Game of Thrones is Still Having Girl Trouble

I think I’ve finally figured out why Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones episode, “Beyond the Wall,” bugged me so much.

As many fans will tell you, there were a lot of problems with the logistics.

But what really annoyed me was its view of female relationships. Beyond the wall the former male enemies were bonding like brothers.

My father tried to kill you? Well, let’s have a drink, talk about getting laid, and go kill something because we’re guys and, hey, that’s what we do.

Meanwhile, the zombie apocalypse is coming and not only are Arya and Sansa Stark not sticking together, they’re arguing about the correct response to being victimized.

In the right hands (say, George R.R. Martin’s), their sibling rivalry and inability to see eye-to-eye would be a chance to explore the different ways people respond to abuse. And there wouldn’t be one way that appeared more right than the other.

But because Arya is a far more popular character than Sansa (even though she’s become, let’s face it, a ruthless little bitch) it’s hard for viewers not to buy Arya’s viewpoint.

Her vie, however, is “blame the victim.” Even though doing anything other than what she did would have meant Sansa’s death it’s not enough. Sansa couldn’t just survive. In Arya’s eyes (and so ours) she had to be the hero. And that isn’t always the best response.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been there with the sibling rivalry thing. I was the kid who got straight “A”s without trying. My sister (who is quite brilliant) had to work at it. She had to be the sister of the girl in that band.

In turn, however, she was the popular one. She was the braver one. And I was certain my parents liked her best.

I’ll tell you one thing, though – if the zombie apocalypse was heading toward L.A., we sure as shit wouldn’t be arguing about who’s handwriting was more perfect or who Daddy liked best. We’d be using our survival skills together — as a family.

One of the great things about Martin’s books is that liking cute boys and pretty dresses don’t make a character boring. Sansa is the one female character who represents the majority of girls/women of her era (and pretty much every era since) and her viewpoint is as necessary to the books as anyone’s.

Sure, Martin’s books celebrate people who want to break prevailing gender norms and societal strictures

But unlike the show they don’t judge people who follow them either. We can admire Sansa for her decency. We may not always like Cat because of how she treats her husband’s (alleged) bastard, but we understand why she does it and it makes us think.

But D.B. Weiss and David Benioff (who created and still run the show) have always been a bit slow when it comes to women. Eventually they do get it, however. When viewers complained about too much female nudity and less than sensitive treatment of sexual assault, the gratuitous nudity and sexual abuse went.

So now my challenge to them is to study some actual women (since there seem to be none on staff this season — or at least none  have received a writer or director credit).

Come on, guys – you can figure out how to make women interact without it being about “pretty dresses.” Even Daenerys – who loves and fights like the boys do – had to put on a fab coat and catch the eye of the cute boy before saving his ass with her dragons. That was a Hunger Games move, not a Game of Thrones  one.

Why is it the Hollywood Reporter — while generously ranking Sansa the 6th-best character on the show (Arya was number one) — still felt it necessary to note that Sansa is “not always the easiest character to root for.”

Is it because she doesn’t kill anyone (other than the guy that raped and tortured her, killed her little brother and tried to wipe out her entire family)? Because she saves the north through her own cunning? Because she’s ruling better and more justly than anyone else on the show has? Because she has somehow kept her faith in humankind even after all she’s been through?

She should be our favorite character. We should be crying when Arya and Sansa don’t come together, not taking sides.

David… D.B…. you were doing so well with the women but now you’ve reverted to shallow stereotypes. Enough with the women having to act like boys, moon over boys, or talk about “pretty dresses.”

Winter is here.

How about letting some of the women come together? How about letting them be who they are?

You’ve only got a few women and a few episodes left.

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If you lived here…


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My new website is up and operational (more or less).

Blog entries will be duplicated here for the near future, but to stay up-to-date, please visit the new page.

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Why removing the statute of limitations for sexual assaults is a good idea


A California bill proposing to eliminate the 10-year statute of limitations on rape and child molestation charges has passed in the Senate Public Safety Committee. That committee had, in the past, refused to move through similar bills.

The new bill sponsored by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, passed the committee on a 4-0 vote . The passage came after testimony from sexual assault survivors and others, including Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents 30 of the Bill Cosby accusers.

The American Civil Liberties Union objected to the change, saying charges could be brought after witnesses’ memories had become cloudy, evidence has faded and witnesses have become harder to locate. Continue reading

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The Bitter Fruit of Forever now available

Bitter fruit front cover

My novelette The Bitter Fruit of Forever is now available on

Soo-zee Wanabi and his friends are rebel soldiers fighting the oppressive regime that rules their world. But when their own commander commits an act of shocking brutality Soo-zee and his friends learn that bravery is not so easy–and that oftentimes the real enemy is the one that lies within.

The Bitter Fruit of Forever is a haunting story about hard choices and the aftermath of violence. And I think it’s safe to say it’s unlike anything you’ve ever read.

What readers are saying about The Bitter Fruit of Forever on

Imaginative writing that packs an emotional wallop.

An intense allegorical tale that keeps you reading.

Shares peculiar (though welcome) similarities with the works of Kafka and RW Fassbinder, HBO’s “Oz” and Wong Kar-wai’s “Ashes of Time.”

The Bitter Fruit of Forever is available for $6.29 in paperback or $2.99 on Kindle.

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Rape survivor or rape victim?

durr photo

I was running through my upcoming keynote address at Carnegie Mellon’s MOSAIC conference for my niece, a recent university graduate, when she suddenly looked up from her phone, on which she had been taking notes.

“You can’t say that,” she said.

“Say what?” I asked.

“Victim,” she told me. “You have to say ‘survivor.'”

This was news to me. But a quick Google search showed me that I seem to be in the minority in preferring the V-word. “Survivor” is thought to be a more empowering term–a more respectful one. Continue reading

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What the Jian Gomeshi acquittal can teach us about victim blaming


Yesterday former Canadian Broadcasting Company host Jian Gomeshi was acquitted of sexually assaulting three women. This morning one of Gomeshi’s accusers, Lucy DeCoutere, told The Guardian newspaper how the acquittal had affected her:

[Gomeshi’s defense attorney, Marie Henein] told the court that I enticed him; that I had always been an attention seeker; that I was coming forward as an excuse to get interviews with the press… Henein’s barrage of questions sought to whittle away at my allegations by undermining my credibility. Her main argument was to show that the nature of my relationship with Jian after he assaulted me proved that I was an unreliable witness, and that my testimony couldn’t be counted on…

Everything Henein asked me came back to one big question: why did I keep in touch with Jian? The answer is that it was my way of processing what happened to me, of neutralizing a volatile situation he created. But for her and the judge, it turns out, that wasn’t enough… All of the build-up, my 12 months of preparation, had come down to this: a letter I didn’t remember writing…

I thought about how my own words, written 13 years ago, were now being used against me to argue that I had been complicit in my own assault.

Much of what she said reminded me of my going public last year about how on New Year’s Eve 1975, the manager of my band, The Runaways, raped me and violated me with a hairbrush. He did so in front of a roomful of people, including several of my then-bandmates. It was an event I kept silent about for almost 40 years for fear of things like what happened to the Gomeshi accusers. Continue reading

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Kesha and the economics of misery


A New York state judge has ruled against Kesha in her quest to be let out of her record deal with Sony due to sexual assault allegations against producer Dr. Luke. In the wake of the decision, some of Kesha’s fans have called for a boycott of Sony.

But a consumer boycott against the industry behemoth isn’t likely to do much.

For a boycott against a major entertainment distributor to have an effect, it has to be limited in time (a designated day, for instance) and well-coordinated. Even 100,000 people here and there refusing to buy Sony product will have little impact.

But even if it did, such a boycott would punish other artists who are also tied to the company via record deals they can’t get out of.

New artists refusing to sign a deal with the label might have some impact. However, in a world in which bidding for new artists isn’t that competitive, turning down a record deal is a lot to ask of anyone. And let’s be honest – every other record company would have done the same thing. It’s an industry-wide problem that isn’t going away anytime soon.

I applaud Kesha wholeheartedly for standing up to Sony. It’s not easy for any artist to do so, let alone one suffering from the trauma of working with an alleged rapist.

So what can we do to help artists stuck in oppressive contracts?

Well for one thing, we can stop downloading or streaming entertainment illegally. That put distributors out of business and stunts competition. We can also call companies out when they turn a blind eye to sexual assault, discrimination or harassment – and that includes paying women less than their male counterparts – such as when Fox purportedly offered Gillian Anderson less than David Duchovny for the “X-Files” reboot.

And if you’re in the industry, isn’t about time you stopped looking the other way in the interest of your own paycheck or the company bottom line? Because it shouldn’t be up to the consumer to prevent wrongful conduct. It should be up to all of us.


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Step up. Speak Out. Change your world.


Earlier this week social media exploded when Amber Coffman of the band Dirty Projectors tweeted that indie-music publicist Heathcliff Berru had groped her at a bar. Afterwards, several other women came forward with even more disturbing complaints.

The allegations forced Berru’s resignation from Life or Death PR, a firm he cofounded and which has represented major music artists. Several artists severed ties with the firm. In a statement, Berru blamed his behavior on drug and alcohol and promised to go to rehab.

Notably missing from the voices of outrage, however, were Berru’s business associates – not just his coworkers, but the agents, managers and executives who worked with him. Continue reading

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Salvador Dalí’s fear of castration

Salvador Dalí’s fear of castration.

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