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The Status of Women and Some Real World Comparisons posted 15 Jul 2005, 19:07 by Cynical Cat, Auditor

I've been thinking about the status of women in the Prince of Nothing and decided to apply to real life indicators to the world to see the results. Let me state clearly that, these factors are generalizations and exceptions are possible. Economic Status: The more a woman contributes to the household's income, generally the higher status she has in society. If she's keeping house, it is pretty low, if she's doing valuable labour it is fairly high. In the Three Seas, we see women as being extremely constrained in their social-economic roles and having low status. We don't know about the Dunyain (having only seen males), but we do see some signs of status with the Scylvendi (Cnaiur as an adolescent lives in his mother's tent). Which brings us to point two. Where they go to War: Cultures that war close to home tend to treat women as having low status. Cultures that go away to war tend to treat women as having higher status as they need their women to manage things while they are away. When the People of War go to war, someone has to be taking care of things at home. The Inrithi tend to war close to home, as far as we can tell. So in summation, kick ass work. Scott has built an entrancing world that is convincingly real down to the little details that withstands scruitiny by nitpickers like myself. Postscript: I wouldn't bother with this stuff if I didn't love the books. That questions about the Prince of Nothing kick around my head when I go to bed should be taken as very high praise. view post

posted 16 Jul 2005, 13:07 by Entropic_existence, Moderator

One thing I'm wondering is on the status of women among the Fanim. It isn't something we have really seen (given so few POV's from their perspective) so maybe you could answer that Scott? Is it much the same as the status of women among the inrithi or higher? lower? Thanks :) view post

posted 18 Jul 2005, 15:07 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

Thank you CC. This is one of those topics I seem to take quite abit of heat on. So many fantasy worlds follow the 'Patriarchy without tears' model, which aside from being silly, could actually be construed as genuinely pernicious. In any system where privilege is arbitrarily assigned, there's going to be tears. Since all the human cultures in Earwa are branches of the same 4000 year old tree, they're all patriarchal, even the Fanim, EE. The Sranc are a different story, though... :wink: view post

posted 19 Jul 2005, 00:07 by Entropic_existence, Moderator

Is that another TTT teaser? :) view post

posted 02 Aug 2005, 14:08 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

Almost. More the Encyclopedic Glossary. view post

posted 04 Aug 2005, 13:08 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

That could be really interesting although there are some minefields, which I am sure you are aware of... for instance, portrayals of matrilineal societies (which doesn't necessary mean an egalitarian society) as primitive, or over the top evil because women are the measuring rods. Or more egalitarian societies (such as central asian tribal cultures) as uncivilized, barbaric, etc... What would be the implication of making the Sranc, a beastial and brutual race, an unnatural, engineered race by evil (as far as we know now) into the only matriarchial/matrilineal/what ever you are planning to do with them that contrasts with partiarchy? I can see you putting some kind of twist into this, although I can't anticipate it... ooo, juicy... view post

posted 04 Aug 2005, 22:08 by White Lord, Subdidact

[quote="Tattooed Hand":3iz251o3]What would be the implication of making the Sranc, a beastial and brutual race, an unnatural, engineered race by evil (as far as we know now) into the only matriarchial/matrilineal/what ever you are planning to do with them that contrasts with partiarchy?[/quote:3iz251o3] It could also mean the Sranc attribute [i:3iz251o3]no[/i:3iz251o3] importance to gender differences. They could be similar to the Dunyain (again this is hypothetical, since we know nothing about the Dunyain in this regard either) if for different reasons . . . view post

posted 08 Aug 2005, 08:08 by Cynical Cat, Auditor

To clarify something, matrilineal is not at all the same as matriarcal. There are a lot of matrilineal cultures out there, that only means the line of descent is traced through the woman. Jewish culture is matrilineal and it is hardly one where females traditionaly enjoy any authority over males. The Sranc females could be high status because they have some influence over their cannon fodder esque warrior sons and live long enough to establish status and learn some tricks. As our few examples of the Inchoroi and Consult are male, they may also be sexually engineered to respond in such a way as to be docile or worshipful of their Consult masters. This would be an additional control mechanism while allowing them to engineer the males to be viscious raping and killing machines. view post

posted 08 Aug 2005, 18:08 by H, Auditor

Here's two crackpot sort of theories about Scott's cheeky comments on Sranc: 1.) Perhaps they are hermaphraditic (or at least androgenous). This could explain the 'beauty', in from the fact that perhaps their appreance was created by taking the 'perfect' human face and creating a blueprint from it. Eliminating the gender specific clues from a face could make it look oddly beutiful and seem strangly 'perfect' looking. Plus wouldn't that make them ideal constructs, as each would be both able to breed, bare children, [i:2rmjgrz4]and[/i:2rmjgrz4] fight eliminating the need for a sort of 'non-combatant' sranc to support themselves. This could also explain why thier numbers overwhelmed the North. In each generation (even if Men could breed at the same rate) only half a population of Men could feasably be soldiers, while 100% of a Sranc population would be soldiers. That's a significant difference, even if the Sranc were half stupid, sheer numbers dictate they should overwhelm almost anyone in a relatively short time (especially, as my friend just pointed out to me, if they mature faster than Men or breed at a faster rate). 2.) Perhaps they are haploidic. OK, this is really crackpot, but, hey, i guess it could be possible. Maybe somewhere there are Queen Srancs, who are truely bad ass mofos. OK, maybe i'm just getting carried away, but it would be cool... view post

posted 10 Aug 2005, 15:08 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

[quote:372yi1ve]What would be the implication of making the Sranc, a beastial and brutual race, an unnatural, engineered race by evil (as far as we know now) into the only matriarchial/matrilineal/what ever you are planning to do with them that contrasts with partiarchy?[/quote:372yi1ve] So juicy I'm tempted to rework things, TH! For me, anyway, the question of gender as a thematic issue in the book turns on Kellhus's absolute instrumentalism. People want to attribute the development of gender equality in the West to notions of 'moral progress.' But the sad fact is that human values evolve according to the demands of specific social contexts. With birth control and the mechanization of labour, the biological differences between the genders are no longer functionally decisive. New gender roles are required, and since consumption is the primary organizing principle of our society, we - surprise, surprise - fasten on gender values that facilitate consumption. Why shouldn't women work? Why shouldn't women own property? We're simply wasting economic advantages otherwise... Far from being the product of moral progress, gender equality, when seen from this perspective, is the product of the functional demands of mass consumer society. There's nothing 'moral' about it. Women are simply more useful when treated as equals. This is the pivotal irony that I try to focus on with Kellhus and Esmi in particular. Simply by putting the rhetoric of emancipation in [i:372yi1ve]his[/i:372yi1ve] mouth, everything becomes problematized. He literally enslaves her with liberation. And what I do with the Sranc is simply an extreme version of this self-same problem. view post

posted 10 Aug 2005, 18:08 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

You are totally right about specific context determining the form and function of gender relations. You can really see the economically driven forms of modernized patriarchy (because really, in our time and place, that's what it is - you'd be hard pressed to find actual equality or gender blindness) when you look at modernization theory that drove development programs concocted in the US and undertaken in most third world countries. That is how in Iran you could have an essentially misogynist Shah who was a staunch supporter of women's education and their participation in the workplace. What I looked at in my MA thesis was the cost of this appropriation. Feminist goals became associated with authoritarian methods of control and implementation and "those irrational people" shied away as a revolutionary and democratic act. That's another kind of irony for you... Esmi as enslaved by liberation and the Sranc as the most equal. It's just interesting since level of Civilization so often uses "how they treat their women" as a litmus test. It would leave the ugly nagging feeling that these beasts are actually more "civilized" (a la moral imperative) than the so called civilized human cultures. That would resonate for the reader only - in the context of the book gender equality would probably be more proof of Sranc as animals. Is that how you bring out the irony? Playing on the dual level of the context of the book and the general context of the reader? view post

posted 10 Aug 2005, 18:08 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

[quote:h5hbyf3k]Is that how you bring out the irony? Playing on the dual level of the context of the book and the general context of the reader?[/quote:h5hbyf3k] Ayup. There's no escaping instrumentalization, which is just to say, there's no way to escape Kellhus, whether inside or outside the book. By posing our modern emancipatory rhetoric in Kellhus's mouth, its functionality - the way it constrains and directs our actions - becomes difficult to ignore. Truth becomes an obvious instrument of domination. Simply by [i:h5hbyf3k]recognizing[/i:h5hbyf3k] what he says as 'true,' the reader is placed in the same dilemma as Esmenet. Society requires that we repeat certain actions (all the ways of consuming and producing - or purchasing and working), and since belief and desire are central to how we act, society requires our assent to certain beliefs and actions. 'Emancipation' is revealed as something Nietzschean: as merely the [i:h5hbyf3k]latest[/i:h5hbyf3k] way to be enslaved - the one we can't conceive as slavery, because we lack the perspective to see our values as anything other than 'natural' or 'just obviously true.' Wait to you see the epigraphs I chose for TTT, TH. I think you'll like... view post

posted 11 Aug 2005, 17:08 by Cynical Cat, Auditor

Relative gender equality is not merely a product of modern economic systems. The British started to eliminate slavery when it was economically disadvantages to do so, based on the moral outrage felt by a large part of their population. The moral beliefs (i.e. social conditions) of the 19th and 20th Century inhabitents of western democracies that made slavery unacceptable even if it was profitable also supported gender equality. Additionally, hunter-gatherers societies often have little or no difference in the status of leadership roles available to men and women as both do essential (from an economic and survival point of view) work on a day to day basis. Such societies also have a high homicide rates (yeah, there had to be drawbacks). Women also worked before the introduction of the modern consumer society, it is primarily the middle and upper classes that enjoyed a level of wealth where a woman didn't have to contribute directly to the household income. In addition, in more chaotic societies, the restrictions on the roles and status of women are reduced. In short, it isn't just the modern consumer economy that pushes forward the rights of women. While it contributes to it, one shouldn't get myopia and ignore other contributing factors. view post

posted 11 Aug 2005, 18:08 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Cynical Cat, so how do you explain the rise of indentured labor and labor relocation practiced by the British, particularly in South Asia, that resulted in almost identical conditions as slavery? Also, at about the same time as slavery was abolished, hard core racial biogotry solidified which posited whites against colored people as radical others. Before ideas of differences had been much more fluid and based on a vareity of factors. After the abolishion of slavery race became a much more exlusive and rigidified notion to contain socio-economic regimes that slavery had before held into place. Economics forms shifted with the spread of industrialization and European colonial domination and ideology morphed to readjust. If you want a look at the changing "moral" (I call them ideological) beliefs of the 19th century British empire in the context of anti-slavery activism and race (and gender), you could look at Catherine Hall's Civilising subjects : colony and metropole in the English imagination, 1830-1867. I learned alot from it. view post

posted 11 Aug 2005, 18:08 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Sorry about citations, I am writing a paper and in that mode... view post

posted 12 Aug 2005, 02:08 by Cynical Cat, Auditor

You might want to consider[i:vox7rrbx] To Rule Britannia: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World[/i:vox7rrbx] for additional material on slavery in that time period and the attitude of the British Government and the Royal Navy You points are interesting, but irrelevant. The British were quite willing to engage in repulsive labour practices but their population found the black slave trade so utterly repulsive that it was politically mandated that they stamp it out even though they derived immense profits from it. In fact, they went after in preference to the Algerian slavers in North Africa who actually traded in captured British subjects. Your points on racism and 19th century labour practices in no way invalidate mine. The British public was willing to engage in racism and other unpleasant practices, but slavery was no longer one of them. The largest trading empire in the world decided to eliminate a highly profitable enterprise and began to move against it. Ideologies are almost always concerned with morality to one degree or another (e.g communism, Pan Islamasism, laissez-fair capitalism). Labelling my points as ideological does not undermine them. The people of the time found slavery to be sufficiently immoral that it should be stamped out. Britain abolished within its empire, established anti-slavery patrols, and put pressures on other nations to abolish the slave trade. Social and economic conditions of any given time period are invariably intertwined and have influences on each other. My points are that economic considerations, while important, are not the only considerations and that the economic conditions that support high status for woman are not exclusively the ones of the modern consumer society. As with my first post, it is economic systems that place a high value on woman's labour that tend to have women with high status, whether it is our modern economy and hunter gatherers. But despite my economic determinist leanings, honesty compells me to admit those are not the only factors. view post

posted 12 Aug 2005, 12:08 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

I am not saying that economics is the only factor, I think it's a more interactive process. But slavery was not abolished by moral outrage. That was certainly the clarion call for activists to rally around. But changing socio-economic structures are what made the moral outrage possible in the first place. My point in bring up the changing attitudes of racism were meant to show that the abolition of slavery was not based on moral outrage that blacks are human beings and should not be treated as such - if that is the case, then why were racist attitudes that declared other races subhuman so widely embraced? Hall's book deals with that process in Batpist missionaries in Birmingham and Jamaica in the first half of the 19th century. view post

posted 13 Aug 2005, 10:08 by Cynical Cat, Auditor

The South's economy was becoming obsolete, but its succession was cloaked in state's rights but was almost entirely about preserving slavery. The British abandoned slavery, against there economic interests, and maintained both political pressure and expensive blockades to combat it. Yes, they needed slave cotton less and less. That doesn't invalidate my points that it was against their economic interests to act that way since they had to expend money and political capital to do so as well as forfeit their share in the slave trade. I don't know too much about Baptist ministers, other than you find more Baptists in the southern United States than the north. I find racism is a region with race based slavery unsurprising. Where are your Baptists from? view post

posted 13 Aug 2005, 13:08 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

I am strictly talking about Britian, not the US. I am talking about Baptist ministers in the UK that spearheaded the anti-slavery movement. Many of them also moved to places like Jamaica that had plantation systems and began churches to "improve" black slaves. The slave revolts in Jamica and the great revolt in India (where most of the UK's cotton came from by mid century) discouraged many who began to think that "Improvement" for the brown/black person was impossible. And so they began to be seen as permanently (instead of temporarily) subhuman. Improvement was all about making them Westernized in habit and lifestyle and Christian. The ethnocentrism of this form of civilization or religion was totally unacknowledged and any sort of indegenous practices were viewed as heathen/barbaric. The UK didn't need slaves, they had colonies. Their richest was India and they had the entire country's revunue at their disposal and could control and shape the economy as they pleased. A whole series of justifications, each appropriate to it's own time, was given for this economic and political domination. It was much more acceptable than slavery, but every bit as profitable. Indians laborers made paltry wages for their work, but this was reinvested in the colonial economy and used to maintain themselves as laborers (and make new laborers). view post

posted 16 Aug 2005, 01:08 by Cynical Cat, Auditor

Absolutely true about colonial exploitation, which the British did cloak in the guise of bringing civilization to their colonies. That still doesn't change the fact that British merchants, with the worlds largest mercantile empire, made considerable profits selling slaves to other nations and the anti-slavery efforts cost both money and political capital. And, to be fair, while the Brits were hardly altruists, wiping out the Thuggee wasn't a bad thing and some of their activities were beneficial to India as a whole. After all, if caste based, sexist societies were considered a good thing, Scott wouldnt' be getting any heat about portraying them in his book. :D view post

posted 16 Aug 2005, 03:08 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

As a specialist on British colonialism (particularly in India), you're going to have a hard time selling benificent colonialism to me. I could bore you to death about how even seemingly "beneficial" aspects of colonialism were extremely detrimental, primarily because they were first and foremost self-serving. The british took over India at a time of political weakness and Thugees were dealt with just fine by local governments when things were running smoothly. Merchants made more money using a colonial workforce that was already in place and undercutting their competitors' comparative advantage through the demonization of slave labor. I am willing to grant you that many activists thought slavery was morally wrong and this is why they narrated (to others and themselves) that they were against it. But if we look at what morally wrong actually means in this context, given that non-white people were at the same time systematically colonized and de-humanized, this morality seems a little different from what you or I might expect from the term. view post

posted 17 Aug 2005, 02:08 by Cynical Cat, Auditor

I by no means intended to suggest that the behavior of 19th Century colonialists is moral by modern standards, although some individuals certainly conform to that standard (I have Frederick Douglas on the brain). That is irrelevant. What is relevant to the point is what the people of the time thought, and to the British public it was a moral imperative worth expending considerable resources in pursuit of that goal. The British efforts were certainly self serving and I acknowledged. That doesn't mean India derived no benefits from them. The Thugee cult may have been handled when things were running well, but it persisted until annhilated by the British, not by local rulers. Nor were the local governments particularily moral by modern standards either. India had more than it shares of native evils, of which the caste system and settee are two of the more repugnant, and it rulers were not saints either. view post


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