Episode 135: The Patriarchs of Westeros

Episode 135 for the week of February 16th, in which VOK guest hosts Katie and Michal fill in to help host Stefan Sasse, co-host of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour, Lord of the Nerdstream Era, and author of It is Known: Season 3 Deconstructed. We discuss one of Stefan’s upcoming contributions to Tower of the Hand: A Hymn for Spring, specifically his essay The Patriarchs of Westeros: Examining the toll the great lords exact from their families, their smallfolk, and from progress. We also cover chapters 52 (Jon VI) and 54 (Jon VII) of A Clash of Kings.

Notes: Stefan’s essay is currently available at Amazon, as it is included as part of Remy Verhoeve’s Waiting for Winter: Re-Reading A Clash of Kings, published by Blue Buddha Media. The eagle video can be found on youtube. In other news, Ashley‘s computer has been repaired: she and the other hosts will be returning in full force in March.

16 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Kienn

    You guys seemed confused about Jon’s dream with Ghost where he sees Bran so I wanted to point you to this quote later in CoK, Bran’s chapter.

    “He remembered who he was all too well; Bran the boy, Bran the broken. Better Bran the beastling. Was it any wonder he would sooner dream his Summer dreams, his wolf dreams? Here in the chill damp darkness of the tomb his third eye had finally opened. He could reach Summer whenever he wanted, and once he had even touched Ghost and talked to Jon. Though maybe he had only dreamed that.”

  2. Joey

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Stefan doesn’t know what a patriarchy is

  3. Closet Romantic

    Hi Joey

    I think it’s just a different working definition in general in English i think of it as male domination …alpha male domination ..Stefan uses a more precise definition of rule of the fathers. The best historical example in my head is the roman pater familas the father who has the right of life or death over his wife and children and also rights over their property, maybe Isaac or Abraham from the bible is a better example.

    For me I was shocked when he didn’t regard the Nights watch as a patriarchal organisation the tragedy of Danny Flint pretty much marked it out for me as such. The assertion of male dominance over the life and body of a woman is pretty much patriarchy in action.

    English is a very fluid language where meanings shift subtlety based on usage for example weird now means strange or unusual but once meant spell or magic. German is a more precise language apparently and as the root language is Latin which will have contributed to both languages, and pater means father

  4. Young Wolf

    The Night’s watch really isn’t though, “The assertion of male dominance over the life and body of a woman” might be a consequence of patriarchy but it isn’t the system itself. The Night’s watch isn’t an example of a patriarchal organization because the oldest doesn’t ‘son’ isn’t next in line, it’s the most viable candidate is voted on to be the Lord Commander. He’s using the truest and most literal definition of a patriarchy which is important to remember.

  5. Closet Romantic

    Hi Young Wolf

    I did write that I got the difference between the definitions.

    But patriarchy isn’t primogeniture two of the first three patriarchs in the bible where not the first born Isaac had an older brother (although you could argue legitimacy) in Ishmael, but Jacob did have an older legitimate brother in Esau, getting later on David was the youngest in his family although you could argue last man standing and Solomon’s brothers pretty much killed each other.

    It’s interesting that it looks like only the Andals really had patriarchy as the go too style of rule, I mean they even discussed a chapter where The Lord of Winterfell was illegitimate and fathered by a wildling and we have evidence that the north is willing to let bastards inherit in Ramsey Snow , and the Hornwood bastard who Bran backs as a candidate.

    Patriarchy in Westeros is failing as it’s just not producing enough heirs, the Arryns are hanging by a thread, the Baratheons are all out of legitimate males, so apparently are the Starks and the Tullys are down too Edmund and a fifty fifty chance so that’s four out of seven of the great families looking really vulnerable, also despite all the boy Greyjoys there don’t seem to be a whole lot of legitimate Greyjoy children cluttering up the castle.

    The patriarch I also would have loved a discussion of was Hoster Tully because he couldn’t get his brother to marry his children have no Tully. Cousins his son is treated with contempt and his daughters have both in their own way gone mad one before death one after it so Hoster Tully failed patriarch?

    You could be right about the Nights Watch but a traditional all male army or police is force is the tool of patriarchy enforcing the rights of the men inower to rule.

  6. Young Wolf

    He clearly does, he’s using the term in its truest form which is, “a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.” and relating the social implications of being a patriarch in that system, primarily responsibility. Everything he said was spot on in that definition.

  7. Hi there,

    yes, I’m using “patriarchy” in exactly that sense. The other version is what Id’ call the “feminist” version, which encompasses every society in which males exert power over women. This definition, however, was too broad to achieve any analysis success. Westeros is a mysoginic place, that’s well known. Calling everything “patriarchy” doesn’t help you to understand the more intimate layers, nor does it help you to understand why so many males are unhappy with the power arrangement as well.

  8. Closet Romantic

    Hi Stefan

    Here in the land of Oz we have recently had many issues to deal with in the feminist definitions of terms.

    Famously we had a prime minister call a leader of the opposition a mysogynist which use to have a much narrower definition but our national dictionary the Macquarie dictionary actually allowed the change so rather than a hatred of women it became a disdain for women or a belief in male superiority … To me more like chauvinism.

    Where I think I start to differ from you is the tools of patriarchy argument, the Kingsguard, the Maesters, the Nightswatch even the silent sisters and septas are tools of the patriarchy. Theon even threatens to send Asha to the silent sisters to shut her up. If Theon was able to assume his role as Lord of The Iron Islands before Asha married in other words before she got another patriarch he could have done this provided of course she just didn’t take her ships and men and sail off.

    So I guess my question is this you can separate the patriarchs from the patriarchal system but can you separate the tools of patriarchy from the wider sense of the word.

    All forms of elitist rule and most forms of egalitarian ones create discontent even in a democracy more people are locked out than really included with political parties forming oligarchical family structures just look at the Bush family in the USA Republican Party or the Kennedy’s in the Democratic Party.

  9. rabid

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Katie doesn’t know what “per se” is 😀 Does not equate with “say” or “for instance”.

  10. Lady Griffin

    They’re onto me!

  11. Stephen

    I think the conversation would have been more interesting if instead of Joanna the discussion would have been about Tywin’s sister Genna, Joanna’s backstory is mostly conjecture but we get a lot from the Genna story. Also a brief discussion of how different Brienne story would have been had she grew up in a different culture, say for example Dorne or even the North. Also, even in the Patriarchy social system, women carved out areas of power in all levels of society. Lastly there is very little of how the small folks were treated in GRRM’s book because the wars started almost immediately. Dunk & Egg #2 Sworn Sword has a nice illustration of the role of small folk & the duties owned to & from Lord of manor. Finally any discussion of modern gender theory to explain Medieval social structures reminds me of Monty Python & the Holy Grail scene with King Arthur political discussion with the field peasants. ” See the repression inherent in the system.”

  12. Lord Littlefinger

    I’d like to hear more about the aberrations as well. Olena Tyrell, Genna Lannister and even Balon & Asha.

    Also, I think its completely ridiculous to say people don’t listen to Cersei. Cersei is complete in charge from the time Robert dies until Tywin gets there. Tyrion is only able to operate on Cersei’s sufferance, as Cersei says

    “If I name this letter a forgery and tell them to throw you in a dungeon, no one will ignore that, I promise you.”
    He was walking on rotten ice now, Tyrion knew.”

    The only reason people start to ignore Cersei or work around Cersei is because Cersei proves herself to be grossly incompetent. That’s the only reason Tyrion even gets sent to kingslanding, because Cersei is fucking up!

    Also Clash is the best book because there are som many moving pieces on the board, Renly, Robb, Stannis, Tywin, Balon. There’s no Iron Born in Storm of Swords, Tyrion’s out of power, Renly’s dead. Plus Clash has Arya and Jaquen and Arya and Yoren. Clash is probably the best book. Although Storm is good too.

  13. Joey

    HI Closet Romantic. That was just a joke because the two sides were talking about the two different kinds of patriarchies.

  14. Closet Romantic

    Hi Joey

    Thanks for explaining, as I wrote in a question for Stefan I live in a land of shifting definitions and one night I went to bed with a word meaning one thing and woke up the next morning to find it has evolved without me.

  15. Hi, I’ve just been listening to this podcast and wanted to take a moment to thank you. It’s such an interesting discussion, which has clearly been well thought out from everyone. You also totally gave me hope. I studied Women’s Studies at University and tend to notice sexism all around me, so it was really eye-opening to hear younger-than-me men and women talking about patriarchy as not being a good idea. I’m hearing a lot of good stuff about the ‘millenial generation’ and this discussion suggests it’s true. I sound like an old bat, sorry!

  16. Thanks for the feedback!

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