Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Femslash and DADT in the Discworld: Monstrous Regiment

A femslashy Discworld book about war, gender and religion, and the power of socks.

I love, adore, worship and laugh endlessly at the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. So I'm delighted to be able to include one title on my list of (good) lesbian books and films. Luckily, it's also a good stand-alone book, that introduces new readers quite gently to the madly realistic satire of the Discworld. Sorry, USA, you get the awful cover again. It's worth having a quick look at the Book Depository to see if you can find a UK version (the shipping is free!)

Pterry is a gay friendly author, and does cover issues of gender with his dwarves, and refers to the existence of certain gentlemen (e.g. Mr Harris of the Blue Cat Club). However, there's only one book that focuses almost exclusively on gender and sexuality as its theme. And that is Monstrous Regiment. (EDIT: I'm a bad person and forgot about Equal Rites - an obvious play on 'equal rights' - about a girlchild who becomes a Wizard by chance and has to persuade the all-male University to let her in. This girl was Esk - Eskarina Smith - who many years later made an appearance in I Shall Wear Midnight (my review of which can be found here) Thanks to Innerbrat for the reminder, I tend to confuse it with Sourcery).

Monstrous Regiment is the story of a country locked in an endless, draining and ridiculous war. And all the men have been used up. Polly disguises herself as a boy and signs up among the last recruits of the entire war, on a mission to find her brother. Along the way, she discovers that her fellow recruits are all... hiding their own secrets. It ends with a Joan of Arc storyline, but not from Polly.

This book is the favourite target for Discworld femslash, and has a lot of potential subtext. There's also one definite lesbian pairing, but the main focus is on ...well, feminism, rather than lesbianism. It also parodies the 'Dont Ask, Don't Tell" rules of the US Army.

The title is a reference to the 1558 pamphlet The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, written by John Knox . This pamphlet complained about the sudden appearance of female monarchs such as Elizabeth of England and Mary of Scotland pre-empting the natural position and authority of men.

Random linkage:
A Most Curious Thing is a blog run by one of the people who created most of the Disney/LBGT fan art I encounter
Top Lesbian Media: books, films, graphic novels, manga

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