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Traditional gender roles in the realm.

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  • I find that the useful seed of a good idea in Tepet Lisara is the idea that she's better suited as a socialite, but the House culture demands she be a soldier (and of a temperament different to what her Aspect inclines her towards), and so she's all tied up in anxieties of trying to prove herself in something she's not very good at and kind of hates deep down, and takes her bitterness out on subordinates that she's been socially conditioned to view as inadequate. Like projecting her own perceived shortcomings onto them and punishing them for it.

    Having used sex to get better exam marks might be something I can think of a way to be less skeezy.

    Mind, I'd be worried about falling into the trap of giving a super elaborate backstory to a diner waitress.

    Originally posted by Inertial Frame View Post

    Um, not all of us.
    It's not literal.


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    • Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
      I find that the useful seed of a good idea in Tepet Lisara is the idea that she's better suited as a socialite, but the House culture demands she be a soldier (and of a temperament different to what her Aspect inclines her towards), and so she's all tied up in anxieties of trying to prove herself in something she's not very good at and kind of hates deep down, and takes her bitterness out on subordinates that she's been socially conditioned to view as inadequate. Like projecting her own perceived shortcomings onto them and punishing them for it.

      Having used sex to get better exam marks might be something I can think of a way to be less skeezy.

      Mind, I'd be worried about falling into the trap of giving a super elaborate backstory to a diner waitress.
      Yeah, the Storyteller to our Infernals game followed similiar lines with her characterisation and she found an unexpected acceptance among our Green Sun Princes but I wouldn't advocate that version became canon.


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      • Originally posted by Lioness View Post
        I wouldn't advocate that version became canon.
        Not least because she doesn't exactly seem important enough to ever mention again.


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        • I think that that is the correct answer. The real question is "is there anything worth salvaging in Tepet Lisara", and I'd say the answer to that is no. Even if the game needed a character for her exact role (an incompetent hate-sink Dragon Blooded for young Anathema to defeat and humiliate, or to act as a more social sort of enemy for Dragon-Blooded players to eventually give the boot and replace with more competent leadership) I think it'd be better to just write someone new.

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          • Originally posted by Astralporing View Post
            At best the cost of departing from tradition will be greater, but i doubt it would be great enough to make such deals impractical.
            I'm kind of dubious on the matter of whether or not a given society's gender bias needs to be rationalised, but if it does, a detail that might inform the bias in the Realm is the newly introduced detail of Progenitive Essence.

            That was revealed by the developers quite some time before even the Kickstarter, so you might have already picked it up, but just to summarize, it makes the potential to have Exalted children a limited resource that has to be reserved over time. That has importance, because it interferes with something that might inform patriarchal bias; the higher capacity of men to have children, and how they're not inhibited by the gestation.

            So if we see the Realm as a society that rose out of the ashes of an apocalyptic disaster, one in which a major priority was in replenishing Dragon Blooded numbers, there's a foundation to its rulers having an attitude that would favour the women and place constraints on the men. Something like viewing the contribution of the man as a precious rarity that needs to be placed in the possession of the correct person, so he can't be allowed to share it with impunity. That and the details of how important lineage is have stakes that are high and real enough that you need to place your trust in something concrete, and it's a lot easier to conclusively prove maternity.

            So quite apart from the idea that people raised with that history would have expectations and privileges that would mean reality not matching up to it could be emotionally offensive, which still constitutes a genuine loss, there's the matter of how permitting a system in which women are placed under the authority of their husband's House could be seen as playing fast and loose with the future of the Exalted. It's like, if he's calling the shots, how can you be sure he didn't waste his Essence on some peasant or slave before his wife? Hell, even from the perspective of the husband's family, there can be certain issues of dubious paternity; that your claim on resulting children can be shaky if you're never quite sure if your scion is the father.

            And sure these arguments aren't 100%. That in itself is kind of true to life, and it creates an answer to the question of "why would they be accepting of and invested in these norms", if one is looking for such.


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            • Another reason is because the Empress, who was a woman, had a strong incentive to emphasize the idea that matrilineal lines of descent were what matters (since they were what held her empire together through her own bloodline.) Her children, who draw their authority from being descended from her, are naturally incentivized to emphasize matrilineal descent as well.

              If matrilineal descent is what defines a house, then women are going to be the ones with all the connections inside each house and will tend to accumulate power, whereas men who marry across houses will be outsiders with more limited bases of support in both their current and previous house. Additionally, houses will be incentivized to invest more in women (who will stay with the house in the long term) and less in men (who may marry out of it.)

              Notably, I don't think that this sort of matriarchal structure is common to Dragon-Blooded outside the influence of the Realm, which implies that it has more to do with the Empress than anything else.

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              • Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                I think that that is the correct answer. The real question is "is there anything worth salvaging in Tepet Lisara", and I'd say the answer to that is no.
                I disagree, on the grounds that something being worth salvaging doesn't mean that anybody cares. Like, even your question there pres-supposes writers who know about Lisara and have any investment at all.

                Unless the question has priority because it informs the matter of whether or not a developer would point her out to a writer and ask for a fix. But even that raises the question of whether or not a developer notices or remembers her enough to bother with evaluating her worth...

                Bah, I've had an exhausting day, and it's past 5AM. My brain is about spent.


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                • There’s also the question of “Should the spotlight ever be shined on incompetent DBs period,” to which the answer this go-round is so far a resounding no.

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                  • Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
                    There’s also the question of “Should the spotlight ever be shined on incompetent DBs period,” to which the answer this go-round is so far a resounding no.
                    I think their overall presentation is strong enough to survive it.


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                    • Originally posted by Astralporing View Post
                      Now, as i mentioned, i don' know how is that all going to change in 3e (i can already see that some of this is definitely going to), but in my opinion for the situation to significantly change the rewrites would need to be really massive. And i don't expect them to be.
                      I think the changes are really enormous!

                      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                      What were they sustained by?
                      I think primarily on physical and possibly psychological differences (as I kind of implied on page 1 or 2 of the thread) and how those feed through cultural evolution processes. But in any case, not on a equal sex distribution of people who are capable of and required to like "heroes" (which people the society is structurally dependent on!), or an equally or primarily female engagement in the basic ranks of the military with a reversed distribution at higher ranks. Or where there are competing cultures right across the water with sharply different practices that are somewhat open to recruitment.

                      (Related question: Is defection to Lookshy or outside the Realm more likely for males than females in Creation? I know that if in our world an aristocracy where super samurai were equally likely to be male and female, highly mobile, and had counterpart cultures through the world, that tried to maintain a strongly patriarchal norm would tend to see quite a bit of attrition through the female line.)

                      Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                      Another reason is because the Empress, who was a woman, had a strong incentive to emphasize the idea that matrilineal lines of descent were what matters (since they were what held her empire together through her own bloodline.) Her children, who draw their authority from being descended from her, are naturally incentivized to emphasize matrilineal descent as well.
                      Although a good percentage of Houses won't coalesce to the Empress through the matrilineal line. For a male child founded House like Ragara, maternal lines will trace to a bunch of different late Shogunate well bred women who were married or/and adopted by Ragara. Its not totally clear what they'd get out of such a cultural emphasis on a matrilineal link to the empress. (Thinking about it, unsure of whether adoption into House followed by intra-House marriage allows some circumvention of matrilocal norms as well?). I can't remember the ratio of male:female founders however, and I think this may have changed with 3e anyway (for better or worse).

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                      • Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                        I think their overall presentation is strong enough to survive it.
                        Theoretically sure, but you’ve got to lay that groundwork first which so far seems to involve “Let’s just not risk writing any Lisaras and call it a day.”

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                        • Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
                          There’s also the question of “Should the spotlight ever be shined on incompetent DBs period,” to which the answer this go-round is so far a resounding no.
                          Mmm. I think it depends on what's meant by incompetent. They should be larger than life in some sense (since they're Exalted), but that can be bad, including bad in ways that involve not being good at the role they're supposed to be taking. Dolores Umbridge is larger than life, too.

                          As for why you would want completely awful people, they do serve a lot of useful purposes. For Anathema or outsiders, they serve as act one villains that can ease players into the story - especially players that might otherwise be inclined to be more cautious or less active. Think Luca Blight from Suikoden 2 or Shoukou, the villain from the second part of Twelve Kingdoms. People like that make good "man figure" villains with a more interesting and complex "king figure" and "god figure" behind them in the background.

                          As for why you'd sometimes make those people (conditionally) incompetent... they also serve a similar role for DB games. If players want to have court intrigue or wrestle over the military chain of command, it's useful to have some DBs who are very obviously completely wrong and who it would unequivocally be a good idea to oppose or give the boot, since, again, they can serve as an act one antagonist, getting the players to step in and step up and generally getting them involved in the game.

                          Often the idea is that you can use villains like that for act 1, then tell a deeper story act 2 about the fallout of whatever the player did to defeat, remove, or replace them.

                          I don't think Tepet Lisara was a good character, and I wouldn't want to use her specifically, but characters like that are very good at evoking the players' emotions. (Again, look at the response to Dolores Umbridge.) So I think it's worth having a few of them in the game as tools that the ST can use when they want the players to absolutely hate someone. "Horrible person abusing / misusing power they didn't earn" is absolutely an effective tool in that toolkit, and I think you can definitely sketch out a compelling Dragon-Blooded character who fits the bill while still seeming larger-than-life in a way that suits their Exalted status.
                          Last edited by Aquillion; 10-20-2018, 04:08 PM.

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                          • I think the main reason to include Dragon Blooded who would kind of be incompetent failures but for privileges provided by their birth is because they're an aristocracy.

                            Sure, not all aristocrats are incompetent to be sure, but I'd say there ought to be Terrestrial Exalted in which their divine power kind of serves the same function as a start up loan from their Dad.

                            What Fire Has Wrought didn't need to have such a detail to be whole, but it wasn't a house of cards that would collapse entirely at the first mere mention of such to anybody that was reading in good faith.


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                            • I was going to say something similar to Isator, I think stories about undeserving Dragonblood should probably be about privilege.

                              As aristocrats, the two types of unearned power I expect to see are:
                              Unearned wealth
                              Old Boys' Network (in this case, Old Girls Network)
                              On top of that, with Dragonblood, you could put their exaltations. For example, a Dragonblood general who's in charge of a legion because they're an Earth Aspect and so naturally good at strategy, but they're kind of lazy and don't put that much work into it (ie they've got like War 2 and an excellency, which is like War 4 compared to mortals, ie very high), and so get thrashed by a Solar general.

                              To get back to the Old Boys' Network: It does make sense to have characters who've got into positions they're not that great at because they know the right people. But, essentially... why does that require sex? A socialite could be

                              Now, thinking back to the Middle Ages, you don't get a lot of examples of men sleeping their way to the top, yet there's tons of royal mistresses. And the thing about them, is a)they're not generally from the richest families, and b)they're from the gender that's oppressed.
                              Essentially, it's something lower noble girls do to get positions for their family, because it's the only way they can get it. It's very much something connected to lack of power.
                              So, I wouldn't expect women in the Realm to "sleep their way to the top" very often because they're the gender with more power and wealth and connections to high-up people (if they do, they'll likely be from lower-status groups, like Outcastes).

                              Not to say it could never happen. But NPCs written up in books tend to be taken as representative.

                              Tbh though, the character would be more plausible if, frankly, Tepet Lisara was a man.

                              As a woman, I think the socialite who rises to power through connections is not, primarily, going to be sexual connections. It'll be her chums from school, her cousins, people she's blackmailed (which you can do via sex, but in the Realm... how can you blackmail someone for having sex with a Dynast? It's hardly forbidden. Get someone dodgier to sleep with them, and blackmail them. Though sex in the Realm probably isn't great for blackmailing).

                              To get back to the point about what kind of stories you tell...
                              I think I'd find it more effective to get my players to really hate an entitled colonialist asshole who gets the jobs because of nepotism and school connections, or because they cheated on their exams so seem better than they are, or who just bribed people with the large amount of money they inherited, then a woman who slept her way to the top.
                              Honestly, I think that's actually encouraging the players to be misogynistic. It wouldn't be if there were a whole bunch of male characters who did the same thing, but there aren't.
                              Whereas I think my players would very much get into raging at aristocratic entitled privileged douchebags. Though the issue is some of them choose to play those as PCs...


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                              • Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                                For example, a Dragonblood general who's in charge of a legion because they're an Earth Aspect and so naturally good at strategy, but they're kind of lazy and don't put that much work into it (ie they've got like War 2 and an excellency, which is like War 4 compared to mortals, ie very high), and so get thrashed by a Solar general.
                                The Realm as a whole is still competent, and a legion is way too high for that.

                                Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz
                                Now, thinking back to the Middle Ages, you don't get a lot of examples of men sleeping their way to the top
                                Ancient Rome and Greece, maybe, although that can generally only be speculated upon.

                                That and how a lot of their homosexual relations played into a few problem masculine ideas of the time.

                                yet there's tons of royal mistresses. And the thing about them, is a)they're not generally from the richest families, and b)they're from the gender that's oppressed.
                                As far as I know, mistresses as an institution is really more of an Early Modern thing, although that might be kind of nitpicking. More pertinent is how it doesn't quite track, because that's really kind of commodifying one's own objectification, more than exchanging sex for authority. With a tinge of patriarchy in the sense that mistresses and concubines are often confined to scheming on behalf of their children (especially sons), rather than themselves. Sometimes also their brothers and fathers.

                                That said, there is one thing in What Fire Has Wrought that touches on a similar idea; the implication that Mnemon has sex with men whom she will eventually arrange to be married into her House. Although... I think royalty sometimes would do similar with their mistresses and courtiers, but I think some of the dynamic is still unique.

                                Essentially, it's something lower noble girls do to get positions for their family, because it's the only way they can get it. It's very much something connected to lack of power.
                                So, I wouldn't expect women in the Realm to "sleep their way to the top" very often because they're the gender with more power and wealth and connections to high-up people (if they do, they'll likely be from lower-status groups, like Outcastes).
                                Mind, part of the unflattering stereotypes of men could be that they're not best trusted with authority, as they'll be easily manipulated and exploited by ambitious younger women.

                                With a converse idea that some institutions and types of job are inclined a bit towards men, because a woman in that place would be distracted from running the lives of the next generation.

                                how can you blackmail someone for having sex with a Dynast? It's hardly forbidden.
                                If a Dynast man sleeps with a Dynast woman that is not his wife? He's running the risk of giving away the milk without her and her House even needing to pay for it, and extending the time until he can give an Exalted child to his actual wife.

                                Even if his illicit affair results in no children, his lack of temperance can be a disgrace. It may well be worse to conceive children out of wedlock with another Dynast than it is with a peasant; it might well go to waste in a peasant, but it might very well Exalt in another House, possibly a rival House, and you didn't get anything in exchange for it.

                                It's like, when your child does something risky or stupid, you don't get mad at them and tell them off only if they successfully hurt themselves.

                                Get someone dodgier to sleep with them, and blackmail them. Though sex in the Realm probably isn't great for blackmailing).
                                You've got to dress it up properly; you don't get them to have sex with you, you get them to do it impulsively. Without contraception. Imagine being the man who wakes up the next morning to realise that he's risked the possibility of giving his Essence away. Oh how mother would be ashamed.


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