March 21st, 2008


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Discussion (29)¬

  1. Dawn says:

    I just adore matriarchal hyena societies.

  2. Tindi says:

    Her ears say she’s sad… I wonder if she’s thinking about Ed?

  3. Jha says:

    Beautiful critique on the *patriarchal* society we live in.

  4. Jatopian says:

    Um, Jha? If you haven’t noticed, society gets less patriarchal by the month, at least in the West. Perhaps 50 years ago your comment would be merited, but at this time it only makes you look like you’ve a chip on your shoulder. And anyway, let’s keep our real-world politics out of this, hmm?

  5. Domino says:

    sweet merciful crap, there’s a smackdown going on right here in a webcomic forum.

    That’s horrible and yet too awesome for words.

  6. Jha says:

    Jatopian: I dunno about you, but the norms are still quite firmly entrenched, just very subtly. It’s not something people notice until it’s been pointed out. Plus, I, uh, don’t come from the West. LOL. You have to admit, though, the critique IS brilliant whether or not you see the parallels in our current societ(ies). I study this sort of thing, so I love it whenever it pops up, especially so subtly. Yeah, yeah, by the month things change, but we still have a ways to go. The world doesn’t end with the West, yanno.

    I mean, seriously, what’s your beef? Can’t a person state the nuances they appreciate without someone jumping down on their throat because their viewpoint differs from yours? C’mon.

  7. DaveP. says:

    Jha: if your viewpoint is insulting to my society, then don’t be offended if someone jumps you.
    I mean, why else would you post that unless you wanted to start a fight?

  8. Chelsea says:

    Um. Because s/he saw a *discussion* forum and thought that maybe his/her opinion wouldn’t draw attack from the rest of the readers? For God’s sake. Am I insulting because I agree with Jha? Am I allowed to be insulted because you don’t agree with me, DaveP. etc.? I’m assuming that if we’re old enough to understand the humor, we’re old enough to have a mature discussion.

  9. Jiyambi says:

    Even in the West, Jha’s comment has merit. As a woman, I would be very foolish to walk down a dark street at night, and would most certainly be in more danger than a man. If you want to contest that, well, I will indeed call you a fool. Yes, most things are a lot subtler than they once were, but the gender issues are still there.

    Be that as it may, I know Ursula is more the type of person to invent and explore a society such as the hyenas in a purely fiction-based way. I actually doubt she planned it as a critique of patriarchal real life societies. It’s still interesting to compare them, though.

  10. Squeegy says:

    Oooh! Fight! Fight! Fight!

  11. daniel says:

    I would point out that, even if it’s a comment on patriarchies, it’s a subversion… the oppressed gender is relying upon entrenched, highly conservative social norms to protect their freedoms.

    That’s pretty much the opposite of what progressive gender equality in modern society is about.

  12. Eugene says:

    I don’t contest it myself, but science does: statistically, young men tend to be the largest victims of criminal violence in all developed countries. Walking down a dark street at night is not a healthy decision for anybody, but sociologists tend to agree that men would be in the most danger. Just throwing that out there.

  13. TekServer says:

    I’m not touchin’ this one … 😉

  14. fishboy says:

    I get your point Eugene but that whole discussion of ‘who’s most likely to get beat up’ is a red-herring. Science does not say ‘men are more likely to hurt each other therefore the society is not patriarchal’, in fact there may be grounds for theories to the opposite. But the problem I have with the comments here is that apparently any mention of patriarchy is insulting to someone’s society. Seriously – you’d have to have a terminally thin skin or a guilty conscience to go there.

  15. Mark Antony says:

    I’m comin’ within ten feet of this one. Last time I touched this kind of argument, the results weren’t pretty. Or hygienic.

  16. Hunter says:

    Do I even WANT to know what “that stupid thing with the cactus spines” is?

  17. Lee says:

    Owl Caller makes a good point about the position of the lower-status gender in *any* society. One of the ways in which women have traditionally been held in submission, in societies ranging from the Middle East to the British Empire to current-day America, is the implicit (and sometimes not so implicit) threat that a woman who steps outside the lines can have the protections of tradition withdrawn at any moment, at which point she becomes fair game. The male hyenas here seem to be in much the same situation, culturally.

  18. MercuryInRetrograde says:

    Interesting how the male hyenas can use shame to manage the female hyenas. Definitely a much more complex situation then simple ‘reverse patriarchy’ because, IME, men in a patriarchy don’t generally respond to shaming from women.

  19. Alex says:

    Actually, I think Owl Caller’s point stands in American society, at least. Not as far as all the ritual goes, but, relating back to Jiyambi’s point, there was a time when a woman could count on respectful, gentlemanly behavior to protect her from harm. Certainly behaving courteous and respectful wasn’t as “fun” for some, but it was expected and appreciated, in the same way as a lot of tradition. Now she counts on laws and the punishments tied to breaking them to keep in line the men would molest or abuse her. Or worse, she counts on her own self defense skills. I’m not saying it’s bad for a woman to be able to fight, but that a man should push to the point where it would be necessary is just shameful, in any society.

    Hope my comments aren’t too off track.

    I feel like I should point out that I am male, so people know what perspective I’m saying this from.

    And the way Her Motherlyness uses the word “recent,” IE “recent history,” makes me think of Ed, too.

    Agreed with Chelsea. Political discussions can be a lot of fun, but let’s keep it civil.

  20. Wow, a lot of interesting commentary here! Nice point, daniel. And I’m loving the comments day by day, from a lot of intelligent, literate people.

    Just wanted to point out the typo in Panel 2–‘thank’ for ‘than’.

  21. Tindi says:

    Ah, Ursula, you spawn such interesting debate sometimes. 🙂

  22. Ryn says:

    @Alex: To expand on your point, I think it’s shameful for someone to cross that line with anyone else, male, female, black, white, fully capable or disabled. It certainly indicates a social breakdown somewhere, IMHO.

  23. Arrkhal says:

    Y’know, just statistically, the vast majority of “assaults” with young men as the victim, are entered into voluntarily, with plenty of warning and plenty of opportunity to withdraw. The hugely vast majority of them also take place between rival gang members. Murders, too. Something in the neighborhood of 80-90% of reported violent crime victims were, themselves, attempting to commit a crime of violence at the time. In the Western world, anyway.

    When inter-gang violence is excluded, most _real_ assaults against both sexes are sudden, without warning, involve multiple attackers against one victim, no chance to disengage without fighting through, and usually end with execution or attempted execution.

    The main difference between sexes, statistically, is that women are far more likely to be abducted. Though not always for rape. Hauling someone off to an ATM and forcing them to withdraw their life savings happens to women a lot more often.

  24. Elkian says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion I know what the cactus spines are for…
    Wait, where are they even GETTING cacti?

  25. Tetrominon says:

    So, how about them Yankees, eh?

  26. BunnyRock says:

    Meep. Scary but interesting thought: without being too spoiler-tastic, Hypothetically, if another character for whatever reason had lost both Biological parents, would they have needed to go thought this sort of fairly traumatic sounding adoption ritual in order to be accepted by the rest of The People? And if so, at what age?

    The details of Blood mingling and the thing with the cactus spines would seem to imply The People seem to go for traumatic rites of passage in a big way. This is my no means unexpected, as we do not see them praying, chanting ect. Let me explain: religions and cultural indoctrination can be carried out in one of two ways to force you to remember it: Low intensity High repetition, such as repeated meditation, formulaic religious services, prayer or meditation at fixed times, most army drill, rote-remembering of culturally important facts (times tables, oaths of allegiance, rules of Football, national insurance/social security no) or High intensity Low repetition, such as many tribal initiation rites, frat-house hazing, army annual physical fitness tests/SF inductions, those dammed Physical Education bleep tests, Baptisms ect. As we have seen no evidence for the former, we must assume The People, like many tribal societies, prefer the Latter. In a small scale society where you haven’t got the resources to educate people in correct procedure formally for a prolonged period, educating them informally in correct behaviour and letting them pick it up by cultural osmosis and them making them go though traumatic rites of passage to make them remember it is the most viable strategy for maintaining social cohesion and the transmission of culturally important information. Interestingly of the two types of religion, autochthonous religions (self arising ones which cannot be traced to a single propagator and tend not to have formal or hierarchical priesthoods, but may have ritual specialists born in their position, such as most “tribal” faiths, Mesoamerican religion, Norse religion, Hinduism and Greco-roman and ancient Egyptian religion before the hereditary religious leaders became organised priesthoods) tend towards High intensity low repetition, as they are better at transmitting information in the type of small groups that generate autochthonous beliefs more quickly (you can see this in everyday life: little traditions and superstations spread best within small groups such as sports teams, families and workplaces and seldom transfer from one rival group to another) where as Messianic religions (where a single prophet or holy man lays out the complete rules of the religion all at once following a divine revelation, perhaps later built upon by latter lesser prophets, such as all the Abrahamic religions, Buddhism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. Note these are more likely to be monotheistic ) favour Low intensity High repetition, because if you’ve had a divine revelation and want to spread it to the masses, it’s hard to do so if you require them to effectively torture themselves in order to join (Interesting as Judaism is in effect both messianic and autochthonous in uses mainly Low intensity High repetition but retains some of the Intense rites such as strict food taboos, Important coming of age rites for males, hereditary priestly castes in the form of Kohanim and Levites, and un-anesthetised bodily modification more usually seen in the sort of small tribal groups, such as the tribes of Israel original were).

    Low intensity Low repetition just doesn’t work and High-intensity High repetition tends to be just too dammed violent for most cultures to stand: there was a good article to the effect in the Christmas issue of new Scientist, although I can no longer recall if it was this Christmas or the previous one. In this article as an example of the sort of traumatic High Intensity rite used by some groups they described one Australian Aboriginal group where at the height of a young males coming of age ceremony he had to lie face down on the ground whilst a tribal elder spit his penis along the penile urethra with a stone knife. Only after that was he considered adult.
    Why on earth do I mention this? Am I trying to make every male reader wince? Partly. But the thing is, Grim Eyes is considered adult by The People. So we could reasonably expect her to have been though a traumatic adulthood rite. The reason I mention that particular Australian example is because something VERY similar happens to female Spotted Hyenas quite without the Knives or for that matter much in the way of external intervention quite naturally when they give birth. You would expect a culture to adopt something like that as culturally significant, possibly as a cultural or religious Rite. In other cultures females as considered adult only after they have given birth… In many tribal cultures a traumatic and painful rite is required before members of the dominant sex is considered adult. Grim Eyes is considered Adult…Now we have not seen any little Grim Eyes running around, but Hyenas being Hyenas that signifies nothing. As is latter revealed with her interactions with a character I will, for spoilers sake, refer only as H, Grim Eyes is clearly a hyena of the world. I’m just wondering if she is a Hyena of the world with all that entails, and subsequently getting very paranoid about the fact that Grim Eyes is considered to be an adult in this society given what that might mean about her off-screen life and what she may have subsequently suffered and lost.

  27. TekServer says:

    That was a nice little dance you did around those potential spoilers, BR. Almost tribal, in fact!


  28. Shiitake says:

    On a sidenote unrelated to the above conversation, I can’t help but notice that the thread holding Boneclaw Mother’s eye-stones keeps rotating. I doubt it’s intentional, but wouldn’t it be creepy if it WERE? Ah, if wishes were fishes.

  29. Silver Guardian says:

    Ah, so I’m not the only one who noticed that, then.