Issue #4 of The Elephant Ladder is out now!

https://theelephantladder.wordpress.com/issue-4/

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My Favorite Queer Media Recommendations for Pride Month

by Molly Likovich, PROUD Bisexual

DISCLAIMER: These are just my personal favorite pieces of queer media, I understand that not all of these are everyone’s cup of tea.


BOOKS

1. The Wayward Children Series by Seanan McGuire

Asexual, Transgender & Lesbian rep

This adult series is the ultimate love letter to portal fantasy. Follow various quirky, and larger than life characters as they travel to worlds through magic doorways, and struggle to deal with reality upon return.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Every-Heart-Doorway-Wayward-Children/dp/0765385503/ref=sr_1_1?crid=LAES37QT8DGE&keywords=every+heart+a+doorway+by+seanan+mcguire&qid=1559607868&s=gateway&sprefix=every+heart%2Caps%2C210&sr=8-1

2. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Gay & Bisexual rep

In a small town that borders the world of Faerie, a brother and sister who have been in love their whole lives with the mysterious fairy prince in an eternal sleep, in a glass coffin in the middle of the woods, fall into an unlikely adventure when he finally wakes up.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Darkest-Part-Forest-Holly-Black/dp/031621308X/ref=sr_1_2?crid=222YGNRQYIXJV&keywords=the+darkest+part+of+the+forest+by+holly+black&qid=1559607887&s=gateway&sprefix=the+darkest+par%2Caps%2C134&sr=8-2

3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Gay & Bisexual rep

The Drarry fan fiction us Potterheads have always wanted. In Rowell’s book, Fangirl, we meet Cath, who is writing a Simon Snow fan fiction story in which the Draco & Harry insert characters fall in love. Carry On, is Cath’s fan fiction come to life. Wizards and Vampires, and magic boarding schools, oh my!

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Carry-Novel-Rainbow-Rowell/dp/1250049555/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3Q25R5KBICFES&keywords=carry+on+by+rainbow+rowell&qid=1559607905&s=gateway&sprefix=carry+on+by+ra%2Caps%2C129&sr=8-1

4. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Bisexual & Lesbian rep

Follow a set of three friends as they go to their first geeky convention, and battle mental illness barriers, and young love.

Buy the book here:https://www.amazon.com/Queens-Geek-Jen-Wilde/dp/1250111390/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=queens+of+geek&qid=1559607942&s=gateway&sr=8-1

5. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Lesbian rep

A young girl must come to terms with the truth of her grandfather’s death, as well as deal with the strained relationship between her and her best friend in this modern gothic novel.

Buy the book here:https://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Okay-Nina-LaCour/dp/0525425896/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=we+are+okay&qid=1559607993&s=gateway&sr=8-1

6. Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall

Bisexual rep

A young summer love story between a girl and a boy and a magic 8 ball, and an older sister, terrified of coming out as bisexual to her family. A cute contemporary rom-com about fate, and acceptance.

Buy the book here:https://www.amazon.com/Signs-Point-Yes-Adorkable-Romance/dp/125006600X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=signs+point+to+yes&qid=1559608033&s=gateway&sr=8-1

7. Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Lesbian rep

This classic vampire novel, that predates Dracula by almost 20 years, features an openly lesbian vampire as she falls in love with a human girl, and the issues this causes. A classic piece of gothic fiction with revolutionary queer elements. A piece of literature that was truly ahead of its time.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Carmilla-Joseph-Sheridan-Fanu/dp/1981089470/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=carmilla&qid=1559608038&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

8. The Girls by Emma Cline

*trigger warning for some graphic descriptions of violence and murder*

Bisexual rep

This fictionalized retelling of the summer of the Manson murders, follows one girl as she discovers the Manson-like cult a few months before the infamous murders are committed. She is specifically drawn to the stand-in character for the head Manson-girl, as well as the stand-in Manson character himself. Over the course of the summer she explores her sexuality, and what it means to love.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Girls-Emma-Cline/dp/081299860X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+girls&qid=1559608177&s=gateway&sr=8-1

9. Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Pansexual rep

This high fantasy heist novel, set in Bardugo’s Grisha-Verse, follows six unlikely comrades as they seek to infiltrate their world’s most highly guarded prison.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Six-Crows-Leigh-Bardugo/dp/1627792120/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2AMW7EUVRLWJN&keywords=six+of+crows&qid=1559608218&s=gateway&sprefix=six+of+%2Caps%2C135&sr=8-1

10. Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Pansexual & Asexual rep

This tragic contemporary novel set in a remote Alaskan town features two best friends coming to terms with their mental illnesses and sexualities in a town that is anything but accepting.

Buy the book here:https://www.amazon.com/Before-Let-Go-Marieke-Nijkamp/dp/1492642282/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3H7DPFYC6UCKM&keywords=before+i+let+go&qid=1559608238&s=gateway&sprefix=before+i+let%2Caps%2C133&sr=8-2

11. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Gay rep

This coming of age story follows a brother and sister as they try to move on and grow after the death of their mother.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Ill-Give-You-Jandy-Nelson/dp/0803734964/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1OQ2TW69I1HT4&keywords=ill+give+you+the+sun+jandy+nelson&qid=1559608277&s=gateway&sprefix=ill+give+you%2Caps%2C136&sr=8-1

12. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Bisexual rep

April May is the first to discover an alien race, and when said discovery thrusts her into the spotlight she is pressured by her agent to just “be a lesbian” because it will make her “more marketable” than being openly bisexual. This secret weighs on April as she tries to navigate an overnight fame that no human psyche is equipped to handle.

Buy the book here:https://www.amazon.com/Absolutely-Remarkable-Thing-Novel/dp/1524743461/ref=sr_1_1?crid=R4QISE1IC4C&keywords=an+absolutely+remarkable+thing&qid=1559608305&s=gateway&sprefix=an+abso%2Caps%2C137&sr=8-1

13. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Gay rep

Aristotle and Dante become best friends and struggle to understand their feelings for one another in this touching coming of age story.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Aristotle-Dante-Discover-Secrets-Universe/dp/1442408936/ref=sr_1_1?crid=JBJZJ2GWS4QN&keywords=aristotle+and+dante+discover+the+secrets+of+the+universe&qid=1559608329&s=gateway&sprefix=aristot%2Caps%2C136&sr=8-1

14. I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn & Alison Raskin

*trigger warning for homophobia*

Bisexual & Transgender rep

When two life-long best friends separate for college, one of them struggles to understand and accept the other’s coming out as bisexual, and insists on boxing her in as ‘gay.’ The two struggle with mental illness, sexuality, self-expression, and freshman year of college, in this funny and heartfelt novel told through text and email.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Hate-Everyone-But-You-Friends/dp/1250129338/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2OAGYPNTFR7V2&keywords=i+hate+everyone+but+you&qid=1559608344&s=gateway&sprefix=i+hate+ever%2Caps%2C134&sr=8-1

15. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

*trigger warning, for extreme emotional abuse and depression*

Gay, Lesbian, Asexual & Bisexual rep

Frances is known at school as the studious one. She keeps all her geeky interests private, until one day she learns the quiet boy across the street is the secret creator of her favorite podcast. The two develop a beautiful platonic friendship as Frances works to help him escape the extreme emotional abuse of his controlling mother, and as they both work to come to terms with each of their sexualities amidst all the pressures of high school in England.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Radio-Silence-Alice-Oseman/dp/0062335715/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=radio+silence&qid=1559608375&s=gateway&sr=8-1


POETRY

1. New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood

*trigger warning for sexual assault*

Bisexual rep

Olivia Gatwood writes stunning poems about girlhood, sexuality, and family, and what it means to fall in love with both men and women.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/American-Best-Friend-Olivia-Gatwood/dp/1943735107/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=new+american+best+friend&qid=1559608390&s=gateway&sr=8-1

2. Branches, second edition by Rhiannon McGavin

*trigger warning for sexual assault*

Bisexual rep

Rhiannon McGavin tackles topics of pain theory, and the idea that certain pains can be passed down from generation to generation. She explores what it means to be a Jewish woman in America today, what it means to realize at a young age that she likes boys and girls, and how to cope with surviving sexual assault.

Buy the book here: https://notacult.media/books/branches/

3. A Guide to Undressing Your Monsters by Sam Sax

Gay rep

Sam Sax delves into what it means to grow up as a gay man in a world that doesn’t encourage anything but heteronormativity. And what it means to be made to feel like a monster for being different.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Undressing-Your-Monsters/dp/0989641546/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3UNS556K0G661&keywords=a+guide+to+undressing+your+monsters&qid=1559608441&s=gateway&sprefix=a+guide+to+undress%2Caps%2C128&sr=8-1


Nonfiction

1. Bad With Money by Gaby Dunn

Queer rep

Gaby tackles the struggle of money in today’s society, and how being queer can sometimes mean ‘typical’ financial advice doesn’t work for you in a world that, most of the time, is pitted against queer people.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Money-Imperfect-Financial-Together/dp/1501176331/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=bad+with+money&qid=1559608458&s=gateway&sr=8-1

2. This Book is Gay by James Dawson

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer rep

James Dawson provides a crash course in being LGBTQ+ for people struggling to find themselves, and allies wanting to understand.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/This-Book-Gay-Juno-Dawson-ebook/dp/B00YHXVW08/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=this+book+is+gay&qid=1559608478&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1


Theatre

1. The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman & the members of The Tectonic Theatre Project

*trigger warning for content regarding a graphic hate crime•

Gay rep (true story)

This is the true story of the brutal hate crime murder of gay teen, Matthew Shepard, and how the town of Laramie reckoned with the unspeakable acts committed against him for being gay. A powerful and important read about an extremely monumental event in modern American history.

Buy the script here: https://www.amazon.com/Laramie-Project-Moises-Kaufman/dp/0822217805/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3SSI8PW5BU3PE&keywords=the+laramie+project+script&qid=1559608494&s=gateway&sprefix=the+laramie+p%2Caps%2C133&sr=8-1

2. Bent by Martin Sherman

*trigger warning for graphic content regarding the Holocaust, and concentration camps*

Gay rep (based on true events)

Based on what happened to ‘queers’ (used back then as a slur) in concentration camps–this story follows two men falling in love amidst the backdrop of the Holocaust.

Buy the script here: https://www.amazon.com/Bent-Play-Martin-Sherman/dp/1557833362/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2U3H46Z9WN6ZP&keywords=bent+martin+sherman&qid=1559608528&s=gateway&sprefix=bent+mar%2Caps%2C131&sr=8-1

3. Firebringer by Team Starkid

Bisexual rep

Follow a group of bisexual cave people as they try to survive the stone age, and how their whole life changes when one of them discovers fire for the first time.

Watch the full musical here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmVuNlu0LCk

4. The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals by Team Starkid

Lesbian rep

Paul hates musicals, so when his small town suddenly turns into a musical, everything is more sinister than it may seem, in this hilarious horror comedy musical.

Watch the full musical here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrxKX44qBJ0&t=241s

5. A Very Potter Musical by Team Starkid

Gay rep

The famous internet sensation that put Team Starkid on the map, A Very Potter Musical is a parody homage to the beloved book series that changed the world, and features an openly gay Albus Dumbledore, and a hilarious and adorable romance between Professor Quirrell and Lord Voldemort.

Watch the full musical here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmwM_AKeMCk&list=PLC76BE906C9D83A3A

6. The Trail to Oregon by Team Starkid

Gay & Bisexual rep

This parody of the popular 90s computer game, The Oregon Trail, features one idiot family’s trip down said trail as they try to avoid the bandit king and his lover, Cletus Jones, as well as try to not starve to death or contract disease along the way. By far Team Starkid’s most absurd musical to date, but a great time nonetheless.

Watch the full musical here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxKCX-UvPrI&t=1s

7. Spies Are Forever by The Tin Can Brothers

Gay rep

In this homage to James Bond type spy thrillers, we follow fictional spy Curt Mega, as he tries to get back in the spy game after the death of his lover and partner, Owen. But everything is not what it seems, in this parody drama about spies during the cold war.

Watch the full musical here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd3aJl930YE&list=PLlF0gFzOX4tD1KJ5ZEnvhD55Qhnz-K0X2


TV

1. Sense8

Lesbian, Gay, Transgender & Pansexual rep

This sci-fi show, follows eight people from all around the world as they learn that their minds are connected through an ability they posses as an evolved type of human. They must band together as they try to face everyday struggles, as well as hide from the evil secret government corporation that seeks to destroy their entire species.

Watch seasons 1-2 on Netflix

2. Harlots

Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual rep

In the mid 18th century, London was the sex capitol of the world, follow several different brothels, and learn what it meant to be a woman and a sex worker in Georgian England.

Watch seasons 1-2 on Hulu, season 3 coming this July!

3. Killing Eve

Bisexual & Pansexual rep

MI6 Agent, Eve is obsessed with studying female assassins, but when she ends up attached to the case of female assassin, Villanelle, a game of cat and mouse, ripe with sexual tension ensues.

Watch season 1-2 on the BBC


MOVIES

1. Dumplin

Drag Queen rep

Willowdean decides to enter her mother’s long-running beauty pageant, even if she’s not the ‘ideal body type’ for said affair. When she starts to feel down on her luck, she seeks out the help of local Drag Queens to help boost her confidence and learn to love herself for who she is. \

Watch the full movie on Netflix

2. Love, Simon

Gay rep

Simon is being blackmailed about his sexuality, and he must grapple with whether or not he wants to come out before he’s forced to come out, in this heartfelt teen comedy about what it means to be gay in today’s high school culture.

Rent the movie here: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Simon-Nick-Robinson/dp/B07B3QBT4B/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1G2LWDPXRFZPN&keywords=love+simon&qid=1559608810&s=gateway&sprefix=love+simon%2Caps%2C141&sr=8-1

3. The Birdcage

Gay & Drag Queen rep

Drag Club owners and fathers, must pretend to be a “normal straight family” when their son’s finance’s extremely conservative and homophobic parents come for dinner. A little bit dated, but still a fun and entertaining comedy about queer culture in 1980s Miami Beach.

Rent the movie here: https://www.amazon.com/Birdcage-Robin-Williams/dp/B004BZWHTM/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+birdcage&qid=1559608829&s=gateway&sr=8-1

4. Booksmart

Gay & Lesbian rep

Molly and Amy never partied during high school and feel like they’ve missed out. So the night before graduation they set out on a mission to do high school right. Amy also has a goal of kissing her first girl. This film is an incredibly funny and feminist teen comedy for a new generation of more accepting and loving teens.

Booksmart is now in theatres

5. Rent

Gay, Transgender, Lesbian & Bisexual rep

Though this dated film has faced some harsh criticisms over the years for some of the ways it tackles certain topics, it still stands as a very important milestone in queer media for the way it proudly celebrates its various queer characters and the validity of their love and right to live equally. Though the film hasn’t aged perfectly, it still holds an important place in many young LGBTQ+ peoples’ lives.

Rent the movie here: https://www.amazon.com/Rent-Rosario-Dawson/dp/B000GT6KEU/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=rent&qid=1559608877&s=gateway&sr=8-1


Podcasts

1. The Queer Movie Podcast by Rowan Ellis & Jazza John

Queer rep

Rowan and Jazza set out to analyze both wonderful and problematic movies with various queer elements in this hilarious discussion style podcast.

Listen to the podcast here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/queer-movie-podcast/id1452491738

2. Just Between Us Podcast by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin

Bisexual & Queer rep

Bicon, Gaby Dunn, and her real life best friend, straight ally, Allison Raskin, talk about female friendship, unsolicited advice, politics, and everything inbetween in this variety show style podcast.

Listen to the podcast here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/just-between-us/id1454312489

3. Bad With Money Podcast by Gaby Dunn

Bisexual & Queer rep

The inspiration behind her book of the same name, Gaby Dunn, real life bisexual, discusses the taboo topic of money, and being broke in America, and what being broke and queer in a, still very straight, America looks like.

Listen to the podcast here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/bad-with-money-with-gaby-dunn/id1144712710

4. Say More Podcast by Olivia Gatwood & Melissa Lozado-Oliva

Bisexual & Queer rep

Poets and best friends, Olivia, and Melissa discuss feminism, sexuality and more in this funny and raw discussion style podcast.

Listen to the podcast here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/say-more/id1446786288


YouTubers

1. Just Between Us (Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin)

Bisexual & Queer rep

The inspiration behind their podcast of the same name, best friends, Gaby and Allison, give weekly advice on love, sexuality, and friendship in this long running, hilarious YouTube talk show.

Subscribe to their channel here:https://www.youtube.com/user/justbetweenusshow

2. Rowan Ellis

Bisexual & Queer rep

Rowan analyzes queer media and culture in her sometimes chatty, sometimes video essay format. Watch as she tackles everything from queer baiting in Disney films, to the travesty of queer coding in Marvel’s Captain Marvel, as well as tackling the heavier subjects of the sometimes queer-phobic culture in the UK.

Subscribe to her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/muppetmadness

3. Claudia Boleyn

Bisexual rep

Claudia talks about bi pride, and mental health awareness, as well as geeky fandom culture, and renaissance history, in this VLOG style channel.

Subscribe to her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-p8Eaq7vTezQH_fCl2qegQ

4. Todrick Hall

Gay & Drag Queen rep

Todrick makes music videos, web series, flash mobs and more, all about being gay and fabulous. With his musical theatre background, his videos never cease to amaze.

Subscribe to his channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/todrickhall

5. Brian Jordan Alvarez

Gay rep

Brian makes irreverent comedy videos about the gay life experience as well as completely random life events and day to day mundanities that everyone, gay or straight, can relate to.

Subscribe to his channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/bjalvo


Web Series

1. Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party by Shipwrecked Comedy

Gay & Cross-dressing rep

In this fictional reimagining of the famous poet’s life, Edgar Allan Poe and his roommate, The Ghost of Lenore, host a murder mystery dinner party for fellow writers such as the very gay and very fabulous, Oscar Wilde, to the cross-dressing George Elliot, and many more. All is fun and games, until people start actually dying, and it’s up to the master of the macabre to crack the case.

Watch the series here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxRiP4GNiyM&list=PLs2T_dNZ-XW6UjWC-qUbZSWJyCLFmsdPP

2. The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo by Brian Jordan Alvarez

Gay, Bisexual, Non-binary & Polyamory rep

Follow Calleb Gallo and friends in this incredibly queer comedic soap opera.

Watch the series here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYXQzlKXzpk&t=2s

3. Carmilla by Jordan Hall, Steph Ouaknine, & Jay Bennett

Lesbian rep

A VLOG-style reimagining of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic gothic novel of the same name. Watch how one college freshman, journalism major reacts when she learns her roommate is a vampire, that she might possibly have feelings for.

Watch the series here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QzRfvkJZ4&list=PLbvYWjKFvS5rX2yv-k5AJ8oxPoZ9zHcpe


MUSICIANS

•who are queer irl & make queer music*

1. Halsey

Halsey is bisexual

Halsey’s music is all about the intense passions of past relationships she’s had with men and women.

Listen to Halsey’s music on iTunes & Spotify

2. Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley is a lesbian

Hayley has been hailed as ‘lesbian Jesus’ as she makes cute and catchy love anthems for lesbians.

Listen to Hayley’s music on iTunes & Spotify

3. Todrick Hall

Todrick is gay

Todrick writes larger than life bops of musical theatre proportions about being gay and fabulous.

Listen to Todrick’s music on iTunes & Spotify

4. Zolita

Zolita is a lesbian

Zolita writes witchy pop ballads about falling in love with women.

Listen to Zolita’s music on iTunes & Spotify


THAT’S IT! Have a great Pride!

The Hidden History of Little Red Riding Hood || DOCUMENTARY ||

GUESTS: Sarah Allison: Librarian & Writer Website: http://www.writinginmargins.weebly.com

Davonna Juroe: Bestselling Author of “Scarlette: A Gothic Fairytale”, “Winterbay,” Abbey: A Ghost Story”, and “Seeing Red” Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Davonna-Juroe/…
Website: https://www.davonnajuroe.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/davonnajuroe
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davonna_jur…
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DavonnaJuroe/

Jackson Medel: Folklorist
find out more about his work at the Salisbury MD Ward Museum here: https://www.wardmuseum.org/about-the-…

Austin Webberly: BookTuber & Writer YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIrD…
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/oceabucreads
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/_awebberly_
Read some of his writing here: https://theelephantladder.wordpress.c…https://theelephantladder.wordpress.c…

Jeana Jorgensen, PhD: Folklorist, Sex Educator, Writer & Dancer
The Foxy Folklorist Blog: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/foxyfolk…
Website: http://jeanajorgensen.com/
Sex Education Website: http://doctorjeana.com/

Written, Directed & Edited by: Molly Likovich
Cinematography by: Andrew Likovich
Research conducted by: Molly Likovich
Some research materials funded by: Susan Marie Doyle

Sansa Stark is the Strongest Player in the Game

by Molly Likovich

“I’m Sansa Stark of Wintefell, this is my home, and you can’t frighten me.” Those are the words Sansa says to the lover of her soon to be husband–the brutal rapist, Ramsay Bolton. Sansa Stark is a character full of wit and bravery, but so many fans of Game of Thrones count her out as annoying. 

Why fans think Sansa is annoying stems from how she was in season one. She was a teenager being groomed for the throne, betrothed at a young age to Prince Joffrey and sent off away from home. She was given no guidance on the dangers of court politics, she was simply told her whole life to be a quiet and well behaved lady and to serve her husband. Why fans think her behavior is annoying in season 1 is not valid, because it isn’t annoying, it’s logical. Fans think it’s annoying because our culture hates teenage girls. We hate what they like, what they enjoy, and we hate anyone who makes content specifically for them. It’s the reason things like Pretty Little Liars, and Twilight, received so much hate during their day, because their target audience was teenage girls. Because if something is made for a teenage girl, how could it possibly be valid? We view teenage girls as the weakest humans on earth, when in actuality, they tend to be the strongest. Plenty of the young male characters on Game of Thrones acted in a far more annoying way in early seasons of Game of Thrones, but they did not receive the onslaught of hate that Sansa did. Arya certainly had her moments of being a bother, but because her character was the ultimate tomboy–rejecting everything associated with “girlhood” fans respected her from episode one. Fans as a whole did not respect Sansa until she was raped by Ramsay in season 5, and then she responded with a quiet and dignified strength that many didn’t see coming. Yet many fans blamed her for her own rape, or stated that it made her character “weaker.” Sophie Turner who portrays Sansa on the show quickly shut these comments down, stating: “she didn’t do anything wrong.” And fans who didn’t see Sansa’s strong resolve in the face of her husband’s brutality coming, clearly weren’t paying attention. Sansa showed signs of immense strength since day one, it was overlooked, because she was just too “girly.”

I’d like to go over some early signs of Sansa’s strength that much too often get overlooked. In season 2, Joffrey takes Sansa up on the ramparts and forces her to look at the severed head of her dead father. Joffrey is the one who commanded his execution. Joffrey has his knight beat Sansa right in front of him when she refuses to look at her father’s head. Then Joffrey says to her: “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to give you a present. After I raise my armies and kill your traitor brother, I’ll give you his head as well.” To which Sansa says: “Or maybe he’ll give me yours.” She said this to a mad king who had her father executed for sport and had her beaten for entertainment and would not hesitate to have her killed right there. She says it to him because she is a Stark. She is a lady of the North, and Northerners are not weak. She may play the game in King’s Landing to survive, but she does not betray her family, she does not betray the North, and she does not stand quietly in the face of injustice.

Her abuse only amplifies as the season progresses. Joffrey has her beaten and stripped in front of the court and threatens to kill her with a crossbow in front of them all until Tyrion interferes. Joffrey makes endless comments to Sansa about how he can’t wait to rape her on their wedding night. Even after Sansa is given in marriage to Tyrion instead, Joffrey still gloats to her about how he’ll come to her chambers later and rape her anyway. And on one occasion as a part of the King’s procession through the streets of King’s Landing, the people attack the royal party, and everyone abandons Sansa. She is then chased and attacked by several men and almost gang-raped until the Hound saves her at the last moment.

And if Joffrey’s verbal and physical abuse and humiliation isn’t enough, she has to endure Cersei’s. Cersei attacks Sansa verbally whenever she can. She takes glee in telling Sansa about the plights of her family. When Sansa learns of her brother Rob, and her mother’s death, she is trapped and isolated. She has had to watch her father die, endure public physical, and verbal abuse, and has been sold into marriage to a man several times her age. She doesn’t know if her other siblings are alive, and every day she is threatened with death for the supposed treason of her father. And through all this she remains kind. She is kind to her lady’s maid, and former prostitute–Shay, a woman of far lesser rank than her, though Sansa never treats her as lesser. Even after being essentially sold in marriage to Tyrion, she is never cruel to him, she never insults him, or mocks him for being a dwarf as almost everyone else does. When Margaery comes along she doesn’t treat her as competition, but welcomes her as a friend. To remain kind and civil in the face of such extreme abuse is a feat most characters in this show, and most people in real life, are not able to manage. There is strength in kindness, and we as a culture need to stop forgetting that. Yes, characters like Arya and Daenerys are strong in their own way, but their strength often comes at the price of their sanity (Arya), or their humility (Daenerys).

I could go into every instance of Sansa’s resilience, but then we’d be here all day. So let’s just remember some of the basics: Sansa is the reason the Battle of the Bastards is won. Jon does not take her council, she tells him not to be predictable and do what Ramsay wants, but Jon does that the second he hits the battlefield and almost loses until Sansa comes in with The Knights of the Vale. Sansa is the reason the Starks reclaimed Winterfell. Sansa is the reason Theon is freed from Ramsay’s torture. She accepts his apology for the great betrayal he committed against her family, she frees his mind from the subconscious trap Ramsay has kept it in for years, and reminds him of who he truly is, and convinces him to reclaim his humanity and help her escape. She is the reason he returns to the Iron Islands to assist his sister, Yara. Sansa is also the reason Lord Baelish is brought to justice. Baelish who set all of the events in Westeros we see over the course of Game of Thrones in motion. Baelish who has succeeded before in turning sisters against each other with Catelyn and Lysa. But he does not succeed with turning Sansa against Arya. When everyone else, her own father included, fell for Baelish’s master manipulations, Sansa says to him in the end: “I’m a slow learner, it’s true. But I learn.”

And when Jon leaves Winterfell right after being named King of the North, it is Sansa who takes it upon herself to start preparing her people for the long winter and the great war ahead, something Jon never even thought to do. Sansa is the reason the houses in the North have enough food to eat, and protection for the war to come. They even say to Sansa: “We did not choose you to rule, but perhaps we should have.”

She inspires the loyalty of people like Brienne of Tarth, and The Knights of the Vale. Even Arya, who in their childhood thought Sansa so silly and stupid, returns to Winterfell with obvious respect for the ruler Sansa has become. And the thing is, Sansa didn’t get to where she is because of the strength required of her to respond to Ramsay’s assault, or because of Joffrey and Cersei’s humiliation, or even the strength needed to survive the trauma of watching her father die; any one of these things would send any of us out here in the real world into madness and despair. Sansa has always been this strong. She has always had this strength inside of her. So it was possible for her to call upon it when she needed it. 

Fans love characters like Arya and Daenerys. But women don’t exist like them in real life. The real world has no faceless girls, and dragon riders. While I too love Dany and Arya, I can recognize that they are the fantasy fulfillment characters of who we wish we could be, but realistically never could. Sansa is real. Sansa is who we all are. Sansa is the embodiment of what women go through everyday, and have always gone through. To say you don’t like Sansa, to say she is annoying, is to say you think women, as a whole, are annoying. By only seeing the validity of female characters in fantasy is if they do impossible things like change faces and ride dragons, is saying you don’t believe women belong in fantasy. Real women, who reflect who women are out in the real world. Almost none of the men in Game of Thrones can do fantastical things, even when Jon comes back from the dead, it is at a woman’s hand. We don’t demand the male characters of high fantasy stories be impossibly fantastical, so why do we demand it of the women? Sansa may not wield a sword, or ride a dragon but it’s because she doesn’t need to. She is enough exactly how she is, and she always has been. 

There’s a reason Sansa is still standing when so many characters in this show, deemed from day one as being far stronger than her, are not. When Ned, Catelyn and Rob stark couldn’t survive the game of thrones, Sansa could. When the Tyrells couldn’t outsmart Cersei, Sansa could. When everyone in Westeros fell prey to Littlefingers lies, Sansa saw through them.

To quote Tyrion Lannister: “Lady Stark, you may survive us yet.”

I’m placing my bets now, Sansa Stark will survive the final season of Game of Thrones. My faith in her is strong. For I know no Queen but the Queen in the North. And her name is Stark.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi || BOOK REVIEW || SLIGHT SPOILERS

Overall Grade: C+

While I mostly enjoyed Emergency Contact by by Mary H.K. Choi, it was one of the most disorganized books I’ve ever read. 

The story follows two main protagonists: Penny and Sam. Penny is starting her freshman year and Sam, although only 21, is the former step-uncle of Penny’s roommate Jude. Penny and Sam through a series of odd events become best friends, mainly via text, and soon (obviously) start to fall in love, but Jude has made Penny swear a “friendship pact” not to date him, since at one point in time he was Jude’s step-uncle.

If the plot sounds stupid, it’s because it is. It had it’s sweet moments, and parts that were very engrossing but for the most part it was all over the place. Characters would enter who you’d think were going to be important but they were just a one-off, and other characters who seemed random, became incoherently, incredibly important. 

The plot also lacked ANY structure. For example. Sam has an emotionally abusive ex, and now she’s pregnant and he wants to be with her, but also he’s a great baker, but also he’s poor and wants to go to film school and make a documentary about a random kid we know nothing about who likes to skateboard, but he can’t because that kid is a minor and an illegal immigrant, and also he’s in love with Penny, and also his mom is mean. WHAT? None of these threads weave together well, if at all. Things that seem like they’re going to keep going throughout the story just randomly drop off. The pregnant ex storyline is quickly replaced with the skateboarding kid storyline, and then that also just randomly vanishes from the plot.

Penny is supposed to be some strong brooding character but all of her character traits are delivered by secondary characters when she’s not there. We’re simply told Penny is certain ways without really seeing it. We’re told Penny’s mother is a horribly irresponsible mother without seeing it. We’re even told Penny was raped as a teenager and is suffering from PTSD without ever actually showing a single shred of any of these things in the current timeline.

Lastly, the book feels like it ends in the middle of a chapter. It just stops. Mid conversation. No resolution. It’s sloppy. It’s lackluster. I do not recommend. 

This book tried to be inclusive and make nods towards the importance of mental health, and healthy relationships in college, and the importance of consent, but it felt like there were too many balls in the air, and therefore absolutely none of the plot threads or character points were given the attention they needed to be compelling.

This book was a disappointment overall.