OT: Appropriate Behavior

on February 7, 2012 in Other Tales


“Gentlemen,” Her Imperial Majesty Vera III said as she walked into the room, exactly at three in the afternoon. “Senators, general. Thank you for coming.”

The men seated around the semicircular end of the table jumped at the sound of her voice, a motion which they quickly turned into rising to their feet.

“Please, be seated,” she said as she sat down in the comfortably plush wing-backed chair.

Thrones were out of fashion in Magisteria, a fact for which she and her aging husband were grateful. They could choose comfort and have it read as populist humility.

She laid the file folder she’d brought with her down and opened it, then put on the platinum-rimmed spectacles that she didn’t strictly need.

Even if her vision had required correction, there were any number of less visible ways of achieving that effect, even permanently. But the visibility of the prop was the point… the most acceptable way of making her husband appear younger was to make herself seem older.

“Now, as ranking members on the Senatorial Committee on the Salarium and the chief military adviser to the committee, you were asked here to discuss the spending figures for next year,” she said. “We have received and considered your proposals and I would like to start by saying that I find them interesting, but not compelling.”

“Has the emperor seen them?” one of the men asked

“Senator Varence, the reason I invited here is so that you might have a chance to make your case in person, to persuade me with lively debate where dead letters and numbers failed,” Vera said. “In other words, to see if you could impress me. You are not off to a good start.”

“Madam Empress,” the senator said, “I do beg your pardon. I had no intention of slighting you. It is simply that your husband might better understand the needs of the modern military… not because of any deficiency on your part, of course, but simply having to do with his greater familiarity with the situation. Had we but known that our budget proposal would be read by you, we might have couched it in terms more bent to your understanding.”

“My husband and I are in the habit of discussing matters of state with each other,” she said. “When I sit before you, senator, you should not assume that he has not seen and weighed in on the matter that is before me… nor should you assume that just because you have dealt with him in the past, it necessarily means that I was not acquainted with the matter and my opinion had no weight.”

“Of course. I meant no disrespect,” the senator said. “But… our requests on the military’s behalf have rarely met with anything other than a swift approval. When we do find ourselves being turned down and we find ourselves being turned down by you…”

“In the first place, nothing has been ‘turned down’,” Vera said. “It simply hasn’t been approved yet, and you are in danger of squandering an opportunity here.”

“Really, now,” the senator on one end of the curved side of the table said.

“Really now what, Senator Aldin?” the empress said.

“Really, now, do you need to hold up to hold up an important military appropriation and call us out of the chamber to engage in this… this… petty display of power?”

“Senator Aldin,” Vera said. She got to her feet. The man in uniform rose at the same time she did, though slower. The other two senators were up a second later. Senator Aldin looked around at the sound of chairs scooting backwards, and then got to his feet. The empress continued. “I am the imperatrix of this imperial republic. My power is hardly petty and you would know if it were on display. My request of your presence is nothing more than the routine exercise of said power, on behalf of the nation I command and protect. You will all remain standing in my presence, as a reminder of that.”

She sat back down.

“Your majesty, I apologize for my colleague’s… brusqueness,” Senator Varence said. “The usual courtesy for men of our rank…”

“Is rescinded until you and your colleagues can remember the usual courtesy for persons of mine,” Vera said. “Consider this a primer on the subject of pettiness. Gentlemen, the reason this appropriation request did not meet with as swift and immediate approval is because it goes beyond all previous ones in scope and scale. When you ask for things that are obviously reasonable and prudent, you are given them without question. If you thought this meant you were being given a blank check, that is your own error and one I am here to correct. Now it is possible that your recent request was necessary for reasons you did not see need to articulate, or it’s possible that you over-reached in your excitement.”

“I will not be talked to like a school boy!” Senator Aldin said.

“Then you are excused,” she said.

“The entire senate shall hear of this outrage!”

“Good,” Vera said. “But you might want to register your grievance early, as I understand that there is quite a wait for members of the public…”

“The public? I am an Imperial Senator…”

“No,” Vera said. “You are being dismissed from imperial service, and thus more or less freed of the obligation to ever be lectured by me again.”

“B… but…”

“Unless you would care to go stand with your nose in the corner silently while I address your colleagues,” Vera said. “In which case you will retain your rank and title, though not your committee seat. You must forfeit something for forgetting that when you address me you are addressing the imperial power and the whole of the Imperium.”

Senator-For-The-Moment Aldin opened his mouth and then, in a moment of uncharacteristic wisdom, closed it and retreated to the corner without another word.

“You know, in the days when the emperor’s wife was just the empress consort and not an empress in fact, I doubt very much that a senator would dare to treat her the way you gentlemen treat me,” Vera said to the remainder of the group. “After all, to do so would be seen as an insult to her husband. When I assert myself as equal to my husband, I get neither the respect you would give to him, nor the respect I would have received as his property.”

“Your majesty, Senator Aldin has behaved atrociously,” Varence said. “I will not say one word in support of his conduct. But surely you must realize that by insisting on equal treatment, you give up some of the, well, natural protections accorded to femininity. We men do not respect other men automatically or as a matter of course. We test each other, we feel each other out, we size each other up… respect is given to a lady as a matter of courtesy… but for a man, or I should say, for a person, respect must be earned.”

Vera said nothing for the space of several seconds. She simply stared unblinking into Varence’s smiling face until the grin began to fade around the edges.

“Senator,” she said. “Let me lay out a proposition for you. I shall have a diviner and a telepath brought in. I will put to them the question of whether you and Senator Aldin ever have treated or ever would treated my husband the way you treat me in order to judge whether he deserved your respect as emperor… if you would test any male emperor you were sworn to serve as you test me. If the answer is yes, I will sign your appropriation. In fact, I will sign ten blank reams of paper bearing the official seal and allow you to fill them with whatever best suits you at your leisure. But if the diviner and the subtle artist do not agree that you are telling the truth… well, then I shall dust off the hoary old book of laws that describes the punishment for lying to the imperial power and we’ll do whatever it says. How does that idea suit you?”

“Your majesty’s point is well-taken, but perhaps you discount the possibility that your husband earned our respect before we ever met him.”

“No, I don’t,” Vera said. “I’m quite sure there’s something about him that guaranteed him more respect, sight unseen, than I can hope to have from you, no matter how many displays of power I lay on. Gentlemen, I will say again and for the last time: we… and I speak here as the voice of the imperium… are unconvinced of the merits of your proposal for the next year’s funding allocation for the military. To be specific, we are concerned about the shift in spending from arcane warfare to troop build ups, and the apparent lack of interest in maintaining domestic fortifications and transportation infrastructure.”

“Your majesty, I share your concerns,” the third senator said. “I will not say a word to defend the proposal, and I would like it noted that my name did not appear on it. I appreciate your courtesy in asking me here as a ranking member of the committee, and if you’d like to know my thoughts on the subject I will be happy to share them.”

“Thank you for making your stance plain, Senator Simons,” the empress said. “If your colleague or the good general could be roused to say something for it, perhaps you can rebut them. Sirs, the impression I get is that you are preparing to go to war but with little thought to defense or to the logistics of deployment within our borders. I do not pretend that my expertise on military matters is equal to yours… nor is my husband’s. That is why we have a standing committee on the salarium.”

“Well, your majesty, you are largely correct in your understanding,” the general said. “But we did think about those things. We thought about them and decided they were less important. The wars we fight next will be fought far from home. The phrase ‘the best defense is a good offense’ applies here. If we can keep the conflict outside our borders by building up our offensive capabilities… well, that’s better than paying for defense and rebuilding.”

“And if an enemy attacks us here all the same?”

“We’ll attack them first. Elsewhere.”

“I’m asking what you would do if they come here.”

“Ma’am, we would do everything in our power to prevent that. This is a military objective and I don’t plan for failure.”

“You know, I like domestic military spending,” Vera said. “Because it so often does double duty… we built up the highway system in order to facilitate the movement of legions, and commerce benefits. We build up garrisons and armories, and decades after they’re no longer needed they’re serving as libraries and town halls and banks. That’s to say nothing of the dividends from military investments in geomancy, enchantment, and healing. These are all things you cut from your budget in order to pay for more boots on the ground. Tell me, general… in your opinion, is the next generation of battles going to be fought by men running at each other with swords?”

“The infantry has always been the backbone of imperial power.”

“Your knowledge of the past does you credit as a military historian,” Vera said. “I understand that your position is something of a minority within the Hexagon.”

“As an empress, I’m sure you understand that we don’t decide things by popular vote,” the general said. “Ma’am. My viewpoint is representative of the most senior officers of all branches.”

“Who are the oldest and most entrenched in their thinking,” Vera said.

“If I may please break in with a thought?” Senator Simons said. The empress nodded. “Thank you, your majesty. Many in the intelligence community… I am friends with members of some key committees there… as well as some of the up-and-coming military thinkers believe that there is wisdom more in pursuing dexterity than strength: smaller, nimbler legions with specialized yet flexible capabilities, supported by powerful magic and ready to be deployed anywhere at a moment’s notice. This would not only make us better able to face those overseas threats that the general is so keen to face overseas, but it would leave more money in the vaults for domestic matters.”

“That is close to my own thoughts,” Vera said. “Gentlemen, this is how we shall proceed. Three scenarios shall be devised, drawn from current events in the world. You, Senator Varence and General Pembroke, shall draw up plans for how your ideal military would meet the threats described. Senator Simons, you will liaise with your own preferred military thinkers and determine how your ideal force would handle them. In order to avoid favoritism, each of your groups will be in charge of creating one scenario, and the other shall be issued by the Palatium. What we will be looking for here is solutions for probable real-world scenarios, so be careful not to accidentally prove that your army would be ideal for facing threats that are uniquely custom-tailored to it.”

“Your majesty, a fair test would require Senator Simons to have his proposal on the table,” Senator Varence said. “He could wait until the scenarios are before him and then tailor his forces to them.”

“And we would look critically upon such an overwhelming level of extreme specialization,” Vera said. “The point of this test is not to see which army ‘wins’ but to get a feel for how they would handle a range of likely threats… and your purpose should be to provide the Imperial Republic with the army it needs, not to rack up points for yourself or show up a colleague. Gentlemen, the game we are playing here is the game of state. We win when we keep the beacons burning for another hundred years. We lose when our empire falls to a thousand thousand factors that no one noticed or paid attention to at the time. Be competitive with each other. Be ruthless! Senator Simons, if you think the budget proposal for the next year falls short of actually protecting our shores in some way, submit your own rival one. Just remember why you are doing so: to remove the gaps in our collective armor, not to expose the gaps in each other’s.”

“You want war games?” General Pembroke said. “Hell, we can do war games. We have a whole wing full of analysts who do this kind of thing all day.”

“I’m happy to hear that,” Vera said. “And general, in the interest of a robust competition, you will not deny any resources to Senator Simons that you use for yourself.”

“Of course,” the general said. “I have my own team already picked out. He can take who he needs.”

“Your majesty, if I may make one suggestion?” Simons said.

“What is that?”

“We’re going to have two extremely partisan teams, try as we might to avoid it,” he said. “I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing… but in the interest of ruthlessly examining and repairing flaws, why don’t we have each team run the scenarios for both armies? Perhaps General Pembroke and the committee chairman will be more willing to see flaws in my team’s strategy, and vice-versa.”

“A worthy suggestion, happily adopted,” Vera said. She clapped her hands and got to her feet. “Gentlemen, you have your assignments. Get to it.”


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86 Responses to “OT: Appropriate Behavior”

  1. OrlanthArkatstarson says:

    Well done.

    Current score: 0
  2. Dave says:

    Was Her Imperial Majesty Vera III a school teacher before she became an Empress? If not, she’s certainly observed how a good one deals with over-confident adolescent males!

    Current score: 4
  3. ASeriesOfWords says:

    “Hexagon”

    Heehee

    Current score: 1
    • wg says:

      I see what you did there.

      Current score: 1
      • Shine says:

        I recall that David Weber did that with an “Octagon”.

        Current score: 1
    • jc says:

      Actually, I was a bit surprised by the “Hexagon”, since in our world, the Pentagon’s shape is generally considered to have the more powerful magic. I’ve read a number of novels in which the US Pentagon was built to permanently contain one or more demons or devils of various sorts. But maybe it’s different in the MUniverse. Have we read about the properties of hexagons there yet?

      Current score: 0
      • Burnsidhe says:

        A pentagram (five pointed star), yes. A pentagon (five straight lines), not so much.

        Also, Hexe (German for witch) and Hex (Latin for six) make a more symmetrical symbolic link.

        Current score: 0
        • ne0x says:

          Honestly, I was also thinking of the hexagonal grid used in some miniature combat games.

          As for jc’s remark about pentagons, there is a magically protected pent that is featured at MU.

          Current score: 1
        • Zukira Phaera says:

          ah but a pentagram contains a pentagon when open faced cross line constructed, and the points when connected without indent form another pentagon. I’m sure if we scratched the right conspiracy theorist’s ears we could find out all sorts of mystical properties embedded in the floor plans.

          As for the hexagon, well, same figurative speaking ring within a ring so to speak. The mystical/magical ‘star’ in this case would be the Star of David and a reflection on the Tree of Life with a nice journey into Hebrew Mysticism. Personally, I think the translations into the MU universe are perhaps more direct and perhaps dare I say more apt making the choice of Hexagon over another type of polygon brilliant.

          Current score: 2
  4. Lunaroki says:

    *grin* I love how Empress Vera puts the boys in their places.

    Typo Report

    “Has the emperor seen them?” one of the men asked

    Missing closing period.

    “Senator Varence, the reason I invited * here is so that you might have a chance to make your case in person,

    Missing the word “you” after “invited”.

    “Really, now, do you need to hold up to hold up an important military appropriation and call us out of the chamber to engage in this… this… petty display of power?”

    One too many iterations of the phrase “to hold up”.

    I will put to them the question of whether you and Senator Aldin ever have treated or ever would treated my husband the way you treat me in order to judge whether he deserved your respect as emperor…

    The “treated” following “would” should be “treat”.

    Current score: 0
  5. wocket says:

    Oh my goodness I am fangirling the Empress SO HARD right now. I wish I could send ignorant men to stand in the corner…

    Current score: 2
    • SilverFox says:

      I think you would need to have more corners built:)

      Current score: 3
  6. anon y mouse says:

    “Senator Varence, the reason I invited here” – invited you here?

    “Really, now, do you need to hold up to hold up an important military appropriation” – to hold up only once, or ellipsis in between?

    “We lose when our empire falls to a thousand thousand factors that no one noticed or paid attention to at the time.” – do you mean to have thousand twice?

    Current score: 0
    • Tiamat says:

      Probably. ‘Thousand thousand’ is a fancy way of saying million.

      Current score: 0
  7. TearsTheWingsOffAngels says:

    See, this is why *I* want to be emperor. Or empress, I’m not picky. I want to tell *so* many senators to stand in the corner!

    Current score: 0
  8. Readaholic says:

    Bravo, ma’am, bravo! (this is addressed both to the Empress Vera and the Author)

    Current score: 0
  9. Anonamouse says:

    I find it hard to believe anyone would be so foolish as to act that overtly sexist to an empress without a large dose of insanity involved.

    I realize I will likely be lynched for this or this post deleted, but I want to say that I’m seeing a number of media works that portray people who are white or male, and especially who are white males, in a very negative light. In itself this isn’t necessarily racist or sexist, but the fact I can’t point this out certainly is. If I do, I would likely be told that I’m seeing patterns in chaos, or that this is just the pendulum swinging the other way, as though two wrongs make a right, or have my comment dismissed or ignored using some excuse or another.

    I do realize that sexism and racism is a current problem and it must be addressed, including in media, but there’s a distinction between using a sexist/racist character to show how wrong it is, and creating a character who is incredibly repulsive and labeling him sexist/racist.

    Current score: 0
    • Also, I’d like to address something here. Your sociology professors no doubt tried to instill in you some sense of the difference between racism as an institutional force and simple bias. Your use of the word “lynch” here is actually a great example of this difference.

      The bias that you see as demonizing yourself leads you to fear being “lynched” in the sense of… having a lot of people disagree with you? Or something? I guess.

      That’s your fear of perceived anti-white bias, that people are going to disagree with you and make you feel bad.

      People who live with institutional racism, on the other hand, fear being “lynched” in the sense of… being lynched. Actually lynched. Literally lynched.

      This is what you might call a subtle difference, but one worth pointing out.

      Current score: 1
    • Eris Harmony says:

      “I find it hard to believe anyone would be so foolish as to act that overtly sexist to an empress without a large dose of insanity involved. ”

      I think you’re conflating ‘overtly’ with ‘consciously’ here. The thing about sexism and racism is that a person can act in racist or sexist ways without really being sexist or racist. It’s an artifact of our cultural history and something that we have all internalised to some degree. (Which isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot of people who actually hold those values still, just that our culture is so saturated with those messages that many of us don’t realise we’re behaving in similar ways until someone points it out). Members of privileged groups (a minimum of three of which any straight, white male belongs to) are less likely to notice it because it doesn’t impact them negatively, while members of oppressed groups–like Vera, who at a minimum is female–are more likely to notice it because they see others getting treated better than they themselves receive.

      I don’t read the senators here as necessarily being sexist, just privileged, and behaving in the way that people with unexamined privilege tend to behave.

      Also, more props to Vera for smacking down the mansplainer.

      Current score: 1
  10. Alderin says:

    Is this the beginnings of Stone Soldiers?

    Current score: 0
    • Brenda says:

      Isn’t this taking place in the same general time period as ToMU?

      Current score: 0
    • Tiamat says:

      Stone Soldiers came from kobold warrens, iirc.

      Current score: 0
  11. DaemonAngel says:

    So assuming that the Hexagon’s shape had its origins in the same way that the Pentagon did, what are the six branches of the Imperial Defense?

    Current score: 1
  12. Spartakos says:

    To Anonymous:

    I realize I will likely be lynched for this or this post deleted, but I want to say that I’m seeing a number of media works that portray people who are white or male, and especially who are white males, in a very negative light. In itself this isn’t necessarily racist or sexist, but the fact I can’t point this out certainly is. If I do, I would likely be told that I’m seeing patterns in chaos, or that this is just the pendulum swinging the other way, as though two wrongs make a right, or have my comment dismissed or ignored using some excuse or another.

    I have no intention of lynching you, but are you seriously suggesting that portraying a white male in a negative light is in some way unrealistic? Despite reams of evidence that numerous white males act in a sexist, racist fashion on a regular basis?

    I don’t see how ‘the fact that you can’t point this out’ is in any way sexist or racist, considering that you obviously CAN point it out, and are doing it right now. However, if you meant to imply that you can’t point it out without your opinion being challenged, that is not sexist or racist: that is the reality that when someone says something foolish or biased, it is going to be challenged.

    This is not “two wrongs make a right”, because nothing wrong is being done. Some (and I might point out, not even all that many) white males are being presented as sexist. This is a perfectly realistic portrayal. The fact that you are making some kind of deal about it says a good deal more about you than about this story.

    Current score: 0
    • Anonamouse says:

      To Spartakos,

      I’m afraid you missed my point. I’m not denying that there are large numbers of white males who are sexist and racist, nor that my opinion shouldn’t be challenged if it truly is foolish or biased, and I did mention in my prior post that portraying a white male in a negative light isn’t necessarily racist or sexist.

      My argument is that sexism and racism is defined as “Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different (race or sex) based on such a belief.” It doesn’t define it as towards a particular race/sex, or coming from a particular race/sex, or taking a particular form.

      By the form it takes, I mean that discrimination could be overt (like physical assault), subtle (such as terrible service at a restaurant), or counter-intuitive so that certain things can’t be said without being stereotyped as condoning sexism or racism, such as here. The only reason I can discuss this is because I am anonymous.

      To illustrate what I mean, imagine the genders in the story were flipped, and the empress was the emperor, and the senators and generals were female. In this case, I would be applauded or at least accepted because people can easily recognize the sexism and racism in the story. Because I am trying to identify a less common (and therefor less recognizable) form of prejudice, people miss what I’m trying to say.

      I’m arguing that Senator Aldin is an incredibly unpleasant character. I’m not saying that he’s not impossible, but I find his overall scenario unlikely. Senator Varence is far more viable: he’s obviously sexist, but he’s smarter about it as I expect a senator would likely have to be (jokes aside). I have no problems accepting Senator Varence as an antagonist, but Senator Aldin seems more like a caricature created so readers can cheer as he suffers. Once again, nothing wrong with that if we focus on how sexist he is. But he isn’t just sexist: he’s also a white-collar male.

      I AM concerned about white males being stereotyped as sexist and racist and unable to defend themselves because people assume they are being sexist and racist if they try (such as in this case). That latter part is what I’m deeply concerned about. In the context of this story, creating caricatures can easily lead to demonizing a group. Naturally Alexandra doesn’t intend this, nor did my sociology professors when they taught about feminism, or the media when them produce movies or TV shows, but this is how movements and stereotypes start, and building up and supporting one group can easily be twisted by the rest of society into tearing down another.

      As for my personal character, I’d rather build everyone up and tear no-one down unless I absolutely have to. If they are sexist/racist then they can’t fit into society and won’t survive in the long run. All I have to do is support and cooperate with the people who are trying to build and cooperate and ignore and avoid those who aren’t, and the problem will solve itself. I’m not very religious, but “the meek shall inherit the earth” seems to fit.

      Current score: 0
      • moofable says:

        I would like you to please tell me where you got the idea that these men were white.

        If the genders were flipped Senator Aldin would be no less wrong and no less boorish, nor would I find their portrayal to be sexist (though they would be sexist for thinking a man cannot rule because he is a man).

        Current score: 0
        • Anonamouse says:

          Please focus on the sociology aspect of my discussion: how caricatures can become stereotypes, and how being stereotyped as sexist/racist may prevent a sex/race from defending their rights.
          You are right that we only know the genders, and we don’t know if they are white, or even human as Sandra pointed out below. Please assume the reference to race as a generalization of my sociology debate rather than a reference to the story.

          Current score: 0
          • moofable says:

            As I said, Senator Aldin was not stereotyped. Yes, they are sexist, but there are plenty of non-sexist men in the MU universe. In fact, most of them are.

            Being stereotyped as sexist/racist does not prevent a sex/race from defending their rights. People are always tenaciously defending their rights, even when the assault on those rights is a figment of their imagination. You’re doing it now, and nobody is stopping you.

            Also, as a heads up, if you behave this condescendingly to another commenter I will issue a warning and after three of them I will ban you.

            Current score: 0
            • Anonamouse says:

              I will leave this topic alone (as below), but I believe I need to apologize to you as well. I didn’t mean to sound condescending, but words like “boorish” make me think “university”, complete with all the particular shorthand and impersonal (not intended to be insulting, just short and fast) mindset.

              Current score: 0
            • Really? “Boorish” speaks to you of a university education and academic mindset? You’re a terrible elitist, Anonamouse, and I mean that with every emphasis possible on “terrible”. That is to say, you aren’t very good at it.

              Current score: 1
            • Anonamouse says:

              No, I just mean its a uncommonly old word I don’t hear used outside academia. Perhaps this is different elsewhere, but I don’t think this makes me an elitist. I really do try to be egalitarian, even if I sound very formal: reading people and portraying myself is very hard, and acting clinical and formal is easier for me to understand.

              I am disappointed in this community though. Nowhere have I tried to offend people beyond saying things they really don’t want to hear, even if I clearly haven’t succeeded. It’s entirely possible that I am completely wrong: such is life, although I’m sure people are missing or confusing my points, and being distracted from the key issues.

              But through this discussion I’ve tried to treat my opposition as people and this argument as a discussion: I’ve tried to: never attack them personally, been polite about their works even if I disagree, apologized if I upset them, and finally withdrew from that topic when it was clear it was too hot to discuss productively.

              In contrast, the author and commentators have attacked my posts and my character, and been very authoritative and condescending despite their expectations of me. Yes I may be wrong, but I have a right to be. Granted, this is the internet, but I thought this community was more.

              Current score: 0
            • Excuse me, but you are being at the very least disingenuous and at worst hypocritical. You speak to me about your intent, you say, “Nowhere have I tried to offend.” But you would lecture me… you would try to lead a discussion… on the subject of a damaging stereotype you believe I’m promulgating.

              And what do you say? You say this:

              Naturally Alexandra doesn’t intend this, nor did my sociology professors when they taught about feminism, or the media when them produce movies or TV shows, but this is how movements and stereotypes start, and building up and supporting one group can easily be twisted by the rest of society into tearing down another.

              So you want to be judged solely for your good intentions and not for the impact of your words and actions, harmful or otherwise, but you want to lead a discussion about the impact of my words and actions regardless of my intent. Please note that I did not merely call you a disingenuous hypocrite, I have now illustrated the disingenuous hypocrisy, so let’s hear no talk of ad hominem attacks, please.

              You’ve treated it as a discussion to be had on your own terms or not at all. You have treated the people with whom you correspond as people worthy of participating only if they meet certain educational prerequisites.

              You say again and again that you’re not making judgments and act like you are being the one impartial person who is arguing in good faith but you say things like “I am disappointed in this community” and–as mentioned above–offer your hypocritical defense of your intent.

              Anonamouse, I will tell you straight up: I do not care a whit for your intentions. Sociological discussions should be focused on impact, on effect, not on intentions. I have tried to point out to you how your actions–which you see no doubt as being individual and occurring in a vacuum–are part of a larger fabric of which you seem to be unaware.

              It is you who chooses to personalize this characterization, just as you chose to personalize the portrayal of a single character as being a statement on the male character overall.

              Anonamouse, you have said many times that you’re dropping this, and yet you continue to hang around and respond. If I were the moderator of this comment section, I would be enforcing your own decree.

              But I’m not, so I will say this and only this to you: this community most certainly is more. It’s more than what you’re trying to pull here. It’s more than the game of academic discourse you’ve learned to use to your advantage. It’s more than the petty hurt that you’ve nursed after being made to feel guilty in lectures on sexism.

              You know, guilt is not actually the point of those lessons, Anonamouse. Guilt does not impel one to action. It’s about responsibility… learning to recognize one’s privilege and take responsibility for it. You can try to be egalitarian but as long as you ignore the dynamics of privilege you will never succeed.

              As a final piece of advice, Anonamouse, and I mean this as a parting piece of advice with an emphasis on parting: work to divest yourself of the idea that you are being exceedingly formal and precise and clinical compared to everyone else.

              It’s an easy mistake to make. You’re in your head so you always know exactly what you mean, and you’re not in anybody else’s head so you have to rely on their words. But the fact is that while you’re adopting what we might call a formal style, it’s just that… a style. You have not actually taken any pains to strictly lay out any points according to any kind of formal logic. You’re just as rambling and full of pseudo-intellectual puffery as I am.

              Current score: 2
          • Maaaaaaaaan, you remind me so much of me when I took my first sociology class. I was *horrified* at how ignorant my professor was about sexism and racism. Just *horrified*.

            Current score: 0
      • You know, your notion about what the point of this story and my purpose in telling it in this way reveals quite a lot about you, which this comment confirms. But I’m going to ignore that and focus on the idea that Senator Aldin could not exist as written. Why not? Well, because he couldn’t get away with being so stupidly and obnoxiously sexist, right? A person who treats powerful women the way he does would either learn quickly when faced with someone with real power, or face serious consequences.

        And what do you see in this story? The first time he’s called before the empress, he gets a very quick lesson. Exactly what you should expect to happen.

        Unless your point is that no one would ever get to the point of needing that lesson, nobody would lack the rational self-interest (and the reasoning faculties to be rational about their self interest) and rise to that office, no matter how helped along they were by family ties or tradition or money or influence or anything else. In which case I invite you to imagine any of a number of recent or historical congressional scandals as if they were a story in a book.

        I mean, would you credit that crazy story about Anthony Weiner sending pictures of his genitals to a woman he met on Twitter? Clearly the author was asleep at the wheel on that one!

        I think in this case your doubt arises chiefly from the fact that you want Aldin to be a feminist strawman, which makes this a case of a double strawman or maybe a reverse strawman. In point of fact–and as other commenters have pointed out–I based this story on real accounts of the sorts of obstacles women face when they rise to power. Apart from the well-known political examples, there is a trans woman who worked as a director both as a man and a woman, and she used the experience of how differently people (people who were subordinate to her, people she could fire) responded to her during her career as a man versus the contempt she got when she said and did the same things while presenting as herself, post-transition.

        Specifically, she found that she’d get ignored or eyes rolled when she told the crew to do something (the director’s job) but if she said, “Can you show me what it would look like if we had more lights over here?” she got cooperation.

        Vera isn’t a director, of course, she’s an empress and if you’ve followed her arc closely (it’s a background thing, so I’ll forgive you if you haven’t noticed) she’s edging towards the time when her husband will be gone and she’ll be sole ruler, so she has to get the respect of the military men and the senate now, hence this story where she takes her first meeting with these committee members. The power struggle you’re witnessing is drawn from real life examples. The point is not “SEXISM IS BAD” or “MEN ARE BAD”, the point is. I won’t spell out the point, but suffice it to say that anti “-ism” activism isn’t actually about hurting the feelings of a white man or even redressing the hurt feelings of other people.

        It’s not about feelings at all, it’s about actions and consequences, and the actions of men like Varence and Aldin do have consequences.

        Anyway, you yourself undermine the idea that this story could demonize men through the example of Aldin when you point out that Varence is cut from different cloth. And the general and the other senator are both different still, by degrees. The general is presented with a viewpoint on military strategy that may be flawed (if you favor the other viewpoint) but he is basically all business. Simons is more openly respectful.

        So in a story with four men, we have one Aldin, one Varence, one Pembroke, and one Simons. I’ve laid out them like that in a spectrum where if we imagine that I put them in purely as exemplars of levels of male sexism, we have worst to best. And you think the main impact of this story regarding any message about men is wrapped up in Aldin?

        That’s an extraordinary proposition and if you want to pursue this line further I suggest you be prepared to mount a serious defense. Why is Aldin saying so much about men and Simons isn’t?

        Or in the larger story, why isn’t Ian? Or Lee Jenkins? Why isn’t Dan Harris?

        What is it about Aldin that makes him the final word about men?

        (Also, if you’re interested in finding messages in my stories, start by dropping the protagonist/antagonist model. It’s going to trip you up more often than it helps you.)

        Current score: 0
        • Anonamouse says:

          I am not attacking you or this story, or even any of the characters or their purposes. I’m looking at Aldin as an example as a growing stereotype that’s beginning to float around society: how it develops remains to be determined. It could develop into a caution about racism and sexism, or it could develop into something unpleasant depending on how society manages it.
          You clearly have more available information on this topic, so I will defer to your knowledge.
          I would appreciate it however if you would accept that I’m not attacking you or your works. Most thought occurs subconsciously, using material shared by society. I believe this meme must be discussed: this is what I’m trying to address. I would like to apologize to anyone I may have upset, but I do believe this is a developing concern.
          Since additional words to try and convince everyone of my intentions would be meaningless, especially on the internet, and out of respect for the author, I will leave the rest of this topic to others.

          Current score: 0
          • Please note that nowhere did I suggest you were attacking me or the story. I did you the courtesy of reading what you wrote and framing a response that addressed what you said at some length. I am quite happy to hear you are leaving this alone, though, because while you may believe that you are a lone voice addressing a huge society-wide problem, you’re actually pretty much just reinforcing and restating the status quo. Nothing you say here is really all that interesting or new.

            If you would credit the women you say promulgating this “stereotype” with knowing their own experiences, you would recognize it’s not a caricature. The reason Aldins crop up in fiction is because people deal with Aldins in real life.

            And then men come along and say, “That’s ridiculous.” or “You’re exaggerating.” or “You must be oversensitive to take it that way.” or “That’s a caricature.” or “You’re demonizing men.”

            If you really want to further this kind of discourse, go look up the words “derailing” and “gaslighting” as they apply to feminism and to sociological discussions.

            Current score: 0
      • erianaiel says:

        This story describes in many ways how Hillary Clinton was treated before she had even done something to draw the ire of the conservatives, just for the fact that she was the first lady and dared to try for a more active role instead of staying home and baking cookies.
        And how Michelle Obama is regularly treated in certain branches of media.

        It is not even a matter of conscious sexism, but of the unchallenged presumption that she was interfering in things that were the provence of men (things like the army and budgets). The actual sexism is in the first part, where the senator(s) object to having their budget proposal questioned by a woman. It is the same subconscious sexism that makes a car or computer salesman turn to my husband and more or less ignoring me when we go to a shop together.
        The rest of the discussion was about the senator seeing the Empress as a trophy wife and not as a very real political power who literally could order him executed on a whim (or for insulting the sovereign power of the empire), and being to0 stubborn and hidebound to step down from his presumed superiority (as both male and senator) when being put in his place with increasing force.
        I don’t know how realistic this is, not knowing all that many senators (neither real nor MUniversary). I do know plenty of men who can’t quite seem to grasp that it is no longer 1850 and that women can be equally (or better) trained or skilled compared to them. Not sure if a politician with that kind of attitude survives long (as a politician that is).

        Current score: 0
  13. Sandra says:

    To Anonymous:

    I heartily recommend on checking up on the life of Queen Elizabeth. She was a queen regnant (ie. queen in her own right, not because she married the right bloke) and yet she had to fight her own advisors for most of the military issues. Now, obviously Elizabethan England was not a beacon of feminist enlightenment, but the issue still occurs. Some of the commentary on Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid was “well, derp derp, how could a woman be the President, she’d be the leader of the armed forces also then, and poor widdle ladybrains can’t understand complex stuff like that.”

    Also…. where did AE write that any of the senators were white? No description beyond the names was provided. In fact, how are we even sure they are all human, beyond the basic assumption of Magisteria, human empire = all employees must be human?

    Current score: 1
  14. Ermarian says:

    do you need to hold up to hold up an important military appropriation

    Senator Aldin sounds kind of nervous with that stutter… 🙂

    “And if an enemy attacks us here all the same?”

    “We’ll attack them first. Elsewhere.”

    Preemptive Strike! War on Terrah! =D

    Current score: 0
  15. Month says:

    So… Boys will be boys, no matter how old?

    Current score: 0
  16. Dragonus45 says:

    I would just like to weigh in with my two coppers, well i do understand where you are coming from Mr. Anon. I understand it rather well as a rather clear personal example of the damage that the general and growing “acceptable target” factor that white christian males have gained, but i think you have picked totally the wrong time/place/reason/position/city/country/time zone to fight here.(Select any and all that may apply) Well i disagree with Mrs AE on perhaps many things (or perhaps not all that much it doesn’t stop me from being an avid fan of her writing)(also i think im the only reader alive who actually understood the delvers plight) the one thing you cant accuse her of with much conviction i spreading the stereotype of the evil penis holder.
    All of her characters and fleshed out rather well, and the closest you get to strawman is one shot people who show up and go in only one or perhaps two stories.

    What i will say tho is that some of the comments i’ve seen around here do disturb me, i couldn’t get 5 down without hearing talk of ignorant men or a few others that seem to equate The senators bad attitude to his penis. The fact is the senator is an unpleasant person has nothing to do with his dick, and everything to do with him being one.

    Current score: 0
    • This will never be the place to argue that white Christian males are an imperiled subset of the species, just so you know.

      How many people running for president at the moment are anything else? How many presidents have been anything else? How many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. are anything else?

      You are looking at a phenomenon where for the first time in history it is possible to push back at all against the massive amounts of privilege, power, social and just plain regular capital, that the white male Christian hegemony wields in the United States. The fact that this push back–which is often largely impotent and consisting more of words and awareness-raising than actions–registers to you as damage speaks to just how entrenched that privilege is.

      They (or you) are no more an “acceptable target” than anybody else is, and probably less. It’s just a matter of the shock of finding oneself subject to scrutiny and criticism that was once reserved for the Other and the Lesser.

      The senator is an ignorant man. The comment that so offends you does nothing but identify those two characteristics to you. The commenter didn’t say that all men are ignorant or all men should be made to go stand in corners. It’s descriptive, pure and simple.

      The reason it stands out to you, the reason that you think it must be a blanket statement despite no blanket modifiers, is that you are used to seeing men as the unmarked (and thus unremarkable) default state of human society. That is, in most contexts, it doesn’t need to be pointed out that a person is a man, because women are viewed as the exception. If somebody points out that a senator is a woman… well, that’s a specific thing worth noting, it’s something that can be remarked on. If somebody points out that a senator is a man, the mind goes, “WELL DUH” and then assumes that there must be a reason for pointing it out, and thus an agenda, because why else mention the obvious?

      It’s like if somebody said, “There’s this straight guy I know…” it seems natural to assume the speaker is saying something about straight guys in general, because why else mention it? Except if they’d said “there’s this gay guy I know”, the same leap is not made, because we expect gayness to be explicitly marked.

      Marked and unmarked states. Look them up. Realize how they apply to men (and whites and Christians, in the U.S.) as an “assumed default”. You will find far fewer attacks on your person to defend yourself against once you understand what’s at work here, I promise you.

      Current score: 1
      • Dragonus45 says:

        At what point did i ever say that white christian males are an imperiled subset of the species. What i said was that there is a growing feel that i am an acceptable target. I will say that the happenings i would reference from personal experience and the attitude seemed most common in people my own age our younger, or in a select few authority figures i have found myself under. So perhaps its a fluke of my upbringing and positioning.

        What bothers me here is the moment i point out that it is possible to have a bias against them people jump and say things implying I’m trying to say something much larger scope then i am. The plain fact is that both i and my brother have had times where the fact we were white and male has been used against us. I have read and talked to about people who have had similar situations. It may not be the norm but it does happen and i hate when people try and say that we have never felt the pain of discrimination, abuse, or being held to cultural double standards just because were part of of some social class that i never got invited too.

        Also the specific comments I’m reading right now are blanket statements they seem to clearly indicate an intent and implication about the spoken of gender as a whole, if you don’t see them well ok then its either a you see it or you don’t and its kinda the thing that both sides of the argument could look at the other one say that seeing or not seeing it the point and then its gets to an orly fight. Also I honestly have no idea if it would be considered impolite to quote them and point out what is is with specifics since they are right there anyways and it isn’t a default option on here here to quote like on a forum. Etiquette and people skills are not my forte especially on the internet.

        Another thing, i don’t get the marked states thing, I’ve read about it before and i know they exist, I’m familiar with the idea and i know that they are a real thing but its never seemed representative of my thinking. I have rather strange personal way of thinking that often holds all genders to equal standards, so i never really think to note it as special when a man is a nurse or a whatever or a woman is a doctor or a whoever. That might come from being raised by my aunt and my mother who were both very very strong role models, one of whom worked her way up to a fairly high corporate position from a secretarial job with no degree and nothing but drive and talent. I also totally lacked a father figure till well past puberty.It might be that I’m not exactly straight. It might be that i grew up reading instead of talking to people or socializing till well into high school, and the strong women that i see a lot if fiction had an effect, might be that I’m mental. So i don’t think I’m seeing ghosts from my end.

        And if i could say one thing, i resent the implication that I’m ignorant, I have an opinion, it may not be one you agree with but it most certainly not poorly informed. As a large fan of your writing I’m trying to be even more polite that i usually would be here i would like at least some of the same curtsey.

        Current score: 0
        • I’m not having a conversation with you about manners, I’m having a conversation about privilege and the lengths we go to protect it. I will start screaming profanity at you if you make one more post about being an “acceptable target”. You are the most protected and most privileged demographic in the western world. You’re talking about being “singled out” in ways that likely did little more than hurt your feelings as an individual, which is not in fact a form of oppression. So you’re an acceptable target for people who what… want to talk about privilege and oppression? And they’re acceptable targets for oppression. You still win.

          You want to talk about this stuff and not be treated like an ignorant asshole, you need to go out and educate yourself first. And no, I’m not going to give you any pointers. I gave you pointers and I got a load of butthurt from you.

          Current score: 0
          • Dragonus45 says:

            Honestly you have not lived my life, not once has a single responder here even asked about what i mean when i say i have been discriminated against. You all assume i mean hurt feelings. When i am told by a guidance councilor that i cant be in an abusive relationship because i am a man that is discrimination. When i am told that i don’t meet the standards of some bodybuilding airbrushed manhunk on the cover of a magazine (or did you think that men cant have body issues) and that that is why i will never have a successful relationship by my old school cheer leading coach that is discrimination, and its even double when my complaint to the principle is shot down on account of “Im a man i should tough it out”. When i am told that defending my girlfriend from another woman with a curling iron is not ok because i am a man and she is a woman that is discrimination. How is that talking about my privilege as a white male. The fact im told that that isn’t discrimination because im in a “privileged class” makes me feel like an acceptable target for said discrimination.

            Current score: 0
            • The first thing you need to realize is that the stuff you’re talking about that affects you as a man is just a bank shot of patriarchy. The reason so many people do not believe you can be abused in a relationship is because of your enshrined position of power.

              That doesn’t make it any better for you, but if you’re interested in fighting the power you need to recognize where the power is. The problem isn’t that society has made men acceptable targets. The problem is that society won’t recognize men as vulnerable, won’t see you as a target.

              Being told you will never have a successful relationship, that’s not actually discrimination. I’m not saying it’s good, but your coach isn’t standing there heading people off from dating you. Not every bad thing is discrimination. And again, the masculine image ideals you’re held up to are part of patriarchy, the image of strength and power.

              And also… not nearly as strong or as binding as the “image prison” society has for women. Stop! I’m not denying that you’re affected by image issues in the media. But if we’re talking about who’s an “acceptable target”, if you’re getting shit on half as much, you shouldn’t be complaining about yourself being targetted. You’re getting splashed incidentally. The target is still women.

              Let’s talk about who’s an “acceptable target” in a broader sense.

              Right now in the United States, there are more Black people in prison than there were enslaved at the time of the civil war. They make up the majority of prison population despite being about 12% of the population and despite the fact that we, white people… we actually commit drug crimes (the most common cause of incarceration) at a higher rate. I mean if we were doing it evenly we should be the majority in prison. But we do it more often and get sent to jail yet.

              Some of this is coded into law, in things like the long-standing disparity between sentences for powder cocaine (more often a white person’s drug) and crack cocaine… same drug, same actual dangers, but the one more associated with (pardon the phrase) “ghetto” life has a harsher penalty.

              And then there’s the discretion that’s exercised by cops, prosecutors, and judges… they have the power to pursue or not pursue crimes, to grant lesser or greater sentences, and no, they’re not all overtly blatantly racist fucks who are like “WHITE PEOPLE RULE, NO JAIL TIME FOR YOU!” Mostly they make determination based on internal barometers of who seems like “a good kid” and who looks like “a hardened criminal”.

              And these barometers are racist. I mean, they’d have to be, when white people commit more drug crimes but we’re the ones who don’t look like druggy criminals.

              Do you know any white kids caught with or suspected of smoking pot who got let off with a warning, or a slap on the wrist? Undercover cops chased a Black kid who was unarmed into his house and shot him dead in front of his kid brother over a baggy of weed. Because he wasn’t a dumb kid making a mistake like most white 18 year olds with a baggy full of pot, he was a criminal.

              There’s a Black trans woman facing murder charges right now because she was attacked by white supremacists and she fought for her life to defend herself.

              These aren’t isolated incidents, they are emblematic of endemic and entrenched attitudes.

              Even if some Black guy jumps you for being white… law’s on your side. If you and a dozen of your best friends jumped him for fun and tried to beat him to death… well, it might not even be considered attempted murder. You might get off with less than a year of jail time. Yes, this also happened in the last year.

              I’m not going to lay down the links to these because I want you to go look for them. You’ll learn more that way, because one of the things you’ll learn is how many cases like this there are. Unarmed Black kid suspected of truancy shot dead. Black tweenager assaulted by unidentified, un-uniformed cops in her front yard because they decided she was a prostitute. Her and her father (who were fighting off unknown men who jumped out of a car and attacked her) charged with assaulting an officer.

              There’s a Margaret Atwood quote:

              “Why are you afraid of women?” I asked a group of men.
              “We’re afraid they’ll laugh at us,” replied the men.
              “Why are you afraid of men?” I asked a group of women
              “We’re afraid they’ll kill us,” replied the woman. –

              That’s sexism. You feel you’re an acceptable target because sometimes the husband on TV is kind of doofy, maybe. Women are targets of violence, sexualized and lethal violence. Oh, you feel like you can’t defend someone against violence from a woman. That is nothing on the scale of what women go through when it comes to the need to defend ourselves against men.

              Racism? There’s another quote I can’t find at the moment, but it has to do with white people hate being pulled over by the cops because they might get a ticket, POC hate it because they might die. There is no right move, no safe behavior, for them when confronted with cops. Go looking at cases of police violence. People get shot complying, people get shot not complying. Look at all the police shootings that happen when the unarmed victim reached for their identification because they were ordered to produce it.

              So let’s bring this back. What are you an acceptable target for? You aren’t an acceptable target for the cops. If they just drew their gun and shot you, there would be hell to pay. They couldn’t drag you off to jail for the hell of it, because again there would be hell to pay. The same impulse that made Mr. Anonamouse up thread cry out against the way Senator Aldin was treated and the same impulse that prompts you to throw out how damaging it is to be a white Christian male would make the whole country that identifies with you rise up in mutual outrage at the mingled anger and fear that it could happen to them.

              You aren’t kept out of universities because of your skin color (and make sure you know how affirmative action works before you claim otherwise), you aren’t being steered out of good neighborhoods, you aren’t having loan your credit merits denied to you so that you can be steered into a more profitable subprime loan (and then having the housing bubble blamed on you), you aren’t being lynched, you aren’t being raped, you aren’t having your natural hair texture pegged as “unprofessional” and forced to chemically alter it… you aren’t being lynched or raped, because those both bear repeating.

              Compared to that? Yes, you’re talking about your hurt feelings. I mean, what happened to you because you were told you can’t defend your girlfriend? What were the actual consequences to your day to day life? Were you shot dead? Were you deprived of due process?

              This is why I’m treating you like an ignorant asshole. I will say again: you are the most privileged and protected demographic in the United States. This does not mean you don’t have problems. This does not mean that society doesn’t have any traps or tricks set aside to keep you in line. This does not mean that life is all beer and skittles.

              But if you’re an acceptable target, what am I? What are people of color? What is everyone who isn’t a white Christian male? Do you imagine we’re protected? Do you imagine we don’t get the same shit you do and then some?

              Seriously, explain this to me.

              Current score: 0
            • Dragonus45 says:

              Im not trying to have a who has the worse troubles fight, im trying to get people to acknowledge that we all have them.

              And that the patriarchy hurts men as well argument is one that rubs me a bit raw. I agree that it does, i will never say that it doesn’t. It is not the only problem, however but I’m not touching that one since it would start an even bigger flame war. The thing i when i say acceptable target i mean that bringing up that white men get stereotyped for being white men gets me yelled at. People start putting words in my mouth, and while it hasn’t happened here the last time i mentioned something in the realm of the subject i got called a misogynist. The fact i think men and women have a lot of the same problems, if on different scalses, means im a misogynist to some people.

              Now may be that we were thinking two definitions here for “acceptable target”, but i see not being seen as being able to even be a target as being an acceptable target. When i use the phrase i mean that if someone were to make sweeping generalizations of my gender and race many people would not bother to be offended. Or would get angry if someone were, because we are seen in a position of power, its not a bad thing its just “taking them down a peg”. I see that attitude as a problem.

              The consequences for the girl with the curling iron. I was suspended from school for week for “attacking” said girl and almost expelled. The girl got three days of in school detention. I can name three other similar instances i know of but didn’t happen to me.

              Also that why are you afraid of men/women quote rings a bit hollow to someone who has had an abusive girlfriend. Just saying. I know that isn’t considered the norm but it happens for more often than people like to admit. Honestly this whole conversation has left me frazzled and i cant help but feel like somewhere in all of this i said something whole and truly horrifying and offensive while not realizing it so I’m going to go to class then come back latter.

              Current score: 0
            • Well, people are pointing out to you what you said that was problematic, so if you’re not seeing it that seems to me to be a willful problem. But I’m going to my very very best to explain the issue, and so I’d appreciate it if you’d read this whole thing very carefully. Forget about what rubs you which way. Forget about how many times you feel your identity as a white Christian male has been assaulted. If you want to know why people are reacting to you the way they are, read this post carefully.

              I’m going to start by highlighting something you said:

              When i use the phrase i mean that if someone were to make sweeping generalizations of my gender and race many people would not bother to be offended. Or would get angry if someone were, because we are seen in a position of power, its not a bad thing its just “taking them down a peg”. I see that attitude as a problem.

              I keep coming back to hurt feelings, and this is why I keep coming back to it. When you say things like this, you’re framing offense as… well, offense in the sense of indignation, and you’re talking about things in terms of ego and purely ornamental social stature (taking someone down a peg).

              I’d like to invite you to consider where we get the word “offense” and “offended” from… it’s offense, as in what people who are transgressing (as in a criminal offender) or attacking (as in the offensive strike force) do.

              When Anonamouse perceived Aldin as a caricature of a sexist man, he was offended in the sense of taking exception to it. But look at the laundry list of things I outlined in the post you just replied to.

              Those things are offenses in a different sense of the word, aren’t they? They are attacks. They are assaults on people and their rights to do things like… live. It’s not about people being taken down a peg, it’s about people being taken down, or being kept down.

              This is not an “everybody has problems” situation, because the problems you’re talking about having aren’t nearly the same as the problems that other people have. Imagine your house burned down and somebody’s standing next to you and they just dropped their ice cream cone and they’re like, “Woah, I totally feel your pain.” and they gesture to the ruins of their ice cream cone and then to the ruins of your house, your life… your property and all your mementos, everything of physical meaning and value you’d accumulated in your life.

              Would you welcome their solidarity? Or would you suspect that they’re either a smart-aleck of some kind or a person with no tact or sense of scale?

              But you’re talking about blanket statements being made about groups. Maybe you don’t see why a blanket statement about white people is a lost ice cream cone and a similar statement about anohter group isn’t. Okay, let’s talk about that kind of thing. Stereotypes. Jokes. What have you.

              Racist jokes about Black people, sexist jokes about rape… these things actually contribute to the environment in which assaults against people occur. I mean, physical assaults. There are studies on this, but you can figure it out using a little common sense.

              Like this scenario:

              Say 1 guy in 10 is an honest to goodness rapist. (Depressingly, the figure is closer to 1 in 8 or 1 in 6.) You can’t tell by looking. Any time you’re in a room full of people, you’re in a room with at least one rapist. Now, they might think of themselves that way. They might answer “no” to a question about raping a girl, but if you change the wording to “force her to have sex” they’ll say “yes”, because society teaches us that rape is something that only the human equivalent of a movie monster would do but sex by any means is awesome.

              So, anyway. There’s an invisible rapist around you at all times. Somebody makes a joke about rape. Or even just throws the word around, like “I raped that test!” or “That test raped me!” And of the 10 people, seven of them laugh because it’s funny, two of them say nothing, and one of them laughs knowingly, because, oh man, rape. And he goes home thinking that the whole world thinks as little of the topic as he does. The participation and inaction of the people who think rape is funny reinforces the rapist.

              And the same is true about all the “I’m not a racist, but have you heard this racist joke?” jokes. You got a bunch of people who for real don’t believe that they are racist but they laugh or say nothing, and a few people who are like, “Yeah, that’s right.”, and you really can’t tell them apart.

              Okay, now somebody makes a joke about men. Or about white people.

              What does that do?

              It makes you feel bad.

              There is no society-wide oppression targeting you. There is no endemic, systemic violence targeting you. The joke has no effect beyond making you feel bad.

              Does that make it okay?

              I am not saying that.

              But making blanket statements and jokes about men or white people or Christians is not in the same level or arena as statements and jokes about actual marginalized groups.

              And it is horrible and offensive to complain as if it is. It is horrible and offensive to pretend that people who are marginalized enjoy a protection you don’t.

              Listen, this perception you have that people can’t make statements about other groups without getting jumped on but they can about your group? It’s bullshit. Okay? I know why you feel that way. It’s a selective perception that we all have. Look at what is happening here… not one but two people are talking about how horrible it is that white guys are targeted for discrimination! What do you call that? Oh, you don’t call that anything. You’re not counting it, because your brain codes it as the exception to the rule.

              Look, go find anywhere on the internet where people are objecting to stereotypes and if you look with open and unbiased eyes you will see that no matter the group there are people who are defending the stereotype and people attacking it. “Oh, lighten up!”
              “Oh, my gay friend says this is okay.”
              “Oh, you’re just looking for reasons to be offended.”

              And the ever popular variations on the theme you’re espousing here, which is that straight/white/Christian/cis/heteronormative/etc. guys are the real targets.

              And you, you are participating in that. You’re furthering it. Stop! Not talking about your intentions. Talking about your actions. The wonderful and horrible thing about the status quo is that people don’t have to be trying to reinforce it to reinforce it. Imagine how tired we’d all be if we did.

              Anyway, I am for serious not interested in hearing you go on about this any more. You either get this or you don’t: white Christian guys are not an acceptable target in the U.S. in any meaningful sense and it is offensive to suggest so. I mean offensive in the sense of an attack, because when you do this, you force the discourse of discrimination, stereotypes, oppression, and privilege to acknowledge your feelings on the same level as things like DEATH, and this… well, it grinds things down.

              To go back to the ice cream cone example: imagine if anytime, anywhere somebody who’d lost a home tried to talk about it, whether just to vent or share their experience, or to try to salvage the situation and fix things somehow, a guy who’d lost his ice cream popped up and wanted everyone to stop and acknowledge that losing ice cream sucks, too… and if they didn’t want to, he’d start lecturing about how hurtful it is to act like ice cream isn’t important.

              Just imagine that world.

              Imagine how much worse it would be for the people trying to do something about their lost houses.

              This is actually the world we live in, and this is why what you’re saying and doing is so horrifying. The sort of discourse you’ve brought here is the same discourse that derails meaningful conversations about oppression all the freaking time.

              And if it were just you as a lone voice in the wilderness doing it, that would be fine. You’d still be kind of an ass but you wouldn’t be hurting anything. But what you don’t seem to realize is that you’re acting out a role that other people are also doing all the dang time. You can’t discuss race in an open forum without someone popping up to do what you’re doing here. It’s like a built in antibody to the system!

              Look at this… race wasn’t even a topic of the story, but two people both felt the need to talk about how not just men but white men are targets. Just stop and marvel at that. Think about the terrible implications of that. Think about how pernicious and pervasive this system that we–you and I and everyone else–has to be for that to happen.

              Seriously, though, I have run out my patience with you and this topic and this conversation. If you have any further thoughts on the subject that you feel must absolutely be shared with the world, here is a list of free blogging platforms where you can go register your own site and have your own blog and hold forth at your own leisure and I won’t have to read it:

              http://www.blogger.com/
              http://www.wordpress.com/
              http://www.dreamwidth.org/
              http://www.livejournal.com/
              http://www.tumblr.com/

              And you know what the final nail in this sad coffin is? You’re already adding the reception you got here to the list of times you were treated as an acceptable target for discrimination. Yes, one time you expressed your opinion on a blog and the blog’s owner disagreed with you and spent a couple of hours talking about it with you back and forth and then asked you to take your opinions elsewhere.

              OMGDISCRIMINATION!

              Yes, I’m sorry to say, but you are an acceptable target for disagreement and being asked to leave when you’ve worn out a topic.

              Current score: 0
            • Dragonus45 says:

              There is a certain level of willful sexism and hypocrisy i that a person cant really argue against. Somehow it is offensive to say that my problem are just as bad as yours and i guess ill never understand that.

              Current score: 0
            • Imagine I had a gun pointed at your head and I told you that you can die, or you can hear me tell you that as a man you can’t experience sexism in the way that a woman can. One or the other, and it’s your choice.

              Which would you choose? Which outcome would be worse, death or the bad feeling of being told you can’t experience sexism?

              If you can answer that question, then yes, you can understand how the problems that afflict you as a white guy aren’t as bad as the problems that marginalized people live with.

              Seriously, answer me this question or quit commenting: how is being told that you can’t experience discrimination a problem on the same level as the problems I outlined above?

              Current score: 0
            • moofable says:

              You are somebody with a few scratches telling somebody missing an arm that you have been wounded and because of that your problems are just as bad as theirs.

              Current score: 0
            • Dragonus45 says:

              Because it is not true. I HAVE experienced sexism, and to feel that then turn around and be told that i cant, that im a liar, that i am some kind of crook stealing attention from “real” issues, that im some kind of attention grabbing liar. That i face every day knowing that almost no one cares about what my problems are because its not socially acceptable to admit that it can be true that men are equally vulnerable. You are the one propping that up not the male oligarchy. THAT is why it bothers me so much.

              Want more examples? ok then. Quick question, have you ever had a significant other that you found out was cheating on her other boyfriend with you. and had to fight off allegations you tried to rape her so her bf wouldn’t leave her. Ohhh another one, just hearing that story is your first thought that i must have and that its just my excuse. Because im a man does that mean i don’t get the benefit of the doubt. Innocent until proven guilty. Do you honestly believe the blown up statistics that say 1 in 8 men is a rapist. Do you honestly believe that getting drunk or high at a party and making a mistake means the other person is a rapist, like that most recent cdc survey did. THAT is my problem. THAT is acceptable target. Every time i try to go to a club or a bar or even get on a subway i have to wonder if im some how triggering a creepy vibe cus i shaved my beard crooked. God forbid i talk to a stranger at a bus stop i might get maced for sexual assault. And even if i get into a relationship my last two have left me so paranoid and strung out i had to break up with a girl out of fear in a week. But im a man so it doestn count. My issues don’t matter cus im a member of a traditionally powerful group. I must be some kind of strange anomaly its not like men also suffer from from abusive relationships. Studies like this must be some kind of total fluke. THAT is why it hurts so bad to be told my problems arent real problems. And to make it worse the group that so often tells me so is the one group i would most expect to understand this kind of thing.

              Great way to sum it up, being told my issues do not exist is like being told i don’t exist.

              http://domesticviolenceworkplace.blogspot.com/2011/04/two-new-studies-find-men-suffer.html

              Current score: 0
            • moofable says:

              Okay, I need you to please take a few deep breaths.

              Nobody is calling you a liar. Men are vulnerable to being mistreated, and do suffer from abusive relationships. The bit that is causing a fuss is the “equal” part.

              Current score: 0
            • tomclark says:

              Gotta agree with Dragonus here. I’m sure the Duke Lacrosse team would be quite fascinated to hear these theories about their privileged status when it comes to questions of violent crimes and sexual abuse!

              As I’ve been reading all this, AE, your arguments keep reminding me of the nonsense we’ve been hearing lately from the entertainment industry about copyright, piracy and all the rest: it all makes perfect sense if you’re viewing society through the lens of the way things were 40 years ago. But those of us living in the modern world, who grew up in it and are comfortable here, tend to look at it and say “is that person nuts or just stupid?”

              No, actually. Not nuts. Not stupid. Just stuck several decades in the past for some bizarre reason, refusing to acknowledge that our society has been growing and progressing since then.

              Current score: 0
            • Grace says:

              Dragonus45:
              “Do you honestly believe the blown up statistics that say 1 in 8 men is a rapist. Do you honestly believe that getting drunk or high at a party and making a mistake means the other person is a rapist, like that most recent cdc survey did.”

              Yes, because I’ve seen the methodology on the former, and on the latter I think that an organization staffed by epidemiologists and statisticians is more likely to arrive at the correct answer than a random person on the Internet who is consulting his own brief life experience by checking with his gut.

              If you want to challenge studies like those, you need to challenge the details of the studies themselves or cite studies which say differently and then be able to discuss those studies.

              Current score: 0
            • tomclark, you think a sociological discussion of racism and sexism and privilege is like SOPA? Okay. Nice to know it.

              tomclark, today or decades ago, being privileged means that you will always be pretty comfortable with the way things are. People who point out privilege will always seem out of step because privilege works mostly by being invisible. Cops never say, “Well, you seem pretty white, so I’ll just give you a warning.” Educate yourself about the subject before you call people nuts or stupid.

              You don’t understand what privilege is if you think an example of somebody who had a rough time despite possessing it disproves it. The fact that you display ignorance of that is why I don’t mind that you called me stupid. I mean, you prefaced it by displaying a total lack of understanding of the subject. It’s like saying, “Well, obviously electricity works by little gremlins jumping up and down inside the wires, but I think you’re pretty stupid for being afraid to touch a live wire.”

              It’s impossible to be insulted by the opinion of someone who jumps into a conversation about a topic he knows nothing about.

              Privilege did protect the lacrosse team. Black men accused of rape often end up in prison even when eyewitnesses and DNA evidence point in other directions. Privilege can’t stop someone from accusing you but if they hadn’t been “such nice boys” there would not have been the level of scrutiny applied to the charges that there was. Rape charges are notoriously hard to actually bring off successfully because of the way that society protects male privilege, but when it crosses racial privilege lines the dynamic sometimes flips to the point that the system doesn’t even care which dark-skinned man gets punished, as long as someone pays for violating the holy white woman.

              Dragonus45, you keep dodging the question. Whether you think it’s true or not, being told something that’s not true is not the same as being raped, killed, or imprisoned, is it? No. It isn’t. Nobody has said you don’t have problems. What you’re being told and refusing to accept is that not all problems are equally bad. I asked you point blank whether you’d think it was worse to be killed or to hear something you don’t want to. You don’t have an answer. You want to insist that they’re the same.

              Well, I’m sorry to say that they’re not, and the more that you insist that the problem of women being afraid you might rape them is exactly equally as bad a problem as being an actual target of rape, the worse you’re going to look.

              You have already been invited to go post your comments elsewhere and you’ve not only declined it, you have now come right out and said that your dislike of the thought that a woman might fear being raped is the same as the woman’s fear of being raped. You’re also trying to argue or downplay the definition of rape itself.

              No. No. No. That is not going to happen here.

              Listen to me: Dragonus45, you are done talking about this subject here. It is closed to you. Get your own blog and post about there.

              I’m closing the comments on this chapter because with tomclark’s entry into the conversation I can see it turning into a long chain of people who don’t have a clue popping up to say “Hey, that’s right!” I’m doing my best to stay out of the moderation of comments but I’m not going to see this turn into a “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?” page, especially with this as a subject.

              Yes, everyone has free speech. And the internet has free blogs. Go get your own.

              Current score: 0
    • Anonamouse says:

      Thank you Mr. Dragonus,

      Yes, In hindsight it was a very poor choice to discuss this topic, although it has been very educational for me. I’d like to add that I’m not accusing her of spreading the stereotype consciously: rather it’s a side effect of society.

      Current score: 0
      • Burnsidhe says:

        The lack of awareness you’re displaying in this discussion reminds me of myself when I was still a sophomore back in college. So many interesting theories, so many ways of looking at the world, it’s hard to sit and focus on what’s happening right next to you in class. And it’s even harder to realize that the theory was born out of evidence; There are men in the world, the real world, who act like Sen. Aldin *all the time*. It’s not a ‘stereotype born out of a side effect of a broader societal movement’, it’s *an observation of actual behavior.*

        Get out of that ivory tower. Watch and listen. Pay attention to how your teachers treat the female students in your class.

        Current score: 0
      • Dragonus45 says:

        Also whoever it is that has found me on a forum i frequent and is sending some rather nasty Private Messages. Please stop, I’m not trying to start anything vile.

        Current score: 0
  17. Author_Unknown says:

    I can’t wait to see how this plays out. This could be very interesting.

    I wonder if anyone will think to consult everyone’s favorite coach, given she said she has been in ever war for the past 200(?) years, she must have served for or against them at some point.

    Current score: 1
  18. Orlanth adventurous says:

    What the senator did is typical of people who are trying to push something over. I remember watching an idiot try the same thing with a federal judge in her own courtroom — and he took a while to get the hint that she did not suffer fools gladly.

    Just FYI.

    Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      There’s definitely that subtext. Whatever was in that appropriation, it probably benefitted him personally and/or pandered to friends of his. Or possibly just hurt a political rival.

      Current score: 0
  19. I’d just like to point out something interesting that’s going on here.

    A few days ago, I posted a story that had a clever-dick husband deftly managing his more volatile wife’s moods. Said husband works outside the home. The wife has a not-stereotypically-female career, but she’s the primary caretaker of their child and works inside the home. This is a couple whose dynamics are firmly rooted in traditional gender roles and while the husband cracks a joke about his wife outranking him, it’s still pretty clear who has the upper hand.

    Did any brilliant college educated sociology students who know great big words like “boorish” (which is apparently a secret shibboleth that social science students use to identify each other now. Me, I would look for words like “shibboleth”, but what do I know? I only took two sociology classes.) pop out of the woodwork to quantify the gender dynamics there? Was anyone worried that the archetypes underlying the husband and wife team of Dan and Dell might be verging on stereotypes?

    No. And I’ll tell you why: because they’re cozy and familiar. They fit the pattern that’s inscribed in and prescribed by your dominant social paradigm. As the Joker said, “Nobody panics when everything goes according to plan.”

    But here we have a story with five characters. Four of them are men. Why are there four men? Because I made a conscious choice at the beginning that even though I wanted to tell a story about the kind of resistance that women in positions of authority face, I didn’t want it to be a story about (All) Women and (All) Men. If it had just been Vera and two guys with slightly different modes of sexism, it would be easy to interpret the story in that light. To avoid that, I enlarged the cast and made sure they covered a decent spectrum.

    And yet, in this story of all stories… all the stories that have dealt with people of varying genders behaving in various ways that transgressed or fulfilled various roles and stereotypes… this is the story that prompts our learned scholar to speak about “dangerous stereotypes”, and another learned gentleman to opine about how white Christian men are “acceptable targets” and how much “damage” this does.

    See above, in re: no one panics when things go according to plan.

    Nobody cares if a husband and wife team plays into stereotypes because that fits the comfortable mold. This story depicts a situation that doesn’t fit the plan, that challenges the mold. The idea of a woman in power maybe makes people uncomfortable, but even more than that the idea of a direct challenge to male privilege does, and this story has a double whammy. There’s the in-story example, and there’s what we might call the meta-example, which is the oh-my-gosh-so-painful experience of seeing a male character being called on the carpet for sexism and reflexively empathizing with him because this could happen to me.

    Folks, I have written chapters of this story in which the primary viewpoint character, a woman, is almost literally worshipping a penis. Earlier this month I published an erotic novelette about a woman who lives in a cage in her boyfriend’s apartment. ($2.99 in the Amazon e-book store.) If you poke around the internet long enough you’ll find stories I’ve written about women being literally eaten, often in brutal ways, often by men, just because that’s the sort of thing I fantasize about sometimes.

    That soft-spoken gentleman who informed the learned scholar above that if he pulls that condescending crap on anybody else he’ll be in danger of being banned? I wear his collar around my neck.

    In other words, I may have a social consciousness but the idea that I’m some kind of man-hating uber-feminist is really kind of ridiculous. Early on in the writing of MU when it was almost entirely a story about the girls living in a girls dorm I heard all the time about how the fact that the lack of awesome male characters meant I hated men, which always made me say, “I’d hate to hear what they think I must think about women.”

    Because, really.

    I mean, seriously.

    Do you even read this story?

    This has never been a story about how awesome and perfect women are, or how much men suck.

    I write two stories about Vera goofing off with Master Drake and nobody has a bad thing to say about it. I write one story about her getting down to the business of being empress and I have not one but two people who think it’s the perfect time to talk about how denigrated white men are in our society.

    Just seriously stop and think about that.

    Current score: 0
    • Dragonus45 says:

      Just wanted to say that i don’t think your stereotyping, if that’s what you got from my post i apologize. I think you do a better than average job at portraying both men and women as thinking people not the generalizations. I don’t think your a man hating feminist, i said so in my first post. Only the fact that i’m thinking you meant me is that i have only seen me and one other person post here on the subject, and my first post was telling the guy he picked the wrong story to talk about BECAUSE i believe you do a good job with characterization. Please don’t put words in my mouth, and if someone else did post and i missed it i apologize i’m reading this from my phone during games of lol and typing in between matches.

      Current score: 0
      • Burnsidhe says:

        I would suggest you reread the first paragraph of your post, where you clearly state that you do think it is an example of stereotyping.

        Current score: 0
        • Dragonus45 says:

          I said that stereotyping is a thing i believe that happens and that i have personal experience with it. re reading it i can see how my use of “it” could have led to a misunderstanding of my intentions, as i said it before i mentioned the feeling of stereotyping. As a result i see how “it” could have been considered the story. It was the first thing i did after waking up and checking on the story. If could still edit it i would, but the general tone of the rest of my post should carry clear the intended meaning of the post as a whole.

          Current score: 0
    • Author_Unknown says:

      I don’t really care if there are ‘isms in stereo or whatever. What I do care about is that AE felt compelled to make multiple long post defending herself, words that are here and not in a brand new chapter of MU goodness.

      So, for future reference, if you feel the need to rant, have an intellectual circle jerk, or in any other way tell the author what she really means when she writes her own damn stories, do it elsewhere.

      Current score: 0
      • Brenda says:

        On the other hand, AE’s responses here are awesome. In more than one sense of the word.

        Current score: 0
    • Erianaiel says:

      The complaints about ‘your attack on white males’ and attacks on white males in general are as hollow as Fox News getting hysterical (which in itself is an offensive word if you know its origin) about ‘attacks on christianity’ when a different religion dares to openly celebrate their holy days, or when somebody tries to show some sensitivity that not everybody in the country is christian.

      Because, let’s be honest about it, the USA is not a christian theocracy only because nobody is willing to admit that it really really is one. There is this huge barrier against being elected in any office for anybody who is not clearly and panderingly so advertising him- or herself as a christian (and it better has to be the right flavour of christianity too!)

      And just as the country is only officially not a christian theocracy, so is it sociologically only officially not deeply seggregated by race and sex. Being white and male (and christian) is the implicit state of any person in a position of authority, to the point that it is automatically presumed to be the pinnacle of being. With thousands of years of tradition, law and culture backing it up. Even the language teaches us from the first day that unless you are white(*) and male you are a lesser being and that you are firmly subordinate to whatever whims of the implicit rulers of the world.
      And then some people dare to ask if this all really is true and the only natural state of the universe …

      Eri
      (* colour of skin varies with what is predominant in various cultures or subcultures and how long said culture or subculture has been exposed to western imperialism)

      Current score: 0
  20. Burnsidhe says:

    I’m honestly surprised that anyone saw a ‘caricature’ in Sen. Aldin. The man failed to exhibit some basic respect for the opinions of a being with greater power than he did, and did so patronizingly, in a way that made it clear it was because of her sex. This happens all the time in real life, politician or not; if anyone disbelieves this, then all I can say is, sit down, shut up, and pay attention to the people around you. REALLY pay attention. Watch and listen and above all, think about the implications of what is being said and how it sounds.

    Current score: 0
    • Month says:

      If Vera was a dragon, his name would be snack.

      Current score: 0
  21. wocket says:

    Lord almighty, but I want Anonamouse and Dragonus45 to go stand in the corner and think about what they’ve done for awhile.

    Not because they’re ignorant and steeped in male privilege. Oh no. It’s because I’m a man-hating feminazi. Clearly.

    Current score: 0
    • Dragonus45 says:

      Hoenstly i cant help but feel like my opinion is being misrepresented. I never called anyone a feminazi.

      Current score: 0
      • wocket says:

        Nobody explicitly used the word “feminazi” except for me. I said it because the men who make the type of arguments you and Anonamouse are making tend to be the type who use the word “feminazi” as an insult.

        Current score: 0
        • Dragonus45 says:

          Isnt it though, honestly i thought the kind of person who would be called a “feminazi” as a very very specific kind of extremist. The kind that exists in every gender and race and on every side of every argument. Unless it has a use im not aware of?

          Current score: 0
          • Eris Harmony says:

            To some people, all feminists are extremists.

            Current score: 0
  22. Zathras IX says:

    “Dragon Lady” has
    Different connotations
    Than does “Dragon Lord”

    Current score: 1
  23. pedestrian says:

    Back to an interesting topic, war games confuse possible scenarios against what events will actually occur. The same as a map confuses a visual representation with the actual territory described.

    The Battle of Midway was one of the key events of Pacific War. The Japanese war gamed it in advance and wound up results that came close to the outcome of the actual battle. That the Japanese would lose several carriers to a smaller loss of American carriers and thereby lose the battle. The Imperial Navy brass were so upset by that conclusion that they overruled the referees and order them to change the results to a more face saving outcome.

    That is why I am writing this in English instead of Japanese.

    “The outset of the first battle will render all pre-war strategic planning obsolete and useless.” paraphrase from Clausewitz

    Current score: 0
  24. Feff says:

    Don’t really respond to the comments but just felt I had to say some things.

    1) Please don’t think that all sociologists are like what has been represented here. Seriously made me cringe hearing Anonamouse linked to sociology (my chosen degree and what I’m currently working towards a graduate degree in), and then hearing the harsh retaliation towards that field of study or social sciences in general.

    2) I love the story for what it is and definitely enjoyed seeing Aldin put in his place, regardless of whether the character was male, female, black, white, turquoise, or even human. Aldin was a total ass and got what he deserved. There are people like him in real life, they aren’t caricatures of pervasive stereotypes or any crap like that. They exist and they’re just as stupid and ridiculous in reality as they are in fiction.

    3) AE I love your story and have since the very first post. Thank you for the wonderful story, immersive world, and amazing characters.

    Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      It’s less about sociologists, than about people who know a little about sociology attempting to project what they know without having actually done a proper study, or read them, or gathered evidence for their position.

      And then attempting some kind of academic meta-argument about an element in a story that pushed a personal button.

      Paraphrasing from Clue, the Movie: “Sociology was just a red herring.”

      Current score: 0
    • To be clear, it was his invocation of sociology that I was… skeptical of, not the field itself.

      Current score: 0
  25. N'ville says:

    Hum, OK I am going to have a ramble around if you don’t mind, or even if you do.
    First though let me say thank you Alexandra and on two counts one for the interesting story and all that it holds, and the sexism as portrayed by the characters within it.
    Secondly for your erudite, concise and indeed educational replies to the two most prominent posters. It gives me a better understanding of American society in general, but also does make me wonder where humanity has gone wrong in America.
    To understand why I say that, you need to be a British subject, born and brought up in Britain and still living here as I do, and as our friend made mention, a white Christian. Never having been to America, I stand on the outside looking in, so forgive me for wondering what the hell is going on over there!!
    So I sort of meander off (I did warn you it was going to be a ramble) Not too long ago we had a woman prime minister, yes guys and gals to all intents and purposes she held the equivalent position of power as your president, she quite openly wielded that power to destroy the unions and was a true conservatives dream.
    Don’t forget also this proud country has a queen, who has held what little vestige of power the monarchy now holds in this country, for most of my life.
    I think then that we know a little more about women in power than folk in the good old USA.
    Sexism though is still rife and although slowly being weakened, is still a very strong force.
    Next ramble is a little shorter, but concerns the fact that in certain area’s of Britain, a white Christian does indeed walk in fear, racism born fear, lone single white Christian males and females being beaten, sometimes to death, by gangs of Muslim Asians is on the rise in this country, like it or not, but there are reports of these attacks around once a month. When it does get to once a week, it will be so common by then that there will be little reported. A bit like motor accidents, the first few made major headlines in the early 1900’s, most deaths and injuries now, get a few lines in a local press at best.
    Racist attacks by the once cowering subjects of racism, is now turning the white supremacist idea on its head. I fear that the only likely outcome may eventually be an all out civil war, which in turn may spread from our shores to many others if something, (Don’t look at me I don’t know what) is done to at least try to defuse the situation.

    Just my little ramble, to at least try and put a British slant on some of the topics covered in these comments.

    The comments space by the way, that has been provided by our author Alexandra Erin, for comments regarding the story she has written. I doubt she intended it to be a space for discussion of social sciences.

    Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      If I remember correctly, Margaret Thatcher was also often lampooned as “not being a woman.” Any society, one of the strongest, most pervasive, most pernicious forces to mess with is stepping ‘out of line’ of expected behavior for your sex, according to the dictates of whatever culture you belong to.

      So, yes, in some parts of England, as in some parts of the USA, there are areas where being white, Christian, and male puts you at a disadvantage, at the street level. But the country as a whole, and in the courts, and in the eyes of the law? Not so much.

      Current score: 0
  26. Month says:

    Aldin was a dick. The only way to deal with people like him is to either kill them, banish them altogether, or make them swallow their pride.

    In the instance of the third option, you have to watch them, cause they will try to do you harm.

    I work with doctors. I have seen people like Aldin in real life, sniding others not because of their gender, but because of their ideas. One would think that educated men would not have such attitudes, but they do. It is called pride. They believe they are the best. They believe they know all. And, in Aldin’s case, here comes a lowly WOMAN, no matter that she is empress, that tries to point out that he is a moron.

    Yup, he got what he deserved (maybe he needed a little harsher punishment. Oh well.). Not a caricature by far.

    Edit: Seems like logic prevailed before I posted this comment.

    Current score: 0
  27. Zukira Phaera says:

    I have to say, I can really empathize with Vera. While my experience is in an online gaming arena vs a fantasy real world setting and thus the ‘face to face’ aspect is not there so I get the drop on people sometimes, whereas she does not have that same luxury of hiding her gender. The fact is, she’s a woman doing a job that is men only, and wearing a title that up until she had it, and only recently in the grand scheme of things for that matter was basically considered a joke, or at least a lark or indulgence with no real meat on the bones of it.

    I know how it feels to be two people in one body, ie to be ‘the woman’ and ‘the person in charge’ and while ‘the person in charge’ is apparently seen to be without gender, and that is how I prefer it and would imagine Vera to feel about it as well from what I’m reading between the lines, I know too well how all of a sudden people will change how they respond to the same orders or suggestions unconsciously when the only known variable to change is their knowledge of your gender.

    I had a discussion a bit related to this earlier tonight, where I was explaining to someone why it is a bad idea to bank on the ‘friends’ card to get privilege or to get out of trouble when I’m wearing my ‘work’ hat and how when I’m in an official role and such I become a “different” person, I can acknowledge to myself the personal but I have to shelve it because the official persona is not allowed the luxury of friends. I don’t know if I’m really relaying what I mean very well, but I guess what I’m dancing around at saying is that Vera is as I was saying, two people, one body. Vera the woman, and Vera the Empress. The men are seeing the woman, but Vera is addressing them from the ‘work’ hat of Empress and is trying to impress it upon them that she is capable of everything that the male version of the title is, and that the ‘woman’ is shelved while doing business… and coming to grips with that is apparently coming a little easier to some and not so easily to others.

    – ok I’m done rambling. Maybe I’m reading too much into Vera, but I would like to think she’s a kindred soul.

    Current score: 0