*I no longer remember this clash. I gather a young ‘un tried to lecture us on how to write non-binary gender. (Rolls eyes.) Under the impression no one had ever done that, ever, ever until the 2000s. It’s still relevant, as is the rest of the post. Perhaps more relevant. – SAH*
We Played The Pipe For You, And You Did Not Dance – A Blast From The Past From February 2014
So, apparently the non-binary gender chick (no, it’s not sexist. I’m very non-binary in that. Any wimpy, over-educated hot house flower with tender feelings and its head up its own yaya is a chickie. The ones who happen to have a penis are the worst) wimped out of her crusade and entertained herself with reviewing an eighties book that is about a character with non-standard gender presentation.
As someone who despite DD cups and a face not even her own father would call chiseled or rugged routinely gets addressed as “sir” and was more than once addressed as “sir” and/or treated as a guy even when she was 17 and in a red dress and pumps (no, I don’t get it either. I’ve encountered people like that, though, when I was working retail. When I looked away from them to do something I remembered them as the opposite gender. Perhaps I camouflage well) I wish that character should cry me a river.
No, for the record, I don’t want to become a guy. (Nor do I think I’m “really” a guy.) I’m happily, not to say enthusiastically, heterosexual so becoming a guy to go after guys would be stupid. Also, frankly, some of us have seen the binary categories for what they are. I.e. some of us have caught on to the fact that “the contents don’t always correspond to label. Some settling might have occurred during shipping.” Or in adult terms, there’s the binary polar opposites, and then there is the real world presentation where on average most women have mostly stereotypical girly characteristics (you bastages can have my collection of snazzy shoes when you pry them out of my cold dead hands. Also, the house must be clean to GIRL standards. Also, seriously, I throw like a girl. And my collection of lipstick is second only to my collection of shoes. Yes, people still call me “sir” while I’m in red high heels and lipstick. [And other clothes, before you ask. Have some carp!] No, I don’t want to probe that. Yes, it pisses me off.) and most men still have mostly stereotypical manly characteristics, but in any real world individual distribution is “human and imperfect” not “human stamped pink or human stamped blue.” This does not mean the classifications are invalid. The classifications are opposite poles of the statistic distribution of gender characteristics.
IOW only someone who has done most of her growing up in books would mistake “archetype” for “the only ones allowed to exist,” and think that in the real world or in any good books gender is ever “binary” which I assume she thinks means two categories and nothing outside them, in between them or blended from them. (There are only ten types of people in the world. The ones who understand binary, and the ones who don’t.) When in fact, in the real world and in good books the opposite is almost the exact truth. (Everyone is an individual and some people are more feminine/masculine than others, but no one is “pure” anything — least of all pure stereotype.)
And I don’t know what books she did her growing up in, but it wasn’t the chronicles of our sci-fictional kind. No, seriously. For instance, in this particularly book that she’s so impressed with, apparently the final conclusion is that the character is neither male or nor female. (Rolls eyes so hard they roll on the floor. Would someone find them please? I’ll touch type in the meantime.) I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how it’s done. There was a book – Waiting for the Mahdi, the name of the author evades me – where it was done very well and the character was truly between the genders. However, the startled wonder and amazement of the Non Binary Gender Chickie who is convinced this is the first time this was done in SF – Darling, really, Google The World Well Lost by Theodore Sturgeon. Sheesh, you kids are so cute — makes me think that she’s not read much sf/f, really. (And hasn’t lived much either.)
Now, I’m not going to say that this is a triumph of education over real life, or that this poor chickie must have led a very sheltered existence, because I don’t know her. After all, the Aspergers spectrum is rife in our field, and even people who are not technically Aspergers have acquired some of the modes of the spectrum through contact – and one of the characteristics of my Aspergers friends is believing what they’ve been told or read (even the fiction!) over what they see with their lying eyes. This is part of the whole needing to put things in categories and classify them, something that the real world is notoriously averse to.
It’s entirely possible, if she’s of the kind who’d rather believe classifications and classes than their eyes, that she simply took a degree in one of the various Marxist disciplines that are so good at the classifications and stratification. Women’s Studies, for instance. Or Post Modern Involute Reasoning of some description. In that case, she might have been a perfectly normal human being who has become a “no obvious gender definitions” chickie, hopefully temporarily.
This is, of course, neither here nor there – though if she’s in any way redeemable, we wish her a speedy cure, because going through life confused about the meanings of BOTH “gender” and “binary” is a sad way to exist and also because I suspect she’s very uncomfortable over not EXACTLY fitting what she views as “female” and thinks is mandatory (Darling, it’s like your mother’s shoes. Even when you grow to the right size, they won’t fit right, because it’s not you. It’s her. In the end, growing up is about becoming YOURSELF. And none of us are archetypes or stereotypes. This is why we’re individual human beings. Familiarize yourself with this idea. Did you know that our Constitution is supposed to maximize INDIVIDUAL liberty? You don’t have to fit any dead communist’s idea of classes, either) – because what I find amusing about all this incident, including the attempt to Correiarize Correia by a gentleman who brought a knife to an intellectual machine gun fight, is not that she’s limited herself now to writing book reviews, instead of trying to shame people who write… you know… men who are mostly men and women who are mostly women, like what happens in what we mostly call the real world.
No, what I find interesting and amusing is that it has confirmed something I’ve long suspected( as well as my impression that reports of our cultural demise are greatly exaggerated). I’ve long suspected that the maintenance of the ever-more-divorced-from-reality-victim-classifying- and-rewarding-culture (that is … post-communist, or at least what communism became after it was proven nonviable as an economic system) depends on a monolithic information/entertainment system. But the monolithic information/entertainment system seeds its own demise.
They fully conquered the system at least two/three decades ago and had it pretty much staffed it with fellow-travelers fifty years ago. They disseminated truth from above. People who disagreed with them were culturally isolated and shunned. Meanwhile, the opinion makers lived in the original echo chamber as they spun further and further away from reality.
This is how we come by the spectacle of a very young writer lecturing the rest of us on the need to write non-standard sexual personae and CLEARLY imagining that SF exists circa, oh, the thirties or forties (even in the fifties there were, if you knew how to read, very many non-standard sexual personae in SF/F.)
You see, SF/F is a literature of the weird, the strange and the far fetched. Even those of us who, should we be more heterosexual would have to be tied down (those who’ve had the first book of Star Cat Chronicles inflicted on them at workshops KNOW what I mean), are fascinated with non standard identities, which, by definition, extend to sexual personae and feminine/masculine non-standard distribution. (And which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what the person or character is attracted to. … In my case, for instance, I’m attracted to mathematicians. Okay, Mathematician. I’m deathly monogamous.)
Again, the strangeness is not that she presumes to lecture us to “write fewer standard males and females, ya’ll” which would, at best, cause us to smile and pat her on the head. No, the true bizarreness which has caused us to do a double take, swallow our tongue and not even know how to answer, is that she seems to think she just discovered this.
(Frankly it is as funny and sad as when my boys – and both hit this at around 14 or 15 would make jokes about some sex act they’d just heard of, all you know, implication and nudge nudge, and get shocked half out of their socks when Dan and I caught it, picked it up and took it to the next level. The priceless look on each of their faces as they realized that their generation did not IN FACT invent sex, not even particularly dirty sex, will warm the cockles of my heart forever. We only had to do this ONCE, too. After that the untrained puppies realized there were bigger dogs in the pack.)
That strangeness – I am a science fiction writer – has caused me to wonder if she is an alien. An alien would, of course, believe what it says on the label about “what males are” and “what females are” and then — realizing the discrepancy with real world people — would agitate for us to have other labels.
It would never occur to the alien that the other labels are there all along, not as prescriptive absolutes, but in the form of realistic characters in novels and movies (and yes, yes, plays — Has this sheltered flower of Academia ever watched Twelfth Night, one wonders? Never mind. “My father had a daughter loved a man, As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman, I should your lordship.”…… “I am all the daughters of my father’s house, And all the brothers too: and yet I know not.”)
The thing is that she IS an alien, you know?
The system in which she’s been raised, the authorities she respects, the people who have informed her precarious culture all have told her that we live in a world of binary choices, that capitalism is essentially about making you fit in a mold (Darling, they sold you a bill of goods. It’s the top down systems that do this. Think about China, or for that matter Russia. Out here, in businessman’s land, we don’t care what you think you are. If you think you’re a fish, we’ll sell you the gills to cosplay.) And that she needs to speak truth to power (Darling, child, oh, sweet innocent one, to find out if you really are speaking (unpleasant) truth to power observe what gets rewarded. Note that no one has ever gone broke praising Marxism, and think carefully about who “the man” in power really is) against this oppressive system, that exists ONLY in her mentor’s mind.
She’s a good girl. She’s trying hard to obey the precepts she was taught and the voices in her TV from all the “opinion makers.” She’s trying to be the voice of the voiceless. She’s trying to carry aloft the banner against capitalist repression (Darling, we’ll sell you a better banner. At half price.) She’s trying to give back to the community that exists only in her own mind.
She has no idea why all these evil Haters McHateys came out to yell at her, because she’s only doing what she was taught to make the world a better place.
The world is full of these injustices. And since the information/entertainment complex is no longer a unified top down voice, we’re going to see a lot more of these moments, these bizarre public confrontations.
You see, until about five years ago, we who laughed behind our hands at this exquisite divorce from reality, would have stayed quiet. Had to. Our only hope of publication once we were out politically was Baen and nothing outside it, and we had meals to buy and baby needed shoes. Now?
Ah! Outside Baen I wouldn’t CONSENT to work with one of the publishing houses. I don’t trust them. They’re aliens. And not friendly aliens. And I never hankered for awards beyond the one I won (Prometheus) and I couldn’t be bothered with the accolades of the alien system.
All I ever hoped for out of writing was to make a living, and that’s happening more and more with a lot of work (but I never expected not to work, either.)
They have nothing I want. They certainly have nothing I need. And I’m not alone.
To make things worse, for all these years, they’ve been able to go off more and more on their insanity, drinking their own ink (Darling, that’s unhealthy!) and spinning more and more out of contact with reality till to be a “real radical” you had to say completely insane things and demand that everyone follow them. (“PIV is unnatural, because first time hurts! “PIV” is totally a thing, because I can’t say heterosexual sex, because that would be like hatey mchatey and stuff! Women have mental communication with plants! My head is made of cabbage and I mainlined an entire DVD of Avatar!”) And we didn’t say anything, because we wanted to eat.
Then suddenly… suddenly it’s all changed, and when they say what is – I want you to understand this – in their circles completely unexceptionable and sensible, the world explodes around them.
They have no explanation for it. They try to mau-mau those double-plus-ungood thinkers (it works in colleges still!) and call us names, and we laugh in their faces.
We’re seeing that happen more and more. And it will only accelerate as the preference cascade unrolls. You can only keep a completely unrealistic system of beliefs in place if you can make sure no one publicly laughs at it. Not just that most people don’t laugh at it, but that no one laughs at it. Because once someone shows up laughing at it in public, other would-be-mockers know they’re not alone. More coherent systems than this and older and more dignified too, have fallen to the pointing finger and the horse laugh.
The Media is hitting the same wall – their attempts to talk up the Summer of Recovery 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and… what is it now? Six? – fall on their faces. The only power they retain is the power to demonize and I’m going to go out on a limb and say even that will fail them before the end of this year. Because once you see it’s only a painted devil, you’re not afraid anymore.
And then? And then they run around in circles, confused about why it’s not working. They pressed the button. Why didn’t the lever fall? The racist/sexist capitalists aren’t crying in shame? Why not? Dang it. Is this thing broken?
Hello, hello? Who is out there?
If any writer had ever written about non standard gender/sexual personae before the mid-eighties, which OF COURSE never happened, we could even quote him to echo their disconsolate and confused cries. They know who they are, with their little clique, out there in the dark – but who are all you zombies? 😉