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Gritting my teeth against Rand being so sexist


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5 hours ago, Harldin said:

14? Keep going, the record is 69 to a 18th Century Russian woman in 27 seperate pregnancies 4x4,7x3,16x2. There are 8 recorded cases of woman with more than 40, but all these where pre 1800 so there may be some exaggeration. 
There is actually a TV reality show about a couple who have something like 20 kids as well.

https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/1-in-200-men-direct-descendants-of-genghis-khan

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Personally I don’t think Rand should be called sexist at all, that is the way he was raised, that as a man you put yourself in front of woman and Children and protect them from danger and that is the norm for the society he was raised. But that thinking doesn’t take into account other cultures and the way people are raised, the Aiel are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum and as it should, it takes Rand a long time to accept that he has to send Women into danger but he never likes it. And it hurts him. 
 

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Sexism, like racism, isn't necessarily a conscious thing.  Being raised to think and act as if women are specially vulnerable and need to be protected, or that violence against them is more egregious than similar violence against a male, is definitely sexist.  That's a big reason why social movements to fight and dispel that kind of bias and discrimination can be so difficult and emotionally fraught. 

 

Consider a lone white woman walking down the sidewalk who sees a couple of young black men walking towards her.  The fear she may feel from that is real, and it's not really fair to blame her for feeling it; she doesn't really have a choice regarding how she feels.  But those feelings are also socially constructed and engineered by her parents, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, and peers.  And that which is constructed can be deconstructed. 

 

The blame lies in reinforcing those constructed, but unconscious feelings and biases, and building those biases and feelings up for others.  And while this hypothetical woman may really be afraid, she may still be blameless insofar as she consciously chooses not to act on it, and refuses to contribute to causing others to feel similarly.  Crusaders against racism would be wrong to chastise her for her feelings, but they would be right to criticize her for acting on them, or contributing to normalizing those feelings in others.

 

Rand spends nearly the entire series wrestling with his feelings about protecting women.  And he's never really successful in changing how he feels about it.  But his moral progress doesn't lie in merely accepting that his feelings and reality are incompatible, but in his actively pushing through his feelings, which never go away, to allow women to have their own autonomy and choose to fight, suffer and die for what they think is right.  

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Moiraine's note even said "Men of the two Rivers, it seems, retain much of the storied Manetheren in them, traits shared with men of the Borderlands.  It is said that a Borderlander will take a dagger's wound to avoid harm to a woman and count it a fair trade. "

 

So it's bit unfair to call Rand sexist.  Simply that was the way many were brought up.  This is mostly a modern view of right and wrong some are trying to project into the series.  Back  throughout history the view of one shouldn't harm a woman and protect ladies was perfectly normal.  Rand with his list may of taken it to extreme  But history is full of examples of men can kill men but shouldn't kill a lady.

Edited by Sabio
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It feels like it might not be fair, because it feels like being sexist should be abnormal or unnatural.  But that's exactly why sexism, and racism as well, are such difficult social issues to deal with in a constructive way.  It is both normal and natural for people to be sexist and racist.  That's why it takes moral progress and effort to overcome them.  If they were abnormal or unnatural, there wouldn't be a need to investigate, reflect on or educate about those issues, or create behavioral strategies to overcome them.

 

That Rand had no choice but to feel sexist feelings about women because that's the way he was raised doesn't mean that he's not really sexist.  And just because sexist feelings and attitudes have long been normal also doesn't make them not sexist.  It means that blameworthiness is more complicated than simply, "Sexism is bad, Rand is sexist, therefore Rand is bad."

 

And this isn't really judging a different culture by modern standards either.  Sexism, and dealing with and overcoming it, is one of the deeper themes of these books.  The very "normal" and natural gender-biased feelings held by Rand, how he grapples with them and overcomes them, and what they mean for the people around him, are important parts of the story.  The fact that the Maidens are displeased with Rand because of how he, quite naturally, feels and that how he acts on those feelings robs them of their honor and autonomy is an important part of Rand's personal growth, as he struggles to understand, accept, and ultimately respect that.  Arguably, the whole series is an exploration of sexism and gender-based bias, with gender-discrimination built into the very metaphysical structure of the world.

Edited by Thrasymachus
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Gonna be a long post, sorry. I have many thoughts on this.

 

Is Rand sexist? Yes. His actions, to varying degrees, are influenced by the gender of the person/s he's dealing with. Textbook definition of sexism. 

 

Rand is sexist. But so is the entirety of the Wheel of Time. Every character, every concept, every institution. That's "sort of" the whole point. Both in a literal and thematic sense, the series is a discussion about gender and sex, our similarities, differences, how we act towards each other, etc., and sexism is part of that conversation. 

 

The WoT not only revolves utterly around gender, but it applies sexism to virtually all things, and it's not one sided. There's plenty of sexism directed at both women and men on every level, from individual interactions to long-held cultural beliefs and political law. What's the nation called again, where a woman can kill a man and it's considered justified by default? How about Nyn, who is perhaps the most sexist major character in the series? Every utterance of "Men!" by her reads like she's using the n- word and I'll bet real money that she has more moments of blatant sexism than Rand, despite not getting as much page time. But then we have the Aiel, who think not letting women fight is foolish, but would consider a female chief or male Wise One to be blasphemy. Sexism is part of the larger topic, and in the various cultures and people of the WoT it's explored from different angles and intensities.

 

If you're gonna read the WoT you need to accept that it is a sexist work. It's part of the buy-in. And to take issue with one example should mean taking issue with the entire series. It's not okay to call out Rand or Nyn for their sexism, and not call out everybody else too.

 

The list in Rand's head.....yeah that's pretty crazy. But of course it is; Rand *is* crazy, and dealing with a multitude of influences reinforcing each other; his cultural upbringing that taught him to protect women, the voice of Lews Therin in his head who lamented murdering his wife, his feelings for three women which his culture has taught him is lewd and inappropriate, his dynamic with the Maidens (imagine growing up believing it was your job to protect women, only to have an army of them protect you; how emasculating do you think that was for him?), his sense of responsibility for the entire world.....it all feeds in on itself and Rand's insanity. And since he's crazy, there's only so much control he has over any of that.

 

And all of that....it's not meant to be a positive character trait. It's meant to be a character flaw exacerbated by his madness, and at every turn Rand is confronted by strong, capable women who prove his bias wrong. The Maidens can kick his ass, many female politicians would trounce him in the Game of Houses, the female channelers prove as dangerous (arguably more so) than the men even before you get to Rand's over-the-top chivalry. 

 

Rand's sexism is treated the way it should be; denounced and proven objectively false. And that generally applies to everyone else too; they all have ideas about the role men and women should play, and generally everyone is forced to question that assumption. Give Rand credit too; he recognizes his flaw and tries to overcome it, which is more than can be said for many >coughalmearacough<. He isn't too successful, but he does make the attempt and ultimately learns to accept women going into danger...even though it hurts him to do so. And as far as character flaws go, being too chivalrous is rather tame. I say, especially when he was getting really out of control and would lose his temper for anything, maintaining that "too chivalrous" attitude is far more appealing than the alternative; he's hard enough to like during this time, if he started punching women in the face because they looked at his sideways I doubt anyone could get through the series still hoping the Dragon Reborn wins the day.

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  • 8 months later...

I am just disgusted why everything has to devolve into politics and we make it the lowest denominator?

 

Politics is art of finding possibilities among improbabilities. All this debate on sexism, racism or any other ism is just taking the fun out of living. What happened to taking a good old joke in its spirit and roll with the punch until you get a chance to put your own in. Do you think that building a world where we cannot joke about anything is going to help us build a better world?

 

for me one of the best quotes in the series was by Brigette . " If you are going to die, one should walk with a joke for the crowd and a coin for the hangman". before you lynch me, it is just the meaning that I am to convey. I know that this is not exactly the way RJ wrote it.

 

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Did you really bring a thread more than 8 months dead back to life just to say that it's a topic that should be dropped?

 

Necromancy is a sin.  And if you're gonna bring stuff back to life, at least bring it all the way back.  Don't leave us with some brain-dead, rotten, shuffling zombie corpse to deal with.

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