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Then Nobby would've just had the exact same problems with men. Mark, did you miss the descriptions of Nobby? He's *ugly*. I mean, seriously over-the-top *ugly*. The guy has to carry a letter signed by Vetinari that confirms Nobby is (most likely) human, for cryin' out loud. On top of that, he's got bad personal hygiene issues (as in "non-existent"). It's a very, very rare woman or man who would want to date someone like that, period. Be friends with...sure. But date, as in get romantically involved? Forget it.
You have problems with the whole trope of "man in dress". But for those of Pratchett's generation and mine, it's a reflection of our realization that gender roles and norms were really that transparent and artificial -- we come from a decade where our parents and grandparents griped about not being able to tell someone was male, just because his hair was too long, for example. Yes, SERIOUSLY. It was our generation that put forth the revolutionary idea that there was little-to-no real difference between the genders (other than the strictly biological/physical ones), and that's being shown here.
Nobby is still Nobby, whether he's in uniform or in a dress. Him being automatically perceived as female when he puts on a dress - despite that disguise being practically non-existent -- is a commentary on the artificiality of what society claims is "female" and "male".
How is this so shocking to you? Why do you think that 14 is somehow an amazing age to make that choice? Regardless of how much the US tries to deny it, 14 is fairly mature. Across the world, many children see & experience death on a daily basis; historically, children became adults the moment they were able to have/bear babies -- the concept of "teenager" is a recent phenomenon, from post-WWII. All over the world, people that age fight and die for causes -- they've BEEN fighting and dying for causes throughout history. Children fought & died IN THE US ARMED FORCES as recently as WWII -- to be fair, they lied about their age, but there's quite a few cases where they slipped thru and served alongside the adults. And there's a lot of documented cases of teenagers & children serving with the VC in Vietnam and in many of the Al Qaeda-dominated territories...along with many of the countries that we call "Third World".
Currently, there's over 250k child soldiers, 40% of which are girls (figures from warchild.org.uk). Some are abducted, some are recruited, and some join to *avenge* family members that they've seen slaughtered in front of them. Children are well acquainted with death & causes & revenge & fighting, Mark.
To address a comment you made way back in "High Wizardry", when you wondered how the computer parts of the book were dealt with back when the series first came out -- where do I start....
The first book of the series came out in 1983; High Wizardry, 1990. Computers existed in the '70s, they really did. My family had a personal computer in ***1980***. It was a cassette-drive thing that hooked up to your TV for a monitor, but it was definitely a computer, using BASIC as its language. By the time I was in college in 1984, the Apple IIs and the Macs were out. My college had a Macintosh lab (and PC lab) by 1986; they didn't have hard drives, but used the new 3.5" floppy disks that held an amazing 1.44 MB of info, including the entire OS. We were techie & computer-driven, too, Mark, even "way back then".
In the original book, Darine knows BASIC. She gets one of the first Apple "portables", which came out in 1989, complete with a "foldout screen" (in the book, Duane called it the AppleII, but it was a Mac). The Wizard OS is on one of those 3.5" floppies when Darine uses it to boot up the notebook....and the story proceeds from there. Oh, and Duane makes a note at the front of the books that all her information was from the various Computer/Tech groups & their sysops on CompuServe, a dial-in Internet/communication service with private forums. The Internet existed back then, too!
I wish Duane hadn't updated the series like that, I really do. She could've just held it to be "wizard time", with tech advancing at a faster rate than here, and left it at that.
Man, I love reading these articles, just for the joy of seeing a new reader's intro to Discworld.
Yes, Mark. Colon & Nobby are racist/specie-ist. Deliberately so. They are the lowest common denominator, the Trump-followers, the people who watch Fox News & believe it. Pratchett tries to use Discworld as a mirror to our own world, and that means mirroring all the bad & ugly parts, too...and yes, that means people you know & like will be racist & idiots & have questionable views.
And Pratchett holds it all up & stretches it to ridiculous extremes and...and...just wait. Just wait. Don't expect Nobby or Colon to change, though. That's not the point of the characters.