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Author Topic: PC351: Hoywverch  (Read 7399 times)

Father Beast

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Reply #20 on: February 28, 2015, 11:55:47 AM
"Elin, the daughter of Gwir Goch, ruled over the cantref of Madrunion, for her father had neither sons nor brothers."

That should be mother, not father.  In the tales that come down to us in the Mabinogion, the culture is matrilineal, with a child's father being unknown or at least unimportant.  That's why the heroes are named as their mother's sons, like Math fab Mathonwy.  The closest equivalent to a father/child relationship is with an uncle and his sister's children, hence Gwydion fab Dôn is Math's nephew by Math's sister Dôn.  I recall that a minor plot point in "The Island of the Mighty" is that Gwydion wanted to try being a father, a concept he had heard about earlier.


My only experience with a matrilineal society is in the Sheri Tepper novel, I think it was "Grass". I appreciated it for being something that worked because it recognized a child's need for both male and female parental figures in their life, and the father's need was filled by uncles or other male near relatives of the mother. I had no clue that it was practiced at some point in history.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #21 on: February 28, 2015, 05:07:55 PM
"Elin, the daughter of Gwir Goch, ruled over the cantref of Madrunion, for her father had neither sons nor brothers."

That should be mother, not father.  In the tales that come down to us in the Mabinogion, the culture is matrilineal, with a child's father being unknown or at least unimportant.  That's why the heroes are named as their mother's sons, like Math fab Mathonwy.  The closest equivalent to a father/child relationship is with an uncle and his sister's children, hence Gwydion fab Dôn is Math's nephew by Math's sister Dôn.  I recall that a minor plot point in "The Island of the Mighty" is that Gwydion wanted to try being a father, a concept he had heard about earlier.

My only experience with a matrilineal society is in the Sheri Tepper novel, I think it was "Grass". I appreciated it for being something that worked because it recognized a child's need for both male and female parental figures in their life, and the father's need was filled by uncles or other male near relatives of the mother. I had no clue that it was practiced at some point in history.

Oh, yeah. There have been a number of societies in which children are considered to belong entirely to the mother's family and the role of "father figure" was filled by mom's brothers or other male members of the community (one of which might actually be the kid's biological father, but nobody cared). In fact, some societies didn't even have the same concept of sex as we do, such as one Amazonian tribe who believed that a kid came from the combined semen of everyone the mom slept with, so women who want to have a kid are encouraged to seduce all the smartest/strongest/most handsome men they can find so their child will combine all their traits.

And then, again, none of those men have a special relationship with the kid, unless they happen to build that relationship later as one of the men in the kid's community.

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Reply #22 on: March 03, 2015, 03:38:22 PM

And, before anyone else says it, I can hear the chorus of, "Eww.. with your sister? What is this, Game Of Thrones?"

They were FOSTER sisters, yes? 

Oh. My mistake. That makes it allright.

I don't know. It still kind of squicks me out.

I'll be back later with a real comment. Actually, I loved the story so much that this didn't bother me in the slightest.

But for the record... foster siblings. Ew. Still weird.

I guess it depends on what exactly the family dynamic was like, whether they were like a small tight-knit family or more like an orphanage--the former might be more like brother and sister the latter might be more like classmates/roommates.  Anyway, for whatever reason, it didn't squick me out here, and it played an important role in the final resolution.



Fenrix

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Reply #23 on: March 03, 2015, 08:28:28 PM

And, before anyone else says it, I can hear the chorus of, "Eww.. with your sister? What is this, Game Of Thrones?"

They were FOSTER sisters, yes? 

Oh. My mistake. That makes it allright.

I don't know. It still kind of squicks me out.

I'll be back later with a real comment. Actually, I loved the story so much that this didn't bother me in the slightest.

But for the record... foster siblings. Ew. Still weird.


We can extract an interesting analysis of taboos. The taboo of incest largely springs from the production of degenerate offspring from the shallow gene pool. Is the taboo of homosexuality greater than the taboo of incest? Considering that homosexual relationships are unable to produce genetic offspring, does the taboo of incest apply? The same question is there with adoptive siblings, as the shallow gene pool problem would be eliminated.

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ElectricPaladin

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Reply #24 on: March 03, 2015, 08:40:45 PM

And, before anyone else says it, I can hear the chorus of, "Eww.. with your sister? What is this, Game Of Thrones?"

They were FOSTER sisters, yes? 

Oh. My mistake. That makes it allright.

I don't know. It still kind of squicks me out.

I'll be back later with a real comment. Actually, I loved the story so much that this didn't bother me in the slightest.

But for the record... foster siblings. Ew. Still weird.


We can extract an interesting analysis of taboos. The taboo of incest largely springs from the production of degenerate offspring from the shallow gene pool. Is the taboo of homosexuality greater than the taboo of incest? Considering that homosexual relationships are unable to produce genetic offspring, does the taboo of incest apply? The same question is there with adoptive siblings, as the shallow gene pool problem would be eliminated.

I had this conversation with my buddy Jon back in college and it was really interesting. We ended up deciding that although it's a non-reproductive relationship, the same could be said of a heterosexual couple who simply decides not to have children, so it's not really an exclusively gay issue. Also, for me, there's still some squickiness based on the nature of the relationship. It's hard to imagine how ending up with someone you were raised with as your primary romantic partner isn't a little bit... unhealthy. Aren't you supposed to go out into the world and encounter people in order to become close to them? For the record, I'd have the same ambiguous feelings about a couple who met as children, were raised very close, and basically never spent time away from each other before shacking up. Ew.

So, in this case, it's the fact that they were basically raised as siblings that makes it a little weird. By contrast, I read a little while ago about a German couple who discovered that they were actually half-siblings, but had been raised separately, and while I felt very bad for them - they had already had one child with severe disabilities, and had originally planned to try for more children, but were forced by this revelation to stop - their relationship wasn't squicky at all.

Of course, come to think of it, this story isn't really clear. We know that they were little girls together, because the story describes them playing little girl games, but I'm not entirely sure that the amount of time they spent together was for long enough and at a formative enough period for it to really bother me.

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Reply #25 on: March 03, 2015, 09:01:54 PM
Yeah, but we're talking about a time period where you've got a smaller population, and also marriage patterns at least partially based on class status, right? The whole point of the fostering system is to strengthen bonds between independent rulers. If you raise my daughter and I raise yours, we're all less likely to go to war with each other, and more likely to help each other out if an outsider attacks. Because of this, I'd imagine marriage between foster siblings isn't only not-squicky, but even preferable and celebrated. It's a built-in pre-vetted marriage partner of the right social class that you already know you like just fine. I'd totally take that deal, if I lived in this place and time. :)

I admit the terminology is weird to modern ears, though. But "foster sister" isn't the same thing as "blood sister", and nobody in this story thinks it is. Heck, even cousin-marriage was a lot more common back in the day. A foster sibling is soooo much farther removed than your cousin, so really, not a big deal.

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bounceswoosh

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Reply #26 on: March 04, 2015, 05:58:32 AM
I started listening to this story on a long road trip; I had to turn it off and listen to it later. I don't see how the extensive Welsh section at the start contributed to the story; it just annoyed and confused me. I liked the rest of the story - as I think of it, the actual story - just fine. The idea that the guy would just accept the dire consequences of a little word play / riddle was hard for me to swallow, but this may be part of the overall tradition the story borrows from.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #27 on: March 04, 2015, 02:43:55 PM
Yeah, but we're talking about a time period where you've got a smaller population, and also marriage patterns at least partially based on class status, right? The whole point of the fostering system is to strengthen bonds between independent rulers. If you raise my daughter and I raise yours, we're all less likely to go to war with each other, and more likely to help each other out if an outsider attacks. Because of this, I'd imagine marriage between foster siblings isn't only not-squicky, but even preferable and celebrated. It's a built-in pre-vetted marriage partner of the right social class that you already know you like just fine. I'd totally take that deal, if I lived in this place and time. :)

I admit the terminology is weird to modern ears, though. But "foster sister" isn't the same thing as "blood sister", and nobody in this story thinks it is. Heck, even cousin-marriage was a lot more common back in the day. A foster sibling is soooo much farther removed than your cousin, so really, not a big deal.

My impression of the tradition of fostering is that it could go either way. Sometimes your foster sibling was someone you met when you were a little older child and were encouraged to retain some distance from, so you could grow fond of the person and eventually see them as a partner, not a relative. But in other cases - like, for example, if the parents of one child were busy, at war, or had no interest in raising their child - the child might be basically raised as part of the family from a very young age. So it really depends on stuff that we don't know. In any case, it's pretty clear that the intent was not that it be creepy, and the women got together after several years apart, so in retrospect I'm not bothered.

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Reply #28 on: March 04, 2015, 04:03:23 PM
The whole point of the fostering system is to strengthen bonds between independent rulers.

Oh?  I guess I was thinking of fostering as more like the current adoption system, a temporary home for orphans before finding a permanent home but in a private residence rather than in an institution like an orphanage.  In retrospect that probably makes no sense in the context of the story because she's a noblewoman with land.

That makes sense as an explanation why this isn't squicky.  I didn't take it that way in any case, perhaps in large part because the story treated it with nonchalance.  They were foster sister, now they're lovers--the only thing that was a big deal was that one of them was promised in marriage already.

We can extract an interesting analysis of taboos. The taboo of incest largely springs from the production of degenerate offspring from the shallow gene pool. Is the taboo of homosexuality greater than the taboo of incest? Considering that homosexual relationships are unable to produce genetic offspring, does the taboo of incest apply? The same question is there with adoptive siblings, as the shallow gene pool problem would be eliminated.

I don't think that the incest taboo springs from the fear of production of degenerate offspring.  At least, in the sociology classes I took in college, that's what they said.  That's certainly a part of the taboo now, though it would still be squicky to most people for siblings to have sex even if they were same-sex or one was known to be infertile.  I don't know how widely agreed this is, but the professor argued that the incest taboo was a social thing not a genetic thing--perhaps to discourage families from fighting one another about in-family sexual relationships, or to encourage exogamous relationships so that a relationship can make a bond between my family and your family.  The professor believed strongly enough about this that you would get 0 credit if he asked a question on the test about the reason for the incest taboo and you only mentioned offspring. Anyway, I am far from being a sociologist, so I'm taking other people's word for it, basically, but food for thought in any case.  I'm not sure how widely this is believed or if there are more than one entrenched school of thought.



Varda

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Reply #29 on: March 04, 2015, 04:25:43 PM

My impression of the tradition of fostering is that it could go either way. Sometimes your foster sibling was someone you met when you were a little older child and were encouraged to retain some distance from, so you could grow fond of the person and eventually see them as a partner, not a relative. But in other cases - like, for example, if the parents of one child were busy, at war, or had no interest in raising their child - the child might be basically raised as part of the family from a very young age. So it really depends on stuff that we don't know. In any case, it's pretty clear that the intent was not that it be creepy, and the women got together after several years apart, so in retrospect I'm not bothered.

It sounds like you're equating fosterage with adoption. They were two entirely separate arrangements back in the day. Fosterage was purely political and about creating ties between nations, but it did *not* carry the connotation of becoming part of the family that raised you, even symbolically. At the end of the agreed-upon fostering period, you went home to your birth family. Whereas with adoption, the child *does* become a permanent part of the family unit and takes on the family identity who raised them.

It's confusing, because in modern usage, "fostering" is more like temporary adoption, and sometimes leads to actual adoption, and almost exclusively happens because the child's birth family isn't able to care for them for some reason. At least in the West, we don't really practice fostering for the purpose of strengthening political/social ties anymore.

To use a more mainstream example, look at the Stark family in Game of Thrones/ Song of Ice and Fire. In the Stark household, you've got the Stark children, Jon Snow, and Theon Greyjoy, all of which grew up together. Jon Snow is Lord Stark's son by another woman, so he's basically adopted into the household, and holds a status as both the other kids' blood brother, and as someone not-quite-the-same as the other children. Theon is Lord Stark's foster son, taken from his home at a young age as both a hostage to prevent his people in the Iron Isles from resuming war, and so that he can grow up with positive relationships to the Starks and return home as an adult ready to continue that political tenor. Jon Snow marrying one of his siblings would be squicky, even if he weren't their half-brother. But nobody would blink at Theon marrying one of his foster siblings, because everyone understands his status in the household.

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Reply #30 on: March 04, 2015, 09:19:41 PM
I really enjoyed this story's emulation of the traditional fairy tale structure and storyline. Mixed in with the wit and humor, this was a winner in my book! I didn't bat an eye at the foster sister thing, I guess being a historical fiction junkie has its benefits. :P



albionmoonlight

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Reply #31 on: March 27, 2015, 01:27:06 AM
Prankster/trick stories are always fun.  Neat to see people using their wits instead of their swords.

I did feel a little bad for the Prince insomuch as he didn't really do anything wrong.  Generally in these stories, the antagonist has done something to show the reader that she or he is a bad guy who will deserve his comeuppance.  Not so much here.

Of course, I much prefer a world where women get to choose their partners over a world where they are assigned a husband and have to ride off and be his property.  In that sense, I did not feel at all bad for what the Prince represented losing.  But, in the context of the world in which the story took place, the Prince did not seem like a particularly bad person.



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Reply #32 on: February 12, 2020, 01:49:29 AM