Binders Full of Women: Collecting All the Ladycards in The Witcher – part 7
They have a very sexy cow in Murky Waters, the tiny, rural village you find yourself in for the duration of Chapter 4. The peasants are devoted to their cow, and dedicate themselves to her every need, guarding her jealously and evangelising about her voluptuous udder. They seem to take less care of their daughters, who keep wandering off and getting killed. Quick, better screw some of them first!
I can’t get over how tired and resigned Gundam sounds when he agrees to fuck Celina purely so she can annoy her sister. Actual dialogue:
Celina: “Ooh, how I despise her… She’ll not have you! I’ll give myself to you right now, on the nearest rock!”
Geralt: [In tones of utter defeat] “Oh, all right.”
Then she insists you give her a ring anyway, because as with Noblewoman, the game refuses to follow through on the idea of Gendarme having sex with a woman as a favour to her. It has to be framed as a challenge to be overcome with the right gift, even when Giraffe himself doesn’t seem even slightly into it. It’s as if he’s sick of all this sex too, but knows it’s his job. C’mon dude, lie back and think of the player’s softporn sticker collection.
Celina is jealous of her sister Alina, who is getting married. Later, this culminates in Celina killing Alina, before being murdered herself. Both sisters then become wraiths haunting the fields. We have here two themes that we’ve seen before: female jealousy and female monsterism, and in this case, one has led directly to the other.
The trope of a young woman killed on, or just before, her wedding day returning as a ghost or monster is a really old and widespread one. It’s easy to understand why. In ages when the primary goal and function of women was to get married, the death of a bride represents something hugely tragic and pathetic – a woman who had almost attained her ultimate purpose, and then was thwarted by death. The blood from their murders parodies the blood they “should” have spilled losing their virginities on their wedding nights (note the placement on Alina’s dress above: coincidence?). Their sexual frustration expresses itself as monstrous rage and ghostly attacks upon the living, especially “successful” brides, of whom they are jealous (that theme again).
While we can see the sexism involved in the trope, its use isn’t necessarily sexist. It’s a folk-tale element, and I really like this kind of thing. It’s also unfair to blame women for being “obsessed with marriage” if they’re living in a society that presents it to them as literally the only way they can be happy and valuable. When Triss suddenly turned into a ring-demanding would-be domestic goddess, I objected because it seemed so out of character for her, and Shani also has plenty going on in her life besides her desire for a family. The society of Murky Waters seems to have considerably narrower horizons for its women. Rather than complain about the characterisation of Celina and Alina, then, I’d rather ask: how do we resolve this?
Celina’s attempt to avert her sexual frustration (her monsterism?) through judicious administration of witchercock fails. Once both girls are monsters, Granbull’s other swords also fail to lay them to rest; if defeated, they reappear.
The solution is neither sex nor death: it’s female solidarity. What Geront must do is resolve the jealousy by reconciling the two sisters, releasing them from the torment that keeps them monstrous. As you might expect, I like this a lot. It’s a refreshing contrast to the female monsters who must be saved or subdued by Gerbera, a theme which we’ve seen before, and will see again. Remember Princess Adda, who surprised me with her aggressive sexuality? Yeah, turns out that whole “woman has sexual agency” thing was just a byproduct of the fact she’s still a monstrous striga, and we’ll have to spend Chapter 5 hunting her down and forcing her to be a good girl again, kill or cure.
I like The Witcher best when it offers nonstandard solutions to “killing monsters”. We’ve also seen Carmen turn the female monster trope around by being the one struggling to save her werewolf boyfriend from his male monsterism, which manifests as aggression, rather than as excessive sexuality (What would that even look like, in a male character? Is it really that any sexuality is seen as excessive in a woman?). Carmen’s folk-tale remedies fail; it turns out that “true love” is the real cure. While my more cynical side wonders whether “you can change a violent partner if you love them hard enough” is a responsible message to send, the resolution to this subplot is genuinely sweet. Swords are not always the answer. Love can be the answer. Helping women driven into monsterism by patriarchy understand that they can be allies not enemies – I like that this, too, can be an answer.
18. Peasant Woman
Things I like less: yet another generic nameless NPC encounter that follows the interminable formula of:
NPC: You’re really hot, I am legitimately attracted to you!
NPC: Wait, first give me a bribe. Ooh yes, slip it into my Give Gift box, big boy, that’s the way I li–
You get the idea. This is one of those.
19. Elf Woman
Oh! Oh! GUESS WHAT? I finally found a girl who wanted my watermelon! Well… actually, she was really aggressive about how she didn’t want it, and how I was being a patronising asshole “throwing” food at her just because she was starving to death in a cave, but the main thing is that she TOOK it and then we BONED! She yelled about wanting to beat me up, first. I think the message here is that oppressed women are actually ungrateful bitches who are just being tsundere when they demand to be treated with respect. Apparently, you should put her in her place with smooth lines such as: “You elves will never change”, call her “arrogant”, “unimpressive” and “ridiculous” (Is he… negging her?), then tell her to “calm down” when she gets angry. She’ll fall into your arms! [CAUTION: do not try this in real life, it will get you deservedly smacked in the face, no matter how many watermelons you have.]
Seriously though, honey, if I’d actually thrown that watermelon at you, you’d be dead. (Unless it caught on one of your impressive cheekbones and exploded harmlessly. Would you look at those things? Damn.)
20. The Lady of the Lake
Yes! Finally. I give this one five stars. It’s like Morenn, only better! No gifts, no rescues, just understanding, mutual respect and (yes!) attraction! An ancient, lonely, goddess who has watched all those she ever loved die, is now sick of being surrounded by sycophantic worshippers, with no one daring to cross the line and connect with her as a person. Savvy enough to mock Gelatin when he tries to compliment her with tired, insincere poetic lines, she cracks up when he tells her she has an amazing ass. It’s touching, it’s funny, it’s, (god-forbid) kinda hot!
Then she trolls Grunt afterwards, telling him he was terrible… lol, just kidding, he wasn’t THAT bad. I like this touch of including their post-coital conversation, since with so many of his encounters, Groundhog never interacts with his partner ever again. Show’s over, go home.