I’d like to introduce my current novel project and ask for your opinons. Partly this is because I believe in open expression, freedom of speech and noble things like that, but mostly, I really just want to steal all your good ideas, put them in my book and then hoard the profits. You know how these things go.
The main story follows four characters trying to control “The Anomaly,” which is anthropomorphized indeterminancy. There are also major plotlines about what happens when you make people choose between being powerful and being good, how much money different human lives are worth and the subjective nature of morality. Don’t worry too much about those things, though.
For now, I’d like to introduce the two gender-based problems I’m looking to deconstruct, male sexuality and gender equality.
I’ve got four main characters with four differing views on this subject. Petrus, an ambitious commoner, starts out believing that male sexuality and objectification are defiling for women. Puberty horrifies him, along with his natural desires. He responds by attempting to completely repress his sexuality. He fails and, for reasons outside the perview of this post, becomes increasingly embittered and starts to view his sexuality as a weapon.
Aril, a prince of one of the kingdoms, starts out believing that male sexuality is wrong, as well. However, after his platonic girlfriend gets shipped away, one of his advisors points out that she’d still be around if he’d knocked her up. This person also notes that, basically, the more women he has sex with, the more women have access to stability and prosperity. Male sexuality, the advisor notes, is really only wrong when the man in question doesn’t have enough money to lift the woman up. Aril gives up his dream of finding a true love in order to spread the wealth to as many poor women as possible. This really is a sacrifice, from his point of view.
The Acolyte, a teenaged girl I modelled on Savonarola, views male sexuality as a tool of the mighty to oppress the weak. Fitting in with the rest of her ascetic values, she feels any non-reproductive sexuality is a waste of energy that might otherwise go to helping the poor and stamping out corruption. One of her first actions in the novel is to turn a rich brothel into a fiery crater.
Shu Turul, a crippled noble from a steppe tribe, wants to view male sexuality as a triumph of “active, vigorous manhood” over “sickly, pathetic femininity.” He is, in essence, a pretty typical steppe barbarian in this sense. However, this is complicated by the fact that he isn’t actually interested in women. He overcomes this conflict by feminizing his male enemies and “conquering” them. Forcing submission from “bearded maidens” becomes something of a theme in his tribe.
The “proper” roles of men and women and the consequences of egalitarianism.
A major non-POV character is called Lady Shin. She and her husband, Admiral Shin, have “overcome sexism” in that they truly do treat men and women exactly the same. This of course has good consequences, but it also sends the region into a deep crisis. Let me explain how.
Lady Shin first meets her future husband in the aftermath of enemies burning her villiage, raping her and killing her mother. She rebuffs his “sexist pity” and demands the opportunity for revenge. Admiral Shin notes that she is tiny, not at all trained in the arts of war and physically soft from a lifetime living in relative comfort. He suggests that, should he send her out she would likely be raped again. Lady Shin again rebuffs his “sexist pity” and explains that if Admiral Shin can send men sent to die (which he does all the time), he can send a woman to be raped.
Admiral Shin thinks about this and spots a weakness in the traditional way his enemy wages war. The typical practice after winning a battle is to kill all the men, rape/kidnap/marry the women and sell the children into slavery. The reasoning being that men are dangerous and must be eliminated (also, they are easy to replace so it doesn’t matter if they die), children are harmless and thus deserving of pity and women, like children, are also basically harmless.
Admiral Shin decides that Lady Shin is not harmless and can thus exploit this tradition. Lady Shin then spends several years as a plant in villages likely to fall. Three times over the four years, she is captured and raped but spared death. Since the enemy sees her as a harmless woman, she has a relatively easy time spying for Admiral Shin and, once, gets the opportunity to assassinate a kind but high ranking enemy officer on her way to exfiltration.
After the war tales of Lady Shin’s actions get out and force a change in the culture of sexism that had previously defined the region. Filled with a new respect for the bravery and abilities of women, the warring nations decide that the best policy upon taking a village is to massacre the women along with the men. Lady Shin will agree, saying that anything less is to dishonor and infantilize women.
This leads to widespread depopulation, a problem our POV characters are going to have to deal with. Whether to and how to “reinstate sexism” will be a major plot thread as the POV characters age.
So, please let me know what you think. Last time I did this, I ended up using about half the suggestions you guys made so, yeah, honest, I really do listen to you all.
If you enjoyed this article, please consider buying the author’s novel.
For customers living in East Asia.