The critical debate that broke out last week over whether women would be interested in HBO's Game of Thrones resembles a border battle that a fantasy author might write: engagingly bloody but depressingly predictable.
Ginia Bellafante threw down her jewel-encrusted gauntlet with a New York Times pan that labeled the gritty Ren Faire revisionism of the world created by writer George R.R. Martin "boy fiction" that HBO has spruced up with some sex and romance for the ladies. Hers wasn't the only review to call Game of Thrones sexist, but it hit the hardest.
Fantasy-loving female smarties quickly took her to task for condescending to fantasy fans in general and girl geeks in particular. Such arguments are perennial within gender-focused liberation movements. The fight to be included (in the military, say, or contact sports, or subcultural realms like fantasy) is always haunted by the possibility that the club you're trying to crash is actually lame.
It seems obvious to me that some women (like some men) adore sinking into fantasy worlds like Martin's, while others remain disinterested or repulsed. I myself dig guys in furs and ladies who sneakily outwit their oppressors, so I'll be watching the events unfolding in Westeros.
Maybe my tolerance for trips to ye olde country like this one stems partly from the fact that I grew up in the kingdom of rock. Women who run with the rockers have been dipping into Guinevere's trunk for decades, trying on costumes and artistic identities that help them express what it's like to fight for feminine power within a seriously patriarchal milieu. What follows is a guide to what should be the soundtrack for Game of Thrones: the fiercely femme-tastical world of ripped-bodice rock.