Feminist or Anti-such?

I, along with my students and thousands of fans, have fallen in love with recent books by Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore. (Terrier, Bloodhound, Graceling, and Fire.) These fantasy books all feature incredibly attractive and strong teen females. They fight crimes, they battle monsters, they fall in love but seem to be totally in control of their relationships! They, not the male partners, are the ones who are empowered to choose and make their destinies.

So, when you have these young women, each (Beka, Katsa, and Fire) is taking one or multiple partners to bed, some details have to be attached. Beka got a charm, Katsa and Fire both used an herb — these supposedly will prevent pregnancy — the messy aftermath of their amorous acts.

On the one hand, I am happy that they are “getting it” and having a great time with it. On the other hand, my 21st century, teacher of teens and mother of a pre-teen daughter, mind keeps wondering: What are the BOYS/MEN doing to prevent the communication of the “other” kind of mess? The mess that hangs over millions of modern men, women, and children. Yes, these are Fantasy stories — but since the idea of birth-control are included, what’s to prevent our wonderful writers to also come up with some clever ways so that at least the young people in the stories (and the young people reading the stories) are careful about diseases. (In both Beka Cooper and Fire’s cases, they are sleeping with men who have multitudes of partners before and after themselves.)

Just wondering… Why in these quite feminist slanted stories, men and boys are still not held “accountable” for their actions?


Filed under Views, WIWWAK

2 responses to “Feminist or Anti-such?

  1. Anonymous

    This comment contains spoiler….

    Because though the stories themselves are feminist, the worlds themselves are distinctly male-dominant. Katsa says it herself: why aren't women taught to defend themselves? Simple: men do the fighting. Fire lives in the same world. She can shoot, she can control minds…but it's still a kingdom ruled by a king and his general.
    The 7 Kings of the Graceling world, for one thing, rule as kings. Solo. Even in Lienid, while Ror's wife has immense power, there's still Ror and 7 sons before she can rule.
    Perhaps in the Dells it is a little different…there are female soldiers, for one thing. Regardless…much of that is due to a shortage of population in general AND the determination of the women to keep the kingdom alive.

    Another thing. Katsa is Graced with survival, which most have mistaken for killing. Fire has the ability to speak to and even control people with her mind, except perhaps Leck (don't remember if she's tried). These two girls have EXTRAORDINARY abilities/powers. They are the far-and-away outliers, and for much of their young lives the Outcasts, of society. The books themselves, with their extremely strong heroines, may be feminist-oriented, but the world of Katsa and Fire is without a doubt entirely male-dominated.

    I realize this does not totally answer the above question, but it provides an explanation as to why people in the story might not care as much about what the men/boys do as opposed to others.

    As for Beka…I'm having a little trouble responding to this one. I think that Beka's case is different. For one thing, her story isn't over, so we don't know what direction events will go. For another, the entire world is 100% distorted by her own views. Not to say that they're wrong, I think they're right, but they're hers, not a 3rd-person view. For a third, perhaps gender division is not very big in Beka's world…after all, a woman heads the Watch, and then there's Goodwin, not to mention Pearl, Beka's Mage friends, Beka herself…I think the division is very clearly along have and have-not in the Bekaverse. Poverty and wealth, rather than man and woman, divide people…and skill plays a much greater role. Man or woman, you won't get far if you can't keep up. Maybe physically men have a slight advantage…but it's only to start with, and if you rise to Pearl's level….

    So maybe I didn't have so much trouble answering Beka's :)


  2. Amazing Kris

    I never read the books, and I am not entirely likely to. Fantasy is great for me only when the delightful improbabilities bring certain danger with them.
    "With great power comes great responsibility," or some such talk.

    You're not empowered when you're sacking every attractive person you meet. You're empowered when you can appreciate something without feeling the need to turn it into a useful sex object. Men have repeatedly shown their weakness by the way they view women. Why is it then a woman's response to return the display when the one advantage they seem to naturally possess is the ability to deny carnal urges?


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