For my own benefit:
why Raughd Denche reads as feminine to me things about Raughd Denche and her abusive treatment of Piat that read as feminine to me, and not why I think of those things as feminine. Based on my probably-faulty recollections because I don’t have the books to hand right now.
— Raughd causes emotional harm and also does something in the realm of gaslighting, by saying things that on their face are very cruel insults, but in a joking tone, while surrounded by people who will go along with the idea that these are jokes. She is not overtly aggressive or threatening.
— Rather than isolating Piat, Raughd creates an environment of peer pressure around Piat by giving her the chance to be part of a cool, stylish group of people but making her feel that she isn’t fully welcome.
— Raughd projects an image of being bright, sunny, energetic, cheerful. Older adults seem to view her as slightly untrustworthy because she’s a Wild Young Thing who’s likely to do something reckless and get in trouble; they don’t view her as dangerous in the sense that she would deliberately harm someone.
— When Raughd takes action to hurt someone physically, it’s both incredibly over-the-top violent, and done entirely indirectly– through an indirect method carried out by someone else.
And also some things that just straightforwardly make me read Raughd as feminine.
— In contrast to my whole thing about Breq vs Wonder Woman, the environment in which we meet Raughd Denche is when she and her partner Piat are with a group of friends who are all upper-class Radchaai citizens. So that situation did read to me as a community of women, especially considering that “an argument [to simplify it a little] between romantic partners, in the middle of their friend group” would be powerfully affected by the genders of the people involved if it was happening in our culture. (If a man in a group of his male friends criticizes his girlfriend, how do the friends perceive each of them? If a woman in a group of men criticizes her boyfriend? If a man in a group of women criticizes his girlfriend?)
— The dynamic of demanding parental expectations tends to be gendered, in that it’s usually mother-daughter or father-son; parents are expected to focus their energy and their expectations on their same-gender children. The concept of a child taking over their parent’s business or social position also tends to point towards a parent and child of the same gender, if only because of sexism re: who gets to own businesses and inherit wealth or titles. So I could picture someone perceiving both Raughd and her parent Fosyf Denche as masculine, but perceiving them as different genders strikes me as particularly strange.