Saving SF from Strong Females


Part One

Anyone reading reviews or discussions of science fiction has no doubt has come across the oddity that most discussions of female characters in science fiction center around whether the female character is strong or not.

As far as recollection serves, not a single discussion touches on whether the female character is feminine or not.

These discussions have an ulterior motive.

Either by the deliberate intent of the reviewer, or by the deliberate intention of the mentors, trendsetters, gurus, and thought-police to whom the unwitting reviewer has innocently entrusted the formation of his opinions, the reviewer who discusses the strength of female characters is fighting his solitary duel or small sortie in the limited battlefield of science fiction literature in the large and longstanding campaign of the Culture Wars.

He is on the side, by the way, fighting against culture.

Hence, he fights in favor of barbarism, hence against beauty in art and progress in science, and, hence the intersection of these two topics, which means, against science fiction.

Different reviewers no doubt mean slightly different things when they speak of strength of a female character: but the general meaning is that the strong female character is masculine.

Masculine in general means direct in speech, confident in action, coolheaded in combat, lethal in war, honorable in tourney or melee, cunning in wit, unerring in deduction, glib in speech, and confident and bold in all things.

Hence, a strong masculine character in a story is one who can pilot a jetplane in a thunderstorm while wrestling a Soviet-trained python in the cockpit. He can appease a mob, lead a rebellion, give orders, follow orders, seduce a countess, fight with a longsword, build a campfire, repair a car engine, write a constitution, comfort the grieving (usually with a brisk slap in the face and a curt command to snap out of it), receive confession, sway a jury, suture a wound, and escape from a sinking submarine with a knife clutched in his teeth. In a science fiction story, a strong masculine character can also pilot a starship; in a fantasy story, he can resurrect the dead. See the cover of any lurid Men’s magazine to see a concise summary of the essential characteristics.

Of the classical virtues, fortitude and justice are essential to masculinity, as is magnanimity: a real man neither complains nor says ‘I told you so.’

Much more rarely do reviewers speak of strong female characters as having the virtues particular to women.

Feminine in general means being more delicate in speech, either when delivering a coy insult or when buoying up drooping spirits. Femininity requires not the sudden and angry bravery of war and combat, but the slow and loving and patient bravery of rearing children and dealing with childish menfolk: female fortitude is a tenacity that does not yield even after repeated disappointments and defeats. And, believe you me, dear reader, a woman in love has a very clear-eyed view of the faults and flaws of her man, and if her love is true, she does not yield to despair or give up on him. The female spirit is wise rather than cunning, deep in understanding rather than adroit in deductive logic, gentle and supportive rather than boastful and self-aggrandizing. The strong feminine character is solid in faith in all things.

Hence, a strong feminine character in a story is one who can overcome the prejudice against her family’s humble origins to win the heart of the proud Mr Darcy. She can appease an angry mother-in-law, reconcile a feud, arrange cooperation without seeming to take or give orders and without anyone feeling left out or overruled, lure a Lothario to his destruction, unman a Benedict with her wit, build a family, repair a broken heart, restore loyalty, comfort the grieving (usually with a sympathetic ear and a soft promise of better days ahead), receive confession, sway a jury, suture a wound, and escape from an arranged marriage to find true love. In a science fiction story, a strong feminine character can also halt a planetary war; in a fantasy story, she can resurrect the dead, and then marry him. See the cover of any Woman’s trashy romance novel to see a concise summary of the essential characteristics.

Note that men in fantasy stories tend to revive the dead by going to the underworld like Orpheus or Aragorn, and wrestling Cerberus like Hercules. They get revived like Gandalf the White, by being sent back by angelic higher powers. Women tend to pull Tam Lin off his horse as he is being led to hell. They get revived by love’s first kiss, which is more powerful than angels.

Of classical virtues, temperance and prudence are essential to femininity, especially that temperance of the sexual appetite called chastity, and that prudence not to excite the sexual appetite outside courtship nor to invite flattery, which is called modesty. A real heroine does not manipulate good men by their affections, nor copulate out of wedlock.

This leads us to two immediate and controversial questions. First, is there a difference between masculine and feminine strengths and virtues? Second, should there be a difference?

To speak of masculine and feminine is not the normal way of speaking of things. Modern political correctness requires one to speak incessantly and indefinitely of whatever is the topic without ever naming the topic, because certain words and ideas are taboo, the source of black magic. The theory of black magic is that if a word has a connotation the social engineers do not like, by avoiding the word, thought and psychology can be sculpted or habituated to a more perfect form. It is the theory that calling black skinned men not born in Africa and who may or may not be Americans by the term ‘African American’ rather than by the term ‘Black’ will somehow abolish race hatred. It is the theory that linguistic mannerisms and queer verbal tics can save mankind from our sinful nature, rather than, say, the Enlightenment of Buddha or the Blood of Christ.

Likewise, to speak of the sexes is thoughtcrime. We are to speak only of ‘gender’ which is a word that properly only refers to parts of speech, or, among anthropologists, social roles rather than spiritual and biological realities. Hence there is no word in the vocabulary of Political Correctness to speak of masculine or feminine things. The theory here is that by eliminating verbal reference to reality the offensive reality will softly and suddenly vanish away like a Boojam.

Hence, the Politically Correct theory is, first, that there are no differences between masculine and feminine strengths and virtues, and, second, that even if there were, it would not be pleasing to the amateur social engineers to acknowledge that fact; and indeed, it may be an offense against women to do so, and unwitting treason to the cause of radical egalitarianism.

The theory is borrowed without change from Marxism, except that instead of capitalist Jews being the evil and sadistic oppressors, the husbands and fathers and sons are the evil; and the women are the saintly and utterly innocent victims instead of the proletarians. The theory here is that that every pretense of any difference, however slight or obvious, between the sexes will be used by the ruthless oppressors as a ruthless excuse to exploit the weak and helpless women. Hence the theory of women as weak is built into the very bones of feminism.

By this theory, anyone admiring femininity in women or masculinity in men can be presumed to be motivated by savage and unforgivable yet unadmitted racism, but as if the female sex were another race, not the opposite and complementary sex of the same race. This type of make-believe racism is called ‘sexism’, than which few stupider words exist in the modern lexicon. (One would think ‘sexism’ would be rule by copulation, an inventive form of government yet to be tried.)

As a rule of thumb, it is safe to assume that Political Correctness is not merely false but is as lunatic as a man who hops energetically on his cracking skull, both legs kicking wildly aloft, screaming that his hat is a pogo-stick. The Political Correctoids seem to regard it as all the more admirable the more defiantly their words defy reality. Like the White Queen in Alice, they seem to admire not merely believing lies but believing impossibly false and utterly outrageous lies.

But in this case, we should hasten to admit that the Politically Correct lies, like most good lies, contains a grain of truth to it. Masculine nature tends to be adversarial and domineering where the feminine tends to be yielding and conciliatory. Left to ourselves in a Hobbesian state of fallen nature, sexual alliances between men and women tends to situations of mutual exploitation where the women get the worst of it; without the institution of marriage, the mating dance becomes a sexual melee, and the more callous masculine nature of the sex who cannot get pregnant and hence is less dependent on his mate, has freer latitude to use and abuse the other sex, not to mention being more violent in the passions and more prone to violence considerably.

The institution of polygamy is an attempt devised by men to check the excesses of this free for all by enforcing standards of chastity, but this institution is blatantly unfair to women, rendering them little more than slave chattel.

Monogamous matrimony as practiced in the West, that is, in Christendom, is an attempt devised by heaven to check the excesses of polygamy, by rendering the bride and bridegroom equal in chastity and voluntary in vow. Even so, women were not afforded the equal rights to vote and own property until quite recently, even in the West. Hence, we must admit that there is a real problem of feminine inequality that Political Correctness attempts to solve. We can merely reject with jovial contempt their means of solving it: one does not rectify deeply rooted historic injustices by means of euphemisms and nonsense-words.

Let us therefore at the outset acknowledge that the majority of strengths and virtues are the same in both sexes. It is not more admirable or less to lie or steal or cheat in a man than in a woman. We here are concerned those few areas where the strengths and virtues differ, which are the areas that Political Correctness pretends do not exist.

I propose that women can commit the same vices as men, but they do not commit them in the same way; and likewise practice the same virtues, but not in the same way.

For example, when men in a locker room, or on a battlefield, use the name of the Lord in vain, and no one hears them but their team mates or brothers in arms, the vulgarity may have the positive effect of stirring up emotions ranging from team spirit to desperate anger which aids the will to win. It is the same vice as if a woman swears, but the rough nature of the masculine task mitigates some of the roughness of their tongue. A man who is crude can also inspire fear because he fears neither God nor men.

Contrariwise, when women in the kitchen or the nursery use the name of the Lord in vain, and the children they are nursing and teaching hear them, the vulgarity has the negative effect of deadening the emotions of the youngsters and making them vulgar and indifferent to vulgarity. Youngsters indifferent to vulgarity with very few exceptions cannot have a reverent or respectful attitude toward man or God. This absence of respect infiltrates to every compartment of their lives; they are mean to the poor, callous to women, negligent of duties, contemptuous of authority, and so on. The point of vulgarity is to desecrate the image of man in the eyes of man: filthy language is meant to make us seem like filthy yahoos to each other. It is the same vice as if a man swears, but the delicate nature of maternal and educational tasks, not to mention the greater need for consensus-building in the circle of women, gives this vice a darker and longer-lasting stain when a woman indulges in it.

Also a woman who is crude inspires contempt, because she has contempt for God and man. The difference is that a woman who loses her native delicacy and modesty does not become an object of fear and respect, but an object of contempt and loathing, because the aura of sanctity women naturally inspire in men is tossed away.

For another example, when men complain to their team mates about some petty irksomeness in their job, it shames them by making them look weak-minded and whiny. Women, it must be noted, complain more than men. There is nothing sinister in this: if women did not complain, the thing of which they complain would not be corrected. The feminine way to correct the problem is to get someone else in the group to volunteer out of kindness. It is not duty oriented. The masculine way to correct the problem is to endure it, fix it yourself on your own time, or command an underling to correct it if and only if that falls within the scope of his duty, or demean yourself by asking a superior out of noblesse oblige to fix it for you, whereupon you will owe him. It is not kindness oriented.

Now, it must also be clear that men have free will, and can train themselves either to fulfill their nature or oppose their nature. Merely because we have a natural inclination toward something tells us nothing about whether we ought to heed or avoid that impulse. I have an impulse to be kind to children with big eyes, which I think I should indulge, and I have an impulse to stab my rivals through eye and into the brain pan with my sword cane, which is an impulse I think I should suppress, not the least because my blade is dull and I am past the age when one can face the gallows with dignity. So in looking at the formal causes of masculinity and femininity, I make no remark as yet recommending whether we ought to train our young men and women to adhere to these roles or to oppose them. We can go against nature if there is a greater good to be served. Likewise, we can all learn to walk on our hands rather than learn to walk on our feet. The question there is whether the good outweighs the cost.

The quickest way to examine the good of male and female roles in romance (hence in romances of adventure) is to look at their origins, that is, at the causes which encourage those roles.

Biologically, females can bear children and nurse them. While it is a very popular idea these days that nature only creates physical and biological reality, but leaves psychological, mental and spiritual reality to the arbitrary and absolute power of the individual willpower, this is a popular error. Mind and body are two aspects of the same reality.

It would be wasteful and absurd for nature to give women the sexual organs needed to bear children without giving women the sexual nature of women needed to use those organs properly or raise those children properly. That women would be more concerned with the tasks related to childrearing than men is neither absurd nor unfair, but reasonable and natural.

Like it or not, nature has oriented female thinking to make them generally better at teaching a child how to volunteer to do a task, so that he will naturally and willingly do his tasks once he is grown; whereas men are generally better at commanding and punishing, so that the task gets done whether the child is willing or unwilling.

The female concentrates on the doer; the male on the deed.

Whether or not nature is being cruel and arbitrary with this specialization of roles is a debate for another day.

But the purpose of the specialization is also difficult to deny: children need both a father-figure to mete out justice and fight for the family against the world, winning bread and slaying foes, and need a mother-figure to quench the thirst for mercy and nurture the family within the home. The mindset needed for these tasks is different, hence the approach is different. Men fight and women nurse the wounded, and then tongue-lash any malingering men into going back into the fight. Their role is support rather than front line duty.

This has a second ramification, also difficult to deny: the qualities that attract women to men are influenced by the specialized roles nature intends, and likewise the qualities that attract men to women. Since the roles differ, the qualities differ. Women generally must govern a consensus between family members within the home and between homes in the neighborhood, and arrange the harmony of all the souls involved. By the nature of her task, a bride must be more concerned with the soul and psychology of her bridegroom than he is with hers. Being friendly and kindly is not what she primarily seeks in him, but instead confidence and leadership. His role will require him to protect her during the vulnerable seasons in the marriage, and this requires that mysterious quality called good character.

Men generally must accomplish missions in a team or warband, either to kill the enemy in wartime, or in peacetime to overcome and outperform the competition in the marketplace, which ironically calls for many parallel considerations of diligence, stoicism, courage and discipline. These tasks require a sense of honor and a certain unfortunate touchiness of pride, a sense of teamwork and orientation toward the goal. We men do not care how you feel about your job, just so long as it gets done on time and under budget, and we don’t want to hear any complaint. We don’t want to hear complaint because that betrays a weakness of emotion, a lack of honor, which harms the team spirit and morale. Spiritual and psychological reality is a secondary concern. By the nature of his task, the bridegroom must be more concerned with the bride’s ability to perform the goals of marriage than with her emotional nature or mood. A central goal is child-rearing: this requires a fit physique and a willingness to submit to masculine sexual desire. Another goal is friendship. Hence, a man’s attraction tends to be rather shallow. Nature inclines him to emphasize that she is physically fit, healthy and young, and willing to undergo the travail of childbirth, chaste and friendly and amiable.

Hence during courtship, nature places a paradoxical burden on the maiden. She has to discover, not how her suitor acts during the fun and sunny days of courtship, but how he deals with adversity. Character is that trait which a man displays under distress, during wintery days when things are going wrong.

Character is a hidden trait. Many a young man undertakes foolish risks and stupid dares, leaping from rooftops or riding bikes on railroad trestles, not from any self-destructive impulse, but because of a burning need to discover what his own character is. Is he a coward or not? He cannot know this unless he sees himself under stress, in an emergency. Hence some young men concoct artificial emergencies by taking up dares or doing daring stunts or doing deeds of derring-do.

During courtship, nature inclines the woman to seek out the character of the man. If she were to act in the direct and masculine fashion of satisfying the physical sexual urge with the first potential mate who was no more than physically attractive, that is to say, if she were to dive bomb the target of her lust like a man, she would have no opportunity to test his character. He, in return, winning cheaply what he craves would not and could not prize it, and he will ignore or betray her as soon as his physical appetite is sated, for experience will have told him he can lift another skirt as effortlessly.

But if she lures her candidate in by her amorous coy flirtation, teasing, blowing hot and cold, pretending indifference then surprising him with sudden signs of affection, if, in other words, she torments him with her allure, then she can see whether he has the fortitude and depth of passion needed to continue the rite of passage to the end. Courtship is trial by ordeal.

Naturally, if she can see him doing brave deeds like wrestling that Soviet-trained python in the cockpit of a smoldering jetplane in a thunderstorm aforementioned, this will satisfy her as to his bravery. But it will not tell her if he is true and faithful to her, rather than attracted on a shallow level to her looks, or her wealth or position. She needs to know if he will be true in better or worse, rich or poor, sickness and health, because she does not want to be abandoned if she falls sick and loses her hair or her eyesight or her fortune. The only way to test that hidden trait is to see how he overcomes obstacles interfering in the courtship, including obstacles she herself puts in the way. The reason why girls do not phone up boys for dates is that if the guy is not interested enough in you to pick up the phone, he is not in love enough to wrestle that damned Soviet-trained python for you.

The paradox here is that even if the woman were a mind-reader, even if she were totally honest with her courting candidate, she cannot discover from him what she wants and needs to know, because he does not know it himself. He himself does not know how much in love he is with her, because infatuation camouflages itself as true love every time. He does not know the steadfastness of his own character until it is put to the test.

This is also why the mating dance cannot be reduced to a merely logical contract between two persons negotiating at arm’s length. They are not negotiating for the exchange of goods and services. Indeed, treating sex like a service is the mere opposite of true love, and hence is rejected with disgust wherever it appears by honest men, as gold-digging if not as harlotry, and honest women hate cads and Lotharios. The lovers are not negotiating a contract, which is an exchange of goods, but proposing a covenant, which is the exchange of souls and lives. Each lover gives his whole self, body and soul, to the beloved, and marriage is the sacrament to seal that surrender of self.

A certain degree of ritualized formality has been painstakingly developed over the years to channel and cushion and guide the mating dance and matrimony and so on.

On the man’s side, the courtship does not entail a paradox. His mission is to pursue the girl to whom he is attracted, overcoming her indifference, and perhaps her angry family if she is a Montague or a Shark and he a Capulet or a Jet, and winning her heart with courtesy, sincerity, wit, savoir-faire, and physical or mental muscle or both.

His mission is not to give into despair, and, when she walks out on him, to walk after her.

His mission is not to let his own pride spoil the relationship. Of course, heartbreak is certain here, because the formula requires you men to continue to nosedive at the target even after her ack-ack guns have shot you down. The other part of the masculine formula is to abandon her as a candidate if she is unchaste. If she cannot be trusted with sexual self control before the marriage, there is no reason to suspect that she can be trusted after, when the temptation is all the greater.

Now, if that is the essence of the male-female mating dance, as you can see, nature places a much greater burden on the woman. All he needs to do is be brave and persistent. She needs to be wise and insightful, and make an accurate judgment about his character. She needs to understand his real emotions and motives and moods.

At this point we can return to the main question above and consider how this influences fiction, including science fiction.

A poet portraying the mating dance in fiction by the nature of the art must portray only the essential elements. This is why Romeo and Juliet do not have a long courtship: we have one balcony scene and a secret wedding soon thereafter.

If the essential element of the female side of courtship is discovering the man’s true character, then a book like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, which is concerned with the misjudgment and the correction of misjudgment about a suitor’s character is the central theme, is the quintessential feminine book. Women, if they are feminine women, will be fascinated by a book such as this, as it will allow them in their imagination to play through the steps they themselves, if they are not to live as nuns, will go through, or which they went through as maidens.

Even if they were not at first more interested in love stories and the play of romance than little boys, a little girl should be encouraged by the cold logic of the circumstance in which she finds herself to pay close attention to that one life-decision upon which so much of her happiness and success depends.

Girls who do not like love stories are well advised to learn to like them, because such stories deal with the essential and paramount realities on which much or most of that girl’s happiness in life will hinge.

Likewise, if the basic nature of the male side of courtship is overcoming obstacles between the suitor and the bride, then a book like A PRINCESS OF MARS is the quintessential masculine book. John Carter is so deeply in love with Dejah Thoris that even death cannot hinder him, nor the wide uncrossed interrupt of interplanetary space, and he fights his way past men and monsters and Martians, red and green and yellow and black, all the way from the South Pole to the North Pole in search of her, even though she is promised to another man.

These elements might strike a modern reader as offensive to the equality of women, particularly if the modern reader has been unwary enough to absorb modern ideas without examining them. This objection has always struck me as slightly comical. It is not the equality of the sexes that is at question in a story like A PRINCESS OF MARS. If memory serves, nearly every heroine of the several Barsoom books of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his many imitators is a princess. In other words, in such simple adventure stories the woman usually outranks the man. She is royalty and he is a nobody, a stranger, or an earthman. He is in love not with an equal but with a superior, hence winning her heart is a more difficult victory, hence more satisfying a drama.

Likewise, on the distaff side of the equation, I note that the particular example I selected of an exemplary woman’s romance, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, it is Elizabeth Bennet who is lower in status than the proud and handsome Mr Darcy. Equality is not a part of the mating dance: the drama of such girlish tales comes from the humble girl, the Cinderella, winning the high and aloof prince, and likewise the drama of boyish tale comes from the humble boy winning the heart of the princess.

In that most famous homage to sciffy serial adventure, namely STAR WARS, please notice that it was a princess who needed rescuing. While the space farmboy Luke is low class enough to be a proper suitor when he becomes imbued with magic powers as a psionic Warlock-Samurai, he is no longer low enough in rank to be a satisfying suitor, and the lovable space rogue Solo the Smuggler is selected instead. And Luke is not the brother of the space princess until the third movie, a plot twist needed to eliminate any possible romantic interest.

But perhaps it is not the inequality of rank between space princess and space rogue that concerns us here. The objection is that the space hero does the rescuing, his is the initiative and the action, and he gets to fly the spaceship through the palace wall, whereas the space princess is given no role but to languish in prison, perhaps wearing chains or perhaps wearing a silky harem outfit, and await rescue. The inequality is between the active versus the passive role.

I submit that this is not inequality, no more than Fred leading and Ginger following during a stirring waltz is inequality. It is complementary. Those who object that men should not lead in the dance, whatever they say, are not friends of women; they just want to stop the joy of the dance.

Please consider the nature of the art present even in the humblest pulp story. Stories by their nature are meant to be a culmination and sublimation and example of some idea, preferably a true idea, coming from the human condition.

The human condition for better or worse puts men in the position that the natural strategy for a suitor to pursue to find true love and win the girl is as outlined above: it is analogous to defying a world, sword in hand, and fighting an entire globe for her. It certainly feels that way.

There are no real alternatives to the strategy of persistent defiance of obstacles. The strategy of picking up an attractive stranger of loose morals, or hiring her for a fee for sexual favors, is so repugnant to prudence if not to human nature itself as to induce vomiting. This is what is portrayed as the norm these days, but that fact by itself betrays that we live in abnormally sick days these days.

The strategy of alluring a sexually aggressive woman by coy and amorous teasing and batting the eyelashes, so that she throws the man over her shoulder like a female Tarzan and carries him off to a floral bower for dangerously passionate ravishment makes the man weak and comical, a joke akin to Bugs Bunny wearing a dress.

There is a reason why Superman rescuing Lois Lane remains a charming and beloved center of their myth even after more than half a century, whereas no one remembers or cares to remember any scenes of Wonder Woman rescuing Steve Trevor. The stark fact is that a healthy woman admires and should admire strength in her man, including when such strength sweeps her up in his arms. She should be delighted even if she is offended when Tarzan throws her over his shoulder, or her bridegroom carries her across the threshold. A man should not admire physical strength in women, because this is not a characteristic that differentiates the sexes for him.

The sexes are opposite, and culture should exaggerate the complementary opposition by artifice in order to increase our joy in them, including artifices of dress and speech: when women dress and speak and act like men, some joy is erased from both sexes.

The best image and analogy of this male strategy of courtship in action is pursuit and combat and rescue. The simplest way in a story to have pursuit and combat and rescue is if the girl has been abducted, so that her abductor must be slain and she liberated. The man then is both her servant and her savior: this combination of service and salvation exactly pictures the heart of the lover.

It is extraordinarily rare that a man in real life has chased the abductor of a fair maiden, slain him with a sword, and untied her from the railroad tracks or sawmill log, to win her grateful kiss and hand in marriage. I doubt if it has ever happened in the history of the world that a young damsel met the man she later married when he rescued her from a shipwreck or a housefire. But this image, corny and hackneyed as it is, of rescuing a damsel in distress is the central image of the male strategy of courtship, the central sexual image in all male dreams.

In real life we might outperform a rival for the affections of our true love, but it would be more satisfying to stab him to death with a sword, for the victory in love feels like the victory in a duel. Rarely if ever has the object of our affection been tied to a tree in a clinging white dress to be sacrificed to a dragon, but every bridegroom rescues his bride from the dragon called loneliness. It feels like a rescue. The purpose of a story is to capture such feelings in a concrete image.

This kind of adventure story scenario also allows the story to display the other elements which give the particularly masculine virtues a chance to shine, including airplane crashes, tornadoes, and escapes from dungeons, or, in the case of a fantasy story, grasping with your teeth the vulture who stooped to peck out your eyes while you were being crucified, and breaking its neck with your incisors. Perhaps there are young girls these days who daydream about doing such a feat a strangling a vulture with your teeth, but it would seem unusual.

A woman perhaps will be offended at being portrayed as a prize; but none should be offended at being prized.

A main objection to the damsel in distress scenario is that by the logic of the plot, she does not have much to do, aside from perhaps knifing a too-familiar dungeon guard. If Andromeda by herself slips the chains and strangles the sea monster, there is nothing for Perseus to do, nor has he done anything for which she might reward him with her hand in marriage, for his character has not been put to the test.

I should also hasten to mention that while many people complain about the portrayal of weak heroines in boy’s adventure stories, the complaints are narrower than it might first seem.

Four examples will suffice: Notice that while Dale Arden of FLASH GORDON has nothing to do aside from being captured and forced into a slinky harem outfit and menaced by the lust of Ming the Merciless, Wilma Deering of BUCK ROGERS is a soldier fighting in endless and hopeless resistance against the Air Warlords of the invading Han. While Dorothy Vaneman has nothing to do in SKYLARK OF SPACE aside from being space-napped by that most magnificent of space opera villains, Marc C ‘Blackie’ DuQuesne, the Red Lensman Clarissa MacDougall in GALACTIC PATROL is an officer in the medical corps, fearless in war and in the operating theater (where she must perform a quadruple amputation on her wounded beloved without flinching) and has at least one scene blasting Boskonian space-pirates, crashing a spaceship through the palace walls to rescue a damsel in distress of her own, ironically enough, an Amazon. In other words, weak and fainting female characters do indeed crop up, but they are not as prevalent even in the boy’s adventure fiction as the complaints would lead one to believe.

Another point to be made here is that annoying girly characters who do nothing but scream and need rescuing do exist in science fiction, but that they were more prevalent in the 1960’s, the era of the Playboy Bunny, than in the 1940’s, the era of Rosie the Riveter.

The modern women’s liberation movement got started in the same era when the sexual revolution was imposing on women a demeaning role from which she needed to be liberated, the dumb blonde sex bombshell role of the postwar years. During the 1940’s, the Serial Queen from the Cliffhangers were action heroines, Daughters of Zorro or Jungle Girls more often seen with dirk or sixgun in hand, and sometimes whip, than than she was seen clinging to cliffs, menaced by killer apes or being lowered slowly into the fiery abyss (albeit, of course, she was seen there as well).

A plethora of pictures will help make this point.


Cliffhanger Heroine with Sixgun

Cliffhanger Heroine Hanging from Cliff

Cliffhanger Heroine Hanging Over a Fiery Abyss

Cliffhanger Heroine Menaced by Ape


Cliffhanger Heroine with Dirk


Cliffhanger Heroine with Sixgun AND Whip


Note that the Black Whip is racing to rescue Vic Gordon, who has nothing to do until then but be drowned during a cave in or something

My theory is that in the postwar years, the returning servicemen, having survived the hell of war and emerged from the purgatory of the Great Depression, yearned for and created the most pleasant environment imaginable to the human race: the well tended suburb, complete with elm trees, white picket fence, automobiles with tailfins, televisions with rabbit ears, schoolhouses (and shoes) for their children, washing machines, and, in yearning for domestic bliss, asked for an exaggerated form of domestic femininity from their women, complete with high heels, aprons and pearl necklaces. They had certainly earned it; and the women graciously granted their wish, and behaved in a more feminine fashion than their mothers.

The dark side of that grant was that the relaxation and celebration of the fat years of peacetime also encouraged the red light districts of American life to begin to sneak into main-street. It was the era of Marylin Monroe and of Playboy Clubs, where femininity first began to be treated as a soulless commodity.

In those days the feminists, instead of reacting with Puritanical horror against the dehumanizing sexualization of their sisters, saw the pornographers and sex peddlers as allies against domestic life, which the feminists, inexplicably, saw as the greater threat.

The cigarette companies encouraged women to smoke as a sign of liberation with the slogan you’ve come a long way, baby. And the feminists made a common cause with the Madison Avenue types who thought it was cute to call them babies. Figure that one out.

However, in my own admittedly unscientific review of science fiction, I noticed that the useless female characters whose only role is to look pretty and scream at danger, the Playboy Bunny style girls, date from the 1960’s, in works by Keith Laumer or Robert Heinlein. Female characters who act more like Roman Matrons or Pioneer Wives, dames with dignity but tough as nails, ready to pick up sword or raygun, or stab a salacious dungeon guard with a dirk, mostly date from during and before the war, as in works by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, Jack Williamson or C. L. Moore.

Admittedly there are some, more than a few, heroines in boy’s adventure stories given little or nothing to do. My argument is first that the complaints are exaggerated, and second that introducing masculine traits to female characters does not make them strong, merely unrealistic to the point of dishonesty.

It is wise to be wary of book reviews discussing strength in female characters. The unspoken idea being foisted across on the unsuspecting reader, who might have thought he was reading a book review rather than a political tract, is that to be feminine means to be weak and despicable, hence the only way to be strong and admirable is to be masculine. These reviewers, almost without exception, take for granted that it is an offense to female readers, and perhaps an offense to the grand and glorious revolutionary social cause of feminism, to present to the audience a female character who does not inspire admiration and emulation. They also take for granted that the only people women readers can admire or would emulate is a woman who acts with manly virtue, masculine power, male strength.

In other words, when reviewers urge writers to put strong female characters into their works, they are asking the writers, in effect, to add Amazons, women with stereotypically masculine behavior patterns, values and attitudes. The only difficulty with the idea is that Amazons are as mythical as gynosphinxes.

I return once again to my example of Miss Bennet from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I defy anyone to dismiss as weak a character who, in the climactic scene where Lady Catherine de Bourgh commands her not to marry Mr. Darcy, and Miss Bennett, unmoved and unimpressed despite the high rank and vast influence of the earl’s widow, flatly refuses. If I may quote: “I am resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”

Is this a weak character? I think not. She handles the confrontation in a fashion exemplary of feminine courage, particularly since, after the marriage, Elizabeth’s firmness of character allows harmony to be restored within the group, and the conflict reconciled, once Lady Catherine is one of her in-laws.

Strong men do not want reconciliation but victory. An action hero in that situation would have simply stabbed the fussy matron with a snickersnee, eloped with his fiancee, and fled to the coast to sign on with privateers, with her disguised as the cabin boy. Then he would have wrestled a sea-serpent.

Femininity is not weakness. In many ways, perhaps in most ways, female strength is greater than male strength, since our strength is based on a fragile sort of selfish pride that comes from triumphs, whereas feminine strength is based on selfless faith, in her beloved man or her beloved God, which the defeats and the adversity of the world merely strengthens all the more. Male strength is like a fire among Autumn leaves, which burns brightly but quickly, then is gone. Female strength is like a sacred fire among coals, which comes again to life when it seems to be out.

Is there a danger that the repeated urging to introduce female characters that manifest masculine rather than feminine virtues will damage science fiction?

Part Two

In this space we have been examining and excoriating the attempt of many reviewers and activists in science fiction to increase the number of ‘strong’ female characters in science fiction yarns. I put the word strong in scare quotes because it is my contention, argued in the previous essay, that this word conflates two distinct ideas. Good authors can make strong female characters who are strong with the virtues particular to women, feminine strength. Lazy authors make strong female characters by making them masculine.

Now there are several arguments which can be raised against this position: first is that virtue the same in men and women, so that what I am calling feminine strength in reality is the same as masculine strength, and ergo the distinction on which the argument is based fails. This argument has the strong point that temperance, justice, fortitude and prudence are the same in both sexes. The counterargument, which I think is sufficient as far as this point goes, is that the particular character of male and female virtues comes not from the virtues, but from the difference in priority, emphasis, approach, and skill sets involved.

The argument is experiential rather than logical: if you have not noticed that men, and for good reason, tend to be proud of their physical prowess, tend to be direct and adversarial, and tend to look at the world in terms of winners and losers, then I can do no more than to bring it to your attention. I call upon experience as my witness.

If you have no experience of real life, aside from what you see on the modern television or read in modern books, I might remind you that these jolly pastimes are not meant to reflect reality, but is instead meant to reflect a vision of the world, a narrative, with which I am taking issue. Your witnesses, modern television and modern books, are corrupt.

Second, it can be argued that while indeed men do act in a more masculine fashion than women, they do not have a good reason for this: that the typically masculine and feminine roles are the product of historical accident or perhaps cruelty and social injustice. By this argument, the fact that they have always existed hence is an argument for their overthrow, because injustice has always existed, so any alternative is worth trying. The counterargument is that femininity is based on female biology, and that psychology, despite the fact that it can be trained to defy biology, ought not to be, as this leads to inefficiencies, injustices, and a general lack of joy.

Here again I point to experience as my witness: compare the divorce rate, the suicide rate, the crime rate, the rate of drug abuse, or any other honest indicator of social happiness between a modern urban setting, where the modern and Politically Correct ideals have had full sway for more than half a century, with a postwar rural setting where the traditional ideals have full sway. Neither one is utopia, but the number of bastard children belonging to drug running gangs beaten to death by his mother’s live-in lover is far smaller in rural Pennsylvania of 1953 than urban Detroit of 2013.

Third, it can be argued that while there are natural efficiencies involved with women being feminine and men being masculine, it does not produce the greater joy of which I speak. This argument would run: Females do not want to be feminine, but to be free, and the restrictions of femininity are both artificial and limiting; men do not want to be masculine, or to be leaders, or to be strong, they would rather whine like girls without being criticized for whining like girls. They certainly do not want to be policemen or soldiers or firemen, or to do any task requiring physical courage and clarity of thought and boldness of action.

This argument cannot be answered, because it is two arbitrary assertions: first, the femininity implies inferiority, because it tends toward a support and nurturing role rather than a showy leadership role; second, the pleasure in life after weighing the pros and cons is seen as a matter of experience to favor liberated women who talk and act like men. The liberated woman can smoke cigars and grab waiters on the buttocks and sleep around and get drunk and join a pirate crew and raise the Jolly Roger and start slitting throats, or stand for public office, which is much the same thing.

The counter argument here is that if feminism consists of this doctrine, then it consists of eliminating the particular qualities that emphasize the feminine nature of women. Feminism abolishes femininity.

Now, logically, since there is no such thing as an asexual human being, even from a fertilized egg in the womb, eliminating the feminine can only be done by getting men to act more feminine and getting women to act more masculine. It does not liberate women from an artificial set of expectations and leave them at liberty to live as asexual beings with no social roles. All it does is ask them to live partly in the masculine role, and partly to improvise, and then not to know what to expect from anyone else in the system.

The implication then is that, if these roles are based on natural tendencies built into our psychology because they are built into our biology, then men will naturally be more masculine than women and women more feminine than men, even if social artifices hide or distract or make the manifestation of these traits different than the manifested in the past.

If women act like men, they will be, by and large (with some few exceptions, like Anne Bonny) not as good at male-behavior patterns than males (like Blackbeard and Calico Jack Rackham and Sir Francis Drake).

Now, a rebuttal to this counter argument is that the categories of masculine and feminine are completely artificial, a social product of a sinister conspiracy of the patriarchy. (I assume this refers to the Patriarchic government of the alien catlike species inhabited a world circling 61 Ursae Majoris, and that this is meant as a serious argument, not merely tomfoolery and nonsense like the conspiracy theory behind Marxism, which proposes that investment bankers, not patriarchs, are the conspirators.)

Here again, I can only point to experience. I am a newspaperman and an attorney. I have seen real life in a way that few other people, perhaps policemen and certainly priests who hear confessions, have seen it, unfiltered by an entertainment industry or media complex devoted to an agenda.

But don’t take my word for it. It is possible that my personal experience is atypical. Let us look nationwide: fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, and ninety percent of divorces are initiated by women.

My conclusion is that you dear ladies are unhappy about something.

Many ladies. Very unhappy.

Ready for another statistic? Couples who practice the Catholic method of Natural Family Planning have a divorce rate of about 5%, markedly lower than the 50% divorce rate of couples who utilize contraception. Correlation is not causation, so you may draw your own conclusion about what this statistic means, if anything.

The conclusion I draw is that old fashioned religious Moms who listen to St. Paul’s oft misunderstood injunction that they submit to their husbands, and Dads who heed St Paul’s oft misunderstood injunction that Dad be the head of the family the way Christ is the head of the Church, that is, by total self sacrifice, are happier with each other than two liberal-minded and free and equal and rather selfish partners who made an alliance to service their mutual friendship and pleasure and call it a marriage. A marriage between a submissive woman and a self sacrificing man may be many things — it sounds a bit kinky to me — but it certainly cannot be selfish. But this conclusion I offer here only as a personal aside, an opinion, not part of the argument.

Let us look closer to home. Look at science fiction stories and movies. What has the attempt to produce strong female characters produced?

On the one hand, I would be the first to say that the Miyasaki characters Nausicaa and Kushinada, the heroine and the villainess respectively of VALLEY OF THE WIND are the exemplars of perfectly strong and perfectly feminine women. Being in leadership roles does not strike me as unfeminine, not when we are dealing with princesses and war leaders. Nonetheless, the particular masculine characteristic of touchy pride, the desire to slit throats, machismo, vulgarity, roguishness, and the other one-dimensional stereotype writers who don’t know any real men use when trying to make their females more masculine are utterly absent from Miyazaki’s characters.

Again, throughout the film (and manga) Nausicaa shows more concern for the suffering of enemies, including horrid insect monsters and radioactive biotech god-soldiers, than a man would. Her attitude toward war is hardly the same as that of a Lancelot or Achilles.


One example: when the princess Nausicaa commands her men to don their gas masks and they do not obey, she does not shoot one of them in the leg. Instead she takes off her own gas mask, provoking their concern for her, hence loyalty, hence they then listen to her. This is feminine in approach.


By that I do not mean illogical or cunning or whatever negative implications feminists and other people who simply hate women apply to the word ‘feminine’ when they hear that word.

I am a romantic: to me, who loves women in their every aspect, the word is complimentary and highly so. I am also a Catholic. I say fifty prayers a day to the Our Lady and only five a day to Our Lord, so do not tell me there is something illogical or cunning or negative about feminine leadership. The Queen of the Angels disagrees.

I am calling such behavior feminine because I hold that femininity is more concerned with the doer than with the deed. Masculine approach is to be businesslike and curt, and not concerned with your emotions, only with our performance. This approach is useful both on the battlefield and in the marketplace. It is results-oriented. It is concerned with duty, outward actions, not with inner motives.

Typical masculine thinking: I do not care why you salute just as long as you do salute. You are not saluting the man, you are saluting the uniform. It is impersonal.

The feminine approach, since females are biologically more suited to bearing and nursing children than males, and since females are given the infinitely important task of domesticating the male barbarian of her husband as well as taming and training the children, must be more concerned with the doer than the deed, because the women must train the children to volunteer to do the right thing, so that as adults, when she is gone, they do the right thing. It is character-oriented. This is the more useful approach in peacetime and in cooperative rather than competitive situations. It is not concerned with duty, but with inner motives.

Does anyone seriously, honestly think that a goals-oriented approach is always superior to the personality-oriented approach? Does anyone seriously think that we can treat squadmates like children or children like squadmates?

By the way, gentlemen, this is why women talk more than men and talk about more trivial things. The act of talking is attempting to form a bond and open a channel of communication which the woman can use to deduce information vital to her approach about your personality and moods and your character. She is trying to see behind the mask all too many of us wear as a matter of convenience. She is trying to cure us of our hidden pain.

By the way, ladies, this is why we guy don’t talk about important things and never open up and share our feelings. We don’t have any, not what you call feelings. We have tactics and goals. Anything outside the goal is distraction. We do not care about how we ‘feel.’ Feelings pass. Pain is endured, not cured.

And, by the way men, the old canard about men being logical and women being emotion is and always was meant as a joke. If a woman points out a matter the is outside the immediate goal on which the one-track male mind is focused, he will call it irrelevant. That is because women are generally better at thinking in multiple parallel tasks at once, and are less goal-oriented and more personality-oriented. However, during the high-stress type of tasks to which men, especially young men, tend to gravitate, having a one-track mind is a benefit: it is a mind stripped down for action.

However, the way to deal with this canard is not to pretend it does not exist, or to tell men that women are logical after all. They are, but they are not logical in the same way. Women tend to think strategically and men to think tactically. A strategic thinker also thinks of arranging the peace terms after the battle is won or lost.

So much for an example of a strong female character done well: strong female characters done badly are almost numberless. Consider Xena Warrior Princess, or more to the point, Red Sonja, the she-barbarian who invented the chainmail bikini.


Hmm. I can clearly see why boys like Red Sonja, especially lonely boys. I do not see that any honest feminist would think that this is an example of a strong female character as opposed to a buxom female character.


Agreed, Red Sonja does not need rescuing, and she is not going to scream like Fay Wray. But she is a Playboy Bunny, just one who wears a sneer and carries a honking big sword.


Consider Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in the AVENGERS movie.


I trust the pictures make my point. Ladies, you have been rooked, cheated, bilked, and tricked. These are not more realistic and stronger images of women being set out before the public eye than the 1950’s images. These are eyecandy, if not fetish fuel.

To make my point, let me forgo my normal habit of inserting a gratuitous picture of Batgirl, and instead add a picture of Alice from RESIDENT EVIL. She is a strong female character, ain’t she?


Let us compare this with the allegedly weak female characters from the old days of science fiction.

Note Really, Really hawt Redhead in skintight Battlesuit

Hmm. The Black Amazon of Mars seems to be built along the same lines as Red Sonja, and wearing the same outfit as Alice and Black Widow. Are you sure women in the old days were simply shrieking damsels in distress with nothing to do?

This is very different from Princess Leia, who is never in distress.

Oh, wait. I was confusing her with Princess Amidala, who is clearly a strong female character. Her role includes falling in love with an evil man, whimpering, and dying in childbirth, and she is never dressed as mere eye candy.

padmeLet us contrast this with the bad old days when every female was portrayed as helpless eye candy.

Prince-Barin-and-Princess-AuraOops. It looks like the eye candy factor was about the same, the number of distressed damsels may have gone down a little, and the number of warrior babes is about the same. Red Sonja is based on Conan’s Red Sonya of Rogatino, which dates from 1934.

Let us compare all of the above this with my personal favorite picture of a strong female character. Now, I am cheating, of course, because this is a real heroine, not a make believe one. Meet Spc. Jennie Baez.

Spc. Jennie Baez provides security for fellow Soldiers during an operation in the Al Anbar province of Iraq on Sept. 27, 2006. Baez is assigned to the 47th Forward Support Battalion. DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Clifton D. Sams, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)

My conclusion is that there is not an iota of real difference between the way women in the past were treated in SF stories and women now.

The fake difference is that some women are masculinized in order to satisfy a fundamentally illogical doctrine of Politic Correctness.

Below, I will attempt to explain why Science Fiction needs to be saved from this scourge of absurdity.

Part Three

Let us start with a few questions:

Why cannot both men and women be free, and leaders, and strong?

Women cannot be kings for the same reason men cannot be queens. Women in leadership roles do not lead in the same fashion as men do. They still lead (as we have seen in leaders from Queen Boadicea to Queen Elizabeth or Margaret Thatcher) but the tone and approach is different.

Why cannot both sexes, or (to be more specific) as many members of either sex as wish and can, perform tasks requiring boldness of action and clarity of thought and physical courage?

Physical courage is something boys are good at and proud of and naturally included to do. Even those effete intellectual men such as myself who do not cook outdoors and bowhunt grizzly bears or know how to fix a car engine still nonetheless approach life through a metaphor of conflict, war, duels, and tournaments. The reason why I behave honorably in a philosophical discussion is that I think of it as a duel to the death.

The question perhaps assumes social units do not exist, and that the decision is individual rather than communal. Women who are bold rather than wise are playing to something they are generally not good at, don’t really enjoy it when they win using those tactics: maybe some women like being domineering, but all too often they are called bitchy rather than called strongwilled. For better or worse, it is simply more feminine to talk someone into volunteering to do something than to browbeat and overawe and scare them into doing it, which is the male technique.

Last time my boss yelled at me it scared the bejezus out of me, and I straightened up and flew right after that, but I did not take it personally, and would not take it personally, because there was honor involved but no emotion involved.

Contrariwise, females bosses I have had took everything personally and dished out everything personally, and there was no honor involved.

One of them fired me once without ever telling me what, if anything, I had done wrong. She did not want the confrontation, I assume, because the confrontation would have been (in her mind) personal.

The other time a female boss fired me, she felt sorry for me, which make it worse. I would have greatly preferred the matter be handled in an impersonal and professional fashion. I did not want her to have concern for my feelings.

Had we been in a social or domestic situation where feminine nature is queen, her sympathy would have been useful and welcome. My conclusion from those and other examples is that women, by and large, do not have a neutral emotional setting like men do. Perhaps societies less friendly and more hierarchical, like the British or the Japanese, can produce women who can be cool and neutral while retaining both her dignity and the dignity of her underlings. I don’t know.

As for clarity of thought, women are as clear thinking as men, but they are generally better at multitasking and juggling priorities rather than being obsessively single-minded.

Even if we stipulate that the sexes have a different statistical distribution of aptitudes for approaches, at what point should a general difference in emphasis be taken as justification for absolute prohibition in function, or (to get back to the subject of science fiction) for absolute disbelief of particular depictions?

An absolute prohibition? No one has even mentioned that as a possibility. Even in the most male dominated periods of history, we still had women saints like Joan of Arc or the Virgin Mary, queens like Semiramis, and military maidens like Camilla and Britomart and so on. The tradition of warrior women is as old as legends of Amazons. No one here is suggesting an absolute prohibition.

As to where the line between suspension of disbelief and absolute disbelief should fall, that question is a matter of personal judgement. I cannot speak for other men.

For myself, the line falls at physical combat. When Hawkeye is punching and kicking the Black Widow in the otherwise excellent AVENGERS movie, my suspenders of disbelief (as I call them) both snapped, and suddenly it looked like muscular 5’10” Jeremy Renner kicking the snot out of wispy 5’3″ Scarlett Johansson. It is like a fight between a thirteen year old boy and a thirty year old man (I am sure fights between adults and children can take place, but they are not even-steven fights and should not be portrayed as such).

If Supergirl is from Planet Krypton, fine, she can punch goons through solid brick walls, no problem. Ditto for Starfire of the Teen Titans. If Buffy the Vampire Slayer is possessed by all the strength of the ghosts of all the Slayers back to the First Slayer, fine, she has superduper strength and it is magic. Fine. That is all fine with me.

But when the heroine is Hit Girl or Batgirl or some leggy blonde selected for her cup size rather than fighting ability, all the portrayals of wispy little she-adventuresses able to tackle boatloads of thugs built like linebackers do is make it socially acceptable for boys to hit girls.

Such portrayals do not make the women good role models. If anything, they are misleading role models, because all those leather-clad vampire huntresses are built like Barbie dolls. Remember how feminists complain that such dolls give little girls an unrealistic body image? Well, the pursuit of strong female characters has captured the worst of both worlds. Now all the comic book images of superspies and superbabes and superheroines are both built like Barbie and have the fighting skill of Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan.

Read the first chapter of my book ORPHANS OF CHAOS. The scene where Amelia Windrose, who is tall for a girl, and athletic, and, who, before puberty, was able to outrun and outperform her brothers in track and field events, encounters a day when she find out that the boys now have muscles powered by testosterone, which she simply does not have and simply cannot match. Her younger brother can now out race and outwrestle her, and as she is pinned down under the strength of his hands, she realizes with a shock that she will not be able to train hard enough to beat him again, not now, not next year, not EVER. Her muscles will stay at the same level as that a thirteen year old boy from now until forever.

This scene was based on real life. Not one, but two girls of my close acquaintance both had this happen to them. They had been convinced, and everyone had told them, and all the movies and television shows had shown them, that girls could fight boys and be victorious. One girl was shocked when a male friend of hers, just horsing around, pinned her down with one hand. She had always thought she’d be able to fend off a male attacker. That day she found out she would not be fending off any male aggressor, or not without an equalizer. The other friend was equally shocked when the boy she was with was walking down the beach with her, and he picked her up (I do not know whether bride style or Tarzan style) and ran full speed down the beach with her as his captive. She realized with a shock that she could not have picked him up no matter what, not even in an emergency, not even if he was helping. These were not even linebackers built like Conan or men on the leading edge of physical strength for men: they were ordinary boys of ordinary strength.

I have once or twice seen a fight scene in a fiction story where a boy punches a girl and knocks her out immediately, but have never seen a scene where the boy beats the girl slowly into unconsciousness after a ten or twelve round match. It is never, ever portrayed that way.

In a fiction story, after a male and female exchange a series of blows, the woman is always sure to win because she is the underdog, and to have the man win at that point is not dramatic. I have never seen a scene where a woman fighting a man gets scared and starts crying and gives up, even though, without the madness of male hormones, that emotion of fear and surrender is much, much more common in women than in men. Look at the police statistics if you do not believe me (I used to cover the crime beat in my county. There was not a single murderess during the three years I had that job, although I met more the one murderer.)

So my point is that our disbelief should be suspended just so long and exactly so long as it it clear this is make-believe. Supergirls come from Krypton, not Earth. Amazons are as magical as genii.

But the agenda of Political Correctness is trying to make this make-believe seem real.

Women will go insane and go into despair if asked to compete at a male task on male terms with male rules. Do not get me wrong, there are topflight female athletes who can outperform men who are below average. But topflight female athletes in nearly all fields perform about as well as topflight highschool boys, not as well as topflight college boys, who are at their statistical peak of physical performance.

Putting women in a situation where they are sure to fail but are not allowed to admit that they are overmatched and not allowed to quit is the best possible way to induce despair. How can the woman be sure, even if she does win over some male athlete at some male sport, that the standards were not lowered to accommodate her?

The other thing that was the turning point in my personal opinion on this matter (believe it or not, back in the days of darkness, I was an ardent egalitarian and fan of women’s lib just like everyone else) was another thing shocking to me, but which apparently fairly common.

The most physically attractive woman I have ever met I met in college, during the premier of a film she was in: this was the starlette Virginia Madsen, and we were both 24 year old when we met. I waltzed a dance or two with her, and taking her out on the balcony, asked her what she admired in a man? What kind of man did she want in life? She answered that she wanted Tarzan, a man who would sweep her off her feet, picked her up, and (she nodded toward a tall tree in the distance) carry her off to that tree. In other words, she wanted physical strength, confidence, courage, directness, leadership. Manliness.

I had since heard the same thing from many other women, but usually in whispers, as if someone told them it was a shameful and weak thing to be feminine.

Someone told them that little boys should want to grow up and be Tarzan, who wrestles lions, but little girls should not grow up to want to be Jane, the one who civilizes the ape-man who wrestles lions. Instead little girls should want to grow up to wrestle lions. But I know of no little girl who picks up Barbie dolls and bend the feet to make a shape she can hold like a gun to shoot attacking the pirates and ninjas and dinosaurs.  So the standard of trying to warp little girls to be jealous of little boys, and telling them that they can be better than little boys at the very things nature and upbringing conspire to make little boys better at. It is unnatural and unnecessary and its drives the women who grow up trying to live up to this warped standard bat-guano crazy.

It drives them to hate being wives and mothers.  It makes even such unthinkable atrocities as killing your own child in the womb seem normal, even seem like a right that no one can deny.

And then the crowning irony is that when a woman writer (for the feminists care about the sex of the writer rather than the sex of the muses — who are female, for those of you keeping track, and can visit writers of either sex) manages to portray a female character who is strong and well rounded and the heroine of the plot, one of the main drivers on whose decisions and reactions the plot hangs — then the world calls that character a ‘Mary Sue’ and the character and her author are mocked.

This is something I neither understand or condone. As far as I can tell, all characters, male and female, with the possible exception of the stars of tragedies ending in a pool of blood, are Mary Sues, that is, wish fulfillment characters. And even the tragic heroes would fulfill my wishes, if they die in the noble fashion, poetry on lip and firmness in eye, as a stoic should die.

So what is behind this mockery? Is it just a cruel backlash from the Patriarchy (by which I mean the government of cat-people 61 Ursae Majoris) trying to stifle the self-esteem of the feminists who want to read about feminine heroines?

I am sure there are readers with discriminating patrician tastes who want to read stories with well-rounded and realistic characters, drawn with warts and all, granting some memorable insight into the melancholy grandeur of the human condition. I also read such stories, but only when when I have run out of GALACTIC PATROL novels, or Barsoom books or JUSTICE LEAGUE comics. I have no problem with wish fulfillment characters like the Gray Lensman, who is good at everything; or John Carter, who can outfence and outfight everyone on two worlds and who comes back to life when killed; or Superman, who can outfight and outfly everyone in every world and comes back to life when killed.

What people find annoying is not wish fulfillment characters. What they find annoying is wish fulfillment characters who fulfill unseemly wishes.

What is the wish in this picture, drawn, I assure you, in all serious and earnest good faith by a feminist who was being serious?


The wish is to do without Prince Charming. The wish is to be as good as a man at men’s work. This is from a Disney movie where all the main characters are female and everything that happens, happens because some female makes it happen. (The female are fairies, but so what? Women are magical in real life anyway, as far as I am concerned).

The Prince does little more than dance one waltz with the maiden fair and get his butt kicked by orcs and end up in chains while the evil fairy queen mocks him. Not only is he rescued by women, they are women no bigger than my pinky finger.

But his is the task to face the poisonous thorns and slay the dragon, who is filled with all the powers of Hell.

That anyone would see this, this small role occupying only a few minutes of screen time, as an insult to women, or as a threat, or as an imposition, is madness. So what is the wish being fulfilled in that picture above, where the Sleeping Beauty needs no rescue and needs a man only about as much as a fish needs a bicycle?

It is not a wish for female equality. This is one fairy tale where every female character is either royalty or is supernatural.

It is a wish for sexlessness. It is a wish to do away with everything feminine, and to be better at Prince Charming’s task than the Prince. Ultimately, it is a wish to do away with human nature itself.

But human nature cannot be done away with. Consider that epitome of liberated strong femalehood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who has spawned as many homages and imitations in her day as John Carter did in his. He created a genre of his own, called the Planetary Romance. She created a genre of her own, sometimes called Urban Fantasy, but which should really be called Monster Romance.

It should be called Monster Romance because the main story arc for Buffy was about her love life. First she was sweet on Angel, but that did not work out, then Riley, and then Spike. Despite that she was a kick-ass wire-fu superheroine with a smile full of quips and a hand full of stakes, the main point of the drama was, as in most stories of this kind, her love life.

And Anita Blake? And countless others? Where is the main conflict? Where is the reader’s interest? Where is the drama? It is all about Jean-Claude or Spike or whomever the semihuman male lead is. It is all about the romance.

Most if not all of these urban leather-clad ninja-babes and modern swordswomen fill a need in the audience. The males, by and large, just like seeing cute girls dressed as catwoman. The females, by and large, like the romantic drama. There is no drama if the boy and the girl kiss on the first page and get married on the second. The drama exists if something prevents the marriage. These days, there are no real taboos to marrying whomever you would like, and the guy can even start out married to someone else, because divorce is no fault. Modernity allows no dramatic and realistic obstacle to romance.

The solution is to employ dramatic, unrealistic obstacles, such as by having your male lead be a nonhuman from the Night World. In urban fantasy, the vampire or the werewolf can fulfill this role neatly. Also, the half monster can be masculine in a fashion no soft modern man is likely to be: werewolves can be as badass as Conan, and vampires as seductive and dangerous as Lord Byron. (Who no doubt was a vampire, anyway). And since the heroine is the Chosen One, and destined to kill monsters like him, she is placed in a situation where she must overcome both his fallen nature, and the powers of hell, and her own best judgment, and defy the Council of the Illuminati, to win his heart and restore his soul.

Which is a perfectly satisfying book because this is exactly what finding and domesticating a man feels like or should feel like to a woman.

And, of course, in the modern age, where the despair of women is at a historical all time high, and the divorce rate is high and the suicide rate is high, romance feels like a back alley brawl with a supernatural monster. These books are a picture of the despair of women in the sexual free-for-all that exists in a post-christian, post-chivalry, post-female feminist world, a world where a woman is defended by no one but herself.

A leather-clad street fighter with a sword and a chainsaw, covered in blood, is what life feels like to the female readership, who need an image of strength and security to admire. No wonder such books are popular.

Part Four

In a previous essay in this space, it was proposed that reviewers who yearn for more strong female characters in science fiction frequently mistake strength for masculinity.

That essay argued that by the nature of male and female biology, a certain stereotypical psychology and set of virtues, priorities and values was necessary and desirable to differentiate the sexes and increase their joy in each other.

The virtues of men are called masculinity; the virtues of women are called femininity. The argument given there was that females can be strong and should be portrayed in stories as strong in the way that is particular to women, but not in the way that is particular to men. What writers should not do, so the previous essay argued, is merely give female characters manly characteristics and call that ‘strong’.

So far, in none of these essays, have I mentioned what the objection is to the effort to making these masculinized glamor-model Amazons into main characters.

I have said I have no objection to Supergirl, who is Kryptonian, and stronger than any mortal, and no objection to Wonder Woman, who is, er, an Amazon. Not only do I have no objection to Batgirl either when played by Yvonne Craig or when drawn by Bruce Timm and voiced by Tara Strong, I actually have an unsightly crush on her.

I have no objection to Mary Sue style wish-fulfillment characters who are good at everything and loved by all men. I do not see them as different from James Bond style wish-fulfillment characters who are good at everything and loved by all women.

I have no objection to angst-ridden leather-clad buxom vixen in highheeled boots fighting her werewolf ex-lover not in highheeled boots with her silver switchblade on the back of her flaming Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the moonlight on a storm-drenched burning train-trestle collapsing beneath the roaring unmanned freight train carrying jet fuel and nitroglycerine bearing down on her. Will she be able to stab the handsome brute in time to swan-dive to safety into the raging piranha-filled and ice-choked river far below, and still find forgiveness and love, before the inevitable explosive break-up of the Transcontinental Railway and her relationship with her brutally handsome demon-lover?

Who am I to criticize any of this? I mean, good grief, I watched RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION and almost enjoyed it. (I actually have rather plebeian tastes. Albeit I suppose a real plebeian would not know the word plebeian. He would use the phrase the hoi polloi  instead.)

So what is my objection?

My objection is to falseness, insincerity, propaganda, bad drama, bad art, and treason against the muses.  My objection is to using art for propaganda purposes. My objection is to Politically Correct piety. My objection is to the Thought Police.

My objection is to the spirit of totalitarianism.

For about ten years now, I have been writing and posting essays and articles on my electronic journal, and in all that time, I have been subjected to the Leftist mob tactics of mass hatred once and once only. It was the time I mocked the Sci-Fi Channel for kowtowing to Political Correctness. My motive for objecting was perfectly clear to everyone: I would like to write without censorship, formal or informal, based on political considerations. Formal censorship is state enforced; informal is enforced by organized mob-tactics, minority pressure groups, yelling, screaming, boycotts, hysteria and general bullying.

Because I would like to write without informal censorship interfering with my livelihood, I objected to Sci-Fi channel, or anyone in my field, surrendering to the minority pressure groups screaming and yelling and mob-tactics and bullying. So I mocked the Sci-Fi channel for encouraging the bullies by bowing the knee to them.

And in return the mob tried to bully me, of all people. As if I give a tinker’s damn for the opinions of these yowling halfwits. (There was exactly one person of the seven hundred or so who wrote in to me who seemed sincerely offended, and to him I apologized. To remaining six hundred and ninety-nine or so, I offered defiance in public, and in private prayed for their fool souls, hoping despite all appearances they were not damned fools.)

This taught me a lesson, but not the one the mob organizers wanted to teach. It taught me what they were afraid of. Not of me: no one can be afraid of a fat and balding nearsighted science fiction writer with a dull swordcane.

Nor were they offended by calling sodomy a sexual perversion, which I have done frequently before and since, never eliciting a single angry comment in reply, or attracting the slightest notice.

Since my legions of drug-maddened terror troops are all stranded on Salusa Secondus, the third planet of Gamma Piscium, 138 lightyears away, surely the mobsters of Political Correctness are not afraid of any physical force I can bring to bear. Neither am I in a position to deny any man any economic opportunities, nor am I influential enough to provoke public opinion or create any controversy. I doubt I could even do as much myself against them as they have done to me, such as hack a Wikipedia page or send around an open letter and expect it to be published and reprinted.

To explain what they are afraid of, I am afraid I have to explain something of the pathology of Leftism.

They actually think they are fooling us.

No, stop laughing. I will give you a moment to catch your breath again.

They think we think they care about homosexuals and lesbians and blacks and women and Jews, and that their motive is compassion for all these poor oppressed groups…

Please stop laughing. I will give you another moment.

Now they know what their real motives are: to give themselves a sense of greatness which they actually do not deserve by thinking that they fought for civil rights that they actually oppose, out of compassion which they do not have for victims of utterly imaginary hardship and oppression.

Am I being unfair? Remind me of the last time a group of feminists rioted outside of a Saudi Arabian embassy.

They want what they have not earned. I do not mean monetary earnings. Their socialism, the craving for the unearned in the economic sphere, is not the main thrust of their psychopathology, it is a side effect. I mean spiritual earnings. They want self-esteem without the effort of doing anything worthy of esteem. They yearn for the palm of martyrdom without actually suffering the pain of being a martyr in the same way they want the crown of righteousness without actually being right.

My theory is that the schoolgirlish overreaction prompted by my comment had nothing to do with the particular topic of homosexual characters in Sci Fi shows. My theory is that the unadmitted reason for the degree of hostility in that one case was that I happened accidentally to tell the truth about them.

They are censors. The Politically Correct are Thought Policemen.

They do not think it is evil if a man commits crimes; for them, evil is a matter of thinking the wrong thoughts. Hence, Bill Clinton can abuse women without limit, but if he mouths the correct thought in reference to abortion, the feminists love him. Hence, Mrs. Chaney can be loving and compassionate toward her lesbian sister, but if she disapproves of so-called ‘gay marriage’, she is the same as a Nazi yearning to exterminate the Jews.

‘Censors’ is perhaps not the right word. In ancient Rome, the office the Censor, in addition to counting the numbers of the tribes and orders for voting, was to bring public shame upon behavior unbecoming to Roman dignity. Later, the office was to bring shame upon books thought heretical or immoral or deleterious to the public order, or redact, or forbid them.

What they are is anticensors: the Politically Correct try to bring shame onto books thought orthodox or moral or insufficiently deleterious to the public order. If a book does not promote sexual perversion in a sufficiently flattering and fulsome way, our anticensors hold it up to public shame.

A single example should suffice. Nothing is more wholesome and decent than a Disney children’s film. Here is an example of the Left trying to hold the wholesome and decent up to shame.

feminists are batshit crazy

Savor, for a moment, dear reader, the absolute wrongness, the twisted perversity, of holding Disney Princesses up to scorn, as being sinister agents of the oppression of little girls.

Now, these self-anointed Thought Police would have no appeal if they admitted their true motivations, even to themselves. They need rationalizations, they need excuses, they need a mask.

The mask is compassion for the downtrodden.

Now, if you look through all human history, you will not find a single instance where the Leftists have actually helped the downtrodden, but many instances of the Left enthusiastically trampling the downtrodden, and grinding the faces of the poor into the dirt. That is the mental image which causes the Leftists their semi-sexual leg-tingles of sadistic lust: they want to see the human face trampled forever beneath their bootheel.

The examples of Cuba, China, Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany should be sufficient warning of what the true motives are behind movements like Occupy Wallstreet, or what the moblike anger of the Ku Klux Klan, which formed the military arm of the defeated Democrat Party after their defeat in the South, can do when its grip on the levers of power goes unchecked.

A reasonable objection to make at this point is that the Fabian style socialists do not want violence. Clement Attlee managed to bring postwar Britain to adopt all the same economic and social policies as Mussolini’s fascist Italy, after all, without firing a shot, without making any arrests.

An even more reasonable objection is that nearly all Leftists think of themselves and talk of themselves and tell narratives about themselves where they are kind and compassionate and softhearted and filled with pity and brimming with the milk of human kindness, and so violence is that farthest thing from their mind.

Then they explain why Che Geuvara is a hero, why George Washington is not so much a hero, why Castro’s Cuba has free health care, and why the guillotine was necessary because the aristocrats and the Jews are enemies of the people, and you cannot make an omelet without murdering two hundred million people in war, pogroms, and government-orchestrated famines.

So they might not approve of killing the victims of Communism by the millions, but they strongly, strongly, very strongly object to you criticizing Communism.

After all, Castro and Che and Mao and Stalin murdered more people that Attila the Hun, but Senator McCarthy terrified self-important Hollywood people by following legitimate evidence indicating that the State Department was infiltrated by Soviet Agents, and, after the fall of the Soviet Union, it was discovered that each and every person McCarthy accused by guilty of exactly of that of which he accused them… UH … So, this means McCarthy was such a bad person, you cannot criticize Che or Castro or Stalin. Ronald Reagan was the real terrorist, and may have been a madman.

In other words, not all Leftists are violent, but Leftists are blind to violence on their side, because whatever their side does is not judged by moral standards.

Hence in the PC cult worldview, violence is permitted when it serves the cause, but not necessary. Violence is merely icing on the cake, an extra, something in which to indulge when and if opportunities permit, such as among barbaric Russians who passively will endure it, but easily eschewed when opportunity does not permit, such as among civilized Englishmen who might well take up arms if provoked, as Englishmen, judging by their history, are wont to do.

Violence is not the point of Political Correctness.

The central point of Political Correctness is faith.

It is a religious faith, similar to Christianity and growing out of her, but opposed to its host organism and seeking forever to destroy her.

Leftists will trace their roots back to Marx or to the left hand seats of the French Assembly during and before the time of the French Revolution, but the transformative and utopian spirit reaches back to Cromwell and the Puritans. The Puritans in their early days were the arrogant intellectual elite precisely like our current ones, and it was bishops, not beer, to which they objected.

The Puritans gave birth to the Unitarians who gave birth to the Progressives which gave birth to the modern Left, which takes little or no inspiration from the French Revolution. The religious and crusading impulse of the Puritans, the hatred of Christmas, of worldly wealth, of Jews, of Catholics, all of those things remain.

What the Puritans wanted was totalitarianism. The Catholic Church wanted the secular power separate from the spiritual power, and always has, and always will, and the Church always grants her children freedom to make their own judgment in any thing where God has not spoken. The Puritans want no freedom at all, no latitude. Teetotaling and Prohibition and living without private property and that sort of rigor has never been a Catholic thing. Just ask the Irish.

The Church has always allowed and encourage those called to a special spiritual adventure to live without worldly pleasures or worldly goods, but never demanded each and every one of us dress in broadcloth like the Puritans year round, rather than just for Lent. The Church demands modesty from her daughters, but not the head-to-toe veil of the Islamic Fascists or the austere unisex drabs of the Maoists.

The Puritan plan was to have the King of England be the Pope, to combine the secular and spiritual power, and when that failed, to establish a utopia in the New World. The Church says there is no paradise before Doomsday. The Church says Man cannot save himself without the grace of Christ. The Puritans say some men are born elect, and cannot be damned, and others are born reprobate, and cannot be saved. So to create utopia, all that is required is to give all spiritual and temporal power to the Elect, the elite, the enlightened. Does that sound familiar?

I am emphasizing the spiritual roots of Political Correctness to support the argument that PC is fundamentally a religious movement, a faith tradition, a cult, and not a political movement except in a trivial sense.

Like all faiths, the cult has certain articles of faith. Like all heresies, this cult takes the main propositions of the traditional historic Christian faith for granted, and these are its only source of strength and only source of appeal. The concern for the poor, the widow, the downtrodden, the belief of the brotherhood hence the equality of all men, all this comes from Christian thought: there is no corresponding doctrines to these among the Stoics or Aristotelians or Neoplatonists, and the opposite is preached by those who follow Confucius or those who believe in Karma and in the caste system.

Like all heresies, this cult rejects vehemently other propositions of the Christian faith, and anathematizes them not just as bad opinions, but as an evil to be vilified in absolute terms.

Unlike other heresies, the cult rejects God and the supernatural altogether, and presents itself as if it is not a heresy, not a cult, not a religion, and not based on faith.

It claims to be based on ironclad scientific reasoning of the latest and most intellectually sound and objective sort.

Please stop laughing or I will never finish.

One of the articles of faith of this religion is that it is not a religion and their conclusions are the product of clear and logical thinking, or perhaps the product of pellucid clarity of pure motives and highminded compassion, and that to disagree with the articles of faith is a sign, not of lack of faith, but a lack of intelligence, education, or compassion.

They think they are smarter than us.

These undereducated boobs who cannot follow a syllogism of three steps, who do not speak a word of Greek or Latin, who do not know the difference between Arianism and Aryanism, who have never read ORIGIN OF SPECIES or DAS KAPITAL or THE REPUBLIC and who do not even know the intellectual parentage of all their ideas, these vaunting cretins whose arguments consist of nothing but tiresome talking points recited by rote and flaccid ad hominem, whose opinions are based on fashion, they, of all people, think they are smarter than the rest of the world.

Yes, you can go ahead and laugh at that one. I’ll wait.

It is merely a fact that no Politically Correct policy has ever had the outcome planned. These are not stopped clocks who are correct twice a day: the PC cultists always, always, always, side with whatever is the most evil, illogical, destructive, nihilistic, perverted, and foolish measure in any debate or decision of policy. PC ruins everything it touches.

Instead of providing an endless list of PC schemes, ideas and policies that have failed, since they all fail, I will issue a general challenge to any reader who wishes to dispute the obvious to list the PC success stories. List one. A single example will overturn the universal affirmative. Knock yourself out.

You will find that the candidates on the list are one of two things:

First, the cultists will claim credit for something they opposed, such as the Civil Rights Movement, which was a Republican movement, spearheaded by a Christian minister named King, aided by Nixon, voted into effect by a Republican majority, to overcome Democrats who stood in schoolhouse doors or turned firehoses on peaceful protesters or lynched blacks. Meanwhile the NRA was arming blacks with handguns, Saturday Night Specials, that the Democrats tried, often with success, to remove.

Second, once the true depth of the evil is undeniable, the cultists will deny something that they once supported, such as Stalin’s Soviet Union (of which Lincoln Steffens said “I have seen the future – and it works”) was really actually honest-Injun a truly true example of the true faith after all. It was not REALLY socialist. They did not really try hard enough. They did not spill enough blood. We need to try again and try harder.

These two factors acting in concert create what I call the unreality principle. The unreality principle is the principle that whatever is truth is called not true and whatever is not true is called true. It does not matter what the topic is. The point is to break the mind of its ability to focus on rational thought.

This conditioning of the brain to flinch away from reason and embrace unreason is done by making the unreality principle the paramount moral and ethical principle in the cult. It is the principle that trumps all others.

So the first article of faith of Political Correctness, the one from which it takes its name, is that to think or speak what is factually correct, that is, whatever is really real, is morally wrong if it harms the party or the cause.

Moral righteousness consists of thinking and speaking falsehoods and nonsense-words that are factually incorrect but politically correct, that is, by slogans, jeering, noise, commotion, jingles, hullaballoo, alarums, and cacophony which aid the party or the cause.

And it is only moderately meritorious to speak small falsehoods (such as blaming the failure of the Soviet Union on the need of the idealistic revolutionaries to arm themselves against the vicious attacks from the capitalist West) but truly meritorious, because it is a true sign of deep faith that resists all fact and ignores all logic, to tell truly huge, outrageous, utterly unbelievable lies (such as saying all opposition to Obama is racist, or saying the National Socialist German Worker’s Party was not Socialist, or saying Capitalism produces poverty, or saying the only truth is that there is no truth, or saying that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist).

Those who take up the pen to argue against this endless drip of nonsense are often baffled by the fact that the PC cultist, when discussing any other matter aside from one of their articles of faith, is capable of humanity, wit, logic, and seems like a normal human being; but once on one of the subjects where this mental disease has taken hold, the cultist will and must say things no one is stupid enough to believe but which no one is dishonest enough to lie about: it is lies on the level of saying your head is a pumpkin, things a child would not believe.

These cultists are not monsters. Why, then, do they say things that anyone can see are utter evil, utter nonsense, utter folly?

What makes kindly gray-haired old grandmas who act like humans at all other times suddenly curse the United States for opposing the spread of International Communism to South America, and unable to believe that the communist assassin Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy, but instead think a Rightwing conspiracy or an evil redneck city in Texas is to blame?

Once might as well as why Eve and Adam, our first parents, favored of Heaven so highly, and blessed with endless life and lordship over the gardens of paradise thought that disobedience to God would get them some greater good, such as equality with God, a good that God, whether through cruelty or unfairness, wished to deny them.

The cultists will tell you their motive. Their motive is kindness. They want to help.

The cultists are shocked by the unhappiness and unfairness of human life on earth.

But that is not what makes them cultists. Christians are also shocked by the unhappiness and unfairness of human life on earth, and they explain that shock by reference to the Fall of Man, and seek the solution of the world’s pain in a supernatural power from beyond the world, seeing all men’s devising must fail.

What makes an otherwise rational men into PC-cultists is that they do not believe in the Fall of Man; they believe in the Interrupted Perfection of Man.

They believe perfection of paradise is within arm’s reach, perhaps less than 25 years away, but that the achievement of this eschaton is thwarted by the folly and inertia of the uneducated masses, and by the sinister conspiracy of the malign vested interests favored by the current world-system.

This conclusion is not as bizarre as first seems. The Politically Correct cultists see that reason and decency and honesty have not solved that unfairness nor that unhappiness. Therefore (so their reasoning goes) reason and decency and honesty, also called factual correctness, are worthless.

Disobedience to reason and decency and honesty seem to the cultists to deny to them some greater good that reality has always denied them. It is the same logic Eve used when reaching for the apple. They want to be gods, or, what is the next best thing, the fathers of the New Man who is destined to occupy the shining towers of Utopia.

And ergo the cultist concludes that if factual correctness and loyalty to truth has always failed throughout all history to produce perfect utopia, then political correctness and loyalty to falsehood and outrageous lies must serve in its place.

This thought is like an addictive drug, a drug that gives pleasure only the first time it is used, and thereafter only produces pain if it is withdrawn. After the first euphoric days of the Movement, the cultist quickly finds he cannot get what he wants.

He does not conclude from this that utopia is a self-contradictory and appallingly stupid and Escheresquely impossible idea. He merely feels frustration.

Then he finds a scapegoat for his frustration, usually some harmless bystander, perhaps a Jew, perhaps an Investment Banker, perhaps the Pope, perhaps his father, and blames him.

This scapegoating does not necessarily involve a conspiracy theory of history, but it must have the mood and savor of a conspiracy theory: it must assume action in concert of many groups widely dispersed through time and space, whether that group is called Capitalists or the Patriarchy or The Establishment or The Man or what have you.

If the cultist is frustrated, and if the frustration cannot be admitted honestly to be because of the foolishness of his goals, then the frustration of his goals must be blamed on an opponent, a group of wrong-thinking people who have some base and vile motive for maintaining all the injustice and unfairness of the world. The wrong-thinking people are sadists, who thwart the utopia because and only because they want people to be unhappy. The wrong-thinking people are witches on whom all bad harvests are to be blamed.

With the freedom from facts and logic which is the core of Cultist thinking comes a number of defense mechanisms too numerous to list here. I will mention only two.

The first mechanism is placing ideology over logic. Because logic is not a priority, the cult does not demand uniformity of belief even on the core doctrine. The Cult has a number of propositions or special interests it serves, and loyalty to any one of them makes you a cult member, so you get the benefit of unearned sensations of moral superiority and self-congratulation on your kindness, even while other members of the cult are carrying on to do the opposite of whatever you support.

Your loyalty is still to them, and you attack anyone who attacks them. That is the bargain.

This is why some PC Cultists can even admit the communism is a mad, bad and evil, but they also must think McCarthy and Reagan are even worse. Some cultists can think that Islamic terrorists are bad, but they also must think that criticism or mockery of Islam is even worse. That is why Homosex activists and Islamic terrorists can agree to attack their mutual foe, Christendom, despite their mutual hatred for each other.

The second mechanism is placing ideology over honesty. Whenever the lies become too obvious, the cult denies itself, changes its name, and the shadow takes another form and grows again.

It cannot call itself Liberalism once it becomes too obvious that the cult yearns with semi-sexual lust for totalitarianism, and seeks totalitarian control over all media, all communication, all thought.

It cannot call itself Progressive once it is clear that the progress is toward the edge of a cliff.

It cannot even call itself Left once it is clear they have no relation to the left-seated liberal delegates in the French assembly.

It cannot call itself Socialist once everyone sees what socialism does to the economy, to human honesty, to self-reliance, to manhood, to humanity.

It cannot call itself Communist once it is clear the partisans has no intention of sharing all property in common, but instead given Dachas to the elite party members and giving slums or Siberians gulags to the depraved under-men.

This is why the cult keeps changing its name.

There is no center to it. There is no Pope in charge of this antichurch of antihuman belief. It is a loose collection of gibberish which has nothing in common except for the psychological effect on the cultists.

They get to feel good about themselves as morally superior while thinking they are saving the earth while doing everything imaginable to sink more and more deeply into moral depravity, infanticide, euthanasia, sexual perversion, theft, half-lies and whole lies, revolutions, riots, violence, wars.

It offers complete freedom from morality and reason while also offering to them the laurels and ermine trimmed robe granted to the saints and saviors and beauty queens.

Everything is permitted to cultists because the cult enemy, the witches or wrongthinking people, have  no rights and merit no respect, no, not even the respect due an honorable opponent, or due a man honestly mistaken.

It goes without saying that if utopia were possible, anything done to achieve utopia were be permissible; and likewise any opposition to utopia would be an evil so monstrous as to be beyond explanation. That is why the cultists are not just appalled by opposition to their featherbrained and bloodthirsty schemes, their desire to loot and lie and give the guillotine work to do, they are honestly baffled by it.

The same reason that utopia, by being so valuable, permit any sacrifice needed to reach utopia, and makes all opposition into devils and madmen, so too does an emergency permit large sacrifices allegedly for the duration and silences all opposition as being impermissible given the limited time and the severity of the emergency.

This is why the cultist are always shouting at the top of their lungs.

This is why the best health care system in history, with little or nothing wrong with it, which, perhaps, to be made even better, could have used a few minor tweaks, is described as a crisis demanding immediate action.

A crisis is like a miniature utopia, in that the severity allows foolish actions, like passing a law without reading it first. And any objection to solving the crisis can be denounced as being prompted by an evil desire to prolong or deepen the crisis, a wrongheadedness and willful blindness to the looming severity of the coming disaster.

The end of the world is always immanent for the Cult. The stakes are always all or nothing, world salvation or world damnation. Nothing can be discussed calmly.

Nothing can be discussed calmly for the same reason there is no loyal opposition nor honorable rivals: everything opposed to the cult must be described as absolutely bad and evil in all ways.

(Even science fiction writers, like yours truly, who speak against the cult cannot simply be making an innocent mistake, they must be both uneducated and untalented in the writing of science fiction. Correct political opinion seems also to grant all talents and all graces in all fields, and political incorrectness instantly and retroactively abolishes the same.)

The only way to escape being accused of being a wrong-thinking person is to denounce other wrong-thinking persons with the vehemence and correct formula of speech to show that one believes the cultists. The formulae change from decade to decade and year to year (Colored to Black to Afroamerican to African American to whatever) so that no one can be a cultist without paying close attention to the cult and its fashions.

And, like the Gnostic before them, the cult has an inner and an outer circle. The inner circle are the ones who half-believe their own lies, and the outer circle are the ones whom the inner circle deceives and misleads.

And this is one of the best defenses of the cult: the outer circle members like the sensation of belonging to a group, and like the flattering of speeches and stories and movies telling them, over and over, that they are smarter than average, more compassionate than average, and that the witches and wrong-thinking persons are to blame for all the crop failures and everything else wrong with your life.

Did you get fired from your job? When all things are controlled by the state, no more unjust firings will happen. Did your boyfriend break up with you? Once feminism is taught to one and all, an era of mutual understanding and equality will grow, where men will no longer be unfair to women. Do you have a longing for something hard to name? This is because the witches are keeping you from your true heritage.

The Jews are the blame for the Fatherland losing the Great War. The White Man is to blame for my poverty. He makes more than I. He is handsomer than I. He is happy and I am not. Vote for me, and I will stop the witches from cursing the climate and creating a hole in the ozone layer.

By November, the Utopia should be up and working. But I need more power over your lives because I am an elite expert and wiser and more compassionate than you, and I will stop the wrong-thinking people, who are all-powerful witches.

And on and on and on. It is a formula that explains all failures and promises all success and shifts blame to the wrong-thinking people, and the beauty of the cult is that facts never, ever get in the way.

That is the strategic overview of the Cult belief of Political Correctness.

What has this to do with science fiction?

Nothing. The Cult is totalitarian. It does not want to control merely your beliefs about God and angels or your beliefs about race relations or your beliefs about the proper forms of law and government or your beliefs about questions of capital and labor or your beliefs about relations between the sexes or your beliefs about the relations between man and his environment or your beliefs about your diet and your smoking habits. They want to control your beliefs on purely scientific questions, such as the role of human activity in relation to global temperatures over the next century, or the average intelligence quotients of various racial groups.

They want to control EVERYTHING. The totality. Your whole mind and whole heart and whole soul, during your every waking moment.

And they want you to believe – this is also a central tenant of their dogma – that they do not want you to believe anything, that their beliefs are nothing but the independent conclusions of disinterest scientific thinkers who just so happen to agree in perfect lockstep on all these matters.

The central dogma of the Cult of Political Correctness is that there is no cult, and no dogma. The dogmatists are the other people, the wrong-thinking people, the witches whose malign magic powers somehow cause utopia not to be born.

So the Cult is interested in science fiction only because science fiction exists and the Cult demands total control over every aspect of human life down to the last nuance (while denying that it makes that demand).

Ah, but is it not true that science fiction back in the unenlightened days before our messiahs of female equality Hugh Hefner and Bill Clinton, writers and editors treated women as secondary characters, and female authors where hunted down by Senator McCarthy and his Sardaukar Terror Troops?

Let us answer this query below, in our next part.

Part Five

Part of an ongoing rant where your humble author chews the scenery.  In our last episode, we discovered that Political Correctness is not political program but a cultic worldview with no particular center and no particular goal, bound together only by a general discontent at the sufferings of the world, and the belief that a rebellion destroying the legitimacy of all prior institutions and the erection of a totalitarian utopia will solve everything.

We left asking whether this had anything to do with science fiction. The answer proposed was that it does not, or rather, it has about the same relation that commercial advertisements have to the magazines in which they appear.

The cult wants to put leftwing messages into stories to influence the minds of the reading public and make their leftwing worldview seem like the norm, the default view, so that everything natural and decent and traditional and rational seems unbearably wicked and disgusting.

Speaking of magazines, I feel the an answer to the charge that women in the bad old days before the Women’s Liberation Movement were portrayed in SF as weaklings and ninnies is merely to glance at covers circa 1940-1950.

This is hardly a scientific or thorough survey, but then again, we are talking about what subconscious impression is left in the minds of young women reading space adventure stories. I invite anyone to compare them to the same number of images from current SF paperback or trade paperback covers of adventure stories.

planet_stories_195201The cult operates by a very simple formula defined by Marx: Find something that does something good, and blame it for not being perfect, identify a victim group, preferably one actually being benefited by the good, identify their benefactors as witches, that is, as the wrongthinking people.

Then, make windy claims that the imaginary victim group will have its imaginary problems obliterated once the witches are burned and the witchhunters get all the property, material or spiritual, once belonging to the witches, and then everything will be copacetic.

Of course, all this is total bullshit, and even most of the cultists, those in the outer ring, know it, so it is better to imply it without saying it.

planet stories 42sum

In the case of Marx, the good thing was the industrial free market. He made up a bad sounding word to describe it, calling it capitalism. Ironically, the free market is such a good thing that the insult term came to be a term of endearment, and many of the wrongthinking witches now use the term proudly, and call themselves capitalists, and call the freedom to own property and trade without permission from the state ‘capitalism.’

The victim group was the factory hands and farm workers. Of course the free market benefited them so enormously that there is no parallel in history. Poverty in the West was once the same as it was in the undeveloped world, a matter of near starvation. Now a man below the poverty line in America, is more likely to be overweight and own a cell phone and a used car than he is likely to starve to death. Marx called these men the proletarians, a Roman word referring to those who served the Empire only by producing children.


Marx made the stupid and unsupported argument that the proletarians were a class or category of persons, who, by virtue of the fact that Marx used one word to refer to them all, therefore had a unity of interests.

There is of course no unity of interests. Ask a sailor on a whaling ship put out of business by a field hand working on an oil rig, whose boss has found a way to bring petroleum oil to market more cheaply than whale oil. Ask the blacksmith’s apprentice who no longer can find work shoeing horses because of the efficiency of the factory hand working in the automobile plant.

Marx identified the men who made this explosion of wealth and long life possible as the deadly enemies of the poor as the bourgeoisie, a word from the Middle Ages referring to those who occupied Burgs, or walled towns, and primarily engaged in trade. They were also asserted to have a unity of interests, equally as foolishly. Ask Mr Macy about Mr Gimbel.


The interests of the bourgeoisie and of the proletarians was asserted to be a Darwinian competition to the death with no quarter and no peace possible or desirable. The proles were supposed to hurt the bourgeoisie as much as possible in any way possible, and hurt them more and more until each and every one of them died.

And, of course, this theory was enthusiastically adopted by the middle class intellectuals and students and the newly minted millionaires who were the prime beneficiaries of industrial capitalism, and they sought with the eagerness of a young bridegroom on his wedding night to have the proletarians kill them in a worldwide bloodbath. Or, rather, they wanted to pretend to be proletarians so that they could engage in the worldwide bloodbath. It is not clear which. Sadists are often masochists and visa versa.


Now, there are of course in reality real problems caused by industrial capitalism. Anything in reality has a cost. That is the nature of reality. All Marx did was reverse cause and effect and blame the free market for all the problems it was solving, because the solution was not perfect.

In the case of Feminism, the victim group was women, all women, and the oppressor group was men, all men. The fact that male babies need and want and love female mothers to raise them and the fact that male fathers need female wives to make more male babies never enters into this enrapturing vision of the eternal war between the sexes. The feminists are not as clear as the socialists about the need for a worldwide bloodbath, but they are even angrier about it.

Note Really, Really hawt Redhead in skintight Battlesuit

Most women I know, who are, to be frank, Christians of a rather traditional strength of mind, do not buy into this feminist agitprop, but most of the men I know, who are Wiccans and Atheists, do. This indicates once again that a certain degree of deranged masochism is present, perhaps prompted by nebulous feelings of guilt and a need for propitiation by sacrifice, or just a weary desire not to shoulder the burdens of manhood.

Now, there are of course in reality real problems caused by specialization into sexes or organization of society into sexually differentiated roles. Anything in reality has a cost. The suffragettes of our grandmother’s time, or, if you are younger than I, greatgrandmother’s time, had a real problem that was open to solution by legislative change, namely, to afford the each member of the fairer sex the right to vote and to own property in her own name.

planet_stories_1950sumThe feminists in our time have also reversed cause and effect, and blame on the existence of sexual roles problems which either are caused by the lack of such roles, or problems that do not exist at all.

By any measure, feminism have won an absolute triumph and swept the field of all opposition. They have more freedom, if by that we mean the lack of legal or cultural restriction or restraint, than ever did any of their mothers for all of time.

So why are they in despair? Why are women killing themselves in record numbers, killing their babies in the womb in record numbers, getting divorced from their spouses in record numbers?

Now, I have taken all this time to describe at length — tedious length, so I know that no one has read this far except for my one fan (Hi, Nate!) — how the Cult works, so that I can briefly —briefly for me, which means an orotund and endless pontificating for an ordinary mortal — say how the Cult works in reference to science fiction.

Let me use an example from my own writing, not because it is the best example, but because I happen to have it to hand:

I wrote a book where the expedition to the nearby dwarf star V886 Centauri had an all male crew. I did this because I wanted to have one character born aboard the ship without there being a clear explanation as to how exactly she was born; it was part of the mystery.

One of the cultists pretended to review the book. Pretended, because checking a book for cult-loyalty is not a review. Telling the readers whether the book performs the meaningless ritual gestures and genuflections of political correctness does not tell the readers whether they will like the book or no, which is what a review is. The cultist was shocked into gibbering Nyarlathotepian insanity by the fact that I was capable of imagining a ship with no female crew aboard. After all, such a thing has never happened before in all of history, nor has it been imagined, nor is there any excuse for such a thing. The fact the mysterious child born aboard ship was female, and is the savior of mankind and the galaxy, the first superhuman, et cetera and ad nauseam did not restore your humble author to the good graces of the Cult member.

So why are the ladies in despair? Why do they commit suicide in record numbers?

Is it because of me, John C Wright, internationally recognized science fiction author, failed attorney, retired newspaperman, savant and scholar with my fat belly and outrageous beard and nearsighted eyes, my glorious bald spot, my dull swordcane?

Did I suppress you, my dear ladies?

You see, the moment the question is asked, it sounds ridiculous. No one man can be blamed. The Cult belief does not permit that. It only deals with collectives: all men as a whole must share this guilt.

The logic goes as follows: We all, except for the males who have joined the screaming witchhunters, caused the crop failures. The crop failures do not show up because of natural causes. It must be because of the witches, the wrongthinking people. I am one of the wrongthinking people. Ergo, QED.

88Fantastic Story, Summer 1951In order to be a witchhunter, you have to make a ritual propitiation.

As far as science fiction goes, the theory here is that all the unfairness and unhappiness of history is cause by some sort of undefined and dim half-subconscious miasma or influence of thought, an attitude of which even we are half-unaware, which is fed by seeing stories where the women characters are in the stereotypical weak female roles of being feminine.


Sorry. My sarcasm gland became inflamed. The theory is that stories cause or at least influence the subconscious mind with a set of expectations, so that if little boys read stories where Superman saves Lois Lane from a radioactive moon robot or something, the little boys will grow up to be rapists, therefore little boys should read stories where women are Amazons fully able to rescue themselves from radioactive moon robots without male help.

I am not clear on the details of how the theory goes. The practice is that you can be accused of sexism for any reason or no reason, and once you are accused, there is no defense and no verdict other than guilty. There is no example in the history of the world of a sexist reforming and becoming a properly orthodox lover of feminism. The only way to escape accusation is to be a witchhunter yourself, and accuse others.

Now, since stories, like industrial capitalism, do exist in reality, they do have drawbacks. Boy’s adventure stories since the days of TREASURE ISLAND tend to be an all-boy’s affair. Earlier stories had more heroines in them, such as FAERIE QUEENE, because romance was a part of Romance. The tale goes that the boys of Stephenson asked him to write a tale with no women in it because (being little boys) they did not want to hear about love and romance.

Science fiction sprang out of the tradition of TREASURE ISLAND and the like, since Jules Verne did not want to add any romantic subplots to his tales of technological wonder. I am sure HG Wells has some female characters somewhere, but I cannot bring any of them to mind aside from Weena the Eloi from THE TIME MACHINE.

So, as far as I can tell, the complaint about Science Fiction having at one time being an all-boys club where women were scarcely ever seen is a perfectly reasonable complaint. There were and are stories where the only female characters are fodder for abduction (see below) or some worse fate.


I leave it to the reader to count the number of women shown as helpless in 1940-1950 popular magazines versus the number in the average slasher flick or torture porn sequel.


And there have always been stories with two dimensional characters, cardboard and unconvincing, and women in those stories have been portrayed in unconvincing ways.

If the kind reader recalls, there is an inner and an outer circle to the cult. The inner is the liars and the outer is the suckers. The suckers are sincere but ignorant. They don’t know what the cult wants or what is wrong with it, but they have been warned not to listen to any criticism of the cult, because the wrong-thinking people are so horrible.

The suckers are completely honest when they ask for stronger female characters either in SF or in mainstream fiction. They look at cheesy unconvincing females character, at the lazy use of stereotypes, or plain old bad writing, and they demand better.


Good for them, say I. Nothing wrong with their demand. I applaud it. I myself do not care to read stories where all the female characters are victims with nothing to do, who have no role in the plot. That is not my idea of feminism or of femininity. That is just bad writing. Away with it.

My argument here is that they are asking for realistic female characters and calling it strength, or the are asking for females characters in starring roles, whose decisions are central to the plot, and calling it strength, because they don’t know any other word for this quality.


Marx analyzed all human behavior as a contest of strength between oppressor and oppressed, and a certain hefty percentage of modern feminism adopted that analysis as the analysis of the man-woman dynamic, and so the only thing that matters to them is strength: The strength to do without men, to achieve without men, to overcome men, to despise men, to walk away from men. To be not dependent. Independence. There is no nobler goal, is there?

But the analysis overlooks the same thing in both cases. Marx overlooked that a situation of mutual benefit can be found when labor is free to seek employment and investors free to seek return on investment. The investors seeking profit will buy stock in ventures that hire laborers seeking to sell their labor for a wage. Marx characterizes these mutually beneficial relationship as a master-slave relationship, a one-way zero-sum game where the investors gain and gain and the laborers lose and lose. Likewise, modern feminism, or this branch of it, characterizes the male-female relationship as a master-slave relationship, a one-way zero-sum game where the males gain and gain and the females lose and lose.


And surely there is sufficient evil done by the greed of investors or the lusts of men to lend more than a little credence to either view.

The argument looks reasonable to anyone kept in a pitch of perfect anger and envy and resentment and hate and contempt against the other partner in the mutually beneficial relationship.

So the cult, to maintain the falsehood of the analysis, simply has to tell half the truth, paying attention only to cases where one partner betrays the other; or else has to tell outright lies.

Likewise the cult, in order to maintain the atmosphere of hysteria needed for the pitch of resentment to be maintained, has to devalue the use of reason. This is the reason why the cultists adopt what I call the unreality principle, the principle that make-believe is real and reality is optional. It is to halt the possibility of rational discourse. It allows them to tell outrageous lies without the slightest twinge of shame. This in turn is the reason why the cultists never argue: they only accuse. There is no groundwork to argue in a purely subjective world, because there is no evidence to consult, no objective rules of logic. Whatever seems to be a persuasive argument can be rejected unread based on the accusation that the person giving the argument, no matter who he is and what his argument is, is a wrong-thinking person, the source of all evil, a witch.


So likewise the perfectly reasonable desire for better writing with more realistic female characters turns into a weird ritualistic demand to strengthen females in society by means of creating inspiring role models in SPACEMAN SPIFF novels.

This would be fine except that the inspiring role model means and only means a female who repeats the bromides of Political Correctness.

Am I wrong? I would be delighted to hear about contrary examples.

But here is what it looks like to me, given my limited experience: I have heard CS Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien denounced, even though Queen Lucy, even as a little girl, had enough strength of character to stick to the truth and keep the faith despite the jeers and disbelief of her older siblings, in the first volume, and despite that no one else, in the second volume, saw the Lion she saw.

Is Galadriel of Lothlorian a weak character? In addition to be a queen, and immortal, and wise and far-seeing and morally upright, has greater strength of character than the warrior prince Boromir, AND she has magic powers. So how is this weak?


I will repeat my examples from A PRINCESS OF MARS of Burroughs and GALACTIC PATROL of E.E. Smith, books that are hardly on the Shakespeare level of great literature, but also books from before the Women’s Liberation movement. Princesses get kidnapped with the clockwork regularity of potboiler writing on Barsoom, but not a single one of these dames faints, or screams, or complains, or shows anything but ironclad resolve worthy of a mother of a Spartan. I have already mentioned girls knifing guards who are too familiar and space-dames blasting away at drug-runners with their white-hot ray guns. Weak? In what sense?

Now, again, it may be my limited experiences, but the only female characters I hear being complimented as strong by the Left are the ones in traditionally male roles, such as military officers, vampire hunters, and vigilantes.

I keep thinking there must be some common ground of characters that anyone can admire. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, or Saint Joan of Arc, are ones I would assume would seem perfectly ‘strong’ to anyone seeking a strong female lead to admire.

Now, I do not mean to sound cynical, so I will ask rather than speak my opinion. Is there any strong woman character which meets with the approval of the Politically Correct who also happens, as the characters in Lewis and Tolkien, to reflect a Christian worldview, or, as happens, as in Burroughs or E.E. Smith, to reflect what one might call the traditional heroic worldview, a worldview reminiscent of the Stoic and military virtues of the ancient Romans and Greeks?

I have heard some Leftists praise the female characters of Robert Heinlein, who, with one exception, I myself find to be somewhat demeaning to women. (The one exception is  Cynthia Randall in ‘The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag’, perhaps the only honest portrayal of a woman throughout his whole oeuvre.) Others despise his portrayals.

My cynical question is this: when they ask for ‘strong’ female characters, are they actually honestly asking for strong female characters, Deborah from the Bible, Antigone from myth, Britomart from poetry, or are they only asking for Leftist female characters, that is, for poster children for Leftist causes?

If so, what they are asking for is Political Correctness, which means, substituting true narratives about the real glories and sorrows of the human condition for a false narrative, an advertisement for Leftwing political causes, which tell lies about the glories of man, bemoans with crocodile tears only the sorrows of their particular mascots and special causes, and makes false promises about the cure for the world’s pain.

If so, they are giving up art for an ad.

Myself, I want to see women writers not because they are women, but because I would like to have the genius of the distaff half the human race writing new and brilliant science fiction stories for us to enjoy.

In sum, as far as I can tell, the complaint that Science Fiction lacks strong female characters is akin to the complaint that Science Fiction is meant for juvenile audiences. That has not been true during my lifetime. I have not seen even the slightest trace of the all-boy club mentality ever, neither in any writer nor in any editor nor in any reader.

I have seen plenty of people like me, who are annoyed with the cheerless preachy monotony of Political Correctness and would like the dullards to stop ruining good stories with their sucker punches and pauses for their political advertisements, but, hey, the PC types answer any criticism of PC  by calling the complainer a sexist, or saying he is paranoid, or saying that PC does not exist. Any lie will do, just so long as it is an accusation.

To tell the truth about what they are doing is the one thing they fear. What they are doing is obvious to one and all. What they are doing is informal censorship, that is, thought-policework.

As I said before, the PC-niks think they are fooling us into thinking they are honest and compassionate people, and we know they are not, and they know they are not, but they do not know we know, so when one of us mentions, for the umpteenth time, that the Emperor has No Clothes, they react with exaggerated fear and fury.

This is because they are afraid of anyone, no matter how humble or obscure, who punctures their little daydream of make-believe, their land of colored cloud where they are the effortless saints and the cost-free saviors of the world.

But the complaint about the way too many female characters are treated in SF, especially earlier SF, is either reasonable or is an understandable exaggeration of a reasonable complaint. No one wants or like boring or silly characters, or characters who rest on lazy stereotypes.

What is not reasonable is PC, for which the reasonable complaints ought not to be confused, any more than a sheep should be confused for a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Let there be no mistake about what I am objecting to. I am objecting to the idea that a woman has to give up being womanly in order to be a real man. I do not regard feminine nature to be the same as weakness or folly. I do not regard, as some feminists seem to regard, masculinity as synonymous with strong.

Myself, I would like to see strong characters of either sex doing things in stories. The very concept of heroism, of humans taking control of the forces around them and doing good, is fundamentally antithetical to the dull, dispirited, flaccid, despair which is the natural moral atmosphere of nihilism and moral relativism, which just so happen to form the moral standard promoted by Political Correctness.

So in other words, even the female characters I here in this essay dismiss as being lame and PC, if they are truly heroines, actually undermine, whether knowingly or not, the PC world view.

In other words, even these attempts by the PC to subvert the dominant paradigm, if they use the concepts of heroism, and show how virtues triumph and vices destroy themselves, they subvert the attempt at subversion.

So, go, Girl Power!

Part Six

I have written this essay under the provocative topic of saving science fiction from strong female characters, and proposed a rather unprovocative idea: namely, that woman can be both strong and feminine, and that one does not need to make them overtly masculine to make them admirable and edifying characters.

Indeed, I proposed the idea that confusing strength with masculinity is in truth not a feminist ideal, but a misogynistic idea. He is no friend of woman who says women must act masculine to be equal to men, because that merely makes the word ‘feminine’ equal ‘inferior’. Masculine and feminine are a complementary relationship, not a master-slave relationship. Is Ginger Rogers inferior to Fred Astair when they waltz, even if he leads? She does all the same steps he does, and she does them backward, and, most impressive of all, Ginger can make goofy Fred look like a dashing figure of elegant romance.

I proposed further that a brief, utterly unscientific survey of pre-1950 science fiction showed a healthy number of perfectly strong female characters even in the most boyish of boy’s literature, for example Jirel of Joiry or the Red Lensman Clarissa MacDougal or Dejah Thoris (who, in the text, is both a scientist and a maiden who talks and acts like a Spartan “were his wounds in his back?” -style matron).

The same unscientific survey showed a rise of weaker female characters in the form of Playboy-bunny-styled bits of fluff in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I believe I was the only respondent to this survey, so the answers showed one hundred percent of respondents quizzed being in agreement.

I suggest it to be no coincidence that this was when Feminism was at its height, for it was a time when, thanks (in part) to modern labor saving appliances, housewives were no longer mistresses of a separate but equal sphere, a domestic realm where they were queen; but neither were they welcome in the workforce, which was mostly a man’s world.

It was a time when the returning servicemen, having survived the Four Horsemen of World War Two and the Great Depression, the Dustbowl and the Polio Epidemic, asked their women to be more feminine and domestic, and the women granted the prayer.

It was also a time when the erosion of standards of decency made open immodesty in dress and behavior acceptable to the mainstream. It was the time of June Cleaver and Marilyn Monroe. It was the time of the dumb blonde, utterly unlike the sharp-witted and sharp-tongue blondes from the decade prior, Mae West or Jean Harlow. It was a time when feminism most nearly being justified in its claims.

Nonetheless it was a time when, in Science Fiction, even the writers who thought they were rebelling against the mainstream—Bob Heinlein springs to mind as an example—went along with the 1960’s ideas of domestic women or Bunny women.

I would have no problem whatever with the feminist demand for more strong female characters in Science Fiction, and only a technical problem concerning the demand for strong female characters in Fantasy, if the demand were honest. (The technical problem is the difference in physical strength and stamina between swordsmen and swordswomen). If the goalposts move, the demand is not honest, and the motive for the demand is not what it seems.

Speaking of which, I did receive a number of pingbacks and comments which I, for courtesy’s sake, did not pass along to my readers, for these were from ill-wishers and prevaricators. I mention this not to complain, but only to make note of the fury combined with the alarmingly casual attitude toward truth which characterized any opposing discussion on this topic. I encountered no polite disagreement, no non-hysterical disagreement, no dignified disagreement, no non-fanatic disagreement, no one who made a disagreeing comment about something I actually said. As best I could tell, not a single one of these ill-wishers had read anything aside from the title of my essay. It was all witch-hunting. It was all barking at the moon like Nebuchadnezzar.

I suspect this is a minor example of a large and commonplace spirit of the age animating such nonsense. This leads me to suspect that much, if not most, of the calls for strong female characters are not actually calls for strong female characters at all, but something else.

What would a strong female actually be like?

Here is an example from the pen of Robert E Howard:

The woman on the horse reined in her weary steed. It stood with its legs wide-braced, its head drooping, as if it found even the weight of the gold-tasseled, red-leather bridle too heavy. The woman drew a booted foot out of the silver stirrup and swung down from the gilt-worked saddle. She made the reins fast to the fork of a sapling, and turned about, hands on her hips, to survey her surroundings.


They were not inviting. Giant trees hemmed in the small pool where her horse had just drunk. Clumps of undergrowth limited the vision that quested under the somber twilight of the lofty arches formed by intertwining branches. The woman shivered with a twitch of her magnificent shoulders, and then cursed.


She was tall, full-bosomed and large-limbed, with compact shoulders. Her whole figure reflected an unusual strength, without detracting from the femininity of her appearance. She was all woman, in spite of her bearing and her garments. The latter were incongruous, in view of her present environs. Instead of a skirt she wore short, wide-legged silk breeches, which ceased a hand’s breadth short of her knees, and were upheld by a wide silken sash worn as a girdle. Flaring-topped boots of soft leather came almost to her knees, and a low-necked, wide-collared, wide-sleeved silk shirt completed her costume. On one shapely hip she wore a straight double-edged sword, and on the other a long dirk. Her unruly golden hair, cut square at her shoulders, was confined by a band of crimson satin.


… this was Valeria of the Red Brotherhood, whose deeds are celebrated in song and ballad wherever seafarers gather.

Now, from my admittedly plebian and pulpish taste in fiction, this is seems more like a fantasy meant for boys with a pirate-girl fetish than a description of the historical Anne Bonnie.

pirate lass

Here is an image that fits the description more faithfully, albeit, I would say, just as clearly an example of cheesecake.


Be that as it may, Valeria is, by the express testimony of the text, both unusually strong yet feminine, and all woman, in spite of wearing breeches. Did I mention her hips were shapely, and her shoulders were magnificent? I suggest such characters were found periodically among the SFF of the pulp era.

In other words, Valeria is the kind of strong women that boys like. Not actually strong, but a girl in revealing clothing with a sword in her hand, who requires a rough and manly man to tame her wild heart.

In other words, this allegedly strong character is still open to the accusation of being a weak character on the grounds that she still plays a feminine role in the story.

I submit that any female character can be accused of being a weak character, precisely because the goalposts move, that is, precisely because the demand for ‘strength’ in female characters is dishonest.

nausicaalarge1Nausicaa from Miyazaki’s VALLEY OF THE WIND is a perfectly strong character who is brave, active, the center of the plot, the main driver of the plot, nobody’s fool, considerably higher in stature than a mere prize or reward for the hero to win.

She is my exemplar of a strong female character who is not a artificially masculine. She is a princess, and she issues commands and is obeyed in a perfectly queenly fashion, she owns a rocket powered jet glider called a cloud climber or a maeve (depending on your translation) and she fires rocket-powered bullets, and is active, intelligent, athletic, and so on.

But this is not the true genius of the character. The genius of the character is shown in a short scene in the beginning where when her finger is bitten by a tiny wild animal no bigger than a kitten. Instead of reacting with fear or annoyance, Nausicaa radiates a serenity that calms the creature, who, in remorse, begins to lick the finger where it just drew blood with its little pink tongue.

This compassion and spiritual kinship with all living things, including the titanic and insectoid monsters of the all-destroying Toxic Jungle, is a spiritual strength in her that grows and grows in power as the story rolls toward what seems a tragic climax.

In the final scene, it is not weapons, not even an ultimate weapon of destruction, that saves the day and changes the destiny of empires and kingdoms, but her self-sacrificing compassion on what to us at first would seem a hideous larva. But only at first. By the story’s end, we see through her eyes.

I myself have never heard Nausicaa being accused of being a weak character, but please note that the very thing which makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer allegedly a strong character, her physical strength and snarky attitude, are precisely the strength and the attitude missing from Nausicaa.


I once heard Mr Joss Whedan in an interview discussing the origin of the character idea. He was weary of seeing scenes in monster movies where the blonde cheerleader Valley Girl wanders into a dark alley, is confronted by a vampire, and can do nothing. For reasons I cannot speculate, Mr Whedan did not think of making a Valley Girl carry a pistol whereby to defend herself (even an undead monster can be chopped off at the knees if your handgun has sufficient stopping power), but instead thought it would be a cute reversal of traditional roles if the cheerleader could take out a stake and drive it through the vampire’s heart. That way she is not the helpless victim. That way she does not need a man.

Then Mr Whedan writes a simply excellent show, truly one of my favorites—let no man dare to say I am not a fanboy of that show— but I notice with the slightest lift of an eyebrow that the main dramatic tension in the show was the romance, the girl’s love interest, Angel and Riley Finn and Spike. The traditional role is not reversed after all, is it?

Buffy must be saluted. She is the inspiration for an entire genre of fiction, the urban fantasy. Few characters can make that claim: Sherlock Holmes for detective stories, Juan Rico the starship trooper for Military SF, Harry Potter for the magical schoolkid genre, Frodo and his Fellowship of the Ring for the epic quest genre. A few others.

But considering that Buffy is the very epitome, or so I assume, of strength in a strong female character, a feminist icon akin to Xena the Warrior Princess, why is her main dramatic point her love story? Could it be because she is a female character, and that there is something in the female genius which naturally inclines itself to love?

Buffy-Angel-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-1308503-1165-1450By way of contrast, I would list Katniss Everdine from the movie HUNGER GAMES as a relatively weak character – and here I am only talking about the movie, which I saw, and not the book, which I did not read. Aside from her extraordinary act of self sacrifice at the beginning of the film, for the rest of the film he is basically helpless, and shows very little initiative. Whether the character develops in the sequels, that I do not know, and make no comment about. She is, however, physically and morally brave, which is not a trait to be scoffed at for anyone living in a nation of physical and moral cowards.

Her Name is Catnip. Or something like that.

Something unclear in the movie is how any girl survives the first ten minutes of combat with relatively athletic young men of roughly the same age: the difference in aggression and fighting strength in an average sixteen year old boy and an average sixteen year old girl is immense. That is why the Romans did not stage gladiator fights between male and female slaves, or, if they did, we have no record of it. That is why boxing is not a unisex sport.

Katniss Everdine is what I would call weak because she cannot articulate the cause for which she fights. She is not fighting for truth, justice, and the American Way, nor is leading (yet) the rebellion; she is trying to stay alive. Oddly, had she been the only girl in a roster of boys, volunteering to take the place of her younger brother, the plot would have made more sense, because then it would have been a jack-and-the-giant story, with Katniss as Jack.

Weaker still is the character of Valeria mentioned above. She is the stuff of boyish daydreams, not a fully developed character at all. While established to be a ruthless, rough and hardy pirate queen, the equal of any man when it comes to climbing rigging, storming a city wall, or cutting down sea dogs in a sea fight, her role in the story is entirely feminine. Her main role in the story is for romantic interest and sex appeal. She is there to be menaced by the lusts of men, including Conan, to make dumb suggestions Conan wryly shoots down, and be afraid of things that don’t scare Conan, because, as a barbarian, he is such a badass. For all that, she is not a weak character, not a milksop or lily-livered, and is strong and hearty and bold as any soldier. It is just than next to Conan, any soldier would seem like a girl.

pirate_girlSorry, that was a pirate girl cheesecake picture. Here is another image of Valeria, drawn faithfully to Howard’s description. Judge for yourself whether or not this is meant to be a slice of cheesecake or not:


Podkayne of Mars from PODKAYNE OF MARS is a spunky and lovable teenager who dreams of being a space pilot. As the plot goes on, however, she takes no steps at all, not one, toward achieving this dream. Instead she gets abducted, saved by her brother, and then blown up by a bomb when going back into the villain’s lair for the cat or some other annoying fluffy critter. In the first draft, she died the death, and in the second, at the editor’s insisting, she was merely mostly dead. This teaches her psychotic supergenius younger brother to learn to love and be loved, or somesuch nonsense. And the moral of the story, placed in the mouth of the Uncle, tacked awkwardly onto the end of the book is that Podkayne’s Mom should have stayed home and raised her correctly.


Podkayne is a perfectly fine science fiction character. She does as much, or as little, as the Time Traveler from THE TIME MACHINE by Wells, or Professor Aronnax from TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.

More to the point, she does as much, or as little, as Matt Dodson in SPACE CADET or Bill Lermer from FARMER IN THE SKY who are mostly observers rather that initiators of the action.

But the fact that the space girl is blown up and never becomes either a space cadet like Matt nor a farmer owning his own land like Lermer should leave any feminist cold. Is the purpose in life of girls to be blowed up by bombs as an object lesson to psychotic younger brothers so they can learn to love and be loved? Hmmm.

stanger2Jill Boardman in STRANGER IN A STRANGE BED, buxom space nurse, becomes the lover and disciple of Michael Valentine Smith, the studly Man from Mars, and happily joins his harem of several lovers … and becomes a stripper. Yes, she takes off her clothing to excite the lusts of men for modest pay. They can stare at her boobs, which she bounces for their enjoyment. Such is the 1960’s version of women’s liberation. You’ve come a long way, baby.

The novel portrays this gross degradation as a dignified profession, whereas preaching the Gospel is portrayed as charlatanry less honest than selling used cars. Yet, had you asked, I am certain Mr Heinlein would have described himself as an ardent supporter of women’s liberation.

Compared to this junk, Valeria the Pirate Queen with the shapely hips is practically a nuanced and three dimensional character as Lady Macbeth. But could someone claim, with perfect justice, that Jill is a strong character? She is certainly witty, brave as a marine, and kidnaps the Man from Mars out from the clutches of the tyrannous world-state. Could someone else claim she was a weak character? Yes, and with equal justice, if not more so. She is lonely schoolboy’s idea of a strong and independent woman, that is, a woman with all the virtues but chastity and modesty, independent enough to use contraception, and strong enough to violate the rules of chastity, presumably, in his daydreams, with the lonely schoolboy.


I should add the third example of Friday from her eponymous book, but there is too much about that book and that character I find personally distasteful. Let me just say that she combines the worst characteristics of physical strength—she can beat up a marine guard—Playboy bunny looks, and an odd desire both to marry and have a family, and to sleep around like a minx in heat.

If you have not read FRIDAY, you can always watch DARK ANGEL by James Cameron. The main character, Max, is a personal favorite of mine. Let no one believe I dismiss or dislike the show. But I do note that she is a Friday style woman: sexy and adorable, and she goes into heat, so that she can both beat up Marine guards with her biogenetically enhanced superhuman strength, and sleep around. You’ve come a long way, baby.

The writers there perform the opposite trick as Robert E Howard. To make the girl Max the manly character, James Cameron puts the male lead in a wheelchair, so that he has no possibility of being either the main romantic interest nor being the Riley Finn or Steve Trevor character.


By a Riley Finn, I mean simply that a writer who makes his alleged strong female character physically strong, strong in masculine ways, the writer has no use for a male romantic lead, unless he is superhuman, such as Conan or Angel. Riley Finn was despised by the fans for much the same reason that Steve Trevor is forgotten.

No writer can write a man who swoons over the strength of a superheroine or vampire-huntress, admires her knowledge of French wines and Japanese karate, and find himself swept off his feet by her carried back to her magnificent castle, married in a splendid but secret ceremony, ravished to within an inch of his life, and make it seem other than a satire. No writer has this power because that is not the way human nature works.

How does nature work? Women like men who are virile, vigorous and potent. They like men who are confident, decisive, courageous, and assertive. They want a man who fights. They like strong men. Look at the cover of a trashy romance novel if you don’t believe me.

bodice rippersAnd they like guys with no shirts.

bodice-ripperOr with no pants. More truth is held in the pages of trashy romance novels than in all the worthless books penned by college professors.

Men like women who are nubile, fertile and fecund. They want a girl worth fighting for. They want beauty in body but loyalty in spirit. They want a woman who has faith in him and who keeps faith with him.

Let us look at a he-man magazine to confirm this.

mensHmmm. Obviously, I am wrong about men. What we really like is beating mad weasels to death with our bare hands while naked in a pool.

Mort KunstlerApparently what we men also like is fighting sharks, women in bathing suits, lost treasure, fighting undersea robots, women not in bathing suits, headhunters, and fighting alligators. Obviously getting wet is a big part of our lives.

Why does nature saddle us with these (to a feminist) uncouth and inconvenient urges where different things attract the different sexes to each other?

It is one of the dubious joys of the modern age that otherwise sober men must take the time to explain the obvious, over and over again, to those ideologically committed to denying the obvious.

It is obvious that men and women are different both in fine and in gross.

(I read with some skeptical bitterness that when neurologists first started publicly admitting that there were neurochemical differences in brain structure between males and females, Gloria Steinem said that social conditioning could overcome these innate genetic predilections.  I understand that the Left also says that homosexual attraction is caused by innate genetic predilections, but that to use any form of social conditioning to overcome such predilections is illegal in California. Consistency is not the strong suit of the Left.)

Because of these differences between the sexes, the characteristics of sexual attraction in men and women must be opposite and complementary in order for it to be sexual attraction.

Do I need to repeat that in shorter words for the intellectuals to grasp it?

Girls want strong men because strength in men, brute muscle power and leadership ability, is a primary sexual distinguishing characteristic related to the sexual process. Boys want faithful women because fidelity in women is a primary sexual distinguishing characteristic related to domestic life and the demands of domestic life.

But a writer writing an adventure story or a drama that wants to challenge or ignore the basic difference between what men and women find attractive in each other faces a paradox. How is he to make it dramatic?

Now, keep in mind that men and women can admire each other for non-sexual reasons. I am a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher, for example, or Mother Theresa, who are both world-magnitude leaders, one of political and the other of spiritual authority. Any tinge of sexual attraction toward these women from me would be grotesque.

But in a story, especially in an adventure story, the needs of drama want to introduce an element of romance even if the writers at first do not want one there. Romance is as dramatic as death, or more so. It is nearly impossible to keep out of story telling, despite brave efforts by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Brave but futile. Note that every later retelling or movie version of any of their tales always introduces a love interest. The movie version of FIRST MEN IN THE MOON introduced a female stowaway.

FIRST MEN MOON a5The movie version of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, has the Junoesque Arlene Dahl, likewise.

dahlThe movie version of CLIPPER OF THE CLOUDS, which was named for its sequel, MASTER OF THE WORLD, likewise.


Examples could be multiplied endlessly. I think only TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA by Disney did not intrude an apocryphal female love interest into a Wells or Verne style all-boys SF yarn.

Even Weena, in the book a degenerate posthuman, was played in the George Pal film version of THE TIME MACHINE by the absurdly good looking Yvette Mimieux.

Hence my conclusion is that if there is no love interest at first, the pressure of the needs of drama always urges one be introduced later, in any sequel or retelling.

If I may use an example from a cartoon, just to dispel anyone’s idea that I have refined tastes in the matter: I am a great fan of Disney’s KIM POSSIBLE. I love that show. Every element is perfect.

Teen superheroine Kim Possible is the daughter of a rocket scientist and a brain surgeon. On her website she boasts that she can do anything, and so instead of getting the babysitting or yard working jobs she supposed, foreign governments and major corporations hire her to solve crimes, stop revolutions, and track down supervillains.

The show’s supervisors told the writers that, as a Disney show, they needs must put in a cute pet sidekick like the raccoon of Pocahontas or the flounder of Ariel, and the writers subverted the paradigm by introducing a naked mole rat. Who is also a supergenius. Kim Possible’s comedy relief sidekick and Sancho Panza is named Ron Stoppable.


Unfortunately, the needs of drama interfered with this perfect balance of elements in the last season, when some nitwit decided that Kim Possible should fall in love, not with the handsome and competent Will Du, agent of Global Justice, nor with Josh Mankey, the boy on whom she has a legitimate crush, but with Ron, her sidekick. (Who, by the way, was in love with and loved by the alluring and exotic highschool ninja girl and exchange student, Yori).

It is unsettling and stupid, as stupid as deciding that alluring and snarktastic supervillainess Shego would go for her freaky blue supervillain boss Dr Drakken rather than for the rich and handsome and stump-stupid but devotedly romantic Sr Senior, Jr.


It nearly ruined the show to pair the heroine with the comedy relief, because the needs of drama require that the romantic male lead save the girl to win the girl, something the comedy relief cannot do. Otherwise no one can tell why the girl likes the guy. He must appear virile and vigorous and potent, remember? But the fans complained, not without some justice, in the last episode of the last season when Ron saves the day and saves a suddenly helpless Kim Possible when in every previous episode she was able to do everything whereas he was the ineffectual sidekick who comedic antics involved running in circles with his pants on fire, screaming.

But the writers almost had no choice. Romance is innately dramatic because the whole life and future happiness of the characters hangs in the balance, and it is something everyone in the audience over the age of seven can understand and sympathize with. The romantic lead has to be a superior guy. If he is of lower social rank than the girl, or less wealthy, he has to be higher in some other quality that she needs more, even if it is only pluck or impudent daring (cf. Jasmine falling for Aladdin).

This means that superheroes can fall in love with normal muggle women, as when Kal-El of Krypton falls for Lois Lane, but that Supergirl cannot fall in love with Dick Malverne but needs a superhero to be her beau, like Querl Dox or Dick Grayson. And Wonder Woman should definitely dump Steve Trevor for Bruce Wayne.

Supergirl_Unbound_001(If you asked who  Dick Malverne is, he is the utterly forgettable male equivalent of Lois Lane or Lana Lang who was always trying to prove that Linda Lee was Supergirl. The dynamic of the plot tension there should have been the same, but since the sexes were switched, it did not work. In real life, there is some drama to a woman trying to find out a man’s secret, especially if she has marital designs on him. It does not work the other way around, the drama is lost, and the guy looks weak and foolish.)

Does that seem unfair? The story logic requires that if a superheroine falls for a guy, he has to be virile and potent in relation to her, in some way her superior, so that she has something she thinks is sexy to admire and adore; and likewise she, even if she is physically stronger and shows directness and leadership and cooks outdoors and has great clumps of underarm hair and in every way is masculine and manly, she has to be shown as unwavering in devotion, because fidelity is what sexually attracts men to women.

The old cliché of rescuing a damsel in distress is based on the idea that a woman rescued from danger by a man will be devoted to him, because ingratitude in such life or death situations was unthinkable, particularly for an admirable female lead.

Again, the logic of Political Correctness requires that men and women not be complementary because the concept of complementary strengths and weakness is not a concept that Political Correctness dare admit, lest it be destroyed.

The concept of complementary virtues undermines the concept of envy, and Political Correctness is nothing but politicized fury based on politicized envy.

We can define Political Correctness as the attempt to express fury and envy via radical changes to legal and social institutions.

Hence, the Politically Correct writer attempting to make the female ‘strong’ cannot make her strong in the particular feminine way of, for example, Nausicaa, because that would be the same as admitting that there is a particular nature of male and female, which are different and complementary, which, as I said above, undermines the envy and fury on which Political Correctness is based.

So the logic of Political Correctness directly defies the logic of drama. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other.

The more Political Correctness you have, the less Science Fiction you have, because Politically Correct science is Junk Science.

Political Correctness requires the women not to be of complementary strength to men, that is, not strong in a feminine way, because that would legitimize femininity. Remember, feminism is the foe of femininity, hence of love and romance.

Instead, Political Correctness requires the female to be as strong as a man, as good as a man, in the very areas men are good at and want to be good at. It is a deliberately unnatural pose.

The women characters have to be portrayed as the types of characters female readers, by and large, do not want to be like or to read about, and the female characters have to do things women by and large do not attempt because they don’t create a big thrill in the feminine heart, or create many bragging rights. The male characters are basically extraneous.

Can it be done? Sure. Writers are endlessly inventive, and we get to set the situation and the plot and, in science fiction, we get to set the laws of nature, too.

So the basic physical limitations of the female physique in real life need not hinder us in science fiction situations, because your heroine can be from Krypton, or armed with a phaser weapon, or have cat-girl genes spliced into her DNA, or be an Amazon.

Second, the writer gets to set the period and the genre. No one can claim that Hermione Grangier is in any way a second class citizen of Hogwarts, because, like a detective in a detective novel, physical strength and fighting prowess are not the main point of a magical school-chums novel.


Third, if your superheroine is stronger than any normal man, and does not need Prince Charming to settle the hash of the evil dragon, but can wield the sword herself, you can either leave out your male love interest, or you can, Anita Blake style, make him superhuman also.

This, of course, is a sly cheat, because it put the girl back in the position of being allured to a dangerous male figure who is more powerful than she, so your vampire huntress falling for a fallen angel (or whatever) is in the same dainty shoes as the spitfire Irish lass kidnapped by the ruthless but devilishly handsome pirate Black Jamie (or whoever) which we all see in the Bodice Ripper racks at the paperback bookstore.

Paranormal Romance, in other words, is an example of the logic of drama subverting (or perhaps superverting) the logic of Political Correctness. It allows the writer to eat her cake and have it too: she can make her warrior-princess or vampire huntress as tough and strong in any way she likes, as tough as Scarlet O’Hara vowing as God is her witness never to go hungry again, and then also bring in a supernatural version of Rhett Butler, and she can retell the story of Beauty and the Beast while retelling GONE WITH THE WIND, by making her man something other than a human being. (Since young men are often ill-reared these days, this is not as far from real life as it once was.)

Another solution is to make the warrior woman into a sex babe, so that if she is not feminine and attractive in demeanor and words, her luscious body betrays her, especially if she is wearing a halter top and spray-on leather pants. This approach turns the strong female character into a figure of sexual fetish, and it titillates the boy audience while apparently satisfying the female audience looking for an action heroine who does not need a man to kill her vampires for her.

The problem with such characters is that the logic of Political Correctness has been subverted by the needs of drama at the expense of all realism. You end up with scenes like I mentioned in a previous essay, with a hulking huge Hawkeye of the Avengers kicking wispy little sexdoll Black Widow in the face, and both boys and girls get used to the idea of boys kicking girls in the face like it was normal, and, just as bad, both boys and girls get used to the idea that the only way for a girl to be attractive is to dress like the Catwoman. That is fine if you have a perfect figure like a 1950 cheesecake model, but otherwise it basically robs women of an entire arsenal of feminine wiles to use on the menfolk, and silences an entire social vocabulary unspoken signs of feminine dignity.

You also end up with warrior women who should be armed and armored like Joan of Arc dressed in microbikinis that would embarrass a stripper.


And any feminist worth her salt should be able to accuse, with much justice, the fetishistic ninja-babe superheroine archetype as being a weak female character. Such characters are nothing more than action models, eye candy, male fantasy figures.


And yet all of these characters can be accused of being weak, for the reasons I said at considerable length above. And if the character has no weaknesses, she can be accused of being a Mary Sue.

Why is this? Because, at first, the cry for strong female characters is perfectly reasonable and perfectly welcome.

To use another example which betrays my low taste, in the second season or so of NARUTO our feisty girl-ninja Sakura is left with nothing to do. She simply cannot fight as well as the boys, and the writers had her not do anything, despite that she was the third member of Team Love Triangle, along with Naruto the brash main character in love with her, Sasuke with whom she is in love.

sakura wallpapers 2

(For the life of me, I cannot figure out why she is crushing on Sasuke. He is merely dark and handsome with a troubled past, tormented by inner demons, a dashing rebel who plays by his own rules. Go figure.)

But the girl ninja was useless until the writers wised up and powered her up in the next season, giving her not only magic healing powers, but magic super strength, which make a nice outward sign of her inner exasperation, so she could create an earthquake with her magic ninja punch.

It gave her something to do in the plot, unlike (if you look above) the characters added to MASTER OF THE WORLD and JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, which intruded a romantic subplot where none was needed nor wanted, and the female characters there had nothing to do. They initiated no action and solved no problems.

If that is what the cry for stronger female characters want, more power to them, and I add my voice to theirs.

Penelope of Ithaca and Clytemnestra of Mycenae and Helen of Troy are not insignificant characters with nothing to do, nor is Deborah in the Book of Judges. Nor is Ximena from El Cid. Neither is Guinevere of Camelot, even if she never fights a joust while disguised as a boy. Neither is Olivia from TWELFTH NIGHT, even if she does fight a duel while disguised as a boy. Neither is Bradamante of ORLANDO FURIOSO or Britomart of FAERIE QUEENE even if she fights jousts and duels while not disguised at all. There are plenty of examples from ancient and classical sources to follow. I cheer on such efforts.

But look again. If I am cheering on such effort, why am I getting hate mail from Political Correctors, along with anyone else who says what I say?

Because Penelope and Clytemnestra and Helen and Deborah and Guinevere are all romantic figures. Ximena is perhaps the most romantic of all, a woman of noble birth who loves and loses all because she loves the Cid, but loves honor more.


The Martial Maids, while many a feminist still admires them, I have heard dismissed because they are depicted as outliers, that is, extraordinary because a woman is performing feats of arms which would be ordinary if done by a man. I do not know is this is a mainstream criticism or not, but it strikes me as telling.

The calls for strong female characters is like the call for more environmental purity and cleanliness. In the 1950’s (ironically, the same period when women were being treated is a less dignified way than their mothers) there was pollution in the air and in the streams that formed a danger to public health. Some reasonable laws were made to curb the problem, and the problem was solved except in areas of the country administered by Democrats, and then unreasonable laws were made, and then slightly insane laws, and now we live under totally nutastic barking-mad at the moon bat-guano crazy laws, which have declared human exhalation and cow farts to be pollutants.

It was reasonable at first. The demand was satisfied. There are plenty of female characters in books and films these days who drive the plot and make decisions, many of them quite well written.

And then the demands became unreasonable, then became slightly insane, and are now barking mad. Why is this?

Because the demands are not honestly made. They are made for the sake of making a demand, not made for the sake of satisfying a demand.

Any female character can be accused of being weak. ANY ONE. The trick is to have your female characters be good characters, having central roles in the plot, and reasonable character arcs, and as many vices and virtues as the logic of drama and your inner burning vision demand.

Ignore whether she is strong or weak. It is like worrying about whether your male character is winsome, devoted and loves babies. He needs a reasonable amount of devotion to be a hero, but it cannot be his main point, because in real life girls look for strength in men first, leadership, trustworthiness, that sort of thing. Even shallow women look for outward signs of competence and strength, like fancy cars and smoothness of wit.

Likewise, strength in female characters is not what makes them dramatic and memorable, but fidelity and compassion do.

As God is my witness 2What makes Scarlett O’Hara one of the most easily recognized heroines of all time, despite the obvious selfishness and shallowness of the character? It is her fidelity, no, not to a man (she weds idly and yearns for Ashley) but to Tara, the land. Her faith in the land allows her to survive the War and the Reconstruction.

Scarlett, despite being selfish and shallow, shines with these other virtues. Commitment. Fidelity. Faithfulness. Maintaining hope when hope is gone. Having the strength to carry on.

That is something women do better than men. We males tend to break when our brittle pride is shattered. Women handle disappointment and defeat better. (Consider what a disappointment most men are, I am sure there is a logic to that, too.)

So ignore the demands for strong female characters. You cannot satisfy them.

You can satisfy your readers, though, by making your heroine interesting. Nay, make her fascinating.

Make your heroine as fascinating as Miyasaki’s Nausicaa, or Homer’s; or Dante’s Beatrice, or as fascinating as Deborah, Clytemnestra, Helen, Penelope, Camilla, Britomart, Bradamante, and you will have readers centuries to come, or millennia, still discussing her; or make her as interesting as Katniss or Hermione or Scarlet O’Hara, and you will be a best seller and have your books made into movies.

A closing note on hate mail. I said I would return to this point.

Why in the world would anyone in his right mind pen a poisonous letter on this topic? I am not trying to save Science Fiction from Strong Female Characters. The idea is ridiculous, so ridiculous that I honestly thought nobody, not even a humorless Political Correction Officer would take it seriously. The title is meant as an obvious joke.

It is as if I were to say we should stop having Basque Characters, or Albigensians, or Left-handed Wesleyians. No matter what I or anyone said about the type of characters I or anyone preferred, if the demand were honest,  no one would give a tinker’s damn about it one way or another.

No one would give a tinker’s damn because readers who wanted character of a certain type would seek out writers who wrote characters of that type, and readers who wanted something else would seek out writers writing something else.

But the demand is not honest. It is not even close. The demand is that female characters of which some tone-deaf yet artistically and spiritually dead sexual neurotics disapprove be swept off the bookshelves and into the memory hole. The demand is political, that is, it is a call for a uniform change in the power relations of the society. The demand is that society change its tastes, change its values, and do so collectively, as a unit, permitting no dissent.

The demand is not on we writers, my dear readers, but on you readers.

The demand made by these subhuman genetically defective control freaks is that YOU the readers, stop liking the books and stories you like, books with females realistic or unrealistic as you prefer, and start liking the books and stories which these genetically defective control freaks demand you should like, in the name of the glorious cause of whatever the glorious cause is this week.

The demand is that you be ashamed of liking popular books and stories, that you be ashamed of nature, ashamed of romance, ashamed of love stories, ashamed of superhero stories, and so on, ad nauseam.

You see, you and I and every sane human is willing to live and let live, and if you want to read trashy bodice rippers and I want to read about space princesses while our neighbor wants to read stories about he-men wrestling ponds of flesh-eating weasels, to each his own. If I write the story I want to write, and even put the odd space princess in it, either the story on its own artistic merits or entertainment value, if any, finds a fit audience or not, as the sovereign will of the readership demands, without imposing on or being imposed upon by others who write and read stories of another kind.

You must understand that you, O my masters, are the sovereigns here. What the readers read is what the writers write and the booksellers sell.

The rebels and the subversives of the Glorious Cause of Political Correctness are not about overthrowing the sovereign power of the state, or not just about that. It is also about overthrowing the sovereign power of the culture, O my masters.

They want to overthrow YOU.

They have only one weapon, which is the unearned moral superiority they pretend to have, and the unearned guilt which they throw onto you.

The serpent cannot force the apple down Eve’s fair throat. All he can do is make her feel ashamed for being so naive as to obey the commands of right reason. The snake tells her she is stupid for thinking that right reason was right.

Likewise, here, the harpies shriek that you are stupid for wanting to read a story where Rhett carries a struggling Scarlett up to the nuptial bedroom, rather than Scarlett carrying Rhett.

Unearned moral superiority for them. Unearned guilt for you. That is their only weapon. Merely pointing it out, naming it by its right name, is enough to disarm it.

Science fiction does not need to be saved from strong female characters. It needs to be saved from Political Correctness, which makes a demand that all stories be uniform, and all serve the Glorious Cause, and become propaganda told for the purpose of social engineering, not stories told to glorify the beauties and horrors of life.

It is, in fact, a demand that stories not be stories at all.

It is a demand that we wreck our culture, ruin our lives, and damn our souls. Stories are just the smallest part of it, and science fiction stories are smaller than that. Stories save souls, and give strength to sanity: for tales, even the simplest, even the shallowest, can refresh our faith in truth, in beauty, and in virtue. In stories, the muses bring us wine from heaven.

Political Correctness serves politics, that is, the power struggle between factions seeking to govern our laws and customs. Art serves truth. Do you wonder at the venom of the struggle? Political Correction Officers attempt to mock and destroy even the concept of truth. Political Correctness is the foe of all truth, all beauty, all virtue. Their ambition is immense, nay, awe-inspiring: They want to drown the universe in excrement.

The sole weapon of the Political Correction Officers is to make the innocent feel guilty by making a reasonable demand followed by an unreasonable demand, a demand you can never satisfy.

We must save the world, and, more importantly, science fiction from that.

I close with words from the Pen of Tom Simon:

The whole point of Political Correctness is that it’s impossible to be politically correct: someone always has a free pass to attack you for something. Just as the whole point of Sustainability is that nothing is ever really sustainable, so someone can always attack you for insufficient dedication to Mother Gaia. Modern Leftism is not about doing what is right; it is about believing that everybody else is wrong, and always having a stick handy to beat anyone you want to beat.