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Women aren't that catty!


animegirl
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I am re-reading the WoT books on my daily commute to London. I just don't understand why Jordan had to write pretty much every female character as either nagging, catty or sarcastic. It almost feels like he had some personal dislike of women that he was venting in his books.

 

Although it's good that there are strong female characters like Nyneave, Aviendha and Egwene, they are just constantly rude to each other and to the men around them, that it begins to be hard to root for them.

 

I am hoping that Brandon Sanderson will write at least a couple of the girls as normal friendly human beings in the 12th book.

 

BTW Thank-you to whoever added my youtube vids to the WoT video section. I plan to make another EoTW vid when I get the time. The first chapter called 'The Empty Road' has had about 5000 hits with mostly positive reviews.

 

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Actually, I think the opposite is true.  I think the Jordan very much likes women and has a huge respect for them.  I think Nyn, Egwene, and Avi are his attempts to write strong women who have their own opinions and don't take a bunch of crap.  Unfortunately they do tend to come off as nagging, catty and sarcastic at times.  So while the execution isn't the best I think his intentions were sincere. 

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Actually, I think the opposite is true.  I think the Jordan very much likes women and has a huge respect for them.  I think Nyn, Egwene, and Avi are his attempts to write strong women who have their own opinions and don't take a bunch of crap.  Unfortunately they do tend to come off as nagging, catty and sarcastic at times.  So while the execution isn't the best I think his intentions were sincere. 

 

I am hoping you are right. It would be sad to think that he thought of women as controlling, nagging and basically put on Earth to cause misery to men.  :P

 

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He didn't base all the women on his wife.  This is what he said:

 

As I’ve often said, each of my major female characters has at least one element drawn from Harriet.  And I won’t tell her which parts of which characters came from her.  That despite the fact that, as she likes to point out, she knows where I sleep.  She did figure out that she is Semirhage when the garbage doesn’t get to the curb on time, though.

 

http://www.dragonmount.com/RobertJordan/?p=26

 

Each major female character has at least one element drawn from Harriet.  That's very different than being based on his wife.

 

The females in this book have been seen under the most incredible duress; given that, their behavior is entirely understandable, if in some cases annoying.  They are remarkably discrete (not discreet, look up the difference if you need to) in their reactions.  And each of them (even Elayne) has grown to some extent.  I really find that Jordan's characterization is first rate; its one of the reasons that I regard his work so highly.  Some of his female characters (-cough- Faile -cough-) would clash with me greatly ... but then, there are women like that in real life.

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In Randworld females have a little advantage over men in generaly, many of them can channel, and are allowed to. That have chaped the world for 3000 years. Many (if not all) rulers have AS around them to advice them and stuff. This will in time make non channeling females act more and more like the AS, who we all know is very arogante, ignorant, selfish, nagging and sarcastic in the most cases. The rulers take after them (game of houses) and act like them, spreading the behavior down to the peole (people do like the leaders are).

 

The males on the other hand knows that if they have the same power, they will be stilled. All male knows that a male allmost destroyed the world..and he was a male channeler. The male part of the power is tainted with the shadow.

 

So when the books take up this story, the females have a "built in" andvantage in everything and men have to struggle.

 

Just look how the AS say when they talk about Rand. They dont want to HELP him, but to GUIDE him. In their eyes there cant be anyone knowing better then a AS, a male isnt on the scale at all. This thinking have spreaded out to the regular communities and people so there is often female rulers. From wise ones to queens.

 

Now that the males can channel again and the world learn that Saidin is not tainted, there will be no reason to stilled males anymore, they cant do it (not for the old reason anyway). The power is slowly balances out between male and females, and the females dont like it in many cases.

 

Min i think is a very nice example of a female who is not influenced to mutch with the AS thinking, and she is lovely :)

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Exactly, the third age is a reverse misogynist society. the girls "annoying" behavior stem from the fact that they were taught from a very young age to treat men in the same way that the men in our world treated women 50 years ago (for example, Tylin treatment of mat is a clear case of sexual harassment).

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Exactly, the third age is a reverse misogynist society. the girls "annoying" behavior stem from the fact that they were taught from a very young age to treat men in the same way that the men in our world treated women 50 years ago

 

Which doesn't jive at all with the way Rand, Mat, and Perrin go on and on about protecting those poor, helpless women who can't make any decisions for themselves nor be responible for their own actions!

 

 

Most of the women in the series irritate me with their extreme rudeness.  Women just don't have those blatant hierarchy and power struggles.  It's much, much more subtle.

 

My favourite women who actually act like realish women in this series (in no particular order):

Mistress Al'Vere

Moiraine

Min

Brigitte

Solondra (sp?)

Setalle Anan

Tylan

 

 

 

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Most of the women in the series irritate me with their extreme rudeness.  Women just don't have those blatant hierarchy and power struggles.  It's much, much more subtle.

 

 

Excuse me. Have you ever seen women interact in a higherarchical corporate setting? Men tend to be more blatant only because they are more often in a power-higherarchical setting then women (the military, corportions, etc.). It's been my experience that  women who intereact in higherarchical sub-cultures exhibit the same traits of "turf fighting" and bullying as men.

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The only problem I find with this series is that there is this huge divide between men and women. I mean, the whole, "I don't know which planet they've come from" thing is way too exaggerated.

The whole Women's Circle stuff, Wise Ones - it all seems so stringent - it would be way more relaxed in real life. Jordan went a bit too far to create all that tension and animosity.

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I am hoping you are right. It would be sad to think that he thought of women as controlling, nagging and basically put on Earth to cause misery to men.  :P
You mean they're not!? Well, they do other things as well, but...

 

Exactly, the third age is a reverse misogynist society.
I think the word you're looking for is misandrist.
The girls "annoying" behavior stem from the fact that they were taught from a very young age to treat men in the same way that the men in our world treated women 50 years ago
Not all of us.

 

Which doesn't jive at all with the way Rand, Mat, and Perrin go on and on about protecting those poor, helpless women who can't make any decisions for themselves nor be responible for their own actions!
They don't.

 

Most of the women in the series irritate me with their extreme rudeness. Women just don't have those blatant hierarchy and power struggles. It's much, much more subtle.
Maybe they don't in your experience, but your experience is not an absolute.
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Exactly, the third age is a reverse misogynist society. the girls "annoying" behavior stem from the fact that they were taught from a very young age to treat men in the same way that the men in our world treated women 50 years ago

 

Which doesn't jive at all with the way Rand, Mat, and Perrin go on and on about protecting those poor, helpless women who can't make any decisions for themselves nor be responible for their own actions!

 

just because the women in WOT think like men did 50 years ago doesn't necessary means that the men would think like the women 50 years ago did.

The aes sedai refusal to use the power for mundane and military uses mean that upper body strength is still very important in randland which allow the men to maintain their independence while preventing them from becoming dominant. I guess it actually created a strange situation of two way misogyny which explain the unusually high tension between the genders in WOT.

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A note here: I think RJ not only expected women to be "catty" (whatever that means--I'm not familiar with the word), but wanted them to be, and certainly did not see this as a "ball-and-chain" situation.  Look at Rand's relationship with Aviendha: every day was a battle, but some things are worth fighting for--in Rand's own words (to Min).

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A note here: I think RJ not only expected women to be "catty" (whatever that means--I'm not familiar with the word), but wanted them to be, and certainly did not see this as a "ball-and-chain" situation.  Look at Rand's relationship with Aviendha: every day was a battle, but some things are worth fighting for--in Rand's own words (to Min).

It means what you might think it does--acting like two strange cats put together. The most dramatic examples are probably Faile and Berelain's interactions with each other.
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Actually, I think the opposite is true.  I think the Jordan very much likes women and has a huge respect for them.  I think Nyn, Egwene, and Avi are his attempts to write strong women who have their own opinions and don't take a bunch of crap.  Unfortunately they do tend to come off as nagging, catty and sarcastic at times.  So while the execution isn't the best I think his intentions were sincere. 

 

I am hoping you are right. It would be sad to think that he thought of women as controlling, nagging and basically put on Earth to cause misery to men.  :P

 

 

It is a fact of like that men's and women's thought processes do work a bit differently  and there is much humor to be found in the enevidible misunderstandings which occur because to this.  Jordan does like to tap into this source of humor and I guess because it is coming from a male perspective the female characters do tend to get the short end of the stick.   However, he does poke fun and male tendencies too, for example:

 

Matt:  An irresponsible playboy with the world's worst case of Peter Pan Syndrome who constantly stumbles back-ass-wards into heroism (and we love him for it!!)

 

Rand:  Who handles his problems by repressing his emotions and becoming hard and stubborn.

 

Again I don't think Jordan had any intention of make any of his characters unlikable, he just likes to poke fun and some of the lesser tendencies found in each of the sexes.

 

 

 

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Most of the women in the series irritate me with their extreme rudeness. Women just don't have those blatant hierarchy and power struggles. It's much, much more subtle.

Maybe they don't in your experience, but your experience is not an absolute.

 

My experiences as a woman for over 30 years don't count? 

 

Your argument that my experiences are not absolute can be said of every single person's experiences used for defending arguments in the entire world.  You just nullified them all!  Of course a single person's experience is not absolute!  That's why there are exceptions to the rule.  However, all of Jordan's women are all exceptions to the rule, which makes them unbelievable.

 

My experience, which you so quickly write off as unabsolute, has been that women do have hierarchies and do have power struggles, but they do not (in general) carry them out in such blatant ways.  You know how it is in junior high school when a few very powerful popular girls start bullying the unpopular girls?  They are almost never blatant about it, it's behind the back name-calling and subtle shunning.  That's how women work, there's no point in denying it.  Bullying happens, just not the way that Jordan writes it.  But he's probably never experienced that kind of bullying, just like I've never experienced a male type of bullying (giving or taking).  It's understandable, but the main problem with him is the hammer he uses to write.  He just keeps pounding away at us with these same characteristics in his female characters over and over and over, with very little variation to their personalities.  I get the point he's trying to make about women being powerful, I don't need it hammered into my skull.  Of course, adverbs and adjectives and lines about women smoothing their skirts make longer books.

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That's how women work, there's no point in denying it.  Bullying happens, just not the way that Jordan writes it.  But he's probably never experienced that kind of bullying, just like I've never experienced a male type of bullying (giving or taking).  It's understandable, but the main problem with him is the hammer he uses to write.

 

If you dislike his writing style so much why post on a forum dedicated run by fans dedicated to his books?

 

Moreover, sorry to tell you this but women in corporate settings tend to act quite similarly to men in the way they wield power (or at least that is my experience).

 

Also Mr Aries point that your viewpoint is your own others (even other females disagree with you).

 

Lastly, we must remember that Jordan was very much the old school Southern gentleman who would have viewed female "bullying" with a juuandiced eye.

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Mr Aries

 

:D ... ah, the difference a letter makes.  And people wonder why I worry about spelling ...

 

Lastly, we must remember that Jordan was very much the old school Southern gentleman who would have viewed female "bullying" with a juuandiced eye.

 

As a purported Southern Gentleman myself, I take exception to this statement.  My seconds will call on you at your convenience, sir.  ::)

 

In all seriousness, though, the part of this argument that annoys me the most is the idea that all the "girls" are somehow "catty" in the same way.  They are very much individuals, and their behavior toward people in certain situations is determined by their previous relationships with those individuals.  Lets take Mat as an example.

 

Nynaeve - treats Mat like a little scallawag, because thats what he's been for most of the time she's known him.  After the butt-kicking incident in Salidar, her behavior begins to alter, somewhat.

 

Elayne - treats Mat like a little scallawag because she's been hanging around with Nynaeve alot, and also because she thinks of herself as royalty first.  Her behavior DOES change, especially in Ebou Dar.

 

Egwene - Egwene has actually become quite reasonable, as she observed Mat in the aftermath of the invasion of Cairhien.  She manipulated him in Salidar, not because she doesn't respect him, but because as the Amyrlin Seat, she was acting to the benefit of the Tower (she had plans to use the Band).  That may not be totally "nice", but its quite different from being "catty".  She is polite and appreciative to Talmanes, and has an excellent working relationship with Gareth Bryne.

 

As to the episode in the Stone of Tear, yes, the girls were unappreciative, and downright rude.  They were also trying as hard as they could to cover their fear with anger, and Mat seemed like a safe target (which indeed he was).  I think one of the most honest moments of character development came when Nynaeve and Elayne apologized, and kept their word, even though Mat most definitely did not allow himself to be aware of how meaningful it was for them.

 

In short, if they sometimes act like an eighth grade classroom that just got gassed with hormones, well, people really do act like that.  I know a lot of the younger readers here may be insulted by what I'm about to say, but YOUNG people (which they all are, with the possible exception of Nynaeve) frequently act like they're still in middle school.  But the girls do not mimic each other; their characterization is actually very well done and consistent.  In my opinion.

 

If they all acted like text book models from a 19th century ladies finishing manual, this story would suck.

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Something worth considering: the descriptions of the characters' behavior are coming from the point of view of another character in the story.  Since the events that the reader witnesses are the most exciting parts, the characters are at their worst or their best. 

 

Anytime a woman tells Mat what to do, he is going to see her as bossy.  But from his point of view, the men that give him advice usually aren't the most likable characters either.  And the girls are going to be annoyed with Mat and see him as unreasonable because he doesn't want to do what they say.  I don't like it when people tell me what to do and I think they're bossy and I usually think people who won't take my advice are wrong... I wouldn't be giving advice I didn't agree with.

 

I don't think the women are being discribed as overly catty, I think that their personalities are colored by whoevers point of view is describing them at the moment, even their own.  I've yet to meet a person who sees themself 100% and I doubt i've seen someone exactly as they are.  Situations and past experience makes that very difficult. 

 

Also I've seen people post that skirt smoothing is boring, I'd rather read that than chapters of characters agreeing with each other and telling each other how nice they are.  The conflict and the misunderstandings are humorous.  Elayne telling Egwene and Nynaeve how pretty they look today and how nice their dress is... Ugh!  I'm sure that plenty of that has gone on, but I don't want to read about it in any depth.

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If you dislike his writing style so much why post on a forum dedicated run by fans dedicated to his books?

 

I enjoy the story quite a lot, thank you very much.  I have, however, problems with certain things in his books.

 

Moreover, sorry to tell you this but women in corporate settings tend to act quite similarly to men in the way they wield power (or at least that is my experience).

 

Again, exception to the rule.  The ratio of men to women in higher corporate settings is quite unbalanced and these women are the exceptions to the way the majority of women behave.  Not all women are in modern corporations.  Also, modern corporate settings cannot really be compared to a fantasy novel 'archaic' setting.  Also, if you did want to apply the model of modern corporate settings onto the book setting you'd have almost all of the females falling within some kind of corporate structure based on your argument defending their behaviour.  All men do not fall in a corporate structure in the real world, nor do they in the Wheel of Time either.  You've basically placed all the women in the series into a corporation at all times and working at all times, based on their behaviour.

 

Also Mr Aries point that your viewpoint is your own others (even other females disagree with you).

 

This continues to be a silly argument.  Everyone's viewpoint is their own.  Your viewpoint is also your own.  I am perfectly capable of understanding that there are people out there who disagree with me.  I also understand some people agree with me to some degree or another.  I'm quite sure everyone on this forum need not be told that their viewpoint is their own and therefore in some way invalid.  That is, after all, just someone's viewpoint.

 

I quite clearly write from my viewpoint and have never suggested that it's my way or the highway.  If you do not like people sharing their viewpoints with the forum, perhaps (as you suggested for me), this is not the forum for you.

 

Lastly, we must remember that Jordan was very much the old school Southern gentleman who would have viewed female "bullying" with a juuandiced eye.

 

I was trying to also point out that I can see quite clearly what Jordan is trying to do, I just simply feel he does it too strongly.

 

 

In all seriousness, though, the part of this argument that annoys me the most is the idea that all the "girls" are somehow "catty" in the same way.  They are very much individuals, and their behavior toward people in certain situations is determined by their previous relationships with those individuals.  Lets take Mat as an example.

 

Personally, I'm not a fan of the term 'catty' myself and I've never used it when talking about this subject.  I prefer 'rude' or 'obnoxious' or 'arrogant'.  I don't believe that people, not just women, have to treat others in this manner in order to be a good leader or boss.  There is a huge difference between 'rude' and 'firm'.  I think Jordan was going for 'firm' but strayed a bit too far into 'rude'.

 

I disagree that the behaviour of the women you mentioned differs too much from man to man.  They all basically believe that men are irresponsible, stupid, moronic, and need to be told what to do.  I'm not only irritated with how the women act, but how men are percieved as well!

 

Nynaeve - treats Mat like a little scallawag, because thats what he's been for most of the time she's known him.  After the butt-kicking incident in Salidar, her behavior begins to alter, somewhat.

 

I like the Nynaeve character a lot.  She's the original bitch of the series.  She is very consistent and she always knows when she's wrong and does her best to try to pretend she's not wrong.  The only thing I don't like about her (other than the constant braid tugging) is that she never seems to improve or mature in a great way.  I don't believe her behaviour really improves until she goes chasing after Rand at Far Madding.  Perhaps the exact point is when she marries Lan, and somewhat calms down.

 

I don't think she treats Mat like a scallawag, because that implies she finds his behaviour roguish and, while upsetting, still cute in some way.  Tylan and Setalle Anan treat Mat like a scallawag.

 

Elayne - treats Mat like a little scallawag because she's been hanging around with Nynaeve alot, and also because she thinks of herself as royalty first.  Her behavior DOES change, especially in Ebou Dar.

 

I agree she starts to hange in Ebou Dar, but it doesn't really seem to stick much.  I really like the Elayne character as well.  I like that she's so bloody snooty and arrogant and never seems to learn.  I guess she kind of has to learn though to be a heroine.

 

Egwene - Egwene has actually become quite reasonable, as she observed Mat in the aftermath of the invasion of Cairhien.  She manipulated him in Salidar, not because she doesn't respect him, but because as the Amyrlin Seat, she was acting to the benefit of the Tower (she had plans to use the Band).  That may not be totally "nice", but its quite different from being "catty".  She is polite and appreciative to Talmanes, and has an excellent working relationship with Gareth Bryne.

 

I personally dislike the Egwene character because I think she's stupid.  She's like Morgase, someone all the characters believe is smart and strong, but when I read her I see stupidity and arrogance, which have no place in being one of the most powerful leaders in the world.  I really liked how she got control over the rebel tower, but she complains about Rand being arrogant while she's ten times worse than he is.  She misses out huge obvious things (like Alanna forming a connection with Rand in the letter or being suspicious of Halima).  I'm all for being manipulative and not being nice when you're a leader, but she's too far past that.  She's one of those modern corporate female leaders, but even they put on a facade of politeness when dealing with others (as do the men).  She does this very, very well when taking control of the rebel tower, but it goes to pieces when she tries to work with Rand.

 

As to the episode in the Stone of Tear, yes, the girls were unappreciative, and downright rude.  They were also trying as hard as they could to cover their fear with anger, and Mat seemed like a safe target (which indeed he was).  I think one of the most honest moments of character development came when Nynaeve and Elayne apologized, and kept their word, even though Mat most definitely did not allow himself to be aware of how meaningful it was for them.

 

I didn't find the apology to be that sincere myself.  It felt like they were doing it for their own honour not because it was the right thing to do for Mat and his friendship.  They were doing it to impress Avhienda.  Elayne did better, I admit, when she realised that Mat was actually honest in his trying to protect her and she gave him back his medallion, but Nynaeve had to be bullied into doing it and only did it to please the other girls.

 

In short, if they sometimes act like an eighth grade classroom that just got gassed with hormones, well, people really do act like that.  I know a lot of the younger readers here may be insulted by what I'm about to say, but YOUNG people (which they all are, with the possible exception of Nynaeve) frequently act like they're still in middle school.  But the girls do not mimic each other; their characterization is actually very well done and consistent.  In my opinion.

 

I have to disagree, I think that these three especially mimic each other with one or two dissimilar personality traits.  They're all rude, overbearing, and ignorant.  My opinion is that the three of them believe they are themselves more important in the Last Battle than Rand, Mat, and Perrin, and that they are doing the important work while the guys are just fooling about.  I would like to see them recognise that the three men are the most important players in the whole war against the Dark One and that they need to support them instead of guide (in other words: control) them.

 

If they all acted like text book models from a 19th century ladies finishing manual, this story would suck.

 

I personally perfer a variety of personalities in all the characters.  I have a theory that Jordan liked the whole 'bossy female' personality so much it bled into all his female characters.  He said someplace that he took characteristics of his wife and put them in all the female characters, which is a noble idea, but it gives them all a kind of sameness.  I'd like to have that 19th century finished lady alongside the bossy bitch alongside the simpering flower alongside the bookworm alongside the fierce warrior princess alongside the passionate politician alongside Spock.

 

 

Something worth considering: the descriptions of the characters' behavior are coming from the point of view of another character in the story.  Since the events that the reader witnesses are the most exciting parts, the characters are at their worst or their best.

 

That's one of the more interesting parts of the book.  I really like how he writes about different people from different viewpoints and tries to show what different people are thinking and what they think of others.  The problem with that is that all three of Rand/Mat/Perrin are always going on about the same things about women (they're strange and can't be understood) while the women are always going on the same things about men (they're dumb, arrogant, and troublemakers).  The good part of this is when you've got a woman thinking about a woman (especially Nynaeve thinking about Elayne or vice versa) or a man about a man.

 

Also I've seen people post that skirt smoothing is boring, I'd rather read that than chapters of characters agreeing with each other and telling each other how nice they are.  The conflict and the misunderstandings are humorous.  Elayne telling Egwene and Nynaeve how pretty they look today and how nice their dress is... Ugh!  I'm sure that plenty of that has gone on, but I don't want to read about it in any depth.

 

They don't find the conflicts and misunderstandings boring.  Those are excellent.  They find the same repeated mannerism through all of the female population of the novels boring.

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That's one of the more interesting parts of the book.  I really like how he writes about different people from different viewpoints and tries to show what different people are thinking and what they think of others.  The problem with that is that all three of Rand/Mat/Perrin are always going on about the same things about women (they're strange and can't be understood) while the women are always going on the same things about men (they're dumb, arrogant, and troublemakers).  The good part of this is when you've got a woman thinking about a woman (especially Nynaeve thinking about Elayne or vice versa) or a man about a man.

The characters do have similarities in their thoughts but it makes sense for them to.  The boys were all raised in the same village, they are the same age, and they have been close friends for a long time.  They are also going through similar situations.  This is all going to mean that they will have similar ideas about life. The girls have the similarity of wanting to follow the same path.

 

They may have some of the same concerns but they each react differently.  The idea that women are incomprehensible is something many men think and many women see men as dumb and toublemakers.  I don't think RJ overdid this idea at all because these are common ideas in society and people can relate to them.  I think reoccuring themes such as these make the story more interesting and they make me smile everytime I read them.  And this is fom someone that lost count of rereads ten years ago.

 

They don't find the conflicts and misunderstandings boring.  Those are excellent.  They find the same repeated mannerism through all of the female population of the novels boring.

 

I don't think that their behavior and mannerisms all that similar.  Yes they all think men are dumb when the men disagree with them, but they think that the women are childish when they won't agree.  That seems like a normal human reaction.  When faced with conflicts like the ones in this story, I think most people would be irritated when people want to do things "the wrong way".

 

 

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