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FAQ / Life on Pern

Last updated 16th October 2006 by Eimi

Women in the Holds and Halls vs. Women in the Weyr

Before the Plague swept through the South, killing nearly half of the population, women enjoyed the same freedoms and privileges as men. They were allowed to craft, inherit leadership roles, and travel freely. However, after the Plague, women were in high demand as they would bear the children that would replenish the decimated population. It was deemed necessary that they give up their duties to craft, as well as their positions of leadership, and concentrate instead on raising children and caring for their families. Even after more than forty turns, the population has not recovered, and so women are still seen as breeders. The generation born after the Plague does not remember a time when women were the equals of men, and so the idea of women crafters and women leaders is strange and ‘unnatural’ to most of them. Even most of those who survived the Plague and witnessed the changes to the southern way of life realize that the role women are playing in the new South is of vital importance and are reluctant to change things back to the way they were.

Crafthalls hold much the same view as their Holder neighbors. Though there might be the odd female crafter wandering about their Halls, they had received their knots before the Plague. However, most female crafters after the Plague gave up crafting to return to their homes and start families, or moved to the Weyr where they were allowed to practice freely. New female apprentices were banned from joining most Southern crafthalls and, like in Holds, the thought of women as crafters became ‘obsolete’. Male crafters caught teaching the craft to females are often subject to severe consequences. The only exception to this are those crafthalls that maintained their close ties to the North. Since the North did not suffer the Plague, northern women still enjoy equality with men. As such, crafthalls allied with the North still welcome female apprentices. These Halls are the Printer Hall (now incorporated into the Harper Hall), the Technicians Hall, and the Dolphin Hall. The Harper Hall has only recently allowed females to craft once again (leading to retaliation from angry Holders who burnt down their Crafthall).

It was quickly realized that in this new South, women had become a precious commodity. As such, they were deemed valuable. Families could now use their daughters for their own advancement if they should choose by betrothing them to the man of their family’s choice in exchange for marks, privileges, political alliances, or other commodities. Some women are not even given a choice as to whom they will marry, especially women of a higher social status. After marriage, the role of the woman is purely to produce and care for the family that they provide for their husband. Though in most Holds and Halls the physical mistreatment of women is not tolerated, there are those Holds that turn a blind eye. The minimum age at which a girl can marry is 15, and this is strictly enforced. Knowing violators face severe penalties.

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