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Eugene*Grant @MrEugeneGrant
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Thread: just finished the 2nd book in George RR Martin's Game of Thrones series and I am keen to return to the problematic depiction of Tyrion.

Let's begin...

Overall, I love Tyrion. He's smart, charismatic, well-read, equipped with razor sharp retort, and brave.

As a white male with #dwarfism, I see him and I think "Yes!"

I wish I'd read these 15 years ago.


My gosh does GRRM's writing about him (and other #dwarf people) make me frequently feel uncomfortable and, at times, a little sad.

Let's look at some examples...

Tyrion is described as having a "pushed-in face", looking "grotesque", "still the ugliest man [Sansa] had ever chanced to look upon".

Yes, yes. I get this is supposed to be how other people see him but, damn man, *every* character seems to loathe the sight of a #dwarf body.

Tyrion isn't the only #dwarf person whom GRRM portrays as ugly.

Daenerys is served by a dwarf servant who is described as having a "pinched, pointed, and snoutish" face.

Later, she sees four dwarf men with "rattish pointed faces" having sex with a woman

(this scene is totally gratuitous, btw. Pure fetishisation. It is there to repulse Daenerys and the reader)

That's faces, now let's move on to bodies.

The way GRRM describes Tyrion walking is unsettling.

"His stunted legs might make him a comic grotesque at a harvest ball."

"His body swaying heavily from side to side with every step, like something from a grotesquerie."

GRRM's clearly trying to describe the movement of short bowed legs (common to Achondroplasia).

Sometimes, when running or climbing stairs our legs swing out to the side a little and then out to the front.

GRRM calls this "waddling".

You know what *we* call it? WALKING.

Let's not forget: GRRM is a professional writer. Words are his craft. He comes up with lines like

"A joyless laughter, the sort of laughter that can turn into sobbing in half a heartbeat"

Yet when it comes to Tyrion's legs, it's all waddle, waddle, waddle.

It's lazy.

One of the better moments in the book is when Tyrion briefly remembers his first love, Tysha, who clearly loved him and found him genuinely attractive - in body and mind - and sexual.

But it is a fleeting moment, and then it's gone...

Tyrion clearly has a deep-rooted, negative view of his appearance and #dwarf body.

But there are flashes of pride, too.

"Mighty but short, somewhat like me", he says.


Cersei: "You have always been cunning."

Tyrion: "In my own small way."

I looked forward to when he leads soldiers into battle.

But even then he presents himself as less than. He doesn't shout CHARGE but

"'They say I'm half a man. What does that make the lot of you?' If I fight, they must do the same, or they are less than dwarfs he thinks."

A key defence put forward is GRRM is depicting Tyrion's own internalised oppression - experienced from birth & his mother's death, through to his father and sister's years of hatred of him, to how he is treated by everyone else (save Jaime, really).

Let's talk about this.

Tyrion is clearly the smartest, most independent-minded character*...

so it seems odd to me - as a reader and a #dwarf person - that he can't make up his own mind about his #dwarfism and instead so readily internalizes others' negative views of himself.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

we are giving WAY too much credit to the abilities of an average height man, GRRM, to depict internalised oppression built over years of living in a body. he. doesn't. have. and. doesn't. know.

GRRM's authority with which to depict internalized oppression, in all its nuance and messiness, of a body he doesn't have and a community he doesn't belong to, is not self-justifying.

It needs to be scrutinised, questioned and challenged.

I worry readers won't do this.

Does it get better? Maybe. I'll read the other books and find out.

But I've already read 1600 pages and I'm still wanting.

I love Tyrion. I just wish he loved himself a bit more. He defies everyone in all other aspects - save this one.


PS: * Arya comes a close second.
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