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The Proxy Culture War for the Soul of Middle Earth

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 | Posted by Sandy Ryalls

Culture War-smallThe culture war has been going on for a while. We’re used to it played out large. Trying to boil down 50 years of social history and politics into a paragraph is going to lose some nuance but, in broad strokes, you’ve people for whom established mores work, usually from homogenous communities, and people for whom they don’t — who are frequently labeled with various flavors of moral degeneracy. Usually to the scorn of history.

It’s played out in government, often in schools. We’re used to that. But now it’s also playing out in our fandom, our games, our conventions. This year the Hugo Awards took some collateral damage from being a battlefield in a war that is part of that narrative but is also somewhat removed from how we’ve been used to thinking of this fight.

Safe Space and the Geek Social Fallacy

There is a social movement of, largely, white male nerds misusing the concept of safe space to exclude people from geekdom.

Safe space is an area where anyone can be comfortable in who they are without recrimination, without bullying and without threat.

Most of our society isn’t safe. The litany of violence, abuse, and microaggression thrown at people because of fundamental aspects of their person is well documented

Spaces have gatekeepers: editors, convention directors, marketing executives, investors. People who you need to go through in order to put something in space.

John Christopher The Little People-smallMost gatekeepers are still men, still white, are disproportionately heterosexual and their decisions on gatekeeping are informed by their own experience and prejudices. This is a pretty major reason why most of our society isn’t safe.

This isn’t to cast aspersions on any of these people. With even the most honorable intentions it’s barely possible to see the space one gatekeeps from perspectives that aren’t one’s own.

The Geek Social Fallacy states that that geekdom — Sci-fi, Fantasy, gaming, comic books, computers — exists to provide a cultural space in which it is safe to be a geek, a weirdo and that a fundamental part of that is that these spaces need to be free of mainstream cultural judgments for that reason.

The most articulate and sympathetic presentation of it that I know of is here.

For a lot of default white male nerds that means safe for them and hostile to everyone else. Safe to leer, and grope at other attendees; safe to dominate space with homophobic or racist slurs; safe to objectify and remain unaccountable.

A not-entirely-cis (her gender identity isn’t entirely consistent with her declared birth sex) queer woman (and very much a weirdo) friend of mine put it, along with a lot of the conflict, pretty succinctly:

When I wanted to join those weirdos they kicked me to the curb because I wasn’t one of them. So yes, now I have new friends and sure, some of those friends look more normal than that lot. But they accepted me.

This isn’t to say that space where people who are weirdos can be weirdos isn’t valid or valuable. Just that if those spaces exclude other weirdos because of other aspects of their person then that’s a bit smelly.

The Rise of the Internet Natives

Sad Puppies 3-smallWe live in sci-fi times. The internet has irrevocably and fundamentally changed our social structures and we don’t even really know what that looks like yet, let alone what it means.

The Digital Natives are reaching their mid 20s. Those hitting their 30s may not have always known the internet but know it well enough to make little difference. These people are reaching the stage in life where they get to be a big part of deciding what the world looks like and those in their way are on the downward slope.

Many internet natives draw identity straight from their online subcultures. Much like the nationalism of the  past.

When we talk about Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), or Men’s Rights Activists, or Gamergate, or even Sad Puppies, we’re not just talking about ideology. We’re talking about identity. Fandom groups are part of this phenomenon, making it all the more complicated.

The Internet short circuits the social barriers of meat space. Historically the identity of the hetero white male nerd has been something of a self fulfilling prophecy. Access to the world of geekdom being policed and populated — gatekept — by members of this very specific group created the perception that geekdom is theirs.

The global intangibility of the internet has allowed nerds that don’t fit that picture to find each other, disprove that perception, and enabled them to decide what to do about it.

A meaningfully expanded social discourse beyond the hands of those who already have amassed social capital. Solutions to social problems no longer have to preserve existing social privilege to anywhere near the same extent to be seen as credible and viable and to gain momentum.

First wave feminism was driven by the requirements of the wives of middle class men because they made up its leadership. Today’s discourse on tomorrow is built sideways to established social structure in a way that wasn’t possible prior to the internet.

MRAs and MRA Adjacent

Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire Festival

Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire Festival

Organizers of Edinburgh’s, apparently now world famous, Beltane Fire festival use the term “Hippies and Hippie adjacent.” It’s a flippant recognition that while not everyone involved fully identifies with the hippy label, in that context, it’s a deeply hippie thing that is being done and it’s being done with hippieness firmly at the core.

There were a lot of supporters of Gamergate who didn’t express particularly inflammatory opinions or engage in particularly harassing behavior, who probably wouldn’t want to identify with the Men’s Rights Activists (MRA) label.

That doesn’t change what Gamergate was. It doesn’t change its context or the social politics at its core. It doesn’t change who those people decided to make allies of.

In geekdom we often like to maintain an intellectual distance, to not pick a side, and to give people the respect of assuming an argument in good faith. Often this causes us to overlook that things are sometimes part of movements and can’t really be considered in isolation from them.

This, in turn, supports veneers of respectability which hide things that are considerably darker.

We Have Our Own Money and We’ll Pay for That, Goddamnit!

Geekdom is really important to a lot of young women and they have the money to make that stick.

The new normal isn’t for a young woman’s income to be a minor contribution to a household but for it to be significant and her own to dispose of as she choses. However, while it has become more normal for young women to have jobs, good jobs, real jobs… it has become harder to afford the fundamental pillars of a middle class lifestyle. Education is expensive. Home ownership is expensive. Healthcare (where it’s not socialised) is expensive.

Comic books, novels, video streaming and movie tickets are relatively cheap. Most internet natives feel they will never be able to afford safety, security, and a family. They know they can, however, afford all the fun.

So, a significant number of women are prepared to lay down real cash monies for media in which female characters are treated the way they would like them to be. This is knocking the received wisdom of marketing geekdom on its ass and sending our default geekboys into fits of…

Privilege Distress and the Proxy in the Proxy War

2011 Hugo Award-smallPrivilege distress is better defined here than anything I can manage. For those who aren’t going to read another article: privilege distress is the feeling of unease felt by people who are having injustice that works in their favor re-addressed.

It’s a permanent fixture in the culture war, and most political discourse. There’s a reason that Republicans play well with white men and Democrats play well with women and members of racial minorities. That reason is that the broad strokes of the culture war are whether we want a society which favors those it favors, or whether we want one which works for everyone.

One of the major fronts of the culture war in the age of the Internet Native is the ongoing clash between the Social Justice (SJ) movement and the self-proclaimed Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs). Media is a pretty big part of that front because it’s a major principle of the overarching SJ philosophy that culture is important and shapes the rest of society.

SJ activists want geekdom (along with the rest of society) to be a safe, inclusive space.

The MRAs don’t think there is a problem and look upon attempts to change our culture with suspicion and hostility.

To MRA’s, the fact that women have buying power in the media sphere and people have ways of having social discourse that doesn’t pander to white maleness is a threat. This isn’t just ideology. It’s also identity.

I mention the Republicans because Correia did. Because he flat-out crowed that the vandalization of the Hugos was an act of red state, culture war, privilege distress and he linked it to the gamer movement which responded to mild criticism of some video games with death threats, the leaking of personal information, and a threat to shoot up a university.

The proxy part is where this intersects with geekdom. One of the unfortunate shared experiences of most geeks is bullying. Most geeks feel outside of social normality because they’ve been put there by other people. The trauma carried by a lot of geeks surrounding this is very real and very unfortunate.

It’s also true that, in a lot of ways, the SJ philosophy is born of an intellectual liberalism; that its adherents go beyond geekdom; that it can often take a snooty, condescending tone; that outrage is certainly in its playbook; that problematic parts of geekdom can be caricatured in ways that are reminiscent of the bullying faced by a lot of white male geeks.

Calvin and Hobbes on GamergateThis makes it very easy for the places where the MRAs meet geekdom to paint the places where the SJ activists meet geekdom as judgmental, insurgent, outsiders intent on stripping away their solace and condemning them for the unforgivable sin of being a weirdo. To tie that white male geek identity with an antipathy to SJ activists as a group rather than engaging with the issues which are actually being fought over.

Sad Puppies and Gamergate are attempts at gatekeeping for the old order. Attempts to keep out the things that people who aren’t white and male want in their space; attempts to keep people who aren’t white and male out of their space.

When Correia talks about how votes are based on identity rather than quality of writing he’s invalidating the notion that characters and stories that speak to people who aren’t like him are legitimate preferences for his fellow fans.

When he talks of a liberal elite he’s invoking a tactic used by names that don’t belong in a reasoned perspective on anything; used to make a virtue of doing something that smart people have a problem with.

That gatekeeping is being attempted by pitting geek against geek; by defining geekdom as a space without room for diversity; by invalidating the very existence of fans who aren’t like him. We’ve seen this with computer games. We’ve seen it with comics. Where economics and technology and social progress have exposed and provided space for genre fans who don’t fit the mold set by decades of social blinkering they have been denounced by people who see this as a threat.

Puppygate is not a benign, isolated event which can be sufficiently assessed with reference only to itself, the Hugos, or science fiction. It’s a point in a fight between a movement and countermovement both tied to and distinct from the same fight we’ve been having for decades, a fight that has decided that our hobbies are not now, if they ever were, sacred ground.

While this sucks, it’s not a bad idea to keep in mind what it is that everyone is actually after.


Sandy Ryalls has been involved in the organisation of games conventions for ~8 years, has lived between various counter-culture groups for a decade and has a keen interest in geek culture and social dynamics. He is a member of the Scottish Green Party and would describe his political identity as Edinburgh Liberal.

42 Comments »

  1. “There is a social movement of, largely, white male nerds misusing the concept of safe space to exclude people from geekdom.”

    This is referring to David Gerrold, right?

    Comment by TW - April 29, 2015 5:24 am

  2. Thanks for the article, Sandy.

    Comment by Princejvstin - April 29, 2015 6:01 am

  3. Thanks for a very informative piece!

    As a “lad” in the early 80s, I was sucked into Ronald Reagan and Reaganomics, largely by my father (thanks ever so much, Dad).

    Not everyone may recall some of Reagan’s early speeches where he tempted followers with the allure of returning them to the “good old days.” Where exactly these days “were” was never too clear, but now that I’m much older and maybe a tiny bit wiser, I suspect he was referring to post-WWII America.

    …There’s an eerie irony there: On the one hand, Mephisto was almost certainly appealing to white males, as that time still largely marginalized women, and certainly marginalized minorities. But amazingly, the “father” of elitist economics was also referring to a period, where at least for White males, likely had one of the most equal distributions of income, due to unions, and post-depression programs like Social Security. Yet to this day, most elitist white males still buying in to that quasi-fascist dreck refuse to see those forests for those trees…

    Singularly and in small groups, white males (and I am guilty, as described) can be manageable. But in larger groups, they can get scary in a hurry :-(

    Comment by AWAbooks - April 29, 2015 6:13 am

  4. Frankly, I have to ask: What is this article doing on Black Gate? It appears to be a purely political opinion piece dressed up with some irrelevant pictures to give it the illusion of being an article related to the fantasy genre.

    Also, it damages your credibility when you appear to be spelling Larry Correia’s name from a vague impression that it starts with “C” and ends with “a”, but haven’t bothered to verify the letters in between.

    I do have to comment on this line, which should summarize my problems with the article as a whole:

    “To MRA’s, the fact that women have buying power in the media sphere and people have ways of having social discourse that doesn’t pander to white maleness is a threat. This isn’t just ideology. It’s also identity.”

    I have the feeling that, to you, ideology and identity are one and the same. You associate “white man” with a whole range of negative associations and barely seem to realize you’re doing it. You also conveniently forget the non-whiteness, non-maleness of many Sad Puppy voters and nominees.

    Finally:

    “That gatekeeping is being attempted by pitting geek against geek; by defining geekdom as a space without room for diversity; by invalidating the very existence of fans who aren’t like him.”

    Provide a quote from Larry Correia which supports this assertion, or retract it.

    Comment by jalazar88 - April 29, 2015 9:47 am

  5. All those male gatekeepers:

    http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/44510-where-the-boys-are-not.html

    Comment by ChristianLindke - April 29, 2015 10:52 am

  6. Thanks Christian — That’s a great link!

    Comment by John ONeill - April 29, 2015 11:21 am

  7. Seriously? Swastikas and a Crusader?

    Comment by Fletcher Vredenburgh - April 29, 2015 11:29 am

  8. Misspelling Correia’s name is totally a microaggression.

    Comment by Jackson Kuhl - April 29, 2015 12:31 pm

  9. I really don’t get this “piece”. It makes vast and inaccurate broad strokes summarizing whole groups of people into categories that are straw-men or caricatures at best.

    I don’t understand why such a polarizing article is being given a platform here. What is its purpose? Aren’t the overwhelming majority of Black Gate regulars already against this whole Sad Puppy/Hugo brouhaha? This article just seems to preach to choir, helping to reinforce already made conceptions of the “other side.”

    Though I don’t have a dog in this Hugo fight, these sorts of posts keep saying to me: You’re not welcome here.

    Help me to see that I’m just being over-sensitive here.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - April 29, 2015 12:43 pm

  10. “What is this article doing on Black Gate?” Listen to yourselves: could this be anything other than the cry of self-appointed gatekeepers who’ve been challenged by a contradictory opinion? Consider your reactions in light of the ideas in this article, and please think about how your question implies the right to prevent such ideas from circulating in “your” venue.

    Comment by Lawrence Schick - April 29, 2015 12:53 pm

  11. What’s this article doing on Black Gate?

    That’s a question for John to answer as it’s his site, but I’ll say that it is here as the beginning of a discussion. I noted that the author’s assertion that “Most gatekeepers are still men” is inaccurate in as far as who the gatekeepers in the industry are. Those are mostly female.

    Lawrence does make a good point though that there are “Gate Keepers” in the audience as well. Those run a gamut of types. “Keep the kiddies out” was a big one when I was entering the role playing game hobby, but I think Lawrence is right in his point.

    If you have issues with the post, rebut the errors. Try not to engage in hyperbole if possible. I know it’s a heated discussion, but I’ve been reading some wonderful conversations here of late that are of much higher caliber than that of my Facebook feed.

    Let’s keep it that way.

    Comment by ChristianLindke - April 29, 2015 1:51 pm

  12. Thanks Christian. I wanted to respond to the point made in that article. It refers to people in the publishing industry who have been in it less than six years. It’s talking about junior and middle staff.

    One of the things that is true across the economy is that gender balance skews heavily towards male the more senior positions become (why that is is a different discussion). The pay gap mentioned in the article is also noteworthy. Higher salaries are an indicator of higher social capital.

    Even if publishing houses are employing more women than men that’s only one part of the network of gatekeepers. Marketing is a big one, and one that is steeped in received wisdom about market demographics. The article talks about the centrality of the young male market along side the skewed employment stats.

    It’s an interesting part of the debate for sure but I don’t think it invalidates my assertion in and of itself.

    Comment by Sandy Ryalls - April 29, 2015 2:01 pm

  13. “Frankly, I have to ask: What is this article doing on Black Gate?”
    I think it is perfectly suited to Black Gate. Times change; culture has to change with it, and Science Fiction and Fantasy (and Horror) are now part of our culture more than they’ve ever been in the past. My favorite TV programs included “The Twilight Zone,” “The Outer Limits,” “Boris Karloff’s Thriller,” “One Step Beyond,” and anything and everything else that wasn’t dull, boring mainstream pap. We have cable channels now like the SyFy channel and Chiller devoted (almost) exclusively to the “geek” stuff we could rarely find on prime time TV. (Thank God for Friday night’s “Chiller Theater!) Since there was a relative dearth of SF on TV, most of us spent hard-earned allowances on comic books, “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine, Ace doubles, and whatever showed up on downtown movie screens, even as awful as most of it was. I didn’t discover the SF/F magazines until I was a senior in high school (1968), but over the years I familiarized myself with as much of the old pulp stuff as I could dig up or send away for, because the contemporary stuff was still coming in trickles and dribbles. As much as I was thrilled by what I found in the reprint mags and in older library books, the pulp stuff was limited in its character development and heavy on “Gosh! Wow!” gadgetry. I wasn’t one of those math/science geeks that won the day in the early SF stories by creating a heat ray using vacuum tubes and a floor fan. I loved numbers and enjoyed algebra, but geometry baffled me. I loved science in its simplest forms; I had to drop a college physics class or take an “F.” I wasn’t accepted by the jocks or the popular kids in high school, and I wasn’t a superbrianiac, either. I fit someplace in another category, populated primarily by me, and spent most of my time in the basement, reading and listening to music and creating my own baseball games with decks of playing cards. If I were 40 years younger, I’d likely not be a hacker (couldn’t handle the technical aspects of it), but more likely a gamer. And despite being white, I don’t find myself to be one of those caught up in “privileged-white-male-distress.” As a Catholic, I accept the Bible’s injunctions against homosexuality, but I have gay friends and relatives, and was a GTA at a major state university and shared an office with 4 colleagues – 2 males, 2 females – who were gay. I do my best not to be judgmental. I’ll admit, I don’t see the attraction a guy feels for another guy, and I’ll be equally candid and say I’ll never likely watch a film like “Brokeback Mountain,” but I did enjoy “Six Feet Under” when it ran on HBO, and that program often featured characters engaged in homosexual behavior. Obviously, our culture was prepared for that sort of programming; the show had a sizeable number of loyal viewers. And the success of mainstream TV like “Will and Grace” supports the cultural changes we’ve been seeing. To be honest, I’d rather we had TV and literature that promoted positive multicultural models, as opposed to the kind of misogynistic examples we see in the “Gor” fantasies of John Norman. I’m not trying to suggest we embrace every cultural ‘novelty’ with open arms; anything harmful or overly insulting ought to be kept safely tucked away in one’s own private thoughts. But SF and Fantasy will likely reflect cultural change — if it wants to survive in a changed culture. For those who want to continue to live vicariously in a Buck Rogers universe, the internet allows us the opportunity to do so. I’d rather spend my reading time with more fully developed characters, engaged in a story that is well plotted, superbly crafted, and likely to be set in a world I wouldn’t mind visiting a second or third time. And I don’t care if it’s Hugo quality or not; I just ask that it be worth my time and effort.

    Comment by smitty59 - April 29, 2015 2:08 pm

  14. > This article just seems to preach to choir, helping to reinforce already made conceptions of the “other side.”

    James,

    Sadly, as an editor, I can only publish the pieces I’m offered.

    I would love to offer a more balanced viewpoint of this entire fiasco. However, the articles that have been submitted to me over the past four weeks have been almost exclusively anti-Puppy.

    This is very much a topic of keen interest to readers (our most recent articles on the Hugos have been read over 100,000 times in just the last few weeks), and I feel a responsibility to continue to report on it.

    I’m very interested in presenting different viewpoints. I don’t enforce any kind of editorial purity here at Back Gate. I don’t ask our writers to toe the party line. All I require is good writing, and the ability to offer a new viewpoint.

    Sandy is a UK writer whose viewpoint is very different from my own, especially with his comparison to the Beltane Fire festival, for example. I thought it a useful take; obviously, your mileage may vary.

    Comment by John ONeill - April 29, 2015 2:11 pm

  15. @smitty59

    If you read the survey the article is using as the baseline for data, 70% of all respondents were female. The gatekeepers on the publishing side are majority female. Yes, it is true that the percentage is different the higher up you go with the preponderance of the difference made up of new people, but publishing has become a female “run” industry.

    Like many entertainment industries though, the pay for entry level jobs is embarrassingly small. Take the film and tv industry as an example. An agent’s assistant, writer’s assistant, or producer’s assistant, will likely have a Master’s Degree but will be making the same amount of money as a teller at WalMart.

    As interesting as the unbalance on the editor side is, the unbalance on the creator side is far more interesting. The vast majority of entertainment “creators” are male, as are the majority of submissions.

    We need to create a world in which more women feel free to submit their works and be creative for pay.

    Comment by ChristianLindke - April 29, 2015 3:20 pm

  16. John, this article leaves me feeling totally sandbagged. I’ve been putting effort into trying to bridge the divide, right here at Black Gate, and here I am being labeled an MRA (while I think men’s rights are being trampled, I’m not an activist about it) and being treated as though I support the abuses of the Gamergaters and told that all I care about are “Attempts to keep out the things that people who aren’t white and male want in their space; attempts to keep people who aren’t white and male out of their space.”

    Of course, if I were to point out once again that all I care about is the story, and I find the race, gender, age, or sexuality of the author profoundly uninteresting, I’d be laughed out of the room and called a liar on the way out.

    Thanks a pantsload. I haven’t felt this betrayed in quite a while.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - April 29, 2015 4:43 pm

  17. >”What’s this article doing on Black Gate?”

    Black Gate
    “Adventures in fantasy literature”

    You do take the “Adventures” part seriously, John, don’t you.

    >>I don’t enforce any kind of editorial purity here at Back Gate. I don’t ask our writers to toe the party line. All I require is good writing, and the ability to offer a new viewpoint.

    And thank Cthulhu for that!
    Though i think that the article could have used some editorial tightening up. It feels like it is stumbling over its own feet in a hurry to lightly touch as many complex subjects as possible.

    Comment by Oliver.Klages - April 29, 2015 5:11 pm

  18. John: “Sadly, as an editor, I can only publish the pieces I’m offered. [. . .] I don’t enforce any kind of editorial purity here at Back Gate. I don’t ask our writers to toe the party line. All I require is good writing, and the ability to offer a new viewpoint.”

    I find that last claim hard to believe. You’ll publish anything as long as it fulfills those criteria: good writing and ability to offer a new viewpoint? Really?

    Comment by James McGlothlin - April 29, 2015 5:36 pm

  19. Well, he used to let Theo write posts on Black gate until he started insulting people in a heated discussion(something about awards and China Mieville i think but my memory is a bit hazy …) so i think that claim is valid.

    Comment by Oliver.Klages - April 29, 2015 5:50 pm

  20. To some of the guys on this thread, particularly Jay, feeling a little embattled by this one, I’d like to expand on some things.

    Oliver is quite right this is a whistle-stop of a number of fairly complex concepts. It is what it is in that respect. This isn’t quite the medium for something more meaty less hurried.

    I felt I was quite careful to allow for a range of different reasons for sympathizing with both the puppies and Gamergate. There are certainly many reasons, some far less noxious than others, for feeling sympathetic towards these things.

    Many of the ones I’ve seen are to do with the protection of one’s own group identity in feeling embattled. The point of the article was not to accuse everyone who felt like voting for a puppy nomination of being a raging misogynistic neo-nazi. In fact I dedicated a section of it specifically to making that allowance.

    However, the point of it is, regardless of the myriad reasons people have had for relating and sympathizing with these things, there does exist a movement in geekdom that is specifically anti-woman, and profoundly racist and homophobic to boot. And that perfectly legitimate sentiments can and are putting otherwise decent people on the same side of an ongoing thing as that movement, and do they really want to be?

    Comment by Sandy Ryalls - April 29, 2015 6:30 pm

  21. Jay,

    Don’t feel sandbagged by John, and know that you are one of the commentators I have enjoyed reading of late.

    Comment by ChristianLindke - April 29, 2015 6:33 pm

  22. Sandy,

    Hateful sentiments, while largely absent here at Black Gate, have no “predominant side.” People like Requires Hate have proven that.

    Comment by ChristianLindke - April 29, 2015 6:36 pm

  23. Sandy, guilt by association much?

    I’ll once again quote one of the luminaries of the field: “Ideas are not responsible for those who support them. There is no idea so good that you cannot find a fool who supports it.” But then, I suspect you’ll throw the sentiment out, since it was expounded by a straight white man, Larry Niven…

    Christian: I’m sitting here, wondering why I bother. Thanks for the kind words.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - April 29, 2015 7:03 pm

  24. > John, this article leaves me feeling totally sandbagged.

    Jay,

    We’ve discussed this before. I explained why I’m planning to vote “No Award” this year (including in the category for which Black Gate is nominated for a Hugo), because my concerns that a winning slate could permanently damage the reputation of the Hugo outweigh even my desire to win one. You’ve explained that you’ll interpret this as a slap in the face, regardless of my reasons.

    I assume the same principle is at work here; i.e. regardless of Sandy’s intentions, or my reasons for publishing it, you choose to feel “betrayed.”

    As I’ve said before, this looks a lot like a persecution complex, and it tells me that you’re likely to feel personally attacked regardless of my actual intentions, so I’m left wondering if there’s point in making an effort at all.

    Still, that’s beside the point. The point is that I would be very happy to publish a pro-Puppy piece — in fact, I’ve made many efforts to get one, with no luck.

    I’m afraid the real reason you feel betrayed is because your side has totally failed to provide a counter-argument I can post here. Believe me when I tell you, I’m not at all picky at this point, and will consider almost anything.

    You’ve done a great job of articulating the Puppy’s viewpoint here in the comments. You’ve shown yourself to splendidly articulate, and tireless in your ability to offer strong counter arguments. If you’d care to submit a pro-Puppy piece (so that the other side can feel betrayed for a change), I’d be thrilled to consider it.

    Comment by John ONeill - April 29, 2015 7:16 pm

  25. > I find that last claim hard to believe. You’ll publish anything as long as it
    > fulfills those criteria: good writing and ability to offer a new viewpoint? Really?

    James,

    As I said to Jay above, I would be thrilled to be able to offer a strongly pro-Puppy piece here at Black Gate.

    You’re welcome to continue to criticize me for publishing articles like Sandy’s. But that strikes me as sort of like complaining about the weather. Why not try something much more productive, and send me a decent counter piece?

    Comment by John ONeill - April 29, 2015 7:21 pm

  26. I had not considered submitting a pro-Puppy piece for the simple reason that I was not aware you would accept one from someone not associated with the website.

    I’ll sit down with my favorite text editor and see what I can come up with.

    As for my sense of betrayal, as I’ve said before, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. After the work I’ve put in, to have this appear as a trackback in one of the other articles I’ve been commenting on was a very nasty shock, and while I certainly don’t expect to be notified of anything you choose to publish, let alone any form of control over it, it did leave me wondering if my efforts at some form of rapprochement were wasted.

    So let me see what I can come up with. It would be at the least discourteous of me to complain about a lack of intellectual diversity and then refuse to contribute something to begin to redress that lack.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - April 29, 2015 7:24 pm

  27. > I’ll sit down with my favorite text editor and see what I can come up with.

    Jay,

    Marvelous! I appreciate you at least making the effort.

    Comment by John ONeill - April 29, 2015 7:48 pm

  28. John,

    I have nothing to say concerning this “sad puppy” business. I have no dog in this fight. I am not emotionally invested in this Hugo award issue at all—–one way or the other!

    However, I DO have a dog in the fight when posts are published that give whole caricatured categories I evidently fit into but are somehow associated with these “puppy” people.

    The weather is not controlled by people. Polarizing and unfair claims are.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - April 29, 2015 11:06 pm

  29. “SJ activists want geekdom (along with the rest of society) to be a safe, inclusive space.”

    First off, the only safe inclusive space that exists is in Fantasyland. Inclusive also means including everyone, not just the people that make you comfortable. Second, you said SJ activists want to be inclusive and to me there is a huge difference between someone who sympathizes with SJ causes and a SJW activist, you said activist. SJW activists do not want to share a space or be inclusive with Sad Puppies, conservatives, Christians, or anyone who dares to disagrees with them. There may be people who are empathetic to homosexuality, feminism, or minorities but that isn’t the same thing as being a SJW activist.

    “There is a social movement of, largely, white male nerds misusing the concept of safe space to exclude people from geekdom.”

    I’m with TW on this one. David Gerrold must be who you are talking about because it ain’t the Sad Puppies. You can be what ever type of human being you want to be but to win our vote you had better write good stories.
    “…having social discourse that doesn’t pander to white maleness is a threat”

    You seem to have the notion that Sad Puppies are worried about being challenged or threatened by people who are not conservatives. I think this is your own insecurity projecting here. Nothing that you say I fear do I fear. GLBT, feminists, any race you want to pick, or whatever religion or creed you have shown—none of these threaten me. None. This to me is a poor attempt to make me be shamed and guilty of being a “white male”. You seem to think that I can’t connect with their humanity and you are wrong.

    “…the SJ philosophy is born of an intellectual liberalism; that its adherents go beyond geekdom; that it can often take a snooty, condescending tone; that outrage is certainly in its playbook; that problematic parts of geekdom can be caricatured in ways that are reminiscent of the bullying faced by a lot of white male geeks.”

    Intellectual liberalism? No. I’d say Sophmoric liberalism. For instance, you talk about caricatures and the two that you have are a Christian paladin caving in his own head and some white Nazi gnomes. Funny? It depends on who is on the receiving end of satire I suppose. Honestly, I don’t know whether to chuckle at the pictures or to get offended. I do have a sense of humor and can laugh at myself but I don’t think liberals have a sense of humor. They seem to be very serious people.

    Those who show up to the fight will win, those who do not will lose. Nothing is stopping the Sad Puppies from voting, at least not for now. In fact, there are a lot more coming to the party. All of this publicity has swelled our ranks.

    I’ll talk more on Correia later because Game of Thrones is on. :)

    Comment by Wild Ape - April 30, 2015 12:09 am

  30. I’ve got to admit, the culture war has put me in my place. Fandom in general, whether it be for books, games, movies, or whatever, doesn’t interest me anymore. I still like those things, and this web site, but I’m no longer a “fan” of anything.

    To be honest I don’t see what the rush is to get inside someone else’s smelly club house anyway. Substitute the word “exclusive” for “safe” in the article above and I think it becomes much more accurate. Fandom, to me, seems to have become a closed room with little air, and no interest in anything new.

    As for the Hugos, I think that rocket says it all.

    Comment by CMR - April 30, 2015 12:30 am

  31. I remember my first conventions as socially safe spaces, but physically unsafe ones. It was okay for me to be a geek — in a decade when that really wasn’t okay in most places — as long as I didn’t object when men I had never met snuck up on me to rub my shoulders without announcing or introducing themselves.

    Nobody minded that I was reading women writers of SF/F, or interpreting them from a feminist perspective.

    But when I told off those stealth gropers and insisted that nobody should be touching my body without my permission, I was made to feel that I was the problem person. The social rules in fandom were different from the social rules elsewhere, and the stealth gropers chose to argue that this meant there were no rules.

    So I left fandom for 15 years.

    I have hesitated to talk about this experience in the current context for a couple of reasons. One is that I’ve talked about it on BG before, and I don’t want to be a person with a handful of oft-repeated set pieces. Another is that I don’t want to give the impression that I’m lumping people I disagree with about the Hugo Awards with people who tried to take physical advantage of me when I was an underage girl more than twenty years ago. I’m not.

    But when we talk about safe space in this comment thread, it seems worth noting that our community’s gatherings should be safe from unwanted physical contact.

    I’m not looking to be safe from ideas I don’t care for, even ideas I regard as hostile to me. I don’t require trigger warnings on descriptions of bad things happening to people, though I’ve experienced some things I think everyone would recognize as bad.

    The way Gamergate has devolved into threats of rape, murder, arson, and mass shootings makes me worry about the state of geek culture generally. That kind of threat is rare, and follow-up is rarer, yes. But it only takes one sociopath to ruin your whole day.

    My nieces are old enough now to be excited that their Aunt Sarah is an author. The oldest of them is starting to express an interest in coming to conventions and seeing what I do. Well, things have changed since my first cons in the late 80’s, for better and for worse. If some stranger were to paw her and she objected, she’d find that a lot of people would back her up. That’s good. But if some stranger objected to her wanting her favorite games to allow her to play female characters without having to pay extra, she might find herself doxxed. Worse, she might find her doxxing followed up on.

    While we’re coming up with a list of things we want to change about our community — more transparent processes for awards, a consensus that slate voting is not the best way to recognize excellent individual works or creators — here’s my addition: I would love to see a social sphere in which nobody, regardless of politics, regards it as acceptable to harass anyone physically.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - April 30, 2015 1:23 am

  32. @Jay, guilt by association is one way of looking at it.

    Being an accessory is another.

    Movements aren’t without consequence. Aiding something nasty for reasons that are sympathetic still have the consequences of aiding something nasty.

    Ideas may not be responsible for their proponents (and I fully agree with you on that one. That quote may be Niven but the sentiment is formal logic).

    People, however, are responsible for the company they keep and (socially and morally, if always legally) the consequences of their speech.

    So far as I’m concerned we can talk about whether or not the feminist movement in geekdom has created exclusionary space or not once that discussion is no longer woven tight into this mess.

    Clean house and then the discussion can be had in good faith. Until then then point about veneers of respectability definitely applies.

    Comment by Sandy Ryalls - April 30, 2015 3:07 am

  33. “Clean house and then the discussion can be had in good faith.”

    Before you start in on cleaning houses, maybe you should clean yours a bit…from here it looks mighty dirty.

    Comment by TW - April 30, 2015 3:18 am

  34. Sandy, no matter how hard you try, I am not responsible for Vox Day. I cannot “clean house”. I just don’t have that power. The most I can do is say that I find the idea that marital rape is acceptable as abhorrent as you do.

    And I refuse to stop advocating my beliefs simply because others with beliefs I find abhorrent agree with beliefs I hold. A good idea is a good idea, and deserves the ability to be advocated, regardless of anything else.

    If you’re going to refuse to discuss the problems with rabid feminism in fandom until we get rid of Vox Day, then we’re not going to have very much of a conversation.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - April 30, 2015 7:24 am

  35. Jay, please tell me your thoughts about rabid feminism in fandom.

    As a feminist, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t fit anyone’s definition of rabid unless they thought feminism was inherently a rabid condition. (There are people who would argue that position. I get the impression you’re not one of them.)

    I’ve met feminists I disagreed with passionately. Back in college, I joined the editorial collective of the campus women’s paper specifically because I objected to jokes about male genital mutilation. If it’s wrong to joke about that in relation to women, I argued, it’s wrong to joke about it in relation to everyone. And I devoted fifteen hours a week, every week of the academic year, for the next three years because I felt it was that important to present a range of feminist opinion that did not stoop to joking about hate crimes against men.

    When you talk about rabid feminism in fandom, are you talking about Requires Hate and her clique of supporters? Or about other things? Or about Requires Hate and other things?

    There’s not much we can do to get rid of Vox Day. We can marginalize him. We can refuse to play into his manipulative efforts to get our community to tear itself apart. But getting rid of him? I don’t think any legal or ethical means would actually accomplish that goal, so we’ll just have to get to work despite him. I won’t hold you guys to that standard.

    Every time I see someone in the Puppies factions declare disagreement with Vox Day’s most offensive views, I feel more hope that dialogue is possible. As much as I would like to see more of that generally, I don’t think it would be fair to insist that people who’ve already made those declarations should have to make them again and again in the same discussion. As far as the matter of Vox Day is concerned, I don’t feel like you personally have anything more to explain. At least not to me. I’ve read enough of your comments to know that your concerns are not his.

    Perhaps Laura Mixon’s report on Requires Hate can be taken as part of a larger effort to deal with the rabid among the feminists. I can’t take any credit for it — I’d never heard of either Laura Mixon or Requires Hate before that report came out. But it does look to me like a good faith effort from the left to clean house, undertaken at some personal risk by the people who came together to make it possible. As Mixon says in her acknowledgements blog post, that housecleaning is a work in progress. I’m coming late to that party, but I’m in full favor of it now.

    What are your thoughts?

    Comment by Sarah Avery - April 30, 2015 1:29 pm

  36. @Jay—I know that I sound like a nutcase when I talk about Saul Alinkski tactics but I’m seeing the same thing you are with Sandy. He isn’t going to talk or debate points, he wants to perpetuate right wing and left wing mythologies.

    “The point of the article was not to accuse everyone who felt like voting for a puppy nomination of being a raging misogynistic neo-nazi. In fact I dedicated a section of it specifically to making that allowance”

    I must have missed that part. Could you expand on that for me? After your comments about Correia, your caricatures of Sad Puppies with the pictures used. I just am not interested in rational discussion.

    I don’t need anyone’s permission to vote. As many lies that have been spread about the Sad Puppies I find it harder and harder to listen to liberals or to be sympathetic.

    “Clean house and then the discussion can be had in good faith”

    I’m busy fixing my bayonet and cleaning my weapon. I’m not walking into your ambush so that you can ignore what you want and then smear me as a misogynist whacko or whatever. I’m done.

    Comment by Wild Ape - April 30, 2015 6:03 pm

  37. “He isn’t going to talk or debate points, he wants to perpetuate right wing and left wing mythologies.”

    Yep.

    This post by Mr Ryalls wasnt an invitation for a conversation, it is just an incoherent, rambling, insulting rant.

    I had a very long post typed up for my first post…but I decided (mainly since I tend to respond in the “Chicago” way, and since Mr ONeill has said he doesnt want that sort of response in his house) that the effort wasnt worth it and simply left the first line.

    Comment by TW - April 30, 2015 9:47 pm

  38. “you’ve people for whom established mores work, usually from homogenous communities”

    Read: SJWs

    “and people for whom they don’t — who are frequently labeled with various flavors of moral degeneracy. Usually to the scorn of history”

    Read: Puppies

    Comment by Dennis Vader - May 1, 2015 10:18 am

  39. I was thinking about a section on false equivalences for the article but didn’t for reasons, but looks like it’s going to be relevant.

    This whole debate is full of false equivalences. They are ubiquitous on the anti-feminist/pro conservative side.

    Jackson Kuhl kicked us off here by suggesting that misspelling Correia’s incorrectly was a microagression. While definitely poor form, I apologize Larry, the notion that this is a microagression is ridiculous.

    Microagressions are constant reminders of systemic oppression. The little things that keep telling a person that they are worth less than others because they are a woman, or gay, or not white. Because there is no systemic oppression of white men (except perhaps on economic axis which effect people who aren’t white men far worse) it’s not really reasonable to compare misspelling a white man’s name to cat-calls.

    Wild Ape, by asserting that safe space must be inclusive of Christians and conservatives has tried to draw an equivalence between Christianity and conservatism and the kinds of personal characteristics that require active protection because they are on the shitty end of systemic oppression.

    Religions *do* sit on that list. Except that Christianity still has a massively privileged place in our society so it’s hard to take seriously claims of systemic oppression of Christians in the west.

    He’s right. In an ideal world space would be safe for all, conservatives and Christians included.

    In what way are conservatives and Christians being excluded? Is what is meant by that that the spaces that care about being safe are having difficulty including credos opposed to tackling issues of inclusiveness? Is it the old chestnut of referring to a prohibition on using politics or religion as an excuse to oppress as oppression itself?

    He’s also damn right that making space safe is hard.

    My own convention organizing/ subculture involvement experiences tell me that while one does come across women who aren’t respectful of personal space, the majority of people who aren’t are men, and that the women who aren’t tend to be a damn sight better about being called on it and not doing it again. Usually that difficulty comes hand in hand with refusing to acknowledge that it’s a problem.

    Jay has drawn an equivalence between the crappy behavior on the conservative and liberal sides of this issue.

    I can’t recall the last time the threat of mass murder was used to stop a conservative speaking at a university.

    I’ve not seen death threats aimed in salvos at men simply having the temerity to express an opinion. Maybe I’m just blinkered there, and I’m sure there are isolated examples but the opposite is ubiquitous.

    Requires Hate was mentioned here. The last entry there is an apology for being a dick.

    There isn’t an equivalence there. There may well be crappy behavior on both sides but the scales are far from balanced.

    Dennis Vader has, just above, tried to compare those on the sharp end of ghettoisation, rape culture, Jim Crow, the crappy response to the AIDS epidemic (and the list goes on and on) to a bunch of sci-fi fans who don’t want liberal politics in their fandom.

    This is just one, relatively well behaved comment thread (I’m not being flippant there. Many congratulations to John on this being a relatively safe online space).

    It’s hard to tell when these are deliberate attempts to muddy the water, which are honest deficits of perspective and which are flippant bird flippings to the debate happening in the first place.

    People who don’t acknowledge that there is a problem, don’t want to talk about there being a problem, and people who don’t care that there is a problem and just want you to sod off. All acting as a movement against the people who see and want to solve the problem. And all of them using the fallacy of false equivalence to do it.

    Comment by Sandy Ryalls - May 2, 2015 5:40 am

  40. “I can’t recall the last time the threat of mass murder was used to stop a conservative speaking at a university.”

    Bomb threats, harassment, death threats are pretty common on the few and far between occasions that conservatives are invited to speak at campuses…there just isnt as much press coverage, compared to say a supposed feminist making up a mass shooting threat in order to get more press and more money from gullible patreons…

    For example, just this weekend there was a bomb threat at a gamergate gathering…wonder why the mainstream press didnt cover it? And internet famous jerk, and rape supporter, Arthur Chu harassed the owners of a bar because they hosted that meeting.

    “Maybe I’m just blinkered there”

    Duh…

    “There may well be crappy behavior on both sides but the scales are far from balanced.”

    Yep, but I doubt it is unbalanced the way YOU seem to think it is. You ought to look at how degrading, insulting, misogynist the language the left uses towards an Ann Coulter, or Sarah Palin, or Margaret Thatcher…if you were honest you would see how bad YOUR side seems to be.

    “People who don’t acknowledge that there is a problem”

    Maybe it is time for YOU to acknowledge a problem?

    “And all of them using the fallacy of false equivalence to do it.”

    Then stop it.

    Comment by TW - May 3, 2015 12:56 pm

  41. @TW

    Take a look at the comment threads on the articles about the DC threat. A lot of people claiming to be feminist sympathizers calling it out as unacceptable. I’ll add to that. It’s not the way to get things done. Utterly unacceptable. I’m genuinely saddened and frustrated to hear about this.

    But there’s the difference. According to the overriding tone of the Gamergate movement Sarkessian is fabricating something which university staff have verified, so as not to have to deal with the implications of it happening. Given the content of that email and it’s similarity in sentiment to an actual massacre that happened not long before it, that’s pretty chilling.

    The aggregate tone of the SJ movement is coming out as not OK with this bomb threat.

    You’re right that there are a lot of misogynists on the left. This is particularly true of the old mans’ club of the Labor movement related groups in the UK. They get called out on it a lot too.

    Comment by Sandy Ryalls - May 4, 2015 3:25 am

  42. Some things are always more apparent when other people do them: motivated reasoning and identity-protective cognition being among the most obvious. I’m glad to see from this article that it applies across the board, even in Edinburgh.

    “There is a social movement of, largely, white male nerds”

    — well, that’s an assertion. I think the people it’s aimed at would simply deny that this is so.

    With respect to Mr. Torgersen of Sad Puppies, it would be advisable to go look at

    https://i0.wp.com/home.comcast.net/~brad.r.torgersen/misc/brtfam2008.jpg

    before making any assumptions. Hint, that’s his spouse and daughter there.

    You can always win an argument if you get to frame the terms of discourse; the classic “do you still kick kittens, or have you stopped yet?” sort of thing.

    In this context. “Well, I represent the side of diversity. Who’ll stand up to argue the case for bigotry?”

    I don’t think Mr. Ryalls is being dishonest here; I think it’s more that he’s so accustomed to the bundle of assumptions involved in his statement (and spends so much time hanging with people who share them) that it’s invisible to him, like water to a fish. This is a common phenomenon, never more so than in the internet age.

    Human beings are designed to live in small communities where everyone literally and metaphorically speaks the same language, and to react with reflexive fury to guard the collective turf against outsiders who don’t.

    The problem with the Internet is that it allows people to regress to this hunter-gatherer and village-commune state of affairs, and then sally forth against the aliens — they don’t have to spend time with a random sample, they can self-sort.

    Anti-tribalists immediately form their own anti-tribalist Tribe which then must fight the Bad Other Tribe.

    It’s like trying to outrun your own sweat.

    The only “solution” (it’s actually more a condition that can be managed than a problem to be solved) is to be self-conscious about it.

    Otherwise we end up slitting each other’s throats even more than we would otherwise.

    “Safe space is an area where anyone can be comfortable in who they are without recrimination, without bullying and without threat.”

    — rather ironically, this is then followed by an attempt to define who can and cannot be allowed into this “safe space”.

    Safe for who? Comfortable for who?

    What if safe and comfortable for you means unsafe and uncomfortable for someone else, and vice versa?

    Given the frequency of dogpiling and mobbing attacks (a technical term, look it up) on the web, of which Requires Hate and her gang are merely an extreme example, “safety” is not a word that should really be used unreflectively.

    All forms of tribal solidarity make the world unsafe for those not members of the tribe. And we cannot avoid tribalism, since it’s part of being human.

    “Most of our society isn’t safe.”

    — well, yeah, human beings are tribal and aggressive. See above. Don’t hold your breath.

    “Spaces have gatekeepers:”

    — and as I’ve pointed out, this article is essentially a demand that the -bad- gatekeepers (Them) be replaced by the -good- gatekeepers (me and my friends).

    Them bad, Us good.

    So the gates will be closed against the Bad Them tribe.

    It’s sort of charming in the degree of its naivety.

    For a double dose of irony, as far as I can make out (I don’t know them personally) Torgersen and Correia regard themselves and -their- social reference group as being excluded by a bunch of wicked gatekeepers.

    As far as they’re concerned, they’re the insurgents sticking it to the Man, the rebels fighting the Death Star, the ones speaking truth to power.

    As the old saying goes, -you- are blinded by selfishness and false ideology; -I- am fighting for Truth and Justice.

    “editors”

    — incidentally, I’ve been writing SF and fantasy for professional sale since the 1980’s, scores of novels and short stores.

    In all that time I’ve had exactly one male editor buy my stuff, which means acting as the gatekeeper of what’ll see the light of day and what remains in the slushpile.

    All the rest have been women. Editorial positions in conventional publishing are now overwhelmingly female, a change which started in the 1960’s and accelerated subsequently.

    As to who’s at the top of the publishing business (below the boardroom level) that represents the -bottom- of the business 40 years ago, when the current officeholders were getting started.

    This is true of any large established institution; it’ll be run by people in late middle age, selected from those who started in it in their 20’s, stayed in and devoted their lives to it.

    “This isn’t to cast aspersions on any of these people.”

    — sorry, chum, but that’s exactly what you just did.

    You can’t say that you know people better than they know themselves (much less accuse them of prejudice) -without- casting aspersions. That statement in itself is an aspersion, not to mention almost comically arrogant.

    Saying it isn’t is like saying there’s an “up down”.

    Which is your privilege, but don’t be surprised or complain when you get rage and hostility in response. You’d do exactly the same.

    “With even the most honorable intentions it’s barely possible to see the space one gatekeeps from perspectives that aren’t one’s own.”

    — ummm… this is getting -really- ironic. Seeing as your perspective here is most emphatically your own and shows blank incomprehension of how the people you’re talking about define themselves or frame the issues.

    “For a lot of default white male nerds that means safe for them and hostile to everyone else.”

    — again with the assumptions.

    I wouldn’t call myself a geek or nerd (or even much of a fan, conventions are business for me as much as fun) but I certainly know a lot of them.

    And I can’t recall offhand one of them even expressing hostility to anyone on those grounds, even when it was all pale males together.

    Hostility on grounds of ideology and personality, yes; gender or ethnicity, no.

    I can recall a few expressions of hostility to gay people, but not many — certainly less than you’d get in society as a whole adjusting for demographics.

    There aren’t many Westboro Baptists in fandom, in other words.

    “safe to dominate space with homophobic or racist slurs;”

    — again with the assumptions. Virtually every fan I know would regard “slurs” of this sort as uncouth at best, unless you’re defining mere disagreement as a “slur”. Which of course happens; see the above remark about always winning if you get to frame and define the terms.

    “and those in their way are on the downward slope.”

    — you know, that “we are the wave of the future” and “we will bury you” stuff has a certain history and you might want to look it up before you indulge.

    Hint: Google “fascist” and “Stalinist” or read George Orwell’s commentaries from the 1930’s and 40’s.

    Really, I’m not kidding, they loved that type of tomorrow-belongs-to-us rhetoric; see the song in “Cabaret”. ’twas Italian fascists who came up with “the personal is political” too, btw.

    Also it’s crap, as what happened to them illustrates; history has no sides and isn’t going anywhere and nobody can predict the future, as is clear from the history of Science Fiction!

    It’s just one damned thing after another, and change is its only constant. “This too shall pass.” Including everything you, Sandy Ryalls, value and hold dear. Welcome to the club.

    “Historically the identity of the hetero white male nerd has been something of a self fulfilling prophecy.”

    — actually, the first place I met large numbers of out gay people mixing with straights was at conventions and other fan gatherings, in the 1980’s, long before it was common in most other places.

    Ditto polyamorists and other unorthodox types, a bit later.

    “beyond the hands of those who already have amassed social capital.”

    — did someone just characterize SF geeks as having “social capital”?

    The archetypical inhabitants of Mom’s basement?

    The people who got their faces held in the toilet in high school?

    The hygienically and socially challenged, the perpetual involuntary virgins, the group with the highest incidence of mild Aspergers? Fish… pond… size.

    “It doesn’t change its context or the social politics at its core.”

    — does it occur to you that you’re now telling other people (ones you don’t like and want to put down) what their “real” identity is?

    Do you really want to go there? ‘Cause you know, if it’s legitimate for you to do it to them, it automatically becomes legitimate for them to do it to you.

    This is why the Golden Rule is at the heart of most ethical systems.

    “The new normal isn’t for a young woman’s income to be a minor contribution to a household”

    — Women have been the primary buyers of fiction for a -very long time-.

    Since the 19th century, in fact, for prose fiction as a whole if not every genre, both as individuals and institutionally (librarians, teachers, book clubs).

    For fantasy and SF, a shorter period, but still a considerable one. It’s been a long, long time since young male engineers and would-be engineers were the mainstay of SF fandom.

    God, that was an outdated stereotype when I first started reading the stuff an implausibly long time ago.

    It isn’t 1954 any more.

    “it has become harder to afford the fundamental pillars of a middle class lifestyle.”

    — become harder than it was when?

    As recently as 1950, 75% of the population of Britain was in the manual working class and up until 1940 more than half the population never got enough to eat and poor people were 4 inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than their upper-class equivalents.

    You’re mistaking the 1945-1980 period for “normalacy”, and nostalgia is rarely a productive emotion.

    “Most internet natives feel they will never be able to afford safety, security, and a family.”

    — you know, when I was a kid living in Africa, I stepped over the dead bodies of people who’d died of hunger on my way to school.

    Friends of my family were murdered and fed to crocodiles by Idi Amin.

    Pardon me if my definition of “safety and security” is a bit more elemental than yours.

    Have you ever had someone try to kill you? I have, more than once. It makes harsh words pale by comparison, I assure you.

    And as for a family, even very poor people have families, much less the sort of people who populate fandom. Two can starve as cheaply as one.

    “are prepared to lay down real cash monies for media in which female characters are treated the way they would like them to be.”

    — I just did a quick look at the available recent titles, and guess what? Female protagonists all over the place. By authors of both genders.

    Where have you been for the last 40 years?

    “This is knocking the received wisdom of marketing geekdom on its ass”

    — I can only ask what planet you live on, and how many moons it has.

    I wrote for Jim Baen back in the day, and Jim, bless his Campbellesque heart, really didn’t like the feminization of leading roles in SF (especially active kick-ass ones) at all.

    But he regretfully admitted that they often sold well, so he bought books that featured lots of them.

    Honor Harrington in Dave Weber’s books, for example, and some of mine.

    Back in 1997, he did draw the line when I sent him a book with a black lesbian Coast Guard officer in the lead role (she got the blond princess, too), but when I pulled it and sent it elsewhere, it was bought within 12 days and is now in its 30th imprint.

    This was an extremely socially conservative editor back lo these 35 years ago.

    I’ve been using female protagonists since 1984, and never, not ONCE did anyone in the business even -hint- that this was bad marketing.

    “There’s a reason that Republicans play well with white men and Democrats play well with women and members of racial minorities.”

    — well, I’m a Democrat, here in New Mexico, currently run by our Republican governor, Susan Martinez…

    “One of the major fronts of the culture war in the age of the Internet Native is the ongoing clash between the Social Justice (SJ) movement and the self-proclaimed Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs).”

    — this is odd, because I’ve actually never met a self-proclaimed Men’s Rights Activist. Ever. Does someone bitter about their divorce terms count? (Glyph of irony.)

    I can count the men I’ve met in the SF world who -aren’t- at least mildly feminist in attitudes without taking off my socks.

    I’ve never met a man (on this continent) who told me he didn’t think women should have the vote or access to the professions.

    You can find any sort of loon (Vox Day comes to mind) on the internet, but so what?

    “SJ activists want geekdom (along with the rest of society) to be a safe, inclusive space.”

    — or, as some others would put it, they want to enforce their own ideological hegemony.

    Safe for who? Inclusive of whom? Ah, there’s the rub.

    Power is like beauty; it’s a positional good.

    “The MRAs don’t think there is a problem and look upon attempts to change our culture with suspicion and hostility.”

    — as I said, I’ve never met an MRA. Strawman, perhaps?

    “pander to white maleness is a threat.”

    — btw, are you really under the impression that non-white males are less likely to be sexist? Again, what planet did you say you came from? All ethnic and “racial” groups are roughly 50-50 male and female.

    “Because he flat-out crowed that the vandalization of the Hugos was an act of red state, culture war, privilege distress”

    — actually, I doubt Correia mentioned the term “privilege distress”.

    “that it can often take a snooty, condescending tone”

    — just as a matter of curiosity, do you genuinely believe that your article -didn’t- take a snooty, condescending tone? I mean, really?

    As Robbie Burns said, “And would some Power the small gift give us/
    To see ourselves as others see us!”

    “When he talks of a liberal elite he’s invoking a tactic used by names that don’t belong in a reasoned perspective on anything;”

    — and who, exactly, gets to act as the gatekeeper of what constitutes “reasoned perspective”? Reason, like truth and beauty, is after all largely a matter of… well, shall we say perspective?

    “by defining geekdom as a space without room for diversity”

    — as far as Torgersen and Correia are concerned, this simply and demonstrably isn’t so. Neither of them has any objection whatsoever to women or peoples of varied ancestry in geekdom, or as authors or to female characters.

    I’m baffled. You seem to be operating in an alternate universe.

    Comment by joatsimeon - May 5, 2015 8:10 am


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