Trotsky Sexes Up the West

From: Joerg Baumgartner (joe@toppoint.de)
Date: Wed 01 Mar 2000 - 22:25:27 EET


> Theo Posselt:

>> Hot topic #1 of the week for me is gender. Basically, I wondering
>> about the attitudes towards this in the following cultures: [snip]
>> Seshnela

Trotsky:
> We've had Lunar and Orlanthi answers, so I'm going to tackle the
> Seshnelans. Not that I know much about them, but I often find that
> posting guesses to answers like this will, if nothing else, persuade
> someone to post the real ones if I'm wrong.

That's the attitude which keeps the Digest worth reading.

> As for clothing, this also depends on 'caste'. Peasant women are
> known for wickedly enticing the lusts of pure knights, nobles, etc.
> with their wantonly free HAIR and their BARE ANKLES... slaver...
> slaver...

Pure knights? I thought we were talking about Seshnela. Pure Chivalry
has been declared dangerous, because the less perfect knights will be
led into sin and error. Look what happened to King Vikkard of the
Tourneys...

Church-approved Rokari knights are little better than 30 years war
Landsknecht men-at-arms in terms of chivalry. Their training
concentrates on killing rather than manners. The church discourages
excessive chivalry, like the rampant troubadours, tournaments "for the
sake of love", or "l'amour courtoise" wherein the proper forms of
adoration for a married (and usually socially superior) woman may open
the range of Platonic affairs short of adultery up to (and including)
coitus interruptus.

Needless to say that the church (and most husbands) disapprove of this
opinion on what is adultery. Most of Seshnela does, too, but in Nolos
and Pasos there is a strong culture of troubadours, tolerated and to
some degree even encouraged by the dukes.

WRT peasant-born women for lust, many will regard these as a resource to
be used when circumstances allow. I suppose there are set laws what kind
of alimony the mother of a bastard has to receive if this happened
during peacetime. During feuds or wars, I doubt there are any rules or
limits.

I suppose that "full farmer caste members", i.e. franklins or town folk,
have somewhat more protection compared to serfs. They may be able to
launch legal claims (for whatever that's worth). If they have powerful
backers (guilds, for instance), they might even get their claims.
However, their percentage of the populace can't be much higher than that
of the knight caste, the vast rest being the unfree serfs.

A typical political marriage of medium powerful nobles might well result
in him entertaining a number of peasant lasses within riding distance
from his manor, or servant girls within, and taking whatever is offered
during campaigns, while she keeps a number of usually younger and
chivalrous adorers waiting until the opportunity offers itself, be it
during a hunt or riding out, or while the husband is on a campaign or
off on political duties.

Oh, and there's the ius primae noctu, which belongs to the immediate
liege lord. For lesser hamlets, this may be a senior knight delegated to

act as the minor noble. Legally, this right is not transferable.

Serf marriages have to be approved by the liege lord, who may also set
the date at his convenience.

> Er, sorry about that, where was I? Oh yes, women of higher castes
> wear long skirts, cowls and bonnets, although only the noblewomen
> actually wear veils in public. Any higher caste woman who doesn't
> obey this dress code will naturally receive a reputation for moral
> laxity.

Of course, the Seshnegi upper class women are aware of how this dress
code will allow them to clothe even more alluring.

It is possible to have such a stuck-up dressing code and still have
common bathhouses for both sexes. Disapproval thereof should vary, and
be a constant source for friction.

> There are four exceptions, IMO, to the usual rules of women being
> subordinate too, and living with, men:

> 2) Widows without male relatives. Even then, only if they're
> tradeswoman peasants with a means of independent support, and they
> don't mind people thinking them odd and other women suspecting them
> of doing scandalous things with their husbands. Otherwise, someone
> will adopt them.

I've recently seen a report on female patriarchs (sic) in Albania, where
a woman takes the man's role as head of household and in work, and is
treated by everyone like a man. Theoretically, Malkioni society should
allow such a practice. I doubt that Rokari church really would approve,
though.

For townsfolk, female crafters or even guild leaders needn't be taboo.
For serfs, who cares? Taxation, corvee and tithes go by the hide,
whoever works on it. After all, the Rokari claim a return to original
Malkionism, and the Brithini have female workers all over. (Don't know
about female soldiers, though.)

> 4) Sorceresses.

I believe the common term is Enchantresses? I think that some might be
tossed into the heading "nuns", though.

> << 2. what spaces are all-male? all-female? >>

> Probably few among the peasants (except for midwifes during a
> birth or the like).

Militia duty is all-male.

> Nobles are likely to have areas set aside for particular
> sexes in their castles, and they won't dine together, for instance
> (most likely, there's a 'women's gallery' around the great hall).

Not sure about that. I guess there are two categories of public
"dining", one for both sexes (stuffed with formalities) and one of
single sex attendance. Great events likely will have both, shared dinner
as a start and a different style of dinner after the ladies retired, for
the men as well.

>> 3. what is the legal status of women?

> Technically a separate caste and not allowed to do very much.

Meaning, whatever a woman does in public life, she needs a man for a
front. A wife working on behalf of her (hopelessly incompetent) husband,
or a widow working for her sons, would be socially acceptable.

I agree about the wandering hell-and-brimstone wizards...

>> are they allowed to own property on their own?

> In practice, I think those widowed craftsmen sometimes do, but its
> probably not quite legal.

I'm fairly certain that a woman may not own land or weapons. A daughter
might inherit land (titles) or weapons for her husband if there are no
sons.

Housing and everyday items might well be owned by women.

> Nunneries will be owned by the Church,
> not by the actual inhabitants.

The same goes for monasteries...

>> divorce their husbands?

> Theoretically, yes.

Divorce, or annull?

> If you're a woman and have good cause to divorce your husband -
> well, you can try, but I wouldn't put money on your chances of
> success.

If you are a woman and have good cause to divorce your husband, either
get support from your family, or find a champion to duel your husband
for your course. The latter solution is chivalrous, and thus not quite
legal, but the prudent husband will consider twice if her champion is
known for martial prowess.

>> be educated?

> No, though if you're a peasant or a knight, then your brothers aren't
> getting educated either! Unless you join the Sorcerous Unions, of
> course.

There are various kinds of education. Crafters' wives and daughters will
receive as much education as apprentices and journeymen, and from the
same source.

I guess the general degree of literacy in Seshnela is about as high as
among the Heortlings. Most literate women will be nuns, though.

>> 5. how are female children treated? is there infanticide?

> If there is, its illegal. Possibly happens sometimes in the country,
> though.

There's always the nunneries.

>> 1. how public is personal sexuality? are married couple allowed
>> to touch in public? kiss?

> Such SINFUL displays of open hedonism! The horror of it!

Touching will even be required, a woman has to be led by the hand (much
like underage pupils in Britain have to be...). Hand, elbow, and that's
it.

This also goes for dances.

Peasants will be less restricted. Virgin marriages are virtually unheard
of...

>> 2. how public is representational sexuality?
>> are there nude statues? sexual art in public?

> Definitely not. Such things are a sure sign of rampant paganism,
> debauchery, disobedience and naughtiness of all kinds. Which, of
> course, means that if there are any pagans sneaking about in your
> game they've definitely got to have pervy figurines and the like
> cached somewhere!

I'd be interested how indestructible the old Seshna Likita instalments
are - some Seshnegi cities and castles would be old enough to include
remnants of this Dawn Age culture which quite probably had rampant
symbolism, starting with snakes.

Also, there might be great displays of how the sinful are punished, with
illustrations what their sins consisted of. The Rokari church strikes me
as likely for this kind of instructions.

Extra/premarital sexual contact:

>> if discouraged/forbidden, what is the effect of getting caught,
>> on the man and the woman?

> It depends on the local priest, and the community in general.
> Potentially, severe punishments can be dished out to both parties.

Especially where the legitimacy of offspring is concerned.

> Of course, if she's a peasant, and he isn't, then nothing much
> actually gets done, especially to him.

I suppose there are set rules for concourse with dependents. Ius Primae
Noctu (children are considered of the marriage), personal attendance of
maids (children may be acknowledged as bastards).

>> of paedophilia?

> Among the nobles, childhood marriage is reasonably common for
> political purposes. But you do have to be adult before you can
> consummate the marriage.

"What do you know about arcane magical requirements, peasant?"

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