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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Working Title: Eternal Sexual Freedom: From YKTTW

Violet: I removed

  • Many feminists criticize The Bible for sexist views on marriage. This isn't taking into account how rather revolutionary for its time the New Testament was in suggesting that men have a duty and obligation to take care of their wives and not cheat.
Because it isn't an example of this trope. (And the feminists are justified, the bible may have been pogressive for its time, but its not any more. Naturally the feminists disagree with anyone who still follows biblical views on marrage)

Rogue 7: Correct me if my knowledge is lacking, but wasn't this less of a big deal up until around the 1700s or so? I seem to recall from history the sheer number of bastards the English Kings produced, and I can't tell you the number of things I've read that deal with the popularity of brothels.

Daibhid C: I could be wrong, but I think this is the Double Standard at work. Kings can produce bastards, but the mother is scorned for having kids out of wedlock. Men attending a brothel is fine, but being a prostitute decidedly isn't. And so on.

Henry Hankovich: This article as written is almost entirely bunk, and actually represents a very common trope/cliche of its own: that everything before the The Pill and the Sexual Revolution was sexually strict, that people Back Then were all more sexually moral than they are today, or at least they were all far more respectful of the consequences (which of course were life-destroying, and quite possibly fatal). The article claims it's not representing people in the past as being prudish; but aside from the interracial couple of the 1940s his examples generally all amount to exactly that. The discussion page points out the "ridiculousness" of a character in M.A.S.H. expecting to have sex with one of the nurse characters, because apparently woman wouldn't do that sort of thing back then...except if you read memoirs of the period, they quite frequently did, especially during wartime when men were leaving for or returning from military service. WWII memoirs will often refer—if indirectly—to the amount of casual sex that was happening; and there's a good reason that American soldiers in WWII England were often described by the locals as "overpaid, oversexed and over here." All the things we do today—premarital sex, children out of wedlock, adultery, maintaining lovers/mistresses, prostitution, etc—were just as often practiced in the past; and the responses or solutions to those practices were rarely as drastic as Victorian and 20th-century media have depicted them. (Though they weren't necessarily kind or pretty, either—abandoning an illegitimate child was—and in many places probably still is—a tragically common practice.) While there are cases where sex is shown unrealistically, as per Politically Correct History, it's often the supposedly-revisionist, more sexually libidinous depictions which are more historically accurate (compared to the post-Victorian, husband-and-wife-in-separate-beds sort of "clean" media that preceded it in the 20th century). Shakespeare In Love was unrealistic; but it wasn't the premarital sex that was the unrealistic part.

  • Someone should create a page for that trope. "Moral Golden Age" or "Glory Days Of Morality," perhaps?

Eric DVH: An anon deleted the Song of Ice and Fire thing without justification, so I put it back.

Eric DVH: Removed Thommy H's Conversation In The Main Page:

Whether or not it's supposed to mirror medieval Europe is mostly irrelevant. Venereal disease was a serious problem then and it still is, yet it's only mentioned about once (Merrett Frey I think?,) abortion (or various similar practices) were also common, yet Cersei and Craster are the only even passing mentions. Moon tea is given little justification or context, and feels like a Hand Wave. Many pointless sex scenes involving adolescents, decadent queens, violence and other things (Tyrion, for god sakes', BRAIN BLEACH) were packed in for no particular reason. In general, sex seems to be the one exception to the historically low-key setting (women are still downtrodden and second class, yet they're also completely lacking in sexual inhibitions, right.) Martin basically treats the topic with all the gravity of a typical fanfic.

Kongming: Oh man, how did I miss this stupid little tirade? Look, I'm a history student and I'm well aware that ASOIAF propagates many myths and fallacies about the Middle Ages. It's hardly a historical novel. Still, pretty much every argument you make here is either outright wrong or misleading. First, abortion is mentioned much more than you seem to remember. Did you forget TANSY? It's not exactly a small plot point. Second... Oh, boo-fucking-hoo, you had to read about ugly people having sex. Grow up. Besides, I can't think of a single sex scene that wasn't used for characterization or plotting except for the one between Dany and her handmaiden. Tyrion and Shae? That was to develop their relationship, and make it so much more visceral when Shae betrayed him. Dany and Drogo? Simultaneously used to show that Drogo is not some emotionless, brutal barbarian, and that Dany is a very frightened and vulnerable little girl. Even Cersei and Taena wasn't fanservice, though a lot of people seem to think so; it was a very effective bit of characterization and it obviously wasn't meant to be titillating in the least. As for "completely lacking in sexual inhibitions," oh brother, did you even read the same books I did? It's not like Sansa and Catelyn and Margaery (Cersei's rumor-mongering withstanding...) were sleeping around. You don't see any women paying for the services of whores. Even Arianne in relatively egalitarian Dorne keeps her dalliances with Arys secretive. Also, see Henry's rant above. The idea that people had very restrictive sexual mores in premodern times is a Victorian exaggeration. The only thing I'll give you is venereal disease; but at least it IS mentioned. I don't see how you can attack Martin for that, when there are a billion medieval-esque fantasy novels that pay much less attention to their pseudo-historical setting and don't mention ST Is at all.

Nornagest: Rewrote the following:

This trope can be hard to identify since it can get a bit subjective and Most Tropers Are Young Nerds.

...because it comes off, at least to me, as more of a Take That! than a useful piece of information.

Vampire Buddha: Removed this pile of natter:

** It's not set in any Earthly or historical society, and need not conform to our world's expectations. For example, summer can last for nine years, and winter for longer. The world might not even be round.
** There is quite a bit of bias against children born out of wedlock, i.e. bastards. They aren't allowed proper names, for one.
** Not only that, but Moon Tea is not "totally safe", being made of some elements which are actively poisonous according to Word of God. When made in a concentration strong enough to cause a miscarriage, it's dangerous.
*** All There in the Manual, never appeared once in-story, thanks for nothing G.R.R.M.
  • Umm... except concerns about virginity are quite high. Good girls don't, not even in A Song Of Ice And Fire. Prostitutes are treated as sub-human except by those who have reason to treat them otherwise (i.e. those who know what it's like to be treated as subhuman). All the affairs are kept hush-hush, with the threat of death if they are found out—unless they have some sort of protection (in the form of armies to kill people who might hurt them, and even that can't stop an impromptu riot).
    *** But bad girls do anyways, all the time, with no few consequences. If you're referring to Cersei's little problem at the end of AFfC, that comes out of left field and verges on Author's Saving Throw.
    **As this troper recalls. Half the problems in the series were a result of someone sleeping with someone they shouldn't.

I've never read the series, though I plan to. I have, however, heard a lot of people talking about how great it is because it's so similar to the real Middle Ages, so one would expect similar morality.

There may be merit to some of the rest, but I'll leave that in the hands of somebody who knows more about the books than me.

Qit el-Remel: Just my 2˘, but this trope seems to be specifically about historical fictions. Fantasy—no matter how dark and gritty—shouldn't be used as an example. (I'm reminded of people who say that women shouldn't be warriors/fighters in World Of Warcraft or Dungeons And Dragons because it's "anachronistic.")

Eric DVH: That's a strawman argument, people actually object because it's hilariously unrealistic from a physical standpoint (although if you're decked out with as much magical lewtz as most RPG PCs, anybody could be an effective fencer ;-). Claiming that any kind of behavior is perfectly excusable just because it's fantasy ignores one thing that should be constant between historical and fantasy fiction, namely, human nature (and in this case, biology.)

Nornagest: This martial artist has nothing further to say about the trope itself, but calls shenanigans on your "hilariously unrealistic". Men have an advantage, but it's only an overwhelming one in styles which are all about physical size and strength, like Queensbury boxing. Add a weapon and most of that advantage goes away.

It becomes a problem again if you need to haul around seventy pounds of armor and equipment, but even then there are exceptions.

Eric DVH: Yeah, having more size, strength, ruggedness, reach, and stamina makes no difference at all… Right. Nature isn't fair. Fortunately, life isn't about physical combat nowadays.

Kongming: You're the one guilty of a strawman argument here, Eric. Nobody is denying that men have distinct biological advantages when it comes to combat. It's important to keep in mind that this is not a simple matter of "MEN STRONG WOMEN WEAK," though. If women are so ineffective in combat, whence come things like the Dahomey Amazons or the distinguished service of women on the Eastern Front of WWII? These kinds of things are exceptions, but they are still worth consideration, and they certainly don't lend credence to the idea that women participating in combat is "hilariously unrealistic."

Nornagest: Hey, all I've got to go on is direct personal experience. We all know that half-baked ideology trumps that, right?

Snark aside, I stand by my statement. Size and strength matter, but they matter most when you're doing damage exclusively via blunt trauma (and especially with fists), or when you need to carry around large amounts of equipment to be effective (which is a major argument for barring women from modern front-line infantry service, although the Israelis seem to do well without it).

It's been rightly said that empty-hand combat is 80% conditioning and 20% technique, and men have a large and indisputable advantage in conditioning. But every style of armed close combat that I've studied is more like 40% conditioning and 60% technique, if that (bear in mind, however, that these were unarmored styles). That gives talented women a fighting chance, and indeed I and my male classmates have been schooled on multiple occasions by young women and old men. I haven't studied gunfighting, but I'd expect the ratio to be even lower there.

Kongming: I doubt that Eric is ever going to reply, but for what it's worth, here's a fair overview of women in military roles throughout history:

Eric DVH: Very amusing. Child soldiers also have a long and illustrious history, and have accomplished amazing feats of physical prowess, this does not mean that they are anywhere near as effective as adult warriors on average. A rare few of them grow up unusually fast and outclass the vast run of adults, this too does not obviate the fact that a much larger portion of adults are yet more powerful. Many nations throughout history have used child soldiers in victorious campaigns, but they're still simply not as effective as adult troops, it's rarely a worthwhile strategy, and so it is justifiably a rare occurrence and always has been. The same goes for women warriors, especially in pre-industrial warfare.

I believe we're talking about the typical RPG, comic book, or whatever. You know, legions of teenage girls with pink hair running around beating up elite squadrons of veteran soldiers with their backflip-powered chop sockey, picking up and throwing enemies four times their weight across a room, wielding double-bladed sword/polearm/boomerang thingies by twirling around in a circle. Stuff like that, instead of, say… A six-foot, heavily muscled man in full armor with a broadsword and shield wading through them like chaff.

Maybe that's no more unrealistic than somebody hopping onto their trusty steed and winning a fight against a firebreathing dragon bigger than an elephant with a lance, and I'm just insufficiently whimsical or something, but settings where women commonly make their lives revolve around physical combat just feel insultingly ridiculous enough to me where my suspension of disbelief disintegrates on contact.

Nornagest: I obviously don't have access to your suspension of disbelief, but I suggest you spend a few months studying a sword art if you want to have a good idea for how this works out in practice. Yes, there's a difference. No, it's not an immediately overwhelming one. I'm talking real life here, now, not She-Fu.


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