The Problem of R. Scott Bakker

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Critical Hit
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Trigger warning: some talk of rape, particularly if you click the link.

Internets, we need to talk about fantasy writer R. Scott Bakker.

Specifically, we need to talk about what he has to say on the subject of women, sexism and feminism in his own work. Which is, frankly, both frightening and creepy as fuck, but made even more problematic by the fact that Bakker considers himself to be a feminist writer (or at least, neither a sexist nor misogynistic one). In fact, he is both angry and flabbergasted at the temerity of anyone who suggests otherwise – particularly his “feminist critics”.

Here are some of Bakker’s quotes from the above link:

Evil is sexualised in my books, primarily because the primary icon of evil in modern society is the serial murderer, which is to say the serial rapist who kills his victims. In this sense, ‘evil’ is clearly gendered in contemporary consciousness…

What I’m always interested in in all my books is the reader, their moral sensibilities and their biological drives(among other things). I always assume this reader is male. As a male, I know the ways of the male gaze…

I have a very grim, very pessimistic view of male sexuality. For instance, in NP [his new book, Neuropath], for instance, one of the ‘future facts’ referenced is the discovery of a ‘rape module’ in male brains… As dismaying as this possibility is, it seems to make a whole helluva lot of evolutionary sense… The point, at every turn, is to poke the reader and say, some part of this is you, some part of you likes this, irrespective of what you shout…

So here I am, being relentlessly critical, not only of the genre, but of male sexuality and where it’s headed, and being called a misogynist because I’m provoking by engaging – playing Nabokov’s game…

The future will be more and more pornographic. Why? Because we, as a species, lack the conceptual resources to make any argument regarding moral conduct outside instances of obvious harm stick…

So, yes, women get the short end of the stick in all my books.Why? Because they find themselves caught in predatory systems designed to exploit them. Depicting strong women, ‘magic exemptions’, simply fuels the boot-strapping illusion that is strangling contemporary feminism: the assumption that the individual can overcome their social circumstances…

I have yet to encounter one remotely convincing argument as [to] why the approach I’m taking is inherently ‘bad’… I have no duty to conform to anyone’s ‘rules of representation’.

Or, to put it another way, Bakker writes:

  • for an exclusively male audience,
  • in the male gaze,
  • using sexualised evil commited by men against women,
  • in pornographic detail,
  • in the apparent belief that rape is an inevitable part of male psychology,
  • with the deliberate aim of omitting strong female characters

and doesn’t understand why feminist readers characterise him as sexist and misogynistic; or, at the absolute least, not feminist. Indeed, the idea that writing positively both for and about women is integral to being a feminist writer seems never to have occurred to him.

The level of doublethink here is staggering, and yet I can just about parse his (incredibly twisted) logic. Seemingly, Bakker thinks that male violence, and particularly sexual violence, is both innate and inevitable. His aim, at least in part, is to convince his male readers likewise, showing them their own dark side in order to make them uncomfortably aware of its dangers. As entities, women who triumph over, alter or otherwise subvert this reality are completely unrealistic, because no amount of hope or belief will ever change man’s bestial nature, and therefore women will always be oppressed. Any story or statement to the contrary is damaging to feminism, because it gives women an unrealistic view of their prospects in life. Instead, it’s better to focus on making men aware of their innate capacity for evil, so that they can try and rein it in.

This isn’t even a white knight view of female helplessness; chivalry at least demands an effort towards saving, protecting and helping women. Instead, Bakker seems to believe that the best possible outcome isn’t for men to protect women, but to repress their desire to hurt them – which isn’t the same thing. Feminism in this view, then, shouldn’t be about female empowerment, but about making men aware of their own violence. Which, presumably, is why Bakker is so skeptical of such feminists who do critique his work – poor souls, they’re under the deluded impression that things could ever get better! He rejects the label of misogynist because he doesn’t personally hate women: he just thinks we’re doomed to suffer at the hands of men beyond our ability to combat it. And he rejects the label of sexist because, in his own, warped way, he’s trying to make people aware of the only real danger he perceives as a threat to us: sexual violence.

In short: Bakker is a nihilist, and his nihilism informs his gender politics, and both inform his writing; and I suspect, therefore, that until or unless he’s willing and able to disentangle his beliefs about nihilism and the inevitability of male violence from his concept of feminism (to say nothing of his concept of reality), he can’t actually have a concept of feminism that accords with, you know. What feminism actually is. (Or reality, for that matter.)

In the mean time, though, Mr Bakker, if you’re listening (and based on the experiences of others, I’m going to assume you are): if you write books specifically for men, in the male gaze, that are devoid of unvictimised female characters, full of pornographically written rape, and which represent a world-view in which women can never succeed – and where, in fact, the best we can hope for is that men learn to like us enough that they repress their terrible, innate desire to hurt us – you shouldn’t be surprised that many people – most of them feminists! – find your work appalling. Feminism believes that the world can and will get better for women: in fact, it exists to make this happen! Feminism has a higher opinion of men than you do, because it doesn’t countenance the biological inevitability of male violence; rather, it acknowledges that, as some cultures and individuals believe this (falsely) to be so, it ends up being promoted, excused and deferred to beyond all reason. And if you believe both these things to be false, then you shouldn’t be surprised that feminists categorise you as part of the problem: as a sexist, and a misogynist.

Because whatever you think of women, Mr Bakker, your willingness to deny our agency and strip us of hope says it all.

  1. kazei5 says:

    That is absolutely horrifying and disgusting… I don’t mean to turn the discussion towards me, a guy, but the thought that it’s inevitable that *I* will rape and hurt women is so appaling I cannot even fanthom the idea. It’s not the same as saying that everyone has the capaciity for good and evil and there are shades of gray in the world. It makes me want to throw up, the idea that I’m going to become a monster the moment I become intimate with a lady who wants to be intimate with me.

    This man is broken and he is NOT a feminist in any way whatsoever. Hell, I doubt he likes ANY people whatsoever but that he singles out women who are awesome and strong in spite of the adverse conditions that they grow up in is particularly troubling. It’s also damned racist as well and almost certainly facist.

    Particularly, this line:

    “So, yes, women get the short end of the stick in all my books.Why? Because they find themselves caught in predatory systems designed to exploit them. Depicting strong women, ‘magic exemptions’, simply fuels the boot-strapping illusion that is strangling contemporary feminism: the assumption that the individual can overcome their social circumstances…”

    He may not have said it, but not only is he saying that women can’t become more than second class citizens, but that people of colour, LGBT people, hell, anyone who is not a straight, white male, can’t be more than what the norms of society tells them.

    Between this blog and Requires Only That You Hate, I’ve read enough to know that I am very glad I have not read any of this horrible human’s books and support him in any way.

    • fozmeadows says:

      I completely agree. The implications of what he says are wide-ranging, awful, offensive and manifestly untrue in just about every important respect.

    • rsbakker says:

      Why is violence against women cross-cultural?
      Why are the vast majority of sexual criminals men?
      Why do males in other mammalian species – like dolphins – seem programmed for sexual violence?
      Why are third-world micro-loans generally given only to women?

      I’m not calling any individual anything. Nor am I saying that anyone is predetermined to do anything at all. What I’m saying is that it increasingly appears that men have biological predispositions toward violence and sexual violence. If we’re going to have any chance of overcoming these problems we are going to have to look at the facts as they ARE, not as we want them to be.

      • Curly says:

        I assume you’re a Steven Pinker fan, given your talk of blank-slateism in other statements. How do you you reconcile your belief in the inevitability of male violence with the conclusions he drew in his latest book, “Better Angels of Our Nature?”

      • idlesession says:

        “Why is violence against women cross-cultural?”

        “Cross-cultural” doesn’t imply innate, which doesn’t imply “fixed in single-factor higher-level neuroanatomical structures directly coded for by genetic sequences.” Lip-plating is cross-cultural too — it’s not common these days thanks to the colonial era, but it still hangs on in some South American and African cultures. Writing is cross-cultural, even though it developed only a few times. Ditto agriculture. The space of possible answers to that question is a lot wider than you’re portraying it here; you’re only even asking it rhetorically because you think your answer is a given, and you overrate the solidity of the picture provided by neuroscience thus far, and confuse the objectivity of the natural world, which is ever the aim of science to get at, with objectivity of the people, institutions and motivations for research, and decisions about what questions are interesting and what interpretations suggest themselves most readily.

        Okay, so you observe that violence against women crosses cultural boundaries. What about the many cultures in which violence against women wasn’t a standard or widespread feature? What about the Minangkabau, the Taureg and Berber, the pre-assimilation Haudenosaunee (aka Iroquois)? What about the Mosuo or the Gê/Canela or the Ladakhi? What about the fact that societies that have managed to persist, in the face of growing assimilation, a mobile forager resource base and lifestyle tend to show far higher levels of de facto equality and minimal hierarchy, and are a lot closer to human evolutionary ancestral context? What about the research suggesting that sexual division of labor may in fact be a relatively recent invention, and its sheer ubiquity an artefact of economic developments in the last tens of thousands of years, which is a rather short time in the context of human evolution?

        Why, having asked that question, did you decide to stop *there*?

        That’s rhetorical, incidentally — I know, as do most of your interlocutors here, that you feel cognitive science has laid bare the fundaments of personality and behavior and intelligence and various other traits that are often extraordinarily fickle and tricky to define, or even achieve consensus on whether they’re meaningful terms, let alone pin down and measure. Stimulated by the many intriguing and occasionally troubling results that are coming out of brain research, the clear suggestions of a mechanistic underpinning to all of the things that make us human, you run a little too far ahead, but the conclusions you reach are a shock to your own system. You appear to feel like you’ve stumbled upon some Lovecraftian truth — a glimpse of reality that reveals many of our most cherished notions for mere perceptual artefacts and self-deceptions, illusions of agency and self that we use to cope with our inability to grasp our nature as the product of a long and mindless process rather than a special, centred or relatable one. You look around at the significant number of people who are still unable or unwilling to really come to grips with that truth, and from there you conclude that the reason you’re being vehemently rejected, your character dissected publicly and your apparent deep-seated *need* to respond to everyone called up for ridicule is that nobody else (at least nobody waving the same ingroup-signifying flags you look for, or receptive to them) can handle that truth which disturbs and horrifies you so.

        It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that not everyone finds that truth as harsh or disturbing, or that not everyone is as sold on the case between that truth, and the implied links between it and your own premature conclusions about how your own favored answer to the question “Why is violence against women cross-cultural?”

        You’re not necessarily disturbing people so much they can’t respond to you rationally. There are plenty of valid reasons to reject your premise starting at Step 1.

        “Why are the vast majority of sexual criminals men?”

        The vast majority of *criminals* are men. Full stop there. You haven’t isolated that variable satisfactorily yet. And when criminals are not a monophyletic group (if you’ll allow a cladistic analogy, and it’s only an analogy), and even sex criminals are not reducible solely or primarily to serial rapists, it starts to seem like you’re bundling a lot of nested assumptions in there.

        Why are the vast majority of criminals of any sort men? That’s a damn good question. It doesn’t constitute the basis of a robust theory of evolutionary psychology though.

        “Why do males in other mammalian species – like dolphins – seem programmed for sexual violence?”

        What would it look like if the animals were doing this but weren’t “programmed” to do it? How do you distinguish at sight between nonhuman coercive sexual behavior driven by whatever conceptual placeholder you mean when you say “programmed” and nonhuman coercive sexual behavior driven by something else? If your mental model won’t admit to the possibility of non-“programmed” results for the same behavior, isn’t it only fair to admit that you’ve stacked the cards before you called the draw?

        “Why are third-world micro-loans generally given only to women?”

        Because fostering gender equality in the nations targeted for microcredit financing was an explicit goal of many of the organizations set up to provide it, and they thought it might be sufficient to make money available preferentially to women (it turns out, not so much — there have been some positive results but it hasn’t been enough to make gigantic differences; additionally, at least part of the preference for lending to women is driven by the fact that they’re willing to take smaller loans and have higher repayment rates, so in some regards it’s probably a purely pragmatic decision). This isn’t even mysterious; you can find the answer to that question on bloody Wikipedia.

      • aerowan says:

        Actually, I’ve been amazed at RSBakker’s stuff, specifically the 5 books of the Prince of Nothing trilogies, and the amplified tactics of the Prisoner’s Game throughout. There is a tremendous amount of description of idyllic lifestyles smashed by nihilistic warlords, and pathological conspiracies. I guess it would be nifty to have more Amazons able to prowl the wicked blender of knives and teeth, but, I see the novels as exploring consciousness pushed past all physical forms of endurance, with so much made of the Consult, Skin-spies, Non-men and dreams,
        there really, really aren’t a lot of characters who can slog it out through this sand-blaster without melting down. (And maybe turning into the best smoke money can’t buy, to boot.)
        Extreme conditions causing exotic beings to manifest more extreme conditions and extreme manifestations yielding insight into the merciless gaze of divine scrutiny. No, the books aren’t friendly, but they have a lot more to say about the primary truths of existence than we could even dare to apply to actual stories, like say the recent miseries of Florida.
        If Bakker was a reporter, he’d have a following that waited endlessly for every twist and an army of fanatics demanding his head. A lot of folks don’t want a new box of lightbulbs screwed in down in the dungeon.

    • willnelson says:

      Kazei, you haven’t even read any of his books? That’s like somebody criticising Christianity without ever reading the Bible. I’m not saying Bakker is Jesus, or his work is comparable to the largest bit of fiction ever wirtten…ahem…but come on bud, don’t you find it a bit hypocritical to judge someone on their interpretations on reality without even taking the time to research the representation itself? I don’t condone or condemn Bakker for his work, because at times there are elements of sexism, sometimes it can be downright racist, but if you take a look around you, so can the world around you. Just because a portion of the world population strives to enhance equality, and eliminate the more barbaric side of ourselves, there is still an alarming proportion of human kind that continues to dominate others through fear, violence and what can be considered barbarism.

      The biggest error you’ve made is to refuse to learn from something you don’t agree with, simply because you disagree. There’s something to be learned from every facet of life and unfortunately, you’ve lost out here. Maybe that will change now?

      • So…..there’s sexism and racism in the world and that means there’s nothing wrong with sexism and racism in Bakker’s works?

        And exactly what is there to learn from yet another misogynist making the same old sexist excuses, making the same old sexist whines, and retreading the same old beaten path?

        The fact that it’s all guys defending their spank bank master says it all.

        • jim x says:

          Have you read any of the books themselves? Has the reviewer?

          If so, you might understand Bakker’s statements a bit better. And, hey, you might like them even less. But your judgement would at least be informed.

          But condemning someone because you don’t like what they say about their own work, without even reading their work, seems quite silly to me.

      • kazei5 says:

        So… your plan of action is to come onto here a couple of months after I made my comment and then tell me there are worst things to worry about.

        Your plan is also to say “Ignore what the reviewer says, and find out on your own, despite the overwhelming evidence that he’s a horrible piece of shit human being.”

        Great plan. Anything else you wish to contribute to your derailment here? Because I believe we’re done.

        Also, LOVELY how you point out how things are MUCH worse int he real world! Oh WOW! You mean the real world isn’t all peaches and cream, kitties and sunshine? I had NO idea!

        Well then, we should totally let R Scott Bakker off the hook for his sexist dribble and concentrate on REAL problems.

        Oh, and I’ve also gone by reviews of George RR Martin’s Crown of Thorns, or whatever they call Rape: The Novel, and I’ve no intention of reading that shit either.

  2. I have been boggling at these statements for a few days now. It is just *so wrong* in so many ways.

  3. rsbakker says:

    Denying hope and agency? The agency issue turns on my fantasy series, which is not completed. So far, my female characters, who find themselves stranded in a patriarchal society, have encountered a number of false exits. The idea is to critique bootstrapping – the representation of liberated women magically espousing western values in patriarchal societies – since this fosters the illusion that emancipation is simply a grand act of will, rather than what it really is, the long-drawn, labourious act of rewriting culture. There are no ‘warrior princesses’ in my fiction, but rather women wandering through the political, spiritual, and ideological labyrinth of male repression. It’s the patriarchal maze (and all its devious complexities) that is being critiqued, not the women. The question of their overcoming is part of a plot arc more than twenty years old.

    The hope issue turns on Neuropath and the problem of nihilism.

    To be clear: I’m not a nihilist at all – but I fear our culture IS becoming more and more nihilistic – and the types of real degradation that women suffer is becoming worse, which is why I write stories that problematize that degradation – for men! This is controversial and problematic to be sure, but I’ve never pretended otherwise. That’s the great thing about fiction: it’s the place to have difficult discussions.

    My guess is that most of your readers recognize at some gut level that SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MEN. Nevertheless, the question of whether or to what degree men are ‘hardwired’ for sexual violence is not one for you or I or any ideological commitment to resolve, it’s for cognitive science. Optimism? Given the parade of pessimistic results it has provided thus far, I’m inclined to think the answers it comes up with will not be pretty. It would certainly explain the cross-cultural ubiquity of violence against women. It would also explain the bizarre, almost phantasmagorical variety of degradations you find in pornography – the stuff that ten year old boys now have regular access to.

    And the situation is GETTING WORSE, not better. This is an entirely new culture of misogyny that we’re talking about, as well as an entirely new understanding of human nature, and you seem to be rapping my moral knuckles for simply saying so!

    You may think more of the same is the solution. I’m gambling otherwise. You may think my bait and switch method is ‘reprehensible,’ but I think, in the case of Neuropath at least, it has been quite effective. Neuropath caters to the pornographic sensibilities of men to shake them up, to twist and to problematize. Genre is all about giving readers what they want. Literature is all about making them think about what they have been given. I try to do both… entirely aware that I will fall on my face for a good number of readers – as I have here!

    But somebody’s got to try, don’t they? Somebody’s got to take real risks, don’t they? I might not be the one – sure. But short of writers taking real risks how could we know?

    Which feminism is better? The dogmatic one that always plays safe by cleaving to orthodox interpretations and methods, or the experimental one that continually challenges itself, continually adapts in the face of what is – without any doubt – the most transformative period in human social history?

    It’s obviously the latter, isn’t it?

    Look. I’ve been taking a beating over this for about a decade now. I get it. Slashers are filled with sexploitation, so when I write a slasher, I embrace this convention with all the others. But since I have deep problems with the convention, I twist it, I try to take an effortless article of consumption – the serial rape and murder of women – and make it difficult. People on the hunt for problematic representations see that I employ the convention, form the judgement, then interpret the twist as evidence that I’m even more fucked up than those without critical pretensions.

    But this is a misreading. I am not a crypto-misogynist. I don’t continually argue for feminism, wage blog wars against ‘male rights’ extremists, teach feminism in my classes, have difficulty trusting male competence, and so on as some kind of elaborate cover for some deep-seated need to injure and silence women that I simply cannot recognize. And Neuropath is not a book that ANYONE ‘gets off’ on. Far from plastering over misogyny, it troubles, big time. It draws the male gaze to drip acid in its eye.

    Am I wrong in thinking that literature is the place where this is supposed to happen? If so, then please tell me why.

    • fozmeadows says:

      Nothing is wrong with men; on that count, I’m very sure most people – my readers included – would disagree with you. I have no idea what studies you’re talking about as proof of their/your innate sexual depravity, but there’s not that much difference between male and female brains at birth, and the vast bulk of differences that *do* come to exist subsequently have been proven, over and over again, to be the result of learned behaviour and culture. Brains are plastic, not stone: to the largest extent, they are what we put in them – particularly when it comes to sexism and misogyny.

      You say that Neuropath ‘caters to the pornographic sensibilities of men to shake them up’ – which is a flat contradiction in terms. If I cater to the establishment, I can’t simultaneously be shaking it up – obedience and rebellion are mutually exclusive states. By definition, ’embracing convention’ is the exact opposite of ‘taking real risks’, because convention is safe, and risks are not. Possibly you think you’re trying to bring down the system from within, but given, as you say, that literature is meant to ask hard questions, this would seem not only to be the least effective method of subversion, but one that, of necessity, requires you to adopt the very trappings you purport to hate.

      There is no such thing as an ironic usage of misogyny. If some random jerk on the street yells at me to get in the kitchen and make him a sandwich, it doesn’t matter if he’s doing it because he hates women, because he thinks it’s edgy-ironic humour or because he really respects women but wants to show his friends what misogyny looks like: I’ve still been yelled at, his actions are still offensive, and unless – or even if – he’s explained his motives to his friends beforehand, there’s still an extremely high chance that they’ll find it funny, NOT because men are inherently bestial, but because our culture tells them it’s OK to laugh at sexist behaviour.

      If you really hold male competence in such low esteem and believe so strongly in a male predisposition for sexual violence, then why would you trust that any male reader, let alone a majority of them, would pick up on the fact that Neuropath is meant as an indictment of both their gender and their desires? Why, if your view of men is so bleak, would you assume that nobody ‘gets off’ on what you’ve written, just because you didn’t intend them to?

      I’m not rapping your knuckles for saying a misogynist culture exists: clearly, it does. I’m rapping your knuckles for saying you don’t write for women, that women in your books will always get the short end of the stick, and that there’s nothing sexist in either of these facts: because clearly, there is. If nothing else, you seem singularly unwilling to even entertain the idea that you have anything to apologise for, or that anyone who says your work is sexist might have a point. I’m a woman, but sometimes I think, write, do and say sexist things, because we live in a sexist culture and I’m not perfect – which is true of everyone. What makes you so different?

      • jennygadget says:

        “Brains are plastic, not stone: to the largest extent, they are what we put in them – particularly when it comes to sexism and misogyny.”

        This. I’m always kind of amazed how many people act like brain function is passed down in the simplistic way they they learned about genes in 7th grade. Even when difference do exist? How they turn out is still very plastic; it’s more than just a yes/no question.

      • rsbakker says:

        Of course brains are plastic. They are also modular. The evidence for this is simply staggering. The ‘blank slate’ position you seem to be espousing is not one you’ll find ANYONE in mainstream cognitive science espousing. If you disagree with this, you disagree with the overwhelming consensus opinion in brain science, period. I’m not sure what else there is to say.

        The best critic of ‘gender differences’ in brain science is Cordelia Fine, who’s latest book takes the piss out of a lot of weak research. But even she would agree with the thesis as I have stated it: that the findings of cognitive science tend to undermine, rather than confirm many of our cherished notions about human nature, and that the question of whether hardwired differences underwrite cross-cultural behavioural differences between women and men is an open one, especially regarding sex and violence. And like I say, the trend is uniformly ugly.

        Have you even read Neuropath? Everything is problematized – too obviously so, in my opinion. If you haven’t, then what are you basing this critique on? I’m a real person, you know, with a life filled with joys and fears the same as your own. I find the ease with which people are willing to assert my entire life is a lie rather than acknowledge that their reading might be faulty troubling as it is, but to have people devote whole posts on my defective character on the strength of nothing more than… what? Reviews? If so, hopefully not those with more swear words than qualifications. There’s a reason you don’t see name-calling in professional review venues!

        I’ve bitten very many bullets, and have my fair share of worries, which I’ve discussed publicly many, many times (including above). But please tell me what I should ‘apologize for’? I can’t apologize for being a misogynist, because I’m not. Men are the ‘weaker sex.’ For writing misogynistic books? But I don’t: I write books that challenge readers to look at ugly and critical things. Many readers mistake that challenge for an insult, for which I’m sorry, and perfectly willing to accept responsibility. But since I think taking risks – particularly those that spark moral outrage – is always a good thing in writing (so long as you have some genuine point to make) the notion of ‘apologizing’ strikes me as pandering.

        Is it wrong for a female author to write for women? What’s wrong with picking an audience? What’s wrong with using the male gaze to short-circuit it? What’s wrong with provoking moral outrage? What’s wrong with challenging a factually out-of-date and possibly self-defeating status quo? Why would anyone want to defend a moral orthodoxy against a call for a frank and honest consideration of alternatives?

        • fozmeadows says:

          I haven’t read Neuropath; nor do I wish to. As stated at the start of this blog, I was responding to specific set of remarks you’ve made about your writing and the criticism you’ve received, because they seemed to me to be deeply problematic. I’ve not said anything about Neuropath; only about your attitude.

          I find it interesting that the sheer volume of wordage with which you’ve responded to me now far outstrips my own; and having read Cordelia Fine, I honestly can’t see a single scrap of resemblance between her opinions and yours.

          Claiming that you’re incapable of misogyny because you don’t intend misogyny is an incredibly weak argument: essentially, you’re saying that because you didn’t mean offense, it’s irrational for anyone to take it. I’ve never said you were including sexist or misogynist themes in your views and work on purpose, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

      • rsbakker says:

        I wanted to spend more time on the ‘catering to the establishment’ argument you make because it strikes me as a good example of how my arguments are often dismissed without actually being honestly considered. It’s a contradiction you say, because you can’t cater with one hand and take away with the other. Why not? Take the show Punked, for instance. That show is all about catering to an individual’s expectations to better pull the rug out from underneath their feet.

        Your argument, in effect, is that there’s no such thing as a bait-and-switch strategy in literature. That it’s logically impossible.

        Are you really suggesting this?

      • “I can’t apologize for being a misogynist, because I’m not. Men are the ‘weaker sex.’ For writing misogynistic books? But I don’t: I write books that challenge readers to look at ugly and critical things.”

        You express four things here as facts, which are not true.

        Saying “men are the weaker sex” is a very traditional position, generally by men who want to make excuses for themselves and for each other, and to avoid holding themselves to a high moral standard. In addition, it presupposes that there’s an identifiable thing “men” that’s somehow separate from cultural identification, which is naive. Gender roles always vary over societies, and in much more complex ways than reversals or simple binaries.

        You say, as though there were no doubt, that you are not a misogynist and do not write misogynistic books (or, presumably, misogynistic blog posts); you don’t know this for certain. It’s a fact of the way minds work that you can’t, and making absolute claims about it is the mark of a non-serious thinker. If misogyny has been found in your work (and it, inarguably, has) then that’s the end of it. It’s not something you can argue with from an objective standpoint.

        As for challenging us: nah. You’re borrowing beliefs that are thousands of years old to use in your fantasy world, and dressing them up as some sort of challenge to the status quo as though they’re new and interesting. I don’t find your counterrevolutionary books (and yes, I have read one of them) ugly or critical, because it’s tame compared to what’s in the news. There are nontrivial numbers of people in this world who genuinely believe, and do, all this stuff, and you really don’t need to give us more examples to be horrified at.

        You know who else considers their books edgy and challenging, and scorns their critics? Laurell K Hamilton.

    • You know which feminism is better? It’s the one that women define for themselves, thanks. It’s not about you.

    • jengelmann says:

      As a highly educated woman who holds a powerful position, and someone who has read all his books, I disagree with pretty much all of you– rather than pander to the silly fantasy fans who want their ladies powerful and “just as good” as men, Bakker writes for a world that is brutal and unfair. Women do get brutalized. It sucks. I have never interpreted that as being some anti-woman thing with the author. Read Martin’s Game of Thrones– we can’t force our 21st century idea of equality on times and places where it doesn’t belong, like the quasi-Medieval world of Martin or the grim apocalyptic world of Bakker.

      Get over it. And writing for men doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy any more than someone writing schlocky chit-lit is anti-man.

      • YOu know, you protest too much and you follow it up with typical justifications. I’m sorry, but once you have dragons and zombies you cannot whine about the historical accuracy of the every-female-character-must-be-at-least-threatened-with-rape fantasy you’ve written.

        Who cares what you think? You’re brushing off rape and that alone renders your opinion invalid. You don’t get to tell other people what to think or say, despite your introduction as a Very Important Person—–to yourself, that is. If you were as educated as you say you, would an announcement like that really be necessary?

        Phyllis Schlafly is highly educated, too. She, too, told women to ‘get over it.’ This is not in womens’ best interests, even if it comes from another woman.

        Bakker isn’t just ‘writing for men.’ He’s selling rape and then justifying it, but he has to do that—-his profits are at stake, and he’s demonstrated all throughout this thread that his only interest in women is using rape to sell books, and telling women to shut up when they dare to have an opinion.

        • “written” should be enjoyed. But the writers make much the same justification. It’s always amusing to see some dude talk about historical accuracy when he’s got zombies and dragons and magicians……and yet claims his non-stop rapes are totes important and necessary and historical, even when the historical record shuts him down.

        • Jason says:

          “Selling rape and then justifying it?”

          So any writing that includes rape is unpublishable? What is an excusable rape scene?

          Incidentally, men get raped in his Earwa books too. I certainly don’t read Bakker for that; nor do I eagerly flip through the pages to find the next instance of a woman getting violated. I read him for character, the world-building, the philosophy, and much more. I’m DEFINITELY not going to burn my Earwa books just because some are screaming “misogynist,” and I guarantee I’m far from alone.

          To imply that Bakker’s readers are perverts looking for kicks from instances of fictional violence against women is a pretty piss poor position, and one that reeks of misANDRY.

      • willnelson says:


  4. jennygadget says:

    In addition to all the excellent points already made, I’m also very struck by the fact that he thinks that evil is all about sexual, flashy violence. Personally, I find the greatest evil to be very banal – the number of children in poverty, banks taking advantage of the foreclosure crisis, stuff like that. This idea that evil is sexual and flashy – doesn’t really jive with his statements about systems of violence either, the only thing it does is continue to center the white, straight, middle/upper class point of view – at the expense of empathy for those who are not.

    It’s very circular as well. He’s pretty much arguing that men are in power for innate reasons, that they are evil for innate reasons, and that therefore it only makes sense to address them – never really getting that by focusing so exclusively on the male pov, he is part of what is keeping them in power.

    • fozmeadows says:

      ^ This.

    • rsbakker says:

      I’m struck by the way people endlessly attribute these simplistic views to me! If you want to know what I think ‘evil’ in the full sense is, why not ask? Do you really believe I think “evil is all about sexual, flashy violence”?

      If you’re going to argue with views that nowhere resemble my own, kindly remove my name from the posting to avoid misleading people.

  5. Ah, right. Evil for sexual reasons, solid gender binaries, a laser-like focus on the teenage male demographic, pornography he can feel safely uncomfortable about (after all, if you hate the idea of it it can’t really be porn, can it?), and dodgy mostly discredited evopsych.

    Nothing new here. In fact, nothing that hundreds of other, better writers haven’t perpetrated before. R Scott Bakker: the Tom Clancy of lower-mid-list fantasy.

    • fozmeadows says:

      Brutal and accurate summaries FTW!

    • rsbakker says:

      Another attempt to stuff me in a nifty little package for dismissal. I came here to honestly engage, to press the possibility that you are not giving the devil his due. Should I assume you all would rather I go away and not trouble… whatever it is, you’re doing here?

      Or, because you are confident in what you know about ‘dodgy evopsych,’ confident that I am just a misogynistic ass trying to cover his misogynistic ass, actually provide something a little more tangible that glib dismissals?

      Funny thing is, I haven’t even mentioned any evopsych.

      • What arrogance. You talk about a bird that swims in lakes, quacks, and waddles, then whine that you haven’t mentioned ducks.

        Furthermore, your ‘men are naturally rapists and cannot change so women should just shut up and accept it’ keeps the bar low for men while offering them an excuse for whatever they do to women. Your contempt for women and for feminism is almost amusing. Poor dears, we needed a man who believes that men are the weaker sex—haven’t heard that one before!—-to define feminism for us. You’re not doing anything about the status quo except preserving it, and for a writer to whine that he didn’t use the precise title or term for something while offering a perfect description of it is pitiful. And a little scary.

        • Jason says:

          Who is “us,” and who gets to define feminism? Should it even be defined?

          And where has Bakker ever said he’s trying to tell anyone how to be a feminist?

          • fozmeadows says:

            Bakker has described himself as a feminist, and his works as being in support of feminism – which seems strange to me, given his other claim that he never pictures women as his audience. How can you write in support of equality if your modus operandi is to write for only one gender?

            • Callan says:

              Which gender, historically, has disrupted equality? Males (mostly – some women also do so by saying other women want to be ‘daddy girls’, but I digress). So why would you write to educate females, when you want to educate males against their own patriarchal tendencies?

              Surely, assuming you’d agree on something at all, you’d agree that female culture is generally (though not always) NOT a threat against equality. It’s male culture that is?

              So why would you write towards women, in order to support feminism, when you need to disrupt male (default) culture?

              • fozmeadows says:

                Sorry: I fail to see how reaffirming the sexist default that men deserve to have everything written in their point of view, rather than learning to identify with other perspectives, is helpful to equality. Sexism is only reinforced by the idea that it’s better to concentrate exclusively on one gender rather than both, and particularly when that gender is the one that’s been getting all the historical breaks. Men have centuries of literature written exclusively for them, some of it critical of male behaviour, most of it not. So what’s more revolutionary: to write more stuff that’s exclusively for men, or to write something that’s written for women, too, the duality and equality of which forces male readers to confront the idea that it shouldn’t always be about them?

                • Callan says:

                  In the book, when one side of an army takes its male captives and publically mass rapes them simply to provoke the other side to attack early (then kills the prisoners as well), do you really think that’s from the male point of view? The male point of view is about glory and the honour of combat and other bullshit…this sort of writing does not cater to that. It makes war the nasty brutish thing it was and is, not some boys own adventure fantasy, which is what the male point of view really wants (at default).

                  I mean, if you think that caters to the male point of view, then how does your idea of a book that written for men and women work out – surely such an event is abhorent to both genders? Actually I guess that answers my question – it’s equally abhorent to both genders.

                  Sexism is only reinforced by the idea that it’s better to concentrate exclusively on one gender rather than both

                  What do you think of the following article? If you want to disagree, fair enough, but I’m wondering whether you’d see some merit in it?


                  So what’s more revolutionary: to write more stuff that’s exclusively for men, or to write something that’s written for women, too, the duality and equality of which forces male readers to confront the idea that it shouldn’t always be about them?

                  Does that work?

                  If you have some sort of scientific evaluation that shows it works towards that end, then you’re a long way towards convincing me.

                  Will you be equally open minded and consider that if tested, it might show that men (the problem men*) just avoid reading something written in that way?

                  If these problem men were being forced to read these books, I think I’d pay your point has some merit.

                  How would you propose to write that would keep them reading, yet undermine their patriarchal tendencies with subtextual feminism (and not always so subtle feminism)?

                  You might have a better method, even? If so, cool. Or you might say that hey, these patriarchal men definately buy and read women with very equal positions for women in them and they aren’t at all alergic to such works. In which case I’m skeptical – perhaps if some study was conducted, it might show that was true. But without a study, I’m skeptical.

                  * There’s not much point preaching to the choir of men who get it shouldn’t always be about them.

                  • Callan says:

                    ‘buy and read women’ – I think I was going to write ‘buy and read women empowering books’ but I erred.

                  • Jason says:

                    Exactly: problem males are the ones authors need to address. The victims aren’t the ones who need to be educated.

                    Handing out “defensive driving” manuals to someone who’s never going to drive a car, would be similarly pointless.

                    • fozmeadows says:

                      The issue isn’t one of education; it’s one of representation. If everything you do still amounts to catering to the same problematic subset of people, regardless of whether your plan is to educate or pander, then that’s just another manifestation of the same problem, viz: stories being told neither for nor about other groups. By his own admission, Bakker only thinks of men as his audience, which is why this problem applies to him.

                    • Callan says:

                      fozmeadows, (in reply to the comment below, because I can’t figure the threading in wordpress comments)

                      And the book (an educative one) has to be for other groups, because…? Sorry, this sounds like the problem of whistling on a tuesday?

                      “We must have (educative) books that are for other groups (that the education doesn’t apply to), because…”

                      What is the because that makes it not just whistling on a tuesday? Do you fear a trend of all books suddenly becoming mono focused on men if you even shrug at the focus of these books, let alone condone it to any degree?

                      I’ll pay there is no law that could stop some sort of cultural avalanche towards books focused just on men. And what might be the first stone of such an avalanche – perhaps Scott’s books, so just in case they start such an avalanche, best to jump on them, stop the stone. Better a false positive than a false negative, in such a regard. And I’m serious here – how does one steer culture and ensure some male mono focus does not occur? I certainly don’t know. So how can I utterly condemn a method of jumping anything which might vaguely threaten to cause such a situation?

                      But I would ask what of all the ‘Chick lit’ out there – should that be treated as representationally problematic as well? Does it threaten to make books mono focused on women?

                      I can understand and also share a fear of some cultural swing strongly towards a focus on males in the writing of books. But I have to say, as far as I know the ‘Chick lit’ and other women focused books out there seem to be a strong culture and genre as well. I just can’t see those genres as being all that vulnerable to evaporation just because some Canadian writes books focused towards men and mens problematic attitudes. Do you feel the culture of writing women focused books are still in quite a vulnerable state? Or do you find ‘Chick lit’ and such to be representationally problematic?

                    • Callan says:

                      Or fozmeadows comment above – y no comment box in right place? So confused…

          • Read the comments again, you’re not even trying. I ain’t your mama. It’s not my job to give you the guided tour. Frankly, the idea that feminism is some esoteric, difficult-to-define-Dada-esque-complicated-rocket-science philosophy indicates how unwilling you are to listen. If you’re an adult past voting age, this is especially egregious.

            • Jason says:

              “Those who assert must show.”

              You’re saying Bakker is anti-feminist without even stating what that entails. Claiming “it’s obvious” doesn’t cut it. There are many different versions of feminism, as you should know if you actually were one.

              Which specific principles is Bakker violating? You can point fingers and name-call all day lonng, but that doesn’t make what you’re saying any more valid.

              • Um, did you not read the post? I agree with the post. Those things called bullet points where this know-it-all asserts that he knows all this crap about women? He’s wrong. And when men tell women they’re wrong about women they’re wrong. So, what are you missing again, aside from everything?

    • rsbakker says:

      “Saying “men are the weaker sex” is a very traditional position, generally by men who want to make excuses for themselves and for each other, and to avoid holding themselves to a high moral standard. In addition, it presupposes that there’s an identifiable thing “men” that’s somehow separate from cultural identification, which is naive. Gender roles always vary over societies, and in much more complex ways than reversals or simple binaries.”

      But this is not how I’m using it. I’m using it to help motivate programs like these:

      “You say, as though there were no doubt, that you are not a misogynist and do not write misogynistic books (or, presumably, misogynistic blog posts); you don’t know this for certain. It’s a fact of the way minds work that you can’t, and making absolute claims about it is the mark of a non-serious thinker. If misogyny has been found in your work (and it, inarguably, has) then that’s the end of it. It’s not something you can argue with from an objective standpoint.”

      Of course I could be wrong. But like I say, you would think an abiding unconscious hatred of women would express itself throughout my life, and not just my fiction. My wife, a feminist, is saddened by all this: she warned me that a good number of people wouldn’t get it, and she worries that it might take a toll on me emotionally. My female friends find it hilarious, especially my sister-in-law, who has teased me for years about being ‘sooo sensitive’ and ‘politically correct.’ But I’m sure you’ll just find some snide way to belittle and dismiss this as well.

      “As for challenging us: nah. You’re borrowing beliefs that are thousands of years old to use in your fantasy world, and dressing them up as some sort of challenge to the status quo as though they’re new and interesting. I don’t find your counterrevolutionary books (and yes, I have read one of them) ugly or critical, because it’s tame compared to what’s in the news. There are nontrivial numbers of people in this world who genuinely believe, and do, all this stuff, and you really don’t need to give us more examples to be horrified at.”

      Define ‘us’? Neuropath has been the topic of at least two scholarly articles. I’ve been invited to speak on it at universities, and so on. Is that the ‘us’ you mean? Or do you simply mean ‘you’ and your low estimation of my moral and artistic character! An argument I’ve been making for some time now is that audiences today are more fractured than they ever have been, and that this has completely rewritten the conditions of reaching, let alone challenging different audiences. I don’t expect you to understand, let alone like, my tactics, but please recognize that its a more diverse, and more desensitized audience than it ever has been.

      • Hmm, “scholarly articles” and “talks at universities”. Unlike any female SFF author that I’m aware of, especially unlike any female mid-list author. I don’t expect you to understand, or even like our tactics, but don’t you think that this signifies that your demographic (misogynist men) is a lot more important in society and to academia than our demographic (women and less misogynist men)? What do you think this means for wider society? Don’t you think you’re propping up your demographic, reifying it at the same time as trying to dismantle it?

        I’d just like to add that I agree with the other feminist women here. It is clearly not just her “low estimation of your moral and artistic character”, which is a rather leading statement – suggesting, without saying so, that this is an “issue” and that your critics have “personal issues”. I anticipate your feminist critique of your own line of thought here, and eagerly look forward to any conclusion on it different to my own.

        • Jason says:

          The number of feminists in universities (both faculty and students), not to mention the fact that, at least where I come from, more young women than young men are enrolled in post-secondary ed., undermines your mysterious assertion that universities cater to misogynist males.

      • saajanpatel says:

        Scott, perhaps Fox Meadows – if she is willing? – could be a guest blogger, to give her position on depiction and how it can be used to achieved feminist goals?

        While naturally contention is here given the stakes and topics, this is a refreshing discussion that I suspect would benefit from formalized structure.

  6. Mário says:

    First of all, English is not my first language, so I’m sorry for any mistakes.
    That said, you’re all acting like assholes.

    So being a feminist implies that you have to write Amazon Fantasy? Should Bakker have a woman protagonist who kills the evil men who antagonize her?

    To horrify is often to criticize, and that’s what I got from Bakker’s writing. Men are violent, men are sexually agressive. I’ve never, EVER, hurt a woman in my life, I’ve never even felt the slightest urge to do so. I met a rape victim and the mental image of what men did to that poor girl haunted me for weeks.

    But we are not the absolute masters of our mind. I have masturbated to porn, porn where the women were being degraded, sodomized, ejaculated upon, etc. Men will always have the urge to dominate women, it’s one of our most basic instincts.

    You’re criticizing Bakker because he is just showing the truth in an exaggerated way. Or not so exaggerated, in my point of view.

    It’s easy to defend us men and say what he writes about is false. It’s easy to do so because we are sitting in our comfy chairs in front of our PC, maybe with our stable jobs or academic careers. We don’t hunt anymore, we are half the men we were. And that’s often a good thing.

    Or else we would feel the urge to kill, to maim, to rape. I’m not saying men are evil. Acts are evil. Our instints are not, evil is defined by what we do, not what our flawed half-animal minds urge us to do.

    • fozmeadows says:

      You’re trying to build a straw-man argument here. Being a feminist doesn’t imply that you have to write ‘Amazon Fantasy’, whatever the hell that is. It does mean treating your female characters with respect, however, just as it means accepting women as a viable audience.

      Not all men have the urge to dominate women. The fact that some men obviously do doesn’t mean it’s a gender-wide – or even gender-specific – affliction. Better to say that some people like to dominate other people, and that men who dominate women are part of this.

      I’m not criticizing Bakker for showing the truth – I’m disputing that his stated worldview is true at all.

      Also, you seem to think that I’m a man? I’m getting this from your ‘us men’ comment. For the purposes of clarification: I’m female.

      Men aren’t unique in feeling the desire to kill, maim, rape. Women do all these things, feel all these things. Depravity and dominance, where they exist, are human failings, not simply male.

      • Jason says:

        Wait, wait, wait.

        “Treating your women characters with respect?” What does that mean? I’m going to avoid speculating, and just leave it there. But I have to ask, is it also necessary, in your opinion, for authors to treat their male characters “with respect?”

    • How do you know you have never hurt a woman? Have you asked every woman you’ve met? Not all hurting and domination has to be physical.

  7. saajanpatel says:

    Scott, I’m glad to see some debate on the actual topic, and not meta-commentary on tone!

    One thing I am curious about – do you think there is a default in men to conflate degradation/control with sexuality, or is this part of the problem in the direction pornography is headed.

    The artist/chef who makes what some might call erotica and some might call nude art once noted:

    “The one thing I really wish I had in the book though, is an essay explaining that La Figa is a great visual book to show to kids or teenagers as an introduction to the human form. With our models of different shapes, ages, and sizes – and especially with my food art – kids find a fun playful exploration of the human body, in a non-sexual context. Young people in this country go straight from puberty to pornography, because they have nothing in between to show the human form.”

    It seems to me that this is the problem, that there isn’t good erotica so to speak, and that the key is to show what good, healthy sexuality is like rather than to convince men to beware of some kind rape trigger in their heads.

    Make consensual, respectful sex hot, make men get turned on by laughter/smiles/willingness. Celebrate different body types. This seems like the path to me, rather than this nihilistic downward spiral.


  8. Anonymous says:

    If this blog isn’t the epitome of emotional, kneejerk reaction then I really don’t know what is. I don’t even agree with Bakker all that much, but I feel really bad for him, having, for the past week, read all of these blogs accusing him of sexism, when that’s not his problem.

    I love how the first reaction to that post of his you linked was basically just calling Bakker creepy and just going off on the emotional implications of his “boys will be boys” thesis. Actually, the whole blog entry’s like that. You say nothing substantial to logically refute what he says about what men are supposedly hard-wired to do, or that females are doomed to forever be oppressed. All you do is call him sexist simply for believing in an idea that portrays a harsh reality. It’s akin to a Christian trying to prove the existance of God by saying, “How can a God not exist? There has to be an after-life. I’ll be sad if God doesn’t exist!”

    And then you purposely misrepresent the shit out of “NP” with those stupid, simplistic points. He did not just omitt women from the book for the reason you implied. Actually, you quote why he didn’t write any strong female characters. It was because did not want to give off the illusion that women can overcome their sexist circumstances–which I believe is a pretty weak excuse for not having women who aren’t cardboard cutouts. I’m sure you do, too.

    But instead of saying that, you assume he is sexist and whine about it instead of just attacking his flawed ideology. Surely, you do not think, that Bakker is just some woman hating man who sits around all day and reads grimdark fantasy to feed his insatiable hunger for media that portrays violence against women? .

    And before I go: holy fuck that first comment that you agreed with…was just insanely inane. Jesus Christ, you guys, Bakker was not saying that deep down inside every man consciously wants to rape someone. He was only postulating that it would make sense if a “rape module” was discovered within the male unconscious–where it would exist alongside many other unconscious desires and functions that we have absolutely no control of. It is in no saying that most males would rape someone if given the chance. And even if that thesis is wrong, there’s no reason for him to be called a sexist, racist, and fascist. That just exceeds the bounds of any rationality.

    • “emotional” “reaction” “not his problem” “emotional” “nothing substantial” “purposely misrepresent” “assume” “whine” “inane” “exceeds the bounds of any rationality”

      Here’s some logic for you. Go read an encyclopedia. Encyclopedias are basic and at times wrong, but they will tell you that the role of women in society has varied massively across history and prehistory. The changes wrought in the West by Women’s Lib would seem absurd and fantastical to a woman in the 1960s. You are saying that we can write SFF where all of society changes, but this is as good as it will ever get with respect to equality. Don’t you think that this statement is biased and absurd? It flies in the face of all the evidence with regard to the plasticity of human society.

      Brains are massively plastic. There’s no evidence that men are hard-wired to be bestial. It is you, and Bakker, who are making the extraordinary claim. It is therefore incumbent upon you to provide the evidence.


      • rsbakker says:

        How about dolphins. Do young male dolphins join rape gangs because of cultural reasons?

        You keep asserting that brains are plastic through and through, that nativism is false, and this is as obvious as daylight, though I have yet in twenty years of reading to encounter a serious cognitive scientist who claims as much. If it is obvious, then it’s not obvious to the cognitive science community. Just who is it obvious to? The people who don’t spend their professional lives researching these questions? Lemme know, because I’m baffled.

        I just dunno what to make of this.

        And just to be clear, I’m not raising these issues to mount a covert ‘diminished capacity’ defence of male sexual offenders. Far from it. Lock’em up. Throw away the key. I’m raising this to simply make the point that the social and factual ground of traditional feminism has radically transformed. I find it more than a little perplexing that no one here wants to so much as admit that this COULD be the case, let alone agree with me that it is. This smacks of ingroup orthodoxy in the worst sense.

        I also find it, well, strange in that only-on-the-internet way, that I find myself arguing the maladaption of men in an attempt to defend myself from the charge of misogyny! It’s weird enough that I find myself defending my fiction against people who haven’t even read it and who are far more comfortable claiming my entire life is a misogynistic lie than admitting that some people simply get the wrong idea from my books. Egad.

        Only on the internet.

        • This is a source. It is a terrible source, being wikipedia, but it is a source, and somewhere to start, I feel.

          We are not talking about dolphins. I did not state that brains are “totally” plastic. You are, again, the one making extraordinary claims. You also have now changed your defence from claiming that “one person has issues” (to paraphrase) to “feminists are victims of foolish groupthink”. We have already considered your thesis. We simply find it misogynistic and absurd.

          Cite your sources.

        • fozmeadows says:

          If you’re suggesting that animal/mammalian behaviour is a good indicator for human behaviour, then why stop at dolphins? Female hyaenas eat their young. Elephants are matriarchal. Young antelopes pronk to show their health and vigour. Male foxes, if their mates die, never mate again, but female foxes in the same position do. Some primates are vegetarian; others kill and eat meat. Some male monkeys take primary care of the young in their troop, while in other troops – even within the same species – it’s a female concern. And actually, why stop at mammals? Mallards are the only animal species in which there’s been recorded instances of necrophilia; they also mate by gang-rape. Albatrosses, however, mate for life, while homosexual pairings are rife among male swans, even to the point of their raising chicks together.

          Personally, I find it strange that a male author arguing about the maladaption of men seems singularly unwilling to acknowledge that his perspective might be flawed.

        • Dean says:

          R Scott Bakker, Why do you engage yourself in this ridiculous argument? You wrote a great fantasy series, of which I am looking forward to the next book. Women AND Men got raped. Women AND MEN died. It’s fiction. It was clearly written to shock and entertain. That’s where we are in this society, right? Shock entertainment? You’re arguing with people that haven’t even read the book. What nonsense!!!! Grow up people.

  9. Juan Pazos says:

    Mr. Bakker: I´ve never read any of your books, but I´m curious. From what you are saying here, nevertheless, I draw one conclusion. You feel the need to defend yourself, you feel hurt and misunderstood and wish everybody loved you. Mypersonal opinion is that your work should do the talking and grant you the admiration of your readers. If it does not there is nothing else you can do about it, except perhaps write something different. But if what you are writing is what you need to say to the world… why give any explanation? Why try to convince anyone they are wrong in their interpretations? Aren’t we all, you included, free to think and express our opinions and feelings? You do it through your writing and you get it published… I really think you have no reason to complain. So, not everyone enjoys your books. Wasn’t that to be expected?

    • rsbakker says:

      Defending my reputation against outright slander is the natural response, sure. But if you look back to my first interviews you’ll see that really I’m just a one-trick pony – and not a very good one by the looks of it! For me it’s all about spreading the word, doing everything I can to dismantle this toxic, consumer-fantasy culture we’ve erected – the ‘Believe!’ culture. My message is always Doubt! Things are more complicated and more ugly than you want to admit.

      I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m not going to convince anyone here, that I come as a prepackaged moral commodity – damned before I even hit the shelves. But I’m not going to make it an easy sell. And hopefully, after the dust has settled and the need to show a united front, to save face, and to secure ingroup status via punishing the ‘enemy’ (or scapegoat, as the case might be) has receded, some people here will begin seriously considering some of the things I’m saying – moreso with regards to feminism than my books.

      It’s a different world out there, and I don’t know about you, but it seems to me the bad guys are winning. Hard questions need to be asked. Different tactics, strategies need to be developed.

      • fozmeadows says:

        “Doubt! Things are more complicated and more ugly than you want to admit.”

        A noble sentiment! I wonder at your reluctance to apply it to yourself.

      • Juan Pazos says:

        Well, at least I was trying to make my comments short… And, just so you know, I´m NOT going to go back to “your first interviews.” I´ll draw my conclusions on what you write from what you write, if your constant need to try and convince other people they’re wrong ever stops from preventing me. And, if you are not convincing anyone, hello!, maybe that’s because your arguments are not very good.

      • saajanpatel says:

        Scot – I’ll be honest. I’ve been following you for 7-8 years, and I still am not sure exactly what feminist questions the books are asking or the solutions they are proposing. Hell, I at least count myself among the fans that believe there is some message – others who like your books think you made this shit up after the fact to cover your ass!

        Some posts on your goals and the reasons for them seem necessary, if not vital, to having a worthwhile discussion.

        As to why you see such hostility, last night I read a story of a woman who was raped despite her rapist believing she had given consent. Why? Because as he pushed her into having sex, she began to be more afraid that if denied he would hit her. So she playacted to keep herself safe, but went farther than she ever planned in that intimate encounter.

        Now, what would be the guy’s response? “Well, yes you said no *at first*, but I have this module in my head and I need sex. You can’t expect me to just take no for an answer, I’m hard-wired to wanting more.”

        I’m not saying that this crime is your fault, but I think the reason you are seeing such resistance and anger is because there is a dialogue about consent and sexual boundaries you seem to be unaware of or least it’s something I don’t think your books address.

        It would be one thing if we were debating real, proven science, where even then I don’t understand the solution you are proposing, but trying to jump the gun as you have naturally will see you in hot water. It comes off as “boys will be boys because look at these dolphins!”, but again it’s hard to see the purpose or validity when you are posting pieces of a perhaps more coherent argument.

  10. C.D. says:

    Well, one phrase alone in that quote decided me against reading any R. Scott Bakker: “I always assume this reader is male.”
    Yeah, you and 3000 years of western literature.
    But you know what? Bakker doesn’t mind. He’s already assumed I won’t read him. I’m just obliging him. And I always think it’s good to oblige an author when you can (especially when it means you don’t have to spend any money).

    • rsbakker says:

      There’s a shortage of women writing for women today?

      There’s no need to critically engage the modern male mindset?

      • fozmeadows says:

        There’s a shortage of men who write for women; or, more specifically, who consider the female gaze as well as the male gaze in their writing.

        The modern male mindset is the dominant mindset. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t engage with it; but it does mean we should be aware of its dominance, and try to engage with other mindsets, too.

      • No need? That reminds me of people who whine there’s no White History Month nor Mens’ Studies, as if every month and every uni are not bastions of masculinity.

        • Jason says:

          So since males have traditionally been the dominant group in most societies, we should just ignore them and not try to influence them through writing or teaching.

          That kind of thinking boggles the mind. In fact, it subverts what less privileged groups might want to achieve! Why dismiss male readership, or male students? Is it because you think they’re hopeless, and the only way to deal with masculine dominance is to fight it?

  11. Mário says:

    Fozmeadows, I’m not going to throw around the classical argument of: “I know this because it’s my field blah blah.” Suffice to say in psychology we get to know the existence of some pretty basic human instincts, some stronger in males (like domination) and some female (protecting the children). I’m first to confess that like everything in psychology, this is debatable.

    I’ll give you an example, if you want sources I can give you some (Cracked has even written an article on the topic a few days ago): When you’re arguing with someone about any given subject your unconscious wish (yours, mine, everyone’s) is to “win”, to dominate. The logical goal should be to learn, to change our mind about something, but we think: “How can we prove him wrong.” This is not so linear of course, especially if you are aware of it.

    I’m sorry if this seems like straying away from the topic, what I mean is what I said earlier: Some of our aspects are still very primal. Men want to dominate. That doesn’t mean they’re going to. Men also want to screw their mothers when they’re very little, or so Freud believed (the psychology community is divided as to the why, although proof that kids demonstrate romantic affection to their mothers is almost irrefutable.)

    As civilized as anyone is, our animal desires and instincts are always hidden behind our façade (or however English speaking people spell it) of civility and culture. We are animals, and that’s what Bakker comes across in his writing. His characters talk about philosophy and then they feel the need to follow their innermost animal urges.

    That kind of duality is what I like about him the first place.

    Juan Pazos, I think Bakker is defending himself because he feels misinterpreted, not because he feels the need for everyone to like his book.

    • jennygadget says:

      “When you’re arguing with someone about any given subject your unconscious wish (yours, mine, everyone’s) is to “win”, to dominate. The logical goal should be to learn, to change our mind about something, but we think: “How can we prove him wrong.””

      No. and also: No.

      To elaborate:

      Regarding the first “No.” – fozmeadows did not pick an argument with Bakker. She started a conversation with friends. (Or, rather, readers, who may not all be friends but one assumes tend to agree rather than disagree with her.) It is you and Bakker, etc, who have decided that this conversation must be an argument. Not only because “he feels misinterpreted” but because this is what many guys do when they see women talking, especially about feminism – they assume the conversation exists for their benefit. Because, well, what doesn’t?

      “No.” the second. – This comment is not for you. I am replying to what you said, but not so that you, specifically, will hear me. This is the internet, not a private, unrecorded conversation between the two of us alone. What I say may be nominally addressed to you, but it is said so that it will be read, not so that you alone will read it. It’s like a panel conversation, only one where anyone can jump in and join the panel. It’s a performance for mass consumption as much as an interaction between individuals.

      tldr – It is not your mind that I am trying to change.

      It isn’t even really anyone’s, exactly. Mostly, in the well-documented manner of conversations among women, I am offering solace and support for the people I consider to be allies and friends. Because I know what it’s like to be the young girl reading the Piers Anthony/David Eddings/Heinlein/etc novel and wondering “Is this really what they think girls are like? Am I actually supposed to like this? The boys that like this – is this what they think of me? Am I supposed to be like this? Is there something wrong with me that I am not?” etc

    • Juan Pazos says:

      He feels misinterpreted AND wants everyone to like his books, because in his own eyes they are so good, deep, important. But since this last thing is an OPINION, I am (and so is everyone else) entitled to disagree. Provided I ever read one of his books, that is.

    • Anne Lyle says:

      I don’t think it’s ever a good idea for a writer to try and defend themselves against misinterpretation. You put a book out into the world, some people are going to misinterpret it. Bakker knew that in advance, by his own admission – it’s a bit late now to complain about it.

  12. Anne Lyle says:

    If you’re still reading this, Mr Bakker…

    I’ve read all the comments on this post and I believe that you are sincere in your aims and beliefs. However, did it not occur to you that in using epic fantasy – a genre widely read by the teenage boys who you admit need educating in sexual morality – as a vehicle for your message, you might be achieving the exact opposite of your intentions?

    I don’t think authors should shy away from difficult subjects, but if you put a work out into the world, its readership won’t be limited to people who can interpret its meaning “correctly”. You say you accept responsibility for unintentionally insulting some of your readers – does that mean you will rethink your approach to this topic?

    • rsbakker says:

      You’ve hit a bulls-eye on what is – without any doubt – my number one worry: the so-called ‘Archie Bunker’ effect.

      Part of the problem I think I face debating these issues is that I have done so so many times in the past. I’ve conceded points, clarified my positions, and rethought my approach. And I think this has had the effect of making me curt and dismissive – I just feel this exhaustion well within me.

      You’re entirely right: everybody but everybody mistakes depiction for endorsement, which is why I find myself in these straights, and why the possibility of some adolescent male doing the same is all too plausible.

      But I’ve rationalized it in this manner (and I entirely admit they might only be rationalizations):

      1) The thematic and stylistic complexity of the books means that not many adolescents will be able to read them. I’m a borderline midlist nobody for a reason! The books really are aimed at adult ‘fallen epic fantasy fans,’ those duped by university into turning their back on the genre. And I hate to say it, I really don’t think my critical subtext is all that elusive… Everything is obviously bent.

      2) I do have my own artistic and social ambitions, which include engaging readers with difficult ideas and values, especially those prone to ‘sacralization,’ which is to say, commitments that foreclose the possibility of open debate.

      3) It sparks these very discusions. Having had these debates for so long and with so many, I’ve witnessed first hand a growing consciousness of cognitive science – a field that will revolutionize society (probably for ill) like no other. The black box of the soul has been cracked open: all you have to do is look at the way science has revolutionized other domains to catch a vertiginous glimpse of what lies in store for us. Neuromarketers are using it now to influence all of us with more and more precision everyday, ‘helping’ us do everything from choosing skin creams to electing presidents.

      4) The series ain’t done yet. The ‘feminist arc’ of The Second Apocalypse cannot be credibly written off until everyone sees the whole.

      But still I worry. Just as I worry that some terrorist or government will find inspiration in some dark musing of mine. We just toss these ideas out there. I don’t buy into the authorial double-think that allows them to take credit for the lives they’ve turned around on the one hand, yet wash their hands of any negative consequences.

      With Neuropath, in particular, my biggest fear is not that it’ll fuel some young male reader’s lust for sexual violence (because it really does punish the prurient eye in so many ways) but that some sociopath will use my antagonist’s rationale to justify whatever darkness.

      I actually had this experience teaching nihilism and popular culture once. A student who had been imprisoned for armed robbery thanked me for showing him why he had nothing to feel bad about…

      • fozmeadows says:

        The thing that gets me is this:

        You say you’ve been receiving the same sort of feminist criticisim over and over again for at least the last decade, which suggests that, more or less constantly, you’ve had different, completely unrelated people – most of them feminists, and a majority of them female – telling you the same thing: that there’s something sexist and problematic in your work. And over and over again, it seems, you’ve chosen to say that they’re wrong, that they’re persecuting you, that their interpretation is faulty, or some permutation of all three – but never to consider that they might actually have a point.

        At what point does the collective agreement and unity of strangers stop being a coincidence and start being meaningful? How many different people have to have identically negative reactions to what you’re doing for you to stop assuming that on each and every occasion, their objections could only be the result of individual error?

        To quote the comedian John Clarke, ‘In the scientific world, when things keep happening again and again and again, repeatedly, they don’t call it old hat. That’s commonly referred to as a pattern.’

      • Anne Lyle says:

        Thanks for the considered reply. Personally I’m not convinced that we’re quite as doomed as you do, and moreover I think the desired benefit of your approach (to educate a tiny minority of readers who are able to get your message) is massively outweighed by the risks you describe – but as artists, we have to take risks. And take our lumps when we fail 🙂

      • Callan S. says:

        At what point does the collective agreement and unity of strangers stop being a coincidence and start being meaningful?

        That’s what the patriarchal would (and probably still do) say about feminism. If somethings right because a bunch of strangers agree on it, doesn’t that make patriarchy correct? Alot of people saying something doesn’t make it true. Perhaps if they all critically analyse it – but here there is only a reference to numbers, not the specifics of arguments – the only critical analysis is ‘Well, did alot of other people say it was true? Okay, then it must be’.

        • fozmeadows says:

          I never said unity and collective agreement made us right; obviously people en masse are capable of being wrong, and often spectacularly so. Rather, I’m trying to highlight the fact that Bakker, who describes himself as a feminist, has also been the recipient of long-running feminist criticism. And it seems to me that if the group to which you claim membership is also the group whose members staunchly deny the validity of your participation, then maybe you should stop and ask yourself why.

      • Callan says:

        I’d say it’s a reason, if you weren’t already doing so, to listen to their arguments.

        But as you just said yourself, the mass denial means nothing in itself. The answer to…

        At what point does the collective agreement and unity of strangers stop being a coincidence and start being meaningful?

        …is, sadly, never. You said yourself it doesn’t make anyone right.

        Apart from being a reason to listen to argument. But there’s always reason to listen to arguments, I’d think.

    • Jason says:

      I doubt many teenage males could get through the Earwa novels (I haven’t read Neuromancer or Disciple of the Dog, so no comment on those). Fewer still could read them and fully appreciate the thematic underpinnings, the characters’ ruminations on philosophy or, hell, even the vocabulary.

      These aren’t fluffy Eddings or Riftwar books (cool stuff – just largely “pulp”). For lack of a better word, they’re even “deeper” than Tolkien, or the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, or even GRR Martin.

      I have zero proof that teenagers aren’t reading Bakker, so that’s all I can say. But I’d be interested in seeing which demographic is into this stuff; I’m guessing 20-40 year old males.

  13. kaisavage says:

    ‘It’s ok to eat fish, they don’t have any feelings’, Don’t bother to recycle, what difference will one person make, Don’t wear a seat-belt or stick to the speed limit, don’t bother licensing firearms we’re all doomed anyway.

    Mr Bakker there is nothing inherently wrong with your choice of ‘instructive’ writing, but if it is essentially nihilistic and pessimistic then it does not in the end instruct. It merely confirms that all is futile. It may well be your view that all men are born with an automatic desire to hurt women. Mario may believe that it is ‘everyone’s’ unconscious desire to ‘win’ or dominate an argument. These are just tiny cogs in the glorious and complicated machine that makes up human interaction and evolution. We are not plagued by one sex that wishes to hurt the other we are not all desirous of ‘winning’ against our peers. We did in fact evolve to outcompete our close rivals by being social altruists.

    Power, control and other affectations have been labelled by linguists as masculine because they are expressed predominantly by the male portion of our species. Not exclusively though. I have recently left an abusive relationship and have met with, read about and studied those who are prone to abuse. Why? Because some portion of our species are not concerned with winning they are concerned with pleasing others, often to the detriment of themselves. Regardless of there being those that are prone to being controlled and those that express a desire to control this is really only expressed on the ends of the bell curve (thick ends maybe, but it does not shape the majority of our society).

    The world would be a much worse place than it is now if things were really as bleak as you are portraying and by suggesting strong female characters offers false hope to women is appalling. The inference is not that woman ‘can’ be the victim of sexual predation, but that they ‘will’ be. It’s not their fault but they should just prepare for the worst because nothing can be done.

    • rsbakker says:

      My worlds are dark to better shed light on the darkness in our own. If it were the case that there was a dearth of strong feminine role models, then I would agree. I don’t feel any guilt leaving that fight to the likes of geniuses like Valente, for instance. That said, I do think ‘bootstrapped feminine agency’ is a very real cultural problem. Think for instance of Saudi Arabia: why don’t women just bootstrap themselves and demand equal rights? Well, they’re terrorized, plain and simple. But a good number are simply CONVINCED. Even with access to the contrast afforded by the West, they cling to traditional, patriarchal values.

      Transcending culture is not simply difficult – it’s damn near impossible. Bootstrapping occludes this fact – feeds into the pervasive belief that feminism is first and foremost an ‘individual choice’ rather than an arduous communal enterprise. It’s the latter that makes the former possible. Those rare souls that are capable of seeing past their socialization, who do make that choice – are just that, RARE. We all want to think we are that person, but we aren’t.

      We’re trapped, forced to find the long road home, just like my characters.

      • fozmeadows says:

        There is so much racefail and culturefail in this comment, I can’t even.

        You’re right about one thing, though: transcending culture is difficult – which is why it’s so hard to convince certain straight, white men of their own privilege. It’s hard to overcome the overriding conviction that your opinions are always more correct and important than those of others, even when the opinions in question involve telling people of a different gender, race, faith and nationality to yourself what their relationship with their own culture is, and what its inadequacies are. Because OBVIOUSLY a straight white Western man has so much personal experience with the oppression of Muslim women in Saudi Arabia than anyone else.


      • rsbakker says:

        “At what point does the collective agreement and unity of strangers stop being a coincidence and start being meaningful? How many different people have to have identically negative reactions to what you’re doing for you to stop assuming that on each and every occasion, their objections could only be the result of individual error?”

        Actually, I’m always amazed by how little consensus there is in the arguments I encounter – excoriating my character seems to be the only common refrain! This was literally my first thought reading your original post.

        I take your point, though. But why should I assume, ‘My God, all these people in Group A must be onto something,” rather than, ‘My God, all these people in Group B must be onto something”? It’s the SPLIT you see, that I’m always looking for.

        The bottom line is, I AM trying to freak people out, to tweak their moral assumptions, and as much as I’m sure this will make you grind your teeth, I see all this as proof that I’m doing what I think all good fiction should do: provoking impassioned moral debate.

        Believe it or not, I actually spent some time debating what predominant, charged moral register I wanted to pursue way back when. Because of the nature of my anti-hero, Kellhus, I wanted to give him insights that resonated with the reader’s values, to explore the manipulative possibilities of perceived ‘truth.’ I chose a set of basic feminist claims. Decided to model my female characters according to three misogynistic archetypes: the harridan, the waif, and the prostitute (the hooker-with-the-heart-of-gold). I pretty much knew I was in for trouble.

        Even still, I’ve regretted it from time to time. Think of how easy you found it to write me off as one of ‘them.’ (By now, I hope you realize at the very least that I’m not just another ‘run-of-the-mill’ them).There’s been many others who have found it far, far easier.

        You know, though, if there’s one thing I need to thank ACM for, it’s immunizing me against insults!

        • fozmeadows says:

          The only sense in which your arguments aren’t run-of-the-mill is the single-minded zealotry with which you pursue them. I use that word deliberately: you’ve already decided that a particular kind of wrongdoing is impossible in your case, despite the fact that your whole thesis hinges on your gender having an innate predisposition towards exactly that sort of bad behaviour. If you’re right, and men do have an inherent tendency for dominion and sexism, then you should seriously consider yourself a biased observer. If you’re wrong, then it might do you some good to acknowledge it as a possibility. Either way, though, you could do worse than listen to other people.

      • rsbakker says:

        “There is so much racefail and culturefail in this comment, I can’t even…”

        Please. I was reaching for an accessible example. You do realize I can play this precise same game as you, call you out on all the ideological corners you cut (because I assure you…). It’s an easy game to play, but it leads nowhere genuine. I appreciate that you have a stake in hating and demonizing me and whatever, but…

        Do I really need to load down everything I say with bracketed disclaimers? because I will if I have to. I’m not convinced you understand your own jargon!

        See, I start from the basic perspective that humans SHARE the vast bulk of their experiences, and that the differences only become morally relevant when someone invokes them as a means of demeaning others. Are you really suggesting I ‘have no right’ to mention anyone but white men in the course of making my arguments?

        If so, then I think we need to figure who’s really wearing the bigot cap around here!

        • fozmeadows says:

          The statements you made were declarative: “This is what these women are feeling, this is what they’re doing wrong, and also they should try to be more western.” If you don’t see why that’s a problematic thing to say – if you don’t understand that, our shared humanity aside, not all human experiences are universal, and that trying to act as though they are is just another form of cultural imperialism – then I don’t know what to tell you. Stereotypes are only accessible as shorthand to people who think they’re true.

      • Practically all of this comment is [citation needed] – especially this supposed cultural and within-genre surfeit of good feminine role models, and on how Saudi women feel.

        I’d like to make the point that feminism being “individual choice” has nothing to do with feminism per se. This is a result of neoliberal governmentality, which third wave feminism naturally incorporates. I believe we are at the end of “third wave” feminism now: there is a vast upsurge in reconsidering and rebalancing sex-positive feminism, and a relinking with the economic sphere and with general social struggle. There are a great many people who see feminism as an arduous communal enterprise, linked with economics and, yes, neuroscience and sociology. Your claim that this kind of feminism is nonexistant is very much another [citation needed], I’m afraid.

      • And isn’t it funny that your beliefs in the impossibility of change realistically accomplish nothing but preserving the status quo?

  14. potsherds says:

    “There is so much racefail and culturefail in this comment, I can’t even.”

    Yep. Wow.
    I can’t be the only on here who views Bakker as one of those arrogant academia types that will concede to possibly being in error, as a matter of form and to appear open-minded, only to turn around and dictate “the way things are” in various cultures and societies and movements across the globe because it’s patently obvious that his superior intellect, male gender identity, and white skin make him an expert.

    I’ve rarely met a person who so badly needed to shut up and learn to listen to people outside of his peer group.

    • rsbakker says:

      See above. You guys really need this bad, don’t you.

      Okay, explain the rules to me: What groups am I allowed to reference in the course of making my case?

      • fozmeadows says:

        You can reference other cultures; you can’t pretend to speak for them.

      • saajanpatel says:

        I think referring to Saudi Arabia actually serves as distraction. Avoiding this turn, I think the idea Scott is getting at is there’s a problematic assumption when confronting institutional racism/classism/sexism are those who don’t understand privilege and so wonder why, if person X can make it, person Y,Z, and the rest of the alphabet can’t lift themselves up.

        As Scott writes, “They confuse decisions made atop pillows for those made under stones.” (paraphrase)

        I think most (all?) of us can see the need to confront this idea, where those who fail to win against institutional oppression should be not be judged by the privileged as not being “good enough”.

        That said, Scott I do think you’re not giving an indication that you recognize the nuance that many writers who are women and/or queer and/or PoCs include in their art with characters overcoming prejudice. In truth, I think the woman heroine lacking reflection/nuance is a problem male writers have.

        All that said, I think the question to Scott, Fozmeadows, or anyone is what makes a subversive dystopia effective? What makes depiction an effective subversive tactic? Books that I’ve seen garner praise for this strategy are 1984, Lolita, Hogg, and The Handmaid’s tale. This, to me, would be something to have guest bloggers give their views about on TPB.

        p.s. Fozmeadows, I saw a link for your tumblr to the animated gif aging all the avatar characters. I gotta little choked up. 🙂

        • fozmeadows says:

          Avatar FTW! 🙂

          The question of what makes depiction an effective subversive tactic is a hugely important one. By way of example, consider the following four links:

          The statistics for gender bias in book journalism;
          An image of the male Avengers being posed like Black Widow juxtaposed with the original;
          An article on female beauty, where ‘fair skin’ listed as one of the ‘classic signs of beauty’; and, most important of all,
          The overwhelming prevalence of racial and sexual bias in film casting as experienced by a film caster.

          I’ve chosen these particular articles because each one is ultimately rooted in stereotype and subconscious bias. Why are women consistently reviewed less and given far fewer bylines than men in books journalism? Why should we tacitly accept that a female hero must always be posed sexily, while her male counterparts aren’t? Why do we take ‘fair skin’ to be more beautiful than any other kind? Why do even liberal, left-wing arts students fall back into the habit of casting black actors as thugs and prostitutes and white men as heroes?

          The answer isn’t that we all just sit around actively hating women or minorities. It’s that we’ve trained ourselves to see the world a certain way, and the habit has become so ingrained that most of the time, we don’t even realise we’re doing it. In the year 2012, it shouldn’t be an act of subversion to cast a black woman as the central protagonist of a Hollywood movie; yet the chances of it happening are slim to none – unless, of course, the story is specifically about race. It shouldn’t be subversive to write stories in the female gaze; and yet it is. It shouldn’t require conscious effort to ensure that the books we read and review are diverse in authorship; and yet it does. It shouldn’t be unheard-of for a Hollywood film to have a gay protagonist in a film that’s not specifically about homosexuality; and yet it is. Over and over, we’re presented with a world where white, straight and male are the default settings, and anything other than that is considered unusual.

          Which is why representation is so important: because not only does it actively fight this state of affairs, but it draws attention to the fact that it exists, and encourages other people to see diversity as normal, acceptable, viable. It’s also something that feeds into our own creative process. Prior to my engagement with social issues and feminism, my characters were overwhelmingly white and straight (though I still tended to write women). Once I became aware of my own biases, there was a transitional period where I’d come up with the same sort of characters I always had, but instantly I’d notice what I’d done, and have to actively work to include diversity – and this was awkward, because it didn’t feel like I was being true to the characters by forcibly changing such important aspects of who they were. But then, all of a sudden, I found myself imagining characters who from the first were gay, or bi, or from different racial backgrounds – and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this started to happen only after I made a concerted effort to read more stories with POC/LGBTQ characters or which were written by POC/LGBTQ authors, and to expose myself to more images, articles and arguments beyond the default.

          As to what makes an effective, subversive dystopia: if it’s based on sexual dysfunction, oppression or other such gendered violence, then the absolute worst thing it can do is write that sexuality in a pornographic way. The Handmaid’s Tale would be an utterly different book if written from the perspective of Fred rather than Offred, if their interactions had a romantic element, if the sex/rape was graphically written. You don’t condemn the pornographic gaze by adopting it any more than you can challenge racism through the actions of white protagonists: you might be trying to discuss a problem, but the context of your discussion is just as, if not more important than what you actually say.

        • Jason says:

          “what makes a subversive dystopia effective? What makes depiction an effective subversive tactic? Books that I’ve seen garner praise for this strategy are 1984, Lolita, Hogg, and The Handmaid’s tale.”

          Great question.

          One thing is the chance that the societies depicted (at least in Handmaid’s & Orwell) could actually arise. 1984 is horrifying because it’s so reminiscent of real-world totalitarianism. There isn’t much that stirs our flight or flight instinct more than Nazi Germany does, and Big Brother reminds us of Hitler, among other tyrants. The Handmaid’s Tale jars us partly because it’s so similar to, say, puritan New England. Same with the likes of Minority Report, Gattaca, Equilibrium. They’re far away, and yet so near.

          These works also have credible characters facing conflicts and trials common to most great literature. They have heavy tragic elements, too, which tends to get us further invested: a Hamlet (a micro-dystopia if there ever was one) or a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (a mecro-dystopia), or a Brave New World (a macro-dystopia) just wouldn’t have the same impact with a happy ending.

          There’s a lot more to it, of course, and I’m too far out of university to comment intelligently on literature anymore without referring to notes and such.

      • Callan says:

        I’ve seen that avengers one before – hulks expression is priceless! However I think it raises the question of whether we also start to train ourselves to see the world in another certain way. I can still see a plunging neckline and buttock in the cartoon version? In the original the males all seem to be showing their ‘prime fitness’ indicators – buff arms, six packs aplenty! Hawkeye even seems to have donned the top that Nelson in the Simpsons wears. His chest is cold, but his arms aren’t! Show off them guns, Hawkie!

        I know companies often exploit the female form for profit. But it seems like the idea is, because those companies do that, to have a restriction on the female characters actions? That the character should perhaps be ashamed of their form and seek to reduce it’s prominance? Or not ashamed, but always for some reason reducing any potential prominance – trying to withdraw out of sight because of her form?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Again, no one here seems to get it. Except Mario. He’s the only one who’s actually engaging with the meat of Bakker’s assumptions about humanity, which are also his reasons for portraying such a dreary world. Everyone else is either calling him sexist because they simply don’t want it to be true and the others are wrongly associating the mechanisms of human unconsciousness with our conscious minds, which have been festooned with 21st century morality and are almost completely out of touch with our unconscious desires. Thus, the “Oh how dare you insinuate I would rape someone, Bakker. I am a nice guy, and you are being misogynist for making me visualize such a reality,” type of comments.

    Mario said it better than I did, though.

    All I’m saying is that you can criticize evolutionary psychology without attaching all sorts of epithets to Bakker.

    • Kathleen says:

      the arrogance displayed by Bakker and his backers is really astounding. As if we have even come close to an understanding of the human brain or the conscious v. unconscious or dolphins.

      and if you have read this thread and what you get out of it is “calling him sexist because they simply don’t want it to be true” then you need to read again. and again.

      • Anonymous says:

        I wasn’t at all inferring that we’ve come close to fully understanding our brains. We obviously haven’t. But what is worse than pretending that we know everything about ourselves, is pretending that we know absolutely nothing. There is no way that you can assert with an intellectual rigor that we haven’t gathered a myriad of information about our minds; and included in that research is a distinction between conscious behavior and unconscious desire. I guess he assumed that it was common knowledge that bringing up an example of an animal is a good way to highlight how we as humans operate.

        ( I mean, if I were some hardcore fascist conservative and said that homosexuality was unnatural and abhorrent, you wouldn’t respond negatively to someone saying that gay animals do exist, right? Just putting that out there.)

        I’m sorry if my continuous citation of well-known scholarly research and snarky words make me look “arrogant”….or a Bakker supporter, which is actually technically true since I am sort of defending him. But you seem to be making the annoying erroneous assumption that just because I’m speaking out against this article, I am some fan of his. Sorry, but the world is not that simple. I haven’t even finished half of TDTCB.

        But I am only trying to help you all understand why I think you are being extremely unfair to him, by becoming hysterical for his depiction of a misogynist society and his seemingly unconventional theories about male attitudes. All you have to do is cite scientific research and evidence that contradicts his own ideas. That would be the proper way of disagreeing with him. Whoever brought that article about “the issues with evolutionary psychology”–yes, that is the proper way to go about doing this.

        I remember when words like “racist” were attached to virulent, hate-filled people who wouldn’t affiliate or befriend or care for anyone of a different race. Now we have people who simply stereotype blacks as any normal human being would stereotype anything else, being placed on the same level as the KKK, when they really should be just condemned for childish ignorance. The same is true with the word “misogyny”. Most of you haven’t even read his books, it seems, before you jump on the bandwagon of calling him misogynistic. (Also, just because a lot of people do it, Foz, doesn’t mean that Bakker IS sexist. A million people can obviously make the same misinterpretation, you know.)

      • Kathleen says:

        Anonymous: calling women “hysterical” and telling us “the proper way to argue” is full of massive sexist fail. I would tell you to try again, but you clearly do not understand misogyny, or really anything you are purporting to explain. See e.g. pretending anyone here has said “we know absolutely nothing”.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Your response is basically a microcosm of this whole page. Look for misogynist buzzwords, BAM, make some snide little remark about the poster being sexist and voila, you’ve derailed the whole discussion.

        Why don’t you stop looking for subtle ways to make my statements seem sexist and actually address points I raise? It was so obvious that I was not calling women in general hysterical that I wonder about your reading comprehension; it was towards anyone needlessly slinging shit at Bakker, without having read his books, misrepresenting him, misunderstanding him, or simply refusing to engage in a reasonable conversation with him. The first commenter here is a male. He is not exempt from me calling him hysterical.

        Quit looking for ways to be offended by something that is obviously not trying to insult you based on your gender. I am a POC, so I know how easy it is to misconstrue some words someone’s said to make it look racist. To claim that you’ve been offended and instantly have some white dude apologizing repeatedly to you.

        I also understand oppressive language/slang used by people who aren’t prejudice, but who have just inherited it from a prejudiced society; but this wasn’t a case of that, and even if it was, you still ignored everything else I said.

      • jennygadget says:

        “To claim that you’ve been offended and instantly have some white dude apologizing repeatedly to you.”

        * DIES OF LAUGHTER *

        oh, yeah. that’s totally why I roll my eyes and then point and laugh when ppl say I am being hysterical. profuse apologies are totally the desired and expected outcome. yup yup yup.

      • Callan says:

        the arrogance displayed by Bakker and his backers is really astounding

        What do they do? Pile other people of diversity into one basket and tell them their own emotional state?

        Anonymous: Sadly the idea of a hysteria that actually all humans/both sexes are quite capable of is not really a propegated idea as yet. Not to mention, who is really qualified to judge who is hysterical? Though in a platonic ideal, someone could suggest the other is hysterical and the other would consider it thoughtfully. But ironically such careful thought would be one piece of evidence against the suggestion. Certainly the very act of such careful thought over a period of more than ten seconds would not, by my measure, contain any hysteria.

      • Juan Pazos says:

        The only one who seems to me to be coming across as hysterical is Bakker, with his apparent inability to deal with this kind of criticism.

  16. Anubis says:

    The whole argument about men being naturally inclined to rape (for evolutionary, neurological or whatever reasons) is bound to come down to »We men are so bad and intrinsically evil that when we do something bad, it’s because we really can’t help it«. It’s a very refined way of saying »boys will be boys«, or rather, it’s the old trick of sticking to a privilege by adopting a tone of confession and admitting it.

    • Juan Pazos says:

      Clap clap clap clap clap.

    • Anonymous says:

      And so what? What exactly is your point, Anubis?

      Does any scientific evidence point to the wrongness of that statement? Or is it just personal bias that we immediately disregard it as bullshit because we just know deep down in our liberal hearts that all evil (racism and sexism!) is the product of nurture and not nature?

      And actually, Bakker is not using that to justify male behavior as you’ve implied. I doubt it is something he wants to believe in, but he has been lead to it, by whatever research he’s read, and feels that the best way to distance ourselves from our wiring is to become aware of it. Why is that something you all just ignore and instead, focus on the fact that Bakker believes men are inherently evil? To me, that reeks

      Also, I apologize for the use of “hysterical”. However, it’s still rather telling that everything else in my posts were ignored just so that one of you could go off on some tangent about it being a word used to subtly oppress women. Especially when I made it based on my observations of your actions and not gender…and the fact that I called the males here hysterical, too. There were more important things to respond to and you guys just tried to go the route that made me look like an insensitive straight white male who’s seemingly unaware of the fact that some words may have a sexist history, and that by using them outside of that history, I am still somehow supporting misogyny.

      Oh and also Callan, I wasn’t “lumping” POC’s together by bringing attention to the fact that we aa have say over what supposedly offends us and what doesn’t. You cannot tell me that there’s not an air of tension between a white person and a POC when it comes to discussion about race, and that usually, the white person, knowing his/her privilege and even sometimes overestimating the sensitivity of that POC, is at the mercy of the person of color. It is easy to say “Hey, you offended me!” or “That’s racist.”

      I’m not saying every time a POC makes this accusation, he is lying; all I am saying is that, as a person of color myself, and having been around many others, I know how easy it is to misuse the power of the race card or to confuse racism with plain, innocent-but-harmful ignorance. And I see similarities with it and the sexist card.

      Oh how easy it is to dismiss someone in one, seemingly clever sentence.

      • Anonymous says:

        *that reeks of parochialism.

      • 1. Bakker’s biological credentials are exactly zero, and the fact he has read evopsycho nonsense on Wikipedia does not change that.
        2. Hysterical is a term that explicitly demeans women for reasons that have been extensively analyzed.
        3. There are no “rape modules” in the human brain for the simplest of reasons: rape is too complex a response, because it has nothing to do with reflex reproductive urges.

        This, briefly, from a research biologist. I could say more but Bakker’s blattings are so old hat that I frankly cannot be bothered.

      • Anubis says:

        First off: I’m not a liberal, so spare your breath.

        Biologistic arguments tend to defend the status quo. I’m not necessarily saying that your research in evolutionary psychology or neurology is wrong, I’m just saying that it is not in the least imperative when it comes to fighting misogyny and sexism. Objecting to sexism is an ethical judgement. Raising awareness about it is political action. Sexism is unacceptable, it must be fought. Plain and simple. Compared to that, it is of absolutely no importance what evolutionary psychology proves or disproves. As an empirical science, it states facts. Ethics and politics, on the other hand, state demands, and one can never disprove the other. There is no way from ‘is’ to ‘ought’, and when empirical research is used in an attempt to disprove ethical or political demands, it has already been taken out of the context of empirical science and made a faulty biologistic argument.

        In short: If someone tells you that sexism is appalling and must be opposed, you better not try to wiggle out of it by saying sexism is part of men’s nature.

        And in case you are now inclined to say something along the lines of how all of this sounds rather nice, but when it comes down to harsh realities I will have to admit… then stop right there, because it’s just the same faulty argument all over. Injustice has never been overcome by telling the privileged guys that their privilege is backed by their psychology and beg them to reconsider it. Or to put it the other way: Just about every historical struggle against oppression and discrimination has been won by making demands and changing power structures. As simple as that. It’s laughable that people who claim to support the case against this particular injustice (sexism) even discuss the first alternative as a viable method of questioning privilege and not one of reinforcing it.

      • Anubis says:

        Disclaimer: My last post was about Anonymous’ claim that any position that doesn’t attribute the utmost importance to his “scientific evidence” must be “personal bias”, to be sure, and not addressed to Athena Andreadis.

        Sorry for double posting.

      • Callan says:

        Anon, when I talked of piling into baskets I did so refering to someone else, who I quoted. I guess I should have written the name of the person as well (Kathleen), it wasn’t all that clear of me. If that’s what you were refering to, then it wasn’t aimed at you, sorry for the confusion.

    • Seraphimal says:

      Your whole argument seems to be that acknowledging such neurological inclinations is tantamount to affirming and endorsing them, or passively accepting them.
      Which is a pretty large leap to make, in my opinion.
      Bakker has said time and time again that he’s exploring these neurological inclinations to shed light on a legitimately troubling aspect of the male psyche. I don’t see what’s so offensive or controversial about trying to explore or grapple with the atavistic animal at the heart of human nature.
      This might not be a worthy cause to you, or it might be grounded in faulty science, but if this is indeed the case it might be better to start by confronting these aspects than saying, “Bakker has no idea what he’s talking about and he’s just trying to justify privilege.”

      You can say Bakker’s science is wrong. You can criticize the execution and delivery of his ideas. Which would at least widen the scope of this “discussion.”
      But trying to make him look like he’s endorsing or promoting a “privilege” (and what do you even mean by that word in this context, anyways?) is just a gross misrepresentation.

  17. Callan says:

    Anubis: The whole argument about men being naturally inclined to rape (for evolutionary, neurological or whatever reasons) is bound to come down to

    No, not really. No more than the claim we can all succumb to alchoholism (even just binge drinking patterns) is some sort of excuse for anyone to become an alchoholic.

    There seems to be two choices, if not more – know the enemy inclination, take responsibility and work around it. Or I guess you could use it as some sort of excuse.

    If you want to lump everyone suggesting such an inclination into the same ‘will just use it as an excuse’ basket……….okay. But have you ever read a book where characters in it ignore dire warnings and you thought ‘Why are you people so bloody minded!?’.

    • Anubis says:

      I don’t really know why you bring this comparison up, but there’s a huge difference in saying that we all CAN become alcoholics and saying that all males MUST behave in a certain (misogynistic) way.

      Leaving that aside, what is it that establishing rape as the default option of male behaviour is supposed to warn us of? Not being sexist oder misogynistic in a too obvious way?

      And recommending to work around the temptation to rape in a responsible way really sounds creepy. Is that what you have to offer? What would that responsibility actually look like, I wonder? How would it differ from the same old “she provoked me, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it”? “She provoked me, but I could refrain myself before it was too late”? That surely will make a lot of women feel safe.

      Talking of choices, I believe there really is only one: If your behaviour is sexist or misogynistic in any way, then change it. If you witness sexist or abusive behaviour in other males, then interrupt it and help to change the conditions that make it possible. And don’t downplay sexism or sexualized violence by saying “It was his brain that made him do it”.

      This is going to be my last comment on this issue. All this talk about rape being a ‘natural’ impulse really makes me sick.

      • Callan says:

        I don’t really know why you bring this comparison up, but there’s a huge difference in saying that we all CAN become alcoholics and saying that all males MUST behave in a certain (misogynistic) way.

        Indeed. So I don’t know why it’s brought up – was anyone saying males MUST behave in a certain way?

        And recommending to work around the temptation to rape in a responsible way really sounds creepy.

        Well, you say it sounds creepy, but you offer no methods by which you could be wrong on that. What am I to do, second guess or mind read you for what switch you around on that? As far as I know, it’ll just be creepy for you even if multiple scientific studies were to locate such a node in the brain. Maybe even if there were scientific studies, you’d say they’d just be doing it to make an excuse for the horendous act?

        Back when I felt anything natural == good, I’d have been made sick by the notion. These days I don’t trust nature as much as I used to and I don’t just automatically equate natural with ‘okay to do’.

      • Anubis says:

        Again, you’re just distracting. If there is scientific evidence for the position in question, link to it. Or specify an article that sums up and discusses the research on the topic. But if you’re not able to do that, don’t expect people to engage with your trollish questions like “If Bakker was right, would you still disagree with him?” etc.

        Incidentally, I drew a rather fine distinction between empirical scientific studies as such and the way they might be used in an argument. Meaning I never said such studies are necessarily done to serve as an excuse, but arguments that lean rhetorically on them are bound to do so.

        • Callan says:

          It’s speculative fiction, as much as Gibson speculated. If you don’t like speculative fiction, or think speculative fiction can’t speculate about structures of the brain, fair enough, okay. But then don’t bother with giving argument if you’re not interested in speculation. To argue it is to speculate.

          but arguments that lean rhetorically on them are bound to do so.
          I think you’re confusing ‘can do so’ and ‘bound to do so’, simply because of the threat of someone using such things to excuse their horrific behaviour (or the horrific behaviour of somone else). If only 1 in 100 would try and use it as an excuse, you’d rather lump the other 99 in with the excuse makers than permit the possibility of that one instance.

          It’s not bound to do so. That’s BS.

          And a pro tip on the ‘trollish’ questions: If someones actually trolling, they don’t give a shit if you call them a troll (or they even get their jollies from it). The only person an accusation of trolling affects is one for whom it’s a false accusation. It is possible for people to be genuine yet theirs isn’t all that compatable with your own type of genuine (I’m assuming you are genuine in your concern, anyway)

  18. Anonymous says:

    I was going to give a lengthy response to your comments, Anubis, but I’ll just be brief. Maybe because you won’t even see this or because your emotions will not allow you to accept the validity of it. No, mostly because I want Foz and everyone else to see what my problem is with the mentality that pervades this page.

    “I don’t believe this–despite the fact that there may be evidence that supports it–because it discomforts me. I don’t care what the truth is. I just believe what doesn’t creep me out,” describes you and Foz perfectly. Just look at the last sentence of your last post.

    Also why do you try to separate the reality supposedly revealed by evopsych to some scientists and “politics”? I’m sorry, but the fact is that IF men really are “wired to rape” or whatever similar idea if floating around out there, the awareness of this can help us fight misogyny. Whether it sounds “creepy” to you or not that human beings have to ignore some unconscious urge just to function in 21st century society, it is still important that you are aware of reality. Plugging your ears and repeating “nottruenotruenotruetoocreppyomg” is not going to help anyone but people who superficially dismiss a whole movement based on a few ignorant people who are apart of it.

    (And sorry Callan. I feel like a jackass for misinterpreting that.)

    • See my earlier comment about “rape modules” and Bakker’s zero biological credentials. It’s Bakker who’s doing the LaLaLaICan’tHearYou shtick: the invalid analogies with other animals, the willful ignorance of GxE interactions and brain plasticity, the impoverished take on history — to say nothing of his categorization of those who disagree with him as deranged imbeciles and (femi)nazis. Rape is not an unconscious urge, it’s too complex to be among the Four Fs. You can use the reality check you urge on Anubis yourself.

      • Anonymous says:

        I know I never made it explicitly clear that I don’t support Bakker’s theories and I also know that by simply speaking out against one faction, they will assume that you are completely, 100 percent for everything that the person they are against (in this case, Bakker) says, but I’m sure I made it clear that I wasn’t arguing for any evopsych position or saying that Bakker is right.

        Go back and read my posts. Look at the places where I used “supposedly” or “if”.

        I have nothing against you, Athena, even though I’m surprised at how badly you misinterpreted my posts and why you are so eager to see Bakker as the only one who has committed a fallacy. I still think that you and Mario are literally the only people arguing with at least a modicum of rationality here.

      • Anubis says:


        Right. You’re not supporting Bakker, you’re just acting as if. So you can’t really be criticised. And you’re really, really sorry that you repeatedly had to defend the validity of Bakker’s argument, although implicitly you don’t agree with it. But then, something had to be done to let this discussion derail, right? Because you had to make people see what your problem is—or rather, you had to make people see how this discussion really is about you. So you couldn’t make it explicit that you’re just distracting, because it would have been too obvious. And now you feel badly misinterpreted, although none of this is your fault. You just had no choice.

        I’m so sorry, dude. That inner struggle really must have torn you apart.

        • Anonymous, I must concur with Anubis on this. If you are not agreeing with Bakker and haven’t read his books, what exactly are you defending? Your unique ability to be “objective”? Your superior knowledge of biology? Your right to dictate the tone of the conversation? I also do not like your explicit attempt to classify some women (Anubis, Kathleen) as “hysterical” and bad, other women (me) as “reasonable” and good.

          Your arguments (if we want to call them that) are in fact ones that women have encountered repeatedly; incidentally, none is valid. Not the history, not the science, not the ethics.

          • Anubis says:

            I’m not a woman, incidentally. Sorry, given the ugly and openly misogynistic direction this discussion has been led to (women being accused of hysteria, irrationality and childishness), I should have pointed out more clearly that I am male. It wasn’t my intention to speak for the women in this discussion, that’s why I initially concentrated on the question what Bakker’s argument is supposed to warn us (males) of. I hope I haven’t inadvertently used any misleading language in expressing my concern with Bakker’s brain argument.

            What you say though is still valid, I guess, because it’s not unlikely that Anonymous took my arguments as coming from a woman as well.

      • Wanderer says:

        I read some of your “amateur fiction”. You are an absolute hack compared to Scott Bakker. Stick to your day job – biology.


  19. In reply to Anonymous — the site won’t allow further threading: My replies spring from having read Bakker’s postings at several blogs (four as of this count) and all the chapters of his books available freely online (I draw the line at paying for the bilge). What he has to say is neither novel nor subversive. Furthermore, it is pompous and navel-gazing in the extreme (aka whiny). Worse yet, he attempts to enlist (pseudo)science to belittle the intelligence and motivations of those who disagree with him. Incidentally, I commented several of these blogs, and Bakker has never engaged with me on the biological validity of his claims. Draw your own conclusions.

    Now, it’s ok to like cocoa puffs; it’s anothern thing entirely to insist they’re haute cuisine. If Bakker said “I write boyman-pleasing pornokitsch and essentialist faux-medievalism/exoticism, it pays the bills and has given me a fan base — that’s good enough for me,” I’d have nothing against that. However, to try and elevate this hackery into paradigm-shifting high philosophy, and to tell the scads of women who have explained why it’s problematic (from several angles) that they just don’t comprehend his subtlety and sophistication, is either cynicism of the highest order or delusion.

    I intend to discuss the “rape module” nonsense in the near future. In the meantime, it may be helpful to read two articles that I wrote: one dissects the grittygrotty epic fantasy subgenre that Bakker is a member of; the other discusses genes versus complex behavior.

    A Plague on Both Your Houses

    Miranda Wrongs: Reading Too Much into the Genome

  20. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry Anubis, but the world really isn’t that simple. Just because I called you all out on responding emotionally to Bakker and spent a deal of saying things that weren’t in your favor doesn’t mean that I am some die-hard fanboy of his. I can’t possibly be when I have never read any of his books.

    Please go back and read my posts again; this time, think very hard about the meanings of the words that I use and how they, when they’re put together, form complex ideas. Words like “supposedly” hint at the fact that the writer doesn’t necessarily believe what is being referenced.

    And after you are done, go look at Athena’s posts. Hers, I have no problem with. Instead of reacting with only geekrage and emotion, she actually engages with Bakker on the topic he started (apparently, something that has not been reciprocated according to her) and even linked me to some articles that I would be more than happy to look at. Not because I have an urge to prove her wrong, but because I honestly have no knowledge about the subject and would like to gain more information about it; but it doesn’t take a learned scientist in the field to see that the way Foz and others like her react to this is just childishness.

    • Anubis says:


      Who said you’re a fanboy? You’ve made it sufficiently clear that you’re doing this not because you’re an admirer of Bakker, but out of sheer male self-importance. The phenomenon is well known, after all: In any internet discussion based on feminist criticism sooner or later someone like you shows up. Someone who (regardless of the specifical topic of the debate) feels the urgent need to tell everybody about his “problem with the mentality that pervades this page” and the general “childishness” of the discussion or how it “exceeds the bounds of any rationality”, and who is deeply hurt and feels “badly misinterpreted” when he’s contradicted. You’re not the first one to do this, nor is it a particularly new or surprising strategy.

    • potsherds says:

      Just to reinforce Anubis and Athena Andreadis on this one, I’m also not sure what you’re position is outside of demanding that the discussion take place on your terms and denigrating most of the women here for not fitting into your silly idea of ‘rationality’ or ‘objectivity’.
      Implying that many of us wimmins here are ‘just too emotional, gosh!’ and that expressing these emotions render our position illegitimate, is pretty old hat. This is a common derailing tactic used against minorities, especially women, that is just really, really boring. Your attitude and unoriginal use of derailing is banal. Maybe you should come back when you’ve got something more to offer.

  21. ccb says:

    I also take issue with the liberal use of mainly discredited pseudoscience as “proof” of this attitude. I come from a computational neuroscience background, and most of the theories Mr. Bakker claims are currently held in evolutionary psychology have been discredited.
    One of the greatest dangers in neuroscience, as I see it, is the following chain of events: (1)neuroscientists (or biologists) discover an interesting phenomenon;
    (2) behavioral scientists overgeneralize the results and tie these assumptions in as support for popular theories;
    (3) the popular press picks this up, ignores any stated assumptions or doubts in the hypothesis, overgeneralizes again, and reports this wildly sensationalized account as fact
    (4) people in society use a false psychological argument to back up their own bigotry.

    For an example, consider the once-popular study of physiognomy, and some of the uses it was put to, from the Victorian times through WWII. Physiognomy has about as much factual, empirical basis as the theories Mr. Bakker contends are “truth.”

    If Mr. Bakker is truly as concerned with justice and truth as he claims, one step he might take is reading up on current viewpoints, especially those with at least a little empirical backing.

    I suggest he reads, Chris Haufe’s article, “Sexual selection and mate choice in evolutionary psychology” (Bio Phil 2008)

    For several other interesting and very readable articles/books:

    Kevin N. Laland, Gillian R. Brown. Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour.

    Philip Tyson, Dai Jones, Jonathan Elcock. Psychology in Social Context: Issues and Debates.(has a very interesting chapter on the history, as well as the political motivations, of the theories that Mr. Bakker propounds.)

    Edouard Machery and Kara Cohen. “An Evidence-Based Study of the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.” Brit J Philos Sci 2012 63: 177-226. (calls into question the methodologies of evolutionary psychology, and its tendency to ignore current evidence from both evolutionary biology and neuroscience)

    • Great list! I’m going to hunt these down, as I’m inside the PubMed firewall (one of the few perks of academia!). Here are two additions, if people want to see how hard it is to do valid studies on these issues — and how hard it is to interpret them correctly because of social(ized) biases:

      Cordelia Fine, Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference
      Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sex/Gender: Biology in a Social World

      Both are meant for non-scientists, so they’re accessible.

  22. Anonymous says:

    @Postherds (and Anubis, too, I guess if someone has convinced him/her that not all males who disagree with his/her feminist sensibilities are sexist, selfish privileged white males), Actually I never chastised anyone here for just being too emotional. But I understand your eagerness to accuse someone of such a ridiculous fallacy.

    Foz speaking out against Bakker with no scientific or objective or logical reasoning other than “I don’t want to believe that that’s true, therefore it’s not! Grr Bakker u creepy!” whatsoever is what made me speak out against people here. It’s sort of sad that I have to type this out for a third time.

    I am not at all comitting a tone argument fallacy. You probably thought I was some straight white male who didn’t know what that was, didn’t you? Foz, and all of the females espousing similar opinions as her, is female; she also happens to chastise Bakker’s ideas which are grounded in at least some degree of objective reasoning (scientific research) by yelling and screaming. I’m sorry that saying she’s “overreacting emotionally” looks sexist to you even when it’s an epithet attached to her based on her behavior. I guess it’s sort of like calling a black serial killer who tortured his victims an animal.

    Whether Bakker is completely wrong from his intepretation or not doesn’t even matter when people react like this.

    I don’t care if she calls Bakker names and says mean things, but if you want to prove someone’s scientific thesis wrong, then you’re going to have to do more than just have a temper tantrum. Now please tell me what is wrong with my reasoning. .

    How do you react to Christians whose only argument against evolution is “I didn’t evolve from no damn monkey?” This is almost exactly what I see here, except its stupidity is insulated by the awkwardness of Bakker’s idea men may be “hard-wired” to rape.

    • Foz (and other commenters) analyzed Bakker’s own premises: he writes only for men, he omits strong female characters, he deliberately uses sexualized violence, he believes in “rape modules”, etc. She also pointed out that his analogies between humans and other animals are invalid. Her views are very different from “Bakker u creepy” that you seem to be determined to foist on her and other “females” (female is an adjective; the noun is woman/women). Last but not least, the fact that you are not white does not absolve you of sexism.

      • potsherds says:

        Ah darn. I’ve been totally remiss in not thinking of the inherent cissexism of Bakker’s silly premise. Thanks for pointing that out, Athena. That’s just another layer of fail and another way in which Bakker proves his ignorant oversimplification is not only offensive but inaccurate when compared to reality.

  23. Anonymous says:

    See? Ccb and Athena are actually linking to studies.

  24. potsherds says:

    “It’s sort of sad that I have to type this out for a third time. ”

    Well, we agree there.

    Bakker doesn’t have a thesis. He’s not a scientist, he’s a grimdark author with a poor understanding of the pseudo-science and largely dedunked evopsych he’s espousing. He’s doing nothing more interesting than performing a thought experiment through his writing that is largely irrelevant to the issue of changing the cultural and sociological underpinnings of bigotry and violence. Not to mention the basic problem of a gross over-simplification of a fairly complex rape culture into ‘my biology made me do it’. Those of us folks here discussing Bakker’s writing from a gender and sexism angle have, from what I can tell, a pretty advanced understanding of the rape culture. Enough so that Bakker’s ridiculous over-simplification of neurology, biology, behaviour, and the complexities of environment and culture on individuals doesn’t warrant much time. Instead, most of us are focusing on why his stupid thought experiment is problematic from other angles that tie in to our interests re: feminism and sexism, and how to properly challenge a bigoted society instead of reinforcing it. Your constant denigration of topics you obviously know little about or have any interest in, your attempt to shield your derailing with excuses of ‘but objectivity! rationality! science!’, and your demands that we all take time out of our lives to criticize Bakker the way *you* want us to in this space is all disrespectful and dishonest bull.

    How about you address what Athena and ccb have posted, since that’s what *you’re* interested in, and shut the hell up about the gender politics you have so little respect for.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It does not follow that having an advance understanding of rape culture and misogyny will give you leeway to make any observations about neurology or biology, unless you all welcome the application of knowledge from one subject to an almost completely unrelated one.

    I’m not saying that the study of misogyny and biology are completely unrelated; a good comparison would be someone trying to apply their knowledge of music theory to musical acoustics.

    It’s commendable that you, ccb, and Athena are actually engaging with his ideas on an intellectual level. But if you would have understood my posts, then you would have seen that I was defending the validity of Bakker’s idea only because everyone had dismissed it without any logical rigor. Assuming you already know this, what was the point of you asking me to respond to ccb and Athena? lol I have nothing to disagree with them about.

    (Also, it’s plain common sense that anyone would want a debate/analysis/article/whatever written without any emotional bias, at least if you don’t want to look like a child. It’s not me wanting you all to speak on “my terms”. You all should really stop saying that.)

    One more thing: please tell me why I have no respect for gender politics. How do you know that when you’ve only seen my opinion on this one post? Why not calm down a bit (uh oh tone argument fallacy!!!) and try not to assume that anyone who has a different opinion regarding sexism than yours and makes a few little ad hominems isn’t a complete sexist with no respect for feminism? It will make you look a little less angry and more level-headed.

    • Kathleen says:

      Anon – You have so embarrassed yourself with sexist fail in this thread that I am almost wincing for you. For anyone reading, this is how *not* to do it. Don’t order people around in a thread. Don’t tell people “the proper way to argue”. (note, Anon, that I tried to point this out to you in my initial comment. You should have listened.) Don’t “give advice” to others about how to look “less angry” with the embedded assumption that anger about misogyny is wrong. Don’t use sexist language like “emotional” and “hysterical”. Don’t decide for everyone what the parameters of the discussion are, or what evidence is and is not valid. Stop insisting on trying to control the discussion.

      This is all Sexism 101 stuff. I suggest you look into it, Anon, and next time you might do better in a similar discussion.

  26. Anonymous says:

    “Foz (and other commenters) analyzed Bakker’s own premises: he writes only for men, he omits strong female characters, he deliberately uses sexualized violence, he believes in “rape modules”, etc. She also pointed out that his analogies between humans and other animals are invalid. Her views are very different from “Bakker u creepy” that you seem to be determined to foist on her and other “females” (female is an adjective; the noun is woman/women). Last but not least, the fact that you are not white does not absolve you of sexism.”

    Ha, never even implied that my non-whiteness meant that I was incapable of sexism. It was pretty clear that I brought that up to show you all that I have experience being on the non-white side of bigotry debates, although it APPEARS I am not now. The example of brought up obvious conveyed the idea that sometimes minorities are given too much power to deem if something is racist or not. And seeing how sexism is in so many ways similar to racism….

    All of that is just to say that I feel that I have a somewhat unique perspective on it. Although I am not a woman and am less perceptive to some sexist remarks, I see many parallels between the subtle racism of today with the subtle to not-so-subtle sexism.

    Nope, that’s still “Bakker ur creepy”. All she did was quote the part where Bakker admitted that he wrote only for men and purposely admitted female characters.You all are forgetting the part where he rationalized it. Or tried to.

    What she did was call Bakker creepy for wanting to “warn males of their instinctive need to rape” or whatever. Now I can understand seeing GRRM like that for his obsessive descriptions of Dany, but if Bakker seriously believes that it is not a farfetched idea that men are built to rape, then what in the hell is creepy about him wanting to make this information known so that we can avoid it?

    It might be a wrong interpretation of data, but it is not “creepy.” That makes absolutely no sense to me.

    • You, like Bakker, cannot have it both ways. Either Bakker knows very well he’s writing sexist tripe using pseudoscience (in which case he’s acting in bad faith) or he is doing it in blissful ignorance of biology (in which case, instead of touting his sophistication, he should read some real science).

      Your continuing to write tracts about this, trying to twist every straw(man) into silk, reminds me of something that happened to me in primary school. I argued with a fellow schoolmate about something, until I backed him into a corner. At which point he looked at me, chin trembling, and said “You have to let me win!” Naturally, I demanded to know why.

      His answer: “Because *I* am the boy.”

      • Anonymous says:

        Athena: Could you clarify a bit? What, exactly, am I having both ways and what is my strawman? I believe I brought up some plausible points in those last posts, but all you did was respond to me with vague accusations and some weird, irrelevant anecdote.

        Kathleen: Again, I am not “telling” you how to argue lol. Unless you guys think me suggesting you analyze things with a little more rationality is me moving the goal posts.

        I love how you so elegantly morph my words into sexist slights. I already know of the sexism that CAN be associated with words like “emotional” in topics about women, but I wrote under the assumption that everyone here would be able to comprehend the fact that the meaning of words are circumstantial; and in this circumstance, I used it to describe someone who tried to counter a rational argument with…well…just emotion.

        Also, I have already apologized for using hysterical. Why are you still putting it in quotes and wincing about it in your posts?

        • Anonymous — my error was to engage with you at all. Feeding trolls and all that. You and Bakker are truly kindred spirits.

          • Seraphimal says:

            How is Anon a troll?
            All he was saying was that dismissing Bakker’s arguments as “creepy” was irrational. And then everyone accused him of being a misogynist.
            He attempted to clarify that he’s not a misogynist, and that he only took issue with the manner in which people (male and female) responded (i.e., being “creeped out” and unwilling to even consider the implications of the point Bakker was trying to make).

            He’s not even defending Bakker’s actual ideas and yet you still lump him in with Bakker and disregard him as a troll. Poor form.

            • I will leave the proof to you as an exercise. It should be pretty easy, since you’re clearly in the same group.

            • Because dismissing women as irrational isn’t sexist at all.

              • Anonymous says:

                But it is not sexist when the woman really is acting irrational. That’s the point that you all keep missing. You aren’t immune to acting in a way antithetical to reason just because it would look awkwardly sexist if someone called you out on it. It’s like dismissing someone as racist for labeling an Iraqi Muslim a terrorist….when he actually is one.

                Do we at least agree on that?

                • No, we don’t. I think we can agree you’re a patronizing shitstain—-and oh, yeah, asshole, I served in Iraq, so don’t try that ‘terrorist’ bullshit on me. I made a lot of friends among the Iraqis and I interrogated a lot of Iraqis, and you know about as much about them as you do about women. I’d rather choose the company of your typical moderate Iraqi that one of these rape-justifying evo-psycho-justifying Baker fanboys.

                  You don’t get to justify your sexism to the person you’re inflicting it on, moron.

                  • Seraphimal says:

                    Ginmar your anecdote about serving in Iraq is worthless and irrelevant to this discussion. All Anon was saying is that women have the potential for irrationality. As do men. Commenting on the obvious shouldn’t inspire a tirade about “hurr durr I surved in Iraq bro u a shitstain.”
                    Anon isn’t sexist, he hasn’t exhibited sexism in any of his posts, I don’t understand why everybody on this blog is reacting this way.

                • fozmeadows says:

                  It’s MASSIVELY sexist if you think the reason the woman is acting irrational is because she’s a woman, or because she’s daring to defending herself against sexist attacks. Which is what’s happening here.

                  So, no. We can’t agree.

                  • I’m always amused when a guy swans in and declares that he’s the only person who can judge womens’ emotional state—-and that’s how it should be, because you know women are so irrational.

                    • Jason says:

                      Even more amusing is when a woman declaims that only she can judge a woman’s emotional state because, you know, she’s a woman.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    And please, Foz, please, assuming that you are a native English speaker and have normal skills in language comprehension, please sort through all of the times where I’ve said that I’ve made my comment about your irrationality not based on your gender, but your actions, and show me the area where I’ve said that I called you irrational because you’re a woman. That might be sort of hard to do; actually, it’s impossible.

                    I would understand my condemnation if it was impossible for women to act irrationally or emotionally. But the truth is that knee-jerk reactions pervade both genders; it is not impossible for you, as a woman, to analyze something in a way that abandons thought and reason, just because men in the past have thoughtlessly accused women of being emotional just because they were women.

                    And Ginmar Rienne: Uh……ok? You don’t have to be in the military to know that there are terrorists. I wasn’t trying to pull any “terrorist” bullshit (whatever the hell that meant…oh, is it that you think I think all Iraqis are terrorists because I simply called attention to the fact that there are Iraqi terrorists?) on you, what are you talking about? Damn, I am cracking up so hard right now. Your post is exactly what I’m talking about when I mention emotional knee-jerk reactions; the fact that you think I am trying to defend Bakker’s evopsych position is evidence that you really have no business even replying to me under the impression that you are saying anything substantial. Seriously.

                    Oh, and yes, I am being condescending and making ad hominems. So what? I was under the impression that feminists and their supporters knew the perils of whining about the tone of someone’s argument.

                    • Nothing like anonytrolls who think they’re clever. And I quote:

                      But it is not sexist when the woman really is acting irrational. That’s the point that you all keep missing. You aren’t immune to acting in a way antithetical to reason just because it would look awkwardly sexist if someone called you out on it. It’s like dismissing someone as racist for labeling an Iraqi Muslim a terrorist….when he actually is one.

                      You define ‘irrational’ as any woman you disapprove of, and what you know about terrorism and Muslims would fit in thimble—-if I was charitable. Pure racism and sexism, trying to mansplain stereotypes that you hold dear.

                    • Anonymous says:

                      You define ‘irrational’ as any woman you disapprove of, and what you know about terrorism and Muslims would fit in thimble—-if I was charitable. Pure racism and sexism, trying to mansplain stereotypes that you hold dear.

                      Nope, I didn’t define ‘irrational’ as any woman who I disapprove of. You’re just making shit up.

                      Nope, I am not racist because I’ve pointed out that there are Iraqis who are terrorists.

                      I’ve repeatedly called her irrational because…..she wasn’t…being….rational. In this case, that means not using any scientific evidence to discredit Bakker. I don’t care that she’s a woman. The first commenter here is a male and he was equally irrational for saying “I can’t imagine raping anyone! bakkers wrong!!”

                      Here, I’ll simplify it even more for you:

                      Bakker: Science says men might be naturally inclined to rape and be violent. That’s what science says.

                      Foz: Well I say that’s creepy! I know people who’d disagree!

                      Bakker: I don’t portray strong/feminist/ women with agency who overcome societal oppression because no one ever individually overcomes oppression. That’s what I’ve found to be the truth and I think it does harm to feminism to perpetuate the idea that they do.

                      Foz: Well feminism is about portraying women in positive roles. See, Bakker admitted that he doesn’t portray women in a positive manner. He’s sexist!

                      Now I’ll just wait for you to think that I am backing Bakker’s ideas. The truth is that I do not know enough about evolutionary psychology to agree or disagree with the first one, but I think his reason for not at least having some interesting female characters is just shitty.

              • Seraphimal says:

                It isn’t when the woman in question is actually being irrational.
                You seem to presume that women can’t be irrational, which is in itself a sexist assumption.

                • >.< That is the point.

                  This is you. I'm not even bothering with this crap. You want to worship your sexist little leader, knock yourself out, but you give up the right to bitch when women point out how assy he, his books, and his fans are.

                  • Seraphimal says:

                    This is so hilariously insipid I don’t even know where to begin. Nobody here is “worshiping” Bakker; your generalizations are as crude as your argumentative abilities. “When women point out how assy he is, his books, and his fans are.”
                    You’re essentially celebrating your sides’ tendency to make subjective qualitative assessments about Bakker, his work, and his fandom, as opposed to actually analyzing the science that underlines his philosophy, or lack thereof.
                    You embody the very ethos of, “You guys are creepy and rude and dumb, lol, I’ve never read the books but they sure are misogynistic! lol I don’t have to put any work into this discussion because Bakker is sooo misogynist and anyone who criticizes me is a misogynist that worships Bakker!”
                    Please recognize how silly you’re being.

                    • Foz already did a substantial analysis of Bakker’s many weaknesses, which his fanboys rejected with a resounding, “LALALALAA we won’t listen to you/many variations of excuses, which all amount to: you just hate us cuz penises!”

                      There’s no more ‘science’ underlying his (again, shitty, long-since discredited evo-psych excuses for rape that boil down to: rape is natural, so boys will be boys) than there is to the once-medically-accepted diagnosis of drapetomania.

                      Bakker and his fanboys have done nothing but tell women who don’t find him a god that there’s nothing wrong with Bakker but everything wrong with anybody who doesn’t appreciate his sexist perfection, with added sexism. His hoarde seems literally unable to hear anything that isn’t what they want to hear. Your—and his—–thinking about women is about as valid as drapetomania. Go look it up.

                  • Dean says:

                    Comment deleted for pointless sexist antagonism.

                    This commenter has now been blocked.

                • You seem to read peoples’ minds in the manner most convenient to your argument, and I’m still stunned at some moron who thinks he can argue that the ‘irrational’ that he flings at women and ONLY women, and which historically has been used exclusively on women is somehow shiny and special and non-sexist because he’s all those things. Much like your evo-psycho idol.

    • BWick says:

      It’s creepy because it’s a wrong interpretation of data driven by his obvious desire to write about rape.

      And nobody “forgot” how Bakker tried to rationalize his writing only for males. Foz analyzed his excuse, correctly diagnosed it as nihilism, and rejected it on that ground. His rationalization depends on the religious belief that (1) rape is inevitable, and (2) therefore the best possible outcome for men is to repress their urge to hurt women. The premise is baseless; the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise. And Foz criticizes Bakker on those grounds.

      Apparently you have an inability to respond intelligently to criticism that doesn’t cite studies. But you don’t need to cite studies to refute baseless, unsupported generalizations. All you need to do is point the generalizations out. The burden of citing studies falls on those who make the generalizations. Any other rule allows conversation to be hijacked by the aggressively, willfully ignorant.

  27. […] people have weighed in on the Bakker thing: Foz Meadows and Larry. Yes, Bakker himself showed up for both firing squads and brought his fanboys. Naturally. […]

  28. Anonymous says:

    Oh, ok, so instead of responding to my points and answering my questions to help me understand why my way of thinking was flawed, you’re just going to dismiss me as someone who intentionally derailed this blog with no intention other than just to illicit some some strong reaction from you. Yeah, that’s it! I’m a troll because I don’t agree with you and used words that sexists used, although not in a sexist way and…well, I really don’t even know why you think I’m a troll. I can’t even finish that bit of satire because you haven’t even told me what was wrong with my arguments.

    I’m still confused about what strawman I was attacking….and I guess I will always be since I am a troll and have wasted what time you could have spent writing paragraphs of masturbatory appraisal to others who think like you.

    And here I was thinking that you were the smart one for citing actual science, some sort of objective reality grounded in the interpretation of facts (and not what you WANT to be true) and not just decrying Bakker based on some superficial analysis. Well, I’m not saying that you aren’t smart now, it’s just that it was pretty childish of you to call me a troll and not engage with me on the specifics of my posts.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Ok then.

  30. saajanpatel says:

    I’d recommend more feminist bloggers to elaborate on rape culture. I think it’s a poorly understood topic.


  31. Eoin says:

    Most of the contributors here have done Bakker a disservice. IMHO he really is an author of exceptional talent and insight (most of the time – not sure about his Disciple Manning book!). I admire his attempts at clarifying his position but perhaps his efforts are wasted. Too many people are primarily concerned with defending their viewpoints at all costs or just trying to “win the internet”.

    Recommend reading: Cordelia Fine’s – A Mind of Its Own: How your brain distorts and deceives

    • I’ve read Cordelia Fine’s book (and several more, besides being a research biologist myself) — and it contradicts Bakker at each and every turn. If he were a writer “of exceptional talent and insight”, it would show in his online interactions. His positions are crystal clear without further clarification; more on them from the biological side: That Shy, Elusive Rape Particle

  32. novaterata says:

    I’m really curious to know what those against Bakker have to say about Kathy Acker?

  33. Gary says:

    I am so saddened by this entire dialogue. Seriously. I know I shouldn’t even bother to write anything here at this point, but I just can’t help myself. I’m not defending any point of view. I’m not criticizing any point of view. I’m just defending a person, a friend, a fellow author, a scholar, a father, a husband – a human being. Scott is a good person. A brilliant man, too smart for his own good. I don’t love everything he writes, but he’s incredibly caring and really quite sensitive. And he truly tries to stimulate thought, not preempt it. Is it surprising that he should defend himself when he’s accused of being something he feels is the antithesis of what he believes himself to be?
    Some of you are so venomous. Why? Do you hate him so much without even knowing him? How can you form such demonstrative opinions about a person without knowing the person? Hate the books as much as you want to. I hate Jackie Collins and James Paterson novels. But I don’t hate the authors. I don’t know them. And I don’t judge them for writing what they do.
    Again, I regret posting here. It’s a no win effort. I’m just a bit shocked by the nastiness of the commentary. It disheartens me. Those of you with such poison in your hearts aren’t serving any cause at all, least of all your own. Do you want to discourage a person with such talent from writing? Is that what you want? Really? Or just make it harder for him to earn a living as an author today, as if it weren’t hard enough already? I’m not saying you need to be charitable when it comes to something you disagree with, but at least respect the dialogue that ensues from provocative literature.

    • Callan says:

      Do you hate him so much without even knowing him?

      I love how from one side the same thing appears to be a barrier toward doing so, rather than an enabler.

      Anyway, hear, hear.

    • Um, Gary, dude, you ARE in fact defending a point of view. You’re as clueless as his other fanboys. You whine about how he’s a great guy blah blah blah but you’re another guy. He’s an asshole to women, but why should YOU worry about that? Or listen to those stupid bitchez, amirite?

      HIs hatred and arrogance of and toward women has been aptly displayed not only by his own words, but by his protesting fanboys. Hello, his words speak for themselves. That you’re so thin-skinned and whiny-assed about this indicates you have no idea that shit like this is common behavior toward women, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay.

      The fact is, you think he’s a great guy. To you. To other men. That he’s a shit to everybody but his wife and perhaps a few select other women doesn’t bother you at all.

      • Jason says:

        It would bother me if it were true.

        He’s a shit to all of his fictional characters, or almost all of them. But you’d know that if you’d actually read his books.

    • fozmeadows says:

      Look, Gary, here’s the thing: I don’t hate Scott. As you rightly point out, I don’t even know him. What I do know, however, is that he claims his writing is intended to help a particular group of people – women – by furthering a particular cause – feminism – despite the fact that an overwhelming number of women and feminists have said, repeatedly and clearly, that his writing achieves exactly the opposite effect, and would he please consider thinking about it. And every single time, Scott’s reaction has been to tell us that we’re radical, rabid, stupid, manhating extremists; that we don’t know what we’re talking about, and that he sees no value in listening to us. And yet he wants us to believe that he’s acting in our best interests? How paternalistic can you get? If the very same people you’re trying to help have said, over and over, that your efforts are in fact hurtful, and your response is not to listen, but to get angry and wounded and defensive and carry on regardless, then the only reasonable conclusion those people can draw is that you’re more concerned with appearing to help than with actually helping, and that you’re not on their side at all.

      And this is why we get angry: because not only does Scott continue to associate himself with a movement that wants nothing to do with him, but he does so rudely and aggressively. The single universally established etiquette for authors everywhere is not to react publicly to criticism – or rather, if you must respond, to do so on your own site, preferably without naming names, or else – in instances where that’s not possible – by including a rider stating that you don’t approve of your fans harassing the critic on your behalf. The absolute worst thing to do is show up at the site of a bad review or negative commentary and defend yourself in person: it might be a human reaction, but professionally, it’s a cardinal sin, and doubly so when the critic in question is just a random person blogging for the love of it, rather than a professional author or critic. Before I posted this piece, I was warned by multiple parties that Scott would inevitably show up to defend himself – by people he’d harassed before, people who are neither professional critics nor published authors, but simply feminists and bloggers who take issue with his publicly stated views. Sure enough, less than an hour passed before he appeared, despite the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, he’d never heard of me or this blog before.

      It doesn’t strike me as irrelevant that the vast majority of his defenders seem to be male, while those who disagree with him are, by and large, women. If Scott were truly interested in helping women, as he claims, then he might try listening to those of us who think he’s going about it in a hugely detrimental fashion; instead, he tells us we’ve missed the point, and shortly thereafter lots of his male fans show up on our websites saying the same thing. And I’m sorry, but under those circumstances, I’m prepared to say that he isn’t a nice person; that I find his cognitive dissonance on the matter unsettling; that his professional conduct as an author is poor; that his views are both alarming and offensive. That doesn’t negate your experience of him as a friend, but when you show up here telling me I’ve got poison in my heart because I think that a male author who publicly states that his books aren’t written for women while simultaneously claiming to be a feminist is worryingly hypocritical, then all you’re demonstrating is your own ignorance of the problem.

      • Jason says:

        I’m not going to say whether he’s advancing the “feminist cause” (whatever that may entail, since not even all feminists agree on it) or not. However, I fail to see how he’s doing “feminism” a disservice. Yes, women are victimized in his writings. So are men.

        Characters (men, women, boys, girls, animals) who don’t undergo some sort of trial or experience conflict are either caricatures or just not very interesting. What is an acceptable portrayal of female characters in fiction? Who’s determined the parameters?

        I’m not going to suggest you not take offense to any book, because that’s entirely up to you. Now, what kind of impact do you think these books going to have on the readers? Are they going to become misogynist or become more misogynist than they already are?

  34. Gary says:

    I knew this was a mistake. By the way, I’m not a fanboy, as you so joyously like to call those who happen to find Bakker intelligent and provocative. You’re just silly. Can’t think of a more apt way of describing you. A dumb, simplistic word for a dumb simplistic point of view. How could you begin to imagine what bothers me? If all you are is what you say, as you seem to believe, you’re failing your own test.

    • Shorter Gary: Only I get to define myself and my words. You may not assess my words and disagree with me, sub creature.

      Christ, you dumbfuck, you just devoted a long paragraph to whining about how we’re all meanies who are mean to your best beloved dude, and on top of that, it now appears you’re an astonishingly literal-minded troll too. You made it very clear that the only thing that matters to you is that you and other doodz think Bakker is grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat (probably because he indulges all those rape and evo-psych cravings.)

      Well, screw that. Your idol is a classic sexist rapist apologist and your whines aren’t doing you any good, either.

  35. Gary says:

    Fozmeadows, I understand what you’re saying. I’m not even disagreeing with all that much of it. I don’t write dark and violent books myself. My editors always encouraged me to put in more sex and more violence to conform with today’s tastes! I’m just not good at that. And in fact, when I asked Scott to write a cover blurb for one of my books, he turned me down. He said simply, ‘It’s not my taste’. Honest to a fault? Yes, and it hurt me, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it. But you see, the reason I was so hurt was because I respected his intelligence and his insight and his talent to such a degree that I was hoping he’d appreciate mine, knowing full well I don’t write the way he writes. He didn’t. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect me as a person or like me or believe that I’m smart. He just doesn’t like what I write. There’s a difference.
    My issue with this conversation is simply the bitterness of the tone. It’s such an interesting subject – fascinating and timeless. I don’t need to defend Scott’s POV. I saw the movie Savages yesterday. Violent? Abusive? Sexist? Absolutely. Entertainment? Absolutely. Do I need to defend Oliver Stone’s POV? No. I watched the movie. I read Scott’s books.
    Scott is smarter than your average person. It’s a fact. He’s always trying to understand, to figure out, to think, to learn. He’s not mean. He’s not angry. He’s not vindictive. He’s honestly baffled by those who hate what he writes for the reasons they claim to hate it. Is he mistaken? He certainly could be. Are you right in your opinion? You may very well be. The ‘argument’ here wasn’t my issue. And yet immediately i’m painted with the same vitriolic brush by people making assumptions about me! That’s absurd and chauvinistic in itself.
    Sorry if i whine. Sorry i’m such a dumb fuck. LOL I’ve never in my career been called that before. I’ve never in my life been called that before. Actually, I’m not a dumb fuck.
    My books have so many female characters, I’m beginning to wonder if you think I even have a right to create them, not being a female myself? Surely I can’t speak with a woman’s voice. I’m not a woman. But can I depict a woman accurately? From my POV only, of course. I realize that, and I don’t pretend to be able to do anything more. But I depict men in the same way. My male characters are not all clones of me.
    Scott’s being forced into corners all the time. Like Nietzsche, a true chauvinist in so many ways, he’s searching in ways people don’t like and saying things people don’t enjoy hearing, and often don’t agree with. But like Nietzsche, he’s provocative and brilliant, and I glean from his writings and his aphorisms little bits of truth each time I read something of his. I’m also bored to death by some of his meanderings and obsessions. But the intellectual stimulation reading a book or manuscript of his generates is worth it. All my disagreements are just as stimulating and efficacious. And I respect that. I respect the intellectual pursuit.
    Oh, and he’s not my idol. He’s just a smart guy I happen to have enjoyed knowing. I believe he’s worth reading for so many reasons, good and bad.
    I only wish you could have simply discussed the issues you have with his books so I could intelligently appreciate what you’re saying, as well as try to understand why he’s so vilified here when there are just so many other authors who truly write crap, both male and female, and make millions doing it.

    • Callan S. says:


      despite the fact that an overwhelming number of women and feminists have said…

      And you have women posting to the about section of his blog saying they liked the book. Are they wrong to have?

      Look, some people take it that if alot of people say something, it carries weight. Others look at history, where lots of people have claimed en masse utterly spurious claims (“the sun revolves around the earth” for an example of what alot of people have said in the past (and heck, it DOES look like the sun revolves around the earth, doesn’t it? It seems so obvious! Yet something can seem obvious yet not be so)) and think pure numbers of people saying it doesn’t lend extra credibility in itself.

      If you subscribe to the former method, okay, you do.

      But if you subscribe to the latter method, then lots of people saying the same thing doesn’t cut it in itself. There needs to be more to the determination method than that, for the latter group.

      despite the fact that an overwhelming number of women and feminists have said, repeatedly and clearly, that his writing achieves exactly the opposite effect

      How is this determined? Is it done in some sort of scientific way, or is it a bunch of people going with their gut feeling to determine it?

      Again, two methods and which one you subscribe to. Personally I’m sure there are alot of women working in laboratories and doing field research who consider themselves feminists and subscribe to the scientific method. And there are alot of women and men who consider themselves feminists who subscribe to the gut feeling method as well.

      Personally I’d find it interesting to run an experiment where we try to get two sample groups who are roughly equal in sexist inclination, then get one group to read the books. Then some sort of test to see if the ones who read the books tend to stop and think about things more in terms of situations where the path of least resistance is a sexist one.

      Maybe they’d be no more likely to pause and think than the control group. But I’d be surprised.

      But if you subscribe to the scientific method, you want to run the test (many times, even) before you declare with certainty what it produces.

      And every single time, Scott’s reaction has been to tell us that we’re radical, rabid, stupid, manhating extremists;

      In terms of a strict scientific evaluation, no, he has not done this and it’s a falsehood. He does call everyone (not just a particular demographic) an idiot, including himself (and me too), but he’s stupid that way.

    • Oh, look, it’s Gary again. Along with a tone argument, ladies! If you were only nice enough to poor R. Scott—who men think are brilliant, with his excusing rape and condescending to women—–then guys like Gary could stroke each other in peace, without all our nasty bitterness and stuff.

      It’s not a fact, Gary, that Bakker is intelligent. In fact, he seems remarkably obdurate when it comes to listening to and learning from women. He didn’t even put up a pretense of it.

      Don’t protest too much, Gary, what with the stroking and all. He’s brilliant, he is, our Scottie, despite the fact that when it comes to women, and rape, he’s Rush Limbaugh. Oh, woe, if only those stupid women hadn’t prevented you from having an ‘intelligent’ discussion. Which would have consisted of you admiring Bakker and dismissing all criticism, because that’s apparently what fanboys think is ‘intelligent’. No criticism of the Great Dude by those inferior ladies who dare to suggest that women and feminists might know a thing or two about sexism.

      Callan, you’re arguing against yourself here. First you dismiss the fact that feminists repeatedly have criticized Bakker for his issues, then you say that lots of women like his books. Guess it’s only invalid when feminists do it en masse, huh? When women support you, they’re the good women, unlike those ‘bitter’ women that Bakker’s fanboys see in any feminist criticism of his work.

      And then you compare primitive sixteenth century theories to Foz’s criticism of Bakker, in
      which she quotes him word for word.
      You just revealed a great deal about your bias conclusively. One has to wonder at the defensiveness displayed by his enablers. After, Bakker’s threatened by the notion that male behavior is a choice, so he makes up evo-psych excuses that place the blame on biology, and tries to justify it with…..dolphins. The bottom line is, he and all his fans have decided to ignore what women say about his work unless it’s flattering and fawning.

      • Callan S. says:

        Guess it’s only invalid when feminists do it en masse, huh? When women support you, they’re the good women, unlike those ‘bitter’ women that Bakker’s fanboys see in any feminist criticism of his work.

        There are a number of assertions you can make without any disproval method attached. For those who subscribe to a scientific method, the lack of a disproval method just isn’t good enough.

        And then you compare primitive sixteenth century theories to Foz’s criticism of Bakker, in
        which she quotes him word for word.

        Why do you lend such significance to cutting and pasting?

        and tries to justify it with…..dolphins.

        Your snark is mildly funny. Bakker has jumped the dolphin!

        The bottom line is, he and all his fans have decided to ignore what women say about his work unless it’s flattering and fawning.

        I think you should acknowledge you do not personally accept any method by which your claims could be disproved. Even Dawkins has his rabbit fossil in the wrong fossil record as one potential way to disprove evolution theory. Where is the way your claims could be wrong? Do you accept one? If not…then say as much.

        In terms of ‘claims that can in no way ever be proven wrong and so everyone must listen to them (which is to say, since they are so true, obey)’ people who have subscribed to a scientific method indeed wont listen to that sort of claim. Scientists have not listened to a great number of myths and instead debunked them. They are notorious non listeners. There are a large number of scientists, a great deal of them feminists no doubt, who just wont listen to you making claims like that. At best, they will question your claims. Asking for the method by which you accept those claims could be proven wrong.

        If you want to say scientific enquiry has no place within this subject and these claims, then okay, do so. For myself, I’ll leave it up to any other reader to consider for themselves whether it has a place or not. For some, it wont. For some, it will. Probably again, there will be feminists on either side.

      • Dean says:

        Comment deleted for pointless sexist antagonism.

        This commenter has now been blocked.

  36. […] But sometimes criticism is necessary. I’ve been chewing something over in my head for a couple of months, ever since I came home on a bright afternoon from pouring over papers in a library to find two items side-by-side on my RSS feed: Kate Elliott on “Looking for women in historically-based fantasy worlds” and Foz Meadows on “The Problem of R. Scott Bakker.” […]

  37. Mike M says:

    It’s a very violent and misogynistic world where the strong dominate the weak. This isn’t glorified, there isn’t a single character that doesn’t have flaws. In fact, almost all of them are downright despicable.

    I didn’t find any of the sex scenes graphic, they were kept to a paragraph at most.. the books definitely aren’t “full” of them as you claim.. there’s less than 10 throughout the 3 novels I’ve read.. but then again, some people are more sensitive than others. Anyway, my point is, it’s a fantasy world full of rapists, murderers, and liars all at war with each other.. if you want a book about equality, sharing, sunshine and rainbows maybe this world isn’t for you.. come to think of it, how do you even manage the real world?

  38. Sally says:

    Bakker’s work reminds me of that of another writer, John Norman, author of the Gor novels.

    Like Bakker, Norman wrote pornography, violent and misogynist, and tried to dress it up as ‘literature’ with a ‘philosophical’ and ‘biological’ basis.

    Like Bakker’s, Norman’s created world is reminiscent of the Third Reich, where bullying, violence and cruelty (especially sexual cruelty) is omnipresent, restrained only by fear of retribution.

    Like Bakker’s, Norman’s world provides a masturbatory fantasy for a certain type of adolescent boy. Moreover it can also be read as a fantasy of *revenge* for those males who have been rejected by women more often than they think they should have been.

    And like Bakker’s, Norman’s world attracts a certain type of Western woman (sometimes even ‘highly educated’ and ‘powerful’ ones) who have internalized their own oppression – or maybe they just want a Daddy to look after them, and are willing to be Daddy’s bedmate, or Daddy’s punching bag, in order to be Daddy’s “special girl.”

    Neither author’s book would even make good toilet paper.

    • Callan says:

      That ‘daddy girl’ attribution seems incredibly sexist. Are you a psychologist? Anyone who disgrees with you has something wrong with their head? Never mind if anyone made ad hoc evaluations of your psychology, you’d scream victimisation. But it’s okay for you to dish out a diagnosis?

      Can we hold back on on judging of the others psychology?

      Further, your confusing your own revulsion as the definition of ‘pornography’. Okay, it revolts you. Have you considered whether it actually revolts every other reader as well? Or do you think there is some demographic that gets off on it? It’d be interesting to run a scientific survey of that – I suspect no one actually does, so your writing about a pornography that you don’t actually find pornographic (ie, erotic) and no one else finds pornographic, either. Or you can pitch at me that a scientific survey would find a significant demographic gets off on it – that’d be a fair enough point to make for consideration.

    • Dean says:

      You haven’t read Bakker’s work at all.

  39. AM says:

    I wonder where the MRA outcry against Bakker is, considering he basically called all men inherent rapists? If a female author had so much as hinted at this, they’d be here in droves howling about the misandry.

  40. Jen says:

    It was like Bakker was talking to a brick wall in here. I feel for the guy and wish he wouldn’t waste his valuable writing time.

    • ginmar says:

      That tends to happen when you’re wrong. Which he is, which you are, which every person defending this patronizing mansplaining douchebag is.

      • Callan S. says:

        I like the implicit you have here – that you’re always right (or atleast on this subject you’re always right). Why not just be honest and say it outloud?

        Or if you can’t bring yourself to say it, don’t act so certain you’re right.

        Or keep acting like you could only ever right, but for some reason too scared to say you’re always right.

      • Isa says:

        Oh, look, more name-calling. You’re really strengthening your point with that, keep it up.

    • Dean says:

      I agree.

  41. Jen says:

    Ha. First you admit what I said is true and then you tell me I’m wrong. You put your fingers in your ears and just scream I’m Right! You’re Wrong!

    That doesn’t garner any respect, and makes feminism look like a bunch of anti-intellectual b*tches who blindly hate whatever the mob mentality tells them to. Women are smarter than this.

  42. Pat says:

    Burn his books! Burn all books that extremist feminists dislike! Burn all books written by men ever! I say all books written by men should be burned even though I have never read them. I just say so because I’m right and everyone else is wrong. After than we should put down people and call them names! This is how we win the revolution ladies. Name calling and ignorant insults will set us free.

  43. Drakyn says:

    Y’know, I hadn’t thought about R. Scott Bakker in like six years. Maybe more. Then somehow I stumbled across a link to a link to a google to a link and wham bam. I think following this particular batch of internet breadcrumbs has been far more interesting and thought-provoking than the entire Prince of Nothing series at once.
    Also, I now think he’s a jackass. And the bulk of the reason for this comes right out of his own mouth.
    I have never seen such a pathetic, galloping set of half-assed, smarmy, smug, self-righteous, passive-aggressive defensiveness come from the mouth of any published author. The sheer quantity of sites, forums, and comments that have been marked with his paper-thin skin makes the mind wobble.

  44. Brian says:

    I’ve read Bakker’s books — in the Prince of Nothing series — twice. I don’t read his blog, so I can’t comment on the ideas expressed there. But the idea that his books are woman-hating or misogynistic is just fanciful. The fantasy genre is, sadly, known for its lack of strong female characters, or the simple absence of powerful women.

    Bakker’s stories flip that narrative in powerful ways, without (and this is key) abandoning the essentially Medieval setting in which his stories take place. In other words, he avoids the narrative trap of telling about people’s lives in a different era and requiring that they think in modern, aware ways, using moral and political tools that exist now.

    It’s also true that, like all good authors, Bakker has characters who behave in complex, ugly, and conflicted ways. Women use sexuality at times to exert power, but they’re also powerful in other ways, and sometimes they are sexually vulnerable. Men, meanwhile, or male figures, use sexuality at times as methods of control. But at other times they are vulnerable, jealous, even pathetic.

    Two final points. First you use the phrase “pornographic detail” to describe Bakker’s writing. Unlike most fantasy writers, he depicts sexuality. Period. He is no more graphic or pornographic than many good detective novelists, literary writers, historians, etc. Because people have come to expect a persistently adolescent set of ideas in fantasy, this shocks.

    But it shouldn’t. Right from the start of Bakker’s series, he makes it abundantly clear that he’s writing for adults, for people who have the intellectual wherewithal to think in complex ways about human behavior, particularly in a mythical and philosophical context. If he had wanted to write “porn” the books would not look anything like this.

    One final bit about language. The reviewer here does one of the most cynical, dishonest things that any person can do in a conversation. He cites a series of complicated, thorny ideas (Bakker’s), then paraphrases them in simplistic and (frankly) nasty-minded terms. To say that it is reductionist is too flattering. It is, simply, an old and tired way of lying.

    But even assuming that outside of his books Bakker has some stupid ideas, that doesn’t invalidate his novels if they stand alone as convincing and powerful stories. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Hemingway, and on and on — they all had really awful and embarrassing ideas about life. Tolstoy in particular was kind of an idiot. But his novels are sublime.

    Bakker’s novels — again, I’m talking about the first five books in his fantasy series — are indeed difficult and challenging. And part of that difficulty is his portrayal of human sexuality. But the idea that the yarn he’s spinning is a dirty-minded one about men raping women and women being bad or weak people who are victims? That’s silly.


  45. […] to call bullshit on the whole endeavour; why you have people like R. Scott Bakker saying that writing strong female characters is a ‘bootstrapping illusion’ that’s inimical to reality; why, over and over and over again, we balk at accepting fictional […]

  46. Aaron Nell says:

    Let’s face it – if you never read any of Bakker’s double-talk on his website and in interviews such as the one here, no one on earth would believe that his books somehow “dismantled misogynistic power structures” or whatever.

    Not a person living would ever come to that conclusion from those books alone.

    Really, this is a guy who wrote some good, but relatively sexist fantasy – pick what level of sin you want to assign that – because that was what came to him in his head, and the world he imagined. I am absolutely sure that feminism is not a theme of those books – power, theology, some philosophy, world-building, all of those things were, I’m sure, concerns of his.

    The fact that one of his main characters is a self-hating gay was, although interesting, probably not the best choice.

    It remains though, that Bakker’s modus operandi is one of after-the-fact clarification. The majority of the people who read those books will NOT visit his website and see the after-the-fact double talk where he says that he’s pushing the boundaries. Bret Easton Ellis he ain’t.

    Instead what we have is mild internet star-power attempting to back-track and come up with all these interpretations of a fantasy book that, 20 years ago, would have gone on its merry sexist way, lived for a number of years, perhaps sparked some complaints, and died.

    • Callan says:

      Depends if you take it that books are only about affirming what they depict. But for example, if books are only taken to affirm, then you could never depict RL third world starvation, because it’d be taken to be affirming it. At best you could show some community having it’s food shortage solved and…as if there’s no starvation anywhere else.

      You almost seem to refer to it as being sexist even if unintentionally. Do you mean you think it’ll affirm sexist attitudes or even ignite sexist attitudes in readers, even if unintended?

  47. annabelle says:

    I cant say i agree with his personal views, and he is really doing himself a disservice coming here and arguing on the internet. its actually a turn off to me as well, which is unfortunate because i do like his fantasy work, i haven’t read the other books.

    all i can say is that with “the prince of nothing/ aspect-emperor” he’s telling a very interesting story that is written better than most fantasy fiction out there, with some really interesting and complex characters. You can tell that clearly a lot of people on here haven’t read any of the books, or are extremely easily offended, there is some sex but its hardly pornography. i wouldn’t say its a feminist book, i never got that from it, but its definitely not doing a “disservice” to feminism. There are very strong and smart female characters in the story, they are all caught in a world dominated by war and violence and they survive. everything is believable in the context of the story, and it is a well written and an entertaining one.

    • Jeshu says:

      Feminists find everything appalling. This is part and parcel of the feminist phenomenon. Without their presupposed victimhood, feminists would simply have no reason to be.

      Therefore, no matter what changes or improves, by feminist standards, there can never be an answer. There can never be a day when everything is all right, because feminism is based on protest. On a comfort in misery, in fact, it would generally seem…

  48. Wow this blog and its followers are like the leftist version of Faux News. Just when you think something like it couldn’t exist you find it right in front of you! Places like this only encourage hostility to feminism, not strengthen it.

  49. Fanboy says:

    What a silly little conversation. I was just hoping to find a release date for Bakker’s next book. I kinda feel like most of the conversation actually served to reinforce his statements. Your an angry little group:)

    • Thank Gawd we have a Dewd to tell us what we should talk about.
      And looking for his release date? Sure, dude, sure. Reminds me of the time this horrible woman showed up at my blog and was shocked, shocked! at the horrors she found there. It’s the standard excuse for some dude who claims that they were innocently hijacked by the internet…”I was doing my usual Google search for blueberry muffin mix recipes when I stumbled across your Goat-Mask and Leather Bodysuit Blowtorch Sodomy Bondage Archive website…” Quote by Scott Lynch, who writes amazing fantasy with original characters, some of whom are actually female!

      • Greg says:

        Wow, you got all that from his comment?… You are angry lol. What makes this funnier, is I stumbled on this while doing the exact same thing: looking for a release date for the sixth book. Even FUNNIER is your choice of that comment to respond to; absolutely nothing to say in response to annabelle’s well articulated comment? Great points made, both on her assessment of the books (feel the same way) and her assumption about the ACTUAL first-hand knowledge of the most vocal critics here (how can you say Esmenet isn’t one tough chick??… oops!… hope I didn’t “disrespect” you by using the term “chick”).

        The series isn’t perfect, but it’s well written, has some great characters, a well-planned world, and ADULT THEMES. Seriously, I found it a REFRESHING change from the light and ditzy teen banter of “The Wheel of Time” (been choking my way through book 4 for over 3 years). Sure, The Judging Eye was a bit dry… just me, or does EVERY character in it seem unhappy?… but overall it’s an entertaining series, and I am looking forward to book six. Keep it coming Mr. Bakker, don’t pull a G. Martin on your fans! 😛

  50. Just read the first chapter of Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus the other night and realized there was more rape and incest in that chapter than in a single Bakker book, and it sounded like a good time. Kathy Acker is 10 times more graphic. These are literary giants. I’m sorry but you lot are just not that well read to be judging anyone. Its like when some brain-dead Rastafarian lectures me on my diet.

  51. Walter says:

    If you’re going to write about history realistically — especially the medieval era — you must show what women once went through. And the world they once inhabited, before they convinced their menfolk to stop treating them so poorly, was a brutally sadistic one. This went on for centuries (and still goes on today in many parts of the world). Rape was commonplace — not a crime (of course, there were rape crimes as well, but that usually depended on social status. If you had a higher social standing than the woman you were raping, it wasn’t a crime — in most cases).

    So, what’s more sexist? Depicting a world in which this struggle never took place? A world in which women could magically overcome the brute strength of their men? A world in which men are blameless and never gave in to their wonton, animal urges? A world in which men never took advantage of their physical strength and lorded it over women? I think that would actually serve the opposite purpose, and would just make men look far better than they deserve to look — historically speaking.

    What I get sick of in fantasy are these novels in which all the women are badass warriors who can kick all the men’s asses. Why? Because I like historical-based fantasy, not fantasy-fantasy — and that’s what that kind of stuff is — pure fantasy. Because, yes, on an individual level, there are obviously certain women who can manhandle certain men. But on a general scale, the female sex is far weaker than the male when it comes to brute strength, especially in a world where most men are soldiers & killers (granted, women can endure pain far better than men can — hence childbirth — but, generally speaking, they can’t smash an assailant’s face to pulp with their fists). But when you depict women on an equal footing with men in terms of brute strength, you are minimizing the female struggle — all that they had to endure to get to where they are today. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t a walk in the park.

    Stuff like this actually happened to women for untold centuries. And sure, we can ignore it, or forget about what happened to women — our great-grandmothers, great-great-grandmothers, and so on down the line — or pretend like it didn’t happen at all. But that serves no one. Remember it and learn it. Learn it well, and be thankful you weren’t born even 100 years ago, when men were free to run amok.

  52. Malazan Book of the Fallen is brimming with strong female characters, its about a fully co-ed army led by a lesbian in an empire led by a woman as it conquers a more conservative and capitalist society where women are second class. I have to disagree with Walter. Whatever floats your boat, but I’m sick of this fantasy = medieval nonsense.

  53. muted. says:

    Some feminists are like Israel. They attack and attack and attack. and at the slightest opinion that bares the slimmest shade of contradicting them…they’re suddenly the ones who are persecuted to all hell. I sometimes think writers who understand the value of truth over political correctness are the Palestinians of the literary world-crushed under the weight of a monstrous minoritizing discourse-unable to talk about the gritty nature of reality for fear of being called misogynistic or sexist. What’s happened? This is not the project feminism set out to accomplish-this is just tyrannical hypocrisy. If a woman wrote these books she’d be left alone if not applauded for just BEING YET ANOTHER woman writer by a batch of sentimental self-absorbed hens and the little male lap-dogs posturing for the current fashion of “enlightened”. AIR RAIDS FOR BOTTLE ROCKETS!

  54. Reblogged this on photonlongsword and commented:
    I might write more about Bakker one day, but for now this article nearly sums up my opinions of the writer. Honestly, when reading his work you’re slipping into the dark side of modern genre.

  55. […] McGuire’s questioner assumed it was inevitable. R. Scott Baker (as Foz Meadows critiques here) argues that men are so innately prone to rape that he natural makes that a plot point: […]

  56. asdfg098 says:

    wow. All of this energy expenditure over the personal beliefs of a fiction writer? I’m left wondering which of you has more “issues”. I’m not arguing for him or against you, but some (read: most) of you border on being extremists in your attacks. Normal readers read fiction novels based on their ability to entertain the reader. Frank Herbert knew this. maybe you should try it. People like you are the reason feminism gets a bad name. There’s something really sad about people who can’t just rate and review a book based on the story. Based on his sales and popularity though, I’m going to continue reading his novels while extremist sociopaths like yourself have fits of rage and continue to be the unpopular and thankfully fringe elements of society. Maybe you should buy a new plaid jacket, or go out to your hairdresser and trim your brush-cut, She-Ra.

    • fozmeadows says:

      Oh noes! Someone cares passionately about something that you don’t care passionately about? CALL THE INTERNET POLICE!

      Also, yeah: you’re banned for sexism, douchecanoe.

  57. Christina says:

    I found this analysis through the Strange Horizons review of Beyond the Rifts. However, it seems that the article, and many commenters, misinterpreted Bakker’s assertion that rape is likely to be part of male sexuality with the claim that men are predisposed to rape. The claims are distinct from each other. So long as rape holds a selective value, then it can be expected to persist in male tendencies, whether due to a “rape module”, or as an emergent behavior. In no way does this imply that all men are due to rape, given the opportunity. It does mean that conditionality is very important in explaining the volatility of male behavior. Less than a century ago, Japan institutionalized rape. Yet, it currently boasts one of the lowest sexual assault rates amongst highly developed nations. The genetics haven’t changed. It would then be fair to say that Japanese men (like all men) possess a genetic capacity (redundant) to rape, but that such behavior is heavily conditioned on incentives and historical pathways.

  58. […] it was published in print, and some of the authors hosted on the show such as Mark Lawrence and R. Scott Bakker have seen their fair share of […]

  59. […] in Bakker’s work. Australian fantasy author, reviewer, poet and blogger Foz Meadows blogged about this in 2012. In her critique, she admonished […]

  60. James says:

    This is really well said. I actually read his ‘Prince of Nothing’ trilogy?? (They appear to just go on, and on) and as a man, it left me thoroughly depressed, and rather angry. If you like being bludgeoned with endless rape, sex and violence, and not a single character who can rise above any of it, then Bakker’s the author for you. Vile.

  61. […] and torture out of a self-stated belief that human beings, and particularly human men, are inevitably predisposed to sexual aggression and violence, or to any number of grimdark writers who start out by assuming a certain type of goodness to be […]

  62. Brienne says:

    @Ginmar Rienne what a terrible human being you are

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s