A Boy’s Own Genre, or Not

Another thing for people to please stop sending to me: a recent and fairly random blog post in a purported online magazine, the premise of which essentially boils down to: “Science Fiction is by boys and for boys and now girls are ruining it for anyone with testicles, except the gays, who are just like girls anyway (and whose testicles frighten me).” I’m not going to link to it, as abject misogynist stupidity should not be rewarded with links. You can track it down on your own if you like.

Nevertheless, two general points to make here.

1. Verily I say unto thee that science fiction is founded on girl cooties, so anyone dumb enough to whine about those awful women ruining SF for boys really does need to STFU and take his ignorant ass back to his snug little wank hole;

2. What? An insecure male nerd threatened by the idea that women exist for reasons other than the dispensing of sandwiches and topical applications of boobilies, mewling on the Internet about how girls are icky? That’s unpossible!

At this late date, when one of these quailing wonders appears, stuttering petulantly that women are unfit to touch the genre he’s already claimed with his smudgy, sticky fingerprints, the thing to do is not to solemnly intone about how far science fiction has yet to go. Science fiction does have a distance to go, but these fellows aren’t interested in taking the journey, and I don’t want to have to rideshare with them anyway. So the thing to do is to point and laugh.

Well, actually, the thing to do is trap such creatures in a dork snare (cunningly baited with Cool Ranch Doritos, Diet Ultra Violet Mountain Dew and a dual monitor rig open to Drunken Stepfather on one screen and Duke Nukem 3D on the other), and then cart them to a special preserve somewhere in Idaho for such as their kind. We’ll tell them it’s a “freehold” — they’ll like that — and that they will be with others of a like mind, and there they will live as men, free from the horrible feminizing effects of women and their gonad shriveling girl rays. And then we’ll tag them with GPS and if they ever try to leave the freehold, we’ll have them hunted down by roller derby teams with spears. That’s really the optimal solution.

But since we can’t do that, then pointing and laughing will suffice. So, yes: let’s all point and laugh at these funny little terrified stupid men, and then ignore them. Because that’s what they rate.

520 Comments on “A Boy’s Own Genre, or Not”

  1. “cunningly baited with Cool Ranch Doritos, Diet Ultra Violet Mountain Dew and a dual monitor rig open to Drunken Stepfather on one screen and Duke Nukem 3D on the other”

    To qoute a famous web-comicker
    “Unsporting to bait the trap so richly.”

  2. Actually, John, we CAN do that. I know a roller derby girl who can kick MY ass. And she’s hot enough that most men would thank her for the privilege of such an ass-kicking.

    (I, otoh, have married a smaller woman and am not into such violent fetishes.)

    (Anymore)

    (And you can’t prove that I ever was.)

    (So… *nervous laugh*… How ’bout them Bengals this year?)

  3. I don’t mind some of the more touchy-feely aspects of science fiction written during and after the New Wave… but I do prefer my science so hard you can bounce a rock off of it. Not obviously a gender thing, though there are probably reasons why so many engineers are male.

    Also: The Gender Genie. There do seem to be rough categories of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ writing styles, although it’s complicated.

  4. Buwah?

    Seriously, if there were no woman in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.

    Think about it.

    uh…no, wait…don’t think about it.

  5. Janka, I believe it’s a general rule. Sort of like, “never run from the mountain lion, they like the sport.” So when you encounter such blatant idiocy in the wild, the correct Worse Case Scenario action is to “point and laugh.”

  6. Okay, no link.

    But in the title of the piece the name “Marvin Minsky” appears as does “Science Fiction” and “The War on”

    That should give anyone who really wants to read it more than enough to go on.

    (Unless of course there’s more than one blog post out there.)

  7. Thank you for calling this wanker on his idiocy. As one of those dumb ol’ girl writers, I guess I’d better give up on high fantasy and vampires and post-apocolyptic-black-comedy novels and try to write romance novels instead. Too bad I write bitch better than virgin.

  8. Or ‘don’t wrestle with a pig — you both get covered in muck and the pig likes it’?

    As a lesbian scientist, who transitioned to SF via the popular science books she cut her eyeteeth on, there is still a visceral need to kick someone’s ass when I come across things like that. (Maybe I’ll go kill things on my video game system…)

  9. melendwyr: “Not obviously a gender thing, though there are probably reasons why so many engineers are male.”

    Yes, there probably are — and a great number of those reasons are male engineers (and male managers).

    I understand that some female engineers buy dildos after graduating in the field. This is — so I’m told — because the only way to be taken seriously as an engineer is to have a diploma and a dick.

  10. I don’t mind some of the more touchy-feely aspects of science fiction written during and after the New Wave… but I do prefer my science so hard you can bounce a rock off of it.

    There’s no shortage of what you like. Girls being allowed into the clubhouse does not mean they have to kill and eat the manly men writers in order to take their place.

    Though I would pay to see Katee Sackhoff (Kara “Starbuck” Thrace) beat the crap out of the author of the misogynistic screed in question.

  11. Josh: Why?

    I mean this seriously. Given the info John provided, I’m guessing that anyone who wants to see it and hasn’t already done so can. What do you see as the benefit from noodging along to help anyone else see it?

  12. Ceri – If anyone *wanted* to see it, I figured I’d help them save time. Several people I know weren’t able to find the screed in question without help.

  13. In the words immortal words of Sage Francis
    “Girls have got more to get off their chest than wet T-shirts.”

  14. Not much of a gamer, but I’d love to play the Roller Derby Freehold MMORPG where my team-mates and I would get to skate around with spears and our flesh-dissolving girl-cootie rays attacking sexist idiots.

  15. Do not be ashamed BC Woods. You just have beautiful tracts of untamed land in Idaho. But I do think an island might be better as the reserve location.

  16. Other than the things where you’re right (…surely the execution method showcased in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life would be more ironically appropriate?) I’m sure that SFF as a genre-umbrella – and yes, both parts – have far earlier foundations than Shelley; why not look back to things like Gilgamesh?

  17. Diet Ultraviolet Mountain Dew?

    Have you tasted that stuff? It tastes like a blue sno-cone made with overchlorinated swimming pool water. With a reason to be overchlorinated. And a hint of hairspray.

    Your vaunted Coke Zero is nectar of the gods in comparison. Heck, regular ol’ Diet Dew is nectar of the gods in comparison.

  18. Seriously, if there were no woman in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.

    Behold, you have made yourself part of the problem. Well done.

  19. I found the post due to TransDutch’s suggested keywords.

    And then I couldn’t bring myself to read it because of the title / masthead of the blog. Not that there’s any symbolism there or anything.

    I’m sure the author isn’t obsessed with his own manly man-bits. Or possibly those of other manly, manly men. Really.

  20. ok, WOW. Just read the… er… “piece” and immediately after, read the mission statement of the site it was on.

    If anyone in here is wondering of John might be over-reacting a little, be assured he is not.

    To be honest, I think John is holding back a bit, in the interests of keeping it fun.

  21. I know! I have to agree with the folks that don’t want’em sent to Idaho; there are places in Idaho I like to go to relax, and I don’t want them spoiled. So let’s send’em to Alaska! Plenty big enough that they can have all the Man Caves they want and not ever have to deal with girl cooties again.

    (FWIW, some of my favorite SF characters are the Serrano clan – a bunch of strong women who wander the galaxy kicking ass and taking names (and occasionally screwing up by the numbers! hey! real characters, wot?)… written by *Elizabeth* Moon.)

  22. Yes, it’s terrible when any genre grows to include new material while still having the “good old stuff” available for those of us that like it.

    And what does that troll think my daughter should read as she becomes a 21st-century geek? Athena’s not the only girl around this place with diverse interests, including both traditionally “girly” things as well as “boyish” pursuits.

    Yes, she will do things too. Women have more going on than just relationship drama, or so I’ve read.

  23. Your gift for finding just the right turn of phrase for a put down such as this has clearly not deserted you.

    Thank you for brightening my day!

  24. Kyle @31 “Yes, she will do things too. Women have more going on than just relationship drama, or so I’ve read.”

    Agreed, let’s not also forget that men enjoy relationship drama more than they let on, they just hide it by calling them “Urban Fantasy” or “Space Opera”

  25. Because I like to point and laugh at original text instead of second-hand descriptions, I tracked it down. And let me just say: if you’re going to talk about how women and gays are ruining SF, it’s awesome to do it on a blog with such a manly, forward-thrusting name and banner image.

  26. Laurie @26, I believe that was just set-up for the somewhat self-deprecating (for male geeks) punchline.

    As for the original article… wow. Just… wow.

    I think I’ll go watch MST3k roast Project Moonbase. The misogynistic piece of crap movie (co-scripted by Heinlein!) would be right up this douchebag’s alley, but the epic bashing Joel & the bots give it is exactly what he deserves.

  27. Ah, the old Gate to Women’s Country approach. I tend to prefer my patent Girlification Gun which infects the victim with an incurable case of Girl Cooties and an addiction to Barbara Cartland novels.

  28. Daniel@22: Yes, but John didn’t say SFF, he specifically said science fiction. I don’t think anyone needs to be informed that women write fantasy. I would guess the person in question is an SF purist, who wants to preserve the integrity of science fiction, not that nasty fantasy stuff.

  29. I have no desire to read the article in question. My guess would be the author never had a conversation like the one my wife started the other day with me:

    Honey, when I’m done with my dissertation, let’s start watching Babylon 5 again.

    See, my goal was to bring her into my interests. Not keep her out. I succeeded.

  30. It happens to be thirty years since Alien, which is a horror movie, rather than SF, except it does the SF thing of warping our expectations, and giving us Ripley.

  31. By the way, whatever happened to the fine American tradition of hypothetically sending people to Australia?*

    In one fell swoop it demonstrated the American capacity for intolerance, isolationism, and the ability to survive without any understanding of geography.

    I don’t know that I approve of this Idaho business just on those grounds alone.

    *Also, does anyone else ever wonder where intolerant people in Australia want to send “undesirables?” My guess is New Zealand.

  32. (Unless of course there’s more than one blog post out there.)

    Alas, I’m pretty sure there is. Something like this seems to come up every couple of months.

  33. BC Woods @ 42 sez:

    Also, does anyone else ever wonder where intolerant people in Australia want to send “undesirables?” My guess is New Zealand.

    Nah. Tasmania, hands down.

    Or maybe Antarctica.

    Yeah, Antarctica. Perfect place for Mr. Douchie von Douchebag.

  34. Technowitchdoctor @ 30: Hey! We’ve got enough idiots here in Alaska, please don’t send us any more – it gives the grizzly bears a stomach ache.

  35. Seriously, if there were no woman in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.

    Way to show everyone how not-homophobic and pro-woman you are! Because, yeah, the main role of women in science fiction is to wear bikinis at conventions.

    AllyFail.

  36. Sarcastro @ 36: Laurie @26, I believe that was just set-up for the somewhat self-deprecating (for male geeks) punchline.

    That’s the problem. It’s not funny. Neither punchline is funny. The set it up straight, haw haw girls are pretty, maybe a nerd will talk to me in her bikini joke is not funny. The set it up ‘ironic’, haw haw girls won’t talk to me because they’re like some alien species and oh god I suck I suck joke is also not funny.

    Both are memes that need to be put down like Old Yeller. They are, as noted, part of the problem.

  37. I’m constantly amazed and disappointed by the fact that, amongst geeks, misogyny is so commonplace. Its not so prevalent amongst my friends – then again, they are my friends because we tend to think alike, I suppose. While not strictly sci-fi, I would have thought something like Buffy (strong female lead characters) would have helped erode this sort of nonsense.

    To all the women sci-fi writers here (indeed, women in general) I say, keep it up. You all kick ass for no other reason than because you exist.

    @eviljwinter #3

    (So… *nervous laugh*… How ’bout them Bengals this year?)

    I assume that, as always, they are going to suck. :)

    @mensley #20
    That sounds like an awesome game. Sign me up for the beta!

    @Another Liz #33
    By all means, stab away. I wouldn’t mind taking a couple shots myself.

  38. All I can say is thank Gord I got my science fiction from manly men like Andre Norton, CJ Cherryh and Leigh Brackett as a teenager or I might have turned into a girlie man.

  39. I went and skimmed the original blogpost, and I can’t help but wonder what Professor Minsky thinks of all this–I mean, he’s being quoted as admiring science fiction as the literature of tech and science and ideas, and (when I went back to the Minsky interview, to check) the authors he lists as “favorites” are all male . . . but he doesn’t seem to say (that I noticed) that he believes SF of any sort has been “ruined” by female cooties. Has he responded anywhere else, does anyone know? (I’m not going to read through comments on the original blog to find out, and I’m not asking anyone else to do it for me–believe me, I know it isn’t worth it.)

    Actually, maybe Professor Minsky is just rolling his eyes in private and ignoring the whole business, like a sensible scientist.

  40. Julia @ 46: Next time, I’ll make sure to use the tongue in cheek emoticon or include the sarcasm HTML hash. Please put down the tar and pitchfork. Thanks.

  41. Perhaps we could start sending the proudly and loudly ignorant to the Moon to look for water. Would an LCROSS mission every week suffice, or should it be daily?

    It might be expensive, but at least this way they’d have a positive impact.

  42. As I said over on Twitter: as far as I’m concerned, when the retrogressive straight boys start complaining, my response is, “SF – ur doin it rite!”

  43. Absolutely gh0d-damned everything is about Journey with you, isn’t it?

    (And yes on the pointing and the laughing. Also occasionally tittering).

  44. Andre Norton, Ursula LeGuin, Elizabeth Bear, Pamela Dean, Esther Friesner, Kara Dalkey, Ellen Kushner, Patricia Wrede, Elizabeth Moon, etc., etc. These are on my bookshelves. I’ll just leave it there.

  45. Laurie@47: And as a bonus, a crack on men wearing bikinis!

    Jim Wright @51 (original @7): I get what you were shooting for, I really do, but this is not the way. Jokes about objectification of women are exactly as funny as objectification of women, that is to say, they aren’t.

  46. Reading stuff like that (fortunately, before I showered) invariably cues up the “Men in Tights” song from Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which ends “We’re butch!”

    My original idea was to banish them to a monastery, but on third thought, monks do useful work.

  47. Wow. I’m actually really sorry I tracked that down to read it.

    Someone better tell Elizabeth Moon she shouldn’t be writing all that military sci-fi. Oh, wait – the main character is a woman with some power and her own thoughts, so clearly that’s just more of this horrible trend in sci-fi that’s emasculating those with penises.

    Silly me.

  48. Sarcastro @ 36: I have to agree with Laurie here. The joke might be funny, but the fact is I’d like to be more than the girl in the Leia bikini. And honestly, as a bi gal? I’d love to see more scantily-clad male nerd-hotties at cons. Just sayin’ that not everyone finds the dude in the Leia bikini so objectionable!

  49. Note to self: work on script for sequel to The Warriors featuring spear-wielding Roller Derby team.

    Did I say that out loud?

  50. I made the mistake of beginning to read the other post from the same author on the website where I found his article (you know, the one with the bit substitute wang in the masthead)*, and Jesus Monkey-honking Christ jumped up and played the fiddle, but now I feel dirty to have Y chromosomes in my cells. It makes me deeply unhappy that my daughter has to grow up in a world where dingleberries like that draw breath. It’s like how I feel every time I see a teabagger protest.

    * Put me on record as belonging to the “I respect your no-linking policy, John, but man, does having to be this oblique suck or what?” camp.

  51. Read the article in question. It’s -5 Troll material, and by an Anonymous Coward, no less. Which, come to think of it, is not that surprising.

    Not feeding the troll is still the best policy in this kind of situations, isn’t it?

  52. I’d love to see more scantily-clad male nerd-hotties at cons.

    Oh, you should have been at Dragon Con in 2007 when an entire squad of nerdboys dressed as the Spartans from “300.” And they’d spent a lot of time in the gym earning those costumes. Sigh…

  53. Oh for crying out loud, I APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INSULT GIVEN. I’d ask Scalzi to delete the damned comment, but that would piss him off too.

    If you actually knew me, you’d understand how silly your ire is, for many reasons.

    But I’ll say this to you, if you can’t joke about something as utterly fucking stupid as this subject and the idiotic blog post that inspired it, you’re taking stupidity far too seriously. Maybe sarcasm isn’t the way as one of you noted, but neither is being mortally offended at every imagined slight.

    Again, I apologize, consider me properly chastised.

  54. I’m watching the Princess Leia portions of the thread to make sure they don’t derail into personal attacks, incidentally. The give-and-take about the appropriateness of the joke is fine and dandy, but do keep it to the joke and not on the personal qualities of any person commenting about it. Everyone’s doing okay on that score so far, but I thought I’d get a bit ahead of it there.

  55. Learn Hexadecimal @ 47: And as a bonus, a crack on men wearing bikinis!

    Which is hilarious, I’m sure. And not a little transphobic or possibly homophobic.

  56. @jp 44

    From the many episodes of MacGyver I watched as a child, I hear Siberia is also a very horrible place to live. In fact, when I was a child and only had the context to work from, I was confident that Siberia was Russian for “Hell.”

  57. in risk of going ever so slightly off topic, I keep seeing the name “Elizabeth Moon” brought out. Can I take that as a reccomendation from those that mentioned her?

    I’ve always admired to cover art on those books when I’m in the book store, but haven’t yet read one.

  58. I have seen a theory that the motivation for the space program is uterus envy.

    (This is somewhere in the latter half of the book Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition; Science Slightly Over The Edge, which unfortunately I can no longer cite precisely because I no longer have a copy.)

  59. Flourish @62, Hey, at least we seem to be reading the same joke. I think the Senator Kleghorn delivery (“… I say who …”) sets the tone in the first part that it is speaking from credulous ignorance in order to set up the punchline regarding geeks often being not the finest physical specimens of humanity yet more than willing to wear a brass bra in public.

    No, it wasn’t that funny. But I don’t think it was a serious attempt to pigeonhole all geek girls as Leia bikini wearers.

  60. Learn Hexadecimal @ 47: And, if I might brush up my tone a bit, was just to clarify for folks who don’t get it. You, quite clearly, do get it, so it wasn’t actually directed at you.

  61. Why have so many things become zero sum games? For women to succeed in SFF does not mean that someone else has to lose.

    It reminds me of the people that I am finding it harder and harder to avoid in every facet of life. Everyone knows the people that turn EVERYTHING into a competition and it is this mentality that I honestly believe is at the root of a lot of our problems.

    Give me more things to read and I am more likely to find more things I like. Sounds like an optimal outcome to me. In the article author’s world, I guess there are just too many sff authors.

  62. This is exciting. When we look back on the smoldering ruins of the blogosphere after Genderfail 2009, we can all say we there when it started!

  63. Jim @69

    I’m not insulted – the problem is that it’s priviledge that lets it be a non-issue for you. None of us here know you, all we have to go on are your words. We live in a world where people do say that sort of thing seriously. There are people who really *do* think that way. You (appear) to be in possession of a penis. That gives you priviledge to not have to notice it’s a problem and you seem to be getting angry to be called on it. Why don’t you take a second, and rather than get defensive, think about why it was taken in a way you didn’t mean.

  64. I get the feeling, incidentally, that the guy who wrote the original article would be one of the first people to thump his chest and bleat proudly about the almighty sanctity of the free market, etc., etc., under other circumstances. The same free market, that is, which has allowed all that ooshy-gooshy relationship stuff to seep into his fantasies about MANLY MEN DOING MANLY STUFF MANLY-LY*, because those stories sell. Because why have a standard that’s undoubled?

    * “MANLILY” looked too confusing.

  65. Will Mrs. Scalzi allow you to accept a virtual hug for Point 1 up there? Because, yeah. That.

    And I’m giggling about “girl cooties” for some reason, but I think that’s my inner 12-year-old being out of control again.

  66. Sarcastro @ 76: Yeah, of course it wasn’t serious! I don’t mean to be an asshole about it or anything. But unfortunately after you’ve been pigeonholed long enough anything pigeonholey starts to feel really frustrating, yknow? – The problem isn’t the joke so much as the cultural context in which it’s made, which is such that it’s really hard to tell a joke like that and not get my hackles up!

    Jim Wright @ 69: Wow, I feel like you must have misinterpreted what I was trying to say, if you’re responding to me. I recognize that you feel like you’re being scolded. That wasn’t my intention, and it surprises me that you feel that way, but I don’t want to imply that you “shouldn’t” feel that way. I do honestly find the joke funny, but at the same time, like I said to Sarcastro, after being pigeonholed enough times it becomes tough not to have a reaction. And I think that it’s not really my job to swallow that reaction and not say anything about it, yknow? Because the fact is that sci fi conventions can be a pretty fraught space for women. And I’ve had people make comments to me about “you should be wearing a Leia bikini” before in really inappropriate ways. Geek-girls have a love-hate relationship with Leia-bikinis, I think, in general…

    carriev @ 68: Oh man, I do wish I was there. Sigh… mmm, 300, you were such a horrible wonderful movie.

  67. Generally speaking, “I didn’t realize I was being offensive… my bad” works FAR better than “I’m sorry you are so thin-skinned as to take offense, fer chrissakes.”

  68. flourish @62, the bra part ain’t that much of a problem, however I don’t have the legs to pull off “harem pants” bottom (plus, long surgery scar on the left leg). Add in the extra 9lbs I gained at VP for concentrating on sugary water instead of tea for my caffeine, I think I’m more apt to the Jabba costume, maybe the pig Orc-like guards or that weird whatever male singer Lucas added to the Jabba scene.

    Or, the guy from the first cover of “the God Engines.” Only I’m going for the fur loincloth. Just for the effect.

  69. just 2 female sci fi writers off the top of my head; Connie Willis & Mary Doria Russell (the sparrow) not to mention others like Cherie Priest are writers at a level of quality that are not easily matched by us guys.

    Personally, I have enjoyed the influx of the feminine perspective in the genre. It can only add to the number of views we can gain of the elephant. I’m actually a bit surprised to see that someone would actually say something like this. Probably time for him to get back to his D&D.

  70. Laurie @72: Yeah, that’s what I was after, but I should’ve said it outright. @77: Thanks.

    Jim @69: I wasn’t denouncing sarcasm, believe me. I love sarcasm. I was denouncing jokes that bolster harmful cultural frameworks. Those frameworks don’t need any more bolstering than they already get. If your humour relies on ideas like “men wearing bikinis are gross”, that’s a sign you might want to rethink your humour.

    In contexts like this, saying that we’d know better if we knew you better misses the point. When we say that your joke was problematic, we’re not making statements about your intentions or your personality; we’re making statements about the words you said. Those words don’t exist in a vacuum. People who aren’t you will read them, and they’ll react to them, and sometimes they’ll react in ways you might not like or expect.

    In this case, you made a joke about women having a useful role wearing bikinis at conventions. There are plenty of people who genuinely agree with that idea; those people are the cause of things like the EA booth babe fiasco. By making that joke, you gave that idea just a tiny bit more airtime than it was otherwise getting, even though you were mocking the idea and the people who espouse it.

    I think that kind of thing hurts more than it helps, and I hope that next time you go to make one of those jokes, you step back and think about it and maybe change your mind.

  71. Mitch @ 78 – It’s the vagina dentata/women are unclean/womanliness saps our manly strength thing.

    I’m serious. There’s an idea that women are not only weak, but they can make men weak by making men like them. At the same time, women are seen to be irresistible, and able to drive men to loose control. If you read the screed Scalzi didn’t link to, and the rest of the nonsense on this guy’s web page, you’ll see it there in all it’s glory.

  72. Rivka @ 80

    So, based on my plumbing, I am a de facto misogynistic homophobe? Is that about right? I’m also white and live in Alaska, want to assume I’m a racist separatist too?

    You know you can’t use stereotyping to fight bigotry, right? An hour ago I would have said humor was a better choice.

    You’re right, some people do think that way. I don’t happen to be one of them. Hence the joke. It was simple sarcasm and nothing more. Funny, how based solely on my presumed gender you’ve backward engineered my entire worldview. Genderfail indeed.

  73. Jim Wright:

    I think you’re responding to comments defensively at this point, which is coloring what you’re reading. I don’t get the sense that people are attacking you. I think they’re trying to explain why the joke you tried to make fell flat in this instance.

    Based on what I know of you, I know your comment was meant in good faith, and I don’t think anyone’s questioning that. I do think you need to ratchet yourself down just a little, recognize you’re not being attacked, and take another look at the comments.

    Assume good will here, basically. Likewise to folks responding to Jim.

  74. This all reminds me of a conversation I had with my comic-book-geek boyfriend recently. I can’t remember how it started, but the end result was having to explain to him exactly how toxic male-dominated geek-heavy arenas can be for equally geeky women. He seemed genuinely baffled. But then, he also didn’t understand that the other end of the spectrum from this particular douchebag’s screed–the self-hating geek’s swooning gratitude upon verbal contact with a female of the species–is only marginally less toxic.

    The best part of the discussion came when he got that oh-so-patient tone in his voice and said, “Honey, I think I know what it’s like to be a nerd.”

    I said, “Maybe so, but you don’t know what it’s like to be a female nerd.” And then he shut up.

  75. Jim at 89. Okay, back off a second. Where did I ever say any of that? What I said was that if you are in fact male and a man you by default have male priviledge. That says nothing about you as a person. If you’re white, as I am, that means you have white priviledge. That makes neither of us a racist. It does how ever grant us the priviledge of being in the majority, of being thought of as the default or normal. Because of that, we occasionally can be offensive when it wasn’t intended. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that you didn’t mean to piss people off here. However, when people pointed it out, it might have been wise to take a step back and think about *why* we were concerned about your “joke.”

  76. @ 87 If your humour relies on ideas like “men wearing bikinis are gross”, that’s a sign you might want to rethink your humour.

    How do you get there from what I said? I didn’t say a thing about men in Leia bikinis. You, and those who’ve made similar comments, have made an assumption based soley on my presumed gender and sexual orientation. Which is what you’re accusing me of doing – the difference is that it’s ok if you do it, because I have external plumbing.

    I admit that my comment was insensitive. I did not realize it was an issue. I apoligized for it. I apologize again. I got it. Thanks for pointing it out.

  77. Wow that screed was much worse than I expected.

    It’s more sad than funny. You wonder how many women the author talks to….(as opposed to talks DOWN to).

    I can recommend Lois McMaster Bujold, C.J. Cherryh (of course), as well as all the others previously mentioned in the thread.

  78. I’m not a glutton for punishment, so I’m not going to look for that blog post. I get stabbity when I read stuff like that, purporting to elaborate on some automatic difference. When I’m in the bookstore or the library, I’m looking for an accessible, compelling read, with no interest at all in what combination of chromosomes the writer possesses. And I’ve been just as confused by pieces of Andre Norton’s books as I have by Isaac Asimov’s.

    Sf(/f) fans who continue to push these kinds of biological-sex-based ideas do themselves a disservice.

    I like your punishments, John. I’m not good on roller skates so I’ll just be part of the pointing crowd.

  79. Jim @93,

    Quick question, and apology appreciated, do you grok why some of us found the joke kind of insulting? and if not would it be at all useful to explain how it may have been taken?

  80. steve @86,
    Heh. My post-high-school D&D experience has ranged from gender-balanced to female-dominated.

  81. Personally, as a woman, I think there need to be MORE men in sci-fi!*

    *As long as they’re all attractive, and take their shirts off frequently. Or simply don’t wear shirts at all =P

    Alright, I’m sort of kidding. As a child, I wanted to be an astrophysicist, and sometime after the SciFi channel was formed I watched it at every opportunity and stumbled across Stargate SG-1 and… fast-forward 10+ years, I actually am a physicist, proud of myself that I never let all the ‘women can’t do science’ jokes get to me, and I’m still amazed at how cool it is that I actually achieved my childhood dream. Seriously, how many people actually get to do that?

  82. Apologies for getting my girl-cooties on you, but I’m kinda lovin’ you right now.

    I posted a suggestion to him that he read the works of James H. Schmitz, my favorite old-time “sensawonda”-style scifi writer. Absolutely of his era, and absolutely non-sexist.

  83. Jim Wright @ 93: Speaking only for myself here, but when I try to imagine the who-would-wear-the-bikini joke as posted by someone with female plumbing, I find it considerably more offensive than otherwise . . . interesting. I’m going to have to think about that.

    I do know that when a professional comedian has a joke bomb, he can blame either the audience or the joke–and the more successful a comedian, the better he is at evaluating both joke and audience. Maybe part of this whole disagreement is just that “Dying is easy, comedy is hard”?

  84. The thing is, I read the joke — and indeed, I can see no other reading of it that makes sense — as being a mindscrew attempt on the mysogynistic blogger by using his phobic tendencies against him in a fit of verbal judo. We know of course that he probably won’t read it, but we can imagine, and the schadenfreude from resulting mindscrew is the crux of the joke.

    He wouldn’t like to get rid of the Princess Leias, right? Of course not, because he’s a prick. Thinking about that is the lure. It takes the goad of ‘don’t think about it’ to make him think about it, and then he’s stuck thinking about it. If he weren’t homophobic/etc. these thoughts wouldn’t bother him, but lucky for us… he’d have that seared into his glia.

    Now, what’s funny about it if the author is just as harmed by this image? I can’t see what’d be funny about it. There’d be no reason to post it at all.

    This isn’t a ‘get a thicker skin’ post — teal barbs and slights are totally legitimate. Fake ones laid as traps for the unwary mysogynist… well, you tell me whether it’s still problematic. It’s not really my place to decide, is it?

  85. Freya @99, then we start the Shatner as J. T. Kirk jokes (or, as they said in Galaxy Quest, “How come your shirt was always ripped to shreds by the end of the episode?”)

  86. Terribly sorry – I had to go over there and laugh at him in person. Normally I don’t approve of doing such a thing but really –

    Thanks for your comments on the issue. I see no need to comment further cause everyone here rocks generally and gets it.

  87. Jim @93, I’ll quote you @7:

    Seriously, if there were no woman in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.

    Think about it.

    uh…no, wait…don’t think about it.

    Now, I freely admit that it’s possible you didn’t intend to say anything about men wearing bikinis there, but as I’ve said, your intentions were never the issue. I, and many other people reading that post, extracted from it the following sequence: ‘Who will wear Leia bikinis at woman-free sci-fi conventions? Men. But let’s not think about that.’ The implication of course being that men wearing bikinis is gross, which is why nobody wants to think about them.

    I haven’t made any assumptions about you based on your plumbing; I’ve made very few assumptions about you, in fact, because I’ve been focusing as much as possible on what you said as opposed to who you are. The words are the important part.

    Luke @102: The thing is, enacting a mind screw on the homophobic misogynist by tricking him into thinking about men in bikinis just reinforces his misogyny and homophobia. And it reinforces the idea that there’s something wrong with men in bikinis. I feel confident in predicting that at least one or two visitors to this comment thread probably read that joke and laughed to themselves: ‘Those silly misogynist sci-fi fans. Look how they set themselves up for wearing bikinis. Ho ho ho, their hypothetical emasculation is high-larious.’ See the problem?

  88. I wish I’d been at the DragonCon mentioned earlier. And I have been known to be scantily clad at WorldCon (anyone here attend the Hugo Losers party in…um, the year before Glasgow? That was me in the only clothing suitable for the steambath that party became). Not in my current shape, which I am ashamed to have seen even dressed (hey, if I didn’t have issues I’d have nothing to read at all).

    Ha! Goal: appear in loincloth at Reno WorldCon. Be worked out enough to be happy to do so.

    COMMIT;

  89. Don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said; just wanted to applaud the brilliant use of “freehold.”

  90. You know what? Jim having apologized profusely and repeatedly, I think it might be a good thing (friendly, kind, words like that) to drop the discussion of his joke and why it fell flat/offended some people. I know if I’d made a joke and had people react this way, I wouldn’t want to see it beaten into the ground AFTER I apologized. It might still be an interesting topic, but I think it’s rather unfriendly and unkind to keep going on about it.

    Just my thought.

  91. I feel so stupid sometimes. I don’t understand why this is an issue for anyone. I read books. I want to read good books. I don’t care who writes them.

    Except for maybe my cat. My cat knows to much about what goes on in my house. The world isn’t ready.

    As someone who is attempting to forge a career I am in awe of all people who accomplish publication. Write well, entertain your fans, that’s all that matters.

  92. *raises hand* I confess, I thought Jim @7 was funny. And I’m a woman. But I’m also an Alaskan. Maybe it’s in the water. Or the bears. :)

    -Catie

  93. Xopher @108 – If the internet has demonstrated anything at all over the course of their existence, it’s that highly-charged topics should not be discussed in a medium with no non-verbal cues. Good-intentioned and even like-minded people can end up hating each other online, whereas if they’d had the opportunity for a conversation over beer/coffee/other social lubricant, they’d end up friends, or at least polite.

    Obviously John should have us all over for pie instead.

  94. Or maybe it’s the water in the bears.

    I didn’t find Jim’s joke funny, nor was his first attempt at an apology very useful. But, I suspect he’s figured out why both were not good and has apologized again.

    Let’s move back to the dickweed Scalzi wrote about in the first place. THAT’S a guy who needs a serious rearrangement of mental attitude… but of course, he won’t ever admit it.

  95. Xopher @108: You know what? Me, too. If I had a nickel for every time I had a joke fall cringe-inducingly flat–let alone with just part of its readership; usually I do much worse than that–I’d be able to purchase most of Alaska. Maybe even with one of the Hawaiian islands thrown in, for winter vacations.

    Now if our esteemed host ever decides to run a thread on the implications of humor–why some people think some things are funny and some don’t, and how to maybe do it right, online or off–I’ll be there . . . but that’s a whole other topic.

  96. I didn’t read the post that Scalzi didn’t link to, but from the discussion here, I see it and Charlie Stross’s rant as being uncomfortably similar. Unlinked-Jerk says SF Girls Suck. Stross says Space Opera Sux. I think Stross comes perilously close to saying No Fairs, I can’t haz my real SF because sub-humans are making all that tech the tech shit.

    People don’t have to like the same things I do, but I’m not well pleased when they try to tell me their taste is the good kind and there’s something the matter with mine.

  97. I eventually found the article and read it. If I’m reading it correctly, science fiction doesn’t tech the tech to solve the tech problem. And the problem with that is that “boys aren’t inspired” by anything other than teching the tech.

    Or as a navy man once said, this teching techer won’t tech.

    The article seemed rather flat in its understanding of both women and men. I’m not just inspired by teching techers teching some tech. And women aren’t just about romance novels with spaceships.

    oh, and roller derby teams with spears is a great image….

    :)

  98. Uhm. That unnamed blog site is what is euphemistically termed a “men’s rights” site. “Men’s rights” organisations are usually (though not always) excuses for bitter men to be bitter and offensive about women. This site seems to fit the usual profile.

  99. If the internet has demonstrated anything at all over the course of their existence, it’s that highly-charged topics should not be discussed in a medium with no non-verbal cues.

    I wouldn’t quite go that far, but I would say they have to be discussed with care.

    Good-intentioned and even like-minded people can end up hating each other online, whereas if they’d had the opportunity for a conversation over beer/coffee/other social lubricant, they’d end up friends, or at least polite.

    Case in point: there’s a commenter on here with whom I will never be friends, because our initial encounter was so negative (but not quite enough to get either of us banned). This despite the fact that I often agree with what he says. I ignore him, and he ignores me; it works for both of us.

    I’m not sure you intended to imply that many online hatreds could be fixed with an in-person meeting; if so, I disagree. That’s only if you assume that online behavior somehow doesn’t count. In the case mentioned above, if someone tried to introduce us in person, I would walk away without speaking, and have a stern word with the “someone” later, because I don’t subscribe to that assumption.

    If the in-person meeting takes place first it can prevent the online problem in some cases, but it can’t cure it once it’s taken place.

  100. I take it by this post that the beloved Scalzi has read my beloved Lois McMaster Bujold’s book Ethan of Athos. It’s full of men who are scared of women sequestered on their own planet by their free will. Alas, Lois McMaster Bujold may be one of those blasted women to whom dratted and horrid blogger may have been referring. His loss.

  101. I started reading this thread at Xopher’s comment @108. I read backwards until I got to Jim’s joke @7. When I got there my reaction was not “ah ah now we see the mysogyny inherent in the system!”

    It was more like ha, indeed, but Ooh, bad timing.

    All this has really done is make me miss George Carlin.

    Forty or fifty comments on a one liner is overkill.

    Forty one or fifty one comments on a one liner is over kill.

  102. Oh, there is at least one reason why there are more male scientists and engineers than female and that is cultural attitude to what men and women should do. For example at 16 I got and A in maths and double A* in science at GCSE and A’s and B’s in other subjects when it came time to do my A levels I told the advisor (a man) that I would do Physics, Double Maths and Chemistry, then this guy asks me are you sure? wouldn’t you rather do something more sutible like english or cooking (this is less that 10 years ago BTW) I was really shy then and he got me to drop physics and Double maths in favour of maths and geology. If it were now my reaction would be – WTF? i got top grades in Science and you want me to do english? which BTW i hated? – Later when I was in the Chemistry and Maths classes I found out that some of the boys there had got C and D in GCSE but were encoraged to do science anyway? WTF? Girls were never encoraged to do science no matter how good they are but boys are encouraged to do science if they show even the slightest shred of aptitude. How unfair is that? this is true anecdotal evidence but of the tiny fraction (no more than 1/4) of the classes that were female none of us got lower than a B at GCSE

    I actually gained Bs in Chemistry and Maths and went on to do a Geochemistry Degree despite the constant ‘Are you sure?’ reaction by anybody who I told (except for when I got to uni where almost half the geology faculty were female, it made me glad to get that far). And the advisor who tried to talk me out of science wasn’t there anymore when my sister went and now she has a 2:1 Maths Degree.

    Also any guy that thinks it’s hard to be a male should be made to be female for a day and see how they like it (like they do with fat suits, I really wish it could be possible) then they could spend the day being sidelined by other men.

    In the book five to twelve by Edmund Cooper there is a scene in a bar where a woman is harrassing a guy to sleep with her, the same way we see men do to women nowadays, now I wonder how men would like that, not so much I guess (as much as this book is supposed to be mysoginist it spends a fair amount of time worldbuilding this world where the tables are turned and I found it interesting).

    I was reading SF at 14 and it was the really old stuff too, nowadays I always find it jarring where the extra planetary exploration teams never have any women, and when John Wyndham blew up earth he had only 2 women on Venus with a *lot* of men.

  103. Ben@74,

    Off-topic but yes, I think you should take the mentions of Elizabeth Moon as recommendations, ‘specially if you like OMW etc.

  104. Xopher, no, I was unclear. An in-person discussion instead of the online discussion; I’m not trying to cure anything. (That way lies blood, tears, and little white jackets.) Online behavior does certainly count.

    My intended point was that it is easier to miss small cues online, to read non-existent motives, to escalate beyond redemption. Not that that is impossible face-to-face, but it’s easier in an online forum with neither non-written cues nor social lubricants.

  105. What did astonish me is that the entire blog site is set up to look after the interests of men and that to do this, it seems, requires women to be put into a time machine and sent back to the 1950s – cause men were real men then and the only way they can be real men now is to emulate that period as much as possible.

  106. I’m betting the guys on that site set the land-speed record for not detecting the irony when they watch Mad Men.

  107. Musereader @ 123 –

    “Girls were never encoraged to do science no matter how good they are but boys are encouraged to do science if they show even the slightest shred of aptitude. How unfair is that?”

    I thought about how I might feel if my daughter came home from school and reported this. I’m glad I’ve got like fourteen years for my blood pressure
    to normalize.

  108. Kate @# 112: Personally, I’m with Phiala.

    Mmmm, pie…

    Oh, and Ben @# 74: Yes, Elizabeth Moon rocks.

    (Pun unintentional, but now that I made it, damn if I’m going to edit it out.)

  109. Wow. I enjoy all your writing, John, but your justly-administered beat-downs like this are flawless gems. I especially appreciate the little touches, like the smudgy fingerprints and the “freehold” bits. Bravo.

    For those who in particular appreciate deliciously written anti-sexist rants, I can’t recommend the blog “Tiger Beatdown” enough. It’s at http://tigerbeatdown.com/, but people here might want to start with her post “Dollhouse, Joss Whedon, and the Strange and Difficult Path of Feminist Dudes: Some Thoughts” (http://tigerbeatdown.com/?p=261).

  110. The original is as bad as everyone says, even if you take into account how bad everyone says it is.

    I’ll say this in, not exactly his defense, but in support of a point orthogonal to what he said: I much prefer (as an example) the earlier Miles Vorkosigan stories, when he was tooting around as Admiral Naismith and channeling Tom Sawyer, and really didn’t at all care for the butterbugs and the shoehorn Auditor medallion Miles started wearing after they killed him but were still unable to shut him up. I seem to be pretty much alone in this, though.

    I like stories with epic scale, starships and physics problems and clever plausible engineering and great threats to humanity and all the rest. Often when I want that kind of story I don’t mind the emotional content being simplified.

    It would never occur to me to think of that as a “boy” thing. It’s just a story preference. And that such stories have been deemphasized in the same era as more women have become interested in SFF is a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.

    At least I think it is. I could be wrong.

  111. Hope @ 115 – Stross didn’t say “Space Opera sucks”. He said he hated Trek because the tech was used as a plot de-tangler, and had no internal coherence. Tech in one episode bore no relation to tech in another to the point where when a tech-problem in one episode was cured by tehcnobabble of one sort, the same problem might crop up next year, and no one would remember the solution.

    But can we follow that up over there? <- click that link and put any response there, ok?

  112. Flourish @83: Yeah, of course it wasn’t serious! I don’t mean to be an asshole about it or anything.

    Oh no, you were nowhere close to being an asshole about it. I can totally see where you’re coming from and you criticisms are well founded.

    I find that one of the most effective attacks on feminism, and liberal causes in general, is to portray its supporters as humorless harridans and I try to push back against that. Often, admittedly, too much.

  113. Sarcastro @ 135 : What’s ironic about this whole discussion is that I’m actually writing my master’s thesis right now about… ding ding ding! The humor of female fans! (And sometimes that’s feminist humor.)

    Anyway, this has gotten totally off topic to the original post. Having read the blog post that this responds to, I almost feel like it could be used as an example of feminist humor… if it were written in ironic style by a feminist. Eurgh.

  114. Musereader@123: In the book five to twelve by Edmund Cooper there is a scene in a bar where a woman is harrassing a guy to sleep with her, the same way we see men do to women nowadays, now I wonder how men would like that, not so much I guess …

    It’s worth noting that some homophobia in some men boils down to “But, but, but … what if a guy treated me like I treat women? Ewww!”

    This is, in fact, the basis of the infamous “gay panic” defense. To wit, “But Your Honor, I only beat him to death because he made a rude pass at me, and that drove me temporarily insane.”

  115. Musereader (123)

    I know your pain! I actually stopped taking math in high school after my third year, because there was no way to avoid a teacher who made it clear that he didn’t think girls could do higher math.

    I really hope that doesn’t happen anymore.

    And like Freya in post 99, I DID get to have the career I wanted, in spite of him!

    It turned out that programming a computer to do something requires no math at all!

    But I’ve got to say that when I heard the the SciFi network used the need for more female viewers as a reason for changing their name to SyFy, I nearly gagged! I suppose we women are supposed to be more attracted to those nice round y’s than to the pointy, masculine i’s.

    Ah, but that’s the entertainment business for you! (Present company excepted, of course, John)

  116. Wait, so what’s with the assumption that female SF fans mostly enjoy only relationship-centric (or “soft”) stories, and the science-centric or “hard” SF is “for boys”?

    I’m female, hetero, etc. etc. Weaned on Star Trek: TOS, sure, but courtesy of my father, an SF fan and an engineer. Whose SF collection I began to read in childhood. Plenty of old pulp anthologies on those shelves, and also plenty of novels. “Hard” SF, “soft” SF, and everything in between. I read it all, and enjoyed it equally. I still do.

    And here I always thought of myself as normal.

  117. They keep mentioning “The Game” over and over. Women are the enemy, and we need to:

    Step 1: fight them… until we can get them to sleep with us.

    Step 3: Profit!

  118. Pat H, @138: Oh, hear, hear! In fact, of the people in my life who have made the most ruckus over the change from “Sci Fi” to “SyFy”, women have outnumbered men 2:1.

  119. OK, after reading that steaming pile of s*** I need to know: anyone got some good brain bleach?

  120. “I suppose we women are supposed to be more attracted to those nice round y’s than to the pointy, masculine i’s.”

    Tell that to L.E. Modesitt, male fantasy and science fiction author, whose characters suffer a surplus of Y’s in their names. (It’s to the point where it’s almost a running gag, with Lydya being the front-runner for ridiculous Y placement.)

  121. I came across the rant–or at least a portion of it–reproduced on the unfunnybusiness community at Journalfen and I was laughing too hard at the parenthetical reminder about the ORIGINAL Battlestar Galactica to take anything else he said seriously enough to be offended by it.

  122. May I throw custard pies instead? This sounds like one of those issues that would be much improved by a few good pies, a slide whistle and a bottle of seltzer.

  123. This whole thread makes me feel so much better. Thank you all for assisting the drop in my blood pressure: I thank you, my cardiologist thanks you, and my dachshunds thank you (since they hide under the bed when I start shouting at the monitor.)

  124. Laurie S. @ 63 —

    Not only did James Tiptree, Jr. write some classic SF, but the events of “his” real life included more “manly” type stuff than most real men ever get to experience. Little things like a real African safari before puberty, helping to start the CIA after World War II, hints of covert activity abroad during the height of the cold war, etc. Coy, femine, debutante stuff. (I think “he” was a debutante, actually.)

    Best biography I’ve ever read, bar none.

    I also recall from the book (without recalling the details) that “Mr. Tiptree” had quite a bit to say about gender-based differences as well. IIRC, wasn’t there some classic correspondence with Joanna Russ? Early 70’s pre-internet gender flame-wars FTW!

  125. Damn it, Scalzi, don’t make me reluctantly admire you again.

    Whenever I see teh menz proudly proclaiming that science fiction is for and by teh menz, I have this uncontrollable urge to turn them into soylent green and ask Ripley to feed them to the Alien.

    Must be my unreliable girly hormones that make me feel like that, right?

  126. I found it and I left a comment there. Basically I just laughed at the maroon for being an idiot. Women have been reading, writing and watching scifi for as long as it’s been around.

    As for those who’ve left comments that women do NOT attend cons…actually some of us do and we LOVE cons. We might not always dress up in costume, but we attend cons. Tons of us attend cons.

    Because of maroons like that idiot, I shall continue to encourage my 10 year-old niece (she LOVES science) to keep up on her science studies so she can kick his ass with not only her knowledge of all things scieney but with her LOVE of it. If only to piss guys like him off.

    Women can and do a lot of things men do, and guys like that hate it because we tend to do it BETTER! Ha! ;)

  127. Of course women can write SF and often better than men. On the other hand women make terrible stand up comedians, Sarah Silverman excepted.

  128. I’m a 46 year old white male who dabbles in writing and loves SF – especially the “Crashing Suns” variety of Space Opera.

    I started reading science fiction at a very young age because my mother liked it; which meant there were often SF books in the house. I don’t have exactly the same taste as she does, but I always ascribe any differences to who we are, not what we are.

    SF is for people, not for women, not for men. I’m planning to buy two ebooks tonight. Both are by women. The reason I picked these two is that they’re in ePub format (supported by my Sony) and the oldest one in the book: In both cases I bought the previous book and liked it.

    I want SF to be a readers’ and writers’ genre.

  129. Chris Robbins, I’m hoping that you’re joking, but if you are, try harder. Not working.

    If you aren’t, this is just the same kind of asshattery applied to another field. I personally think Sarah Silverman makes a terrible human being, but have no opinions about her comedy. Ellen Degeneres, Wanda Sykes, and Kathy Griffin are great standup comedians, just to name a few.

  130. Xopher @ 155 —

    Don’t forget Paula Poundstone, please. I love her audience interaction.

  131. Why Idaho? What do you have against Idaho? Stick them on one of the unoccupied islands of the pacific ocean where they can’t bother anybody.

  132. @149, Ah, yes James Tiptree, I went and found a book with Robert Silverberg’s 1974 essay in so I could read it for teh lulz, He compares ‘him’ to Hemmingway and says there is ‘something ineluctably masculine about Tiptree’s writing’, I have a reprint so there is the Postscript from 1978 where Silverberg admits his wrongness, lol.

    @129, 138. If that is the reaction I got in 2000, when it was supposed to be easy for women to become scientists, then I can only imagine the how hard it was for women in earlier decades, (though I guess the discouragement in my case was mostly implicit, only the once explicit from that advisor and he couldn’t stop me) but my sister informs me it was quite a bit easier for her less than 5 years later.

    @139, Most of my SF collection consists of Heinlein, Asimov, Aldiss, Van Vogt and thier contempories with Wyndham being one of my favourites. Men are suprised to say the least.

  133. Palooka Joe: No, no, no! Please! Don’t throw perfectly good custard pies. I love custard pies. As mystery writer Charlotte MacLeod once opined, a paper plate filled with shaving cream works just as well, and doesn’t waste food.

    A whistle and a bottle of seltzer, on the other hand, would undeniably add to the proceedings. In my opinion.

  134. science fiction is founded on girl cooties

    For shame, Mr. Scalzi. Everyone knows _Frankenstein_ was written by Roger Bacon.

  135. For this superlative post championing my girl-cooties, you garnered approximately 2 minutes of pure, unbridled, and passionate Kirby-love. The afterglow lasted throughout a helping of white-fudge covered pretzels and well into the making of this comment.

    My adoration was short, but I meant it sincerely.

    I’ll just go back to thinking you’re awesome now.

    PS: Don’t tell my husband.

  136. The men represented in the article seem to be supporters of “The Screwfly Solution.”

  137. John, sure you can. You just also need a roller derby run submarine to ferry them out there and back for the spearings.

  138. To all the folks here who think they can make jokes about women related in mixed company because they thought they were being ironic, can I point you at Jay Smooth’s
    Asher Roth and the Racial Crossroads
    video.

    You all should watch it. Jay Smooth expresses things in a way that should make sense to anyone.

    Making ironic jokes in company you know gets them, is fine, but tot do that, you have to establish to the entirety of the audience that you’ve got their acceptance to make those kind of jokes. If you’re not doing that, you’re implying that your need to get a few yuks is more important than any potential sensitivity.

    And if you, as someone with privilege, insists that the minority you just made a joke about is somehow less cool for taking offense because they don’t get your real intent, you just smacked them with your privilege *again* in a totally condescending white/straight/het/guy knows best sense.

    So even if Chris Robbins was joking, he still falls flat. *sigh*.

  139. Wow John, nice rant. Some serious grade A vitriole there. Methinks Ishant in fact go read the original – I’d like to sleep sometime, and getting P.O.d tends to hamper that.

  140. I really wish that “girls don’t like hard science” crap would go away. I’m in the arts, it’s true, but the first thing I ever wanted to be was a physicist.

    I read everything — a range that includes Arthur C. Clarke, sparkly vampire romances (of the adult, not teenager, kind), straight up non-fiction history, fantasy, noir — you name it. And I don’t see as how my genitalia figure into that picture, at all. I see a book that looks interesting, I pick it up. It’s no more complicated than that!

  141. What irks the hell out of me is that I posted the Link That Must Not Be Named on my Facebook with Scalzi’s quote about girl cooties and actually had a young male scientist I went to high school with say he AGREED.

    After some feet being held over the coals, he admitted that he was agreeing with the dumbing down of cable sci-fi television, and that misogynistic “implications” existed in the language that he did not agree with. I…removed myself from the conversation at that point. I am stunned. I thought he was a smarter man than that.

  142. I was linked here through lj. Genius! I love this, though I hate that it had to be said.

    Jim @7 I thought your joke was funny. I think I took it exactly as you meant it, and I lol’d irl. I’m sorry you’ve been given such a hard time about it (others don’t have to agree with my opinion, but that’s how I feel).

    Also, I am proud to be a women who is ruining sci-fi for misogynist wankers. :D I myself love science fiction because when it’s really good it’s both a mirror and a hammer, amen, and because of the pretty, smart men (I’d be lying if I said otherwise or left that out).

    Furthermore, I vote for Antarctica… or maybe Siberia… rather than Idaho. My potatoes come from Idaho.

  143. Ahaha! So great to see your views on the subject, John. This article has made me lol and seethe all at the same time, as they would say.

    I say we throw Wonder Woman at those folks from The Spearhead. They’d probably pee their pants.

    (btw, this is Sydney from Alpha. Not sure if you remember me, but hey, it’s worth a try!)

  144. i’m a little bit stunned that anyone would link to Dirk Benedict’s “Lost in Castration” post with even a modicum of approval. i’m very sad that such people exist, but so it goes. all we can do is, as you said, allow them to live in their own “freehold”, as far from worthwhile human beings as possible.

  145. I know! I’ll use a female pseudonym when I write science fiction! Sort of a reverse Tiptree. Then, years from now, when my true gender is revealed…

    …wait, that won’t work. I’m “a gay,” so I’m already soiled with the only cooties these manlilies (thank you, cpierson!) hate worse than girl cooties.

    And no one’s mentioned Catherine Asaro yet. This is a woman so hard-science that her FTL can’t be debunked, and yet she writes romances too. One of her books is an allegory of a high-energy subatomic reaction in the form of a romance novel! I bet her name repels these misogynist wankers…we should chant it to drive them away.

    Catherine Asaro! Catherine Asaro!

  146. One of my favorite all-time SF writers was an XY who wrote…not like a woman, precisely (whatever that would mean), but maybe as if he had women’s eyes: he noticed things many/most other writers of his time didn’t.

    To tie this into the Charlie Stross thingie — he also wrote one of my favorite classic Star Trek episodes.

  147. I was amused by the idea that replacing the incredibly feminine prettyboy!Starbuck with the very butch prettygirl!Starbuck would somehow make the show unsuitable for men to watch.

  148. Making ironic jokes in company you know gets them, is fine, but tot do that, you have to establish to the entirety of the audience that you’ve got their acceptance to make those kind of jokes…

    Why?

    Seriously.

    First, I don’t see how Jim’s joke was “sexist” but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. Second, Mr Scalzi ended his post with So, yes: let’s all point and laugh at these funny little terrified stupid men… and I personally thought that was the point of the post. (However, I’m often wrong.) Third, in my world there is almost never a wrong time for making a joke. A joke may go over flat, sure. But that’s one of the risks you take.

    In my humble opinion, if you can’t joke about things, than just perhaps you’re taking yourself and the world too seriously.

  149. Why?

    Seriously.

    Because it’s callous and egotistical to think everyone in a room is going to share the same sense of humor as you around touchy topics.

    Third, in my world there is almost never a wrong time for making a joke.

    And this is what I mean. Your world is where anyone who might be offended by a joke can be written off as taking things too seriously.

  150. Your world is where anyone who might be offended by a joke can be written off as taking things too seriously.

    Yes. Of course. You’re right. I’m an insensitive git who has no understanding of the feelings of others.

  151. John…people are overinterpreting each other again. John? Can you make them cut it out? They’re gonna fight, and that will be no fun at all.

  152. I was about to say, I’m not at all sure that this discussion is going to go anywhere fruitful, which makes me wonder if it needs to be here. I would suggest that if Michelle and Josh want to continue it, e-mail might be a good option.

  153. Nah. I’ll bow out. I’m not lecturing anyone on note getting sexism, just on the whole “why can’t you take a joke” thing. It’s not worth it.

  154. I have to wonder what authors this “man” would claim as favorites if buttonholed in a place where he couldn’t consult his references and make sure that none were secretly female.

    BTW, I’m a woman who loved science and planned to become a scientist. I ended up getting off track, so I ended up in the much more feminine profession of firefighting instead. Didn’t realize until later that moving up required a degree in either fire science or fire protection engineering until later, at which point I was thrilled.

  155. Next paycheck I am buying all your books… you just earned a free pass to the head of my “To Be Read” Pile. I just love your response to that drek that the person had written. Thanks!

  156. Nick @ 156

    I saw Paula Poundstone live a couple years ago. Holy cow, that woman thinks fast.

    Mary Frances @ 160

    I like custard pies too, especially if they’re made with sour cream and raisins. But we’ve got to maintain our standards! First it’s a shaving-cream substitute. Then, before you know it, there’s no pie at all. Just a passive-aggressive sigh and a half-hearted raspberry. If that happens, then I’m afraid the terrorists have won.

    Maybe, in the instance of pie preservation, we can make do with a bucket of whitewash and a few whacks with a stepladder? Then we can eat the pie ourselves and still administer a approved dose of slapstick mockery.

    John @ 158

    Would you settle for a water-ski team instead? A six-person pyramid racing across the waves, with toe-ropes in one hand and harpoons in the other, would certainly keep me on Dorito Freehold Island.

  157. I couldn’t believe someone could put their name to such gobsmackingly putrid shit… Then I realised he didn’t. Wanker.

  158. @ Xopher, 177 Wow!

    All right, you’ve convinced me. And how could I have gotten this far along in life without REALIZING that Catherine Asaro was this fantastic???

    One more for the bookpile…

  159. catseyes @ 187

    “Fire” and “science” in the same degree? It’s time for me to go back to college!

    Mary Frances @ 189

    Once custard pies came into the picture, I’m afraid raisins were inevitable.

    I’m awfully hungry now too. I suspect there’s some baking in my future.

  160. @ PalookaJoe #193
    Of course there is. If you’d like to look it up, try “fire dynamics” as a keyword set. Or look up Smokeview, which is a program designed by NIST to model fire movement. Of course, the degree has a large dollop of management studies, so that we can deal with the apes that just want to break things for a living, but there’s plenty of engineering along with the dollop of physics and some chemistry to leaven the mix.

  161. The same terrified moron posts to a blog about how advances in technology will let them escape having to deal with women entirely. The freaky dumb, it runs deep.

    John @158, don’t be silly. Unoccupied Pacific islands have volcanoes. Roller derby teams with spears SKATING ON LAVA. How much win is that?!

  162. Pointing and laughing as suggested:

    Bwaaa hah hahahaaa!

    No, Doctor, not the EVIL laugh!

    No?

    No. Try the condescending, worldly laugh with the hint of contempt.

    That’s no fun, I use that one all the time.

    But look at who you’re laughing at.

    Hmmm, I see what you mean. The evil laugh is only for worthy opponents, and this guy’s Night Ranger T-Shirt has Cheetos stains all over it. And what is that stuff growing in his hair? Definitely not worthy of the evil laugh.

    And so…?

    Forget it. I can’t stand to look at him any longer. A short snicker of derision will have to suffice. Tsnh!

  163. Xopher @ 177 — Yes. Catherine Asaro is some kind of awesome, and so are her stories. Two Nebulas and another nomination, if memory serves.

    Mac @ 192 — Yes, you should add her to your bookpile. But more than one of her novels, certainly. I run hot and cold on her stuff, but Primary Inversion, The Last Hawk, and The Ruby Dice are high on my list of the cream of modern SF. Right next to OMW.

  164. @197 — Hee — I meant one more author for the bookpile. I have no self-control. (Thanks for the specific recs!)

  165. This reminds me of the old Usenet days. I can’t stand a serious debate — too much intellectual energy that I could be spending on other things — but this kind of buffoonery (er, not the thread here but the one to which it is referring) just makes me want to lob water balloons and eat popcorn. Inadvertent self-parody is always a superb source of entertainment.

  166. Oh, dear. That screed almost slipped under my radar and had me behaving badly. And I’m going to bed now, because I really don’t want to succumb to temptation and head back there with,
    “Don’t worry dear – no one’s fourteen forever.”

  167. I should note that the putative magazine in question has linked back to this entry, so the potential for foamy jackassery has just gone up immeasurably. If you see some pop up, just leave it be, I’ll be around to deal with it presently.

    While again not linking that other site, I’ll note that the boys there are ranty about me not linking to them, with a miniscreed that boils down to “how dare he make editorial decisions for his own site!” Yes, well.

    As for me, I suppose my question is: When did the patriarchy become so goddamned whiny?

  168. The way I figure it, if we’ve got “men rights” idiots whining, then we’re doing something right. It means we’re gaining ground with the rest of the Westernverse. Back in the 1980’s, there was much consternation that women were going to take over fantasy and SF and destroy them with their girl cooties, and that was because there were female authors popping up all over the place and female readers rapidly increasing in number.

    And we women loved Leia in a bikini — because she kicked ass in it and killed Jabba the Hut with her slave chain. Meanwhile the guys were running around like the Keystone Cops and struggling with helmets. We are the reason 300 was a hit film. And if guys find us debilitating, we don’t care, because we make up most of the reading audience for fiction, most of the viewing audience for t.v., and we make most of the consumer purchasing decisions, including big items like cars. There are pink computers because of us, and everyone can just lump it. We’re taking over, slowly, almost every profession. Sure, engineering has been a little slow, but it’s crumbling.

    No wonder some guys feel a little threatened. Because “feminine” is whatever we women say it is, whereas “masculine” is defined purely by the absence of feminine, which means really you guys have nothing. Except that societal dominance thing, and women will keep chipping away at that until it’s gone in the West, and then throughout the rest of the planet.

    Which doesn’t mean that men become useless at all. It means they become more interesting. And are much more likely to get laid. Empower women, get more sex.

  169. Lilaon@171, I’m with you all the way!

    Jim @7 – There are some skinny geek/nerd males I think I’d LIKE to see in a Leia bikini… ;)

    On the OTHER hand, there are some fen of both genders I would rather NOT.

    (don’t get me started on this one fan I met when I was still early on in fandom… he met the stereotype for “fans” to a T. dirty, smelly, ill-fitting costume, mooch, etc…)

  170. And we women loved Leia in a bikini — because she kicked ass in it and killed Jabba the Hut with her slave chain.

    I think the lesson on this thread is that different people may like a thing for different reasons.

    We are the reason 300 was a hit film.

    And some guys loved “300” because it was all slow-motion blood-squirting war porn and threw in a homophobic treat to boot.

    So far, “300” is the most violent movie on my (admittedly short listed) war handwavium scale. The only thing more violent than “300” was the video game “Call of Duty 4”.

    Some liked the chest-thumping non-thinking war-mongering homophobic nonsense of “300”. Not everyone liked it for the same reason. I doubt very much that’s why you liked it.

    “feminine” is whatever we women say it is, whereas “masculine” is defined purely by the absence of feminine, which means really you guys have nothing.

    I don’t think that’s the sole definition of “masculine”. Definitional issues come up when one side gets to define what the other side is. Having Rush Limbaugh define feminism will lead to problems.

    Defining “masculinity” to such a negative degree will only incense some men to point and shout “See! We need men’s rights groups to make sure women don’t define us into obsolecense!” They might see it as a strawman-type attack.

    And while I’m sure there are some sloped-forehead, knuckle-dragging men who have no real definition of masculinity other than “Man cave!” and “No women!”, not all men define “masculinity” to mean that. And limiting masculinity to the sloped-foreheaded, knuckle-dragging definition denies these other men their definition.

    If feminine is whatever women say it is, I think masculine is whatever men say it is. And that means probably more than one definition.

  171. And then we’ll tag them with GPS and if they ever try to leave the freehold, we’ll have them hunted down by roller derby teams with spears.

    I am intrigued by your ideas, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  172. As for me, I suppose my question is: When did the patriarchy become so goddamned whiny?

    Indeed. All this moaning about TEH FEMINIZM seems very…unmanly.

  173. Wow, now I remember why I quit reading your blog after a week or so. The answer to stupid is not to try to out-stupid it. Ugh.

  174. Given your apparent inability to parse what is stupid and what is not, rushmc, I’m glad you stopped reading this site, too. Please continue to not read it at your next available opportunity. Now is good.

  175. Heh, ironically, I’m listening to a radio program on the “civility crisis” in America. Turns out, Anonymity + abstraction does = a$$hole after-all

  176. Greg London: “Some liked the chest-thumping non-thinking war-mongering homophobic nonsense of “300″. Not everyone liked it for the same reason. I doubt very much that’s why you liked it.”

    I didn’t say I liked it. (Okay, I liked parts of it. The rhino thing was pretty cool.) But women went to go see it, which greatly increased its audience. And while Siffy is mostly wrong, IMO, about why women viewers are interested in scifi programming, that they are now especially interested in engaging women is significant. At this point, women are rapidly becoming half of the gaming market as well.

    There are of course many definitions of masculine and feminine that different people hold, but sociologists have found that men tend to define masculinity through it being not feminine (which often includes gay males as feminized men.) So a guy may get called gay by his buddies for spending time with his girlfriend over his friends because it is a “chick move” — something a woman would do, and therefore, real guys don’t. And that’s the screed about SFF too — if women write it, are lead characters in it, and read it, etc., then it’s not a male thing and is no longer masculine. Girl cooties.

    That being said, numerous guys are fine with their masculinity as they define it, and not being neanderthals about it, not feeling that the only way they can be a guy is if they take equality, power and things away from women to do it. (I’m luckily married to one.) They are, as I said, not emasculated but far more interesting. And they are multiplying. If we have occasional neanderthal backlashes from that, I don’t like it, but I’m not freaking out about it.

    Although the preserve with the spear stabbing does sound good.

  177. Heh heh, rushmc. Would that be DOCTOR Rush?!?!?

    Give back that communication stone! Out the airlock with you!

    KatG, We are the reason 300 was a hit film.

    I wouldn’t claim that for your side if I were you. That movie is a blight and a stain on everything but the art of photographing pretty men, and any decent person would be ashamed of liking it.

  178. Musereader @23 said:
    [i]Also any guy that thinks it’s hard to be a male should be made to be female for a day and see how they like it (like they do with fat suits, I really wish it could be possible) then they could spend the day being sidelined by other men.[/i]

    I think this would be a bad idea. But not because it would make men think differently of women, but because lots of those men would never leave the house. /joke

  179. I think what KatG is pointing at is that there’s a trend towards beefcake as well as cheesecake in films. A sufficient amount of hot looking men in a movie might well contribute to success.

    SGU take note – more topless shots of Louis Ferreira. Possibly wrestling with a topless Jamil Walker Smith.

  180. LizrdGizrd, not yet. We’ll see how he does; I have to admit I do like him being snotty in next week’s preview, so he could grow on me.

    That’s for me; I know people of both genders who would love some David Blue eyecandy. Just not my personal cup of tea.

  181. I’m of the opinion that if I get female eye candy it’s only fair that my wife gets male eye candy.

    Ming Na. Mmmmm.

  182. By the gods, this fail is so bad it’s funny! After reading the xenophobia and vitriol, I just had to make some icons. They’re here if anyone is interested.

    Yes, of course, science fiction has clearly been ruined since 1818 /snark

  183. KatG, I’m not trying to argue the “correct” definition of the terms so much as I’m trying to point out this:

    @209: “feminine” is whatever we women say it is

    @218: sociologists have found that men tend to define masculinity …

    Letting each woman define “feminine” to mean whatever they want it to mean is the very definition of empowering. Every individual gets to make it mean whatever is important to them. Works for me. All I’m saying is let each man define what masculine means to them, and give them the same empowerment.

    Josh@222: a trend towards beefcake as well as cheesecake in films. A sufficient amount of hot looking men in a movie might well contribute to success

    Hugh Jackman leaping out of the water, in slow motion, with water running down his exposed chest, I am sure, got some women to go see the recent X-Men movie with their boyfriends/husbands.

    Probably not much different than the thinking that had naked women running around on “Sex and the City” to get some men to watch it with their girlfriends/wives.

    I don’t have a problem with it. But I do hope that appealing to “masculine” and “feminine” hasn’t devolved into nothing more than providing eye candy for both sexes.

  184. You may want to pick another state than Idaho for your proposed “freehold”. Other people may be thinking: “Oh, isolated, potatoes, forests, etc. Hahaha”, but some people who have lived in Eastern Idaho are thinking: “This patriarchal ‘freehold’ actually exists in the form of the Local Dominant Sect.”

    So you don’t get the cute, ridiculous image of roller derby teams with spears running the apostates out of town, but I have seen (and experience first hand) instances of individuals–particularly women–being brutally slandered, harassed, and blacklisted until they were forced out.

    P.S. I am one of those icky diehard fans of the original Battlestar Galactica and I’m done with feeling embarrassed for liking something all the smart people think is “childish” and “stupid”. You don’t like it, fine with me, but leave it alone or be prepared for a rebuttal of Moore and Eick’s “reimagined” series.

  185. Nothing wrong with being an old school BSG fan. It’s the ones who got all kvetchy because the new show had *gasp* a female Starbuck who annoy me. There are things I didn’t like about the new BSG myself. But all told, I there were far more that I really liked about it.

  186. There are some skinny geek/nerd males I think I’d LIKE to see in a Leia bikini… ;)

    On the OTHER hand, there are some fen of both genders I would rather NOT.

    Yeah, who do they think they’re dressing up for anyway?

    Wouldn’t it be easier if there was a way to round up all the non-pretty fen (which includes none of us, I’m sure) and sequester them away so we’re no longer forced to look at them?

  187. Annoyed Anon @233: I think the point is that some people prefer to look at “pretty” bodies in scanty clothing. YMMV and values of “pretty” vary by customer.

  188. John Scalzi @ 207: “As for me, I suppose my question is: When did the patriarchy become so goddamned whiny?”

    It developed slowly, in direct proportion to their ability to treat women as second-class citizens and get away with it.

    (And yes, that means there’s still room for it to get worse.)

  189. LizrdGizrd – There’s nothing wrong with having preferences, it’s slamming other people for not being “pretty” enough that I think was the problem.

    Only Charles Brown (Locus Magazine editor, now deceased) class personalities could get away with that.

  190. JJ, I just thought the original post was stating preferences. The only slam I read was the one on the particular fan C. Shuy saw.

  191. eviljwinter @3:
    How ’bout them Bengals? Can you believe five nail-biters in a row and four wins? The Bungles at 4-1? I can’t believe they beat the Ravens. And presumably they will stomp the Texans Sunday, but after that it’s going to get interesting.

    (Sorry; I wandered over after reading the NFL Power Rankings for the week.)

    B. Durbin @ 145:
    “I suppose we women are supposed to be more attracted to those nice round y’s than to the pointy, masculine i’s.”

    Tell that to L.E. Modesitt, male fantasy and science fiction author, whose characters suffer a surplus of Y’s in their names.

    Or David Weber, whom Tor appears to have been unable to convince that replacing his vowels with Y’s in proper names (among other spelling sins) is a bad thing. Clearly his books should be classified as paranormal romance and given pink covers with little bows on them so we know they’re full of comfy, curvy y’s. Gack.

    Xopher @ #177:
    Catherine Asaro, ewww! She lost me forever with the story where the romantic leads elope on pastel unicorns, which beasts vastly exceed even my tolerance for Teh Cutesy. (And I’m the one who wears little fluffballs on her head at conventions just to confuse people like Scalzi.) But pastel unicorns? *shudder* Hey, how about them Bengals?

    General comment on bikini jokes:
    Am I the only one here who remembers going to a convention which had as a major event the Bimbo Contest, where women (and girls; lots of little ones entered) went on stage in skimpy costumes and got judged on who was the biggest bimbo? This was not an exercise in irony or camp; they were perfectly serious. Watching six-year-old girls get up on stage to brag about what bimbos they were made me sick. I never went back to that con. But there are certainly guys in fandom nowadays who publicly espouse sentiments very much like that blog post, though I haven’t heard them go on about SF per se so much as the world in general.

  192. Jim @7 – I thought it was funny.

    I noticed that Jim caught flack for the objectification of women over that joke, but no one objects when a few posts down it’s “Oooh, fit, half-naked nerd boys!” *drool* Seriously, what’s the difference? ‘Cause I’m not seeing it.

    I read someone the article in question and he said he agreed with the post. Now, I’ve known this guy for over a decade and that was not a reply I expected from him. When I asked him how he could agree that his answer was all about sci-fi movies and tv shows and how they’ve been watered down and ruined by too much focus on the relationship angles and not enough on the sci-fi story telling. When I asked him if he agreed with the ant-female slant to it, he actually hadn’t even noticed it until I quoted certain passages back and then it was “Hmmm, I didn’t think about it like that.” By the end of it we agreed that the issue with sci-fi movies and tv is the attempts to mainstream it. Sci-fi is not for everyone and by trying to make it appeal to the masses they are making it less appealing to the people who do like sci-fi. I should probably point out that he’s an Aspie and sometimes misses the tones in things like this.

    That these men don’t understand why some women find groups and pages like their concerning says so much about their way of thinking.

  193. Susan de G 239: Hey, how about them Bengals?

    I understand they’re endangered, or at least threatened.

    Wait. Are you talking about some kind of sports team? I wouldn’t know.

  194. but no one objects when a few posts down it’s “Oooh, fit, half-naked nerd boys!” *drool* Seriously, what’s the difference?

    Yeah, I think there’s a lesson to be learned in there somewhere. I’m not sure what it is. The lesson may not have anythign to do with “feminine” or “masculine” or “women” or “men” but may be something more fundamental, like, “(1) you get to be attracted to whatever you want to be attracted to (2) you get to be repulsed by whatever you are repulsed by (3) You don’t get to diss other people for being attracted to something else.”

    I think when someone said “men in slave girl outfits, ew”, it was (2), but people took it as (3). I myself think it was in (2), but it seems to have landed as (3) for some people.

    When someone said “half naked nerd boys, (drool)”, and no one objected, it’s probably because people took it as being in the (1) category.

    Of course, there are more fundamental questions afoot:

    Can you say “I like (blank_a). *drool*” without ostracizing people who dont like (blank_a).

    Can you say “I don’t like (blank_b). Ew.” without ostracizing people who do like (blank_b).

    Or does (1) and (2) always ultimately fall into the category of (3), “You shouldn’t like (blank_c). Ew.”

    Here’s a test: “I’m attracted to women. I’m not attracted to men.”

    Doesn’t seem to be a problem. Maybe it’s the drooling. “I’m attracted to women. (drool).”

    Or maybe it’s the adjectives. “I’m attracted to scantily clad, big bossomed, slave-outfitted woman.”

    I can see more people being offended by the last one, but it really is nothing more than expressing what I’m attracted to, and what I’m attracted to doesn’t really affect anyone else.

    Dunno. Maybe the rule should be don’t say what you’re attracted to or not attracted to.

  195. I noticed that Jim caught flack for the objectification of women over that joke, but no one objects when a few posts down it’s “Oooh, fit, half-naked nerd boys!” *drool* Seriously, what’s the difference? ‘Cause I’m not seeing it.

    Well, one difference is that men are not oppressed as a class the way women are. Objectifying them may not be right, but it’s also not yet another piece of an oppressive structure leaving them with NO acceptable alternatives, the way it is for women.

    There is no way for a woman to dress that completely avoids criticism. If she dresses to show off her body, she’s called a slut; if she dresses NOT to show off her body, she’s a prude (that’s an oversimplification, but there really is no female costume that someone won’t criticize as inappropriate).

    For a contrasting example, I have two pairs of pants that I wear to work (not at the same time). I used to have three, but one of them catastrophically failed, so now I’m down to two. I alternate them. No one has ever commented, and I suspect no one has noticed. I also have six work-appropriate shirts, and no one cares about that, either. My casual attire is slightly more varied, but not much.

    There’s another thing that makes it different, too. The majority of people have seen women objectified ad nauseam, but it’s somewhat rarer to see that happen to men. That means that a joke about skinny, scantily-clad nerdboys counts as an inversion experience, a pedagogical technique in which the dominant class gets a taste of a non-dominant class’s experience, like straight people on Pride Day (they often complain that it’s uncomfortable for them, to which I say Suck It Up).

    I don’t know; it sure feels different to me. Maybe you don’t see it, but I hope you can now understand why I do.

  196. “Seriously, what’s the difference? ‘Cause I’m not seeing it.”

    Because objectification of women’s bodies is part of the whole problem with sexism and the patriarchy, and is used to suppress women and deny them their intellectual and societal worth?

    Objectification of male bodies, on the other hand, is not used against men in the same way.

    It’s the old “why can’t I use the ‘n’ word for black people when they call me a cracker?” argument. Insult without the force of ingrained prejudice and discrimination behind it, has no real power.

    I’m sure the people over at the “Oh we are so totally overcompensating for something with our masthead” site, would not understand any of this, however.

  197. I like to see cute boys wearing slave collars, I admit it. It excites me. But I don’t think boys “should” wear slave collars to please me, or that if they are wearing them that means they’re mine (they’re presumably somebody’s, at least in play, but almost certainly not mine), or even that they have any desire to please me, or that it’s appropriate for me to be rude or pushy with them.

  198. Ann: there we go. That’s what I was groping for.

    I do think that the answer to being called a cracker is “Fuck you, asshole.” The N word remains off limits.

  199. For one ting, I waited until a woman started talking about how having hot men in a movie helped sell tickets to women, and for another thing, it’s not exactly news to anyone with a brain that men like watching hot women.

    No one is being a bluenose and saying sexy images of women need to be censored but sexy images of men are OK. What I was talking about was a nuanced consideration of an audience, the context, and who’s got privilege in a conversation.

    Oh, and there’s something to be said for subverting patriarchal norms as a transgressive, revolutionary act.

  200. I know there are crazy people everywhere, but I’m trying to imagine women this vehement about men writing romance. It’s not working for me.

  201. The “relationships in SF suck” thing is hilarious when you look at how much Hard Manly SF really does have relationships — but as long as you don’t call it that, and don’t put icky girls front and center, why, it doesn’t count. Downbelow Station is my favorite example.

  202. Ann@244: Because objectification of women’s bodies is part of the whole problem with sexism and the patriarchy, and is used to suppress women and deny them their intellectual and societal worth?

    How exactly are you going to “solve” the problem of sexism and the patriarchy if it requires men stop being attracted to women? And what sort of “solution” is it if men are attracted but can’t talk about it?

    It’s the old “why can’t I use the ‘n’ word for black people…?”

    I like looking at my wife in a sexy outfit. That is nowhere near me using the ‘n’ word. If you think it is, you’ll never “solve” anything.

    What I like to look at has nothing to do with me trying to enslave an entire people.

    xopher: I like to see cute boys wearing slave collars, I admit it. It excites me. But I don’t think boys “should” wear slave collars to please me,

    I don’t think there is a “should” anywhere in the “I like (blank)” statements. “I like ice cream” in no way implies that anyone should get me ice cream.

  203. Sure, but neither has ice cream been relegated to second class citizenry for centuries, denied the ability to vote or own property…. Oh, wait. Damn.

  204. Thankyou, Thankyou!

    (lord forbid that Sci-fi have ANY character development or females at all in it… Star Wars should be banned too! There’s cooties in it!)

  205. Xopher @ 243

    “Objectifying [men] may not be right, but it’s also not yet another piece of an oppressive structure leaving them with NO acceptable alternatives, the way it is for women.”

    I’m nit sure I get that sentence. Objectification, in general or as a joke, is okay as long long as all the cool kids aren’t doing it? It’s not right, but dammit there’s less people doing it.

    In general, I agree with where you are coming from on this, though. I think we differ in the order of identifying audience and joking. Joke first, if someone finds it offensive apologize sincerely and refrain from making that type of joke around that person again.

    Objectifying things can be hilarious, funny, cute, boring, rude and outright degrading.

    Goddammit, where’s the key for the tongue in cheek emoticon?

  206. Greg, I was talking about a theme in the thoughts (if they can be called that) of the average thug on the street, which you are emphatically not. Lots of men assume that if a woman is dressed sexily, that entitles them to go up to her and say anything they want, or even to touch her. This is less common than it once was, but it’s still out there.

    Gods, Another Liz, quiet or some wacky group will start campaigning for ice cream rights! PETIC or something.

    Ahhhhgh! The mind recoils. I’m going to go home and savagely eat ice cream right out of the container!

  207. Xopher – whereas the same can’t be said about men in “sexy” clothes. I go jogging in shorts and a light t-shirt. Women who jog in the same park as I do wearing the same outfit are subject to cat calls. I’m not. So, if someone talks about wanting sexy men on TV, I’m not coming at it from a situation where it’s a burden for me to have to deal with one more bit of objectification. It doesn’t bug me at all. It doesn’t bug any man I know. If it were something a significant number of men had to deal with it’d be a problem.

    It’s not, though. And no one is telling men to *never* talk about attractive women. For one ting, no one can effectively shut it down anyhow. It’s something we drown in in this culture. For all the MRA whining about feminist meanies, media images of women as sex objects keep showing up.

    The only thing people who’re complying would like is a bit of consideration for context and audience. MRA types react as if asking people to be more considerate towards women is like asking them to donate both kidneys and a lung while explaining Godel’s incompleteness theorem in propositional calculus.

  208. FWIW, speaking as a guy, one of the forms of sexism I find particularly annoying is a man “interpreting” what a woman says when she speaks out about sexism.

    I know strawman arguments pop up anytime someone wants to “win” more than they want to understand, but it makes my teeth grind in this context.

  209. “How exactly are you going to “solve” the problem of sexism and the patriarchy if it requires men stop being attracted to women? And what sort of “solution” is it if men are attracted but can’t talk about it?”

    Is it impossible to be attracted to women without objectifying them?

    How about this? “Gosh, you’re a beautiful woman”, instead of “Nice tits.”

    Or, admiring Michelle Obama for all her many achievements *and* her stunning looks, instead of calling her a MILF (or a FLOTUSILF).

    Damn it, I’d love guy to be attracted to me (sadly, those year were brief and long past). But any woman can tell the difference between “I’d like to get to know you better” and “I’d do you”.

    I assumed men could tell the difference too. Maybe I was wrong.

  210. Josh, I meant in place of ‘complying’ in The only thing people who’re complying would like is a bit of consideration for context and audience. I could be wrong, of course, but ‘complying’ doesn’t make sense to me there.

    Ann, men can tell the difference. It’s just that no one says the second one to them. They think they’d be cool with it, but in reality they’d be furious.

  211. How about this? “Gosh, you’re a beautiful woman”, instead of “Nice tits.”

    The question was what’s the difference between saying something like you’re attracted to a women in a Leia costume and saying you’re attracted to pretty nerd boys in a slave collar, or something to that effect.

    one got pounced. one didn’t.

    I’m not sure how you turned the Leia costume into “nice tits”. But I’ll note that no one turned the slave collar into “nice package” or whatever.

    So, again, the question is what’s the difference? Why did one get completely strawmanned into “nice tits” and the other was left unchallenged?

    Both are expressing the person’s pesonal attractions. Both were focusing purely on the physical and purely on the submissive attire.

  212. Greg, having struggled with your “black people can be racists” and your persistent obliviousness regarding privilege and discrimination in the Race Fail discussion here, I’m going to call it a loss. You obviously have a problem listening to disadvantaged groups trying to explain things from their perspective, so I will leave it to those more endowed with patience, time and testicles to try and make you understand the bleeding obvious. A thankless task, no doubt, but at least I won’t have to fear the loving mallet descending on my head when I finally lose my temper with you.

    Which is inevitable, when dealing with those so hard of understanding on a subject so close to my heart.

  213. Ann @ 260 –

    I understand what you’re saying here and for the most part I Generally agree. ( FLOTUSILF is now my word of the day) But, specifically, Greg is right. One got pounced and the other didn’t.

    Maybe if the original post had been about an organization of women lamenting the evil involvement male cooties which subsequently has and will ruin sf, the male objectification would have been pounced instead.

  214. “It’s the old “why can’t I use the ‘n’ word for black people when they call me a cracker?” argument. Insult without the force of ingrained prejudice and discrimination behind it, has no real power.”

    And that’s why the “inversion experience” argument makes no sense. Doing it to men doesn’t upset most men the way it does some women so you aren’t teaching them anything. It’s pointless and, quite honestly, unless you are seriously sitting there thinking “Let me treat this guy like a piece of meat and see how he likes it.” you’re just doing the exact same thing a guy who makes comments about a woman’s looks is doing for the same reason.

    As the old saying goes, what’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander. You can’t have equality, which is supposed to be what it’s all about anyway, if you say it’s ok for a woman to behave in a certain manner, yet jump all over a man for the same behaviour. It’s a double standard and the fact that it’s a woman setting the standard doesn’t make it any more right than when a man does it. You can’t move forward if you’re more interested in getting your own back for the past actions of men as a whole than you are in real, honest equality. Anger, resentment, painting all men with the same brush and constantly looking for the barb in every comment a man makes helps no one.

    It makes me think of something that happened a few years back. My husband and I lived in an area where tech jobs were hard to come by and, since our financial situation was pretty hard, he took a temp to hire job in a factory while he continued to look for. He hit it off with the guy who worked right next to him on the machine he was assigned to. The man was African American and when he chose to sit at lunch with my husband, several other African American men there took exception and confronted him about it. They wanted to know why he was hanging out with “The Man” and then proceeded to rant about how the The Man was holding them down and all that. The guy sitting with my husband turns to him and says “You do all that by yourself?”

  215. “I understand what you’re saying here”

    You really, really don’t.

    “Anger, resentment, painting all men with the same brush and constantly looking for the barb in every comment a man makes helps no one.”

    How you’ve jumped from several people trying to explain by a joke about women in princess leia outfits is not really funny, to describing me/women complaining about an outrageously and proudly misogynistic article in this way, I have no idea. I’m married too. My best friends are all male. I hardly hate the male gender.

    I’m not getting into this with you either. I don’t have time or energy, and debating with another woman about internalised sexism, is bound to lead to tears before bedtime and mallets.

  216. #240 maddbookish seems to have hit the nail on the head – “the issue with sci-fi movies and tv is the attempts to mainstream it. Sci-fi is not for everyone and by trying to make it appeal to the masses they are making it less appealing to the people who do like sci-fi.”

    Watered down science fiction is terrible. My pet peeve is movies that pass for sci fi, but are really horror or action movies. Don’t even get me started on Syfy.

    I don’t understand the idea that “hard” science fiction is not written for women.

    I’m a second generation Trekkie, which lead me to classic sf. My best friend is a Trekkie, comic book geek, math teacher. And *gasp* a girl.

    I started reading Asimov, Silverberg, Bradbury, and Wells in middle school. They spoke to my intellect and imagination. Every short story I wrote in high school was science fiction or fantasy. Mostly science fiction, because I like space ships better then unicorns.

    My two female science fiction writers no one has mentioned are L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) and Margret Atwood (Oryx and Crake). Neither are only sf writers, but both write great sf with soul and brains.

    To a boy who wants to ban girls, I say fine, keep the stereotype of pathetic pale virgin geek boy living in mom’s basement. The rest of us can play in a wonderfully co-edu universe.

  217. Ann – is that at me?

    I think we might be crossposting here. I definitely am not trying to do this:

    “How you’ve jumped from several people trying to explain by a joke about women in princess leia outfits is not really funny, to describing me/women complaining about an outrageously and proudly misogynistic article in this way, I have no idea.”

  218. In line with the current discussion, someone in the marketing department of Stargate: Universe seriously needs a good whuppin’ with the clue stick.

    (don’t read the comments, they’re, well, predictable)

    Do they not realize that writing women as strong, capable people and not “babes” was a big reason a lot of us loved the shows?

    I’m a straight guy who loves the female form, but just stop it with this crap, please!

  219. Ann, I confess I’m not sure what that means. But it sounded friendly. So, salright. Back to not maddow on maddow.

  220. “How you’ve jumped from several people trying to explain by a joke about women in princess leia outfits is not really funny, to describing me/women complaining about an outrageously and proudly misogynistic article in this way, I have no idea. I’m married too. My best friends are all male. I hardly hate the male gender.”

    I’m not talking about the article or anyone’s response to the article.

    I’m talking about a guy making a joke about a skimpy costume and getting told that he’s objectifying women and having a woman make a similar comment about a man and no one saying a word when both comments were made in the same spirit. I’ll own that part of my issue stems from reading the Color Code of Shaming and getting all worked up about people looking for meanings that aren’t there as a reason to go on the offensive. The rest of it stems from my general dislike of unfairness.

  221. The contexts of those are completely different, though. The joke about the girls in Leia costumes (which I didn’t take offense at because it was clearly told from the viewpoint of the idiots who think this way for the purpose of mocking them) has as its underlying premise that that was the only use for females in SF and that the lack of Leias would be the only thing the genre would miss. When the bikini thing was applied to the nerdy males, I don’t think anyone was implying that that’s the only reason said males would or should be involved with SF at all — otherwise they wouldn’t be nerds, no?

    So, again, the question is what’s the difference? Why did one get completely strawmanned into “nice tits” and the other was left unchallenged?

    GregLondon, you seem to be confusing discussion of the above two comments with discussion of general issues relating to them. Two slightly different threads here.

  222. Ann: I’m going to call it a loss.

    We were talking about one thing, you turned it into something completely different, and then got mad at me for what you turned it into. Call it a loss, or call it completely changing the subject.

    Ann: Is it impossible to be attracted to women without objectifying them?

    That wasn’t the question. The question was two people mentioned some image that they find physically attractive. One was a princess leia slave girl look. One was a pretty nerd-boy in a slave collar look. Both are completely physical. Both are objectifying. One got pounced. One didn’t.

    the difference between “I’d like to get to know you better” and “I’d do you”.

    That’s a different question. One person said “I like redheads”, another said “I like blondes”. Both are purely physical, therefore completely objectifying what they’re attracted to. The question is why did one get pounced and the other not?

    You changed the question to Is it impossible to be attracted to women without objectifying them? Your question is can a man be attracted to a woman’s personality without regard for her physical appearance, without objectifying her. “I’d like to get to know you better” is about getting to know the person’s personality. “Nice tits” is physical.

    It’s an interesting question. But it wasn’t what I was answering. If you want to discuss that question instead of the one I was replying to, that’s fine. but don’t get mad at me for answering a different question. My answer to the original question was back at #242.

    Actually, you need to read #242 because I’m going to reference that post in an attempt to answer your new question. Here’s your question:

    Is it impossible to be attracted to women without objectifying them?

    Is it impossible for a man to be attracted to a woman’s personality and character without regard for their physical looks?

    No. It’s not impossible.

    But it doesn’t seem like you’re really asking a question. It seems like you’re stating the way things should be for all men. It seems like you’re saying that men should be attracted to a woman’s character and personality without any attraction to their physical appearance.

    And the problem I have with that is you’re delving into category (3) that I mention in post #242. You’re telling other peole what they should and should not be attracted to.

    If a man likes redheads, are you going to label him a bad man? If someone likes the look of a woman in a princess leia costume, is that bad? If someone likes a pretty nerd-boy in a slave collar, is that bad?

    And someone saying “I like the princess leia slave girl look” isn’t the same as walkign up to a woman you don’t know and saying “nice tits”. Saying “I like a pretty nerd boy in a slave collar” isn’t the same as walkign up to a stranger and saying “nice package”. If you want ot change the subject to “come-ons” and pickup lines, fine. But don’t try to pass off what I was talking about to what you turned it into.

    In answer to your question, no, it is not impossible for a man to be attracted to a woman without objectifying her. But some men (and some women) are going to want a physical attraction to their partner, some are going to want that objectification, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that, and it isn’t your place to say they shouldn’t.

    Robin: its underlying premise that that was the only use for females in SF

    uhm, no, certainly not.

    if there were no woman in Scifi, who would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions?

    The joke is the image of men in the Leia costume. The joke is not “women are only good at SF conventions for wearing the Leia costume”.

    You’re premise isn’t required to create the image of men wearing the costume. your premise isn’t required to make the joke funny. And your premise exists nowhere in the text or context of the joke.

  223. You know, Greg, I get it, really. You’re a straight white American (and probably Christian) male. You are in the most privileged, least oppressed group on the planet. It takes real ability to see things from the other side of the fence, and it’s not your fault that you can’t.

    It’s your fault that you don’t listen though.

    But I do want to thank you. In the past, I’d have argued and argued with you until I screamed with frustration, as did every other poster on the thread. But no more. I’ve had my epiphany. So I now know when to stop, despite the further provocation. You’ve got more to lose in this argument than me, but ironically because you’re a straight white male, you can’t ever really lose. So, win-win for you!

    Have a nice day.

  224. Having tracked it down by searching for “Scalzi” (sure enough there was a later post complaining that you’d humiliated them without providing a link – it’s interesting that self-styled manly men tend so much to whining), I should say that post is way more “Fear Teh Ghey!!!” than it is about girl-germs. The misogyny was just a convenient starting point to get to the usual adolescent bigotry.

  225. #222: Josh: “I think what KatG is pointing at is that there’s a trend towards beefcake as well as cheesecake in films. A sufficient amount of hot looking men in a movie might well contribute to success.”

    Not exactly. I just used 300 because it had come up in the discussion as a very male film. But you can use it for other “male” films — The Dark Knight, Transformers, pick a martial arts film. My point was that women are a major buying force in every area, that women are interested in art and entertainment that is considered male-oriented and in art and entertainment that is considered female-oriented. You can’t really build “man caves” in sectors because women have already moved in and are a vital and more reliable audience.

    #230: Greg L: “All I’m saying is let each man define what masculine means to them, and give them the same empowerment.”

    I don’t believe I was stopping them. What I’m saying is that scientists have found that many men define masculine as not-feminine. It’s a cultural tendency which breeds our neanderthal. If women move in, then it’s tainted and can no longer be masculine, is how they view it. That doesn’t mean all men think that way, especially in this day and age. But for our neanderthals (though really we should call them something else,) masculinity can only be preserved by being relentlessly non-feminine, by keeping women out because nothing associated with women is then masculine.

    In the past and still in many parts of the world, this is done by restricting women’s access and independence. But civil rights advancements for women remove such artificial barriers. Basically, these guys are trying to advocate limiting women’s access to sci-fi, but the barn door’s already open and the horses are gone in this particular case.

    #248: Another Liz: “I know there are crazy people everywhere, but I’m trying to imagine women this vehement about men writing romance. It’s not working for me.”

    I’d disagree. Women romance readers are quite vehement about men not writing their romance novels. It used to be that it wasn’t uncommon for men to write category romance, under a pen name if not outright, but publishers weeded that out because women readers claimed not to want male authors. All category market romance is now written by women.

    But non-category romance is sometimes written by men and can do very well with a largely female audience, such as novels by Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson. So again, the aversion is just an artificial barrier of perception. But it is, unfortunately, there, and it’s actually a contributing factor to romance fiction being looked down on, since stuff that is purely a women’s operation is considered lower status in society in general. We don’t really need to have women caves either.

  226. I’d point and laugh, but I don’t think the not-to-be-linked-to post in question warrants even that much. Clearly, the author of that post and his supporters adhere (subject themselves) to a stereotypical vision of what is “male” so it is no surprise that they would project that same stereotypical vision to their perspective of “female.” It’s what they must do maintain the bubble in which they live. I feel sorry for them.

  227. #275: Perhaps the epiphany that would have been more useful is one that we all have to learn on the Internet — don’t assume you know the demographic and philosophical make-up of who you are talking to. Because usually you’re going to be wrong.

  228. greglondon quote: “One was a pretty nerd-boy in a slave collar look. Both are completely physical. Both are objectifying. One got pounced. One didn’t.”

    The reference to the slavecollar look was made by a homosexual man, as you can see, if you bother to read back.

    And it has been said to you many times but you refuse to listen; the difference is that objectifying women has happened time and time and time again. If you have several ages under your belt as being viewed _ONLY_ as sex or birthing material THEN you have the right to complain.

    That said i do think men have the right to complain, no-one should be viewed only on those grounds, it’s cringe-worthy.

    KatG: i liked your replies very much, thank you.

    To the women who have had @sshole teachers and/or advisors but still made it; well done, good for you!
    I’m one of those who wasn’t strong enough. Got 9/10 on “hard” subjects on the highest level “highschool” (we get to go to diffent levels based on out merits at age 12 in this country) but encountered several of those stumbling blocks, one of which was both my math and chemistry teacher who wouldn’t answer my questions because i was a girl. Another one gave me low grades because i didn’t laugh at his jokes. No, this is not the 50’s, i “graduated” highschool in 1998. Been back last week and some still teach (only saw nice ones though). Gone is my little girl dream (10yo) of becoming a lab-coated scientist/waterlife researcher.
    *sigh*
    Well, i’m glad you grrls made it and continue to kick arse of all those that are facepalm inducingly stupid.
    And i agree with the post that said that the women who made it before must have been really, really, really though indeed and deserve all the accolades we can give them.

  229. Greg London, because men aren’t sick of being objectified for the last 3 centuries and more, because men don’t have the expectation laid on them by most of the population that they have to be attractive to half of it. If a female is attractive she is harrassed by males where ever she goes, by males who expect her to want to be harrassed because that is the only thing a girl could want, right? If a girl is not attractive she is derided with the expectation that the derision should cause her to improve her attractiveness, because being attractive to men is all a girl needs to be. right? This happens EVERYWHERE, work, school, park, club, there is nowhere safe from being rated on your attractiveness. for centuries the primary measure of a woman has been attractiveness.

    Men however haven’t been objectified untill the last half century (because some women think by being like men will have them treated like men). And they are objectified on TV in clubs and in jokes, Generally not at work, not in school, not in safe male places and where it does happen it’s generally taken as a compliment, but if it happened to you constantly you would get slightly annoyed and then progress to being actually sick of it.

    Yes, it may be a double standard – but it is an outgrowth and a reaction to the double standard that has always been imposed on women by men, men are not expected to be attractive, women are, even now.

    The closest parallels to this I can think of are being an unfavourite child or being second best at sport, the weight of expectation to measure up to the sibling or to measure up to the best is similar to the weight of expectation of attractiveness, because it’s not all words, it’s the looks and the insinuations and the dismissals and the lack of reward or horrible rewards you are expected to like, the pressure to be instead of the freedom to be.

    One joke is just one more time you grit you teeth at the weight of pressure, just another time where it is impossible to explain why you don’t like it, it was not invited or looked for it was just loaded on by somebody who doesn’t understand the sexism involved because he’s never experienced it and when the tables are turned it doesn’t serve as explanation or equal retribution because it doen’t come with the weight of the past and realities of day to day life behind it.

    I don’t know what pressures a man feels, maybe to be strong, maybe to perform, maybe the size of the thingy, but whatever, there is something, something that when people go on about it a little bit it’s a joke it’s fine – but there comes a point where it’s not funny anymore and you wish they would stop, but they keep going and going for hours or days untill you get testy at every mention, and you just can’t keep from shouting at people when theyeven say a single word and they wonder why you won’t let them talk about in when that guy over there is just fine with that exact same joke. That’s the weight of history applied to one person, this is the weight of history applied to half the population.

  230. Thanks, Mr. Scalzi. Awesome post.

    I want to be part of the roller derby team. With spears. I have honed my evil girl rays.

  231. Ann@275: It’s your fault that you don’t listen though.

    I listened. In #244, you compared a man saying he’s physically attracted to a woman to be on par with using the “N” word. And in #260, you ask if its impossible for a man be attracted to a woman’s personality without physical attraction.

    You’re telling other people what they should and should not be attracted to. You’re demonizing physical attraction to be on par with a racism.

    I listened to what you’re saying. Have you?

    KatG: I don’t believe I was stopping them. What I’m saying is that scientists have found that many men define masculine as not-feminine. It’s a cultural tendency which breeds our neanderthal.

    You said “feminine” is whatever women say it is. You said “masculine” is defined by cultural tendancies, breeding, genes, and biology.

    One has choice, one doesn’t.

    I would guess that socioligists might find cultural and biological drivers for what is “feminine”, but I actually prefer your definition of beign whatever women say it is. Likewise, I get that there are biological drivers for what “masculine” is, I’m just asking that you consider giving men the same choice to define masculine to be whatever they say it is, rather than tieing it to things that men have no choice about.

    If there is going to be any improvement, then both feminine and masculine will have to be redefined from what they were. Both will need some choice to rise up above culture and biology.

    Paulien@281: The reference to the slavecollar look was made by a homosexual man, as you can see, if you bother to read back.

    yeah, xopher and I have learned a few things about each other over the years. I think he’s one of the more spiritually developed people I know. I have a lot respect for him. I was not offended by his “collar” comment at all. But I was not offended by the “princess leia” joke either.

    The joke created the image of men in the slave girl outfit. Men dressed up as women. men in drag. It’s a pretty common comedy bit. “Monty Python” had a long a glorious run as a bunch of men who often dressed up as women in their skits. They were hilarious.

    being viewed _ONLY_ as sex or birthing material

    That wasn’t part of the joke. The joke isn’t “Women at SF conventions are only good for dressing up in Leia’s slave girl outfit, har har.”

    Here’s the punch line:

    who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.

    Think about it.

    uh…no, wait…don’t think about it.

    Don’t think about the image of men dressed up in slave girl outfits. It’s the “Monty Python crew in drag” joke.

    It most certainly is NOT a “Women are only good for sex and birthing, ha, ha,” joke.

    This isn’t like Imus talking about “Nappy headed hos”. What you’re saying isn’t there. It’s not in the text or the context of the joke.

    Ann wants to chastize me for not listening, but some people offended by the joke were offended by something that was never there, something that was never said, never implied, and never part of the context.

    It’s a men-in-drag joke. If men-in-drag jokes offend you, fine. But if you’re offended by anything else, then you’re offended by something not actually there.

  232. Tina @ 267: Watered down science fiction is terrible. My pet peeve is movies that pass for sci fi, but are really horror or action movies. Don’t even get me started on Syfy.

    Yes. This. Completely. Also, I would like to add, all the paranormal crap they’re running these days. Ghost Hunters? NOT SF. Do Not Want. What I do want is my genre back, dammit.

    And would somebody please explain, for the love of Ghu, just how exactly wrestling fits into the SF mold? Or, for that matter, how it fits in with the idea of re-tooling SciFi into “SyFy” in an incredibly lame attempt to (ostensibly) lure more female viewers? I don’t know any women who seriously watch that stuff. It’s an almost entirely male viewership, AFAICT.

    [inserting tongue firmly into cheek] Now, if somebody would come up with a channel that showed science fiction 24/7, I imagine there might be an an audience out there who would appreciate it, especially if it showed a lot GOOD science fiction, well-crafted and decently produced. What a concept. Somebody ought to try it.

  233. Oh, and just to address the general sub-fray that’s developed (because I’m evil like that):

    I got the joke.

    I LOL’d.

    I am not offended.

    And I’m a woman.

  234. GregLondon: “That wasn’t part of the joke.”

    You can’t take this out of context. You can’t take the Leia joke out of the context of women being taught that they are either sluts or prudes, that if they want to fuck that’s wrong but if they don’t, that’s wrong too, that they should be pretty but not too pretty because nobody likes the prettiest girl in the room, that they should be smart but not smarter than the boys because a boy might get intimidated, that if a man tells you to smile you should because you are here to be decoration in a world that is ultimately his.

    You can’t just take a joke about women in Sci-Fi being there so that there’s someone hot and female to wear a sexy costume out of the context of history and then act surprised when someone gets upset about the joke.

    I want you to please consider what Scalzi said above – assume good intentions in this comment. Assume that I’m smart and that my perspective isn’t wrong just because it’s not the same as yours. Putting forth real effort to understand this is really hard, but it’s worth it.

  235. Also, to understand why someone could legitimately find the joke offensive, a person must first accept the premise that it is valid to find it offensive and then work to understand the reasoning. If you start from the perspective that it is funny to you and thus must be funny and non-offensive to everyone, you will never understand.

    As a general rule, I mean.

  236. Summer – With almost any sort of humor like this, there’s going to be people who find it offensive, ad those who don’t. I can think of no better way to increase noise and decrease signal than to imply (and you’re *not* doing it, but others have) that if you are offended, you’re uptight, or have no sense of humor.

    This is the thing about telling a joke like this to a mixed crowd where you don’t know everyone. It’s likely that you’ll get people who don’t find it offensive, but that doesn’t invalidate the people who do. What will also happen is that you’ll find yourself picked up and waved around as evidence that the joke was fine and anyone with a problem with it is wrong.

    So how do you feel about that?

  237. Josh @ 290, if somebody wants to pick me up and wave me around as an example of *anything* other than MYSELF, I wish them much luck. They’ll need it.

    And moving right along to exactly what it looks like when something or someone is used as a generalized example without its being clear that the content implied = the content actually present:

    EmilyWK @ 288: You can’t take the Leia joke out of the context of women being taught that they are either sluts or prudes [..] that if a man tells you to smile you should because you are here to be decoration in a world that is ultimately his.

    Wow, that’s one helluva lot of hidden content for such a brief joke. Are you sure all that was really in there, and none of it in the eye of a particular beholder?

    Because I really didn’t see any of that in there. Must we all assume that everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, that people say will always be fraught with such heavy baggage? I mean, it’s enough to make all but the most stalwart of souls despair of being able to make conversation at all, with anyone other than than a handpicked, pre-qualified group of people whose identities, philosophies and opinions are already known to the speaker. Really, requiring everyone to walk on eggshells with every syllable is a conversation-killer of the highest order.

    Sometimes the benefit of the doubt is the best gift to give, because it can benefit both giver and receiver.

  238. In fact, I’ll go one step further and point out the irony of all these assumptions being made regarding the nature of this particular joke in the comments thread begun for the purposes of a discussion of the assumptions made at another internet address regarding the nature of female SF writers and fans.

  239. Greg 285: yeah, xopher and I have learned a few things about each other over the years. I think he’s one of the more spiritually developed people I know. I have a lot respect for him.

    Wow, thanks Greg! I have a lot of respect for you, too. In the context of mutual respect, then, let me point out that none of the following statements is incompatible with any of the others:

        •  Femininity is often defined by societal norms.
        •  Masculinity is often defined by societal norms.
        •  Women have a right to define femininity any way they like, for their own use.
        •  Men have a right to define masculinity any way they like, for their own use.
        •  Many women choose to exercise their right to define femininity in a way that’s at variance with societal norms.
        •  Few men appear to choose to exercise their right to define masculinity in a way that’s at variance with societal norms.
        •  The societal norms of masculinity tend to primarily define it as ¬feminine.
        •  Many or even most men appear to have internalized this, and even define femininity as ¬masculine, or even insufficiently masculine.

    People don’t always say precisely what they mean. Even more often, they don’t write everything they think. I think some slack-cutting would be appropriate here.

    Oh, and about the statement above starting with ‘Few men…’—I am among those few, Greg, and I think you are too (in our different ways). It may be that virtually every man we know is, but we’re still a minority of the men out there.

    Now, all that said, I read Jim’s joke the way you did. I thought the Foghorn Leghorn reference made it clear that it was made in jackass-voice and not intended to be taken seriously, or even as a statement that someone has to wear the Leia bikineia (which wasn’t actually a bikini at all; it was a bikini-like top with a floor-length loincloth) at conventions, or even a joke about women wearing one.

    But the meaning of communication is the response that it gets, and several of the women here took offense. The fact that you and I did not is due to us not being women, and not having had the experience some women have had of being slammed repeatedly with the expectation that they dress to please men, that they NOT dress to please men, or even both in the same day. Jim recognized this and apologized, because he’s a decent person who honestly meant no offense. There but for the grace of not-having-thought-to-make-that-joke go I. And btw, the hammer of oppression doesn’t strike all women equally, nor do all women respond to it the same way. Some of the women here were NOT offended, which takes nothing from those who were.

    People take offense at “things that were never there” all the time. The thing is, it may not have been there when it left the speaker/writer’s brain, but by the time it was decoded by the listener/reader, it sure was. We all grope through a fog of expectation, experience, phobia, hope, and outright prejudice. Some people, mostly women, interpreted Jim’s joke in a way he didn’t intend, and took offense. You’re saying “it was never there” because a) Jim (as I agree) didn’t intend any offensive content, and b) you didn’t see anything offensive about it, and still don’t. What interpretation is “correct”? I say it’s irrelevant.

    Why? Because these are murky waters at best. I don’t think Jim making that joke is blameworthy. I also don’t think he was wrong to apologize (he showed his quality by doing so and I for one have added to my already-quite-significant level of respect for him). Nor do I think the people who took offense were wrong per se, though I disagree with their interpretation, because I’m not a woman.

    I am a gay man. And one time when someone described an exercise I was doing as a “sissy squat,” I took offense. I didn’t know there was a real exercise with that name; the speaker didn’t intend to insult me. Once the miscommunication was cleared up, I let it go (he wasn’t as good a person as Jim, so he didn’t apologize). Now I think ‘sissy squat’ is a pretty offensive name for an exercise, but that wasn’t HIS fault. It’s like when a group of people are debating different solutions to a problem, and they finally agree, and one of them calls it their “final solution.” If no one in the room knows history, maybe no one will recoil. That doesn’t mean someone who does recoil is wrong.

    As I said, murky waters. I wish we could have just let this whole discussion die when Jim apologized; it would have been kinder to him, and less likely to have all sorts of people angry at each other.

  240. Summer: “Wow, that’s one helluva lot of hidden content for such a brief joke. Are you sure all that was really in there, and none of it in the eye of a particular beholder?”

    Consider the appropriateness of making a joke about lynching to a Black man. Yes, there has to be historical context, and by and large, the only people who are able to ignore it are the people who aren’t subjected to it. (Please don’t tell me that you are able to ignore it; I said “by and large” intentionally.)

    If your response to me trying to explain why the joke was offensive is you telling me that I’m the one with the problem, well, that’s a pretty common response. Like I said above, if you can’t start from the idea that it is valid and legitimate for someone to take offense to that joke, of course you’re going to be unable to see my perspective.

    “Really, requiring everyone to walk on eggshells with every syllable is a conversation-killer of the highest order.”

    I don’t require anyone to walk on eggshells. Someone made a joke, someone else found it unfunny. If the joke-teller had said, “You know, you’re right, that was kind of shitty because you don’t know me from anyone” and everyone understood what was going on, it doesn’t have to come from there.

    And if your idea of a conversation-killer is treating everyone like they’re a human being, well, then I am glad to kill those conversations. I don’t care if it’s a bummer for someone to treat me with respect.

  241. Xopher, I think you are awesome and really explaining a lot of this well.

    One thing I have to add is to this: “I wish we could have just let this whole discussion die when Jim apologized; it would have been kinder to him, and less likely to have all sorts of people angry at each other.”

    The fact that there are still people who think it is completely invalid to have taken offense at the joke in the first place is why this conversation continues. I’m not trying to demonize Jim, or make him feel bad, and I hope he’s able to understand that.

    But, and I mean this with respect to all in this conversation, I don’t think that Jim’s comfort level is more important than the larger lesson here about what the problem actually was and why it is valid for the reader to interpret that joke in a way that offended them. Does that make sense? I sincerely hope that Jim doesn’t feel bad that this conversation that he inadvertently started is continuing, but even if he is, the conversation is more valuable than his comfort is.

    Does that make sense? I’m not trying to be rude, just explaining what I see as the larger picture.

  242. Greg: “You said “feminine” is whatever women say it is. You said “masculine” is defined by cultural tendancies, breeding, genes, and biology.”

    Ah, no, I didn’t, and I’m not sure where you got that from. But to be fair, I probably didn’t phrase it very well. We’re talking about cultural stuff here. There are cultural pressures on guys to avoid anything associated with women, because it is therefore not masculine. And studies have found that many men define masculinity that way. Not ALL men. But many, and the ones who are the subject of this article. That cultural view is changing in much of the Western world. My husband does not hold that view. (He likes romantic comedies as well as action movies, as do I.) But we are still dealing with girl cooties thinking from some quarters, as the article shows, and to a lesser degree in the society in general. At no point was I implying this is biologically in the DNA. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    I can no more keep guys from defining what is masculine for themselves than I can teleport. The sad thing is that there are a few important issues in “men’s rights” such as father custody issues, but they get lost among the other garbage put out by guys like these who think the Bunnies at the Playboy Mansion actually like Hugh Heffner.

    I’ve stayed out of the Wright argument because I think it’s stupid and I thought Scalzi wanted us to drop it. But since it’s on-going, I’ll weigh in:

    It wasn’t just a men-in-drag joke, because it was badly phrased and the structure of the joke implied that the women’s jobs were to wear bikinis at conventions for nerds who would look bad if they tried to do the same. But I wasn’t offended by the joke because it was farcically aping the attitudes of the men who did the original article and because it was clearly not trying to be realistic or political, (i.e. Wright knows full well that there are hunky male models in loin cloths at conventions and that there are many women there not running around in bikinis, and the joke indicates that he knows this.) As such, it was mildly funny and didn’t objectify women as much as it lampooned certain types of men, but it was poorly executed.

    Given that I also seem to have poorly executed my commentary in this discussion, I can relate. And in my experience, if you want to have a dialogue with males, telling them that they can’t talk is a poor way to go about it. Some people had problems with the joke and they made their sentiments clear, and I don’t entirely disagree with them. Greg has explained why he didn’t feel the joke was offensive. But neither side, nor Wright, believes in girl cooties.

    I don’t know if Scalzi is letting in the girl cootie contingent or not. If so, that might be a lot more interesting.

  243. Emily, in order for me to even begin to compare Jim’s joke to a joke about lynching, you’re going to have to point out to me exactly what element of Leia-bikini-wearing at a convention is equivalent to violently killing a person of color (or anyone else, for that matter). Because I just don’t see the connection, myself.

    And if your idea of being “treated with respect” is to never be expected to put forth the effort to try to figure out what someone actually meant by what they said (let alone perhaps asking them, before jumping to conclusions), then no, I can’t say I hold much respect for you. Real conversation requires the efforts of at least TWO human beings, and the hearer is as responsible for determining meaning as is the speaker.

    When someone I am engaged in conversation with says something to me that I could take offense at, my first response is generally to ask that person to clarify what was meant, rather than to simply assume the worst. Sometimes it turns out that the worst is indeed what the speaker meant. More often, it turns out that it was not. The trick to conversing in large mixed groups is first to remember that there are usually several ways to interpret nearly everything that is said, and that to automatically assume the worst interpretation is accurate is as much a disservice to the other participants as to say something intentionally offensive may be.

    Something I saw in a sigline in another venue I frequent, and which one or two here may recognize from that same venue, is this: “Some people are offense kleptomaniacs– they see an offense that isn’t nailed down and they’ll take it.” I think this statement applies here.

    Also, I want to make it completely clear that I am not saying it might not be “completely valid” for a particular individual to interpret the joke in question in an offensive manner. I am, however, stating that I find it offensive that some people appear to think that there is something wrong with anyone who did NOT interpret it that way – that if even one person in a group finds it offensive, then no other interpretation could be equally valid.

  244. Emily, while I see your point, I think there’s a still larger picture: does having this kind of conversation at this kind of length improve or degrade the general quality of discourse at this site, in the long run?

    I haven’t seen another comment from Jim since this happened, and more than one woman has given up on this discussion (that doesn’t mean that he or they won’t be back, of course). I’m not saying I have the answer. I’m just saying that’s another question to keep in mind when evaluating the relative value of a discussion.

  245. Summer: “my first response is generally to ask that person to clarify what was meant, rather than to simply assume the worst. Sometimes it turns out that the worst is indeed what the speaker meant. More often, it turns out that it was not.”

    Yes. Which is what happened — someone said that they found that offensive, giving Jim the opportunity to apologize. Which he did. The only reason we are still talking about this is that the people who were offended are being told that they are wrong for having taken offense.

    “some people appear to think that there is something wrong with anyone who did NOT interpret it that way”

    I don’t know who those people are, but I don’t think that way. I think that there’s something wrong if someone looks at this, says “Well, those offended people are just sensitive ninnies because *I* don’t have a problem” and that? That happens ALL THE TIME. Women who try to point out sexism in their daily lives get that ALL THE TIME. So you can imagine why it is easy to get defensive.

    “Emily, in order for me to even begin to compare Jim’s joke to a joke about lynching, you’re going to have to point out to me exactly what element of Leia-bikini-wearing at a convention is equivalent to violently killing a person of color”

    You said that I was reading too much into it. I was asking about another kind of joke that has a history to it that without that history could be a lighthearted reference to something between two friends, perhaps a joke about a movie they’d seen or a comic book they’d read as children together. You are changing the target here; you asked why the history matters, and I was showing an example of a situation where the history VERY much matters. I wasn’t saying that the joke was as bad as joking to a black person about lynching, I was pointing to another example of historical events changing the nature of a joke.

    You seem to want me to do all the work to try really hard to take things in the best of light so as not to be offended; you seem to want to make sure I don’t put other people out and I think the best of him. Why can’t you do the same for me?

  246. I was reading along here, but that’s enough. I’m going out to water my lawn now.

    Now, I understand that others in drought and hunger-stricken parts of the world will take offence at me wasting perfectly good drinking water on inedible grass. Wish I could give all my water to them, but my neighbours will lynch me if I don’t strive to uphold the neighbourhood’s property prices by keeping my lawn green. No, really, they will ;)

    My suggestion is everyone go meditate for a day or so. Our differences are real, but it’s up to us to decide if they warrant all this hypertension.

    Peace.

    PS: Wow John, I’ve been away for a year and this place has really changed. Lots of new faces. Hope you’re keeping everyone in line. Your ability to do that – with great civility and humour – has always been a winner for me.

    PPS: Why “SyFy”. It seems prone to mispronunciation. Was it a legal or trademark issue (then couldn’t (TM) “Sci-Fi”?) or something? Anyone know?

    And if I may say one more thing. Jim’s OK by me, and has been for years (Full disclosure, I only know him by his eminently worthwhile postings here over the years.)

  247. Emily:

    I was asking about another kind of joke that has a history to it that without that history could be a lighthearted reference to something between two friends,

    Lynching *is* murder, plain and simple. It doesn’t take history to make it evil, and there is nothing I can think of that would make it into something lighthearted and jokeworthy. Women in Leia bikinis are *not* intrinsically evil, which is why interpretation carries so much of the freight in that joke.

    That is why the comparison fails. Is my meaning clearer now? Also, I don’t recall ever asking “why the history matters”; I think you have me confused with someone else there.

    Secondly, in #288, you said:

    You can’t take the Leia joke out of the context of women being taught that they are either sluts or prudes, that if they want to fuck that’s wrong but if they don’t, that’s wrong too, that they should be pretty but not too pretty because nobody likes the prettiest girl in the room, that they should be smart but not smarter than the boys because a boy might get intimidated, that if a man tells you to smile you should because you are here to be decoration in a world that is ultimately his.

    Now, while I realize you were primarily directing this at Jim, the point is that you made a blanket statement about context and meaning, and you sure-as-hell appeared to be saying that the only possibly valid way to view his joke was the way you had chosen to view it. Which, coincidentally, implies that any other interpretation must therefore be invalid, and isn’t that what you later accused me of doing? Pot, kettle or sauce, goose, gander; either way, you get discussion fail.

    And before continuing on in this vein causes the entire thread to fail, perhaps we should simply move on, don’t you agree?

  248. Even though I have recently been active in this discussion, I agree with the people who have called for an end to it. We’ve argued this one out and nothing’s getting done at this point – no one’s mind is gonna change and there’s no reason to go round and round on the subject in this thread.

  249. So, any ideas on what it might take to actually get something like real SF back on television in the types and quantities that most of us would prefer? Not watered-down dreck aimed at general, non-SF audiences, not more paranormal investigation shows, not horror, not more “disaster of the week” flicks, but honest-to-goodness science fiction of the sort that makes the viewer think, while simultaneously entertaining and engaging?

  250. Another Liz, that’s part of why it bugs me so much that the SciFi Channel sold out. It’s a lot easier to sell genre material to an outlet specializing in that genre, methinks. Now that the outlet formerly devoted to SF has opted to forgo said specialization in favor of becoming (more or less) just another cable network with random programming, it’s time to either find or develop a new outlet.

    So, how do we go about doing so? SF fans are numerous enough that we ought to have the ability to make this happen, at least on a modest scale. Aren’t we?

  251. I should note, by the way, that I’m not unappreciative of the actual SF programs that do appear on SyFy. Even though not all of them float my personal boat (the BSG remake failed to grab me, and several other offerings in recent years have similarly failed to entertain me in the way I would like) I’ll be the first to laud them for at least being genuine examples of the genre for which the network was originally intended. I think what’s torqued me off over the past several seasons is how the percentage of SF programming presented by a network allegedly devoted to such programming has seen a steady decline.

    All right, I’ll shut up about that now, if I’m out of line. Just as soon as someone explains to me how all the paranormal stuff and “OMG, there are giant sharks in the sewer!” movies came to be regarded as SF…

  252. No, I’m totally with you. I remember 6-7 years ago (or more?) the president of the Sci Fi channel “didn’t like space shows.” WTF? Staple of the freakin’ genre, man! Canceling Farscape for more Crossing Over with John Edwards? I started out liking BSG, and grew to revile it. I’m putting a lot of faith in our host here to keep SG:U in line. I don’t watch anything else on Skiffy, though, and, no, I have no idea why Ghost Hunter and MANSKITO belong there.

  253. I read the underlying article. To me, the central theme appeared to lament that sci-fi is replacing tech with relationship storylines. Hard science (or believable make believe science) is being replaced by drama.

    Leaving aside the gender issues advanced, namely that a boy’s interest in sci-fi will suffer even as a girl’s interest is developed, the article’s central theme appears to be accurate. There seems to be, from my middle aged male perspective, less science in sci-fi and more drama.

    As to the gender issue, unlike the author I do not believe that male readership of sci-fi will decline. I believe this despite my suspicion that the Oprah and soap opera audience is largely female and does not attract anywhere near an equal number of males. I believe this because if there is money is to be made there will be publishers who will fill the void and cater to the hard-core tech sci-fi crowd (via Leo Frankowski-type writers, if memory serves), just as there are publishers who will cater to the sci-fi drama crowd. And there will be those who will be comfortable reading either subcategory.

    Personally, I am not to concerned about the loss of tech in sci-fi (though I have a brother who is). As long as the story is well written, features (mostly) good guys with serious fire power and the will to use it, I don’t care if it’s labeled sci-fi (Starship Troopers/Old Man’s War) or fantasy (Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files), or anywhere in between (Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt Casebooks). I’ll read it.

    And as to those who want to mock the nerd boys for their insecurities, I think you are on the wrong tangent. Wanting to read about tech, or male heroics, or Princess Liea-type in a bikini (though I’d much rather read about a Jane Russell-type in a bikini), is a reading preference, not bigotry. Or, if it is bigotry, then the other side of the aisle is equally guilty to the extent they don’t want (i.e. prefer) to read about tech, or male heroics, or Jane Russell-types in a bikini.

  254. as soon as someone explains to me how all the paranormal stuff and “OMG, there are giant sharks in the sewer!” movies came to be regarded as SF

    One of these days, whoever optioned Sewer Gas and Electric is going to make that movie, and then you’ll see! It’s the best giant shark in the sewer, talking animatronic head of Ayn Rand, eco terrorist, electric negro, Walt Disney and J. Edgar Hoover conspiracy, racist bioplague, violent feminist submarine captain novel you’ll ever read.

  255. Stevem @ 310: And as to those who want to mock the nerd boys for their insecurities, I think you are on the wrong tangent. Wanting to read about tech, or male heroics, or Princess Liea-type in a bikini (though I’d much rather read about a Jane Russell-type in a bikini), is a reading preference, not bigotry. Or, if it is bigotry, then the other side of the aisle is equally guilty to the extent they don’t want (i.e. prefer) to read about tech, or male heroics, or Jane Russell-types in a bikini.

    Hold the phone there, Steve, ’cause I’ve got some questions. Who said that wanting to read about tech was bigotry? Are you ascribing the desire for tech-heavy stories to a particular gender, or am I misreading you? How are you defining your “sides of the aisle”? And do you have a preference for specifically male heroics over female heroics, or is it just heroism in general that trips your trigger?

    I’ll know how to address your concerns once I have a better idea of their nature.

    Josh @ 311: Dammit, I’d just cleaned that keyboard, too!

  256. Siffy wants to be a broader cable network than just scifi, which is why the odd non-fiction shows and the wrestling to sell air space. And their name change was a combination of that and the fact that they couldn’t trademark the word scifi, yes.

    #310: Steve: If it was just a matter of reading preferences, it wouldn’t be a big deal. The number of SF fans I know, male and female, who complain about not enough hard SF in the field could fill several cruise ships. But these guys are blaming women for causing the change, are saying that women readers and writers are only interested in relationship stories (we’re not,) that guys are becoming girly men writing about relationships as if they’ve never done it before, and worse, claiming SF and science and technology to be male fields into which women shouldn’t be involved and don’t have the wits to do. The problem isn’t that some guys like stories with bikini women (though finding those these days is a bit hard in the book field,) it’s the presentation of women as a damaging threat, invaders who don’t know what they are doing, don’t care about what real men find valuable, and have nothing in their flighty heads except the desire for romance. It’s the idea that women taint things.

    A basic problem is that many fans tend to view relationships in male written works as always secondary and relationships in female written works as primary, no matter what the actual structure of the story is. So when guys claim that women only write about relationships, it’s often more of a wish fulfillment interpretation rather than reality.

    In the 1960’s the New Wave movement developed in SF, where a different emphasis on writing style, characterization and philosophy replaced straight, hard, tech SF. The New Wave writers also liked to experiment with sexual issues and societal mores. And that movement was primarily led and written by men.

    So if the maleys (hmm, still looking for a suitable term,) wanted to simply argue that hard SF is languishing, the logical people to blame are the New Wave writers — Michael Moorcock, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Larry Niven, Gene Wolfe, Harland Ellison, etc., men who were not very tech at all and frequently wrote about relationships as well as politics and society, and not very much about blazing guns. And indeed, while some women SF writers have continued the New Wave tradition slightly in doing sociological SF, a lot of the male writers dumped both hard tech SF AND sociological SF with its character relationships for fast action, blazing guns, ultra macho military SF, which is currently the most popular sector of the field (and not just the Warhammer books.) Military SF has quite a lot of female readers who don’t seem to have a problem with its lack of relationships, its casual sex, and its emphasis on violent action and macho mores. But for the maleys, those women don’t count.

    Now, the maleys might feel that military SF is also getting too “feminized,” that David Weber writing about Honor Harrington, for instance, is a disgrace. But that again is more than a reading preference. It is prejudice against women characters being in certain social roles and against women writers attempting to write a variety of SF from military to mystery to space opera to hard SF to sociological SF. These guys aren’t just saying that they only like to read male authors. They’re saying women are destroying SF. Which is bullshit.

  257. I think that there were 2 issues in the original post, one was what Stevem is talking about. but it was also conflated with insecurities about women which is what much of this thread has been concerned with and this poster has been said to be a little bigoted further up Stevem is just defending him from those accusations. Several previous (seemingly male) posters have said that they did not pick up on any sexism (initially at least) and agreed with the central point of relationship drama taking over hard tech in SF. I think that maybe the proliferation of female targeted SF has maybe drowned out the more hard stuff given that there is more work published and only so much exposure given that sometimes it can be a little hard to find the hard stuff in there, but it’s never gone away, I’ve got Greg Bear, Greg Egan, and Jeff Noon, not to mention that Silverberg, Fred Pohl and Aldiss are still alive and more to the point still producing.

  258. “I think that maybe the proliferation of female targeted SF has maybe drowned out the more hard stuff”

    Please. This is a false dichotomy. ‘Soft’ SF is not aimed at nor exclusively written by women, and the idea that ‘hard’ SF was always dominant is nonsense.

    What pisses me off is the superior tone in some commentators that only ‘hard’ SF is ‘real’ SF. I use real science in my gay romantic SF stories, and am proud of them being real science-fiction, not fantasy, but according to the spear penis crew, the very existence of ‘unmanly’ men makes it unworthy of consideration.

    Science fiction is a ‘what if’ genre on steriods. There is no intrinsic virtue in using the possibility of a cheap and easy fusion energy source of drive your plot, as opposed to having a genetic quirk that creates paranormal ability. The only ‘hard’ line is that if you use magic, then it’s not science.

    It’s okay to like different flavours of science fiction. Please to not be telling us that dark chilli chocolate is not for girls, or the equivalent.

  259. I think Syfy should be pronounced Siffy as KatG says, like Syph-y, meaning infected with syphilis.

    And that would certainly be transmissible by Mansquito.

  260. “I think Syfy should be pronounced Siffy as KatG says, like Syph-y, meaning infected with syphilis.”

    Syfy is apparently slang in Polish for syphillis, which nobody at SciFi Channel checked, even though they’d hired a high priced rebranding consultant. I appreciate that they had a trademark issue, but their solution to it was moronic in my opinion, and so Siffy they remain until they change it again, even if I like some of their shows. (On the other side, Syfy Portal was a very good SFF news website, but Siffy contracted to have the site change its name so that Siffy could use it for trademark.)

  261. I think that maybe the proliferation of female targeted SF has maybe drowned out the more hard stuff given that there is more work published and only so much exposure given that sometimes it can be a little hard to find the hard stuff in there

    I think that maybe that this is a load of horseshit, and it’s “waaah girl cooties on my spaceship” in different clothes.

    What has changed is that women who write hard SF don’t have to hide behind initials or male pseudonyms to do so, and that SF is a larger field than it once was – so instead of only five books out there and all of them are space opera, you have a lot more space opera and a lot more of everything from steampunk to “weird” to near-fantasy to crossover.

    But since you don’t have a single female on your “SF I will deign to read” list, I can imagine why this would be lost on you.

  262. Emily@288: You can’t take this out of context. You can’t take the Leia joke out of the context of women being taught that they are either sluts or prudes,

    We’re talking about Return of the Jedi, a PG rated movie from 1983. You don’t get to take every scene with scanitly clad women and say it must be viewed in the context that women are taught they’re either sluts or prudes.

    You can’t just take a joke about women in Sci-Fi being there so that there’s someone hot and female to wear a sexy costume

    Except that’s not the joke. The joke is men in drag. There is no part of the joke, whatsoever that leverages off the notion that women are in sci-fi to be hot and female. None. You wanna make that part up and be upset about it, that’s your choice. But you don’t get to invent things that aren’t there and be upset about them without people telling you you’re making it up.

    At this point, you’re probably going to try and turn this into me saying you’re making up the entire history of women’s oppression or something. No, that’s not what I said either. The joke was a men in drag joke. Not a women can’t do anything but be barefoot and pregnant in teh kitchen joke. A men in drag joke.

    Assume that I’m smart and that my perspective isn’t wrong just because it’s not the same as yours. Putting forth real effort to understand this is really hard, but it’s worth it.

    It’s not that I’m saying you’re dumb or that your perspective is wrong. It’s not that I’m *not* tryign to understand. It’s that you’re finding something in the text that isn’t there.

    You don’t get to add something that isn’t there and then get mad about it. Well, you can, but people will call you on it. Several have pointed out on this thread that all this stuff you’re seeing isn’t in the original joke.

    to understand why someone could legitimately find the joke offensive, a person must first accept the premise that it is valid to find it offensive and then work to understand the reasoning.

    And when I arrive at the point where the reasoning hinges on something that doesn’t exist, I point it out.

    If you start from the perspective that it is funny to you and thus must be funny and non-offensive to everyone, you will never understand.

    I didn’t start from any perspective. I started with the actual text. I wasn’t looking to downplay sexism or find sexism where none existed. I focus on the words that were typed and develop their meaing from what was said.

    If you start from teh premise that being offended is valid, then maybe that’s the problem. I start from the premise of studying the words and whatever meaning they say is what I give them.

    Josh@290: It’s likely that you’ll get people who don’t find it offensive, but that doesn’t invalidate the people who do.

    Hold on a second there. I didn’t find the joke offensive. The fact that I didn’t find it offensive doesn’t invalidate people who did find it offensive. But that doesn’t mean that people who did find it offensive aren’t offended for invalid reasons, such as, for example, being offended by something that was never actually said or implied or inferred.

    Everyone has a right to be offended or not. Everyone has a right to feel however they want to feel. That doesn’t mean everyone is right or logically sound or contextually correct. Logic doesn’t fly out the window simply because you don’t want to “invalidate someone’s feelings”.

    you’ll find yourself picked up and waved around as evidence that the joke was fine and anyone with a problem with it is wrong. So how do you feel about that?

    it isn’t a popularity contest. It isn’t whoever is the most angry, wins. It isn’t a battle of feelings to determine the “wrongness” of the joke. The joke is exactly what the joke is and nothing more.

    Some people are offended by women in bikinis. Fine. Some people think women should be covered up from head to toe. Fine. Whatever you want to implement as your moral system, knock yourself out. But don’t condemn something because of something you added to the event that wasn’t actually there. I’m willing to stand up to that and say it is wrong, regardless of how you feel about it.

    You want to say women shouldn’t be in bikinis on TV or in the movies. Go for it. I won’t stop you. You want to say there should be no cheesecake anywere in the visual medium, fine, you have a right to that opinion.

    But if yOu want to tell me that this men-in-drag joke really meant that women are only good at SF conventions to stand around and look sexy, then I call bullshit, and I don’t give a hoot how you feel about that joke. How you feel doesn’t give you license to make shit up that isn’t there.

    Xopher: People take offense at “things that were never there” all the time.

    WMD’s in Iraq, for example, look what that got us.

    As explained above, emotion and language are two different things. How you feel is one thing. What someone else said is something else. You’re feelings don’t allow you to inject something that was never there.

    This is how marriages and families and relationships go down the toilet, people holding onto things that didn’t actually happen. People holding on to their anger even when it isn’t sourced from anything that actually happened, but is based on something they added to the actual events. People letting their emotions override language and logic. Not that people should be emotionless vulcans or something, but that logic and language operate separate from emotions and feelings. No matter how you feel, logic is still logic.

    What seems to be happening is people angry about the joke are allowing their emotions to insert language into the joke that isn’t there.

    Someone wants to be mad, fine, be mad. But don’t tell me you’re mad because of “blah” if “blah” never happened.

    Emily: Consider the appropriateness of making a joke about lynching to a Black man.

    This was a men-in-drag joke. It required a woman (leia) so that the audience could have female attire to imagine on a male, thereby resulting in the men-in-drag image that was then immediately attempted to banish from the mental imaging.

    There is no equivelent lynch joke that would at all be comparable to the men in drag jok. None. Because Lynching is always bad. Women dressed in a PG rated movie outfit isn’t neccessarily bad. Unless you want to say that women should never be presented in movies for their physical attractiveness. If so, that’s your perogative.

    But most people don’t want to stand alone on their perogative. Instead they want to argue moral absolutes. “this is wrong because blah”.

    Any lynching joke must reference the murder of a man. The men in drag joke referenced a woman in attire that got a PG rating. You’re attempting to create moral equivalence where there is none so that you can condemn the joke without it being about you personally.

    You didn’t like the joke. Fine. Leave it at that. Stop it with all the stuff that wasn’t said, didn’t happen, and has absolutely no equivalence.

    KatG: I’m not sure where you got that from.

    You said It’s a cultural tendency which breeds our neanderthal.

    “breeds” and “neanderthals” sounds much more nature than nuture. Much less choice.

    Emily@300: The only reason we are still talking about this is that the people who were offended are being told that they are wrong for having taken offense.

    Again. No. YOu’re being told you’re wrong because you’re citing things that were never said. If you want to be offended, be offended. If you want to be offended because the joke can only mean that women should be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, to be funny, then no, you are wrong. The joke doesn’t require that, or imply it, or contextually evoke it. You can still be offended if you want, but the reason you gave for your offendedness kept reporting events that never actually happened.

    Xopher: does having this kind of conversation at this kind of length improve or degrade the general quality of discourse at this site, in the long run?

    I dunno. It’d be nice when it’s pointed out that someone referred to something that didn’t actually happen, that it not turn into “you’re wrong for taking offense”, or as Josh tried to put it, that I’m trying to “invalidate” how people feel. No, feel however you want to feel, just don’t tell me its because of something someone said if they never actually said it.

  263. as for the genre of science fiction in general, it feels to me like it’s in a doldrums of sorts. I don’t think it has anything to do with women. It’s just that we seem to be seeing a lot of recycled story ideas rather than any new “Great” authors with great ideas coming out. It feels like magic has left the earth. The elves have moved on to neverland (or wherever they went.) Where are the Gods among us? Have they all gone back to mount olympus? Have we nothing left but yet another gorram “Vampire (Noun)” story? Vampire Diaries. Vampire Love Story. Vampire Hunters. Vampire Interviews. Vampire Breakfast Cereal. Vampire Teaching You To Count to Three, Hah Hah Haaah. As god as my witness, if there’s one more Vampire (Noun) story this year, I will go full-stabbitty mode on someone.

    So, yeah, I feel like we’ve hit a bit of a doldrums.

  264. Greg @ 326 – Vampire A Go Go by victor gischler released September 1, 2009?

    @ 327 – oh yes, check your local bookseller for:

    N’Synchronicity: Out of Time

    Chthulu and the Monkeys Barsoomian Adventures

    Backstreet Eschaton Five: Revenge of the Vampire King

  265. The Manskito … it burnssssssss …

    Do you think Manskito 2 will try to sexy it up by featuring Manaconda?

    When Sci-Fi added wrestling to their line-up my husband said, “This is it, the end of Sci-Fi Channel as we know it!” and he was not wrong.

  266. Consider the appropriateness of making a joke about lynching to a Black man

    Consider how thoroughly fucked in the head you are if you think making funnies about kidnapping and murder — often accompanied by torture and mutilation — of people to anyone is “appropriate”. Just as I don’t really think rape gags are acceptable, regardless of the gender mix in the audience.

  267. #325: “You said It’s a cultural tendency which breeds our neanderthal. “breeds” and “neanderthals” sounds much more nature than nuture. Much less choice.”

    Note to self, watch the exact nature of words used in discussions with Greg, because his legal bent will insist on laser accuracy. :) I used neanderthal because others had used it to refer to the viewpoint we’re discussing. (We need to come up with a unified collective term — rollerblade prisoners perhaps?) I used the term “cultural tendency” which you ignored. I meant that the culture produces the viewpoint when I used the word “breeds,” not that it is bred into men as part of their nature. Okey-dokey then.

    “There is no part of the joke, whatsoever that leverages off the notion that women are in sci-fi to be hot and female. None.”

    Ah, no, I would have to disagree with you there. The joke as phrased in the first part was:

    “Seriously, if there were no women in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.”

    The first part of the joke is that Wright adapts a false persona — that of the male chauvinist piglet who sees women’s purpose in scifi to be the hot chick in the Leia bikini at conventions, and who sees male fans as unattractive nerds in contrast. As you yourself note, Greg, you have to have the hot female in the bikini to have the male in drag joke work — it’s the contrast that makes the joke. And the way that Wright phrased it — again, using what was clearly a false persona that is not what Wright himself believes and has the Leghorn voice device — indicates that the persona only sees women in the role of filling in the bikini and shudders to think what happens if women aren’t around to fill that sexual object role.

    Now, comics do false persona for joke-telling all the time. Ricky Gervais, Don Rickles, etc. Wright was clearly doing an imitation of the rollerblade prisoners’ viewpoint, which is what made the joke funny more than the men in drag contrast.

    But you can’t say that the joke didn’t use the notion of women being good in scifi for looking hot in Leia bikinis, because it’s right there in print. And while the joke itself was actually making fun of that attitude by using it, a lot of women are tired of hearing about women looking hot in Leia bikinis, as if that’s the female main accomplishment in scifi, as a means to a joke or for other purposes. They don’t think it’s funny contrasting hot women in bikinis with unattractive men in drag. And if the hot women are as unessential as you say, why did they have to be part of the men in drag joke? Because Leia in that bikini is an iconic image created by guys, and not all women see it as harmless as you perhaps do.

    I’m all for women running around in bikinis and guys in loincloths at conventions, or wearing stupid T-shirts and horn-rimmed glasses, whatever they want within local zoning laws. But when Scalzi’s own t.v. show is doing cheesecake photos of its female actresses to promote the show, it does get annoying on the distaff side to be continually reminded that some women look hot in space bikinis and straight guys like that. We know it already. And we don’t necessarily always find it joke material for men in drag jokes or otherwise. We find it an in-your-face declaration that guys still see that as our principle role in the world. Ditto beer commercials.

    I think the reaction to Wright’s joke was somewhat over the top, because he framed the joke as clearly using a false persona that was not his own, that was in fact rather opposite to his own (though I’m sure he likes women in bikinis too.) But while I would agree that Wright was improperly judged, your argument, Greg, that women’s hotness in scifi wasn’t involved in the joke at all doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. Without it, without Leia’s iconic sex object image, the beautiful woman in contrast to the ugly man in a bikini, there is no joke.

  268. 324 mythago if you look up thread you may notice that i am in fact FEMALE – so if there are girl cooties there i brought them myself. But anyway I have over 2170 books in my collection raging from Mccaffrey and Lackey to Asimov and Heinlein and everything inbetween, including Tiptree, Vonnegut and Wyndham just to name 3 random writers. In fact you can look at my collection here http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Musereader. What I actually picked out were 6 names of currently producing writers (who are in my collection) who the original poster might like to read to point out that the kind of SF he reads is not dead.

    But still I do find that it is increasingly difficult to find that kind of stuff in the middle of all the softer kind of SF that in any case I actually prefer and calling it Female orientated was no slight on my part since I buy a whole heck of a lot of it, because it appeals to me, as a female. (Liz Williams being my current favourite because of the strong female protags she writes. Without actually much romance for that matter) but anyway there is a waterstones bookshop in manchester where they separate the harder SF (mostly space SF) from the rest of it and there is maybe 1 bookcase of SF, most of it masterworks reprints and 10 times more of the rest of it.

  269. Actually, though double posting is not good ettiquette. I do want to say I was really bothered by this – “But since you don’t have a single female on your “SF I will deign to read” list, I can imagine why this would be lost on you.”
    Do you always assume that if some one posts a list of writers – especially a short one with only 6 names – that those are the only people they read and not, just say, examples? You have no clue what i deign to read (in fact I haven’t actually even read Noon or Bear, they are just on my shelves) i can’t see where i said or even implied, that I wouldn’t read anybody else.

    I agree with you that the genre is expanding both in scope and volume, i was just trying to say that the proportion of hard SF gets ever smaller within that even though the number stays the same.

    Put it this way – untill OMW I pretty much didn’t have anything by a SF writer who’s career started after the 1970’s and i still don’t see much new SF on the shelves in my bookshops. After OMW I got reccomendations from Librarything and have found it difficult to find them.

  270. Sorry, i wish I could edit, but as a matter of fact I get very excited whenever I find a Womens Press: Science Fiction book second hand, because of the ones I have and have read under this imprint have always been really, really good. Like in one instance quite brilliant, even though apart from Joanna Russ I’ve never ever heard of any of them before.

  271. KatG: I used the term “cultural tendency” which you ignored.

    I didn’t ignore it. The thing is your original post was something like “women define feminine to mean whatever they want it to mean. Men define masculine to mean “no women””.

    that conveys that women have choice and men don’t. I got the phrase “cultural tendency”, but it was packed in with “breed” and “neanderthal”, which again removes choice.

    I liked the way you defined feminine to be something that empowers women, you put the term directly in women’s hands, they get to decide what it is. My original response was nothing more than a request that when you speak about men and “masculine”, you give men the same empowerment, the same choice, you gave women, rather than putting “masculine” in the hands of sociologists and culture.

    The first part of the joke is that Wright adapts a false persona — that of the male chauvinist piglet who sees women’s purpose in scifi to be the hot chick in the Leia bikini at conventions

    There may be a false persona, but at no point must it be a male chauvanist pig who sees women as only good for looking sexy.

    As you yourself note, Greg, you have to have the hot female in the bikini to have the male in drag joke work

    Yeah. But you dont have to have “Women in SF are only good for looking sexy in bikinis” to make the joke work. And I would say there is nothing in the joke that leverages on that notion. Nothing in the joke works off of “women are only good for sexy”.

    The joke invokes a sexy-woman image, an iconic image that everyone in the audience will know. Then the joke swaps the woman for a man, and you’ve got a man in drag punchline.

    “only good for breeding” is not in the joke.

    reminded that some women look hot in space bikinis and straight guys like that.

    Now I agree that that is in the joke. The joke turns on the notion that Leia in a bikini is attractive and some guy in the outfit is not.

    But when Scalzi’s own t.v. show is doing cheesecake photos of its female actresses to promote the show, it does get annoying

    On behalf of the slightly less neanderthalic men in the world, I apologize.

    And as a just-barely-beyond-neanderthal man, I’m still left with the original cunundrum I mentioned in 242. What is the solution that allows for some definition of feminine and some definition of masculine?

    Can a guy tell a joke and invoke some image of a woman they find physically attractive so that they can deliver a men-in-drag punchline? Can a guy do that and not have it turned into him saying women are only good for sex and breeding?

    Because it seems that some definitions (not all, because every woman gets to define it for themselves) of feminine do not allow for any definition of masculine that includes physical attraction to women.

    Show me a picture of Leia in her slave girl outfit, and I might find it easy on the eyes, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to run up to the next woman I see and go “Nice Tits” or tell women they’re only good for breeding.

    My definition of masculine includes a bunch of stuff, including appreciating woman to be beautiful, smart, strong, spiritual, and many other attributes. Sometimes physical beauty is in there. Leia in the slave outfit was beautiful, smart, and strong. A fan-boy at an SF convention in a slave girl outfit isn’t any of those, except for maybe smart in a funny, witty, Monty Python kind of way.

    So, I could read the original joke without any false persona at all. Leia in the slave girl outfit was beautiful, smart, and strong. Yay! Fan boy in slave girl outfit wasn’t any of those. The joke relies on the contrast between the two. That’s the humor.

    And no where in my definition of masculinity is there a notion that women are only good for looking sexy and having babies.

    That’s the definition of “masculine” inside of which *I* read the joke. And some people are turning it into “women are only good for breeding” and “nice tits” and other stuff that isn’t there. It’s like it keeps coming back to the idea that the only real defintion of “masculine” is what the sociologists say, “no women”, knuckle dragging, sloped foreheaded, ijits. No other defintion is allowed.

    People angry about the joke seem to want to insist that the joke has to come from a definition of masculine that includes “women are only good for breeding”, “nice tits”, and so on. THat’s not in the joke, it’s in their assumption about the definition of “masculine”. There is no “women are only good for looking sexy” in the joke, it’s in their definition of “masculine” that would tell such a joke. But that’s not the only definition of “masculine” that would find the joke funny.

  272. musereader@332: mythago if you look up thread you may notice that i am in fact FEMALE – so if there are girl cooties there i brought them myself

    Now that’s great comedy.

    ;)

  273. OT 336 GregLondon – Just wondering if you are in London or if that’s a surname or something else, cos it’s kinda lonely being from little old England here by myself.

  274. Musereader – untill OMW I pretty much didn’t have anything by a SF writer who’s career started after the 1970’s

    You’re missing out on some amazing stuff if you kept that trend going.

  275. Muse, it’s a surname, sorry. I’ve been to England and it’s a lovely country, and my wife and I were helped immensely by a number of locals while we were there. So, in thanks to your country, I’m sending some anti-lonely hugs your way now.

  276. musereader @332, sadly, there are plenty of girls who are happy to scream as loudly as the Teeny Spear Crew about the ickiness of girl-cooties, and how all other girls are rotten with them. (see, e.g., MZB’s essay about how it was actually totes awesome that SF was an unwelcoming field for women, because it kept out the riffraff.)

    When somebody posts about ‘female oriented’ SF, meaning ‘not nuts and bolts hard-as-nails SF’, and then lists a handful of contemporary examples who are all male, yes, it suggests rather strongly that person perceives SF on a spectrum where penisicity = tech-crunchy. And “drowned out” smacks rather strongly of the Teeny Spear Crew argument that those females and homosexuals are swamping all that is pure and holy in SF.

    So, glad you’re not one of the TSC, but I really think you should go back and look at your post to see if perhaps you have some male=techiefic bias you’re not aware of. And the argument you made is still horseshit.

  277. By the way, to clarify my earlier post at 102:

    I did not mean that taking offense as a first reaction would be invalid. I can see how it would take time to get through that line of reasoning. The point was, by the time you get down to rational discourse, the fact that Mr. Wright was not speaking with his own voice is obtainable and relevant.

    That it was problematic *anyway* is a legitimate and interesting point.

    This all would have been a lot more interesting and involved a lot less drawn out agony if we had gone straight there (e.g. Learn Hexadecimal @ 105, among others), instead of using criticisms that were either untrue or too inadequately explained to be useful to anyone.

  278. Greg, Thankyou for the hugs.

    338. Josh, I got one each by T. Chiang, S. Baxter, D. Brin, JC Grimwood, McDevitt, S Tepper, 2 each by G bear, J. Noon and G. Ryman and a good few by Liz Williams, C. Friedman, E. Moon and of course our Scalzi. Given that my SF collection numbers over 800 that is a fairly pathetic showing by modern SF. On the other hand apart from Lewis and Tolkien not much of my Fantasy collection predates the 1980’s – or this century for that matter – I keep ahead of my Fantasy, and am far behind with SF. What do you reccomend?

  279. How is the fact that “nuts and bolts hard-as-nails SF” is less than, what? 25% of the genre nowadays – where it used to be practically all there was back in the so called ‘Golden era’ of Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein – bullshit?

    I’m only 25 though so obviously I don’t remember bookshops back then but SF lists i’ve seen seem to be like that. I can’t find much modern stuff for myself which to me equals drowned out because i can’t frakin find it! Not because I don’t appreciate the other stuff. And I do very much appreciate Female protagonists which are by and large written by females.

  280. Musereader – Though it was featured here on The Big Idea, Windup Girl by Paolo Bagiagalupi is great.

    Also, Halting State by Charlie Stross. Signal to Noise and Signal Shattered by Eric Nylund. Spin State and Spin Control by Chris Moriarty (female author! Could be considered hard SF!)

    That should last you for a while. If you want to keep track of what’s new and exciting, I suggest reading Strange Horizons reviews section. SH reviewers are smart, know the history of the genre, and know how to write good criticism.

  281. Lol, um, by and large is possibly a britisicm meaning On the whole; generally speaking; I don’t actually know any female bi protagonists though I do know a male one.

    And the expansion of the SF genre is a good thing just to be clear,but now I can’t find the hard stuff since the progression got muddled by the new wave in the 70’s (didn’t much take to new wave, some of the stories are fairly incomprehensible, sorry)

  282. So you made a joke about how women protagonists who might have sex with with both women and men are cool?

    That’s sort of throwing fuel on an already lit fire, in case you were just ignorant of that, rather than trying to stir things up.

  283. I made a play on words on how it sounded like she was saying that.

    Jokes are less funny when explained. See, if I hadn’t explained myself, it would have remained funny based on my apparent ignorance.

    But after the joke, now I want to read a large bi female protagonist story. Or maybe write one.

  284. mythago: sadly, there are plenty of girls who are happy to scream as loudly as the Teeny Spear Crew about the ickiness of girl-cooties,

    You made a fundamental assumption about the person you were chastizing, an assumption that was wrong. Actually, you made two. First, you assumed Musereader was male. Second, you took her list of something like six books she mentioned and assumed it was her entire library.

    With those two assumptions shown to be wrong, you’re still attempting to chastize Musereader, but what you’re actually left with is chastizing women who aren’t on this thread and using her as a proxy, that maybe she’s a “Teeny Spear Crew” when you have no evidence that she falls into that category. Perhaps you might reconsider your approach?

    Josh: So you made a joke about how women protagonists who might have sex with with both women and men are cool? That’s sort of throwing fuel on an already lit fire, in case you were just ignorant of that, rather than trying to stir things up.

    Dude. No humans were harmed in the making of this joke. No. Wait. Stop whatever you were just about to say and think about that for a second. No humans were harmed, insulted, degraded, or enslaved in the making of this joke. Whatever outrage you’re expressing has nothing to do with the facts of that joke and everything to do with you.

  285. Patrick @350 when you say large, do you mean a giant bi female protagonist or one with excess weight? Or are you going for the body-builder type?

  286. Greg: You think that the meaning of communication is to be found in the intention of the person communicating. This is not the case.

    Nor is the “true” meaning to be found in the words actually written, because you’re already interpreting them when you read them.

    All communication pushes buttons. The buttons that are pushed are the meaning. Jim inadvertantly pushed some painful buttons.

  287. Summer at 314: As to your last statement, I don’t have concerns and expressed none. If you read my post at 310 a bit more carefully, it would answer a few of your other questions. As to my reading preferences, they are varied. Post 310 lists some of my sci-fi/fantasy preferences, to which you could include Eric Nylund, Iain Banks, GRRM, Steven Brust, Glen Cook, Roger Zelazny, JK Rowlings (yes, I liked Harry Potter) and, as a child, Andre Norton. Historical fiction I prefer Sharon Penman and Cynthia Holland, and fortunately they have both been prolific. I avoid true horror, including Steven King. I am beginning to enjoy crime dramas, such as Huston, Gischler and Piccirilli (yes, he writes horror too, but it’s more action related).

    KatG at 315: There is a fine line between preference and bias. People (men and women) who prefer drama (such as the perpetual vampire stories which per my local bookstore’s “new shelf” accounts for about 1/3 of the new books apparently) have largely re-directed sci-fi over the last few decades. The hard tech sci-fi still exists but apparently in reduced numbers. If so, this is more of a marketing decision, however, than a cabal of romance writers forcibly taking over the field.

    As the change of direction is a marketing decision, someone with data must believe that drama sci-fi sells. If that date is wrong, some publisher will move to satisfy the allegedly unfulfilled nitch of tech sci-fi. Economics 101.

    As to “maleys” being upset with “girlies” destroying sci-fi, in any group you can find trolls (including the “girlie” group). I personally don’t care about drama sci-fi, I simply don’t buy it (with some exceptions). A hot chick with a weapon and wolf, moon or vampire in the background of the cover usually results in me looking elsewhere for my weekly purchases. And I find the type of books I lprefer, whether characterized as sci-fi, fantasy or otherwise (I am moving toward crime fiction now-a-days) and have no problem making my purchases.

    Musereader at 316: Exactly.

    And as to the posts on jokes, personally I don’t think jokes should have to pass any litmus test. If you think they are funny, laugh. If not, don’t. Berating someone about perceived slights contained within the joke tells me more about the berator than the beratee.

  288. #335: Greg: “My original response was nothing more than a request that when you speak about men and “masculine”, you give men the same empowerment, the same choice, you gave women, rather than putting “masculine” in the hands of sociologists and culture.”

    Your original response was a misreading of my post, and that’s my fault, but I’ve explained what I actually meant three times already and you’ve ignored it each time. I GIVE MEN THE SAME EMPOWERMENT TO DEFINE MASCULINE. I never said I didn’t; you just thought I did. When I talked about studies, it was not to say that scientists had found a biological imperative causing men to hold the attitude that men cannot escape or change, but that scientists have found that many men, not all, choose that way of defining masculinity.

    And culturally, that viewpoint of masculinity is supported still. My husband, as again I spoke of several times, does not hold that view, but at the risk of sounding with the female chorus, you do think this is not a big deal because you are a guy. To you, the picture of Leia in the bikini is just one aspect of womanhood, because you’re an evolved male. But we women, from the time we are small, have to deal with pictures of space bikinis every day everywhere. We can’t escape that image, and we’re judged by it from adolescence onward, and for many men who aren’t as evolved as you, such as our rollerblade prisoners, it’s really the only thing we’re worth. And this understandably makes some women kind of irate when the space bikinis come up, because we’re all hardily tired of them at this point.

    What you are refusing to deal with is the set-up of the sentence: “if there were no women in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.” The meaning of that sentence — which is necessary for the joke to work — is that women’s role in scifi conventions is only to wear the bikini. That doesn’t mean that it’s the only aspect of the joke that a guy, rollerblade prisoner or evolved male, might find funny, but the necessity of the joke relies on it being the women’s job to wear the space bikini. That’s what the women are for, and if the women aren’t there, who is going to wear that space bikini? A donkey? A guy? Because if there are women at the convention, that’s what they do, wear the bikini.

    If women are actually in control of the definition of feminine, as you agree they are, then some of the women finding this not a funny but instead offensively designed joke is valid. These women have tried to explain why they feel that way to you, and you have then insisted that they are insisting that all men are rollerblade prisoners if they don’t find the joke offensive too. You’re invalidating their right to define what is feminine by claiming they are trying to stop your right to define what is masculine. Which isn’t actually happening.

    As I said before, Wright’s joke makes fun of the rollerblade prisoners’ views, but it does so by imitating those views, and that is what some of the women were objecting to, because it is part of the whole parcel of views and images that women’s purpose is sex and babies and nothing else. Which, despite the growing presence of many evolved males, we women all have to live with every day, passing a bus stop, or on the Internet, or on t.v., or dealing with our teenage daughters who are bombarded with the same.

    Which is why when they had the car commercial with the scantily clad gigantic male Sumo wrestlers sexily washing the car, I fell down on the floor laughing until I cried. My husband, evolved male though he is, said that it was gross and not that funny, but if you’re female, it’s likely to be one of the funniest things you ever see. So my suggestion is that you stop telling women they can’t define the attitudes some males have about masculinity when you guys get to define femininity and female sexiness all the time. Such as Leia in the space bikini. Whether you see beyond the image or not is not the issue. Leia in the space bikini is a big deal for many women culturally and that big deal was part of the joke.

  289. On the evolution of syfy:

    Wasn’t the scifi channel originally better known as Attack of thr 50 Foot B Movie? At least until mst3k came along. Then they began to make fun of themselves for showing those movies. I think the first movie I remember from the channel was a residing of some 1970s bee armegeddom flick.

    When did original programming start on scifi? At least in the way of fictional shows? Was it farscape? I do remember that when they picked up sg1 from showtime it really set the ball rolling for them.

    As far as the availability of sf in bookstores, I mean it’s a mix right? And what’s the majority of hard scifi? My imaginary science is more plausible than your imaginary science! I appreciate the difference between science fiction and teching the tech fiction. And if that’s the distinction, it seems to me that hard sf is mean to mean good and soft sf is meant to mean bad; which is a fairly useless and highly subjective categorization of books.

    WHats more upsetting to me is how bookstores categorize fiction, sf, and f.

  290. Josh Japser at 364: If the quotes at the link are anything to go by, Michael Richards was not making jokes but instead engaged in a violently rascist rant. I am a person who has no problem with jokes based on race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, politics, religion, professions, etc. as I believe that nothing should be sacrosanct in comedy. But if he intended the statements to be jokes, he needs to work on his material, a lot.

  291. Oh the Michael Richards thing was SO not a joke. It was a blatant attack meant to lower and demean and “put in place” a heckler by using whatever weapon would hurt the absolute worst, to restore Richards to a place of superiority in his own mind. Whatever the “by and large” business was, for good or for ill, it was NOT an equivalent.

  292. (And upon rereading, just to make sure: )

    It was a joke. Whether or not it was a GOOD joke is up to people other than me to decide. But I take very bloody serious issue with the equivalence. I’ve been the recipient of “N-wording” in the Michael Richards sense quite enough to parse the difference. I humbly request that you use a different argument; you may not have that one.

  293. KatG @ 363: ” The meaning of that sentence — which is necessary for the joke to work — is that women’s role in scifi conventions is only to wear the bikini.”

    No, it doesn’t.

  294. KatG, #363: What you are refusing to deal with is the set-up of the sentence: “if there were no women in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.” The meaning of that sentence — which is necessary for the joke to work — is that women’s role in scifi conventions is only to wear the bikini.

    Personally, I didn’t read anything into that saying that it is our ONLY role, no. I read it as saying that, if Leia-bikini-wearing is part of anyone’s role, it belongs to the women rather than to the men.

    BIG difference there, I think. Certainly enough to explain why I was able to find the joke amusing, despite my possession of two X and zero Y chromosomes, rather than offensive. I don’t go looking for limitations in everything; I prefer instead to adopt the least limiting interpretation possible. Can you accept that my interpretation is every bit as valid as yours, or is this a simple issue where one of us is right and the other is wrong? Am I somehow less empowered than you, because of my differing view? And, perhaps more to the point, is it at all possible (in your estimation) that Jim originally told the joke with my interpretation in mind, rather than yours?

    (As an aside, both my husband and I found the Sumo commercial hysterical. Not sure what that means, but there it is.)

  295. I know I’m late as usual (comes of living across the shiny briney sea in Blighty), but can I just say that this post, and most of the responses, cheered me up no end. I write science fiction, and have recently taken my first faltering steps into pro-dom. I also happen to keep my genitals on the inside, and sadly I have come to expect that many of the panels I’m on at British SF cons have me pencilled in as ‘token female’.

    This week, for reasons I’d love to share but can’t for contractual reasons, I was once again reminded how being a woman who writes SF (admittedly not bitingly hard SF, but it is SF) makes me Odd in the eyes of much of the world. It was great to hear a (male) SF writer I respected re-iterating the point that (as Pat Cadigan recently put it) ‘Women write SF. Get over it, boys’.

    I’m in two minds about reading the original article. On one hand I should go to the source to know what we’re facing, on the other, I’m p*ssed off enough already.

  296. KatG: What you are refusing to deal with is the set-up of the sentence: “if there were no women in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.” The meaning of that sentence — which is necessary for the joke to work — is that women’s role in scifi conventions is only to wear the bikini.

    that is what some of the women were objecting to, because it is part of the whole parcel of views and images that women’s purpose is sex and babies and nothing else.

    My wife likes looking at Hugh Jackman running around half naked. She isn’t interested in watching Jack Black run around half naked. She finds some things more visually appealing to her than others.

    The joke is like a movie where Hugh Jackman is the lead, and Jack Black is the understudy, backup. Here’s the joke:

    If Hugh Jackman isn’t going to play Wolverine, who, I say who, is going to leap half naked out of that water tank? That slow motion image that was played to death on the movie previews? Think about it. (image of half naked jack black pops in head). No, on second thought, don’t.

    That’s the entire joke. It doesn’t require that Hugh Jackman’s role be ONLY to play wolverine. he’s got other movies. It doesn’t require that Hugh Jackman can’t do other things in a movie. He can direct, produce, or whatever he wants. He’s on broadway. He’s a song and dance man. he’s actually very talented and very succesful in a bunch of different areas. The joke is nothing more than two images. One visually more appealing than the other.

    If you want to argue that one image (women in bikini) should not be appealing, then go ahead and argue that. Say women shouldn’t be wearing the bikini at SF conventions. Say people shouldn’t be attracted to that image.

    But the joke only requires that at every convention or so that some female fan show up dressed in the Leia costume so it’s established as “normal”. It’s expected. Or at least when it happens, it isn’t unexpected. There could be a million other women at each one of those conventions and they could be there as authors, fans, critics, editors, publishers, agents, organizers, doctors, lawyers, and indian chiefs. They aren’t part of the joke.

    More importantly, their presence doesn’t make the joke not work. The joke is still funny. Because the joke says “if you remove all women from SF”. And if you remove all women, you remove the 1 or 2 that are wearing the bikinis.

    And once you remove the ones in teh bikini, who will replace them? You’ve removed all women, so the only choice is a man. So man-in-bikini image. man-in-drag.

    The joke still works even if you tell it with the setup that a convention normally contains numerous women authors, agents, editors, fans, and so on. Because the joke doesn’t hinge on women ONLY being useful for wearing the bikini. The joke doesn’t hinge on women’s ROLE being to wear the bikini. The joke doesn’t hinge on women’s role being sex and babies AND NOTHING ELSE.

    You still get two contrasted images. Hugh Jackman and Jack Black. Woman in bikini. Man in bikini. That’s the humor.

    Now, if you want to argue that people shouldn’t find one image more visually appealing than another, then that is actually part and parcel of the joke and you could accurately criticize the joke on those grounds if that’s how you felt.

    if you think that women shouldn’t be going to SF conventions in teh bikini outfit in the first place, well then your issue isn’t really with the joke, but with women wearing bikinis to conventions.

    But there’s nothing in the joke that requires that women’s only role, their only purpose, their only useful function is sex and babies, and nothing else.

  297. So my suggestion is that you stop telling women they can’t define the attitudes some males have about masculinity when you guys get to define femininity and female sexiness all the time.

    First of all, I didn’t tell you that you can’t report the attitudes that some males have. I said, if you’re going to empower individual women to define feminine for themselves, then I asked you, I requested, I suggested that you might consider empowering individual men so they get to define what masculine means to them individually as well.

    Second of all, I’m not defining what feminine is for you. Feminine is what you say it is. It is how you want to live your life. How you want to dress. What you want to do for a living. How you want to be in relationship with others. All that.

    And for feminine as well as masculine, what a person is attracted to physically is their own business. It is their choice. They have the final say. They’re the ones empowered. Re-read #242.

    And it so happens that there are a number of people who find the image of Leia in a bikini more visually appealing than the image of some guy in a bikini. Some are men defining what masculine means to them. Some are women defining what feminine means to them.

    I would point out that not once in this thread have I told you how you should define feminine for yourself. I have not once told anyone how they should define feminine or masculine for themselves. I’m perfectly fine with Xopher being attracted to pretty nerd boys in collars because that’s his definition for him not my definition for me.

    And again, back at 242, I said that a person ought to be able to report what it is they like because they’re reporting for themselves, not for what others should like, or what others should do. Xopher was saying what he liked, he wasn’t saying what I needed to like or that I needed to dress up in the outfit for him. (though I might put on a collar for him on a lark, for fun, because I chose to).

    I’m not trying to tell you how to be a woman or how to live your life or how to dress or how to act or what you should be attracted to. I’m not teling you you’re only good for having babies. I’m not telling you that you should put on the slave girl outfit.

    I was reporting what I find visually more appealing. Leia in her bikini is more appealing to me than some guy in a bikini.

    Do you want to tell me that I can’t have that as part of my definition of masculine as it pertains to me and how I live my life?

    Quoting from #242, because this same thing keeps getting missed and twisted into something else: Of course, there are more fundamental questions afoot: Can you say “I like (blank_a). *drool*” without ostracizing people who dont like (blank_a).

    Can I say I like one visual over another without being condemned for it?

    The joke hinges on “Leia bikini” being visually more appealing than “random guy in bikini”. You know what, I’ll go with that. That fits my defintion of what appeals to me.

    If you don’t like “leia bikini”, is it possible for me to say I like it without you attacking me accusing me of trying define what feminine is for you? when I did no such thing? Can I have my own definition of what works for me? Because I prefer one visual over another, I found the joke funny. But my preference doesn’t mean I’m goign to walk up to women I don’t know and say “nice tits” like Ann wants to twist it into. I’m not saying women are only good for one thing. I’m not saying women should be dressing like that for me. I’m not even saying anyone else has to find leia bikini to be more appealing that guy-bikini.

    There’s actually a lot of this that reminds me a of homophobic men’s reactions to gay men. A homophobe doesn’t like the idea that a gay man might possibly be attracted to them. The homophobe can’t seem to allow for something that doesn’t fit their own definition of the way other people should be. They want to define how other people act, they want to define what other poeple should be attracted to.

    I’m saying you can have people with different definitions for themselves and still get along. A gay man standing next to a straight man doesn’t mean either one has to change who they are. A gay man being attracted to men shouldn’t freak out a straight man. One’s attraction doesn’t define the other’s own defintion for themselves.

    Some men are going to find Leia in a bikini to be more appealing than random guy in a bikini. The only way you will ever make that go away is if you make all men gay. Otherwise a straight man will always find a woman in a bikini more appealing than a man in a bikini.

    Can you allow for men to hold this definition of masculine for themselves or not? Can it coexist with your definition of feminine for you? Can the two get along without trying to redefine the other to be something they’re not? Or is it like a homophobe being next to a gay man and wanting to “reprogram” or “cure” their gayness?

    Cause throughout this entire thread I have not once tried to define what feminine should mean for you. All I’ve been arguing for is that everyone should be able to define what it means for themselves, and that even if people have different defintions, definitions that don’t mesh, (like gay versus straight), they ought to be able to get along with each other even with those differences.

  298. Hey Kat, I think my epiphany was the most useful one after all.

    Works on people like Summer too, sadly. Just once I’d like to see a discussion on feminism between men and women without some woman (usually plural).jumping in to defend the menz and shooting the feminist cause in the ovaries. I guess when most of us literally sleep with the enemy (in reality or metaphorically) it’s inevitable…but disappointing.

  299. Ann at 375: Wow. What I am taking from post includes the following as your beliefs:

    1. Men are the enemy. Translated, that makes you the flip side of the coin that John Scalzi wants to trap and ship off to reservations.

    2. Classic dehumanizing the “enemy” by referring to them as something other than human, in this case “menz”.

    3. Women should opt for a hive mind and march in lockstep on gender issues, any deviation is ‘disappointing’.

    People are individuals, with individual preferences, wants and desires, most of which are perfectly rationale and some of which are not. People are NOT, and should not be, defined by their gender, skin color, etc. To attempt to argue in favor of gender loyalty is not so far removed from arguing race loyalty. Empowering that kind of thinking is not a positive in any sense.

    Or did I misunderstand?

  300. Ann and Kat:

    So sorry to hear you have issues with the idea that I, a woman, just might possibly prefer to think for myself rather than delegating that responsibility to others. Clearly you feel betrayed by my unwillingness to allow you to define my reality for me… after all, you appear to believe that individual women aren’t permitted the luxury of forming our own opinions and developing our own views; nay, because of the millennia we have spent being objectified, dehumanized, disenfranchised and dictated to by “teh horrible, evil menz”, our only viable response is to engage in monolithic groupthink and allow our self-appointed feminine leaders to dictate our feelings and our views, lest we somehow be deprived of our right to self-determination and/or the right to cry victimhood at every turn.

    In other words, it’s somehow better for other WOMEN to tell me what my role is or how I should think, act, dress, etc., than for MEN to do so; and under no circumstance ought I be trusted to think for myself, right?

    You know what? NOBODY gets to dictate to me. Nobody. I don’t care WHAT set of chromosomes you’ve got. My mind is my own, and you can’t have it.

    So you can both kiss my fat white behind.

  301. Ann @ 375 –

    “Just once I’d like to see a discussion on feminism between men and women without some woman (usually plural).jumping in to defend the menz and shooting the feminist cause in the ovaries.”

    I was surprised to find that this statement offended me, exterior plumbing and all.

    Or upset; I’m not sure what the right word is — my exterior plumbing doesn’t do feelings, so it’s all a surprise to me.

    And I’m not talking about the ‘menz’ word. The girlz can say that if they like…as far as I’m concerned.

    That sentence comes across as just rude. Maybe it was tongue in cheek, I don’t know. But it just seems unnecessarily mean.

  302. Another Liz: Read #375 and tell me that

    Works on people like Summer too, sadly. Just once I’d like to see a discussion on feminism between men and women without some woman (usually plural).jumping in to defend the menz and shooting the feminist cause in the ovaries. I guess when most of us literally sleep with the enemy (in reality or metaphorically) it’s inevitable…but disappointing.

    doesn’t sound like an accusation that I have somehow betrayed “the feminist cause” by refusing to adopt the POV that says the only permissible way to interpret the joke we’ve all been dissecting for the past three days is as an attempt to define women’s only role as that of sexual toy and baby incubator.

    I just don’t see that in there; my take on it was completely different. Which apparently, in the minds of some, renders me a traitor to my gender.

  303. Clarification: my statement “I just don’t see that in there; my take on it was completely different” refers to the joke itself, not to post #375.

  304. And, upon further review, I realize I should *not* have included KatG in my rant at Ann, as she wasn’t part of what pissed me off. Kat, I apologize. This is what happens when I try to review and then post when I’m running on 6 hours of sleep in the past 36 hours altogether. I’m going to go and try to remedy my sleep deficit in a moment, and come back when I’m functional.

    Again, Kat, my apologies. To you, John, as well, if you feel I’ve gone out of bounds. Doesn’t change how I feel, but please be aware that I at least try not to pee on the carpet when I’m in someone else’s house.

  305. Whoa, peeing on the carpet is allowed in your house? I wanna party with you and your friends. It sounds wild.

    In all seriousness, one of my college roommate’s friends peed on his bed one time. That dude was not happy. Conversely, he found it hilarious when his jack Russel peed on his dads face one night while visiting home. Not sure what the moral there is, but that’s funny.

    Yeah, I like pee jokes! Wanna fyedaboudit? Come forward all you silent judges.

  306. #370: Summer: “I read it as saying that, if Leia-bikini-wearing is part of anyone’s role, it belongs to the women rather than to the men.”

    And that’s the issue that some of the women here were objecting to — the joke presents it as our role, it’s a job for women.

    “Can you accept that my interpretation is every bit as valid as yours, or is this a simple issue where one of us is right and the other is wrong?”

    Again, as Greg is doing, you are confusing my views with my explaining the reactions of other female posters, even though I have specified what my views are and what theirs are. I found the joke mildly funny and not offensive because it is aping the stereotyping of women (and of male nerds) that the rollerblade prisoners advocate. But I understand how other women see it differently, because the joke brings up the culture saturated, stereotypical image of women to make the joke.

    You and Greg keep saying that because your views should be accepted as valid, that these women’s views are not to be accepted as valid, and that they should instead see the joke as no big deal. I am not the one trying to make things black and white.

    #374: Greg: Again, you ignored that I was talking about views other women hold, and what I said about my own views. You said: “I said, if you’re going to empower individual women to define feminine for themselves, then I asked you, I requested, I suggested that you might consider empowering individual men so they get to define what masculine means to them individually as well.” — You want me to consider having a view I already have and keep insisting that I don’t have this view and that I’m arguing against this view, even when I shouted that I have this view in caps. Exactly how often do I have to say that I hold this view before you actually accept the idea? Why exactly is it difficult for you to understand that I have particular views about the joke, which I’ve stated previously, but that I understand other women’s viewpoints about the joke being offensive because the Leia image is saturated in the culture, which women do have to deal with?

    Why do you think I’m threatening your ability to define what you think are male traits by pointing out that the image of the hot woman in the space bikini is one that a lot of women are tired of seeing and hearing about? How do these women having these views about femininity prevent you from forming your own views?

    “I would point out that not once in this thread have I told you how you should define feminine for yourself.”

    I’m afraid that you have, not for me, but for the other women, when you insisted that the joke should only be seen as a men in drag joke, that the other women’s responses to the joke were not valid and if they don’t like men in drag jokes, fine, but they should not have any other viewpoint of the joke. This is why they are still arguing with you. Because you are saying their viewpoint isn’t valid, that their definition of the use of female stereotypes in the joke is not acceptable, and is not an issue in looking at the joke.

    In your latest post, you are ascribing to me a whole mess of viewpoints that I don’t actually hold, because I was trying to explain others’ viewpoints to you. I have no problem with Leia in a bikini and men being attracted to it. And I said so in earlier posts of mine, which you again ignored.

    But there is a view I hold and I’m happy to argue with you about it. It has nothing to do with how you define masculine and I define feminine. It has to do with what women have to live with in the culture. That your wife likes to see Hugh Jackman half naked (and so do I,) is not the same thing as women in space bikinis because you don’t have to live with images of half naked Jackmans everywhere every day. Whereas every Western woman gets to see multiple images of half-naked women every day, and feel cultural pressures from that because she knows that a significant portion of the population judges her according to those images of half-naked women. That portion is in the majority male and gets to present an image of femininity and sexuality in the half-naked women that effects women’s lives in society, whether they accept or reject the image individually.

    You guys don’t have to live with that, or the cultural pressures judging you on the basis of that. (Although it could be argued that gay males do to an extent.) Half-naked men are not a regular image on bus station and subway adverts, in magazine ads, on t.v. Take a look at the Internet (the regular sites, not porn,) and see how many pictures of scantily clad actresses and models you see in ads and pictures versus scantily clad guys. Whereas every day, I get to see multiple women in their underwear or bikinis or cleavage dropping barely there dresses.

    And that’s okay, I accept it. I’m okay with guys being attracted to such images. I’m not offended by it. I even find some of those images beautiful. But saying that the vast presence of these images doesn’t effect women’s lives, that it doesn’t force a cultural definition of femininity that women have to deal with, and that it’s no different from the occasional shot of Hugh Jackman with his shirt off, that I can’t agree with. And I can understand how other women are tired of it, are offended by it, and can say, hey buddy, pick another type of joke that does not involve a female having to wear a space bikini in it.

    When you say that a woman should not object in the name of everyone getting along, you are saying that she should shut up and you don’t have to. Which disempowers her. You are claiming that her objection about what she sees as a systemic attack on her is an attack on you as a male. The issue they are bringing up isn’t that you are attracted to Leia in a space bikini, but that this is still the dominant image of women in scifi. Whether women think it is an okay image or not, they have to deal with it, with the imposed definition of feminine. And though again I was not personally offended by the joke, that image is in the joke, is essential to the workings of the joke, and therefore, for some women, was imposed on them.

    Did they overstate their case? Yes, probably. But that doesn’t mean they were oppressing you either.

    #375: Ann: “Hey, Kat, I think my epiphany was the most useful one after all.”

    Okay, you may have had a point. :) But Greg’s a good egg.

  307. Greg, Women see half naked women everywhere, anything at all can be advertised by half naked women, from socks to shampoo, and in lots of adverst you wonder why they used halfnaked women because there is no point to them other than to be pretty. Half naked men are used to advertise Abercrombie and Fitch, and Diet Coke and… and… Nope can’t think of anything else, you can go a whole day without seeing a sexualised picture of a man, you can barely watch TV for 10 minutes without seeing a sexualised woman. Why do you wonder why some women explode when yet another image of sexualised women is forced down their throat?

    Nobody is telling you to not be attracted to it, or defining masculinity for you or attaking you for it, it just wasn’t nice to get it thrown at us in a pro-women thread. It kind of says that the first pro women stance a man can come up with is that women are sexy in leia bikinis which is an argument that reduces the defence of women to sex against an argument that reduces women to sex – in essence it is agreeing with something the original article – that women are only sex (and so should stay out of this ‘room’).

    A better pro women stance would be to discuss the female SF writers Mary Shelley, Le Guin, Tiptree, Mccaffrey, Zettel, L Williams, J Russ, P. Sargent, Atwood, Friedman and C. Willis especially those infamous initial only female writers who have been there since the golden age – C. L Moore proves that the so called ‘girl cooties’ he is complaining about have been there since the 30’s (not withstanding Shelley) and they couldn’t tell the difference. At all times there have been women competing with men. Women have won the Nebula 15 out of 44 times and the Hugo 14/55 (and given the proportion of men to women in the genre that might be about right because it is fact there are less female SF writers and possibly will always be despite any equality gained) and Kate Wilhelm was on the ballot for the first Nebula. But no first argument is ‘Leia Bikinis’. It’s like when your girlfriend asks you why you love her and the first thing you say is breasts and she gets mad at you for not saying brain – we would very much like to be seen as more than sex, and if the first defence argument is sex (even as a joke) then that’s kind of pathetic and ignorant.

    Actually I was prepared to shrug the joke off like I do in the rest of my life – I just don’t pay attention to all the sexy images because if I did it would make me mad all the time. It’s a passive defence. But this is what it is like to be a woman in front of men. Often it’s like being at a job interview where the job interviewer is interviewing Paris Hilton to decide whether I should get the job – sex comes first – I have to metaphorically slap him in the face and shout to get him to notice the actual me, of course there are men like Scalzi who do see that straight off, but there are men who pay lip service to seeing me but are still seing Paris.

    Oh and 371 hi to fellow brit Janie.

  308. Going back to Ann @ 263:
    “You [Greg] obviously have a problem listening to disadvantaged groups trying to explain things from their perspective,”

    I would suggest that he has a hard time letting problematically phrased statements from disadvantaged groups stand.

    He wants you to get your equality.

    He thinks that many disadvantaged individuals phrase their explanations of perspective poorly, and thereby create more opposition.

    See his ‘Equality Arts Dojo’. Note that even if everything in it is absolutely wrong… that’s what he’s trying to do.

    Now, Greg… it’s clear to me that you aren’t a master of this, because people keep getting their backs up in response to you. Every. Single. Time. Maybe *each time you start* you need to clarify where you’re coming from. Maybe something else is needed. I don’t know.

  309. KatG, #284: And that’s the issue that some of the women here were objecting to — the joke presents it as our role, it’s a job for women.

    As a job for women, not necessarily as THE job for women, and that’s the whole point. Just like childbearing is a job for us too, but that hardly makes it the ONLY one we can or ought to do. Do we need to reject childbearing altogether in order to clarify that it is not the only thing we’re good for? I don’t think so, and by the same token, I don’t think we need to reject bikini-wearing, either.

    (I must admit that I’m also trying to figure out where in heck some people around here live, that they are bombarded daily by images of space bikinis. I can’t remember the last time I saw one.)

    You and Greg keep saying that because your views should be accepted as valid, that these women’s views are not to be accepted as valid, and that they should instead see the joke as no big deal.

    Erm, no. Show me where I said that. You won’t be able to, because I never have. (For the record, I don’t think Greg said it, either.) What some of the offended women have appeared to be saying, however, is that the validation of their view means that mine (and, incidentally, Greg’s) must therefore be invalid. The effect is that they appear to think that ANY view other than their own is wrongheaded, and if held by a woman, is also a betrayal of feminism and amounts to pandering to male chauvinists.

    My view of Jim’s joke allows for multiple interpretations, yet I am being told again and again that there can be only one TRUE and VALID interpretation, and that is the one that requires chauvinism on the part of the males in the group. I reject the idea that other people have the right to dictate my interpretations for me, and find it highly ironic that the very people who have attempted to do so have been themselves howling so loudly about others telling them what to think, how to act, etc.

    I am, first and foremost, an individual human being. I am, secondly, female. I reject 100% any suggestion that I ought ever to place my human individuality second in importance to my membership in the female gender, regardless of whether that suggestion comes from men or women. I’ve never had much patience for groupthink of any sort; that certainly isn’t going to change here.

    Clear now?

    Musereader @ 385: Half naked men are used to advertise Abercrombie and Fitch, and Diet Coke and… and… Nope can’t think of anything else, you can go a whole day without seeing a sexualised picture of a man, you can barely watch TV for 10 minutes without seeing a sexualised woman.

    Half-naked men in advertising that spring to my mind right off the top:

    Ralph Lauren Polo
    Axe bodywash and fragrance sprays (granted, there are other sexist aspects to those ads, but still)
    Calvin Klein
    LaCoste
    Just about about any fitness product
    Radio stations (Admittedly, a couple of those are very tongue-in-cheek. Frex, the head of WTAM’s Mike Trivisonno on a male model’s body, reclining in a “come-hither” position and surrounded by balls from various sports. Seriously??)

    And I don’t know about anyone else, but where I live (Cleveland, Ohio, in case anyone is that interested), I also can’t go a whole day without seeing a sexualised picture of a man unless I stay home, or at least in my immediate neighborhood, and don’t turn on the television. If I’m out and about where I see billboards or other ads, the ratio of sexualised men to women I see is about 1:2. Which I’m not saying is a perfect situation, but it isn’t quite as bad as is being painted by some here. Frankly, most of the advertising I see doesn’t involve half-naked people anyway. The overall impression I come away with from looking at the environment in which I live is that we’ve come a lot farther than we might think we have. Remember that you can find pretty much anything if you look hard enough, of course, and also that some of what you find is inherent in where you choose to look. Do you choose to watch or read media with a known sexist bias? Yeah, you’ll find sexism there, and no big surprise. But that doesn’t mean that’s all that’s out there.

    A better pro women stance would be to discuss the female SF writers Mary Shelley, Le Guin, Tiptree, Mccaffrey, Zettel, L Williams, J Russ, P. Sargent, Atwood, Friedman and C. Willis especially those infamous initial only female writers who have been there since the golden age – C. L Moore proves that the so called ‘girl cooties’ he is complaining about have been there since the 30’s (not withstanding Shelley) and they couldn’t tell the difference.

    Yeah, because you know, nobody’s discussed anything like that anywhere on this thread…

  310. Summer, I live in England, which incidently is mentioned in the previous 3 of my posts. Manchester to be specific, so my mention of Abercrombie and Fitch is actually practically urban legend to me seeing as though they don’t have shops over here, we do have lacoste and not axe but lynx which is similar. Most of my TV watching is crime/detective (CSI and the like) and while, yes, probably not quite as bad as I made out in the last post, I still do find it overwhelmingly females that are sexualised.

    Yes, we have mentioned female writers before in this thread, in fact I’ve mentioned Tipree and Moon before, but the point was that the first message that was posted in defence of women in SF was the Leia Bikinis at 7 and it takes untill message 30 to even mention a female writer.

  311. Musereader, you missed the mention of Shelley in #22. And the first seven comments, not counting John’s own #1, were all posted within seven minutes’ time, out of the total sixteen minutes the original entry had been up. Even comment #30 came just an hour after the original entry. So no, it’s not like it took forever to get around to mentioning or defending women in SF.

    As an aside, I love how everybody’s been so ready to jump all over Jim regarding the Leia bikini thing, while almost completely ignoring the fetishist aspects often attached to images roller-derby women. I mean, seriously, have you looked at some of the costumes, and the whole “camp” aspect attached to them? (Disclaimer: I know women involved in roller derby here locally, and have the utmost respect for them. What they do takes more physical ability as well as far more guts than I have, and I’ll be the first to admit that. I’m also in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and have several female friends who armor up and beat the crap out of similarly-armored guys every week. I don’t have what it takes to do that, either, due to various old injuries. The best I can do is sit on the sidelines and applaud as loudly as I can.)

  312. #387: Summer: “As a job for women, not necessarily as THE job for women, and that’s the whole point.” — The point of the joke was that it was the only job for women at conventions. Women are there, they wear the bikini. As long as you have a woman at the convention, then she goes in a bikini. If there are no women, then you are stuck having men wear bikinis. That’s the joke. To say that the women being the ones to wear the bikinis is not a big deal to the joke is gilding the lily quite a bit.

    Take a look at Musereader’s post: “Nobody is telling you to not be attracted to it, or defining masculinity for you or attaking you for it, it just wasn’t nice to get it thrown at us in a pro-women thread. It kind of says that the first pro women stance a man can come up with is that women are sexy in leia bikinis” — It is the dominant image still of women in scifi, not unfortunately the women writers. So that’s what they were objecting to and having a problem with. It’s not an invalidation of your view, but it is stating their own view that women are still victimized by the culture, and so they have a personal problem with hot women in bikinis being brought up in the discussion, including in jokes.

    “Show me where I said that. You won’t be able to, because I never have. (For the record, I don’t think Greg said it, either.) ”

    Greg said it when he insisted that the only proper interpretation of the joke was as a men in drag joke. As for you, you don’t think that you saying these women are practicing group mindthink is an attempt to invalidate their views? To indicate that it shouldn’t be a big deal, but these women are so cause-obsessed that they are making it a big deal unnecessarily? That your insistence that they are calling you a gender traitor when they are trying to explain their viewpoint is an attempt by you to devalue the worth of their views? That maybe what you see as an attack on your views might actually be a response to the condescension of your posts about their inability to think independently like you do? There are a lot of interpretations, remember. And you aren’t really trying to understand theirs, in my opinion. You’re dismissing it as not relevant to you, and therefore not really relevant at all.

    “Women in Leia bikinis are *not* intrinsically evil, which is why interpretation carries so much of the freight in that joke.”

    — There may be some women who don’t agree with that view that the image is not intrinsically evil. So do you think that such a view is invalid?

    I’m guessing you don’t. And I love your attitude about what it means to be female, and am glad that it’s the prevalent attitude among younger females. But I’m pointing out that the other women are not the only people making blanket statements. You did too. I made blanket statements, trying to make points quickly, and Greg misinterpreted what I was saying. (Greg, I know from previous conversations, is a staunch feminist.)

    As for half-naked men and half-naked women, it’s definitely not a 1:2 ratio, though the male portion has been creeping up in the last decade. Today, so far, I’ve gotten to see a dozen barely clad women with a fully clad guy in a music video my daughter was watching on the Internet, a picture of Kiera Knightly bare boobed with a suspender covering her nipple for Chanel perfume, a Victoria’s Secret bra ad billboard, a t.v. commercial for Coors beer with an entire room full of half-naked women and no half-naked men, and no half-naked guys at all. Last night, I got to watch a t.v. show with a male and female pair of actors dancing around. The male was fully clothed, although his shirt was open. The woman was of course in her underwear. This year, my daughter is designing her own Halloween costume because she can only fit in the adult costumes now as a teenager and the only adult costumes for sale for women are sexy ones.

    Here’s something to consider — ask people about what the first thing women at scifi and comic conventions brings to mind, and see how many say women in scanty costumes like space bikinis, especially the males, or a really sexy actress on a sci-fi show or film that they’d get to oogle at the convention. Women can be anything they want to be — if they fight hard enough for it — including a hot chick in a space bikini, but it’s still the first thing that we are known for — being the hot chick in the skimpy outfit or failing to be hot enough to carry it off. It’s changing, sure, and very rapidly, but we’re still considered more Paris Hilton in the culture than Madame Curie.

    So if some women get pissed off about it and vent about it, it does not require a full scale defense and the claim that those women are not allowing any other views but their own. Because that’s the rhetoric that gets used to tell women that they shouldn’t speak up at all about what pisses them off — because they are attacking and therefore their anger or hurt isn’t valid and should not be expressed.

    As for roller derby, Scalzi did not say that the rollerblading guards would be female. He said “we” and he’s a guy. So your bringing up the fetish over roller derby women isn’t entirely relevant. But yes, their costumes are sexualized and yet their sport can be empowering. Same with the space bikini.

  313. Kat@384: you insisted that the joke should only be seen as a men in drag joke, that the other women’s responses to the joke were not valid and if they don’t like men in drag jokes, fine, but they should not have any other viewpoint of the joke.

    Pretend you’re someone with a legal/language bent who prefers laser accuracy, hypothetically speaking.

    People have said that the joke requires that women’s only role is to look sexy and have babies, that women’s only role at an SF convention is to wear the bikini costume, that it requires someonee of the sort who would say “nice tits” to a stranger.

    Now, imagine your legal/language/laser mentality looking at all that nonsense that is patently untrue, and then imagine someone telling you that pointing out these reams and reams of factual errors only to have the person you’re talking to reduce your point to nothing more than making all women’s point of views about the joke “invalid”.

    Did they overstate their case? Yes, probably. But that doesn’t mean they were oppressing you either.

    that they “overstated their case” was my point. The joke does not require all women to have only the role of looking sexy and making babies to be funny. It doesn’t require the notion that women at SF conventions should do nothing but strut around in bikinis and look sexy for the menz.

    People attacking the joke made those accusations. Those accusations are objectively, linguistically, contextually wrong. They overstated their case. Yes, absolutely. That was my point.

    And it was my point because you can’t have people discussing something as if facts no longer matter and ever expect to resolve it. You can’t have people overstating their case and expect to solve anything.

    I’d guess there are at least several dozen posts in this thread that “overstate” their case. I count zero corrections. Thus far absolutely no one who overstated their case about the joke has come out and acknowledged it. mythago accused musereader of being a male who has only a handful of SF books. Turns out she’s a woman who has a library of SF under her belt. When this overstating of the case was pointed out, mythago says #340, ‘yeah, well, you could still hate girl cooties’. Are you fricken kidding me?

    There is ONLY ONE WAY this sort of approach, this “overstating of cases” without ever correcting it can resolve itself: No one ever speaks of it again. It’s like a dysfunctional family that had some huge argument years ago about some issue, and there was a huge blowout, and nothing was ever resolved, and the only way they’ve figured out how to get along, is to never talk about it again.

    Why? Because one side will say something that isn’t true, the other side will say something else that isn’t true, and trying to get anyone to agree on the facts is impossible. Teling someone their “facts” are actually wrong gets attacked as rendering their feelings invalid, their viewpoint invalid, whatever.

    Nobody ever talks about the fact that Uncle Jim is gay because Uncle Bob is a raging fucking homophobe.

    This is where the “walking on eggshells” comments come from, because the only solution is to never talk about it. Someone starts talking about stuff that is wildly overstating the case, the facts, and it is impossible to bring the conversation back to the facts without getting dogpiled as “teh menz”, or if its a woman they’re “sleeping with the enemy” or whatever.

    But saying that the vast presence of these images doesn’t effect women’s lives

    Kat, this is very important for you to understand if we’re ever going to come to any sort of understanding of each other: I never said that.

    I was talking about the joke and all the stuff that people said the joke must mean, must entail, must define about women, must assign roles about women, whatever, and that many of those accusations (accusations about the joke) were simply flat out wrong.

    A legal, linguistic, laser guy. Dozens of accusations about the joke were wrong. There’s still sexism in the world. But the dozens of “overstating of cases” about the joke have never been acknowledged by those who did the overstating. Even getting a poster’s gender wrong, the person who was wrong continues to attack. Fer chrissakes.

    And every attempt to point out the overstatements, the response is that I’m denying someone’s viewpoint or feelings or something. Fine. If that’s how it’s going to be, then we already know the solution: no one must ever talk of this again dysfunctional family.

  314. Kat @ 390 –

    “That your insistence that they are calling you a gender traitor when they are trying to explain their viewpoint is an attempt by you to devalue the worth of their views?”

    I’m nit really involved with this one. Buy even I read the following as Ann calling her a gender traitor (whether that’s what she meant to do or not):

    ““Just once I’d like to see a discussion on feminism between men and women without some woman (usually plural).jumping in to defend the menz and shooting the feminist cause in the ovaries.”

    “As for roller derby, Scalzi did not say that the rollerblading guards would be female.”

    and how many male roller derby leagues are there? :)

    And not that it should supercede your interpretation:

    “The point of the joke was that it was the only job for women at conventions.”

    I read it that only women are appreciated when filling the job of wearing leia costumes. I don’t know that this would be leaps and bounds better in your opinion, but I do see it as a decided difference.

  315. Okay, Greg, I disagree with your linguistic view of the joke re the bikini. I don’t agree with the view that the bikini has anything to do with childbearing. But I disagree with you that the structure of the joke is not reliant on the notion that the purpose of women at the scifi convention — their job — is the wearing of the space bikini. Wright in the joke is aping those whose views are that this is women’s only job at scifi conventions. The joke is that women have to wear the space bikinis because otherwise men would have to and that would be awful. The way the joke is structured, it is the obligation of the women to wear it at the convention. It is their job, it is their role, it is the reason they are at the convention. Otherwise the joke doesn’t work, can’t operate the way Wright linguistically structured it. It’s not a joke about some of the women at the convention wearing the bikini while the other women go off to attend panels and buy collectibles. It is a joke that uses the concept of women being at the convention only to wear the bikini.

    So if that’s the crux of your argument, then I say you’re the one who’s off in your interpretation. Which is not me saying that the women’s interpretation of the joke is one that I agree with entirely either. But I’m not saying that their interpretation is wrong, should be corrected or should not exist, which is what you are saying. I’m saying that linguistically, you haven’t proven to me that your stance about the structure of the joke is correct. You say that the joke does not limit women’s role only to the space bikini. I say linguistically and structurally, it does. Otherwise, there isn’t a joke.

    The joke makes fun of the views of the rollerblade prisoners, but because of the way that it is structured, some readers didn’t view it that way.

    Other Bill — Scalzi never mentioned roller derby at all, so the number of male or female teams in that sport is again irrelevant. Scalzi just said guards on rollerblades. Summer decided to make that about roller derby.

  316. mythago accused musereader of being a male who has only a handful of SF books

    Greg, I really should know better than to try to talk to you reasonably when you got a post-spewing mad on, but no. mythago pointed out to musereader that it’s ridiculous to characterize SF on a spectrum where hard, nuts-and-bolts, spacefondling SF is male-oriented and the less it resembles an engineering manual, the more it is “female oriented”; that it’s even more ridiculous to claim that “female oriented” fiction is somehow burying the spaceship stuff, when what’s really going on is that the whole field is expanding; and that there are, and always have been, plenty of female hard sf authors, so if your view of the current hard-sf field is “it’s male-oriented and all the authors I can think of are male”, well, there’s your problem right there.

    And psst, sometimes the reason people don’t rush in and respond to what you perceive as your brilliant counterarguments right away is that a) we don’t all have unlimited time to post and b) getting the last word in on Greg London is not, for many of us, the abiding goal of our lives.

  317. KatG @ 393 –

    “And then we’ll tag them with GPS and if they ever try to leave the freehold, we’ll have them hunted down by roller derby teams with spears.”

    from the original post.

  318. I think this is a lovely time for everyone in the thread to be asking themselves if they’re still participating in the thread to make an actual point, or if they’re still participating because they just don’t know how to stop.

  319. Scalzi @ 396 –

    [raises hand] that’s definitely me. Stopping issues, I’ve got. Oh, I get it. [puts hand down, shuffles out]

  320. So this wouldn’t be the optimal thread on which to offer comp tickets to The Chuckle Hut, then.

  321. @5:

    Every time I see one of these gender genie references I go and try my luck again. They’ve got a self-tuning program there: you’re supposed to tell them about yourself so it can correct itself. It’s been around for years, now. You’d think its accuracy would get better, right?

    I ran six pieces of mine through the gender genie before I got bored. A kind of small sample, which is why the numbers are so unequivocal:

    50%.

    Half the time the genie thinks I wear a pink bow, and half the time it thinks I wear a blue ball cap.

    As I said elsewhere, a mentalist could do better studying the wear patterns on my erasers.

  322. KatG @ 390: The point of the joke was that it was the only job for women at conventions.

    And once again, I really don’t see that made explicit in the joke. I see it made explicit that it was a job only for women (and not appropriate for the men, at least in the eyes of the person telling the joke), NOt that it was the only job for women. Yes, there is a huge difference between the two. If you look at the semantics only of what is there, rather than adding in things that weren’t written, I think you’ll see that.

    Women are there, they wear the bikini. As long as you have a woman at the convention, then she goes in a bikini. If there are no women, then you are stuck having men wear bikinis.

    Women are there, they wear the bikini, participate in panels, engage in discussion, etc. Please show me where in the joke it is made explicit that the ONLY thing the women would do is wear the bikini. You won’t be able to, because it is not there. Those other things aren’t even mentioned, because they aren’t part of the joke. In order for the joke to explicitly mean only what you want it to mean, it would have to read:

    “Seriously, if there were no women in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions? After all, they can’t do anything else there.

    Think about it.

    uh…no, wait…don’t think about it.”

    And that isn’t what was written, AT ALL.

    I’m a woman who refuses to accept delivery on victimization at all, and who therefore does not feel constrained to view every single thing I encounter through the lens of victimization. Not only does this free up my energies for more productive endeavors, but it probably causes me less angst and anguish. Feminism is about freedom; so why should I confine myself to the victim box in the name of feminism? Answer me that, please.

    you don’t think that you saying these women are practicing group mindthink is an attempt to invalidate their views?

    So are you saying that groupthink is a valid means of interacting with the world? Furthermore, are you saying that attempting to coerce me into participating in said groupthink is not only a valid way of interacting with me, but is also NOT an attempt to invalidate MY views?

    I believe I’ve made it abundantly clear that I have no respect for groupthink. Attempting to make me participate in it will not change that.

    That your insistence that they are calling you a gender traitor when they are trying to explain their viewpoint is an attempt by you to devalue the worth of their views?

    In post #375, I was called a gender traitor. This is fact. It has nothing to do with trying to explain a differing viewpoint, other than the viewpoint that I am a gender traitor. The last time I checked, calling someone a gender traitor was pretty high up on the list of attempts at devaluation.

    As for condescension; sorry, but I *do* happen to place a very high value upon independent thinking. When people insist that due to my membership in whatever group they belong to I am somehow required to share (not respect, not validate, but share) their POV rather than my own, they deserve condescension. Telling me that failure to share their POV makes me a traitor to the group is insulting, and once you (general “you”, not you specifically) have openly and purposely insulted me, don’t expect me to be sympathetic to your feelings.

    “Women in Leia bikinis are *not* intrinsically evil, which is why interpretation carries so much of the freight in that joke.”

    – There may be some women who don’t agree with that view that the image is not intrinsically evil. So do you think that such a view is invalid?

    There are people who believe that any public exposure of female skin beyond face and hands, or in some cases, even that much, is evil. Do you think their view is valid? Or do you, like me, reserve the right to say at some point, “No, this is absurd, this is going too far and I cannot be expected to stand quietly by and accept this”? Remember, if EVERY viewpoint is equally valid as long as there exists someone who holds it, then we must also accept as valid the very view against which there has been so much railing; namely, that a woman’s only role IS to be sexy for men, because I have no doubt there really are people somewhere who do hold that view. And accepting that as valid rather defeats the entire purpose of the whole discussion, does it not?

    I love your attitude about what it means to be female, and am glad that it’s the prevalent attitude among younger females.

    I’m not sure what you’d classify as young, but in the interest of full disclosure, I’m 45.

    Now as for ratios of scantily-clad males to females, I still maintain that it has much (not all, but a lot) to do with what you allow yourself to be exposed to and what you choose to respond to, and how. Since I don’t have kids, I don’t get exposed to a lot of current music videos, and I don’t watch a whole lot of even the older ones from my own younger days. I don’t watch a lot of network television, and as a result I am not bombarded with the imagery one finds there. I spend very little time interfacing with what is generally viewed as pop culture. And all of this is by choice. I think that if more of us simply did disconnect from and not involve ourselves in the lowest levels of the pop-culture cesspool, it might well dry up and largely disappear of its own accord someday. Oh, some thin film of mud would likely remain, as you can never entirely eradicate the objectionable elements of humanity from the population; they are, unfortunately, self-replicating and self-sustaining. But you can certainly shut them out of their food supply, by which in this case I mean that steady influx of attention upon which they feed and depend.

    Most of the people I know – male and female – don’t immediately think of sexy women in scanty costumes when they think of women in SF movies or at conventions. And I actually *do* talk to quite a few of both my male and female friends about SF, so I’m pretty familiar with their thinking. Of course, it probably helps that I run with a fairly enlightened and evolved crowd, but I’m thankful for that because it makes it much easier for me to view people as people and not as stereotypes.

    And for me, that is a lot of what this all comes down to. Stereotypes. If we, as women, want to move away from being stereotyped by men, we aren’t helping our cause any by appearing to stereotype the vast majority of men as unevolved cretins who will spend all of their time cheerfully drooling over and nyuk-nyukking at sexist jokes and imagery unless we step in and beat them about the head over it. In the long run, I really feel that this does more harm than good for our cause.

    Finally, I agree 100% with what Greg said in #391. I am one of those language/legal laser accuracy people, in case anybody reading my posts hasn’t figured that out by now, and that informs my ENTIRE view not only of the joke in question, but of this discussion as a whole.

  323. And my post at 400 was composed whilst John was composing his, so I didn’t see that before I submitted mine.

    But while some of my issue might be about stopping, it’s also a matter of my being more than a little OCD regarding accuracy in communication (that pesky laser thing, again). Along with having a think about being called a gender traitor.

    However, I’m willing to hang it up if everyone else is.

  324. I think having a think about being called a gender traitor is a good think—um, thing.

    So is stopping.

  325. Xopher, I hope you’re not seconding the accusation (not that I really think you are). In any case, this has been just crazy.

    Oy.

    And I really should have been spending this time writing. Might eventually help add to the overall number of female SF writers active in the genre who are writing stuff that isn’t vampire-related, don’tcha know.

  326. I actually meant to put that female orientated in quotation marks, but for some reason I didn’t, which probably would have made it read a bit different to what it did. But never mind. How about we talk about the best feminine(ist) writers in SF?

    I read Herland and the Yellow Wallpaper recently by Charlotte Perkins Gillman and you can get them both here http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/g#a27 She has some views about Women and Men and when I say some… they can be quite strong at times. Some of Herland is a little dated (written in 1915) I think it does give some insight into the way women were treated in the past. Especially in the yellow wallpaper you can really see her frustration, it’s kinda wierd to say the least.

  327. Xopher, see what happens when I get punchy from prolonged focus on just one thing? Sorry I ever doubted you.

    *goes to get food and do some actual writing, for a change*

  328. you don’t think that you saying these women are practicing group mindthink is an attempt to invalidate their views?

    So are you saying that groupthink is a valid means of interacting with the world?

    No, she’s saying that applying the label “groupthink”, which is what you did, is a form of invalidation and dismissal. Since it’s not her label, she is making no comment at all about groupthink’s validity. Is it so strange to you that more than one person might independently come to the same conclusion?

    Now, imagine your legal/language/laser mentality looking at all that nonsense that is patently untrue

    Greg, do you ever consider the possibility that despite your self-proclaimed legal/language/laser mentality you might be wrong? You start from a basic assumption (x is nonsense/nonexistent) and then go on for paragraphs about how people arguing that it is are in essence lying, fabricating, going against factual evidence, etc. All that rests on your original determination that what other people see as a premise just doesn’t exist. Never once do you appear to question whether several people — including Xopher, who a) you respect b) is male c) is a linguist — might be right about the nature and components of the joke and you might be wrong. You go on and on about how you see no apologies about overstating the case or admitting it’s being overstated or whatever when you’re doing precisely that. Only because you have determined in your totally objective, not at all influenced by a lifetime in an unequal society, judgment equipped with laser/legal/language skillz that no one with an opposing opinion could possibly have, that something isn’t there, you couldn’t possibly be overstating your case because you’re not making a case, you’re handing down The Truth.

    I don’t remember much of your background. Do you also have a linguistics background? My own was more about historical linguistics and phonetics than sociological aspects, but I’m sure there was something in there somewhere about communication, and perhaps especially humor, being dependent on background assumptions. If the entirety of the communication could be taken directly and solely from the words written, then online translators would be a hell of a lot more useful.

  329. “Only because you have determined in your totally objective, not at all influenced by a lifetime in an unequal society, judgment equipped with laser/legal/language skillz that no one with an opposing opinion could possibly have, that something isn’t there, you couldn’t possibly be overstating your case because you’re not making a case, you’re handing down The Truth.”

    Wow. That’s quite something.

    I’ll start in the beginning.

    1) The words have a literal meaning. This can be objectively obtained.

    Do we agree on that?

    2) The joke construction can be determined through analysis. Some additional assertions can be considered necessary to render the joke well-formed. This can also be objectively determined.

    Do we agree on that?

    If so, then there are a few places you can go from here.

    One is to engage on the level of objective analysis, in an attempt to back up your claim about the joke.

    Greg has backed up his objective claims about the joke through fairly rigorous demonstration. If you can prove that his reading of the joke is actually not a joke, then you’ve made your point. Otherwise, you’ll have to retreat to the point that your claim about what the joke MUST contain is rather a claim about what ONE POSSIBLE READING could be.

    On the other hand, you may believe that the actual content and implication of this sort of statement is not objectively determinable. In this event, I think we can all leave the conversation where it stands, for reasons that should be obvious.

  330. “He thinks that many disadvantaged individuals phrase their explanations of perspective poorly, and thereby create more opposition.”

    Ah yes. The tone argument. You know, I don’t where we females would be without men like you to mansplain everything, tell us what we’re saying and what we’re reading and hearing, because our oestrogen-affected senses are so unreliable.

    Like it’s just so very nice of you and Greg to mansplain sexism to us – what it is, and how it affects those of us with vaginas.

    Really, I don’t know how we manage to get through the day without the manly support to our enfeebled intellects.

    @Summer

    “an accusation that I have somehow betrayed “the feminist cause” by refusing to adopt the POV that says the only permissible way to interpret the joke we’ve all been dissecting for the past three days is as an attempt to define women’s only role as that of sexual toy and baby incubator.”

    Summer, *I* don’t consider that’s the only way to interpret the joke. I thought it was funny, in a headdesky kind of way. But Greg and others claimed to want to know why it could be offensive, and yet when it was explained to them, he, you and others went to great lengths to deny the very possibility of offense. So the reason my epiphany applies to you all is that you had no interest in the explanation, just an opportunity to affirm your original response. If Greg didn’t want to know, then why did he ask? If he wasn’t going to listen – and he still isn’t, over and over and over – why waste our time?

    The fact you are so sturdily undermining all attempts to help Greg – allegedly a good egg, though I can only take Kat’s word for it – understand his blind spot, doesn’t make you a gender traitor (nor did I call you that – ask Scalzi if I tend to hold back), but it does make you pretty goddamn irritating. And not a little depressing to encounter. After all, the goal is to have men – and everyone – understand their privilege and how it affects interactions with those with less privilege. Seeing someone pat a guy on the head and go ‘there there dear, it’s only mean girls who think like that’, is upsetting and demeaning to those trying to explain male privilege and sexism, no matter who comes out with it. The problem for women is that we are heavily socialised to take the strain for men and offer comfort. What you need to realise that this is not always an appropriate option – and can do real harm to the cause of helping men have better, more equal relations with women.

    @OtherBill

    All I need to know about you is that you think the female equivalent of ‘menz’ is ‘girlz’. No grownup females in your world, right? You’re ticking me off for being ‘unnecessarily mean’ when this entire post is generated by a disgusting article at a heinous site devoted to denigrating, insulting and erasing women? You and Luke are sure fond of that tone argument, aren’t you? If we were nicer, you’d listen to us? Don’t make me laugh.

    Mate, you haven’t seen me be mean yet. But after nearly a week of rage and depression at being exposed to the raw hate of that article and its supporters – and to be reminded over and over that these people really aren’t minority opinions in this world – I’m getting close to it. I am by no means a militant feminist, but my tolerance for patronising people of either gender on this subject is now at zero levels.

  331. “You’re ticking me off for being ‘unnecessarily mean’ when this entire post is generated by a disgusting article at a heinous site devoted to denigrating, insulting and erasing women?”

    you weren’t attacking an article. And the sentence I noted was beyond the level of rhetoric being tossed around. And beyond that, I offered only my impression of how your words came across.

    I think it was rude, and I think more firepower than the situation merited.

    And you’re attacking me because my joke pejorative was more demeaning than the joke pejorative you instigated? Come off it.

    your general response is vague threats of nuclear meanness to make what point? That you weren’t intending to be mean? It came across to me you did intend to be mean, but only as a shot across the bow and not a full barrage.

    Which I believe reflects more on the dimunitive size of my own mean cannons than anything else.

    I’m no fan of the article. And I’ve no opinion on how you should interpret jim’s one liner. I saw something that seemed rude, and it seemed to be outside of how I interpreted your previous rightly opinionated but friendly contribution.

    My apologies for poking my nose where it didn’t belong.

  332. KatG@393: The way the joke is structured, it is the obligation of the women to wear it at the convention. It is their job, it is their role, it is the reason they are at the convention. Otherwise the joke doesn’t work, can’t operate the way Wright linguistically structured it. It’s not a joke about some of the women at the convention wearing the bikini while the other women go off to attend panels and buy collectibles. It is a joke that uses the concept of women being at the convention only to wear the bikini. So if that’s the crux of your argument, then I say you’re the one who’s off in your interpretation.

    My argument is that the joke takes place in the real world. Women are participating at conventions as authors, editors, agents, and fans. Some of the fans, like their male counterparts, dress up as SF characters. And a woman might be found at a convention wearing a bikini because she liked Leia’s character, liked star wars, or whatever reason a person is driven to dress up as a character at a convention. That is the backdrop of the joke, the setup, the premise, the norm.

    The joke then takes that norm and inverts it by removing all women as the “shall not be linked to” article fantisizes about.

    Seriously, if there were no woman in Scifi, who, I say who, would wear the Leia bikini at the conventions.

    Quantifiers are important here. “if there were no women” means if all women are removed. If you remove all women from SF, you remove the authors, editors, agents, and fans, and you remove the one female fan wearing the bikini.

    That’s the most basic parsing of the text. All women are removed. Not just the bikini girl, but all the others as well.

    And there is nothing implicit in that parsing that demands a overlaid context that it is a woman’s “obligation”, “job”, “role” to wear the bikini for the joke to make sense or be funny. There is nothing implicity in that parsing that demands a overlaid context that requires “women being at the convention only to wear the bikini”.

    The joke is a simple contrast joke of the norm versus the inverted. Hugh Jackman as the norm. Jack Black as the inverted norm. THe stark contrast between the two being the source of the humor.

    The joke requires nothing about Hugh Jackman’s only role, his only job, his only worth, his only skill, his only obligation, to be beefcake. Jackman can be an excellent, highly skilled, award winning, multi-talented actor, and the joke is still funny because the joke relies on the visual contrast between Jackman and Black.

    The joke doesn’t rely on Jackman only being good at being topless and not having a brain of his own and not having any talent, and Jack Black is competent and intelligent and talented. That certainly is NOT the contrast the joke hinges off of.

    The joke hinges off of nothing more than the visual contrast between a visual of Hugh Jackman half naked and a visual of Jack Black half naked, both coming out of the tank of water.

    The joke hinges off nothing more than the visual contrast between a visual of Leia in the bikini (or a fan who looks like her) and a visual of a random male fan at an SF convention in a bikini.

    Nothing else is conveyed or communicated by the joke. No other context need be imported to make the joke funny. And it is clear that the joke is strictly operating off the visual contrast, and only the visual contrast, and not a contrast of skill or competency or worth or contribution or importance or any other attribute.

    Think about it. uh…no, wait…don’t think about it.

    It ends with “don’t think about it” because “it” is a visual of a guy in a bikini. “It” is Jack Black trying to look sexy. “It” is a man-in-drag visual gag. “It” is an image we want to banish from our minds.

    Now, I said before that the joke does hinge on one image being visually better than the other. For the joke to be funny, Leia in a bikini has to be visually more appealing than random male SF fan in a bikini. You have the sort of person who would want to banish the image of Jack Black in a slave bikini costume from your mind for the joke to be there. The joke calmly and gently leads you to the end of the pier and then shoves you in. If you don’t mind getting shoved into the water, if the image of Jack Black in a bikini doesn’t shock you in anyway, then the joke isn’t funny for you.

    And nowhere does the humor require that it be women’s only role, responsibility, obligation, contribution, or whatever else to be only to wear the bikini. That is not required for the joke to be funny.

    Think of Hugh Jackman naked. Now think of Jack Black naked. uh…no, wait…don’t think about Jack Black naked.

    That’s the entire extent of the joke. That’s all that’s needed to make it funny.

    Anyone overlaying some context that the joke is saying women are only good for wearing the bikini are adding something that isn’t in the straight parsing of the text. It’s not needed. Nothing even remotely suggests that it is implied. And there is no other normal/inverted version of “it” that would work and still make the joke funny. It’s the visual that flips and makes it funny. Nothing else.

    There is nothing in this joke that establishes that the “norm” for SF conventions is that the only women running around are in bikinis and that the “norm” is that there are NO women attending as authors, editors, agents, and fans. The joke does not establish this alternate reality as “norm” and then “invert” to an alternate reality where even the bikini girls are removed. this alternate reality “norm” is not needed to be funny.

    The “norm” is real SF conventions today, with many women in attendance in many different functions, and at least one woman in a Leia costume. The invert is to remove all women, and then ask who will wear the bikini, leading the person gently down the pier and then pushing them off the end with a mental image of a man-in-drag.

    Robin@408: You start from a basic assumption (x is nonsense/nonexistent) and then go on for paragraphs

    Actually, I’m pretty clear that I started by looking at the text first and wherever the text led me, that’s where I followed. I don’t have a dog in this fight other than “laser accuracy” as Kat put it. The text does not match what people are sayign about it. If the text DID match what people are saying about it, I’d let the person hang by their words. No offense meant to you personally Jim, I’m just saying that if I’m biased, then I’m biased towards integrity, a person’s words meaning something. And if they screwup their words, they clean up. If they’re flamed for something they didn’t say, then the flamers clean up their accusations.

    Do you also have a linguistics background?

    I’ve worked as an electrical engineer and a software engineer. I’ve worked on fly-by-wire avionics where a single bug can kill people. That’s what I meant by “laser accuracy”. I’ve worked on satellite projects where designs have to be right or billions of dollars are lost. That’s laser accuracy. The spec must match the code exactly or someone could die, or billions of dollars might be lost. You do that long enough, and you start getting a habit of reading things with “laser accuracy”. In this case, the “spec” (people’s descriptions of the joke) does not match the “code” (the actual text of the joke). Not even remotely.

    And as far as actually parsing language goes, I’ve written several complex grammars for someone else’s parsers and I’ve designed my own working parsers from scratch. So I’m aware of issues of ambiguities and how context and meaning can affect the correct parse of a text. (do you mean “fly” as in an insect? Or “fly” as in riding in an airplane?) I think that’s more than enough to correctly parse thirty words of fairly basic text.

  333. Other Bill: LOL, I could have sworn that it just said rollerblades, but my error. You and Summer get the points on that. However, I don’t think Scalzi was thinking just of girls by using roller derby. I don’t think he’d turn down an opportunity to use a spear gun himself. I could be wrong.

    #400: Summer: “And once again, I really don’t see that made explicit in the joke.” — Well, I do. If women aren’t there, who wears the bikini? It doesn’t say that we need some women to wear the bikini while the rest go to the panels. The joke says that they need women, because women wear the bikinis. It is the dominant image of women in scifi. Just because it isn’t to you, doesn’t mean it’s not in the culture or the joke. The joke operates on the necessity of women’s purpose being to wear the bikini. What you’re basically saying is you read the joke one way, and therefor you’re right and everyone should agree with you. You are not allowing for other interpretations while insisting you be allowed your interpretation.

    “Feminism is about freedom; so why should I confine myself to the victim box in the name of feminism? Answer me that, please.”

    I never said you should. But that you don’t feel other women should ever consider themselves victimized since you don’t is not exactly allowing for an equality of opinions, now is it?

    “So are you saying that groupthink is a valid means of interacting with the world?”

    I don’t think it’s groupthink, you do. As Robin pointed out, you are labeling it groupthink. That doesn’t make it groupthink, just your opinion.

    “I believe I’ve made it abundantly clear that I have no respect for groupthink.”

    So you label these women’s views groupthink and say you have no respect for those views. But you want them to have respect for yours. You claim Anne called you a gender traitor when she never used the term.

    “Remember, if EVERY viewpoint is equally valid as long as there exists someone who holds it, then we must also accept as valid the very view against which there has been so much railing;”

    You’ve spent several posts claiming that everyone has to accept your viewpoint as equally valid, and now you’re arguing that your viewpoint is valid but others aren’t if you say they are not. So apparently the equality thing extends only to you, not to people who disagree with you. But it works both ways. I not only don’t have to agree with you, but I can simply dismiss your viewpoint as ridiculous, just as you are dismissing these other women’s viewpoint as ridiculous. You didn’t seem to like that, but are surprised when these women don’t like it either when you do it to them. I think it’s a stupid way to argue, but whatever floats your boat. I decree your viewpoint to be invalid. Happy?

    So you don’t have kids out there in the world, you shut yourself off from images that other women have to deal with at home, at work, etc., and though these images are out there primarily for the benefit of men, you think if women just make themselves hermits and stop looking at them, they’ll go away? Well, that’s your opinion. Can’t say in my experience that I would agree. It’s there in the culture and a lot of women can’t escape from it.

    “If we, as women, want to move away from being stereotyped by men, we aren’t helping our cause any by appearing to stereotype the vast majority of men as unevolved cretins who will spend all of their time cheerfully drooling over and nyuk-nyukking at sexist jokes and imagery unless we step in and beat them about the head over it.”

    But that’s not what they were doing. It’s certainly not what I’m doing. They were talking about their reactions to the joke and explaining why they had that reaction because of the baggage of those images in the culture in general. That women raise the objection to a particular thing — a joke — and then are immediately accused of attacking all men is a much bigger problem feminism has, in my opinion.

    #409: Luke: “1) The words have a literal meaning. This can be objectively obtained.
    Do we agree on that?”

    No, we don’t agree on that. That you want your interpretation to be named the correct one doesn’t change the fact that for those women, it is not.

    “2) The joke construction can be determined through analysis. Some additional assertions can be considered necessary to render the joke well-formed. This can also be objectively determined. Do we agree on that?”

    No, we don’t agree.

    “Greg has backed up his objective claims about the joke through fairly rigorous demonstration. ”

    No, he hasn’t. His claims aren’t objective. I disagree with his and Summer’s assertions about the linguistic structure of the joke concerning the bikini, and he has offered me no argument so far that changes my mind. That he or you claims that his view is fact does not make it fact. It makes it your opinion and you are free to hold that opinion. But in the discussion, that means you have to allow the other women to hold dissenting opinions.

    So what we have here are two dissenting opinions. I hold a third, different opinion, and from that opinion, as I said earlier in the thread, I think your argument is stupid, though I support your right to have it as long as Scalzi says it’s okay. But I waded into it because 1) I can see points on both sides, and 2) I disagreed with Greg’s interpretation of the linguistic structure of the joke and thought that he was mistaking objections to his interpretation from the other women as attacks on him as a male chauvinistic pig. And since I know Greg is not, I thought I might be able to bridge the gap of the discussion.

    What happened instead is that I was instantly accused of trying to define masculinity for all and launching an attack on all males as jerks. Oh, and trying to draft all women into a groupthink army or something. So I’ll drop it, because the main point of the thread wasn’t about the multiple interpretations of a joke but the notion of girl cooties. And also because listening to other viewpoints is obviously not going to be a hallmark of this conversation.

  334. For comedy reference:

    http://www.artandpopularculture.com/Comedy

    “most good comedy, as with a good joke, contains within it variations on the elements of surprise, incongruity, conflict, and the effect of opposite expectations.”

    Opposite expectations, as in starting with a half naked Hugh Jackman and ending up with a half naked Jack Black. Actually, there’s a joke that is a real world example of this “opposite expectations” gag. You can watch it here:



    This joke exactly follows the opposite expectations of Jim’s joke. Exactly. It even uses the “norm” as a beautiful model, and the punch line is a man in drag. A man literally dressed up as a woman.

    No where in this commercial is it implied that women are only good for looking sexy. That’s not where the opposite expectations, the punch line, comes from. It comes from opposite expectations. Seeing a woman in a dress representing mac’s project and then having to look at a man in a dress for PC’s project.

    Anyone want to overlay this commercial with how the commercial is demanding that women do nothing but prance around looking sexy for dudes is bringing their own baggage into the mix.

    By the way, the commercial is fricken hilarious as far as I’m concerned. Not because I think it reinforces my belief that women are good for nothing but having babies, but because it completely nailed the opposite expectation thing by having a man dressed up in the exact same dress that Gisele is wearing.

  335. And for laser accuracy, this: “Not because I think it reinforces my belief that women are good for nothing but having babies” was meant to be tagged with the tougue in cheek marker. i.e. I don’t actually hold that belief. Though Ann probably thinks I hold that belief…

  336. KatG @ 413 –

    “I don’t think he’d turn down an opportunity to use a spear gun himself. I could be wrong.”

    I doubt it. What free thinking creature would pass up fun with a spear gun? I mean spears and spear guns necessarily equals a good time.

    Unless you’re one of my childhood friends whose last words were “hey look what I can do with the speargun!” but I’ll tell ya, he went out living the life.

    “because the main point of the thread wasn’t about the multiple interpretations of a joke but the notion of girl cooties.”

    word. Example of hilarious nerdy female writer, appreciative of the scifi, if not author of the scifi: Tina Fey. Her cooties make 30 Rock highlarious.

  337. No, he hasn’t. His claims aren’t objective. …

    Actually, parsing text is fairly objective. A computer can parse basic language. parsing a joke requires a bit more than current grammars/parsers can handle, but the approach is still the same. There is only one place for possible ambiguity in the original text of the joke, that’s the form of the joke itself. There’s the setup and then the punchline, and in this case the only joke form that fits is the opposite expectations form. So we need two opposites. And we know by the “don’t think of it” ending that the joke ends on an expectation that is not good, something we wouldn’t want to think about.

    Based on the literal text, and given that we’re searching for some end point that we wouldn’t want to think about, it’s pretty clear in a pretty objective way that the end point, the opposite expectation, the “it” that we aren’t going to want to think about, is a man in a leia bikini outfit, a man in drag.

    So then parsing the text to fit into the opposite expectation format, we need to figure out what the original image is supposed to be, the opposite of a man in drag, the thing that will visually contrast a man in drag so our expectations will be shocked.

    So it has to be something normal. A woman at an SF convention wearing a Leia bikini is relatively normal. It is common enough that it won’t shock anyone. A man in a leia bikini is not normal, not expected, and ends up shocking us.

    So, you start from the initial condition of a woman at an SF convention in a Leia slave girl outfit, and you end on an opposite expectation of a man in a slave girl outfit, and the contrast between the two is the source of teh humor.

    No where is it required to fit the joke format of opposite expectations that women ONLY be good for wearing bikinis at conventions. You can have women at conventions as successful authors, editors, agents, and even award winning fans.

    To interpret the joke such that it requires that women are only good for wearing bikinis and nothing else, is to go beyond the literal text and beyond the comedy form for opposite expecations. It is something the person has to bring to the conversatin themselves, not actually extract from the joke.

    If you can explain to me how you extract “women are only good for wearing bikinis at SF conventions and aren’t good for any other function”, I would appreciate a text based explanation. It’s not in the literal text anywhere. And the only ambiguity is what form of the joke the joke is trying to fit.

    You said something earlier about how Jim was taking on a “persona” or something like that of the men who would be put into the roller derby prison. I don’t think that’s required to fit the form. The Mac Vs PC commercial doesn’t require neanderthal men to find it funny. The Mac Vs PC commercial doesn’t have to be viewed as if Mac is a neanderthal or as if the writers of teh commercial are neanderthals to find it funny.

    the joke can still be funny in the real world, with real SF conventions, with real women attending in all sorts of powerful functions. Because the joke removes all women to create the opposite, it can remove all the powerful women as well as the women wearing a bikini.

    No “persona” is required for the joke to work.

  338. I don’t think this was a real mac commercial, but it is another example of opposite expectaions.



    I think it is fricken hilarious. The punch line isn’t a man-in-drag, but it is a man-acting-like-a-doofus. I think man-in-drag is actually a subset contained by the larger set man-acting-like-a-doofus. But anyway, opposite expectation.

  339. Greg @ 418 – Fortieth Anniversary of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

    ——–

    In general, can I just note the most disappointing feature of this whole back and forth thread on scifi fans’ belief sets? not one single person quoted Morpheus.

    “My beliefs do not require you to believe what I believe.”

    For shame.

    I mean, I know it was from one of the not-to-be-spoken-of-matrices, but still.

  340. Now, this is an example of a commercial slash comedy bit that is outright sexist.



    I don’t know if it’s real or not. I hope not. It’s got some weakly funny bits to it, but that’s bulldozed over by the stupid sexism stereotypes, such as smart women are ugly, attractive women are stupid, among others.

    But none of this is in Jim’s joke. Jim’s joke follows, beat by beat, the Mac vs PC home movie joke, both ending with a man in drag.

    The “I’m a wii” clip isn’t an “opposite expectation” joke format either. It’s more like two stereotypes of women taken to even more stupid extremes.

    It’s actually a cringeworthy clip. I winced through most of it.

  341. Greg, ha, I stand corrected sir.

    The Matrix and Highlander. One hit wonders. A shame indeed.

  342. “you weren’t attacking an article.”

    This discussion, and the temper of it, is taking place against the background of that article. As one of the people directly under attack by its author – a female sci-fi author and fan – I reserve the right to be a lot more ticked off about it than you.

    “I offered only my impression of how your words came across.”

    It’s an action of your male privilege that you think you have a perfect right to attack a woman in a discussion for her *tone*. As if your role in life is to police my behaviour, and my role is to accept it.

    Let’s be blunt – the only person who is entitled to police tone here is the owner of the blog. You don’t like my arguments? Fine, attack them. Unless you’re the one directly the target of a particular comment, then you’re not actually entitled to pass judgment on it. You may think you are but in a discussion about egregiously extremist expressions of male privilege, a man lecturing a woman – a stranger to him, and not someone addressing him – comes across as at best crass, and at worse, no better than the group being criticised.

    Which is the point of the discussion of the joke. Time and place are important when assessing how words will be received.

    “It came across to me you did intend to be mean, but only as a shot across the bow and not a full barrage.”

    FFS. You and a few other people on this thread make really crappy mind-readers. I suggest you knock it off. I already said, if I was trying to be mean, you’d know about it. That’s as plain a statement as I can make.

    “My apologies for poking my nose where it didn’t belong.”

    Apology accepted. Thank you.

  343. Ann: Unless you’re the one directly the target of a particular comment, then you’re not actually entitled to pass judgment on it.

    I don’t think the internet works that way. If that’s the sort of interaction you’re looking for, one-on-one conversation where no one can comment about your comments, then I think you want to use email for that, not a public blog.

  344. Greg, you really have an astonishing ability to denude any remark of context to suit your agenda.

    My point and your head aren’t even in the same airspace.

  345. Firstly, women make up the vast majority of the TV watching audience, the vast majority of consumer purchases, live longer, and don’t have to worry about all those icky things that happen to men like circumcision, violent crime, and conscription.

    If you women want to trade places, go ahead. I’ll sit at home and play housewife. You can get marched off to your death for god and country.

    Second. Those of you that think it’s a man/woman thing are wrong. And probably not that bright. The author of the offending article isn’t necessarily wrong as much as he is short sighted. Which is to say, he can’t see past the gender based slant to the heart of the problem. Which is a corporation compromising it’s artistic integrity to pander to a larger demographic and make a quick buck. The resulting product being banal and mediocre at best.

    I’m just glad these people weren’t around in the past. Imagine the kind of damage they could have done to Oedipus Rex or Macbeth.

  346. Actually, parsing text is fairly objective. A computer can parse basic language. parsing a joke requires a bit more than current grammars/parsers can handle, but the approach is still the same.

    No, it’s not. The English language is subjective. The reason a computer can parse code is because each element of the code has only one possible meaning, there is no room for interpretation. Language doesn’t work like that. Language has irony, sarcasm, double entendres, facetiousness, sincerity, words that mean one thing when spoken one way, and mean something completely different when spoken another way.

    English is not objective.

    I don’t know why you’re still arguing. Does the possibility for offence exist? Yes. Is this a valid interpretation? Yes. Does the possibility for not being offended exist? Yes. Is this a valid interpretation? Yes.

    Some people were offended. The author of the joke apologised. The conversation should have ended there.

    @Jaine Fenn #371:
    You are awesome. Anyone who hasn’t read Principles of Angels is missing out on something fantastic.

  347. Josh Jasper @311–seriously? Matt Ruff’s “Sewer Gas Electric” is one of my all-time favorites.
    Kerry Conrad (Sky Captain) would do a bang-up job I think.
    “Fool on the Hill” and “Bad Monkeys” are only slightly behind. Matt Ruff is one of the very, very few writers who is even more awesome than The Scalzi.

  348. you’re “point” appears to be that at 375 you told Kat a comment about Summer defending the menz, and you don’t think Bill has the right to comment about your comment about Summer because only Summer (or maybe it’s only Kat) is allowed to comment on it.

    Unless you’re the one directly the target of a particular comment, then you’re not actually entitled to pass judgment on it.

    That’s how I read it.

    As for the joke, having watched a whole slew of Mac/PC ads, and having reread the joke a bunch of times, I think its absolutely clear that Jim’s joke matches the Mac PC home movie commercial beat for beat. Instead of Gisele in a dress as the