The View from the Tower
I have always loved "Women in Towers" stories. Rapunzel, Marie de France's Yonec, and especially Tennyson's Lady of Shallot. Even Disney's Tangled. (What's not to like about Flynn Rider?)
The woman in the tower has always been a figure I can relate to. Sometimes for negative reasons - being too shy and anxious to communicate with the world, or knowing the "invisible bubble" that separates you from the world during periods of intense depression. Sometimes for positive reasons - I associate the tower with the Inviolate Female, and the symbolism of virginity, chastity and asexuality. I have always wanted to live in a tower and, even now, can't imagine not choosing to have my bedroom in the attic.
This week, my very own "Women in Towers" fairy tale, The Ice Queen and the Mer-King, was re-released in Venn, an anthology from Unstapled Press devoted to different ideas of gender and sexuality. The Ice Queen is very much an asexual fable, and I hope its readers will appreciate the layers of meaning beneath the apparently simple story.
I have also just finished reading Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier. In this fantasy novel, Juliet gender bends the Rapunzel story (in combination with other folk tales). The inhabitant of the cursed Tower of Thorns is male, and the magic requires a woman to free him.
I have always thought of the tower as being female, so this version was very interesting to me. I suppose a man in a tower is a bit like the Ensorceled Prince of 1001 Nights. There is no real reason why either powerlessness or assertive asexuality can't (and don't) belong to men as well as women. Or to anyone in between. But what do my readers think? Have you read any "Men in Towers" stories? What did you think of them?
Venn from Unstapled Press.