Daybreak v3ch5 is out. For you war-fiction fans, sorry no battle. For the rest of you, enjoy as we delve more into worldly differences, macroeconomics, and relationship turbulence.
Also, since many readers have complained about the large cast and trouble remembering them all, I created a list of reoccurring characters for your use. I'm trying to keep it spoiler free while leaving it informative enough to tickle your long-term memory banks. Suggestions for improvement are welcomed, as always.
Now, onto the feminist-yet-anti-feminist rant ^o^ because in many ways, as a genderbender, Daybreak is written in ways precisely because I am tired of the gender-stereotypes pervading media.
This topic actually arose out of a conversation between me and Kadi on gender equality. One of the key points I've alway strove for in writing Daybreak on Hyperion in to portray a society that sharply examines the differences in gender by contracting the traditionally patriarchal attitude that dominates the commoners (and immature cadets) and my best attempt at 'equality' among the educated upper classes.
Yes, I consider myself a supporter of gender equality. However, I do NOT consider myself a 'feminist'; because modern feminism often forgets that it is supposed to be about equality and not about womens' rights in the way that the racial supremacists champion 'rights of X ethnicity'. There has even been a potent (if somewhat misguided) backlash because of the misandry that is spreading throughout modern feminists.
In short, 'feminists' are starting to give the rest of us a bad name.
So throughout Hyperion I try to paint this picture: a nobility where women have just as much inheritance rights as men, where 'matrilineal marriages' are a thing and the main character (Pascal) faces the prospect of being married off to a foreign land, where exalted leadership positions see both women and men...
These are all what feminists champion in the modern world right?
But what about the other side of the equation?
Throughout the history of mankind, men were considered the disposable, sacrificial gender. It was the obligation of men to fight floods, to plunge flames, to work the deadliest occupations from dam construction to underwater recovery. Even today, not a single liberal country have compulsory military service for women; not even Finland, among the top scorers of the gender equality index... yet they do for men.
Why don't most feminists point out that men also dominate dangerous jobs like firefighting and disaster rescue, or poverty-stricken occupations like garbage disposal? Why aren’t feminists campaigning for equality of dirt and danger in say... Universal Conscription. Truly?
Families continue to expect men to bring the bacon home. But women? Awww it's alright if the cute wife lose her job. She'll always be beautiful to him anyway.
How can we have gender equality in such a culture?
This is my fundamental problem against the modern goals of gender equality and feminism. We're too focused on statistics, numbers! Stuff like the number of female executives and politicians and world leaders, of the income pay gap and how many women work in lucrative careers like engineering and business.
Well of course there is a pay gap, when men are ever pressured by societal demands to make more money than women (and therefore more willing to take the risk of asking for raises or switching jobs for better opportunities); when 'marrying into riches' is considered an achievement for women, but simply earning less than the wife will -- in most countries still -- get a man ostracized by his peers.
What do you call a man who waits for a rich woman to decide whether or not she wants him? - Prince Albert, The Young Victoria
Too many people these days want the shortcut. They want results without the work. They want to shape reality without changing the foundation that built reality in the first place.
In my years of reading, culture has always stood up to me as the driving force of civilization. Not just in nationalistic propaganda and sociological academia, but everything from childrearing books to psychological studies to the spread of religion. Even business administration books stresses the importance of company culture as the single most valuable asset of corporations: companies like Google are successful because of their culture for diligence, foresight, and creativity -- positive influences that could be felt throughout the company thanks to its founders.
To have true gender equality, we must have equal gender norms and expectations.
I'm reminded of a shocking tale an Asian company executive once told me, that he actually told his subordinate, a department head, to "stop hiring women". Why? Because said department just had a case where half its employees -- four women -- all took off for maternity leave at the same time, leaving the rest of the team incapable of getting their work done during a rush season. Yes, painstaking childbirth means that mothers deserve a break for that. But guess what happens if four men in a small department all took six months of 'family-related vacation' time during the busiest season?
They tend to get fired.
Not surprisingly, people want to hire other people who are actually available when they're needed.
( Insofar as I've read, Sweden offers the most interesting solution to this. Simply by leaving it for the parents themselves to decide, they are encouraging dads to take a bigger role in childcare and parenting, so moms aren't left with all the burden, plus their careers have negotiation room. )
Men need to learn compassion, benevolence, sensitivity, the list of male lacking goes on. Traits like modesty, humility, patience, and nurture (parenting skills) should not be considered feminine, but universal virtues. People should remember that saintly men often display behavior that fit neatly into what society claims as 'feminine', as though they are virtues that the rest of the male gender have forgotten.
But in exchange, women need to learn courage, tenacity, and stoicness. Boys are taught from an early age to not cry, not scream, to suck it up like a man and carry on.
Girls need to receive the same education.
Some of you may have paid attention to the way I write Ariadne. Having strong menstrual flows that leaves her somewhat anemic, a condition surprisingly common among young ladies? Well... sorry, the battle isn't going to wait for her. She sucks it up, pulls arrows out of her chest, and keeps on killing.
What soldier could claim women aren't as good as men when they see THAT!?
In Hyperion, army girls like Ariadne aren't even the exception. They're not that unreachable, untouchable hero figure depicted in female-audience novels. They are the norm! (whether they want to be or not). Sylviane's internal dialogue helps to showcase this: the army expects her to lead the charge, to face death and stare back. The fact she is a Princess and not a Prince? Irrelevant!
...Meanwhile individuals like Reynald find himself attracted by female gallantry in the same way that girls will swoon over male badassery. His manliness isn't endangered because the virtues of courage and integrity stops being male traits. It is expected of noblewomen as well.
Feminists love to uphold kickass women like the amazons, or vikings, when they forget that amazons will cut off a breast to show their toughness, and there are claims of viking women doing similar self-mutilation in order to intimidate their enemies. Crude and barbaric, yes, but it goes to show that you can't expect to stay clean and pretty AND still come out as equals to men in the relentless struggle known as real life.
I don't want to get into a deluge of philosophical discussions in-chapter. As much as I would love to, it's dry and boring to many readers. But I did push this new scene in:
Volume 2 Chapter 9:
"I don't know," Reynald gave a half-hearted shrug of his own. "Gerd's attitude offended plenty of ladies at the academy before he stopped talking about it. Even Ariadne lost her patience once at how commoners only see women as some household commodity... I bet none of them would feel comfortable sitting here."
Wait wait... Nobles!? As the more liberal, progressive, forward-thinking social class!?
Kaede's eyebrows shot straight up. The thought was just absurd.
"Okay, please do explain. Why do the commoners have that cultural view while nobles often don't?"
"Well..." the redhead crossed his eyes as he grasped for an answer in unfamiliar ground. "For one, women of noble birth are subject to the Writ of Universal Conscription. So... when both sides are equally called upon for the most dangerous job of them all, it's pretty darn hard for men to uphold the belief that you girls are somehow weaker or need us for protection by being kept at home."
A social equality that began with the equal chance of being killed, she mused.
Historical truths did agree that patriarchal societies also saw men as the 'expendable' gender. After all, assuming an abundance of food, one men and ten women could potentially reproduce as fast as ten and ten. So while cowardice was often seen as cute and attractive in girls, it grew to become the most intolerable sin for men, as they were the ones called upon to fight wars and oppose disasters.
In traditional governments where state power rested with the military, this meant it was the men who would seek 'special privileges' for their sacrifices. Furthermore, significant losses of men which resulted in skewed gender ratios would even prompt society to give them preferential treatment.
Kaede's motherland was actually a good example of this. Despite accepting women into its combat units, the Soviet Union lost nearly three males for every female in the Great Patriotic War. The postwar gender imbalance was so great that there were widespread calls for the legalization of polygamy. It was rejected, but the need to replenish the population nevertheless encouraged the men to sleep around, while their obligations as fathers were met by social programs of the state.
Needless to say, this was disastrous for the gender equality cause. Countless Russian men grew pampered and irresponsible, expecting women to treat them like kings while chain smoking and binge drinking themselves to an early demise.
"I'm guessing this attitude in shared responsibility between genders runs down to other aristocratic roles as well?" she asked next, to which Reynald nodded vigorously:
"Oh definitely! Every noble man or woman who doesn't have a respectable occupation means wasted magical resources for the nation, whether that's in military power, industrial productivity, or administrative efficiency. It is the call of Noblesse Oblige that we must harness our magical gifts for the country -- or at least here in Weichsel! No self-respecting woman of noble birth would only stay home to raise kids! Only commoners do that!"
I have said this many times: one of the key reasons why Daybreak on Hyperion is a genderbender is so I can explore this aspect with as much fairness as possible without breaking character: Kaede is a guy turned into a girl, and therefore can see the argument from both sides of the fence.
P.S. I should note that I am no proponent of telling women to 'suck it up' towards sexual harassment. That's like telling men to 'suck it up' when they see violence and murder. It is the obligation of everyone to uphold the standards of society.
P.P.S. Yes, I recognize that Weichsel's generals are overwhelmingly male; because Weichsel emphasizes its cavalry. The defining attribute of successful cavalrymen throughout history is aggression -- which male testosterone offers in spades, much to the detriment of anger management D: