Game of Thrones reviewers dismissed the series as appealing only to men. Why they're wrong.
When HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones debuted three weeks ago, it was met with a chorus of reviews by critics who admit they find fantasy tiresome or inexplicable. Reviewers have the right to their opinions and preferences, of course, but I was particularly perplexed by the insistence of the New York Times' Gina Bellafante that the show—and by extension, the fantasy genre in general—could only appeal to men. She wrote:
While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin's, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to 'The Hobbit' first. 'Game of Thrones' is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population's other half.
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Alyssa Rosenberg: When Fairy-Tales Look the Same
Bellafante has been taken to task both on the matter of Game of Thrones by critics like io9's Annalee Newitz, and the Girl Geek section of the Internet for her general lack of exposure to women who can't imagine joining a book group where Lorrie Moore would ever be in contention for read of the month. But it's worth exploring something Bellafante appeared unable to even consider as a possibility: The reasons fantasy might be a uniquely appealing genre to women.
It's true that the early fairy tales that influenced fantasy giants like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis may not resonate with modern women, with their tales of maidens saved by their patience and virtue from forced marriages, accusations of monster births, and devilish mothers-in-law. And Tolkien and Lewis didn't exactly write inspiring female heroines.