ASOIAF fanboys, Westeros, Brienne Hate, etc

I came across this post on Sarah's blog a while back. I've been meaning to post about this here for some time, but it somehow slipped my mind. Anyway, Sarah is a big GRRM fan. You might remember that she's the one who won that contest for a full set of signed ASOIAF books last year. Her thoughts are collected on The Hathor Legacy, and I thought that perhaps many female SFF readers feel like Sarah when they visit various message boards.

As for me, I can vouch for the quality of Westeros, as I have become somewhat of a fixture there!;-) Then again, I mostly hang out in the Literature message board, where you'll find what is probably the most well-read SFF community on the internet. Indeed, it looks as though most people from various other boards (,,, etc) all congregate there, making it the perfect gathering place for SFF readers. I can't say I've encountered something akin to what Sarah saw in the GRRM threads, but that doesn't mean that it's not present. Heck, I never knew there was such a thing as the "Sane ASOIAF Fans!"

In any event, again on the Literature board, I think that most members police themselves effectively, and the moderators are always there to keep things relatively clean. In my opinion, Ran (Elio) runs a great establishment!

I tend not to pay much attention to fanboys, for trying to argue with them quickly degenerates into a viscious circle that only stirs up a lot of unnecessary shit. What's the use of debating the merits of authors like Steven Erikson or R. Scott Bakker with people who start threads claiming they suck and they don't know why some readers can be stupid enough to buy their crap? Pointless, if you ask me. . .

What I found interesting in Sarah's post (please don't call her "wench!") was that it offered the female perspective on something I never really realized was happening around me. Hence, I was wondering if other women felt the same concerning message boards in general? Looking around, I discovered that there is a panoply of blogs, LJs, and websites where women discuss and review SFF books, which might explain why guys outnumber gals so dramatically on all the message boards I frequent. So I thought that I should just throw this out there and see what people think.

Hopefully we can discuss this intelligently. . .:-)

19 commentaires:

Lsrry said...

Interesting. I'm going to post a link to her post on the matter at wotmania in just a minute, because I know there's a couple of posters whose opinions I'd like to see on this matter.

Neth said...

That is interesting - not surprising, but interesting. It seems to a rather common thing regardless of the series - go to a WOT message board and ask after opinions of any of the female characters.

I tend to not hang out in the ASOIF portion of Westeros because many of the posters there are just plain rude and unnecessarily vulgar (not to mention a bit immature). The Literature section is the place to be and does seem to have a higher percentage of female regulars.

Patrick said...

Larry, please ask them to stop by and leave their thoughts here as well. It would be interesting to have them share what they have to say with everyone!:-)

Lsrry said...

Sure, I'll link them to your post...and steal...err, borrow? that Guardian one, which I missed due to searching for news on one of my favorite pro wrestler's death (apparent murder-suicide now).

Sarah said...


Thanks for linking me. I hope y'all understand I'm not trying to knock down the Westeros boards on all levels. In fact I've used the Literature boards over there many a time to pick my next SFF read. The aim over at Hathor Legacy is really to critically dissect female characters in popular media. So we've got a bit of a different aim than the average fan. I've used Ran's board as an example because it's the largest board discussing ASOIAF that exists out there. Privilege comes into play here-- the assumption among a lot of SFF fans is that science fiction and fantasy is going to have a majority of male readers. So I believe female fans do get the sense sometimes that we're in someone else's playground. And it's not always the big stuff-- it's little things like the language people use casually. Or the way they can be dismissive.

It's not something we can't get around, as fan communities, but it's something that I think is worth looking at more closely.

Anonymous said...

Yeap, I've seen other people feel the same way :

You've got to realize often, for some people who complain about this there's even more who don't say a thing and just go away.

Strabo said...

I agree with many points, but you can't always choose who will be a fan of a series or page and who will leave a comment after all. It isn't as if the comments to this post on the Hathor Legacy are a paramount of intelligence either for example. "I'm glad I stick to women (livejournal) in my discussions" isn't furthering any open discussion or change either.

My favourite:
Forum owners don't see what's wrong with such comments because they agree it's the woman's job to be purty and the man's job to be cool, so if some uppity female suggests that she'd rather be cool herself OR that male coolness isn't good enough without male beauty, an alarm goes off somewhere: "Status Quo Violation In Progress. Fanboys, Report to Duty Stations. Flaming: Begin!"

Are we still talking about Ran here? Because I rather think this person never has actually visited the forum in question.

Ran said...

Thanks for noting this, pat. Wish I had known about it sooner, as it seems the comments wound down pretty quickly. I did post a remark in comments, in any case. For the most part, I agree with everything that Sarah has written. But in the end, I don't know what to do about it that is consistent with our relatively light moderation policy.

Excessive rudeness can always be reported using the Report function (though we basically never receive reports from the book forums), and disliked posters can be put on ignore.

Anonymous said...

That happens a lot on message boards where male and female fans congregate. The ASOIAF board is just one example. Sometimes the entitlement bitching from the fanboys - toghether with a very often pretty unfortunate choice of words - is enough to drive a way any female fan.
If the women try to reason with the fanboys the bitching an pissing (and e-peen waving) really hits a crescendo sometimes (not always!).

But send a fanboy to a female dominated fanboard or lj.... I give you 5 minutes before the wails how the "wimmin" have to accommodate them begin. Because, clearly, kickass heroines and droolworthy male side-characters? Blasphemy!

Neth said...

You're infamous now.

Well, not really - just the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Well, what else can you expect from an internet message board?

Anyways, comparing Brienne to Tyrion is just wrong in my eyes. Sure, Tyrion is a noseless dwarf. But at least he has a zesty personality, knowhatimsayn?

Anonymous said...

Up until a few weeks ago I was a moderator on an author-specific fantasy literature board. In my two years and more spent moderating the site, I can say in all honesty that the concerns raised in this post were only maybe once or twice an issue. In fact, in that two years and more, I can only recall one specific case where a female board member complained about the actions of a fellow male member, based on sexist overtones.

In my experience (and I'm sure I'll be told my opinions on the matter are invalid, being that I'm male) the issue raised within the article is almost non-existent. Or at least, it does not exist as the kind of problem the author would have us believe. There are vulgar, crass, rude PEOPLE everywhere, in all walks of life, from both genders. That fantasy literature in general has a larger contingent of males in its fandom surely is one reason there appear to be so many male jerks in the community - it's a simple numbers game.

To me, the entire article reads not as some telling look on the mistreatment of women in fantasy fandom, but instead as the childish tantrum of a fan whose character isn't liked by all.

Patrick said...

Well, from the emails I've been receiving since last night, it appears that this will henceforth be referred to as the "wench issue!"

I've received quite a few messages from female readers who thank me for putting this out there. Come on, ladies! Don't do this anonymously! You have a chance to say your piece and share your thoughts on a "neutral" site, so go ahead!

Sarah: I understand what you were trying to say and the point you were trying to make. It irks me that this may reflect badly on Westeros, as it is probably the best SFF board out there at the moment. From what I gather, most people seem to agree with you, many of them wholeheartedly. However, others construed your post as some sort of rant...

Fanboyism is present on all message boards. As one of the biggest SFF communities on the internet, it stands to reason that Westeros will have its fair share. But let's not forget that fanboys are, in essence, a small number of rude and immature jerk-offs. They are the exception, not the norm. Visit Ran's board and you'll see that 99% of the members are super nice and a very cool bunch to hang out with.

So while I understand what elicited Sarah's post, I believe that some of the comments on The Hathor Legacy go a bit too far. I respect their opinion, of course, but I don't necessarily agree with everything they claim.

Still, the simple fact that many people all over the web are now discussing this may well raise our collective awareness to a problem that we didn't really perceive up until this point. Which, in the hand, would be a step in the right direction.

I don't think it's rampant on any message board out there, yet the fact that some women are "touchy" about this issue might mean that there is more of that sort of thing than we guys realize.

Hopefully more female MB members can drop by and give us their take on this situation...

Oh Great! This is the third time one of my post became the inspiration for a cartoon on My Elves are Different!

Anonymous said...

Now I don't visit the ASOIAF forums much on westeros (I hang out mostly in Literature), but it's my feeling that most of the Briane hate stems not from any blatant sexism, and not from the fact that Briane is ugly, but more from the fact that Briane is a boring character involved in a boring storyline. There very well may be sexist undertones (or overtones) on these forums, but I'm going to have to agree with what alrin said above: this sounds like a fangirl ranting about people not liking her favorite character.

Sarah said...

I suppose it might come as a surprise if I were to note that Brienne actually isn't my favorite character. :-) I'd have to say Jaime is my #1, followed by Arya, Sam, Sansa, Brienne, and Theon (I was fond of the little a-hole) in no particular order.

I have no problem with people thinking Brienne's storyline is boring. Lots of people like Davos, but I don't like him because I think Stannis' whole storyline is boring. Personal opinion.

And I also don't want to sound like I'm down on the whole sections of the Westeros boards where posters are having great discussions. What I was interested in was dissecting why GRRM's female characters seem to polarize fans, and why an ugly female character makes some people (not all people) slightly uncomfortable in a way that ugly male characters don't seem to make people uncomfortable. And I think that just because female fans don't say anything doesn't always mean everything's fine, when it comes to the type of language that anonymous posters sometimes use when they assume the default poster is going to be male. It's a subtle difference between being made to feel unwelcome (which I don't think happens outwardly), and feeling awkwardly like you are in a community that might not be for you.

Food for thought, anyhow.

Anonymous said...


Perhaps you're right about female fans being made to feel uncomfortable in certain forums. As a male I can't pretend to understand exactly what it's like being a female fan on these forums. And perhaps you're right about some people being casually, or even outrightly, sexist on the forums, so I won't dispute these points with you. But I do think that it is unfair of you to assume that people who don't like Brianne do so because she is ugly. Like I said above, I believe that most people dislike Brianne because she is boring. Nothing more, nothing less. I know that you made it a point to say that you believe only some people dislike Brianne based on her appearance. To that I say to you: such is life. There will always be a small percent who judge people solely on appearances. In fact, I'm willing to bet that there are people out there who dislike Tyrion solely because he is ugly, and I know that there are people who dislike Sam simply because he is fat. But these people do not represent a majority. They do not even represent a significant percentage. It is my opinion that these issues have nothing to do with the male/female dichotomy of the boards. The simple fact is that some people are assholes, regardless of gender. But simply because these assholes and I share a dislike for something does not mean that we share the same reasons for said dislike.

Angela/SciFiChick said...

If I feel uncomfortable on a forum, I leave it. Though that hasn't happened often. Usually, it's just that I get sick of fanboy rantings and ravings and their belief that their way is the only way.
I just remind myself that these guys probably don't act as chauvinistic in the real world. If they did, they would be social outcasts.. which some very well may be. And I end up feeling sorry for them. For about 3 seconds.
And move on.

Neth said...

for those curious, we've had some interesting discussion about this over on the Fantasybookspot message board.

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