Cismale Gendernormative Facist -noun(?), insult(?), badge-of-pride(?)
Somebody called me that term as an insult. I had to look it up. It made me laugh, so I’ve been using it ever since. (it means man born as a man who still identifies himself as a man and thinks men are usually men and women are usually women, and fascist) We’ve been laughing about it for a year now.
Because if you use the word cismale or gendernormative in a regular conversation and you’re not being ironic, odds are you are a pretentious douche with a gender studies degree.
Some little controversy arose the other day over at the Tor.com blog section. An author was writing about wanting to ‘end’ binary-gender norms in Science Fiction (or speculative fiction as the brand tries to stay relevant in this, happy-feely PC times). Naturally, it caught the eye of some people, and those same people passed it around. Most were in the echo-chamber, applauding each other for tackling a supposedly ‘tough’ issue. While the comments at Tor seemed safe and praising, a link was passed to Mr. Larry Correia, and passed around his readers. He went on to write about it. Arrows were thrown, and many users at MHI said they were getting their comments deleted, this only generated an even greater shitstorm and suddenly this author that wanted to ‘end’ binary gender norms was under attack by free thinkers of all political stripes. And when the wagons circled? Mr, Correia went on to ridicule the wagons. Other authors had weighed in on this. John C. Wright wrote an excellent essay not only on this, but touching on why this is such a big deal for Ms. McFarlane. In fact, Mr. Correia linked to excellent responses to those people in this post, I suggest you read em.
But this is my little rant.
Now, before I get into my little spiel, and I can only call it a spiel because my readership is nowhere near as large as any of the people on either side I’m referencing, I need to talk about myself. I am without a shadow of a doubt, an amateurish writer. My only published work, if you can call it that, was a collaboration with friends on a fanfiction project. And even then I considered myself as a secondary or at least not one of the main cast. I am not a great writer, if anyone follows this blog, or has known me for a while, I’m quite lazy. I do not have much drive to actually pump out a reasonable story on FF.net or even have a striking chance to self-publish via amazon. With that said and done, I write stuff to entertain. I’m a roleplayer, I take on a role, or write a narrative with several roles, on a hopefully fixed setting. Now, I’ve played many male and female characters. Many of them tend to be independent, some were even of a sexual orientation that would shock my parents (yes some of my characters were gay).
Yet when I played them out, when i created them, took on their roles, and interacted with others playing similarly diverse characters, we weren’t taking on the banner of some political cause.
We were having fun. We were writing to entertain ourselves. The closest anything I wrote that got into message fiction was allowing a female character of mine, which is well within her hotheaded and western attitude, to verbally spar with the big bad of a plot because the big bad was written, rather well but using crappy info, on humanity’s crimes against the environment. She went apeshit and had to be kicked out of the supposedly neutral room. My elder, male character had a bit more diplomatic tact and stayed quiet.
But that’s the thing, I rankled the player playing the big bad, because it was my character’s, well, character. It is in her profile, and expected of her. Am I picking up the cause of the Koch brothers and all the other evil imperialists? Nope, just writing to bemuse myself and whoever was reading.
I don’t like message fiction that was haphazardly slapped on with some story. Science Fiction and Fantasy has always had stories where a character is breaking the gender norms. Males who are girly and super emotional to the point of caricature, and females who have more balls than men. In a sense many roleplayers understand that, and there are a plethora of well written characters out there in any roleplaying group that if viewed by these ivory tower intelligentsia writers, that they are an embodiment of whatever political cause that is currently seen as ‘important’ or ‘world-shattering’ in the politically correct crowd.
You ask that person and they’ll laugh at you and point out they made the character because they were interested in writing a good character.
As of right now, I’m involved in a Arpeggio of Blue Steel roleplay over at the World of Warships forum. I command several characters with many more hinted. But the main four at the moment is an American turned Australian young adult who had by now defected to the Fog, the mental models of the Fog Battle Cruiser Repulse and Destroyer Vampire, and the mental model of the Fog Cruiser Perth. I can use this as a vehicle to launch into a tirade of decidedly lefty cause de jure. What the hell the setting already has em. I can talk endlessly about global warming and the rising of the sea levels, the nature of imperialism and exploitation of natives (tying in with a half-Maori character of mine waiting to be fully introduced), and so on.
But no, I wrote it to entertain not only myself, but others as well. And that’s what I think, is missing if you decree that all future works must be written through the need to further a political cause. I mean, writing a good story is not mutually exclusive with getting a message across. Many messages were often handed down through story. Jesus didn’t go ‘hey if you see a person on the side of the road, you should help him’, but rather he taught that message through a story that is much more easily identifiable and sticks with a person. So the story of the Good Samaritan becomes less a lecture, but a story of a man’s kindness, regardless of his affiliation. He sees a beaten and dying Jew, and cares for him even if he isn’t of his kin.
The issue I have then, is when messages become more important than story. When the story is overshadowed by a message. It becomes a research paper with a thin veneer of a story
So that boils down to it really, and the main lesson of my little rant.
The nannies may call me a cismale gendernormative facist because as of right now, my characters are decidedly hetero and quite firm in the fact they are male and female. But they don’t really see what else is there. Jonatan views Repulse and Vampire in high regard because they had defied their programming and cared for a human in their quest to understand who they are, and what they are doing. Perth is the reactionary zealot that only tolerates this because her superiors had said, but does not hide her true loyalty. I have them written to fit my particular plot, my want to create drama and to entertain myself in playing these many diverse and different roles, but to entertain my fellow roleplayers and anyone who happens to read it.
It’s this thing that Larry Correia, Michael Z. Wiliamson, and others who had weighed in more or less said. This want to push for the political cause of the day over writing good and effective scifi is rubbish. It is one thing to incorporate a message of being friendly to the environment, of strong-willed women, and what have you, into a story. Hayao Miyazaki has made a movie called Naussica of the Valley of the Wind that incorporates a strong pro-environment message with a strong female lead.
It is another to bash your reader’s face in it.
‘BINARY GENDER ROLES ARE BAD’ ‘YOU EVIL CUR, TALK ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING’ ‘WATCH OUT FOR THE KOCH BROTHERS’ ‘MONSANTO IS A FRONT COMPANY FOR THE DEVIL’.
Those will send your book straight to the used bookstore, if the reader is kind enough, or back to the shelf, if they are merely browsing. And truthbombs are annoying as well. You’ve given me a great story, and persistently and almost always haphazardly, a whole section of a chapter, if not the whole chapter, is an introspective on why Mary Sue is not Mary Sue. That she is something more than Mary Sue. And that Gary Stu should really be Gary Fabulous. And on and on and on. If it doesn’t fit with the story, it’s done. It goes back into the bin.
Why should I read, in my spare time, a book that will bash me when all I want to do is be entertained. If I wanted such a book, I’ll read something from a lefty pundit talking about how I am an evil person. That sort of intellectual masochism is something I don’t want to do. I want to relax, I want to have fun, and I’ll be damned if I am told to read or write about something I don’t want to do. Because that is what Ms MacFarlane is saying. She isn’t calling for a discussion on her little cause of the week, but she wants the entire genre to throw itself off the cliff for her little cause of the week.
And people wonder why Americans don’t read anymore. Do you see the shit we have to put up with by the intelligentsia in our country?