When Gut-Boys Attack
Posted on November 14, 2012 Posted by John Scalzi 692 Comments
It turns out that the author of the above screed, comic book artist Tony Harris, was born the same year I was.
I can’t actually conceive of a forty three year old man, particularly one who has presumably functioned reasonably well in the real world, with other actual human beings, writing a paragraph like that one up there.
There has to be an alternate explanation for it.
Perhaps, and I’m just spit-balling here, all these years Mr. Harris has kept, Kuato-like, a maladept fifteen-year-old boy in his gut. Then one day, when Harris sat down at a keyboard to exclaim how much he liked kittens, that gut-boy seized control of his body to have a vent. Perhaps Harris went into a trance when it happened, and by the time he came to, gut-boy had already posted his screed to Facebook. At that point, Harris had no other choice but to stand by it, because to do otherwise would raise too many questions, mostly about the adolescent man-child that lives in Harris’ intestine. I mean, how do you explain that away? How did gut-boy get there? Is this his first eruption? At conventions, when Women of Insufficient Nerdity walk by Harris’ booth in their unearned cosplay, does gut-boy strain at Harris’ abdominal wall, trying to get out, screaming “UNCLEAN” loud enough that Harris has to cover up gut-boy’s muffled howling with a carefully-staged coughing fit? Does Harris exist in a state of existential despair, never really knowing when gut-boy will unfold, like a scrotal origami, to rail at the feminine injustices of this world? And at boobies?
I fear he must. I fear Tony Harris truly has a gut-boy, lodged well into his duodenum. Rationally, it is the only explanation. Indeed, it’s the only explanation for a depressing number of grown men in nerd circles: They suffer from a plague of gut-boys, lashing out while their hosts can only look on, horrified and embarrassed at the misogynistic words and statements they will soon be obliged to own.
In which case, I will pray for Tony Harris in his life-long struggle against his angry, wailing gut-boy. It’s a difficult life he leads. I can only hope one day, he can expel his splenetic parasite and live a freer, fuller life. In the meantime, he should consider staying away from keyboards. You never know when gut-boy will strike again.
My response to this on Twitter was “Cosplaying so you can feel pretty is *way* worse than browbeating insecure women so you can feel manly, you guys.”
Nick Mamatas’ round up is…. something. Jeebus.
I think that the middle name of “Effing” is *probably* a sign that the fifteen-year-old gut-boy (hereinafter referred to as 15YOGB) is in control rather more frequently than you might suspect. While it’s possible that Effing is a real middle name, I suspect that 15YOGB is the one who put it there.
Granted, both of my children could write better than that when they were 15, so it may really be 12YOGB rather than 15YOGB.
They could have midget Tleilaxu infesting them?
Ye gods, everything about that screenshot is trying to make me not read it. The font, the line spacing, the lack of paragraphs and apostrophes, the CAPITALIZATION, the hint of JPEG compression, and not least of all the toxic sentiments. We should try to harness this as a kind of reverse CAPTCHA— if you can parse this you must be a machine.
I remember back in my single days, I hated it when hot girls would just hang all over me and talk to me about subjects I really cared about it, even if they didn’t actually care about it. That was just the worst. In today’s world, I’m constantly yelling at my wife, “you don’t care about fantasy football! don’t even pretend to ask me about what tight end I’m starting this week! How dare you feign interest in my hobbies!” Man, I really show her. So you rock on, gut-boy. Got your back.
I really, really can’t understand the “we’re the REAL nerds, you’re just a fake!” mindset. How is cosplaying (as, say, Samus Aran) different from wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt? Both show an interest in a specific thing, be it game or band. In both cases, I can look at the person’s outfit and assume they like that thing, and if I also like that thing, now we have a common topic to talk about.
Wait, I guess I mean that as a man who has read a comic book, I must be ‘unconfident’ when talking to women. Woe is me, how could they do this to me? Sheesh.
“There has to be an alternate explanation for it.”
Is it possible he left his PC/phone unattended and someone posted that? or his account was hacked?
If he’s the same age as you, that means that he may’ve actually voted… oh, my gawd…
I just can’t conceive of even entertaining that thought, much less posting it. And that’s just a gut-dump for his (favorite?) fetish, the CONs. Wonder how he feels about Wal-Mart greeters?
What is it with geek misogyny? What is it about being a self-appointed gatekeeper of geekness and why does it only appear to apply to women? Just let the cosplayers have their fun, geez…
His Wikipedia page now says he is best known for his hatred of women. With citation.
Have you considered the possibility that Harris never actually existed, and is simply a fleshy, doughy mecha that a poorly-socialized fifteen year old drives around in because it helps him purchase cigarettes and beer?
Get a few more of those in one place and they can merge to form Dave Sim.
Ah, now we know the “real” reason all those 40 something men have pot bellies. To cover up their gut living man-childs. Thank you John for spotting this epidemic in time.
I’m glad for his agita only as much as it gave you occasion to bust out “splenetic parasite.”
I see one flaw in your Kuato-like misogynist gut-baby theory. It’s been a while since I saw Total Recall, but couldn’t that gut baby really read minds? I’m not sure these “con-hot” bimbos think about Tony Harris at all, let alone feed like psychic vampires off the life force of nerds masturbating themselves raw and comatose.
Going psychological rather than physiological, this screed puts me in mind of a slogan at this year’s CONvergence (Bloomington, MN): “Costumes are not consent.” I’m not saying or hinting or implying or even inferring that this gentleman has been making unwanted moves, but he does sound rather like a man entering early middle age and running into the brick wall that young women are no longer interested in gazing in his direction, that they’re looking at men (and women) rather closer to their own age. The solution to his problem is dire: growing up and acting his age. He can still enjoy the view; he’s just not a player in the young game anymore.
I know, it’s pretty obscure theory, but perhaps there was some alcohol involved. It works as Instant-Kuato-Gut-Box-Elixir for a lot of people when applied in sufficient quantity.
I’m still trying to parse this. Is he advocating that women who cosplay should pass some sort of entrance exam involving comic book trivia? Is he trying to protect insecure comic-book nerds from predatory female cosplayers who are somehow … taking advantage of them (and how does that work)? Is he calling for cons to ban female cosplayers (good luck with that one, if indeed that’s his thesis)? Does he find female cosplayers threatening, or do they make him uncomfortable? Or did he simply forget his medication? Where is he GOING with this? I could think of some cogent arguments against a lot of the cosplaying that goes on at cons (though I wouldn’t bother), but I don’t see any of them here.
Had to re-read that rant: Did he seriously just say that pretty women “prey” upon nerds with their mere presence? Wow, between this and the librepubdotnet garwarble last week it’s provided enough lulz for the remainder of the year!
Yeah, because if I’m a woman who likes making costumes and likes comics and wants to dress up as a superhero, I have so many options other than those designed to conform to the sexual fantasies of man-children and adolescent boys.
Outside of conventions, of course I wouldn’t talk to the guys who give me their unsolicited opinions about my body. I don’t even want to talk to them at conventions. Sexual harassment is not an endearing first impression.
This whole ‘fake geek girl’ meme is a perfect example of what feminists mean when we talk about the ‘male gaze.’ Comic Book Guys are so accustomed to the concept that women in superhero outfits exist for their sexual gratification that it doesn’t even occur to them that a woman might slip into some spandex because she’s into Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel. Oh no, obviously she must be dressed up to appeal to some man-child’s inner fifteen-year-old boy, around whom all of comics fandom and possibly even the universe revolve.
And these chumps call women vain.
Quoting the wikipedia article you link to before it gets redacted:
“and is now well known mostly for his hate towards women (specifically, female cosplayers, which he deems to be “fake nerds”.)”
No mention of the comic book fans that he also apparently seems to hate? I mean sure hating over 51% of the world population is kinda drastic, but hating on the people you depend on for your livelihood seems a poor career choice.
I believe Scrotal Origami are actually opening at the Palladium tomorrow night.
“Scrotal origami” The image this conjures!
The difference between his rant and your carefully constructed put-down is wonderful.
If “Scrotal Origami” is the name of your next band (and really, why *wouldn’t* it be?), then what genre of music would they/he/she/it perform? I’m thinking bagpipes…
This guy just needs to chill out. He puts an awful misogynist spin on the common nerd-fear about his precious subculture being mainstreamed. You know why so many people are comfortable being part of geek culture that may not be completely steeped in it’s history? Because for every like you out there, there are at least 10 of us out here that will tell him to shut up and leave and welcome new people with open arms.
I hope this incident results on some self-reflection on his part and a permanent expulsion of gut-boy.
I missed the part where these hideous, hideous females forced him to go the convention in the first place.
I find it odd that an artist that is employed by an industry that consistently portrays spandex-clad women in impossible body proportions would find it offensive to see people imitate those same characters in real life. How do you compartmentalize that Tony? Aren’t you sort of responsible in a way?
So I’ve reread this a couple of times and maybe I’m wrong (and I won’t argue the poorly written part). But he’s not hating on all women or even all cos-players but a specific subset who: don’t seem to be true fans, choose specifically revealing costumes for the attention, and flirt/tease guys who they’re not interested in.
I guess for me its the difference between the awesome Nurse Chapel costume I saw at an ST convention compared to the Orion slave girl who went above and beyond to be half an inch away from pornography. The respect for the source material seems to be lacking in the latter.
If “Scrotal Origami” is the name of your next band (and really, why *wouldn’t* it be?), then what genre of music would they/he/she/it perform? I’m thinking bagpipes…
With some accordion and/or concertina thrown in there. And, uncomfortably, slide trombone.
Quaid, Quaid, start the reactor….
Other than that, holy shit.
Preoccupation with women due to lack of occupation with women. Maybe gut boy will mature at some point and help him out.
However, just because they don’t seem to be real fans to you doesn’t mean a) that they aren’t b) that they couldn’t become so in time.
Whacking on people because they’re not doing their fandom in the way you think they should is just generally not a good way to go through life.
Oh dear, he’s in my state.
“Splenetic parasite” is a great phrase, but I think “Scrotal Origami” would make a great band name.
I’m just “spit balling” here, but the fact is that this could have come out of the mouths of any number of frustrated fans. Male and female. There is no “gut boy” here, just a dude who got tired and shared his feelings. If this was a grown woman complaining about men hanging out at slut walks to pick up women, then I have a feeling the post you would have written in response would not have accused her of having a “gut grrl” — but because it’s a dude, he’s pissed off, and it’s about sex then he must be an immature asshat. The idea that there might actually be some validity to his position is discarded out of hand, because he dared to criticize women.
In fact there are plenty of men who share his view, and whether or not you think it’s a sexist one is, believe it or not, beside the point. He’s angry that something he loves is being used by people who don’t love it for their own nefarious purposes. Say, perhaps how you might feel if someone came to a con as a “Fuzzy slut” and hadn’t even read Piper. The fact that the issue is sexual is secondary to the indignity felt at the disrespect.
Thing is, the sexual component is what always kills it for men. That’s what allows you to be so brutally ugly to him without fear of reprisal. But neither this screed or your rebuttal won’t stop the booth babes from appearing to enjoy their three hours of exhibitionism, where constant leering photo-ops turn cons into maelstroms of chaos. It won’t stop them from indignantly rejecting one dude after another, and in extreme cases screaming “creep” because they didn’t like the way someone looked at them. It won’t stop the festering resentment that turns frustrated fifteen year old boys into bitter forty-three year old men. And it won’t stop judgmental tirades and knee-jerk commentary about the men who speak their minds about sexual matters. All it will do is convince thousands of other men to keep their damn mouths shut and continue their seething resentment, because this is what happens if you deign to emote.
What I can’t believe about this? That Scalzi is so eager to alienate so much of his audience. Sci-fi continues to be a male-dominated genre in both authorship and readership, and heaping scorn on a view that’s becoming more and more popular with his target demographic is a bold move. He’s rapidly getting a rep as “the gender feminist sci-fi writer”, which, for a male, is rarely good for your career.
I think there is a gut fear that some “nerd” guys have…if a girl is willing to talk to me, she is part of a plot to mock me. She is going to the jocks behind my back and telling them how stupid I looked when I thought she might actually be interested in ME. And they have a great laugh at my expense, because they are ALWAYS laughing at my expense. It’s a conditioned response based on experience getting burned (and/or watching John Hughes movies).
I remember clearly some moments in high school when I responded with awkward embarrassment because some girl was paying attention to me, and I assumed it was a joke. Only many years later did I realize HOLY COW SHE WAS TOTALLY FLIRTING WITH ME SEND ME BACK SEND ME BACK I WANT A DO OVER!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
I’m sitting here laughing at myself because I am actually having an adrenaline response just thinking about those moments. I am such a total dork.
But…I was in high school. And I grew out of it. And I realized that even the cute girls have their problems, and their needs, and honestly, mocking the nerds isn’t high on their list.
I guess for me its the difference between the awesome Nurse Chapel costume I saw at an ST convention compared to the Orion slave girl who went above and beyond to be half an inch away from pornography. The respect for the source material seems to be lacking in the latter.
So, someone dresses up like an Orion slave girl.
An Orion slave girl. An Orion slave who’s portrayed as being bought and sold for the purpose of then providing sexual titillation to men. An Orion slave girl, who’s not even called a “woman”, but a “girl”, to note the complete lack of power and condescending relationship involved in her position. Whose portrayal in the source material usually involves dancing for the pleasure of men, with the implication that stripping is going on.
Someone dresses up like an Orion slave girl, and “half an inch away from pornography.”
If that’s not a complete respect for the source material in a costume, and accurate to its portrayal in the original, then I don’t know what is.
Do you suppose there are a specific number of comic books one has to have read before one can dress up at a Con that Gut Boy attends? Is there a test he gives to prove sufficient nerdy knowledge?
Now I’m very nervous about parameters of who is allowed into the dress up in the pretend world and who is not.
What about movie cos-play? What if one never read the comic but saw all the movies? Is that considered sufficiently nerdy or not?
Is it only comic book readers who can claim sufficient nerdiness?
WHAT IF one dressed up as bat girl at Halloween and flirted with the guy who reads comic books about batgirl, which one has never read?
Or is it only Cons where the horror that must not be – ie pretending to pretend to be a pretend person,
And finally, what about almost sexy men, who pretend to pretend to be a sexy pretend person, in order to pick up nerdy girls or boys. Are they also banned?
Because this is important. All this pretending is SERIOUS.
Which is too bad, because once it become serious, the pretend part stops being all that fun, doesn’t it?
Wow. Well, he must draw, because he can’t write. Painful stuff. As for the theme, that’s no surprise. Too many men in this world still have not made that hurdle over the objectification of women. Many hide it well until moments like this. Well, maybe not moments like this. That’s just sad. 43 years old, you say? Yeah, sad. A dysfunctional teenager trapped in the body of a 43 year old man.
That has “Drunken Rant” written all over it. Friends don’t let friends facebook drunk.
One thing that makes me sad about the whole thing is that he’s defending his words and denying that he’s a misogynist, that he has utmost respect for his mother, mother-in-law, wife and daughters. Pushing that to the most extreme, I’m sure some batterers also claim to respect their wives…
Mostly though, it makes me angry. I’m 42. I’m short and overweight. In a few years, I could cosplay as Nanny Ogg. If I shimmied into a Wonder Woman outfit (in any incarnation), I would probably attract jeers not leers. But even if that particular cosplay didn’t flatter me, shouldn’t I be able to wear it in celebration of a really awesome heroine? Do I have to have read every single WW issue in order to call myself a fan? Do I need to be able to ID artists by their style from a single panel? Must I be able to quote chapter and verse from any given issue? According to Gut-boy, apparently so.
Also, to Tony Effing Harris (should he happen to read this): One reason women don’t give men the time of day at cons is because apparently eye-contact is an implied invitation to be mauled. Perhaps if the man-boys who attend these events could manage polite discourse without manhandling every female in the place, the women would be a little more genial. Cold-shouldered aloofness is self-preservation! (And NOT just at a fan convention!)
I don’t cosplay as such, but I LARP and I go to geeky parties and so forth.
Until now, while I like showing some skin and looking good, I’d been relatively cautious about making sure the costuming made sense and wasn’t too obviously aimed at making me look good.
Now, however? I’m wearing the most revealing and flattering shit the character and climate will allow. Because fuck that guy.
Well, he’s certainly got something lodged well in his duodenum. Guys like him make me so glad I don’t go to conventions.
You let your gut-boy at the keyboard, I see.
As for your contention that what I write here affects my sales: Dude, I’ve been doing this for years. I know my sales numbers far better than you do. This allows me to say that you literally have not the slightest clue what you’re talking about.
Folks, I would advise against responding to Mr. Ironwood. If he conforms to form, he will soon descend even further into trolldom, and I will just have to mallet him.
I am wondering why you chose to post this and roll in hot here John. You could easily find web postings as ignorant or more than this all over the web (like in the third level of comments on any post on any subject) and use your bully pulpit to whack them. But why? I’d like to know why you decided to pick this idiot at this time to nuke. I don’t think that beating up on easy targets challenges your readers or advances the cause of actual dialogue.
Aren’t you being a little unfair, here, John? I know I’m very eager to hear more about the difference between Big Boobies and Great Boobies. ;-)
…don’t look and behave in precisely the manner he deems appropriate? Sounds pretty misogynistic to me, but IMO and YMMV as usual.
Unfortunately, this kind of internet misogyny is all too prevalent. And it’s not limited to geek- and nerddom. Anna Gunn, who plays Skyler White on AMC’s Breaking Bad, has been subject to a disturbing level of online vitriol and personal attacks from men who don’t like the character she plays. The hate that Anita Sarkeesian has received for planning an in-depth feminist/media literacy critique of video games is just beyond disturbing.
I think it all comes down to the belief that the internet is a place free of consequences, where you can say what you want without fear of being ostracized, fired, or punched. I note that Harris saved his rant for Facebook rather than standing up at the cons he attends and saying it to someone’s face.
Fortunately, there are some corners of the world and web where folks are doing something about it. Like Gawker’s Adrian Chen exposing the reddit uber-troll Violentacrez, Like Sarkeesian’s perserverance in her project despite threats of death and rape. Like here, even, and over at GeekGirlCon. In the end it is up to the (dare I say it?) society of the internet to define what is acceptable as civil discourse, and to stop tolerating that which isn’t. We have the power to relegate these people to the dark corners of the net where they can rail to each other without bothering the rest of us (yet where we can also keep an eye on them!), and where they won’t poison our atmosphere.
Tempting though it is to create an out-of-body experience for Mr. Harris’ 15YOGB (thanks, Mr. Weingart), it is more likely that he is one of the many (see Washington pundits for examples) who emotionally remain freshmen in high school.
I’m not advocating dressing down by any stretch, I can support the look, the right to look that way, and the right to do it safely by any woman. Its just not the way I express my fandom. That’s all I was trying to say and what I thought he was as well.
I can understand (as the father of a 12 year old daughter) complaining that cosplay is focused too much on looking sexy and not enough on having fun. But Harris’ rant not only the focuses on the wrong issues, but is just idiotic to boot.
And I’m tired of the geek community trying to focus on authenticity. We should be an inclusive community who welcomes anyone who wants to dip their toe in the water.
As for the subject of Harris’s rant, all I can say is give people a chance. Hear them out, see what they’re about. You’d be surprised at the complexity of people. There’s often a hidden gem of quality that gets missed from what appears to be layers fit for generalization. I’m constantly amazed at how similar we all are when I actually go against my ‘better’ nature and start up a conversation with someone outside my comfort zone.
“He’s angry that something he loves is being used by people who don’t love it for their own nefarious purposes.”
Yes, it’s just AWFUL when the purity of your fandom is corrupted by exploitative individuals who have NO RESPECT for the care and attention that the corporations who own all these characters put into preserving them as objects for your solemn veneration.
@ianironwood “nefarious purposes” ? Do you seriously suppose that people who enjoy doing dressing up, and have found some place where dressing up is not only acceptable, but (supposedly) welcome, are there for evil purposes?
I participate in many things that I don’t have any sort of in depth knowledge in and enjoy them immensely. No one has ever rejected my participation in those things because I did not have sufficient obsession and knowledge in the area.
For example, I go to football games, but I really don’t know that much about it. I just enjoy the atmosphere, being with friends and cheering loudly. No one ever told me I shouldn’t go because I don’t understand the subtleties of the game.
*settles in to wait for the deployment of the Mallet of Loving Correction*
He’s rapidly getting a rep as “the gender feminist sci-fi writer”, which, for a male, is rarely good for your career.
Yeah, it’d be a damn shame to find a way to actually appeal to that 51% “minority”. Dodged a bullet there, Mr. Scalzi! Why, next thing you know, you’ll get a reputation as (gasp!) caring about people other than white men! How will you survive, sir? HOW WILL YOU SURVIVE?
Wow. A dude leaving OMG SEXY WOMEN ARE HORRIBLE MEN’S RIGHTS RAR comments on blogs and naming himself “Ironwood.” It warms my cold black English-major heart, it does.
Also, for the record? I’m more likely to read your books after reading this blog, despite not being into hard-sf as a general thing.
What is the world coming to when men are complaining about girls dressing in cool, sexy costumes and taking an interest in comics or science fiction?
There’s definitely a lot of angry “Why won’t you sluts have sex with me?” underneath all that indignation.
The whole screed reminds me of a great Bloom County cartoon (can’t find it online right now) in which the right-wing religious conservative finds himself seated next to a pretty woman on a bench. She’s minding her own business–hasn’t even said hello to him–but he starts obsessively thinking about how pretty she is, how much she tempts him, etc. Finally he smacks her and calls her a harlot or something like that, and she’s left wondering what she did to provoke this response.
Frankly, it’s also what I thought of every time I heard another dumb GOP politician say something stunningly misogynistic during this last campaign.
“So I’ve reread this a couple of times and maybe I’m wrong (and I won’t argue the poorly written part). But he’s not hating on all women or even all cos-players but a specific subset who: don’t seem to be true fans, choose specifically revealing costumes for the attention, and flirt/tease guys who they’re not interested in.
I guess for me its the difference between the awesome Nurse Chapel costume I saw at an ST convention compared to the Orion slave girl who went above and beyond to be half an inch away from pornography. The respect for the source material seems to be lacking in the latter.”
So how, exactly, do you propose to tell the difference between one and the other? What makes Nurse Chapel inherently superior to the Orion slave girl outfit? What’s wrong with someone cosplaying the latter if she just happens to like the latter more than the former other than it doesn’t fit your personal metric for nerdy tastes?
So it’s not OK for geek girls to be geek girls but its OK for gut-boys to hire Booth Babes to do absolutely NOTHING in the booth but wear something skimpy and pout at other gut-boys? When I was a booth manager at high end gem & jewelry shows I was hired for my knowledge and expertise as well as my legs. The girls Outside the booth at any comic con probably know far more about your book than the airhead you hired to decorate your booth.
And for the record I’m a professional actress and nude model and what most people call “cosplay” I call “getting dressed”.
In fact there are plenty of men who share his view, and whether or not you think it’s a sexist one is, believe it or not, beside the point. He’s angry that something he loves is being used by people who don’t love it for their own nefarious purposes.
Of course it’s sexist and of course it’s not besides the point. He’s claiming the role of gatekeeper of the Right Way to appreciate something and aiming that self-endowed right against women. The complaint is gender-based – because you don’t see him claiming there’s dudes there dressed up as characters they fail to adequately appreciate just because it makes them look bad-ass – and it’s crybaby nonsense.
Sexism – and discrimination in general – isn’t some bright-line thing that exclusively revolves around being obviously and visibly exclusionary. It manifests in ways from overt –
NO GIRLS ALLOWED in this club!
to more subtle partitioning of things –
like POKER rankings – a competition that doesn’t involve any physical aspect where difference between genders might convey an advantage the way physical things do in, say, golf
to near-invisible behaviors –
like teachers rewarding different behaviors in the classroom, forgiving boys for interruptions but not girls, directing math questions to boys and social ones to girls, etc
to this sort of flat-out assumption that women who intrude on the male space of fandom must have to pass over some bar or level of competency that men are simply assumed to have met by virtue of being there.
This is the moment when I am proud to say that I had no idea what “cosplay” is and had to ‘google’ it.
What MPAVictoria said.
Perhaps we should start mandating burka cosplay at these cons to protect those precious precious nerd eyes!
Too often these days, I start writing a comment, and then think back to Scalzi’s 10 rules on commenting, and then erase. but Catherine Shaffer, that just isn’t a conversation had on a blog as words can only capture so much.
Scrotal Origami has got to be a Butthole Surfers cover band.
Yes that one was a classic, remember it well. Bloom County was my favorite comic in high school (showing my age a bit!)
“@ianironwood “nefarious purposes” ? Do you seriously suppose that people who enjoy doing dressing up, and have found some place where dressing up is not only acceptable, but (supposedly) welcome, are there for evil purposes? ”
I thought that was a weird turn of phrase as well.
“For example, I go to football games, but I really don’t know that much about it. I just enjoy the atmosphere, being with friends and cheering loudly. No one ever told me I shouldn’t go because I don’t understand the subtleties of the game.”
So this! I do not follow any organized sport very closely but I have friends who do and sometimes it can be fun to watch with them. They are always happy to have me sit in on the games and they do not complain that I am not an “authentic” fan.
Not trolling, this will be my last comment on this post. But your tireless advocacy for misandrous feminism, and the effect it is having on the greater sci-fi community, has at least merited you a mention in my forthcoming book. Your current sales might seem strong, but when a sci-fi author goes political so dramatically there are often long-term consequences. And few authors can insult their target demographic over and over again without eventually feeling it, one way or another. Maybe you’re anticipating a sudden surge of thousands of gender feminists screaming to buy your books that I’m unaware of, in which case you’re obviously a marketing god. Unless your next one is called 50 Shades of Fuzzy, I just don’t see the draw. But last time I checked, the vast majority of sci-fi was purchased by males. Many of whom share feelings on the matter with Mr. Harris.
But hey, you made the book. Congrats.
Yes, I absolutely hate it when men dress as superheroes, too. How dare they dress in spandex, showing off their muscles. Obviously they’re just in it for the chicks.
(*sarcasm*: in case it wasn’t apparent)
Oooooooooh. You made the BOOK.
Wow. So, all men who read sf are misogynist assholes. My husband’s going to be surprised to find this out.
It’s truly remarkable how he managed to not only insult women, but his entire fan base, and most other men too all in one paragraph. Ugh. I hate when writers use their powers for evil.
And he decides to double-down! :D
Sorry, he’s artist (which might account for the crappy writing). But you know what I mean.
@ianaronwood: I think you may be conflating the number of males that are irritated by nearly naked women with the entire population of males. Those irritated by nearly naked women is probably a really small number. The rest of us, not so insulted.
@Beej & @Emos Effing should just check his underwear and Run Nekkid through the Periwinkle. Me loves me some Bloom County.
“but when a sci-fi author goes political so dramatically there are often long-term consequences.”
Dude, there’s not been a single day in my science fiction career when this site didn’t exist, wasn’t popular and didn’t have the same tenor, politically and socially. So, yeah, no.
Personally, I just do a lot of “well, it was the 60’s” eye-rolling at the hideously impractical Starfleet uniform mini-skirt and cha-cha heels, but back in RW 2012 what’s wrong with a bit of Feminism 101? Guess what, dude-bros, not everything a woman says and does is all about giving you a hard on. Perhaps those Slave Leias over there are cos-playing a totally awesome character and, yes, it’s kind of fun wearing something you’d never even consider wearing to school, work or church. It’s not an open invitation for you to do your best impersonation of the Angry Molesting Tree from Evil Dead. Oh, and if your utterly charmless sexual advances don’t elicit the desired response, no matter how long you keep it up, perhaps the issue isn’t that they’re evil cock teasers but you’re an arsehole.
“when a sci-fi author goes political so dramatically there are often long-term consequences….”
Yeah, H.G. Wells was complaining about that just the other day. All his socialist beliefs cause his books to only sell in the millions, seventy-five years after his death.
Oh noes, John will be in The Book! And obviously The Book will be a ginormous success, and it will cause John’s fans to turn away from him in droves, and his career will tank, and he will fall into abject poverty.
Etc, etc, all die, o the embarrassment.
I’m not going to respond to Mr Ironwood, because John asked us not to, but if other commenters aren’t familiar with him, and are looking for a giggle, I highly recommend Googling the name. Although, I fear that now that Mr Ironwood has made an appearance, V. Day will shortly follow. Their hit counts must be lagging, again.
Good frackin’ grief!
Since non-spectacularly beautiful women who masquerade as figures about which they may or may not know much history of are so deeply offensive to this fellow as to make his brain fall out of his head, we NYers highly recommend that he never ever attend our annual Halloween Parade, which attracts o, maybe a million or more people dressed in costume of figures they know nought of. His whole body would explode, if he did.
*cough* Just because this is a pet peeve–gang, there are lots of artists out there who can spell correctly much of the time and do not believe the return key has keyboard herpes. Many of us, when pressed, can even punctuate with moderate skill. Being able to draw is not a form of black magic that requires you to sell your grammar to the Devil.
Okay. “Women of Insufficient Nerdity” will be the name of my all-female Tolkien-based Metal band.
Wow, Ironwood dug himself in even deeper. Nice use of buzz words, but the Russian judge gives you a 6.1.
My own take on Harris’ screed (if Our Host will allow a small amount of self-promotion) is here, with bonus content from one of John’s tweets yesterday:
There is no knowledge exam as an entrance exam for fandom. You want to come to one of the cons I help run and check things out? In a costume? HAVE AT IT, you will be welcomed and we’d love to have you.
Whether you’ve been reading comics for 20 years or 20 days. Or 20 minutes, for that matter.
@Ianironwood: I think I’ve got a handle on this “misandrous feminism” Mr Scalzi tiresomely advocates for. The idea that women like Genevive Valentine should be able to attend conventions without being harassed, stalked and even sexually assaulted. That science fiction and fantasy is all the better when it speaks with more voices than those of heterosexual, white, middle-class Anglo-American men. That female geeks should be able to open their mouths without having their blogs and social media flooded with threats of physical and sexual violence. That his wife and daughter deserve to treated with dignity and respect, just because.
You’re right, Ian, I don’t see how John will continue being a critically and commercially successful writer shoving ridiculous and extremist political idea down peoples’ throats.
John has some great non hard SF options. “Agent to the Stars” – Hollywood plus aliens and loads of snark. “Fuzzy Nation” – eco-sf with charmed lawyers.
I am not going to comment on Effing’s rant. My spleen needs no stoking today and others have responded accordingly. ianironwood excluded.
Ursula Vernon weighs in, with a blanket invitation to all and sundry to cosplay anyone from her oeuvre they damn well please:
Mr. Scalzi, thank you. Without you, it would be easy to assume that the puerile rantings of this man represent the spectrum of male thought, and that would be very depressing indeed.
I’m all for pretty girls wearing things that are pretty. I didn’t realize I had to parse their intentions when I looked at them or check whether they had ulterior motives for wearing a particular mode of dress.
At least (?) there’s been a distinction made between “misandrous feminists” and the other kind. I wasn’t sure that he thought there was another kind at all.
But what’s a “gender feminist”? So much new terminology…
Mintwitch, I just googled him. My teenage gut-girl just broke out into hysteric giggles.
As for The Effing’s rant: You don’t want us to show a lot of skin, then stop drawing women characters showing a lot of skin…or boobies. As for not knowing *enough* about comics, half the fun is learning all of that from a guy (or gal) you are interested in knowing better.
I’m getting deja vu. Wasn’t there someone else who said women at conventions weren’t real nerds not that long ago? (Not long ago meaning “in the last year.)
Is that the best we can expect for flouncing this time around? Now the flounce from the last time some of this crowd showed up, that was legendary.
(I know, you only get one chance to flounce in a discussion. But perhaps someone else will step up…)
Catherine Shaffer @November 14, 2012 at 10:27 am: Aren’t you being a little unfair, here, John? I know I’m very eager to hear more about the difference between Big Boobies and Great Boobies. ;-)
Big Boobies are Masked Boobies (Sula dactylatra)
Great Boobies are Red-Footed Boobies (Sula sula) because they have the coolest mating dances and foot color.
(I am now a world-renowned expert on boobies based on spending ten minutes reading their Wikipedia pages.)
Astromac at 10:11
I suspect he’s mostly pissed off because those women weren’t 1) dressed as one of his characters and 2) pandering to him in person so 3) the “I-want-candy-but-you-won’t-let-me-have-it temper tantrum just erupted from his duodenum due to an overload of internalized pressure. ‘Cause Troo Fans Are Genre Completests With Standards Just Like Mine
I’ll also direct you to Ursula Vernon’s blog. A female comic book author/artist with her own take on the issue. http://www.redwombatstudio.com/blog/?p=5346
Don’t feed the troll, don’t feed the troll, don’t feed the troll… I’ll just agree with the sentiments of what Marko Kloos said.
When you cut through all the drunken rant, is Harris upset at the paid promotional model cosplayers or the citizen cosplayers. It’s two different things to mysogenize and I feel like he missed out on some opportunities….
Don Whiteside @10:38am; That’s a very good post which pointed out the disparity (IE, that Harris isn’t attacking *male* cosplayers for lack of the True Knowledge) with great clarity. Thank you for it.
OK, so he seems to be railing about women who are not hot enough, yet hotter than average, cos-playing in scanty-wear. Also, they don’t know enough about comics. I’m assuming he’s stationed himself at the entrance of the merch room and is quizzing all sorta hot women about their comics knowledge. I wonder how long it takes for him to process the Scan*Trons. The fat middle-aged ladies, the super-hot chicks and the dudes get a pass. If I were to pour my avoirdupois into a comic book outfit, I suppose he would then write a paen in praise to the fat ladies who dress up at cons, right? He must, because we’re everyone’s favorites! Why, just a few years ago a cos-playing Harley Quin who was ever so slightly chubby was lovingly booed and hissed at the first (and last) SDCC masquerade I attended. Exactly how attractive must I be before I don a costume? What if it’s a Steampunk one that allows me to avoid spandex? Will my boobs then make me too hot, yet not hot enough for public? How about a geek t-shirt? WILL SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME IF I’M SUFFICIENTLY YET NOT EXCESSIVELY SEXXAY? It might be better if I just keep my two X chromosomes out of conventions.
He makes it pretty clear at the end of his tirade that he thinks comic cons are for comic writers and artists only. I thought they were for fans. So that fans could interact with artists and writers and other fans. But if they’re just for the artists, I guess I’ll save my money and stay home. I do wonder what be thinks about women who write and draw comics though.
I have no idea what this individual is trying to say. I don’t know what the context (if any) of his rant is, and I can’t tell what point he’s trying to get across. I don’t know what “the RULE” is, and I don’t know what the phrase “COSPLAY-Chik” means, so I’ve no idea who or what he’s addressing. A number of his phrases further confuse me since they lack antecedents and/or are not self-explanatory here.
Anyhow, based on what little I an decipher, I get the impression that this middle-aged man has gone on a public rant about women in sexy costumes at comicbook conventions who don’t sleep with him or with other men whom he identifies with.
Did I guess right?
… didn’t we just do this? I’m getting dèjà vu.
Yay! I’d totally be up for some cross-dressing cos-play as a indefatigable wombat. Now, if only I could sew without major blood loss and the kind of language that would make a sailor blush. :)
Lila, after reading UsurlaV’s blog yesterday, I have the overwhelming desire to make a Biting Pear costume. Or talk a friend of mine into being the other half of her “loch ness” sock monster.
Laura: I think the summary is correct, but there is probably some alcohol induced bluntness mixed into….
@ Laura Resnick: Ten out of ten.
The difference between big boobies and great boobies? NONE. All boobies are great. Someone take his man card.
I’m a man, and I have cosplayed, once, as a character from the Liaden novels. It was not a complicated costume. Fancy suit, fancy costume earrings, elaborate signet ring made out of sculpy clay, gold face paint. And yet, it was a shitload of work. I had to scour thrift stores for the right kind of fancy suit. I had to sew additional ruffles on my shirt (with the patient help of a friend who actually knows how to sew). Another friend spent a couple days sculpting and painting that elaborate signet ring. Just putting on the face paint, the day of, took a solid hour–as did cleaning it all off afterward. When all was said and done, I think it was a week of effort, split among three people, and a nontrivial sum of money as well. More elaborate costumes obviously involve even more work: something only a little more complicated than what I just described would require custom tailoring by professionals, for instance.
So I have this basic suspension-of-disbelief issue here, which is, no “poseur” is going to go to that much trouble. For Mr. Harris to think what he evidently thinks, all of that work would have to be completely invisible to him. But that’s just silly, I mean, maybe he hasn’t ever tried it himself, but he must be aware at least that custom tailoring is not cheap…
@Laura: Yes your misogyny translator is working perfectly!
This just makes me sad because I really loved his work on Starman.
I do wonder what be thinks about women who write and draw comics though.
If he’s anything like Dan Didio (one of DC’s editors-in-chief and an architect of the New 52 reboot), he probably thinks they’re practically non-existant.
The problem I’m having is figuring out how to cosplay both Tony Harris Complete With Gut Boy AND an obscure genre character I know nothing about at my next convention. But whatever attire I end up with, I am hoping that a ton of cosplayers surround his booth next time he’s at a con and quiz him about his nerd knowledge. Because HEAVEN FORBID he doesn’t know enough about MY area of geek speciality! Unbelievers must be found and driven from the village! Get out your pitchforks!
In all seriousness, I’m so over this sexist nonsense. Yet I take comfort in the number of well-reasoned and incisive responses I’ve read to his immature, fatuous idiocy, and in the fact that all my fellow geeks will continue to go about their geeky business without ever pausing to think about whether Tony Harris approves of them or not.
As for book sales, I think Harris’ will suffer, at least they will when I’m contemplating purchases. And I can’t wait for Ironwood’s tome — if there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s angry, exclusionary screeds! It’s not like you can find any on the Internet!!
One thing many people may not understand is how much you’re putting yourself at emotional risk when cosplaying. Years ago, I went to a con in what I felt was a reasonably good version of The Shadow, and one person asked me if I was there as Nero Wolfe. Yes, I was overweight (still am), but not to Wolfeian levels. It did hurt, however, and that was just one comment. The people who do real work on their costumes, solid creative work, and put themselves out there on display deserve a lot of credit for courage as well as creativity, and deserve bashing from neither the on-line trolls nor their even creepier in-person cousins.
So… Maybe Rants
DudsDudes should put together the One-True-Con or MisogyCon? For women attending, there can be a multiple choice exam, with an essay component, at least three pages of correct fan documentation and of course, five notorized statements from male fans that corroborate her ‘story’.
For men, they just have to tell the story of how some woman, somewhere either didn’t notice them, didn’t recognize how cool they were, or actually turned them down.
And as these torch bearers of true fandom sit in their empty hall, the rest of us can get on and have a cool and fun time at the rest of the cons.
@KD: you’re getting into the square and rectangle situation. While all squares are rectangles, not all rectangles are squares. So there are differences. Such as the length to width ratio…
Well, I’ll just piss off everybody. As a happily married, happily monogamous, 47 year old heterosexual male, I have absolutely no objection to women in skimpy outfits at cons. I’m not going to hit on them, so I don’t give a damn if they’re “real nerds” or not. I know I’m not going to have sex with them, first because I’m married and don’t cheat, even in the unlikely event the opportunity should arise (as it were), and second because I’m old, fat, and ugly, so they don’t want me, so I’m pretty much immune to their “feminine wiles”. I think with the big head, thank you very much. While I can see the usual Angry Feminist types getting all twisted about “patriarchial objectification of wymmyn” or whatever, I’m not sure why any straight man would object to eye candy. The author of the original quoted post sounds like he’s just angry women, nerd women or not, have invaded his he-man woman-haters clubhouse, and there’s enough of them (women) in fandom now that they have influence and social structures of their own. Ranting about cosplayers who aren’t REALLY into comics seems like a way to distract from the fact he doesn’t seem to actually like women, period. (And, if I were single, two decades younger, and I found out a woman was pretending to be into the things I like to get my attention… I’d be FLATTERED. Especially since I’d be sure she wasn’t after my non-existent money. :) )
And my wife is just fine with me ogling the con babes, just like I’m fine with her ogling Sam from Supernatural. :) (And now that John Barrowman is on Arrow, she’s suddenly a fan of that show. Funny, that.)
Lastly, even if you’re into cosplay qua cosplay, so WHAT? It’s a perfectly valid hobby. There’s people into painting miniatures who don’t play any wargames or RPGs. There’s people who play WoW solely for the chat room aspects. People like things for lots of reasons; getting mad because they’re not YOUR reasons is just silly.
His rant strikes me as the projection of someone who truly has no idea how people other than himself think: “If *I* were a woman who was a 5 or 6 (at best) on my attractiveness scale (which is obviously the universal attractiveness scale because duh) and participated in cosplay, this is the only possible reason I could imagine for doing what they do. Therefore, that MUST be the reason they do it! They can protest all they want, but I’ve thought about this from my own point of view, which is the only one that makes sense to me, and this is what I came up with, so if they claim that they’re not doing it for the only reason I can imagine, they obviously lie.”
I think Matt O. had the right psychoanalysis above. This guy assumes that women at cons are all secretly laughing at him — and more, that women only ever go to cons to secretly laugh at men like him. So he lashes out at con-going women based on that assumption. The “you don’t really respect the fandom!” bit is just rationalization.
It’s a twisted skein of social and sexual issues leading to fear and hatred of women. He can’t view women as fellow fans. Women are only and always potential romantic/sexual partners. Anything a woman does is interpreted through that lens. If a woman dresses up, it’s to attract male sexual attention — and if she then declines to have sex with an interested man, it means everything she did was a deliberate con job to make him look foolish.
Combine this with the mopey nerd assumption that no one you find attractive could ever possibly be attracted to you in return, and you get the conclusion that women who cosplay anything the least bit “sexy” are doing so entirely to make male fans look foolish. So you automatically become furious at any women you find attractive at a con. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
It’s gross and scary. And as a genuine nerdy woman, I back far, far away from any guy who exhibits this attitude.
I don’t know the work of Tony Harris, but I do hope he has a better command of his drawing utensils than he has of grammar and/or his keyboard. Or of his brain cells. I do understand a certain extend of snobbism (e.g. “How can you listen to Bustin Jieber? That’s not real music. I know real music.”), but there is a line between some self-indulgent snobbism and utter douchebaggery. It’s not a fine line either. Over here is being a little snarky. Over there, a mile away, is being full of manure. And that’s where Tony Harris seems to have planted himself, waist deep in his own mind-manure. But hey, I wish him good luck at the Con of his dreams – without any cosplaying ladies or anyone else who isn’t a comic book artist or writer.
I did a google search on “Ian Ironwood”. The description of the individual, if it is the same individual, on his twitter account says a lot.
Disguise yourself as a woman for a week. This is just a subset of a depressingly common view of women in wider society – you don’t think that way, but if you were the object of it for a stretch of time, I mean, you’d be even more appalled. Why do you think those GOP candidates who actually voiced such anti-female sentiments still got such a sadly large minority yes vote in the election? It’s not just old guys; there are men our age who think like this too. Why, I’ve no idea.
We’re apparently tricksters whose lives revolve entirely around conning men into giving us approval or shiny things, who eschew responsibility, according to these guys. No wonder people who believe THAT want to take away our choices – you don’t let an 8-year-old run their own life, either.
The huuuuuuuge problem with the “real nerd/geek gatekeepers” is that they all seem to be MEN, policing perceived “fake-nerd/geek” WOMEN. One thing these screeds all seem to have in common? They are practically frothing at the mouth at the thought of women not acting according to their esoteric rules, and that does not sit right with them! They feel that comics/video games/anime/SFF/other fandoms are their last bastion, the one place where THEY are in charge. And when they see women not conforming to their self-imposed strictures? THEY GET ALL BENT OUT OF SHAPE, my friends. I have not seen a single rant that dealt with “fake nerd dudes.” NOT A ONE. If you’ve seen it, please point the link out to me, I would LOVE to be proved wrong on this.
You CANNOT say with any credibility that this is an issue of people rightfully pointing out the “posers” and just speaking the truth about “you’re not a real fan, you’re a big fakey fake who is ruining the fun for the REAL enthusiasts” when the vitriol is consistently FROM men TOWARDS women. No, this is a misogynist issue. Full stop. Try again, your argument is invalid.
Is the assertion that “sci-fi is overwhelmingly purchased by men” even true any more? I did some brief googling and couldn’t find any hard statistics, but I’m willing to guess that said purchasing demographics are close to parity by this point in time. Sci-fi publishers likely have a pretty good handle on their target audience; any chance a representative of Tor might drop by the thread and give us an idea?
I’m female. I’ve watched all of Ghost in the Shell and if I ever decided to cosplay I would love love love to be the Major for a day. But I never will because of attitudes like this. Does merely having watched the show and loved the character (but not, for example, having read the manga) earn me enough nerd cred to presume to play her for a day? (Do cosplaying dudes even have to make that calculation?) If I dress up like one of my favorite female characters from SF, who I love because she is kickass but whose iconic outfit happens to be provocative (how many female characters in fandom dress modestly?), does that mean that every dude who sees me will think I owe him… something (even more than he already thinks that)? Will there be scads of dudes who assume I’m dressed that way because I’m an “attention whore” and not because I have a deep and abiding love for the character? I don’t care to find out. So I guess if the endgame is to keep people from participating in fandom, well, achievement unlocked.
I know of cons that got the overly exclusive participant thing going rather than being open and inviting. They’re all defunct.
Wrapping con and community-killing advice in that much bile, fail, and epic dickishness takes a very special talent.
Lizard: John Barrowman is on another show, called Arrow, you say? I guess I’ll be adding Arrow to my TV line-up. Mr Barrowman is on my List. Yes, we both play for our respective home teams, but daaaayamn. (Fans self.) Thanks for the news!
Seriously, WTF!!! I am not dealing with some drunk rant by some guy who is need of a therapist for his misplaced anger, or perhaps a convertible for his mid life crisis. It does make me appreciate John more for putting this crap out in the sunlight to be mocked.
@Carina “Women of Insufficient Nerdity” will be the name of my all-female Tolkien-based Metal band.
Is it appropriate to say that I would totally pay to go see that band?!
@Kilroy. Um…no. Just as all apples are great apples (Jonagold, McIntosh, Granny, Red Delicious). I don’t care if the apple is a little odd shaped or off color. it is still an apple. I don’t get upset that it is not an Apple by Steve Jobs, anymore than I would get upset that a boobie is not up to the standards of the plastic-surgery industry. ALL boobies are great, just by the definition of existing.
Man boobies happen to be my favorite :)
“Scrotal Origami” will be the name of my next band.
@KD: but not all great boobies are big boobies. Hence to square.
Mad Jack McMad commenting on the latest harvest festival tune. Go find a thing to do that you like to do as much as cosplayers like cosplaying.
BTW – just did an informal survey of my friends that read Scalzi – 2/3 male, 1/3 female. Gosh John, we are taking over your readership!
John, John, John. The duodenum and spleen are in different quadrants of the gut and if he was in the duodenum he’s get emulsified and digested. More than likely this gut-boy lives in the sigmoid colon because 1) it’s all twisted back on itself and 2) the rectum is right next door and it sounds like this was coming out of that area.
Also, I think the rant could be summed up by him just yelling, “cooties” and being done with it. It was dumb in the 3rd grade and its even dumber when your pushing mid 40s.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact that a straight white male comics artist – that is, a professional member of a fraternity whose members frequently get froth-mouthed with rage at the VERY SUGGESTION that maybe, just MAYBE, consistently drawing female heroes in skintight, skimpy clothes, viscerally sexualised poses and impossible bodily contortions MIGHT JUST BE a little bit sexist and demeaning – is now saying women who dress as those selfsame characters as slutty? Like, do we not see the contradiction, here? How is it fine to rabidly defend the hypersexualised portrayal of comic book heroines as being no big deal, aesthetically justified, representative of their characters, traditional and all that jazz, but then start body- and slut-shaming actual, real live women who choose to cosplay those outfits? If the costumes themselves had no overt sexual component, or if such a component was present, but ultimately benign – as most comics apologists tend to argue – then the idea that actual women could dress that way specifically to prey on the sexual sensibilities of men who like those characters should be fundamentally ludicrous, regardless of the depth and breadth of their personal comics knowledge.
Seriously, angry comic guys: you cannot have it both ways. You cannot say that female comic heroines aren’t hypersexualised, and then claim that, merely by donning their costumes, real live women are sexualising themselves, and that their primary motive for doing so must therefore be to mess with you. No. THEY’RE DRESSING THE WAY YOU INSIST ON WOMEN DRESSING, AND THEN YOU’RE SHAMING THEM FOR IT.
Also, here’s a solid rule of thumb for determining whether or not a heroine’s outfit is, in fact, innately sexualised: if you can’t buy a ‘sexy’ version of it for Halloween, the way you can buy a sexy nurse, sailor, pikachu, devil, baby or pretty much anything else costume? Then that’s because it’s ALREADY SEXY, such that trying to make and market a separate, sexier version would be as redundant as trying to draw a hypersexualised version of Jessica Rabbit.
Dear men who complain about how all provocatively dressed women (whatever that means in the context) are inauthentic teases looking to use and manipulate you: even if that were true, which it’s not, it’s a plan that only works when men see women primarily as sex objects, erasing their self and personhood in favour of engaging with a specific physical fantasy. If you actually saw us as people – as equals – then it wouldn’t matter if we were stark naked or dressed as Predators: you’d be able to deal with us as individuals and determine *through conversation* whether our interests aligned with yours. But as things stand, this bullshit you keep on pulling? You’re complaining about the lack of ‘real’ geek women while simultaneously lambasting women who dress like geeks as fakes and women who don’t dress like geeks as superficial bimbos – which basically means that, whatever we do, if we’re female, we’re fucked. And then you’re SURPRISED when women avoid you?
This thread needs to be archived forever just to serve future garage bands needing that unique name. Imagine, all on one bill: Scrotal Origami, Splentic Paransite (feat. Gut-Boy), Midget Tlielaxu, Great Boobies (a reunion of former members of the legendary Big Boobies), Cosplay-Chik, Indefatigable Wombat, glam rockers Misandrous Feminist, dark punk band Misogyny Translator, and parody band The Ironwood Book.
What Effing posted has been said before, will be said again, as will the open-minded responses of Geekdom. Rock on.
I had a great discussion with my brother the other day, just before the election actually. I was bemoaning the fact that it just doesn’t seem to get any better, that there are still politicians using the word ‘slut’ for women who actually have sex, that we have to discuss ‘legitimate’ rape, that all this idiocy around “sci-fi is for men!!!’ (and really – ‘quasi-pretty?’ ‘CON-hot?’ is this akin to say, ‘beer-goggles?’), and all the other daily nonsense that goes with having that pesky extra X chromosome. It should have gotten better, twenty years of this and if feels like the same fight. And he said something that gave me hope – he said that all we have to do is hold the line because the old guard is dying off. Literally. We just have to keep them from getting any more ground, as there is a new generation rising up and they are quite a bit different.
So I look at my pseudo-niece who is in her early 20’s and is amassing a nice closet of cosplay outfits. She is pretty, smart, funny, and doesn’t take crap from anyone – boys or girls. I look at her friends – male and female – and there seems to be less crap about ‘gurls’ and who is supposed to do what based solely on gender. It gives me hope. It makes me think that the reason the gutboys are taking over the keyboard as often as they seem to have of late is because they know this. They know their days of assumed alpha-geekism are good and truly numbered and it scares them. So I have some compassion for them; not a lot, but some.
Fair warning, John Barrowman has a very, very small roll in Arrow. Of course, the main character isn’t bad to look at either, but gods are CW heroes dumb. Of course, the Green Arrow was never the sharpest superhero in the lair, but I think his adaptation has lost about twenty IQ points.
Tony Harris is the guy who drew Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina. I’m guessing he didn’t read the comic he drew, because Ex Machina is all about human nature, specifically what defines us as who we are and how people define other people.
Fortunately, I don’t own anything else he’s done (DC/Marvel house work) so I don’t need to purge my comics collection.
@Kathryne: try a google search for “law school hot”. It is a pretty well accepted phenomenon.
“Dear men who complain about how all provocatively dressed women (whatever that means in the context) are inauthentic teases looking to use and manipulate you: even if that were true, which it’s not, it’s a plan that only works when men see women primarily as sex objects, erasing their self and personhood in favour of engaging with a specific physical fantasy. If you actually saw us as people – as equals – then it wouldn’t matter if we were stark naked or dressed as Predators: you’d be able to deal with us as individuals and determine *through conversation* whether our interests aligned with yours. But as things stand, this bullshit you keep on pulling? You’re complaining about the lack of ‘real’ geek women while simultaneously lambasting women who dress like geeks as fakes and women who don’t dress like geeks as superficial bimbos – which basically means that, whatever we do, if we’re female, we’re fucked. And then you’re SURPRISED when women avoid you?”
This cannot be repeated enough times.
I lied. My next band will be named “Misandrous Feminism.”
And we’ll play thrash metal.
Dickwolves. That is all. <– paradox
I’m actually going to cosplay as Tony “Effing” Harris at my next con. Anyone know where I can get a costume of The Judge from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall?”
It used to be a matter of pride in SF fandom on how tolerant we were. It takes a lot of guts to play one’s first filk song, dress up as a beloved character, or ask a question at a panel and that used to be recognized and respected. But about 15 years ago I was at a masquerade and a bunch of yahoos started to boo some of the contestants. Maybe it’s a reflection of the time, but it’s rather sad that we can’t escape this judgemental element in our “Rich Fantasy Lives”. I would suspect that the hostile people are the ones who don’t have their “Nerd Creed.”
I get the impression that Mr. Harris was just fed up, possibly inebriated, before releasing that diarrhea from his keyboard. Maybe he had just been turned down by a booth girl for the 50th time, maybe he and a few of his buddies realized how pathetic they really were for going to cons strictly hoping to score, or maybe he just got upset because the girls were getting the attention that he thought he deserved. Frustration, jealousy and reality can both do crazy things to people. I’m not trying to defend Mr. Harris’ diatribe, but without further details I cannot condone the drastic response I see here either. Some guy (possibly) gets drunk and spews forth a vile comment. Is that really such a big deal?
Translation: “It turned out that one girl who went out with me that one time in college didn’t really like Star Wars, she just wanted me to do her homework. Also, my mommy didn’t love me. Therefore all hawt wimmenz is Teh Evoil. Alienate ALL the wimmenz!!”
So, looking to see if there was anything to be salvaged from Harris’s view of women, I wondered if perhaps he was the vanishingly rare comic book artist who eschews the depiction of female characters in hypersexualized clothing over unrealistically proportioned bodies… Nope.
This guy’s rant reminded me of when I used to play in the SCA. I kept getting disparaging looks from folks who had been playing for YEARS and had AMAZING period wardrobes. I was told numerous times that what I was wearing wasn’t “accurate” or “period” enough. And I *bought* part of my costume instead of making it? How DARE I?!
And then, after one dressing down, the local Baroness told me that I looked fine and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought about my costume as long as I was having FUN. That was the important part, that I have fun, not that I make sure that every stitch of my costume was done exactly the right way.
We need to remember that most people who participate in cosplay are there to have FUN. And the ones who have ulterior motives? Do we really care? They don’t know all 3 versions of the character forward and backward? Do you? Do we allow them to take away from OUR fun? Or do we just let it go?
Awww… but that’s different, Foz! It’s not slutty emasculation when it’s a fellow gut-boy dressing up his zepplin-boobed Barbie dolls.
True Nerd gatekeepers would probably think I’m not a “true nerd” at a science fiction convention. Why? Because when a geek guy steps into my space with a pugnacious expression and says, “SO YOU LIKE [SCIENCE FICTION], DO YOU?” I am 95% sure where he is going with this when he starts quizzing me about something I’m showing interest in. I’m a geek girl! I got bullied and excluded too! And I, too, have a razor-keen sensitivity for when someone is about to railroad me into a place where they can mock and belittle me for my shortcomings.
So I’m not playing that game. I may have read/watched every thing available for the show or book on my shirt, but I’m totally going to smile, giggle, and say, “Oh, I don’t know, I just liked the picture.” Then book it the hell out of there. Which I suppose he reads as “being insufficiently nerdy, then refusing to socialize when I realize what a nerd he is.” Because it’s easier than using all my mental health energy (which i’m conserving to actually socialize with fans I like and have three-hour discussions about how broken Stargate’s worldbuilding is) to fight and win a battle for supremacy.
Kevin Riley: Poor Harris, so pathetic and frustrated! And poor old General Petraeus was probably lonely, as Pat Robertson said. By all means, let’s make it about teh menz and sympathize with the problems they have because of women.
Can’t speak for other women, but if the comics industry were fair and balanced, I’d prolly roll my eyes, think ” What an arsehole” and move on.
But since said industry lately went out of their way to alienate both female fans and creators (outside of a few example), it’s yet another drop in the sea of hate – a symptom of what exactly’s wrong with the current geek culture and so, yeah, it deserves discussion, mocking and derision.
It’s very easy to tell if somebody in costume is a real fan or a fake nerd:
Are they a woman who’s costume reflects the sexualisation present in comics’s female characters? If so, they are fake.
Or, to be on the safe side: Are they a woman? If yes, they are not a real comics fan, as its well known that only men are real fans on account of thier manliness.
I can almost sympathize with the guy, (except for the casual misogyny aspect, which is frankly creepy) because I can remember thinking at age 17 “You’re not a geek! You’re popular and attractive!”
Then I remember that I’m 50 now – no one my age (at least, no one not in the midst of a wince-worthy midlife crisis) gives a damn anymore who was popular and attractive when we were 17, and subcultures don’t have membership cards or entry tests. Geek culture in particular should be free of the shibboleths we all tried to use on each other as teenagers to figure out who was cool and who wasn’t. After all, isn’t that part of the point of being a geek?
We share a subculture? Great! The more the merrier.
I am now pondering, for the distant future at which I might again attend cons at which such things would be appropriate, how to cosplay Pyanfar Chanur. I am not sure what to make of this impulse, overall, but it amuses me.
@Ginny: If you want to be The Major, you be The Major. I can think of worse things to cosplay as than a badass cyborg who kills teh terrorists and doesn’t afraid of nobody.
I do recommend finding a couple of male friends to be Togusa and Batou, though. The weirdos tend to tone it down when their “single vulnerable female” radar isn’t activated. Sad that it’s necessary, but that’s less a “how sad that the nerd-dom is like this,” and more a “how sad that human beings are like this” situation.
On the other hand, group cosplay is fun, so it kinda balances out.
Ian Ironwood: I know it seems kind of nuts, but there are actually men out here in the wide, scary world who think women deserve to be treated as people and appreciate it when other men voice that view.
Doc Rocketscience: There was a cheesecake character, but in fairness Ex Machina was pretty fully of reasonably-drawn, lifelike women. It caused me a bit of cognitive dissonance to find out the guy who wrote that weirdness above drew it.
My daughter has been on a tear about this since yesterday. Threatening to whip out her geek cred, and that wouldn’t be pretty. ;) But she also remembers going to her first anime con at 12 (which probably isn’t a “real” con ;P) and being entirely welcomed even though she didn’t know much outside of Pocket Monsters/Pokemon. She’s expanded her tastes since then. (Oh, and? In charge of the build team for her First Tech Challenge team. Her First Lego League team last year – she was mat monitor/robot wrangler – won regionals and took first in presentation at the state.So don’t try to tell her she can’t understand science/math/engineering. ;))
@ Kevin: I’m not convinced that folks commenting “what an arse” on Scalzi’s blog qualifies as a drastic response. Firebombing the arse’s house would be drastic, I agree, but semi-public mockery is perfectly appropriate. If we don’t point out the many special ways in which Mr Harris has failed, how will others learn? In fact, one could argue that the comments are a public service and should be more widely distributed, so as to benefit all of society.
Isn’t that what Mr Harris has attempted, after all? To tell the intertoobs how much he and his “LEGION” are sickened by women, and in what precise ways women are sickening, so that we would all be better informed? Since he is able to read the minds of women, and has kindly shared our thoughts with the world. Further, it turns out that we are all quite terrible and out to get him. I had no idea! As a woman, with thoughts, who once upon a time cosplayed, obviously I cannot be counted on to know my own thoughts, so perhaps I should be grateful to Mr Harris?
No, I don’t think so. I will mock, I will encourage others to mock, and I hope that Mr Harris and his LEGION either grow up or shut up. Those are two sure-fire ways to avoid being ridiculed in public.
@cranapia Silly me! I forgot the golden rule: it’s never sexualisation when men dress up women, and always sexualisation when women dress themselves.
Amanda: a specific subset who: don’t seem to be true fans, choose specifically revealing costumes for the attention, and flirt/tease guys who they’re not interested in.
Yeah, I disbelieve this “subset” actually exists anywhere but in the mind of close-minded nerds.
It’s like the “cadillac driving welfare queens” who don’t actually exist.
If anyone is interested in further reading on the topic, here’s an excellent rundown of a very similar situation (I only share this link because it relates to a recent “fake geek girl” dustup — this time starring Dirk Manning — and I thought it was particularly on point).
My awe for Jennifer de Guzman knows no bounds:
@albert: Luckily my spouse could definitely pull off Togusa and in theory that would be fun, but I generally try not to go places that require a chaperone. And when rants like the above are aired, it serves to further convince me that many cons are such places.
My brain insisted on reading the initial screed from Tony Harris in Comic Book Guy voice. I think that pretty much sums it up.
(I am not much of a cosplayer, but I’ve been attending cons since I was a preteen. And I’d put my geek fu up against his, or anyone else’s. Bring it on.)
these two amazon women capture the stupidity that is sexism (well the one on the right does).
note: the site is NSFW, but the comic is pretty funny.
I have attended, to my recollection, only two “cosplay” events. One was the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade in Los Angeles, wherein people of all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, and genders displayed costumes ranging from impenetrable armor to body paint and glitter. It was FABULOUS. I was not “into” the through story at all; couldn’t have cared less; had never attended before; didn’t know what it was all about. Nobody cared. Everybody was doing their own thing and totally into it.
The other was Dragon Con, in Atlanta, more than twenty years ago. I went with a friend who had made a very fine quasi-medieval costume to go with the replica claymore he was training with (one was allowed, at that time, to bring such things into the cons). I put together a costume that was squarely in the Raquel-Welch sexy-barbarian category. First, because going to Dragon Con without a costume of *some* kind would have been snobby and lame. Second, because I loved my friend and knew he would get a large charge out of walking around with me.
Did I give the smallest scintilla of an iota of a fuck if anyone else thought I was sexy? OF COURSE. But that was not a top-five consideration. I wasn’t there to pick anyone up. I wasn’t there to talk about geek stuff. I was arm candy, and I knew it, and that was A-OK with me.
I hope he had as much fun as I did.
Kevin Riley, it occurs to me that an actual possibly helpful use of your understanding nature and compassion for Mr. Harris (and I mean that seriously) might be to contact him and say, in a brotherly way, “Dude, sounds like you had a bad experience. I wonder whether it’s occurred to you that the woman who turned you down was having a bad day or was possibly inebriated. Or that the young women who were distracting attention from your booth were just as nervous as you probably were when you were their age, and it’s not really that big a deal. I get why you feel bad, but, one guy to another, I can’t condone your drastic response.” I mean, having some sympathy and understanding for the person on the other side works in both directions, so have you asked for that from Mr. Harris and not just folks here? If you thought his comment was vile, have you expressed your disgust to him in a way that he might hear and process, since you find the comments here excessive?
Ginny @1142: JAde, from Beyond Good and Evil. Kicks utter and thorough butt left, right, and center, and dresses practically. I don’t recall, but I don’t think even her midriff is showing. Jade rocks!
Mr. Gustavson: Years ago, I went to a con in what I felt was a reasonably good version of The Shadow, and one person asked me if I was there as Nero Wolfe. Yes, I was overweight (still am), but not to Wolfeian levels. So I’m assuming you smiled and explained to him just how effectively you ‘clouded his mind’…
As for Mr. Scalzi’s writing career, I am a white, hetero, cis-gendered male, and the contents of this blog only make me want to buy more of his works!
I realize I actually own some of the stuff he’s worked on, namely the entire run of Starman. Great books, I’m not going to toss them just because the artist went off his rocker. But it’s odd – one of the reasons I like them so much is that the characters are, for the most part, drawn realistically. Oh sure, there are attractive women and men in there, as well as unattractive, but mostly just plain normal (the protagonist is a regular, gangly fellow, as opposed to the normal male comic book protagonist). But all of them, regardless of their appearance, look and act like actual women and men that you’d see any day on a city street*. It made for a very refreshing and adult change of pace in comparison to most of the mainstream print comics these days.
I don’t know, maybe whoever was in charge of the book laid down a rule of “make it look real, not like it came from the mind of a 13-year old boy.”
* I’m excepting the characters who are obviously ludicrous, like the immortal Victorian in the top hat, or the glowing radioactive skeleton or the blue alien.
An interesting point. When I read ianironwood’s first comment, up to the last paragraph, I was thinking, “Okay, I don’t agree with him, but I admire his ability to write a coherent sentence, and to argue for an unpopular opinion.” Then I read his last paragraph and instantly snapped to, “What a dick.”
But he’s right about publicly expressing your political views being a bad career move; that’s why, as a Trotskyist sympathizer, I never let my political opinions out on my blog, because if I did that, my career would be over. *stares off*
Foz: artist… consistently drawing female heroes in skintight, skimpy clothes, viscerally sexualised poses and impossible bodily contortions MIGHT JUST BE a little bit sexist and demeaning – is now saying women who dress as those selfsame characters as slutty
Well, I think the difference is the women that the artist draws, they are secretly in love with the artist. Whereas the real women at the con have lives of their own.
I mean, don’t all of these insults this guy is leveling at the women he doesn’t like, doing they all boil down to “women who aren’t interested in sleeping with me or telling me how great my comic is”?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m taking this too personally. Should I, as a male fan, be embarrased by some other male fan I don’t even know, who just went out of his way to earn the “needs to lose his virginity, and soon” award? Or “Needs to move out of parents basement” award? Or “Needs to learn how to make love with a woman” award?
I’m feeling embarrassed by this guy being male and a part of fandom. I’m not sure that’s entirely fair, but jesus fucking christ.
@BW – I don’t recall offering any sympathy for Harris, I was trying to figure out why one asshole getting frustrated/jealous/drunk/whatever and making an absurd comment garnered so much attention. I like a good lynch mob as much as the next guy, but there’s not enough time in eternity to go after every misogynistic douche who posts something on the internet. Why does this guy deserve so much attention?
Thanks Carina for providing a little insight.
That’s it, Brust. You’re in the Book too.
@Charles, I was thinking exactly the same thing. I love Harris’s work on Starman, which makes this all the more sad to me.
I have a lot of thoughts I had about this event/person in general but I wanted to pull a spotlight on some of the things you said specifically.
I find some problems with putting intellectual distance between yourself (the general “you”) and Tony Harris, that there’s some palpable reason why he’d say that and you wouldn’t. I don’t think I like the idea of a “gut boy” — it strikes close to the same thing men do any time they feel they are radically different from men being explicitly sexist rather than the just low-level cultural sexism that we don’t find ourselves always questioning. “He’s just a 12 year old boy on the Internet” “He’s not a real man, behaving badly.”
No, these reasons fall flat. They move away from placing blame squarely on the person’s shoulders and at the real root of the problem, therefore it never gets solved. It is sexism and Tony Harris is being sexist and misogynistic. You, John Scalzi, aren’t magically different from him other than the fact that you confront sexism in your beliefs and words daily. No man ever is that far removed from Tony Harris on any given day unless they constantly work at it. There’s no goalposts in being less sexist, you don’t reach a minimum somewhere get a “Good Job” sticker and are at some new level, to rest there comfortably. You have to work at this shit -every day.-
As a feminist woman who is also white, this work happens a lot with respect to racism. I don’t get to rest easy on my laurels and say I’m radically different from politicians who try to bar people of color from voting because they were grown from the same culture I was. We live in the same racist (and in this case SEXIST) culture as eachother. We all come from the same origin and we can’t forget that.
So in that vein, I say that there’s a very easy way to conceive someone like Tony Harris. If you were a woman, you’d see it every single day of your life. I see many, many men your age who hang out of cars wolf-whistling me, who have groped me, who have harassed me on Twitter and my blog, have said shitty things to me in real life just by the virtue of being a woman.
Let’s not kid ourselves and make up ridiculous reasons for why Tony Harris is the way he is when the answer is there and has always been and always will be unless men consistently and constantly combat the sexism inside of themselves.
Wheeeeee! John Scalzi, you wacky self-hating misandrist author, you! I can tell you that you’re definitely alienating your core audience!
… wait, someone’s saying something to me…
… oh. Contrary to what I apparently subconsciously wished, “alienate” does not mean “turn into green-skinned, machine-blooded future soldiers”. *sigh*
… and now they’re telling me that “misandrist” doesn’t mean “opposed to worshipers of BSG’s Anders character”. *sigh redux*
*grumble* NEVER MIND.
>> Say, perhaps how you might feel if someone came to a con as a “Fuzzy slut” and hadn’t even read Piper.>>
I would feel much the same as if some guy came dressed up as Batman who didn’t know who Bill Finger was.
Basically, I wouldn’t give a crap. Did they pay for a ticket? Did they care enough about what they like to go to the trouble to dress up like it, costing them time, money and effort? Good. Do they like what they like for the same reasons I like it? Who gives a shit? I don’t get to bar the door to people who don’t have the same thoughts and knowledge I do, and I don’t want to.
If the world was only made up of people who like what I like for the reasons I like it, not only would the world be a duller place, but there’d be long lines for all the stuff I like, which would suck.
A lot of this has to do with the misogyny and sexism that is going on in a supposedly “tolerant” geek culture and trying to bring episodes like this to the forefront, instead of just piling on for the sake of piling on. Earlier in the year, our host touched on the subject with his “on how to not be a creeper” and other related entries. I really didn’t know this problem was so ingrained until it was brought to light.
This is what happens when someone so thoroughly absorbs the idea that “scantily dressed” = “asking for it” that he thinks that he’s being mean by denying the request.
Fractally wrong doesn’t even begin to cover it.
@Greg: I’m embarrassed by this guy being part of fandom, period. And I totally take the point about fictional vs real women: there’s a big difference between accepting the sexualisation of fictional women who exist only in the abstract – thereby allowing the reader/creator to have an idealised relationship with them – and being confronted by actual, sexual women with the power to reject or ignore you.
“If “Scrotal Origami” is the name of your next band (and really, why *wouldn’t* it be?), then what genre of music would they/he/she/it perform? I’m thinking bagpipes…”
Thank you, Jim C., for my best laugh today!
@vmink Cool! So, okay, one…
I don’t like people who are pretending to be something they aren’t in order to take advantage of people. And I don’t doubt there are a few “posers” (of both genders) floating around the Con world. But until you talk to them, each one individually, and they tell you explicitly that they only chose their outfit because it was hot and they wanted attention and to tease silly nerd boys, you have no way of knowing who is there just to flaunt and who is just new to the geek scene. And with the right conditions, one might turn into the other at a moments notice. You cannot tell by looking at someone, and you certainly can’t lump all people of a gender into one group based on some imagined insult. Basically, assume the best of people and get over it.
I don’t give a shit who dresses up as what at comic conventions, I just want them to stay the hell out of the aisle with ridiculous “photo ops” while I’m searching for comics to buy or getting autographs from creators. Don’t be surprised when I walk in front of your camera or bump into you while you’re taking your picture…I’m trying to get shit done! I came for the “comic” part of comic convention. Heh.
@Ginny – Fair enough. I’d like to tell you that in my experience, cons have been fun places to hang out and enjoy some time spent around fellow geeks, which outweighs the downsides, but our backgrounds and situations are far different.
What are the odds of the offending ignorance being feigned as a deflection tactic? Personally, I know I never have any plans when the bank teller asks me (even If I really do). I can easily imagine someone trying to end a conversation as quickly as possible by not knowing anything about anything. If I started talking to someone and they weren’t making eye contact, didn’t respond to any question with anything resembling interest and didn’t plan on going to any panels/talks/etc., I don’t know that I’d think they didn’t actually like [media].
I think the thing that most confuses me about stuff like this? I’m 44, so about the same age as Harris and Scalzi. I went to my first Creation con in NYC back in….grumble grumble…1984, I think? You know what 15 year-old me would have loved: to have more girls in fandom. Not just cosplayers or even just sexy cosplayers. Just actual honest-to-goodness members of the female persuasion.
As it happened, I found a wonderful woman and she agreed to be my bride who also happened to be a geek. She’s become more of one since we first met a few decades ago and our kids are the cosplayers now (though I did dress as Professor Layton and my son as Luke a couple of years back, but that’s neither here nor there). But my point is that I’m having a hard time understanding why anyone would want to turn fandom into a he-man-women-haters-club. Most geeks I knew growing up lamented that so few women attended conventions at that time….social awkwardness aside, they didn’t avoid members of the opposite gender intentionally, that was considered a side-effect of being a geek.
Somebody linked me to the first person I’ve ever seen doing cosplay of one of the characters I created. I assume she was a fan. I’m sure she’s awesome.
What I don’t get about the Harris thing (and I make my living writing comics, so I have an interest) is how would you know?
I mean, I have talked to cosplayers, and they all seem to know about the characters they are dressed up as. And indeed, quite a lot of them are now dressed as character I don’t recognize, which may be a sign of my nerd deficiency.
But let’s assume my experience is non representative – you’d have to talk to a lot of cosplayers before you could draw a conclusion. My bet is that Harris is just assuming anyone in a revealing costume is one of the people he’s talking about. But I don’t know him.
I genuinely don’t understand why you would care. That’s just, as John intimates, bullshit teenage insecurity.
@Xandira Agreed! Andbut actually serious question: Supposing that there are some women floating around the Con world who did choose their outfit because it was hot and they wanted attention… how is that, in and of itself, taking advantage of people? Who is harmed? I don’t get.
And, really, this is a general question for everyone. What’s so terrible about (hypothetical) attention-seekers anyway? They seek attention; you give it to them or you don’t. Tragedy? I mean, unless the tragedy is in that you feel rejected when your fawning doesn’t inevitably lead to an intimate incounter, which, you know, problematic.
You know, here in America, you’re pretty much guaranteed to disagree with 50% of people in every industry. (See the election that just happened.) So do people really avoid books they like because of politics or other positions? I read good books because I LIKE them. I listen to Wagner even though he was certifiably batnuts. Do people actually go out of their way to avoid Game of Thrones because GRRM is liberal? I find that pretty improbable. I suspect that they grump and growl and buy the books anyway because hey, good books! Maybe I am way off on this, though, maybe people actually do act that way.
Also, on the topic this started with: heh heh, a comic book writer calling cosplay costumes inappropriate? As a comic book reader, I find that hysterical.
Well, I stopped buying Orson Scott Card books when I found out he was a homophobe. But then again, his books weren’t that good anymore anyway, so… Hmm.
J. Swan: If I avoided books where I disagreed with the author’s politics, the number of books I could read would be, roughly, zero. So, yeah, what you said.
Me, I’m trying to figure out how “Spending a great deal of money and effort to dress up” equals “taking advantage of heterosexual men”. Especially when “and she’s IGNORING ME” is part of the equation. It’s not like she’s forcing you to buy her dinner or something. Where, exactly, is the “taking advantage” part happening? The only possible conclusion I can come to is that “she’s dressed up all sexy-like” means “she’s promising to have sex with MEMEME! But she WON’T! So she’s Broken The Contract and/or Is A Fake!” Um, no.
Maybe I was oblivious 30 years ago when I was young and skinny (hey, I’m a geek. I’m QUITE SURE I was oblivious!), but I don’t remember this sort of this “if you’re dressed up at all sexy-like You Must Belong To Me Sexually and Besides, You’re A Fakety-Fake-Fake!” thing happening nearly as much back then. But, like I said, oblivious.
Makes me rather glad that I’m a married, fat, middle-aged woman now; it means that All The Sexxy Are Belong To Me douchebags don’t even SEE me. And I can geek out about geeky things (Rocketry! Old time radio! Bujold! Weber! Board games!) with people who actually, you know, treat me like a fellow geek. Like Eric Scott Raymond, who spent a good half hour last week telling me Really Cool stuff about buffering between networks. And didn’t mock me for not knowing NEARLY as much as he; he just explained stuff when I asked questions. Like you do, when you’re a geek.
P.S. John, is there any technical way that you could add a “last thousand comments” link, à la Making Light?? The recent Blatherations of Others list is useful, but too short for high-volume days.
@Foz Meadows: Exactly! Now I’d like to tie Mr Effing Harris down and force him to conduct a close analysis of Love and Rockets — a comic created by straight men who can actually write and draw women rather than wank-fantasies — except I’d probably end up doing prison time for kidnapping, assault and a whole raft of other not cool criminal offenses.
@Xandira: And I’ve reached the stage in my life as a gay man where I don’t like people who expect me to perpetually justify every damn thing I do or say or else just disappear myself to protect their ego. I’ve done that for a lot of years, and I’m done with it. People like Harris don’t get to passive-aggressively define who I “really” am, and until we all stop saying “booth babes” and cos-players are the problem instead of creepers and bullies what’s going to change? Nothing.
I don’t read Orson Scott Card’s books because I find him abhorrent. In general, though, I only stop reading an author whose politics I disagree with when said politics start showing up in the author’s books (cf. John Ringo).
@Bess: In a work as long as a novel, one cannot help but find one’s worldview creeping in. However, that is a lot different from hitting the reader over the head with one’s ideology. In other words, I agree with you.
@John:We’re getting rather far afield; should we stop?
@Ginny: I suspect the piece you’re missing is that walking around scantily clad as a fondly remembered adolescent lust-object causes the angry resentful nerd to want one, and being made to want someone without being able to have them — in particular, not being able to parlay one’s encyclopedic knowledge and, where applicable, professional status into sexual access because the desired object is not a real nerd and so does not properly respect the nerd hierarchy — is a horrible and unjust harm being done to the poor overstimulated creature.
Won’t somebody think of the sexual-conquest-derived-status deprived men?
Exactly cranapia. Creepers and bullies are the problem. If I see there is a television program on that I don’t like, guess what? I don’t watch it. If you don’t like the cosplayers that you think are “fake”, ignore them. What is harder to ignore are the idiots with cameras that are creeping.
@chaosprime: *sustained cheer*
Stuff like Harris’ post above makes me embarrassed to be a geek of any stripe. Hell, it makes me wish I’d never self-identified as a geek. The combination of elitism, misogyny, and general arrogance found in a wide range of “geekdom” – especially among software geeks IMO, see for instance Richard Stallman – just disgusts me.
Come on, guys. The reason you can’t find a lady friend is that you act like women are dirt, like non-geeks are dirt, and in general like everyone not like exactly like you… is dirt. Is it any wonder that women think you’re a jerk, a creep, and possibly a rapist? If other people acted like you were a waste of neurons, how much do you think you’d like it?
@Steven Brust, yes, I should be clear, I don’t mean “one’s worldview informing the work”, as I think that’s unavoidable. I mean hitting the reader over the head with your ideology. That will make me stop reading an author.
On the vaguely flip side, I have a friend who, while perfectly geeky/nerdy in her own right, when faced with a choice of characters to cosplay will almost always choose the ‘sexier’ one. She wants the attention – she admits it. She will dress as the Orion slave girl instead of Nurse Chapel, even if she likes Chapel more as a character. The stares of the people validate her ego. I hate it*, but it’s not my place to tell her she’s not ‘fan’ enough. It *is* my choice whether or not to not hang out with her if her choice annoys me.
Harris has a right to his opinion; if he wants to grumble himself into an ulcer over this I suppose that’s his right. But at some point the supposedly helpless geek-boy is going to have to learn to judge for himself (since Harris is being gender specific) what girls are genuine in their interests. It’s not Harris’ place to tell the girls they can’t play, and it’s really not the girl’s job to be ‘nerdy enough’ (whatever that means) to make anyone else happy; it’s each other person’s place to determine if the girl is doing something they want to associate with, and interact or walk away accordingly. I think previous points are pretty spot on, that some of this is projection of personal rejection fears and/or experiences. I think there’s more going on too, but it would be a psychologist’s field day to unwind it all.
*When I’m being honest with myself, I note that sometimes I hate what she does because I’m not comfortable enough in my own skin to dress the same way, even if I would like to. Sometimes it’s just that attention seekers annoy the crap out of me. And yet we remain friends – because, you know, she has superbly redeeming qualities. Like being a fellow geek.
I stop reading authors when they start injecting political or religious views into places they just don’t seem to fit. Terry Goodkind comes to mind his books were great at first and then morphed into libertardian screeds. Long run on paragraphs hammering libertarian talking points in the middle of a magic battle just kinda takes one out of the story.
Because the female cosplayers totally aren’t working with what’s given to them. You know, just so many of the female superheroes and comic book characters have modest dress, it’s a wonder how women make them into such scantily clad costumes. And really, one would think that, in a world of “sexy” costumes provided by male-run companies, women would just all learn how to sew (you mean they’re not born with that knowledge) and make their own costumes, so they can live up to what men want them to look like. And god forbid they dress too modestly, for then they will be completely undesirable.
BTW, re “enjoying the view” and “male gaze”: I’m sorry to point this out, gentlemen, but looks can hurt. How would you like it if people’s eyes kept going to your chest when they were talking to you?
Yes, controlling where your eyes go is hard, and only gets harder. Deal with it. Women have it much harder than you.
@chaosprime Naw! There must be an explanation of The Terrible Thing About Attention-y Womenfolk that doesn’t involve the poor menz not being entitled to mating partners, right? Right? Bueller…
To be clear, I dislike being hit over the head with the author’s ideology no matter what ideology it is. For example, I probably agree with Phillip Pullman on a philosophical level, but for the love of all that is holy, I cannot stand his books.
Regarding the whole idea that one can sympathize with Harris bc of how their inner/former 15 year old self felt – may I just ask why it is that 15 year old boys get all the sympathy but the 15 year old girls that have to deal with them (AND CREEPY ASS ADULT MEN) do not?
I mean I get what everyone is doing here, I don’t think that trying to understand people is a bad thing generally. But quite frankly, it’s reminding me of much the same way that socially awkward is discussed when it comes to harassment: it’s always the harassers that we must remember may have issues, never the harassees as well. If one is going to reach back into how it felt to be fifteen, then how it felt to already have big breasts at 15, be a huge nerd, and listen to rants like Harris’ has to be taken into account as well.
@fozmeadows and @cranapia
I think the golden rule is more simply: it’s never [wrong] when men [decide that women should do something], and always [wrong] when women [make the choice for themselves].
I personally try to avoid overtly mapping my political positions in this world onto the worlds I create, as they are not likely to make any sense in that context.
Also, yes, we should probably swing this back around to the topic at hand now.
It’s a long thread, but I don’t think this has been covered. You know what really gets up Mr Harris’s nose? It’s that these girls are not that hot Where do they get off having fun and feeling good about the way they look? See? See how they don’t deserve to have all the perks of attention and community support when they aren’t even all that good looking?
I’ve only been to one Comic Con, the one in San Diego. I loved the pudgy guy in his forties covered in body paint being the Silver Surfer, and the other “Con-Hot” or not even “Con-Hot” who exposed their flesh and their psyches for the whole world to see. I loved it that you didn’t have to a be a supermodel to play in the sandbox. I was so happy to see that people didn’t mock. I’m sorry to see that I was either wrong, or that sense of inclusion is being eroded whatever the reason.
So Mr. Harris looked up from his booth with its posters of his delicate Asian flower ladies and sexy women in tank tops with guns, noticed there were teenage girls in costumes who were not as photoshopped skinny as the women in his favorite Internet porn, realized that twenty-something female comics artists would be taking his job soon and that women and teenage girls are the only audience groups for comics that are growing, and freaked out. And you know what, that’s okay.
There are more women at conventions — that scares them. There are more women interested in manga and comics and SFFH than ever before — that scares them. There are more women working in the business — that really scares them. These women, even the young ones, go where they want when they want as they want and do what they want — that scares them. They frantically try to divvy up all the women into allowed good girl exceptions who they claim, with no sexist irony at all, to be protecting, and bad girl predators who are ruining everything, to reassert control — and women just laugh at them. And that scares them. If they are moved to spew their sick sexual fantasies about adolescents on the Internet, it’s because they are scared of women having an equal role in fandom — a role they can’t control and which doesn’t require their approval and pronouncement that the women have earned the right to be there. A role where the sexual hangups and disappointments of straight men are not the women’s problem.
People like Ironwhathisname — and they can be men or women — are straightforward that they think women are baby-breeding machines whose job is to keep their mouth shut. People like Mr. Harris — and they can be men or women — are harder to spot. They claim to care about women with faux concern. So when their gut boys escape and talk about women in slut-shaming and depraved, machoistic bile like this, it let’s us know where they are. And lets us know that we’re scaring them into a more equal society. Twenty years from now, Mr. Harris will either know he was on the wrong side of history or be marginalized. Probably he’ll still lust after teenage girls. Who will be everywhere. Heh.
Maybe its his age after all. At 43, he would be at an impressionable age when “Bull Durham” came out, and maybe he thinks all women are groupies like Susan Sarandon’s character.
Every convention, this poor bastard shows up, hoping, waiting, for the Annie Savoy groupie to show up and seduce him. And it’s been… how many years now.. that this has failed to happen. That would explain his level of anger, and the fact that he’s angry that all these women are fakes. Where is the real Savoy groupie?????
The only way any of these asshats who beat down on the “fake geek girl” have any sort of valid point is if they ALSO beat down on the “fake geek boy.” (Insert snark).
This kinda of sexist misogynistic talk from “geek insiders” is becoming hackneyed and, frankly, boring. Get OVER yourselves: you did not create geek culture, you merely exist within it.
As a geek girl–do I need to insert my creds here to be taken seriously (I think not)–I find this talk so incredibly… tiresome. I’m over it. Why, by nature of my gender, is my fandom (and every other woman–be she more attractive than I or not) called into question? Wouldn’t a purveyor of geek–writer, artists, etc.–WANT a larger, more diverse audience? What is the fear, I’m curious, of “allowing” this diversity to exist? What is the threat, pray tell? Seriously, someone enlighten me?
@Kevin: Can we…not use the phrase “lynch mob” to describe people saying that an asshat is being an asshat? Because, first of all: wow, way to overdramatize, and second: lynch mobs were actual things that existed and killed people within the last two or three generations, at least.
Otherwise? I assume we’re talking about this guy because he made an annoying public statement. I wasn’t aware that further justification was required. Do I need a note from my doctor and/or mom?
@Jesslin: I take the position that most of us want attention, and each of us has multiple different ways of pursuing it. Sometimes I dress sexily; sometimes I express some opinions about a TV show I like; sometimes, I, er, write books. ;) None of these seems more or less valid than the others, although people only seem to pay me for one.
Just a tip to some commenters: Responding to Harris with “hurr hurr, what kind of crazy guy doesn’t want to look at boobies on display” is also sexist.
I’ve just reread Mr. Harris’s rant, a little more slowly this time, and it seems clear to me that what’s eating at him is envy and hurt pride. The whole thing comes into focus in his last few lines: The press flocks to the pretty girls. The young women in costumes are diverting attention from the writers and artists who are the “real” reason for the con. He appears to envy the attention the “gals” are getting that he and the other artists and writers aren’ getting. And instead of getting mad at the members of the press who are more interested in the cosplayers than in the artists and writers, he displaces the blame onto the women. Such a sad and unclassy move on Mr. Harris’s part, and so misguided.
Bess @11:41 (and anyone else who might be interested)
According to huge random surveys by the ABA, women buy 75-80% of all books, period. That doesn’t mean they read all those books (women do 80+% of all household shopping) but they buy them. The only genre in which male buyers approach female buyers is SFF. But the numbers aren’t quite what Ironwood thinks. Ten years ago, men outnumbered women when it came to buying SFF. Today, women buyers outnumber men. Not 75-25, but at least 60-40.
I’m the manager of the world’s oldest SFF bookstore, and have been for more than a dozen years. I’ve watched the transition with interest.
This crap is not restricted to cos-play geek girls. I was wearing one of the XKCD UNIX t-shirts (the “Make me a sandwich” one) in my local SF/F bookstore last summer. A male customer snickered, explained the joke to me in detail (?!), and asked “Do your son buy you that?”. I requested he ask his question again. Thoughtful pause. “Did your husband buy you that?”. No, I said, I did. “Why?”.
Why indeed. Well, because it’s funny and BTW, I first used UNIX in 1976 and I still use it every work day and why the hell am I explaining this and justifying wearing a geekyT-shirt!?
Chris S. — thanks. I was really interested in that data.
The thing that is most upsetting to me as a person who support equality and fair treatment is that we’ve still got so far to go despite how dumb-as-a-stump DIM the opposing side is. Seriously, THIS is our opposition? Why aren’t we on victory lap 4720383? Are we slipping in their drool? What the hell.
An interesting thing is that right now I am reading Sean Howe’s “Marvel: The Untold Story” and I’m currently reading about the 1970s. it’s a fascinating read, especially illuminating the turmoil in the industry and the social changes under way (and hidden subtexts for some characters going on).
But one thing that shines through from the 1960s and 1970s is the definite elements of misogyny that can be found throughout the industry. Shambling moves are made towards better standings, but the stories from some of the female writers/artists of the time (not that there were many and some of them were married to male creators, which is how they got offered the work) certainly painted to situations that show that this is not a new problem in fandom.
@isabelcooper: Not only “within the last two or three generations,” but yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and (interestingly enough) for the very sins Mr. Effing Harris is ranting about. See: Taliban, “honour” killings, etc.
Lynch mobs are alive and well in today’s world, and if they’re not operating in your neighborhood today, give thanks. There are plenty right here in North America who’d love to revive the practice in re: teh GAYZ! illegal BROWN people! uppity wimminz killing blastocysts! And if you think I’m over-dramatizing, you don’t get out enough.
Complaints about whether or not the cosplaying women meet some arbitrary standard of hawtness and/or geek knowledge are about as sensible as complaining because a fan wore a DS9 Star Trek costume rather than a ST:WoK uniform because we all know that ST:WoK costumes are superior :P I’d far rather be asked about how I built the Type 3 phaser rifle.
@uleaguehub: Yep, and I agree.
The “over-dramatizing” bit was directed toward Kevin’s comparison, because…really? *Really*? A bunch of people on a blog talking about how Harris sucks is in any way like…yeah, I don’t even.
There needs to be some kind of Bingo square for “I’m not taking his side but I don’t understand why you’re all so upset about this” disingenuity coupled with dog-whistles like “lynch mob” or “dogpile”.
didn’t we just do this? I’m getting dèjà vu.
It’s the Hotel California.
You can check out, but you can never, ever leave.
That guy will always be standing in the lobby, saying the same dang thing, over and over and over.
. . . I hope this is a lie, by the way.
@ Jesslin: “On the vaguely flip side, I have a friend who, while perfectly geeky/nerdy in her own right, when faced with a choice of characters to cosplay will almost always choose the ‘sexier’ one. She wants the attention – she admits it. She will dress as the Orion slave girl instead of Nurse Chapel, even if she likes Chapel more as a character. The stares of the people validate her ego. I hate it*, but it’s not my place to tell her she’s not ‘fan’ enough. It *is* my choice whether or not to not hang out with her if her choice annoys me.”
There was a fairly interesting essay I read about that awhile back – the essay proposed that there were two conversations/ideas that kept getting tangled in the conversations/debates that keep happening around the topic of “sexy cosplay” that deserved to be discussed separately (to paraphrase): 1) that individuals have their own reasons for dressing/presenting themselves as they do and that for some people, icons such as Leia in her slave costume can be legitimately feel empowering and those reasons shouldn’t be automatically dismissed; and 2) the TREND of “sexy geek cosplay” and how geek culture (and mainstream culture as a whole) tends to reward women who objectify and sexualize themselves is a completely different conversation/issue that deserves to be analyzed and discussed as it *is* a problem of culture and NOT a problem that women bring on themselves.
You might want to give it a read, seemed to touch on quite a bit of what you were talking about. http://geekfeminism.org/2011/08/23/geek-girls-and-the-problem-of-self-objectification/ There’s a link to an updated version of her original post, too, that’s a lot more indepth – the analysis of Slave Leia and the stories behind why some women have found that image empowering for instance, put a spin on that version of her that I hadn’t considered before. There’s a lot to chew on in there and it’s a really good read.
I had to google cosplay as I’m unfamiliar with the comic book culture. I only read comics.
I am familiar with misogyny. A sense of humour goes a long way when dealing with misogynists.
Thanks for posting this “screed”.
@The Pint Thanks for the excellent link!
I mean I think that, if you dialed back on the sexism, there could be a legitimate conversation to be had about the opportunistic co-opting of geek culture which I do think has been happening. Of course I’d hardly point to sexy cosplayers as the #1 offenders… you might want to look a little higher up the food chain, guys.
But, yeah, anyway. This Tony Harris rant is not going to be the spark that ignites a productive discussion.
Just for random counterpoint, I had someone drunkenly chew me out at a con a while back because I was a woman and *not* cosplaying; he evidently felt that if women were going to invade his ‘geeky’ space they apparently owed him his desired visuals, or something.
Something I don’t understand is what’s such an absolutely horrible crime about attention-seeking. Holy shit, yes, people sometimes enjoy attention, even hurt for the lack of it. So they go out looking for some. Uh… isn’t that kind of what we’re supposed to do? Go try to get the things we want, without hurting anybody (who isn’t into that)?
I mean, yes, obviously the real complaint is that they’re leveraging sexuality to get attention without signing up to have sex with anybody who provides said attention. So, okay, let’s compare and contrast:
* You bitches are just dressing up slutty for attention, not because you’re real fans or want to have sex with me!
* You poseurs are just going to restaurants and ordering meals because you’re hungry, not because you’re really dedicated to supporting struggling food service staff via tips!
* You jerks are just going to see movies because you want to be entertained, not as an economic tribute to film auteurs’ personal greatness!
SO FUCKING WHAT?
@Rachel: We call that the ‘Gaslighting Special’. It’s just one of the many packages from Misogyny Central designed to make women feel crazy and confused.
Went to Philcon last weekend. There shoulda been a panel:
Fake Nerd Girls with Big Boobies: Threat or Menace – Plaza II, 9:00 PM. T Fing Harris, Yuki Onna (moderator), John Scalzi, Ferrett Steinmetz.
@Kevin, you do realize that you’re actually arguing we need to STFU and not criticize anyone? Because if your argument is “why pick on this one guy”, well, that could apply to any guy, right? And if no matter who you pick, it will be The Wrong Guy, then you can’t pick anyone.
Nice try, though.
P.S.: please look up the history of what ” lunch mob” means. I for one am sick to the fucking gills of it being used to mean “a lot of people on the Internet laughing at somebody whose views I at least somewhat identify with”.
LYNCH mob, goddamn you, autocorrect.
Damn, if people were only allowed to dress up as people, characters, and things which they knew every minute detail about, I’d never have been able to go out as an astronaut for Halloween.
sonjade says: …didn’t we just do this? I’m getting dèjà vu.
This was pretty much my thought when I discovered this latest nonsense, after seeing Wil Wheaton snarking off about it on Twitter/Facebook last night. Because seriously… we DID just do this, more than once, and it’s reallyreallyreally getting old!
I also feel the need to add:
-that the Kuato gut-boy thing really cracked me up, so thanks for that John, I needed it today.
-and that I had never actually purchased Mr. Scalzi’s works (though several were on my TBR list) until I started regularly following this blog. Now I buy whatever I can get in various/multiple formats.
Keep on keeping on, Whatever…
Lunch mob might be a better choice. A bunch of people getting together and talking about someone who isn’t there.
@mythago, your lunch mob is making me hungry.
It always sucks when this kind of attitude attaches itself to someone with obvious talent, which Harris has. I loved his work in the early going of the Robinson-Starman series. And I regret that all his efforts only served to expose him to cooties. Life just isn’t fair.
Amen to all of that and then some.
@mythago: given how often the term “lynch mob” gets invoked as needless hyperbole, I’d like to move that we henceforth go with “lunch mob” as a viable, mocking alternative? Because I just about snarfed my afternoon tea reading that autocorrect.
Now I’m hungry, dammit.
Also, Ghryswald, this might explain why kids were tweeting warnings to avoid Harris’ house on Halloween. Apparently he demanded they fill out a 1 page exam about the meaning and history of Halloween, followed by a verbal quiz about the kids’ costume, before giving them candy.
And even after all that, you still only got the “fun” size bars, not the full size bars.
There must be some kind of “SF Convention==Halloween” meme that could fucking put this nonsense to bed.
Like “conventions are like halloween: no entrance exam to get candy”
Or something like that. i’m not good a memes. I’m good at old school punch cards, but you don’t see those much anymore.
Where’s my cane. I think I just threw out my hip.
I for one would like to see the check list for nerdity/geekhood* that these people are going off, after all fair is fair and we should be able to compare their score to ours if they are gonna demand we prove ourselves.
It’s bad enough hearing these arguments from guys who haven’t been alive as long as I’ve been on the internet, but from supposedly mature men who are essentially complaining about how women who are young enough to be their daughters don’t know as much as they do (which might, just might, be because of the age difference – or because they can’t find a job in the geek industry) or their geekiness is in an area these guys don’t think is geeky enough. That just makes me reach for the stereotype of a mid life crisis. I don’t want to resort to stereotypes ’cause that is generally lazy thinking, but to be honest I’m inclined to spend much time on these overaged adolescents.
*who wants to put money on one of the items being – must have own masculine genitalia?
I spent a summer house-sitting as a young adult during which I read and enjoyed the homeowner’s large collection of science fiction, all now going on at least 40 years of age as I am now 62. My dad introduced me to some science fiction when I was a child – The Prisoner of Zenda, Chessmen of Mars, I think? I loved comic books as a child. I am not knowledgeable to the level of nerdhood about Sci-fi or comics but I loved Superman and Wonder Woman. I started reading John Scalzi’s blog and tweets because somebody linked to his posting of the doctor’s remarks on legislatively mandated ultrasounds for abortions. Per Isabelcooper’s comment on John’s blog attracting new fans, I did find this blog ingenious and heartwarming enough to become curious about Redshirts and to buy a copy of it. I enjoyed it very much. It’s floating around my sister’s house now so one of my nephews or greatnephews is reading it, I guess.
Geekboys of yore: man, there aren’t enough girls in our scene.
(pretty girls arrive, in the form of cosplayers)
Geekboys of today: man, who let all these fake nerd girls (some of whom are even pretty!) into the room?
Me: only in dorkworld could the fulfillment of an ages-old desire — that women, costumed or otherwise, pretty or otherwise, might filter into dorkspace — become a concern. Enough for the dorks-at-arms to fly into a rage about it.
Frankly, I consider cosplayer crossover to be yet another sign that dorks are winning the cultural battle. When (occasionally pretty) girls are dressing up (or dressing down!) in order to go hang out in dorkspace for fun this is a sure sign that the ‘football team’ no longer owns the whole narrative.
Even if the cosplayers are hired help (booth babes) this is still a “win” for dorkspace.
Yet dorkspace cannot abide it? Well, the TruDorks can’t.
(head in hands)
chaosprime: “You poseurs are just going to restaurants and ordering meals because you’re hungry, not because you’re really dedicated to supporting struggling food service staff via tips!”
Or perhaps “You poseurs are just going to this kind of restaurant and ordering meals because yoiu’re hungry, not because you really care that all the food is organic, locally sourced, and/or fair trade and the chef has three Michelin stars and makes her own charcuterie. No, you saw some review on Yelp and the restaurant was close by, and now you’re ruining it for those of us who are real foodies because we can’t enjoy our meals knowing that you’re at the next table just eating your dinner in blissful ignorance.”
Not that I’m saying all real foodies would be like that–just the ones that resemble the TruDorks Brad mentions.
@BW: Ooh, well played. You win at analogy.
chaosprime, your idea made me see the issue differently, and I loved your post. It got my imagination going.
I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that if you wear a costume (something you probably put a lot of effort into, for the express purpose of showing it to people in public), and I LOOK at you wearing this costume, I am a horrible oppressive sexist pig who wants all women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Should I just blindfold myself at the next DragonCon?
So, fine, whatever. If it’s sexist to be honest about the fact that I enjoy looking at women (Please note: Looking at. Not fondling, drooling on, stalking, grabbing, cat-calling, etc. If you say “It’s all the same!”, well, we’re not going to have any kind of understanding. Add me to your ignore list, you’ll be happier.), then, I’m sexist. Oddly, I do not feel any extensive shame. This undoubtedly damns me to a deeper level of hell.
Wearing a costume — sexy or otherwise — in a public gathering is an implicit request to be looked at. It’s not a request to be groped, fondled, verbally assaulted, harassed, followed, physically attacked, etc… but it IS a request to be looked at. If you GET looked at it, when you CHOSE to dress in a distinctive fashion at a public venue — I can’t see any logic to getting upset. If you find it tiresome, go back to your hotel room and change your clothes. (Please note I am not saying “People who dress to attract attention are asking to be raped.” I am saying “People who dress to attract attention are asking to have attention directed at them.” If you think “That’s the same thing!”, I do not think we can have a productive conversation, as noted above. )
And, as a general note — men, and women, notice people they find attractive, according to their tastes and sexual orientation. Four billion years of evolution will not be wiped out by any number of consciousness raising seminars. Our hindbrains are constantly on the lookout for a)something that wants to kill us, b)something we can eat, and c)something we can mate with. Our forebrains and years of appropriate social conditioning and the establishment of behavioral norms decide what to do when our hindbrain signals, but nothing’s going to stop the initial response.
I don’t see a lot of people getting up in arms over the “kilts and leafblowers” meme over at DevilsPanties.com (hell, they’re doing a strip on that today, just went there to find an example and there it is on the main page, as of 11/14/2012). Enjoying looking at attractive people — for whatever your personal definition of “attractive” may be — is healthy, normal, and natural. If the new definition of “sexist” is “any even partially heterosexual man who admits he thinks ‘Damn, she’s hot!’ when an attractive woman walks by”, then, you’re going to be spending a long, long, time eradicating sexism. You might find easier windmills to tilt at, or at least focus more on “Thinking is fine; groping is not fine”.
(As a side note, I’ve never had anyone staring at my chest, with good reason. It’s not worth staring at, except perhaps in abject horror. The only physical feature I have which is even marginally attractive is my hair; I have a waist-length pony tail. I’ve had women behind me on con escalators, or at con suites, start fondling it without asking, or otherwise make it clear they thought it was attractive, even if it was attached to the rest of me, which isn’t. I felt, in general, flattered and happy. It’s nice to have someone think you’re physically attractive. I can understand that people who are better looking than me (i.e, almost everyone) might get bored or tired of it, and obviously, there’s a line where a casual compliment can cross into unwelcome attention, but merely having someone indicate attraction in a passing way does not come close to crossing the line of socially acceptable behavior in this culture.)
Oh, and utterly off topic… there’s NEW FUZZY BOOKS???? Good lord, I read the freakin’ CRAP out of my SF Book Club edition back when I was in High School, which was at the point when “16K? What will I do with all the memory?” was said without irony. I later read Fuzzy Bones and loved it, and had no idea, despite being wired in to geek culture, there were even MORE Fuzzy books. They must be mine!
What’s the verb form of what just happened here? Burned? Scalded? Scaldzied?
@BW: Excellent. Glad to be of service!
@Lizard: Who in the world are you arguing with?
mythago: I want to join your Lunch Mob. That sounds awesome!
I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that if you wear a costume (something you probably put a lot of effort into, for the express purpose of showing it to people in public), and I LOOK at you wearing this costume, I am a horrible oppressive sexist pig who wants all women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.
Missin’ the point, dude.
You left it on the lawn, after yelling at those damn kids…
I think Lizard was replying to Revolver’s post at 2:37pm, not to the original post. If I’m wrong about that, or if everybody else already knew that, my apologies.
Thank you. I was completely baffled by Lizard’s post…
I’m guessing he is arguing with the people in the past who have foolishly thought he was intelligent enough to understand the difference between:
wears clothing to be noticed vs. wears [sexy] clothing to be noticed [sexually].
wears clothing to be noticed [by friends] vs. wears clothing to be noticed [by him].*
is noticeable vs. is noticeable [on purpose, and for the specific reason he deems them to be]
but I could be wrong and someone here has been sending him secret messages the rest of us have missed….
*awesome, awesome, awesome illustration of precisely why “wearing sexy clothing to be noticed means you really want every guy looking at you and you are lying if you say otherwise” is complete bullshit: the scene in the recent Castle ep where Castle runs into Alexis and her friends cosplaying at a con.
Someone should point out women disregard him because he is an asshole, not because he is a nerd.
to be fair, it’s also possible Lizard just confused the assertion that yes, we can tell when guys are “looking” (ie being creepy leering assholes) with the mere idea that one might mentally notice someone attractive. still, that seems to imply to me a certain level of willfull not. getting. it.
I’m too sexy for science fiction conventions. Sorry, you won’t be seeing me at any in 2013.
This seems to me just the erosion of male privilege reaching nerddom, and it undergoing the same meltdown we’ve seen elsewhere. For a long time unattractive male nerds pretty much ruled the roost at cons (and it was pretty much the only place some of those guys actually did feel ike they were in charge), then when it became “cool” or “mainstream” women started turning up, and in increasing numbers. Now the socially awkward nerds no longer get to have the same level of privilege and misogyny as they used to, and the women are forming their own subcultures within that previously “owned” space, they are freaking out. Now not only are they a rung down in the real world (from the non-awkward, non-creepy guys), they are finding out that in the place they once retreated to to be kings, other people are climbing up and wanting equal treatment.
Nerddom is just lagging the real world a little in this regard. Just like in the real world outside nerddom we’ll find most will adjust (if they haven’t already) and a hardcore of whiners will be left behind, slowly getting more isolated in their refusal to change. The current screaming is just those desperate for someone not to take their only (perceived) level of privilege away from them.
That is my theory anyway.
As a female fan who as spent nearly 30 years reading comics and just wishes I was still young enough to dress as most comic book heroines – This is the most perfect comment I have seen in response to this stupidity. Female fans have never really been welcomed by most of the males in the fandom – but it’s guys who are more mature and accepting and stand up against the total misogynists, like you, who keep us from running away in horror at the “gut-boy” owners ;)
Hunh, okay. Because if that’s the case, Lizard, that you’re responding to Revolver, you seem to have invented a medium-sized platoon of straw men to yell at instead of responding to what was said.
For those curious — sorry for any confusion, I wish there was a better quoting system here, but I ought to be more clear, too — I was responding to several posts. First, Revolver’s post at 2:37 and also to Beano, or, more generally, various forms and phrasings of those ideas that I’ve seen in many places; not trying to focus on their posts in particular, but a general concept that I find disagreeable. If I am misinterpreting or overreading their meaning or intent, then, I apologize for my overlong rant.
@Jenny: Yes, being a creepy leering asshole is bad, and I’m sorry if I gave any reason to think I thought otherwise. Again, there is the distinction between thought and action. I do not believe there is any way to keep from noticing someone attractive. I do not see acknowledging that such notice does occur to be a particularly odious act. (Please note, I’m talking about acknowledging it in a forum like this, where we’re discussing an issue and how people respond, not letting every woman I pass know if I think she’s attractive or not — that’s A-1 assholery, no doubt.)
Okay. Well, I don’t wanna go through the whole thing or nothin’, but I want to speak to a couple points.
1. Identifying something you said as sexist isn’t the same as identifying you as reactionary-patriarch-wants-women-barefoot-and-pregnant-guy. It’s understandable that you’d think so, because we come from a culture that’s largely about labeling people to push them down the pecking order, but when we’re trying to be better than that, it’s about incremental improvement. In that sort of way of approaching things, well-meaning people can still have sexist ideas in their heads and say sexist things, and the idea is to get better, not defend the idea of already being perfect.
2. Of course saying “well naturally straight guys want to see boobies” is sexist. Besides the way it promotes an objectifying society harmful to women, which takes a bit of nuanced analysis to understand, right on the face of it it assigns an essentialist (you were born this way so of course you’re like this) role to men based on sex. And I think I can say without fear of contradiction that you could go to, say, Saudi Arabia, for example, and find lots of straight men who would respond very poorly indeed to the sight of nigh-unclad breasts.
3. There’s a bit of difference between allowing one’s sexual anatomy to be viewed relatively unobstructedly and requesting it. Someone might want to be subject to the male gaze from only one portion of the potential audience, for example, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And the fact that somebody’s presenting that way isn’t a signal that they no longer wish to be viewed primarily as a valid human being first and foremost. A friend of mine loves showing off her excellent breasts (and when she’s feeling bad about herself will speak of them as her only positive feature, which breaks my heart), but she still appreciates the fact that I make eye contact with her when she’s doing so. Even if someone is actively saying “look at me”, that’s not the same as saying “look at me as an object”.
Goddammit, Tony Harris, I like your work, so STOP BEING A DICK WHERE I CAN SEE YOU. You and Dan Simmons. Jesus.
@ mythago I am not arguing that you need to STFU, I am asking “why this guy?” What makes this guy so special that he deserves so much of your righteous indignation? I know I may be kicked off the site (or laughed at mercilessly) for not being “geek-chic” enough, but I’m going to admit it anyways – Until I read this post I had never heard of this guy. I’ve never been to a convention (comic, sci-fi or other) and I haven’t bought a comic book in over 15 years so I had to Google his name just to find out that he is a comic book artist. Is it his profession that has elevated his stupid comment to the forefront? Or is it strictly the fact that he was discussing conventions, and therefore encroaching on some sacred area? I just don’t understand why this one person, this one statement was singled out.
@ isabelcooper – over dramatization on a comment thread? That’s impossible. I used the term lynch mob as an over dramatization the same way this site’s host used the suggestion that Harris has a maladept fifteen-year-old boy in his gut – for effect. I am sure Mr. Scalzi doesn’t seriously believe Harris has a secondary sentient being somewhere inside his person, the same way I don’t believe you are forming a group to physically assault Mr. Harris.
2. Obviously, what someone finds attractive, and in what context, is culturally dependent and often highly subjective. Yes, Saudi men would likely respond negatively. I think it’s safe to assume that there’s an implied “within the context of 21st century American culture” when discussing almost anything of this nature.
3. We are discussing fairly different contexts. I am speaking, primarily, of casual, in-passing, events. When I am struggling to get through a mob at DragonCon, and out of the corner of my eye I see an attractive woman, there really isn’t a lot of time for me to get to know her as a person or express my appreciation of the skill and craftsmanship she put into her costume, or discuss my interpretation of the anime she based it on and what the symbolic role of the various characters was; my brain says, “Hey, she’s cute!”, and I resume trying to get where I was going. That’s all. The impression I got, from Revolver’s post and others here, is that the fact my brain says this is evidence I’m a horrible person who hates women, and I must condition my brain to never, ever, send me such messages again.
To address a larger point: How do I, as a mostly neutral observer not interested in actively pursuing anyone (married, happily so, and way too old for most of the cosplayers), tell if someone wants to be looked at “by everyone” or “by only one person” when they are in an open, public, space?
Fortunately I understand you a great deal better than I did Lizard. Please continue to have at it!
Being lynched results in people being dead. If you are unable to tell the difference between live bodies and corpses it is unlikely that you are going to be much help in detecting somewhat subtler nuances…
@Lizard: I can understand why you find the idea objectionable. I find the idea objectionable, since it means (me being a dude) that I’m pretty much walking around hurting people all the time. Unfortunately, something seeming objectionable doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
“Even if someone is actively saying “look at me”, that’s not the same as saying “look at me as an object”.”
Also, part of what rants like Lizard’s fail to take into account is that we women are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. I mean, I could wear clothing that does not draw attention to my rather large breasts. But I would pretty much have to wear a tent to do so. That’s hardly going to go over well socially, not to mention at work. There are specific economic disadvantages to being perceived as either not sexual(ly available) enough or too sexual(ly available), when one is a woman. And it’s pretty damn impossible to tell for sure which way one ‘s clothing choices are going to be taken. (possibly bc ppl are actually individuals! and they all have different opinions! it’s just that far too many think that their opinions supercede those of the person wearing the outfit…) Yes, even when one is doing “sexy” cosplay.
Would it be more productive to say ‘participating in a culture that hurts people’?
I hadn’t ever heard of him either (although I had heard of many of the comics he has worked on).
However. I’ve heard that rant before. Sometimes all in one place, more often just bits of it. Sometime publically, more often in offhand, semi-private comments both online and off. As with the hollaback site, the point is not to designate Harris as The Sexist of the Week, it’s to use his rant to highlight behavor that is more widespread than many people realize. And that needs to STOP.
@chrysoula (assuming you’re addressing me): no on two counts. Firstly because participating in a culture that hurts people is hurting them by proxy; second, because e.g. glancing at women’s breasts is hurting them directly.
(I realize some of you might think I’m a troll, deliberately taking an extreme position to see how people react… But no, no trolling here, sorry to disappoint.)
After wading through all this all I can think is : Straight people are so weird.
“then when it became “cool” or “mainstream” women started turning up”
When, exactly, was that? Can you give me a year, or even a decade? When did this golden age of “no girlz in our clubhouse” end?
I am a woman. Glancing at me and thinking I’m cute in passing is not hurting me, especially if I don’t know you exist. The best that can be said is that the culture around that glance is hurting me.
Lizard didn’t mention breasts in his ‘glancing at a woman in passing’ example.
I’m not happy with Lizard’s dismissal of Angry Feminists, mind.
@Kevin: Uh duh.
But one of those metaphors is associated with a real-life thing that has people getting killed, and one of them is not. So, you know, tact. Appropriateness. Not making implicit accusations while claiming “just to ask questions.” That sort of thing.
Also, why him? Because he’s there. Why is this such an urgent question that you feel the need to take this whole thread down that detour?
I wonder if there is a psychology course somewhere where they analyze these types of online rants. This must be a classic example of projection, deflection, delusion, etc, I dunno I only took the Psych 101 type course back in the day
Stevie – I didn’t realize we were discussing corpses. For future reference: Verb 1. overdramatise – present in an overly dramatic manner. If you cant grasp the concept of a google search it is unlikely that you are going to be much help in detecting somewhat subtler nuances of commenting on the internet.
jennygadget – Thanks for the insightful comment. You state that the post is to ” highlight behavor [sic] that is more widespread than many people realize.” The original post does not seem to address a widespread behavior issue and I, in my limited experience, have never been around such behavior, so I saw this as a group attack on a specific individual and I was having a hard time understanding why he specifically deserved to be targeted. Yes, his comment makes him appear to be a giant asshat, but I Mr. Scalzi seemed to be using his platform (and giant readership) to attack an individual, not systematic behavior.
@chrysoula: my apologies re assuming you were a man. My biases come through again.
“Glancing at me and thinking I’m cute in passing is not hurting me, especially if I don’t know you exist. The best that can be said is that the culture around that glance is hurting me. ”
This I realize; I’m thinking more of the usual situation where I’m talking to a woman and having trouble keeping my eyes from going where they shouldn’t. If people kept sending glances like that my way, I’m pretty sure it would hurt me, so I’m pretty sure it hurts her too.
Crypticmirror:”For a long time unattractive male nerds pretty much ruled the roost at cons” — Sort of. Women ran cons, worked on cons, worked in comics, worked in the business side of comics, ran fan clubs, read comics, championed new kinds of comics, etc., and the same and even more in SFF and to a lesser extent games. And the men pretended they weren’t there and claimed to rule the roost and wrote about how they ruled the roost and made it as uncomfortable as possible for women to venture into the roost. And those men weren’t unattractive necessarily and they didn’t always live in their parents’ basements and were virgins and socially awkward with women and weren’t always considered nerds, even in high school. And they worked with the national and international corporations putting out the comics for mass consumer consumption and pretended that they were actually an underground sub-culture in a Paris ghetto attic. It’s a great myth. And then Hollywood ruined it, by descending for a new marketing opportunity, in part because so much of the audience for comics and SFFH — and SFFH/media/comic conventions — were women, who, like most of the arts, make up most of the ticket buying audience (yes, even action films.) And women felt safer and less targeted going to the big, Hollywood infested cons and turned out in even bigger numbers. And the myth didn’t work anymore.
So women went from being an invisible part of comics that wasn’t invisible to being a threat to comics that wasn’t actually a threat. What you’re seeing is not that women are coming into comics, but that men no longer get to write the narrative of what’s going on that originally erased them. And even guys who think of themselves as feminists don’t like that. So they’re trying to write a new myth and it isn’t working very well, which makes them very angry. They are also finding out — and the music business can explain this to them — that teenage girls may be insecure and easy to pick on, but in the end, they don’t do what you say. It’s a very hard lesson for guys like Harris and Peacock, that faux concern for the morality and sexuality of young girls that is just yet one more barrier to entry and opportunity, one more attempt at erasure. It would be just a shade more convincing if both of them didn’t spend most of their time musing on what lascivious, sexually humiliating thoughts they can transfer from their own heads into the teenage girls and on those teenage girls’ bodies and how sexy they may or may not be to males, which seems to be the part we’re supposed to find really important. In any case, the girls aren’t new. Nerd guys never owned geek culture — no one gets to own a culture — and so it cannot be co-opted by women.
Kevin R.: “Is it his profession that has elevated his stupid comment to the forefront?” — Yes, of course it is. He’s a prominent comics artist who comic fans listen to. And he’s not being singled out — he’s just the latest in a long line, including other blow-ups that are going on right now and Mr. Peacock, a columnist in games given a prominent platform on CNN’s website, and who is milking it for all its worth. Misogyny pays, that’s one of the reasons it’s still so strong. But more to the point, he made a very vile public statement and his professional colleague, Scalzi, can write about it and offer it up for comment. If you don’t want to talk about it, not to worry, you don’t have to.
“I used the term lynch mob as an over dramatization the same way this site’s host” — Scalzi made a joke about Harris being inexplicably juvenile. You used coded language beloved of the far right to claim that we were victimizing Harris, just as Harris tried to claim cute teenage girls were victimizing him and other men. In doing so, you were asserting that we should stop talking about him and being too mean to him. And you did so in a way that makes light of people — including women — who have actually been lynched for the exact sort of reasons Harris was expressing in his statement. What Harris said was an attack, it was an attack to try to limit women’s participation in fandom, not just a guy being gross. While he won’t succeed in doing that, if we simply ignore trogs like Harris and not talk about it, then these attitudes simply stay, setting up obstacles and cutting off women from participating and subjecting them to abuse. We must challenge Harris, precisely because Harris doesn’t think he’s being a sexist, discriminatory pervert. We might reach him, we might reach others instead, but we don’t if we ignore it and stay silent or if we acquiesce with such statements to not ruffle feathers. Because then women get discriminated against and stopped from opportunities on the basis of their gender. If we drag this stuff into the light and talk about it, then it becomes the dinosaur past. Mr. Harris is young enough to fully understand that what he said was a sexist attack. So it’s on him now, not on us. We didn’t pick the fight, nor are we trying to beat him. We’d really like it if he just left us the fuck alone. But since he won’t, then he gets to hear what we think and others who may share his views do too.
@Cally. While I’ll admit freely there has always been a female presence at many cons it often seemed very low key and secondary to the male audience. I know that when I started going to them there were very few other women around. Few and far between, that was back in the early 90s, although i suspect the change over started long before then. I have noticed that since then there has been, year on year, more and more women going and becoming more and more visible. That this is a good thing goes without saying. But that increased visibility has made a lot of male con-goers suddenly realise that whenever their “golden age of “no girlz in our clubhouse”” ended, that was some time ago and they are no longer automatically seen as the principle con-audience whose wishes all others must bend to. To which I say “tough luck guys”. They are throwing a tantrum over it.
Yes, exactly that. I wish I could write as coherently as that. I’m sorry for any confusion I caused there.
@beano: That may be true. I’m an outlier in that I’ve had very little experience with that, girl and woman (that I’ve noticed) but it is vividly clear it happens a lot and is hugely problematic. I only took exception to the idea that _imperceptibly_ appreciating another person’s aesthetic appeal is in fact directly causing them hurt. Carry on. Not all straight American men prefer to look at boobies, treating women as objects is (obviously) dehumanizing, we’re in agreement here.
@lizard, I considered trying to answer your broad general question but I should probably leave it for people who go to cons and cosplay.
@Ian Wright: *sob*
I feel like even the arguments aren’t consistent. I mean, heck, look at Joe the Peacock…
1) As per his fake geek girl rant in the past, if a woman goes to a convention she should be prepared to demonstrate her geek bonafides. After all, some women might come dressed in costumes just for the sexy attention, and that’s Bad and they are thus Outsiders and must be Shunned and Shamed. I mean, you shouldn’t go to a convention expecting to be treated as a sex object!
2) As per his post *today* about Mandy Caruso’s experiences while cosplaying Black Cat, if a woman chooses to show her love for a character in one of her fandoms through cosplay and the costume might remotely be considered sexy, she should expect that no one is going to want to discuss her geek bonafides but only to talk about her breast size or how her ass looks in that costume. After all, that’s what guys are about! I mean, you can’t go to a convention and expect not to get treated as a sex object!
Instead of getting mental whiplash trying to reconcile those two points, may I request a third option? Like, y’know, everyone treats each other like human beings and instead of spending time arguing about whether or not women are human beings (answer: yes), we just accept that as a given and move on to arguing instead about whether or not DC screwed up their reboot, or whether Game of Thrones’ deviations from the books last season or were good writing or not? Because when it comes down to it, we all know what fandom is *really* supposed to be about: endless debates about stuff no one outside our social circle cares about!
(I kid on the last bit. Mostly.) ;)
If you GET looked at it, when you CHOSE to dress in a distinctive fashion at a public venue — I can’t see any logic to getting upset.
Yes, well, that’s sort of the thing about emotional reactions, isn’t it? They don’t necessarily have anything to do with logic. Also, people choose to dress in a distinctive fashion for lots of different reasons and, as crazy as it may sound, not all of them have to do with the regard or approval of complete strangers.
Furthermore, what you’re saying here is disturbingly similar to it’s not my fault you’re pretty. You might want to take a step back and think about that.
@VeryLemonade I agree wholeheartedly that we live in the house that [sex] built. The same way that I am racist as an inheritor of the our society’s privileged race (i.e., I am white), men in general are sexist because our society privileges the male sex. That does not mean that I or Mr. Scalzi hates the historically un- or underprivileged group; it just means we’re required to put more of an effort into independently educating ourselves about what our society thought we didn’t really need to know anything about apart from generalizations (and perhaps that we have greater signal boost–and possibly more detractors–when we talk about a group we have no obvious interesting in discussing and defending). To be clear, I’m reiterating your position here (as I understand it), not debating it.
However, I think it’s important to consider that Mr. Scalzi is a humorist. His depiction of the “gut-boy” is obviously absurd; Mr. Harris’s depiction of “fake geek girls” is also absurd, though unintentionally and with more malice. Sexism and misogyny at SFF cons is a serious subject (a la 2012 Readercon et al.), but that doesn’t mean that the only effective way to address it is with serious pieces that relentlessly stick to the reality of the situation. (Brace yourselves: I’m going to make a Jonathan Swift reference while discussing satire!) I’m pretty sure Swift did not actually think the British were going to eat Irish children, but he lambasted their laws and generally socially acceptable anti-Irish-ness by likening them to cannibalism. I can’t think of too many other nonsatirical criticism from his contemporaries that have survived to today. Just sayin’. Mr. Scalzi’s humorous depiction of Mr. Harris’s gut-boy does a service to women in the SFF fandom by being approachable and digestible–qualities that make humor a powerful social tool for those who know how to use it.
This topic is a bit in the weeds, but I thought it was worth a response.
beano: since it means (me being a dude) that I’m pretty much walking around hurting people all the time.
You’re not godzilla walking on paper houses, stomping people just by your very existence. Women aren’t fricken eggshells. Men aren’t shitheads. Get over your self-flagellating self.
Christ. Just be adult and treat people like adults.
Lizard, the objection was not that you have lascivious thoughts. Everyone does practically. It was that posters who are going, hey I think teenage girls in costumes are terrific sex objects for me to lust after while I go through the con so why is Harris complaining, are being sexist asses. Cause you are. But your wife loves you anyway.
This is not actually a conversation about sex and women being sexy or not. It’s about men discriminating against women and using excuses — they aren’t true fans, they are wearing the wrong clothes, they don’t act the way I want, they got drunk, they have to raise the kids, they are being mean to me, etc. to talk about women as objects, not people, who should do what men and society tell them to do and approve of, which is seen as the traditional role of women. So unless you can prove your bonafides to a male fan (or woman fan officially designated acceptable by male fans,) then you, woman, better not wear costumes that are too sexy, etc., or we can call you anything we want. Harris expressing his lascivious thoughts is just Harris being a hypocrite. And trying to make the conversation about how women make you think sexy thoughts and we should all be glad about that is just a derail that is the equivalent of you wolf whistling at women on the street. In other words, it’s okay to keep your lascivious thoughts to yourself. Please. Really. We know you have them.
“While I’ll admit freely there has always been a female presence at many cons it often seemed very low key and secondary to the male audience. I know that when I started going to them there were very few other women around. Few and far between, that was back in the early 90s, although i suspect the change over started long before then.”
I’ve been going to conventions since the late ’70s. When I started going to conventions, I saw lots of other women and girls there. They weren’t girls-auxiliary conventions either. They weren’t even media conventions. They were general interest straight-up old-fashioned science fiction conventions. And there were lots of women there. I learned what filksinging was from Juanita Coulson around 1978 or so. She’d been singing at SF conventions for at least 25 years by that point. But I guess she and I and all the other old fart femmefen didn’t really exist.
tl;dr: 20 years before you started going to cons, there were quite a few females at conventions. I don’t know what conventions you attended where they were a rare species.
As a woman, and a self-identified geek, I look at a screed like that and go “hey, I have a packet of paragraph breaks here looking for a new owner, maybe I should see whether this guy has a shipping address”. I’ll also throw in a free pack of apostrophes as well, because I happen to have one of those hanging around spare.
Short form: unless he’s willing to spend longer on making his rants readable, I’m not going to waste my time trying to decipher them. However, I will thank the bloke for making it clear to me I don’t want to read what he’s written.
PS: if anyone wishes to question my geek/fandom cred, they are welcome to do so in the form of a 1000-word (minimum length) essay explaining why the plot of Final Fantasy VII (as presented on screen, in game) is NOT a revenge tragedy. Points will be given if they can point to sources in the original game to support their argument. Points will be deducted for referring to subsequent additions to game canon, since we’re talking about the original game here, not the extended universe version.
PPS: Mythago, I had a bit of a giggle at “lunch mob” – I see this bunch of nerd-raging guys arguing with each other about which of the various food options is more geekly, and getting more and more het up about it until they explode into a mass of frothing rage and destroy three burger shops, five pizza joints, a couple of sushi bars and a Chinese takeaway in their efforts to obtain the IDEAL con-goer’s meal.
@megpie71: Do we get bonus points if the essay devotes an additional 1000 words to examining the argument that FF7 *is* a revenge tragedy, just to explore both viewpoints?
(I don’t want to challenge your fandom cred, I’m just—half-jokingly—looking for a writing challenge.) ;)
Thank you, Kat Goodwin 8:38.
Rachel: feel free! I happen to be of the opinion that it is a revenge tragedy, and I’d welcome an exploration of the arguments in either direction.
Your problem is that you thought you were going to extract the most bang for your buck in using the term lynch and could then then retreat into your preplanned faux horrified protestations as to how it was all bog standard teh internets hyperbole which only stoopid women could possibly misunderstand.
Unfortunately this is not exactly novel since many thousands of stoopid men have already tried that one, and as is the way of things here in Scalziland, people do notice it and point their fingers at you and laugh.
Which is infinitely preferable to being lynched…
Kiya Nicoll : I am an old man who loves the Chanur series. Out of sheer curiousity, how would you go about playing Pyanfar Chanur? If you wish to answer, fine. If you do not, it will not bother me. This is, as I said strictly curiousity I am a fan who will buy anything Mr. Scalzi writes, because he is an intelligent writer,and I like what i read on Whatever.
Hello there John Scalzi! I hadn’t heard of you before, but reading this, and reading the comments, I feel like I ought to be reading more of your stuff as a book-devouring nerd who got turned off sci-fi for the most part because so little of it isn’t sexist. “The gender feminist sci-fi writer”? Respecting people and not being a dick to them regardless of gender? I think I’m going to like you. So thanks, you’ve made a new fan, and I’ll be sure to tell other people how awesome you are! :)
I have learned a) this guy is a douche b) John Barrowman is on my teevee again and I’ve been missing it?! and c) Bearpaw is invited to join my harem/besties (tick which box is appropriate) for saying “O the embarrassment, all die”, for I have sworn to be friends with anyone who quotes “A !Tangled Web”, one of Haldeman’s funniest.
I know I would be upset if my topic-specific convention was being co-opted by exhibitionist bullies looking to foment dismay and self-loathing by mere dint of existing.
A person doesn’t stop being a bully just because they are not physically harassing you. A person doesn’t stop being a bully just because they are not directly interacting with you. A troll doesn’t stop being a troll just because they aren’t writing *words* on the Internet to lure you into responding. A troll or a bully doesn’t stop being a troll or bully just because she’s a woman.
Here’s my understanding of Tony Effing Harris’s words (unfortunately, like a durian, having the interesting part wrapped up in something that smells like a sewer): “I have formed the opinion that a number of the cosplayers at the latest conventions I attended were there with no interest in comics apart from the highly sexualised costumes, and I perceived that they trolled emotionally insecure guys, flirting with them solely for the purpose of burning the males and thus making themselves feel superior due to having emotionally violated a nerd.”
Sure, the message was wrapped up in a huge toxic layer of anger directed at all cosplaying women in general, and could have been heard easier if it wasn’t for the highly attractive bait words. It’s the same deal as police paying more attention to all hotted up sports cars because a few of the owners of that style of car are into midnight drag races through highly populated areas.
Matt O., posting at November 14, 2012 at 10:21AM mentioned the issue that I think is at the heart of this matter: the nerd boy’s fear that the only reason a female is showing interest in them is to be able to mock them. Matt O suggested that he has grown up: Tony Effing Harris’s opinion appears to be that a number of cosplayers and comic conference attendees haven’t grown up, they haven’t emotionally left their insecurities of high school, and the troll cosplayers are now practicing their schoolyard politics upon the other children in the “school yard” of the convention.
After all, if you were hunting for insecure men to humiliate where else would you go besides a comic convention?
Sadly there are no specific examples in Tony Effing Harris’s putrescent emission, so many readers will simply focus on how sensible “grown up” people would behave (because noone here wants to believe that a hot cosplayer could possibly be a bully), and mock Tony for the reader’s inability to distinguish the message of “this set of women are behaving badly and I feel they detract from my community” from “women are monsters and I hate them all”.
Just be aware that comic-reading emotionally undeveloped sensitive geek guys aren’t the only people in the world who haven’t “grown up”. The number of female strippers performing at dodgy strip clubs attests to the number of insecure adult women in the world. Some of the insecure women of the world might be bullies who resort to emotionally battering men to prop up their own egos.
Calling bullies out is not misogyny just because the bullies happen to be women.
This may not be quite the right moment for me to describe John Barrowman’s dropping his trousers whilst doing the questioning for the Five Captains session which opened the Star Trek Convention here in London a few weeks back.
But I’m sure you will be pleased to know that Scott Bakula autographed it – the butt, not the Convention- since Kate Mulgrew clearly wasn’t going to touch it with a barge pole.
“Patrick Stewart Was Here”.
@MBL Accidentally read that more as a list: Tony Harris, Dan Simmons, Jesus.
@Alex: Okay, first of all? “The number of female strippers performing at dodgy strip clubs” mostly “attests to” the number of women who want to pay their electric bills in a fucked-up economy, as far as I can tell.*
Second, exactly what do you define as “schoolyard bullying” or “burning the males”? Falsifying affection or interest in order to turn around and laugh with your friends later, sure, but the number of adult con-going women who actually do that is like the number of people who actually would commit voter fraud without an ID requirement. The world’s a big enough place that I can’t say nobody has ever done that, but, if nothing else…dude, the rape and assault rates from guys who just *think* you “led them on” are scary enough to dissuade the vast majority of women.
Do women sometimes express interest in, act friendly toward, or flirt with guys who they don’t actually want to date or fuck? Absolutely.
Sometimes this is because they’re being nice.
Sometimes, this is because if you don’t smile and laugh and make like you’re having a good time–if you ignore the guy or say you’re uninterested–then you’re such a fucking bitch oh my God he just wants five minutes of your time can’t you give him a chance you shallow whore? And Jesus fucking Christ, even the toughest and most callous woman occasionally wants to skip that dance.
Sometimes, this is because the woman in question likes the guy as a friend, or likes flirting without serious intention, or whatever.
None of the above are crimes. And unless you, or Harris, can name incidents of women actually and deliberately leading men on and then mocking them, what you call “burning the men” and “bullying” amounts to, as far as I can tell, the cardinal sin that is Looking Hot and Not Fucking Me.
Look, I’m sorry the cheerleaders were mean to you in high school, but get the fuck over it already.
*And the number of female strippers performing at non-dodgy strip clubs doesn’t attest to anything: people can enjoy giving sexualized performances without being any more insecure than people who enjoy coding or baking or teaching.
I’m going to drag us back several hours, to ianironwood’s comment at 10:20am, because something about it has been bugging me all day. After talking it over with my friend Jen, I think I’ve figured it out.
We have heard many times that our field is male-dominated. This may be true. Depending on presentation and context, I’ve sometimes been irritated by this position, but that’s my problem. The thing is, until ianironwood’s remark, I had never before heard anyone say, in essence, “We have a male-dominated field, and that is how it is going to stay, and you should learn to work within those parameters and not do anything to try to change it.” If the premise isn’t true, the conclusion is absurd. If the premise IS true, the conclusion is infamous.
Well, he sure convinced me never to buy any books he works on.
@Alex Satrapa: I suspect the number of attractive women who go to conventions in costume *solely to troll insecure male fans and mock them* is not only *not* an sourge of epidemic proportions, but so statistically rare as to be akin to spotting a unicorn roaming wild and free in the aisles at Wal*Mart.
Usually when examples of this are given, many seem to boil down to “there was a woman in this costume I thought was hot, but when I asked her back to my room she turned me down; she had to be there to troll and mock real geeks!”
If I choose to go to a convention dressed as Kaylee Frye, chances are my thought processes were not “I am here to fulfill your fantasies about Serenity’s engineer.” More likely, the logic was along the lines of “I really loved Firefly, and as a redheaded female engineer this costume seems like fun, plus I’ll have an excuse to say ‘Shiny!’ at everything all weekend until my friends all want to strangle me for overusing the term.”
@Rachel: Ha! Yes, I was just actually restating this to a friend, and my summary was “Yes, women who deliberately lead guys on in order to insult or mock them later are bullies. And unicorns are very sparkly. Can we talk about things that exist now?”
Also, yes. And sometimes I do dress up because I want to look sexy, and I would like a certain kind of attention from a subset of men, but: if I put out a job ad, that doesn’t mean I’m obligated to hire whoever shows up. It doesn’t even mean I’m obligated to interview you, or indeed to read your resume.
Alex: I know I would be upset if my topic-specific convention was being co-opted by exhibitionist bullies looking to foment dismay and self-loathing by mere dint of existing.
Are… you serious??? No one is a bully simply by existing. Good grief. Judging someone a bully by their actions is fine. Judging someone a bully by their gender is sexism.
Really? This is the “legitimate” message you extracted from the rant? I’m left wondering how many relationships you’ve been in. If you’ve been in what I would consider a “minimum reasonable” number of relationships, then you would have learned an important lesson in life: The gender to whom you are attracted to will mostly not be interested in you. They already have significant others, they’re not looking for an SO, or they’re not interested in you. Nothing personal. It’s just a function of populatoin statistics and running around a fairly random world.
The odds of finding someone you’re interested in, who is interested in you, and you are both free of other relationships, and you’re both interested in a relationship, and you both happen to be in the same room at the same time, in a scenario where conversation is possible whereupon you can discover that you two are compatible, is decidedly small.
Which means you end up with a lot of “no, thank you”‘s. Or, if you’re a dick about it, “get lost”.
But the thing is, if you can’t handle rejection from the gender to which you’re attracted to, you have no right ranting about rejection and blaming it on the gender to which you’re attracted. It’s not THEIR fault, it’s your problem. Rejection is a part of finding grownup relationships. Deal with it.
Or, put another way, no one can “emotionally violate” you by rejecting you, unless you’re the emotional equivalent of a thirteen year old. i.e. unless you can’t handle rejection.
Jesus fucking christ.
Oddly enough there has been quite a bit of sociological research into people who take their clothes off for money, and that research has failed to find evidence that they do so because they are “insecure”.
If you are going to try and construct a house of cards then it helps to have a solid foundation; your false premise invalidates all of your speculation. More interestingly it demonstrates that someone claiming to possess expertise has made no effort whatsoever to acquire any expertise in the subject you are chuntering on about. You appear to possess the bizarre belief that you don’t actually have to make any effort at all to gather knowledge because you already know it without having to do any work.
There were some very lovely Orion slave girls at the Five Captains Star Trek Convention, but the most stunning costume was a beautifully made replica of the outfit Captain Janeway wore as Queen Arachnia, worn by a beautiful woman who carried it off to perfection. My sole comment, as I passed by, was “beautiful”, and her sole comment was “Thank you”.
I have some skills as a costumer, and I know how technically difficult and time consuming it was to make. I have eyes and I could see that both the costume and it’s wearer was beautiful. If you have managed to convince yourself that this was ‘bullying’ other people attending the con then you need help of a kind usually provided by people with medical training; you are certainly not going to find it on the web…
Surely this is a manifestation of social alienation from people who now feel uncomfortable as ‘nerd’ events, because the demographic has shifted away from white-socially-awkward-computer-and-comic-nerds to well… other people. Including cosplayers.
It’s not really about individuals being douches.
Flaming individuals who stand up and foam at the mouth about it isn’t going to solve the issue; there’s a deeper iceberg of resentment and unhappiness from the people who are now feeling out cast from ‘their own’ events which is happening here, and pretending that its just a ‘few loose cannons who are douches’ isn’t going to *magically fix the situation*.
There’s a much bigger problem here.
As someone who once dressed up as a comic book character from a series I’d only read once and hadn’t done shitloads of research and geeking out about (Death from Sandman) because I wanted to be able to go with a group (a bunch of my housemates went as the other Endless) and I was tired of a lifetime of dressing in Halloween costumes where nobody knew who the flying fuck I was, this Tony Fuckface Harris fellow can fucking bite me.
And not in a sexy way, because I will bet the value of my student loans that this dude is not half as attractive as the “only con-hot” women he is whinging about.
(I originally wrote a LONG version of this sentiment but I decided to spare you the wall o’ text and put it here http://agentclaudia.livejournal.com/280813.html instead.)
Alex, I am really tempted to assign some preposterous and insulting motive to your post by way of example, but I’ll behave and just say that I think you err in your method. First, the logic, “your action made me feel X, therefore you took the action in order to make me feel X,” is nearly always false. Second, the logic, “your action made me feel X, therefore you are responsible for me feeling X” is NOT always false, but needs to be looked at with great suspicion, and I can’t imagine it applying in this case.
And someone needs to give me props for being so polite.
And once again we are told that the important thing to worry about is the feelings of the people who are being obnoxious.
Just how much does it take for you to think that the important thing to worry about is the feelings of the people on the receiving end of the obnoxiousness?
What about their alienation? Or doesn’t that count?
There is a difference between dressing up in a way to gather positive sexual attention (which is good and fine, and chaosprime nailed that point down real good) and doing so to mock or bully people. I think some guys are mistaking “a lack of obligation on the cosplayer’s part to give sexual attention to everyone they pass” for “bullying”.
When I dress up in certain ways (at a con or otherwise), I do so knowing that I will attract some amount of sexual attention. That’s a positive for me. I do not owe anyone sex because of that. The basic transaction is really simple – I like dressing up, if someone thinks that’s cool or thinks I’m hot, they may give me a compliment, and I will feel good and thank them. The end. I cannot see how anyone is harmed.
What the hell would make these commenters happy? How do I avoid … and I’m having trouble wrapping my head around this, truly… *victimizing* guys who look at me or talk to me? Am I supposed to let them feel me up? Maybe pick 2-5 sexually-underprivileged men per con and fuck them? What exactly do I supposedly owe male fandom to not be a bully? Maybe I need to hand out sexual favors to be allowed in the clubhouse?
My life, why is it so bereft of crunchy deliciousness? So not fair! I am poor but devoted. Should Mr Barrowman reconsider, my eggs are IQ>150, the few that remain. Despite my loathing of spawn, I could be persuaded to host his brilliant and attractive blastocysts, temporarily. Rawr.
All I can say is, I’m damn sorry I bought Tony Harris a coffee at Emerald City Comicon in 2007 (?) when he was super hungover and confused because of Daylight Savings Time. I won’t be getting rid of our Ex Machina trades, but perhaps I’ll put the drawing he gave me on Ebay…
Dresden Codak author Aaron Diaz has his say. Hilarious.
“Flaming individuals who stand up and foam at the mouth about it isn’t going to solve the issue; there’s a deeper iceberg of resentment and unhappiness from the people who are now feeling out cast from ‘their own’ events which is happening here, and pretending that its just a ‘few loose cannons who are douches’ isn’t going to *magically fix the situation*.
There’s a much bigger problem here.”
And what is the solution to this problem? Kicking out all the women (some of whom have, in fact, been attending conventions for longer than these resentful people have been alive)? Oh wait; I forgot; we older, fatter ones can stay. WE’RE not threatening. WE’RE not bullying them by our Very Existence. We can be assumed to be Real Geeks without any pop quizzes, because we don’t have Pretty Young Woman cooties, which make being a geek impossible.
If Adam has a problem with a black person entering a public space where he is, even though said black person is not doing or saying anything to Adam, there’s a name for that. If Betty has a problem with an apparently gay person entering a public space where she is, and not doing or saying anything to her, there’s also a name for that. So what’s the name for Charles having a problem with a young woman being in the same space, and not doing or saying anything to him? Hmm?
I’m impressed; you have a great deal more self-control than I do.
Sadly, I do have an ulterior motive; I’m English, really like your books though deprecate your choice of poker, and would really, really like to buy your books to read on laptop, IPad etc.
What do we have to do to persuade your publishers to sell them to me? And yes, that is a serious question…
I think this might be the underlying reason for this rant. He’s jealous. He feels he’s being upstaged by Wonder Woman’s boobies. Not that it changes the fact that he’s a misogynistic man-child, but it does put a slightly different spin on things.
Well, I know I’ll sleep better knowing if I ever make it to a con, Mr. Harris and Alex Satrapa will be watching out for my well-being by making certain no “con-hot” women prey on my feeble-willed lasciviousness. What an arrogant asswipe! There is so very much fail squeezed into that one unending paragraph. I mean, “Notice I didn’t say GREAT boobies?” Was that just tossed in there in case anyone reading the rant hadn’t yet figured out what a sexist turd this immature little twit is?
Lunch Mob is the name of my next Bowling for Soup cover band.
@ Nick Mamatas
♫I’m, too sexy for my pen…to sexy for my pen, too sexy ooooh♪
♬I’m, too sexy for my fans…to sexy for my fans, too sexy ooooh♭
Kudos to beano for thinking about his treatment of women, but, going by his self-flagellations and others, you’d think treating other people as fully-certified human equals was harder than attaining the umpteenth level of nirvana. News flash: women don’t want you to sequester yourself in a monastery and purge all appreciation for the female form, they just want to be treated as…are you sitting down?…actual persons.
I said; there’s a reason for this behaviour.
I said; there’s a bigger issue here than calling out individuals can solve.
I’m not in *any way* condoning his behaviour; I’m just saying. It’s naive to assume that this is just an isolated incident, and that it’s because he’s got (as the OP suggests) some of mental or emotional issue that is unique to him personally.
*** Calling out individuals and shaming like this wont solve anything in the community ***
It solves a single case. That’s all.
You can just keep wearing the rose coloured goggles and pretend this isn’t a big issue if you like, and we can keep seeing messages like this from people pop up, and then we can see yet another flame post about that person. And another one. and another one. and another one.
Woo~ We’ve total solved everything! Great approach.
Gods I love this thread. Wanna reiterate something from my 40+ years of booth management at Trade Shows, registration desks at cons & owning a booth and performing at Renaissance Faires.. There are Booth Girls. There are booth Babes. And there are Con Attendees.
A Booth Girl is a girl who Works in a booth. She probably has something to do with the product, if not the creator of the product. She is well versed in the product and makes sales. She dresses appropriately for the product, and if the product is comix or sci-fi related it might be full out spandex or it might be a t-shirt and jeans.
A Booth Babe has one function: to draw males into the booth. In my experience they wear tiny, tight outfits and pout and look bored. Sometimes you you can pay someone to have your picture taken with them pouting.
Please don’t confuse the two.
A con attendee just spent a shitload of money to get into the con and is going to spend a shitload of money on YOUR Product and she can wear whatever the hell she wants to.
And ahem, for many many years I took my clothes off for money, and I know of at least two of the students in the Life Drawing classes I posed for went on to become comics artists.
Now please pardon me while I go find Lou Ferrigno’s table and oogle his biceps.
Stevie: Thanks for the kind words. Ask at any topic on my blog (just click on my name) and I’ll answer as best I can.
mitwitch: Should Mr Barrowman reconsider, my eggs are IQ>150, the few that remain. Despite my loathing of spawn, I could be persuaded to host his brilliant and attractive blastocysts, temporarily. Rawr.
That’s the funniest reboot of my name is Arnold Horshack and I want to have your baby I’ve ever read. ;)
Of COURSE it’s not an isolated incident. There have been at least three or four incidences of men writing this sort of thing on the internet this year alone. That’s why calling it out as immature is important. It’s what’s known as a “teachable moment”. Scalzi, and to a lesser extent, the rest of us, are pointing out that here’s yet another guy claiming that pretty girls who wear costumes are oppressing him, and/or that pretty girls can’t possible be Real Geeks ™. Maybe if we point out that, a) no, they’re not actually oppressing anyone, and b) you haven’t exactly been handing out Real Geek Tests to every male and female person you meet at the con, other guys will get the message. The mere existence of a pretty girl in the same room as you does not oppression make. And complaining that girlz are invading your all-boyz clubhouse when, guess what, girls have been in that clubhouse for longer than you’ve been alive, is just adding extra privilege sauce to the failburger.
Look, I’m sorry you’re scared of pretty young woman who wear costumes. Sounds like your threat assessment is really messed up. Maybe you should work on that.
I am nothing if not honest.
Back to topic: this is all very odd to me. Costuming has been a huge part of my life, so I’m bewildered. My most attention-getting costume was my all-black skin-tight assassin, complete w/ face mask. I had wonderful conversations w/ men, from behind the veil. Is anonymity the requirement? We should provide more outlets for expression, imo. Maybe feminism really has failed men. Discuss?
Sure, raising awareness has it’s place.
However, this sort of ad hominem attack is actively detracting from any sort of useful discussion around the anti-cosplayer issues that are around.
“Maybe if we point out that, a) no, they’re not actually oppressing anyone, and b) you haven’t exactly been handing out Real Geek Tests to every male and female person you meet at the con, other guys will get the message” <—- Really? 'cause that's been working great so far. :(
So, you might say, should we not be calling people out?
Hell no, we totally should be calling people out for this. I completely agree.
…but we should be pretending that it's just a weirdo who's got some kind of emotional problem, and that this is an isolated incident, which is what the original post is doing.
Snark has its place, but its not useful if it obstructs forming a dialog to the people who are behaving this way and figuring out a way to mediate a solution.
This post does that.
No-one is suggesting this is an isolated instance; that’s a strawman argument you have plucked from nowhere. Scalzi specifically pointed that out in his opening post so you have no excuse to pretend otherwise.
And you still haven’t addressed the question of why you completely ignore the alienation of the women who spend their time and money visiting these cons and are met by this sort of response; the only thing that appears to matter to you is the alienation of a group of guys.
So unless and until you do it comes back to whinging about how hard this is on these poor chaps, completely ignoring the fact that it’s hard on women too; but of course in your world view they don’t matter..
You know, acting like only people with emotional problems have, you know, actual emotional problems with being in the same room as a pretty girl in a costume is a problem why, exactly? I’ve found that acting like someone has just stepped into something nasty when they make a racist statement in my presence has greatly decreased the number of racist statements made around me. Have I changed the racist’s mind? Probably not. Have I made the environment significantly friendlier for people of color? Yes. Because I don’t CARE if a person acts like a black person, or a gay person, or a pretty young woman, is a human being because that’s what they believe, or because they’re afraid of being embarrassed.
You haven’t told me your proposed solution. As far as I can tell, it boils down to “be sorry for the poor pitiful soul who is terrified of pretty young women oppressing him by being Pretty! and Young! and Female! in his presence (the horror!), and bend over backwards to never confront him”. Is that it?
Because you seem very very worried about the Poor Pitiful Oppressed Man’s feelings (Oh noes! I might have to be in the Same Room with a Pretty Woman!), and not at all worried about the woman’s feelings who he has just accused of being fake, not a Real Geek, and not belonging. He wants to kick her out. She only wants him to leave her alone. Someone’s being oppressed here, and it’s not him.
Oh, and confronting Peacock seems, according to his latest blog post, to be changing his mind. So much for snark not being part of the solution.
And once more I point out that you are completely misrepresenting John’s post. He specifically said the reverse of what you claim he said; he linked to Nick Mamatus’ collection of posts from large numbers of wailing males saying the same thing, the absolute reverse of an isolated incident. Why are you lying about this?
Or is it that you just didn’t bother to read his post and can’t now summon up the guts to admit it?
I missed out on the band names earlier. I’ve got one for that. Okay, I’m going to share my band name from earlier.
My next band will be Geek Pride Must Die. We’ll be an Industrial Acapella group that mostly references 90s era B grade Bulgarian Scifi. And we will rock. I kinda hope we come across like the Suicidal Tendancies, of the Industrial Acapella world, of course.
As for Mr. Harris, I’ve thrown up greasy congealed hot messes less offensive than that single paragraph run-on sentence misogynistic putrescent gut bomb of philosophical rambling he left out in public with his name on it.
Stevie, the issue I’m raising is that mediation and addressing the root cause of these issues is a better long term approach for improving the community, than public shaming that is *clearly not working*.
This is true all situations; diplomatically, socially… I’m amazed its not acknowledge in this context as well.
By alienating these guys by shaming them and saying they have ‘guy boys’ the issue is being made *worse not better*.
Obviously his comments alienate women, and supporting them disenfranchises them; that’s not acceptable. I fully endorse calling him out and making it clear it to cosplayers that not everyone feels that way, and that they *are* welcome.
…but maybe it’s a better approach to engage him and try to find the cause for his, and all the other unhappy anti-cosplayers out there’s rage, and address those *root cause* issues, rather than talk about him as though he has a mental illness.
Don’t you think?
Let me pose this; how has this post helped the situation?
Has it: (1) helped women feel less alienated? (2) made men feel more alienated?
I would argue it does both (1) and (2). Now, if we could find a balance for posts that does (1), without needing to gorge quite so deeply into (2), don’t you think that would be a more productive use of influence?
Or do you *honeslty* think that alienating men in this community is *helping* the situation?
Obviously it’s a matter of opinion, but that’s my take on it~
Perhaps it’ll give you some food for thought.
Which feminism? The idea that women should be treated as equals? The scholarly analyses and over-analyses of why the general public can’t make heads or tales of most scholarly articles? One of the myriad schools of feminist theory/thought/politics/opinion? All of them?
I’ve had women who met many feminists’ feminist criteria tell me why “feminism” doesn’t speak for them. I’ve had feminists tell me how other feminists who disagree with them are brainwashed by the patriarchy so I shouldn’t take them seriously. It seems like everyone has their own idea about what feminism is, and most seem to simply assuming the rest of the world shares it. I can’t say I think that assumption is conducive to daylight.
For my own part – and in no way am I saying this is the right approach for everyone or even most people – I prefer to do what I believe is the right thing to do and let sleeping –isms lie. And the right thing to do hasn’t failed me.
It’s been a while since I went to conventions, however there have always been women present, depending on the venue the numbers ranged from small to large. I suspect I wouldn’t have much ‘geek cred’ in his terms, my comic knowledge is small. At any con I went to there were various subgroups of people, with varring degrees of interest. I personally suspect that a large percentages of the targets of his ire grew up reading Harry Potter and probably have stronger ‘geek cred’ than he realizes (not that it really makes a difference). He should welcome large numbers of younger people of both genders being interested, it bodes well for the creators & consumers of ‘geek like’ products. I am grateful that more people share my interests as they have moved more mainstream.
I do have one objection to John’s response. It is very unfair to the general ’15 year old boy’ subgroup.
But… the root cause isn’t mysterious. And it’s being addressed directly, over and over again.
You are still backing and trimming. No one benefits from a discussion in which one person completely misrepresents what another person has said. You have completely misrepresented what John said, and if you really believe that telling lies is acceptable for what you perceive as the greater good then you have a lot to learn, not least the fact that people will simply dismiss you as a liar and ignore you thereafter…
Stevie, the issue I’m raising is that mediation and addressing the root cause of these issues is a better long term approach for improving the community, than public shaming that is *clearly not working*.
a) What “root cause” is that? The fact that pretty young women exist, and some of them like to go to conventions? Because the only solution to that “root cause” has is to not allow pretty young women to buy memberships at cons. Which would have completely sucked for the 16 year old me, let me tell you. But I guess your feelings of discomfort at my very existence are More Important than my ability to find my geek tribe, my best friends, and eventually my husband, after all the rejection of my Real Life. (What, you thought that Geek Girls are/were not socially ostracised at least as badly as Geek Boys are/were?)
Or is there some other “root cause” you’re talking about? And if so, WHAT IS IT?
b) Why do you say that it’s *clearly not working* (with emphasis asterisks, yet)? It seems to be working on Peacock, for one prominent example. Does something have to work 100% of the time to be “working”? Because, you know, a prominent instance of “working” disproves the allegation of *clearly not working*.
Sorry, I messed up the quotes. That first sentence should be attributed to shadowmint.
You know that. I know that. Unfortunately there’s a vociferous group which wants to pretend that it hasn’t.
And it’s almost 5am over here and I have another zombie day upcoming, thanks to Scalzi!
“public shaming…is *clearly not working*.”
Is public shaming clearly not working? I mean, maybe you’ve got a case for “has yet to get the job done” but I think “clearly not working” is a pretty tough sell.
“…but maybe it’s a better approach to engage him and try to find the cause for his, and all the other unhappy anti-cosplayers out there’s rage, and address those *root cause* issues,”
What did Mr. Harris leave for us to engage with him on? Why should someone that says something so unrepentantly hateful be coddled?
And unhappy=/=misogyny. I mean, I’m unhappy right now. But, that’s because it’s chilly where I am and I can’t seem to shake a cold. But, I don’t require somebody to talk me through why that shouldn’t lead to misogyny. I’d add that it doesn’t seem like cos-players were his specific target. Meaning, he isn’t just an “unhappy anti-cosplayer”
FWIW, I’m a man and I don’t feel alienated by John’s response. If I felt alienated by anything, I’d be inclined to say it would be the pro artist using his soapbox to enable his idiot sympathizers’ own special brands of geek loyalty misogyny.
Shadowmint: Ahh, the old if men’s feelings are not all important and you don’t give them everything that they want, you’re bitches argument. Assert domination and power you don’t have, demand submission and obedience to something over which you have no authority at all, especially from women who should do what you want. No one has to listen to you, sweetie. Or to Harris, or to me, for that matter. Stop pretending you’re the UN.
1) Women and MEN (whom you, Harris, Peacock and all of you comic purity 4evr types curiously have no problem whatsoever with,) who cosplay are not in conflict with any group of comic fans. There is no need for mediation or diplomacy because they are not two parties entering into or divesting from some sort of agreement between them. The cosplay folk have no obligation towards you, no involvement in your life and your problem with them is entirely your own and the result of your own tastes. You and Harris trying to insert yourself into their lives is you being a creepy nutball.
2) The people who cosplay pay the convention good money to dress up and participate in events and contests that the convention itself is holding or supporting. They paid and got a service freely offered to them, a service that has been a regular part of fandom for about fifty years. It again has nothing to do with you, and the only one who decides what the cosplayers are and are not allowed to do at the convention — or whether they can cosplay at all — are the people who run and possibly own the convention. Likewise the folks who are there because of interest in movies, t.v., games, SFFH authors, anime, toys, steampunk, etc. — anything that is offered or hosted by the convention. If you have an issue with what is offered at a convention, don’t go to the convention. If you have to go to the convention for work, such as perhaps Mr. Harris must, suck it up, it’s part of your job. If you want to claim to your employer that going to the convention means the company is violating your rights as a worker, then go deal with that. But that’s none of the cosplayers’ business or responsibility either. You are not their employee. They don’t even know you.
3) If you want to have a comic convention that is just about comics, no booth babes, no cosplay, no movies, group together with like-minded people and start one. Set rules for what will be offered. Talk to the comic companies about what will be acceptable for their displays should they wish to exhibit. It’s been done numerous times before. There are cosplay only conventions, game only conventions, and conventions where it’s all books, no movies, costumes and games allowed. Again, the cosplayers have nothing to do with this and setting it up is not their problem or responsibility.
4) We call it fandom, but it’s not actually a kingdom or even a unified culture. And you are not courtiers who must solve social “issues,” act as a diplomats, and scold strangers because some comic fans have a bee in their bonnet that mostly so far seems to be a tingling in their naughty bits and a 1960’s view of women. You have no authority and no one gives a shit that you don’t like other people’s SFFH interests. So stop pretending that we are being remiss in imaginary duties in your head.
As for us taking on public ranters like Mr. Harris and that not doing any good to quell sexism at conventions — actually it’s been working pretty well. Take a look at convention rule changes over the last ten years. Take a look at the majority attitudes of the younger generations about women. Take a look at how most of the time, female creators can go to conventions, sell their wares and meet with respect and support instead of derision and bullying. Take a look at Mr. Peacock who is now grudgingly “thinking about” the fact that he was a sexist ass after the Internet dumped on his head. Sure, being a sexist ass increased his Net profile, but long term he knows it’s a problem because the society is changing and becoming, very slowly, more equal. And we don’t get there by babying scared jerks like Harris who likes to imagine what’s going on in teenage girls’ heads. Or pretending that your concerns and demands have any basis in fact. Persecuting cosplayers because you don’t like them hanging around a party you decided to attend is ridiculous, pointless, and oh yeah, what did Scalzi call it? Acting like a sex crazed twelve year old.
thecynicalromantic @ 10:30: Well… uh…
shadowmint: FYI, I identify as a man and I don’t feel alienated by this post. Rather the opposite. I take it as evidence that fandom has people in it that I’m not ashamed to be associated with. And I don’t think we improve these issues through responding to the individual incidents by giving the perpetrator a pat on the head and having a quiet committee meeting about broad sociological trends. I contrariwise think we improve them through speaking the fuck up.
jenphalian: Since you’ve already disturbed their cozy feeling of power in their domain by bringing your own ineluctable power as gatekeeper of hot sex into it, you probably can’t do anything to appease them but offer your total submission as tribute to their mastery of Batman trivia — and that probably won’t work because they’ll assume it’s a trick. It seems the only winning move is not to play.
(The link in my last post may only work in a Chrome incognito tab. Otherwise it seems that some brain-damaged anti-linking code is kicking in.)
Okay, I officially call Lunch Mob. We will gather at comic/anime/steampunk/SF cons with our delicious lunches in a huge, noisy group, stealing each others french fries and making disparaging comments about each others’ choice of carbonated beverage, and shouting things like “Awesome costume!” and “Oh man, I love that character!” to cosplaying passers-by to let them know we approve of their effort to join in the crazy party that is fandom. (Don’t touch my potato chips, though. I WILL CUT YOU.)
@Kevin Riley: What makes this rant so special (as opposed to any other geek-rant on the Web) that it deserves your righteous indignation? Is it that your interest in comics has elevated Scalzi’s post to the forefront? Or is it strictly the fact that he was encroaching on some area you consider sacred? I just don’t understand why this one blog, this one rant, was singled out for your commentary.
Regarding your questions about “why this guy”, I can’t read Scalzi’s mind, but I can make some educated guesses: Because “this guy” not only made a post on Facebook, but tweeted a link to it and invited people to re-tweet it to others. Because even if you, personally, have never heard of him, he’s an experienced and well-regarded comics artist. Because this is not the first time Scalzi has called out one of the self-appointed Guardians of Geek Purity on their curious hatred of only certain (i.e., female) geeks who are clearly Not Of The Body because boobies. Because “this guy”‘s self-promotion meant that it caught a lot of attention all over the Internet. Does that help?
A distinction, btw: our host was using exaggeration for comic effect; you were using it for rhetorical effect. Specifically, to paint Harris as a poor, unfairly-singled-out target ganged up on by a bunch of overwrought meanies who need to grow a thicker skin. (Hence “lynch mob”, “righteous indignation”, etc.)
@Alex Satrapa: The idea that strippers give up paid work to deliberately seek out geeks to harass instead of, you know, working and making money, is….so self-centered and delusional as to be a little disturbing, to be straight with you. I don’t know how to tell you this, but given a choice between making twenty bucks and being told “Oh my god, you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen” by the world’s biggest Deadpool fan, there is not a stripper on God’s green earth who would pass up the $20, even if you threw up “and then you can make fun of him for being a geek!”. Sorry to burst your bubble.
@shadowmint: Of course it’s productive. Scalzi has shown up Harris’ rant for what it is, which is rather encouraging to everyone else who was disturbed and angered by it; also, from the example of Joe Peacock we learn that shining light and heat on stupidity is effective. It doesn’t stop being effective because you repeatedly try to lecture everyone into “mediating” with an obnoxious bozo. By the way, nobody’s stopping you from “mediating” all you like.
Mythago: I’ll bring some aioli for the fries, and a handful of extra napkins!
“Has it: (1) helped women feel less alienated? (2) made men feel more alienated?
I would argue it does both (1) and (2). Now, if we could find a balance for posts that does (1), without needing to gorge quite so deeply into (2), don’t you think that would be a more productive use of influence?”
You are confused about what kinds of people are being made to feel more or less alienated. These groups are not divided by gender, but by the extent to which people are comfortable spewing sexist insults when they are feeling insecure. Or just for the hell of it. Or are comfortable listening to such illogical bullshit.
In which case, there is no balance to be found between these two groups. You either think shaming women for their bodies (or for simply being women) is cool, or you don’t. There isn’t a fucking middle ground on whether it’s ok to dismiss me because of the cup size I wear.
@ Kat Goodwin
I just wanted to let you know that you are awesome. Just in case there was any doubt.
“I mean, “Notice I didn’t say GREAT boobies?” Was that just tossed in there in case anyone reading the rant hadn’t yet figured out what a sexist turd this immature little twit is?”
The great boobies comment must be understood in the context of coming directly after the big boobies comments. The point is to maximize the insults by calling women both sluts and ugly. This has the added advantage of not giving women an option to escape the ire of Great Men like Harris. Choosing to be chaste does not solve the problem, because then we are simply ugly. Likewise, working hard at being pretty does no good because we are still sluts. Trying to be chaste and pretty is simply an impossibility, someone will judge you as either too pretty to be chaste or too chaste to be pretty. There is no escape. One is either ugly, a slut, or both.
The only reasonable option is to try to disappear from Harris’ view and hope he does not look our way. And yet, there will be a great many of women who will work very hard to be Not Like Those Other Women. Even those of us that realize the game is fixed are still left with the impossible choice of just how much crap we are willing to shovel in order to work and play in the fandoms we love.
All of which has the convenient result letting Great Men like him get away with not competing on an even playing field, via distracting women from simply being their awesome selves.
It’s fascinating to me that a movement, a subculture, whatever you want to call feminism, which has spent decades supposedly exposing and fighting sexism, which has empowered women by giving them safe spaces to verbalize their feelings and lived experience… can wax eloquently about the “male gaze” and all the harm it causes, and can maintain the ridiculous delusion that a woman who dresses for attention can decide which males are allowed to give it to her in a public place and the males are supposed to divine this information by ESP, and yet sees nothing wrong with wearing a skimpy outfit and parading around in front of sexually frustrated nerd men who, if we take their own verbalized emotions and lived experience as true, evidently find it distressing.
More generally, I’m seeing a great deal of “men are horrible creepers, woe to us undeserving women who are after all totally blameless”, and almost no attempt to suss out what it is, exactly, that causes some men to be snarling, insecure misogynists, or to understand their point of view (because, after all, they have one, and it is as valid as yours, even if you find it repugnant). Feminism’s answer to Why Men Are So Fucked Up always seems to end at the intersection of Some Men Just Suck and It’s Patriarchy, Stupid, which is about as beneficial to sociology (and feminism) as blaming nature on God was useful to the physical sciences. And that makes me sad. Where are the feminists who remember that what they call “patriarchy” (a terrible name, BTW) is actually a system – a system that they themselves, as women, participate in and even contribute to? Where are the feminists who realize that 49% of the population, roughly, are men, and that 100% of those men have to deal with women in their daily lives, and that men’s feelings and concerns, even the batshit ones, are as important as women’s? Actually, are there any such feminists? I’m not sure there are. I may be appealing to a nonexistent demographic.
And what does your opinion regarding feminists have to do with the original entry? It doesn’t seem to have any as far as I can see, which leads me to suspect that it’s not actually on topic for the thread.
I’m very aware that some bigots hold their bigoted views very sincerely, and that “if we take their own verbalized emotions and lived experience as true, evidently find [the presence of the objects of their bigotry] distressing.”
I feel genuine compassion for their distress, as I feel compassion for all beings in distress.
But no, their “concerns, even the batshit ones” are simply not as important as the concerns of the objects of their bigotry, because being attacked simply for breathing the same air as a bigot causes a hell of a lot more distress and real harm than simply being a bigot ever can.
I would like to nominate Hubert for winner of the thread for
I kind of get where Lizard is coming from with the looking at costumes remark, assuming that he is talking about the art work that you are presenting. If you spent time on making art, you’d want people to look at it. Not necessarily at *you*. But as some have pointed out, not all cosplayers are making art. And ok, men may well automatically notice whether women are attractive, just as women may automatically notice when men are attractive. And through learned behaviour, a lot of women now have to deliberately notice when men may be dangerous, and that’s the problem with men showing that they have noticed. And yes, I am thinking of It’s not my fault I’m pretty.
It’s a shame that the men who would never be a threat to women have to not show what they’re feeling (or at least the socially acceptable parts of what they’re feeling – by which I mean a look and a smile, and maybe a word of compliment, not an attempt to own her attention) on account of douchebags, but that’s what it takes for women to feel safe at the moment. I hope one day this will change. Not in my lifetime, I suspect.
By the way, Lizard, people grope at your hair? Without checking with you first? Creepy!
I’m sure that sexist assholes, like all bigots, genuinely believe in their sexist assholery.
I’m also aware that some people genuinely believe that the Moon landing was faked, germ theory is false, and lizard people control the government.
I see no reason that I should take any of these people’s points of view seriously.
shadowmint: “but maybe it’s a better approach to engage him and try to find the cause for his, and all the other unhappy anti-cosplayers out there’s rage, and address those *root cause* issues, rather than talk about him as though he has a mental illness.”
Maybe it is. I look forward with interest to your description of how you have done just that and what his response was.
Back when I spent most of my online time in Usenet newsgroups, a standard reply to people who whined about the content or quality of posts and the type of discussion going on was to tell them to post the kinds of things they wanted to read rather than asking other people to do it for them.
What have you done to implement your preferred solution? If nothing, it’s no surprise people are telling you basically to STFU. If you think you have a better approach, go forth and implement it. You don’t have to wait for other people to do so.
“I see no reason that I should take any of these people’s points of view seriously.”
Exactly. Exactly this. Germ theory is demonstrably false, though.
Jane: It’s a shame that the men who would never be a threat to women have to not show what they’re feeling (or at least the socially acceptable parts of what they’re feeling – by which I mean a look and a smile, and maybe a word of compliment, not an attempt to own her attention) on account of douchebags, but that’s what it takes for women to feel safe at the moment.
I don’t buy this, at least not to the extent that a man can’t smile at a women or compliment a woman. A particular woman might be that fragile that she withers at a smile, but I think it ridiculous to think all men should treat a priori all women simultaneously as equals and as eggshells.
People (men) need to be aware that the intentions behind their actions isn’t how their actions will land on the other person (women). Some people’s (men’s) idea of a compliment can reasonably be taken as harrassment by the population at large. People (men) have no right to monopolize another person’s (women’s) space.
But no, people should not avoid (socially acceptable) smiling or (socially acceptable) compliments in case the other person can’t handle it and shatters.
Men like Alex who appear to be unable to handle rejection from a woman without trying to turn themselves into a victim and without turning the woman into a troll looking to burn and emotionally violate men, men like Alex need to deal with adult relationships.
Women who shatter at a socially acceptable smile need to deal with their own issues that are preventing them from interacting in adult relationships.
People who can’t deal with socially acceptable adult relationship behavior need to deal with their own issues so they CAN deal with socially acceptable adult relationships. What we can NOT do is redefine socially acceptable adult relationship interaction such that men like Alex and women who shatter at a smile are the new yardstick for what is socially acceptable. If a woman rejects Alex, and Alex feels emotionally violated, we don’t redefine adult relationships to say the woman can’t reject Alex. No. Alex needs to learn to deal with rejection and needs to get its a normal part of life.
I said this up thread: be adult and treat people like adults.
And if you’re not adult, grow up.
Mintwich: Maybe feminism really has failed men.
And perhaps ice hockey has failed horses. I mean, what do horses get out of ice hockey?
*summons the lunch mob* TO ARMS! Now point and laugh at people who hold inexcusably silly ideas!
Definitely better than a lynch/non-lynch mob. Probably more productive in the long run, too. Not to mention that snickering at people who do stupid things is just plain FUN. :D
Fubb: feminism, which has spent decades supposedly exposing and fighting sexism, which has empowered women by giving them safe spaces to verbalize their feelings and lived experience… can wax eloquently about the “male gaze” and all the harm it causes, and can maintain the ridiculous delusion that a woman who dresses for attention can decide which males are allowed to give it to her in a public place and the males are supposed to divine this information by ESP, and yet sees nothing wrong with wearing a skimpy outfit and parading around in front of sexually frustrated nerd men who, if we take their own verbalized emotions and lived experience as true, evidently find it distressing.
Wait. Woah. Woah. Woah. Stop. Back it way the hell up.
Feminism isn’t about verbalizing feelings. It’s about gender equality. And when the male gaze turns into a particular man trying to harrass or dominate a woman, then that is no longer equality.
Your entire argument boils down to “Feminism is about feelings, and since women get to say that the male gaze makes them FEEL funny, therefore men ought to be able to say how distressing it FEELS to have a beautiful woman reject them.”
You’re premise is wrong. It’s not about feelings. It’s about equality. And just to bring it back to the rant at the top of this thread, Harris is treating women differently than men with regard to conventions. He basically wants an admission test for women, but not for men.
Amazing how some people want to change the subject from mocking Harris for being a doucheclock to “how dare you half-naked strumpets try to make me feel bad for staring at your tits.” (And by “amazing” I mean “tedious and predictable”.)
@isabel: well, technically they’re not lizard-people, given that they come from inside the hollow earth, so yeah.
Just popping back in to say, wow, jennygadget, chaosprime, and Kat Goodwin, you are my heroes. Also, Lizard, no one has ever said you can’t have sexual feelings towards women you see and find attractive. What’s at issue is that we don’t want to hear these Notes From Your Boner which turn us into sexual objects existing for your approval and admiration.
But hey, I’m just an “Angry Feminist type getting all twisted at the patriarchical objectification of wymmyn.”
Now i’m totally confused about what sexism is. I thought it was closer to racism where there had to be mistreatment involved. Am I now racist for watching basketball?
Kilroy, if you’re genuinely wondering, check out benevolent and unintentional sexism here. http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-definition/
Probably late on this one, but as for “Why call out this particular guy?” my answer’s simple. He’s a comics professional. I, for my sins, dedicated much of my adult life to working in comics (albeit of a rather different sort.)
When members of a profession do something horrible, other members of the profession immediately jump in to condemn that behavior, because it tars EVERYBODY. (Case in point—whenever you find a mortuary stacking bodies in the bathtub, the professional organizations generally issue statements left, right and sideways saying “No! Not what’s supposed to go on! We swear this is not happening in our facilities!”) When members of a country do something horrific in the name of country, the government, if it’s a remotely civilized nation, jumps in and says “Whoa, not our values! This is horrible and does not represent us!” And I personally get very pissed when members of a religion do something awful and the other members of a religion mumble something and stare at their feet, or worse, try to pretend that Nothing Just Happened.
NOT to comment on somebody in my field publicly being a douchebag would make me feel as if I were being complicit with my silence.
I won’t presume to speak to anyone else’s motivations.
“The only reasonable option is to try to disappear from Harris’ view and hope he does not look our way. And yet, there will be a great many of women who will work very hard to be Not Like Those Other Women. Even those of us that realize the game is fixed are still left with the impossible choice of just how much crap we are willing to shovel in order to work and play in the fandoms we love.”
Count me as one of those recovering women who used to be “Not Like Those Other Women.” Internalized Misogyny is hell to root out, especially when it’s so normalized that you don’t even know how to recognize it in the first place, and it’s chilling to think that 15 years ago (oh lord, that would have put me back in my “not old enough to drink legally days”), if I’d read Joe Peacock’s piece and this latest piece of verbal vomit, I *might* actually have felt more sympathetic to it because “yeah, stupid fake women who weren’t REAL NERDS coming into my special spaces and getting all the attention! Do they even know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek?? They already have all the popular guys and jock boys anyway – why can’t I get to keep this corner of the world for myself at least??” When really, 1) who the fuck cares how much or little they know about geek culture trivia if they’re enjoying themselves? and 2) that last little statement there – so, so much wrong with that, I can’t even begin to know where I’d start verbally whacking my younger self if I suddenly had access to a TARDIS and could go back in time… Thankfully I’ve learned better since then, and a lot of it has been because of reading pieces like Scalzi’s and the one I linked to farther upthread from Geek Feminism, not to mention the excellent discussions that often follow in the comments here at Whatever – so to those who have been asking what’s the use of highlighting instances like this? In a word: Education.
Responding to shadowmint:
“Let me pose this; how has this post helped the situation?
Has it: (1) helped women feel less alienated? (2) made men feel more alienated?”
Well, (1) would be a nice result, I feel. As for (2)? I’m a straight, white male. I don’t feel at all alienated by John’s post here. I do feel a little alienated by Tony Harris’ comments, because I think they’re puerile at best and I really, really hate the fact that he seems to trying to speak for male geeks and nerds everywhere. I don’t agree with him in the slightest, and I would really prefer that I not be tarred with the same brush just because I’m also a guy.
Let me help you tear down a few of those starwmen.
1) Gender does not determine whether a person is sexist, and thinking it does is sexist, and thinking that feminists as a group think it is both wrong and a ridiculous generalization.
2) Most feminists do realize the patriarchy is a system, not a male cabal, and feminists (of either sex) were the first to point it out, so your decision to behave as though all feminists have forgotten this, or at least all you can find, is mansplaining in the truest sense, since I guarantee there are multiple feminists in this very thread who know damn well what patriarchy is and live with it every day of their lives. But I’m sure we all appreciate your gratuitously gracing us with your aesthetic critique of the word itself.
3) “Feminism” isn’t asking Why Men Are So Fucked Up; you are, either because you’re really that ignorant of what most actual feminists think or you just wanted to derail the discussion and cobble together support for a false equivalence to religion, which involved inventing a strawman. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume you don’t know many feminists or don’t know them very well. In which case I recommend talking to them about it. They don’t breath fire, I promise. Indeed, most I know in real life go out of their way to remain cordial considering the subject is how can we relegate their inegalitarian status to the dustbin of history. You try living in a world that handicaps you just for being born with ovaries and see how cheerful you are on the topic.
4) Bigots do indeed have their viewpoints, and in no way, shape or form are they valid save in their own deluded little worlds.
5) Your presumption that I, as a man, am in your camp to fight against your misperception of what feminists think is insulting. My balls, giant brass balls though they be, do not consign me to your world of group-think. There’s a term for that. It’s called essentialism, and it lies at the root of most of the opinions you’ve expressed regarding feminism.
I’m much more circumspect about how I interact with girls (and, to some extent, boys) than I am in my interactions with women and men. Nor is this some academic nicety for me. I’ve been teaching martial arts since I was a teenager myself. I’ve literally watched girls and boys grow up in my dojo. But on the flip side, I’m careful never to infantilize women and men by treating them as delicate snowflakes. Yes, if I know a person has special needs, I go out of my way to make accommodations for them so they can feel safe and welcome in my life and in my classes, but I don’t treat adults that way a priori. In short, I treat others the way I wish to be treated, with mutual respect and consideration.
Separate but equal is never really equal. It deprives the group being separated “for their own good” of their agency by treating them as children.
@Revolver: wow, think that page demonstrates everything that is wrong with the feminist movement. Women cannot be sexist? Opening a door for a woman is benevolent sexism… That type of definition just pushes people in the opposite direction.
Well then I guess we’re at a standstill, since it’s really not my job (nor is this the place) to educate you on sexism and feminism. But generally, when a member of an oppressed group tells you something is [sexist, racist, homophobic], it’s a good idea to listen instead of whining about what you now perceive YOU are being oppressed with (ie, “I can’t even open a door for a woman?! How else are you people going to oppress my rights as a man??”)
@ Kilroy – erm, did you actually read that link or just skim it? The explanation was pretty clearly given for why, specifically, feminists often argue that they don’t consider women able to be sexist when they are talking about *sexism = prejudice + power* NOT the dictionary definition of sexism=prejudice.
It’s very similar in scope to discussions in which racism is often discussed as RACISM=prejudice+power, not just racism=prejudice – and it’s a good thing that entry gets that definition clearly out of the way first because understanding that’s what it’s talking about when it uses the term “sexism” is crucial to understanding the context of everything else surrounding the discussions of sexism and how it relates to feminism.
And when sexism is discussed as equaling “prejudice (and here’s the VERY crucial part) backed by societal/institutional power,” given that women have historically been an oppressed class and one that has NOT had societal/institutional power relative to men, yeah, it’s very hard to argue that women can, within that context, actually be sexist. And I’m going to stop here for fear of further derailing this thread.
Kilroy: Now i’m totally confused about what sexism is. I thought it was closer to racism where there had to be mistreatment involved. Am I now racist for watching basketball?
well, there’s systemic sexism and individual sexism. pay for women is, on average, lower than it is for men doing the same job. That probably indicates systemic sexism. But are *you* sexist strictly because you, one man, get paid more than your female coworker doing the same job? I’d say no. But you may be benefitting indirectly from the effects of systemic sexism. Or, it might be that were systemic sexism removed, the salaries of women would go up without bringing your salary down.
You might be able to interact with women without being individually sexist. But there may be systemic sexism present which affects the women you’re interacting with. If a bunch of knuckleheads like Harris end up drumming women out of conventions, then that’s systemic sexism. And if you, one man, are interacting with one woman at a convention, you might not be acting sexist, but the woman might be feeling the direct effects of systemic sexism against her.
Sexism can be affecting the women around you even if you yourself are not acting sexist.
Oppressed group? Everyone is in an oppressed group. A definition that says women cannot be sexist is patently ridiculous. That’s like saying a black man can’t be racist or a non-american can’t be xenophobic.
Way to miss the point, Kilroy. Good job.
No one here said that. Show me where somewhere said that. Step up.
ThePint: feminists often argue that they don’t consider women able to be sexist when they are talking about *sexism = prejudice + power* NOT the dictionary definition of sexism=prejudice.
I see no reason for this modification from the dictionary definition. Changing the definition doesn’t change the problem and it doesn’t change the solution.
I do see a point in being clear that the target ought to be objective, measurable sexism, to distinguish it from internal bias. Lots of people have internal bias, but lots of people also do their best to put a layer of I-am-not-just-my-lizard-brain on top of it.
The point is not that opening doors for people is sexist. I open/hold doors for people all the time because I like to consider the people around me. The point is that treating women as though it is their role in life to be treated with kid gloves, catered to, put on a pedestal and so forth, is to deprive them of the full rights and responsibilities accorded to first-class citizens. Benevolent sexism isn’t holding the door for your date; it’s acting as though she should be grateful because your treating her the way you think women should be treated. Contrary to what some of the comments under the linked-in FAQ might like to believe, this is not a lease to be rude to people.
@ Eric Saveau
Killroy was referring to the content of the FAQ Revolver linked to above.
(John: sorry for the double-post, didn’t see Eric’s comment until I hit post.)
@Thomas Rawlins at 9:18:
Py shouldn’t be too hard, though I’d probably want to do some binding given that I am nowhere near as ripped as she is, to say the least). (Given that I want to pick up a binder anyway, adding a girdle to address the post-pregnancy belly thing wouldn’t be a big addition.) The tricky bit from my perspective would be to come up with a top that was adequately fitted so it could resemble skin and at least gives the impression of being furry. I’m sure there’s something somewhere; hell, I bet I could hit up one of my exes for resources, he knows about that kind of thing. (I’m sure the furry community has “fuzzy leotard” as at least a known problem if not a solved one; if not, just go with gold and trust the headpiece to make the implied fur.)
She’s particular about the way she dresses, especially when she’s going for effect, so the silk pants are easy. Probably black or red, if I’m remembering right (I probably haven’t done a reread in over a decade, so this is all off the top of my head). She has enough rings in her ears to chime when she flicks them; when she goes for fancy she tends to only replace one with something with a gem, leaving the others plain, which means those won’t require a huge amount of modification work once I find an appropriate base model. Other jewelry is other jewelry.
The headpiece will be a lot of hard work, but not outside my skills; I’d have to take a lot more fiddly care with it than with the three-year-old’s dragon head for Hallowe’en, but hey. Ears can’t be just fabric; I’ll need to put in armature to handle the weight of the rings. Tawny fur for most of it to get mane and beard; felt with some stitchwork sculpting for the nose.
Beyond that it’s weaponry. Pistol and rifle, I believe, would do, and I’m confident of being able to find something adequate that’s commercially produced.
(One would not cosplay Hilfy. Hilfy likes humans too much – and in the wrong way – to cosplay as a commentary on sexualisation issues in geekdom.)
@ Greg – actually, given that people often come to the table with different understandings/usage of the term “sexism” (often in the same way they do with the term “racism”), I find that explaining right off the bat that I when I use the term, I’m talking not just internal biases/prejudices, but said biases/prejudices+power, often prevents misunderstandings before they start. So I think the modification from the “dictionary” definition of the term is actually needed in some cases, especially since it’s still quite a bit of work getting people to understand how much institutional/societal power affects the scope and range those seemingly little personal biases can have.
I agree that “Changing the definition doesn’t change the problem and it doesn’t change the solution” but it definitely does help clarify what you’re talking about.
But much as I’d love to have this conversation, I think it’s actually drifting afield from the original focus of the thread and I sense the looming shadow of the Mallet…
@Eric Saveau: so you agree that definition is ridiculous? because that isn’t just the link, but the focus of a lot of the conversation above against Fubb and other skeptics. Seems like the Pint and revolver both agree that negative portrayals and attitudes against men is not sexism.
Here is where I have a problem: “treating women as though it is their role in life to be … catered to, put on a pedestal and so forth, is to deprive them of the full rights and responsibilities accorded to first-class citizens.” No. That is just how you should treat your spouse, significant other, etc. And if that is sexism, than there is nothing wrong with sexism and sexism should be encouraged. Or you could change your definition so that absurd result doesn’t occur.
Fubb: Well done. I have rarely seen a conversation more effectively derailed. And you did it in one post. You must be very proud.
@Kilroy: Um, any guy I was dating who treated me as though it was my “role in life to be…catered to, put on a pedestal, and so forth” could find himself a door pretty damn quick. Same goes for any guy who expected me to treat him that way.
I’m a competent adult. If I’m in a relationship, I’m going to be in one with another competent adult. Someone who expects otherwise, or wants to treat a SO otherwise, is goddamn creepy.
Kilroy: “Now i’m totally confused about what sexism is. I thought it was closer to racism where there had to be mistreatment involved. Am I now racist for watching basketball?”
To try to bring the sexism conversation back to the original issue of Tony Harris’ post Harris has since tried (poorly) to clarify he’s not actually a misogynist, and his intent was to rip people he perceives as phonies. He could have done that by ripping into sales guys who treat conventions and convention-goers as sheep to be fleeced, with no love for the culture. He didn’t, though. Instead he went for what he perceived as an easy target (cosplay women) and, ultimately, attacked them more for both being slutty and not hot enough to be worth the attention. You’re not a racist for watching basketball, but if you sit around and complain about how much Carmelo earns by calling him lazy and shiftless, you’re being racist.
good point Steven. To bring it back around: gut-boy demonstrated sexism, opening a door for a girl and showering a significant other with adoration is not sexism. If feminists want to lump that all together, their cause is lost with those they seek to overcome.
Lizard @ Nov 14 7:15 PM: Bit late, I know, but I did want to respond to this.
2. Well, you have the right idea when you say it’s highly subjective. You also, last we knew, held an idea contradictory to that one, that any straight man (now modified to straight American man) will automatically be happy with “eye candy”. I think you should reconcile these. Let’s posit a heterosexual American man who likes women’s breasts but is pretty uncomfortable with them being displayed around him by strangers and feels less anxious and awkward when women he doesn’t know are fully clothed. Your statements deny his very existence, and leverage culturally charged stereotypes of “real masculinity” in doing so. How do you figure that feels to him?
3. I don’t want to speak for others, but I believe you’re heavily overinterpreting.
My belief about the matter is that you don’t need to perform that analysis at all. If somebody is displaying themselves, by all means, look. The crucial difference, I would say, comes if they should then display discomfort with your looking or express a desire that you desist. At that point, a belief that their display constituted an open and unconditional invitation by which they have forfeited the right to speak up about how they’re interacted with might lead to an angry, defensive, or threatening response. Which is not for the best. Whereas a belief that no such invitation took place and they retain such rights might lead to a response along the lines of “Oops, okay”. Which would be much better.
Context matters. If you’re using sexism in the sense of personal prejudice, then of course women can be sexist toward men. Institutional sexism doesn’t work that way because the bias is not in the individual but in the landscape.
By etc, I assume you mean women in general. And the answer is no, you should treat them as equals. You’re belief that they should conform to a particular role in their interactions with men does not make you right. You may wish that you’re beliefs about the roles men and women are obligated to fulfill took precedence over what men and women choose for themselves, but it doesn’t. You hold no just right or authority to decide how men and women interact, or even how women interact with men. And if you choose to treat women as though their roles should conform to your platonic idealization, that’s depriving them of self-determination, which is sexist and will get called as such.
Now, if you and a particular individual woman choose to interact in that way, that’s choice is both of yours prerogatives. If you unilaterally choose to treat women as a gender that way, that’s sexism.
If I choose to treat all women that way, my wife would probably have a problem with it. Why are we talking about institutional sexism when gut-boy is not an institution, but displaying individual sexism towards a specific group of women? I can’t open the door for womankind, but I can open a door for each individual woman that happens to be following me at a suitable distance to not make the wait awkward so that she feels the need to speed up. Which is a skill that should probably be taught. And I don’t mean that women should follow behind men, talking about any given situation where two people are heading towards the same door and nearly the same time. See what the overly feministic cause?
I once cosplayed a prophet at a local con. And I don’t know have the Bible memorized. Sorry, Tony, I’m one of the bad ones. ;)
@Kilroy: Why is holding a door for someone behind you something tied to your gender role as a man and the other person’s gender role as a woman, and not something you’d just do for anyone?
I saw a comment elsewhere this morning that I think deserves some repetition:
Media cons, like the ones that Harris goes to in a professional capacity, are very much the creation of fannish women. They exist in the first place mostly because male guardians of fandom didn’t want the icky cooties all over their cons, and people like Bjo Trimble didn’t take that lying down. Really, we need a committee of experienced women to grill latter-day poseurs like Harris about how much they really know about proper fanac and establish whether they’re just there to exploit others are truly qualified to contribute to convention fandom.
Kilroy, showering a significant other with adoration isn’t necessarily sexism. It’s sexism if you’re doing it because She Is A Woman And Women Are Wonderful Special Creatures. If you’re doing it because you think a particular person is so far above you in worth that your reaction to him or her is adoration, that’s another problem but not necessarily sexism. I personally prefer to be respected and liked rather than adored. I find the idea of being adored utterly repulsive, because it denies me humanity and the freedom to be a person and not someone’s idealized goddess. I’ve broken up with men who wanted me to be up on a pedestal instead of being equal partners. But if being showered with adoration floats your S.O.’s boat, that’s between you and her. Some couples are comfortable with imbalances in their relationships.
Opening a door for a girl is a polite gesture but not necessary. If you would also open the door for a boy in the same circumstances, it’s not sexist. If you open doors only for girls and women, it is. If you open doors for men as well as women, and if you’re fully comfortable with women opening doors for you, that also suggests that you understand when door-opening is and isn’t sexist.
If a woman has to speed up even a little bit to go through a door you’re holding for her, it’s rude for you to hold the door. If you have to wait for her and you stand there holding the door until she gets there, it’s creepy. If two people are approaching the door at the same time, either one may choose to hold the door for the other. It’s got nothing to do the gender of the individuals.
Killroy: Why are we talking about institutional sexism when gut-boy is not an institution, but displaying individual sexism towards a specific group of women?
I’d call it systemic, not institutional, sexism (or bias), because it doesn’t have to come from an institution You might remove institutional racism from the South, get rid of government enforced and corporate enforced racism, but that doesn’t prevent every white person in the south from being racist. So you could get rid of institutional racism, but still have systemic racism.
And it came up because Harris’ post was was individual sexism, but a lot of other nerds are doing the exact same thing, so its part of a larger issue of systemic bias.
This reminds me of what I think when I see a hot girl wearing rather revealing clothing and Glasses. My message to those girls. “You’re not a nerd, you’re a whore in glasses!!!”
Nothing wrong with that. I would argue you should do the same for each individual man, because that’s good manners, but I don’t think you’re being sexist simply by holding the door and I think that if that was your take away from Revolver’s linked-in FAQ, that you did indeed miss its point which was not that holding doors is sexist, but that a culture which treats women as predestined to slot into a particular idea of what is feminine is institutionally sexist.
I see what your interpretation of a particular argument advanced by some feminists causes. I don’t share that interpretation. I also don’t believe its very realistic to imagine the fractious, riotous diverse ideas of feminism as a linear spectrum where things get “overly feministic” when they cross some imaginary value.
Chaos: Your method applies equally well to such a simple thing as opening a door for a woman. Okay, let us consider a spherical American male of uniform density. He might, under some circumstances, open a door either in a way, or for a person, that causes offense. The proper response is, “Oh, sorry. Won’t happen again.”
Yes, it is, in fact, the case that I associate with women who are offended any time a door is opened for them by a man. Yes, it is, in fact, the case that I associate with women who bloody well expect me to walk around the car and open the door for them. I can whine about either; I can whine about not knowing what to do, or I can do the simple thing: pay attention to what people around me are comfortable with and NOT MAKE SUCH A BIG FUCKING DEAL ABOUT IT.
@chaosprime: because that’s the chivalric code? Or is chivalry now sexist?
Kilroy: “See what the overly feministic cause?”
Actually, this is narrowly reading a specific (off topic) point as a way to dismiss more pressing points. Mr. Harris, I’d be willing to bet, would never dream of saying his mom’s/sister’s/significant other’s “boobies” weren’t hot enough, regardless of the reason those particular women pissed him off. He thinks he’s not misogynist or sexist, and is now angry people saw things he said as sexist without giving him credit for all the times he wasn’t sexist. And people are defending him by indicting feminism as being too reactionary, glossing over the fact he did something ugly that deserves being called out.
@Steven Brust: But Steve, if we consider it appropriate to interact with people according to their individual preferences instead of the categories we assign them, how will we ever reduce our behavior to a safe series of little boxes that could be successfully executed by a neural network made of two dozen Tinkertoys?
@Kilroy: Uh. Are we now arguing about whether behavioral systems that say “this person shall do X because of being born with A genitalia and this other person shall do Y because of being born with B genitalia” are sexist? For reals?
Chivalry has ever not been sexist?
If you are opening doors for any person who is heading toward the same door, that’s polite. If you’re holding the door for women but not men, that’s polite – but also sexist.
@ Steven Brust
Ooo, a shiny spherical cow reference. I may have to read one of your books now.
Chaos: Oh, geez. I never thought of that. And then what would I do with my tinkertoys? :-Fe
“I admit it is better fun to punt than be punted, and that a desire to have all the fun is nine-tenths of the law of chivalry.” — Dorothy L. Sayers
Yes. The chivalric code is sexist.
@ Kilroy: “Seems like the Pint and revolver both agree that negative portrayals and attitudes against men is not sexism.”
I think I explained why clearly upthread (as did revolver), and I don’t appreciate the implication that because neither of us don’t see them as such as sexism, we’re ok with them when such attitudes are directed against men (although I can only speak for myself here). Context matters, and in a society in which there is more societal and institutional power to bolster the negative portrayals and attitudes against women than against men, the resulting power imbalance is what tends to get discussed when we’re talking sexism.
Which is not to say negative portrayals and attitudes against men aren’t bad things – because they ARE (and I can’t believe I have to actually assert that I think that b/c it should go without saying and it feels yet again like another round of “what about teh menz?!?” in a discussion that was and should remain focused on a problem that is targeted at and about women), but again, because of the imbalance of power which is still very much skewed to favor men, said negative portrayals/attitudes tend to be more about personal biases only and are not nearly as backed up by institutional and societal power and thus tend not to have the same far-reaching consequences as those aimed at women (such as the comments made by Tony Effing Harris).
I think Greg illustrated pretty well why Harris’ comment is part of the problem even though he’s “just an individual.”
Kilroy, dude, give it a rest. Go open doors for women. You’re a good Knight in Shining Armor for it. But there’s a bunch of Orcs livingin under bridges who like to jump out and challenge only women when they try to cross that bridge and go to a convention.
Read the rant at the top of this thread. Are you posting things like that? No? OK, you’re a good Knight for not doing that. Good job you.
Except that NOW what you’re doing is actually getting in between people fighting those Orcs. If you are getting shot at, it is because you inserted yourself in a different battle. This is not the “can I open doors only for women?” battle.
@Steven Brust: I see what you did there with that emoticon, and I heart it forever.
“@chaosprime: because that’s the chivalric code? Or is chivalry now sexist?”
Oh dear. When you’re basing a code of behavior on how one aught to behave purely around expected and enforced specific gender norms? How is that *not* sexist?
Steven Brust: Right on. Discovering that one’s inadvertently given offense, by omission or commission, is just not that big a thing. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. We can apologize, make some effort o remember so we don’t do that one again, and move on.
Underlying a lot of this male hysteria, I think, is the assumption that people who intend good can reasonably expect never do make a serious lapse except through malevolent intent. They mean well, so they will do good, and anything else is weird, remarkable, and probably a matter of just being misunderstood by overly sensitive others. Others of us realize that it’s very easy to screw up, that perfection is not an option, and that what really counts is what happens after a lapse happens.
I kind of want to put in here a little something extra about “chivalry”, the concept, because of all its cultural baggage that has it sounding all wonderful and heroic and shit.
As you know, our modern attenuated concept of chivalry-the-condescending-treatment-of-women-by-men derives from the medieval concept of chivalry-the-code-of-behavior-for-knights-and-nobility. With apologies to anybody who’s living in Disney’s Magic Kingdom in their heads, let me clarify what that was: a mostly-ignored empty catechism designed to allow the people in the dominant positions in a brutal, sadistic, murderous system of power to tell themselves, and the people they routinely victimize, that they’re the good guys, at the minimum possible cost.
Modern attenuated chivalry has not changed its core purpose one iota.
Kilroy, I get kind of tired of “wah, you feminists won’t let me be a gentleman, you meanypantses,” which it seems to me you’re doing here. It’s not on women to provide opportunities for you to play out your gender role preferences. You want to be nice to women, respect their actual wishes, not the wishes you want them to have. Thankfully, we’re gradually leaving behind the era in which women had to depend on male chivalry. There have been times and places when the chivalric code, and the concomitant attitude that put women on pedestals (women of certain classes, at least, and women who stayed within rigid cultural bounds) while simultaneously denying them legal and societal rights, was almost all the culture offered that might keep women safe. During eras when women were chattel, they did have to depend on male chivalry, which served some women well and others not at all. I think most women would choose being legal and social equals over chivalry any day. I know I would. Respect, being treated as an equal adult, admiration for my actual accomplishments and not for my status as Sublime Woman–that kind of stuff is much more of interest to me than having a door held for me or whatever else you think the chivalric code is supposed to be about.
@Chaosprime: Can we please keep reality out of this? It just confuses everything.
@Steven Brust: You have a good point, and as we’ve seen illustrated so blatantly lately, reality does have a well-known liberal bias. I don’t know what I was thinking.
@ BW +100 for that. Seriously.
That’s probably the best and easiest to follow explanation I’ve read of why chivalry was so appealing (and to varying degrees, necessary), and why it still holds romantic appeal for many people. But really, when it comes down to it, I’d rather be on EQUAL ground, not on a pedestal. Lucky for me, I found a partner who feels the same way.
It’s treating a woman politely
As long as she isn’t a fright:
It’s guarding the girls who act rightly,
If you can be judge of what’s right;
It’s being—not just, but so pleasant;
It’s tipping while wages are low;
It’s making a beautiful present,
And failing to pay what you owe.
–Alice Duer Miller. (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11689/11689-h/11689-h.htm). On to this bullshit before any of us were born.
Everyone knows reality has a long-standing feminist bias…especially historicity.
BW: I get tired of the “he treated me different than he would have treated a man, he’s sexist!, which seems what a lot of the commentators here want to do. It is okay to treatment a woman different than you’d treat a man. It is not okay to treat a woman negatively because she is a woman. one is sexism, the other is just the fact that there are differences between the sexes.
Today’s Internets goes to isabelcooper, FTW.
@Kilroy: What innate difference between the sexes, exactly, is it that calls for men to hold doors for women but not men to hold doors for men, women to hold doors for men or women to hold doors for women?
I totally forgot, women are incapable of doing for themselves.
You guys*, this discussion actually warms my shriveled, man-hating heart. You get me, you really, really get me!
(*Guys is non-gendered here, of course.)
@Gulliver: Thanks! Although credit really goes to Miller, and also whoever linked me to her back when.
@Kilroy: If you’re going to assert that something is “just a fact”, you kind of need to back it up or look like an ass. Last I heard, my plumbing doesn’t get in the way when I go to open a door.
Kilroy, please explain. I don’t see how differences between men and women extend to the ability to open doors.
In the interest of leaving off arguing with Kilroy’s strange view that literally discriminating based on perceived gender is somehow not sexist, I shall now quote from twitter:
@theisb – Here is what would be amazing: Little girls being absolute dicks to grown men for being “fake bronies.”
Argh, sorry for piling on. Three or four people posted while I was still writing.
I am now going to cherish the idea that Kilroy is from an alternate dimension where the second X chromosome prevents the development of working hands and also the sky is purple and dogs have wings.
It’s that kind of day.
Googling “bronies” lived up to sooo many expectations.
This made my day, as did the Miller poem. Thanks, @isabelcooper.
@choasprime: some doors are heavy? Why do some feminists feel that a polite action that is typically reserved for women is sexist? Fine, if i’m opening a door just to allow you to pass through so i can stare at your ass, that’s sexist. The rest is just a battle that doesn’t need to be fought.
Bruce: Underlying a lot of this male hysteria, I think, is the assumption that people who intend good can reasonably expect never do make a serious lapse except through malevolent intent.
Well, how many angels who have fallen managed to get back into heaven? Statistically speaking, the odds are against it. How many Knights in Shining Armor lose their honor and get it back? We aren’t naturally a very forgiving species.
Others of us realize that it’s very easy to screw up, that perfection is not an option
Case in point, how many people just told Kilroy that opening a door for only women is sexism, of course its sexism, what else could it be but sexism? Are they holding up a standard of perfection? It could certainly land that way, expecially for someone who holds themselves as a knight in shining armor.
I think its good to talk about how folks wanting equality aren’t wanting perfection. It might be useful to demonstrate this somehow. Personally, I’m of the mind that certain forms of sexism that are below a certain threshold don’t actually need to be called out for being sexist. Let is slide.
And I’d say anyone feeling the “yargleblargle” urge in their brain to resist this is looking for perfection. And if you’re looking for perfection, you’re going to engage every man who wants to “do it right” and expects to fall from heaven and never get back in if they do it wrong.
chaosprime: let me clarify what that was: a mostly-ignored empty catechism designed to allow the people in the dominant positions in a brutal, sadistic, murderous system of power to tell themselves, and the people they routinely victim