Moments in MY LADY JANE where King Edward VI is a sexist pig
by Cynthia Hand

One of my favorite things about writing Edward in MY LADY JANE was that he was such a flawed human being even from the very beginning. He wants to be a good guy, and I really think he’s got a good heart, I swear, but he’s been raised to think that he’s superior because he was born a boy. He has grown up being praised, over and over again, for simply being male.

It’s a long running joke in MY LADY JANE, that anytime someone says something sexist around Edward, he thinks, Well, that makes sense.

Here are some moments from MY LADY JANE in which Edward is a total sexist.

“The crown can’t go to a woman.”(page 11)

“She needs someone who will keep her in line.” Well, that made sense, Edward thought. (page 12)

“Women do not need to be burdened with such minor details.” (Like the fact that Jane’s betrothed is cursed to be a horse. You know, minor details.) Well, that made sense. (page 61)

Edward is embarrassed that he had to be carried to his room, “like a woman.” (page 93.)

“But she’s a woman. The crown can’t go to a woman, right?” (This is quickly followed by a “Well, that makes sense.”(page 97)

“She was a stranger. She was a woman who wore pants. She couldn’t be trusted.” (page 194)

“Edward didn’t think it proper to be carried by a woman—how would she ever be able to see him as a man if she was the one bearing him to safety?” (page 239)

“I know women need to rest more often, on account of your delicate constitutions.” (page 241)

“Beaten. By a girl. Inconceivable.” (page 299)

“He found himself suddenly overtaken by women, and not the demure and silent young ladies that fawned over him at court. Oh, no. He had to be surrounded by opinionated women who delighted in bossing him around. Aggravating, unkissable women.” (page 344)

“If my sister is allowed to sit unchallenged on my throne, it will send a dangerous message to the rest of the world: that any grasping, covetous woman of royal blood can reach for the crown and succeed in taking it, even from a rightful, ruling king. Then queens will start popping up all over Europe like rabbits in a garden. It will be chaos.” (page 408) This is a speech Edward gives to the king of France, in hopes of getting France’s aid in getting Edward’s throne back. But after he says these things about women, (even though his words have the intended reaction from the King) Edward feels deeply uneasy. He feels the strange urge to apologize to Jane for what he said.

“But why would he need to apologize? . . . . Women were the weaker sex, were they not? Wasn’t that even written in the Holy Book?” (page 412)

Something is obviously changing, by this point, in the way Edward thinks about women. You see, it’s true what he complained about on page 344. Edward has been surrounded by women for the entire adventure of MY LADY JANE. He is guided by his strong and wise sister, Bess. He’s saved by his grandmother. He is challenged and continually baffled by Gracie, who never does what he expects. And let’s not forget that his closest, dearest friend in the world is his cousin Jane, a girl who refuses to accept the gender-based expectations that are put upon her at the time.

There’s hope for Edward yet, is what we’re saying.

You’ll have to read the end to find out how.

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