2013-01-28

Some unpolished thoughts gender in Wheel of Time

A lot of the characters in Wheel of Time are female. I haven't counted, but I think a vast majority are. Most rulers are female. Women are merchants, mercenaries, warriors, hunters for the Horn, inn keepers, ladle-wielding cooks, mayors and intellectuals. Many women are extremely competent leaders with economical and political cunning and political and military tactical brilliance. In every area where men dominate (from our perspective) there is at least one culture in Wheel of Time where women are sole or majority

There seems to be no area in which women of some culture somewhere doesn't dominate a traditionally  male role.

In a way it makes sense that in a world where men who can wield magic are known to go crazy and wreck havoc men are relegated to a secondary role. If we assume for a moment that men dominate western society because they're physically stronger and are therefore accepting responsibility for the rest of us, then in Wheel of Time women are accepting the responsibility of leadership because they are more mentally stable.

Jordan took a great pleasure in portraying his characters as stubbornly prejudiced. When you are put in the head of Nynaeve, Egwene, Elayne or Aviendha they are still, even in the last and 14th book, insisting that women can keep secrets but men gossip, men are incomprehensible and/or simple, men are exasperating and infuriating and illogical. Egwene actually shocked me by thinking that Berelain is a "lightskirt". We, the readers, know that Berelain uses sexuality as a political tool, how can Egwene, Amyrlin Seat the leader of leaders, be hung up about how many people Berelain has fucked?

Men are portrayed as equally dense. According to Mat, women gossip, Mat, Perrin and Rand find women incomprehensible and infuriating. Women are controlling meddlers with apocryphal motivations.

As readers, we are constantly reminded that the men and women of Wheel of Time are the same, and driven by the same things, but because they refuse to overcome their prejudices and communicate with each other they end up as antagonists.

No comments:

Post a Comment