On this most Thursdayish of Thursdays, I greet you. The sun is shining, the sky is blue from ear to ear, and I can’t wait to get outside and let some of it fall on my pelt.
But not before, of course, sharing with you the contents of my mind’s miscellaneous drawer (which, actually, isn’t all that miscellaneous, really. It’s not like I’m going to start expounding on quantum physics and/or modern engineering principles, or whatnot. It’s going to be books and nerdy things and writing, and stuff).
All right. First things first: I find myself in possession of an Unpopular Opinion relating to geekery and geek culture, and Thor’s Day is the most appropriate day to share it with you all. You have, I’m sure, heard that Marvel are planning to change their character Thor into a woman in an upcoming storyline: it has been hailed as a high water-mark of modern storytelling by most people, a Generally Good Thing in relation to making the Marvel pantheon more accessible to girls and women and a hammer blow (sorry, couldn’t resist it) to sexist depictions of characters in comic books.
Let me explain. It’s not that I’m not in favour of more female characters in Marvel’s world – in fact, that would be amazing. It would also be amazing if some of them were women of colour or short or differently abled or in possession of imperfect figures and breasts that didn’t, as the song goes, defy gravity, and – most importantly, for me – didn’t have to dress in skin-tight and/or revealing costumes. Marvel, to be fair, are reasonably good at inclusion – but most of their popular characters, the ones familiar to those people whose knowledge of the universe is restricted to the films and TV adaptations as opposed to the comic books – fall into the norms of comic book culture. In other words, they are women made to appeal to the (male, heterosexual) eye. That, in itself, annoys me. Also, Marvel’s press release states that ‘Thor’ is a title, and not a name, which I don’t agree with. It’s not an honorific that can be passed from person to person (even though I’m aware that the character of Thor has morphed into different forms during his existence so far, including a frog – but those episodes were temporary, and it was pretty clear that Thor himself was going to re-emerge sooner or later); Thor Odinson is a name. If this new female Thor picks up the hammer, is found worthy of it and therefore imbibes the power of Thor, I can’t see how she is Thor – is the name going to change to Thor Odinsdottir? Anyway.
I’m also, as an ‘ex-medievalist-but-really-always-a-medievalist’ upset with what Marvel are doing to a staple of Norse mythology and culture. Thor is a male god; he has always been thus. He does, to be fair, dress up as a woman at one point in order to claim his hammer Mjollnir back from the Frost Giants, but that’s not the same as actually becoming a woman. I know that Marvel have never stayed true to the mythology (because they couldn’t, really), but still. I reserve the right to be irritated.
I just can’t help wishing Marvel had created a new female character, one of equal power and status to Thor if they liked, which women and girls could rally round. Why not elevate Sif, a goddess of Asgard, to a greater role? Or even make Loki female, because Loki, as a character, is defined by his ability to shapeshift and change gender? I think it seems like a cynical marketing ploy to take one of the longest running and dearly loved characters and change him utterly, just to try to hook more women readers. I also find it annoying that the writers felt a female character, created from scratch, couldn’t possibly be as cool as an established male one which they’ve decided to make into a female one.
Even if, to be entirely fair, the art does look amazing. Thor, as a female, is badass.
Anyway. There are my two cents on the matter. I’m not even a big comics reader, so I probably shouldn’t be allowing myself to get so annoyed about this.
In other news, work on my WiP is going well, again. I have broken through a patch of extraordinarily hard writing (what I wouldn’t have given for Mjollnir over the past few weeks, eh? It would’ve made short work of my Gordian knot of plotting), and now, I hope, the rest of the first draft will flow, reasonably easily, into a conclusion I can be happy with. Then, of course, it’ll be time to leave it aside and focus on something else while it settles, and go back to it with a machete – but that’s a problem for a couple of months away. I think I let myself get freaked out by the idea that this is my fourth book – fourth! – and it was so much harder to write than the others, with the exception of ‘Tider’, which was hellish. I feel, at times, like it’s two steps forward and one step back with me. Progress is being made, but every scrap of it is a struggle.
No excuse to get complacent, though. I’m going to lay down another 2,000 words today, come hell, high water or bright sunshine, and that’s that.
Thirdly, and lastly: I’ve had the pleasure of reading two very excellent books this week, both of them by Irish women; this simultaneously makes me proud, and scared. One of them you’ll be hearing more about on Saturday, and perhaps I’ll review the other one in a few weeks, if I feel like being good to you. This little country of mine is full of talented people.
So. On that note – go forth, good people, and have a Marvel-lous Thursday. Share your talents with the world (unless it’s for plaiting your nostril hair into unusual shapes or something like that, in which case you’ll have to choose your audience very, very carefully), and always remember to pursue happiness. I remain, your obedient servant, &c.