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Heinlein again 

Heinlein was surprisingly racist for someone who opposed racism and surprisingly creepy for someone who respected women’s agency and believed strongly in consent. Medlesohn wants to do the “product of his time” thing but I think it’s more useful to look at him as a prototypical facts-and-logic bro, shaped by his time studying engineering at a naval academy. He works on rules and fucks up because he’s not capable of understanding others’ subjectivity.

Heinlein again 

(If there’s a sense in which “product of his time” does apply it’s probably that growing up in the 1920s meant it never occurred to him that women’s agency could be a threat to men’s privilege.)

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Heinlein again 

@ghost_bird also if your posing as progressive (anti racist against being creepy) but don't like...do the work? loke it was clear what racism was at the time. if I'm casual rasist to the standard of the time that's bad but .aube get to be all ",whatcha gonna do" but if I'm all "we shouldn't be.casualy rasist" and then I am anyway...i had a point but its run away from me

Heinlein again 

@firecoals As you might expect, he only really saw racism as “colour prejudice” - the idea of structural or systematic racism or never really got through to him.

Heinlein again 

@firecoals ...and this, you’ve made me realise, is a basic limitation of the authoritarian mindset. It’s not possible to do the work - all you can do is apply the rules.

Heinlein again 

@ghost_bird I'm trying to remember, but cannot think of a single case from Heinlein's books (at least ones I have read) where a woman would *not* consent.
Which makes one doubt what did Heinlein believe in, actual consent, or some perfunctory concept?

Heinlein again 

@IngaLovinde Mendlesohn’s argument is (roughly) that his idea of sexual integrity involves absence of jealousy and an instance on consent, but that he’s more interested in giving examples than showing the bad alternatives. And his women are very often the ones who do the choosing and make decisions in general... but I think the inability to think beyond his own experience means it all ends up as male fantasy anyway.

Heinlein again 

@ghost_bird yes... "consent is important so all women (who are totally strong and make decisions) offer themselves to me, The Male; and even those who don't, enthusiastically consent when I ask them to"

Heinlein again 

@IngaLovinde A fair amount of that, yes. But he also does a lot of group marriages that aren’t just harem fantasies and stuff that works more like what we’d now call polyamory.

Heinlein again 

@ghost_bird and that probably influenced my affinity to polyamory :)

Heinlein again 

@IngaLovinde I think I said to someone else on here: what I’d really like is biographies of the significant women in his life. I think they’d all be more interesting than he was.

Heinlein again 

@ghost_bird And another question to wonder: how many women of that time wrote speculative fiction among the same lines and had progressive but unproblematic views on polyamory, gender non-conformity, sexual orientation etc, yet remained totally unnoticed by a larger culture because they were women and SF/F field was so sexist back then?

Heinlein again 

@IngaLovinde (I’m not interested in reading the big recent-ish biography, but I gather at least his first marriage was a reasonably equal open relationship.)

Heinlein again 

@ghost_bird I can only hope so.

I'm now trying to remember more of the books, and there was some unhealthy power dynamics involved, too? E.g. how in "Stranger..." there was this writer (allusion to H. himself, perhaps?) who had three secretaries who were offering themselves to him?

You clearly know a lot more about Heinlein than I do!
It was significant to me during my formative years, when I did not understand how problematic it is, so now I engage with mentions of him, sorry...

Heinlein again 

@IngaLovinde I’m basically in the same situation as you - read a lot when I was too young to understand how problematic it was - but I’ve just been reading (and arguing with) an extended defence of his work by a critic I usually respect, so the examples are fresh in my mind.

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