Posts Tagged ‘Neko Case’

Red Sonja and the Allure of Female Badassery

August 11, 2009

Casing the Castle Phallus and in desperate need of hot oil treatment

Any feminist can tell you who set off the flash point on the fuse of their worldview.  Some women will point to Gloria Steinem as their matriarch, or point to a quote from Bella Abzug, or a passage from Gertrude Stein or she might even reference some crack (word choice: deliberate) made by Madonna at some point, fer chrissake.  Me, I bow to the mighty, mighty Red Sonja. Red Sonja: “She-Devil With A Sword.”  Red Sonja: “The Warrior Woman of Hyrkania.”  Red Sonja: the Ultimate Badass.  Red Sonja came to me, folded delicately within the staple-bound pulpy leaves of “Savage Sword of Conan” #78.  Her story was one of brutality and transcendence.  As I am primarily a humorist (and therefore a secretly sensitive pillow-biter of a pussocrat), I don’t have the intestinal fortitude to discuss how she was horrendously robbed of both her family and her innocence by a gang of mercenaries.  But as the horror that was inflicted upon Sonja is pivotal to Red Sonja’s story, and bearing in mind there’s no laughing in feminism–clunk, there it is.  Sonja’s prayer for vengeance is answered by an androgynous representative from the League of Made-Up Sword And Sorcery Gods who offers Sonja invincibility in exchange for her chastity.  The only man who can have her is the one who bests her in swordplay. I was 14 years old when I discovered Red Sonja.  I’d grown up in a cultural climate in which women with aviator glasses and long straight hair burned bras on the news, so aside from a vague inkling that I’d been born into the losing team, (and the fact I hadn’t even developed a reason to own a bra, let alone burn one) I wasn’t much of a feminist at the time.  There was something about Sonja, though, encrypted within the contradicting combination of her voluptuous curves and deadly sword, trembled the sort of seismic shock to the consciousness that precipitates a quaking awakening.   (more…)