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TWOW and Today's Social Climate


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6 minutes ago, Apoplexy said:

People have expressed criticisms of casual violence in the books, especially in Dany's case. Power imbalances in relationships just seems to be the criticism du jour.

Yet also, that’s “the pacifism of the privileged.”

Why can’t slave owners and slaves just sit down and negotiate a settlement?   That’s an unrealistic view of how social change takes place.

The paradox is that Daenerys is probably the only person inclined to show mercy to the Ghiscari slavers at all.  The freedmen would eat them raw.

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Regarding the ages, I have started to think that age doesn't really work the same way in this series as the real world, and I don't just mean psychologically. Take this passage from FnB:

Quote

Two years later, in 70 AC, Aemon and Jocelyn were joined in a ceremony that rivaled the Golden Wedding for its splendor. Lady Jocelyn at sixteen years old was one of the great beauties of the realm; a long-legged, full-breasted maid with thick straight hair that fell to her waist, black as a raven’s wing. Prince Aemon was one year younger at fifteen, but all agreed that they made a handsome couple. An inch shy of six feet tall, Jocelyn would have towered over most of the lords of Westeros, but the Prince of Dragonstone had three inches on her. “There stands the future of the realm,” Ser Gyles Morrigen said when he beheld the two of them side by side, the dark lady and the pale prince.

Aemon is six-foot-two at age 15, and he's not described as gangly and awkward the way most teenage boys who hit a growth spurt are. 

 

Side question: in other countries, do the books use the same measurements as the American publications do, or are they converted to the metric system?

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13 minutes ago, SeanF said:

This is a world at war.  The big danger for women is rape.  The big danger for men is death in battle, execution and torture.  The equal danger for both sexes is starvation.

That rape is the 'big danger' for women is a big misconception. Women experience violence at the hands of men they know far more often than a random rapist. And this hold true in war times as well. Plus, rapes can be very, very brutal. As for starvation, women are far more likely to have a poor diet because they usually feed the men in their lives and their dependents (children, elderly) before feeding themselves. In fact many developing countries promote a balanced diet for women even today because of this. 

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13 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Yet also, that’s “the pacifism of the privileged.”

Why can’t slave owners and slaves just sit down and negotiate a settlement?   That’s an unrealistic view of how social change takes place.

The paradox is that Daenerys is probably the only person inclined to show mercy to the Ghiscari slavers at all.  The freedmen would eat them raw.

That's the point, one person showing some mercy to a group of oppressed people doesn't bring any material change to their lives. It's a good gesture, but it's hollow.

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4 hours ago, SeanF said:

However, men are much more likely than women to experience execution and torture.  Enlightened people in this world massacre adult males;  savages kill or enslave  the women and children, too.   That’s where sexism works against men.

it's no secret that sexism works against both women and men. but @Apoplexy is right there: these are the extremes you are talking about. when men are forced to go to war , women are brutally raped just as wheats are plundered and homes are burnt . when Lord Darklyn is executed for his crimes , his wife is tortured and burnt .

that said, you can't expect to depict a patriarchal brutal world and pretend women are not subject to mistreatment , assault , discrimination and violence. but I don't see the books casually depict violence against women since Martin has actually bothered to condemn these in many Brienne , Dany and even Cersei chapters. that makes all the difference for me. although , if the first book was published today , I might have said we already have enough books in a patriarchal and/or feudal setting and didn't read it ... it's fantasy after all. as easy as it is to depict something that's more familiar (whether through contemporary society or history) , it could be set in a whole other social system ; it just wouldn't have been asoiaf! 

as for lower class , if George wanted to work on that , it would have been great .. I have long been saying he's missed a big opportunity with Aero Hottah and from what he's said about show-Shae , he thinks he's missed potential in Shae. yet, other than those few examples ,it would have been another book entirely if he wanted to write about class consciousness . let's face it: this book is mostly about nobility and feudal system with a mist of magic all over it. the thought of seeing sparks of modern world democracy in Westeros is absurd (looking at you Show-Sam) . the most we'll get is Egg's reforms and Daenerys's anti-slavery movements , both of which are from nobility . 

of course,  someone like me has got to know GoT ever since high school and finds it easier to overlook these specific parts of this world :dunno: it's a real possibility that new readers in 2022 won't bother to pick up the second book at all. 

 

Edited by EggBlue
add a bunch of stuff
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15 hours ago, EggBlue said:

it's no secret that sexism works against both women and men. but @Apoplexy is right there: these are the extremes you are talking about. when men are forced to go to war , women are brutally raped just as wheats are plundered and homes are burnt . when Lord Darklyn is executed for his crimes , his wife is tortured and burnt .

that said, you can't expect to depict a patriarchal brutal world and pretend women are not subject to mistreatment , assault , discrimination and violence. but I don't see the books casually depict violence against women since Martin has actually bothered to condemn these in many Brienne , Dany and even Cersei chapters. that makes all the difference for me. although , if the first book was published today , I might have said we already have enough books in a patriarchal and/or feudal setting and didn't read it ... it's fantasy after all. as easy as it is to depict something that's more familiar (whether through contemporary society or history) , it could be set in a whole other social system ; it just wouldn't have been asoiaf! 

as for lower class , if George wanted to work on that , it would have been great .. I have long been saying he's missed a big opportunity with Aero Hottah and from what he's said about show-Shae , he thinks he's missed potential in Shae. yet, other than those few examples ,it would have been another book entirely if he wanted to write about class consciousness . let's face it: this book is mostly about nobility and feudal system with a mist of magic all over it. the thought of seeing sparks of modern world democracy in Westeros is absurd (looking at you Show-Sam) . the most we'll get is Egg's reforms and Daenerys's anti-slavery movements , both of which are from nobility . 

of course,  someone like me has got to know GoT ever since high school and finds it easier to overlook these specific parts of this world :dunno: it's a real possibility that new readers in 2022 won't bother to pick up the second book at all. 

 

We can argue over what points Martin is trying to make.

I’m quite sure his message is not one of complete reaction, unlike that of the two D’s.  The show pretty much endorsed the status quo, in both Westeros and Essos.  Daenerys was wrong to use violence against slave-drivers.  The violent overthrow of slavery just makes things worse for everyone.  The Stark children had to wise up, and become like Cersei and Littlefinger.  Killing was justified to avenge wrongs done to one’s family, but it was not justified to liberate people.  A happy ending is one in which the Seven Kingdoms are ruled by a clique who see the smallfolk as livestock, and all the foreigners have departed.

Joseph de Maistre would approve.

That said, I don’t think Martin’s advocating socialist revolution in either continent, even if violence is necessary to defeat injustice.  People do lose out when violence is used, who do not deserve to lose out.  Shitty people like Cleon seize power in the name of the people, while lining their own pockets.  Reform is preferable to revolution - but reformers can only make headway if they can point to the examples of societies that failed to reform.

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The world also shows the reality of domestic violence with great men like Merry Meg's husband or abusers like Robert, Craster, Tywin, Joffrey, Viserys, etc.

Overall, the series is likely not going to transform or overcome Westerosi feudalism ... but it might take a turn towards benevolent absolutism. The clear big problem of the series so far is that there are a lot of noble families with their petty and selfish ambitions.

In Essos I think we will see the violent overthrowal of slavery with the very clear message that a restoration of slavery won't happen in the foreseeable future.

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What is a fundamental flaw in ASoIaF is the fact that the commoners literally have no political agenda or agency. They are either sheep to be exploited or fools following false saviors/leaders who direct the real issues the people are having into wrong directions (e.g. the Sparrow Movement which just put a religious fanatic in control of the Faith).

George really does send the messages that peasants and the like have no political or economical power of note in this world he created, and that leads to a very bad anthropolgy and subsequently to a completely unrealistic political and economical landscape.

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31 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

What is a fundamental flaw in ASoIaF is the fact that the commoners literally have no political agenda or agency. They are either sheep to be exploited or fools following false saviors/leaders who direct the real issues the people are having into wrong directions (e.g. the Sparrow Movement which just put a religious fanatic in control of the Faith).

George really does send the messages that peasants and the like have no political or economical power of note in this world he created, and that leads to a very bad anthropolgy and subsequently to a completely unrealistic political and economical landscape.

It's true that peasants rarely have power, though.

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14 minutes ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

It's true that peasants rarely have power, though.

If you look at real world history then throughout antiquity and the middle ages the elites were under constant threats of riots and rebellions instigated by the rabble. This didn't lead to a lasting change of the social order, but such movements could replace one ruling clique with another.

The middle ages are full of peasants wars and peasant riots, etc.

Westeros is basically literally a world where only nobles are 'fully human' in the sense that only they are political and economical subjects. George certainly does acknowledge the humanity of those people, but his attitude is very paternalistic in the sense that he doesn't give the smallfolk political agency nor the ability to try to better their own situation.

He also has a laughably simplistic view of economy and the financial sphere in general. The really rich folks should be merchants and traders controlling the international trade with luxury goods and, of course, the bankers and moneylenders in the cities and towns.

But George actually tries to sell us the idea that the cities can be successful as cities and remain basically the feudal fiefdom of this or that noble family. The five large cities should be run by merchants and bankers, power and wealth in the prosperous Reach and Riverlands should be shared by the nobility and powerful merchants, etc.

Instead, merchants and traders - if present - are always portrayed as subservient to the noble elite. They never challenge their power, always suck up to them, and are never a danger to them.

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14 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Instead, merchants and traders - if present - are always portrayed as subservient to the noble elite. They never challenge their power, always suck up to them, and are never a danger to them.

The Iron Bank?

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Just now, Springwatch said:

The Iron Bank?

Is in Braavos. In the Free Cities there are powerful merchants and bankers and the like ... but not in Westeros.

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1 minute ago, Lord Varys said:

Is in Braavos. In the Free Cities there are powerful merchants and bankers and the like ... but not in Westeros.

Ok. Because I was also thinking of Illyrio and Xaro. So it's not that GRRM has forgotten the merchants entirely. The rich man appears in Varys' riddle too.

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1 minute ago, Springwatch said:

Ok. Because I was also thinking of Illyrio and Xaro. So it's not that GRRM has forgotten the merchants entirely. The rich man appears in Varys' riddle too.

Yes, but the very idea that a continent the size of Westeros would have no major bank of their own is laughable. Every large city of Westeros should have their own bank, the Targaryens would *never* borrow money from the Braavosi or the other Free Cities if they had other options, etc.

The very idea that the Lannisters who sit on a huge heap of gold wouldn't use that vast wealth to establish the Golden Bank of Lannisport or Casterly Rock is completely ridiculous. Not to mention that the abundance of gold in the West would have led to many a commoner from Lannisport to establish their own banks and moneylending enterprises, possibly even rivaling their rulers as time passes.

We hear about the Lannisters actually acting as moneylenders (Lord Tytos gives a lot of loans but never demands them back) but it is never institutionalized, nor is there any conflicts among the rich commoners of Lannisport - which must exist - and the Western nobility jealously guarding their privileges against upjumped merchants and the like.

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18 hours ago, EggBlue said:

that said, you can't expect to depict a patriarchal brutal world and pretend women are not subject to mistreatment , assault , discrimination and violence. but I don't see the books casually depict violence against women since Martin has actually bothered to condemn these in many Brienne , Dany and even Cersei chapters. that makes all the difference for me. although , if the first book was published today , I might have said we already have enough books in a patriarchal and/or feudal setting and didn't read it ... it's fantasy after all. as easy as it is to depict something that's more familiar (whether through contemporary society or history) , it could be set in a whole other social system ; it just wouldn't have been asoiaf! 

I also would probably not have picked up the books had they been released today (maybe I'd have read the first book, not sure if I would pick up the second book). And I've said this somewhere before in this thread, but depiction of extreme violence against men is not going to lead to modern men experiencing extreme violence. But modern women are extremely likely to experience an increase in violence/sexualization if that's what is depicted in popular culture. GRRM definitely condemns it, but the sheer volume of violence against women in the books IMO is unnecessary. I don't need a reminder every other chapter about mistreatment of women. I would say the same about violence in general too.

18 hours ago, EggBlue said:

as for lower class , if George wanted to work on that , it would have been great .. I have long been saying he's missed a big opportunity with Aero Hottah and from what he's said about show-Shae , he thinks he's missed potential in Shae. yet, other than those few examples ,it would have been another book entirely if he wanted to write about class consciousness . let's face it: this book is mostly about nobility and feudal system with a mist of magic all over it. the thought of seeing sparks of modern world democracy in Westeros is absurd (looking at you Show-Sam) . the most we'll get is Egg's reforms and Daenerys's anti-slavery movements , both of which are from nobility

Areo Hottah and Shae were definitely missed opportunities. I would say Essos could have had a few characters that were not slave masters. But this story is really not about them. It's a story about mostly westerosi aristocrats. And I've said this in some other thread, but introducing modern democracy in westeros would just be weird and clearly anachronistic. 

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Dothraki society is too violent to survive;  the endemic warfare and piracy in Essos, fuelled by the demand for slaves should result in the cities being impoverished;  slave soldiers ought to have seized power, as they did in the Middle East;  and warfare in Westeros resembles warfare against heretics and infidels far more than noble faction-fighting.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

If you look at real world history then throughout antiquity and the middle ages the elites were under constant threats of riots and rebellions instigated by the rabble. This didn't lead to a lasting change of the social order, but such movements could replace one ruling clique with another.

The middle ages are full of peasants wars and peasant riots, etc.

Westeros is basically literally a world where only nobles are 'fully human' in the sense that only they are political and economical subjects. George certainly does acknowledge the humanity of those people, but his attitude is very paternalistic in the sense that he doesn't give the smallfolk political agency nor the ability to try to better their own situation.

What about the KL riot in ACoK?

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15 minutes ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

What about the KL riot in ACoK?

That's just a very short and spontaneous thing ... and it is implied it may have been arranged by Varys.

How little agency George allows the commoners can be seen in the riots during the Dance. We get the Storming of the Dragonpit where the Kingslanders basically destroy the basis of Targaryen power - and symbolically free themselves of the yokes of the dragons - only to worship Rhaena's Morning a short time thereafter as if nothing ever happened.

On the one hand it is realistic that war and the fear of slaughter and destruction triggers extreme behavior ... on the other folks doing something like that also do realize that they have political power of their own. If we have ambitious nobles we should just as well have ambitious commoners.

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4 minutes ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

I've heard this theory before but don't know much about it. Why do some readers believe Varys arranged the riot?

Because the riot resulted in the disappearance of Tyrek Lannister ... and folks, Jaime among them, suspect that Varys may have had the opportunity to arrange the riot to abduct him.

And as I said - it is also suspicious that it was such a short affair and whoever led the people didn't continue to riot thereafter. There is no indication that Joff's regime had the strength to actually crush the riot and arrest the ringleaders.

If you look at the riots at the end of Rhaenyra's reign you realize that a full-scale uprising in KL isn't something the Crown can crush or control. That indicates that the riot in ACoK was in fact staged by somebody who controlled the people doing it - it wasn't something that was or got out of control.

Although I expect we get a much larger riot/upraising in TWoW when Aegon comes knocking at the gates of KL.

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