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blue milk also writes for The Guardian and Fairfax publications. You can read more about her at her own blog, blue milk.

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14 responses to “Game of Thrones: when attachment parenting goes fantasy”

  1. tigtog

    I’m so glad you wrote about this, because I was hopelessly hooked on the first few books, then the last couple’s nihilist brutality kinda got me dispirited, then waiting for the next one to arrive started to seem a rather futile exercise, although he’s finally written it now. I was most intrigued to see what they made of the saga in this adaptation, and I was particularly looking forward to Sean Bean (but as you say, they haven’t presented him for the female gaze at all – he doesn’t even look commandingly macho most of the time, which is a large part of the character’s raison d’etre – why make him look so entirely dowdy and charmless?).

    There’s no doubt about it, sexual ethics in the noble families of Westeros is fifty kinds of twisted mess, and the HBO adaptation makes it even more so. Yes, I did laugh at the extended breastfeeding scene, because it was so totally OTT (mind you, that’s fairly true to the novel IIRC) – so obviously meant, as that last quote of yours says, to indicate the depth of her derangement. Wev.

  2. Disappointed

    Oh no!! I am so disappointed with your thoughts about attachment parenting! I had to read it a few times to check you weren’t just stirring the pot! I must admit I am not at all interested in the TV show you are discussing – I haven’t even heard of it let alone watched it – but such a slur on attachment parenting? Really?
    Permissive parenting is not attachment parenting. Here is a recent blog which discusses this point much better than I could http://www.alternative-mama.com/attachment-parenting-what-its-not/

    ‘You know, I don’t think she’s ever cried him out’. Are you suggesting she should? It reads as if you think all children should be left to cry it out? How would that make him a nicer person? Or her a better mother? Do you really think children not being left alone to CIO makes them a ‘spoilt brat’? If that’s not what you meant, it is certainly how it reads to me – reinforcing the mainstream view that attachment parenting is some kooky sort of parenting style that creates fucked up children. Sadly, you couldn’t be further from the truth, but your spruiking makes it even harder than it needs to be for those who are parenting with presence.

  3. tigtog

    @Disappointed, my comment too, for those who don’t already know of my awareness of and total support for bluemilk’s commitment to extended breastfeeding and attachment parenting, probably read as some sort of slur on attachment parenting, which it’s not meant to be at all. I’m laughing at the skewed representation of extended breastfeeding in the novel/TV-series, because I know that the reality is not deranged in any way, it’s society’s deep discomfort with parenting models outside a narrow range of conformist styles that is deranged.

  4. orlando

    From Overthinking It:

    hath made of himself a Humbert Humbert in his heart.

    LOL!
    .
    .
    .
    OK, that’s the first time I’ve ever typed LOL, I feel kind of embarrassed.

  5. Disappointed

    ok, yep I see that now. I have been loving your blogs for a while (both tigtog and blue milk) and that’s why i was disappointed. Now I can see how I misread your tone. I’m glad I asked for clarification rather than holding a grudge.

  6. tigtog

    I’m glad I asked for clarification rather than holding a grudge.

    I’m very glad you did as well!

    A belated welcome out of lurkerdom, BTW.

  7. QoT

    Goddamit HBO. I still haven’t seen any of AGoT but do love the books (with all their massive problems, like most fandoms).

    But what gets me is that “you’re supposed to see she’s utterly deranged” line – and BOOK SPOILER ALERT AHEAD

    … because Lysa’s madness/whatever we label it is made bloody clear enough by her erraticness, her various obsessions with Robert, her dead husband, Littlefinger, oh, and there’s the tiny matter of trying to throw her niece out a window out of jealousy over Littlefinger.

    END SPOILER

    But hey, why give her actual character depth when “breastfeeds a non-infant child” stands as perfectly good shorthand.

  8. tigtog

    @QoT – exactly. That Lysa has a dysfunctional relationship with just about everybody in her life is the problem (and the backstory to why she’s so borked only bolsters this). It was lazy plotmaking by GRRM in the first place, it was exceptionally lazy film-making by HBO to make the breastfeeding=superindulgence equation regarding her relationship with her son the standard bearer for all her other problems.

  9. WildlyParenthetical

    Yeah, my reaction was pretty much the same as tigtog’s. I think the annoying thing, though, is that it seems to me that there’s kind of a build-up to the reveal of dysfunction in the cases of men: Littlefinger, for example, has a presence prior to becoming revealed to be a traitor, and even Robert gets the chance to be kind of robust and fun.. and of course, it works for those characters, because it helps us to see why there are people still loyal to them. But Cersei is *introduced* as kind of arrogant, demanding and annoying (even though it turns out later that her marriage is so unpleasant and violent that it’s unsurprising), and Lysa as ‘deranged’ (despite the backstory above). I don’t know how far to push this line of argument, but it does strike me that many of the women get less sympathetic introductions than the men. Tywin (skinning a dead animal) is one of the only ones I can think of who gets a similar intro.

    And don’t get me started on the Dany and Drogo rewriting. In the book, the sex scene with Drogo is the first acknowledgement of her capacity to self-determine, which she then goes on to develop in her relationship with him and as the Khaleesi. In the tv show, the rape becomes yet another site of her objectification and commodification, and Drogo then gets reduced to the brown man sexually dominated by the white woman (sex being her sole site of power) as a means to her development of a radically individualist form of power. It makes her learning about sexual pleasure from her maid being actually about learning how to manipulate, rather than choosing simple enjoyment of her sexuality (the book). It makes her rescuing other women from rape, and her suggestion that the horse lords take these woman to wife, seem kind of, well, awful: implying marriage is enough to save one from rape, which she knows (in the tv show) isn’t true. And it sullies her grief over Drogo’s death, making it at least partly about the loss of her protector/the guarantor of her status (that is, with what he gives her, rather than the sincere bereavement we get in the book). But I think that the reason I dislike all of this is because it feels like an effort to make Dany the self-made (white) hero, whose resources all come from within, rather than in relation with others. And of course Drogo remains the barbarian, a status carefully earned through the rape of the white woman. Bleargh. Sigh. See, I said not to get me started! ;-)

  10. Alien Tea

    >>Drogo then gets reduced to the brown man sexually dominated by the white woman.

    Yes, and the rest of the time he is uncivilised brutish brown man who is violent and a rapist.

  11. tigtog

    Don’t get me started on the super-simplifying of the Drogo/Danerys relationship, which I thought was actually one of the better-written ones by GRRM – it may have started looking very stereotyped, but then they both found things to admire and learn from each other, and their strengths grew together. Nothing of that is coming across in the HBO adaptation, nothing at all.

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