10 July 2013

The Damsel in Distress: Jeldhen

Alright, so most of you are familiar with the "damsel in distress" cliche and how it objectifies those that are captured, blah, blah, blah. If you really want to get into it here's a feminist vlog that addresses this concept in depth (I strongly recommend that you take the time to watch the series later, though they're rather lengthy):

The essence of the cliche is that women are reduced to objects or victim states as a plot device to propel the story forward and motivate the main characters (namely men) into defeating the bad guy.

I've had some people voice concern over the squeal to Hard Bank LeftTailslide - being little more than a cheap use of a trope to motivate Krys and force her to confront her darker side. I can see where this idea comes from. All you have to do is read the description of the book and this is the first concept conjured. I want to assure you that this initial bulrb is intentionally misleading with the intention of forcing the reader to come to their own conclusion as to what Krys's inner darkness is. But, yes. Jeldhen does get "kidnapped" and Krys is intent on rescuing him.

Now, without giving away too much *inhales deeply and tries not to burst*, in the first book, Krys is put into a situation where some damselling occurs, but it is clear throughout the book that Krys has the ability to take control of the situation and simply has to figure out how. She is never objectified in the reader's perspective - though she is objectified in the eyes of her captors. I did this in an effort to draw attention to what women go through when being brutalized or victimized. However, rest assured that her kidnap is not merely a plot device, it does serve a higher purpose - and no, it's not the purpose of making Jeldhen come after her. There are greater powers at work here. What that is, though? You'll just have to read and find out!

In Tailslide *again holds breath and attempts not to explode* Jeldhen has already been captured, forcing Krys to confront her so called "inner darkness". Here's where one might draw the line between the damsel in distress motive and the sire in distress:

When a woman is put into the damsel position and the main character is a man, the essence of the theme becomes (as Anita points out here) is that the man is driven by a loss of masculinity due to an implicated failure of his duty to protect the ones he loves. While this is not wrong, nor is it a misrepresentation of what husbands, boyfriends, and fathers would truly experience if put through a member of their family being kidnapped or killed, this is not what Krys, nor on a whole women, go through when put in the reverse scenario.

When Jeldhen is kidnapped, Krys - much like any male counterpart in a similar scenario - is anguished over losing her best friend, experiences feelings of inadequacy in her ability to protect the ones she loves, and overall feels as though she has lost all control. However, she does not allow these things to stop her from progressing as a person. She is not solely driven by her need to prove herself, or a need to get her best friend back - though this is certainly how it seems at first.

Krys does not go on a solo, destroy all Shadow Cast killing spree (even though she would really like to). Instead, she steps up to her tasks as a Keyper and does what she has to to bring them down without unnecessary loss of life. She does not become a super soldier, even if she is capable of it, nor does she become the universally praised hero that wins metals and gets all the recognition. Krys is the epitome of an every day soldier with a cause, and (hopefully) someone young people of every gender can look up to.

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