My god. How many ways are there to love men? It’s enough to break a heart open.
The images in my head and heart. I know what they are. I do. They are a family album. It is possible to make family any way you like. It is possible to love men without rage. There are thousands of ways to love men.
–Lidia Yuknavitch, “The Chronology of Water”
This is a post dedicated to the warm fuzzy feelings I have about John Scalzi and Jim C. Hines, and the appreciation I feel for their presences on the Internet and all that they do.
I have a very difficult time with men. Perhaps because I am such an active user of the Internet, I have seen so much of the worst of what they are and what they offer–the misogyny, the sexism, the mansplaining, the nice guy syndrome, the Reddit. I know, logically, that this is not how all men are. I might even allow that it is not how most men are, on a good day. But I already harbor my own distrust of strange men, my own discomforts when dealing with them, without having all their uglinesses shoved in my face on a constant basis.
You might say, well, maybe you should take a step away from the Internet. And it would be a valid point if you did. But it wouldn’t solve the problem completely, because it’s sometimes so insidious. It isn’t always the ludicrous caricatures of human beings that make up the GOP, or the circle-jerk of rapists crying about their pathetic existences on Reddit (huge trigger warning for … everything). Sometimes, it’s our own fathers, brothers, friends, random strangers on the street, reenforcing the damaging, offensive messages they have been taught all their lives to reenforce, whether intentionally or unintentionally, it doesn’t really matter.
So, lately, my solution has been to try to counteract some of the hatred and general grossness with better things, or, more specifically, better examples of men who view and treat women as actual human beings worthy of their respect. Anything to help remind me that hating men as a group is neither productive nor really necessary. They are depressingly difficult to find, but, for now, this is where Scalzi and Jim Hines come in.
At Scalzi’s Whatever, he blogs about, well, whatever. There isn’t a specific theme, but he frequently posts about things that make me want to cry with relief that someone gets it, someone other men might potentially listen to, or at least more than they would listen to a silly hysterical ladyblogger. His best of 2012 post is a pretty good place to start digging in, including such things as A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians (giant trigger trigger trigger warning for rape), An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping, Speech and Kirk Cameron, Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is, and Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be (on the ‘fake geek girl’ phenomenon). If you are a straight white male of a certain variety (this variety is seen in most comment threads on posts like the ones linked above), you may not find some of his writing as delightful as I do, and, being a person with many privileges myself, I may very well be blind to problematic elements of the things he says. But I find him consistently funny, insightful, honest, and refreshing. And, in the instances when he has been called out for something, he always listens and seems to genuinely consider what is being said, which is all I ask of people and so wonderful to see from a reasonably prominent member of a group that routinely fails (read: willfully refuses) to do it.
Most recently, he has launched a Counteract a Bigot Drive, wherein money is donated to charities supporting LGBTQQIA people, people of color, women, and those who have been sexually assaulted every time a particularly persistent and disturbing troll mentions Scalzi’s name on his blog. This person is deeply obsessed with him, so their is potential for a whole lot of money to be donated, especially since tons of other people joined in with wishes to donate, too. I lost track of the official tally, but I know that over $50,000 was pledged. This has made it to national news sources, and I am just so happy about it, even if I am not entirely happy about all the charities he chose.
He also frequently posts about his animals, his family, science fiction, and churro waffles, so, there’s that. And he tweets, and following him will better your Twitter timeline, I promise.
I am less familiar with Jim C. Hines, mostly because he is not quite as active on social media platforms as Scalzi is, but what I do know about him is more than enough. He spends a lot of time discussing and attempting to counteract sexism in cover art for science fiction and fantasy novels. He is a trained crisis counselor and has an entire page on his website dedicated to rape (trigger warning for rape, obviously), which contains articles about consent and how sleep is not equivalent to it, writing about rape and ways published writers get it wrong, how rape can affect those close to a survivor as well as the survivor themselves and how to handle that, and vicctim-blaming and the ridiculous ways the media perpetuates it, among many other great and worthwhile things. I am overwhelmed with feelings about this that I don’t even know how to articulate here. these are issues that are very close to my heart, issues that so, so often are handled terribly by pretty much everyone, so to see, again, a man who is a reasonably prominent member of his community speaking out so emphatically about them means a great deal to me and makes me feel a little less crushed and exhausted by the world.
In addition to his website, Jim Hines can also be found at LiveJournal and Twitter, although he is not nearly as active there as I wish him to be.
Honorable mention goes to Charles Stross. Honorable mention only because I know nexxt to nothing about him, and have not spent a sufficient amount of time reading his blog to familiarize myself with his style or content. But I do know that he sometimes has guest posts by women, about women, he is entertaining, and he lists racism, sexism, religious evangelism, and homophobia as things he finds objectionable. I’m pretty easy; I don’t require much more than that. Plus, I seem to recall that Catherynne M. Valente once guest posted for him, and any friend of hers is a friend of mine. Or … whatever the equivalent statement would be for people I don’t actually know. Stross’s blog posts tend, for whatever reason, to break my brain a little and challenge my attention span a lot, but I still plan to read more of him in future and you probably should, too.
Note: Yes, it would be fantastic if the issues of women, POC, LGBTQQIA people, et cetera could be addressed by those who are actually affected and then if those not affected could listen to our voices and care about what we have to say. It would be fantastic if we did not have to rely on straight white men to speak for us and/or share their straight white man platforms to boost our voices. But, a) I recognize that this is the world we currently live in and so I am not going to refuse their voices simply because they are straight white men when they are trying to do some good, and b) as I said up there, I am trying, for my own personal reasons, to come to a peace with men as a whole and this is a post specifically about that.