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Jordan's understanding of women


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It seems that Jordan wants to write strong, resilient woman but I'm not sure he knows how. Instead of capable and discerning, most of the women come across as petty and stubborn. In my experience, women can be "cattier" but we certainly aren't as petty or ridiculous as Jordan portrays. It's very insulting and irritating that the women are constantly bungling and stumbling about. Their advancement seems to be a matter of luck and happenstance as opposed to purpose.

 

It makes me wonder about Jordan's relationship with women. Whenever I'm in a coed meeting, I find the women much more reasonable and willing to compromise and communicate.

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Jack,

Pardon the redundancy. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has this complaint. I will find other discussions and do my bitching there.

 

Warm regards,

Kim

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kim,

trust me,you're not the only one who has this complaint,i don't even dare to write

what my wife said about robert jordan.

by the way,the best place to unburden oneself to is dragonmount,so please,just ignore my remark.

 

may the light ilumine you.

jack.

 

p.s.did you finish the series?

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I'm re-reading it. I read it back in college, a hundred years ago. Back then I remember thinking what pettiness among the women but now that I'm older, it's just infuriating and distracting. I think, as long as the forum allows, I'm going to make this my personal complaint board. (Your wife and I would probably get along well.)  I've read on other posts that he based the women on his wife's different personalities. I say he did her a great disservice. That or she's a one dimensional, contrary person.

 

So I'm on The Path of Daggers. The gals have finally fumbled upon the weather bowl and they are bickering. Honest to heavens, the world is counting on them and they are bickering.

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I didn't like his portrayal of women in general either. Seemed to get off to a decent start, which is where most of the comments of RJ building a world dominated by "strong females" or whatnot seem to comes from (the beginning of the series) - there were not yet too many characters and of the women that were there, most seemed either fair (like Moiraine) or at least excusable for some reason (like some of the leads, who could be credited as either young or just individual quirks [like Nynaeve is just the pissy one]). Then as the series went on and more and more female characters were added, I am not sure how to account for most of them being very petty and at times even abusive, other than RJ just didn't know how to write women and it reflects on how he typefies them.

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Yeah Faile was totally abusive!

 

It just seems like he had this ideal that he was going to be the guy to add strong females into fantasy... But did not really know how. So he went with bitchy as a easy go to solution. He should have read up on authors like Anne McCafery and Margaret Atwood to get a better idea of what that might actually look like.

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The thing is, we do not live in a world that males tore apart in the Breaking. The women here are this way because of the world as it was, and the mis trust between the genders that this event caused.

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That is a point to consider. At least for Aes Sedai or other one power connected women I think that is true. Though I don't know if by this age that would still be an affect for all women having distrust of men. It seemed more like it became a vague fear of anything one power related. Like the white cloaks distrusting and hating even women one power users.

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The thing is, we do not live in a world that males tore apart in the Breaking. The women here are this way because of the world as it was, and the mis trust between the genders that this event caused.

Mistrust of men is one thing but the bickering, the pettiness, the distrust and disdain of everything is annoying at best, and completely insulting. For example Min and her viewings: She tells Siuan what she sees- dead Aes Sedai. But Siuan just dismisses it as Min not knowing how to interpret her own viewings, a gift she's had since birth. Only the unwisest of people would dismiss a gift like Min's. There is no wisdom among the women, only stubbornness and indoctrination.

 

The women aren't curious about learning more about what is possible, seeing only obstacles and not opportunities.

 

 

And let's not for get Elayne and her flirtation with Thom. How gross was that? If I remember correctly, Jordan writes that it was only natural for girls to flirt with their father figures and compete with their mothers. WRONG! I've never flirted with my dad or step-dad and I certainly don't feel competitive with my mother.

 

Like I said, I'm sounding off on my personal frustrations concerning this issue. Love the books, love the story. Just releasing.

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It seems that Jordan wants to write strong, resilient woman but I'm not sure he knows how. Instead of capable and discerning, most of the women come across as petty and stubborn. In my experience, women can be "cattier" but we certainly aren't as petty or ridiculous as Jordan portrays. It's very insulting and irritating that the women are constantly bungling and stumbling about. Their advancement seems to be a matter of luck and happenstance as opposed to purpose.

 

It makes me wonder about Jordan's relationship with women. Whenever I'm in a coed meeting, I find the women much more reasonable and willing to compromise and communicate.

You must never have seen a show called Jerry Springer.  

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The bickering between the women seems to be disagreements on how to keep the world going and not wanting to trust anyone that had another opinion that they know might work and sway future situations to the other woman's influence. As opposed to doing it how a man would. By killing them. Or trusting them implicitly.

 

The Breaking memory sems to effect every form of society, from the Are Sedai when men show abilities, the Women's Circle vs the Village Council, and the Wise Ones when dealing with Chiefs, and even family homes. In most of these cases where authority of major groups are involved, almost all show close to outright hostility between them. Only the Wise Ones out of these acknowledge that the men's views are valid. The rest oppose absolutely.

 

Only the Ogier society are untouched by this issue.

 

I think it is quite a fascinating world to read.

Edited by wotfan4472
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Only the Ogier society are untouched by this issue.

 

But they aren't, the Ogier women are often thought of as being the same as humans, according to Perrin, and Loials mother certainly fits in with this belief.

 

 

It seems like every woman is written the same, they think they should be in charge and are pissy when they aren't. They look down on men, and other women, until they need them then they quickly forget them usually without much thanks or gratitude the next interaction they have.

To blame this on the breaking is ridiculous since they do blame that on the OP and have an instant fear of men who can channel not just any man, except red AS.  

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@vetra,

"to blame this on the breaking is ridiculous..'

hear,hear!

fear of male channelers is entirely justified,but they were/are only 5 percent

of the male population,the rest 95 percent are/were guiltless and suffered the

same fate as women during the breaking,three thousand years later it is clearly

evident that the majority of male population fear male channelers as much as women do,

projecting fear from a small group of males(and i don't care how influential or important)

to all males in general is indeed ridiculous.

Edited by jack of shadows
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In general I lump all the AS bickering and politics along with the same stuff that the general nobility did throughout the series. I always took it as satire towards our own political systems where even in the face of the end of the world that those in charge would allow greed to rule their decision making.

 

I also think that there were plenty of competent women in the series... also plenty of idiot men in the series. However, as others have said the ability to channel safely has swung the gender war towards women in this world and put them into political prominence making the scenario I mentioned above more of a focal point.

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@dexterryu it isn't about competent women it is about how almost every single woman acts the same. Usually arrogant or at least without gratitude it seems like he had one template he based his women off of and just adjust arrogance slightly. The characters are not varied nearly as much as every other great author's characters are.

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@dexterryu it isn't about competent women it is about how almost every single woman acts the same. Usually arrogant or at least without gratitude it seems like he had one template he based his women off of and just adjust arrogance slightly. The characters are not varied nearly as much as every other great author's characters are.

 

You could say that there was a lack of gratitude of all characters, in general. 

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You could say that there was a lack of gratitude of all characters, in general. 

 

There is but at least with the men we see different behaviors and personalities the women do not have many differences, except some are slightly more arrogant than others. 

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In the beginning, I thought that RJ made men look like simple-minded fools. Women seemed to be more intelligent, patient, and capable. As the story progressed, there was more complexity and internal struggle for the women characters. I think the same happened for the male characters but that as the story went along the men seemed to gain more depth and intelligence (in general). 

As a whole, when the series is done, I think that both the men and female are very similar in how they are portrayed. I think the ancient AS symbol is a great way to think about the sexes in the series. I don't think they are all that dissimilar and that they ultimately complement one another. I started the series thinking the men were being portrayed as simpletons. I think ultimately the sexes were equalized despite the differences. 

This is my take, though. I'm sure many others interpret this very differently. 

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yeah it's safe to say that the women arent protrayed very well (although I really liked Mioraine throughout the whole series, as well as Avihenda). But I did like to think that a lot of the way women in the books generally act has to do with the culture change due to the Breaking. You definitely cant say there it no relation between men (albiet a small percentage of men) being responsible for destroying the world, and the majority (if not all) cultures in the world being matriarchal. The women assume they should always be in charge and are pissed when they arent. The same way men assume they should always be in charge in a patriarchal society, and would be pissed if they had to defer to a woman. People like to say you cant blame the breaking because only 5% of men can channel, but look at Far Madding. They have an entire city where nobody has channeled for like 3000 years, and its the most matriarchal society on the planet. when in Far Madding the Power should never come into consideration in anything at all. 

 

That being said, the women are still badly portrayed overall, and besides a few (like suian), every gain they have is based on luck or happenstance. But I still like alot of the female characters. I just eventually wrote it down to that just being the way women in Randland behave. 

 

I also like to remember that his portrayal of men isnt exactly the best either. That is to say that the men are flawed in similar ways. They seem to be almost stupid in the earlier books, not really knowing what was going on, pretending they were tough and in control when the women were really in charge, and It seemed to even out for both genders in the end.

Edited by Faroresdragn
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The thing is, we do not live in a world that males tore apart in the Breaking. The women here are this way because of the world as it was, and the mis trust between the genders that this event caused.

When we see Cadsuane enter the picture, it really puts the pettiness and bickering into perspective among the "younger" women and Aes Sedai.  She is stately and yet has her own quirks as she is somewhat of a bully and leads from a respect/fear balance.

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I have not re-read the series since my early twenties, and I would very much like to do so again at some point. I never got that impression from the women. I always kind of saw it as "female bias" and "female privilege" in their world, to put it in modern day terms I wouldn't have thought of a few years ago. It's even more than that, though, it's a bit of a photo negative of the way "patriarchal men" have thought of women in the real world for thousands of years. It's not a direct one-to-one comparison, mind, and Jordan really emphasized a tension between the sexes as being a constant motif throughout the series.

 

Putting aside their backwards attitudes towards the sexes and just looking at the politicking... is it really much different than the way men politic? The way men don't trust each other? The way men think they've known best throughout history? Or do we just see it as worse because women are doing it? The way a man expressing certain traits is seen as a great leader, but if a women expresses those same traits she's "bossy" or "****y"? How many male characters have I seen brush off things the way Siuan did Min's prophecy? And certainly I've seen people roll their eyes and beat their fists when a man is shown as doing this, not necessarily in dislike of the character, but just wanting to grab them by the shoulders and shake some sense into them and relieve the "omg we're building towards something bad" tension, but I've never seen it attributed to it being a poor portrayal of the male sex. 

 

Perhaps the portrayal is really way off. As stated, it's been some years since I've picked up the series. I always saw the tension played up for humor, though... a bit tongue in cheek. And to add, I've seen other readers who get all mad at Egwene, Elayne, or Nynaeve for behaving the way they do. Like... legitimately mad and frustrated and calling them idiots or worse for the way they think about others. I don't know... I never did. I always liked their characters. 

Edited by Agitel
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I partly agree with the OP, and partly with Agitel. The women in this series are somewhat supposed to be how men have been for the majority of our history: Being accustomed to being the rulers, opinion-makers and leaders. Some of the women are furious when men try to meddle or show a different perspective - like a lot of men have acted in our world. There are still men who inherently disapprove of female leadership, still men who get angry when a woman disagrees with them compared to how they would react if a man did it. Even in our relatively equal Western society, these prejudices live on. And Randland is more like the 1600s or something, where the gender roles were much more set.
 
BUT - here comes the problem. It doesn't really work like that, either. Men still have a lot of the leading positions. Women cannot have any role in the Children of the light, which, in keeping with our world, is a rather sexist and patriarchal religion which views women with suspicion and more as inherently flawed / evil). Women cannot be clan chiefs among the Aiel, or lead the village council in for example Two Rivers (they can't vote in the council election either, from what I remember). Of course, men can't be Wisdoms or Wise Ones either - but are those roles really equally/ more powerful? I am not sure I buy that. It is a very gender-divided society, but it's not true that the women are in the lead of everything or suppressing men the way women have been suppressed for most of history. Far Madding is virtually the only example of this, where men are deliberately kept down and prevented from doing certain jobs, have less rights in the eyes of the law etc. (And in Shara they kill their men, or at least the Ayyad, but we don't see much of their culture).

A lot of the gender roles are similiar to our world. The women seem to be the primary caretakers of children, there are a lot of descriptions of "men comforting women, women comforting children" and children hiding in their mother's skirts, except for Egwene's dad and of course Rand's dad (as he grew up without a mother) we seem to see quite little of fathers taking an active hand in raising their children. Warring seems to be mainly for men - not amongst the Seanchan, where female captains, soldiers etc. are common, or the Aiel - but even there, women make up their own fighting clan, they're not a part of the regular Aiel "armies". Birgitte is an oddity, an exception, for a long time. Mat seems to be one of few who even consider women as fighters - he respects Birgitte and thinks about one of the Seancan female generals that he would make her a bannerman in the Red Hand without hesitation (which was also a way of complimenting her skill with her men and with defusing the situation with Luca's show and the Seanchan). He is the only one of the major generals we see who even seems to consider this. Bashere, Bryne, Perrin? No way. Berelain leads her soldiers in battle, but she seems to be an exception. 
 
And then we haven't even started on how that world looks at sexuality in general (not just female sexuality) or the complex some of the characters have with killing women - for some reason, that grates them even when it happened in a fair fight. It irks me because it speaks of underestimating the women - they are obviously not seen of soldiers of equal footing, since killing them is such a problem. Mat, Rand etc. seem to blame themselves for killing a woman - in a very male, patronizing way. "She would be alive if I hadn't defended myself." Well, d'uh. It's like the women's choice to become warriors, fully understanding that meant they would probably die in battle, is completely irrelevant to them. It is an infuriating way of devaluing the choices women made and seeing them as "victims" first and foremost. And they also try to prevent the women from fighting, when that's clearly their wish. This happens over and over again, with Aes Sedai aswell as Maidens etc.
 
In general, a lot of the men seem to think the women are idiots who need to be watched constantly, and Mat in particular seems to think the women should sit locked up in a tower somewhere so they "wouldn't get themselves into trouble". Again, extremely patronizing. Does he think Perrin is a fool who gets himself into trouble? Or Juilin? No. He is constantly annoyed at the women for doing stupid things so he has to "save" them - not even considering for a second that they might not have needed his help. In his eyes, they are all his charges who need his protection. In this way, he is the most sexist character of the series - in other ways he's not (such as in him at least partly recognizing female warriors as equal and with him not seeming to judge women for sexual behaviour). And both him and Rand expect the women to do as they say and are annoyed when they don't - such as when Rand tasks Mat with "bringing" Elayne to Caemlyn, and Mat complies, and he honestly excpects the girls to just go "oh, okay", none of them considering that the women might have their own plans and that Rand's need to keep Elayne safe is not their chief concern. 
 
To be fair, a lot of the women seem to think the same about men - that they are irrational, hot-headed etc. - but they very rarely take it this far. As in, following a man around because they believe him a fool, or not trusting him to follow his own path for a time. There are exceptions, sure, but the women are not so day-to-day-controlling as some of the men seem to be. (Some of them do give over, though, such as Perrin realizing Faile is competent to handle diplomatic / ruling matters, more competent than him, but that is an exception too.)

Edited by OlwenaSedai
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