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A World without the Patriarchy

No, it is not particularly male. Plenty of women in positions of power behave like that too. We have a few examples of that here in Sweden, one of which is the subject of an ongoing police investigation (so no names mentioned). This is why I wrote that it is about abuse of power. No matter who is in power, there will always be a minority who abuse their position and abuse other people.
Not exclusively male, perhaps, but those women in positions of power still operate within a patriarchy. It may be patriarchy with a very soft touch, but it's still patriarchy. Throughout Europe and the places it colonized, positions of power are traditionally men's roles. If women fill them, they are, in a way, acting as honorary men. So, if they abuse their power, they do it in a patriarchal way. The fact that a woman is doing it this time doesn't mean it doesn't stem from patriarchy.

In my state a female legislator was forced to resign a couple years back for sexual harassment, including an inappropriate and possibly not fully consensual relationship with a subordinate. It's not like it doesn't happen here. But the cases with male perpetrators are far more numerous. Perhaps simply because far more men are in those positions of power to begin with? A question to ponder.

Again, though, that doesn't mean abuses wouldn't happen in a non-patriarchal society. Perhaps even those same kinds of abuses. But I think the underlying dynamics would probably be different.
As is most reported domestic violence. One of the unfortunate consequences of a patriarchal society is that men cannot admit to being abused by women without being seen as soft cowardly fools. So they don't report it for fear of being even further humiliated, and so the perpetrators get away with it. For a non-violent example, consider how a "hen-pecked husband" is seen in society. Attitudes are beginning to change, but only very slowly.

This is an area I feel very strongly about, in part because of what I went through at school (if you've ever read Jan Guillou's book Ondskan you'll have an idea of what I mean) but also in part because of what I've seen in the various non-western parts of this world.

Not familiar with that work, so I looked it up. Yikes. Schools can be hotbeds of abuse (that's a whole other issue), but that really sounds extreme.

And you hit the nail on the head: patriarchy hurts men too. Often in different ways from women, but no less damaging.

I don't buy the reasoning that if only we get rid of the patriarchy all will be well - I'm too much of a cynic to believe it will be better, especially after what I've seen and been through.

I agree, believe it or not. I think a non-patriarchal society would have its own good parts and bad parts.

I don't think I articulated this, but the big question on my mind, playing with the ideas of greater gender equality and no patriarchy, is what would and wouldn't change if patriarchy didn't exist.
And now I'm going to be even more controversial and challenging, and suggest that perhaps you are viewing this from a western point of view. As Miles Lacey has pointed out, our views on gender roles are to a large degree based on our religion, society and culture.

Indeed I am viewing it from a Western point of view. That's the point of view I have. Which is of course limited.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
If women fill them, they are, in a way, acting as honorary men.

Not to be too argumentative here, but don't you think that perspective kind of minimizes the abilities and contributions of the women who are in those roles?
 
Not to be too argumentative here, but don't you think that perspective kind of minimizes the abilities and contributions of the women who are in those roles?

No. It's not about the women themselves. It's about the roles available to them.

What a woman does with that role can certainly be laudable. But I'd argue that the role itself is limiting. It's like having no queens, only kings, and maybe occasionally a woman can be king, but there's no such thing as a queen. So the female king has to cram herself into a masculine role. She may do great things with it, but the fact remains that the role is rooted in masculinity, not femininity.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
No. It's not about the women themselves. It's about the roles available to them.

What a woman does with that role can certainly be laudable. But I'd argue that the role itself is limiting. It's like having no queens, only kings, and maybe occasionally a woman can be king, but there's no such thing as a queen. So the female king has to cram herself into a masculine role. She may do great things with it, but the fact remains that the role is rooted in masculinity, not femininity.

Okay, in your example it's like a woman who holds the title of King. But there literally are Queens. You're taking this weird vision of the world and applying it to everything, without asking how much it's even a natural explanation.

When I was in High School I did an internship program at a small business that had 13 full time women and no other men besides myself for those three months. It was 100% intentional. But the people there are honorary men? How does that even work?

After college I took a sales job, at a company founded by a woman. I swear, she in a way the most impressive and intimidating person I've ever met, and I have met many impressive people. I admit, I didn't stick with that job very long. But somehow this person, with her powerful presence, running a successful growing business that she founded, overworking her employees like I won't even get into, doing things very much her own way, is doing so as an honorary dude?

At some point a phrase can be defined so broadly as to lose it's own meaning and usefulness, no?
 
But somehow this person, with her powerful presence, running a successful growing business that she founded, overworking her employees like I won't even get into, doing things very much her own way, is doing so as an honorary dude?

It's more nuanced, of course. My take is that the positions of very great power, like national politics and the leadership of Fortune 500 companies, is designed with, essentially, only kings in mind. A crude analogy, yes, but it's what I could think of.

Women holding power in smaller spheres is nothing new. The small company and the female founded, female owned business you worked for don't sound like they were anywhere near Fortune 500 territory. When companies do get into that territory, there's a pretty thick glass ceiling, at the very least.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
It's more nuanced, of course. My take is that the positions of very great power, like national politics and the leadership of Fortune 500 companies, is designed with, essentially, only kings in mind. A crude analogy, yes, but it's what I could think of.

Women holding power in smaller spheres is nothing new. The small company and the female founded, female owned business you worked for don't sound like they were anywhere near Fortune 500 territory. When companies do get into that territory, there's a pretty thick glass ceiling, at the very least.

I'm so confused. The vision of the world that you're describing applies to.... maybe just a few thousand jobs?


Edit: I wanted to clarify, I'm not trying to be petty, and I'm not even trying to "prove" anything.... I'm looking for, maybe a more robust explanation of where you're coming from?

Edit 2: Y'know, I'm sorry, I shouldn't be putting you on the spot like that. You don't need to answer. We'll think nothing of it.
 
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S J Lee

Inkling
As one of the few people who doesn't live in Europe or North America lurking on these forums I would suggest that reading some anthropology books and maybe even some history books that don't just focus on North American, European and northeast Asian history would be a good idea. Many notions about gender roles are, in fact, nothing to do with any natural order of things but are largely cultural, religious and societal constructs.

Take combat for example. In Europe the overwhelming majority of the soldiers were male and most of them were foot soldiers. As a result, the weapons and other equipment they carried were made specifically for use by such soldiers. The English longbow was heavy and intended for foot soldiers who had considerable upper body strength to use it.

In Mongol society the vast majority of people were nomadic. The survival of nomadic clans depended upon everyone being able to hunt, fish and fight. Men, women and children were all expected to learn horseback archery from a very young age. Bows needed to be light. The fact they were light meant they could be used by just about anyone, not just men.

On the nurturing side of things the role of nurturing traditionally fell to women in European society but among Australian Aborigines and in many Pacific Island cultures the role was spread equally among all the genders. To a large extent this was because of the belief that raising children was a collective responsibility, not just the responsibility of the immediate or extended family - or females.

Abolishing patriarchy changes nothing when it comes to things like rape or other sex crimes. As long as society has a pecking order which treats one group as being superior to another the group at the bottom end of that pecking order will be seen as property or worthless human garbage with whom the ruling group (and other groups further up the pecking order than the ones at the bottom) can treat as they see fit.

When writing fantasy that involves creating a non-patriarchal society you need to work out what type of hierarchy will take its place and work out potential areas of abuse and conflict. In my work in progress the concept of matriarchy or patriarchy simply does not exist in the world I've created. Rather, it's age and merit that determines a person's position in society. My main character is a female youth of mixed race. Her mixed race heritage and age puts her at the lower end of society's pecking order, not her gender.

one minor-ish quibble

A Mongol bow was "light" in that it doesnt weigh much ... BUT it was not easy/light to draw (ie, to pull the string back). On the contrary, it was brutal. Most modern men with office jobs would have no chance if suddenly told to use it, I'd guess. Genghis' men worked at their bow-drawing for years to be strong enough - born to it, in effect, and raised to use heavier heavier draw-weights as they grew to be men. Draw weight about 150 lbs for a warrior's bow. Sheesh, thats like doing a chin-up with two fingers and a thumb! And Genghis' men fought from horseback so couldn't "step forwards" as they drew, and they didnt use thumb rings, apparently.... if I am wrong on this, let me know!

What Poundage Was The Mongolian Bow?​

The Mongolian bow from the times of Ghenghis Khan is said to have a draw weight of up to 150 pounds. This enabled the archers to propel their arrows up to 300 yards. Modern-day Mongolian bows have a more reasonable draw weight of between 40lbs and 90lbs.

The secret of the Mongolian bow comes from its limbs. These are more able to store energy than other bows. So while the Mongolian bows are small, only 120 cm they are able to propel arrows at great distances. According to the information I gathered from the Museum of Archery in Valois France the range of Mongol bows is 300 meters and this is due to the ability of the bow to store energy effectively and transfer it to the arrow.
 
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Mad Swede

Maester
No. It's not about the women themselves. It's about the roles available to them.

What a woman does with that role can certainly be laudable. But I'd argue that the role itself is limiting. It's like having no queens, only kings, and maybe occasionally a woman can be king, but there's no such thing as a queen. So the female king has to cram herself into a masculine role. She may do great things with it, but the fact remains that the role is rooted in masculinity, not femininity.
Here I think you are oversimplifying. It's not about a role being masculine, in terms of applied social psychology it's about how a group forms and is then led by someone. Groups form as a result of some common interest, and as they form the group develops behavioural norms. Someone will become the group leader. The choice of leader, like the development of group norms, reflects why the group formed and what threats there are to the group. This applies to groups of all sizes, and there is no specific reason for a group to be led by males. Group psychology and group norms are very complex, and one of the objections I have to some (not all) feminist arguments is that they ignore the complexity of social psychology.
 

Queshire

Auror
Well the obvious follow up to that is what elements influence who becomes the group leader and whether those elements accurately reflect the world as it is or if they're the result of biases.
 

Nighty_Knight

Minstrel
I could be mistaken about the exact number, but it's something like 80% of men would have no trouble overpowering 80% of women in the same age group. That is, some schlub who's stronger than just 20% of men could overpower 80% of women.

So when we're talking about petty crap, there's definitely no shortage of women who are guilty of it. But once you get to the seriousness of exchanging hits, the reality is that men can withstand many of the hits while women in the same situation end up in the hospital. That doesn't make it okay for women to hit men, but insomuch as you're judging by consequences, the number of instances could be the same, and women would overwhelmingly suffer more.
This is true. Men tend to do way more damage when they do. However, there is a case right now getting media attention of the onlyfans model who killed her boyfriend with a knife recently, who had a history of anger and abusing her boyfriend and with even video footage on an elevator with her attacking him 1 month before the murder. He was bigger than her so she didn't really do much physical damage to him in the previous altercation. When she finally decided to use a knife, and it did enough to kill him. Which begs the question, does it make it any better just because a woman typically cannot do as much damage. Because as that case showed, all it took was an equalizer and the much larger boyfriend ended up dead to domestic violence. It is kind of a weird situation of intent versus results.
 
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Queshire

Auror
One needs an equalizer while the other doesn't BUT can still use anything the first would use as an equalizer. I don't know about you, but if you rolled that dice a hundred times I imagine it would rather favor the second.
 

Aldarion

Inkling
A pet peeve of mine is the permanence of the patriarchy and sexism in fantasy worlds. You're telling me you can imagine a world with dragons and magic and weird little gnome people, but you can't imagine a world where all genders are viewed as equal? BS. So I'm creating that in the story I'm writing now, and let me tell you, it's telling. Every time there is a character who is either in leadership or is an aggressor, it's automatically a straight male in my mind, and I have to consciously walk that back. And then this little voice in my head is like "don't you think there are too many female characters?" and "you already have one non-binary character, why do you need another?" Talk about internalized misogyny. Anyway, I would love to hear more about others process in leveling the gender-based playing field.
For all genders to be viewed as equal, all genders would have to be equal. Essentially, we are talking about a mono-gendered species.

Patriarchy developed for a reason. Humans are placental mammals, which means that they carry babies to term. This means also that human females have far greater importance in a) making babies and b) taking care of them, than is the case with most non-mammals (with birds, for example, females do tend to sit on eggs, but it doesn't really matter). As a result, they have to be protected. Males, by comparison, are relatively worthless - one male can impregnate multiple females, and there, duty done - father is not really necessary for development of the baby afterwards. What this means is that so long as there are enough males left to do that (which may be one for each ten or even hundred females), nobody really cares how many males die. So women tend to be protected, and do relatively less dangerous jobs (such as housework and agriculture) while males do more dangerous ones (hunting and warfare). And since historically the ruling class was warfare class, this meant males tended to be rulers.

Which means that, if genders are biologically different the way they are in humans, they will then also be sociologically and politically different. To have genders that are equal, you have to have them be equal. Magic may compensate for differences somewhat the way technology did, but you have to have literally modern world to have modern relationships. So frankly I don't see why you would have to "walk it back in your mind".
 

Queshire

Auror
Huff and bluster.

Are we to be slaves to the past? Is not humankind a thinking, reasoning creature capable of great change? Are we not, here and now, writers? Dreamers of impossibility? Ridiculous I say!
 

pmmg

Istar
Well the obvious follow up to that is what elements influence who becomes the group leader and whether those elements accurately reflect the world as it is or if they're the result of biases.

When a group is starting, I think the one who gains influence has a lot to do with energy spent, passions for doing so, and vision. Maintaining it requires competence. It is just the norm for humans to organize in hierarchies. Who rises to the top, does so for many reasons, hierarchies reward competence and punish incompetence. One who is competent and puts in the energy, will likely be capable of maintaining their longevity in the role. Gender does not matter. But males tend to rise to the top of Hierarchies for many reasons, which cannot be made to disappear without an organic evolutionary process. Any such process is less likely to be present the further back in the time line we go towards more primative existence. To imagine such is to imagine men and women, while keeping the same differences, developed differently over the organic process. I find that unlikely, for a lot of reasons. But I could still write one where it was still full of more maiden-kings (the new popular term) if I liked. I would just be ignoring the sheering forces that would make that unlikely.

However, there is no reason to believe that a woman with a vision, putting in the energy, and having skills, could not start something, and by competence keep it. Generationally though, it is more likely that men would eventually be ones who gained control. They are more likely to spend their energy in such a way.



One needs an equalizer while the other doesn't BUT can still use anything the first would use as an equalizer. I don't know about you, but if you rolled that dice a hundred times I imagine it would rather favor the second.

I think by this, you are saying that the fact both have access to the same types of weapons, the balance returns to unequal. I am not sure that is true.

If A can only kill B with the use of a gun, but B can kill A through other means, the fact that B can also use a gun, does not mean A and B have not become equal while both holding guns. Generally speaking, Women need some type of force multiplier to fend off men in most circumstances. Its a disadvantage in such situations, but not insurmountable. But life is not solely those situations, and the interplay between genders includes so many methods of persuasion and manipulation, that it would be hard to equate that. Women have many tools to push men without provoking violence and getting their way. In fact, its statistically true that women more often instigate violence against men, but that their ability to cause real harm is not large enough to provoke a violent response. When they do, they generally do not do well is such situations. But in a million other situations, they have better tools than men to come out on top on.


I dont think it is a secret, I am not interested trying to fix perceived social ills in my writing. So, for me, tackling an issue like gender inequality is not anything I find worthy (and I think such issues contain many less than true assumptions). But, I dont show anyone as having or not having power that anyone ought to have given the circumstances of the story. My solution to the problem is just to let people tackle their problems with the tools they have. For the most part, the female characters do a very good job of this. There are not many men would deny that or dismiss them just because of gender. I think these women, while it was not my intention, would be good role models if such were on display--but readers may vary. (I'd not be surprised, however, as I never am, if I could take a good guess on the political leanings of people based on their like and dislike of such things. I regret that, I wish there was more objectivity in the world).

Are we to be slaves to the past? Is not humankind a thinking, reasoning creature capable of great change? Are we not, here and now, writers? Dreamers of impossibility? Ridiculous I say!

In accordance with the observation above, I think it is also more likely that as we develop away from survival needs, women will play more of the roles that are perceived to be missing from them in the past. I dont think all differences will ever disappear, and I think some of things we consider strides forward are more on the foolish side, but things like women business and political leadership will certainly become more numerous as time moves on, it will organically form....unless there is a collapse back to more primative times, in which case, I think it will revert to a more survival mode model. 1st world problems vs 3rd.

But what do I know. I am just trying to write good stories. I think a lot of things are bullsh*t but still thing they are good entertainment.
 

Queshire

Auror
When a group is starting, I think the one who gains influence has a lot to do with energy spent, passions for doing so, and vision. Maintaining it requires competence. It is just the norm for humans to organize in hierarchies. Who rises to the top, does so for many reasons, hierarchies reward competence and punish incompetence. One who is competent and puts in the energy, will likely be capable of maintaining their longevity in the role. Gender does not matter. But males tend to rise to the top of Hierarchies for many reasons, which cannot be made to disappear without an organic evolutionary process. Any such process is less likely to be present the further back in the time line we go towards more primative existence. To imagine such is to imagine men and women, while keeping the same differences, developed differently over the organic process. I find that unlikely, for a lot of reasons. But I could still write one where it was still full of more maiden-kings (the new popular term) if I liked. I would just be ignoring the sheering forces that would make that unlikely.

However, there is no reason to believe that a woman with a vision, putting in the energy, and having skills, could not start something, and by competence keep it. Generationally though, it is more likely that men would eventually be ones who gained control. They are more likely to spend their energy in such a way.

Groups don't start in a vacuum though and those outside elements can affect the situation of the group and those who belong to it. This isn't to say that it necessarily comes down to the *gasp!* Patriarchy, but I think they must be considered in order to get a proper view of things.
I think by this, you are saying that the fact both have access to the same types of weapons, the balance returns to unequal. I am not sure that is true.

If A can only kill B with the use of a gun, but B can kill A through other means, the fact that B can also use a gun, does not mean A and B have not become equal while both holding guns. Generally speaking, Women need some type of force multiplier to fend off men in most circumstances. Its a disadvantage in such situations, but not insurmountable. But life is not solely those situations, and the interplay between genders includes so many methods of persuasion and manipulation, that it would be hard to equate that. Women have many tools to push men without provoking violence and getting their way. In fact, its statistically true that women more often instigate violence against men, but that their ability to cause real harm is not large enough to provoke a violent response. When they do, they generally do not do well is such situations. But in a million other situations, they have better tools than men to come out on top on.


I dont think it is a secret, I am not interested trying to fix perceived social ills in my writing. So, for me, tackling an issue like gender inequality is not anything I find worthy (and I think such issues contain many less than true assumptions). But, I dont show anyone as having or not having power that anyone ought to have given the circumstances of the story. My solution to the problem is just to let people tackle their problems with the tools they have. For the most part, the female characters do a very good job of this. There are not many men would deny that or dismiss them just because of gender. I think these women, while it was not my intention, would be good role models if such were on display--but readers may vary. (I'd not be surprised, however, as I never am, if I could take a good guess on the political leanings of people based on their like and dislike of such things. I regret that, I wish there was more objectivity in the world).

That was specifically on the topic of domestic violence.

As for your writing.... Sure, fine. No problem with that. You do you.
 

pmmg

Istar
Groups don't start in a vacuum though and those outside elements can affect the situation of the group and those who belong to it. This isn't to say that it necessarily comes down to the *gasp!* Patriarchy, but I think they must be considered in order to get a proper view of things.

I believe I already covered that ground in the post above, and in several posts prior, and so have some others. I am going to avoid just going in circles, but if any care they can read previous comments here, and take from it what they will. If I could skip to the end, no one is about to change long held belief's over a few posts in a forum. If it is in your heart to write stories to take on 'the patriarchy', well the waters warm, jump on in.

That was specifically on the topic of domestic violence.

I was confused on that post. In fact I had to read it a few times to sift out what it was saying. If the point is, regardless of how it came about, women tend to end up on the worser end of domestic violence more than men, I dont think there is any disputing that.

As for your writing.... Sure, fine. No problem with that. You do you.

I appreciate you Quesh. You speak your mind, have things to say, and keep all us hogheads honest. But...you know 'you do you' is not what forums are about. The comment that is in response to really aims at everyone considering the question raised, 'how do I go about leveling the playing field in my fantasy story?' My best answer to that is still the same. Don't. Don't add stuff to the story which is not organically there in the first place. Instead, tell the story as it comes out, and let your characters address their problems and issues with the skills that they have. If when its done, you still think the story needs more 'representation', fix it in the rewrite. It is my belief, which I hope is spun out of much wisdom in the craft--and happily presented for your benefit, that bringing those things into a story artificially will give the story a more shoehorned feel, and hurt the effort rather than improve it. And that, if one is going for impact on those issues, the impact comes from the struggle of the characters, not artificially switching roles of powerful characters to make a show of having them. That will more likely read as false. Mileage may vary, and no one has to listen to me.

I think the OPer, while seeming very nice, tripped onto something likely to draw comments from people not sharing their frame, and I think Mythic Scribes is a little more of a male perspective than other sites. So the comments so far are not surprising to me. I think this thread has no direction to go other than spinning its wheels without without revisiting the OP. But, I am going to let others have it and go back to moving the story along.
 

Nighty_Knight

Minstrel
One needs an equalizer while the other doesn't BUT can still use anything the first would use as an equalizer. I don't know about you, but if you rolled that dice a hundred times I imagine it would rather favor the second.
My point was, in domestic violence, a smaller woman attacks a larger guy and doesn't do much physical harm. So it tends to get overlooked. All it took was grabbing a knife and now it is a murder.
 
Oh goodness, I go offline for one weekend and get completely left behind!

Regarding DV, I hope no one is saying that women are incapable of using abuse. However, there is pretty solid research that correlates sexism to it. I'm more than willing to keep talking about DV, but it is only one way that sexism manifests in our world, and I do think there many other ways to explore.

If I can summarize and possibly nudge the direction of the thread, it seems that we keep circling around the discussion of believability. Naturally. That's the point of writing, right, especially fantasy, to present a strange new world with just enough familiarity to keep people grounded and just enough wildness to keep the intrigued. I don't imagine the role (or lack thereof) of gender and sex would be looked at any differently than any other aspect of a fantasy world. It's like magic, people accept that there will be magic in fantasy, but they want to see the nuts and bolts, want to see it align with some kind of science based on rules that exist in that world. Even though those rules don't exist in our world, the fact that systems require rules is what is extrapolated.

So for something concrete then, we know that violence exists. If a fantasy world existed without gender based violence, what would it be based on? These are the questions I've been asking myself, and I really do appreciate the people chiming in this thread, as they've been giving me much to think about.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
>If a fantasy world existed without gender based violence, what would it be based on?
That's an easy one. Just pick any of the *other* reasons we humans attack each other. Heck, pick 'em all. Patriotism, religion, vendetta, drunkeness, madness, ... we have a whole collection.
 

Ankari

Hero Breaker
Moderator
Can you have a world without patriarchy? Sure. You would have to address the source of patriarchy, or the lack thereof. Someone suggested patriarchy is a product of organized religion. I'd counter and say there have been organized religions with predominant female leadership.

Patriarchy is established on the source of the power set in ancient times, when hunters fed the tribe. Hunters. Equipped with bows, muscles, and spears. A band of hunters needed a leader for optimal success. Especially when the hunters sought large game.

It isn't a mystery that the hunters were mostly male (I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule). It is not a mystery that females gathered, as they were tending to their children and had limited mobility.

By extension, hunters evolved to warriors. Warriors led by the main male hunter. When tribes fought, the leader coordinated the attack/defense. Remember, this structure has been in place for millennium. Hundreds of thousands of years, ingrained in our genes, has left a memory beyond our conscious. These structures evolved to organized governments. Warriors were the source of might, of a tribe's viability.

All that is to say, if I were to write an entire world without patriarchy, I'd be compelled to establish how such a world evolved without the foundation that I outlined above.

I'd want to know if your world didn't have a hunter-gatherer phase. I'd want to know how your world skipped this expansive age. Or, how the world evolved out of such generational memory.

I'd also want to know how, should violence stir, the defending party can withstand the aggressor. Does everyone have the same access to power? If not, what prevents the weaker party from domination?

I would want that to establish plausibility. Why? Because I'm of a world where the presence of generational memory remains in my blood. Readers use their understanding of the world to fill in the unknown of a story. Similar to how readers will use an image of a known person to fill in the gaps of a character in a book.
 
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