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Women In the Three Seas posted 12 Jul 2004, 02:07 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

NOTE: This was originally posted by Fortinbras, who requested a move. Due to errors in the moving procedure, It was accidentally deleted. I apologize, and here is the message text in full. I've just recently finished The Darkness That Comes Before, and find myself wondering about a few points. Primarily, I'm curious as to why women in Bakker's setting are portrayed in such a subdued role, as a whole and with individual characters. That is, the two main females are both prostitutes, both have a sort of "neediness" to them, and the book seems to imply that women in general in the Three Seas take quite a back seat to men - they fit the "cooking, sexing and cleaning" stereotype, while it's solely men who deal in political issues, war, etcetera. Less important, but still raising curiosity is the presence of sex in the book. It seems to be overly present, without lending too much to the story. If somebody would care to shed some light on this, I would be much obliged. Addendum: In retrospect, this probably would have fit better in Author Q&A. I'd be grateful if a moderator could move it there. view post

posted 12 Jul 2004, 03:07 by LooseCannon, Peralogue

Haha, I think a reviewer burned Scott on this before and he made a post on here about this very topic. Anyway, and this is my opinion only, I think it makes his world seem a lot more believable that a civilization with so many religious convictions and feudal monarchies would have this sort of social structure. The world of Earwa would seem strange if it was rampant with modern day western ideals. Hope that didn't sound chauvinistic. view post

posted 12 Jul 2004, 14:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

Yeah, I've taken some heat on this issue - which I suspected I might. Pardon the length of my response: good questions deserve thorough answers. Most fantasy worlds, despite being patterned on various traditional milieus, are thoroughly sanitized - usually to make them more palatable to their audiences, I think. I wanted something unsanitary, through and through, both for authenticity's sake, and to explore a couple of different themes. I wanted to look this 'epic fantasy thing' in the eye - without blinking. Up until a few decades ago, women were little more than chattel, at least in the dominant traditional cultures. They were the property of either their husband or their father, and they spent their lives fairly imprisoned by their reproductive systems. It's no accident that the women's rights explosion occurred during a time when women began working and began taking the pill. Now many people gravitate toward epic fantasy, I think, because it offers them examples of what technological civilization has stripped from us: a clear and certain place in the social and cosmic orders. It's no accident that fantasy worlds tend to be ancient worlds: before science we were free to construct worlds - like Homeric Greece, Biblical Israel, or Vedic India - that confirmed our hopes and fears. The problem, of course, is that these worlds were also powerfully chauvinistic and authoritarian. I'm just trying to give the good with the bad, to explore the object of our fascination - alternate, prescientific contexts - honestly. I chose the Whore, the Harridan, and the Waif as my archetypes because each, I think, is an expression of the way authoritarian patriarchal societies warp the feminine: each represents a real way a woman might cope. Warrior princesses do not (these, I would argue, are actually misogynistic). Of course Esmenet and Serwe have a 'neediness' about them. Neediness is the primary way human beings respond to helplessness. Abusive systems produce damaged people. I hope this doesn't come off as me trying to make a bad thing look good after the fact, because it isn't. I was very deliberate in making the choices I did - and I think, or at least hope, that this becomes more clear in TWP. Regarding the graphic depiction of sex, my answer would run along similar lines. Also, if you ever get a chance to reread TDTCB, watch for the recurring role and references to appetite. Carnal lust is but one more 'darkness that comes before,' and in the end, perhaps it's the most significant one. view post

posted 12 Jul 2004, 17:07 by Fortinbras, Commoner

Thank you for taking the time to respond so thoroughly. I didn't mean, in any case, for it to be a "burn," just something I found myself wondering over. ...Although "fucking the mouth of her severed head" raised a gag or two. No offense meant, of course, I just never expected to find myself reading that. (Then again, I suspect that might be the desired effect.) ...Am I allowed to swear these boards, by the way? I'm afraid I haven't been able to find Da Rules, if there are any. view post

posted 12 Jul 2004, 20:07 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Wil and I are FIRM, HARDCORE believers in the right to free speech and nothing anyone ever says on here will be restricted unless it becomes attacking. On the other hand, I would encourage generally 'clean' posts because honestly, if you can't say it cleanly, is it that important? Swearing for punctuation, which I certainly have used, is different to my mind than f that, f this, etc. That's why there are no rules. view post

posted 12 Jul 2004, 21:07 by Fortinbras, Commoner

I wouldn't have used the word, were it not a direct quote from the book. Thank you for clarifying that. (Man, I'm doing a lot of thanking on here.) view post

posted 13 Jul 2004, 01:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

Pretty crazy, I know. Serial murderers are almost always serial rapists as well. I wanted the evil to be a real world evil, and once again I didn't want to blink. I've been told that Anne Rice makes me look like a choir boy, though! :lol: view post

posted 13 Jul 2004, 14:07 by Replay, Auditor

Personally I don't get why people make such a big deal out of things such as this (not aimed at the original poster, just others in general (mainly reviewers)). Quite often they are not even consistant as well as one hand they complain about the portrayal of women in fantasy books (which is acurate and what it was like back then), whilst on the other hand, they complain when someone creates a nation that doesnt exactly emulate the ones on this planet (such as in their governement and military). I think sometimes people forget that fantasy books are not set on earth, and that being on another planet the civilizations are bound to have a different history and a different development. view post

posted 13 Jul 2004, 15:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

But I think your last reason is the very thing that makes them scratch their heads. Simply because it's an alternate world, the patriarchal, misogynistic nature of the Three Seas is a matter of authorial choice. If the subtext is missed, it's pretty easy, I think, to jump to worries and conclusions regarding the author. Thank God for the internet, I say. view post

posted 13 Jul 2004, 22:07 by LooseCannon, Peralogue

It's true that it is up to the author but some might look at it as more of a logical choice. What sounds more credible - an author who writes about a land decimated by ancient war, and about to head right back into it, yet somehow along the way this land and its societies had time for civil rights movements - or an author who goes the easy way and injects his/her story with western ideals that only came into being after certain specific events that only occured after industrialization of their society? To me that is the easy way out so that they can appeal to as vast an audience as possible while sacrificing any sort of authenticity in their writing. I realize the genre is called fantasy but it is more credible to the structure of the story when there are specific reasons from the story's history as to why women have achieved equality or why there is a large middle-class smack dab in the middle of a feudal society. If there are good reasons then I would love to read a story with the examples above. If they are simply thrown in to appease an editor then no thank you. view post

posted 13 Jul 2004, 23:07 by Replay, Auditor

I don't know, for me it's just no problem which ever route they take. And I can't see why anyone would need the author to explain it to them. It's like when people complain the woman are too dominant in the WOT series, but if you look at the conditions shown, or even give thought to the ones that are not, then it's more than plausable. Plus who's to say that something such as a feminist revolution is even needed? I think back in even some of earth's very early civilizations women were fairly dominant before it swung more towards to the males. view post

posted 14 Jul 2004, 16:07 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Well, while I accept the fact that women have always been subject to the crap end of some system of domination, and, I might add, still are, I think that this system varies a great deal with time, place and society. We can't assume that things were peachy in the caveman days and then male dominence set in and we have only begun to redress the problem. Linear trajectories are assumptions of progress. History has been written in such a way to exclude women and to propogate their role as chattel. For instance, women have enjoyed more freedom of movement and and equality in many nomadic societies throughout history, from the Mongols to the recent tribes on the central Asian steppes. The limitation of movement in urban areas was limited to upper and middle class women. The sex segregation and veiling required of women in upper class Greece and Rome engendered a whole working world for lower class women. Women whose movement was restricted due to their class, often had access of corridors of power that their lower class counterparts did not. And women did have some control over their reproductive systems. Women's medicine was only wrested away from them when midwives and single women were massively persecuted during the witch hunts in Europe during the oh so enlightened Renaissance when strictures really began to tighten up on women. All I am saying is that the oppression of women differed greatly according to the nature of a given society and many many other factors. The status of women within Christianity took a major nose dive after incorporation into the structure of the Roman Empire. Islam elevated the lot of women in Iran, but restricted it in Egypt. Why does there seem to be little variation in Earwa? I am also wondering about women among the Dunyain. I don't have my books now, but when they arrive at the fortress in the north, there are women amongst them and the group has survived. But, we have yet to see any through Kelhus's recollections. I am very nervous about this, especially after seeing the face room. I would dread stumbling on a mating room. Who and where is Kelhus's mother? If he has the concept of Father and has a dialogue going with him in his head, why is any thought of a mother totally absent? Basically, I wonder about gender relations and roles amongst the Dunyain... Sorry about the long winded post! view post

posted 14 Jul 2004, 18:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

You're certainly right, the picture is always more complicated, but I'm not sure that the examples you draw, which come from many different times and societies, point to anything one dimensional in the Three Seas, which is one time and one society, and certainly in line with the majority of historical precedents here in the real world. Don't you think? I'm also not sure whether the backdoor access to power you speak of - which certainly occurs in the Three Seas as well - provides much in the way of compensation, no more than the power of palace eunuchs in the Persian Empire does anything to lessen the bite of institutionalized slavery. All it does is complicate a generally ugly picture. Personally, I worry more that, if anything, I've done too much candy-coating, particularly with regards to Esmenet. I recently watched a couple of documentaries chronicling the lives of Thai prostitutes - the stories they told were more harrowing than anything I've encountered in fiction. Unrelenting brutality, and from all quarters: family, pimps, customers, police... It was numbing. One women was actually sold by her mother to Chinese businessmen who chained her naked in a 'leech pond.' Leeches fattened on the blood of young women is a delicacy in some circles, they said. I'd like to go into the question of the Dunyain and gender, but believe it or not, the issue has a significant role to play in the greater story of the Second Apocalypse - I think I need to turn this 'no-answer answer' into a macro or something! Sorry Laughing As I mentioned above, this is an important theme to me. I'm curious: What did you make of TWP on this score? view post

posted 14 Jul 2004, 20:07 by Replay, Auditor

I think another problem that authors face with things such as this is that if they go to deep into the subject and portray it as harshly as it can be in real life, people will often think the writer has a few screws loose and is only writing to satisfy his own perversions. This means that authors have to often walk on eggshells at times which is a bit of a shame, especially if what they are trying to portray would help in making a certain point. Perhaps another part of the problem is that many read books to escape from reality, and when the harshness of it is brought before them in the storys they read, they tend to get a bit upset. If there is to be some line to be walked though, I think the TDTCB and TWP did well in this regard. Both books showed what it was like for women in that world without going to far in either direction, and I felt it was all entirely plausable. If I'm honest though, I did skip Esmenets chapters when i reread TDTCB (and probably will when I reread TWP), but that is mainly down to personal preference more than anything else. I'm just not a fan of characters who continually feel sorry for themselves, no matter how justified they are. view post

posted 15 Jul 2004, 01:07 by legatus, Auditor

[quote="Replay":yrlnjwv8]I think another problem that authors face with things such as this is that if they go to deep into the subject and portray it as harshly as it can be in real life, people will often think the writer has a few screws loose and is only writing to satisfy his own perversions.[/quote:yrlnjwv8] I couldn't help but smirk reading this, since it's exactly what happened with a friend of mine that I'd recommended TDTCB to. She'd moaned about the number of sadistic characters in the Sword of Truth series and was ready to write off the fantasy genre in general, though admittedly, she wasn't much of a fantasy fan to start with. My initial reaction, of course, was to tell her that Goodkind was a hack, and not really a representation of particularly good fantasy anyway, then went on to recommend Scott's PoN series. No more than a few days later, after a complaint or two of not being able to remember all the exotic names and places thrown around, she'd settled into an 'oh great, another sadistic author' reaction and wouldn't listen to any line of reasoning running contrary to that. It's an unfortunate reaction, and one I'd hope is limited to the minority of readers, but I think it's almost inevitable when it comes to material approaching any degree of brutal realism. Some people just want idealized, sanitized fantasy worlds, I suppose. Regardless, I'd certainly miss the harsher, more visceral fantasy worlds if squeamish readers were catered to exclusively. [quote="Cu'jara Cinmoi":yrlnjwv8]I'd like to go into the question of the Dunyain and gender, but believe it or not, the issue has a significant role to play in the greater story of the Second Apocalypse[/quote:yrlnjwv8] The dangling promise of significance, how it mocks me! I hadn't even considered any gender issues with regards to the Dunyain until now. I was too busy hammering out theories regarding gender roles within the Consult, or rather, their potential lack of gender roles--moreover, their lack of gender altogether. [b:yrlnjwv8][i:yrlnjwv8][Warning: There's a spoiler or two woven into my theory below.][/i:yrlnjwv8][/b:yrlnjwv8] The way I see it, the Inchoroi may be a genderless, asexual race, either by way of evolution or as a result of Tekne experiments done on themselves. By extension, it seems reasonable that their creations, like the Sranc and skin spies, might also be genderless, and perhaps even incapable of independent reproduction of any kind, asexual or otherwise, without the Tekne. The dread mankind feels towards the No-God would certainly be lessened for races who could escape the slow death brought on by the deadening of all wombs--whose continued survival isn't directly tied to sexual reproduction. That said, the Inchoroi are still self-professed sexual beings, but I'm of the opinion that their sexuality serves an entirely different purpose than reproduction at this point. The Inchoroi, and in turn the Consult, use sex as a means of utter domination, emotional and physical, not to propagate their species. The skin spies show an element of this domination, where sexual gratification is derived from the violent fulfillment of the wishes of their masters. Through this mechanism, the Inchoroi--the Old Fathers--hold yet another level of control and loyalty over their servants. More directly, a morbid form of puppet-like domination is shown at the end of TWP, where the raped captives were reanimated and shambled about in a mockery of their former selves according to the will of their rapists, both Sranc and demonic Inchoroi. Then there's the more subtle example from TDTCB where a powerful sexual influence is wielded over Esmi to draw information about Achamian and the Mandate out of her. Sexuality is certainly a tool for the Consult, and a powerful one at that, but not a tool of the biological imperative. I'm likely filling in gaps with nonsense though, so I might be better off switching gears and coming up with crackpot theories about the significance of gender for the Dunyain instead ;) view post

posted 15 Jul 2004, 05:07 by saintjon, Auditor

***********more spoilers******************* No you definitely have a point there about the inchoroi. The only 2 Inchoroi we've seen in the act didnt' leave anything (damn my western prudishness) where it would cause a reproductive effect. Several reasons they would've wanted to avoid that with Esmi, but with the one at the end of TWP, having his way with a captive, the opportunity was definitely there. I did notice part of the revolutionary appeal Kellhus was building for himself was his elevation and esteem of women. Is it just me, or is that part of how he wound up investing part of himself in Serwe, part that made him lose the control he'd had since a child? view post

posted 15 Jul 2004, 15:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

This is a just a general response (because legatus and saintjon are such crafty buggers! :P ): If you think in evolutionary terms, then [i:t1adm0wb]everything[/i:t1adm0wb] we do is 'about' reproduction - which is to say, sex. So the question is... More specifically, I knew beforehand that more than a few people would find the book unreadable because of the sexuality. This is why I'm always careful to frame my goals when I pitch my book to people I know might have difficulty: I tell them I wanted to take a 'predigested' form (the well worn conventions of epic fantasy) and fill it with well nigh indigestible content. Of course it rarely works. Digestion is digestion. view post

posted 15 Jul 2004, 15:07 by saintjon, Auditor

At the same time there is a pretty big faction of fantasy afficionados who will love you like a brother for doing it. For my part, the Consult being sexual deviants at large doesn't make a pleasant reading experience, but they're the villains and it goes a long way reinforcing the general creepiness/danger they represent. Wow being told you're a crafty bugger by someone who's got you pretty bamboozled with their protagonist is quite a compliment. Thanks! view post

posted 15 Jul 2004, 15:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

[quote:11xkd3v9]At the same time there is a pretty big faction of fantasy afficionados who will love you like a brother for doing it.[/quote:11xkd3v9] This was the big Q way back when: How many people like their wings suicide, and their fantasy deep? I know I do! :wink: view post

posted 15 Jul 2004, 15:07 by saintjon, Auditor

I like my fantasy deep and my wings medium, myself lol. I read in Men's Health you can get stoned (or at least buzzed) on your own pheromones your brain will kick out if you eat something REALLY spicy, but not knowing where the threshhold of this chemical safety net is I don't want to trial and error it. Kind of a wuss that way, I have eaten my way through some pretty vicious curries though. view post

posted 15 Jul 2004, 21:07 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I LOVE spicy. The hotter the better. And I love your fantasy. So I guess I fit the profile. Although, sometimes the sexuality part is a bit intense. view post

posted 18 Jul 2004, 18:07 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Maybe some Spoilers below....... I don’t think that the female character or gender portrayal in Earwa is one dimensional. I do wonder if we can consider all of the Three Seas one society. In the end, you are the author, but can the Kian and the Scylvendi be meshed in the with different groups of Inrithi? I just wanted to call into question the general tone of the thread which seems to assume that most of the history that we have of the past with regard to women is reality or accurate. I don’t personally believe in an objective history, but there are women’s personal realities. It’s not that I question women’s position in various structures of hierarchy, but that history writing itself is part of that system of patriarchy and has been configured as a way of seeing to render women as invisible and powerless chattel, or as evil, unnatural and corrupt. The former as the presentation of the good, normal woman that constitutes the majority and the latter as the anomalies that should serve as a warning. A large part of feminist historiography seeks to do intervention and rewrite this general (read: masculine) history and also to find new ways of writing history to deal with the fact that history has been created for the texts of men, which are by in large the only texts that exist. I love your books. But I did find myself becoming a little wary of the archetypes. The woman in power, the harridan, is so thoroughly gross. The waif is totally demented. My favorite female character is Esmi, which is why I adopted her archetype in an oblique way. She seems to me the most multi-layered and complex character of all the women. The most real. Her relationship to Kellhus is reminiscent of a Gnostic view of Mary Magdalene and Jesus. I was totally blown away by what Kellhus says to her in the bit about how she has internalized the patriarchal order. I just feel that barring her, the archetypes run the risk of someone like the harridan becoming the woman made ruthless because she is has stepped into a position of power unnatural to her gender. I’m not saying you do this, but it is a risk of handling archetypes. That said, I fully agree with you that the power of eunuchs in the Persian Empire certainly does not reduce the bite of institutional slavery, but the meaning and form of the bite is not as we understand it now and that must be taken into account. That kind of slavery is not the same as triangle trade slavery and that distinction is as key as the fact of slavery itself. I read TWP too fast the first time and have to do a second read. (I was just too greedy!) But I can tell you that I am all for the de-sanitizing. I see your worry about Esmi, the only potential problem might be her feelings and recollections about her time as a prostitute. But I think you deal with that in TWP. Woe to my length! view post

posted 19 Jul 2004, 01:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

I'm not sure I really explore gender relations outside of Inrithi culture. A bit with the Scylvendi perhaps... [quote:2oqj6xta]I just wanted to call into question the general tone of the thread which seems to assume that most of the history that we have of the past with regard to women is reality or accurate. I don’t personally believe in an objective history, but there are women’s personal realities.[/quote:2oqj6xta] Certainly not my assumption! But by same token, not all histories are equal, are they? Taking a hermeneutic approach to gender and history would provide a different evaluative framework, but I find myself wary of the threat of relativism even as I want to hear more. I can see how the portrayal of women as victims can be a further form of victimization, and I can see how I might even be guilty on this score, but things seem to become so ... circular at this level of meta-meta-analysis. In the end, despite my skepticism, I am a moral universalist, and as such I do believe that, say, female circumcision in the Sudan is wrong is wrong, whether the victim would agree with me or not. But still, I have that tickle... Let me mull this over a bit. view post

posted 19 Jul 2004, 14:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

OK, lemme try to catch this bloody bee you've put in my bonnet, Tattooed Hand! First, just so I know I'm getting your concerns right: You worry that in writing a 'hard fantasy,' which is to say, a fantasy that attempts to 'get the history right' (as opposed to 'getting the science right' in hard SF), I may have in fact got the [i:29q902u5]wrong[/i:29q902u5] history - namely, a patriarchal history that improperly paints women as victims. I think I need to be convinced of this victimized by victimization thing... I like to think that the nexus of problems I'm posing with Esmenet and Serwe is pretty subtle (for instance, what does it mean that it's [i:29q902u5]Kellhus[/i:29q902u5] who gives the 'language of the conquerors' speech? Or that it's Serwe's [i:29q902u5]innocence[/i:29q902u5] that leads to her fantasy world?), but subtlety is no guarantee against incipient misogyny. So tell me more. :D view post

posted 19 Jul 2004, 16:07 by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

Interesting. Going to have to think more upon this before replying in depth. Now my long-buried cultural historian's training is come back to me and I might just want to weigh in. But not now. I hate it when the bee is passed to another's bonnet! ;) view post

posted 20 Jul 2004, 03:07 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

I’m not talking about moral relativism, but rather historical contingency. Slavery is not good how ever you cut it, in my opinion. But, the experience, the institution, the practice of it varies across time, societies, class, gender, race, etc. (these are not already constituted categories) so that an African slave picking cotton in Alabama has an experience that is a pretty far cry from a Georgian slave made eunuch who goes from the harem to being governor of Isfahan and amassing a vast personal fortune. These are pretty important differences that inhabit the same word. Our specific representations of these two experiences depend on the questions we ask, sources we select, the way we read those sources, and methodology of our interpretation. I’m hashing all this out in a paper and am still struggling for clarity, but here’s a shot. The beauty of fantasy is that you have a freer hand to play with historical narratives in your story than someone like me who can’t manage to write anything but boring academic stuff. I don’t think you’ve got the wrong history. Wouldn’t a wrong history imply that there is a correct representation that gives voice to a pre-discursive reality? But from the perspective of women, gender and sexuality, some are better than others. It’s all about how that narrative is constituted. The histories we write reflect our conceptions of the present in our narratives of the past. And history is constituted from the recollections, interpretations and narratives of others. And I don’t think your story is misogynist, but I am just trying to call attention to the overwhelmingly misogyny of “general” historical representation, where general means a naturalized masculinist gaze and agenda. By in large we can argue, that in different ways, political, social, economic systems have been stacked to be unequal and disempowering for women. But, the ideas that we associate with the present, like gender equality, are not totally new to this century. In prior times, when they did exist, records of these views were later quashed and suppressed. Gnostic Christian movements come to mind. Or the Cathars in southern France. Aren’t there any popular “heretics” in Earwa with weird gender ideas that accept women? I feel that we cannot assume that before our century things just sucked for women because surviving written records said that systems sucked for women and that was the unproblematic representations of lived experiences. Feminist historiography is trying to move away from the “add women and stir” approach because that does not address what makes women as subjects and gender/sexuality as analytic an optional category that could be excluded at will in the first place. Far deeper critiques about the discipline of history, and how historical significance is constituted are being explored. Serwe seems mentally disturbed more than innocent, if you ask me. She’s been through a lot and has come up with some pretty creative explanations about why and what has happened to her. And she thinks Kellhus is God. Maybe that’s not her fault, because I get the feeling if he started working on me, I’d probably think he was God too. I guess for me, the problem with Serwe is that it’s difficult to tell how much of those ideas are her coping mechanisms and which ones Kellhus nudged in there. Like her belief that her baby is Kellhus’s… But then maybe that ambiguity is the point. This distinction is a bit more clear with Esmi. The fact that the conquerors speech is authored by Kellhus is supreme irony, if you ask me. Esmi has her powers – her intellect, her emotional strength and her refusals. Her refusals are subtle and intriguing. But in dealing with weapons of the weak, as well as archetypes, it’s an extremely fine line to not reproduce them as helpless and powerless victims. That is not to say that you should leave helpless and powerlessness out of the picture, but a complex picture does unexpected things that upset the transmission of representations. Well, I’ve really messed this up. Maybe you’d like to read my paper, in your copious free time! Ha! (Well, it’s coauthored by my advisor, so there is one person who knows what they are doing in there.) view post

posted 20 Jul 2004, 15:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

I think I understand your worry, now: though you have to admit, no matter how nuanced I make the portrait, the fact of the matter will always be more complicated. And also, I'm constrained by my original narrative (which I drafted long before I had the conceptual tools I needed to tackle these themes), which in large measure determines what will be shown. Either way, though, I share your concern. But I also have a couple of concerns of my own! For instance, you eschew relativism, then go on to describe what's essentially a historicist position - which is to say, you embrace relativism! I'm guessing this inconsistency dissappears on a more full-blooded account of your position... So I guess my question would be (and this, I imagine, would be among the BIG questions in feminist historiography), what prevents your historicism from collapsing into relativism? Also, I would be very interested to hear your take on the 'warrior princess' archetype in fantasy. You have a kickass thesis project by the way! I personally see fantasy as part of the same long historical process that led to the parsing of history from myth. view post

posted 20 Jul 2004, 15:07 by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

Okay, this is definitely too much for me to resist (no matter how many chores I need to do before sleeping this afternoon!), so time to hang myself on a noose of my own making. Scott, if I'm understanding him correctly, I think the only thing that's keeping his position from falling into relativism is there seems to be a concept of Transgression implicit in the actions being discussed. It sounds like the choices being made are known to be "wrong" on a theoretical/moral sense, but that these choices are justified to fulfill an extingency. I might be wrong, but I suspect that's what's underlying this. I seem to recall Foucault discussing Trangression in a historical context in one of his books (I want to say the one with counter-memory). As for feminism in history, I agree with the notion that current feminist critiques are starting to move away from the "add woman and mix" concept. Recently, there have been some excellent critiques of social and cultural history that integrate female perspectives without trying to overthrow (explictly, that is) concepts of the past. I would suggest reading some of Leonare Davidoff's essays on gender and history for starters. Then possibly read Anna Clark's [i:2krckr9z] The Struggle for the Breeches: Gender and the Making of the British Working Class (Studies on the History of Society and Culture , No 23) [/i:2krckr9z] (I've met her and she's wonderful to talk with on this subject), in which she adds to E.P. Thompson's works on the English working class. Damn, there's a lot I'd love to say here, but my books are stored elsewhere and it's been ages since I've read the ones that have come to mind! Hope this helps a bit. view post

posted 20 Jul 2004, 19:07 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

What happens in history is contingent, as well as what is told about what happens in history. The former means that any event is contingent and was not an inevitable outcome. The implications of that are not moral relativism, which we finally fleshed out way better in the paper, but a destablization of the teleology of progress and de-centering of the individual, autonomous, unified subject. It is from there that we move beyond add women and stir. It's still vague here, but there is a reason the paper's 40 pages! I'm sure we'll get mauled at the conference. The Warrior Princess. Would you mind describing what exactly you have in mind as that archetype? She’s usually virginal for one, right? Or man-less. A depiction that I read recently that I really liked, which is not warrior princess, but fighting woman, is those two female marine in Erikson's Memories of Ice. The ones guarding Silverfox. I thought they were amazing. When they finally pulled out their swords, fought and got butchered I almost cried. They were so deadpan and funny and then so matter of fact about stepping into almost certain death. I had this flash last night while I was re-reading TWP. I realized what an important and subtle role gender plays in the unraveling of Cnaiur. When he’s watching Serwe sleep he thinks, “so beautiful. So like his forgotten wife” (32). That forgotten wife is Anissi (sp?) and she is half Norsirai? Is this a chain that starts with Moenghus and ends with Kellhus. It seems like women carry the reverberation enacted at both ends by the Anasurimbors and that gender blurs in the middle as does love and hate. It is through this that Cnaiur, although he is somewhat awake, is undone. But maybe he’s just nuts. Am I pulling this out of thin air? Aldarion, thanks for the citations... view post

posted 20 Jul 2004, 19:07 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

PS - What do you understand to be moral relativism? view post

posted 21 Jul 2004, 12:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

[quote:13tcei63]Am I pulling this out of thin air? [/quote:13tcei63] The air is always hot and sultry in the Three Seas - never thin. :wink: Moral relativism, as I take it, is the thesis that the validity of moral determinations is always relative to the norms and practices of a certain group at a certain time. With something like feminist historigraphy, where you would expect a strong evaluative component - where the past is judged - the question would be one of what warrants those feminist evaluations over the evaluations of those judged. The historicist position you take seems to suggest that nothing warrants those evaluations, since they're just the contingent product of another contingent historical position. Doesn't your position need to be 'better' somehow, for your claims that others had it 'worse' to be anything more than chauvinism? And if your position is 'better,' doesn't that imply some notion of progress (with or without a telos)? view post


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