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Author Topic: Women, Cattle and Slaves  (Read 1606 times)

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Offline EbbTopic starter

Women, Cattle and Slaves
« on: May 20, 2013, 11:40:54 PM »
"Im going to tell you a story about llamas. It will be like every other story youve ever heard about llamas: how they are covered in fine scales; how they eat their young if not raised properly; and how, at the end of their lives, they hurl themselves lemming-like- over cliffs to drown in the surging sea. They are, at heart, sea creatures, birthed from the sea, married to it like the fishing people who make their livelihood there." - (Kameron Hurley, from the link below)

Just came across this article, "We Have Always Fought: Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative' ". I thought it was quite good, and relevant to anyone who happens to be writing fiction that might contain female characters, which I think hits most of the people on this board. Also good for some decent warrior women artwork.

http://aidanmoher.com/blog/featured-article/2013/05/we-have-always-fought-challenging-the-women-cattle-and-slaves-narrative-by-kameron-hurley/

I'm not sure that I'd expect much debate on this one, per se, so I put this here rather than over in "P, R and OC". Please feel free to suggest a move if this isn't the right place.

(And my apologies for the deliberately provocative title of this post. Just trying to get the crowds through the door.)

Offline Mingnon

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Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2013, 01:09:51 AM »
It's not just this article that raises some good points. There's also the link within the article (which I'll show right here) That provides a neat contrast and argument to the belief that only white, straight men have been historically relevant.

Offline Shjade

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2013, 03:38:32 AM »
Well. Shit.

I don't think I've seen that point argued so well in quite some time, if ever.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2013, 11:02:29 AM »
Thanks for bringing out that second article, Mingnon. Very handy reference for when the faux-"historical accuracy" excuse comes up.

Offline Thorne

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2013, 03:41:32 PM »
Yes. *scoops all the articles up and saves for later reference* The stuff I had no idea about ... o.O
These will be handy for later.

Offline chaoslord29

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2013, 09:52:03 AM »
Can I just say, as a straight, white, dare I say, privileged, male writer, this article made me feel incredibly inadequate?

Seriously, though, it's my biggest fear that as part of the most vocal minority in history, anything I write will perpetuate a narrative and prejudice that I am actively opposed to. I worry that I can't actively separate myself from it enough, because white straight male characters are the ones I tend to empathize with the best, as a straight, white, male.

Honestly, I feel better for having read it, it's a cause I wholly support, but I also feel that as a member of 'the enemy' as it were, there's only so much I can do to help break the narrative. Despite my active efforts against the prejudice and ignorance that perpetuate and are perpetuated by the straight-white-male narrative, at the end of the day, I wonder if it's not a little hollow, because it's not like I don't like a straight-white-male narrative that is otherwise unprejudiced.

Offline Mara Brewer

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2013, 10:28:40 AM »
...That provides a neat contrast and argument to the belief that only white, straight men have been historically relevant.

A partner of mine actually recently wrote a paper in which he discussed the way monuments to racial minorities look shrimpy next to monuments of the white men they fought beside. Irksome.

Anywho, great article here, thank you for sharing.

Offline chaoslord29

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2013, 10:32:48 AM »
A partner of mine actually recently wrote a paper in which he discussed the way monuments to racial minorities look shrimpy next to monuments of the white men they fought beside. Irksome.

Anywho, great article here, thank you for sharing.

Right off the bat, I'm inclined to take the satirical route there and say that that's because white males are compensating with their massive monuments.

Seriously though, their might be something to that . . . the idea that the white-straight-male narrative is also more about Telling, rather than Showing.

Offline Mara Brewer

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2013, 10:47:08 AM »
Right off the bat, I'm inclined to take the satirical route there and say that that's because white males are compensating with their massive monuments.

Seriously though, their might be something to that . . . the idea that the white-straight-male narrative is also more about Telling, rather than Showing.

Harr.

Quite possibly. Langston Hughes actually wrote a nifty poem on the problem of erased narratives called Note on Commercial Theater.

Offline chaoslord29

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2013, 10:50:29 AM »
Harr.

Quite possibly. Langston Hughes actually wrote a nifty poem on the problem of erased narratives called Note on Commercial Theater.

Not even a second 'harr'? Damn . . .

Good poem though, and this is coming from someone with little enough appreciation for poetry as it is. Of course, the problem of erased narrative is combated by the nothing new under the sun principle, isn't it?

Offline Mara Brewer

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2013, 11:09:47 AM »
Not even a second 'harr'? Damn . . .

Good poem though, and this is coming from someone with little enough appreciation for poetry as it is. Of course, the problem of erased narrative is combated by the nothing new under the sun principle, isn't it?

Resources are stretched a little tight right now and I've had to budget the number of harrs I indulge in per week. I've one left to last me the entire weekend.

Haha (I've a wider budget of ha's), I tend to operate by the "Nothing new under the sun but such an expanse of potential combinations of old things that the newness of the foundational materials is sort of moot" principle.

Offline chaoslord29

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2013, 11:13:50 AM »
Haha (I've a wider budget of ha's), I tend to operate by the "Nothing new under the sun but such an expanse of potential combinations of old things that the newness of the foundational materials is sort of moot" principle.

That is a more optimistic, if less succinct means of conveying exactly what I meant ^_^

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2013, 02:40:55 PM »
Seriously, though, it's my biggest fear that as part of the most vocal minority in history, anything I write will perpetuate a narrative and prejudice that I am actively opposed to. I worry that I can't actively separate myself from it enough, because white straight male characters are the ones I tend to empathize with the best, as a straight, white, male.

I hope people aren't taking that from Kameron's article, because I don't think that's how she means it. She's not saying that white, straight males should stop telling their stories (though more people being aware of others' stories would be nice, and part of her point is that it is worth going out of one's way to find out about those bits of the human experience one normally takes for granted). I think it's really mostly aimed at that class of white, straight males who become resentful or uncomfortable when other people tell their stories; the sort of people who can't conceive of black female pirates, for instance, because black females with any agency are a foreign, impossible and offensive thought to them and therefore must be some sort of "political" hijinks.

Offline chaoslord29

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2013, 02:44:08 PM »
I hope people aren't taking that from Kameron's article, because I don't think that's how she means it. She's not saying that white, straight males should stop telling their stories (though more people being aware of others' stories would be nice, and part of her point is that it is worth going out of one's way to find out about those bits of the human experience one normally takes for granted). I think it's really mostly aimed at that class of white, straight males who become resentful or uncomfortable when other people tell their stories; the sort of people who can't conceive of black female pirates, for instance, because black females with any agency are a foreign, impossible and offensive thought to them and therefore must be some sort of "political" hijinks.

No, it's more of a personal concern, that if as a SWM, in telling my stories I might be somehow complicit with perpetuating the particular narrative.

Offline Neysha

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2013, 04:18:28 PM »
I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading both articles that were linked in the first couple posts. My only gripe, and it's more of a personal preference which has nothing to do with the theme or content of the article which was exceptional, was kind of how ramblingish the articles were, one of them a fair amount more then the other. I was honestly reading the article and wondering if it had somehow already ended and I was reading another blog entry or something. I understand they are talking to a particular audience though, I just wish it was more focused for my easily distracted mind.  :P

Still I feel much wiser for having read them. :)

Offline Trieste

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Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2013, 04:38:22 PM »
I went and found the Tiptree story referenced in the blog post. Beware annoying formatting, however.

http://lexal.net/scifi/scifiction/classics/classics_archive/tiptree2/tiptree21.html

At least... it seems to be the whole story.

Offline chaoslord29

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2013, 05:02:41 PM »
I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading both articles that were linked in the first couple posts. My only gripe, and it's more of a personal preference which has nothing to do with the theme or content of the article which was exceptional, was kind of how ramblingish the articles were, one of them a fair amount more then the other. I was honestly reading the article and wondering if it had somehow already ended and I was reading another blog entry or something. I understand they are talking to a particular audience though, I just wish it was more focused for my easily distracted mind.  :P

Still I feel much wiser for having read them. :)

The one that the first article references, in regard to the veritable laundry list of non straight-white-male contributors to history was well worth reading as well, if a bit preachy.

Points out the inherent contradiction in a decidedly straight-white-male narrative of history being considered 'apolitical'.

Offline Neysha

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2013, 05:08:02 PM »
Barely related tangent, but while we're (kind of) on the subject of warrior women in history... has anyone ever read Steven Pressfields book Last of the Amazons? It's an amazing book by the same author who wrote the well regarded and popular historical novels Gates of Fire, the Afghan Campaign and the Legend of Baggar Vance and if you never heard or read his work, then you are a bad person and should feel bad. :P

Just kidding... sort of... ;)

But yeah, the Last of the Amazons is a high quality historical novel that takes place in pre-Homer times and like the rest of his works, it's a beautiful retelling of one of the many Greek mythological stories treated as being real. (sorry no magic) Not only does it do a lovely job of illustrating Amazon society (or as they call themselves, the 'Free Peoples') since they are essentially a horse centered steppe tribe as well as steppe tribes and many original and a few named Greek characters (Theseus being a big one of course) but the dialogue is sharp and witty and intelligent, the characters are very interesting and the plot takes place against a backdrop of the classic theme of civilization versus barbarism and it plays out both in a very well done verbal debate between Theseus and the Amazon leader, as well as in wonderfully detailed and exciting action and battle sequences as it illustrates the Amazonomachy.

Steven Pressfield always does a good job with his first person narratives and while sometimes most of the supporting characters aren't very 'complex' you still get to know them a great deal. Plus his ability to detail both ancient society and attitudes makes for great historical fiction. The author shows once again just how knowledgeable he is in illustrating cavalry tactics, formations, the brutality and carnage of battle, siegecraft, describing the various factions in battle and so much so that really brings the battles to life. And the debates between Queen Antiope and King Theseus of 'civilization' versus 'barbarism' are both quite engrossing, and extremely thought provoking. 

And also, for those of you more inclined on reading about more recent developments in co-ed combat. I have only good things to say about Band of Sisters which, at least with my copy, is basically the combat and war stories of several woman (soldiers, marines, pilots etc) as they served in Iraq.

Online wigglebiscuit

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2013, 01:16:33 PM »
It's a good article, thanks for posting it. I'm constantly amazed and impressed by how freaking cool women were in the past.

I gotta say, though, some of this just doesn't jive with reality.
Can a woman pull the trigger of a gun? Yeah.
Can she lead a country? Sure.
Can she lead a army in war? Yup.
Piss standing up? Fuck a girl like a guy? Lie, cheat and steal with the best of them?
Can she take a sword and go toe to toe with a dude? Hell freaking no.
Unless she's a freak of nature or he's a shrimp, he's going to gut her like a fish.

I'll use myself as an example.
I'm 5'6" and weigh about 120. Average.
When I was 17 a guy beat the shit out of me. Not slapped me around, not hit me. Put me in the hospital. He was 5'8" and weighed about 155. It wasn't like I just sat there and took it. I fought. I kicked, I punched. I scratched, bit, pulled hair. Did everything I could think of. Didn't matter.

Okay, so I didn't have any training, right? Just give me the right training, teach me some moves, and I'm good, right? Wrong.
I took kickboxing. Joined an MMA group. Started exercising like crazy. Working out, doing those stupid routines where you can be as bad ass as the guys on 300.

After two years, guess what?
I can't compete with the guys in my weight class. The smallest one can military press me. One broke two ribs on accident. I'm not weak. I can bench my weight. I can do a dozen pull ups.
I can run a mile flat out. Put me in armor and put me up against a 180lb male with a sword and I am dead dead dead.

I'm not alone. Every girl in my class was the same way. Even the buffed out lesbos who were juicing and pissing in the urinals like the guys. Put them in the same weight class as a dude and they would get the shit kicked out of them. I saw it, routinely.

The reason I mention it is because girls watch shit like Salt and suddenly think they can fight a guy. I've seen it. A good friend of mine broke a girl's wrist trying to fend her off because she suddenly got it in her head that a 105lb waif can take a guy who has a hundred pounds on her.

I'm not helpless. If I was up against a wall I could do some damage. But I've learned. Know thyself and all that. If a guy comes after you, you're not Angelina Jolie, and this ain't a movie set. run.

Offline Shjade

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2013, 04:32:45 PM »
I'm not helpless. If I was up against a wall I could do some damage. But I've learned. Know thyself and all that. If a guy comes after you, you're not Angelina Jolie, and this ain't a movie set. run.

As a smaller, not particularly strong guy (pretty much exactly your size, in fact), that's more or less my philosophy, too. Maybe try for a kneecap if I have a convenient angle for dislocating, but that's only to slow him down so I can run away quicker.

Not sure about your sword argument, though. Weapons are pretty hefty equalizers. I think a cross-gender sword fight would be much more even than a cross-gender fist fight. You don't need a lot of strength to stab somebody, speed and technique are much bigger factors. If they're both equally skilled then the strength is an edge, sure, but it's not an auto-win the way it is in, say, wrestling. Being able to bench-press your opponent doesn't really matter if all she has to do is poke you once in the right spot.

Offline Skynet

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2013, 01:17:42 AM »
Thanks for bringing out that second article, Mingnon. Very handy reference for when the faux-"historical accuracy" excuse comes up.

I've noticed over time that folks likely to bring up the "but history!" mantra tend to not be very studious themselves.

But yes, those both were very good articles.

On a related note, the Scythians are a good example of real-world women warriors.  Archaeological analysis of their burial mounds revealed that at least 20% of the women were dressed in battle gear.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 01:21:00 AM by Skynet »

Online wigglebiscuit

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2013, 02:52:15 PM »
Not sure about your sword argument, though. Weapons are pretty hefty equalizers. I think a cross-gender sword fight would be much more even than a cross-gender fist fight. You don't need a lot of strength to stab somebody, speed and technique are much bigger factors. If they're both equally skilled then the strength is an edge, sure, but it's not an auto-win the way it is in, say, wrestling. Being able to bench-press your opponent doesn't really matter if all she has to do is poke you once in the right spot.

No doubt. And I don't mean to imply that women are helpless. It's just that I've seen too many examples of a girl sparring with guys and suddenly thinking that she can do it in the real world, totally forgetting that the dudes are holding back. Facing the fury of a dude who outweighs you by a good 60 pounds and isn't holding anything back is a different beast entirely.

As it so happens, I'm heading up to NC to stay with some friends who are huge into historical re-enactments and have the armor and swords to make it happen. Maybe they'll let me test out how much putting a sword into a woman's hand equalizes things.

Of course, the ultimate equalizer is a gun. I wonder if women actually have an advantage, there? Have there been any studies on which gender is the better shot?

Offline Shjade

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2013, 04:19:02 PM »
I dunno about studies, but I'm semi-sure women hold their own against men in marksmanship competitions.

Regarding re-enactment things, something to keep in mind: swords are something of an equalizer, but armor cancels that out. Against armored targets, the extra strength helps a lot for penetrating that protection, so guys get the advantage again.

Offline RedFangedWerehawk

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2013, 06:12:39 PM »
It's a bizarre thing to think about. As a male I do not work out or put any energy into gaining physical strength, but can still overpower my women friends when playing games and fooling around. Even people that do work out and are dedicated to staying in shape. I can only imagine how terrifying it might be to live knowing that you will be outmatched in most conflicts that arise.

Nevertheless, media about strong an inspiration women might be less about encouraging physical violence and more about having the courage to speak out if something happens or to run away when the situation gets too deep. We exist in a society (at least in the US) where we often marginalize the victim of the crime instead of persecuting the perpetrator and anything that goes against that practice should be encouraged.

Offline alextaylor

Re: Women, Cattle and Slaves
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2013, 07:20:08 AM »
Can she take a sword and go toe to toe with a dude? Hell freaking no.
Unless she's a freak of nature or he's a shrimp, he's going to gut her like a fish.

I'll use myself as an example.
I'm 5'6" and weigh about 120. Average.
When I was 17 a guy beat the shit out of me. Not slapped me around, not hit me. Put me in the hospital. He was 5'8" and weighed about 155. It wasn't like I just sat there and took it. I fought. I kicked, I punched. I scratched, bit, pulled hair. Did everything I could think of. Didn't matter.

Now there's a point to be made here - after all, athletes are split by gender because the most devoted female athletes can't match up to the most devoted male athletes.

But overall, I disagree with this. Any experienced martial arts instructor will say that if you weigh 120 lbs, you can hit with at least the force of 120 lbs. We don't live in a warrior's world any more. Outside actual military conflicts (which are rare) and perhaps SWAT teams and the gang life, most people never see any violence in their lives. Your average person 1000 years ago will likely have spent as much time in military training as we do today in schooling and college.

There is a stark difference between someone who practices kickboxing on weekends and someone who does military training on weekdays for 10 years. In real conflicts, you try to punch the throat or gouge your opponent's eyes out. None of this is trained in most modern martial arts. You don't need a lot of strength to take out someone's eyes. And unless you're parrying blows (which is actually quite dumb), you don't need a lot of strength to jab a knife anywhere inside a person.

Of course, your average man today can beat up an average woman easily. But it's like saying, "Hey, my IQ is 100. A man's IQ is 130. I should just skip university and get a menial labor job now because I'm going to get nowhere with my disadvantage."

For a real look at the situation, look at the police force of any country, not the military. Police face real, dangerous conflicts all the time. There are plenty of policewomen out on the streets. They're not all guns either, any real police officer needs to be prepared to go into a conflict unarmed. I've heard stories of a 40+ year old homeless, undernourished (but mentally ill) woman throwing a trained police officer twice her size and biting his face off. I've also heard stories of country girls who can easily lift things their own weight, because they do it every day.

Take a big guy, trained in any martial arts... more so the type which trains people to 'disarm people wielding knives'. Find a female friend, average sized. Give her a marker, pretend it's a knife. Tell her that the big guy is trying to take away and kill someone under her care (like a little brother or son). Half the time, the guy will have marker marks on his throat and face. Give the guy a marker to even things up and she still stands a good chance, because the martial arts conditioning will slow down the trained person.

Size and strength do matter. Nobody, male nor female, should be using grapples, blocks, and locks with a 300 lb ex-convict. You shouldn't even be trying to hit them with blunt weapons. I would say the female still does better in such a situation, because she's trained herself to never let her opponent use their strength against her.