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I find it fascinating how much time and energy people have put into discussing, on [ profile] freece's blog and at f_fa and elsewhere, whether Laurent is the one who takes it up the butt or not. (Question answered now, obviously.) I think there's a reason for it.

It starts with Laurent's literary pedigree: his father is Lord Peter Wimsey; his brother is Vampire Hunter D; his mother is Francis Crawford of Lymond. You see the issue, here: he had to be an assbaby. Female characters get beat with the Mary Sue stick but there ain't no Sue like a boy named Sue. The only female character I can think of in English literature who shares the family traits of infuriating rightness and superhuman versatility and so on to the same over-the-top degree is Mary Poppins. And she had no children. Bert is a nearly offstage character; the central characters who stand in the same inferior yet fascinated relationship to her as their various lovers and admirers do to Wimsey and Lymond and so on are the Banks children. Which says something about that type of relationship.

So Laurent as a character has no female parent, nor is he himself female, but I put it to you that in Captive Prince he is doing the closest thing possible to playing a female version of that type of character. It isn't quite a female role. If Laurent were a girl the story would be quite different, and I'd love to read that goddamn story. I'm waiting to read that story. I'd love to know what it would be like, because I can't imagine it. Well, I've been trained not to since birth, obviously. Every part of my culture down to the most casual teaches me that a strong and romantically successful woman is not the one who beats everybody - that paper bag princess goes alone into the sunset - she's the one who achieves her natural place two paces to to the rear of her just slightly more awesome man.

(And this takes me back to [personal profile] hradzka and others complaining that women are using gay men to tell their stories, and how that makes me want to laugh until I fall off the sofa. Why yes, we've been trained since birth that all the stories worth telling are about men, and now we tell our stories using men, and you complain? Give it up. Like this commenter complaining to [ profile] yuki_onna that people are appropriating! British-Celtic! culture! As if it somehow just happened that in America I grew up never hearing any Olmec or Aztec myths but I sure did learn Scottish and Welsh and Irish and English fairy tales and fantasy stories? As if it were accidental that all the fantasy I grew up reading was set in Vaguely Europe, that I was taught to dream of dragons? Ha! No. Europe imposed its culture on everybody: now it's ours too. If you shove something down people's throats, it's too late to demand it back when they chew and swallow.)

In the meantime, Laurent sounds like a transitional object (another thing I learned about from Are You My Mother?:) it's not you, but it's not not-you, either. Like Toni Morrison's famous characterization of Bill Clinton as the first black president. Clinton wasn't black. But, in retrospect, he was a step on the way to Obama.

So the question of whether Laurent tops or bottoms is at least a little bit the question of to what degree he is a female character, and furthermore, the question of how female a female version of his role gets to be. Because Laurent is definitely cool. He's a badass; he's openly the most capable person in four countries. And the question is: to be a cool, capable badass, do you have to top? Do you have to take the male role in bed? Does it lessen the character if he likes to get fucked? Bitchy Jones addressed this in her complaint about how het female doms, if they are ever even acknowledged, are always supposed to be all about pegging their male subs. That's an activity in which the woman's pleasure is mostly symbolic. There's nothing wrong with it; but why is it the sine qua non of female sexual dominance? It would be as if male doms were overwhelmingly known to most favor keeping their pants on and going down on their female subs, eschewing any activity that actually involved their penis. To understate the obvious: that's not the way male sexuality is constructed. So it was a very interesting question whether Laurent in his hermaphroditic role would perpetuate his dominance by being the fucker rather than the fuckee, or whether he would somehow try to reconcile a very male type of dominance with a female type of sexuality.
metaphortunate: (Default)
To follow up to our earlier discussion: if you have finished Cryoburn, I strongly second [personal profile] azurelunatic's recommendation that you read:

First: Treatment for Shock, by [personal profile] dira.
Then: Sunset, by [personal profile] philomytha.

And then feel slightly better about the whole thing. We should all be so lucky.


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