Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Maia

Bakker and Women

Recommended Posts

[quote name='Arthmail' post='1674584' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.01']Matrim...your response holds no water. Anything of magnitude in a story is relevant, its how the author deals with it that determines if it should be in there. My point by illustrating RL parallels is that Bakker didn't bother throwing in anything but whores and prostitutes when he actually had some examples available to him. He could have gone a different way, but chose not to. Would you argue that Cersei, or Dany, for that matter, are irrelevant to the story? As has been argued by his defenders, Bakker could have done as he wanted, meaning he could have given us more of a view of what was going on beyond the glow of Kellhus the perfect.[/quote]

So because an author had an opportunity to include joan of arc in his book he should? He also had the opportunity to include some more meaningful stuff about the stories middle easterners, hell, he probably could have added a samurai for good measure. Bakker could have done as he wanted, and guess what, he did. He didn't do what you wanted though, you seem to think he should have. The thing is, he wrote the book, not you and not Martin. That whole paragraph is just a coulda shoulda woulda.


[quote name='Arthmail' post='1674584' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.01']Whoring whores who whore.[/quote]

Anyone would think that some people had a few hang ups about sex.


[quote name='Arthmail' post='1674584' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.01']I'll call it as i see it. His use of women in his stories is bullshit, trite, and boring. Its also possibly sexist, though i won't go so far as to claim that. Claiming that it doesn't make any sense within the context of this story is an intellectual cop-out.[/quote]

It doesn't make sense within the context of the story. Bakker could have written to so that it would make sense, its not that hard, he just could have made the history a little different, fundamentally change the history of the world that he kind of crafted to suit the taste of everyone, no biggie. He didn't though, and it appears it hasn't suited everyones delicate sensibilities.


Anyway

I have a criticism of Bakker, one I think should be heard. The portrayal of barbarians in his book is incredibly biased, they are shown as nothing but rapist with a hidden penchant for sodomy. He constantly builds them up to what appears to be glory and then has them undercut themselves, showing them and their flaws. Flaws which he the author imposes on them. Such is his bias and so consistent is he in its application that I don't hesitate to call him a racist. Denigrating the people of 'lesser' races and cultures at any opportunity. Cnairs tribe could easilty have been portrayed as an honorable and noble native peoples, living in harmony with the land and in peace with one another. Instead they have been shown as vicious barbarians. Bakker had every opportunity to make them more like the mud people in Goodkinds brilliant sword of truth series but neglected to do so. His use of them is bullshit, trite and boring. He could have easily made them nicer in the context of the story but chose not too. Damn him and his racist agenda. Damn him to hell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674554' date='Feb 4 2009, 22.53']By somes definition a sexist setting = a sexist book, if this is the case for them then the 'well duhhhhh' thing applies. In that context its stating the obvious.

Also, some people [i]are [/i]saying that the author is sexist.[/quote]
Who is saying he is sexist [i]merely[/i] because he has a sexist setting? That was my point. The people arguing it here seem to be arguing on grounds of the plausibility of the setting.

[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674554' date='Feb 4 2009, 22.53']Just responding to you talking about gender in respect to half the population being female, like you did. I can see how it would be unclear though, still, you know what i meant and what the point of the paragraph was...[/quote]
No I guess I didn't and don't see how it follows. Half the population being female is a reason why it's important, it is no limiting factor about who it's important [i]to[/i], which was to what your statement about the entire population referred. You mention that not all books need to concern themselves about gender, but this thread is about a book that [i]did[/i] opt to concern itself about gender, at least the author's own words certainly seem to indicate he did (as he implies that he intended to problematize certain attitudes).

[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674554' date='Feb 4 2009, 22.53']Historically the former would have happened more than the latter through the army anyway. Its funny that in the Bakker series a lowly woman rises up to be in a position of power. Rallying against this cliche it seems.[/quote]
Yes, but as I understand it, there are specifics about how this rising up was done that people find concerning. I know there was a rebuttal (by HE?) though.

[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674554' date='Feb 4 2009, 22.53']Star Trek seemed to mix it up fairly well, but the captain was a whitey I guess so someones going to bitch.[/quote]
Why would you be dismissive of that complaint? Sooner or later it's going to be an issue if only white people are allowed to be in leadership roles, isn't it? Why would you be dismissive of that complaint, I can't find a reason unless you think that people should be grateful black people aren't slaves any more and just be content with the rest. One out of five Star Trek captains was black and your reaction is "I guess someone's going to bitch"?

[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674554' date='Feb 4 2009, 22.53']Im glad I don't have to read stuff like that all the time.[/quote]
Fine, but once again, this is a thread about a book that decided to concern itself with "stuff like that", sooo ... what are you getting at here?

Why do people persist in this strawman idea that people asking for gender/race/etc issues to be addressed are planning on replacing every single book in the bookstore with their eviol agenda? Nobody is taking other books away, what's the threat?

[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674554' date='Feb 4 2009, 22.53']Its fair to criticize in terms of the entire genre, but to pick on single books for not filling out your white knight checklist is stupid. This comment is directly meant for you incidentally, it goes for any other thread readers.[/quote]
Who is using a checklist here? In fact people seem to me to be [i]trying[/i] to contextualize things and avoiding a checklist.

[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674554' date='Feb 4 2009, 22.53']Anyway, yes it would be great to have a working definition of tokenism but its one of those things that people are going to dispute anyway no matter where you draw the line.[/quote]
It's better than to have arguments where people have no intention of being productive and are really just using other people as venting targets. Isn't that what people like Arthmail despise about the writer of the article linked in the thread Bellis linked here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Arthmail' post='1674584' date='Feb 5 2009, 06.01']My point by illustrating RL parallels is that Bakker didn't bother throwing in anything but whores and prostitutes when he actually had some examples available to him.[/quote]
This really has to stop. There is [i]one[/i] whore. The other is a [i]slave[/i] (which is a huge difference in my book, I’m sure most sex slaves agree). The third is [i]the immensely powerful queen of the Nansurium[/i].

The following argument it silly: “Look! In the RL crusades there actually was a female ruler in Egypt for a short while! Why doesn’t Bakker have that?”. [i]He does[/i]! And it really makes it hard to try to focus on the salient point of the other side when this kind of easily countered hyperbole is thrown into the game all the time. Try to make minimal, but correct claims. It’s much more powerful than hyperbole.

For Kalbear: The queen [i]does[/i] use sex, I agree with that. But that’s of course one of the points of the book: Sex is a powerful tool. The Inchoroï have built their entire power structure on that assumption, going as far as genetically engineering a race that they can control using their sex drive [i]even better than one can control human males[/i].

(By the way, that does not demean the Inchoroï, does it? Is Bakker a xenophobe or specieist because all his spacemen are obsessed about sex.)

--

Can I throw Bakker’s depiction of [i]children[/i] into the mix, just to avoid pushing gender buttons? I want to, because I’m adverse to the argument that “Bakker fans should understand that many women are put off from reading his books because there are no strong and sympathetic women to identify with.” First, I think the claim is wrong. But that’s debatable. I’m much more concerned with the sentiment in itself. [i]I[/i] don’t read books because there are people in it that belong to whatever group I self-identify with. (I strongly identify with Catelyn Stark, though I am neither a woman nor noble. My hair is also not auburn. (ETA: I forgot that I’m not even human, by the way.)) I’m puzzled that other people do. (Of course, we all use literature in a different way, so who am I to judge that.)

But I don’t [i]like[/i] the sentiment, because it gave us Wesley Crusher. And Robin. I much prefer Bakker’s depiction of the plight of boys (we meet exactly two in the first three books, they are whores by the way.) Because it’s honest and politically relevant. Echo doesn’t make prove that Bakker hates children, and I really don’t see how the books would be better if Wesley Crusher was in them, no matter how well he was written.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Lady Blackfish' post='1674597' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.41']Who is saying he is sexist [i]merely[/i] because he has a sexist setting? That was my point. The people arguing it here seem to be arguing on grounds of the plausibility of the setting.[/quote]

And yet moments ago you mentioned how Bakker was unconsciously/consciously perpetuating sexist fantasy stereotypes. Which was sexist.

As for the plausibility of the setting, thats the power the author has, they can make the setting be it plausible or implausible. Even it it is an implausible situation it is still useful to explore interesting issues, most of science fiction and fantasy is based on this. Were content to accept magic but different societies appear to be a no no.

[quote name='Lady Blackfish' post='1674597' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.41']No I guess I didn't and don't see how it follows. Half the population being female is a reason why it's important, it is no limiting factor about who it's important [i]to[/i], which was to what your statement about the entire population referred. You mention that not all books need to concern themselves about gender, but this thread is about a book that [i]did[/i] opt to concern itself about gender, at least the author's own words certainly seem to indicate he did (as he implies that he intended to problematize certain attitudes).[/quote]

As I said, it was unclear and I can see where you get that from. This bit followed directly after reiterating my point.

[quote]Just because one particular issue is someones pet love doesn't mean every book must explore it. Books that covered all the bases would be pretty crap id say, a mishmash of all sorts of themes and issues.[/quote]

You instead took the opportunity to wander off down the garden path about something else and continue to do so after I admitted that yes, it was unclear.

[quote name='Lady Blackfish' post='1674597' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.41']Yes, but as I understand it, there are specifics about how this rising up was done that people find concerning. I know there was a rebuttal (by HE?) though.[/quote]

It may have involved sex. Heavens! How demeaning. It seems the other men in the series getting manipulated into all sorts of horrible stuff don't really matter much though. To put in context the man responsible for her ascension can pretty much see the future and how it will play out, he is also able to manipulate people into doing his whims. He uses the path of least resistance to get what he wants, identifies this particular woman as being quite smart and very useful and elevates her to a high position in society. This is based on her merits alone and flies in the face of societal conventions. It is suing someone but its akin to a computer selecting the best person for the job. Yes I know its horrible that a dirty old man did this but for her to climb the social rank in that world without the help of men would be kind of ridiculous.

[quote name='Lady Blackfish' post='1674597' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.41']Why would you be dismissive of that complaint? Sooner or later it's going to be an issue if only white people are allowed to be in leadership roles, isn't it? Why would you be dismissive of that complaint, I can't find a reason unless you think that people should be grateful black people aren't slaves any more and just be content with the rest. One out of five Star Trek captains was black and your reaction is "I guess someone's going to bitch"?[/quote]

That show is how old? I have the good grace to at least say well done for the picture it put of people of many different races working together. I'd be dismissive of the complaint because given when the show was set its no surprise at all. I'd of course expect more of a more modern star trek or better still not even need to take note of the color of the captains skin..

[quote name='Lady Blackfish' post='1674597' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.41']Fine, but once again, this is a thread about a book that decided to concern itself with "stuff like that", sooo ... what are you getting at here?[/quote]

I was pointing out that no one book can be a jack of all trades, yes this book concerns itself with some of the stuff, not all of it though. I though tthat was very obvious, I guess not

[quote name='Lady Blackfish' post='1674597' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.41']Why do people persist in this strawman idea that people asking for gender/race/etc issues to be addressed are planning on replacing every single book in the bookstore with their eviol agenda? Nobody is taking other books away, what's the threat?[/quote]

I'm not, see above.

[quote name='Lady Blackfish' post='1674597' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.41']Who is using a checklist here? In fact people seem to me to be [i]trying[/i] to contextualize things and avoiding a checklist.[/quote]

We were moments ago talking about fantasy in general and now were back to the book itself. Again, merely pointing out that no one book it going to tick all the boxes. Keep in mind this stuff isnt directed at you [i]per se[/i]

[quote name='Lady Blackfish' post='1674597' date='Feb 5 2009, 16.41']It's better than to have arguments where people have no intention of being productive and are really just using other people as venting targets. Isn't that what people like Arthmail despise about the writer of the article linked in the thread Bellis linked here?[/quote]

I kinda find this productive and its definitely not venting. Didnt read the article you mention, busy boy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote]For Kalbear: The queen does use sex, I agree with that. But that’s of course one of the points of the book: Sex is a powerful tool. The Inchoroï have built their entire power structure on that assumption, going as far as genetically engineering a race that they can control using their sex drive even better than one can control human males.[/quote]Okay, so sex is a powerful tool. Why is it only women and alien races are using it? That sex is a powerful tool and that men are unable to resist it while women are using it for power but don't like it - that's a very old sexist diatribe, by the way. I'm not sure you admitting that Bakker uses sex as a tool makes your argument particularly stronger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Kalbear' post='1674624' date='Feb 5 2009, 01.37']Okay, so sex is a powerful tool. [b]Why is it only women and alien races are using it?[/b] That sex is a powerful tool and that men are unable to resist it while women are using it for power but don't like it - that's a very old sexist diatribe, by the way. I'm not sure you admitting that Bakker uses sex as a tool makes your argument particularly stronger.[/quote]Cnair? Kellhus?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674619' date='Feb 5 2009, 01.18']And yet moments ago you mentioned how Bakker was unconsciously/consciously perpetuating sexist fantasy stereotypes. Which was sexist.[/quote]
Well no, I was saying that other people seem to be saying Bakker was doing it. But they're not saying it merely because he has a sexist setting. It seems to me the crux of the disagreement is:

[quote name='Max the Mostly Mediocre' post='1674248' date='Feb 4 2009, 17.58']Although I think I'm on board with Eloisa. It'd be one thing if it were exceptional. As it is, it seems to be par for the course for the genre. Even if he is fucking with things deliberately.[/quote]

And you said that you don't think genre context should matter, that authors are not responsible for taking the historical conventions of the genre into consideration. Max also said that authors cannot divorce themselves from subtext.

[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674619' date='Feb 5 2009, 01.18']You instead took the opportunity to wander off down the garden path about something else and continue to do so after I admitted that yes, it was unclear.[/quote]
Okay, I really honestly didn't think that it made sense and it seemed you were handwaving it away, but this is nothing we have to belabor.

[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674619' date='Feb 5 2009, 01.18']That show is how old? I have the good grace to at least say well done for the picture it put of people of many different races working together. I'd be dismissive of the complaint because given when the show was set its no surprise at all. I'd of course expect more of a more modern star trek or better still not even need to take note of the color of the captains skin..[/quote]
Well, but that's the thing, asking for a black captain shouldn't be seen as saying that what the show [i]had[/i] achieved before wasn't appreciated. If you object to further complaints then you're basically saying that people should be content with partial gains. The reason the state of things progressed beyond those times is precisely because people complained. It's part of the feedback process, it seems shortsighted to dismiss it as bitching.

[quote name='Mackaxx' post='1674619' date='Feb 5 2009, 01.18']yes this book concerns itself with some of the stuff, not all of it though.[/quote]
Okay, you mean in a gender framework then. I think there is more to say from a general perspective here but I should let the rest of you take this one from here I think.

When talking about general genre stuff I was addressing Shryke's comments on tokenism, by the way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cnaiur uses sex to get what he wants? When?

Kellhus doesn't particularly use it; he has already seduced Esmi before having sex with her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Kalbear' post='1674643' date='Feb 5 2009, 02.28']Cnaiur uses sex to get what he wants? When?[/quote]He uses it to try and assert dominance.

[quote]Kellhus doesn't particularly use it; he has already seduced Esmi before having sex with her.[/quote]So it only counts if it is sex before seduction?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I [i]do[/i] buy Bakker's quote about how what he is doing is "problematizing" negative gender stereotypes and not reinforcing them. I think he is showing a nasty world that is reminscent of our human history. It makes me appreciate the world today. Reading Bakker, as a guy, I find myself thinking "Damn, I would hate to live in this world."

If you see it this way, I find the female characters using sex as a tool as being less problematic and I never found it problematic in the first place. I'm trying to be open-minded about my limited perspective but I think it makes sense that women in this world may trend towards using sex...their abilities to influence this crap world are limited.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Kalbear' post='1674643' date='Feb 5 2009, 02.28']Cnaiur uses sex to get what he wants? When?

Kellhus doesn't particularly use it; he has already seduced Esmi before having sex with her.[/quote]

Kellhus uses sex against Cnauir. It's how he controls him. Kellhus controls Serwe, Cnauir wants Serwe, Kellhus controls Cnauir.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Shryke' post='1674693' date='Feb 5 2009, 09.12']Kellhus uses sex against Cnauir. It's how he controls him. Kellhus controls Serwe, Cnauir wants Serwe, Kellhus controls Cnauir.[/quote]

So pimping is the same as whoring?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Lady Blackfish' post='1674362' date='Feb 4 2009, 19.34']If you're looking for a moral imperative, I'm going to leave that to someone else. But insofar as a commercial one is concerned, women (or whoever deems it important, regardless) are tired of being marginalized in entertainment and have every right to vocalize a demand for a market that's not being fulfilled. If that makes an author feel burdened, well, tough. I'm not saying that their shortcomings (intentional or not) should be exaggerated or that they should be vilified beyond reason, but the "Just shut up and read something else" response misses the whole point.

I mean, I'd almost think it was 1993 again or something.[/quote]

No, I'm saying that just because most authors in the past have had a male protagonist doesn't place ANY burden whatsoever on future authors to make their protagonists Female.

If you wanna say "There should be more boks with more well-written female main characters", I'd agree.

But what your actually saying is "This specific book should have more females in it". Which is tokenism. Your demanding more females in the book solely because you think their should be a certain amount in books and it hasn't happened in the past. You want that quota of women in your literature.

Quota Writing.


[quote]Anyway I asked my question in earnest, I would like to know what things distinguish problematization from endorsement for people on both sides of this issue. I can separate them theoretically but I'm still interested in how it plays out in actuality, what other factors bear on people's perceptions of depictions being one or the other.[/quote]

Easy. Endorsement, by and large, doesn't happen. Unless the author is going out of his way to show you how awesome a specific thing is, it's just a part of the setting.

I gave you the Monarchy example because Monarchies are practically omnipresent in fantasy. Does that mean most fantasy authors endorse Monarchies? No. It's just the system of government you'd expect to be present in these situations. It's not endorsement, it's simple the setting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='mormont' post='1674697' date='Feb 5 2009, 04.17']So pimping is the same as whoring?[/quote]

He's using sex to get what he wants.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Shryke' post='1674693' date='Feb 5 2009, 10.12']Kellhus uses sex against Cnauir.[/quote]
Also against Akka, for that matter. There’s a scene where Serwë vicariously seduces Akka. Depending on what one would like to be offended by, this is a clear demonstration of men/women/kareteka using their power/submitting to genre stereotypes/exploiting a woman/exploiting a man in order to control a man/control a woman/whatever. Serwë is being raped, or maybe Akka is, or maybe both, or maybe none.

The only type of identity politics than cannot use that scene as a deadly arrow in their quiver is the arboreal perspective. But then we all know that Bakker is terribly [i]animalist[/i] and usually ignores the plight of plants. Cnaiür rapes [i]the Earth[/i] for crying out loud. Also, the steppe hardly has any trees.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Shryke' post='1674699' date='Feb 5 2009, 09.20']He's using sex to get what he wants.[/quote]

But there is, in the context of a discussion about sexism, a huge and fundamental difference between a woman offering sex to get what she wants and a man offering sex with a woman he controls to get what he wants.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='mormont' post='1674697' date='Feb 5 2009, 10.17']So pimping is the same as whoring?[/quote]
C’mon.

The claim was that [i]only women[/i] (who are also [i]all whores[/i], or so we are led to believe) used sex as a weapon. And that claim is simply ludicrous. (I also find it irrelevant, but that’s another argument.) It takes 10 seconds to find central and important moments where [i]men[/i] control others using sex. [i]Even[/i] if you conveniently leave the space monsters out of the game.

Want another one: Moe seducing Cnaiür.

There really must be [i]better[/i] arguments. I repeat my recommendation to make minimal claims that are not so easy to shoot down. I try my best to argue against the most charitable interpretation of my opponent’s arguments, but these interpretations are damn hard to construct with all the hyperbole flying around.

Drive-by snide remarks don’t help. “So being a sex slave is the same as whoring?”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let's not forget Cnauir asserting his dominance over Conphas by raping him.

Or Conphas having Scylvendi captives raped in open view of the Scylvendi to enrage them into attacking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
HE, I was just struck by the fact that the very first counterexample offered is of Kellhus behaving in a way that is, if anything, even [i]more[/i] vulnerable to the original accusation. It seems to me to be missing the fundamental point, instead offering an ill-thought-out reflex response. [i]That[/i] is unhelpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It was a direct answer to his question. Most of the male characters have used sex for their own non-sexual purposes at some point. Sex isn't just a women's weapon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×