The Definition "Wotism": A term describing a recurring trend in Speculative Fiction storytelling (prose and motion picture): A tendency for the majority of a story's relevant female characters to be conspicuously shallow, vicious/hateful, violent and encumbersome, especially when compared to their male counterparts. The term is derived from Robert Jordan's Fantasy series "The Wheel of Time", WoT, the story in which wotism is the most striking, although far from the only one in which it occurs. The Meaning Now I've read only five of the Wheel of Time novels (two years ago), but that is irrelevant, as this is not about that series, but the trend. These first five books contain an abundance of relevant content, enough to exemplify the main points of identification of wotism. I will now go through them, as characteristics of female characters in wotist plots: First of all: 1: They're very powerful characters. Be cautious here. Powerful is very easily confused with strong. By a "strong character", I mean a strenght which is primarily mental, such as an ability to plan, a consequent morality, a confidence in others, resourcefulness and suchlike. Power, on the other hand, is just the ability to induce others to do things they would not have done, or to hurt them. Power comes physically, politically and normatively. The females of WoT do not have strenght, they have only power. The aes sedai are powerful magic wielders, with which the can affect large things, as well as deal damage. Morgase, as a queen, has political power. Nynaeve has normative power as a village "wisdom": She can strike the males over their heads with her staff without them protesting or resisting. These powers make them able to affect tehir environs, but they do not make them good, strong characters. So, we know they're powerful. That means they can take care of themselves, at least. Or does it? How can it then be that: 2: They always need rescuing? Rescuing, of course, is a relative term. Aviendha, for example, used her power to kill a monster that would have attacked Rand from behind. She rescued him, in other words. But when it comes to classic rescuing (boy X retrieves girl Y from uncomfortable and dangerous location Z, where she is trapped/prisoned), the gender pattern goes only one way. Perrin rescues Faile from that parallel dimension thing in book 3. Mat rescues several of the girls from a prison in Tear, or something, in book 3, and they beat him up in return. Thom and Juilin rescue Nynaeve and some other girl from some evil person who (easily) tricked them in book 5. The classic rescue, in other words, is a boy privilege. A reason for this tendency may perhaps be explained as such: 3: They're rash, and lack the ability to assess a situation. Egwene attacks children of light with her magic somewhere in book 3 or so, only one of many impulsive actions indicating a tendency all the females seem to have: They all like to jump to conclusions, which makes them easy to fool, as noted in point 2. Back to the main train of thought: Rescue the girls and you're be lucky if you only got an earful, and now you're late for your Saving The World appointment as well. Why do the boys never notice how the girls always: 4: Loudly and violently express their disdain/distrust/hatred for boys? WoT is a scene of war. This is the so-called Gender War, or the Gender Military Operation, as we call situations in which one side attacks while the other sits passively receiving. The girls abuse the boys, who grudgingly turn the other cheek and go on with saving the world. Elayne hires Aviendha to abuse Rand through most of book 4. You all know Perrin and Faile. Most especially, Nynaeve is quoted in a wide range of situations in which she adresses various faults of men, like violence, not to mention her infamous "braid-pulling", a gesure of disdain directed at the males present. They hate boys, then. That should mean they make good friends among themselves. But you soon find that: 5: They hate each other as well. The girls never seem to fail chastising each other with their magical powers. The White Tower can be easily written off as a powerbase due to the constant bickering of its denizens. Everywhere in Randland, pecking order seems to be a fundamental rule of living. As you read the books, you notice that the girls do far more bad stuff than the boys. How can their boy-hatred be maintained under such circumstances? The only reason can be that: 6: They completely lack introspection. There is a very clear paradox which exemplifies this in book 5 (or was it book 4), in which Nynaeve through her thoughts express her disdain for the boys' tendency to use violent means to solve problems. This could be a very valid point, if not for the fact that she adds she would have liked to knock them all over their heads to teach them that violence is wrong. But wait a second. The girls can't be completely negatively posed against the boys. They seem to harbour some feelings for them as well, otherwise, how come: 7: They're constantly jealous of the boys? Any possibility a boy is even looking at another girl other than the one which the plot has assigned to him is reason enough for chastising. The whole Aviendha affair was about preventing Rand from straying. But again the lack of introspection kicks in: Egwene dances with that guy from the pacifist gypsy tribe in book 1, like Faile does with Lord Luc in book 4. Oh dear, how can there possibly be happy matchmaking and marriage with all this hatred and lack of confidence? The solution for the boys, you see, is rather simple. Winning a girl just needs a little effort, because: 8: They need to be tamed before they can be used. It's not much of an effort, though. All that is needed is for the boy to do what they always do: Gaze at the horizon with a serious face, be quiet, thoughtful and handsome (in a strictly masculine way). It worked for Lan to win Nynaeve, it worked for Rand to win Aviendha, and Perrin doing real man's work in the smithy did the trick for the Perrin-Faile affair too. Sort of as a concluding point, we can say that: 9: The girls are mysteriously devoid of characteristics that traditionally is being associated with the feminine. Compassion, solidarity, patience, endurance, calm; characteristics females in general fiction tend to have. But these qualities are non-existent in WoT. No, wait, they're not. So, who is it that is so compassionate, solidaric, patient, endurant and calm? Hey presto! It's the boys, of course! That's all. No, wait. I have been unfair, depicting the WoT females with purely negative characteristics. I seem to have forgotten that they all share the single most important quality a woman can have in Fantasy: 10: They're all extremely, astoundingly beautiful. Perfect faces, perfect bodies. Even in the WoT appendix, the supposedly most objective voice, Egwene is described as "A beautiful young woman from Emond's Field". Especially the bodies part, which Jordan repeatedly brings to our attention. Further, he rarely fails to hand his readers long exclusively female nudity scenes, like the aes sedai rite of passage. The Essence In fewer words: The female characters are throroughly unsympathetic. They bicker, manipulate and abuse. Male characters specifically don't. Male characters even apologize when they turn evil (book 2). The females tend to hold the power in Randland, and Jordan makes a great effort to show how undeserved that is, how they abuse it. The females rarely help the plot forward, they rather seem to justify their existence by providing satisfaction to the young male reader: Patient struggle against their abuse, while saving the world, is at last rewarded with their bodies. The Context Here's my theory: Wotism is a statement, subconsciously or actively, inevitably a politically ideological one. But it must not be confused with traditional gender discrimination. Wotism is not an independent statement. It is a reaction. A reaction against feminism. This is in accordance with a certain spirit of the age: In today's West, there is a growing number of men who feel alienated and disenfranchised in society; that feminism has gone too far, and that men are being marginalized. Considering the still substantial wage and power discrimination in society, not to mention the unprecedented popcultural objectification of the female body (which also the Fantasy genre speculates very heavily in), it seems a most peculiar idea. Nevertheless, it is a relevant one: Young male readers want affirmation that what they believe is right, and books like Wheel of Time give them just that. In conclusion, the motivation can be seen as both a political and commercial one: To comment on society, as well as spur book sales. Wotism in practice Here's what I've assessed so far about which books/pictures are wotist, some that may be in the grey area, as well as some that definitely aren't: Positively wotist: The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan - Obviously. The Belgariad by David Eddings - I've only read Pawn of Prophecy, but there were signs in abundance, mostly near the end. Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind - Lots of strange stuff in here, but a lot of the points from my list are recognizable. Various animes, like Fullmetal Alchemist and Steamboy - These strenghten my theory that wotism wasn't invented at a fixed point of time, but rather tends to develop again and again in parallel circles. Slightly uncertain, but probably not wotist A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin - I am in doubt about this one: GRRM has an undeniable knack of creating unlikeable females (Ygritte, the Tully sisters, Cersei), while at the same time telling stories through profoundly benevolent and altruist males (Ned, Jon Snow, Sam). The whole Gender Military Operation issue is absent, though, and all most of the characters seem mature, with a certain ambiguity. Malazan Books of the Fallen by Steven Erikson - I've only read two of these, but Felisin seems to me to fit with most of the points on my Meaning list. She is, however only one character, whereas wotism tends to treat all the characters that way. And that would be unfair to characters like Apsalar, Tattersail and Lorn. Definitely not wotist His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman - The males and the females are balanced up against each other, equally strong: Lyra and Will, lord Asriel and miss Coulter. An anime counterweight: Studio Ghibli films, as well as Haibane Renmei - Far from all anime are wotist. Discworld by Terry Pratchett - Strong characters like Susan Sto Helit, Sybil Ramkin, the Witches, and, most of all, Tiffany Aching. So... So, what do you think? Do you recognize wotism in WoT? Have you felt it in books that I haven't mentioned here? Could there be alternative motivations? Any consequences for future Fantasy? Let me hear.