I've written about Mr. Scalzi before. Regular readers of John Scalzi's Whatever will know that the blogger/author does not handle criticism well. While he occasionally allows a few softball contrary remarks to remain in The Whatever's comment threads, he deletes those that challenge his fundamental premises (i.e., questions that he cannot answer.)
When you make bold assertions, you have to be prepared for disagreements. Ten years ago, John Scalzi was a science fiction blogger who occasionally delved into leftwing politics. (His viewpoints were mostly moderate back then.) In recent years, though, Scalzi has attempted to fashion himself as a spokesperson for a particularly narrow-minded version of political correctness. This has brought him considerable accolades in the leftwing corners of the blogosphere. But it has also brought him dissenters--a fact that Scalzi seems to both resent and fear.
Conservative blogger VoxDay has made a habit of exposing John Scalzi's more over-the-top screeds. At an earlier time the two men had a somewhat cordial online relationship--until Scalzi went off the deep end of lockstep political correctness. Now Vox Day has arguably become Scalzi's chief online nemesis.
(I must note that Vox's style is different from mine, as is his definition of conservatism. I can't endorse every viewpoint on the Vox Populi blog; nor do I choose to go after John Scalzi in personal terms, as Vox sometimes does. (Scalzi's ideas fold pretty quickly once they are exposed and dissected outside the echo chamber of The Whatever. There is no need to attack him at a personal level.) )
Vox Day recently exposed one of Scalzi's more flagrant exercises of trite political correctness. Scalzi and the likeminded Jim C. Hines were kvetching about "sexist" science fiction book covers. They attempted to make their point by posing in drag, mimicking the positions of the women on the offending book covers.
Some people were taken in, but not everyone. For starters, Vox correctly noted that such covers are targeted at women--not male readers.
"The fact is that it is not men, but women, who are drawn to pictures of women posed in this manner. Men, as a rule, like to look at young, pretty, naked, feminine, women posing with their breasts and buttocks on display, not thick, thirty-something man-jawed women wearing clothes, brandishing weapons, and striking aggressive and unlikely power-poses. The urban fantasy/paranormal market that distinguishes itself from high fantasy, epic fantasy, and science fiction by utilizing such imagery is predominantly female. It is women to whom such covers are designed to appeal, it is women to whom such books are sold, and by mocking those covers, John Scalzi and Jim Hines are exercising their male privilege to mock the women who write urban fantasy books as well as the women who buy them.
I would carry Vox's point one step further: Male-oriented fiction usually has almost no cheesecake on the cover. Peruse the covers of books written by Michael Connelly, Clive Cussler, and Stephen Hunter--authors whose books have an overwhelmingly male readership. You won't find many scantily clad women on those covers.
Now, there is nothing wrong with mocking the books on the grounds of literary quality or their covers on the grounds of aesthetics. But to mock them with the mistaken impression that one is striking a blow against male sexism is not only to insult female preferences, it is to betray a fundamental misunderstanding of human socio-sexuality so profound that it should be no surprise that it took a pair of male science fiction writers to do it.
On the other hand, you'll find lots of scantily clad women on romance novels and magazines like Cosmopolitan--which are oriented toward female readers.
This isn't to say that scantily clad women should or should not be on book covers. However, Scalzi's and Hines' little online cross-dressing stunt is at best a solution in search of a problem, and at worst, a cynical attempt at pandering to leftwing ideologues.
What is more interesting, though, is how quickly John Scalzi resorts to shrillness when confronted with opposition. Vox Day has made some very valid and intellectually cogent points above. Rather than refuting them, Scalzi engages in a rambling online rant, referring to Vox as a "racist sexist homophobic dipshit".
This, my friends, is the mark of a man who cannot function beyond the safety of his own online echo chamber.
There is an old saying: "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." Scalzi is now a major name in the blogosphere; and he regularly sounds off on political issues. He should therefore not be surprised that he attracts opposition. If John Scalzi possessed genuine intellectual courage, he would answer at least a few of Vox's more compelling and reasonable assertions. He would defend his positions.
Instead, he retreats to the echo chamber of the Whatever, where a regular cadre of friendly commenters will reliably assure him how brilliant he is--and what a "racist sexist homophobic dipshit!" Vox Day is for expressing disagreement with his views.
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