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Old Dec 20 2011, 07:32 AM   #1
Heath
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Question When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

I'm new here and probably jumping with both feet into the sticky stuff first thing. But I am pretty much riled, so I beg pardon right away!

I've never much looked for discussion/info of Anne online, and I've also never visited any conventions, just read her books and corresponded with her for a bit in the 1980s.

I also never take any "outside the canon" information seriously, whether it's books or other kinds of fandoms. So what an author says is - for me - only peripherally relevant. Who knows what agenda s/he tries to cater to at any given time? I probably also need to state that I never read any of Todd McCaffrey's books and won't. I don't consider them more than just vaguely related, a bit like writing in the same 'verse, but definitely not the same author. For the record, I am female.

Anyway, I was sort of bowled over by the recently acquired knowledge that Anne McCaffrey seems to have become appropriated by feminists, who then turn around and slate her over what she has written as fiction (!) in relation to current feminist POVs and agenda. Somehow she's been dragged onto some bandwagon about the (irksome) quest for "awesome, snarky, great, strong female protagonists" that seems to - so very mindlessly - drive a large proportion of feministic fandom. I really noticed this via people asking for Dragonrider fanfic, but re-written to an "awesome Mirrim as she should have been" and "please without Anne McCaffrey's rape/non-con stuff and homophobia."

To say this angered me would be out of proportion and belittling. I was pretty much livid. Not because of any adoration of Anne McCaffrey, instead because of this wholescale appropriation of an author's work, interpretation into one direction only and eradication of anything else. Lots of -ions? I'll explain.

1. Homophobia

I read most of Anne's books. One thing which NEVER ONCE came over was that she was homophobic, quite on the contrary. She wrote rather freely about gays and lesbians at a time that other authors wouldn't even dare touch the subject with a ten foot pole. There never was the slightest negative or judgemental tone in her books in relation to homosexuality, again already at a time where this was the gold standard for other authors who used gays or lesbians to create particularly obnoxious baddies. She didn't pull punches either though and that goes a long way to show how she regarded alternate sexualities.

Yes, I read her statements on green/blue riders and on homosexuality, but I have no problem with those. For one thing I am old enough myself to remember that compared to what was the average (medical!) take on homosexuality during her formative years and as far along as even the time that her first novels were published, and compared to those her ideas were very enlightened. That she didn't bother to work on her knowledge or possibly couldn't believe newer findings is not something which makes her a homophobe, nor is any of what she said homophobic. I doubt she even reflected much on any of these topics while she wrote her novels. I wouldn't put it past possible that these questions were sprung at her without her having thought much about it and she answered with something which appeared logical to her, and later it was too late to do anything but insist on what she said. One thing is pretty certain from her actual statements, while awkward in their science they were not negative regarding gay wo/men per se.

And just to be anal about this: "Weyr Search" (1967), "Dragonrider" (1967 - 1968), "Dragonflight" (1968) and "Dragonquest" (1971) were all written and published at a time that the American DSM (catalogue of mental disorders) considered homosexuality still a disorder and a paraphilia. It was taken off that catalogue in 1973 only. How ANYONE can even begin to construe Anne McCaffrey as being homophobic and negative about and towards homosexual men and women, given that she wrote them as full, sane and acceptable characters well before even the medical profession thought so, is beyond me (and pretty much beyond acceptable itself).

As to Pern, this is a fictional world. To call any author a homophobe (or whatever) over how a fictional world works and is described is, hmm, I'd better not say what this is in my book.

2. Rape/non-con

Attacking her over this is actually something which makes me extremely angry.

I am a (consensual) sadomasochist. These days you call it BDSM and it came but recently off the DSM as well, two decades later than homosexuality. I was aware of my sexual orientation quite early on (at toddler age already, like so many BDSMers) and in the 1960s and 1970s there was absolutely no easily attainable erotic or even just understanding/neutral literature around.

However, you'd be very much astonished (or some maybe not so) by how many BDSMers of that period had Anne McCaffrey in their bookcases, lots of them male (I discovered Anne McCaffrey as an 8 y/o in the library of a male relative) by the way, especially her Catteni and initially "Thorns of Barevi," but of course (!) all of her DoP books.

You may rake me over the fire for this, but Anne McCaffrey actually was the very first author who not just made me feel okay with my sexual orientation, but who also catered to it, whether that was calculated or not. I still to the day would say that there at least has to be some thing to it, given her consistent going at such topics as rape, non-consensual sex, enforced celibacy, torture, slavery and painful sexuality. If you're a BDSMer it's glaring, I mean, beyond just obvious and there is a definite predilection for rape fantasies in her books. Not that THIS would be rare, more than 50% of all women have and also like to read those (non-con and forced sex are hot sellers of the romance genres).

Her set-up of sexual encounters for Pern was and is, from the POV of a BDSMer, a stroke of pure genius. She created a world where she, without impunity, could write about forced marriages, non-consensual sexual encounters of just about any kind, draconic mind-control twisting one's normal sexual orientations, enforced liberalism and whatnot. I always had a problem with people claiming she wrote books for children or teenagers, because those topics, which you'll find practically everywhere in her books, were definitely of the 18+ variant. She did it in other worlds as well, but Pern was tailor-made to that order.

So it is quite a curious thing for me that anyone would discuss whether or not F'nor raped Brekke or had non-consensual sex with her and whether this was acceptable or not. It was most assuredly not meant vanilla, nor written to be any sort of role model by Anne and also not as a statement with any relevance to our society. She wrote her fantasies, aware of it or not, and that meant she wrote those of many, many kinky people as well.

To attack her over it is an attack on people who like reading such content, and that is what makes me livid. As if heteronormative sexuality was all there is. Anne McCaffrey's work certainly wasn't representative of that sort of sexuality exclusively.

Additionally I am completely bowled over by anyone trying to grade another person's political and societal views as per their sexual fantasies or what they write within a completely invented (to please and amuse) universe. Non-fiction, yes, that's a different beast. But novels? How do people get onto such a narrow plank?

3. Strong Females Let Down

The bewailing of poor Mirrim (who was clearly originally written as an obnoxious, precocious, overbearing brat with issues) and how awesome she is and how she should be rewritten by fanfic writers into the great person she should be (whereas Jaxom has to be condemned into the 7th hell for daring to e.g. seek rather "domly" his sexual pleasure with a servant on his estate), makes me cringe. Not just because that's trying to decide what the author may or may not write, not just because this also is trying to rewrite the author's world for her, but also because that implies that every female character has to be a pleasing or strong or important one. And that, I am sorry to say, is inherently overbearing and infringing.

Anne wrote strong females less as accessory to any kind of rabid feminism, she wrote them much the same as she wrote her men: as human beings with an intellect and abilities and rather equal to each other. Well, except for where she wrote them as inequal and allowed herself to openly fantasize. They still tended to be competent, intelligent and likable, even then.

That may have been the reason why certain feminist readers appropriated them and then bemoaned where they did not fit the pre-set (by them) mould of the "strong female MC." Instead of being very happy that a female author of SF novels managed to pull it off (in the 1960s to 1980s) that a large proportion of her main characters are female and competent and have something important to say and do in her stories, Anne get's slated by the PC police, and quite out of order as well.

Really, there are authors galore these days who write these totally PC female superheroines, why the heck does anyone need to force this onto Anne McCaffrey? She never came over this way and her work doesn't go with it either. Given that it obviously is of a rather different, yet no less liberal agenda well should be left alone.

The very fact that she was willing to include not so awesome, not so perfect and above all not so PC characters in her worlds was what made me love her. I'm sick to my backteeth with all those snarky, strong, Bechdel-test-passing females written by far too many young, American writers, especially as realities and claimed entitlements gape so far apart that it's hard to find anything close to a bridge between the two.


So why do I write this post? Maybe because it completely baffles me that no one so far has spoken up about this. I know I am not alone in my take, whenever I talk with peers about books to read Anne's definitely make the cut as being mild fantasies worth the while (quite apart from being fiendishly good stories per se). So yes, it is baffling why everyone just nods sagely to the misguided PC police. I read a few answers here by ElectricDragon which were to the point on this topic, but that was pretty much it here as well.

Last edited by Heath; Dec 20 2011 at 09:51 AM.
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Old Dec 20 2011, 01:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

We don't get riled easily and if you had been around internet fandom as long as I am/most of us are you shrug because you've heard it all before.

ElectricDragon? Geez, in internet terms that was ages ago.

But for what it's worth, I don't agree with you on the point "that Anne McCaffrey seems to have become appropriated by feminists".
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Old Dec 20 2011, 04:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

Hm.

Context and nuance. Both of these need to be taken into consideration when reading AMC's works in the 2010s.

Here's where I think you're right, Heath:

People should give AMC credit where credit is due. She did take some "first steps" in portraying strong women in the literary world, and gay men in respected positions in her society.

I don't entirely agree with you about the BDSM aspects, since while she does have the "dom" aspect to F'lar/Lessa, F'nor/Brekke, and you could even stretch it to the hints of Robinton/Menolly, Afra/Damia from the Talent series, and, in the Brainship series, the Maestro/his student, but she also condemns Meron and Kylara pretty firmly, and they were shown to have kinky, violent sex. This doesn't invalidate your experiences...for you, the F'lar/Lessa, F'nor/Brekke relationships aided you in discovering your inner self and you obviously didn't pick up on the Meron/Kylara as a condemnation of you, but it's possible others of this inclination had a very different experience.

But, still...between her subtle acceptance of some aspects of homosexuality, and her portrayal of women that were more empowered then others of her ear, she definitely gets credit, and more than earned all of the rewards she got, such as her Hugos, and Grand Master of Science Fiction. The Harper Hall Trilogy and the Pern books were "gateway" books for a long time. More than two generations were gently introduced to a perhaps wider and more accepting worldview than other books and forms of media, or even their home lives, may have presented. That's a pretty big damn accomplishment. The "value" of "gateway" books is pretty priceless.

However, acknowledging the good she's done doesn't mean you can't stop to ask questions about other portions of her work. AMC's only human, and questioning portions of her work that are questionable isn't an attack. You could say that such discussions are a huge learning tool for people.

Here's where I think you are wrong:

I don't think talking about and thinking about how AMC's books have or haven't aged well is an "attack". Considering that the books are still read--if not as widely--in this decade, it is completely relevant to use her books as a starting discussion point to explore social issues we are still dealing with today.

Now, I DO know that some people involved in fandom who wander into THIS fandom run into the "tentpeg" thing and short a few circuits, and use strong language (much as you do yourself in your post). But it doesn't make sense to use that as a brush for everyone.

You bring quite a few of your own biases into the conversation, by the way. I read "feminist" as a slur in your mouth, and "misguided PC police" pretty obviously states your feelings on the matter.

But...take a moment to step into the shoes of the ones fighting from this perspective, people who consider themselves "feminists", and people who seem to be "PC enforcers"...why are people arguing from these viewpoints? There has to be something in their lives or experiences that angers them too, angers them enough that they'll brave the scorn that you and others have for them. Why have they come to these conclusions? Why are they "feminist" in an age where we supposedly have equality? Why do people still get upset at certain words, and chide others for using them even when it's clear from the tone of the one using them that it was a joke, or they weren't being overtly aggressive and hurtful? What motives and goals do people who consider themselves "feminists", or people who object to certain terms, work towards? Maybe their experiences in life are different than yours. They can't all be stupid, can they? One or two must have good reasons for their perspectives.

This stuff isn't simple to figure out. It's certainly not as simple as some people being brainless man-hating "feminists", or boneheaded PC Police.

Let's take the Jaxom example that you brought up.

* Jaxom observes at mating flight while at the Weyr
* Ruth doesn't have much of a reaction
* Jaxom gets hot and bothered
* Jaxom goes home, seeks out Corana
* Corana is busy, doing work, and resists
* He takes her anyway

There's a few things to think about there. One, since Ruth has no interest in mating, Jaxom is NOT channeling his dragon's lust. This is all him. Two, while there's nothing wrong about a sub/dom relationship, we-the-reader don't know that that is the nature of their relationship. And because we have absolutely no indication of that, but we DO know Jaxom is a Lord, a Dragonrider, and Fax's son, the situation aligns more with real-life scenarios where a relatively low-ranking woman might submit to a man, even a young man, who wields so much more power, due to fear. Not thrilling, sexy fear, but real fear for her own welfare and the welfare of those around her.

That's a little troublesome to think about, particularly when the rest of the nuances in the book paint Jaxom as an upstanding young man...student of Robinton, raised by Lytol, a man who overcame the disadvantages of his birth (his mother dead, his father a tyrant and also dead, and he only has the Hold because having a major Hold go up for grabs would be a nightmare for a Pern that was already unstable first due to Fax, and then due to Thread.) Yet, we see this same young man become horny, without the influence of his OWN dragon, and then demand sex from a woman who resists, then gives in when he continues to press her. And this incident more or less is never brought up ever again in the books...Corana is pretty much completely forgotten. Despite this, Jaxom's still the golden child.

If the subtle inclusion of gay green-riding men can be held up as one of AMC's accomplishments in the movement for acceptance of gay people...what are we to make of THIS subtle inclusion? Why count one as progressive, and ignore the other one because noticing it might seem disrespectful to the author?

I do think you're correct that AMC probably tended towards liking a little male dominance/female submission. This is a pattern that's almost universally reinforced in her male/female romances...the only one I can think of who might upset the boat is Robinton, who was by nature more gentle with an authoritative persona that is more of an act than innate dominance (as opposed to characters like F'lar who lead first and perhaps think second). And even with the Harper's possibly more subbish or switchy inclinations, there were Robinton/Menolly hints that, had that relationship been played out in canon, would still have placed him in the dominant position due to his great age advantage over Menolly, and of course rank.

So there's a pretty heavy pattern of male-over-female dominance, at least in relationships, in AMC's books. It's not as simple as, "They're all in dom/sub relationships! And that's a-ok!" Of course, nor is as simple as saying AMC has NO touches of things in her romances that, in this day and age, fall into the BDSM spectrum. Because she does. It's stated right out that Damia of the Talent series is sort of thrilled by Afra's physical strength over her.

I think most people assume that this is a product of her generation; men were expected to be rulers in their home, women were expected to look for a strong man who could support them and their children. And that's where the discussions of female equality start to come in.

And with the Kylara/Meron kinky sex relationship condemned, it doesn't seem that AMC was necessarily aware of the BDSM lifestyle, or at least not in a positive light. So as such, it seems, on the surface at least, the constant subbiness of women in romantic relationships is likely more a holdover of her generation than an avocation of BDSM. Although as I've said, one doesn't mean the other can't also exist...the patterns could come BOTH from the social expectations of a man running the household, AND a romantic inclination towards more aggressive partners.

In the end, I think both sides of this argument are a little bit right.

And I think people suck at arguments, at seeing each other's points of view, and in communicating. Fandom is harsh and full of drama.

Anyway.

The point isn't that AMC was ever "answerable" to feminists. Yet, AMC's books still touched the lives of many, some of whom are troubled by some of the threads in them, and wish to discuss them. That's their right. AMC's works aren't so fragile that open discussion is going to somehow ruin them. They'll endure. And if Copperheart ever does that movie, perhaps another generation will run into them, and start the discussions once again.

--------------

I fully recognize I myself have contributed some "strongly worded" arguments to this fandom. You can blame my convalescence on two factors:

A) A close friend gently but persistently whacking me upside the head on the way I argue and write for about two years now

B) Writing too much fanfic as the Harper. To channel Robinton appropriately in a story, and do credit to him, I have to start adopting a few of his tactics. Or write a shitty Robinton. I want to write a good Robinton, so I sometimes think about things as fairly as possible.

I don't intend to be a hypocrite, even if I maybe sound like one.
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Old Dec 20 2011, 06:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

Wow, lots of teeldeer running loose...

Suffice to say, simply regarding Jaxom and the hold girl, a consensual dom/sub relationship involves consent. She has no choice--he's the Lord Holder, he wants sex, he takes it now. That's not dom/sub, that droit du seignur (pardon any bad French spelling.) Note that Jaxom completely forgets her later and she's basically never heard from again.

The only consensual sadomasochistic relationship we see is portrayed as inherently sick and wrong (Kylara/Meron.)

I don't actually see anyone holding that against Anne, as first, there REALLY aren't a huge number of BDSM activists running around (as it's something most people don't practice in public or worry about asserting as some kind of 'orientation' or right) and because most people dislike Kylara, therefore they don't notice that bit.

Brekke offends because the scene with F'nor pretty much violates the modern concept of 'no means no.' Anne wrote romance novels back when that's what one put in romance novels. One can hardly hold that against her.

But Anne's books AREN'T especially progressive by current standards. Lessa saves the day, but ultimately ends up secondary to F'lar and (inexplicably) Jaxom's story. Menolly can be a harper, but coveniently "doesn't want" to be Masterharper and can take care of the kids while writing her twiddles. Brekke gets a massive 'get of jail free' card where she doesn't have to assert herself sexually. Mirrim gets the CLASSIC "aw, some guy will screw her into submission." Almost in precisely those words. The only really "liberated" female characters we see are in Moreta (and the title character falls victim to the foregone conclusion, but we still have Desdra, Nerilka, and Oklina.)

But how many major female characters did we just list there? The critics are right, gender roles are not necessarily progressive by current standards in Pern in particular. But I think they might be more concerned about are there CURRENT writers writing stories in that vein and thinking they are?
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Old Dec 20 2011, 10:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

Being a long time fan of Anne's writing because she got me back into reading at a time I was loosing interest in books, I am not unaware of the inconsistencies in then nonetheless. but I take them at face value and enjoy the books for what they are, good entertainment.

I know that some people would find a lot of her female characters grating in some aspects, but one has to remember the time Anne grew up in, and despite some changes through the years, she still wrote her female characters the way she did because that was just the way she was! Everybody has their own subconscious blind spots, and Anne was no exception to that rule, despite how things change.

One could debate this till The Shadow War, and such has been batted back and forth both here and on AMCF. Hell, I bet if you dug into the Archives of the OKT, you could probably dredge up similar debates - Grey Bear not withstanding - and no doubt future generations will drag out the same ol' Horsehead Nebula now and again.

Me, I just prefer to take Anne's works for the entertainment they are and enjoy them, inconsistencies and all.

I dunno, maybe I'm getting old (GET OFF MY LAWN!)
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Old Dec 22 2011, 09:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

Suffice to say, simply regarding Jaxom and the hold girl, a consensual dom/sub relationship involves consent.

Did I say anything about consensual relationships? I doubt that and that's quite precisely what I do not want to read about for fun.

Do you really believe sadomasochists fantasize about consensual BDSM?

That would be a lot like expecting your average Joe fantasizing about his own wife instead of (insert the hottie of the year) Pamela Anderson or Lady Gaga or the stripper with the huge boobs.

She has no choice--he's the Lord Holder, he wants sex, he takes it now.

Which is why it is quite hot at that point.

Note that Jaxom completely forgets her later and she's basically never heard from again.

And?

Brekke offends because the scene with F'nor pretty much violates the modern concept of 'no means no.'

Again - so what?

First off, it is a rape fantasy (like a lot of what Anne wrote btw) and I love reading those. I'd like them even heftier. I get off on them and reading them as a youngster and realising there were quite obviously OTHER women having the same wanking fantasies was a major, much appreciated discovery!

Secondly, has anyone lately really stopped to look at what the basis of these books is? A harsh, male-dominated medieval society with dragons and Thread thrown into the balance. Why the heck would a man in such a society care one fig about what the woman wants? F'nor actually does care a whole lot more than he'd have needed. Would Fax have given that much thought?

You don't even have to go as far back as that. In the 18th and 19th century still women were expected to pop out a bairn every year, and there are reports of midwives from every (!) single so-called civilised country of the time which has men happily doing their wives on the same day they have given birth. That, just to clarify attitudes a bit, used to be one major reason for death in childbed apart from the dirty hands of your average ob gyn.

The first two books are written with a lot of grit, yet not even a fragment up to what medieval reality was, though Dragonflight does try and try hard and indeed goes somewhere, as does Dragonquest. So instead of handing out brownie points as you should, you want it dumbed down to your expectancies of modern society?

Err - that's precisely my question, WTF has that to do with anything? If I wanted to read that I'd head over to the non-fiction shelves and have a look through books on feminism or written by feminists...

And what does a "no being a no" in daily interaction have to do with a completely, but oh so utterly, fictive world?

I've yet to read a book by McCaffrey in which she writes about people living in my street (or yours wherever you live) and say that it is quite okay for your neighbour or BF to sleep with you even if you say "no."

If such a book existed, fine, then we could start a hot discussion regarding how obnoxious this is. Actually I think that the currently still supported policy of not enforcing neutral sex-ed in British and American schools and the support of virginity unto marriage taketh place and abstinence is creating a definitely worse havoc and more grave suffering for the involved (female) parties than any amount of Science Fiction (or mild Horror Romances to get the usual other candidate in one go) might ever dream to achieve.

Hello?

Anne wrote romance novels back when that's what one put in romance novels. One can hardly hold that against her.

Actually no. She wrote rape, not forced seduction, most times and she meant to write rape. The difference is quite obvious to anyone who likes rape fantasies and gets to read both. Rape fantasies are hot, the typical romance-style forced seduction is rather boring compared and not exactly titillating.

But Anne's books AREN'T especially progressive by current standards.

See above, why should they? She initially wrote about a colonised world gone back to medieval mores. Had she stopped after Dragonquest that 'verse would have been thoroughly acceptable and a true classic. It was the dumbing down which occurred with the demands of fandom (and probably also stupid editors) which did the Dragonriders a lot of harm.

The only really "liberated" female characters we see are in Moreta


And she is one of the most boring characters of the whole series...
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Old Dec 22 2011, 10:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

Heath, I think it is important to recognize that you cannot, with certanity, say why McCaffrey wrote anything. You have your opinion on why she chose to write this subject manner in this fashion, but you have no proof that your opinion is any more accurate than that of any other person. These may very well have not been her fantasies, but what she - or more likely, her editor - felt would help the books sell. I understand that it is important to you to feel that McCaffrey had the same fantasies that you had/have, but using that as the basis for debating the merits of her work is illogical.
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Old Dec 22 2011, 10:45 AM   #8
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

I don't entirely agree with you about the BDSM aspects,

Sorry, read my above explanation to the other poster. I did not say that Anne wrote BDSM relationships, these function quite differently from what she describes. She wrote BDSMer fantasies. Completely different kettle of fish!

She wasn't the only one btw, quite a few writers of the same era and even later danced around the topic in a manner which today is expressed instead the way Laurell K. Hamilton or if you want that Laura Antoniou do. At the time there simply wasn't a way to move that past an editor like that. Instead you had to go about it the way she did.

but she also condemns Meron and Kylara pretty firmly

She didn't write them as a sadomasochistic fantasy either, instead she wrote a pair of greedy, dysfunctional people. So no problem.

I don't think talking about and thinking about how AMC's books have or haven't aged well is an "attack".

I guess what mainly is enervating for me is watching having her worlds dumbed down even further and at the instigation of people claiming they are fans when what I sense is being a fan with the ideas of that world and nothing much more.

it is completely relevant to use her books as a starting discussion point to explore social issues we are still dealing with today.

Whyever? McCaffrey wrote books about a fictive medieval world there(and other fictive worlds)

If you want to discuss social issues then I'd hazard the right point to start off discussions would be actual such issues where you live, no?

the "tentpeg" thing and short a few circuits

I find that discussion mainly laughable. Especially anyone who calls it homophobic or a basis for an evaluation of an author's works.

You bring quite a few of your own biases into the conversation, by the way. I read "feminist" as a slur in your mouth, and "misguided PC police" pretty obviously states your feelings on the matter.

Very definitely.

But...take a moment to step into the shoes of the ones fighting from this perspective, people who consider themselves "feminists", and people who seem to be "PC enforcers"...why are people arguing from these viewpoints?

Let's just not start that can of worms, or we're here for the next half year and still debating. On the whole I have a major problem with people telling me how I have to think. I also have a problem with people who - when you get to meet them or look at them closely - bend so far in the face of the male TPB that they can look straight into their back orifice, yet loudly clamour for more feministic ideals left and right and online (or especially in relation to writing and authors).

In short: before *I* would ask any author to amend a built world, a fantasy or the characters s/he likes writing, I'd have a good hard look in the mirror and ask myself why I still shave my legs. Careful though, that might result in self-awareness and can end in tears.

Yes, I know that sounds harsh. But I'm fed up to my backteeth with snarky-tongued wannabes.

Yet, we see this same young man become horny, without the influence of his OWN dragon, and then demand sex from a woman who resists, then gives in when he continues to press her. And this incident more or less is never brought up ever again in the books...Corana is pretty much completely forgotten. Despite this, Jaxom's still the golden child.

I have, as stated in the other post, absolutely no problem with this scene. I like it, it is hot. I do not at all see it in any way pertaining to anything which takes place in my daily reality.

And I think that THAT seems to be the main problem here. I read SF books in a fictive world. I do not mistake anything written in them for anything real.

If the subtle inclusion of gay green-riding men can be held up as one of AMC's accomplishments in the movement for acceptance of gay people...what are we to make of THIS subtle inclusion? Why count one as progressive, and ignore the other one because noticing it might seem disrespectful to the author?

I have no problem with the inclusion, I'm no particular fan of Jaxom (nor come to that of many of the later books and their characters). But if we accept gay men, what's the trouble with accepting that there are men who coerce?

So there's a pretty heavy pattern of male-over-female dominance, at least in relationships, in AMC's books.

Given that a lot of these books take place in societies where this is the case as per the basic politics, what is the problem?

And just a question aside: how many women do you know currently dominating their male partners (not in a sexual/BDSM way) in everyday real life?

it doesn't seem that AMC was necessarily aware of the BDSM lifestyle

I never said she was into BDSM lifestyle, or that she wrote BDSM relationships. You misunderstood that, as said, see above. She wrote fantasies.

And whether she would have owned up to it ever or not (I doubt that really, she was a very burnt bunny) it's very easy to see if you share these fantasies to some extent.
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Old Dec 22 2011, 10:51 AM   #9
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Heath, I think it is important to recognize that you cannot, with certanity, say why McCaffrey wrote anything. You have your opinion on why she chose to write this subject manner in this fashion, but you have no proof that your opinion is any more accurate than that of any other person. These may very well have not been her fantasies, but what she - or more likely, her editor - felt would help the books sell. I understand that it is important to you to feel that McCaffrey had the same fantasies that you had/have, but using that as the basis for debating the merits of her work is illogical.
I'd say yes if I didn't know far too many people who share my sexual orientation and incidentally share my view of AMC, or hadn't seen her books in too many kinky households to call it pure chance.

I doubt any of her editors asked for kinky sex, though I am pretty sure a few did ask for more or at least equal amounts of sex as compared to her male peers. That's the 1970ies for you.
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Old Dec 22 2011, 11:22 AM   #10
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But Anne's books AREN'T especially progressive by current standards.

Okay, I keep coming back to that, mentally right now.

What would you consider progressive fantasy and SF as per current standards?

Please define standard or standards first.

Please tell me who wants these to be standards and why.
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Old Dec 22 2011, 11:43 AM   #11
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*yawn*

Hypocrisy is SO boring.

FWIW, I'm going to raise my hand and admit that I do more than fantasise about some of the letters in BDSM. Stick Heath and I on a Venn diagram of sexual practises, and our circles would probably overlap more than those of many other people here. Is that relevant to a discussion of the books? Hardly. But I do find it interesting to note how much I disagree with so many of the points raised by Heath here in this thread. I might even be inclined to write a rebuttal of my own if it wasn't utterly redundant at this point - specious, trollish arguments just aren't worth the time.

A pity, really. There's good scope for discussion in this general topic.
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Old Dec 22 2011, 11:58 AM   #12
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Heath, are you a teen or early twenties, by chance? You sound like you just found the Kinsey research like it's new. (It's not. Everyone knows it and some of it's been debunked, ditto Masters and Johnson.) Or are attempting to seem edgy. And you're giving people who like s/m a very bad image on here. Not to mention attempting to read Anne's mind. (I still say it's VERY telling the only actual S/M shown is portrayed as something the bad characters do. But Anne is no longer in a position to tell us and frankly I can't really imagine asking her about it when she was alive, anyway.)

If you really can't get why modern readers might have an issue with almost all female characters ending in a Pernese equivalent of second potato to the men, sex is not your real problem. If you don't get what is not especially progressive, though extremely typical for 1970s fiction as opposed to current trends, about that, I suggest you're not in fact particularly well-read. Or the difference between what's appropriate in sex-fantasy suggestion guide anthologies (they exist) versus what alleges to be a story about strong female characters and men who respect them, come to that.
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Old Dec 22 2011, 12:12 PM   #13
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Heath, are you a teen or early twenties, by chance?

Chuckling here. Not at all.

(It's not. Everyone knows it and some of it's been debunked, ditto Masters and Johnson.

It would help to not speak in innuendos.

frankly I can't really imagine asking her about it when she was alive, anyway.)

Not after what happened to her the last time she was run over by fans, no.

If you really can't get why modern readers might have an issue with almost all female characters ending in a Pernese equivalent of second potato to the men, sex is not your real problem.

How many medieval women do you know who played first potato to the men around them in the western world?

If you don't get what is not especially progressive, though extremely typical for 1970s fiction as opposed to current trends, about that, I suggest you're not in fact particularly well-read.

So enlighten me.

Or the difference between what's appropriate in sex-fantasy suggestion guide anthologies (they exist) versus what alleges to be a story about strong female characters and men who respect them, come to that.

Okay, run that by me again.

Do I understand this correctly? There is someone who decides what is an "appropriate sex-fantasy" (for people to have/write) and this is bundled together in a guide for what? Anthologies?

And just where does the "strong female character" (gosh how I hate these!) come into the context of "sex-fantasies"? Oh stop - "appropriate sex-fantasies"?
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Old Dec 22 2011, 02:15 PM   #14
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

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Or the difference between what's appropriate in sex-fantasy suggestion guide anthologies (they exist) versus what alleges to be a story about strong female characters and men who respect them, come to that.

Okay, run that by me again.

Do I understand this correctly? There is someone who decides what is an "appropriate sex-fantasy" (for people to have/write) and this is bundled together in a guide for what? Anthologies?

And just where does the "strong female character" (gosh how I hate these!) come into the context of "sex-fantasies"? Oh stop - "appropriate sex-fantasies"?
I have to wonder at this point if you are being deliberately obtuse. And I'm thinking yes.

The quoted text is not saying there are guides about what is appropriate sex-fantasy. Anareth is (rightly so) saying there is a huge difference about what is appropriate in sex-fantasy oriented work versus what is appropriate in a story that is marketed as being about strong female characters and men who respect them.

Appropriate here meaning what supports the story and characters.
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Old Dec 22 2011, 08:14 PM   #15
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

How many medieval women do you know who played first potato to the men around them in the western world?


Elizabeth Plantagenant. Eleanor of Aquitane was second only to her husband... everyone else stepped VERY carefully around her. Emperess Maude. Joan d'Arc. Catherine Medici.

I'd say yes if I didn't know far too many people who share my sexual orientation and incidentally share my view of AMC, or hadn't seen her books in too many kinky households to call it pure chance.

I fail to see what one's sexual orientation has to do with what one enjoys reading in FICTION. Anne's books are found even in very religious homes...because, as FICTION, they can be enjoyed without the reader actually having to accept PRECEIVED tenets on the writer's part.
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Old Dec 23 2011, 08:56 AM   #16
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I'd say yes if I didn't know far too many people who share my sexual orientation and incidentally share my view of AMC, or hadn't seen her books in too many kinky households to call it pure chance.
That is in no way a compelling argument. Her books have sold millions of copies, it would be shocking if that didn't include a percentage of people who agree with you and have similar sexual tastes. That doesn't magically make you an authority on what she was thinking when she wrote them.

A good author can write scenes with different possible interpretations, which appeal to different people for different reasons. You are espousing one of many possible interpretations of those passages. You like this interpretation because it appeals to you and your particular tastes. That doesn't mean that you have hit upon the one and only authorial-intended interpreations.
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Old Dec 23 2011, 11:05 PM   #17
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Not to mention BDSM is not an "orientation." You are not genetically predisposed to like it rough or have to take orders. (Which you're not very good at, clearly.)

There are plenty of books written explicitly to cater to rape fantasies and the like. They're in the erotica section. Look 'em up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnMarie
Elizabeth Plantagenant. Eleanor of Aquitane was second only to her husband... everyone else stepped VERY carefully around her. Emperess Maude. Joan d'Arc. Catherine Medici.
The Borgia women. Elizabeth and Mary Tudor. Mary, Queen of Scots. Isabella of Spain. Heck, Catherine of Aragon, first Queen of Henry VIII, lead troops into battle. Empress Theodora of Byzantium. Heck, let's go back farther...Livia, wife of Augustus Caesar. Boadicea.

Who knows what they liked in the bedroom? Dom or sub or plain vanilla, they all managed to not stand around and smile and nod and let everyone else drive the action, or resort to REALLY silly stunts like Lessa and Brekke in DQ. (Not that that's the biggest problem with that book...really, I would LOVE to know what the original draft looked like when it was about, allegedly, Lessa and F'lar.)

But hey, you want to believe that Dragonsong is about Menolly running away from her oppressive family to be in a teacher/student submissive relationship with Robinton, it's not a VALID interpretation based on the text, but it's your head....
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Old May 30 2016, 02:36 PM   #18
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

Getting back to Jaxom/Corana --- she'd been flirting with him right from the start, but the timing was never convenient till Chapter 8, when they had consensual sex. And she'd been dropping hints that a fire-lizard egg would be welcome even before that. In Pernese society, being the Lord Holder's mistress could bring advantages to your family, especially if you produced a son.

The time after the green-flight (Chapter 12) --- as the Weyrling-master pointed out, even non-riders can be affected at such times, and Jaxom planned to solve the problem by going for a swim in Ruatha's ice-cold lake. But Ruth overruled him and took him straight to Corana, being aware that "it is good for you". In retrospect, Jaxom was "disgusted and revolted by the way he had used Corana. . . . . Their relationship, once innocent pleasure, had somehow been sullied".

Shortly after that, he went South with incipient firehead, met Sharra, and decided she was the one to marry.

And he did remember to send Corana her fire-lizard egg when he got hold of one.
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Old May 31 2016, 02:08 AM   #19
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

In my opinion, He Done Corana Wrong! Sending her a fire lizard egg was NOT a good way to say goodbye. I wish she had given him a son. Being an honourable young man (most of the time)he would have acknowledged it, and it would have been his eldest son and therefore in line for a future Lord of Ruatha. That would have been an interesting story line, wouldnt it?'
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Old May 31 2016, 03:59 AM   #20
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Not to mention BDSM is not an "orientation." You are not genetically predisposed to like it rough or have to take orders. (Which you're not very good at, clearly.)
I'm sorry, but that is wrong. Whilst BDSM is not an "orientation", as in it is not linked to which gender you will be attracted to, it very definitely is for quite many BDSMers something they are born with.

I reiterate: I was, and I was aware of what I was at a very young age (between three and four years). I had sadomasochistic fantasies every day from that age onwards (which is just about as far back as I can consciously remember), I initially very quickly learned to hide myself in this respect from other children and from my family, and came to understand it only much later, during puberty.

I know of quite a few other sadomasochists like myself, who knew about their difference pre-puberty, and to whom this also is a) no question of choice, and b) something so early noticed that they clearly were born with it. In view of that even various animal species show similar tendencies among their populations, it's not as out of the world a thing as you seem to believe.

So please, don't apply internet-BDSM-knowledge (which mostly consists of D/s and variants thereof only) to BDSMers in general.

As to Anne McCaffrey and kink: she wrote too much of it not to do it on purpose or for a reason, whether she was aware of that or not. It runs heavily as a theme through practically every of her books that I have read - from Restoree over The Ship Who Sang to the Pern books, not to speak of her Talent series and the Crystal Singer one.

As someone who as extensively read the SciFi of other authors, I can also categorically state that this facet of McCaffrey's books is very much her own. Very few other authors, especially of her era, show a similarly consistent streak of heavy kink in their books. It's not there because it "just happened" due to some freak accident.

ETA:

Quote:
but hey, you want to believe that Dragonsong is about Menolly running away from her oppressive family to be in a teacher/student submissive relationship with Robinton, it's not a VALID interpretation based on the text, but it's your head....
"Dragonsong" contains quite some undercurrents, later borne out. None of them are as simplistic as your suggestions (did you mean them seriously?), the topic of how Menolly reacts to Robinton is very interesting in itself. The interaction of Sebell, Menolly and Robinton can be looked at with a childish perception, or with how an adult would look at it. At the very least McCaffrey wrote a very layered YA there.

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Old May 31 2016, 04:07 AM   #21
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You like this interpretation because it appeals to you and your particular tastes. That doesn't mean that you have hit upon the one and only authorial-intended interpreations.
If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck...

There are also people who believe that Helmut Newton was just a very good fashion photographer, and that his BDSM-themed photos were simply a sales gimmick.

If the work of someone is permeated with a very specific sexual theme, I have a very hard time believing that this is just an accident.

What astounds me however is that even in this day and age there's such a push against even the notion of it. That raises some uncomfortable thoughts.
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Old May 31 2016, 08:50 AM   #22
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In my opinion, He Done Corana Wrong! Sending her a fire lizard egg was NOT a good way to say goodbye. I wish she had given him a son. Being an honourable young man (most of the time)he would have acknowledged it, and it would have been his eldest son and therefore in line for a future Lord of Ruatha. That would have been an interesting story line, wouldnt it?'
It would be a brilliant plotbunny.

Another what-if would be if the relationship DIDN'T fade out.
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Old May 31 2016, 11:46 PM   #23
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Default Re: When has Anne McCaffrey become answerable to Feminists?

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In my opinion, He Done Corana Wrong! Sending her a fire lizard egg was NOT a good way to say goodbye. I wish she had given him a son. Being an honourable young man (most of the time)he would have acknowledged it, and it would have been his eldest son and therefore in line for a future Lord of Ruatha. That would have been an interesting story line, wouldnt it?'
He might have had a shot at it, but the eldest son doesn't necessarily inherit on Pern. The Lord Holder gets to nominate his heir, and would normally choose the one best qualified to lead the Hold during a Pass. If he doesn't name his heir, then any other close male relatives can put themselves forward for election by a Lord Holders' Conclave, and may even duel to the death to eliminate the competition. If Jaxom lived long enough, there would have been at least 4 contenders.
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Old Jun 9 2016, 12:20 AM   #24
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The only dumb question is the one you don't ask, what does BDSM stand for? If you don't want answer here sent me a PM.

My mind feel like taffy yet, and yet my own learning disabilities are getting in my way to understand what is going on.
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