Monday, March 11, 2013

Twitter, The Wheel of Time, and some Feminism

Universe, I am not writing about movies today. This blog should just be a literature blog. My reviews have never been the same as other movie reviews. That is because I want to discuss more about the media than the gut reaction I had while experiencing them. Whether or not art is its purest when experienced on a first impression or as a study, I can't begin to say. What I can say is that I enjoy discussing art to the furthest extent it can be taken. And so this blog will now become a dumping ground for all of my media thoughts.

I have recently started a Twitter account detailing my reemergence into the Wheel of Time book series written by Robert Jordan and completed just earlier this year by Brandon Sanderson. The account is called @wheeloftimetrav (the word "traveler" had too many characters). I took my inspiration largely from another Twitter user going by the handle @mugglehustle, who is detailing his experiences as he reads the Harry Potter series for the first time. It is a hilarious and wistful experience, one that I suggest to any who wish to remember how it felt to experience them anew. My other muses were two of my personal friends who are doing the same thing but with the Zelda video game series. Their accounts are @jackhyrule and @hyrulespad.

These Twitter chronicles are a nice way to find a community while doing the very personal and solitary activity of reading. The experience is similar to a book group, but I feel its more like talking during a movie. And I love it. However, Twitter is necessarily brief, which is not good for prolonged discussion.

Earlier this evening I began what turned into a twenty minute tweetfest with myself over the gender roles and sex balance of the first book in the Wheel of Time. Now, I am not a very well read feminist scholar. I have had a few college courses on sex, race, and gender studies in film but I am far from the most dedicated feminist. That said, I almost always agree with the feminist logic.

The Wheel of Time does not lend itself well to feminism, however. It was started 23 years ago and I don't know how far the feminist dialogue has come within that time, but I can imagine its developed quite a bit. The story starts with several surprisingly strong female characters all with more social and literal power than most men. This changes pretty quickly after the first book and eventually becomes a harem situation. Quite the turn about.

I have not finished the series yet (that's why I started the Twitter account) so I can't say how it ends, but I'm going to go out on a limb and just say that this series is not a good example of gender equality. That said, I found myself feeling increasing uncomfortable talking about my opinions on the female characters in the book so far because it probably reveals my own biased feelings about what women should or should not be, which I have no right to dictate. I understand that I cannot express any opinions about womanhood that do not coincide with the current feminist beliefs without branding myself an enemy to all things female, which I also do not wish to do. Yet, I feel I have a right to have a say on how the characters came across to me. Basically, I felt that I needed a more appropriate venue than Twitter to discuss this topic. So here we are.

I have already had my say on this topic on my Twitter account ( Feel free to read up and leave your thoughts here or there. But from now on when I have extended observations I will take them here to have, hopefully, a more civilized discussion.