Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is?
Most people haven’t heard of him.
But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in your stomach as when you read about Mussolini or Hitler or see one of their pictures. You see, he killed over 10 million people in the Congo.
His name is King Leopold II of Belgium.
He “owned” the Congo during his reign as the constitutional monarch of Belgium. After several failed colonial attempts in Asia and Africa, he settled on the Congo. He “bought” it and enslaved its people, turning the entire country into his own personal slave plantation. He disguised his “business transactions” as philanthropic and scientific efforts under the banner of the “International African Society”. He used their enslaved labor to extract Congolese resources and services. His reign was enforced through work camps, body mutilations, executions, torture, and his private army.
Most of us – I don’t yet know an approximate percentage but I fear its extremely high – aren’t taught about him in school. We don’t hear about him in the media. He’s not part of the widely repeated narrative of oppression (which includes things like the Holocaust during World War II). He’s part of a long history of colonialism, imperialism, slavery and genocide in Africa that would clash with the social construction of the white supremacist narrative in our schools. It doesn’t fit neatly into a capitalist curriculum. Its bad to “say racist things” (sometimes), but quite fine not to talk about genocides in Africa perpetrated by European capitalist monarchs.
John Scalzi gets it.
"And the point isn’t ‘ALL men are menaces to women.’ The point is "ALL women have been menaced by men."
(title taken from the poem of the same name by Suheir Hammad)
I’m crawling out of my little fandom hole because three episodes in, I’m becoming increasingly irritated at how Oberyn Martell and the Dornish on a whole are being portrayed in Game of Thrones.
Apparently, when not attending weddings, Oberyn and Ellaria can be found exclusively in a brothel inciting an orgy of some sort. Even when they do attend outside events, they are drawn to the scantily clad contortionist or to propositioning fellow guests by suggestively eating food. Yes, Dorne is more sexually permissive than other areas of Westeros. Paramours are common, noble-born women have sex before and outside of marriage, and bastards are not scorned and hidden away. For the writers of Game of Thrones, this means one thing: more sex scenes.
Instead of highlighting how racist the Westerosi attitudes towards Dorne are, the show buys into them, reducing the Dornish so far to a few men in turbans and over sexed characters with quick tempers. So far, Oberyn Martell has spent his time having sex, issuing threats and hotheadedly killing stray Lannister soldiers. Gone is any subtlety he had in the book, where he patiently bided his time with his brother to seek justice for his sister, Elia. Instead show!Oberyn is the orientalist archetype of a highly sexed, overly passionate non-white male, unable to keep either his libido or temper in check.
Coming on top of Essos and how the characters there are PoC who are either cruel, barbaric, avaricious slave owners or slaves who need to be saved by the white saviour character (and this is without mentioning the cringe worthy end of season 3 where Daenery’s crowd surfs a purely brown crowd), this portrayal of Oberyn Martell and Dorne is particularly galling.
For David Benioff and Dan Weiss it seems Oberyn Martell and Dorne is very much their erotic and their exotic.
OH MY GOD THANK YOU I WANTED TO SAY THIS BUT DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO ARTICULATE IT. THANK YOU SO MUCH.
Y’know I love that when their son went all normal they got him a bright blue bassinet and really gave it a shot with the Dr. Seuss. Good parenting.
This is the coolest thing ever omg