[LMB] OT: Social structures, was Build your own Emperor

Pat Mathews MATHEWS55 at msn.com
Thu Sep 28 20:02:17 BST 2017

Or they do just the opposite and buy into the fallacy that medieval women had no rights, or were more oppressed than in the early modern period. A brief glance at the wealthy or comfortably-well-off widows, the guild workers, and even inheritance laws and customs, reveal that they had more rights and power than their descendants until the 20th (or possibly late 19th) century. And that's not even talking about the great abbesses and female saints whose histories are well documents.

When Sir Thomas Malory mentioned that Arthur's sister Morgan "was put to school in a nunnery ," he was talking about the standard practice of his period, the15th century,  for women of a certain class. ((Middle and upwards.) Though her "becoming a great clerk of necromancy" was obviously not!

Though of course there was a lot of oppression of married women  whose husbands turned out to be quick with their fists; married women in most centuries were considered to be property of their husbands, mitigated only by custom and whatever powerful kinfolk she might have.

From: lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk <lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk> on behalf of A. Marina Fournier <saffronrose at me.com>
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2017 12:54 AM
To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.
Subject: Re: [LMB] OT: Social structures, was Build your own Emperor

On Sep 27, 2017, at 06:42 PM, Gwynne Powell <gwynnepowell at hotmail.com> wrote:

Gwynne: Totally agree! I love history, especially particular periods or cultures,
and I find it almost impossible to read books set in those times. That's one of
the big pluses for fantasy and SF, for me - the rules are whatever the writer
says, so I don't spend the whole book muttering '...but no woman would say/do
that in THAT culture, it wouldn't even be considered! And THAT was against the
law... and that's not a concept they even thought about....' By which time I've
lost all sympathy with the characters.


The electronic equivalent for me is a folder marked Never Buy This Author Again.

If I can't connect well to the characters, I'm not going to continue reading the book--especially if there are other impediments in the way, such a complete lack of attention to grammar, or internal consistency.

My favorite example of a wallbanger was a short story, allegedly set in the Regency Period of England. The lead female is at a ball. Suddenly she's dancing to the Blue Danube Waltz. There is no space station in sight.

•late 19th C., not early 19th C.

•composer's parents haven't even met yet, and perhaps not even born yet. They themselves may not yet have been a twinkle in a parent's eye yet.

• If you're going to dance to that music, which is a waltz-*time* tune, not an actual tune for a waltz, it has to be carefully choreographed as a set piece, due to the tempo fluctuations. Yeah, I tried it. Once only.

I hadn't liked the character much to begin with. I have mercifully blanked on author and title.

Contemporary writers are fine, they know their own rules. Some (few) writers
do the research and are true to the times. But way too many stomp in with
modern ideals and impose them on a culture that was completely different, with
no .... ok, don't start me. This could go on for some time, with examples.

Oddly enough, one well-known historical novelist climbed on a high horse about women being written into historical periods with modern attitudes and sensibilities, with little care about facts. Alas, the author has played fast and loose with historical fact when it worked better in a story.

However, in condemning other writers for giving power to women in periods where that wasn't common, said author forgot that there *were* women in certain positions in each region/country/etc and time who *did* have power and influence, which we know of as modern women. A blanket statement of "women couldn't/wouldn't do X then" falls short of accuracy when exceptions are not mentioned. Not all women, certainly, but privilege changes things. It is then the responsibility of the writer to show the reader the situations which allow those anomalies.

In some ways, there's a parallel to the idea of "traditional marriage": one has to define that term by era and area, and any other factors, because it is not a monolith. We know this because Thus Spake Zarathustra is not playing in the background.

As for marriage - it was your job. Your parents got you the best deal they could,
for status or wealth or hopefully both. Your job was to breed, to push your
family's interests, and to run the household or fight the wars or whatever. You
expected, or at least hoped, for respect and affection. And.... again, I'll stop or
I could whitter on forever.

Like, say, Penric.

I came across this short video on the National Geographic website. I have no idea--and it's not mentioned--whether it was an arranged marriage, but I think it likely, given the time it began, but awwwww.

Married for 88 Years, This Couple Shares Their Secrets to Love<http://www.nationalgeographic.com/video/shorts/married-for-88-years-this-couple-shares-their-secrets-to-love/>
Meet Karam and Kartari Chand—the couple has the longest known marriage in the world and have been happily married for more than 88 years.

But they should get it RIGHT or not do it at all!

Some people apparently can't see what underlying assumptions they are injecting into history, possibly, because they haven't read enough of it to see what's modern and what's not. Let us not get weighed down on modern phrasing in historical mouths, or I, too, shall scream. I send a gentle note to inform, when possible.

Underlying assumptions are hard for people to examine, and it often has to be pointed out to them.

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