zodiacal_light: I will tell the audient void... [fractal] (the audient void)
Since I really, really don't want to get tangled in an argument there, I will post my thoughts here. EDIT: Grar, ok, fine, I'm posting there. This whole issue annoys me too much for me to leave it be. *has no self-control, sigh*

Someone just posted that it's not just all girls (aside from very minor characters) who fight, but all the men, too.

First, we have a few more prominent examples of men who don't fight (though again, we don't know they can't). I'm thinking here largely of Duke Baird, and we get a whole slew of background men in the form of the Mithrans. Hell, there's Thom, too. I'd bet that on the whole we get more male background characters who don't fight but are good than background female characters who don't at least want to. Part of that's because of the fact that these books - even the ones that aren't about female knights, for some reason - tend to be set in a "man's world". Which, incidentally, is something I despise, especially when there's no reason for it (like in the Daine books).

Second, it doesn't change the fact that these books are girl-centric, and sending the message to people that girls are only worthwhile if they fight is still a problem; if it's true that all the guys are also only worthwhile if they fight (which it isn't), that message is still a problem, just a bigger one.

You know the only good female characters who don't fight and aren't condescended to that I can think of? Tian, Adalia, and Oranie. Adalia and Oranie show up in one scene; we don't see Tian much more often. (I don't count Kara and Kourrem because the book is explicit that being a Bazhir shaman means you do fight, even though we never to my knowledge see them fighting. Varice and Sarra don't count because the text is very condescending towards them both; Maura is arguably either a character who does fight, or falls into the same category as Varice and Sarra.)

Compare that to the good men who don't fight: Duke Baird. A whole slew of Mithran masters. Si-cham. Arguably, Thom. I won't, out of fairness, count any man who's been knighted, even if they seem to be averse to fighting, so I won't count King Roald or Myles.

Bottom line: it doesn't even compare. Pierce seems to feel far more free, in Tortall, to create peace-loving or non-fighting men than peace-loving, non-fighting women. Any woman who's on the side of good and non-fighting is explicitly treated in a condescending manner, in a way that no non-fighting man is. (Edit: Aside from King Roald, who is treated like an idiot because he explicitly tries for peace. Which just feeds into the whole nasty "fighting is awesome!" subtext that I'm really starting to loathe.)

...There's something deeply wrong, there. As far as I'm concerned, it's still sexist if you say that the only way for women to be worthwhile is to know how to fight. It's not empowering at all, just a new twist on the same old "women must be THIS way, but men have choices" crap.

If Pierce were doing that deliberately, to build up some subtle statement on such sexism, I would be thrilled. Unfortunately, given how the text reads and how her comments read, I doubt very much that's the case.

ETA: It occurred to me, belatedly, that we also have the interesting case of Neal, who had a different and noncombatant career path before switching to knighthood. And he is the only fighter in the series whose decision to fight is legitimately questioned, who is treated as if doing something other than fighting would be just as legitimate a choice.

And he's, well, male. We never get that grace for a woman in the series - the message for women is "fight, or we'll make you, or you're not worthwhile".

You can contrast him a bit with Lalasa, actually; Lalasa, in a series of cringeworthy scenes that I never reread, is forced to learn to fight, even though she doesn't want to, and when she does learn and starts teaching others, this is treated like how things should be and the text explicitly starts portraying Lalasa as a strong, worthwhile person, as opposed to the caricatured meekness we first meet.

Neal, on the other hand, also initially didn't want to fight, and changed his mind and learned to do so. But he is treated as if he would have been just as worthy a person as a healer, whereas Lalasa is very clearly shown to be not really a worthwhile person until she can fight.

Lalasa also bothers me because here we get another warped aesop, that shows up in more minor ways with Daine and Maura and Kel's ... aunt? I think? - If you're a woman and don't fight, circumstances will conspire to make you, or you will be victims of circumstance.

With men, the message is: you can fight, or not, as you will. Go for it.

That is wrong. I can't even express how repugnant I find that. It's like rape "advice" that tells women they must be scared and know martial arts and carry pepper spray and a gun.

I think I would only ever recommend the Tortall books to people with a good head on their shoulders and a good grasp of such issues. That saddens me - I do like these books - but I have serious moral issues with them that are only becoming clearer the more I poke at the books.
zodiacal_light: In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu lies dreaming... (cthulhu)
*sigh*

Why do people act like King Roald is an idiot? People over on glake are so derisive of him for being a peacemaker - what, that's a bad thing? Silly me, here I thought things like peace and diplomacy were good.

It's bad enough the text is incredibly condescending towards him for being a peacemaker and not a warmonger. Am I the only one who thinks he probably had to be, after Jasson's wars of expansion?

...I kinda want to do an AU now where King Roald continues Jasson's policies, and ends up tearing Tortall apart, but I don't think I could do it justice and I'm not sure I have much interesting to say.

I think the recent threads on glake have convinced me to give up on it once and for all. I'll probably pop in to see the new prompts, but the sheer idiocy over there recently is astounding. I thought better of that place, but at least I'll spare my blood pressure. I shouldn't have commented today, but I am, apparently, constitutionally incapable of not replying to utter morons.

But back to Roald. There are only two things he does that could be construed as stupid - his presumed suicide, and his not letting the pages study magic sooner, and in both cases we don't know what's going on there. We don't know for sure Roald did commit suicide - only that he'd missed a jump he'd made before, and Jon thought he'd killed himself. On the magic - we don't know his reasoning, or if it was even at Roald's direction that magic wasn't taught to pages. It could have been longstanding policy. It could have been at the discretion of the training master, in which case it would have been on Gareth's shoulders. We don't know, and so I'm not willing to call a man stupid over ... one debatably bad policy. Concerning pages.

But what really pisses me off is that neither of those examples are why people on glake have decided Roald is stupid. They've decided he's stupid because he's a peacemaker.

Am I the only person who thinks that's fucked up?
zodiacal_light: In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu lies dreaming... (cthulhu)
You know one of the argument techniques that drives me nuts? When you make an argument - Good women in Tortall fight, say - and someone throws out a minor character who doesn't (that we see, anyway), and declares that this makes your argument invalid.

Um.

Look. When I'm arguing a trend exists, pointing to very minor characters as exceptions to the trend doesn't mean the trend doesn't exist. If anything, it proves my point, when the only characters you can find that don't fit the trend I mentioned are incredibly minor - or when you have to twist facts to have examples.

Also, I am really wishing people on glake would verify their facts before spouting off at the mouth. Uline does like to fight, folks, she's one of the Queen's Ladies.

For the record, the following characters do fight (or are known to) in canon: Eleni, Winna, Nuritin, Sarai, Dove, Lalasa, Uline, Maura, the refugees. Varice and Sarra are not exceptions to the trend, because the text is explicitly condescending to both of them. Kara and Kourrem are implied to fight later, because one of the specific jobs of a Bazhir shaman is to fight off attacking mages - this is specifically stated in the text, though admittedly, since we never see Kara and Kourrem as shamans on their own, I don't think we ever see them fight. But, incidentally, the way their magics are described, we know damn well they both can.

ETA: [personal profile] carmarthen has just reminded me that Kara and Kourrem help Alanna fight off the hillmen. So no, they're not exceptions to the trend, and no, you can't argue that they only do it under duress, given that this is a recognized part of their job.

Characters who are too minor to really buck the trend: Adalia and Oranie.

If I have to explain this again, I am going to blow a gasket.

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zodiacal_light: Humour: Because angst is not jolly. (Default)
Alix

October 2013

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