Tiberius Gracchus

Kelsier: love and genderbending

21 posts in this topic

Hey,

So I was listening to shardcast the other day, (I don't remember which one) and somebody mentioned that Brandon regrets not making any other female characters in TFE, especially in Kelsier's crew. when I first heard this I stopped and tried to think which of the crew members I would make a woman. i decided that i would most like Yeden and Dockson to be women as I always liked them and felt they were underused. I thought that making them women would make them stand out more and perhaps create more interesting dynamics with the rest of the crew.

I quickly realized that if Yeden were made a woman, that this would drastically change how I would interpret his character arc. Yeden goes from vocally loathing Kel to beaming from his praise and jealous of his attention to getting himself and a many others killed in a foolish attempt to impress Kel. If Yeden was a woman the subtext would be that Yeden was obviously sexually infatuated with Kelsier and desperate to get Kel to love her back.

As an avid fan of the "Kelsier is actually a monster" side of the fandom I really like this interpretation of their relationship. Kel is a manipulative narcissistic who is also a very handsome, charming and charismatic man, the idea that he would use his sexuality to trick someone into dying for him is entirely within character and just the right amount of monstrous. He is even shown consciously using his sexuality to manipulate in the scene with Vin's barber.  

The genderbending also had an similar affect on Dockson's character. Dockson is Kelsier's best friend. He is incredibly loyal and dedicated to Kelsier. He has a past that he talks about from before he met Kelsier but he never talks about his current life with Vin, or anyone else. Its reasonable to think that Dockson has no life outside Kelsier and their shared work, because Kelsier is his life. I read Dockson as being hopelessly trapped in an unrequited marriage to Kelsier, in an even less healthy reversing of the Kelseir-Maer-Marsh dynamic. I also like that Dockson is self-aware enough that he would be aware of his feelings, Kelsier's very real problems and that Kelsier will never love him back that way. He is simply unwilling or unable to tell Kelsier no.

Of course neither Yeden or Dockson have to be women for their arcs to be read this way. I am doing a re-listen to TFE with this perspective in mind and it's holding up really well.

Thoughts?

Tib

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For the Yeden part, that makes a lot of sense as a possibility, though it would also require parts of his presentation to be changed so as to portray him as more competent, otherwise it would give the message that when a man was running the rebellion - Marsh - it worked well, but then Yeden took over and the most notable thing done was getting the army destroyed, and having to turn to outsiders for help. Those could both be mitigated by slightly upping Yeden's level of intelligence. I never did like how Yeden seemed so simple, but considering his background it made sense.

Docks, however, has a major part of his story involving the loss of a love, someone taken by a nobleman and then killed - that would be harder to do if he was a woman. Otherwise, those two could actually work well.

Otherwise, interesting idea, especially on playing up Kelsier's manipulative nature and his willingness to do immoral things.

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I would have swapped Spook and Ham.  Both are characters that survive the trilogy, and both make for interesting changes.

 

Ham is part of the mercenary military, making money to support his wife and children.  I don't remember clearly, but I don't think there were many women in the military.  If Ham was a woman, then you have some interesting dynamics - the guards and military placing higher value on having a misting than on sex.  You have the Wife and mother who goes and does the risky work to support her family.  And the conversations between Ham and Breeze have some additional perspective differences.

Spook has bigger change implications for the future, based on the aftermath, and may not be possible.  But Spook being female adds some other elements.  You can argue for an LGBTQ angle with the early infatuation with Vin, and later in the third book.  You can have a mirror of Vin, as they are both young ska women who grew up as thieves - but in vastly different environments.  And you can play with the Kelsier hero worship.  And then you have the whole Lord Mistborn thing.  

The only other character that could be interesting to swap, in my opinion, is Marsh.

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5 hours ago, Tiberius Gracchus said:

As an avid fan of the "Kelsier is actually a monster" side of the fandom I really like this interpretation of their relationship. Kel is a manipulative narcissistic who is also a very handsome, charming and charismatic man, the idea that he would use his sexuality to trick someone into dying for him is entirely within character and just the right amount of monstrous.

I have to disagree with you on that one: in the book (at least from my point of view), Kelsier didn't plan for Yeden' thing at all and seems devastated when that happened. It's true that Kelsier is manipulative and maybe would be capable of sacrifying a few people for his purpose, but not an entire army. Also, sexualizing everyone's motives for Kelsier seems a bit far-fetched.

Marsh being female would be interesting, that we can agree on. Other than that, Ham would be good too (the tough girl that could beat you up).

 

On to friendly debating!

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Posted (edited)

If we're going to discuss genderbending the core members of Kelsier's crew, I think the best candidate would be Marsh.

Instead of being Kelsier's brother who's a Seeker, he's his sister.

Either keep the love triangle thing with Mare in there (implying that Mare was bisexual), or make it that "Marsha" (sorry not sorry) was les/bi and had strong but unrequited feelings for Mare. Or find some other reason for Marsha to quit the skaa underground rebellion after Kelsier and Mare were sent to the Pits.

In general I think there should have been at a few female Inquisitors, since as we saw with Shan Elariel, even among the nobility and the government of the FE, the usefulness of Allomantic power trumped gender roles. So Marsha becoming an Inquisitor and Ruin's prime pawn would fit right in, as well.

Edited by robardin
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First choice would be Ham, then Spook. Personally I'd be really upset if Marsh swapped just cause I love his relationship with Kelsier as it stands and don't want to see it change to much. I do really like the idea of female inquisitors though.

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Yeden and Dox could work.  But picking characters who die, in a series where very few women with lines survive (Tyndwyl, Shan Elariel as examples) feels problematic.  Swapping the gender from male to female for a character who is affectionately called Dox is even more so.

This is why I gravitated towards characters who survive the entire trilogy.  Ham, who is important for moral and ethical reasons, who provides guidance could be really fun swapped.  My worry is it would echo Ais in Whitesand too much.  Spook is a key character, who has their own arc.  And maintain certain character beats would allow for more of the LGBTQ representation that has been missing.

 

Marsh... Marsh could work as I said.  THe older sister, female Inquisitors, all of it would be fun.  I'm not sure I want it though.

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Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, Tiberius Gracchus said:

Hey,

So I was listening to shardcast the other day, (I don't remember which one) and somebody mentioned that Brandon regrets not making any other female characters in TFE, especially in Kelsier's crew. when I first heard this I stopped and tried to think which of the crew members I would make a woman. i decided that i would most like Yeden and Dockson to be women as I always liked them and felt they were underused. I thought that making them women would make them stand out more and perhaps create more interesting dynamics with the rest of the crew.

I quickly realized that if Yeden were made a woman, that this would drastically change how I would interpret his character arc. Yeden goes from vocally loathing Kel to beaming from his praise and jealous of his attention to getting himself and a many others killed in a foolish attempt to impress Kel. If Yeden was a woman the subtext would be that Yeden was obviously sexually infatuated with Kelsier and desperate to get Kel to love her back.

As an avid fan of the "Kelsier is actually a monster" side of the fandom I really like this interpretation of their relationship. Kel is a manipulative narcissistic who is also a very handsome, charming and charismatic man, the idea that he would use his sexuality to trick someone into dying for him is entirely within character and just the right amount of monstrous. He is even shown consciously using his sexuality to manipulate in the scene with Vin's barber.  

The genderbending also had an similar affect on Dockson's character. Dockson is Kelsier's best friend. He is incredibly loyal and dedicated to Kelsier. He has a past that he talks about from before he met Kelsier but he never talks about his current life with Vin, or anyone else. Its reasonable to think that Dockson has no life outside Kelsier and their shared work, because Kelsier is his life. I read Dockson as being hopelessly trapped in an unrequited marriage to Kelsier, in an even less healthy reversing of the Kelseir-Maer-Marsh dynamic. I also like that Dockson is self-aware enough that he would be aware of his feelings, Kelsier's very real problems and that Kelsier will never love him back that way. He is simply unwilling or unable to tell Kelsier no.

Of course neither Yeden or Dockson have to be women for their arcs to be read this way. I am doing a re-listen to TFE with this perspective in mind and it's holding up really well.

Thoughts?

Tib

Interesting thoughts! From what I read of Brandon's concern, is because there was only one female character, he made her "super". As in the best and most of everything. There wasn't a gradation in which to show numerous female voices. Not saying whether I personally think this or not, but from what I recall of the WoB, that was what he was concerned about. The problem if we make just Yeden, or just Dockson female for instance, they are both in capacities that are seen as lesser than Kel. So it could potentially create problems. Not saying not to gender bend them. Just additional gender bends might aid it. Such as the others suggestions below which I will elaborate on there. 

7 hours ago, Stark said:

I would have swapped Spook and Ham.  Both are characters that survive the trilogy, and both make for interesting changes.

 

Ham is part of the mercenary military, making money to support his wife and children.  I don't remember clearly, but I don't think there were many women in the military.  If Ham was a woman, then you have some interesting dynamics - the guards and military placing higher value on having a misting than on sex.  You have the Wife and mother who goes and does the risky work to support her family.  And the conversations between Ham and Breeze have some additional perspective differences.

Spook has bigger change implications for the future, based on the aftermath, and may not be possible.  But Spook being female adds some other elements.  You can argue for an LGBTQ angle with the early infatuation with Vin, and later in the third book.  You can have a mirror of Vin, as they are both young ska women who grew up as thieves - but in vastly different environments.  And you can play with the Kelsier hero worship.  And then you have the whole Lord Mistborn thing.  

The only other character that could be interesting to swap, in my opinion, is Marsh.

I agree with this. Either Spook or Ham have powers. Ham has his family, and views Kelsier as although a leader, he is still an equal. He sees Kelsier as a friend, not an idealized version. This would allow Spook to also be gender bent, because Spook could offer the counter point of someone of the opposite sex idolizing an elder, but potentially without a sexual aspect of it. Spook is seeking attention and validation from Kelsier, but as a means to prove "her" worth to the group. So that Spook could belong. I realize this to a degree was Vin, but she never idolized Kelsier. He was a mentor, but he was a "real" one. Spook's view of Kelsier through most of the book was very much unrealistic. An idolized kelsier. 

5 hours ago, Spaceferring said:

I have to disagree with you on that one: in the book (at least from my point of view), Kelsier didn't plan for Yeden' thing at all and seems devastated when that happened. It's true that Kelsier is manipulative and maybe would be capable of sacrifying a few people for his purpose, but not an entire army. Also, sexualizing everyone's motives for Kelsier seems a bit far-fetched.

Marsh being female would be interesting, that we can agree on. Other than that, Ham would be good too (the tough girl that could beat you up).

 

On to friendly debating!

Well yeah Kelsier did not plan for Yeden to do what he did, but Kelsier did plan to set up the skaa on that plantation in the beginning to get thrown into a situation where they were forced to flee or face death. He then forgot they existed. It was not till he ran into the old man again later that Kelsier even found out they survived, and he was surprised for it. He fully expected the old man, if not all of them, to have died from the actions he took. 

5 hours ago, robardin said:

If we're going to discuss genderbending the core members of Kelsier's crew, I think the best candidate would be Marsh.

Instead of being Kelsier's brother who's a Seeker, he's his sister.

Either keep the love triangle thing with Mare in there (implying that Mare was bisexual), or make it that "Marsha" (sorry not sorry) was les/bi and had strong but unrequited feelings for Mare. Or find some other reason for Marsha to quit the skaa underground rebellion after Kelsier and Mare were sent to the Pits.

In general I think there should have been at a few female Inquisitors, since as we saw with Shan Elariel, even among the nobility and the government of the FE, the usefulness of Allomantic power trumped gender roles. So Marsha becoming an Inquisitor and Ruin's prime pawn would fit right in, as well.

I think Marsh is a great idea. It could demonstrate a very interesting dichotomy. It could also dispel a sense that Marsh would have to be "feminine". Marsh could still be ole "iron eyes". Strong, and unyielding. It could also add depth to Spook's idolization of Kelsier. 

Edited by Pathfinder
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1 hour ago, Truthwatcher_17.5 said:

First choice would be Ham, then Spook. Personally I'd be really upset if Marsh swapped just cause I love his relationship with Kelsier as it stands and don't want to see it change to much. I do really like the idea of female inquisitors though.

But their relationship wouldn’t have to change. Marsh would be able to remain exactly the same even if gender swapped. They’re siblings; the relationship doesn’t change because Marsh is an older sister.

But at the same time, it would challenge gender norms in a way even Vin can’t. In fact, that’s what makes Marsh perfect. Alriane and Tyndwyl contrast to Vin by showing other interpretations of what it means to be female; Marsh would serve as another perspective- and one that sticks around in the modern day.

For a side character, I’d have picked Demoux to be female as well.

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13 minutes ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

But their relationship wouldn’t have to change. Marsh would be able to remain exactly the same even if gender swapped. They’re siblings; the relationship doesn’t change because Marsh is an older sister.

But at the same time, it would challenge gender norms in a way even Vin can’t. In fact, that’s what makes Marsh perfect. Alriane and Tyndwyl contrast to Vin by showing other interpretations of what it means to be female; Marsh would serve as another perspective- and one that sticks around in the modern day.

Yes, and also for my money, the idea of a big sister figure turned Ruin's Pawn and Main Inquisitor seems particularly terrifying. Especially if there were very few, may no other female Inquisitors at the time, and then being the one to say to Sazed at the Well, "You spent the last two years teaching, but I spent them killing. Killing so many people..." A great parallel to Vin being the "best Mistborn" and Heir to Preservation.

And to be honest, I also promoted bending Marsh into "Marsha" because I immediately had a mental image of Kelsier griping like Jan Brady from the Brady Bunch.

"All I hear, all day long, from the skaa rebellion is Marsha's so smart, Marsha's so honorable, Marsha's so dedicated... Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!"
 

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Well, I fell like I need to say that I agree with many who suggest that in fact Yeden and Dockson wouldn't be the best candidates for any actual genderbending. A lot of the criticisms of that idea are real and ones I agreed with before I started this post. I mostly wanted to share how the thought experiment of genderbending these two characters imo enhanced what I see as the tragedy of their respective arcs and relationships to Kelsier.

11 hours ago, Ixthos said:

For the Yeden part, that makes a lot of sense as a possibility, though it would also require parts of his presentation to be changed so as to portray him as more competent,

Ooh, I like this a lot, I always thought Yeden was an underrated character and didn't love how he sometimes dipped into caricature. 

I have a soft spot for the "honest revolutionary" archetype and his early indignation and hostility towards the rest of the crew is one of my favorite parts of the early chapters of TFE. 

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I'd switch Kelsier and Mare.

 Tbh the reason I'd do it is simply because I don't think I've seen characters like that before. By gender swapping them you'd take the classic "man out for revenge against old lover" and twist it around in a rarely seen way. Instead it's the woman out for revenge and it's the man killed off screen to motivate her. It's something I myself can't recall seeing before and I think it would be neat to see happen.

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15 minutes ago, Debarra said:

I'd switch Kelsier and Mare.

 Tbh the reason I'd do it is simply because I don't think I've seen characters like that before. By gender swapping them you'd take the classic "man out for revenge against old lover" and twist it around in a rarely seen way. Instead it's the woman out for revenge and it's the man killed off screen to motivate her. It's something I myself can't recall seeing before and I think it would be neat to see happen.

I agree that these kind of stories should be written and I would advise Brandon or anyone else to consider making dead-lover-revenge plots centered around women, but I don't think it would be appropriate to make that major a change to Mistborn, it would have enormous effects on almost every character to make Kelsier a woman. At that point I think you need to write a whole new story.

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3 hours ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

But their relationship wouldn’t have to change. Marsh would be able to remain exactly the same even if gender swapped. They’re siblings; the relationship doesn’t change because Marsh is an older sister.

I don't know, I sure have a very different relationship with my sister than my brothers.

I can see how it might work, but I'm doubtful. 

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9 minutes ago, Truthwatcher_17.5 said:

I don't know, I sure have a very different relationship with my sister than my brothers.

I can see how it might work, but I'm doubtful. 

But is that because your brother is male, or because your brother and sister have different natures and personalities? I have two sisters, and I have two very different relationships with them.

You can change Marsh’s gender without: changing the name, changing the personality, changing the relationships (mostly), and without altering the storyline or role at all.

What you could get is a fun reveal, with the reader (and, possibly, Vin) thinking Marsh has is male until she shows up. What you definitely get, is nice parallel - and a bit of a deconstruction- with Vin. So the gender swap would add an extra layer of nuance to the story - which is the only reason for such a swap. 

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2 hours ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

But is that because your brother is male, or because your brother and sister have different natures and personalities? I have two sisters, and I have two very different relationships with them.

You can change Marsh’s gender without: changing the name, changing the personality, changing the relationships (mostly), and without altering the storyline or role at all.

What you could get is a fun reveal, with the reader (and, possibly, Vin) thinking Marsh has is male until she shows up. What you definitely get, is nice parallel - and a bit of a deconstruction- with Vin. So the gender swap would add an extra layer of nuance to the story - which is the only reason for such a swap. 

All good points, I'm starting to buy in.

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Ham is the obvious choice.  I would also like Clubs as a women.

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2 hours ago, Ookla the Prolific said:

Ham is the obvious choice.  I would also like Clubs as a women.

I don’t like Clubs as a woman, because there has been a tendency of late in literature to have women be artists. And, at his heart, that is what Clubs is. Also, he would feel too much like the crotchety old grandma if he was switched.

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21 minutes ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

he would feel too much like the crotchety old grandma if he was switched.

As apposed to what we have now which is the crotchety old grandpa.

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4 minutes ago, Ookla the Prolific said:

As apposed to what we have now which is the crotchety old grandpa.

True, but for some reason that stereotype isn’t viewed as negatively as the grandma one. More importantly, it doesn’t add anything to the story if the gender is switched, so there isn’t a good reason for it.

Spook can’t be switched, btw, because it causes issues with W&W era culture.

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8 hours ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

True, but for some reason that stereotype isn’t viewed as negatively as the grandma one. More importantly, it doesn’t add anything to the story if the gender is switched, so there isn’t a good reason for it.

I still kind of want him to be an old battle ax.

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