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2 musings: Portrayals of gay women in WOT and the shrinking populations


zerachiel76
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I've had 2 thoughts which have bugged me for a while -

 

1 - That the gay women in WOT seem to hate and distrust all men while in my experience in real life this simply isn't the case. I've had many gay female friends who while they're not attracted to men, don't hate or distrust them and in fact share many things in common (like looking at beautiful girls :D).

 

I wonder if this is because this is how gays are portrayed by the conservative and religious right in media in the US, and thus RJ wrote the characters in this way as it would be easier for US readers to understand the characters portrayed as such. Whatever the reason, to me as a Brit, the attitudes portrayed seem to jarr with my personal experience.

 

2 - As the Red Ajah hates and/or distrusts men as a general rule (although there are exceptions), the Red Ajah is the largest Ajah and if the sizes of the Ajah are roughly representative of the population of Randland in general, this would mean that more women hate or distrust men than those who love them (as represented by the Green Ajah). If this is the case then no wonder the population of Randworld is shrinking.

 

I know this doesn't necessarily follow so I wonder what people think.

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What gay women do you mean? AFAIK the only indications we have are 'pillowfriends', but they don't seem to dislike men (Moiraine and Siuan for example). Can you provide any examples of named known gay women in the books?

 

Male channellers are indeed distrusted in Randland and for good reason - they go mad and destroy people and things.

 

Also: is the population shrinking? Not saying it isn't necessarily, I just wonder what makes you think that.

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What gay women do you mean? AFAIK the only indications we have are 'pillowfriends', but they don't seem to dislike men (Moiraine and Siuan for example). Can you provide any examples of named known gay women in the books?

 

Male channellers are indeed distrusted in Randland and for good reason - they go mad and destroy people and things.

 

Also: is the population shrinking? Not saying it isn't necessarily, I just wonder what makes you think that.

 

Many of the Red Ajah are implied to be gay but I wasn't trying to turn this into a Red Ajah bashing session. The 13th Depository says:

 

Their general attitude towards men is one of suspicion because of this, and some take it to such an extreme that all men, whether they can channel or not, are practically anathema. This is perhaps the

reason

some women choose the Red, rather than the

effect

of that choice; they already dislike men, and hunting men who can channel gives their dislike a ‘useful’ focus. Galina Casban is most certainly one of these:

 

Other than Galina I can think of Liandrin but before you ask I don't think this is necessarily a Black Ajah connection. I think in KoD it says that Tsutama Rath would show mercy to a rabid dog before she would a man which would lead me to believe she must either be gay or asexual and certainly matches the point copied from the 13th Depository above re the Red Ajah recruiting women who dislike men. RJ himself said:

 

 

"

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

 

Galina is the most openly gay AS I can find:

 

Galina wanted to laugh. Maidens; they called these monstrous women Maidens. She wished she could laugh. At least there were no men present, a small mercy. Men made her skin crawl, and if one could see her now, less than half-clothed….Anxiously, her eyes sought for Therava…

 

- A Crown of Swords, Spears

 

Tarna kept her face smooth with an effort. Pillow-friends were common among novices and Accepted, but girlhood things should be left behind with girlhood. Not all sisters saw it so, certainly. Galina had been quite surprised when Tarna refused her advances after gaining the shawl.

 

-

Knife of Dreams

, Attending Elaida

 

Re the population, I'm sure I've read somewhere, possibly in the encyclopaedia that the population is shrinking which has caused places such as the Caralain Grass, Almoth Plain, the Plains of Maredo, the gap between Tear and Cairhien, and Cairhien and Shienar to become virtually uninhabited. I think it said the Trolloc wars and the War of a Hundred years caused some of it but that the populations have never recovered which they would do given the amount of land available of which some must be suitable for growing food (grasslands) and inhabitable land in the above areas amongst others.

 

I appreciate both of these things are my takes on it so if I'm wrong please point me towards the correct info.

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generations (thousands of years even) of the taint on the male half of the power has subverted the culture, even straight women have a degree of distrust and disrespect of men. just as men in their culture often have a distrust and even fear of women. the culture has been subverted by the do's counterstroke, so, much of the disparity between women and men is a direct result of that.

 

EDIT: forgot a comma

Edited by Testy al'Carr
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I cannot think of any evidence that the shrinking population has anything to do with homosexuality.

 

The distrust of men is general is caused by the Breaking and the taint. And I will easily admit that there is justified cause for some wariness. A man who can channel is by default an outlaw and he will in the majority of cases try to escape gentling because it typically means death, even though channeling does so too. In this environment it is not difficult to understand how most women would gain an attitude toward men that in some ways are similar to what we saw reversely in our society only 60 years ago or so. Women in Randland have gradually come to see these risks as inherent in male nature, because its been that way for all of recorded history.

 

The Aes Sedai are an all-female society with no men in positions of power, so this antipathy/distrust/suspicion/dismissal of men are probably exacerbated by that fact. They deal less with men than the population at large, and the stereotypes are reinforced. These women also enter the Tower at a very young age and many haven't had any substantial relation with men (whatever you take that to mean). It is not hard to imagine that those who prefer women romantically/sexually can become quite hateful of men in that environment.

 

The extent to which this skepticism has reduced the population is debatable. I doubt by much to be honest. People desire to mate and multiply. There are plenty of other reasons why population hasn't been growing, for example lack of decent healthcare (Aes Sedai don't seem to offer their services much), lack of technological advancement, and inept governments.

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What gay women do you mean? AFAIK the only indications we have are 'pillowfriends', but they don't seem to dislike men (Moiraine and Siuan for example). Can you provide any examples of named known gay women in the books?

 

There is Galina as mentioned, and she certainly fits the stereotype. But there is also Seonid, a Green, with at least two Warders, who the Wise Ones commented "didn't like her Warders in that way" (from my memory). I believe this was in the beginning of Winter's Heart, and at least I felt it was quite obvious that they were talking about her sexual orientation. So there is an example of a non-man-hating lesbian.

 

Not that we really needed examples in the first place in my opinion, because I think it would be outright silly to even suspect RJ of making stereotypical man-haters out of every non-heterosexual woman.

 

(Edited for clarification)

Edited by Alric
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I know this doesn't necessarily follow so I wonder what people think.

I think you're putting the cart before the horse.

 

Most of the truly misandrous women we've seen have been Red. It seems to attract, and through an intellectual echochamber effect, encourage that sort of mindset.

 

So it follows most people choosing to immerse themselves in that environment would be the sort who kinda dislike men. Not because they're lesbians, but because they're the sort who would be attracted to the mindset of the Red Ajah and have been immersed in it for years and years

 

Outside of the Red Ajah we have seen perfectly non man hating girl love.

 

Also, it bears remembering that in Randland people don't seem to make as big a deal out of sexual orientation as they do in the modern day.

 

As for

I wonder if this is because this is how gays are portrayed by the conservative and religious right in media in the US, and thus RJ wrote the characters in this way as it would be easier for US readers to understand the characters portrayed as such. Whatever the reason, to me as a Brit, the attitudes portrayed seem to jarr with my personal experience.

1: Way to call the entire country a bunch of backwards idiots.

2: It is my experience that the fantasy audience(for which Jordan would have been writing) is, in terms of accepting different lifestyles, less conservative than the religious right. Would you provide evidence for your suggestion that the fantasy audience is as conservative as the Religious Right?

3: It is my experience that the US media does not overwhelmingly portray lesbian characters as man hating monsters.Would you provide evidence for your suggestion that most gay/lesbian characters in US media, from 1990 to present, have been portrayed as negatively as the Red Ajah?

Edited by Zorlon
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Tarna kept her face smooth with an effort. Pillow-friends were common among novices and Accepted, but girlhood things should be left behind with girlhood. Not all sisters saw it so, certainly. Galina had been quite surprised when Tarna refused her advances after gaining the shawl.

 

-

Knife of Dreams

, Attending Elaida

it sounds to me more like experimenting in college than being lesbians. in fact, tarna says that. it should be left behind. if it is who you are, you do not leave it behind. if it was a phase, then you can.

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Reds naturally distrust men, so on some level it's understandable that many of them may not be sexually interested in men. While it's by no means a hard fast rule, that may mean a higher proportion of lesbians in the reds than other Ajahs. I don't think this is reflective of RJ's opinions on lesbians in general, but more of the sexist and anti-male view predominant in the reds. By nature it attracts people who are likely both disinterested in men and distrust them.

 

This is a "late night post" for me, so I've probably said some dumb, incoherent things. If so, I apologize.

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Yeah there is no doubt that different women see being pillow friends differently, some experiment, but really it seems to be more about comfort. Some like it and choose it for life, others think it is for childhood.

Interesting is how homosexuality with men does not come up, the one touted example is the captain of the ship the girls take to salidar, hates women, has a wife with many children of course is not proof, andf tho i have no idea how gay men saw women prior to modern times, I'll make a completely uneducated guess they were more comfotable around women than heterosexual men who have a lot sexual tension...

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So far as the population question goes it seems only evidence of the darkone's growing power first turned back but not defeated at the trolloc wars, nations have been failing for a long time, darkfriends in general undermining any success in the human population (loss of innovation in food production to support a larger population for example) even hawkwing was corrupted in the end.

Edited by Hyronimus
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Tesy makes a valid point. The Taint has made men in general less trusted, and lowered their place in society as a whole. I get what the OP is getting at, and while it would never be an issue in our society it could (just could) be a contributing factor in a society like theirs. There's no way to ever tell however. It is an interesting theory though.

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There is one flow in your point , you take the Aes'Sedai as a representation of Randland witch is clearly wrong , on many instance we have been shown that Aes'Sedai by their "training" got a mindset that isolated them from the people that put them on top of them .

Yes Aes'Sedai on the general are distrustful of men , but this bias is not shared among the rest of the population , it is one of the weakness of the Aes'Sedai .

But you are right it as influence on the rest of the population we have seen that in the first book , but overall it is a good influcence , in Randland women are considered more then less the equal of the men .

We see many occurrence when the one who rule either share the power between gender ( the Aiel , the Ogier) or Women have the upper hand the Athan'miere have women as chief .

My point is that men are not less trusted because of the taint , but Women are more powerful because of the Aes'Sedai existence , you can't trample a women , on a national scale , if you know you can be blasted to ashe's by one on a whim .

If you look at the different kingdom there is only Amadicia who have a position in total contradiction of the rest of the world , forbidding healing women and getting men to do their job .

There is not particular distrust of men in the general population , there is the little bigotry from time to time , but overall there is still more king and great lord than queen .

On the Mindset of Red , I don't think you need to be gay to hate the other gender , I have known many women who are mistrustful of men and for good reason .

The Red have just institutionalize that hatred , but it is more general Aes'Sedai stupidity than any other thing .

I mean really they fight men who can chanel , men who could shred them , but they don't get warder to protect them ? very very efficient .

 

On the subject of homosexuality I don't think it had been sufficiently developed in the book to make an impact on the general population , you must remember the eye of the world , the status of the world was disastrous .

The White tower was seen her influence crumbling , Malkier was lost and the Borderland about to be submerge by a Trolloc army , 2 false dragon where roaming the world , much if not all of the wetland countries where under heavy darkfriend influence . The Seanchan where already on the return . Weather was already tempered with by the Do .

There as been war in every country by now so that put a cost to the general pop so .

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Thanks for your responses everyone, I've taken them all on board and will hold my hands up and say I was almost entirely wrong on both points (I still think there MAY be a link on the 2nd point but it would be impossible to prove or disprove for certain). I got what I wanted though which was others thoughts as I love the way many different people can read the same thing and come up with different viewpoints :)

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Thanks for your responses everyone, I've taken them all on board and will hold my hands up and say I was almost entirely wrong on both points (I still think there MAY be a link on the 2nd point but it would be impossible to prove or disprove for certain). I got what I wanted though which was others thoughts as I love the way many different people can read the same thing and come up with different viewpoints :)

 

I would say that, regarding your second point, the FEAR of men who can channel is simply very powerful. These are the people who destroyed the world. Think the height of the cold war, Cuban Missile scares, but it could turn out to be your brother who is the nuke. 3,000 years of this kind of fear, while it has lessened, will impact society immensely. Now, throw a group of young women from this society into an exclusive "school" that has absolutely no outside oversight and is allowed to teach and mold these youths as they see fit, and see how distorted they are capable of becoming. The Aes Sedai, and the Reds specifically, are in no way indicative of social norms.

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Here is what RJ had to say on the topic...

 

]Interview: Apr 5th, 1996[/b]

Balticon XXX - Bill Garrett (Paraphrased)

Robert Jordan

 

Not all Red Ajah are misandrists. Jordan said that not all members of the Red Ajah are rabid men-haters, but pointed out that they will tend to develop a dislike/distrust for men as part of their job. To be Red Ajah means that your primary mission is to capture and gentle channeling males, so all men become potential enemies. After having this outlook for several decades, it will be hard to have a normal relationship with men.

FOOTNOTE—BILL GARRETT

 

 

My Comment: Something that I would personally like to add to this discussion is that all Aes Sedai believe in the importance of stopping male channelers, but the Reds are those who consider it more important than anything else they can do with their talents. This will tend to attract women who dislike men.

 

&

 

Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

LOC Signing Report - Daniel Rouk (Paraphrased)

Jared S. Samet (31 October 1994)

 

Is RJ trying to insinuate that the Red Ajah is made up of lesbians?

 

Daniel Rouk

Someone (Erica?) asked this question at the first Atlanta Signing.

 

Robert Jordan

 

Jordan said that he doesn't know how this idea caught on. The Red Ajah does have women who hate men, but not all do. He went on to say that its a bad logical jump to say that just because a woman hates men means that she is a lesbian.

Edited by Suttree
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Jordan said that he doesn't know how this idea caught on. The Red Ajah does have women who hate men, but not all do. He went on to say that its a bad logical jump to say that just because a woman hates men means that she is a lesbian.

 

So would that mean she just hates relantionships? Is she like a eunuch? Interesting quote.

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A woman may hate men for many reasons which have nothing to do with her own sexuality. She may have been a victim of rape or of domestic abuse, for example. Or she may be in a profession which is traditionally male-dominated, and not all of the men around her approve of her being there, and some punish her for it. Unhappily, all of that can happen to men from women as well, though it is less frequently mentioned / encountered.

Edited by FarShainMael
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A woman may hate men for many reasons which have nothing to do with her own sexuality. She may have been a victim of rape or of domestic abuse, for example. Or she may be in a profession which is traditionally male-dominated, and not all of the men around her approve of her being there, and some punish her for it. Unhappily, all of that can happen to men from women as well, though it is less frequently mentioned / encountered.

 

Oh I know, but I've never heard it described like that I suppose. As in, to mean when I hear I hate men/women, I assume they hate them all. Hate is such a strong word, I know everyone's not sexual in that way, but if you hate women, I'd assume you like men before I assume you just don't like relantionships at all. Seems like a bigger leap for the latter. Does that make sense?

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A woman may hate men for many reasons which have nothing to do with her own sexuality. She may have been a victim of rape or of domestic abuse, for example. Or she may be in a profession which is traditionally male-dominated, and not all of the men around her approve of her being there, and some punish her for it. Unhappily, all of that can happen to men from women as well, though it is less frequently mentioned / encountered.

 

Oh I know, but I've never heard it described like that I suppose. As in, to mean when I hear I hate men/women, I assume they hate them all. Hate is such a strong word, I know everyone's not sexual in that way, but if you hate women, I'd assume you like men before I assume you just don't like relantionships at all. Seems like a bigger leap for the latter. Does that make sense?

 

Sort of... I would react differently. If a man said they hated women, I wouldn't assume they liked men, or indeed assume anything at all about their likes and dislikes. But that is because I'm an Aspie and tend to take what people say at face value, and not add interpretations. (That in itself is restrictive and often dangerous!).

People who know more about human relationships than me would probably react as you did.

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A woman may hate men for many reasons which have nothing to do with her own sexuality. She may have been a victim of rape or of domestic abuse, for example. Or she may be in a profession which is traditionally male-dominated, and not all of the men around her approve of her being there, and some punish her for it. Unhappily, all of that can happen to men from women as well, though it is less frequently mentioned / encountered.

 

Oh I know, but I've never heard it described like that I suppose. As in, to mean when I hear I hate men/women, I assume they hate them all. Hate is such a strong word, I know everyone's not sexual in that way, but if you hate women, I'd assume you like men before I assume you just don't like relantionships at all. Seems like a bigger leap for the latter. Does that make sense?

 

Sort of... I would react differently. If a man said they hated women, I wouldn't assume they liked men, or indeed assume anything at all about their likes and dislikes. But that is because I'm an Aspie and tend to take what people say at face value, and not add interpretations. (That in itself is restrictive and often dangerous!).

People who know more about human relationships than me would probably react as you did.

 

Good point.

 

Personally I say I hate people in general, except for those few who fall outside that rule.But I see what you're saying. I just disagree that it's not a logical leap.

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I agree with FarShainMael.

 

There are plenty of men who hate women but still like to have sex with them. They're called misogynists. I don't see why the opposite couldn't be true in Randland, where a lot of our gender dynamics are reversed.

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I agree with FarShainMael.

 

There are plenty of men who hate women but still like to have sex with them. They're called misogynists. I don't see why the opposite couldn't be true in Randland, where a lot of our gender dynamics are reversed.

 

Toveine is a good example of a gender reverse misogynist in Randland. Her liking for pretty subservient young men might be a matter of taste, but along with her choice of Red I'm inclined to think not.

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Food is the main limiter on population. Some people choosing not to reproduce has almost no effect; other people will reproduce more. As long as there's food. The population has been declinding because Ishamael tried his best to set back civilizaton every 1000 years when he got free.

 

Women choosing not to reproduce has more effect than men of course, but still I think not too much. Also it's not like gay women have any difficulty having children, if they feel like it. Aes Sedai just seem not to want children.

Edited by Morsker
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