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Pillowfriends


ElusiveAthena
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does any relationship exclude or limit that?

 

I guess that depends on the participant and their views on fidelity.

 

The Tower is notorious for deterring girls from relationships with men. I think the girls experiment because they have impulses (probably hormone induced) and not being allowed to follow their promptings with men...

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I wonder why there is such an excess of pillowfriends, yet there is almost nothing said about male relationships amongst eachother in WoT. Something which was very common in pre-Victorian times where the lines "gay/straight" weren't defined. In the military it was particularly common for deeper relationships to form among men, yet we only see this expressed in the Aiel Maidens.

 

Many historical figures preferred the company of men. Since history used to be a very misogynistic place that many men considered true feelings and a relationship among equals was only possible between two men. A woman could bear children and keep the household, but a true soulmate could only be another man. This is particularly often expressed historically by quite a few military figures from ancient Greece to the Medieval Ages. I mean even taking Richard I, the Lionheart, the warrior King. Someone I doubt anyone could credolously call a sissy or would dare call a "f***ot" to his face; had a political wife and on several occassions raped women. But meaningful relationships he only built up with men. The same is true for Alexander the Great who also only found his equal "relationship" among men, although he had no qualms about raping "lesser beings" such as women.

 

It's interesting that when studying homosexuality. Male homosexuality historically until very recently has always been heavily involved with the expression of macho/chauvinism to the extreme.

 

You would think one would find this in all the military campaigns and fighting that has been going on in the books. Yet the nobles, soldiers, etc.. all seem incredibly monotone and express none of this.

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Eichhörnchen:

 

 

If you read this article, it should give you the answer.

 

So Why Just Female?

 

You will note in Jordan’s blog entry above that he includes men in his definition of pillow-friendships. Even without Jordan’s comments on the subject, given his desire for depth and realism one could assume that male pillow-friendships do indeed exist in the Wheel of Time world. There is, however, little actual evidence for it in the books beyond one or two passing references, one of those being:

 

An Amyrlin was supposed to grant indulgences and relief from penances on the day she assumed the stole and the staff. None came from Sierin, and in the space of half a week, every last male clerk in the Tower had been dismissed without a character, supposedly for flirting with novices or Accepted, or for “inappropriate looks and glances”, which could have meant anything. Even men so old their grandchildren had children went, and some who had no liking for women at all [italics mine].

 

- New Spring The Novel, Changes

 

So why has Jordan chosen not to include a specific example or two of a same-sex male relationship, however indirectly? The simplest explanation is that he has found no reason to do so. Jordan rarely if ever includes anything gratuitously - and yes, let’s keep the number of bosom references out of this please! But then again, speaking of bosom references, within the Wheel of Time world and during the time period the story takes place, women are shown to be major players on the stage who fulfil pivotal roles in the story arc(s), both as individuals and within all-female groups and societies. As a result, Jordan has given us a very in-depth look at these women and their societies, dedicating a substantial portion of his story to them. This is particularly true of the Aes Sedai. Thus, the heavier emphasis on and opportunities to explore, the politics, public and private relationships, and general point of view of women.

 

Jordan’s own explanation for the dearth of male pillowing and the lack of specifically identified gay men in the Wheel of Time substantiates all this, albeit more simply and practically speaking - from a daily “working man-author’s” point of view if you will:

 

I have gay and lesbian characters in my books, but the only time it has really come into the open is with the Aes Sedai because I haven’t been inside the heads of any other characters who are either gay or bi. For the most part, in this world such things are taken as a matter of course.

 

- The Official Robert Jordan Blog, October 6, 2005

 

 

I think that's the key. Most of our knowledge of Jordan's characters comes from his writing technique - intimate third person - which allows us to "get inside the head" of the main characters and see their perspectives on the world, undertstand their motivations etc. "Show not tell" at its best. Now I have a few characters in mind who I think might be gay (Aram, Vanin and Uno to name a few possibilities), and doubtless people will have more, but we've never been privy to their thoughts, and Jordan wasn't about to have them "come out" when the story didn't demand it, simply in order to have a "token" male homosexual relationship. He simply let the characters live, and took all such relationships as "a matter of course". Good on him, I say.

Edited by Elusive Athena
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Yeah, Siuan and Moiraine were pillowfriends. Moiraine was pretty mortified in New Spring upon first meeting Cadsuane because her and the other sisters there were openly discussing the fact.

 

As for the "lesbians until graduation" thing, it seems weird but it kind of makes sense. Pillowfriend isn't just another term for a same sex relationship, it's a very specific kind of relationship that has a lot to do with the culture of living in the Tower. I think to AS it's just sort of accepted that you grow out of pillow friendship once reaching the shawl, because the stresses of every day life and intense training are removed. Not to say that AS don't have stress or training, but they aren't going through the meat grinder of the rigorous novice/Accepted lifestyle. Also, novices and Accepted are younger with more raging hormones.

 

I hate to make this comparison, or at least hope it's not misinterpreted, but I kind of see pillowfriends being similar to being "prison gay" a little. Granted, pillow friends seem to have a much more intimate relationship, but it's another example of a situation where people who are denied much interaction with the opposite sex engage in temporary same sex relationships.

 

I was thinking of the same thing... prisons where the preferred partner may be a woman but since one isn't available....

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Eichhörnchen:

 

 

If you read this article, it should give you the answer.

 

So Why Just Female?

 

You will note in Jordan’s blog entry above that he includes men in his definition of pillow-friendships. Even without Jordan’s comments on the subject, given his desire for depth and realism one could assume that male pillow-friendships do indeed exist in the Wheel of Time world. There is, however, little actual evidence for it in the books beyond one or two passing references, one of those being:

 

An Amyrlin was supposed to grant indulgences and relief from penances on the day she assumed the stole and the staff. None came from Sierin, and in the space of half a week, every last male clerk in the Tower had been dismissed without a character, supposedly for flirting with novices or Accepted, or for “inappropriate looks and glances”, which could have meant anything. Even men so old their grandchildren had children went, and some who had no liking for women at all [italics mine].

 

- New Spring The Novel, Changes

 

So why has Jordan chosen not to include a specific example or two of a same-sex male relationship, however indirectly? The simplest explanation is that he has found no reason to do so. Jordan rarely if ever includes anything gratuitously - and yes, let’s keep the number of bosom references out of this please! But then again, speaking of bosom references, within the Wheel of Time world and during the time period the story takes place, women are shown to be major players on the stage who fulfil pivotal roles in the story arc(s), both as individuals and within all-female groups and societies. As a result, Jordan has given us a very in-depth look at these women and their societies, dedicating a substantial portion of his story to them. This is particularly true of the Aes Sedai. Thus, the heavier emphasis on and opportunities to explore, the politics, public and private relationships, and general point of view of women.

 

Jordan’s own explanation for the dearth of male pillowing and the lack of specifically identified gay men in the Wheel of Time substantiates all this, albeit more simply and practically speaking - from a daily “working man-author’s” point of view if you will:

 

I have gay and lesbian characters in my books, but the only time it has really come into the open is with the Aes Sedai because I haven’t been inside the heads of any other characters who are either gay or bi. For the most part, in this world such things are taken as a matter of course.

 

- The Official Robert Jordan Blog, October 6, 2005

 

 

I think that's the key. Most of our knowledge of Jordan's characters comes from his writing technique - intimate third person - which allows us to "get inside the head" of the main characters and see their perspectives on the world, undertstand their motivations etc. "Show not tell" at its best. Now I have a few characters in mind who I think might be gay (Aram, Vanin and Uno to name a few possibilities), and doubtless people will have more, but we've never been privy to their thoughts, and Jordan wasn't about to have them "come out" when the story didn't demand it, simply in order to have a "token" male homosexual relationship. He simply let the characters live, and took all such relationships as "a matter of course". Good on him, I say.

It's just an amazing coincidence that the only homosexual relationships that could serve the story were those between women.
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I think for Jordan the integrity of the characters were more important than the nature of their relationships. You're surely not suggesting that Jordan thought - "Now, let's think. The gay community will be down on me if I don't include a homosexual relationship in my story, but I hate male/males and I have a gratuitous thing about lesbians so I'll put a token lesbian relationship in there somewhere. Hmm, who should I pick? Elayne/Nynaeve? Nah. Birgitte and Areina? Nah. I know, Siuan and Moiraine! Perfect. Now that's out of the way, let's get back to the heterosexual relationships, where I feel safe. *wheew*" :sarcasm:

 

As I said, I think there are male homosexual relationships, but they just weren't explicit. I don't see that that's discriminatory in any way.

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even when he addressed the issue fairly plainly in interviews. about what sorts he was interested in. but theres no need to go there.

 

he wrote selflessly for the story. every last word.

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I think for Jordan the integrity of the characters were more important than the nature of their relationships. You're surely not suggesting that Jordan thought - "Now, let's think. The gay community will be down on me if I don't include a homosexual relationship in my story, but I hate male/males and I have a gratuitous thing about lesbians so I'll put a token lesbian relationship in there somewhere. Hmm, who should I pick? Elayne/Nynaeve? Nah. Birgitte and Areina? Nah. I know, Siuan and Moiraine! Perfect. Now that's out of the way, let's get back to the heterosexual relationships, where I feel safe. *wheew*" :sarcasm:

 

As I said, I think there are male homosexual relationships, but they just weren't explicit. I don't see that that's discriminatory in any way.

Male homosexual relationships weren't just not explicit, they can scarcely be considered implicit - there is just one mention in the series (in NS) that implies such a thing happens, but doesn't go so far as to suggest actual characters are involved. I don't think RJ set out to include tokenistic homosexual relationships, male or female. I do think that given the choice between writing about a male/male couple or a female/female couple he was more comfortable including the latter. The evidence for this is we have plenty of female/female couples, but only a mention that some men weren't interested in women. There is no character in any of the books that can be clearly shown to like men. There is a bias in the story to only show certaint kinds of homosexual relationships, and I feel that this is indicative of a bias on the part of the author - not necessarily concious, not malicious, but still a bias. Including a gay man doesn't require masses of description, it wouldn't take up space in the story. Yet none appear (or at least none identifiable as that), while lesbians and bisexual women do. If there was not some sort of bias at work keeping them out, I think it likely that at least one male character would be clearly identifiable as gay. That bias needn't be concious, as I said, but when you have nearly 2,000 characters and not one a gay man something seems a little odd.
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Lots of stuff

 

I was thinking of the same thing... prisons where the preferred partner may be a woman but since one isn't available....

 

I will third this

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Guest PiotrekS

Ah, it's the lack of a homosexual male relationship again. So terrible, the book is worthless no doubt about it :dry:

 

Gee, people, it's not social critique nor a "world as it should be". It's a story. Fantasy. The author prefered to write or think about lesbians than about gay men, it was his right to do so. I'm not surprised in the slightest. It is simply a personal preference.

 

The notion of bias could be in place if there was any "objective", "not-biased" criterion the author should adhere to when writing their story. Thankfully, there is no officially binding norm as to the ratio of male/female homosexual relationships the author is allowed to write about in the book. Yet.

 

Don't be obsessed.

Edited by PiotrekS
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Ah, it's the lack of a homosexual male relationship again. So terrible, the book is worthless no doubt about it :dry:

I never suggested it was a bad thing. Only that it was a thing.

 

Gee, people, it's not social critique nor a "world as it should be". It's a story. Fantasy. The author prefered to write or think about lesbians than about gay men, it was his right to do so. I'm not surprised in the slightest. It is simply a personal preference.

 

The notion of bias could be in place if there was any "objective", "not-biased" criterion the author should adhere to when writing their story. Thankfully, there is no officially binding norm as to the ratio of male/female homosexual relationships the author is allowed to write about in the book. Yet.

The author preferring to write about lesbians to gay men is a bias. There doesn't need to be any defining, objective crieria of the correct number of homosexuals to include in a book for the author to have a bias about what he puts in it, it requires only a preference on the author's part. That exists, therefore there is a bias. A bias my last post described as "not necessarily concious, not malicious".

 

Don't be obsessed.
I'm not.

 

And while this might be off topic, so many of the best discussions are.

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its not far off topic in any case.

 

not sure why the fact that authors have human biases and dont write like the evermind gets people ... upset?

 

and thats how you go off topic.

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Guest PiotrekS

The author preferring to write about lesbians to gay men is a bias. There doesn't need to be any defining, objective crieria of the correct number of homosexuals to include in a book for the author to have a bias about what he puts in it, it requires only a preference on the author's part. That exists, therefore there is a bias. A bias my last post described as "not necessarily concious, not malicious".

 

Alright, I just think the word "bias" has negative connotations that the notion of "personal preference" doesn't. It's a detail.

 

its not far off topic in any case.

 

not sure why the fact that authors have human biases and dont write like the evermind gets people ... upset?

 

and thats how you go off topic.

 

That would be difficult. The number and the prominence of spankings in WOT is pretty telling in that regard.

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I never understood all that harping about the "lack" of gays. It's a fantasy story and aside from the main characters the sexual orientation of a character is pretty much irrelevant. As I recall somewhere in the vicinity of 2% of people are homosexual. Does an author really have to go out of his way to point out that every 50th character is gay or lesbian out of political correctness? There are plenty of unattached men in the story of whose sexual preference we know nothing, if one so desires one can imagine any one of them to be gay or do as I do and never once waste a thought on whether a character is homosexual or heterosexual unless it's explicitly said in the story.

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I never understood all that harping about the "lack" of gays. It's a fantasy story and aside from the main characters the sexual orientation of a character is pretty much irrelevant. As I recall somewhere in the vicinity of 2% of people are homosexual. Does an author really have to go out of his way to point out that every 50th character is gay or lesbian out of political correctness? There are plenty of unattached men in the story of whose sexual preference we know nothing, if one so desires one can imagine any one of them to be gay or do as I do and never once waste a thought on whether a character is homosexual or heterosexual unless it's explicitly said in the story.

 

 

The only reason it is even a topic is because the author made such a point of including lesbians. So isn't it natural for people to ask, so where are the male gays with this sudden influx of "female pillowfriends?"

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Guest PiotrekS

I never understood all that harping about the "lack" of gays. It's a fantasy story and aside from the main characters the sexual orientation of a character is pretty much irrelevant. As I recall somewhere in the vicinity of 2% of people are homosexual. Does an author really have to go out of his way to point out that every 50th character is gay or lesbian out of political correctness? There are plenty of unattached men in the story of whose sexual preference we know nothing, if one so desires one can imagine any one of them to be gay or do as I do and never once waste a thought on whether a character is homosexual or heterosexual unless it's explicitly said in the story.

 

 

The only reason it is even a topic is because the author made such a point of including lesbians. So isn't it natural for people to ask, so where are the male gays with this sudden influx of "female pillowfriends?"

 

And the answer is simple and consists of two parts:

1. It is more relevant to the story, because we spend more time in an all-female institution when sexuality of young women is somehow repressed and there is this "lesbian until graduation phenomenon".

2.Author enjoyed writing about lesbians more than about gay men. In the same vein, we have some gratuitous nudity only in female rituals both among the Aes Sedai and among the Aiel, there is a spanking every hundred pages etc.

 

I think there is no deeper thought nor motivation behind this. There was a thread some time ago where this topic was discussed to death.

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Guest PiotrekS

and since when do you of all posters think a topic has been discussed to death :smile:

 

When it is convenient :smile:

 

If RJ was more like GRRM, he'd have written in detail about all the prostitutes who usually followed the armies. But apparently, as he said himself, in Randland there was no prostitution.

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that may be the least believable thing about randland.

 

and im pretty sure some of the taverns had some kind of trade system that we would refer to as prostitution in this world.

 

no doubt the 13th depository covers it.

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