Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper

This post contains spoilers.

The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper is science fiction story that takes place hundreds of years after the collapse of modern civilization due to a catastrophic event known as “The Convulsion.” The book delves deeply into the issues of gender and violence. As is typical with any fictional exploration on gender, this novel still prompts a lot of Internet discussion despite being first published in 1988. 

Tepper has created a fictional society where the genders are separated. In the cities, which are ecologically self - sustaining but relatively low technology, the majority of the population is comprised of women. All the political and social power is, at least on the surface, in control of women. At the age of five boys are sent outside of the city walls. There, an all male, warrior culture exists. At periodic times during the year there is a “Carnival” where the warriors mingle with the women of the city. During this time sexual encounters are frequent. Thus people supposedly procreate.

At the age of fifteen the boys are given a choice: remain outside the city walls, and engage in the occasional brutal wars between the “garrisons” that surround each city, or reenter the city and live their lives as a “servitor”. The servitors live lives of relative comfort and are seemingly well treated, but are second - class citizens. It is a testament to the nuance of Tepper’s skills in crafting this fictional society that the servitors’ relationship to the women of the cities is complex and nuanced. These men are often, but not always, shown respect and are sometimes treated as equals within family units. It is eventually revealed that some servitors wield power behind scenes and have a great stake in preserving the cities of Women’s Country. It is also revealed that the leadership of Women’s Country are engaged in a selective breeding plan aimed at making future generations of men less prone to violence. 

There are other groups that live outside the city walls that follow more egalitarian gender and traditional family roles. Characters who are members of this group provide an important perspective on the cultures of the male garrisons as well as Women’s Country.

The main character in the book is Stavia, a citizen of the city of Marthatown. Stavia is interesting and nuanced. She is a strong and intelligent but also capable of showing weakness. The narrative spans a large percentage of her life from the time she is twelve years old through her late thirties. Other characters include members of Stavia’s family, as well as Joshoa, a servitor who has impressive physical and psychic powers. 

Chernon is a young warrior who is Stavia’s love interest.  Over time he shows himself to be malevolent and vicious. Like several women in the book, Stevia is attracted to a man despite knowing that such attraction is not in her self - interest. This plot development ties into the novel’s themes. 

The story comes to a climax when Stavia and Chernon strike off on a exploration of uncharted lands. They are captured by a group of religious fanatics who treat women as property. This plot development allows Tepper to explore even more angles relating to gender.

The novel has much to say about gender and violence. Throughout the cities of Women’s Country a play called Iphigenia is immensely popular. This work is a modified version of Euripides’s The Trojan Woman. Large parts of the play’s dialogue are included in the text. Iphigenia ties into the novel’s themes in several ways. One of the main messages conveyed in the performance is that violence and war perpetuated by men has devastating consequences for women, children, and for society in general. The play is indictment of violence that is mostly perpetuated by men. 

Tepper’s fictional society has found a way to channel violence. The women of the cities, the warriors of the garrisons and the servitors all live by a strict code of laws. The garrisons only war among themselves. Combat is ritualized, takes place as the garrisons face each other in fields, and cannot involve any weapons that have ranges beyond a couple of feet. Only soldiers die or suffer. The remainder of society is not affected in any way. No man is forced to be soldier, as they can choose to be servitors instead. 

At one point Stevia’s mother, explains the arrangement to Stevia, 

War is dreadful, daughter. It always has been. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that in preconvulsion times it was worse! More died, and most of them were women, children, and old people. Also, wars were allowed to create devastations. Under our ordinances, no children are slain.  No women are slain. Only men who choose to be warriors go to battle. There is no devastation.”  

Tepper is pointing out that a percentage of men are violent. She seems to view this kind of men as irredeemable. The men of the garrisons are in the end, all depicted as untrustworthy and prone to dominate and harm others. The breeding program is indication that Tepper believes that a propensity for violence is genetic. Of course the factors that drive violence or complicated, but I agree that there is strong genetic component.

In the book, some men, as represented by the servitors, though capable of violence for self - defense and to protect others, are mostly peaceful, ethical and moral. This also seems to be reflective of the author’s view of men. 

In the story it is emphasized that some women, maybe most, are often attracted to destructive and dangerous men. This happens despite the fact that on an intellectual level they know it is not wise to do so. This is a stereotype that we often hear in popular culture. It is common to hear people say that that many women are attracted to dangerous and abusive men. I would like to see data and studies, if this is possible, to determine if there is a propensity for women to do this. My own, extremely biased observations about people, is that a percentage of both woman and men are attracted to destructive people. I have not noticed a difference between genders. 

Tepper’s ethical characters end up in terrible dilemma. In order to stop the garrisons from overrunning the cities and enslaving women, from time to time the cities’ leadership, consisting a small number of women and servitors working behind the scenes, manipulate and goad the garrisons into wars that lead to mass slaughters of men. The moral quandary that this raises is expressed at several points in the text.

Tepper offers no easy solution to this dilemma. Though the root of the conundrum is violent men, no one in the know has clean hands. 

In some ways this book is a cry of despair in response to human violence. At one point both Stavia and Joshoa are brought to tears over it. Tepper seems see as the best the solution a matriarchal society that treats non - violent men benevolently. Longer term, in order to eliminate violence in the world, she has created a fantastical breeding program. 

My take is that it is easy to become negative about violence in the world. Unimaginable brutality happens. Often non - combatants trapped in proximity to such brutality suffer immeasurably. History and current events show that a small percentage of men are responsible for this violence.  Despite these horrors, there are things that reduce violence short of playing with human genetics. I once again I point readers to Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature for practical, evidence based solutions

I have also recently read Pamela Sargent’s The Shore of Women. My commentary on that book is here. Tepper’s novel was published two years after Sargent’s. There are obvious similarities between the two stories. Both center on matriarchal societies that segregate men and women. Both involve a violent male society living outside the cities. They even both include a plot development that involves the main characters visiting a small misogynist group plagued by inbreeding. One has to wonder if Tepper read the Shore of Women before writing this. However, there are a lot of differences between the works, particularly in the philosophy conveyed. This novel has a lot of unique things to say about gender and violence that are different from Sargent’s views.  This book was more intellectual and focused more on themes and symbolism then did Shore of Women. Sargent’s book was more action driven. I like Tepper’s prose better then Sergent’s. Sergent's prose is flatter.  

If I am reading Tepper correctly, I think she is actually advocating for a matriarchal system in order to stem violence. In contrast, Sargent’s philosophy seems egalitarian and advocates for equality. 

This book has some flaws. The male characters fit too neatly into categories. The men who choose to stay in the garrisons are depicted as hopelessly violent and untrustworthy. In contrast the servitors are portrayed as almost saint - like. As stated above, this book is also a little too derivative of Pamela Sargeant’s novel.

Despite its flaws this work is a fascinating foray into the issues of gender and violence. As I noted in regards to Sargent’s book, one does not need to agree with all or most of Tepper’s philosophy and world - view in order to enjoy these ruminations. Stavia is also a very interesting, nuanced character. The world that Tepper has created here is also fascinating and well thought out.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in fanciful explorations of gender or violence. It makes an interesting comparison to Sargent’s work. It also will appeal to readers who are interested in fictional societies and cultures. Certain readers will find this book very enjoyable and very thought provoking. 


Caroline said...

Great post, Brian.
I remember loving this when I read it. Unfortunately, it was preblogging or rather a few months before. It made my end of year best of.
I often wondered whether a matriarchal society wouldn't be better. Of course, ideally, egalitarian is the preferred option but it still doesn't exist, I found the book thought provoking, and I seem to remember it was well written.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Caroline- It really is a book that throws out fascinating ideas. I can see why it made your year's best.

I think a matriarchal society would be less violent then then what has historically existed. But Tepper's ran into a logical dilemma. That is, the only way it could be maintained is to keep violent men out.

I think humanity is heading towards egalitarianism. It is a painfully slow road full of setbacks however.

Kathy's Corner said...

Hi Brian, I learn so much from your reviews and I really need to read more science fiction and Tepper sounds like a good place to start. One thing I have noticed about gender segregated futuristic worlds is that while they can be good vehicles to bring up issues involving men and women, they also sound like depressing places to live. People aren't meant to be walled off from each other. It's a false utopia which eventually will create problems.

Mudpuddle said...

apropos post... Confucius claimed that the only way to have a long lived society was through the use of ritual to control the destructive impulses common to all... matriarchy seems like a good idea at this point... unfortunately, though, human nature will, as it has, prevail....

The Reader's Tales said...

Another outstanding review, dear Brian :D
As you know I am not a fan of science fiction books. But my other half is, so I'll add The Gate to Women's Country to my book gift ideas...

I wish you and your family an excellent Easter! See you next week :)

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Kathy - I agree. I think that gender segregation to the extent that is described in these books is not realistic. I think that people, women or men, would not allow themselves to continue to live under these conditions.

With that, these fictional worlds provide great playgrounds for ideas.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Muddpuddle.

Confucius's ideas were interesting. With that, though ritualized violence is common, I am not sure if it reduces less ritualized forms of it.

I talk a lot about the ideas of Stephen Pinker because I believe that he has correctly identified the factors that bring the level of violence down.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi The Reader's Tales - This one is worth reading for anyone interested in the ideas that it delves into.

Have a great Easter!

James said...

Great review of what sounds like an interesting book. There seem to be some possible inconsistencies however. Why do the women continue to send their boys outside the city at the age of five? Doesn't that perpetuate the violent behavior? Do those who choose to become servitors at fifteen have any trouble adjusting and are any rejected? Is there any discussion of homosexuality among either sex inside the city? In spite of a society that appears to be very artificial, this certainly seems to be speculative fiction of the sort I might enjoy.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks James.

The ideology of the society is infused with the belief that some men are predisposed towards violence and that the only way to protect civilization is to send boys out while young. I agree that this would create violent men in many cases.

The picture that Tepper paints of the sevitors is fascinating but incomplete. There is little on here how they adjust. I also was left with a lot of other questions about the servitors. The book could have used more pages dedicated to them.

Tepper has actually been accused of homophobia for this book. In terms of science the book was written on the 1980s. In the book, homosexuality has been identified as resulting from certain biochemical conditions during pregnancy. The conditions are eliminated by medical technology.

Gently Mad said...

Hi Brian,

At first I thought you were reviewing the same book you reviewed not too long ago, but I see there are some differences.

There's a lot to comment on, your review gives an excellent and informative overview. I'll limit myself to one comment.

The book seems to indicate that men are more violent than women and therefore more dangerous. I beg to differ.

It's true men (generally speaking due to higher testosterone levels) tend to react more physically than women when they are angry, but do they anger more easily or more frequently than women?

Anyone who has been the victim of mean girls know that women can wreck just as much destruction through their words and manipulative actions then men. D you remember the case of the girl in high school (Phoebe Prince) who committed suicide after being mercilessly bullied by the popular girls?

Anyone who believes that men cause more wars than women has not read the Ancient Sagas. Remember the Norse Edda Sagas? The Norse women often goaded their men into blood feuds. And let us not forget who the Greeks attributed the cause of the Trojan War to.

I heard a comedian once make a comment about Chris Brown hitting Rhianna. He said, "I want to know what she said right before he hit her. I bet it wasn't 'pass the salt'."

Not to condone Brown's actions. A gentlemen has the self-control to walk away. Only the worst coward hits a woman. My point is that a woman's mouth can be just as violent as a man's fist.

I guess I say all that to say we can't attribute the problems of the world to only one side.

Thanks for another wonderful review! Have a great rest of the week.

Guy Savage said...

For some reason I don't read Science fiction but I like watching Sci films or series. I did read a lot of Sc fi years ago but just can't seem to get into it these days

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Sharon.

I think that you correctly point out that women do evil and malicious things. Do they do the same amount that men do? Though I am not one hundred percent sure, it is possible they do.

But I think that there is something different about physical violence. Be it assault, rape, wars, etc. I think that such violence is, in most cases exponentially worse then many of the evils that you mention. Though I think that most violence is not goaded on by women, even when it is, the violence is so many degrees worse. If we had to live with all human ills but could do away with the violence, I think that we would live in much better world.

Once I emphasize that I am talking about large groups. There are very violent women. Most men are not violent, at least in the modern world.

Have a great week and have a great Easter!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Guy- It is interesting that I was a lot like you are. I read a lot of science fiction when younger but almost none for a long time.

Lately I have been reading more of it again.

Suko said...

Brian Joseph,
This book does sound like a fascinating book about ideas relating to gender and violence. Violence and war have devastating consequences for all. Excellent commentary!

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Suko.

Ut is indeed a book filled with fascinating ideas.

Kate Scott said...

I find fictional explorations of gender fascinating and it sounds like this one would be no exception. The way this book explores violence is interesting. I've always been repelled by the idea expressed far too often in popular culture that women are somehow inherently more moral than men. I don't think that's true and I actually think the concept is pretty dehumanizing–both to men and women. That said, I do think male violence, malice, etc. often results in more severe consequences than the female equivalent. In ancient times and more primitive cultures, this is primarily because men are physically stronger and can do more damage. In modern times, another factor may be that men have more political/military/economic power as well. If that power structure were turned on its head and women were the ones with that kind of power, I'm not really sure what the world would look like–if there would be any discernable difference in the level of violence and chaos in the world at all.

You recommended another Steve Pinker book to me a few weeks ago, which is not on my Amazon to-buy list. The Better Angels of Our Nature is going on the list now, too.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Kate - There are such complicated issues that dig deeply into the issue of nature verse nurture. Your comment is making me think. I do believe that a role reversal in terms of power would lead to a less violent society because of evolutionary biological reasons. We cannot know just how big the difference is. Circumstances and environment would play a part. More women would undoubtedly be more violent.

I have never thought of this in terms of morality. Generally, comparing morality between genders is problematic. With that, I think that in our modern society only a small percentage of men are violent (and a smaller percentage of women). Thus one might say that very slightly higher percentage of men are immoral as compared to women. I am oversimplifying and this topic. It lends itself to a lot more thought and exploration.

I would love to know what you thought about Steven Pinker. The Better Angels of Our Nature is very bit it is one of the most informative books that I have ever read. It is interesting that one or six factors that he identifies as drives down violence historically is the empowerment of women.

Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks said...

Wow, that is such a problematic topic,and possibly a problematic book. Good review.

I just have one question. If at least a part of the men are warriors and physically very strong, how don't they invade the city? They probably could. How do they keep them out and from taking control?

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Evelina.

The book certainly tackles controversial subjects and Tepper is not afraid to take stands on these issues within the context of her story.

The issue of the cities being overun by the garrisons is present throughout the book. Early in the narrative I felt that it was unrealistic that this did not happen. However, as the story progresses it is revealed that an elite group of servators have psychic and physical abilities as well as some special weapons that they can use to defend the cities. Still, occasionally there arises movements within the garrisons advocating for a takeover. When this happens the cities' leadership manipulates and/or goads internal and external conflict within and between garrisons aimed at breaking up these movements. In the end, I felt that Tepper built a realistic picture of how this all worked.

So many books, so little time said...

Very thought provoking and you make some really great points. I think considering how far we have came and yet still relatively stoneage in how some countries still treat woman as the lesser sex I think this would make for compelling reading. Certainly be great for a book group chat.


Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Lainy - These are such interesting issues. They lend themselves to lots of discussion.

Humans have a little long way to go when it comes to gender equality. The treatment of women in places Saudi Arabia is unjust and irrational beyond belief.

HKatz said...

I enjoy your analysis. That's an interesting question about the attraction to destructive people. From what I've noticed, one major factor is upbringing, with people more likely to enter into destructive relationships if they had dysfunctional/abusive relationships with their parents.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Hila.

Come to think of it, I think that relationship to parents is very predictive of such destructive attraction.

thecuecard said...

I think it is interesting to read these stories touting matriarchal societies, which I think would be more nurturing and less violent. Wouldn't it be a nice change for once? I've enjoyed your reviews and comparisons of both books on this ... the books are a fascinating way to see gender issues in a different light.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Susan - Though I think that unless it gets derailed by a global threat such as climate change, humanity is heading for a more egalitarian and more peaceful future. We have a long way to go however.

With that, in my opinion, a Matriarchal society is far preferable to a Patriarchal one due to the issue of violence.

I will be posting more these issues in the coming months.

Kate Scott said...

I see your point. It is–without empirical study, which is unlikely to happen–an unknown. I guess my question (which will probably never be answered) is, how many more women would openly express rage in destructive manner if there were no cultural/physical barriers in place to stop them?

I think the fact that more men are violent than women is why people say women are more moral than men, but that assumes that morality is more closely linked to physical violence than other things, such as emotional violence. Or that morality is linked to the severity of the outcome of an action rather than the motivation behind it. Those are all valid questions, but, as you said, comparing morality between genders is problematic. Drawing conclusions in favor of either gender doesn't really help anyone, especially when consensus cannot be had about the basics–such as the practical definition of morality.

I'll definitely post reviews when I read Pinker's books. I'm waiting until I have room in the budget to buy a copy because I have a feeling I'll want to underline a lot.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Kate - One thing that I liked about Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature is that he identifies, depending on how one counts them, about five factors in history that have driven down violence.

Interestingly, the empowerment of women is one of those factors.

Maria Behar said...

Fascinating, outstanding commentary as usual, Brian!!

This is one of those SF books that I have long wanted to read.... I really should have done so by now, given that I'm a feminist. So I need to bump it up on ye olde TBR list!!

It's so interesting that Tepper has reversed the roles of men and women in society; in this novel, it's men who are the second-class citizens. This novel should be read by every single MRA out there. Of course, they would absolutely refuse to do so. No surprise there, lol.

I love that Tepper includes an egalitarian society in this novel, as well. And her characters are realistically flawed. However, it does bother me that Stavia, who is so very intelligent and resourceful, shows the sad tendency to choose a man who is not good for her. Tepper seems to be implying here that this is something we women just can't help doing. This is a rather disturbing observation she's making here, and I must confess to wondering whether it might be true....

I have MUCH more to say about this EXCELLENT post, but am a bit pressed for time right now, as I'm getting ready to go to work... I apologize for not commenting earlier, too. I've been a bit busy these past few days.

I will return later!! Hope you're having a GREAT day!! <3 :)

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Maria – There is never a rush to comment. Like us all, I know that you get busy. Thanks for your kind words I your super comment.

I fear that the MRAs would read this book and condemn it. I think that they would see it as advocating for female superiority.

As I found this book and its themes so interesting, I read affair number of comments on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. and blog posts on it. Though many consider a feminist novel, a fair number of Third Wave Feminists do not like Tepper’s ideas. Some folks objected to the fact that she saw some genetic difference between large groups of men and large groups of women. Particularly in the tendency to be violent. As I mentioned, I agree with Tepper on this.

The thing about women being attracted to men that they should not be attracted to is interesting. I knew women who were attracted to that kind of man. But I also knew a few men who were attracted to harmful women too. Of course my own experience is in no way a scientific cross sample.

I think that if you read this, you would really like it.

Have a great day!

Kate Scott said...

That is interesting. I would like to know the rationale behind that conclusion. And is he talking about violence in general or just violence against women (which would definitely make sense)? I look forward to reading that book.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Kate - Pinker shows that as women become empowered almost all forms of violence drops. As I recall he looks to the evidence first even if there is not a clear explanation.

As for the rationale, it has been a while since I read the book. But I guess it would stand to reason that women, who are a lot less violent in almost every society on Earth, become more likely influencial, violence will drop. At best I am way oversimplifying. If I recall, Pinker spends a lot of pages on this issue.

Stefanie said...

I read this a long time ago so the details are sketchy but I do recall that I liked it very much. I have read other books by Tepper and while she is a strong feminist writer, I'm not sure she is advocating in this book for a matriarchal society. I suspect it is more of a study, a what if of sorts, a sussing out of assumptions and stereotypes and all that. Enjoyed your review!

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Stefanie. In retrospect "advocating" may have been a strong words. I do get the sense that Tepper is playing with ideas here. With that she seems to be at least proposing matriarchy as a solution to violence.

Maria Behar said...

Okay, I'm back! Thanks for your patience, Brian. It is indeed true that we ALL get a bit too busy at times, lol. :)

How interesting that Tepper's novel is similar to Sargent's. Of course, I want to read Sargent's book, as well.

The topics of gender and the nature vs. nurture debate are ones that are very much on everyone's minds nowadays. As usual, SF writers are ahead of their time!

From what you state in your commentary, it does seem that Tepper has included some stereotypes in her novel, which is unfortunate, as everything else you've mentioned points to this being a totally fascinating work. On the other hand, perhaps she was slyly trying to make the point that stereotypes are neither realistic nor commendable. Hmmmm....

On the subject of violence as related to gender, I've been doing some Googling, as well as some personal reflection. From my own experience, I can say that violence of the physical type is much more frightening than violence manifested verbally and/or emitonally. My ex-husband was mostly emotionally and verbally abusive. However, on at least TWO occasions, he was almost physically violent toward me. On the first occasion, he drew his fist back to hit me, but then stopped. On the second occasion, he lifted a CHAIR up in the air, and made as if to THROW it at me. Both of these occasions scared me badly. Although his non-physical abuse affected me so deeply that I still carry the emotional scars, there's no doubt but that I could have been badly hurt if he had actually carried through with his physical aggression.

I've been abused by women, as well, and it's been emotional and verbal abuse, too. I've also been manipulated and conspired against by women. Still, I have never feared physical violence from a woman. EVER.

Because of their superior physical strength, men undoubtedly can easily intimidate a woman much more easily than a woman intimidate a man. And this is also the case with women intimidating other women. Thankfully, as societies have evolved and changed, there have been more and more men like you who are peace-loving and willing to extend respect to those who might be weaker physically, or at some other disadvantage, as compared to themselves.

History bears out the fact that war was originated by men. Furthermore, warfare is based on competitiveness, as well as on male domination. Primitive societies were most likely organized around harems, according to a National Geographic article I've just read. If this is the case, then I'm reminded of horse societies. There's always a dominant stallion who zealously watches over and protects a group of mares. Inevitably, a rival stallion will often show up and challenge the one with the mares. It's frequently a fight to the death, although sometimes the resident stallion will simply surrender, and then leave. The new stallion will then take control of the mares. Well, if this was the case with primitive societies, then this would point to the origins of male violence in the struggle for power and control, not only in the society at large, but specifically toward women.

Here's the link to that article.

(More to come....)

Maria Behar said...

It's an indisputable historical fact that war was originated by men. I would have to do more Googling to see if there have ever been any warlike societies dominated by women, but I doubt that there ever have been.

War, violence, and aggression are all based on male domination of women. Men have historically competed to possess women, We see this even in the Old Testament. Supposedly even God Himself laid down rules for the treatment of women captured in war. They were essentially forced to marry their captors. Genocide is rampant in the Old Testament, and it's all perpetrated by men. The Old Testament patriarchs all had more than one wife, and God supposedly condoned this, as the text doesn't mention any divine prohibitions against polygamy.

The New Testament is a marked contrast to the Old. Jesus even chastised one of His followers when He was apprehended on the eve of His crucifixion. The reason he did so was because that man had drawn a sword and cut off the ear of one of the servants of the temple. Jesus told this man that those who use a sword will perish by the sword. Jesus gave a perfect example of non-violence. Sadly, is later centuries, the Inquisition was perpetrated by His followers.

Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both shining examples of the advocacy of non-violence. Sadly, they were both victims of violence in the end. We need many more such men in this world!

Here's another article on the subject of harems, and I quote: "The practice of taking a concubine goes back thousands of years to the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia and Babylonia where the elite members of society took concubines, many of whom were slaves, however, the first wife always retained a place of primacy in the family. In some city-states, women served as priestesses and held a very high social rank. Generally, these women did not marry. In some Mesopotamian cultures, men would visit these women as prostitutes, which society not only condoned, but considered an honourable fulfilment of religious duty, regardless of the marital status of the man."

Here's the link to this article.

This state of affairs totally appalls us modern and post-modern folks! So it's very clear that, historically, violence has been tied to the domination of women by men. Even rape statistics prove this. Rape is a crime of power and control. And I have a case from my own personal experience, as well. A friend of mine once told me that she was nearly raped by a man she had just gone on a date with. After this man dropped her off at her apartment, at the end of the date, he suddenly returned. Having no reason for concern up to that point, she let him in, and he promptly proceeded to attempt to rape her. Well, I don't know how this woman got the courage to do what she did, but she remained calm, and told the guy that there was no need for him to be violent. She told him that she would willingly have sex with him, and asked him to give her a few minutes to get her clothes off. Well, guess what? The man just froze and stared at her in astonishment. Then he simply left her apartment! So this means that rapists actually get a kick out of seeing the woman struggle and resist. Yup. Power and control. Now, has any woman EVER done such a thing to a man? Oh, there might be one or two here and there. But I highly doubt it.

(More to come....)

Maria Behar said...

Sadly, one of the consequences of the increasing egalitarianism in our culture (I am specifically referring to the U.S.) is an increase in violent female crime. However, in comparing the genders, men are still ahead in the frequency of violent crimes.

I would hope that, as time goes by, more and more men wi emulate the less violent behavior of women.

I wonder whether having a matriarchal society would do anything to eliminate violence in the world. Probably not, at least, not at this point.....

Of course I have more to On my way to work now.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Maria – Thanks for such awesome and well thought out comments!

I am so sorry that you had to endure that from your ex – husband.

I agree, that while verbal abuse, manipulation, and similar behavior is terrible, physical violence in all its forms is always worse. I believe it to be the worst things that humans do. As you point out, it encompasses a lot more then physical abuse. It includes war, genocide, torture and similar things. Billions of humans have died or suffered horribly because of it.

As you point out, history, and it is the history of every culture, that men are a lot more violent then women. I point to writers like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Stephen Pinker for biological evolutionary explanations for this.

I think that there were always peaceful men. But I think that as society improves there are more of us and less violent ones.

Thanks for the link. That is so interesting. Though I think that there are a lot of reasons for war and violence, it is often tied up with the oppression of women.

There are cases where women sexually assault men, but it is rare. Some of the MRAs say it is common which seems ludicrous.

The problem with a matriarchal society and violence, is that I do not think that a matriarchal society could exist with violent men around. Tepper solves that problem by kicking all the violent men out of the cities.

Anonymous said...

I agree with much of what you said. But you also said "here are other groups that live outside the city walls that follow more egalitarian gender and traditional family roles" and I can't remember any groups for which that is true for:

The "gypsy" camp is a man and the prostitutes he rules over
The Holylanders keep all women as slaves.

What other groups were portrayed?