Men and women : difference feminism in the Wheel of Time

Discussion in 'Wheel of Time Discussion - Books 1-8' started by Adhara Jehanne, May 10, 2013.

  1. Adhara Jehanne

    Adhara Jehanne

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    I'm currently halfway through the Shadow Rising but I've already lost count of the times when :
    - a female character laments about how stupid/stubborn a male character is
    - a male character laments about how incomprehensible women are

    Gender differentialism is a major theme in the Wheel of Time. Robert Jordan seemed to think men come from Mars and women from Venus. The very structure of the magic system is based on that.

    I think - that is just my personal opinion here - that men and women are mostly the same. There are a few differences, either biological or created by society (we receive from infancy an image of what being male or female entails). However, I do think that, ultimately, these differences matter little next to the differences between one individual and the next : men and women don't fundamentally think differently and can understand each other just fine.

    However, if it were just that, a disagreement between me and the author, I could easily overlook it. What really bothers me is the sometimes shocking way women treat men in the Wheel of Time.

    I understand that Jordan had some kind of author appeal for bossy women but there are still horrible cases of Double Standards in the books. Women often treat men little better than cattle. In Chapter 30 of The Shadow Rising, Mistress Al'Vere and Faile have a delightful little conversation about "handling men" and "reining them in" which, in the mouth of men talking about women, would be rightfully denounced as horribly misogynistic. Faile also hits Perrin, repeatedly. I like Faile but hitting the one you love, regardless of both of your gender, is plain wrong (like many things in Perrin and Faile's "romance", now that I think of it).

    There are many things I like in the Wheel of Time series, as a woman and as a feminist. First, there are many female characters, more so than in most fantasy novels. Women of the Wheel of Time are strong, well-developped characters who wield real power, be it physical strength, political power or the One Power. But sometimes I really wished they behaved more like human beings and less like what Robert Jordan thought a Woman is, which appears to be some extreme type of Tsundere.

    Am I alone in my thoughts there ? Have the stark differences between males and females in the Wheel of Time ever bothered you ?
     
  2. Eluial Aldaran

    Eluial Aldaran Aes Sedai Head of the Brown Ajah

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    No, you're not alone. It's definitely bothered me. Especially how several major plot points rely on basic misunderstandings of failures of communication between two or more characters.

    It's a lot worse earlier in the series, and progressively gets better as you get closer to the end, though, so there's something to look forward to.

    But for the most part, and especially early on in the series, yes. Most of the women can be classified as manipulative, abusive and completely lacking any form of self reflection, while most of the men seem to be completely and utterly unable to interpret any of the women's behaviors, and have painfully chivalristic (I made up that word) ideals.

    I'm also sorry that you like Faile. You're like, one of 3 people in the entire world that like her. :p
     
  3. Adhara Jehanne

    Adhara Jehanne

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    I'm certainly glad to hear that ! :)

    Yep, I understood that Faile is kind of universally hated. But I think it's cool to have a Badass Normal woman around. And Faile and Berelain fighting over Perrin like cats was comedy gold. The only thing that bothers me about Faile is her attitude towards Perrin.
     
  4. Brandegoris Al'Mor

    Brandegoris Al'Mor Citizen

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    HAHAHAH I think he was SPOT on!!! I may just be a blundering Dunderhead ( Shhh I am..Its not a secret!), But there are a lot of times that i have zero idea what my gf means, needs, wants etc.!! hahahahahahha Maybe Robert Jordans upbringing was just like mine? Dark and confusing!!!!??? LOLOLOL
    I will say that I didnt care for many of the women in the series thoough! hahah and THAT IS Jordans fault!!! Im sorry but he made Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne into REAL $@*%!'s!! LOLOLOLOLOL
    I mean its hard to like them mwhen he portrays them the way he does! Its my HOPE that since Ive only read as far as book 6 , maybe he started later to make them a bit more understanding and nicer? LOL Dont get me worng..i HATE how portrays a lot of the men in the series too!!! NEVER have I ever said " Man, I wish Johnny was here. he really gets chicks dude. he'd know what to do." LOLOLOL
     
  5. Arecias Dezell

    Arecias Dezell

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    I think RJ is trying to establish that women are not as powerless in Randland as they once where, and still are in many ways in RL. In our history, and in many cultures today women are considered inferior. Queens many times only came to be monarchs because there were no sons alive, i.e Queen Elizabeth I. I don't want to say too much to avoid spoilers, but having Aes Sedai and other strong women along with other strong males like the Dragon Reborn, puts the women and men on more equal footing. So the women being domineering doesn't bother me because they should be viewed as important and equals as males, as they should be viewed in RL by males. For RJ to get that message across, I believe the women treating men the way they do in the books gets that point across strongly.
     
  6. Alora Sionn

    Alora Sionn Gaidin

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    I think what Robert Jordan does is acknowledge that women and men are different in complementary ways, that sometimes they won't understand each other and annoy each other, but ultimately we are all human and do have a lot in common too. Also the theme that the greatest accomplishments were when Men and Women worked together, kinda shows that one is not better than the other, even when society tries to force that idea on you. That when you can accept a mans or a womans differences from your gender, and embrace the similarities, and combine your strengths, supporting your weaknesses and work together you can do great things :) That's what I got from his ideas about men and women :)
     
  7. Brandegoris Al'Mor

    Brandegoris Al'Mor Citizen

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    I like ur answer guys!!!! But I still think Nynaeve and Egwene were just plain ..MEANIES!!! LOLOLOLL J/k!!!!!!! ( sort of... :grumble )
    But you are probably right in your assessment of what RJ was trying to accomplish!
     
  8. Irinia Argyvni

    Irinia Argyvni

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    If the women and men of WOT talked to each other they would have less problems!
     
  9. Brandegoris Al'Mor

    Brandegoris Al'Mor Citizen

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    LOL Iri, That is true!!!!!!!
     
  10. Arecias Dezell

    Arecias Dezell

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    It would be awesome to have a woman like Faile who would want to box with me and expect me to fight back :lol Even though I'm like a Two Rivers guy who would never hurt a woman :)
     
  11. Dorian Rei

    Dorian Rei

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    So I'm just starting into EotW, so I won't have much to input just yet, but I will say that the portrayal of gender roles that I've encountered so far has me wrestling some CRAZY issues. I really have a hard time keeping reading, because of the way the men and women interact and relate to each other. It reminds me of hyper-conservative christian groups that I've been a part of (and left) in the past, where the men and women were almost afraid of each other. I'm actually going to guess that RJ might be/have been Mormon or Pentecostal, in terms of religious beliefs.
    Also, someone above suggested that they are complimentarian differences, but I think that if they are, they're FAR too segregated to be functionally complimentarian, if complimentarian at all... idk. my opinion.
    like I said, I'm just starting the journey, I'm BRAND new to RJ and WoT, so I'm sure I'll see/learn more! :D
     
  12. Arecias Dezell

    Arecias Dezell

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    The Two Rivers is very conservative, but
    you'll see other parts of the world that are very different and shock the Two Rivers folk
    I encourage you to keep reading!
     
  13. Brandegoris Al'Mor

    Brandegoris Al'Mor Citizen

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    4 sure! Do not stop reading! These are great novels! I found the way men and women interacted a TAD annoying, but It didnt ruin the series by any means! :p
     
  14. Irinia Argyvni

    Irinia Argyvni

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    I found their behavior hilarious!I mean,it was the end of the world and they were fighting over the simplest things!

    Dorian don't stop reading the books!!!
     
  15. Eluial Aldaran

    Eluial Aldaran Aes Sedai Head of the Brown Ajah

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    In WoT and in real life.

    I mean, Alora is right, there are differences between men and women, between the way we think, react to situations, etc. Whether those differences are cultural or genetic isn't really relevant to this particular conversation, but there are differences.

    The problem(s) I had with RJ's portrayal of gender differences isn't that it was necessarily unrealistic. I have known plenty of people who act in the exact same ways some of the characters in WoT did early on. And you know what? Those people always had problems. Like, massive, drama-bomb interpersonal problems. Every little interaction was like the end of the world because they never just stopped and said to the other person, "So... when you said A, did you really mean A, or did you mean B? Because I interpreted it as B and that hurt my feelings."

    TL;DR, I don't think gender relations in the books are entirely unrealistic, but they tend to show only the bad kinds of relationships (ie the ones with zero communication).
     
  16. Dorian Rei

    Dorian Rei

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    heehee! I love how many people are so adamant that I keep reading!
    No worries, it takes a lot to deter me. After all, there can't seriously be so many books and never change attitudes. I think it's impossible to write that much and stay the same.
    Not to mention, I've left Two Rivers by now and am starting to notice a shifting of setting. :)

    Edit: I don't think even Stephanie Meyer could write that much and not change. ;P

    Another Edit: Yet, i wonder WHY RJ wrote the beginings like this, the way it is, with the blatant sexisms and gender roles and such. Was he trying to communicate something? or to contrast something later to make other things seem more significant? idk, and only time and reading will tell!
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  17. Brandegoris Al'Mor

    Brandegoris Al'Mor Citizen

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    Well U hit the nail on the head in one respect Dorian. I don't wanna spoil too much for you but he has a plan
     
  18. Morrighan Daghdera

    Morrighan Daghdera Aes Sedai

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    I think there's one aspect that's being overlooked. At the end of the Second Age, many men went mad. Bad men! I think there was a paradigm shift in the third age in that the women could be trusted to be in control more than men, in general. The system is more of a matriarchy like some American Indian tribes. And that's where you find the superiority complex that some women, especially women who wield the One Power, display. The men, even those that DON'T wield the One Power in the third age, kind of get lumped into the "not to be trusted" category by default. :(
     
  19. Elorenya d'Rahien

    Elorenya d'Rahien Aes Sedai

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    Thiiiiiis. All of it. But it's not unique to RJ/WoT -- most books (and other forms of media) are riddled with stupid miscommunications where there isn't just a bare LACK of communication. I've learned as I've gotten older that a lot of people DON'T go up to the other person and ask for a clarification.

    It's all part of my current life philosophy of, "If I haven't explicitly told you something about what I mean/how I feel/etc, I cannot expect you to know it." :p
     
  20. Dorian Rei

    Dorian Rei

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    THIS.
    One of the quickest ways to REALLY piss me off is to assume something of me that I did not intend/mean/explicitly say. Especially when someone assumes that I'm thinking something or holding a specific opinion, attitude, or motivation. By doing that they are setting up false identities of who I am, and it means that they aren't trying to get to know me - they think they already know, and don't account for the many variables that make us/me human.

    Edit: it's something that I've really struggled with in my dating life - women seem to be very good at deriving implications from actions and words that have no meaning beyond the superficial... and if I have a deeper meaning, there's probably a context of deeper conversation.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2013