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Traditional gender roles in the realm.

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  • Traditional gender roles in the realm.

    What are the traditional gender roles in the realm? In other words, I am the conserative mother of a son and a daughter. What values would I want to teach them?

  • #2
    Mortal or Dynast?

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    • #3
      Both. Mortal and Dynast.

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      • #4
        Even among mortals, there's apparently an assumption that women will orient more towards authoritative administrative positions. Possibly professional work in general. Certain physical hard labour skews towards men, but I think that's offset by not investing so much prestige in that work.

        I think that overall gender role is not so much in what you do, but how you do it and where. Like, the values that a Dynasts man is brought up on aren't likely to preclude a profession, but instil the point that one day he'll have to go and give his services (and represent his House's ideals) to his wife and her family. Plus an idea that a capacity to spread his wild oats represents an intrinsic intemperance, and needs to maintain a stoic, disciplined attitude to offset that. The one difference is women being groomed to have positions of authority over their own children, and possibly the House in general.


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        • #5
          A few possible stereotypes arising just from the fact that men are married out:

          Women are simple and men are complex. Women always know who their families are - not just in the literal sense that they know who their children are, but that their family loyalties are to the family they are born into, full stop. Men can't place themselves in the world as fully and as simply. Whereas a woman knows straightforwardly who she must regard as her friends and her enemies, a man might have conflicting loyalties pulling him every which way. If you're a woman, sometimes you don't understand how men are so weird and emotionally swingy (or you don't understand why you're presumed not to be.) If you're a man, sometimes you don't understand how women seem to lack depth (or you don't understand why people won't just accept you as straightforwardly loyal to the-family-that-you've-defined-as-your-own above all else.)

          Women are fruit grown to eat and men are fruit brought to market. Suppose you're a peasant with a little garden that you use to feed yourself, selling the surplus on the market for other wares. Suppose you eat the manioc and sell the pears. You'll cultivate both the manioc to taste good and the pears to look good, won't you? Exactly. That's why women are substantial and men are superficial. A groom has to be good, but first and foremost he has to look good. A bride has to look good but first and foremost she has to be good. If you're a man, sometimes you don't understand why women are so unrefined (or why you're held to such standards of nicety.) If you're a woman, sometimes you don't understand why men are so appearance-focused and can't just say what they fucking mean (or why some people look at you askance if you put too much focus into your own appearance.)

          Women are narrow and men are broad. Again, women know who their families are and never change them. Men know they'll have to change their families and loyalties, and go through a process of learning to adapt and unlearn things, moreso than women. Women will never (be presumed to) transcend their individual loyalties and place themselves at the service of a higher power - men are the true patriots of the Realm. That's why the House bureaucracies are female-dominated but the Thousand Scales is mostly male. If you're a man, sometimes you don't understand why women are so simple-minded (or why anyone expects you to be otherwise.) If you're a woman, sometimes you don't understand why men can seem so abstract (or why people keep expecting you not to be.)

          Obviously these are stereotypes, not eventualities - true just often enough to form a set of tropes and rarely-explicated background assumptions that people will draw on. They may also be less compelling in social groups that don't own property.

          One interesting difference I think from anything in our world, beyond just "stereotypes are opposite in some ways and the same in others" is that the Realm is more gender-neutral than any IRL agriculturally-based state society but is just as stratified as them on other lines. A consequence is that you can say that the Realm is maybe as sexist or is even a little bit less so than the world we're used to, but that the unfairness of this likely feels very different when people think about it, both because it's been that way for a very long time and because "some people get to be in charge because of the accidents of their birth, and that's totally fine" is something that almost every member of the upper classes accepts as axiomatic. Ideological feminism largely depends on background egalitarian assumptions that are rejected or just unthinkable to most people. Although, again, this may all be weaker among classes that don't own significant property (or other rights.)

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          • #6
            Somehow, your stereotypes seem to kind of skew against women, despite the matriarchal power structure...

            Maybe I'm being too rigid; I'm not sure how far comparable negative stereotypes of men throughout the last couple of centuries go, so maybe there's a foundation for women carrying such an image despite being in power.

            But even then, if it's a case of just about the same stereotypes being reversed, that's kind of simplistic. And some of the terminology employed, such as the phrase "simple minded", feels uncomfortably evocative of real life rhetoric to degrade women.

            I think the concept has legs, but warrants a bit of examination.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Corvinus View Post
              What are the traditional gender roles in the realm? In other words, I am the conserative mother of a son and a daughter. What values would I want to teach them?
              Well, for 3e, this is likely to be covered in something approaching the fullest form in the upcoming The Realm, which is currently in art direction.

              But from the manuscript for Dragon-Blooded, men are the "passionate less-disciplined gender", whom women assume are "incapable of fidelity", prone to "masculine intemperance". People in authority in the Houses and in the households within the Houses are "matriarchs" (to the point that "[Cathak's] current matriarch is a man"), and Dynastic men join their wives' Houses at marriage. A Dynastic child whose mother dies is usually taken in by her mother's relatives even if the father lives. The course of a child's secondary school education is determined by the household matriarch and mother in consultation - not "parents" or "father".

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                Mortal or Dynast?
                Note: these sets are not complements. Not all dynasts are exalted, and not all exalts of the Realm are dynastic.

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                • #9
                  Well, yeah, but unexalted dynasts are often raised at least until their teens on the assumption they'll exalt, and nobody ever expects the lost egg kid of a peasant to start glowing.

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                  • #10
                    Gender roles in the realm are both inherently more starkly sexist by nature than most westerners would be used to, and also more strikingly egalitarian for the sociopolitical state of their society would reasonably suggest. It would appear that gender roles generally fall into two categories based largely upon the matrilineal and matriarchal qualities of the realm itself. When speaking about this, its also worth nothing that sexual dimorphism present in our world (like men being bigger and stronger) is not present in creation.

                    1) Men join their wives' houses rather than a woman joining a mans, and are expected to mostly split their loyalties between them in a way that expresses fillial piety to both. This leads to the natural position wherein the wife in any given relationship is presumed to have a more trustworthy loyalty to their house and its matriarch than does the husband. Some of these implications might depend on the house or its current members, but could include things like House business (including the raising of children and their life choices) being the majority or exclusive province of the wife, and powerful intra-house positions (such as command of legions, allocation of funds, etc) being preferentially given to the more trustworthy wife.

                    This would logically result in men being raised with the expectation of never being given such serious dynastic power or title, and the expectation of their skillset to act as complements to their households rather than its foundation. This could be seen in men being raised for diplomacy, imperial service rather than household service, personal combat skill rather than strategy and tactics, scholarly studies and prestigious associated professions (geologist, architect, historian), etc

                    2) A true matriarchal power structure in which women are institutionally preferred to inherit property and titles, command subordinates and hold rank, and act as the true leaders of any real grouping of dragonblooded. This is again, going to see men have the expectation of imperial service rather than household service, and also an expectation that terminal authority will be less reasonably achievable unless they are extraordinarily skilled. This sometimes has some strange dissonances like the books appearing to not have a strong gender preference for say, satraps in the threshold or most aspects of imperial service. Whether thats strictly intentional or author error is debatable, but influences the answer tremendously.
                    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                    As a side note to work off the OP a bit, this is generally one of the aspects of the setting I prefer to houserule a little away from absolute canon. I have a strong preference for my fictional societies to make anthropological sense and be internally consistent with human behavior (If your characters don't act like humans, why bother), and this is something in exalted that is often an violator of that rule.

                    That is, the Realm as traditionally presented doesn't appear to actually make a whole lot of sense as an actual matriarchy, with a tendency for social rules and gender roles to simply flip existing western norms for shock value and political statement rather than as something that makes internal sense, which produces the weird result of a matriarchy that appears to be run by women who effectively act like men.

                    This also assumes a much stronger constructivist theory of human behavior that im personally amenable to, where all human behavior appears to stem from social conditioning. I prefer a more essentialist doctrine that sees broad aspects of male and female behavior maintained, but with the social implications, beliefs and institutional power favoring the female rather than the male, as it normally does in our world. (The chekovs gun of creations lack of sexual dimorphism really makes this actually possible and realistically believable as stemming from the Scarlett Empress personally).

                    That said, 3rd edition appears to have noticed alot of these criticisms i have and made an effort to patch some of the holes so to speak, so im cautiously optimistic for its future in this regard.

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                    • #11
                      I swear, I've seen sexual dimorphism used to excuse so much stupid crap I do a reflexive acrobatic pirouette off the handle when I see it, these days.

                      What you're missing is Exaltation. Exaltation far outweighs any other factor. The Dragonblooded carry theirs in the blood, which gives them a natural interest in tracking lineage; going matrilineal makes sense then. (On top of that, you have the Empress intentionally molding her nation that way.) But the end result winds up more egalitarian because a male Dragonblood is still an Exalt.

                      Also, "always favors the male" shows a shocking lack of knowledge about real-life cultures, let alone imaginary ones.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Úlfhéðnar View Post
                        Gender roles in the realm are both inherently more starkly sexist by nature than most westerners would be used to, and also more strikingly egalitarian for the sociopolitical state of their society would reasonably suggest. It would appear that gender roles generally fall into two categories based largely upon the matrilineal and matriarchal qualities of the realm itself. When speaking about this, its also worth nothing that sexual dimorphism present in our world (like men being bigger and stronger) is not present in creation.
                        I would suggest they're only strikingly sexist because the dynamic is jarring to what we're used to. In many cases what's jarring is the exact mirror of sexism we'd find normative and often not realize is sexism. A husband joining his wife's household being an obvious example of exactly mirroring something completely socially normative to us. Sure very recently you see rebellion against that expectation in the West, but even then, women are frequently treated as being castrating rather than egalitarian for maintaining their own co-equal familial identity alongside their husband, because the expectation of her taking his name and joinging his family is so normative.

                        The lineup of the House leadership of being almost all women with two exceptions is a pretty perfect mirror of exactly what one might expect from a fantasy writer coming up with a dozen leaders for his nominally gender egalitarian world, but oh what a surprise all but three are men - because it's something we don't even think about (you can even see this having happened in Exalted with the Deathlords).



                        Anyway, the biggest stereotype around men in the Realm is that they're more impulsive and emotional than women. They struggle to control their anger and libido, compared to rational women. Hence a bias toward women in leadership positions. Ala the "virgin/whore" dichotomy in our world, to avoid that stigmatization, men have to be twice as stoic to be seen as level headed as a woman.

                        But lets stress here, there is no equivalent of the "angel of the home" concept in the Realm. There are men in every professional role at every level of society and always have been.
                        Last edited by glamourweaver; 10-07-2018, 02:50 AM.


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                        • #13
                          As a note, "Matriarch" is the term for the head of a Great House, regardless of their sex or gender - nobody in the Realm sees anything wrong with saying "the Matriarch of House Cathak is a man."

                          Well, they do, because that's an odd thing, but the sentence itself makes perfect sense.

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                          • #14
                            This is ridiculous. There's no sexism in the Realm. I mean, don't men have the same rights as women? Can't men go to work, own property, just like women?

                            Now some people claim there's sexism at the top, but Cathak Cainan is Matriarch of House Cathak! And what about House Ragara? It was run by a man before, and now it's being handed over to another man! And the Imperial Treasurer Kal Beraz is a man, the head of the Heptagram is a man, etc.

                            If there's more women than men at the top of Realm society, that's just coincidence. Clearly, they were the best women for the job. If men spent less time complaining about "gender bias" and more time working to get to the top, then maybe there'd be more of them up there. But a lot of men just don't have much ambition. They expect their wives to support them, laze about doing sport and drinking beer, and then complain that harder-working women have got the top jobs.

                            And, okay, sure, children belong to the women's household, but I mean, how do you even know for sure that their father really is their father? Whereas it's pretty difficult to fake whose mother someone is. It's not sexism, it's just biological fact. You can't argue with biology.


                            So, if you're a good mother of the Realm, trying to teach your kids about good values, there's no need to teach them different things. Both can learn good virtues like stoicism, loyalty, ambition, love of family and the Dragons, etc. And you can point them to good role-models of their gender. Like if you have a girl, you can point her to the Scarlet Empress, Mnemon, and many other great women who've shaped the Realm over its history. If you have a boy, I'm sure there's also lots of good role-models for him too. Like, some soldiers, or something.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Úlfhéðnar View Post
                              sexual dimorphism present in our world (like men being bigger and stronger) is not present in creation.
                              What are you basing that on?

                              As a side note to work off the OP a bit, this is generally one of the aspects of the setting I prefer to houserule a little away from absolute canon. I have a strong preference for my fictional societies to make anthropological sense and be internally consistent with human behavior (If your characters don't act like humans, why bother), and this is something in exalted that is often an violator of that rule.

                              That is, the Realm as traditionally presented doesn't appear to actually make a whole lot of sense as an actual matriarchy, with a tendency for social rules and gender roles to simply flip existing western norms for shock value and political statement rather than as something that makes internal sense, which produces the weird result of a matriarchy that appears to be run by women who effectively act like men.

                              This also assumes a much stronger constructivist theory of human behavior that im personally amenable to, where all human behavior appears to stem from social conditioning. I prefer a more essentialist doctrine that sees broad aspects of male and female behavior maintained, but with the social implications, beliefs and institutional power favoring the female rather than the male, as it normally does in our world. (The chekovs gun of creations lack of sexual dimorphism really makes this actually possible and realistically believable as stemming from the Scarlett Empress personally).
                              Ah. Well. Hmm.

                              How much time do I have....

                              That's not what Chekhov's gun means.
                              Last edited by Isator Levi; 10-07-2018, 05:11 AM.


                              I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                              Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                              https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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