Posts Tagged ‘misogyny’

SCIENCE!

“Making sense” is a funny phrase, because we use it to mean two different things. In the first place, we use it to mean “making logical sense” — that is, a conclusion follows directly from available data according to the strict and very specific laws and modes of logical reasoning; in the second place, we use it to mean, “seems intuitive” — that is, when we hear a scenario, and we hear the prediction made for that scenario, it seems “right” or “familiar” to us. We use this term precisely to muddy up the difference between “logical sense” and “intuitive sense”, and it’s unfortunate, because while logical sense is verifiable and repeatable, intuitive sense is based on predictions made from past experience, and is therefore only as accurate as the experience is representative, and furthermore is essentially tantamount to saying “that’s true because it’s familiar.”

Today I want to talk about the “science” of Evolutionary Psychology. Evolutionary Psychology is a pretty fun thing, because what it consists of is: you observe some behaviors, notice a couple statistical facts, and then make up a story to explain why cavemen had to do it that way. Is it true? Is it false? Is it genetic, or cultural? Who knows, or cares? It’s not like we’ve got a bunch of cavemen sitting around that we can ask about it, who knows what those guys thought? And it’s not like we can just crack open some DNA and find the gene for “wearing pants” or for “wanting to have a lot of sex with women,” or something.

It’s less like a science and more like a kind of weird game, I guess. Anyway, almost inevitably, it’s used by douchebags to justify being douchebags (“observe douchey behavior, make up a story about why cavemen were douchebags”), and I just wanted to point out that there are couple of ideas that only make it LOOK, for instance, like the human race is naturally inclined towards patriarchy, but with a little imagination you can make an equally compelling story for how it’s maybe the other way around.

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So, I have been reading this website, Requires Only That You Hate.  It is very refreshing.  The woman who writes it is angry, and unapologetic, and has drawn the attention of a lot of different science fiction and fantasy writers who probably imagined that they were super-progressive and are off-put by how gleefully and viciously Requires reminds them that they’re not.  It makes me feel bad, sometimes, to see the sacred cows of SF/F just slaughtered — like, killed and then tied to a truck and driven a hundred miles down the road and then set on fire and thrown off a cliff and then maybe the truck is thrown off the cliff on top of the slaughtered cow.  I feel bad, but in a good way — like, is there a way that your sense of ego can get kicked around and it will be sore the way that your body is sore after a good workout?  You hurt, but you hurt in a new and interesting way?

All of this has made me reconsider a couple of my positions on things, but mostly it’s led me to construct an elaborate metaphor.

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Some days ago, a fellow named Brian Murphy wrote this article on the Black Gate blog, positing that Realms of Fantasy‘s fold had to do with a glut of fantasy-type stories on the market.  I’ll admit that his argument is at least intuitive; the more I go into the bookstore, the more and more disenchanted I start to become with fantasy, in particular with epic fantasy. (Though other reasons for Realms‘ failure could be involved).  Not only is it everywhere, but it’s all the same.  If I never read a story about a guy who turns out to be a secret king, or needs to fulfill a secret prophecy, or regain a kingdom from a corrupt usurper — well, I’ll be happy about that.

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