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true, but not for you

5 Feb

Since posting a blurb about A Billion Wicked Thoughts, the SurveyFail book, finally coming out, I’ve found myself circling back to the whole thing quite a bit. The most obvious reason for this is that I was definitely involved in that disaster.

While most of the Livejournal-based threads are locked now, I know there are screencaps around and there are certainly a number of posts that eloquently and summarize what happened in extensive detail (I’ve tried to link to some of the best throughout this post). I, personally, recall taking the authors to task on LJ for a number of things, including their use of the word tranny and, what seemed to me, their lack of even the most basic understanding of the sex industry — not as good or bad, but as something driven, like most everything else, by the engine of marketing.

All that, though, is ancient history. What isn’t ancient history is the book that has resulted from that mess and the blurb materials that have been floating around (you can see them on the product description at Amazon). If you have the inclination to read through them all you’ll note that, with the exception of the woman they got to write the book’s intro (a likely necessary marketing gesture in itself) all of the blurbs come from men. Sadly, in the realm of science, even (or particularly) science poorly engaged in, this is hardly surprising.

What jumps out at me the most, however, is one particular assertion in these promotional materials that, “Men form their sexual interests during adolescence and rarely change. Women’s sexual interests are plastic and change frequently.

It’s hardly the only “Wait, WHAT????” moment in those promotional materials (“Though the male sexual brain is much more different from the female sexual brain than is commonly believed, the sexual brain of gay men is virtually identical to that of straight men” is another real winner that seems to suggest that people would or should think that gay men are more like women than men; it’s snuck in, in the sentence structure, and it’s misogynist and homophobic), but it’s the one I feel like focusing on today.

While this supposed finding regarding a perceived lack of fixedness in female desire is, in some ways, hardly new (consider, for example the common assertion that queer women on average come out later in life than queer men, indicating to some that there is a change or lack of solidity in female desire taking place there), I’m going to hazard a guess that in the text in question it remains just as unexamined as ever (is this something innate to women or a result of societal pressure that makes it harder for women to own their desire-based identities in a consistent manner?).

But, more than that, in the broader context of the book’s promotional materials and the experience I had and witnessed in the research the authors attempted to engage in on LJ, this quote seems to be saying that women in their desire are mutable not for their own sakes, but for the pleasure and convenience of men. Creepy, ne? Of course, I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect very few people who regularly read this blog or who had experience with the authors would be willing to take that bet.

Now, I’ll admit, that I probably do need to accept more intrinsically that these sorts of books — good or bad — are never, ever going to be about me. I’m not most people. Or most women. I fit into the boxes badly. And that’s before you even get to the queer sexuality and gender. I mean, I’m left handed! Do you know how many studies that disqualifies a person from? To be frank, sometimes it makes me feel more than a little bit unreal.

But the fact (fact: solid, precise, unchanging) also remains that I’m a malleable (malleable: inconsistent and therefore fact-free; haven’t you heard? women are mostly made of lies) person. I am pliable. I am shifting sands and a thousand faces. Mainly because it seems like a bit of a crap deal to me to be one person all the time. And I’ve never been that way for anyone’s pleasure but mine.

It’s one of those things I have to explain more than I’d like: just because I have sex, doesn’t mean I will have sex with you; just because I am water, doesn’t mean I am fluid for you. It’s so basic. I kind of can’t believe — whether I’m a boy or a girl or normal or not — that the world is still full of books (and people) that don’t get that one.

And while we’re on things that are just wildly untrue, can I just note that I have never been cautious like a detective agency? I’ve been reckless like one, though, once or twice. Sherlock fandom, would you care to weigh in on metaphors of detection and sexuality? I bet it would be awesome!

But anyway, what can you do? I, at least, can be entertained by the over forty people who tagged the book with mansplaining, among a couple of dozen (and counting) other unflattering tags.

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17 Responses to “true, but not for you”

  1. Mel February 5, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    Personally, I like the term mercurial. If only for the benefit of it being related to gods I used to believe in.

    I find it hard to believe that that book is about anyone or anything other than capitalising on misinterpretation and misrepresentation of people’s experiences in fandom. It’s icky and regardless as to whether we find ourselves in those studies, those studies pretend to be about us as opposed to them, if you catch my meaning.

    • RM February 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

      Fandom seems to be perhaps merely a chapter of what’s going to be a broader mess, unless they decided that fandom somehow speaks for all women.

      I shudder to think what my reaction’s going to be if any of my STFU winds up in there. My guess is I’m safe. I’m sure someone I know will wind up in it, though, and that’s not happy-making.

      • Mel February 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

        The whole thing reeks of Evo-Psych crap. I’m so sick of this shit.

        I beg your pardon for the vehemence, but really, I really hate it when science is pushed as the be all and end all of Truth, especially with regards to human behaviour which is so effing diverse that every quantifiable research is only suitable for that particular and specific research.

        • RM February 5, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

          Check the tags on the Amazon listing; you’ll feel better.

          • Mel February 5, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

            LOLZ! You’re right! I do feel better! The “also viewed…” is pretty rad.

            My morbid curiosity propells me to be interested as to whether this book will actually be profitable, still, those tags are awesome!

            • RM February 5, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

              I’m very curious to see if Amazon will let all that stand and if the bad manners of the researchers will extend to public relations (people who don’t get how to do PR rarely learn in my experience).

  2. Nicoli Dominn February 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    While I wasn’t around for the SurveyFail mess, I do find those Amazon tags to be comforting.

  3. bem02 February 5, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    I love those tags at Amazon! PhDs written in crayon was the bestest. (Yes, I know that’s not a proper word but it fits.) That made my day shinier!

  4. XTricks February 5, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    That thing is being published?!?! I can’t believe it.

    I’m getting so very, very sick of these unfounded claims about gay men/lesbian women. They propogate so quickly and become ‘facts’ so easily. While it’s been some years since I followed the whole gay is genetic stream, I’ve yet to hear of a study — except *possibly* the Italian statistical one that had any solid grounding. And the science and etc of those two was obviously flawed … it makes sense they could only get it published as a ‘popular’ book. Maybe we should all make a push to have Amazon re-list it in ‘fiction’.

  5. Greenwick February 6, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    I think it would be good to plan for a review spam of that book when amazon reviews are allowed to be left for it. It would be nice to see if fandom can make its sales fail as much as the book itself does.

    • Greenwick February 6, 2011 at 12:32 am #

      I watched the youtube video of one of the researchers talking about the book, and it looks like they decided not to include fic writers at all? They looked at internet searches and dating ads, and the like. I wonder if that means that they’ll try to use what little they got from the surveys but pretend they didn’t get it from there, and pretend the debacle never happened (Because clearly no one in the world ever hears about what happens on the internet, so no one will hear about it, right?)

  6. Ika February 7, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Ha, Steven Pinker endorses it. One more reason to add to my pile of reasons for hating Steven Pinker.

  7. codeman38 February 12, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Apparently they’ve already made their first PR misstep– somebody involved in the promotion of the book has some sort of rogue search engine optimization thing going, and has created a whole network of nonsensical spam blogs to take Googlejuice away from the critics. If you search on Google for the book’s title and limit the search to blogs, you should find one of them immediately (its domain name includes “nomoresalami”, if that helps).

    Unfortunately, they weren’t fully thinking things through even then. Some of the splogs are hosted on…

    …wait for it…

    LiveJournal.

    • codeman38 February 12, 2011 at 11:51 am #

      And LOL, the No More Salami blog has already been pulled, even though it’s still indexed by Google. And all the other splogs have also mysteriously disappeared– even the ones on LJ. They still haven’t been removed from Google’s index, though, as a blog search for “Ogi Ogas” will reveal.

      Hmm, guess someone involved must’ve found out about this…

    • RM February 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

      You are totally fabulous for sharing this with us.

  8. XTricks February 12, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Have you seen his Ogi Ogas’ wiki bio? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogi_Ogas

    tagline: ‘…is a cognitive neuroscientist, science book author, and game show contestant.

    (emphasis mine). The parody almost writes itself.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. YANA « Letters from Titan - February 16, 2011

    […] I see the search strings that lead people to this journal (and keep on coming everyone looking for info on A Billion Wicked Thoughts, there sure are a lot of you), I am reminded of those early years of my life on the Internet, of […]

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