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June 9th, 2003, 12:18 AM
I'm still having a hard time reconciling WoT as a world that is male-dominated.

As pointed out, the Seanchan has a military filled with women, and is ruled by an Empress. The Aiel have fighting women and are ruled arguably, by their wise ones. The Sea Folk are ruled by their women and have integrated, egalitarian crews. That one country whose name I keep forgetting with the queen who practically rapes Mat actually has reversed the typical gender roles! Throughout Randland women are equally present in all matters of state. Right down to the grass roots of Two Rivers, women hold real political power over men on a day-to-day basis. This isn't just a case of men being informally ruled by their wives when they get home at night, women have an official political body, equal in power to the males, that makes decisions on the future of the community. How is this not an egalitarian society?

The WoT world resembles my understanding of the early protocivilizations, where women were the rulers of their clans. Men hunted and fought, but women dominated every other communal matter. In such civilizations, I cannot see the men, who regularly found themselves subserviant to women, feeling that women are helpless, vulnerable, or weak.

June 9th, 2003, 04:20 AM
Note- I was a bit rushed earlier on (was on a short break from work), so I have come back and lengthened slightly my post.

In relation to Oorag's last post, it's probably worth remembering that simply because there may exist given societies in the WoT world where there is less disparity in terms of power relations between men and women than in our own history, this does not mean that they do not have clearly defined gender roles- in fact, they may be even more clearly delineated.

As touched on in my earlier post, it is quite obvious that certain professions and tasks are considered male, and others are considered female. A clear example of this would be the Two Rivers assumption that only a female can adequately be a healer (and possibly by extension, a proper care giver). To carry on the focus on the Two Rivers, when Perrin hunts Trollocs with his 'companions' ... they are all male. Women don't seem to hunt and fight in the Two Rivers, for whatever reason, barring possibly Nynaeve's unusual tomboyish youth.

Decision on given topics, and authority, is thus not necessarily split equally between the sexes- it depends on the particular situation. Windfinders may rule the roost in given situations, they must defer to their male master-at-arms in certain combatative situations (a rule which Mat uses to good effect at one point in the book).

Likewise, the concern of the Two Rivers lads for the physical safety of their women is not surprising given that they come from a society where the men do the hunting and fighting, and the women do the healing and possibly general organising. They're not necessariy viewing their women as inferior or assuming they are entirely defenseless, they are simply following the gender role they have been programmed to. Aiel and Seanchan men might well behave differently in the same situation.