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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

A Female Dragon? Examining the Evidence


Elder_Haman

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Obviously nobody can. And BS in the last books tries to bring some of it more up to date, but who knows if it is what RJ would have done. 

 

But we do know that he tried to fit with the current attitudes, not to subvert. It seems clear he would have changed things, and we can only try to guess what. 

 

I don't see what's controversial about that. 

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On 10/30/2021 at 2:53 PM, MasterAblar said:

The way women were portrayed in the books was definitely at times a bit of a caricature

@MasterAblarI don't mean to single you out, I'm just choosing this passage to make my point. 

 

I think it's interesting that people so often complain about the women in WoT being caricatures when the men are treated the exact same way. I think that people talk about the male/female dynamics in WoT as being weird in comparison to our own modern world, but in the context of the WoT world, are they really that out of place? 

 

The reason I say this is because Randland is a world where the most powerful people for 3000 years have all been women. In such an environment, it would make sense for male/female dynamics to evolve in a way that doesn't mirror our own world which has been largely patriarchal. 

 

I just wonder if people too often throw this out as a complaint rather than considering it a feature, and honestly one of the most impressive and immersive feats of worldbuilding I can think of. RJ's consistently foreign depiction of men and women and how their relationships would be different in a more matriarchal society is better worldbuilding than anything I've ever seen from Brandon Sanderson, and I think it should get more respect. 

 

Watering this down for an adaptation sure makes it more palatable to a general audience, but I think something integral to the feeling of RJs world is lost as well when these values (which were never meant to reflect reality) are "updated" to fall in line with modern sensibilities. 

 

It's just a thought that I don't think most people have considered. 

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22 hours ago, Ralph said:

Sorry but this is a false equivalence. 

 

Lol, this is throwing me back to when I took the LSAT. (Have you ever spent 6 months straight studying logical reasoning?) 

 

Needless to say, I disagree, but then again no one can know for sure what RJ would write today. 

 

I believe this is where we differ. I categorically do not believe in "updating" a work in adaptation. That terminology is so slippery and can be used to justify anything. In 1700-1900 England, for example, it was common to "update" older material to remove sexual content, blasphemous content, and other things which didn't fit in with the strict sensibilities of the time. Famous plays were given new "updated" endings to better fit with the sensibilities of the time. (most infamously King Lear and A Doll's House). 

 

These adaptations have aged so poorly as to be laughable. The same can be said for a number of censored movies from the 70's and 80's. My professors always raged against these changes (though something tells me that they would be all for updating WoT's "problematic" elements and never see the irony). 

 

My point is that an "update" will only be relevant for as long as the morals which it was updated to match remain in fashion. After that, it will be obsolete, always seen as an inferior copy. 

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1 minute ago, swollymammoth said:

In 1700-1900 England, for example, it was common to "update" older material to remove sexual content, blasphemous content, and other things which didn't fit in with the strict sensibilities of the time.

Right. But this isn't what's happening here. The books still exist. No one is going back and editing RJ's work.

 

Instead, someone is trying to make a television series with broad appeal. It's hard to imagine, for example, a current year audience reacting positively to Egwene being put over some Aes Sedai's knee for a spanking. Changing spankings to some other form of discipline works just as well for Egwene's arc and sacrifices nothing from the original. 

 

Changing some aspects of the original to make it a more palatable adaptation for a modern audience isn't the same as making retroactive changes to the source material.

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

Right. But this isn't what's happening here. The books still exist. No one is going back and editing RJ's work.

I mean, the original King Lear and A Doll's House still existed back then. People could go read them whenever they wanted, but for decades, the version of those works which existed in the public conscience was the edited adaptation, an inferior version which did not need to exist and which, in hindsight, is seen a endemic of a society-wide moral failure. 

 

As a general rule, if a society can only handle art which has been updated to meet their moral sensibilities, something is massively wrong, no matter what those updates are. 

 

Also, I feel like everyone keeps trying to reduce this to the issue of spanking. It's not. WoT features themes of gender all over the place, and the vast majority of those representations are "problematic" by 2021 standards. I would be capital S-Shocked if the majority of that stuff wasn't changed. This isn't just about spanking, it's about a complete alteration of WoT's unique approach to the themes of gender which lay at its very core. 

 

I've said it before, but if the pillow-friends were being removed or the Children of the Light were being framed as heroes in order to suit the tastes of a Christian super majority, people would be losing their minds. Instead, it's just "another turning of the wheel." 

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6 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

It's not. WoT features themes of gender all over the place, and the vast majority of those representations are "problematic" by 2021 standards. I would be capital S-Shocked if the majority of that stuff wasn't changed.

What specifically do you fear they are going to change? Given that we don't have any evidence of changes yet. Most of the things that people are worried about right now seem like hobgoblins conjured out of thin air and given a thin patina of credibility because Rafe wrote some pretty tame tweets about being a feminist. (In Hollywood?!? I'm shocked!)

 

Things that would truly bother me:

  • Degendering the One Power (no saidin/saidar).
  • Making Min genderfluid or trans.

But I think both of these are highly unlikely. Is there something else that concerns you?

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

What specifically do you fear they are going to change?

Honestly, it would really bother me if they watered down ("updated") the gender dynamics. I am in the vast minority because I actually think that RJ's treatment of men and women is one of the most interesting and unique things about WoT. It just makes WoT feel so cohesive, and I wonder if people underestimate how much it lends to the feeling of reading the series. 

 

If that were sterilized, then the world fundamentally changes and takes WoT one step closer to being just another generic feeling fantasy. 

 

I also love the braid-pulling though, which I realize may torpedo what little credibility I might have here since everyone else seems to meme on it constantly. 

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28 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

Also, I feel like everyone keeps trying to reduce this to the issue of spanking. It's not. WoT features themes of gender all over the place, and the vast majority of those representations are "problematic" by 2021 standards. I would be capital S-Shocked if the majority of that stuff wasn't changed. This isn't just about spanking, it's about a complete alteration of WoT's unique approach to the themes of gender which lay at its very core. 


 

Where is the evidence for that? The key gender themes are obviously still there: the split between male and female channellers with the former going mad and being hunted and the second holding social power (albeit contested); the social splits between female and male social power even at the village level (we know they’re keeping the women’s circle for example).

 

The only thing we know Rafe has concretely suggested he will change is polygamy to polyamory. And there was something off-feeling about the books giving females more social power but then making all polygamous relationships one man to multiple women (other than for green aes sedai - which in sone ways made it worse by suggesting that polygamy is made possible by an imbalance in authority and that only aes sedai among women could benefit from that imbalance).


I would go so far as to say that it felt incoherent, like RJ hadn’t really thought through the implications of introducing that element in the context of other tweaks to gender relations he had made in the WOT universe.

 

One option to correct that would be to make polygamy more common and running both ways. But given how few relationships are affected by it in the books, the less invasive adjustment is just to avoid the concept of polygamy entirely and/or replace it with something close but less bound up with notions of social power (polyamory).
 

That’s not necessarily about watering down the show for modern sensibilities - Big Love was an excellent modern show primarily about polygamy - but probably mostly about making the show make more sense.

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2 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

But what does that look like? 

An elimination of the much maligned Mars/Venus (to use the words from the Rafe Interview) male/female dynamic. 

 

A lot of this will come down to dialogue. Are the male characters constantly speculating about the nature of women? Do they struggle mightily to understand women? Many male characters in WoT are casually sexist but are not punished for it in the narrative. Often, it is played off as endearing because WoT finds humor in the differences between the sexes and doesn't see these comments as crimes to be punished. To say the least, I have very little faith that the writers will show such restraint. 

 

Also, are female characters (especially the Red Ajah) often guilty of underestimating men in ways which come back to bite them? In WoT, men's preconceptions of women are often turned on their head, but the same in true in reverse. 

 

The WoT places men and women in distinct spheres. There is certainly overlap, but it is at the extremes (such as with characters like Brigette (sp?)) and is certainly not common. Even among the Aiel, where the Maidens of the Spear essentially serve the same societal role as the men, these is a clear divide between them and the male warriors. Though they occupy a male position in society, they are distinctly female. 

 

All of this stuff is problematic in 2021 and, for someone who saw it as their job to "update" WoT instead of adapt it, would be subject to alteration. 

 

want the gender stuff in WoT to feel outdated is what I'm saying. To use an example, in Titanic, there's a scene where Rose just takes like a whole scene during which she doesn't sound like a woman living in 1914, she sounds like a woman from 1997, and it just feels super out of place. 

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5 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

An elimination of the much maligned Mars/Venus (to use the words from the Rafe Interview) male/female dynamic. 

 

A lot of this will come down to dialogue. Are the male characters constantly speculating about the nature of women? Do they struggle mightily to understand women? Many male characters in WoT are casually sexist but are not punished for it in the narrative. Often, it is played off as endearing because WoT finds humor in the differences between the sexes and doesn't see these comments as crimes to be punished. To say the least, I have very little faith that the writers will show such restraint. 

 

Also, are female characters (especially the Red Ajah) often guilty of underestimating men in ways which come back to bite them? In WoT, men's preconceptions of women are often turned on their head, but the same in true in reverse. 

 

The WoT places men and women in distinct spheres. There is certainly overlap, but it is at the extremes (such as with characters like Brigette (sp?)) and is certainly not common. Even among the Aiel, where the Maidens of the Spear essentially serve the same societal role as the men, these is a clear divide between them and the male warriors. Though they occupy a male position in society, they are distinctly female. 

 

All of this stuff is problematic in 2021 and, for someone who saw it as their job to "update" WoT instead of adapt it, would be subject to alteration. 

 

want the gender stuff in WoT to feel outdated is what I'm saying. To use an example, in Titanic, there's a scene where Rose just takes like a whole scene during which she doesn't sound like a woman living in 1914, she sounds like a woman from 1997, and it just feels super out of place. 

 

Huh. See, I see all of this as a selling point. I think this show was probably pitched with Jordan's exploration gender dynamics at the forefront. I don't know why you'd think they would change any of it, with the exception of the fascination with corporal punishment. 

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14 minutes ago, Tim said:

The only thing we know Rafe has concretely suggested he will change is polygamy to polyamory. And there was something off-feeling about the books giving females more social power but then making all polygamous relationships one man to multiple women (other than for green aes sedai - which in sone ways made it worse by suggesting that polygamy is made possible by an imbalance in authority and that only aes sedai among women could benefit from that imbalance).

It's this mindset that's the cause of concern though, isn't it? Like, the problem with getting rid of/"updating" problematic content is that basically anything becomes problematic if you look at it long enough. There's no limiting principle. If you're adapting a source material and your stated goal is only to change what's problematic, then you basically have carte-blanche to do whatever you want. There's no such thing as an airtight, non-problematic story, and I don't see any value in pursuing that as a goal in its own right. 

 

In short, a "woke" WoT adaptation is only 10 years away from being a problematic one. So what's the point? Just adapt the source material as it is. Anything else, and you're no different from Guillermo Sanchez (the man who cut Measure for Measure in its entirety from the 1632 Folger Shakespeare collection in 1632 in the name of religious piety). 

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1 hour ago, swollymammoth said:

Lol, this is throwing me back to when I took the LSAT. (Have you ever spent 6 months straight studying logical reasoning?) 

 

Currently at 22 years and counting... 

 

I actually agree with a lot of your points, especially about the gender split being so fundamental to the story you may as well not bother if you think that needs changing. However, many of the other examples are tangential to the thrust of the story and I don't mind them being changed. 

 

The point I was making was that using GOT as you did to illustrate the point was not accurate. That I think is clear

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I think there is a difference between “incoherent” and “problematic”. The issue with the polygamy in WOT is that it is narratively confusing, and not just for modern audiences - it made no sense to me in 1994!

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4 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

 

Huh. See, I see all of this as a selling point. I think this show was probably pitched with Jordan's exploration gender dynamics at the forefront. I don't know why you'd think they would change any of it, with the exception of the fascination with corporal punishment. 

*shrug* I'm probably just a cynic. If the show is good, and my worst fears don't come true, I will be championing it on this forum. In truth, I thought the most recent trailer was actually pretty good. Call me cautiously pessimistic haha

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6 minutes ago, Ralph said:

Currently at 22 years and counting... 

 

I publicly apologize haha I shouldn't have discounted you like I did, and I'm sorry. 

 

My point was only that the GoT showrunners (at least early on) didn't make changes to the problematic elements of the books. Those were largely left intact. Some might argue that they leaned into that stuff for marketing purposes, and that would be fair, but that would still sit better with me that if the WoT writers decided to purge their show of regressive gender politics in the name of "updating" it for modern audiences. 

 

Just from an artistic integrity standpoint, I think it would be wrong. 

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11 minutes ago, Tim said:

I think there is a difference between “incoherent” and “problematic”. The issue with the polygamy in WOT is that it is narratively confusing, and not just for modern audiences - it made no sense to me in 1994!

If this were the case, I would say the solution is not to update the book's treatment of polygamy but rather to justify it in order to keep the story/world as recognizable to the books as possible. 

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2 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

My point was only that the GoT showrunners (at least early on) didn't make changes to the problematic elements of the books. Those were largely left intact. 

 

While I don't want the gender dynamics eliminated from WOT, I have to point out that GOT was clearly based on historical medieval society with medieval gender expectations with woman characters who struggled with those expectations. That is not the world of WOT. RJ clearly intended for WOT to be a more modern and updated world. And while I don't want the showrunners to run willy nilly over Jordan's conception, Jordan's goal was to present an updated and progressive view, not a historical period piece. The problematic elements of WOT aren't the fact that it presents historical stereotypes in a historical context which we are all aware of. No one's blind to the fact, least of all Martin, that women are in a terrible spot in ASOIAF/GOT. That's the point. What people are concerned about are 1980s/1990s blind spots, things written without full awareness.

 

I'm not explaining this well, and again I don't think Jordan's gender dynamics should be stripped out of the show. I think many of them are necessary. But there are rough edges that were written without awareness that they were even rough edges.

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Remember that we're not going to be able to see into people's thoughts, no matter what.  All the most 'problematic' stuff you are concerned about keeping (or being tossed) only exist in people's heads. Neither Rand, nor Mat, nor Perrin actually says aloud, for example, about how the others understand women. They think it.  The camera does not need to zoom in on an ample bosom or a well turned calf.  Every harumphing about 'women' or grumbling about men is all just in their heads.  

Nothing that is a thought needs to be included...or needs to be cut or changed.

A /lot/ of the stuff that actually happens and needs to be updated is, literally, spankings and gratuitous nudity.   And I think that everyone is pretty willing to trim that out.

Now, certain thoughts do need to be included...key character transformation moments that currently exist just in people's heads. I'm sure that more 'thoughts' will be brought out by Rafe in the show.  But him creating new dialogue and new scenes to help us understand things that were behind the veil of the mind within the readings of the book isn't taking away from the original books. It's creating new for the TV series because we can't see thoughts. And I see no reason why Rafe has to, or should want to, create sexist, archaic 'problematic stuff' just for the sake of it.

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4 minutes ago, Agitel said:

RJ clearly intended for WOT to be a more modern and updated world.

This may be true, but in my mind it still doesn't matter. The WoT world is what it is, and the books should be treated like the bible when referencing how the world/society/characters should be represented.

 

The idea that it was supposed to be "modern" for its time and so should always reflect modern sensibilities is not insane. It's a nuanced take, but I just don't agree with it. I'm alright with works being time capsules of their eras, and I also think it's pretty presumptuous to claim that an updated adaptation is what a writer would have done had they been alive in modern times. (You did not say that, but I've noticed that it's something of a common sentiment, so I mentioned it here). 

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15 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

If this were the case, I would say the solution is not to update the book's treatment of polygamy but rather to justify it in order to keep the story/world as recognizable to the books as possible. 

Once again, I'm going to point out that the only instance of polygamy in the books is Bain and Chiad with Gaul. Rand's relationships were not polygamous. He did not marry any of the three.

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2 hours ago, swollymammoth said:

I think it's interesting that people so often complain about the women in WoT being caricatures when the men are treated the exact same way. I think that people talk about the male/female dynamics in WoT as being weird in comparison to our own modern world, but in the context of the WoT world, are they really that out of place?

Speaking only for myself here, so my position may be a minority, but:

I don't complain about women specifically in wot. Nor do I complain about men specifically. I complain about how all the characters are treated as caricatures when it comes to issues that have to do with genders. they all seem to think in the same way, and they all look like idiots.

the whole "men can't understand women and women can't understand men" looks like an insult to everyone's intelligence. here we have intelligent characters juggling the politics of nations, but they can't understand another human being just because that other human being has a different apparatus between their legs? 

most of them aren't even trying. most of them are just being passive aggressive to each other. "oh, you're speaking nonsense, but you can't help that, you're a man/woman".

 

and that has absolutely nothing to do with women being in power and everything.

 

Quote

I just wonder if people too often throw this out as a complaint rather than considering it a feature, and honestly one of the most impressive and immersive feats of worldbuilding I can think of. RJ's consistently foreign depiction of men and women and how their relationships would be different in a more matriarchal society is better worldbuilding than anything I've ever seen from Brandon Sanderson, and I think it should get more respect. 

There's a lot of great worldbuilding in the wheel of time, and none of that is problematic.

The thing is, RJ did not show us the results of women being in charge. 99% of his "powerful women" behave like petty bullies; the exceptions i can think of are elayne, morgase and late-books nynaeve. we also have powerful men behaving like petty bullies, but not so much. I think.

 

You can keep a matriarcal society and a world shaped by that, without making everyone look like a moron.

 

1 hour ago, Elder_Haman said:

Instead, someone is trying to make a television series with broad appeal. It's hard to imagine, for example, a current year audience reacting positively to Egwene being put over some Aes Sedai's knee for a spanking. Changing spankings to some other form of discipline works just as well for Egwene's arc and sacrifices nothing from the original.

Why not?

Spanking and other similar physical punishment have been used routinely for millennia. the white tower spanks novices that misbehave? perfectly reasonable; 50 years ago, teachers could spank their kids too.

 

now, if they use that as an excuse to turn wottv into a softcore sadomaso I would be put off, but I would also be put off if they remove the physical punishments.

Just show the first time in the tower one of the protagonists is sent to the mistress of the novices, Sheriam will give some speech on how they deal with musbehavior in the tower, and she has the protagonist bent on the table and prepares the paddle. scene fades while we hear a cry of pain. no problem.

 

26 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

An elimination of the much maligned Mars/Venus (to use the words from the Rafe Interview) male/female dynamic. 

 

A lot of this will come down to dialogue. Are the male characters constantly speculating about the nature of women? Do they struggle mightily to understand women? Many male characters in WoT are casually sexist but are not punished for it in the narrative. Often, it is played off as endearing because WoT finds humor in the differences between the sexes and doesn't see these comments as crimes to be punished. To say the least, I have very little faith that the writers will show such restraint. 

 

Also, are female characters (especially the Red Ajah) often guilty of underestimating men in ways which come back to bite them? In WoT, men's preconceptions of women are often turned on their head, but the same in true in reverse. 

 

The WoT places men and women in distinct spheres. There is certainly overlap, but it is at the extremes (such as with characters like Brigette (sp?)) and is certainly not common. Even among the Aiel, where the Maidens of the Spear essentially serve the same societal role as the men, these is a clear divide between them and the male warriors. Though they occupy a male position in society, they are distinctly female. 

 

All of this stuff is problematic in 2021 and, for someone who saw it as their job to "update" WoT instead of adapt it, would be subject to alteration.

none of those thing is problematic in 2021 either. At least, it should not be.

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7 minutes ago, WhiteVeils said:

Nothing that is a thought needs to be included...or needs to be cut or changed.

This is a very interesting opinion, and one which I haven't seen before. That being said, I think it's still beside the point. 

 

The reason is that those thoughts create an atmosphere, a feeling. They shape how we perceive the characters and their relationships with one another, their experiences, and the world around them. 

 

It is this impact which should most certainly be preserved in adaptation. Sure, film by its nature can't show us the characters thoughts (barring an anime voice over which no one wants in the WoT show) but there are definitely methods for translating this stuff to the screen. 

 

Of course, stuff is going to be lost in translation. Going from the language of book to the language of film is as difficult as going from English to Japanese, and to expect any less would be foolish. 

 

But the effects of those thoughts should be put on screen, though it would take someone much smarter, innovative, and fluent in film language than I am to figure it out. That's why they're the professionals! haha 

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12 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

If this were the case, I would say the solution is not to update the book's treatment of polygamy but rather to justify it in order to keep the story/world as recognizable to the books as possible. 


I think this is basically what it appears Rafe wants to do though? The difference between us is that you attribute more extreme intentions to him because you don’t trust him for some reason.

 

It’s also important to remember that there is no single orthodox view as to what a modern or “woke” presentation of gender relations would involve. 
 

Many contemporary feminists and trans people believe that “man” and “woman” are concrete and distinct categories - indeed for many trans people that belief is fundamental to their sense of identity. Many non-binary people would agree, even if they do not feel that they fit into either category. Many radical feminists who think that gender is a social construct founded on the oppression of biological women wish to deny that trans women are women on that basis. There is no consensus on these issues and they are bitterly fought over.

 

Even if Rafe wanted to make a deliberately and conscientiously woke version of WOT - and there is no evidence that he does - it’s not clear at all what that would actually mean. Currently, though, what evidence there is suggests that he is choosing to emphasise, rather than minimise, the existing differences between men and women in the WOT universe.

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