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Zombie Sammael
10-31-2011, 06:57 PM
Okay, so the discussions in the Moiraine thread have somewhat spread out to encompass this wider issue. I think it deserves its own thread, so I'm making one, because there are a lot of interesting strands to this.

First, a couple of things I would like to be treated as ground rules (though I don't have the power to enforce them myself). Firstly, this thread isn't intended as a personal attack on anyone. Just because I or someone else says female characters are treated poorly as compared to male characters, or vice versa, that doesn't mean it's an attack on all men everywhere, or society, or the way we live our lives. Although some discussion by way of comparison to the real world is inevitable, I think very little that is constructive will come from taking a critique of the way things are presented in a fantasy series personally.

Second, this thread is not intended to replicate discussions taking place in any other thread. That includes the Moiraine one. However, some discussion of Moiraine is probably also inevitable, so just try not to replicate the debates we're already having over there.

Third, we have certain rules on this board about Egwene. I believe one of the rules, certainly at the time the Egwene thread was established, was that Egwene bashing was banned unless explicitly stated to be allowed by the originator of the thread. Now, I think some discussion of Egwene is also inevitable in this thread. I have certain feelings about the character and the way she's been treated by the fandom and I'd like to be able to discuss those. For the purpose of that kind of discussion, I'll waive the usual Egwene bashing rule up to a point. You may critique the character of Egwene in order to make a point. I would prefer it for the thread not to degenerate into mindless Egwene bashing, and I would prefer the thread not to turn into a debate solely about Egwene (though the usual TL thread drift will probably apply).

***

So, regarding this matter in the title. Gender is clearly an important part of the world of the Wheel of Time. The One Power, the source of all the world's magic, and all the world's problems, is divided along a strict gender line. Different nations have different, often strikingly different, customs for the way men and women are treated that we'd not be used to in the real world. The characters' genders are an important part of their personalities, and sometimes an important part of their stories.

How is gender treated in WOT? Well, women seem to hold a lot more power in WOT than they do in the real world. The most powerful person in the world - whether you believe that's the Amyrlin Seat or the Seanchan Empress - is a woman. Women, at the start of the series, have all the magic, with men being treated as criminals for channelling. That's certainly changed by the end of the series, along with the characters we're taken along with.

It's no surprise that the main character, the first we are introduced to, is a young man worrying about a woman. Rand's relationship with Egwene is a cornerstone of the series, especially now that they've come to reflect each other so perfectly. In a way, even though they weren't meant for each other, their destinies are intertwined. But then, this is WOT, so everyone's destiny is intertwined.

The catalyst for the major change of status quo for our main characters is a woman, Moiraine. From the get-go, Moiraine is seen as powerful, mysterious, and wise. Moiraine through much of the series is a very refreshing character to encounter, adopting as she does many qualities of the male "wizard" character, whether you compare that to Gandalf or Belgarath or Dumbledore. However, like many female characters in the series, she suffers a fall from grace.

This trend is one that takes place obviously with characters like Siuan and Leane and Setalle Anan, all of whom lose their magical power, and less so with characters like Nynaeve, who starts out as a female in a position of authority, loses that authority entirely to Egwene, undergoes a sort of "lost" period in which she is blocked and unsure of herself, and later blossoms once again as a more independent character. Nynaeve is one of my favourite characters for this reason.

Another favourite of mine is Faile. At first I disliked both her and Perrin and found their sections quite boring, but on some rereads, Faile is one of the most believable female characters, and the relationship with Perrin probably ties with Nynaeve and Lan for my choice of best relationship. Faile spends much of the later books in the series kidnapped. For her, rather than simply waiting to be rescued, this is a true test of her resources and cunning. Rolan is just one of the many people she enlists to aid in her escape, ultimately being reliant upon Morgase.

But what about the men? In the first book, the men of the village are, it seems, allowed to think they're in charge with their council and mayor, but largely controlled by the Women's Circle and Nynaeve. As the main characters grow in strength, so too does the role of men in the books. Rand's decree that men should be allowed to channel has its own problems, but it does pave the way to providing men with some of that power they've lost since the Breaking. Is this a good thing, or will it eventually lead to men imposing the patriarchal rules we see in our own world? Will the cultural norms established regarding gender continue to hold in a world where men have the same scope for magical achievement as women?

What about that dichotomy? I think a lot of the problems I have with gender in the books are borne out of RJ's attempt to create a world in which male and female are separate but equal. This may be influenced by my own view of gender as a spectrum rather than a binary, but I don't think it's a wholly successful attempt. He himself said that people saw matriarchies where he attempted to create equality. The gender binary is an interesting topic in a world where men channel one power, women channel another, and rarely the twain shall meet, with intersex and transgender people not considered - or hardly considered, given that we do have Aran'gar/Halima, who is evil, and certainly not considered a real woman, given that she's still channelling the male half of the Power.

I feel that this is getting a little tl;dr now, but there is so much more to be discussed. I've tried to provide a brief overview, but feel free to disagree and I'll happily defend anything I've already said. I'll let someone else have a say.

The Unreasoner
10-31-2011, 07:57 PM
I have said before that in WoT, a separate-but-equal thing applies to genders/sexes (yes, I know the connotation of the term. Forget it though. At least here). So, if there are demonstrable differences, it is not left to us to explain them/debate them, but to understand the process by which they came about. To reverse-engineer this most integral dichotomy that permeates the WoT universe.

Now, I suppose we could look at this system and speculate on the mindset of the writers, or we could 'suspend disbelief' for a moment and try to see how men and women are different, and try to reconcile the indisputable differences with the premise of equivalent dignity.

For instance, <hypothetical>If men were better cooks, we could suppose that in the WoT universe, a man is not demeaned by cooking, nor is a woman ceding a kitchen to her husband making an act of submission</hypothetical>

After all, what if Owyn was beaten to death by people wearing prosthetic legs by the prosthetic legs, and only because he had a prosthetic arm?

fdsaf3
10-31-2011, 08:16 PM
To be honest, I've always felt like this series suffered from RJ's complete inability to write a compelling woman character.

Don't get me wrong: there are a number of women characters I enjoy reading, and a few of the women in the series have developed into likeable and interesting characters. I'm not saying that all women in the Wheel of Time universe are bad/boring/etc.

What I am saying is that RJ, from the beginning, had this characterization in his world that women were almost always self-important jerks. It's always rubbed me the wrong way. When I read the series, especially the early books, there's no sense of compassion in any of the women. To me, it all comes across as very counter-intuitive and very...wrong, for some reason. I'm all for strong female characters. Again, don't get me wrong. But in my opinion, there's a stark difference between a strong character and the women we get in WoT.

I know RJ is on record as saying that it makes sense that women have developed into the current power structure because of the Hundred Companions an the Breaking of the World. I personally find that disingenuous and a bit of a cop out. He expects us to believe that a world which has undergone 3000 years of change, including multiple wars and the collapse of continent-wide empires, would cling to the notion of female leadership so strongly? No way. Society has had to rebuild itself from the ground up a few times, and yet we're suppposed to believe that in every iteration post-age of legends everyone got together and agreed that women should pretty much rule the roost? I have a hard time believing that.

I always assumed that RJ liked a bossy, strong woman. that's fine. But I personally feel like he was way off the mark when writing females in this series. It's kind of a missed opportunity in my opinion because there's so much room to explore gender relations. The conceptual stuff around the One Power is really interesting stuff (surrendering to saidar versus seizing saidin, balance between the two genders producing the most powerful results, etc.) I just don't think he did as good of a job in the male/female dynamic in terms of story events pertinent to this series.

Sidenote: I wrote this in a rush trying to get to my bus. Please excuse any misspellings, abbreviated thoughts, or incoherent logic. I figured this was an open discussion, so I'd throw out as many of my ideas as I have and see what sticks.

The Unreasoner
10-31-2011, 09:10 PM
I know RJ is on record as saying that it makes sense that women have developed into the current power structure because of the Hundred Companions an the Breaking of the World. I personally find that disingenuous and a bit of a cop out. He expects us to believe that a world which has undergone 3000 years of change, including multiple wars and the collapse of continent-wide empires, would cling to the notion of female leadership so strongly? No way. Society has had to rebuild itself from the ground up a few times, and yet we're suppposed to believe that in every iteration post-age of legends everyone got together and agreed that women should pretty much rule the roost? I have a hard time believing that.
Is it that hard to believe? Some of the more extreme feminists believe in some sort of vast and sinister patriarchal conspiracy. Men have pretty much ruled the world since the Sumerians. The real reason being, pretty much: men can swing bigger swords harder. We have seen empires rise and fall too IRL. In WoT, aside from the fact that the Power is the biggest sword there is, there is one pretty simple requirement for civilization to develop that has no real life equivalent: a way to deal with male channelers. So maybe a civilization would have rose differently (with men in the dominant role), but it would have failed to adequately address the issue of superpowered lunatics. And several men came to power in WoT anyway (Hawkwing comes to mind).

Now, since this is literature, it may be a cop-out. And it doesn't quite address the issue of individual women being, as you claim, 'self-important jerks.' But the series is full of cop-outs. Why was Elaida so obviously not qualified? RJ could have done a lot with Egwene's self-doubt, the ends/means debate, the right to rule, the temptation of power and the Power-if Elaida was not so obviously incompetent. Why is Rand (to paraphrase the Forsaken) so damn lucky? Is ta'veren not a cop-out? Does it matter if it is?

eht slat meit
10-31-2011, 09:43 PM
OP: I'd like to point out that the White Tower is not in charge because people cling to the idea of women in power, but because at one point people did cling to the idea of channellers in power. Women were the only option with the men gone mad, and unlike what they eventually turned into, they did enough good at some point as to earn their spot of power in the world.

With time, things change, the Tower corrupted.

The Tower needed a breaking so that the Dragon could prevail, and it got it. That resulted in a lot of powerful women being set down, but the fact that they are women is irrelevant. What they turned the Tower into is the only thing that matters.

You can find the same kind of correlations in real life if you substitute "men" and "women" for political parties and ideologies of various stripes.

Rand al'Fain
10-31-2011, 09:46 PM
To be honest, I've always felt like this series suffered from RJ's complete inability to write a compelling woman character.Depends on how you define "compelling woman character."

Don't get me wrong: there are a number of women characters I enjoy reading, and a few of the women in the series have developed into likeable and interesting characters. I'm not saying that all women in the Wheel of Time universe are bad/boring/etc.
No argument here. Each character in the series, be it a one time appearance or main character has their good and bad points.
What I am saying is that RJ, from the beginning, had this characterization in his world that women were almost always self-important jerks.The only 2 I would put into that category (outside the Forsaken, since all but Ishamael/Moridin fit that bill) are Egewene late in the series and Elaida when she become Amyrlin. And maybe a little with Elayne in regards to Perrin and the whole Two Rivers thing. Otherwise, I don't see it.
It's always rubbed me the wrong way. When I read the series, especially the early books, there's no sense of compassion in any of the women.Hello, Moiraine? Wanted to find and help the Dragon Reborn for 20 years in secrecy, and risked everything. Nynaeve is another example. She was the village Wisdom, a position of power and authority in the Two Rivers, and threw it away to help and protect Rand and friends in their quests. That has not changed one bit. The only thing that has, is how.
To me, it all comes across as very counter-intuitive and very...wrong, for some reason. I'm all for strong female characters. Again, don't get me wrong. But in my opinion, there's a stark difference between a strong character and the women we get in WoT.A difference of opinion, but I see a balance of characters in WOT. You have the strong characters and weak ones, from both sexes.

I know RJ is on record as saying that it makes sense that women have developed into the current power structure because of the Hundred Companions an the Breaking of the World.
Well, prior to the Breaking, and even the War of Power, the Aes Sedai (both men and women) were highly respected and considered leaders, moreso when the War of Power began, due to longevity, experience, and intelligence that comes from living for centuries.
I personally find that disingenuous and a bit of a cop out. He expects us to believe that a world which has undergone 3000 years of change, including multiple wars and the collapse of continent-wide empires, would cling to the notion of female leadership so strongly? No way. Society has had to rebuild itself from the ground up a few times, and yet we're suppposed to believe that in every iteration post-age of legends everyone got together and agreed that women should pretty much rule the roost? I have a hard time believing that.It's mainly due to the Aes Sedai of the 3rd Age being women, and the only ones capable of dealing with men that could channel. Because if the Aes Sedai don't do anything, the men go mad and go on rampages. But outside of Andor and Tar Valon, all other countries have a more balanced way of having rulers, in that they can be either men or women.
I always assumed that RJ liked a bossy, strong woman. that's fine. But I personally feel like he was way off the mark when writing females in this series. It's kind of a missed opportunity in my opinion because there's so much room to explore gender relations. The conceptual stuff around the One Power is really interesting stuff (surrendering to saidar versus seizing saidin, balance between the two genders producing the most powerful results, etc.) I just don't think he did as good of a job in the male/female dynamic in terms of story events pertinent to this series.Once again, differing opinions.

Sidenote: I wrote this in a rush trying to get to my bus. Please excuse any misspellings, abbreviated thoughts, or incoherent logic. I figured this was an open discussion, so I'd throw out as many of my ideas as I have and see what sticks.
No worries, everyone's been there and done that.

ghostwreck
11-01-2011, 12:34 AM
Personally I've always thought that writing strong female characters was one of RJ's best literary skills.

GonzoTheGreat
11-01-2011, 05:13 AM
I know RJ is on record as saying that it makes sense that women have developed into the current power structure because of the Hundred Companions an the Breaking of the World. I personally find that disingenuous and a bit of a cop out. He expects us to believe that a world which has undergone 3000 years of change, including multiple wars and the collapse of continent-wide empires, would cling to the notion of female leadership so strongly? No way. Society has had to rebuild itself from the ground up a few times, and yet we're suppposed to believe that in every iteration post-age of legends everyone got together and agreed that women should pretty much rule the roost? I have a hard time believing that.Well, there is also the fact that a lot of men who became powerful (as a result of being able to channel) went mad and thus gave powerful men yet more bad press.

It was not only LTT and his Companions who showed the dangers of male power:
"That is what I'm afraid of," Mat said, standing. "No offense, Rand, but I think I will just sleep as far away from you as I can, if you don't mind. That's if you are staying. I heard about a fellow who could channel, once. A merchant's guard told me. Before the Red Ajah found him, he woke one morning, and his whole village was smashed flat. All the houses, all the people, everything but the bed he was sleeping in, like a mountain had rolled over them."


The only 2 I would put into that category (outside the Forsaken, since all but Ishamael/Moridin fit that bill) are Egewene late in the series and Elaida when she become Amyrlin. And maybe a little with Elayne in regards to Perrin and the whole Two Rivers thing. Otherwise, I don't see it.And Egwene early in the series, and Egwene in the middle of the series. On rare occasions Egwene manages to be a reasonably good friend, but far more often she only cares about herself.

Zombie Sammael
11-01-2011, 05:42 AM
And Egwene early in the series, and Egwene in the middle of the series. On rare occasions Egwene manages to be a reasonably good friend, but far more often she only cares about herself.

You may critique the character of Egwene in order to make a point.

So, Gonzo, what was your point?

OP: I'd like to point out that the White Tower is not in charge because people cling to the idea of women in power, but because at one point people did cling to the idea of channellers in power. Women were the only option with the men gone mad, and unlike what they eventually turned into, they did enough good at some point as to earn their spot of power in the world.

With time, things change, the Tower corrupted.

The Tower needed a breaking so that the Dragon could prevail, and it got it. That resulted in a lot of powerful women being set down, but the fact that they are women is irrelevant. What they turned the Tower into is the only thing that matters.

You can find the same kind of correlations in real life if you substitute "men" and "women" for political parties and ideologies of various stripes.

Okay, so what does that tell us about women and power in the real world? That female power structures need to be broken in order to give way to a supposedly-better patriarchal structure? Is Rand's empire particularly patriarchal? Not trying to push a particular agenda here, but I think these are interesting questions. You could make the argument that the fate of the AS fits into the pattern we see with numerous female characters losing their power only to find true love; in this case, the symbol of female power, the White Tower, breaks and bends knee to the Dragon Reborn. Does the White Tower need to lose its power in order to find "love" for the Dragon Reborn?

I think the effect the WT split has had on Rand has actually been minimal. He's had to deal with the effects and side-effects personally, but not the root causes and problems, and not the conflict in and of itself. It's quite interesting, because up until LOC, Rand assumed the AS had the power and he would need the support of the Rebel Aes Sedai in order to do what he needed to. After LOC, Rand obviously realised he had the power himself, but didn't follow that through to putting his support behind the RAS and effectively putting the Tower in his pocket. No doubt the AS would have raged against that, but they would have been tough-pressed to actually stop him if that's what he'd wanted. Did he once again defer to female power here, even though the power now rested with him?

From a gender perspective, Rand himself is a very interesting character. At the start of the series, he is the man who can channel; the one man in all the world capable of tapping into feminine power and using it for his own ends. In this way, he actually traverses the gender binary to some extent. Later in the series, he's also the male world power contrasted against the female powers of the Seanchan Empress and the Amyrlin Seat. Although he's explicitly male and his character and behaviour is male, it's also true that he's able to tap into these feminine powers, and thus to some extent is able to cross the gap. Perhaps that's why Aviendha is so insistent on telling him that he knows nothing.

GonzoTheGreat
11-01-2011, 06:46 AM
So, Gonzo, what was your point?I think that my point here is that Egwene is not at all a good example of gender roles. She's just too impressed with her own magnificence to be a good role model for anything or anyone. She is what she is, not because of her gender, but because she is Egwene.

Zombie Sammael
11-01-2011, 06:54 AM
I think that my point here is that Egwene is not at all a good example of gender roles. She's just too impressed with her own magnificence to be a good role model for anything or anyone. She is what she is, not because of her gender, but because she is Egwene.

I think that actually illustrates something important. You say, effectively, that Egwene is able to transcend gender roles. I mentioned above about how I think Rand also does that to some extent as well, at least within the rules of the fictional world. I think that when looked at from a real world perspective, Moiraine does too, especially in the context of other characters who belong to her type. From one point of view, saying what you say about Egwene is high praise indeed.

GonzoTheGreat
11-01-2011, 07:27 AM
High praise, but for whom? I think that Egwene is comparable to Weiramon, though with a somewhat different focus. Instead of being convinced of the superiority of nobles in general and himself specifically, Egwene is convinced of the superiority of women in general, AS particularly, and herself above all. That's not really praiseworthy, is it? It is depicted very well, and very believable. That depiction is praiseworthy.

Lupusdeusest
11-01-2011, 09:11 AM
This is more in response to the earlier posts, and doesn't directly link in to conversation yet, but is perhaps related - A lot of tribal societies (there must be a more pc name - Aboriginal?) share a common belief as part of their Secret Men's Business that women once ruled the world, a long time ago, and generally it was bad. The similarity of myths of that time between both American and Australian aborigines in particular - societies long split and long uninfluenced by others - caused particular interest when the findings were published.
Google is being useless. I'm pretty sure I saw this in a documentary.

The Unreasoner
11-01-2011, 09:49 AM
Okay, so what does that tell us about women and power in the real world? That female power structures need to be broken in order to give way to a supposedly-better patriarchal structure?
That's not really the point though. In a way, it's saying the exact opposite, as the best real life counterpart the White Tower has is the (male-dominated) church. I think it is a mistake to read a statement on 'women in power' here, but rather we should think of it ad something more general on either gender being more powerful.

Think, if Rand were female and the WT was male, WoT would be hailed as being pro revolution and pro feminism. But even though it is not, it isn't anti-feminist as much as it is pro underdog/balance.

Crispin's Crispian
11-01-2011, 11:36 AM
This is more in response to the earlier posts, and doesn't directly link in to conversation yet, but is perhaps related - A lot of tribal societies (there must be a more pc name - Aboriginal?) share a common belief as part of their Secret Men's Business that women once ruled the world, a long time ago, and generally it was bad. The similarity of myths of that time between both American and Australian aborigines in particular - societies long split and long uninfluenced by others - caused particular interest when the findings were published.
Google is being useless. I'm pretty sure I saw this in a documentary.I'd be interested to read more of that.

I'm not a gender studies expert by any means, nor even a sociologist, but it seems to me that a lot of cultures were matriarchal at one time but moved to patriarchies later.

My suggestion would be that in small groups matriarchies are more likely to develop because women hold the keys to the future of the group (fertility). When you're tiny society is struggling to survive, every birth is a miracle to be celebrated (I don't mean like today's baby showers). This ties in with the previous ubiquity of goddess worship and its eventual decline.

But with the advent of agriculture came the ability to feed larger and larger groups of people, so childbirth became more mundane. At the same time, population growth meant territorial expansion and the need to gather resources at greater and greater distances. The combination of those two things put men in a more important role as warriors, because the success of the group began to depend on conquering or not being conquered.

This does tie back to WoT, because even with superior size, strength, and aggression, men still couldn't effectively fight a female Aes Sedai. So along with their importance in dealing with male channelers, the Aes Sedai were also unconquerable. The best a country could do was limit them (Tear and Far Madding).

GonzoTheGreat
11-01-2011, 11:38 AM
Trouble is that quite often, the nice naive locals told the researchers precisely what those researchers wanted to hear. So it is a lot more difficult to figure out how trustworthy such stories are than used to be thought.

Crispin's Crispian
11-01-2011, 11:44 AM
That's a rather big problem with all anthropological research, especially from back in the day when objectivity wasn't a priority. I mean, everyone is objective now, right?

eht slat meit
11-01-2011, 11:52 AM
Okay, so what does that tell us about women and power in the real world? That female power structures need to be broken in order to give way to a supposedly-better patriarchal structure? Is Rand's empire particularly patriarchal? Not trying to push a particular agenda here, but I think these are interesting questions. You could make the argument that the fate of the AS fits into the pattern we see with numerous female characters losing their power only to find true love; in this case, the symbol of female power, the White Tower, breaks and bends knee to the Dragon Reborn. Does the White Tower need to lose its power in order to find "love" for the Dragon Reborn?

You're inferring an entirely different conclusion than what I actually implied. I am talking about an institution that needed breaking, not a gender.

I'll say it straight out for your benefit - there is fundamentally zero difference between a corrupt female institution and a corrupt male institution. In fact, I'd go so far as to point out that the matriarchal structure of the White Tower is a great fantasy analogy to the heavily patriarchal structure of the US government. There comes a time at which good intentions stop meaning anything because they are totally overshadowed by that institution's dysfunction.

The corruption of the WT threatens the correction the Dragon has been spun out to make. Difference between that and the real world is there is no extra-natural corrective mechanism. What we have will either break itself or be broken by an opposing institution. It's why we shuffle from one empire of power to the next.

I think the effect the WT split has had on Rand has actually been minimal.

Which is the whole point. Had the WT retained its power, they would have remained a huge and intentional obstacle to Rand's success, and likely have cost the world the Last Battle.

The Pattern spins out Dragons, not Amyrlins.

And there's absolutely nothing to suggest that some sort of future variation on the Dragon could not be female, before you continue on with that insinuation that the WoT books promote "Women don't need power, just love" that isn't anywhere close to promoted in the text.

The Unreasoner
11-01-2011, 01:33 PM
The Pattern spins out Dragons, not Amyrlins.
And it spins out Nynaeves, not m'Haels.

I think the essence of Zombie's position is (and correct me if I'm wrong Zombie) not so much concerned with the details/specifics, as much as it is with the trend. It just happens to be the case that, when trying to demonstrate the trend, we all fall back on specifics.

It may be the case that the power losses of Setalle, Moiraine, Siuan and Morgase all have unique and satisfactory explanations in the story that are not concerned with gender. The White Tower breaking may have nothing to do with the gender of its masters, but rather the corruption it held.

Maybe every specific case can be (satisfactorily) explained away. But again (I think) Zombie's point is that those explanations, however good, seem to be necessary unusually more often in the female storylines.

What he intends to say about this discrepancy is unknown to me.

And again, I really think that in a lot of ways the females in the books may have real world counterparts more often among men. So any 'statement' in the books may really be saying the opposite.

eht slat meit
11-01-2011, 01:54 PM
And it spins out Nynaeves, not m'Haels.

I was referring to the ta'veren, not extraordinary individuals. The position of Amyrlin may have an extraordinary amount of power to it, but it can hardly be argued that the same holds true for every woman who occupies the seat.

I think the essence of Zombie's position is (and correct me if I'm wrong Zombie) not so much concerned with the details/specifics, as much as it is with the trend. It just happens to be the case that, when trying to demonstrate the trend, we all fall back on specifics.

And the problem with the argument is that the only way to make a case for the "trend" is by supporting it with specifics. In other words, you have to justify the argument that this perceived trend exists, there is no need to explain away individual scenarios.

I mean, we can discuss those scenarios if you like, but honestly, you'd be hard put to make a case for half the characters mentioned... Setalle lost her status as the result of dangerous experimentation, and Moiraine hasn't diminished in status at all. Morgase got run over by the Forsaken truck like most of the rulers in Randland. You might make a case on Siuan, but you can hardly base a "trend" on it.

Really, what does their gender have to do with their specific cases? Should we assume that any lose of status by men in the real world and having to settle for something less proves a trend of creator-based bias against men?

The Unreasoner
11-01-2011, 02:01 PM
Setalle lost her status as the result of dangerous experimentation, and Moiraine hasn't diminished in status at all. Morgase got run over by the Forsaken truck like most of the rulers in Randland. You might make a case on Siuan, but you can hardly base a "trend" on it.

Really, what does their gender have to do with their specific cases? Should we assume that any lose of status by men in the real world and having to settle for something less proves a trend of creator-based bias against men?
You mistake my position...
I agree with you. I just think that those explanations you gave for each scenario, however satisfactory they may be, might be seen to be necessary amongst women more often than with men.

The Immortal One
11-01-2011, 11:22 PM
Setalle lost her status as the result of dangerous experimentation, and Moiraine hasn't diminished in status at all. Morgase got run over by the Forsaken truck like most of the rulers in Randland. You might make a case on Siuan, but you can hardly base a "trend" on it.

Really, what does their gender have to do with their specific cases? Should we assume that any lose of status by men in the real world and having to settle for something less proves a trend of creator-based bias against men?

I find it interesting that you're all having this discussion focussing solely on female characters who have lost their power.


If you notice the words I've bolded above and consider how many other rulers in Randland have lost power in similar ways.

All the High Lords and Ladies of Tear lost most of their power and free will to Be'lal, and then to Rand when he took over. The King of Amadicia (or the Whitecloaks); the King of Arad Doman and the Domani Council of Merchants; the King and Panarch of Tarabon; the Queen of Altara; the King of Illian and the Council of Nine; even the Clan Chiefs of the Aiel (and to some extent the Wise Ones).

All of these, and more, have lost power to invaders or new-comers, usually either Rand, the Seanchan or the Forsaken (or a combination of the three).



I suppose I understand your need to concentrate on those mentioned above, Siuan, Leane and Setalle Anan lost THE Power as well as power, which makes a lot of difference in the world of the Wheel Of Time. And, of course, Morgase suffered far more abuse than any of the other rulers I've mentioned (except perhaps Panarach Amathera of Tarbon who was enslaved).



So besides Morgase (who from a certain point of view was necessary to the story - it would have been difficult for Rahvin to rule without her, or even one of the female Forsaken to rule Andor without taking on a known personality or killing off most of the Andoran nobles - because of the way succession is dealt with in Andor) there seems, to me, to be a fairly even number of male and female characters who have 'fallen from grace'. So why are you all concentrating so much on the women? Like eht slat meit said "what does their gender have to do with their specific cases?".

Anyway, I really don't want to offend or insult anyone here, but perhaps the fact that you're concentrating on the fortunes and misfortunes, the rise and fall, of the female characters in the series is more due to the bias (either for or against) of the readers than any bias on the part of the author or the creation of his world.

Not that I want to stop this debate or anything (I understand what it is to be a Theorylander even if I don't post much recently - so I know just how impossible it is to try). If anything this very dicussion is a testament to how well RJ portrayed his characters, and how well he accomplished his goal of making people question the 'roles' of males and females in the Real World.

Zombie Sammael
11-02-2011, 05:49 AM
I find it interesting that you're all having this discussion focussing solely on female characters who have lost their power.


If you notice the words I've bolded above and consider how many other rulers in Randland have lost power in similar ways.

All the High Lords and Ladies of Tear lost most of their power and free will to Be'lal, and then to Rand when he took over. The King of Amadicia (or the Whitecloaks); the King of Arad Doman and the Domani Council of Merchants; the King and Panarch of Tarabon; the Queen of Altara; the King of Illian and the Council of Nine; even the Clan Chiefs of the Aiel (and to some extent the Wise Ones).

All of these, and more, have lost power to invaders or new-comers, usually either Rand, the Seanchan or the Forsaken (or a combination of the three).



I suppose I understand your need to concentrate on those mentioned above, Siuan, Leane and Setalle Anan lost THE Power as well as power, which makes a lot of difference in the world of the Wheel Of Time. And, of course, Morgase suffered far more abuse than any of the other rulers I've mentioned (except perhaps Panarach Amathera of Tarbon who was enslaved).



So besides Morgase (who from a certain point of view was necessary to the story - it would have been difficult for Rahvin to rule without her, or even one of the female Forsaken to rule Andor without taking on a known personality or killing off most of the Andoran nobles - because of the way succession is dealt with in Andor) there seems, to me, to be a fairly even number of male and female characters who have 'fallen from grace'. So why are you all concentrating so much on the women? Like eht slat meit said "what does their gender have to do with their specific cases?".

Anyway, I really don't want to offend or insult anyone here, but perhaps the fact that you're concentrating on the fortunes and misfortunes, the rise and fall, of the female characters in the series is more due to the bias (either for or against) of the readers than any bias on the part of the author or the creation of his world.

Not that I want to stop this debate or anything (I understand what it is to be a Theorylander even if I don't post much recently - so I know just how impossible it is to try). If anything this very dicussion is a testament to how well RJ portrayed his characters, and how well he accomplished his goal of making people question the 'roles' of males and females in the Real World.

The argument about women and power goes a little deeper than just "a lot of women have lost their power". As you rightly say, a lot of men have too. But when you look at the specific examples of women we know about - Siuan, Leane, Moiraine, Setalle Anan, Amathera, Egeanin/Leilwin - what tends to happen is they lose their power and find romance (not necessarily in that order). Now, others have rightly said that when you examine those specific examples in detail, there are good reasons why each of those have taken place and they have relatively little in common. That's true, but it doesn't change the fact that there is a broad pattern of it taking place. This lends itself to a conclusion that a theme in the WOT series is that women must give up power in order to find love, which might be broadly interpreted as a statement on women's suitability to hold power.

I am cognisant of what you say about reader bias, but I am not too worried about it, for a number of reasons: firstly, bias or no bias, what the reader interprets in a work is his or her own business, separate from what the author intended, and to some extent if the author did not intend something which is observed by a reader, or intended something which is no observed, he can still be held accountable for that. Secondly, authorial intent or otherwise, it can still tell us something about the real world as reflected in WOT regardless of bias. Thirdly, it has to be considered that if those of us who do detect gender discrimination in the WOT series are doing so because of our own bias, those arguing against us are also acting out of their own bias. This isn't to disparage either side, but it does encourage both sides to a more thoughtful examination of their own ideas.

GonzoTheGreat
11-02-2011, 05:55 AM
How about Darlin?
He wouldn't have found romance if he hadn't given up his (reduced) power by going into exile and opposing Rand. And he probably wouldn't have become king if he hadn't hooked up with that Cairhienin chick either.

Then there's Loial, who falls in the same "lose power/freedom, win true love" category.

Zombie Sammael
11-02-2011, 06:12 AM
How about Darlin?
He wouldn't have found romance if he hadn't given up his (reduced) power by going into exile and opposing Rand. And he probably wouldn't have become king if he hadn't hooked up with that Cairhienin chick either.

Then there's Loial, who falls in the same "lose power/freedom, win true love" category.

What power and freedom has Loial actually lost, as opposed to feared losing? He was forced to give up his Waygate closing quest in order to do something more important (persuade the Great Stump not to open the Book of Translation and leave), not because of Erith.

As for Darlin, that sort of falls into the "men make sacrifices and gain power" category, doesn't it? Once more, I can't think of an example of that happening to a woman. Whenever a female character gives up power, that is the sacrifice, and she never regains quite the same level of influence.

GonzoTheGreat
11-02-2011, 06:20 AM
Aviendha gave up the spear. She got True Love and the power of being a Wise One in return.
Nynaeve gave up the power of being a Wisdom. She got True Love, the crown of Malkier, and the prestige of being the most admired AS of her Age in return. Granted, some of these are still in the future, but unless the DO wins, they seem rather certain.
Aludra lost the power of being an official and fairly high ranking Illuminator, but now is becoming the world's greatest Alchemist instead. And she didn't even have to surrender her virtue to Mat to do it.
Sheriam gave up being the Mistress of Novices, and became Keeper instead. Granted, some of that was because she was obeying orders, but that's a detail I'm willing to overlook in this case.

fdsaf3
11-02-2011, 08:18 AM
Aviendha gave up the spear. She got True Love and the power of being a Wise One in return.
Nynaeve gave up the power of being a Wisdom. She got True Love, the crown of Malkier, and the prestige of being the most admired AS of her Age in return. Granted, some of these are still in the future, but unless the DO wins, they seem rather certain.
Aludra lost the power of being an official and fairly high ranking Illuminator, but now is becoming the world's greatest Alchemist instead. And she didn't even have to surrender her virtue to Mat to do it.
Sheriam gave up being the Mistress of Novices, and became Keeper instead. Granted, some of that was because she was obeying orders, but that's a detail I'm willing to overlook in this case.

When I first read that scene, I was really pulling for an Aludra/Mat romance.

Now back to your previously scheduled discussion.

eht slat meit
11-02-2011, 12:10 PM
What power and freedom has Loial actually lost, as opposed to feared losing? He was forced to give up his Waygate closing quest in order to do something more important (persuade the Great Stump not to open the Book of Translation and leave), not because of Erith.

As for Darlin, that sort of falls into the "men make sacrifices and gain power" category, doesn't it? Once more, I can't think of an example of that happening to a woman.

Whenever a female character gives up power, that is the sacrifice, and she never regains quite the same level of influence.

Siuan - No chance of getting the same level of influence... Amyrlin is the highest position in the world, second only to the Dragon. Responsible for raising another woman to the same position, becoming her advisor, and in point of fact... everyone in that position is still a woman, and it's still the most influential position in the world, short of Dragon Reborn.

Moiraine - Still retains the exact same amount of influence as prior to her trip to Finnsland, more so once everyone finds out that she whacked a couple Forsaken and is the only Aes Sedai advisor the Dragon Reborn trusts.

Morgase - There are no tap-backs in the game of thrones. When someone more powerful comes along, you submit or you die. She has exactly the same amount of influence of every other male or female pre-Forsaken ruler. Squat. Nasty form of egalitarianism. Out of curiosity, how are these people supposed to get their equal level of power back? Romance-novel style "love of the people" gives them their rightful place?

Setalle Anan - Should we empathize with someone who experiments with dangerous things that they have no expertise in? Self-inflicted damage.

In short, one of them has nobody to blame but herself, one of them has more power than any other man or woman in Randland, and one still has a great deal of influence in the Tower, arguably more than any other sister.

eht slat meit
11-02-2011, 12:41 PM
There is another point that I believe bears mentioning, a throwback to the earlier books. In addition to the Dragon tearing apart all ties that bind, he is to make the world anew. This is reflected in the way people are able to track his passage, not just by freakishly balanced acts of ill and good fortune but by...

... marriages.

It's very noticeable that nearly every primary and most secondary non-Shadow characters of significance are either in love and getting married or already there. The Seanchan have had a new form of marriage drop-kicked into their culture, Asha'man and Aes Sedai consider the previously unthinkable.

These are neither accident nor arbitrary plot devices. Love is not being awarded like a consolation prize. The Dragon is remaking the world.

Love, like gender, is incidental. One comes with birth, the other comes with the dawn.

Zombie Sammael
11-02-2011, 12:51 PM
Siuan - No chance of getting the same level of influence... Amyrlin is the highest position in the world, second only to the Dragon. Responsible for raising another woman to the same position, becoming her advisor, and in point of fact... everyone in that position is still a woman, and it's still the most influential position in the world, short of Dragon Reborn.

Moiraine - Still retains the exact same amount of influence as prior to her trip to Finnsland, more so once everyone finds out that she whacked a couple Forsaken and is the only Aes Sedai advisor the Dragon Reborn trusts.

Morgase - There are no tap-backs in the game of thrones. When someone more powerful comes along, you submit or you die. She has exactly the same amount of influence of every other male or female pre-Forsaken ruler. Squat. Nasty form of egalitarianism. Out of curiosity, how are these people supposed to get their equal level of power back? Romance-novel style "love of the people" gives them their rightful place?

Setalle Anan - Should we empathize with someone who experiments with dangerous things that they have no expertise in? Self-inflicted damage.

In short, one of them has nobody to blame but herself, one of them has more power than any other man or woman in Randland, and one still has a great deal of influence in the Tower, arguably more than any other sister.

Much like Gonzo, you're missing the point. The fact that the specific examples, on analysis, have specific root causes and consequences does not alter the existence of the general trend. That general trend still exists; women lose power, are unable to regain it, and find love - yes, almost as a consolation prize.

Further, the way you describe the specific examples is not borne out. Siuan is reduced, she even thinks it personally. Morgase has lost everything that made her powerful and spent much of the series as a servant, despite being on all accounts a good and wise ruler - purely because of the actions of a man. She's not even responsible for her own downfall, and yet she's the most intensely punished of the lot. As for your comments on Setalle, of course we should and are meant to feel sorry for her. The fact that she is "responsible" for what happened to her doesn't change the fact that the Aes Sedai response to stilling is disgraceful, and she's explicitly punished for nothing less than her attempt to help the world. There's an entire other thread for discussing this in relation to Moiraine. I'm not going to get into it here.

Even if all of these women were responsible for their own loss of power through their heinous incompetence, that wouldn't change my comments about the general trend. Women lose power and it stays lost. Men lose something else - whatever that may be - and gain power. Yes, there are other examples both ways, but none of those alter the existence of these most prominent examples.

Beyond that, we are just going around in circles. There are far more interesting gender-based topics to discuss than the gender/power dichotomy, and if it's at all possible, I'd like to move on to one of the others, especially since we've already discussed this at some length in the Moiraine thread.

eht slat meit
11-02-2011, 02:19 PM
Even if all of these women were responsible for their own loss of power through their heinous incompetence, that wouldn't change my comments about the general trend. Women lose power and it stays lost. Men lose something else - whatever that may be - and gain power. Yes, there are other examples both ways, but none of those alter the existence of these most prominent examples.


While I don't and won't acknowledge this trend because I consider it too small a phenomenon to recognize as a trend, assume for a second that I agreed and that this observation were true.

What would it mean? What is the point of observing the trend? Is it to assume that Jordan hates woman and wants to make sure they get less than what they "deserve" or is it to point out the sky is blue? Or is it to show that he's not an author capable of writing his characters and designing his world properly? This -is- a matter of world design after all, and with the way the world is set up, the only way to maintain status quo is to tell an entirely different kind of story, one where there is evil but no real injustice.

What insight does it offer us? I mean, you acknowledge that it's only part of the story, and that one trend reflects one thing while another trend reflects something else entirely.

What does it come down to?

Zombie Sammael
11-02-2011, 02:42 PM
While I don't and won't acknowledge this trend because I consider it too small a phenomenon to recognize as a trend, assume for a second that I agreed and that this observation were true.

What would it mean? What is the point of observing the trend? Is it to assume that Jordan hates woman and wants to make sure they get less than what they "deserve" or is it to point out the sky is blue? Or is it to show that he's not an author capable of writing his characters and designing his world properly? This -is- a matter of world design after all, and with the way the world is set up, the only way to maintain status quo is to tell an entirely different kind of story, one where there is evil but no real injustice.

What insight does it offer us? I mean, you acknowledge that it's only part of the story, and that one trend reflects one thing while another trend reflects something else entirely.

What does it come down to?

Well, it's not going to help us work out where Demandred is hiding, for instance.

It does reveal a lot about the author's thought process when writing the work, and, as you rightly say, helps us point out the flaws in his world-building, which I personally find very interesting. It helps us understand his view of the role of the women, as well. Note that I only said "helps"; it's certainly not the sum totality of it. As I said above (and I think you would agree), there are far more strands to gender in WOT than just the gender/power dynamic displayed in these examples. I'm not even going so far as to suggest that this is RJ's final word on women with power, because it isn't. It is however one strand of the many ways gender works in the world of WOT, which in turn reflects the real world. Understanding the role of gender in pop culture works like WOT helps us understand the role it plays in the real world, and the views and ideas others hold around the topic, which is interesting from a sociological perspective, and for those of interested in challenging the way gender is viewed in our society(s), very helpful indeed.

I appreciate that what we normally discuss on these boards is story based, and I certainly don't have any problem with that. It's interesting, and above all else, it's fun. I also happen to find a discussion of the series in a more traditionally academic way interesting and entertaining as well, though, and let's face it: the series is ending next year (Encyclopedia and possible outriggers aside). If we're to keep the fandom alive, I think that there will still be unanswered questions to debate, but I also think applying the in-depth analysis and understanding we've already done in a different way is going to be vitally important. Note that I consider keeping the fandom alive to be desirable; others may be ready to be done with it all.

Anyway, it seems from your post that you have some thoughts on the positive ways female characters are depicted in the books. I didn't want this thread to be solely about how women are written poorly, so I'd be very interested to hear your views on that topic.

eht slat meit
11-02-2011, 02:52 PM
I'm interested in hearing your perceived flaws in Robert Jordan's world-building. It seems to me that you are either suggesting that women should never have reached that height of power or that the women of the WT should never have been allowed to fall from grace as they did, repeatedly.

As far as my views on the strengths of women in this series, I think it is proven by the ongoing trend, which people seem to disparagingly refer to as "supergirls". For some reason Moiraine is never treated in this light even though she's accomplished and will accomplish far more than any of the other canon females. They all have their shortcomings, even Moiraine, and all have (mostly) overcome them in spectacular fashion.

At root, they're human with all the flaws thereof, and have transcended those flaws.

Moiraine, Min, Egwene, Elayne, Aviendha, Nynaeve, Cadsuane (working on it), the Wise Ones... just to name the first that immediately come to mind.

Zombie Sammael
11-02-2011, 04:57 PM
I'm interested in hearing your perceived flaws in Robert Jordan's world-building. It seems to me that you are either suggesting that women should never have reached that height of power or that the women of the WT should never have been allowed to fall from grace as they did, repeatedly.

That's not what I'm suggesting. What I think we do have is a cross-section of women ranging from the very competent to the incompetent, all of whom lose their power and find love (or not, as come to think of it Elaida is another example). Honestly, I'd rather have women who try, but fail, than women who don't try at all. I think despite her story, Siuan is a good example of a woman who failed; the part I then struggle with is her reduction in channelling ability and her relationship with Bryne. It's the consequences of failing I generally find a little uncomfortable rather than the actual failing itself.

I should point out that this is hardly something which ruins my enjoyment of the series. As you said, in many ways the female characters in the series are very convincing and strong. Nevertheless, I do feel this is observable, and I cringe slightly when (for instance) even Amathera ends up falling for Juilin in a completely unimportant romance.

As to world-building, RJ himself as good as admitted there were problems:

Now in most of these societies — Far Madding is the obvious exception — I did not and do not view them as matriarchal. I attempted to design societies that were as near gender balanced as to rights, responsibilities and power as I could manage. It doesn’t all work perfectly. People have bellybuttons. If you want to see someone who always behaves logically, never tells small lies or conceals the truth in order to put the best face for themselves on events, and never, ever tries to take advantage of any situation whatsoever, then look for somebody without a bellybutton. The real surprise to me was that while I was designing these gender balanced societies, people were seeing matriarchies.

To me, this suggests that to some extent, his world building failed. It also suggests that we, in our essentially still patriarchal society, naturally view an equal society as matriarchal because of our inherent bias. My theory on why it doesn't work is because RJ is very preoccupied with this notion of separate but equal, which I know The Unreasoner would also agree with, but which I'm afraid I don't. I think that separation leads to a kind of inequality however well intended it is, which contributes to our thinking that societies RJ didn't intend to be matriarchies are. I mean look at Ebou Dar, for instance; that's supposed to be an equal society according to this comment from RJ, but it essentially enshrines victim blaming in the law for men who get stabbed (an interesting if creepy parallel to the real world attitude towards rape survivors), so there's certainly an inequality there. It's also probably fair to say RJ was a little unfair towards matriarchies in this comment; I mean, what about Tar Valon and the Aes Sedai?

I should point out that I don't consider this to necessarily be a bad thing. It's interesting. Exploring the ways in which a created world doesn't work is every bit as interesting as enjoying the ways in which it does. It's also fair to say that in many ways the world-building with regard to gender does work. Sometimes, though, it fails, for example with reader perception of neutrarchies* as matriarchies.

As far as my views on the strengths of women in this series, I think it is proven by the ongoing trend, which people seem to disparagingly refer to as "supergirls". For some reason Moiraine is never treated in this light even though she's accomplished and will accomplish far more than any of the other canon females. They all have their shortcomings, even Moiraine, and all have (mostly) overcome them in spectacular fashion.

At root, they're human with all the flaws thereof, and have transcended those flaws.

Moiraine, Min, Egwene, Elayne, Aviendha, Nynaeve, Cadsuane (working on it), the Wise Ones... just to name the first that immediately come to mind.

I'm glad that you mentioned the fandom response to the supergirls, because I think the way the fandom responds to the work is interesting. Obviously, the super-girls are balanced to some extent by the male main characters (people normally define the super-girls as Elayne, Nynaeve, Egwene and Aviendha, at least as far as channelling goes), each of whom possess a special power as well. Why do you think people disparage these characters in the way that they do, and is that balanced at all by the reaction to the three ta'veren? I know I personally have grown frustrated with all three at various times, but less so Rand, because any scene with Rand tends to feel like a scene that moves the story forward. In the same way, I tend to get frustrated in the latter half of the series less with Egwene than with Elayne, because I feel like Eggy is more important. Is it importance that drives the irritation, and if so, what does that tell us about the importance of women in the story - or the way we as fans perceive that importance?

*yes, I made that word up

arioch
11-02-2011, 05:04 PM
I found it somewhat interesting the amount of Faile = FAIL LOL comments from the past decade or so calling her a bitch, etc., when it's fairly apparent that Saldaea is probably the MOST separately egalitarian nation-society in Randland, and that whatever problems Perrin had with her, it was due to his halfway state between going with interpreting her "smell" and going with what his cultural background tells him.

As an aside, every time I re-read Path of Daggers through Crossroads of Twilight I find something more to like about that whole stretch. It's not as good as TSR, but then again nothing is ... and there's a lot of little nuances and details that are really interesting that a lot of people tend to put down/skim over.

Terez
11-02-2011, 05:08 PM
I believe one of the rules, certainly at the time the Egwene thread was established, was that Egwene bashing was banned unless explicitly stated to be allowed by the originator of the thread.
You should probably re-read the rules. It states that it's your job to make sure Egwene-bashing doesn't happen in your thread lest it get merged with the Egwene Thread of Doom. If you make an effort to keep it under control, then only individual posts will be moved.

Terez
11-02-2011, 05:23 PM
Also, I did a blog post (http://terez27.blogspot.com/2011/03/gender-and-sexuality-in-wot.html) on gender and sexuality in WoT, which includes a conversation we had with Brandon on the subject. Really, only a few of the issues have been touched on here. ZS's 'trend' goes along with several other trends, such as the prevalence of female nudity compared to male nudity, the prevalence of lesbians compared to gay men, etc. There are many justifications offered for these things, but on the whole the trends do reveal RJ's old-fashioned ideas on gender roles.

Zombie Sammael
11-02-2011, 05:40 PM
You should probably re-read the rules. It states that it's your job to make sure Egwene-bashing doesn't happen in your thread lest it get merged with the Egwene Thread of Doom. If you make an effort to keep it under control, then only individual posts will be moved.

I think that I have been making an effort, particularly by that first post, but also in my response to Gonzo. Egwene-bashing has been minimal, thus far; there's been very little discussion of her, unfortunately.

Also, I did a blog post (http://terez27.blogspot.com/2011/03/gender-and-sexuality-in-wot.html) on gender and sexuality in WoT, which includes a conversation we had with Brandon on the subject. Really, only a few of the issues have been touched on here. ZS's 'trend' goes along with several other trends, such as the prevalence of female nudity compared to male nudity, the prevalence of lesbians compared to gay men, etc. There are many justifications offered for these things, but on the whole the trends do reveal RJ's old-fashioned ideas on gender roles.

Thank you so much for posting that. I was really hoping to find a thoughtful essay on this subject somewhere in the resources, and was most disappointed by 13th Depository. Needless to say, I agree with what you had to say in the first part. Now reading the second.

Terez
11-02-2011, 05:48 PM
I think that I have been making an effort, particularly by that first post, but also in my response to Gonzo. Egwene-bashing has been minimal, thus far; there's been very little discussion of her, unfortunately.
Yeah, wasn't trying to say you were doing a bad job - just that you had apparently misremembered the rules. ;)

Thank you so much for posting that.
My pleasure. I wish Brandon had gotten around to writing that blog post he promised, but I think he didn't because he worried how Harriet would feel about it. (Not that she necessarily said anything about it.)

The Unreasoner
11-02-2011, 06:18 PM
Here's a question:
What if it was entirely impossible to rationalize/explain Setalle's case as 'her fault'? What if Ishamael severed her in her sleep with the TP while wearing Mat's medallion and covered in fancloth?

Just because the world mechanics allow for a situation to be explained doesn't mean we need to accept that explanation. Was there no way for Setalle's role to be filled, other than to have her lose her power/find love/it be 'her fault'?

eht slat meit
11-02-2011, 07:11 PM
Here's a question:
What if it was entirely impossible to rationalize/explain Setalle's case as 'her fault'? What if Ishamael severed her in her sleep with the TP while wearing Mat's medallion and covered in fancloth?

Then she'd be just another roadkill victim of the Forsaken train like Morgase. One is her fault, one isn't. The end result is the same. Neither diminishes her as a human being, anymore than a human being is something less for losing an eye or a hand.

Just because the world mechanics allow for a situation to be explained doesn't mean we need to accept that explanation. Was there no way for Setalle's role to be filled, other than to have her lose her power/find love/it be 'her fault'?

Why does Setalle need to be a perfect person who could only be a victim? That's reducing her to something less than a normal human being with normal failings. She was clearly a risk-taker, as is Elayne. It's part of their nature and there is a cost to it. She paid and dearly. Because she is an exceptionally strong person, she was able to survive the loss. I'd say that makes her, like any other person who suffers a lost body part, something special for overcoming it.

As for the love, I'm not sure why people have a problem with it. It's a two-way street. For each woman in love, there is a man in love. Is her man lesser for having been forced to accept Setalle as his "consolation prize"?

Note: While I'm not one of those "Love conquers all" romancers, I find the presentation of love as some sort of second-rate consolation prize to be rather sad. Hence the sarcasm.

arioch
11-02-2011, 09:25 PM
Note: While I'm not one of those "Love conquers all" romancers, I find the presentation of love as some sort of second-rate consolation prize to be rather sad. Hence the sarcasm.

Apart from the conflation of Power with strength (and the treatment thereby of Power level as a character sheet stat), this is what I have a lot of trouble with as well.

Really, I tend to feel that this obsession with status in this thread and the other one is an example of hypermasculinity in action. Hence why I was reducing the argument in the other thread to a comparison of penis lengths.

Zombie Sammael
11-03-2011, 05:51 AM
Apart from the conflation of Power with strength (and the treatment thereby of Power level as a character sheet stat), this is what I have a lot of trouble with as well.

Really, I tend to feel that this obsession with status in this thread and the other one is an example of hypermasculinity in action. Hence why I was reducing the argument in the other thread to a comparison of penis lengths.

The trouble with that POV is that it starts from the idea that power and status are inherently masculine traits that don't belong to a woman, then moves from there to the conclusion that a woman losing her power is okay.

It's worth pointing out again (although I hoped we'd moved on to a different topic briefly) that the males who get true love don't have to put up with nearly the level of sacrifice that the women do. Gareth Bryne? Gains true love and an entire army, substantial increase in power. Thom? No visible change in status, other than romance. Setalle's husband? ...off-screen, so we don't know. But you also have to contrast the female main characters with the male. Of the male main characters, only Mat has anything resembling an uncomfortable romantic encounter (well, several, actually).

Once more, it's far from the only issue. I think it's a topic we've covered, by now, so my next post will be on some other area (when I'm ready). Covered? We've purged it with fire and salt.

GonzoTheGreat
11-03-2011, 06:14 AM
Doesn't all this boil down to a criticism of "proper AS do not fall in love"?
That is the unofficial WT policy, as you may know, and it is one that almost all AS actually follow. So only when they either cease being AS (Siuan, Setalle) or just don't care at all anymore for their status in the WT (Moiraine) do they even consider it.

So I am not at all sure that this is a "women are being denigrated issue". It is more an "Aes Sedai don't have normal relationships" issue, where (admittedly) the relationships aren't always entirely normal when a woman suddenly finds herself falling out of the AS role. Well, a lot of men also make a mess of things when their status suddenly changes sharply up or down.

That leaves Morgase, who, as queen, just plain could not afford love. When she was no longer queen, that barrier fell away, and when she realised that, she started considering the possibility.

Crispin's Crispian
11-03-2011, 11:13 AM
The trouble with that POV is that it starts from the idea that power and status are inherently masculine traits that don't belong to a woman, then moves from there to the conclusion that a woman losing her power is okay.
Wait, which POV are you talking about? The one arioch, eht slat meit, and I have been expressing since the beginning or something else? I don't think any of us have justified a woman's loss of power with such a chauvinist attitude. Maybe I misunderstood.

For the record, I've also had a big problem with with this sarcastic "twoo wuv" thing. I almost feel like people who denigrate the love these women have found are missing the point of the story. Didn't you read Rand/LTT's internal dialogue on Dragonmount?

Why do we live again? Lews Therin asked, suddenly. His voice was crisp and distinct.

Yes, Rand said, pleading. Tell me. Why?


Maybe . . . Lews Therin said, shockingly lucid, not a hint of madness to him. He spoke softly, reverently. Why? Could it be . . . Maybe it's so that we can have a second chance.


Rand froze. The winds blew against him, but he could not be moved by them. The Power hesitated inside him, like the headsman's axe, held quivering above the criminal's neck. You may not have a choice about which duties are given you, Tam's voice, just a memory, said in his mind. But you can choose why you fulfill them.

Why, Rand? Why do you go to battle? What is the point?

Why?

All was still. Even with the tempest, the winds, the crashes of thunder. All was still.

Why? Rand thought with wonder. Because each time we live, we get to love again.

That was the answer. It all swept over him, lives lived, mistakes made, love changing everything. He saw the entire world in his mind's eye, lit by the glow in his hand. He remembered lives, hundreds of them, thousands of them, stretching to infinity. He remembered love, and peace, and joy, and hope.


Bold emphasis mine. Sure, it sounds sappy and romantic...but it seems kind of obvious.



Once more, it's far from the only issue. I think it's a topic we've covered, by now, so my next post will be on some other area (when I'm ready). Covered? We've purged it with fire and salt.
We've covered it, but come to no agreement or consensus whatsoever. I guess maybe it is time to throw in the towel?

Zombie Sammael
11-03-2011, 11:25 AM
Wait, which POV are you talking about? The one arioch, eht slat meit, and I have been expressing since the beginning or something else? I don't think any of us have justified a woman's loss of power with such a chauvinist attitude. Maybe I misunderstood.

The one that Arioch was suggesting in his post that I quoted, that suggested that considering women's strength in the One Power or level of power generally (the two terms have been used interchangeably) was comparable to comparing penis sizes or a symptom of hyper-masculinity. To my mind, that could only be the case if we were starting from the point of view that power is a masculine trait. It's possible I misunderstood, but if that's the case, maybe Arioch could explain himself a little better.

I certainly don't think that's the attitude of all the people positing a different POV to my own in the thread.

For the record, I've also had a big problem with with this sarcastic "twoo wuv" thing. I almost feel like people who denigrate the love these women have found are missing the point of the story. Didn't you read Rand/LTT's internal dialogue on Dragonmount?

Bold emphasis mine. Sure, it sounds sappy and romantic...but it seems kind of obvious.

But again, what we have here is Rand, the messiah-like, patriarchal figure - albeit at his most vulnerable, and most tapping into that femininity I mentioned in my first post - mourning for his lost loves. When a man, be it Rand or Perrin, is faced with true love, it's the most powerful force on earth, something nothing can stand against. That's a man's love. What is a woman's? It seems like a consolation prize; the two don't even compare. Once again, Egwene is the exception; as Gonzo rightly pointed out, she transcends gender in the same way Rand does. But where do we see Aviendha or Min vowing to challenge the Wheel itself for their love for Rand? When does Siuan threaten to destroy the world for Gareth? From a literal point of view, of course, they don't have this kind of power, but where is the intensity in a woman's feelings for a man that is accorded to Rand and Perrin for their loves?

We've covered it, but come to no agreement or consensus whatsoever. I guess maybe it is time to throw in the towel?

I just feel - as Terez rightly pointed out - that there are so many more issues we could discuss in this thread. By all means go read her blog and you'll get the picture; she's right that I glossed over them in my OP. We've discussed this in this thread and in Gilshalos's thread. I certainly don't want to throw in the towel on the whole issue of gender in the series. As I said above, I'll try and find a way to post about something else next time. This idea of certain characters stepping outside of gender roles certainly seems to have legs.

eht slat meit
11-03-2011, 11:36 AM
The trouble with that POV is that it starts from the idea that power and status are inherently masculine traits that don't belong to a woman, then moves from there to the conclusion that a woman losing her power is okay.

If you're talking about my PoV, mine starts from idea that power and status are strictly neuter traits that don't -belong- to anyone. They may be gained, bought, cheated for, born into or any number of things, but they have no masculine or feminine overtones.

As such, not -only- is it completely okay for woman to lose power, but the same holds true for men.

For the Setalle Anans of the Tower, you have the Black Tower training casualties that burned themselves out.

For the Morgases of the world who lost not only their thrones, but their kingdoms, you have every other king in the world.

For Siuan who had her seat stolen by a fool of a woman with a Black Ajah advisor, you have Logain losing his rightful place in the Black Tower to the Dreadlord of the Shadow Armies.

For Moiraine, slayer of Forsaken, forged in a crucible of suffering, only to ascend to even greater heights... you have the Dragon Reborn, who is much the same.

Balance and counter-balance. There is no masculine or feminine nature to power.

EvilChani
11-03-2011, 04:03 PM
T
But again, what we have here is Rand, the messiah-like, patriarchal figure - albeit at his most vulnerable, and most tapping into that femininity I mentioned in my first post - mourning for his lost loves. When a man, be it Rand or Perrin, is faced with true love, it's the most powerful force on earth, something nothing can stand against. That's a man's love. What is a woman's? It seems like a consolation prize; the two don't even compare. Once again, Egwene is the exception; as Gonzo rightly pointed out, she transcends gender in the same way Rand does. But where do we see Aviendha or Min vowing to challenge the Wheel itself for their love for Rand? When does Siuan threaten to destroy the world for Gareth? From a literal point of view, of course, they don't have this kind of power, but where is the intensity in a woman's feelings for a man that is accorded to Rand and Perrin for their loves?

I've been reading this thread all along and thought the original idea was ridiculous since women pretty much hold ALL the power in the world of WoT. This "separate but equal" thing never worked for me, not when the women's groups can stick their nose into the "men's" business and force them to do what they want while the men aren't allowed to so much as breathe a word about "women's" business. Throw in the fact that the women crap all over the men, abuse them both verbally and physically without repercussion, and the men's only method of retaliation is to complain about how pig-headed and bossy the women are while hurrying to do what the women ordered them to do and I think RJ was on crack with his idea that he created an "equal" society.

However, the quote I left above got my attention and reminded me of a quote from RJ, about how Lan could not survive without Nyn, but Nyn would cry if Lan died, then get on with her life. If I remember correctly, he insinuated that this is how all women and men operate, somewhat reflecting the belief (or study?) that men who lose their wives don't live as long as women who lose their husbands.

My initial reaction to that is offense - who the hell is to say that a woman's feelings aren't as deep or strong as a man's? - but then I look at it in relation to how I see the rest of the series and get what RJ was trying to say. I believe his opinion was that, in general, women are stronger, tougher, and smarter than men. Yes, he was a sexist, but not in a misogynistic manner as many suggest. Instead, it fits with my opinion that he was a misandrist.

The female characters, save the ones that have somehow found an equal relationship with the one they love (Egwene does not count because Gawyn is nothing more than her lapdog who exists only to serve her will and is not allowed a differing opinion) have a low opinion of men and think all men are stupid. They treat men as though they are pets (though I treat animals better than the women treat the men in this series) or possessions (look at the AS with their Warders...Warders are owned objects, not "partners" in the true sense of the word). Love doesn't matter to them, power does. I think RJ made a mistake in making this a gender thing, though he does show men who are power mongers as well...and it's obvious that they aren't capable of love either.

As for Mo, I didn't find it offensive when she offered to give up the angreal for Thom. And I don't see where women lose more power than men or that there is some sort of bias against women. If anything, there's a bias for the women and against the men (can you recall any other author writing a rape, as was done with Mat and Tylin, and saying straight out that they wrote it for "humor", as though rape is funny??).

Terez
11-03-2011, 04:25 PM
I've been reading this thread all along and thought the original idea was ridiculous since women pretty much hold ALL the power in the world of WoT. This "separate but equal" thing never worked for me, not when the women's groups can stick their nose into the "men's" business and force them to do what they want while the men aren't allowed to so much as breathe a word about "women's" business. Throw in the fact that the women crap all over the men, abuse them both verbally and physically without repercussion, and the men's only method of retaliation is to complain about how pig-headed and bossy the women are while hurrying to do what the women ordered them to do and I think RJ was on crack with his idea that he created an "equal" society.
I think his intent was to turn the tables. He felt the society was equal in terms of opportunity, but that the sexism was a natural product of a world ruled by women. Which makes sense, in a way. I don't think he realized how much his personal ideas of gender norms creeped in, though.

My initial reaction to that is offense - who the hell is to say that a woman's feelings aren't as deep or strong as a man's? - but then I look at it in relation to how I see the rest of the series and get what RJ was trying to say. I believe his opinion was that, in general, women are stronger, tougher, and smarter than men. Yes, he was a sexist, but not in a misogynistic manner as many suggest. Instead, it fits with my opinion that he was a misandrist.
In this particular case, though, he's not necessarily saying women are stronger - just that Lan has a death wish, and Nynaeve is pretty much the only think keeping him going at this point. On the other side you have Tam, who coped quite nicely with Kari's death and fought the WoT-world sexist idea that he needed a woman to keep him honest.

As for Mo, I didn't find it offensive when she offered to give up the angreal for Thom. And I don't see where women lose more power than men or that there is some sort of bias against women. If anything, there's a bias for the women and against the men (can you recall any other author writing a rape, as was done with Mat and Tylin, and saying straight out that they wrote it for "humor", as though rape is funny??).
Well, Mat could have fought back if not for his weird ideas about hurting women. And the indications are that he liked the sex part well enough - he just didn't like being a prisoner. So I'm guessing the reason RJ and Harriet thought it was funny was because they think men don't understand what it's like to be in this kind of situation, whereas women have been putting up with it for thousands of years. I agree that the presentation of it was odd, but that seems to have been their reasoning.

eht slat meit
11-03-2011, 05:08 PM
Well, Mat could have fought back if not for his weird ideas about hurting women. And the indications are that he liked the sex part well enough - he just didn't like being a prisoner.

He -did- fight back, and when he did she pulled a knife on him and made it clear that she was going to take him by force since he wasn't submitting.

“I don’t have bloody time for—” His breath froze as the sharp point of her dagger beneath his chin shut his mouth and drove him right up onto his toes.

“Remove your hand,” she said coldly. He managed to look down his nose at her face. She was not smiling now. He let go of her arm carefully. She did not lessen the pressure of her blade, though. She shook her head. “Tsk, tsk. I do try to make allowances for you being an outlander, gosling, but since you wish to play roughly . . . Hands at your sides. Move.” The knifepoint gave a direction. He shuffled backward on tiptoe rather than have his neck sliced.

The only reason I don't consider that a flat-out rape is because his PoVs indicated no problem with the sex itself but just... as Tylin puts it... a pouty attitude towards the gender role reversal.

Terez
11-03-2011, 05:18 PM
Pssh, Mat has the quickest hands Thom has ever seen, which is saying something. He gave up because, like it or not, he was already aroused and so it wasn't worth fighting. At least, that's how RJ wrote it, and apparently how he saw it.

The weird thing about Mat to me is that he has no female counterpart among the main characters, all of whom too great care to let the reader know that they were virgins before hooking up with whoever (permanently). The only female characters with sexual freedom are out in the periphery like Tylin and Myrelle (the rapists), or the various tavern girls who rarely even get named.

Toss the dice
11-03-2011, 07:06 PM
I would say Berelain is the closest female counterpart to Mat. I consider her a secondary character, but she's relatively high on the list of character importance.

There was that scene in TDR with her and Mat when she mumbled something like "...too much like me." Then there is the fact that we know she isn't a virgin, and has been with at least 1-2 men. (which means she is a big slut in WoT)

Terez
11-03-2011, 07:23 PM
I would say Berelain is the closest female counterpart to Mat.
She's not even close to Mat in this regard. The only people she's ever had sex with were people she didn't even like, for Mayene rather than her own personal enjoyment.

Davian93
11-03-2011, 07:27 PM
I would say Berelain is the closest female counterpart to Mat. I consider her a secondary character, but she's relatively high on the list of character importance.

There was that scene in TDR with her and Mat when she mumbled something like "...too much like me." Then there is the fact that we know she isn't a virgin, and has been with at least 1-2 men. (which means she is a big slut in WoT)

Umm, Mat's been with just a bit more than 1-2 women so its not even close. It was more of a "He's a ladies man so my charms won't work as well on him as he wont be manipulated as easily". Perrin and Rand are far easier targets as they dont have Mat's natural coolness/charm. Mat is basically the Fonz of Randland.

And Tylin/Mat wasn't rape at all.

The Unreasoner
11-03-2011, 08:12 PM
The trouble with that POV is that it starts from the idea that power and status are inherently masculine traits that don't belong to a woman, then moves from there to the conclusion that a woman losing her power is okay.
I think you may be projecting here. Certainly you are at least generalizing. I'm not sure that anyone supports the position you describe.
It's worth pointing out again (although I hoped we'd moved on to a different topic briefly) that the males who get true love don't have to put up with nearly the level of sacrifice that the women do. Gareth Bryne? Gains true love and an entire army, substantial increase in power. Thom? No visible change in status, other than romance. Setalle's husband? ...off-screen, so we don't know. But you also have to contrast the female main characters with the male. Of the male main characters, only Mat has anything resembling an uncomfortable romantic encounter (well, several, actually).
I barely managed to bottle my Gareth-rage as it is (interestingly enough, along the same criteria that I bottled my Egwene rage). But I don't know if this is a real issue. Twoo wuv is only a consolation prize when the reader wants to see it as such. There may be a trend of women losing their power then finding love. But, given female status in Randland, that has a real life equivalent in a man losing power and then finding love. In the WoT universe, women have been the dominant sex. The White Tower screams: 'Catholic Church'. There is alot of misplaced solidarity here (most notably among those attributing Egwene-hate to sexism, and not to the fact that the character is despicable. This does not preclude the existence of sexists among Egwene haters).
Once more, it's far from the only issue. I think it's a topic we've covered, by now, so my next post will be on some other area (when I'm ready). Covered? We've purged it with fire and salt.
Normally I would love to say 'I told you to start with something more specific, and let the discussion branch out on its own. '

But, youre a friend (and clearly care a great deal about this issue), so I take no pleasure in it. But I did warn you.
Doesn't all this boil down to a criticism of "proper AS do not fall in love"?
Gonzo brings up a good point: is this so-called 'trend' against women in power, or is it against the institutionalization of either gender's dominance?
The one that Arioch was suggesting in his post that I quoted, that suggested that considering women's strength in the One Power or level of power generally (the two terms have been used interchangeably) was comparable to comparing penis sizes or a symptom of hyper-masculinity. To my mind, that could only be the case if we were starting from the point of view that power is a masculine trait. It's possible I misunderstood, but if that's the case, maybe Arioch could explain himself a little better.
Isn't it though (like comparing penis-size)? Who cares who is stronger? Among the men, a group championed by Taim (and opposed to Androl), and among the women a group defined by centuries of failed practices currently championed by Egwene (and by extension, opposed to Sorilea). Do we really give any weight at all to the opinions of the likes of Egwene and Taim?

And, I'm probably alone in this, but I always liked Elaida's character more than Siuan's (especially when Siuan went out of her way to give Gareth Douchebag power over her).


Pssh, Mat has the quickest hands Thom has ever seen, which is saying something. He gave up because, like it or not, he was already aroused and so it wasn't worth fighting. At least, that's how RJ wrote it, and apparently how he saw it.

The weird thing about Mat to me is that he has no female counterpart among the main characters, all of whom too great care to let the reader know that they were virgins before hooking up with whoever (permanently). The only female characters with sexual freedom are out in the periphery like Tylin and Myrelle (the rapists), or the various tavern girls who rarely even get named.
I'm pretty sure Rand and Perrin were virgins (why the hell does that matter anyway?). And Mat is probably less experienced than one might first guess. Aes Sedai essentially raped men for a thousand years. And Mat enjoying Tylin is an absurd argument. While I think, in general, men are harder to rape than women...NO MEANS NO. You can't be outraged about the bonded Aes Sedai and dismiss Mat's case. How often should a rapist get away with the crime with the argument: 'she orgasmed'?

arioch
11-03-2011, 08:19 PM
To be honest, I don't think Mat's actually slept with anyone until Tylin. Making out seems to be as far as he's gotten.

His memories, of course, are another matter.

eht slat meit
11-03-2011, 08:25 PM
Umm, Mat's been with just a bit more than 1-2 women so its not even close. It was more of a "He's a ladies man so my charms won't work as well on him as he wont be manipulated as easily". Perrin and Rand are far easier targets as they dont have Mat's natural coolness/charm. Mat is basically the Fonz of Randland.


I think it would be a mistake to assume that Mat wasn't a virgin before Tylin had her way with him. There is a reason Rand and Mat has set ideas on how sexual roles and even the sex act are, stemming from their Two Rivers roots. Can't recall the book, but there was mention that even the hint of something like sex would end up in both parties being switched and carted off to marriage by the Women's Circle. EoTW, I think, but I might recall the specifics wrongly.

Notice how Mat's role as "ladies man" is always very ... polite... for the lack of a better term. There is never a hint of a fade-to-black before Tylin, only ongoing appreciation for a well-turned ankle, or an impressive bosom, but actual interaction is limited to his beloved smile, dancing, tickling and kissing games.

G-rated stuff.

So yeah, he's the Fonz, but I recall the Fonz being rather G-rated too. One can be a charming and cool ladies man without rutting with any or all of them.

arioch
11-03-2011, 08:31 PM
Now that I think about it though, there is that Shaido Darkfriend maiden that he shacked up with in Rhuidean. And there is some implication about the maidens' "kissing game" in the Stone of Tear.

But I do think that it's possible either instance might not have involved The Act Of Intercourse.

David Selig
11-03-2011, 08:34 PM
I think both of you are forgetting Melindra.

And it's pretty heavily implied she wasn't his first woman either - in the Stone in TSR he was pretty busy hitting on the maids. IIRC Jordan said something to that effect.

The Unreasoner
11-03-2011, 08:36 PM
I think both of you are forgetting Melindra.

And it's pretty heavily implied she wasn't his first woman either - in the Stone in TSR he was pretty busy hitting on the maids. IIRC Jordan said something to that effect.

I thought Melindra was the Shaido DF.

And again, what does it matter? It's not a goddamn contest.

David Selig
11-03-2011, 08:45 PM
I thought Melindra was the Shaido DF.

Yes, she is (actually I misspelled her name, it should be Melindhra). I just didn't see the last post before mine. She and Mat definitely had sex, BTW, or at least were spending time together naked during the night a few times. ;)

eht slat meit
11-03-2011, 09:07 PM
I think both of you are forgetting Melindra.

And it's pretty heavily implied she wasn't his first woman either - in the Stone in TSR he was pretty busy hitting on the maids. IIRC Jordan said something to that effect.

Yeah, fair point on Melindhra, I'd forgotten about her. However, when reading back through her parts, I also noticed this, implying heavily that Melindhra was his first and led him to believe that he'd done the chasing:


He had given jewelry to other women, Maidens and others; he liked giving things to pretty women, even if all he got in return was a smile. He never expected more. If a woman did not enjoy a kiss and a cuddle as much as he did, what was the point?

Couple that with his outrage over Tylin reversing the roles, it seems likely that until Mel, he never got past the kiss and cuddle stage.

arioch
11-04-2011, 01:42 AM
Yeah, while it seems obvious that Mat is actually the bad influence on Olver he tries to guard the boy from, it's equally as obvious that Mat himself would have handily passed the purity test.

And that in fact, Perrin beat both Rand and Mat. He was seriously tied to his girlfriend since TDR.

Terez
11-04-2011, 02:34 AM
Balticon XXX April 1996 - Pam Korda reporting (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan/browse_thread/thread/27aa5ad3d9907fba/18401e7a13fb5ce0?#18401e7a13fb5ce0)

Mat has indeed had far and away more MPS experience than our other young heroes, and intends to get much much more. I believe the quote was something like "The world is full of beautiful women, and Mat wants to romp barefoot though them all (or was that with them all, same thing). He's slept with lots of women; he's slept with women old enough to be his mother..." Also, Mat makes the Aes Sedai nervous. Sigh, and if RJ had shown all of this "on-screen," y'all wouldn't be complaining about the lack of explicit sex in The Wheel of Time!!! (And the books would read like The Fallon Blood.)
.

yks 6nnetu hing
11-04-2011, 04:16 AM
Pssh, Mat has the quickest hands Thom has ever seen, which is saying something. He gave up because, like it or not, he was already aroused and so it wasn't worth fighting. At least, that's how RJ wrote it, and apparently how he saw it.

The weird thing about Mat to me is that he has no female counterpart among the main characters, all of whom too great care to let the reader know that they were virgins before hooking up with whoever (permanently). The only female characters with sexual freedom are out in the periphery like Tylin and Myrelle (the rapists), or the various tavern girls who rarely even get named.

I always thought Brigitte was the female counterpart to Mat, except as she already knows who her soulmate is, she doesn't bother fussing around with anybody else. And she accepts who she is, which Mat certainly doesn't, but that's another discussion. Also, Min has some very specific ideas about sexual freedom in general.

Berelain doesn't fit because in her case it's not for the fun of it, she uses her looks as extra leverage in a male-dominated world where she is not only female but also the ruler of a flyspeck of a country on the edge of nowhere. She doesn't rely only on her looks though, and she doesn't "give it away" as some people believe because I think she understnds very well that once it's given, there's no incentive any more.

On the other hand, there's Morgase: married for political reasons but after the hubby died, she had a relationship with the court bard Thom, with her general Bryne, "Gaebril" - although that one was not entirely intentional on her part, and she slept with Valda all the while being interested in whatshisname - the captain of the guards pretty boy. She's not exactly sleeping her way through taverns like Mat but she does have a larger-than-normal-in-WoT-females amount of sexual partners.

To be honest, I don't think Mat's actually slept with anyone until Tylin. Making out seems to be as far as he's gotten.

His memories, of course, are another matter.

There's also the girl in the tavern in Ebou Dar, it's strongly suggested they were sharing a room (at least) a few nights and she got insanely jealous of Brigitte, Nyn and Elayne when they showed up.

Terez
11-04-2011, 04:29 AM
I always thought Brigitte was the female counterpart to Mat, except as she already knows who her soulmate is, she doesn't bother fussing around with anybody else. And she accepts who she is, which Mat certainly doesn't, but that's another discussion. Also, Min has some very specific ideas about sexual freedom in general.
Min and Birgitte would have been great counterparts, and I've used them as examples before. But they weren't written that way. And Min was every bit as much a virgin as Elayne and Aviendha were.

On the other hand, there's Morgase: married for political reasons but after the hubby died, she had a relationship with the court bard Thom, with her general Bryne, "Gaebril" - although that one was not entirely intentional on her part, and she slept with Valda all the while being interested in whatshisname - the captain of the guards pretty boy. She's not exactly sleeping her way through taverns like Mat but she does have a larger-than-normal-in-WoT-females amount of sexual partners.
Indeed, but she's not one of the main characters. I think Min was the best opportunity for a Mat counterpart among the women, but RJ blew it.

yks 6nnetu hing
11-04-2011, 04:33 AM
I think Min was the best opportunity for a Mat counterpart among the women, but RJ blew it.

it would've been weird to "see" Rand lusting after one of his best friends but then in female form. There are no homosexual realationships in WoT and I think that might have come too close for RJ's own comfort.

Terez
11-04-2011, 04:44 AM
There are plenty of homosexual relationships in WoT. Just not male ones. Either way, lame excuse!

yks 6nnetu hing
11-04-2011, 04:50 AM
There are plenty of homosexual relationships in WoT. Just not male ones. Either way, lame excuse!

I thought I was being clear about the male part by not using "same-sex". But, anyway - I have a suspicion that a boyish girl who very much likes to wear pants, read philosophical books and make up her own mind is as far towards that sort of a relationship RJ was willing to go. Which is a bit sad considering *I* like to wear pants, cut my hair any which way I like and sometimes enjoy a good philosophical discussion regarding the way T'A'R affects miror worlds. And I consider myself to be quite feminine...

On the other hand, the Min-Rand relationship is probably the most believable one in the whole series: they spend lots of time together, they have intellectual conversations and genuine affection beyond the "let's rip our clothes off as soon as possible, mmkay" thing that seems to permeat most of the rest of the relationships in the series (Nyn-Lan, Elayne-Rand, Avi-Rand, Mat-anyone)

Terez
11-04-2011, 06:28 AM
I thought I was being clear about the male part by not using "same-sex".
Nope.

But, anyway - I have a suspicion that a boyish girl who very much likes to wear pants, read philosophical books and make up her own mind is as far towards that sort of a relationship RJ was willing to go.
I have argued before that he went a bit further by suggesting that Min was sexually active with women before Rand. She didn't rule it out when proclaiming her virginhood because she said she'd never been with a man before, and she told him in TGH that she doesn't like shepherds, especially boy shepherds. But that's too vague for some people. In any case, girlsex doesn't count because it doesn't 'spoil the goods'.

arioch
11-04-2011, 12:09 PM
http://www.theoryland.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=168362#post168362

I made a new thread instead of sticking a bunch of random thoughts into a post in this thread.

Toss the dice
11-04-2011, 06:09 PM
I guess my slant on this whole thing has been who is the closest female counterpart to Mat in terms of his approach to the opposite sex? Not so much how many women he's slept with.

When I thought about this before, Berelain was the best name I could come up with, and I think her and Mat are fairly similar, REASONS for their flirty ways and sexual "aggressiveness" aside. Now, Breane Taborwin comes to mind, pre-Lamgwin. I still can't think of any character even close however, that is more of an important/main character than Berelain.

In a way, it's sort of strange how WoT society is when referring to the genders. Females are considered by many to be the leading role in Randland, mostly due to the Aes Sedai. Even in villages and small towns, women seem to take the lead overall. Yet, the courtship of Randland seems to be pretty traditional, as we in the real world would consider it. There are exceptions to this of course, and even exceptions when it comes to nations (like Mayene, who's women are "very forward"). I'm not saying this is messed up or that weird, just making an observation.

Lupusdeusest
11-05-2011, 02:06 AM
And again, what does it matter? It's not a goddamn contest.

:eek:

Seeker
11-05-2011, 04:43 PM
My problem with the gender dynamics in WOT is not so much in the role of women or their function within WOT societies but rather with the presentation of female characters.

If you compare Rand, Mat and Perrin, you can see that they are each very distinct characters. While they're all decent people, they have different values, different priorities, different styles of dress, different ways of speaking. If you were to present Rand, Mat and Perrin with the same problem - say a hostile army at their backs - each of them would handle the problem in a different way. Rand (assuming he's sane) would be most likely to try diplomacy. Perrin would dig his heels in and adopt a defensive posture. He'd be open to diplomacy but would be less likely to initiate it than Rand. Mat, would almost certainly devise a sneak attack, something that would cripple his opponents. Using guerrilla tactics, he would convince his enemies that his force is larger than it is, then try to bring them over to his side.

Neither of these strategies is wrong but each one illustrates the different styles and thought processes of the three male characters.

The same can't really be said of the girls.

When you look at the four main female characters (Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne and Aviendha) there's not very much variance in the way they behave.

They're all a bit snooty; they're all fiercely determined to prove themselves. Each one of them has similar attitudes regarding sex and relationships. (This is the only way in which Aviendha truly differs from the other three). They all take similar roles within their respective societies. They all react to things in the same way.

If you picture Mat sassing Egwene and Egwene replying with some remark about "having respect," it's very difficult to picture Nynaeve, Elayne or Aviendha reacting differently. Each one of them will put their nose up in the air, sniff and say something to the effect of "You're an uncultured lout, Mat Cauthon, and you should have some respect for ________ (insert female-based institution here)."

Sure, Min and Birgitte provide some variation - though only in the sense that they're both tom boys - but they're both side characters. The main cast of women in this series really doesn't vary too much in terms of personality and character traits.

To get a sense of what I mean, let's contrast this with Brandon Sanderson's characters.

Vin (Mistborn) is a taciturn warrior whose first response is to punch her way out of a rough situation. She's a woman of few words who uses a cynical disposition to mask a warm and tender heart. Distrusting by nature, it takes a while for her to open up to someone but once she does, she is fiercely loyal. Vin dislikes leadership and would gladly blend into a crowd. She's a worker bee, a woman who will get things done without too much concern for who gets the credit.

Siri (Warbreaker) is vivacious, outgoing and nosy to a fault. She believes that traditions exist for the sole purpose of providing her with something to rebel against. Softhearted and kind, she fits well into just about any social situation and uses humor to win people over to her way of thinking. Deep down inside, Siri is a hopeless romantic, though I doubt she'd tell anyone that. When faced with a problem, her fist response will be to investigate - which usually means putting her nose where it doesn't belong - and then devise solutions. She's not terribly trusting but not a cynic either.


Vivenna (Warbreaker) is prissy, anal-retentive and uptight. In her mind, Vivenna is a "good girl," someone who does what is expected of her. It takes a while for her to develop a true sense of independence and it comes at the cost of challenging everything she's ever believed in. At first, Vivenna is naive to a fault but she soon develops a more balanced view of life. Under her sophisticated veneer, she has a heart of gold and a willingness to help other people.

Shallan (Way of Kings) Shallan is duplicitous, untrustworthy and self-interested. Her motivations are fueled primarily by a sense of desperation, a fear of losing everything she has been born with. She comes from a somewhat dysfunctional family and has learned to "play the game" as a result. She's a master of politics and very skilled at manipulating people. Deep down, Shallan has a sense of ethics but she's willing to compromise them for practical concerns.


Sarene (Elantris)is the quintessential bad-ass normal. A woman of artistic inclinations, she has an intuitive grasp of politics and human behaviour. She makes it a point to challenge gender stereotypes and might even best Vin in a fight (assuming Vin didn't use any of her powers). Her tendency to meddle gets her into trouble and she is often too quick to judge without knowing all the facts.

Each of these women has a unique personality and characteristics that can be both positive and negative depending on the circumstances. True, they all come from different societies but at least SOME variation should be present in the Wheel of Time females.

____________________________________________

To illustrate my point further, if Mat Cauthon made a pass at any of Brandon Sanderson's characters, each one would react differently.

Vin would stare up at him in confusion and mutter halfhearted thanks.

Siri would grin, accept the compliment and pat him on the cheek.

Vivenna would be offended, scowl at him and grumble something about "rude behaviour."

Shallan would flirt back, figuring that Mat's interest might prove useful. If nothing else, maybe he could "Take her away from all this."

Sarene would give Mat a stern, no-nonsense expression and point out that she's a married woman.

yks 6nnetu hing
11-07-2011, 03:51 AM
When you look at the four main female characters (Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne and Aviendha) there's not very much variance in the way they behave.

They're all a bit snooty; they're all fiercely determined to prove themselves. Each one of them has similar attitudes regarding sex and relationships. (This is the only way in which Aviendha truly differs from the other three). They all take similar roles within their respective societies. They all react to things in the same way.

I disagree. Sure, they all have some characteristics in common, and certain personality traits are perhaps over-represented in Jordan-females when compared ot the real world, but the main characters most definitely have their own take on things.

Let's use your example, let's say someone *like* Mat would flirt and ask them for a dance. (not actually Mat, s they all have a developed relationship and history with him already)

Elayne would think it would be great fun to dance, perhaps scandalously learn a few new sexy moves but she'd quickly change her mind (=realize she's the Daughter-heir and can't possibly do something like that) and treat the guy with an arch look and a cold shoulder.

Egwene would laugh and dance the whole night away (see: Aram) but any further advances would probably be more bluntly than subtly refused.

Min would flirt back but refuse the dance with a laugh and also refuse any further advances without insulting the guy. The guy leaving while thinking what a friendly girl she is.

Aviendha and Nynaeve would most likely think about sticking the guy with a knife or hitting him over the head. the glare/appraising look alone would be enough to make him run for the hills.


Also, the women rather pointedly do not share the Rand-Mat-Perrin delusion that the others know more about dealing with the opposite sex than they themselves do:

TITLE: Path of Daggers
CHAPTER: 1 - To Keep the Bargain
Aviendha had begun to suspect that the other woman often used silence and supposedly significant looks to cover ignorance. She suspected Nynaeve knew little more about men, about dealing with one man, than she did herself. Facing them with knives and spears was much easier than loving one. Much easier. How did women manage being married to them? Aviendha had a desperate need to learn, and no idea how. Married to Aan'allein only a day, Nynaeve had changed much more than simply in trying to control her temper. She seemed to flit from startlement to shock, however much she attempted to hide it. She fell into dreaminess at odd moments, blushed at innocuous questions, and—she denied this fiercely, even when Aviendha had seen her—she giggled over nothing at all. There was no point in trying to learn anything from Nynaeve.


They're also all very diferent in how they handle the main male characters in the books. For example: if they want something out of Mat - Egwene will try to nudge/cajole/entice/shame/trick him into making a promise (failing that, she'll go for the blunt "do what I want!" option) while Elayne will skip the nice option and try to imperiously order him (he is her subject, after all!) to do whatever it is she wants, Min will have a little chat and have it agreed and Aviendha will either fix him with a gimlet eye and scare him into doing it or not even bother and do it herself. Nynaeve would think she'll approach him calmly and with poise but somehow end up yelling at him and possibly kicking him in the backside.

ETA: all the while, Mat will think that Elayne, Egwene, Avi and Min are all trying to bludgeon him into doing whatever it is they want and why can't they ask nicely and will the damn dice stop rolling and where's the nearest tavern so he can hide and never make a decision in his life.

David Selig
11-07-2011, 08:47 AM
They're also all very different in how they handle the main male characters in the books. For example: if they want something out of Mat - Egwene will try to nudge/cajole/entice/shame/trick him into making a promise (failing that, she'll go for the blunt "do what I want!" option) while Elayne will skip the nice option and try to bludgeon him into doing whatever it is she wants,

IMO Elayne's more likely to try the nice approach first, even with flirting. Like the first time she tried to get something out of Mat:
TDR, Ch. 28

“I want you to carry a letter for me,” Elayne said before Nynaeve could speak. “To my mother, in Caemlyn.” She smiled, making a dimple in her cheek. “I would appreciate it so very much, Mat.” The morning light through the windows seemed to pick out highlights in her hair.

I wonder if she likes to dance. He pushed the thought right out of his head. “That does not sound too very hard, but it’s a long trip. What do I get out of it?” From the look on her face, he did not think that dimple had failed her very often.

Anyway, I think the main female characters are pretty different in personality, not less than Rand, Mat and Perrin, who share a lot of things IMO, not least of which the whole "Women are mysterious creatures which can't be understood by me" and "Never ever hurt a woman. Period" attitudes, which are really annoying.

Take Egwene and Nynaeve for example. There are similarities mostly due to their similar background, but their main motivations are quite different. Nynaeve's main goal has always been to help people and she's a deeply compassionate person. Egwene is much more colder and has a lot more personal ambition. She can ignore the sufferings of the people around her if she has a bigger goal in mind (see how she shrugged off the burning villages in Cairhien in TDR) - Nynaeve could never do that. Egwene has a burning desire to learn everything ASAP, Nynaeve only really cares about Healing.

When you look at the four main female characters (Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne and Aviendha) there's not very much variance in the way they behave.

They're all a bit snooty; they're all fiercely determined to prove themselves. Each one of them has similar attitudes regarding sex and relationships. (This is the only way in which Aviendha truly differs from the other three). They all take similar roles within their respective societies. They all react to things in the same way.
Elayne's attitude towards sex is quite different from Egwene and Nynaeve. For the latter two sex outside the marriage is pretty unthinkable, but Elayne did it with Rand got pregnant not by accident, and that didn't bother her at all.

More importantly, I've never had the feelings that they react to things the same way. Take Nynaeve and Elayne during their travels. Quite a few times, without planning it, they used what Leigh Butler called in her WoT reread "good cop/bad cop" routine, with Nynaeve trying to bully and browbeat people verbally, because that's her personality, and Elayne being much more diplomatic. Elayne is no stranger to using some flirting with men to get them to do what she want (when all else fail, use the smile with the dimple, as Mat noted), which is a completely foreign concept to Nynaeve.

yks 6nnetu hing
11-07-2011, 08:52 AM
sorry about that, I didn't like the wording in my post, so I changed it - apparently while you were answering.

With anyone other than Mat, I would agree with you but Elayne doesn't particularly like or trust Mat, so she'll put on her Queen hat and do her best performance as Princess On a Pea.

Seeker
11-07-2011, 12:05 PM
I disagree. Sure, they all have some characteristics in common, and certain personality traits are perhaps over-represented in Jordan-females when compared ot the real world, but the main characters most definitely have their own take on things.

Let's use your example, let's say someone *like* Mat would flirt and ask them for a dance. (not actually Mat, s they all have a developed relationship and history with him already)

Elayne would think it would be great fun to dance, perhaps scandalously learn a few new sexy moves but she'd quickly change her mind (=realize she's the Daughter-heir and can't possibly do something like that) and treat the guy with an arch look and a cold shoulder.

Egwene would laugh and dance the whole night away (see: Aram) but any further advances would probably be more bluntly than subtly refused.

Min would flirt back but refuse the dance with a laugh and also refuse any further advances without insulting the guy. The guy leaving while thinking what a friendly girl she is.

Aviendha and Nynaeve would most likely think about sticking the guy with a knife or hitting him over the head. the glare/appraising look alone would be enough to make him run for the hills.

Maybe young Egwene would dance the night away but I think nowadays she'd tell herself that it would be inappropriate for the Amyrlin to dance scandalously. So, really, her reaction would be almost identical to Elayne's. She'd want to at first but change her mind very quickly.

So, you have Egwene and Elayne reacting in the same way and you have Nynaeve and Aviendha reacting in the same way. In all four cases, the result is that the man gets turned away and the only difference is the "firmness" in our heroine's reply. This, to me, does not constitute a wide range of character traits.


As for Min, I'm pretty sure she would refuse the man as well but more so because she only wants to dance with Rand. Yes, she's a little bit different than the main four but Min is not a main character. She's a side character. Min does not have a story of her own, she sort of tags along in other people's stories. First Egwene, then Siuan and finally Rand. The reason this is important is because being a side character provides Min with very little in the way of motivations. Her biggest aspiration is "to be an asset to Rand." While that's certainly an admirable goal, it gives Min very little opportunity for character growth. She is the exact same person that she was when this series started.




They're also all very diferent in how they handle the main male characters in the books. For example: if they want something out of Mat - Egwene will try to nudge/cajole/entice/shame/trick him into making a promise (failing that, she'll go for the blunt "do what I want!" option) while Elayne will skip the nice option and try to imperiously order him (he is her subject, after all!)

Once again, you've essentially described the same reaction between Egwene and Elayne. Bear in mind that Elayne has flashed her dimple a few times to entice Mat into doing something for her. And when it doesn't work, she falls back on ordering him around. Which is exactly what you've described for Egwene.

Min will have a little chat and have it agreed and Aviendha will either fix him with a gimlet eye and scare him into doing it or not even bother and do it herself. Nynaeve would think she'll approach him calmly and with poise but somehow end up yelling at him and possibly kicking him in the backside.

Again, Min is a side character. So, while her reaction may be different, she's never in a position where she needs to convince Mat to do anything. I do acknowledge that in this case you've provided different reactions for Nynaeve and Aviendha which seem consistent with their character traits.

I know there's an element of subjectivity here but I just don't see the variation. When I read Elayne's POV, it FEELS the same as when I read Egwene's. (Those two may as well be twin sisters in my mind). Nynaeve feels slightly different but only in the sense that RJ took Egwene/Elayne's character traits and exaggerated them to the point of caricature. Nynaeve is Egwene and Elayne turned Up to Eleven. Aviendha...

Aviendha felt different to me until she started hanging out with the other three. At that point, she assimilated into their little group.

yks 6nnetu hing
11-08-2011, 03:34 AM
I know there's an element of subjectivity here but I just don't see the variation. When I read Elayne's POV, it FEELS the same as when I read Egwene's. (Those two may as well be twin sisters in my mind). Nynaeve feels slightly different but only in the sense that RJ took Egwene/Elayne's character traits and exaggerated them to the point of caricature. Nynaeve is Egwene and Elayne turned Up to Eleven. Aviendha...

and I disagree.

I can most certainly see a difference in the female characters. Elayne is much more flighty and impulsive than Egwene - Egwene likes to plan every step ahead and make gazillions of contingency plans while paradoxically being more easygoing than Elayne when it comes to etiquette, communication and perceived status. Elayne is also more naive than Egwene, for all her political training she believes that diplomacy will most of the time get you the results you want but Egwene is more inclined to use manipulation and loopholes, yet she almost never descends (or ascends, depends on how you look at it) to plain haughty ordering people around, if she can help it. And even when she does make the order, her phrasing of the order is... reasonable for lack of a better word. By "reasonable" I mean plain language, simple sentences, treating the other party as an equal and no arched eyebrows or intoning. Whereas Elayne always prides herself for treating people as equals, it still implies she puts special effort into it. For Egwene it's normal, not forced, to consider others as equals - When it goes as far as a struggle for supremacy, then for her it has little or nothing to do with the (birth-, power-, age-)status of the opponent but rather the pure strength of will and cunning within that particular set of circumstances. I think this was even more enforced in her during her time with the Aiel.

While Elayne would try to smooth things over in almost any situation, Egwene would first see where her benefit lies and then take action. In the end she will unify the situation more effectively than Elayne because instead of smoothing ruffled feathers she makes sure that the group in dissention comes out of it stronger than before - if that means stepping more on some people's toes than others then fine. Egwene has the Big Picture in mind, always, while Elayne gets distracted by not hurting anyone's feelings.

Nynaeve and Aviendha may display a similar reaction sometimes but the reason for it couldn't be different: Nynaeve is just impatient with people who don't do what obviously needs doing and so she loses her temper. Aviendha on the other hand has a different set of values and so certain things - if they touch on toh - cna make her upset because of that.

also, I don't think Egwene has ever used her looks (=dimples) to get what she wants. That approach normally doesn't even occur to her and when it does - for example when dealing with Gawyn in Cairhien - she suppresses it as immoral. Elayne does it regularly. So no, their hypothetical handling of Mat is not at all identical.

Seeker
11-08-2011, 11:21 AM
All right, this bears talking about.

You'll find this quote at the end of chapter 17 of Towers of Midnight

What she didn't have, however, were channelers to use in battle. She knew she couldn't ask this of the kin. They'd never agree to it, nor would Egwene. Nor would Elayne herself. Forcing a woman to use the Power as a Weapon would make her no better than the Seanchan themselves

Unfortunately, Elayne knew full well the destruction women using the One Power could cause. She'd been bound in a wagon while Birgitte led the attack on the Black Ajah who had captured her here in Caemlyn, but she'd seen its aftermath. Hundreds dead, hundreds more wounded, dozens burned away. Smoking, twisted corpses.

She needed something. An edge against the Seanchan. Something to balance their channelers in combat. The only thing she could think of was the Black Tower. It was on Andor's soil. She'd told them that she considered them part of her nation but so far she'd gone no further than sending inspection parties.

Okay,so asking a woman to use the Power as a weapon is immoral, unethical, corrupt but we can ask men?

Sure, why not? They like blowing things up, don't they?

The hypocrisy in this paragraph is astounding. Elayne comes off as someone who won't get her own hands dirty - or ask her friends to do so - but will gladly send people she doesn't care about to do the brutal work that needs doing. Never mind that the savagery of war is as detrimental to men as it is to women. And yes, there is inherent sexism here. Although I confine it to Elayne alone. Elayne is sexist, not the other characters or the author.

But what's interesting is that this section is both misandristic and misogynistic at the same time. See, this is actually sexist against MEN as well as women. Because Elayne basically assumes that men big brutes who have no problem with random violence and destruction, while also assuming that women are sophsiticated, gentle creatures who should never be asked to do something so awful as taking up arms against a common foe.

Now, clearly the series in general doesn't share this viewpoint and we see this with the Maidens of the Spear. One would think Elayne would have learned a thing or two from all that time spent with Aviendha and the Wise Ones. But no, she's a Trackand. God, I hate Trackands.

The one thing I think should be mentioned is that author needs to create a contrasting point of view, someone who thinks that Elayne is dead wrong in what she believes here and that if channeling must be used in battle, men and women should do it together. The closest I can find is in Aviendha's visions of the future which point out that the Wise Ones and Dragon Blooded (male channelers) fight the Seanchan together.

David Selig
11-08-2011, 11:57 AM
also, I don't think Egwene has ever used her looks (=dimples) to get what she wants. That approach normally doesn't even occur to her and when it does - for example when dealing with Gawyn in Cairhien - she suppresses it as immoral. Elayne does it regularly. So no, their hypothetical handling of Mat is not at all identical.
Well, it was Egwene's suggestion that Elayne try using the dimples on Mat in TDR, but I don't recall her using that kind of strategy herself. This doesn't seem to be the way the Two Rivers women operate, they prefer straight orders and browbeating of the men.

I agree that Elayne and Egwene are pretty different in personality. Let's just say that I certainly would want to be a friend with only one of them and would stay far away from the other if I had this option. :cool:

All right, this bears talking about.

Okay,so asking a woman to use the Power as a weapon is immoral, unethical, corrupt but we can ask men?

Sure, why not? They like blowing things up, don't they?

The hypocrisy in this paragraph is astounding. Elayne comes off as someone who won't get her own hands dirty - or ask her friends to do so - but will gladly send people she doesn't care about to do the brutal work that needs doing. Never mind that the savagery of war is as detrimental to men as it is to women. And yes, there is inherent sexism here. Although I confine it to Elayne alone. Elayne is sexist, not the other characters or the author.

No, the point is that it's immoral to force a woman to use the Power as a weapon, just asking them is completely different. The Kin, for whatever reason, don't want to do it (which is pretty dumb if you are ask me, but it's their choice). The Asha'man apparently have no problems with it, so why not ask them? I don't see the hypocrisy.

The explosion of Elayne's Gateway in TPOD killed hundreds of Seanchan soldiers - she's definitely gotten her hands dirty against them and would do i again if necessary.

But what's interesting is that this section is both misandristic and misogynistic at the same time. See, this is actually sexist against MEN as well as women. Because Elayne basically assumes that men big brutes who have no problem with random violence and destruction, while also assuming that women are sophsiticated, gentle creatures who should never be asked to do something so awful as taking up arms against a common foe.
That's a pretty strange statement given that from what we've seen, Elayne is the only monarch outside the Aiel and Seanchan who has recruited women into her armies (and ordered it done in Cairhien too immediately after she took the Sun Throne). Those women are even given the responsibility for her own safety, and she even has a woman as the commander-in-chief of Andor's armies.

Seeker
11-08-2011, 12:48 PM
No, the point is that it's immoral to force a woman to use the Power as a weapon, just asking them is completely different.

Right, okay, so what you've decided to do is focus on one sentence while ignoring the rest of the paragraph. The meaning of a sentence changes depending on what precedes and follows it. Let's look at it again.


What she didn't have, however, were channelers to use in battle. She knew she couldn't ask this of the kin. They'd never agree to it, nor would Egwene. Nor would Elayne herself. Forcing a woman to use the Power as a Weapon would make her no better than the Seanchan themselves

She's not talking about putting leashes on the Kin and saying "go kill things." Her direct statement is that she would consider it a travesty to even ASK the Kin to use the Power as a weapon.

Now, why does the word "forcing" appear? Well, since she's clearly not talking about putting collars around their necks, one has to ask what exactly Elayne means by "forcing." Since she's firmly against even ASKING the Kin to go into battle, it seems to me that "forcing" should be synonymous with "requiring." So, what Elayne is trying to say here is that putting a woman in a situation where she has to use the One Power as a weapon is wrong. Regardless of what the woman in question feels on the matter. Remember that Elayne herself has stated that's it's wrong to even ASK this of a woman.

However, as an aside, let's go with your interpretation, David, and take the sentence at face value without any context.

"Forcing a woman to use the Power as a Weapon would make her no better than the Seanchan."

This statement, if taken literally, leaves the option of forcing MEN to use the Power as a weapon wide open.

Now, again, normally I would give Elayne the benefit of the doubt here and not take her literally. I would say that, in this case, her mind used the word "woman" because she's used to women being the only ones to wield the Power and that, if given five seconds to think about it, she would conclude that forcing men to use the Power as a weapon is equally abhorrent. But that's not a literal reading, that's a contextual reading.

But if we do a literal reading, (as in assuming that the character means exactly what she says and nothing else) we can say only that Elayne is against forcing women to use the power as weapon and that by excluding men from her statement, she has given tacit approval to force them into battle.

So, this is where we have to choose whether we want to read literally or read contextually. Because you can't have it both ways. You can't choose to read literally when doing so casts Elayne in a good light and then choose to read contextually when the literal interpretation makes Elayne look bad.

Personally, I prefer contextually because I know for a fact that writers write contextually. The words they choose and the intended meanings of those words depend entirely on the circumstances in which they're being used.

So, to review. Elayne has said straight out.

1) It's wrong to ask a woman to use the Power as a weapon

2) It's wrong to FORCE a woman to use the power as a weapon.

3) It's okay to ask a man to use a the power as a weapon.

4) It's also okay to use political power to compel the men to obey her (and use the power as weapon).

No matter how you slice it, this is a very big double standard as political pressure could be interpreted as a form of "forcing."

The Kin, for whatever reason, don't want to do it (which is pretty dumb if you are ask me, but it's their choice). The Asha'man apparently have no problems with it, so why not ask them? I don't see the hypocrisy.

The hypocrisy is that Elayne has not given the Kin a choice in the matter. She has decided that since they're female, she shouldn't even bring the matter up. And no, the Kin have not already - to my knowledge - decided where they stand on this issue. They may have taboos about violence but perhaps the Seanchan threat will make them reconsider.

But Elayne has decided it's wrong to even give them the OPTION. She's decided that it's okay to send men into battle (with the One Power) but it's not okay to send women.

eht slat meit
11-08-2011, 01:04 PM
Seems rather relevant to me that sending a bunch of jumped-up novices into battle instead of trained killers would be a viciously nontactical maneuver. This is the Kin, a bunch of channelers who have so little training they are largely limited to hedge healing, follow looser strictures of the same laws and oaths the Tower follows, and have been so afraid of being found out that they don't even have a minimum of exchange in new learning.

It's at least a bit like pumping up a green kid (or old person) with no training, giving them a gun of random amounts of power, and throwing them on the battlefield.

As a queen, it would be irresponsible of Elayne to do that except in the most desperate of circumstances.

Seeker
11-08-2011, 01:14 PM
Yes, but that's not what Elayne is objecting to. She says quite clearly that her problem is with asking women to use the Power as a weapon.

Now, again, I would have given her the benefit of the doubt and said that she's equally opposed to men using the Power for violence but then she comes right out and says that she's okay with it.

Well, if using the power as a weapon is wrong then it's wrong no matter who does it. I mean if we're going to accept that it's okay to use the power as a weapon to prevent us from ending up with collars around our necks, then perhaps it's time to for the Aes Sedai to amend that Third Oath or remove it completely.

Otherwise, they're just asking another group (the Asha'man) to fight their battles for them. To go through the death and violence so that they can reap the reward.

eht slat meit
11-08-2011, 01:20 PM
Aren't you ignoring the part were Elayne specifically notes that the Kin would never agree to it? She believes (wrongly or not) that the only way she could get them to use the Power as a weapon would be to force them to do it. Given that they try to live by Tower law, that reasoning makes sense.

She's not saying that using the power as a weapon is immoral, only the act of compelling them to do so.

It could also be considered immoral to deliberately ask someone to violate their oaths to serve your ends when you have every reason to believe they'd never do such a thing. That's a form of politicking.

Seeker
11-08-2011, 01:35 PM
I would like to make one thing clear for posterity. Just in case I've misrepresented myself here.

I do not think that RJ is sexist. In fact, having met the man, I can tell you that he seemed very respectful of women. Having sexism as a theme in WOT does not make RJ sexist any more than writing about Nazis makes someone a fascist. It's just an element of the story.

The sexism makes sense, to a certain degree, because this is a primitive society. And one thing that I can applaud RJ for is making the sexism go both ways; the women in his series are as guilty of it as the men.

But this thread is all about talking about the gender dynamics in WOT. So, I am of the understanding - and I would hope that everyone else is - that I can talk about the gender dynamics of this series, both positive and negative, without it being a reflection of what I think of the author.

That said, there are a couple things that make me raise by eyebrows, but that doesn't mean I think ill of the author. I do find it a little bit annoying that the main female protagonists are - to my mind - very similar but that isn't a moral judgment so much as it is a matter of taste.

Secondly, the idea that there might be unsavory attitudes among the WOT characters - like the ones I've quoted from Elayne - should be treated as a good thing because it gives us something to talk about. Like, I get the vibe that I'm misrepresenting myself and that this is coming off as an attack on RJ and Brandon and that's not what I'm trying to do.

I'm trying to talk about the gender dynamics in the series, what I like about them and what I don't like about them. And the fact that I don't like something doesn't make it wrong. In fact, I think that if this series did only things that I liked, I would find it boring.

So, please, don't take my remarks as an attack on the authors and if you happen to agree with them (or disagree) don't be afraid to speak up because, in the end, this is all for fun.

That's it. It's just a website.

Seeker
11-08-2011, 01:36 PM
Aren't you ignoring the part were Elayne specifically notes that the Kin would never agree to it? She believes (wrongly or not) that the only way she could get them to use the Power as a weapon would be to force them to do it. Given that they try to live by Tower law, that reasoning makes sense.

She's not saying that using the power as a weapon is immoral, only the act of compelling them to do so.

It could also be considered immoral to deliberately ask someone to violate their oaths to serve your ends when you have every reason to believe they'd never do such a thing. That's a form of politicking.

Good argument!

Let me mull it over. Be back in an hour or so.

Seeker
11-08-2011, 02:49 PM
Okay, let me try and put this in perspective.

Aren't you ignoring the part were Elayne specifically notes that the Kin would never agree to it? She believes (wrongly or not) that the only way she could get them to use the Power as a weapon would be to force them to do it. Given that they try to live by Tower law, that reasoning makes sense.

She's not saying that using the power as a weapon is immoral, only the act of compelling them to do so.

It could also be considered immoral to deliberately ask someone to violate their oaths to serve your ends when you have every reason to believe they'd never do such a thing. That's a form of politicking.

Okay, the crux of the issue is this: Does Elayne believe in the Three Oaths? Does she believe that people who channel should refrain from using the One Power as a weapon except against Dark friends, shadowspawn or as self defense?

If she truly believes that it is correct to refrain from using the Power as a weapon, then she should be uncomfortable asking anyone to do so on her behalf, whether they've sworn on the Oath Rod or not.

Elayne refusing to do violence with the Power but asking other people to do so on her behalf is a little like a Tinker (Tuatha'an) insisting on strict adherence to the Way of the Leaf but asking other people to use violence for his protection. That's why it's hypocrisy.

If Elayne believes in the Three Oaths, then she should want the Asha'man to be bound by them even if there is no Oath Rod for them to swear on. She should want them to keep the spirit of the Three Oaths. Asking the Asha'man to kill on her behalf is gross violation of that spirit. That's why it's hypocrisy.

It's like saying "I don't want to murder my rival cuz it's against the law but I'll hire someone else to do it for me. That way my hands stay clean."

In any moral sense, you're just as complicit. This passage really makes Elayne a despicable person in my eyes. If she believes that violence is justified against the Seanchan, then she should be arguing for an amendment to the Three Oaths not trying to find a way to kill her enemies by proxy.

So, she wants the Aes Sedai to keep the Oaths.

She wants the Kin to keep the Oaths (even though they haven't sworn the Oaths)

We don't know how she feels about the Wise Ones and Windfinders.

And she's okay with the Asha'man doing violence with the power.

Unfortunately, Elayne knew full well the destruction women using the One Power could cause. She'd been bound in a wagon while Birgitte led the attack on the Black Ajah who had captured her here in Caemlyn, but she'd seen its aftermath. Hundreds dead, hundreds more wounded, dozens burned away. Smoking, twisted corpses.

Is she opposed to WOMEN using the One Power for violence or is she opposed to PEOPLE using the One Power for violence? Which is it? The fact that she excludes the Asha'man from her prohibition seems indicate that she only has a problem with women doing violence with the Power.

That's hypocrisy.

David Selig
11-08-2011, 03:56 PM
The Kin as an organisation is a completely different thing than channelling women in general. As already noted, Elayne believes that the Kin don't want to use the Power as a weapon and the only way to make them to do it is to force them in some way. There are quite a few hints that she is probably right, and it may have even been stated outright somewhere in the books - that's beside the point, anyway. But there's nothing to indicate that Elayne has any objections in general to asking women to use the Power as a weapon - after all, she's done it herself and didn't feel guilty. Aviendha killed a bunch of Seanchan soldiers with fireballs in TPOD and Elayne didn't object to it or think less of Aviendha for it.


Okay, let me try and put this in perspective.

Okay, the crux of the issue is this: Does Elayne believe in the Three Oaths? Does she believe that people who channel should refrain from using the One Power as a weapon except against Dark friends, shadowspawn or as self defense?

She seemed ready to swear the Three Oaths if not for the pregnancy, so probably yes.

If she truly believes that it is correct to refrain from using the Power as a weapon, then she should be uncomfortable asking anyone to do so on her behalf, whether they've sworn on the Oath Rod or not.

Elayne refusing to do violence with the Power but asking other people to do so on her behalf is a little like a Tinker (Tuatha'an) insisting on strict adherence to the Way of the Leaf but asking other people to use violence for his protection. That's why it's hypocrisy.
That's a bad analogy. The Oaths allow self-defense - the Way of the Leaf does not.

If Elayne believes in the Three Oaths, then she should want the Asha'man to be bound by them even if there is no Oath Rod for them to swear on. She should want them to keep the spirit of the Three Oaths. Asking the Asha'man to kill on her behalf is gross violation of that spirit. That's why it's hypocrisy.

Not if the Ashaman act in self-defense, which is what would've the case if she had managed to get the Asha'man to become a part of the Andoran army and the Seanchan have invaded Andor. That's what she wanted to get the Asha'man for - defense of Andor and countering the damane.

Seeker
11-08-2011, 04:11 PM
Not if the Ashaman act in self-defense, which is what would've the case if she had managed to get the Asha'man to become a part of the Andoran army and the Seanchan have invaded Andor. That's what she wanted to get the Asha'man for - defense of Andor and countering the damane.

So, it is your contention that if the Asha'man go to battle as part of the Andoran army, it will be an act of self-defense.

Well, if that's the case, then there should be no problem with the Kin joining the Andoran army because the Oaths allow for self-defense. And the Kin are trying to live by the Oaths.

So, Elayne's logic is wrong. The Kin should have no problem whatsoever fighting the Seanchan. They should be quite happy to do it because it's only self-defense. In fact, we can put full sisters on the field because it's self-defense. The Oaths would allow it, after all.

So, why isn't Elayne trying to recruit as many Aes Sedai and Kin as possible to help mount a defense against the Seanchan? I mean more channelers can only help matters, right? By your own statement, fighting the Seanchan would not be a violation of the Oaths. So, if we can fight the Seanchan and keep the Oaths at the same time, then whey not add men AND women to the fighting? It could only help. Egwene should have no problem with it; she definitely sees the Seanchan as a threat. I can't see her objecting because the only possible objection she could have is that using the Power against the Seanchan goes against the Three Oaths and you just pointed out that using the Power against them is justified. It's self-defense.

David Selig
11-08-2011, 04:58 PM
At this point the White Tower was still divided and the siege of Tar Valon was still going on with no end in sight. Recruiting Aes Sedai for defending against a hypothetical invasion of Andor would've been pretty hard.

It's not about the Oaths with the Kin, it's that they don't want to use the Power as a weapon even in defensive action. When the Seanchan came to the Kin farm, IIRC only the Aes Sedai, Aviendha and the Sea Folk used the Power against them.

eht slat meit
11-08-2011, 10:22 PM
Okay, the crux of the issue is this: Does Elayne believe in the Three Oaths? Does she believe that people who channel should refrain from using the One Power as a weapon except against Dark friends, shadowspawn or as self defense?

As a matter of fact, no, I don't think she does. I think that Elayne is the embodiment of past Aes Sedai, and a consummate queen, doing what she needs to do to rule her kingdom. The Tower has not had that attitude towards the Oaths in a long time, if ever. They are known for their mastery of completely breaking the spirit of the Truth Oath, and we know enough of their history as readers to know that they've done the same on the other two.

The Oaths are nothing but an obstacle to the majority of Aes Sedai, the Swearing a perfunctory ritual undergone to retain some respect from the masses.

If she truly believes that it is correct to refrain from using the Power as a weapon, then she should be uncomfortable asking anyone to do so on her behalf, whether they've sworn on the Oath Rod or not.

Exactly. It's obvious that she doesn't believe that at all, and the passage being discussed doesn't indicate that she would have a problem with asking the Kin to do it... just compelling them. There's many good reasons for that hesitance, starting with the ramifications of doing so... completely destroying the relationship between Andor and the White Tower.

Elayne refusing to do violence with the Power but asking other people to do so on her behalf is a little like a Tinker (Tuatha'an) insisting on strict adherence to the Way of the Leaf but asking other people to use violence for his protection. That's why it's hypocrisy.

The word I'd use is "conflict of interest", but yes, it's a form of hypocrisy. She's placed in a very unfortunate position - resolving her role as Aes Sedai against that of queen. Her rule will require her to continue ignoring the spirit of the Truth Oath, and practical demands will require more of the same from the other two oaths in a world where channelling men and women are rising powers.

Asking the Asha'man to kill on her behalf is gross violation of that spirit. That's why it's hypocrisy.

So she's a hypocrite, which changes what exactly? I'm not an Elayne fanboy, I don't feel obliged to make her something more than she is... merely human. Limitations are imposed on her by her humanity, and by her rule of Andor. It's the price she has to pay for the choices she's made.

What it comes down to is this - she may believe that it's immoral to force the Tower to bow to her will, but she clearly does not feel the same about the use of the power as a weapon. I'm not sure I see any reason why she should... the only distinction between a "darkfriend" and a serial murder is the fact that one prays to the Dark One before gutting your children and stabbing you in the face. The Oath exists as nothing more than a cheap security blanket for the people.

It's like saying "I don't want to murder my rival cuz it's against the law but I'll hire someone else to do it for me. That way my hands stay clean."

It might be like that, but the truth is that she can do one without violating her principle... and her principle is not that of using the power as a weapon, but compelling the Kin. There's also a great deal else to consider, starting with her diplomatic relationship with the Tower. I mentioned shattering her relationship with the WT; she'd ruin her own kingdom by doing something so foolish.

In any moral sense, you're just as complicit. This passage really makes Elayne a despicable person in my eyes. If she believes that violence is justified against the Seanchan, then she should be arguing for an amendment to the Three Oaths not trying to find a way to kill her enemies by proxy.

It makes her a queen, in my eyes. A queen must consider her kingdom before all else, and she's a damned fool if she'll just let lay her neck on the chopping block, offer up every female channeler in her kingdom for slavery, and sell her people to the Seanchan to take on a fanatical and semi-religious devotion to the Oaths that barely any other Aes Sedai holds. If she is that despicable, doesn't that mean every single other woman of the White Tower is the same? Siuane? Moiraine? Verin? Nynaeve? Egwene?

These people aren't holy warriors who keep to sacred vows, protecting the spirit and letter of them as if they were Light manifested upon earth.

So, she wants the Aes Sedai to keep the Oaths.

Anyway, it comes back to this. That is not even close to what she says. She thinks it is wrong to compel them to violate their Oaths. You think it's despicable for her to violate the spirit of the Oaths, but not to force others to do the same?

She wants the Kin to keep the Oaths (even though they haven't sworn the Oaths)

Is the Oath Rod the only thing that makes someone despicable for breaking the spirit of the Oaths? If you agree to follow a law, you aren't bound by it so long as you don't have a magick gimmick to force you to it? That sounds rather hypocritical...

We don't know how she feels about the Wise Ones and Windfinders.

Probably because to "force" them to do anything would be construed as an act of war and doesn't need to be considered. The Kin don't have quite the same level of sensitivity, but as I pointed out earlier, it would destroy their relationship with the Tower.

Is she opposed to WOMEN using the One Power for violence or is she opposed to PEOPLE using the One Power for violence?

Neither. She's opposed to forcing people who have sworn oaths and follow other laws to use the One Power for violence. She has two choices: either don't force them to do it, or make them an Andoran version of the damane. That is exactly what it is when you conscript someone who can channel and force them on threat of death to fight for you - slave channelers. The Asha'man are different; unlike the Kin, they will agree to it for the concessions she makes on -Andoran- lands.

Which is it? The fact that she excludes the Asha'man from her prohibition seems indicate that she only has a problem with women doing violence with the Power.

I'm going to respond with that same quote from ToM:

What she didn't have, however, were channelers to use in battle. She knew she couldn't ask this of the kin. They'd never agree to it, nor would Egwene. Nor would Elayne herself. Forcing a woman to use the Power as a Weapon would make her no better than the Seanchan themselves

It is about force. Not the fact that they are women, but force. She could throw every last Kin out of Andor if they didn't agree to her request, but she would not force them.

Same goes for Asha'man.

tworiverswoman
11-09-2011, 11:56 PM
I have to say I agree nearly 100% with Seeker here. He read that paragraph to me cold and asked my interpretation of it, and I saw it nearly word for word the same way he did. Elayne’s use of the word “force” was, in my mind, meant to refer to ORDERING them to use the One Power as a weapon. She almost certainly did NOT mean leashing them and forcing them a la Seanchan. For one thing, she doesn’t have the a’dam to do that, though I’ll grant you that she’s capable of crafting some. I just doubt she could make them in any kind of quantity, nor would she be allowed to, before she got taken down a peg or six by those around her who would rather deeply resent the possibilities.

So yes, she’s being sexist as all hell, as she makes it pretty damned clear that it never even crosses her mind that it would be equally “wrong” to force the asha’man to use the One Power as a weapon. Again, granted that they do not appear to have any reluctance to do so, and were trained specifically for that purpose. But that’s not really relevant to Seeker’s point. Again, she’s planning to do something that clearly needs to be done, which gives her kudos as a queen, but WHY is she simply dismissing any possibility of using the female channelers in battle? Her only stated reason is that it’s “bad for women.”


What she didn't have, however, were channelers to use in battle. She knew she couldn't ask this of the kin. They'd never agree to it, nor would Egwene. Nor would Elayne herself. Forcing a woman to use the Power as a Weapon would make her no better than the Seanchan themselves

Unfortunately, Elayne knew full well the destruction women using the One Power could cause. She'd been bound in a wagon while Birgitte led the attack on the Black Ajah who had captured her here in Caemlyn, but she'd seen its aftermath. Hundreds dead, hundreds more wounded, dozens burned away. Smoking, twisted corpses.

She needed something. An edge against the Seanchan. Something to balance their channelers in combat. The only thing she could think of was the Black Tower. It was on Andor's soil. She'd told them that she considered them part of her nation but so far she'd gone no further than sending inspection parties.
If you read that set of paragraphs in its entirety, then her view of the destructive nature of the One Power being used as a weapon is very clear indeed. Whoever said that fighting the Seanchan with the One Power would be a form of self defense, so wouldn’t be prohibited by the Three Oaths is correct, except that they would have to wait until they were attacked FIRST. This was made clear at Dumai’s Wells.

Bear in mind that I’m not and have never been an Elayne-basher. I like all the girls. As to Seeker’s earlier post about their “sameness,” with that I have to disagree. I think I can understand what he’s getting at in some ways – with only two exceptions, every woman you meet in this series is a ball-basher. They all seem to hold men in contempt to a greater or lesser degree, and there’s a nearly universal attitude that, left to themselves, men are hopeless chowderheads. How they EXPRESS that attitude varies from woman to woman, but the projection appears to be a near-constant.

The Immortal One
11-11-2011, 04:47 AM
First I'll start by saying that I haven't been around a few days, so I'll be responding to the last four or five pages altogether.

It's worth pointing out again (although I hoped we'd moved on to a different topic briefly) that the males who get true love don't have to put up with nearly the level of sacrifice that the women do. Gareth Bryne? Gains true love and an entire army, substantial increase in power.

I disagree with this statement. Gareth went from being the top (or second only to Elaida) advisor for a Queen, the Commander of ALL the armies of Andor (one of the most powerful southern nations) to being the general of one single army which is entirely under the thumb of the Aes Sedai (if Egwene didn't take over, and before she got declaration of war on Elaida passed) the Aes Sedai would have been sticking their noses in his every decision, and countermanding most of them.

His power is GREATLY reduced.


Also, when you consider the number of women who have lost power and gained a 'true love' you should consider the number of people (women and men) who have actually GAINED power and gained a 'true love'.

For example:
Egwene, became Amyrlin (and technically Aes Sedai); loves Gawyn
Elayne, became Aes Sedai and Queen of Andor; loves Rand
Galad, became Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light; loves Berelain
Rand, became the Dragon Reborn (or rather became recongnised as the Dragon Reborn - technically he WAS the Dragon Reborn since birth) and King of Illian (though technically it already had a King); loves Elayne, Min and Aviendha (the lecher!)
Mat, became a Prince of Ravens and General of the Band of the Red Hand; loves Tuon
Perrin, became Lord (or, according to Elayne, Steward to the Dragon Reborn) of the Two Rivers and liegelord of the Queen of Ghealdan; loves Faile
Berelain, she has greater influence than she did, from a certain point of view); loves Galad
Nynaeve, became Aes Sedai and Uncrowned Queen of Malkier; loves Lan
Aviendha, became a Wise One (or will soon); loves Rand
Min, has FAR more influence and power than she did as a stablehand at a small town inn; loves Rand
Tuon (or Fortuona), became Empress of Seanchan, may she live forever; 'likes' Mat
Faile, became Lady of the Two Rivers (which is probably more powerful and influencial than simply being daughter of the Lord of Bashere, Tyr and Sidona - and she still retains any power and influence that gave her anyway); loves Perrin


In fact, I would say that almost all of the main and secondary charaters (female and male alike) have gained a 'true love', and from a storyline point of view SOME people had to lose power so that those dictated by the Wheel could rise to those positions (specifically Egwene and Elayne, but also some others). After all, there are only a limited number of positions at the top. And perhaps the loss of power by the women is more commonplace, or more noticable, simply because before the story commenced there were more women in positions of power.



I always thought Brigitte was the female counterpart to Mat, except as she already knows who her soulmate is, she doesn't bother fussing around with anybody else. And she accepts who she is, which Mat certainly doesn't, but that's another discussion.

I also disagree with this statemnt. Birgitte does NOT accept who she is. How many times has she complained (mainly to Elayne) that she is only an archer, not a Hero or a general? Does ANYONE think she isn't a hero? Or that she isn't a good general? She's second only to Perrin in denying her abilities (okay, that's a huge exaggeration).

And, as of the last book and partly in earlier books, Mat HAS accepted who and what he is. He even actually called himself Ta'veren once! (which he NEVER admitted back before he accepted his role).

IMO Elayne's more likely to try the nice approach first, even with flirting. Like the first time she tried to get something out of Mat:

Although I agree that Elayne would try a nicer approach first, I don't think she would try a flirty method first. The time she did (in that quote with Mat) it's made very clear that she did so on advice from Egwene and Nynaeve.



The rest of my comments here will be about the most recent topic; this quote:
What she didn't have, however, were channelers to use in battle. She knew she couldn't ask this of the kin. They'd never agree to it, nor would Egwene. Nor would Elayne herself. Forcing a woman to use the Power as a Weapon would make her no better than the Seanchan themselves

Unfortunately, Elayne knew full well the destruction women using the One Power could cause. She'd been bound in a wagon while Birgitte led the attack on the Black Ajah who had captured her here in Caemlyn, but she'd seen its aftermath. Hundreds dead, hundreds more wounded, dozens burned away. Smoking, twisted corpses.

She needed something. An edge against the Seanchan. Something to balance their channelers in combat. The only thing she could think of was the Black Tower. It was on Andor's soil. She'd told them that she considered them part of her nation but so far she'd gone no further than sending inspection parties.


Okay, the crux of the issue is this: Does Elayne believe in the Three Oaths? Does she believe that people who channel should refrain from using the One Power as a weapon except against Dark friends, shadowspawn or as self defense?

If she truly believes that it is correct to refrain from using the Power as a weapon, then she should be uncomfortable asking anyone to do so on her behalf, whether they've sworn on the Oath Rod or not.

I'm pretty sure someone else already pointed it out, but it made me laugh when I read this part.

Really, how many Aes Sedai keep to the spirit of the Three Oaths (especially the first)?

If Elayne believes in the Three Oaths, then she should want the Asha'man to be bound by them even if there is no Oath Rod for them to swear on. She should want them to keep the spirit of the Three Oaths. Asking the Asha'man to kill on her behalf is gross violation of that spirit. That's why it's hypocrisy.

And I don't think that Elayne does believe in the Oaths. She was the only person besides Nynaeve who tried to get Egwene to stop Aes Sedai using the Oath Rod (though this was more to do with the nasty side-effect of the Ter'angreal than any belief or non-belief in the Oaths).

If she believes that violence is justified against the Seanchan, then she should be arguing for an amendment to the Three Oaths not trying to find a way to kill her enemies by proxy.

So, she wants the Aes Sedai to keep the Oaths.

Like I said just above she was one of only two who HAVE argued for the removal of the Oaths. And Egwene made it clear that Aes Sedai would not only continue to swear the Three Oaths, but that she wouldn't permit any more discussion on the matter.

She wants the Kin to keep the Oaths (even though they haven't sworn the Oaths).

We don't know whether or not the she wants the Kin to swear the Oaths. She herself believes THEY want to keep to the spirit of the Oaths (more so than any Aes Sedai even) so if they won't use the Power as a weapon when she asks, she thinks there's no point in asking.


Is she opposed to WOMEN using the One Power for violence or is she opposed to PEOPLE using the One Power for violence? Which is it? The fact that she excludes the Asha'man from her prohibition seems indicate that she only has a problem with women doing violence with the Power.

That's hypocrisy.

Not necessarily. Like someone else said, when Elayne thinks of anyone using the Power she thinks 'women'. She thinks forcing 'women' to use the Power is wrong, she thinks 'women' using the Power as a weapon causes terrible destruction.

She doesn't think that women are gentle creatures that shouldn't be exposed to such things. She simply thinks that using the Power as a weapon is terrible - but necessary, because her enemies who ARE women WILL use it.

She knows the Aes Sedai won't use the Power as a weapon, she thinks the Kin won't use the Power as a weapon (and, if you read my other comments in this post, she has at least SOME reason to believe so), she knows the Sea Folk Windfinders won't use the Power as a weapon (at least not for Elayne - or at least without a bargain HEAVILY in their favour), she knows the Wise Ones do not normally take part in battle (except once, in the extreme circumstance of Rand - their Car'a'carn - being kidnapped) so she has good reason to believe they wouldn't use the Power as a weapon (for her).

It doesn't leave her with many options (unless you think she could recruit Dreadlords and Black Ajah).

In the original quote she thinks that her only option is the Asha'man. She DOESN'T think that it is alright to force them (she has absolutely ZERO chance of doing so anyway). She simply thinks that they are the only way left. That it could do no harm to ask them, perhaps using the fact that the Black Tower is technically in Andor, perhaps telling them that the Seanchan kill male channellers on the spot, and reminding them (being in Andor) that if Andor falls they would have to face the full power of the Seanchan alone; it should be easy enough to convince them (except that they're led by Taim).

So, it is your contention that if the Asha'man go to battle as part of the Andoran army, it will be an act of self-defense.

Well, if that's the case, then there should be no problem with the Kin joining the Andoran army because the Oaths allow for self-defense. And the Kin are trying to live by the Oaths.

So, Elayne's logic is wrong. The Kin should have no problem whatsoever fighting the Seanchan. They should be quite happy to do it because it's only self-defense.

The Kin (at least most of them) want to take Egwene's offer to try the tests again to become Aes Sedai or at least want to tie the Kin to the White Tower as some sort of sub-branch of the main organisation. This implies they wouldn't want to so blatantly go against the ideals of the White Tower.

They might indeed want go out of their way to stay on the Tower's good side, at least until the deal is completed. So likely, they wouldn't want to use the Power as a weapon even if it was technically self-defence.

And even if Elayne's logic is wrong and the Kin WOULD use the Power as a weapon for her, she still THINKS that they wouldn't and thinks forcing them would be wrong. So she doesn't bother asking - an oversight perhaps, but hardly hypocrisy.

In fact, we can put full sisters on the field because it's self-defense. The Oaths would allow it, after all.

So, why isn't Elayne trying to recruit as many Aes Sedai and Kin as possible to help mount a defense against the Seanchan? I mean more channelers can only help matters, right? By your own statement, fighting the Seanchan would not be a violation of the Oaths. So, if we can fight the Seanchan and keep the Oaths at the same time, then whey not add men AND women to the fighting? It could only help. Egwene should have no problem with it; she definitely sees the Seanchan as a threat. I can't see her objecting because the only possible objection she could have is that using the Power against the Seanchan goes against the Three Oaths and you just pointed out that using the Power against them is justified. It's self-defense.

We've seen from the battle with Mat that the Aes Sedai's 'use the Power in the last defence of herself or her warder' thing hampers them in battle especially in ambushes - and even with the aid of Cairhien, the Band of the Red Hand, Perrin's Two Rivers army, the Ghealdan army, and the Dragons (the cannons, not the person) Andor would be at a disadvantage when it comes to war against the Seanchan.

We've also seen how poorly Aes Sedai defended the White Tower against a Seanchan raid (not even an all out attack).

You might say that using Aes Sedai wouldn't be the equaliser that you might think.

Also, as someone else pointed out, the siege of Tar Valon hadn't really finished at the time of the original quote; and even if it had most Aes Sedai are more concerned with their own plans or the Last Battle than the Seanchan. Half the White Tower still thinks they're a rumor. Whereas a good portion of the Black Tower has already fought against the Seanchan (near Illian); and besides if Taim wasn't a Darkfriend (and thus want Andor to fall) he might see the logic of using his men in the Andoran army to give them more training in actually using the Power as a weapon (real practice as opposed to using it in basic training).


Again, she’s planning to do something that clearly needs to be done, which gives her kudos as a queen, but WHY is she simply dismissing any possibility of using the female channelers in battle? Her only stated reason is that it’s “bad for women.”

I disagree. She doesn't say it's bad for women. She thinks the One Power causes terrible destruction:
Unfortunately, Elayne knew full well the destruction women using the One Power could cause.
And she thinks this right after thinking of the Seanchan. Obviously (to me at least) she's thinking that she needs a way to defend against that destruction, NOT that it's "bad for women".

As for "simply dismissing any possibility of using female channellers" she has pretty good reasons for believing that those female channellers don't want to. And Elayne won't force them to.

Again, this leaves her little choice. Specifically, to ask the Asha'man, and considering their purpose and beliefs (as she knows them) they should be willing.

GonzoTheGreat
11-11-2011, 06:04 AM
Whereas a good portion of the Black Tower has already fought against the Seanchan (near Illian); and besides if Taim wasn't a Darkfriend (and thus want Andor to fall) he might see the logic of using his men in the Andoran army to give them more training in actually using the Power as a weapon (real practice as opposed to using it in basic training).Actually, Taim could give them more, better and more relevant combat experience by stationing squads along the Blight border. There they could fight against actual Shadowspawn, and with their ability to Travel they could fetch help when needed very rapidly.