is a fabulous, happy and intelligent and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If by your definition enjoying fantasy makes me less of a woman in your eyes, then maybe it is you who are flawed and not me and not all the other women out there like me.
(note: pic from weheartit)


  1. On the gender issue.

    I've been president of UMass Amherst's Science Fiction Society for the past two years, and a member for the last 3.5. We have the second largest Sci-Fi/Fantasy lending library on the east coast (second only to MIT), and have been an active part of Umass since our creation in the 1960s. In all that time, at least since the 1980s, it has been a regular occurrence for more of our members to be female rather than male.

    What is interesting about this is that UMass is not a science campus, it is a full on state university. And even here we have more female members in our Science Fiction society. Women who enjoy fantasy/sci-fi are out there, in great numbers...terrifying for the non-nerds, they look just like normal people...

  2. I applaud this post! As a lolita and a huge fantasy fan, I'm with you fully on this. Thanks for stating our side of the issue so eloquently.

  3. I know this is a really old post, and I had read it before, but upon re-reading it, I got more out of it than the first time. Bravo - it's a damned shame that people actually think like this woman, because they just don't seem to get that femininity is attitude, not taste or clothing or interests...


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