Just when you thought it was safe…
…to go back to the Internets, along comes some new extreme of crazy to throw you off what you’re supposed to be doing (in my case writing and whatever research I need for said writing).
(Gratuitious Princess Bride Reference) Let me explain… no. There is too much. Let me sum up… (end GPBR)
A bit over a week ago, post showed up on Tor.com about “Post-Binary Gender in SF” . This is not merely multiple levels of fail, it’s multiple levels of badly written fail – and that’s just the blog title. Maybe it’s just my inner math geek showing up – or possibly my inner computer geek – but my first reaction was “why would anyone want to count gender in ternary? Isn’t binary, octal, decimal or hex good enough?” Then I wondered who wanted to snail-mail binary genders. Or did they want to nail them to pieces of wood? This was about when I realized I was a bit too tired and walked away before my mind generated something I’d really regret.
Still. Leaving aside the little matter that “Gender” ain’t “binary” in the first place – it’s ternary: male, female, and neuter (and that goes whether you’re talking grammar or sex). It’s also a multimodal distribution (for the math-challenged that means that in any population you’re going to get more than one big cluster) with a big somewhere close to the female end of the triangle, another big peak somewhere close to the male end of the triangle, and a much smaller one at the neuter end. You know, a bit like this (yeah, it’s crude. About 30 seconds with Google Draw crude):
How is that “binary”? Or discriminatory? Or did the author of this piece have some kind of grudge against biology for not making the triangle nice and even and pink?
Naturally it got fisked. Thoroughly.
One of the more entertaining fiskifications (shut up, it totally is a word) was authored by the redoubtable Larry Correia (you don’t think he’s redoubtable? Just look at the man. Plug him into a gap in your fortificatons and nothing gets through – and that’s before he takes out the hardware and starts shooting. Oh, yeah, and he’s scary smart, too). Go read it. Just try to come back here for the next installment in the fisky-fisk-fest.
Then the fun started. The Most PC Author In The Universe (otherwise known as Jim C. Hines) attempted to fisk Correia. As one might expect the fisk was more of a fizzle, since Hines as a writer has the hitting power of a wet paper bag. No, wait, I mis-spoke. He doesn‘t have the hitting power of a wet paper bag. Feel free to go read that, too, complete with the warning against reading the scary scary comments on Correia’s post.
Naturally, Correia was more than a bit amused by this and decided to fisk the fizzle of his first fisk , complete with the observation that Hines’s followers (does that make them Hineys? Sorry… couldn’t resist) are “petitioning” Correia’s publisher (Baen, of course. Like anyone else would touch him even though he sells mega copies) to distance themselves from the terrible things Correia is saying.
Okay. Aside from hoping someone warned Toni Weisskopf so she didn’t bust something laughing, here we have a lovely example of wet paper bag bullying. The Hineys can’t win the argument (hell, they’re not on the same planet as the argument) so they try to push the other party’s “boss” (for publisher values of boss) into squashing the terrible threat they make such agonized noises about.
Yay them. They can petition someone for a boycott. Gosh, Correia might have non-PC cooties. He has to be stopped!
And all because some idiot thinks that the default option for a character shouldn’t be male or female?
Let’s go back to biology shall we? Not even Biology 101, more rudimentary than that. Male and female are the default values for human or human-based (elves, dwarves, humanoid aliens, cats, dogs, etc) because biologically male or female are the default values in any population of chordates (also most of the arthropods, and a fair chunk of the rest of the animal kingdom. As well as a goodly number of plants). If they weren’t it wouldn’t stay a population for long. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a character who fits elsewhere in that triangle of physical sex. Of course you can. But if you do it to buck the “binary gender” norm, well, yawn. Here’s a clue: if you could do a search replace of every reference to your character from “him” to “her” or “it” and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to the story, you didn’t write a character, you wrote something that would be flattered to be called cardboard. And yes, it almost for sure sucks more than a black hole on steroids.
I’m almost afraid to find out what the next chapter in the sorry saga of the Binary Gender Fisk-Fest is going to be.