This project started as a side blog, created out of frustration that so many people of color are quite literally harassed out of Renfaires, fandoms, book clubs, SCA events, message boards and forums, because of their race.
I have a background in interdisciplinary studies and historiography/historiology, and I’ve been specializing in the concept of “retroactive erasure” since sometime in 2010, although that focus was more towards gender studies. Now, as you can imagine, important people in interdisciplinary gender studies do not like being criticized for parroting racist ideas in support of their super-enlightened gender studies theories.
When I originally coined the term, I was really shocked by the lack of specific scholarship exploring the ways in which the contributions of say, white women during the European middle ages, had been completely erased during the 19th and 20th centuries, by white male “experts” who blamed “the lack of opportunities for women at the time (the middle ages)” as a reason for the “lack of evidence” that women had in fact contributed.
It’s for this reason that in almost every humanities textbook or handout that’s come across my desk, if it touches on “prehistory”, there contains a section of “and during that time, women everywhere became subject to men, and that’s when human society started”. Now, reading that sentence, your average person educated in the United States will nod and agree vaguely without questioning it. In fact, liberal and radical feminism (*gag*) have both built their entire premise on this idea.
But if you actually think about it for more than two seconds, you’ll suddenly remember that societies other than Europe existed at that time. There are entire books about how the first wave of American feminism got the whole idea for feminism from Iroquois women of their acquaintance, who had been living with power, autonomy, and high social status for as long as they could remember. Unfortunately, those very same books completely ignore and purposely omit the first wave feminists’ openly Eugenicist positions, overt and malicious anti-Black racism, and their support to eliminate the very same civilizations and cultures that they had taken this inspiration of “gender equality” from in the first place. Add in the stress on “missionary work”, temperance movements, the entry of white women into the workforce as a “superior” influence over men of color who had previously occupied those positions…
Now, what does the culmination of all of these ideas just discussed look like?
1. the American obsession with creating ever increasing amounts of medieval-ish, Europe-ish based historical and fantasy media
2. retroactive erasure
3. “Western” or Eurocentric feminism with its foundations built on eugenics, racism, and constructions of white femininity contingent on missionary work and temperance movements
And this is coming from a fan. I have in fact read all of the ASOIAF books multiple times, including The Hedge Knight and other Dunk and Egg novellas, and watched every episode of Game of Thrones. I’ve had GoT parties, and I, along with everyone else who had read the books, positively reveled in people’s reactions to various plot points. I’m actually of the opinion that the show is LESS problematic in many ways to the novels. And I’ve actually bought the novels as gifts for other people as well.
That doesn’t invalidate the perfectly reasonable criticism that exists of both the show and the books.
Because as most fans of this particular genre can tell you, once it gets its hooks in you, it never lets go. After all, how can you resist the above, when you cut your teeth on this:
Or, god forbid, this:
And of course now, you have a better idea of both 1. how incredibly freaking old I am and 2. Just how boring, overused, and ubiquitous these kind of cultural ideas are.
But, imagine if all of that was actually put into perspective as media created by modern hands, thoughts, and ideas. Imagine if, instead, we had all seen that there are MANY ways to be Knights in Shining Armor, Princesses In Need of Rescues, Queens in Golden Crowns, Faeries and Fey Folk, Ladies in Shining Armor, or Knights of Flowers?
Maybe if we HAD, we wouldn’t have this:
And it’s my hope that soon, this will change.