The Scalzi Gender

First some tweets, and then some commentary.

There’s something both telling and sad about the sort of dude who literally thinks that a) impugning my masculinity is the worst possible thing they can say about me, b) that it’ll somehow lessen me if they do. On the former, meh. Given the ridiculous ideas that they have regarding masculinity, I’m happy not to meet their definition. On the latter, whatever. They’re idiots. I’m not inclined to care, outside of the opportunities it provides for pointing and laughing.

But I do think it’s useful to publicly mock their stupidity on such subjects, for the amusement and edification of others. I also think it’s particularly useful to mock their definition of masculinity and gender, and their baseline assertion that being male is the apotheosis of the human condition. It’s not; it’s merely one way to be. I’m okay with gender being more than binary; I’m okay with people having a gender other than mine; I’m okay with people shifting their idea of what their gender is over time. Because I don’t think one’s essential value is rooted in gender, and someone else’s gender is nearly always not my business anyway. I am for people being who they are, not who anyone else wants them to be, or demands them to be for their own selfish reasons. I’m for letting the world know that I think such a position is the most correct one to have. I’m for calling out people who try to make difficult for those who don’t conform to their own, usually bigoted, expectations.

Want to declare that because I don’t meet your pointless and stupid definition of “masculinity,” I should identify as another gender entirely? Awesome. I get to create a gender that doesn’t have your jackassedness riddling it front to back. The folks in my gender won’t be focused on being a “real man” or a “real woman” but on being “really me.” My gender will have all the best parties because we can do what we want, free of gender expectations! Because there are no gender expectations! My gender gets to love whoever they want! My gender gets to be whoever they want! My gender doesn’t care what you think my gender should be! My gender rocks. And it doesn’t need you, or care what you think of it.

If only it were as easy for people of every gender to be as free in theirs as I am in mine. Because of course that’s the thing: Even when these idiots declare me “not a real man,” it doesn’t change that I am always seen to be a “real man,” and that I get all the benefits that accrue to me for being biologically male, identifying as a man, and conforming to social standards for what both of those mean. The worst these dudes can do is be mean to me on the Internet. It doesn’t change anything about what I get from the world. And while I can mock them for it and proclaim the new Scalzi Gender in all its awesomeness, let’s just say that I know that it’s easy for me to do so, because in the end society has my back. Not everyone else gets to say the same. We need to be working on that.

194 Comments on “The Scalzi Gender”

  1. Oh, and:

    This is not the thread for Gender 101, and if you want to believe it is, well, you and I will have a difference of opinion, and remember: I have a Mallet. So please have some idea what you are saying before you say it. Thanks.

  2. Scalzine. That sounds like a better gender than the one that I am all too frequently mortified to be a part of due to the utter jerkwads that too frequently populate it…

    Sign me up!

  3. It’s sort of surreal watching them push the same button harder and harder trying to make it have an effect. They seem to be convinced that if they can just get you to *understand* that they do not consider you manly, then the scales will fall from your eyes and you will realize that women are only nice to you because you treat them like people.

    People try to do this to me occasionally, although not quite as amusingly. On the other hand, since I am gender-ambiguous most of the time, I end up with conversations in which people are trying to shame me for being a trans guy, while other people are trying to shame me for being a cis guy, and at least one person is trying to convince people not to listen to me because I’m a girl and therefore stupid.

  4. The content is amusing. I am finding the mega-tweet format a little hard to digest in general; I am guess I am just too old.

    Frischt Whee der Heimat zu
    Mein Scalzine kind
    Whim weilest du

  5. I think it is awesomely tolerant of you to be open to alternate opinions on churros, there are many for whom that would be a breaking point.

  6. Seebs:

    “It’s sort of surreal watching them push the same button harder and harder trying to make it have an effect.”

    They’re not known for their brains or learning curve.

  7. I have no idea how you manage to actually be on twitter for any length of time. Half the time, it seems like it’s awesome, but the other half of the time the place seems so toxic, I don’t even. Was the twittersphere always so angry and I just never noticed before?

  8. WizardDru: Eh. In my case, it’s easy to mute or ignore the stupid, unless I want to kick it in the head a bit. And the vast majority of the time (for me) it’s a ton of fun.

  9. It is very useful to mock someone who says something that mind-numbingly stupid. Just on the off chance the pointing and laughing sinks in and then there could be one less dipshit publicly saying things like that. I know it’s a long shot akin to being struck in the forehead by a meteorite, but you never know, and pointing and laughing isn’t that much effort, and can be it’s own reward.

  10. The thing people attack you with typically reveals what they themselves fear the most (in this case, fear of losing their perceived status—either consciously or unconsciously—as a dominant male).

    Also, I like pie.

  11. The possibilities are limitless (and somewhat disturbing): Scalzisexual. Scalz-curious (aren’t we all?). Trans-scalzi. Pan-scalzi. Poly-scalzous (I don’t even what).

  12. @srs: My suspicion is they fall into two groups: the under 20ish set, who I sincerely hope grow out of their bullshit, and the over 20ish set, who never did, and are now only to be pitied and scorned.

  13. “So, are any of these people (insulting you on this) actually over… oh, say 23 years old?”

    Probably not, or they might have something to care about that actually impacted them somehow.

    One of the things I have liked best about getting older is that I have experienced the cleansing fire of “who gives a fuck anyway?” I gots real problems; other people’s gender identification ain’t one of them.

  14. I think when your gender and my gender decide to throw a block party, the universe may be at risk from the sheer overpowering awesomeness.

    (Many years ago, I won the Mr San Jose Leather title. A number of idiots were put out by my victory because I had dared to perform in drag for a while at charity events, and therefore couldn’t be a “real” leatherman, whatever that was. Fortunately, the rest of us were clever enough to ignore their whinging and cringing and instead had a great time with drag queens and leatherfolk hanging out together).

    Gatekeeping is always so, well, provincial.

  15. “But I do think it’s useful to publicly mock their stupidity on such subjects,”

    Lowering yourself into these things seems mostly useful for quick and easy publicity pops. I liked Whatever a whole lot more when greater effort went into fresh thoughts or at least new perspectives.

    You’re right and all that . . . however, “So what?” comes to mind. These kinds of posts make me wonder if success is outpacing your ability to do everything well and maybe some things you shouldn’t be doing at all.

    Twitter is so beneath you, IMO, but it that’s where you want to go . . .

  16. Cindy Lou Who:

    I suspect you’re modeling a version of Whatever that’s never actually existed. I’ve pretty much always done this sort of thing, albeit on different subjects over the years. Ten years ago, I was hammering away on the subject of Confederate flags. These days, this is the topic that’s caught my eye. And even in 2004, I had comments like “Whatever was better back in the day,” so.

    I certainly have been linking to stuff that originally started on Twitter more recently. Partly that’s because I’m putting it here to archive it, and partly it’s because (as in this case) it’s because I want to expand on thoughts at more than just 140 characters a pop. But otherwise, yeah. This isn’t new.

  17. A song version very close to what you’ve been saying all along (probably not safe for work)

    (I also have to give credit to my teen daughter who introduced me to this song)

  18. Type last paragraph “These worst these dudes…”

    So what’s the collective noun for us Salzines/Whimees?

  19. apropos of nothing it is an absolute joy to see the dual stream of professional success (development deals, bestsellers, great reviews on your latest work, etc.) and social media efforts/personality driving these folks into an absolute tizzy of impotent twitter raging.

  20. Apparently, Cindy Lou Who totally missed it when you held a charity drive to get you to go to the Creation Museum and then blogged a mocking commentary about your visit to it, way back in 2007.

  21. It’s really rather strange that the MRAs don’t have the sense to grasp that professional writers are always going to be at an advantage over people who don’t get paid to put words together in an encounter which depends entirely on words.

    It’s even stranger for them to believe that you care about anything they say about you; after all, you were the first person to monetise your hate mail. It’s as if they are compelled to permanently provide you with yet more opportunities to poke fun at them, and in the process provide fun for us as well.

    Not that I’m complaining; long may it continue…

  22. Finally an easy answer to all those on my online game who have to ask “Are you a girl? Girls don’t play computer games.” M’not a girl, m’a scalzine!

  23. As a Sci Fi writer you seem to spend a lot of time thinking about people and feelings and not as much time as I would think you would about big giant robots and stuff. Guess that is why one of us makes money writing Sci Fi and the other one lives in a Van down by the River.

  24. Does this group realize they have inadvertently plugged your latest novel, which features a post-gender main character? (Are you secretly paying them in pie, John Scalzi?)

  25. So if “left wing scalzi-faced beta pseudo-men” are a third gender, does that mean that people who are attracted to these qualities in a partner are a separate orientation? Something tells me they might be happier overall in their relationships.

  26. You know ‘Scalzine’ has made it when it starts showing up as an option on those fill-in-the-bubble forms: Male, Female, LGPT, Scalzine.

  27. Y’know, I’m starting to get a little tired of “Oh they hold silly views, they must be young.”

    While it is true that in order to become old and wise a person must first be young and stupid, I’ve met plenty of wise young people — some of them still at high school — who think this kind of thing is bullshit as much as us old farts do.

    On the other side, too, there are plenty of “old and stupid” who never got the memo that living means growing and changing, and who are destined to be left behind as the culture grows up around them.

    That’s a long-winded way of saying “Let us judge people not by the number of their years, but the content of their character,” with apologies to Dr King.

  28. This is terrific – I only wish the last paragraph was the 2nd paragraph after the tweets, since it was bothering me until I hit that point, and then I got to breathe a sigh of relief.

  29. The best way to impune John’s dignity is to talk about how much time he spends rambling on twitter… then again the people pissing and moaning about him are either using twitter or some other internet tool and likewise wasting vast amounts of time as well. The best way to go after john is to just say ‘dude you and your critics are peas in a pod’.

    Thought Experiment: What would happen to scalzi if he got perm banned from Twitter or Twitter just went away? Would he get withdrawal shakes? Its not the same thing as John going on vacation and going off social media. This is what he does to pass time while working during the day at home by himself…

    To old time authors… (old fogies). What did you do all day long before you had the internet to piss and moan about things on? Did you write more books? Get exercise? Count cracks in the ceiling? Hold a face to face and human conversation?

    stay tuned. for more scalzi twitter wars. Same bat time. Same bat Channel.

    dude… how about some genre/book posts? did amazon piss you off recently? Those are way more interesting. Hell. Ill take pet photos.

  30. I really wish the MRA crowd would understand that the gnawing fear that drives their actions comes from other men policing their own gender performance. They all seem to get angry at women for not agreeing to be the mute status symbol/servant they so desire, rather than getting angry at the OTHER GUYS who demand that they have such a possession in the first place. (Along, of course, with all the other status markers: money, muscles, a fast car, red meat three meals/day, blah blah.)

    A dude’s desperate attempts to prove how manly and dominant he is always–always–are clear signs that the dude in question is utterly petrified of being abused by other men for not meeting their impossible standards. The more you try to be Charles Atlas, the more you’re showing off your inner 90-lb weakling.

  31. I tried to think of a better gender name than Scalzine by combining she/he/it into one word. But, I don’t think the resulting word would pass the moderation filter.

  32. Can I still say “Scalzi is my dude!” (?) Or would you prefer I use another designation appropriate to your Scalzinity?

  33. Thanks John for your take on “Wimoweh”. My wife found it so funny that she can’t stop singing your words and we will both always remember your wonderful article every time we hear the record.

  34. Count me proud to be both Scalzine and scalzisexual :)

    WRT the age issue, I coined a phrase some years ago that might be useful here: “fourteen-year-old boys of all ages”. Fourteen year old boys can be very smart, and are perfectly capable of being right (and even of being right for the right reasons), but their positions are often based on the loosest of vague hand-waving and crowd-based ignorance, despite which they frequently harden to resist even the strongest attacks with actual logic.

  35. It’s ‘useful’ in what way to mock someone else’s views? The internet is full of different ideas and viewpoints. It’s supposed to be. You don’t have to agree with them. Just move on. Unless real harm is being done then you shouldn’t be sinking to such childish levels. If the internet doesn’t like a site or opinion it will sink into obscurity as others provide a positive alternative.

    As it is I think you’re part of the toxicity that permeates the internet because you’ve set yourself up as judge, jury and executioner if someone doesn’t agree with your pov. You’re now part of the problem.

    Quite frankly, I want to know what everyone is thinking even if I don’t agree with what they say. That includes you, Scalzi. Trying to shame someone for their opinion or belief is not going to change anything. It can however make the ones ‘policing’ such things look like the very assholes they’re supposedly calling out.

    Instead of taking potshots and leaking radioactive waste how about providing that positive alternative?

  36. Julie: “Dude” is a gender-neutral term, at least in California. Scalzines are dudes.

    kproche is not kidding about his fabulousity, or his good looks in leather or drag or any other costume. Also, his parties have a bartender robot which outdoes most human bartenders.

  37. Oh, curiocat. “Ignore them and they’ll go away” just doesn’t work.

    Being the better person is great, but chastising the victim for mocking a bully rather than the bully for bullying is closing the door after the horse is in the next county.

  38. Have you picked the symbol yet for Scalzinity? I mean male have ♂ and female have ♀. What will you use?

  39. I would think that the Official Foodstuff of the Scalzines would be the (wait for it) Scalzone. Which, if you think about it, is a kind of pie.

  40. @curiocat

    Yeah, because when provided with lovely, happy-clappy, sweetness and light, chocolate box positivity as an alternative, the empty headed and the trollishly aggressive *always* choose the happy-clappy option, right?

    No. Not right. Absurdly, ridiculously not right.

    If somebody’s views are idiotic and harmful to others then those views should be mocked relentlessly, with all the hostility that can be mustered.

    “Trying to shame someone for their opinion or belief is not going to change anything.”
    Proof, please. Otherwise I’m going to carry on thinking this is the worst kind of feebleness. Which is to say it’s the kind of feebleness that lets any asshole anywhere carry on getting away with whatever asshole behaviour they want to. It’s the kind of feebleness that would allow every single heinous act throughout history to have gone unchallenged on the grounds that saying or doing something lowers you to “their” level..

    How is *that* a useful approach to anything?

  41. @Lurkertype – yes I’m aware (being a native SoCal-ian myself), it wasn’t meant to be a serious inquiry.

  42. Curiocat:

    It’s useful because then other people see that those views are fucking idiotic. I’m not trying to change the mind of the dipshit who typed that absolute crock of shit sentence; he’s an idiot (if he does learn, then it will be a bonus rather an a goal). But it’s useful for other people to see nonsense called out as nonsense and useful for people who are of something other than binary gender to see someone who is conventionally gendered acknowledge their existence as something positive rather than the butt of a joke. It’s also useful for the underlying thesis that “male” being the top of the human experience is challenged and ridiculed, particularly by someone (me!) who benefits from that underlying thesis.

    If you don’t think “real harm” is not being done by letting such nonsense go unmocked and uncommented on, well, perhaps you’ve not been paying attention to current events, especially in the last few weeks.

    Now, you may disagree, and/or you may not like the manner in which I choose to challenge these things. But, you know. Ask me if I care. I neither asked for your opinion nor for your permission. And a good thing, since I don’t really think much of the advice that you’ve offered unsolicited.

  43. To all the folks who are irritated at Mr. Scalzi’s use of twitter or his current interest in the policing of masculinity: Mr. Scalzi sometimes writes about things that do not interest me. I simply move on to another post or another blog. Heck, sometimes I even go back to work. :) If he continues to write about issues that bore me, I’ll read his blog less often. If he writes about things I care about, I’ll read his blog more often. I suspect my presence or absence matters not one whit to him.

  44. @Jack Lint: The symbol for Scalzinity should be a mallet. Doy. Alas, Unicode doesn’t seem to provide a mallet as such. There is a hammer (U+1F528), and the Scalzine are open minded, so I hope that will be acceptable.

  45. And since he posted just as I was writing my last post, it appears I was right….

  46. Reminds me of Gavin Arthur’s “Circle of Sex” from the 60s. He draws a circle with half female/half male genitalia, then puts yin and yang in the circle and divides the whole thing up into twelve orientations. The rubes who dis Scalzi are only part of one slice, those who define themselves as men’s men, super yang, male and dismissive of women and unable to see them as whole people, perhaps only as sex objects.

    I read about this when I was young and it gave me perspective on how slippery gender really is, and helped me avoid thinking in black and white. There’s plenty of room for differences in this world. There are plenty of options for what you like, why be tied to one and only one way of being?

  47. The problem with ignoring the attitudes and attacks such as the one that started all of this is that, with the internet especially, the more positive attitudes do not rise to the top while the more onerous ones sink down below, instead the onerous ones tend to float at the surface like scum, contaminating everything they touch.

    If you try to debate them or convince them they are wrong, this is a win because you are giving them a voice and respectability plus they know you aren’t going to change their minds so what do they risk? If you try ignoring them, well silence is a form of agreement to many. The best you can hope to do is defang and sink as many of them as you can so their scum doesn’t float at the top of your pond.

  48. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is entitled to have his/her opinion respected or taken seriously.

    curiocat: “If the internet doesn’t like a site or opinion it will sink into obscurity as others provide a positive alternative.”

    Hahahaha, okay, for a few minutes there, before I got to this, I thought you were serious. Never mind.

  49. I’m okay with gender being more than binary; I’m okay with people having a gender other than mine; I’m okay with people shifting their idea of what their gender is over time.

    I’m a very great deal more than OK with all that. What a sad, boring, dismal, monochrome world it would be without the amazing variety of our species. And not just our species, but all of the others sharing our world, the world itself, and the Universe around it.

    I’d feel sorry for them if they weren’t so busy trying to stuff the entire Universe into their own cramped and shabby vision of it.

  50. “If the internet doesn’t like a site or opinion it will sink into obscurity as others provide a positive alternative.”

    I think the main thing to point out here is that, relatively, this *is* a positive alternative. Besides, if nobody provides an alternative because they’re expecting someone else to come up with a better one, then that is also a problem.
    Meanwhile, this concept is also somewhat ignorant of the sheer quantity of hatred present on the internet; why is it a given that “the internet” doesn’t actually somewhat like opinions like the macho posturing that kicked off this whole series?

  51. Mildly off topic, but in the olden days, a post like this would incite the trolls to come here and spew their bile, resulting in a string of [deleted because this person is incapable of coherent though] posts. Has word gotten around about The Mallet of Loving Correction? Or do they just have enough echo chambers to inhabit that they don’t bother anymore?

  52. Last week I was reading a book about conceptions of sex and gender in and around Renaissance England. It was pretty funny. One of the most interesting models was the idea that there is actually only one sex, the completed form of which is the male; what we think of as “females” were actually just men who lacked the extra bit of “vibrant heat” required for development of external genitalia.

    The influence of this model led some scientists to sketch out weird contraptions for the transfer of thermal energy, the idea being that if you could heat women up just right, their inside-out penises would pop out of their bodies, and they would be fully-formed men.

    So this made me think, under this model, what would it take to transform into the Scalzi Sex? Maybe you’d have to eat your body weight in churro waffles.

  53. Mark Terry:

    Among other things, I hold the radical opinion that all genders are equally worth of respect, and I mention that fact more than they are comfortable with.

  54. I don’t know why, but the tweets never show up in my browser (FF 33). I have to view the source to see them. Anyone have any idea how I can fix that?

  55. Well played, John. Well fuckin’ played.

    And as for the tone police concern trolls, come *on*. Save your damn policing for the people trying to enforce their rigid gender ideas on others, too often with fatal results.

  56. Male/Female/LGBT is a pretty weird thing to say. As if one were LGBT, one couldn’t be male or female.

    LGBT is also used as an abbreviation to denote the wider spectrum of genders and orientations, including fluid and non-binary genders, as well as those identifying in the male or female genders. Sometimes they tack on more letters to it to denote that, but LGBT is the shorthand version.

  57. I think that the unfortunate guy “protests too much.” Demonstrates his own difficulties with his own gender identity issues. I hope he seek professional help with his difficult issue he is struggling with. Should be thankful for the affordable care act from Obama, that he is insured.

  58. I’m in it for the pie and the parties. All you serious people, this may not be the blog you’re looking for..

  59. Here is the correct gender symbol for Scalzinity:

    Sorry if I can’t make it any bigger but it is unicode so you can put in a lot of things

  60. The problem with mocking jackasses like this is they lack the intelligence and self awareness required for a sense of humor. However, mockery is still fun and, calling them out is even more fun. Keep it up Scalzi. You speak for thousands.

  61. Scalzine? Fabulous. I’m in. Not that I have a problem with my original gender but I’m thinking it can’t be bad to have two. Or more even. And, John, I think your stand on gender is awesome.

  62. I once tried to map the 7 (at the time) recognized genders into an n-space continuum. I managed it in 3-space with biological sex, attraction polarity, and attraction intensity. John has now sent my gender continuum into hyperspace with a scalzinity axis. Sigh.

  63. If one wishes to run with the idea that words ending in “ine” (masculine, feminine, Scalzine) can express different categories of gender identity, there are a heck of a lot of them.

    Some of the possibilities sound pretty useful, some pretty intimidating: clandestine, transmarine, adulterine. But you want to date someone whose gender was wolverine, or viperine?

  64. MRAL at 6:32: Yeah, the Renaissance had some interesting ideas about gender. There’s also some evidence that, culturally speaking at least, gender was a function of clothing–that, in essence, a woman dressed as a man was a man, and vice versa; cf. Dekker and Middleton’s The Roaring Girl, if you’re interested.

  65. Following up on what Curiocat and Cindy Lou Who said…

    I agree that your (probably male) Twitter harassers need to find a new hobby. You have never claimed to be an “alpha male”, and yet you’ve got a beautiful wife, a successful career, etc. So who cares what those guys think?

    Likewise, in regard to gender: My understanding is that what you called “trans folk” in a past post comprise a very small part of the population (all LGBTs, of any subset, are around 2~4%).

    And I don’t necessarily disagree with your views.

    But….at the same time, it does seem that the Scalzi genius has been disproportionately focused on LGBT/feminism issues for some time now.

    I *do* remember the old Whatever in the pre-comment thread days. You were always a little left of center, but not so tightly focused on what is (by statistical measures at least) a fairly narrow topic.

    It seems to me that this might be at least a partial case of the tail wagging the dog. Over the years, you’ve attracted a core group of commenters that identify as LGBT, and they love to talk about LGBT issues. Then on the other hand, you have also attracted a group of detractors who challenge your masculinity. Your views on LGBT and feminist topics are well documented. At this point, people either agree with you, or they have to agree to disagree.

    I would love to see what the Great Scalzi Mind thinks about Vladimir Putin (something other than his stand on gays) or your opinion about how to combat ISIS. You didn’t say a word about the recent failed referendum for Scottish independence. You haven’t said a word about the possible Hillary-Elizabeth Warren match-up in 2016.

    I see so many issues in the news, and I constantly ask myself, “What does Scalzi think about that?” I already know what you think about LGBT matters and sexual harassment at cons.

  66. If men are from Mars and women from Venus, are ‘Left-Wing Scalzi Faced Beta Pseudo-Men’ (LWSFBPM for short) from Mercury?

    And why am I imagining Earth being invaded by millions of left-handed androgynous clones, all with your face, famous raised (left!) eyebrow and all?

    And what does any of this have to do with pizza?

  67. Todd:

    The brain focuses on what the brain focuses on, I’m afraid. I expect that at some point it will start looking at other topics as well. But for now it’s kind of here.

  68. MRal: my employer likes to point out that men lack 13% of the DNA that women enjoy, what he calls “y’know, the GOOD stuff”. We’ve discussed making “We’re the 87%” t-shirts. With a frowny face.

    curiokat: what planet did you just arrive from? The sheer idiocy of your comment is breathtaking. Enjoy your internetanal introduction to our culture.

    Mocking the deserving is a fine goal in itself.

  69. Cindy Lou: Lowering yourself into these things

    pointing out bigotry isn’t itself bigotry. pointing out intolerance isn’t itself intolerance. And pointing out someone who has lowered themselves to Biff Tannen level attempts at insults, isn’t itself lowering.

  70. So, would whatever body parts are associated with scalzininity be the scalzitalia?

    And, would the scalzitalia throb? (No, wait. I know this one. HELL yes, they throb.)

  71. What you wrote is useful to me, a married grandmother. I have trouble articulating what I think about gender issues and you are much more eloquent than I am, so I appreciate your doing the heavy lifting for me. Thanks.

  72. For the people who are busy saying “oh, this lowers the tone of the blog” or “oh, you shouldn’t engage” – well, let’s pull this into a different arena. If someone was saying something this daft in a public, face-to-face setting (party, pub, etc) there might well be people doing things like giving them incredulous “Did your brain really think that was an acceptable thing to say?” looks, or laughing at them and saying “you’re kidding, right?”, or otherwise indicating via various non-verbal means what they said was something the internal censor should have kept firmly on their side of their gob if they didn’t want to be taken for a fool.

    In an online arena, such non-verbal means are not available. Instead, we need people like Mr Scalzi effectively extracting the Michael, using satire, mockery, actual irony and otherwise pointing out the comedic potential of what has presumably passed from their mouth to their keyboard without once passing near, much less through, the little filter which says “This may well make me seem like a fool in public: am I sure I want to do this? Yes/No/Hell No/Hide Under Bed For A Week In Shame”

    If we allow such fools to simply blurt out their foolishness unrestrained, at the far end of the trend you wind up with people like George W Bush and Tony Abbott wandering unrestrained on the public stage.

  73. “If the internet doesn’t like a site or opinion it will sink into obscurity as others provide a positive alternative.”

    I see, I see… so that’s why 4chan is completely unknown and never, ever shows up in the wider public consciousness…. er, wait….

    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. In some cases the best thing to do when idiocy interrupts your stride is point and laugh. To do more would be to grant it a legitimacy that it doesn’t deserve.

  74. This reminds me of the Navajo proverb: The Moon is not shamed by the barking of dogs.

    TheMadLibrarian: Lesbian, Gay, Pterosaur, Transgender?

    PTEROSAUR LIBERATION! Stop Pterosaur erasure! If you look at the MSM, you’d think Pterosaurs were completely extinct!

    (All these things are real issues with Bisexual people, of course. But not with Pterosaur-Americans.)

    Miche Campbell:

    On the other side, too, there are plenty of “old and stupid” who never got the memo that living means growing and changing, and who are destined to be left behind as the culture grows up around them.

    “Growing old is mandatory. Maturing is optional.”

    Guess: You know, someday your lip isn’t going to uncurl when you’re done sneering.

  75. Todd:

    1) Women make up more than half the world’s population. That’s not a narrow topic. They also make up more than half of Scalzi’s household, including his daughter. They also happen to include women who are being attacked right now who are friends of his. So nice try on the feminism thing being a boring minority subject.

    2) You forgot racial issues that also come up on the site a lot (so that you could throw in ISIS, one presumes.) Non-whites face discrimination in many parts of the world, but they also make up the majority of the world’s population. So not a narrow topic either.

    3) LGBT subjects don’t actually come up that much on the blog. And LGBT populations actually make up about 10%, not 2% as guys like you like to claim. And the gay rights movement and marriage equality movement, both of which are going on all over the world, is just as current a news item as others going on.

    But even if it weren’t and LGBT people made up a tiny, tiny minority, so fucking what? Treating all humans as equal human beings is not a narrow topic. What happens to LGBT people and their rights actually affects all of us, and certainly most of our families. And if regular, LBGT commentators here want to talk about their experiences and lives like the rest of us, your boredom and sense of ickiness about it is not something they have to worry about.

    4) Whatever has never been a blog obsessed with international politics. (And if it were, Putin and ISIS as topics includes their repression of gays.) If that’s what you want to talk about instead, go prattle on your own blog instead of playing concern troll. You can start with the fact that Putin, ISIS and mens rights right-wingers all share pretty much the same agenda on their various patches: repression, inequality and violence.

    But in point of fact, the topic of this particular post of Scalzi’s wasn’t women or gays or even non-whites. It was white straight male frothy boys with a toxic view of the male gender and the straight male orientation. White straight cis-men are a minority in the world population, a narrow topic indeed. And yet, some are obsessed with only talking about them. Some of them are certainly obsessed with talking about themselves and what straight manhood should and shouldn’t consist of. And these people want to try and shut down and police discussions about SFF, games, technology, movies, politics, etc., quite often by saying “minority” opinions should shut up and stop talking about what they think is unimportant. (Now where have I heard that before?)

    Those of us who have been popping in for years here know that the scope of Whatever hasn’t changed. People get malleted a bit faster now, but the range of subjects is pretty much the same. So if your and others’ criticism consists of whining that Scalzi isn’t talking about what you want to talk about, you are likely to remain unfulfilled.

  76. “Treating all humans as equal human beings is not a narrow topic. ”

    Yup, yup ayup.

    Personally I really appreciate hearing from some white cis hetero male persons who don’t think I’m a second class citizen. And who are willing to use some of their considerable social currency to say so. Brightens my day. Increases my faith in my fellow humans a little. Makes the world seem like a bit more of a welcoming place. So please, as far as I’m concerned, feel free to do that on Whatever, whenever.

  77. Julie: Cool, dude! Let’s go out for Scalzones.

    brucearthurs: Considering people who like comic books and/or Hugh Jackman, I’m thinking some folks would dig those who are wolverine-gendered.

  78. More on Renaissance construction? or perception? of gender: the real-life roarer in _Lieutenant Nun_ was racked without her torturer realizing she was biologically female; and somewhere in Montaigne’s essays is a list of occasions in which physical or mental shock convert someone from one sex to another.

  79. @bunwat at 1:41am — I’m with you. Nice to have someone who is more than slightly more likely to be heard and listened to saying the same things I keep repeating…

    As far as all the people complaining about how John isn’t writing about Other Topics instead… FFS. the first thing I ever read on “Whatever!” was a repost of the “Why didn’t they just leave?” article. I had no idea Scalzi was an author, was published, was anything. Much later I came back because someone had linked to his post about the topic of boycotts, specifically in regard to Orson Scott Card and Ender’s Game. Started following via RSS about then, and since that time I’ve seen a fair few posts about publishing as an industry, about Sci-Fi as a genre, about particular events in the publishing world — like the Amazon/Hachette stuff — as well as photos from hotel windows, photos of John’s family and random other subjects, and discussions of other people in Sci-Fi and fantasy (another instance of using the considerable platform he has to amplify the voices of other people, if you needed a look at The Big Picture.)

    Perhaps this is similar to the cognitive dissonance that happens when there’s a novel with an approximately 50/50 split in the number of male and female characters (even without mentioning other genders) — it seems “weird” because the assumed default is to have things disproportionately male-dominated. I mean, look at the uproar over the 5ed D&D PHB artwork — zOMG! it’s not completely made of pictures of white dudes as heroes and the occasional “dark” person as a bad monster! So, maybe there are a few posts where the topics of gender and sexuality get mentioned on Whatever! If you feel uncomfortable because John sometimes chooses to write about things that happen to matter to him (and many of the rest of us) among the myriad other topics here… I dunno what to tell you.

    Oh, and one quibble — “biologically male” is a bit of a misnomer. A trans* woman is “biologically” a woman, though she may have been assigned “male” at birth by doctors who wouldn’t have any idea what they’re talking about. There are plenty of people (like the ones attempting to insult Scalzi’s gender on Twitter) who cling to the idea that “biology is destiny,” and that any person with any particular genital configuration must obviously fall into a particular category of gender, eternal and unchangeable.

    Totally with you as far as

    “let’s just say that I know that it’s easy for me to do so, because in the end society has my back. Not everyone else gets to say the same. We need to be working on that.”

    We definitely need to be working on that.

  80. I think the difference is that your gender, centered on you, will be gone as soon as you are dead. Or maybe it will be around 20 years after you are gone. Or 50. But like all things that are not real, it will fade into the dust it came from.

    And in 10 generations, and in 20 generations, and in 50 generations, they’ll still be men and women.

  81. “And in 10 generations, and in 20 generations, and in 50 generations, they’ll still be men and women.”

    And transgender people, and genderqueer people, and so on. Simple, binary categories like this are almost always an artifact of human tendency to classify and group things together.

  82. *Sigh* And that, of course, is an awful thing, and you lose your place at the front of the line, and it is an absolute argument stopper and…

    Could we get a Mallet in here? Gifs are annoying.

  83. It is interesting how so many people think the gender binary has been “the way” for ever, when there is plentiful evidence that many cultures had other gender identifications built in and even respected, that even the idea of homosexuality is a fairly recent designation, and there are few absolutes in the human condition because, you know, change happens. The particular divisions and categorizations that are popular now are not universal nor eternal, and pretending they are is to show a strong ignorance of science and history.

  84. Late to the party here but when I read the post I thought of Douglas Adams;
    In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before — and thus was the Empire forged.

    Mom and Dad were English teachers and Dad especially hated split infinitives.

  85. “The Scalzi Gender”, a rollicking exploration of Gender, Pizza, and Huge Lawns set in the Redshirts Universe. Coming from Tor just in time for Christmas.

  86. wiredog, yes, but who will read the audiobook? I wonders to meself. Who would be the reader of the appropriate gender? Then it struck me : Scalzi whimself, of course!

  87. Geoff: Mom and Dad were English teachers

    brrrrrrr…. felt like someone just walked over my grave there. [willies]

  88. Pointing and laughing at the haters is a lot of fun.

    But what’s even more fun for me…. Treating the insult like it’s a statement of fact (because it usually is). Watching them try to process “You’re ______” as something so totally innocuous as to not be remarkable is akin to watching their heads implode. It’s even funnier when they try to restate the insult so I know it was meant as an insult. My responses are usually (in order) “Well, yes.” “That’s pretty obvious” “You’ve said that already.”

    After the third try, they end up either gibbering or mute. Either way, they go away and rarely come back.

  89. I had presumed “The Scalzi Gender” would be a rollicking Broadway musical. We do agree on the rollicking.

  90. @Todd: this is like the bazillionth time you’ve posted on a thread to whine about how Scalzi needs to stop talking about all these silly issues and stick to writing about spaceships and stuff. It’s not gonna happen, dude. (Or if it is, it’s going to be that Scalzi got tired of it on his own, and not because he one day smacked his forehead and said “Thank you, commenters, for pointing out that I am a SCIENCE FICTION writer and should stop talking about issues germane only to stinky girls!”)

    @MRAL: there was also the idea that one gender was just an inversion of the other, and that one could switch back and forth under certain circumstances (e.g., Tiresias, Orlando). The idea that everybody is immutably 100% one or the other of a binary and opposed half of a species type is very new and, dare I say it, anti-Scalzine.

  91. Wakboth:

    Trans* people are, for the most part, men and women. I realize you mean to be inclusive, but this is a case where your post seems to be othering them rather than acknowledging them. If you do feel the need to be specific, please consider a list like “cis men, cis women, trans men, trans women” rather than “men, women, trans people”. Trans people encounter the notion that they aren’t “really” men or women altogether too often.

  92. Clearly, you are the Omega Scalzi, because you are the ultimate in Scalziness.

    And, from one of my Facebook friends this morning:

    “I love Scalzi’s blog so much I’m seriously considering reading one of his books.”.

    The marketing plan has succeeded. Feel free to bwahaha.

  93. Shawna – I will be widely sharing and attributing your comment. The rest of this comment thread makes me giddily happy, except for the people who want Scalzi to write for pay instead of tweeting. Grr. Can’t he do both? and more besides???

  94. Mythago/Kat Goodwin:

    With all due respect, I come here to read Scalzi’s opinions, not yours. I tried to address my comments to him as respectfully as possible, the same way someone would in a letter-to-the editor.

    Also: You are both wrong. I was reading the Whatever in the pre-comments days of 1999~2002, and John *did* sometimes talk about international politics. (I am one of the “old school” Scalzi fans.)


    Did you miss any of the standard “oppression” talking points in your “attack of the cis-gendered white males” post? Zzzzz….


    Definitely not the first time I have made comments along that line. I would dispute “bazillionth” though.

  95. May I respectfully suggest that to be morphologically analagous to “masculine” and “feminine,” the Scalzi gender should be “Scalzinine” rather than simply “Scalzine”?

    Ta very much.

  96. I find this discussion to be interesting. I happen to be a person with an intersex condition–there are not very many of us in the world, depending on which definition you go with.

    Whenever I hear people talk about acknowledging third or fourth genders, I always have to take a step back. I gather many people feel having non-binary gender will be freeing. It would be nice to not have to worry about stuff like: does this lotion smell too feminine, is this shirt too masculine, etc… Most of us live in cultures where you need to declare what gender you are to prevent societal confusion.

    The cultural expectations on gender are frustrating. I seriously believe that everyone struggles with gender perceptions at some point in their life if not their entire life.

    Despite the freeing nature of non-binary gender, I can also see having third and fourth genders going horribly, horribly wrong. Could Scalzians become the new underclass? Do we want to talk about scalzian privilege or the wage gap between scalzians and other genders? Look at how well hijras are treated in India. It might technically be illegal to murder them in India now, which is a step up.

    For a long time (at least several generations) most cultures have had a two party system when it comes to gender. There is a lot of variation in each party. Adding a third or fourth party is difficult to say the least. The third party candidate is usually the goat of the election season (not that I have anything against goats). And being able to label someone into a small group makes it easier to stigmatize and isolate them.

    This is a kind of a freedom versus security argument. Will people want the freedom of being able to choose whichever gender they want (which comes with a lot of opposition, misunderstandings, pitfalls, and is potentially dangerous) or will they want the security of belonging to a large gender population that has more collective power (which comes with a lot of individual concessions where some have to make more concessions than others).

    It’s a tough call.

    I do believe that there is more that we don’t know about gender than we do know.

    A lot of gender studies is theory and philosophy without a lot of empirical evidence, because how do you get empirical evidence about gender? It’s a topic that can’t avoid bias–everyone has a horse in the race.

    And maybe it’s the intersex in me, but I get wary about picking sides. Non-binary gender may not be any better than binary gender. I think they could be equal where some groups of people will have a horrible time no matter which direct we go.

  97. platypus, this particular gender came about as an attempt by some Biff-Tannen-type numbskull attempting to insult Scalzi using another version of the “gamma rabbit” stupidity, i.e. they’re trying to say Scalzi isn’t “man enough” and therefore his discussions about sexism are invalid.

    Certainly, Biff must hear a loud whooshing as the implications associated with statements that boil down to “I’m not sexist, but you’re a girly-man” go flying far above his head.

    In any event, I wouldn’t put too much thought into how this particular gender might pan out, cause the knuckleheads who started this nonsense certainly didn’t put any thought into at all.

  98. We’re going to need more genders. I cannot be the same gender as these jerks, but on the other hand I cannot be some gender that is tightly defined in relation to Scalzi. Maybe I can be an Aleph-Otter: half lutrian, half combat robot, all mustelidae… I mean man. Of course I meant man. Hey if anyone’s getting their own gender, then we’re ALL getting our own gender.

  99. @curiocat: If you really believe this, Trying to shame someone for their opinion or belief is not going to change anything. , why aren’t you saying it to the people John talked in his post? They are, after all, trying to shame him for his opinions and beliefs.

  100. I am happy to let it go as it never needed to come up in the first place, with one tiny correction: I didn’t say that Scalzi never wrote about international politics; I just said he wasn’t obsessed with them on his blog. :)

    As for the Scalzi gender, I’m waiting to see what the official flag looks like before considering it.

  101. It’s just sort of odd that when you try to be a mensch, people will leap out and deride you for not being an ubermensch.

    I thought the ubermensch thing was played out and discredited by the jackboots of its biggest fans.

  102. @platypus

    Wow. Thanks for your perspective.

    I have to admit that I get a little uneasy when I hear/read trans* advocates invoking the existence of intersex conditions as a kind of disproof of the gender binary. I wonder what you, as a person with such a condition, think about such arguments?

    The other thought your post brings to my mind is Scalzi’s brilliant “Lowest Difficulty Setting” metaphor. Seems to me that the condition of having one’s genitals, genetics, gender identity, preferred gender presentation, and preferred gender role all in alignment with one pole of the traditional gender/sex binary is, like any other “majority” or “usual” status, just a hell of a lot easier than when one or more of those elements is not in alignment with the others (or changes over time).

  103. If men are from Mars and women from Venus, are ‘Left-Wing Scalzi Faced Beta Pseudo-Men’ (LWSFBPM for short) from Mercury?

    And why am I imagining Earth being invaded by millions of left-handed androgynous clones, all with your face, famous raised (left!) eyebrow and all?

    We’re going to have to mod the “Horatio” faction from “Endless Space” to reflect the Scalzine inundation.

  104. Got to use my third gender for the first time in a comments section “her/his/scalzine sweater”! Bonus points because it involved knitting!

  105. Dear Xopher & Kat,

    I assumed that LGPT stood for Lesbian-Gay-Piesexual-Transgender, given certain recent (disgusting) topics of discussion. But, really, too limiting. Considering the glyph posted at the end of the Twitter feed, I think we should now start referring to him as The Artist Formally Known As Scalzi.

    Personally, I am utterly enamored of the newer acronym , QUILTBAG– Queer-Undecided-Intersex-Lesbian-Transgender-Biseual-Asexual- and…

    wait for it…


    More inclusive and much easier to pronounce.

    Although now it will need to be extended to QUILTBAGS.

    Dear Todd,

    Going a little meta on you…

    If you’re interested in speaking to John, and only John, you can send him a private e-mail, y’know. If you post a public comment, people are going to reasonably assume that (a) you mean it to be fair game for comment back or, at the very least, (b) you feel other people should be interested in your opinion on the matter. Because, otherwise, why put it out there publicly?

    Which makes it kinda unreasonable, not to mention asymmetric, to say that you don’t want to hear their opinions, only John’s. ‘Cause, really, you don’t get to demand that we listen to yours without some quid pro quo.


    Dear muskrat john

    “The Scalzi Tweets Tonight” is just so effing brilliant. You win the Internet for the day.

    Alternately, you can take this lovely case of Turtle Wax.


    Dear kproche,

    I never quite been able to suss out this whole thing of the formerly gatekept (is that a proper construction?) turning into gatekeepers. It’s like they can’t remember what happened to them or they are blind to the problem that they’re just perpetuating the abuse cycle.

    Not that it’s any consolation, but it’s not limited to sociopolitical milieus. I encountered too many oldfart photographers claiming that folks using digital cameras aren’t REAL photographers, not like the ones using film. This from the same people who chafed under “it’s just a photograph , it’s not REAL art.”

    People. Some days it’s just, well, sheesh.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery 
    — Digital Restorations 

  106. From scalzine to scalzone in one brilliant and amusing comment feed. Thank you everyone for brightening a dark day.

    Mr. Scalzi: please tell me you are compiling a book of your neologisms somewhere, yes?

  107. Dear Curiocat,

    That is a truly stunning post. No other word begins to describe.

    That is not a compliment.

    Funny thing–– just last week I was reading the entire Internet Constitution, even the incredibly turgid Preamble (in the original, yet, not that Johnny-come-lately l337-sp34k translation) and I can’t recall one passage there about what the Internet is SUPPOSED to be. I must’ve missed it. If you could direct me to the correct passage, I would be ever so grateful.

    Absent that, it is not required to be what you insist it is. It is what it is.

    The whole rest of your post is a not-very-original rehash of the “Free Marketplace of Opinions” fallacy. Yes, it is a fallacy. In so many ways. First, because it is not such a marketplace (and declaring it so would not change reality). Second, because even in a free marketplace in the honest-to-god real world, all sorts of products get dissed, ridiculed, dismissed, disposed of, reviled, mocked (yes, MOCKED–– everyone remember “it’s a floor wax, no it’s a dessert topping?”) and, even, sometimes **by consensus** (my nod to the libertarian fanatics), banned. (Show of hands–– how many think that free and unrestricted marketing of CBW technology would be a good thing?… Sound of crickets…).

    All opinions are not created equal. All opinions are not harmless. Being intolerant of bigotry and hatred is *NOT* intolerance nor bigotry. Opinions promoting prejudice, hatred, sexism, racism, and so on? NOT harmless. They are used to discriminate against people, to attack people psychologically, socially, legally, and physically.

    You may very well be in such a position of privilege that you can afford to ignore them and just walk on by. Lucky you. To presume that all the rest of us in the world get to live in your utopia is so self-centeredly wrong as to be, well…

    …We are back to stunning again.

    Some of us feel the need to fight for our place in the world, or the place of others. If you don’t, my most sincere advice to you, then, is GET OUT OF THE FUCKING WAY.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery 
    — Digital Restorations 

  108. brucearthurs

    A person who identifies as wolverinesexual or vipersexual would pribably want to date someone who has the gender identity wolverine or viperine. I don’t judge. ;)

  109. [Deleted for oh so very sad, but notable that someone claiming to be “GamerGate” comes here with angry insults, isn’t it? — JS]

  110. In re: Scalzine (sounds like a triangle to me) pronouns. Since you get to make the rules, and can therefore have as many as you like , can we add “Whir” to Whim and Whee? As in “Look at Whir, getting down with Whir bad self!” Future form of “to be” –Whirl.

  111. I’m agreeing with Grandma Ogre that Shawna’s comment was a big win for me. I’m having some light bulb moments right now. Especially re this:

    “A dude’s desperate attempts to prove how manly and dominant he is always–always–are clear signs that the dude in question is utterly petrified of being abused by other men for not meeting their impossible standards. ”

    Because I know that dynamic – the one where the bully’s friends throw you at him in order to keep him from turning on them. I know that dynamic extremely well. I just failed for some reason to recognize it in this situation until just now.

  112. curiocat: It’s ‘useful’ in what way to mock someone else’s views?

    When they’re bigotted, sexist nonsense, it’s useful to point out just how appallingly stupid those views are. Reasons for this case include because the comment was meant to insult Scalzi to dismiss his opinion, and mocking it means that stupid, sexist opinion doesn’t achieve its intended goal.

    As it is I think you’re part of the toxicity

    well, there’s bigoted, sexist, homophobic, racist toxic views. And then there’s the “toxicity” that sometimes shows up when a person points out just how horribly shitty those bigoted, sexist, homophobic, racist views are. They’re shitty views. Fucking shitty views. Shit-canoe views. And if labeling bigoted views as “fucking shitty” is equally toxic in your book, then by all means, argue your point of view. But that doesn’t mean everyone is going to agree with you.

  113. vian: But if I Whirl, I get motion sick. And Whir is a high-pitched sound, which would bother me. This will have to be an optional pronoun for Scalzines, one which I shan’t choose. I need to do more linear rollicking. You wouldn’t want me to hurl my Scalzones.

  114. Ctein: Just as a note, your links in your signature have an extra space at the end. It’s getting URL encoded, so when I click on them, I end up going to “”, which obviously doesn’t resolve.

    I don’t really have much to add to the conversation besides that… so, yeah.

    Cheers guys.

    (Scalzones would be dessert calzones, Churro-style, not very large, maybe some sort of cream filling… Sounds awesome. Are dessert calzones even a thing?)

  115. If the Scalzine gender pronouns are Whee and Whim, does that make the possessive Whiz or Whir? Or either depending on what Whee prefers?

  116. “There’s also some evidence that, culturally speaking at least, gender was [in the Renaissance] a function of clothing–that, in essence, a woman dressed as a man was a man, and vice versa; cf. Dekker and Middleton’s The Roaring Girl, if you’re interested.”

    The one-sex model you (and I think some others) are writing about here is actually much older than the Renaissance: it goes back at least to Greco-Roman antiquity. And that’s, you know, Europe. I don’t know what non-Western (Asian, African, pre-Columbian American) models were. Walter Laqueur dealt with this in his book Making Sex. I understand his account has been criticized, but I haven’t gotten around to reading his critics yet.

    As for the idea that “gender was a function of clothing,” that’s still very much with us.

  117. *Heck with it. Reposting what I done posted to the wrong post’s thread. If our kind host would care to delete my mistaken contribution under the “Mute button” topic, that would be terribly convenient. At least for me. Maybe not for you? Your call, in any case.*

    I’m thinking Whee for the nominative, Whim for the objective, and Whir for the possessive. (I’d go Whizz, but that’s private. *ahem* I mean, I’d go with Whizz, but I don’t see why the set should mimick He/Him/His in all its declensions.) In any case, that’s how I’m stealing them for use on my own blog.

    (I was having trouble deciding which of the existing non-gendered pronoun systems to adopt. I felt I didn’t have sufficient justification for choosing one over the other. But now I think, to heck with it, amusement and joyousness — “Wheeeeee!” — is good enough.)

    (Adopting the habit of non-binary-gendered… anything isn’t as hard as the Proudly Politically Incorrect Brigade make it out to be. The phrase “all genders” seems to have replaced “both genders” in my vocabulary of its own volition without my even noticing it until I was doing the Roller Derby New Recruit Night spiel the other evening – “On skates or off, contact or no contact, all ages, colors, genders, shapes and sizes–there is a way for you to get involved!” & etc. It took more deliberate action to find a replacement for “handyman,” but in doing so I found out that there re Handyworker Programs all over the country providing free or low-cost repairs for low-income seniors, and that made my world a brighter place in addition to improving my vocabulary. So.)

    Parenthetical tangent ends. Where were we? Ah. “Scalzines.” It makes me think of a flaky, salted cracker that gets served with the soup. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  118. I love that there is a sub-subject of Renaissance and historical notions of gender developed here from a satire bit on machismo. I salute you all. (Also, I vote for getting whir in there somehow — that’s a great idea.)

  119. I for one welcome our new pterosaurine, piesexual overlords. Because really, have you ever looked closely at a psittacine? Yowza.

  120. Dear Greg,

    Well said.


    Dear Raist,

    Uh, thanks! Never knew. Fixed.


    Dear TheMadLibrarian,

    If you ever saw Elmo (pictured, left) deconstruct a chicken bone, you would never doubt his raptorous ancestry.

    Vegetarians, my tush!

    pax / Ctein

  121. “When….

    … the moon hits your eye,

    like a pineapple pie, it’s…


    thenkyew thenkyew, you’ve been a lovely audience, don’t forget to tip your server

  122. I am surprised that nobody has commented that “scalzine” sounds like an amino acid….

  123. It’s pathetic how obsessed these guys are with you. It’s also pathetic how obsessed you are with them. You deserve each other.

  124. Dear Kyle,

    It’s also pathetic to be so lacking in a sense of humor that one confuses amused mockery with obsession.

    It’s also pathetic when someone posts without bothering to read ANYTHING else that has been posted.

    Sigh, the world is such a pathetic place. What a burden to bear.

    pax-thetically yours/ Ctein

  125. Duncan at 9:25 pm: Actually, I don’t think I specifically was considering a “one-sex model” of gender in the Renaissance; more that some of the attitudes displayed in popular entertainment seemed to view gender as a much more flexible concept in general than we are accustomed to seeing it as . . . well, more flexible than we are accustomed to assuming that earlier eras saw it at least, particularly in western culture. My comment was as much a function of “contemporary popular misunderstanding of history” as anything else, I suspect, which is one reason I haven’t been responding to the follow-up conversation (not wanting to contribute to thread drift, because I’ve got a real tendency to do that).

    That said, I find your comment fascinating and don’t disagree at all. I’ll have to look up the Laqueur book. Thanks!

  126. The adjective “Scalded” should be somewhere in there …

    (… I imagine you’ve heard that one before, but it was new to me. And seemed apropos.)

  127. Sounds like the peoples who don’t like you are seriously scrapping the bottom of that oil barrel with a nail file in trying to come up with something worthwhile to offend you with.

    As one of the commenters put it, it’s pathetic. Kind of like a politician who all of sudden finds something positive in something previously mocked (like the media saying something good about GWB).

  128. You do realize what you’ll get if there are enough members of the new Scalzi-inspired gender to form a nation? A constitution that begins with “Whee the people…”

  129. Dammit. First it was individuality. Then everybody is special in their own way. Now everyone’s their own gender. Where’s the conformity? Where’s the homogenization of sameness? Where’s the Order and Marching in step that is our highest ideal?

    Clearly these people are upset that everyone doesn’t see that THEY are the WINNER. So they have to tear others down.


    Dr. Phil

  130. Ctein, are you Scalzi’s agent? publicist? boyfriend? Why so defensive?

    When most adults see something they find stupid (like Scalzi finds MRAs) they don’t go to the depths he does to mock it. They dismiss it and move on with their lives. Clearly these guys get under his skin in a big way, to the point of unhealthy obsession.

  131. Kyle, one of the benefits of being a professional writer (I would imagine) is being able to effectively mock six stupid things before breakfast.

  132. Kyle

    It’s been my experience that when people use the word “clearly,” it often means “in my fantasy world version of this, which exists only in my own head.”

    And speaking of heads, no one’s put a gun to yours and is forcing you to read the posts that are things that are of no interest to you. Unless they are. Are you being forced to read this, Kyle? BLINK TWICE IF THERE IS A GUN TO YOUR HEAD KYLE

  133. Kyle, to be on the safe side, I plan to read all of your posts as if they were written with a gun to your head and you would write them differently if you could. Courage, brother.

  134. The more I see of the “left vs. right” thing, the less I understand. So much of the divide is manufactured via the use of “code words”–by people who make a living coming up with ways to sue someone.

    The whole argumentative use of the word “Marriage” was about creating a means for suing people and alienating others. A very high percentage of so-called right-wing fundamentalist lunatic fringe hate-mongers in the 1990s believed that there should be legal equality in a covenant between two people of the same sex as a covenant between a man and a woman. The objection was the word “Marriage” as that word is integral to more than one religion–and the absolute fact that-that creates an environment ripe for lawsuit and hate-crime legislation. [Both of which have already happened.] Insurance companies deliberately involved themselves in the debate so that high-risk partners didn’t have coverage or survivor’s benefits.

    It is, in the end, all about money–not the “compassion” being spewed about. One of the primary reasons people came here was not freedom from religion, but freedom from a State Religion; when you define scripture as a hate crime you have established a State Religion.

    Role playing is really annoying; admittedly, trying to simply be ones self takes a lot of courage. Rejection sucks. It is far easier to take if you are being a cartoon rather than a human being as the rejection is about the role you are playing rather than the person behind the mask. It is objectionable regardless of what “gender” does it. The mind, the intellect, the LIFE is so much more important than some role you have assigned to yourself.

    If you are going to wear a feather boa: fine; just keep your feathers out of my soup.

  135. (blink)(blink)

    Nice weather we’re having.

    (Blink) (Blink)

    Some game last night, eh?

    (bead of sweat rolls down forehead, into eye, and it burns.)


  136. Are you being forced to read this, Kyle? BLINK TWICE IF THERE IS A GUN TO YOUR HEAD KYLE

    Oh, this explains so much. Hope you got free of your homophobic gunman, Todd.

  137. My dearest Kyle,

    (well, my second-dearest Kyle, ’cause I know another one)

    Ah if only! Any or all three, although I perceive some potential conflicts of interest or affection, there.

    And I do appreciate you not defaulting to the usual heterosexist assumptions. Most appropriately inclusive of you.


    (oh, you knew there’d be a but coming, didn’t you…)

    … what in the world makes you imagine that going for the ad hominem makes for a compelling argument. Even if it were true, would it make the remark less pertinent nor accurate? Hardly, And when it’s wrong, as it almost always is, it just means you fired a blank in a duel of wits. Always bad to give your opponent a free move, remember that.

    But I excuse you and am graciously going to pass on the free move on the assumption there is a gun being held to your head or you are indeed in junior high, where ad hominem is considered the summit of cleverness.

    pax / Ctein

  138. [Deleted because all Kyle has at this point are insults and not particularly interesting ones. Move along, Kyle – JS]

  139. Dear Dudebros: Please stop lowering the collective IQ for the rest of us XY chromosome bearers. You make it hard for us to be taken seriously in society. Also, deal with the fact that half your chromosomes–that X part–came from your female parent.

    John, congrats on getting your own sex, howerver re. the pie/cake thing: can someone please make/bring sugar-free?

  140. Well, this was a fun thing to read while catching up after midterms.

    I suggest that the Scalzi gender be something really alien…how about…”Jaan”?

    And the Scalzi gender pronoun should be…

    Well, here’s some options:

    Captain Jack Harkness
    Darth Vader
    Species 8472

    Any of those sound appealing, Mr. Scalzi?

  141. Just posting because as a trans* person (or “non gender binary” as the kids are calling it these days) I’m quite troubled by the movement in the past year or so to police the word and usage of the word trans*. When you tell me I can’t talk about “men, women, trans*” because it’s hurtful to trans people (who happen to be trans in a very particular way) you are erasing (see, I can use your kiddie lingo too) anyone who is trans in a queer, androgynous, gender-bending, out, fabulous, confounding kind of way.

    I have been the way I am my whole life. And here I am shocked to find that in a few short years within my lifetime trans identity goes from being painfully underground, to finding a voice in the GLBT community, to being policed and divided the say way that cis white rich white men in the Northeast tried to push the blacks and the crossdressers and the queeeers out of the Movement in the 1990s so they could look more respectable and sell civil rights to Main Street, USA. Trans people are now kicking out other trans people so they can sell themselves to straights!

    I completely sign onto the cri de coeur, the rant, to stop obsessing over what’s in our pants, that’s none of your business. It’s great that trans kids are coming out younger and younger and have access to hormone therapy and so on at an age where it makes a huge difference. But why are you trying to pretend people like me don’t exist? I don’t want surgery. I’m done with trying to “pass” (as what?). Since when does being trans* mean conforming to the gender binary and identifying as a man or a woman?

    I like scalzine. I am definitely down with that. Also scalzones.

  142. I suggest that the Scalzi gender be something really alien…how about…”Jaan”?

    I don’t think my good friend Jaan would appreciate being called “really alien”. He probably wouldn’t mind being used as the epitome of the Scalzi gender, though, because he’s cool that way.

  143. Seth, there’s a whole community of people in Mexico for whom it’s Just Known that some girls turn into boys at puberty. Now you’ve got me wondering if this deficiency is what’s going on with them.

    Fascinating. Thank you.

  144. Floored:

    All sounds too complicated for me. I’m happy with whee, whim and whir.

    Not to say that others shouldn’t use whatever pronouns they want (including trans*, with much love to Holocene Human), but since whee, whim and whir suit me they’ll be what I use.

  145. Do you get off on putting yourself on the ass end of history? When we are looked back upon as the change that was needed, you’ll find yourself broken, outmoded, and obsolete.


  146. Just a Gamer:

    I think you have our two positions confused. Just one more thing GamerGaters appear to be confused about.

    Also: Non-ironic hashtagging in a blog comment? You are adorable.

  147. And the wheel turns, and Charlie Brooker’s piece in the Guardian today on Gamergate notes that women on the Internet inevitably play on the hardest difficulty setting; for me there is a delightful synchronicity in this which is, inevitably, completely lost on Just a Gamer and his/her ilk.

    The GamerGaters are not getting much comfort in the comments on our side of the pond either; oddly enough, people like Charlie Brooker have no difficulty in adopting Bashfull Bashfullsson’s proactive defence measures when it’s needed, and spamming him with bilge about GamerGate certainly qualities…

  148. The change that was needed? Threats of death? threats of rape? Blatant sexism? Blatant cruelty? For what, exactly? “Journalistic integrity”???

    When history looks back at the likes of thugs and brutes like you hiding behind bullshit “altruistic” excuses, they will see you as the continuation of centuries of thuggishness hiding behind bullshit “altruism”.

    You know what change this world needs? The change whereby people see a problem and stop deciding that the path to fixing it is by way of murdering or raping someone.

  149. Greg, et al:

    I’m okay with this thread not veering into the abject stupidity that is GamerGate. There are likely to be other comment threads for that.

  150. Just A Gamer chose to comment in the thread about the Scalzi gender, so whee must relate to that somehow, but when I read whir post, I could just see whim shaking whir little tiny fist.

  151. To amplify on Another Holocene Human’s comment some way above, and specifically because like them I’m trans*: the comment to which Scalzi responded on Twitter is not intrinsically about non-traditional genders, although it invokes them. It is in fact an obvious example of gender policing, of the sort that is often dubbed ‘toxic masculinity’, by the assertion that rigid masculinity should force some forms of male gender expression into transgenderism by virtue of their undesirableness. (And generally speaking, trans* and gender diverse people tend to be on the receiving end of a lifetime’s worth of similarly undesired gender policing from a toxic subset of cisgender people.)

    What is undeniable is that the existence of genders other than the traditional binary is frequently denied as being a real aspect of human societies, or more specifically, they are viewed as being entirely arbitrary choices by the people who claim them, when nothing could be further from the truth. In that light, the mocking of the idea of a third gender consisting of ‘left wing scalzi-faced beta pseudo-men’ by capriciously naming and inventing pronouns (literally on a Whim) is not too far from potentially causing splash damage by reinforcing this notion that people who claim a non-traditional gender have little or no motivation for doing so.

    I think it’s a really good thing that the great majority of responses you received both on Twitter and here on Whatever have been positive, especially as this post amplifies your views considerably and demonstrates that you personally ‘get it’ – but it is also worth bearing in mind that this is not necessarily the case with everyone you reach.

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