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Old November 1 2011, 03:12 PM   #53
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Re: Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within (ebook) review thread

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
The big problem I have with this, Christopher, is that from my point of view (and I'm sorry to make assumptions) you seem to be trapped in the exact ideological pattern you're supposedly challenging. It looks to me like you see the supposed and accepted "truth" that humans are male-dominated and that "men have the voice and the power" and then you say "ah, but women always had a voice, had power too". I would say that's an exercise in constructing a false history and then deconstructing it again.
What?? No, I'm not saying it's a truth that humans are male-dominated. Not even close. First off, I'm not talking about "humans" as a monolithic mass, because I've studied enough history and sociology to know what a ridiculous notion that is -- human cultures have a lot more diversity in their treatment of gender roles than we tend to assume. There have been cultures that were egalitarian, ones that were matriarchal, ones that were patriarchal, and everything in between. What I'm saying is that, because the histories we Westerners are taught in school reflect the biases of the nominally "male-dominated" societies that our particular culture is descended from (by which I mean societies where the definitions of terms and the writing of history were largely male responsibilities), that gives us the false impression that women have generally been powerless in most civilizations.

Also, I'm not talking about ideology here. I'm not advocating something as the "right" way to be. I'm a science fiction writer looking for interesting alternative cultures to explore. The only value judgment I'm making here is whether a particular cultural pattern is interesting to write about and think about. What I learned in my history studies about the traditionally-unacknowledged influence that women had in a lot of past societies intrigued me, and I wanted to construct an alien culture that was inspired by that. There's no ideological judgment intended, because it's not meant to be an exact parallel to those historical societies, and because the whole point is to explore alternative social structures as an exercise in world-building. I don't just write about alien cultures I agree with. I write about ones I find interestingly different from my own, and that means I often disagree with a lot about them. I wouldn't necessarily want to live in them, but they're still interesting to develop and contemplate.

I never bought into the idea that men were prominent and “important” and women weren't - I didn't see the lie as you seem to see it (and as the mainstream ideology runs), in terms of men being self-centred or imposing, but rather as a means of denying men and boys the opportunity to truly challenge how society would use them. Labour, cannon fodder, even leadership and direction - it is all to serve, and by constructing an account of the supremacy of this service, it prevents anyone truly having opportunity to question things. The self-aggrandizing of patriarchy is a self-deception that, in my mind, perpetuates exploitation of male humans. So much so that men would toil down mines to support families or march into battle in their millions and suffer appallingly, or die, just because "that's what we do".
I have no disagreement with any of that. My whole point is that male dominance is what is taught to be the fact of history, not what was actually so.

If I may make another point: calling formal politics as our cultures understand it a "male-centric" concept implies (please forgive once more my assumptions here) that men are disposed to work in that manner or that this is their natural way of doing things. But that's only because men have been excluded from the other aspects of our civilization (women want it so, most of the time, and men well know it), just as women have been excluded from the male sphere.
That's actually a pretty good description of what I had in mind for the Talarian system. The females don't want the males butting into their areas of responsibility any more than vice-versa. Indeed, that's the whole reason they were revolting against Ronzel's government -- because he was imposing on their areas of responsibility, usurping for Talarian males many of the decisions that were supposed to be the purview of females.

And the idea that the men are responsible for all this, that they made the choice and imposed it, simply buys into another lie of our civilization - the idea that the male is responsible while the female is irresponsible.
That's not what I meant to say at all. Of course I'm simplifying a lot because this is just a BBS discussion, not a formal dissertation.

You seem (here I go again), to frame part of your conclusions in terms of learning to acknowledge the equal importance of the designated feminine sphere to the masculine. I would argue that the real way forward is to deny the idea that those aspects of society are feminine, because that makes women hostile to any attempt by males to enter it.
I never said it's what I personally believe. I said it's what many human cultures in the past have been conditioned to believe. I'm describing the worldview of others, not endorsing it. This is what I learned to do for four years as a history student -- to study and discuss cultures objectively and keep personal biases and assumptions out of it as much as I could. It's also, as I said above, what I've trained to do as a science fiction writer and worldbuilder -- to explore a variety of cultures and worldviews with curiosity and an open mind rather than confining myself to what I personally agree with.
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