The virtues of polarization

Scalzi has made an announcement and revision.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece on my personal feminism, in which I noted that while I can be considered a feminist on the fundamental level of “women are entitled to the same rights and privileges as men, with everything that implies in terms of access to education, economic opportunity and personal liberty,” I usually didn’t call myself one, for various and what I thought at the time were perfectly reasonable reasons.

Then 2014 happened, and those reasonable reasons now kind of feel like careful, rationalizing bullshit to me.

So, as an update to my thoughts on my personal feminism:

Hell yes, I’m a feminist.

That’s an advantage of creating Deep Rifts — they compel people to think about their position and clarify what side they’re on, because standing in the middle is no longer tenable. Not that taking the middle ground was ever really tenable, but it was more comfortable once upon a time, and gave one the option to avoid addressing the issues (not that Scalzi has ever been ambiguous). It’s becoming increasingly difficult to take the coward’s way out by declining to take a stand, which is a good thing, even if it does make some people furious.

I’m happy to stand on the same side of the chasm as Scalzi.


  1. Donnie says

    So, personal ethics and morals trumps mass marketing appeal? Excellent! I am sure that Mr. Scalzi will not lose any sleep at night because some freezepeaches, gamergates, MRAs decide to do a “shit and scoot” routine.

  2. marcus says

    I think I’m going to demonstrate my solidarity with Scalzi at the cash register. Time for a new book!

  3. says

    Just as a heads up, attempts in this comment thread to define feminism as some sort of movement that exists as a stepping stone to A MAN-ENSLAVING ANDROGEDDON will be mocked and then mostly likely Malleted. Spare us all the bother, please.

    Likewise, any various posts that read as if cue cards for the Men’s Rights/GamerGate/Just Plain Sexist Brigades talking points were being slapped down. Dude, no. Go home.

    Scalzi always puts a grin on my face.

  4. says

    marcus @ 4:

    Time for a new book!

    Have you read Lock In? I read it recently, and enjoyed it a great deal. The Android’s Dream is great fun, and The God Engines is…well, you should read it. And of course, Fuzzy Nation is a must read.

  5. says

    I support feminism, I try to be a feminist ally. I am not afraid to be labeled as a feminist or to identify as one. It’s a good cause. One of the best causes.

    But I also try not to speak for women or give the impression that I am representative of feminism. Striking the right balance is tricky sometimes, but a straight white man shouldn’t complain about a little inconvenience. Suck it up and get on the right side of history, guys.

  6. gussnarp says

    That has been one positive thing to come out of all the misogyny on the internet (or perhaps more properly, the increased attention to it) in the past year: The bad guys have mostly announced themselves and you can tell the good guys just by how much the bad guys hate them. Or in this case, a good guy also announced himself. Sometimes taking sides is a good thing.

  7. marcus says

    Iyeska @ 6 Thank you! I was just perusing those titles (I work in a book store) trying to decide which one to pick up. I really enjoyed Red Shirts as a light and ironic Star Trek send-up, I would like something meatier. I’m thinking either Lock In or God Engine.

  8. cicely says

    And the entry that Iyeska linked to is an excellent example.
    I just popped over and re-read it—and once again, it delivered!
    *wiping away tears of laughter*

  9. Donnie says

    @9: Iyeska

    That was awesome! Hopefully, Mr. Scalzi does not Twitter a challenge, “Donate $X and i will take a naked picture on my lawn”…I would be afraid of the Twitteratti coming around with the $1 billion dollars to make a point….Of course, I could only imagine the good that would come from having Mr. Scalzi direct $1b.

  10. says

    There’s something else to be said about the Deep Rifts™ in the fantasy and SF community: A whole bunch of authors I’d never have noticed came to my attention. Mary Robinette Kowal, the incredible NK Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Nnedi Okorafor (go read her, NOW!)
    Unfortunately, Scalzi’s writing doesn’t appeal to me, but that’s OK. Unlike the members of the dudebro army I don’t assume that the one and only goal of each and any piece of cultural production is to appeal to me.
    Maybe I should give “Lock In” a try, once I get to the end of the pile of academic texts in front of me.

  11. Nentuaby says

    I’ll have to look up Okorafor, thanks Gilliell.

    Scalzi’s fiction is a little bit so-so to me. His characters and narration generally seem to take on this breezy tone that makes me read them in the author’s own voice, which doesn’t convey high stakes or dark doings very well. On the other hand, his essays are *so* entertaining and witty. He’s definitely somebody worth following as a Personality.

  12. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    This happened to me too.

    I found it strategically useful to avoid the word, but if I’m going to do that I need to explicitly say I am a feminist in addition. I’m sure that will add it’s own issues but the drawbacks from avoiding it are too great, the benefits are things I should learn and it was honestly cowardly. Its new strategies to learn and new irrational outrage to deal with.

  13. Funny Diva says

    I don’t expect declaring myself a feminist means I will be granted a +5 Ally Shield of Immunity From Criticism, with a side of cookies.

    dang the man! Not only does he “get it”, he often makes me laugh out loud expressing that fact.

  14. Moggie says

    As for dudebros trying to insult Scalzi: I’m surprised any adult thinks “I know what I’ll do today: I’ll insult someone who writes for a living. That’s sure to end well!” How does such a person survive childhood, considering the co-existence of forks and power outlets?

  15. Who Cares says

    The bigger problem is how did they ever think that an insult based on a bit of Scalzis personality, a bit which he is extremely secure in (as he has proven time and time again), would work instead of him embracing it and mocking them in return for trying to do so.

  16. says

    I’m surprised any adult thinks “I know what I’ll do today: I’ll insult someone who writes for a living. That’s sure to end well!” How does such a person survive childhood, considering the co-existence of forks and power outlets?

    Insulting the writer is a safer strategy than insulting the jocks, who are bigger and are part of a team. That’s probably how such behavior became a habit well into adulthood.

  17. Yellow Thursday says

    I recently had an exchange in PMs with a guy on a social media site for kinksters where the guy accused me of calling him a “neanderthal” (a word I neither used nor implied) for insisting that yes, even when a woman is performing a specific sexual act that’s generally seen as submissive, she is still his equal, because of consent and the choice to change her mind at any point. This was after he asked what I was looking for in a guy (Aside: dude, read my profile. I’m not just interested in men.) and my response started with “feminist and non-religious”.

  18. gussnarp says

    The thing that amused me most about the attempt to insult Scalzi with the memified photo was that when I clicked on the link and looked at the memified photo my first thought was, “Yeah, so?”

    Really didn’t even occur to me that dudebro might be trying to imply that all feminists are ugly women or some such rot until I got deeper into Scalzi’s response. Then I though, “that’s what he was going for?”

  19. Donnie says

    I am amazed (unfortunately) at the number of supposed Doms in BDSM cannot wrap their heads around a ‘Submissive Feminist’ as if that is some type of contradiction? Unfortunately, too many Doms do not want a submissive, but a floor mat that provides sexual services :/ Luckily, one can figure them out easily by asking if they use safe words and respect hard and soft limits (including safe words).

    I know, I know….#NotAllDoms

  20. says

    I’ll insult someone who writes for a living

    The only thing worse is heckling a comedian if you’re not a comedian, or getting in a land war in Asia if you’re not Ghengis Khan.

  21. eternalstudent says

    It just keeps getting better…

    I went to Amazon to buy Red Shirts based on the aforementioned recommendation, and found the note that the book is being sold without DRM at the author’s request..


  22. zmidponk says

    I seem to remember seeing a clip from an interview on Stephen Colbert’s show with Anita Sarkeesian, and it went something like this:

    Colbert: As a man, am I allowed to become a feminist?

    Anita: Do you believe that women should have equal rights to men and that we should fight for those rights?

    Colbert: Sure.

    Anita: Great, then you’re a feminist.

  23. Nentuaby says

    I have. The high stakes and dark doings themselves were well crafted, but the narratorial voice didn’t support them all that well IMHO. It wasn’t breezy per se, but it still seemed excessively matter-of-fact. I also felt that the plot deserved a longer treatment, so the brevity didn’t help.

  24. says

    I’m slightly reluctant to call myself a feminist, because I’m generally suspicious of self-proclaimed allyship. Remember that Dawkins calls himself a feminist.

  25. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Provided your actions don’t contradict your statement, I don’t see why you can’t be a feminist, or state it.

  26. says

    I’m all for and try to stand on the right side of the rift, I try to stand up and be counted. But I’m leery of calling myself a feminist or ally because I occasionally say something unappreciated or just plain stupid. I’m trying to learn and do right, but I sometimes get it wrong. I don’t want my words negatively affecting other people or hurting the progress of feminism.

    I don’t know if other men share that feeling, but I suspect some do.

  27. actias says

    I don’t consider myself a feminist; I just don’t know enough to feel comfortable with the label, but I suppose if all that is required is a belief in true equality then perhaps I should not be so reluctant to call myself one. I think I can relate to left0ver1under in that I don’t want to unintentionally do more (verbal) harm than good, to myself or others. I would welcome any book recommendations for neophytes, if it’s sanguine to solicit advice in the comments section.