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September 13th, 2013

I am a fan of some problematic things. In fact, I'd go as far as to say many problematic things. When I stop to examine it, it's actually kind of daunting. Just for starters...

Robert E. Howard: Huge racism problems. Huge misogyny problems. Usually not hatred so much as ignorance and constant "othering," but occasionally quite nasty.

H.P. Lovecraft: Just plain rampant xenophobia, where "other" is defined as "anyone not a white male from the gentry of 1700s Britain". Including himself. In his defense, there are at least the glimmerings of recognition that these strange alien beasts are actually people too.

P.G. Wodehouse: A certain strain of "female of the species is more deadly than the male" misogyny, that seems to stem from a combination of putting women on a pedestal and then being disappointed when they turn out not to be saints. Not actually hateful, but tiresome in large doses. As for race? Well, there are no non-white people anywhere, although "savage natives" are occasionally referenced.

Rex Stout: Summed up best by Nero Wolfe's line, "Any woman who is not a fool is dangerous." On the other hand, the Wolfe stories are filled with independent women in control of their own fates, so it's hard to say how much is actual authorial misogyny and how much is Nero and Archie's in-character attitudes and general snarkiness. I'm told there are racism issues in books of his I have not read, but I have no firsthand knowledge on that score.

Tolkien: Orcs, an entire race born to evil. Men of the east and south (i.e., Turks, Indians, Africans) willing servants of the evil lord and being held back by the virtuous proto-Hellenic and proto-Britannic peoples. Women, when they appear, being unearthly, angelic creatures that you must strive to be worthy of and will never really be, although they might be nice enough to stoop down to your level. For a bit.

Star Trek: It tried its best and was revolutionary in its context, but it still had episodes with messages such as "she could have had as rewarding a life as any woman if she hadn't tried to be a captain" and a general theme of "we advanced peoples shouldn't interfere with those child-like natives." Not to mention institutional miniskirts and an awful speech by Yeoman Rand begging Kirk to look at her legs.


All of these things are formative works for me, which I've studied in varying amounts of depth, and I love them, warts and all. But I have to recognize the problem elements for what they are, and do my best to make sure they don't get carried forward in my own work.

Doin' my best. :) Open to suggestions.

-The Gneech

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