(urth) Wolfe: Misogynist Or Realist?

b sharp bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 19 10:35:50 PDT 2006

Dan'l writes:
>I did not use the term "misogynist" except once, and that was to 
>specifically state that I did NOT >consider Wolfe one. I believe it was 
>David who brought the term in -- specifically, he spoke of
>"blatant misogyny" in regards to certain themes (which I DO find 
>disturbing; make no mistake) in >Wolfe's oeuvre. (Nor am I at all clear on 
>why you accuse me of being a gentleman, based on this >coinscription; nor, 
>for that matter, of why it would be something I should consider >an 
>"accusation," as opposed, to, say,a "compliment.")

Sorry Dan'l I had thought you used the term misogynist to decribe Wolfe's 
scenarios (not Wolfe) but it was the other Dan,  Daniel D Jones in a 
discourse with Jeff Wilson.  Accusing you of being a gentleman was my 
attempt at a wry, ironic compliment which failed miserably as do so many of 
my attempts.  That said, there are some people (a minority surely) in the 
world who do consider the connotations associated with the term "gentleman" 
less than complimentary.

(Thanks to Jeff Wilson for bringing up A Boy and His Dog! Couldn't be an SF 
misogyny discussion without mentioning that one eh?)

Daniel D Jones says:
>In the particular story DoDrI, I don't think misogyny was a theme of the 
>story so much as was the >value of human beings, regardless of gender.
>does it matter what his intent is?  The story stands or falls on its own 
>merits, not the author's >intent If intent does matter, then, while Wolfe 
>may not be attempting to inspire outrage or >emapathy, I don't think he's 
>trying to encourage or praise misogyny either.

Thought experiment:  How would your feelings as a reader change if the 
murdered person in DoDrI had been a man?  If Thecla's or Hunna's or 
Morwenna's torture had been done to a man?  I think most would feel a little 
less bothered.  Despite protestations, gender matters to almost all of us 
including Gene Wolfe.

Jack Redelfs writes:

>In order for there to be a true appreciation for chivalry, perhaps you 
>should make it clear that >women are in great danger? Perhaps if, as an 
>author, you shepherd your female characters from >indignities, you paint a 
>rose-colored picture of the world.

Well, I hate to use the R word, but in reality, by any measure, at any point 
in the lifespan, males are in greater danger and are injured and killed more 
often than females.  Despite this (ignoring a few radical Men's Rights 
groups) the safety and protection of women continues to be of higher 
priority than protection of men in our society.  Chivalry colors our social 
outlook so universally it is hard to see it.

Tolkein revels in chivalry and refuses to let female characters be 
physically harmed (Eowyn is the dramatic exception but she had to dress as a 
man and of course she recovers).  Tolkein won't even show us ugly women like 
bearded dwarf wives and female orcs.  Wolfe (a fanatic Tolkein fan) chooses 
to let women come to harm and death many times.  I am unabashedly interested 
in his intent as well as the effect that has on various readers.

timothy fletcher writes:

>If I may respectfully disagree (if you are saying, as it seems to me, that 
>early Christianity was in >some way misogynystic), having some background 
>in the study of early christianity (2 relevent >B.A.'s), early Christianity 
>was a haven to women. In fact, there is some evidence that early 
> >Christianity actually raised the role of women. They were treated more as 
>human beings.  I agree >about the early female saints, but I'm not sure 
>that's much sign of misogyny since chastity was >important for both early 
>males and females.

You make a good point and I sort of covered myself by using quotation marks 
around my use of the term "misogynistic".  I agree with Don Dogget that a 
distinction should be made between misogyny and chauvanism, the former being 
hate of women and the latter being a form of chivalry (perverted?) in which 
women are protected so thoroughly they aren't allowed much freedom.

However I can't agree with your assessment of equality in early Christian 
society....maybe I missed them but in my research I didn't encounter any 
male saints who were canonized for chastity and virginity. Wouldn't a male 
virgin deserve even more credit than a female? ;-).

I haven't read Wizard Knight yet, but Bob Miller inspires me to do so.


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