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Oct. 5th, 2017 06:11 pm
shinsengumi: (polovtsian dances and chorus)
[personal profile] shinsengumi
While I was walking home from work, I was thinking about the fictional female characters who matter the most to me. I was trying to justify referring to myself as someone better than I was ten years ago, in an "I like more female characters than I used to when I had internalised misogyny as a teenager!" way. I'm not actually sure that's true and although I've probably got more things in my library of "stuff I like" now, that's probably more to do with me having had ten more years of media consumption.

Love Live's Umi and Dia are all well and good, but no fictional women will ever hold candles to Ysandre de la Courcel and Phedre no Delauney. Phedre's easy to parse: I was a young, hormonal teenager, with a much higher sex drive than women are 'supposed' to have, and she was a sexual woman largely in control of her sexuality. Rereading the books as someone older has pointed out some flaws with younger!me's views, but ultimately I don't think the thrust of it was wrong: Phedre is a sexy, sexual woman, and in context, that's totally okay. It's something that makes her powerful but it also doesn't reduce her to that trite femme fatale stereotype. Phedre's sexy and strong, not airquotes '''strong''' because she's sexy.

Phedre's most strong because she's compassionate. I have Major Depression which really began to manifest when I was a mid-teen, and one of the things I most wanted at that time was to be a robot. Actually, I wanted to be perfect, but being a robot seemed like the ideal way to do so, since they didn't have emotions. (What I really wanted was to hurt less, but hey, depression and teens. It would be years before I figured that out.) Phedre is, in the book's lore, a counterbalance to all the cruelty and suffering in the world. You could probably argue that diminishes her, but I don't think it does. I don't think it's possible for it to do so when she's someone who can understand so much. Looking back on it, I think the idea of understanding where others' pain comes from is something I learned a bit of from her.

Ysandre is... complicated. It's easy to get on board with Phedre because the first three books are her point of view, chronicling her life. Ysandre is... whenever I try to talk about her, I'm just wordlessly reduced to her riding through a volatile crowd with her head high, trusting that the coins stamped with her image would be enough to keep her safe. She is so brave, and so strong. And she wasn't afraid to fall in love with someone that would cause trouble. I mean, she was royal, and there were definitely politics involved. But she married someone of another race and loved him. There's probably something in there that helped me come to terms with loving someone that might cause trouble, and managing okay.

It's hard to talk about the books' effect on my sexuality, though. On the one hand, the queer relationships are never end game (it would be another two book series before I got that wish granted, but author got there in the end ♥). On the other, Terre D'Ange is literally a bisexual paradise, where the first law is "Love as Thou Wilt" and rape is as serious a crime as murder. That's wonderful. Conceptually, intrinsically, neverminding the complexities? That is wonderful, and I'm so grateful it got to be a part of my nebulous, formative years.

On the walk home I was also thinking about how I don't journal so much anymore. Maybe because I have less to say, or because my life's more settled now, or because I don't have time. But I appear to have journal-ed.

I'll be twenty-eight next week. Seems strange, for some reason.

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