Just started this...posting my thoughts (and just general discussion)

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Wilshire

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« Reply #30 on: January 16, 2014, 02:26:59 pm »
 ;) Oh I see it now.
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Francis Buck

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« Reply #31 on: January 17, 2014, 04:34:20 am »
So, I had written out a pretty big response to this discussion several days (maybe a week?) ago, but I had done so on my Kindle, and near the end something fucked up and I lost it. Nearly threw my Kindle across the room. I actually try to actively avoid writing anything lengthy on it, since it's so sensitive and even a slight mishap can make you lose everything, but I just got caught up in the post. Regardless, I'm going to try and say what I wanted to say in the first place, but in an abbreviated version (I still don't have a working computer with internet, I'm using my girlfriend's laptop to post this, but I should have a working PC by the weekend, thank Christ).

So anyway, I want to say that there are a number of excellent points and arguments in this thread. I want to reiterate that I do not think Bakker is some kind of woman-hating misogynist by any means. That being said, I absolutely think that his approach to female characters in the TSA series is inherently flawed -- again, it's virtually the only major problem that I personally find in the work. Additionally, I must say that I do believe there's a very slight level of bias going on; I think people love this series so much that they're wearing some vaguely rose-tinted glasses regarding it. I'd actually like to see a thread where people discuss the weaknesses of the TSA series in general.

Now, my personal issue with Bakker's handling of the female characters in TSA is not that they aren't strong characters in-and-of-themselves. I think every major character in the series is fantastically developed. My issue is that he keeps hitting the same notes with his female characters, over and over and over. And, most importantly, not a single one of them is characterized without an emphasis placed on sexuality. Not a single female POV character. Let's list the big ones:

Esmenet (whore)
Mimara (whore/slave)
Serwe (concubine/sex slave)
Psatma (sex slave)

I mean...I genuinely can't understand how people don't see an issue with this. We have this incredible variety of male characters, all very well developed and deep, all with wildly different backgrounds and professions...and yet every single female POV character is incredibly sexualized. Every one of them has graphic, detailed sex scenes. Three of them get raped in graphic detail, often more than once. Psatma was like a breath of a fresh air, she started out so strong. An old, powerful, non-sexualized female character. Awesome.

But then she gets young and attractive (by fucking someone, mind you) and is promptly bought by a male character for the purpose of sexual service. It's almost comical to me.

Now, this is usually when people bring up the fact that Bakker's world is one where women are "objectively inferior", and even he himself has stated that his intention was to portray the oppression that women felt in historical times. That's fine. That's good. It's an excellent idea. But you can't just say that and then proceed to have every female POV character be heavily preoccupied with sexuality. That's not real life. It's not realistic. Why isn't there a single female POV that's unattractive to men (again, Psatma started that way, but it didn't last long)? Why does every single female POV have to be depicted in graphic sex scenes? Why does every single female POV, in one way or another, act as the oppressed sexual slave and/or whore to a male? It's just ridiculous to me. It's immersion breaking, honestly. And then I heard that Bakker's editor suggested Conphas be made a female. FUCKING BRILLIANT. I can't even describe how great that would've been in my view. It would have turned everything onto its head, and yet he said no. Why?

Look, I don't want to offend or incite anyone to anger here. I love TSA. It is, without question, my favorite fantasy series ever. It's monolithic in its brilliance. And again, I do not for a single second believe that Bakker is a genuine misogynist. I just think it's an unfortunate quirk in his writing. Even the greatest artists of all time had their flaws, and this is one of his. That's my opinion, anyway.

Royce

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« Reply #32 on: January 17, 2014, 11:22:20 am »
I do think that it can be justified to describe women as being "sexual objects", even today that is the case, and it was
certainly the case back in the day. I think it is a realistic view. Women are supressed in any way possible all over the world,
although women have gained more and more power and freedom over the years. Who is running the show? on every fucking level there are men. Forget Merkel in Germany or what not, she answers to men in the end anyway.

Maybe Bakker is showing us that although women can be strong individually, they are supressed either way by a male/masculin/control system. The opposite as in the female/feminin/chaos "system" might in the end overthrow
their counterpart. Then you have Kellhus who transcends both of these systems, as a final solution maybe?

I think that it is down to what gets to you on a personal level. If his portrayal of women disgusts you, I can totally
see that, but I can`t help but think that it is supposed to be this way. Maybe the female/feminin/chaos system get
their revenge in the next volume. I wait with my judgement until the series is finished. But I think that either way,
this is not something that will make me like the series less, because as I have mentioned before, it is just fantasy:)


 
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 11:31:09 am by Royce »

Wilshire

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« Reply #33 on: January 17, 2014, 02:31:05 pm »
I mean...I genuinely can't understand how people don't see an issue with this.

That's about 1/2 of the problem. The other half being that the other side feels the same way.
Having no comprehension, or wholesale dismissal , of the other sides' argument makes any conversation pointless, imo.

I mean maybe thats where a disagreement starts, but at some point if no one sees merit in the other side, you might as well agree to disagree.

lol my own hypocrisy in my non-participating participation is not lost on me.
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Aural

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« Reply #34 on: January 17, 2014, 02:49:34 pm »
I think there is a tendency among people who dislike the series to confuse depiction with indorsement to some extent. Other than that, I agree with Francis Buck almost entirely.

Madness

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« Reply #35 on: January 17, 2014, 05:53:27 pm »
I am working on something semi-academic with a variety of seriousness, which kind of took off since this thread started veering this way.

I also found some of the old research, essay and blogs, that I had explored for the Bakker and Women Thread Returns at Westeros. I'm trying to fit in a little extra-curricular reading because I think that Bakker has set himself the opportunity to really turn this whole 'feminism' schtick on it's head in the way of Layers of Revelation or societal changes.

Some of that will inform my posts here, though I think when I actually post (in a month or so), I will use resurrect the Bakker, Feminism, and Slavery thread.

One thing to remember, in my opinion, is that it is necessary to treat TSA as one object of analysis, which we only have a partial reading of.

So, I had written out a pretty big response to this discussion several days (maybe a week?) ago, but I had done so on my Kindle, and near the end something fucked up and I lost it. Nearly threw my Kindle across the room. I actually try to actively avoid writing anything lengthy on it, since it's so sensitive and even a slight mishap can make you lose everything, but I just got caught up in the post. Regardless, I'm going to try and say what I wanted to say in the first place, but in an abbreviated version (I still don't have a working computer with internet, I'm using my girlfriend's laptop to post this, but I should have a working PC by the weekend, thank Christ).

Too long have you experienced the trauma of inferior machines, FB.

So anyway, I want to say that there are a number of excellent points and arguments in this thread. I want to reiterate that I do not think Bakker is some kind of woman-hating misogynist by any means. That being said, I absolutely think that his approach to female characters in the TSA series is inherently flawed -- again, it's virtually the only major problem that I personally find in the work.

For my inane purposes I request that you (or anyone) highlight the criteria by which you qualify this "inherent flaw." Is it like that the famous supreme court judgement, where porn is known when seen?

Additionally, I must say that I do believe there's a very slight level of bias going on; I think people love this series so much that they're wearing some vaguely rose-tinted glasses regarding it. I'd actually like to see a thread where people discuss the weaknesses of the TSA series in general.

Count me as wearing glasses. However, I also happen to have a skewed perspective of myself, being me, and think that I will be more exhaustive in my research and thoughts than most of both proponents either for/against any argument that might be made here.

I'll try to divide this appropriately.

Now, my personal issue with Bakker's handling of the female characters in TSA is not that they aren't strong characters in-and-of-themselves. I think every major character in the series is fantastically developed. My issue is that he keeps hitting the same notes with his female characters, over and over and over. And, most importantly, not a single one of them is characterized without an emphasis placed on sexuality. Not a single female POV character. Let's list the big ones:

Esmenet (whore)
Mimara (whore/slave)
Serwe (concubine/sex slave)
Psatma (sex slave)

If Bakker had treated each of those characters like Serwa (thus far), as a non-POV, and still all those categorizations, he'd be fitting the critique role of 'immature male author.' But all those characters are POVs and major ones, which is actually a point of appropriateness as fitting 'feminist literature,' which demands that characters identifying as 'women' have rich, thoughtful, POVs. If anything, this seems exactly how Bakker might have thought to toy with the tropes - by exploring them in uncomfortable depth.

Even Serwa serves as counter example to the overall trend in misogynistic SFF because though she fits the standard (by which I use to mean the criticized norm) of peripheral to POVs, she is seemingly the most powerful human next to her Father.

I mean...I genuinely can't understand how people don't see an issue with this. We have this incredible variety of male characters, all very well developed and deep, all with wildly different backgrounds and professions...and yet every single female POV character is incredibly sexualized. Every one of them has graphic, detailed sex scenes. Three of them get raped in graphic detail, often more than once.

The female characters are "are all very well developed and deep, all with wildly different backgrounds." The male characters are sexualized, has a(n) (as) "graphic, detailed sex scenes" as their female counterparts, and two of them are raped in "graphic detail" (Achamian/Serwe, Cnaiur/Conphas - the latter being the most graphic/described instance of rape in the books, aside the Inchoroi/Werigda).

So if I'm to imagine writing this from Bakker's perspective in the frame that I've written these books to problematize the critiqued norms for the fan, those readers who make the critiqued norms norms by trending consensually to support authors who write shallow, vapid, gendered characters...

Well, I might have decided to give those fans the most indepth Whore, Waif, Harridan, that I possibly can - describe them to the point of sickening obviousness.

Psatma was like a breath of a fresh air, she started out so strong. An old, powerful, non-sexualized female character. Awesome.

But then she gets young and attractive (by fucking someone, mind you) and is promptly bought by a male character for the purpose of sexual service. It's almost comical to me.

Unfortunately, we're a biased perspective. SA attracts some of the most brilliant people I've ever encountered in my life. What seems comically obvious to us is very likely not obvious to the majority of fantasy fans (the entire populations of discussion forums are still outliers, or a minority of the overall demographic).

Also, remember, I think Bakker's trying to make it painfully obvious to everyone (while still challenging the standard by writing deep characters - even Serwe is a rich character, despite being intellectually impaired).

Now, this is usually when people bring up the fact that Bakker's world is one where women are "objectively inferior", and even he himself has stated that his intention was to portray the oppression that women felt in historical times. That's fine. That's good. It's an excellent idea. But you can't just say that and then proceed to have every female POV character be heavily preoccupied with sexuality. That's not real life. It's not realistic.

You haven't explored much here so I'll leave this til it arises in more depth. All I can say is that the pitch is in the air - Bakker has given himself an amazing opportunity to knock this feminist dystopia the fuck out of here.

Why isn't there a single female POV that's unattractive to men (again, Psatma started that way, but it didn't last long)? Why does every single female POV have to be depicted in graphic sex scenes? Why does every single female POV, in one way or another, act as the oppressed sexual slave and/or whore to a male? It's just ridiculous to me. It's immersion breaking, honestly. And then I heard that Bakker's editor suggested Conphas be made a female. FUCKING BRILLIANT. I can't even describe how great that would've been in my view. It would have turned everything onto its head, and yet he said no. Why?

To dispel the Fem-Conphas criticism: readers and this editor are short-sighted. Bakker's playing the long-con, in my opinion. Mimara and Serwa both have opportunity to fit this critical crux. It could easily have been the case that a narcissistic Fem-Conphas would have done much more damage to his argument; imagine a woman who obsessed about herself in the manner that Conphas did...

There are literally still a possible 3 or 4 books to go (Bakker seems settled on a duology for TSTSNBN but that's also what he said about TAE). For instance, if Bakker spends the next books writing about a Feminist Utopia under Esmenet and Serwa, wouldn't that change the way the narrative past is digested in a big way?

I'm still learning, and in a sense I became a proponent of the for argument so as to learn more about Feminist Literature and give Bakker a charitable reading.

But I ask myself what could Bakker be doing here? For instance, the sex/rape scenes beside each other are (subjectively qualified) (and I don't have books on me):

- Esmenet/Aurang (graphic - it's a compulsion and basically is not an Esmenet perspective as much as she is further forced - ignorantly - to take those thoughts and feelings as her own)
- Serwe/Cnaiur (less graphic - Kellhus musing about "something outraged")
- Serwe/Achamian (graphic - Serwe is deluded by Kellhus into believing that he is everyone as God and she is manipulated into raping a drunk Achamian so Kellhus can affect distance between Achamian and Esmenet)
- [EDIT: Xerius/Slave girl (graphic - Istriya uses it as an opportunity to ply Xerius as to how he discovered Skeaos)]
- Serwe/Sarcellus the Second (more graphic - it's a skin-spy)
- Inchoroi/Werigda (most graphic - Valrissa is possibly compulsed by sorcery, definitely by Inchoroi genotypic-variation)
- Esmenet/Kellhus (less graphic - if only peripheral - Esmenet is manipulated)
- [EDIT: Conphas/Slave girl (less graphic - the mirror is notable to me)]
- Cnaiur/Conphas (second most graphic - male on male, rape as domination and explicitly used as a tool of power over)
- Esmenet/Aurang (non-graphic - implied - Esmenet is compulsed)
- Mimara/Achamian (less graphic - consensual - Mimara uses the instance to try and persuade Achamian to teach her sorcery)
- Esmenet/Imhailas/Sankas (non-graphic - implied - one of the staples of Feminist Literature is that older women be allowed to have a healthy and sexually active lifestyle, unlike the critique norm of older men, younger women)
- Psatma/White-Luck Warrior (graphic - but Psatma is given God-adjusted agency through it, rather than a shot in the face)
- Psatma/Fanayal (non-graphic - implied - Psatma is using her body as a weapon)
- Serwa/Moenghus the Younger (graphic - do we have enough to critique this yet? Possibly manipulation, possibly true-incest...)
- Mimara/Galian (graphic - I think this is actually likely the most important instance and metaphorical crux for this whole Feminist argument but... Mimara forgives an already Damned Galian)

Serwe is a special case, I think, both as a metaphor within the narrative and by the nature of her character?

Look, I don't want to offend or incite anyone to anger here. I love TSA. It is, without question, my favorite fantasy series ever. It's monolithic in its brilliance. And again, I do not for a single second believe that Bakker is a genuine misogynist. I just think it's an unfortunate quirk in his writing. Even the greatest artists of all time had their flaws, and this is one of his. That's my opinion, anyway.

Lol - you don't have to worry about offending me, FB. Just to put forth mine own two cents.

And again, I'm filter-less, I'm simply giving a rounded offering of mine own perspective for all of us to dissect and toy with. I happen to think I'm an immature male and gender interaction confuses and puzzles me.

I do think that it can be justified to describe women as being "sexual objects", even today that is the case, and it was
certainly the case back in the day.

...

Maybe Bakker is showing us that although women can be strong individually, they are supressed either way by a male/masculin/control system. The opposite as in the female/feminin/chaos "system" might in the end overthrow
their counterpart.
Then you have Kellhus who transcends both of these systems, as a final solution maybe?

The idea is that 'feminist' writing should challenge/offer alternatives to "the case today," Royce. So I think we're hoping to find how Bakker might have facilitated or done damage to that kind of conversation.

Also, Kellhus does transcend those systems but it's not a final solution (Kellhus has already been historically passed as far as feminist critique goes). Bakker has said that Kellhus is a metaphor for modernity - as you've highlighted modernity didn't make things equal, it simply applied a utilitarian framework to gender productivity. I think the real reversal is going to occur in the organization of remnant humanity. I can easily see first thing that happens after Kellhus dies and the Ordeal is left to its own devices, the Men of the Ordeal destroy themselves trying to rape the Swayal.

I think that it is down to what gets to you on a personal level. If his portrayal of women disgusts you, I can totally
see that, but I can`t help but think that it is supposed to be this way. Maybe the female/feminin/chaos system get
their revenge in the next volume. I wait with my judgement until the series is finished.
But I think that either way,
this is not something that will make me like the series less, because as I have mentioned before, it is just fantasy:)

+1.

I mean...I genuinely can't understand how people don't see an issue with this.

That's about 1/2 of the problem. The other half being that the other side feels the same way.
Having no comprehension, or wholesale dismissal , of the other sides' argument makes any conversation pointless, imo.

I mean maybe thats where a disagreement starts, but at some point if no one sees merit in the other side, you might as well agree to disagree.

lol my own hypocrisy in my non-participating participation is not lost on me.

Lol - +1.

But ultimately, as Bakker User admonished, it's on us to do the work, not just project our unjustified arguments and state them as so.

I think there is a tendency among people who dislike the series to confuse depiction with indorsement to some extent. Other than that, I agree with Francis Buck almost entirely.

+1. Perhaps, you can offer your perspective for analysis, Nskoghar.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 06:01:48 pm by Madness »
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Royce

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« Reply #36 on: January 19, 2014, 01:25:04 pm »
Quote
For my inane purposes I request that you (or anyone) highlight the criteria by which you qualify this "inherent flaw." Is it like that the famous supreme court judgement, where porn is known when seen?

Count me in on this. I can not see how anything not finished(as in the series is not finished) can be flawed in any way.

Quote
The idea is that 'feminist' writing should challenge/offer alternatives to "the case today," Royce. So I think we're hoping to find how Bakker might have facilitated or done damage to that kind of conversation.

Ok, I have not read about Bakkers intentions much, but it seems to me that he will most likely challenge the notions of
"feminist" literature to the point where he should get a bodyguard:)

Madness

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« Reply #37 on: January 20, 2014, 09:39:00 pm »
He's either going to succeed or he's not, Royce. I too think the reversal still to come. And I think Bakker's definitely taken the hits he's going to - whatever happens in the future will either validate opinions of his misogyny or not.

There have been many other books, which attempt to set up horrible patriarchies in the initial volumes in order to upset them with later with matriarchies (or Gendered Reversal A-Z).

Hmm... so curious.
The Existential Scream
Weaponizing the Warrior Pose - Declare War Inwardly
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