[a collage of cats from the first print of covers surrounding the Warriors logo]

Three problems I have with Warriors by Dewtail

Dewtail explains the three major problems they have found with Warriors.

Warriors is a series known for large casts of characters and heartbreaking death scenes, and of those numerous cats, a few stand out as interesting and memorable characters. This does not, however, prevent the 50+ book series from having its own issues.

[Disclaimer: I don’t have anything against the Erins, but these are things that they could work on.]

Disabled cats are a surprisingly minuscule minority in the books considering the number of battles and general outside threats these cats face. The characters to be discussed are listed as follows:

-Snowkit
-Brightheart/Lostface, One-eye and Halftail
-Briarlight,

Snowkit was born to Speckletail in the Prophecies Begin arc and was first mentioned as ‘Speckletail’s kit’ in Rising Storm. In A Dangerous Path, Snowkit is revealed to be deaf, and most cats [including our protagonist, Fireheart] assume that Snowkit will never become a warrior. Snowkit is unceremoniously killed off later in that book, [to give his mother a reason to move into the elder’s den] being carried away by a hawk because he wasn’t able to hear the warning cries of his Clanmates [although at least some of them were aware of his deafness but called out to him regardless-] Now, some may argue that deaf cats aren’t able to properly communicate and may be in danger in battle or other dangerous situations, but cats in reality reserve meowing to ‘talk’ to humans, and mainly use body language and tails to communicate among their own species. Snowkit could easily have been made a warrior, albeit with accommodation like paw-speak.

Brightheart was born to Lionheart and Frostfur just before the events of Into The Wild, and her most protruding trait is her positivity following the loss of half her face. She [eventually] became a warrior, and many use this example as a rebuttal of an inherently ableist society in the books. But the point worth mentioning is that directly following her injury, she was named Lostface after her injuries. Naming a cat after a traumatizing event in their lives [especially one that resulted in permanent damage to their body] is wrong, and said cat has to be reminded of their trauma/injury every time some cat calls their name. Lostface was eventually renamed Brightheart, but still didn’t [technically] achieve the rank of warrior until the next arc. Because of the fact, Brightheart was half-blind, Fireheart [the protagonist of the first series] again assumed she wouldn’t become a warrior because of her disability. It took Cloudtail [her future mate] pressing Firestar to make her a proper warrior and change her name from Lostface.
On that tangent, two more minor characters named for their disabilities are One-eye and Halftail. One-eye’s warrior name was White-eye [not much better in terms of fairness] because she was born with blindness in one eye. This is noted to be unnecessarily cruel in the books [ by Bluepaw/fur in Bluestar’s Prophecy, specifically] but is never properly resolved. At some point, White-eye gets her blind eye ripped out in a fight with a badger and is renamed to One-eye. Not only is this [arguably] worse than White-eye, but she showed bravery in fighting a badger and could’ve been named literally anything else. Naming a cat after their disability [and therefore restricting their identity at face value to their disability] is ableist.

Briarlight follows this ableism tangent since her back legs were crushed by a tree and she wasn’t able to move them. However, again there was an assumption of Briarlight never being able to do anything other than lay in the medicine den and sort herbs. Why not? Two-legged animals [assuming they’re quadrupeds] just walk on the two legs they have left.
Even if it was too dangerous for Briarlight to be a warrior, she could’ve become a mediator or even a permanent camp guard. Briarlight is one of the most emotionally developed disabled characters since she falls into depression after internalizing that she’s a waste of space. Jayfather reassures her that she’s valued by the Clan, but Briarlight finds this hard to believe, instead of assuming that she’s useless.

Momentarily deferring from the tangential rant, initially, Working Partners [not the Erins themselves] wanted to kill off Briarlight since she ‘couldn’t be happy as a warrior’. [because of her legs] Victoria Holmes had to fight to keep her alive. However, When Vicky stepped back near the start of Dawn of The Clans, immediately after returning to the main series the Erins killed off Briarlight. She died because she felt useless [which had been reinforced by working Partners’ ableist mindset when it comes to these books] and instead of telling anyone, she determined that she was a waste of space and died. This bothers many readers since Briarlight was set up to be a recurring major character [mostly from Vicky’s efforts] but was killed off unceremoniously.

Disabled representation is sorely needed in these books, considering disabled people are the largest minority in the world at about 15% of the worldwide population. Scaling these numbers proportionately to the fandom, about 15% of readers have a disability. Readers like to see parts of themselves in the characters they like, and the lack of societal accommodation for characters who are a bit different is lacking and necessary.

The second problem I have with Warriors is inherent anti-adoption.

The first example is with Gray Wing, who despite fathering a total of seven kits [four of which weren’t biologically his] isn’t considered a true father until Path Of Stars, where he has Black Ear, White Tail, and Silver Stripe. The books keep reminding us: “Oh, Gray Wing, these aren’t really your kits! You should have your own kits with Turtle Tail!” “You know Thunder isn’t really your kit, he’s Clear Sky’s.”

It’s the same thing with Thunder [Clear Sky’s biological son and Gray Wing’s adopted son], as the text tells us repeatedly: ‘Silly Thunder, you know Clear Sky is your real father!” “You should go live with him!”

The problem with this is that Clear Sky disowned Thunder and essentially passed the proverbial baton of fatherhood to Gray Wing. When Thunder showcased his bravery [a desirable trait] in helping the forest cats during a fire, that’s when Clear Sky wanted his son back. Gray Wing is the only cat who deserves to be called the father of all his adopted children since he loved them as his children when their real fathers wouldn’t. That is what being a parent is, whether the child [or kit] is yours or not.

The next example is Squirrelflight, who took her sister Leafpool’s kits in secret. The readers don’t know that they’re not Squirrelflight’s kits until Long Shadows, in the fire scene, where Squrirrelflight says, and I quote: “Kill them, then. You won’t hurt me that way. If you really want to hurt me, you’ll have to find a better way than that. They are not my kits.”

Not only does this [incorrectly] imply that Squirrelflight doesn’t love her kits, but the quote reveals unnecessary information. Why would it matter whether or not they were her [biological] kits if Ashfur is deadset on murdering three cats? This is more Ashfur’s issue than anything else, but it still nags at many readers.

The third issue I have is with a lack of proper female representation of leadership and main characters and a gender-related double-standard on the morality of certain characters.

From the first arc [+DotC] to the seventh, we’ve had these leaders: [cats from after DoTC to the first arc don’t count since they were retconned in to fill empty space]

ShadowClan:
-Tall Shadow [F] [Founder] -Brokenstar [M] -Nightstar [M] -Runningnose [Acting] -Tigerstar I [M] -Blackstar [M] -Rowanstar [M] -Tigerstar II [M}

SkyClan:

-Clear Sky [M] [Founder] -Leafstar [F]

RiverClan:

River Ripple [M] [Founder] -Crookedstar [M] -Leopardstar [F] -Mistystar [F]

WindClan:

Wind Runner [F] -Tallstar [M] -Onestar [M] -Harestar [M]

ThunderClan:

-Bluestar [F] -Firestar [M] -Graystripe [M] -Bramblestar [M] -Squirrelflight [Acting] [F] -Lionblaze [Acting] [M] -Graystripe [again] [Acting]

Beginning with ShadowClan, one of the two clans to not have a single female leader in the main series [excluding DoTc since they’re not relevant to this conversation yet, even though their founder is female]. Interestingly enough, the other Clan not to have a main series female leader is WindClan, although that clan also has a female founder. Even out of the most important leaders, this is the ratio for male to female:

17:7.

Seventeen male leaders, and a measly seven female leaders [including the two female founders.]

If we do the same thing with deputies [including cats who eventually became leader after Into the Wild] we get:

ShadowClan:

-Sun Shadow [M] -Blackfoot [M] -Russetfur [F] -Rowanclaw [M] -Cinderfur [M] -Crowfrost [M] -Tigerheart [M] -Tawnypelt [F] -Juniperclaw [M] -Cloverfoot [F]

SkyClan:
-Sparrow Fur [F] -Sharpclaw [M] -Waspwhisker [M] -Hawkwing [M]

RiverClan:

-Night [F] -Leopardfur [F] -Stonefur [M] -Mistyfoot [F] -Reedwhisker [M]

WindClan:
-Gorse Fur [M] -Deadfoot [M] -Mudclaw [M] -Onewhisker [M] -Ashfoot [F] -Harespring [M] -Crowfeather [M]

ThunderClan

-Lightning Tail [M] -Redtail [M] -Lionheart [M] -Tigerclaw [M] -Fireheart [M] -Whitestorm [M] -Graystripe [M] -Brambleclaw [M] -Squirrelflight [F] -Bristlefrost [M] -Lionblaze [M]

The ratio for non-retconned in deputies [not counting cats who were deputy before the first book or after DoTC] is:

28:8.

And if we do the math for the ratio of male deputies who became a leader to female deputies that did, we get:

10:3.

And if we do the math for the ratio for toms-to she-cats in each Clan [based on allegiances by book 6 of every arc], we get:

TPB:

ShadowClan: 7:2

RiverClan: 5:4

WindClan: 7:4

ThunderClan: 12:11

TNP:

ShadowClan: 6:3

RiverClan: 6:6

WindClan: 8:3

ThunderClan: 12:8

POT:

ShadowClan: 15:10

RiverClan: 15:14

WindClan: 14:9
ThunderClan: 15:18

OoTS:

ShadowClan: 16:11

RiverClan: 10:12

WindClan: 15:8

ThunderClan: 17:20

AVoS:

ShadowClan: 18:12

SkyClan: 13:15

RiverClan: 13:14

WindClan: 11:10

ThunderClan: 22:24

TBC:

ShadowClan: 14:17

SkyClan: 15:17

RiverClan: 10:12

WindClan: 12:12

ThunderClan: 20:22

From this data, it is determined that ThunderClan has the most she-cats in each arc, mostly due to them being the main character Clan, since as populations grow from the small numbers of the first two arcs the number of cats increases proportionally. However, ShadowClan seems to be a bit scarce in she-cats, as the only arc in which they match/outnumber the toms is the Broken Code. As does WindClan, as they have not had more toms than she-cats for the entire series. RiverClan and ThunderClan have the best odds with RiverClan having more she-cats than toms for every arc except the first three and ThunderClan having more for every arc except the first two.
Using the average population for each arc, we can figure out whether or not having many females in leadership is fair.

The average tom:she-cat population for ShadowClan is 10:9. Scaling these stats to the leaders, there should be .9 female leaders for every male leader if the behind-the books objectivity is truly objective. And we see..not a single female leader in modern ShadowClan.

The average tom:she-cat population for SkyClan is 14:16, but since they’ve only been around for two arcs and have had one leader, they don’t really count.

The average tom:she-cat population for RiverClan is 10:10. Scaling these stats to the leader, there should be 1 female leader for every male leader, but RiverClan actually does better than that, with two female leaders to one male.

The average tom:she-cat population for WindClan is 11:7. This is by far the worst to scale, but for every male leader there would be about .8 female leaders, but again, we don’t see a female leader in modern WindClan.

The average tom:she-cat population for ThunderClan is 16:17. This means that we should [objectively] be seeing at least one female leader for every male leader, but that simply isn’t the case.

The male deputy-to female deputy ratio for each clan is as follows:

ShadowClan: 7:3

SkyClan: 3:1 [but be reminded this is from two arcs of data]

RiverClan: 2:3

WindClan: 6:1

ThunderClan: 8:1

These are disappointing numbers considering the aforementioned gender ratios for each clan.

One of these conclusions must be accurate:

-She-cats are ill-fitted to become deputies.
-There is an underlying behind-the book bias against females in power.

Obviously the first one isn’t true since she-cats can and have been great leaders. So the second one must be the correct answer.

Unfortunately, inherent biases–good or bad- lay in wait in ever aspect of our lives, even the books we read.

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29 comments

  • I have never had a problem with any of this…

  • In TBC there is blatant sexism against Squirrelflght. They all fight and fight her as acting leader, and Lionblaze who wasn’t even the deputy and had no power said that she shouldn’t lead bc she wasn’t a Star. Like what? he didn’t have any power even before Bramblestar was possessed. And after she was dragged into TDF they all followed Lionblaze willingly, and he had almost no claim to power. He was a horrid leader. And they also followed Graystipe willingly. And both of them are toms.

    • 🇺🇦`-∆-•`×°💦Dewtail writes a lot! [click my name!] Dew/Dewy, Dew Dripping From Plumed Tail🇺🇦`-∆-•`×°💦-` says:

      ^^

    • I was thinking about that!
      Squirrelflight was painted as incapable of leading, and the authors treated her as ‘incomplete’ when Bramblestar wasn’t around, and like a ‘hot mess’

      To go on a tangent here, it seems like she-cats are often more upset, incapable and emotional after the loss of a loved one, whereas toms just get more motivated. It seems to be a pattern in she-cats that they don’t deal with loss well, and just sit in their dens and cry. With Squirrelflight, it seemed like without Bramblestar, she was nothing, whereas with Lionblaze who is Bramblestar’s adopted kit, he just got more motivated to lead and take over from Squirrelflight.

  • So true! I wish there were more strong female leaders, not ones that are either overthrown, weak, old, etc!

  • Quailpaw( fur/star) , she-cat |ThunderClan|Avatar: The Last Airbender and warrior cats fan( UkraineSupporter) says:

    Good article. I also suspected that Jayfeather Lionblaze and Hollyleaf were Leafpool and Crowfeather’s kits before I read Long Shadows, because of Jayfeather’s grumpiness and the colour of their pelts

  • See, the problem with what you’re saying in the third issue is that you are using a false dichotomy as your entire argument for that statement.

    By saying that it must be one of those two conclusions, you are inaccurately assuming and limiting the options to be one or the other. There could be a number of different reasons that, as you say, there is a lack of female representation in the books, ranging from the writing style of Erins to the opinions of the Erins.

    At least what you said about the third issue you have with the books should be taken with a serious grain of salt. This is just an opinion you came to based on an assumption.

  • although i don’t agree with the first two, i agree with the last one. females should be represented more! great article btw!

  • 🌊✨💖 Elegant Lark Soaring Over Shining Stream. Feather x Crow forever! 🌊✨💖 (Streampaw/lark, she/her) says:

    I agree! I find that the represenation of disabled characters in Warriors is unfair and unrealistic, and that female characters deserve to have more leadership roles. Amazing article and wonderful points!

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