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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
kimradford

Jordan's understanding of women

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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.)

um.... rarely take it that far? does the AS deciding that the Dragon Reborn should basically be their pet to bring out for TG count? 

How about Cadsuane or Nynaeve following Rand around in KoD or tGS (not sure which, or if it was even either of those,) and repeatedly telling him that he's an idiot, a woolhead, a fool, a mannerless fool boy, or something of the kind?

I mean several women throughout the series say straight out that they see their job as making sure Rands head doesn't get too big. 

One could even say that the story started on a woman going to far greater lengths than mat ever does. Did he seek out some young girl for 20 years?

 

I get your point but I disagree with it.

 

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. 

 

Also, "might not need his help"? In one instance, they very much needed his help, like when he gets them out of the stone of Tear.

As to bringing Elayne to Caemlyn, If the most powerful man (Who has several methods of killing you if he wished, and is also well known as unstable) on the continent appeared in your bedroom while you where sleeping, and insists you help his girlfriend.....

Can you honestly say you would refuse?

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I think one thing that people miss from Jordan's "The Wheel of Time" series is the intentional flaws in the women and the men to show the need to work together to restore balance in an imbalanced world. Sure, he turns power dynamics on their head, but at the end of the day, the sexism, racism, classism, and many other examples of imbalance in "The Wheel of Time" are intentionally plotted out. Those who get "the lesson" change in the story and begin to work together by the end to defeat the greater foe. Jordan's commentary on society as a whole, "division makes us weaker, the idea there is a "better" way or a "better" type of person is a lie". Unity, balance, smart application of everyone's good attributes is what wins the day. 

This theme plays out in a large world, not reading to the end,  you'll miss it. 

Many characters act as foils for others. 

Example:

Siuan and Elaida are foils for Egwene. Sure, Egwene has faults, but by the end of the series she learns some valuable lessons that Siuan didn't learn until too late and Elaida never learns. The lesson, they don't always know the best or only way to achieve something. Egwene gets it, she sacrifices herself for the greater good. She comes to embrace the Aes Sedai "servant of all" attitude rather than the "bully everyone into our way" behavior. 

Aram is a foil to Perrin.

Gawyn and Galad are foils to Rand.

Mat is a foil to all of them, an excellent contrasting character that challenges prejudices, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs as compared to Rand, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve, Tuon, Aludra, Birgitte, Thom, Jain, Gawyn, Galad, and many more. 

Nynaeve actually changes in remarkable ways. Learning to work with others rather than browbeat or lead. Learning to defer instead of always rule. Learning when leadership is needed from her and when cooperation is best. She is amazing as a character.

The greater foils are whole nations, cultures, and societies. Look at how many of the countries in the Westlands are ruled by monarchs. They have an attitude about the Aiel, the Sea Folk and the Seanchan, but many of the ruling class in the Westlands are horrible to the common class, even as they have an attitude about how the Seanchan treat female channelers and how the Aiel seem like "savages" and ignorant. The whole of the westlands shows ignorance and ill treatment of others. These different and prejudiced groups must come together or die apart at the end. It's awesome how he builds this world of separateness and differences and turns them into conduits of balance and cooperation.

 

I think what Robert Jordan does with women is excellent. He gives them flaws and room to grow on a level that many writers are afraid to touch or perhaps don't delve that deeply. FYI, he did have a woman who helped him with every female character - his wife. 

 

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I think Jordan had good intentions of writing strong woman characters and he did have some success there. Many of the most admirable characters are women. Unfortunately his personal experience and/or generational bias apparently resulted in him thinking being a nagging harridan is part and parcel of being a strong woman.  That is not surprising since it remains a sadly persistent view of strong women today (at least in america).  It doesn't ruin the books, but it does make it harder to like many of the female characters.  That said, I just reread the first book and, while the first time through I found Nynaeve very unlikable (and for many books to follow), this time I had an entirely different view of her.  Its easier to understand her motivations having experienced her full story once.  That probably won't make her travels/bickering with Elayne more fun in subsequent books,but I am more likely to put all the blame on Elayne since she was one of the few characters I liked less as the story progressed and Nynaeve's being on her constantly will likely seem more justified.   

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