If Women Were as Good as Men They’d Be Better

I’m enchanted by writing that dances wittily with language, with meaning, and with critical thinking. It is one of the reasons why my reading affair with the works of Sir Terry Pratchett began the moment I finished delighting in Equal Rites.

Consider the title of this post as an example, taken from the first of Pratchett’s Witches novels: “if women were as good as men they’d be better!” Can you see the brilliance of the phrase? Not just the social implications contained within the statement, but also Pratchett’s delicious use of punctuation and all what can be deduced from his choices.

With one sentence, Pratchett tells a story true about his Discworld and about our society. As it is, the phrase can mean several things. I asked different people to write down what they believed the words wanted to say. Some wrote “if women were as good as men (then women would) be better”; others jotted down that “if women were as good as men (then men would) be better”; a guy and a girl got into an argument about commas, intent and subject-to-object proximity, which nearly ended in blows…

When I was asked my opinion, I said that considering that someone was repeating one of Granny Weatherwax’s philosophies, only the old Bad Ass witch could ever really know. When the glares began to heat up the room, I added, “I choose to believe that Equal Rites suggests that if women and men saw each other as equally valuable, then they (both women and men) would be better.”

Doesn’t it make sense? I think it does. In fact, the whole novel is about what a horrific place the world can become when one sex (or group of people) believes biology, geography, or mythological affiliation makes them better than those different from themselves.

Equal Rites “is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control.” Also about edges, as in… “the modern wolves were the offspring of ancestors that had survived because they had learned that human meat had sharp edges.”

So, my Wicked Luvs, what do you think the title of this post says about men and women? And what are your thoughts on evolved wolves and sharply edged humans?

Equal Ritesdetail from the cover of Equal Rites, Transworld Digital edition