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Common Courtesy Misplaced

What is considered a rude gesture in your world? Why is it offensive?

  There is a group of verbal expression and gestures considered as polite deference free men should manifest toward free women. Things like the habits of open doors and step aside to offer passage in some circumstances, that used to be common place on Earth up to Ey 1970, and became controversial for some time. Until come back stronger than ever in the passage from the National States Age to Global Government.

For example:   When a women calls attention for herself, usually doing a "cute mistake" (on purpose, more often than not) polite men will cover their right eye with two fingers. Or three fingers, if the situation has a erotic connotations. At the root of that gesture is a joke, that implies look away to avoid see the woman's shame exposed, while at same time looking at it with great pleasure. Normally is a quasi mechanic gesture, that goes unnoticed in conversations.   To cover the left eye instead of the right is a challenge, that can have serious consequences depending on the context and on the people involved. The man who does so is transmitting the message that he intends to steal the women (kidnap her) and have her slave branded. It is a powerful demonstration of sexual interest by one side. Many contracts of free companionship came right after this gesture.   On the other hand, it can be taken as literal challenge by any caste brother of this women present. Is adequate to react to this with the formal "I accept" formula reserved for duels, especially if you are a close friend or family member of the woman. And would not be acceptable to step away from that situation with a "I was joking" or "my mistake", normally. The only way to avoid duel without dishonor by this point would be by proposing free companionship, and even them only if the lady proposed does not reject the idea immediately.

Some of those gestures are more characteristic to a caste or another, or more usual among high castes, and some are found only in a State City. Or in a group of them. One common element of all human civilization is a strong demarcation of social roles for sex, with androcatic character strongly expressed. According to that there is always several small gestures of deference practiced by free men in the presence of free women.   Another general true in that matter is that: on Sharitarn society is considered extremely rude to extend to a slave-girl any deference you would properly direct to a free woman.   That is only so if there is at least one free women present. If there is only free men and slaves present you can even say "please" and "thank you" for your a slave-girl, will be awkward but no one is likely to protest. Much less take offense. If you do the casual gesture of cover any of your eyes to look at the "cute mistake" of a slave girl when a free women is present, and you are supposed to know her presence: that is serious.   If you say any formula close to "please" or "thank you" or "I am sorry" to a slave-girl when a free women is present: that is serious. If you serve wine, or any other drink, to a slave-girl or prepare a pipe for her, and a free women is present: that is serious.   If you speak to a slave-girl referring her by the Caste she used to have before she was slaved: that is even worse than every other example mentioned. You are insulting the free woman, her family, and her entire caste. More or less like if you had decided to pee in the coffin of a soldier who died as a hero, while the coffin is being lowed during the burial, here on Earth. During World War II.   Your action will cause reaction. You may count on that.
If that's what you where looking for when you asked about rude gestures, then by all means: go for it! Get yourself this fight.   Have fun! Human life is too short after all, all said and done. Yours will be even shorter than most, probably, if your line of questioning can serve as an indication for your goals. You are luck to be here, let me add: is not as if a person had to do a lot effort in order to pick a fight on Sharitarn.
What is involved in all those examples is a free men (you) pretending to ignore the social borders between free women and slave-girls. Showing to a slave-girl the deference due to a free women you are saying something all Sharitarns believe to be true: that there is no real difference between free women and slave women. You are exposing the free woman present to that rude fact of nature, that she is not different from a slave-girl: she herself is a natural slave.   Naturally she knows that (or believe that to be true, at least as much as any Sharitarne man believes) but Earthlings also know that all humans urinate and that knowledge does not make polite to urinate in every public occasion on Earth.   Sharitarnes believe the existence of free women to be a core element of civilization: "IT IS NOT NATURAL, BUT IT IS ESSENTIAL" they say. Usually trying to explain the apparent contradiction for their Earthling friends.   To protect "their" women from slavery is a matter of honor for free men (even when they would like to see the women slaved, and wold like even more to slave her themselves: especially in those cases, looks like sometimes). The closest a relation is, more socially mandatory will be for a man to trace that line on sand: one will risk less to protect a lady from the same city who is from another caste than a caste sister. In most cases see a caste sister unfairly insulted is enough for the average man unsheathe his sword and risk his life, however. The lady doesn't has to be his blood relative.   Some insults are so extreme that they don't even call for duel. In this cases public reaction may result in a lynching mob making the rude free man in pieces.  


  All those examples only work if you have a free women present. That may not suit your necessities if you want to pick your self a fight in short notice and no free women happens to be nearby.   Besides, you may not want to insult all free men in the room, nor even all men from a given caste. Perhaps you would rater pick a fight with one specific individual, for whatever reason.   One easy shortcut to solve that problem is to attack his honor. All you have to do is say that he has said or done something shameful (does not have to be true) and close with " that is what the honor of a ... worth!?". Repeat the last part when the fellow try to deny the accusation. In the "..." you place the man's caste and city: for instance "a Potter Caste of Luderfall", or "a Merchant of Lutianen" etc.   I cannot promise that tactic will win you a challenge for a duel, or even a angry look. Chances are good, but you never know how real people will react under the circumstances. You may not be deemed even worth of answer, much less anger.     At very least the man you are talking at (and everyone else present, for that matter) will know that you want to insult him.   A men trying to insult a woman without insult her family, caste or city, have a difficult situation in their hands. Chances of that end in physical confrontation from her initiative are dim. Human females do not engage in physical confront against men if they can avoid that. And they usually can avoid that. Whenever a woman do stats a fight, there is noting holding the hand of the man they attacked, no "true man don't spank women" postulate: by using physical violence the free woman gives up her rights as a free woman, there is no social taboo preventing that man to brake her in pieces if he is able to. So if a free woman attacks a man she does so with intention to kill him, and believing she is able to do exactly that.    Women do not fight duels, the challenge would make no sense, and they certainly are in no obligation to indulge a man who wants to pick a fight. Shame is own him.    A women who wants to insult a man is free to do so, circumstances where it may offend his family, caste of city are exceptions that have to be looked at. You would hardly step on one by accident. She has little chance to convince him to attack her just for being angry, however: free men are supposed to be patient with their caste sisters, and tolerant with the other free women (within the borders of social circumstances that forbid those men to slave those women). Risk in trying a man's patience is small, and up to some point it can be harmless fun. Naturally, women who make an habit of insult men are more likely to end up kidnapped and slaved than those who prefer other distractions; but the relation between those things is not as self evident in daily live as it may look like in this brief explanation.   As for free women who want to insult other free women (you would by surprise to how common that is the case) protocol can be complicated. Even more so than the unspoken rules of duels to death between men.    Women do not fight duels. Low caste, and high caste women behaving like low castes, may fight like children sometimes: punches and kicks. That does not provide anything close to the resolution of conflicts duels to death are know to bring, even when no one actually dies (because the victorious chooses to spare the defeated). Therefore exchanges of insults between women have a tendency to protrude in time.    If a free woman wishes to kill another without end up sentenced to slavery it has to be done either furtively, or indirectly, or both. However, it never happens! Almost. Very rare, they say.    Ergo, women live with their disaffects more frequently. Extending unsolved tensions indefinitely. Evolving exchanges of pleasantries mixed with insults into high form of artistic expression. Few Sharitarne men are able to notice the moves of that game as it happens around them, and in some cases they don't have any reason to try. In other cases, the game of alliances and insults between the women is as essential for the survival of families as the wars between nations and the duels to death between men: as many things on Sharitarn that mostly depends on which caste we are referring to.

Meta Commentary 

  That prompt was an interesting one to write about.    I have been presenting subjects like "challenge to duel" under the assumption that my readers want to avoid confrontation. Not pick fights.    There is a reason behind that, or at least I have a excuse ready in my pocket for that. My reader, you will notice, is a ii. A involuntary immigrant. Someone from a parallel planet (in this case planet Earth) who fell on Sharitarn through the Vortex, somewhat recently, and is learning to get by in this new environment.    Not even someone from our world as we know it. But a person who felt on Sharitarn some time after the Earthling year 2090.    You would have no business picking fights on Sharitarn, if you know what is good for you. The average citizen of Global Govern is even less prepared for that. Sword fights are as present in Sharitarn State Cities as football (the real one, invented on England and called soccer in the US) was in Brazil in around 1970. And unlike football the sword fights are the standard way to solve serious interpersonal conflicts.    Also unlike football games, death isn't a result beyond the spectrum of usual results for a duel.    Still, sometimes insult natives, and pick fights with them, is exactly what a character wants to do. Even a Earthling ii who just kissed the Green Line.      Besides, to enter a society one must know what is offensive. If a Earthling man asks a Sharitarne woman to be his free companion he must know she will expect to be defended against the insults mentioned here. To feel offended and act accordingly would be his obligation, and fail in that obligation may mean dishonor for himself and for his family.

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