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View Diary: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Club: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (part 1) (216 comments)

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  •  The heck with society (2+ / 0-)
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    quarkstomper, EclecticCrafter

    What about the girls involved?  What did they say?  Do we even know?  I'd be willing to bet that many, if not most, found the idea of marriage with someone many times their age just as disgusting as their modern counterparts do.

    •  Hey, I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quarkstomper

      I'm just saying that in the Heinlein novels the women all were fully consenting adults before anything happened.

      "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

      by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:30:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not quite (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper

        Nancy Smith, daughter of Maureen, isn't even 20 when her own father is talking about having an affair with her.  Even if she'd consented (which never came up in the text), she was legally a minor since she was under 21.  And incest was (and is) illegal.  

        I have some real problems with Heinlein's portrayal of women and have for quite some time.  Yes, he wrote some strong female characters, but some of his women and girls were just awful IMHO.  

        No writer is perfect, no writer nails it every time, and not all characters work.  For me, Heinlein's primary character failures were his women, especially in later works.  

        YMMV.

        •  She was over 18, I think. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper

          And if she is already pregnant (with her fiancee's baby), then where is the harm? Heinlein just wanted us to think about these things, not necessarily endorse them.

          "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

          by Maggie Pax on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 10:01:59 AM PDT

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          •  Please tell me you're not serious (0+ / 0-)

            I know you wrote your dissertation on Heinlein and have a deep association with him and his family, but really?  Seriously?  You don't find anything questionable at the idea of a father, who's always been an authority figure, having sex with his teenage daughter?  Or that their previous dynamic would make it almost impossible for her to refuse even if she didn't want to have sex with him?  

            I have no words.  None.  

            •  Of course I find incest appalling! (0+ / 0-)

              My point is that Heinlein wanted us to think about why we have all of the sexual taboos that we have. Some of the taboos (eg, sex before marriage between consenting adults) become meaningless with the advent of birth control. Most of these taboos were originally designed to prevent pregnancy, control the spread of STDs, control paternity (and inheritance), or to control women themselves. Once we have shaken off the intellectual shackles of fundamentalist theology, and with the advent of safe, effective, affordable birth control--that women can control, especially--these events should encourage us to rethink our taboos. Obviously the power differential between parent and child has not changed, and so that taboo is there for a good reason--to protect the child. If these scenes make readers uncomfortable, my point is that maybe they are supposed to.

              To me, that's part of what make a book successful: when the author challenges my long-held assumptions and forces me out of my comfort zone. I can admire his writing without agreeing with everything in the book. Milton was a misogynist ass and I profoundly disagree with his theology; I still admire Paradise Lost and acknowledge its profound cultural influence. Heinlein said explicitly that a major purpose in Stranger was to line up all of the sacred cows of American society--and kick them in the ass. Knock them over. He was an iconoclast--a destroyer of icons. Some icons should be destroyed; some should be preserved. But we have to look at them all, closely and carefully, before we decide.

              In no way do I expect you to agree with my interpretation. Life would be pretty boring if everyone agreed with me. I am simply suggesting that Heinlein--that any professional author--chooses words and plots and characters with great care and for good reason. Readers should try to understand what those motivations may have been. Whether or not any of these choices are successful always remains up to the individual reader to judge.

              "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

              by Maggie Pax on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 11:42:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  To me, it came across (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                quarkstomper

                as unrealistic and frankly creepy.  Worse, he's so blithe about it, and so casual, and there's so much father/daughter incest in the Howard Family books, that for me at least any shock value is lost in wondering just why Heinlein chose to use that particular trope over and over and over again rather than something else that's equally taboo.

                I'm sure you're right about challenging the reader, but the sheer repetition, and the sheer volume, of this particular trope in Heinlein's fiction bothers me greatly.  This is not likely to change.

          •  And oh, whether Nancy was over 18 or not (0+ / 0-)

            Isn't the point.  18 is the legal majority NOW.  It most certainly was not in the early 20th century.  Nancy was legally a child.  

            That was one of my biggest problems with To Sail Beyond the  Sunset:  I know Heinlein tried to justify it, but the sexual looseness and the promiscuity of the Howard Families as depicted in that book was so out of line with what actual Victorian and Edwardian families that I'm surprised anyone took it seriously.  Yes, logically it made sense for every Howard bride to be pregnant, but practically?  Sorry, but I don't buy it, especially for the first generation, all of whom would have been raised in a society where a girl who was alone with a boy for more than a few minutes risked irretrievable harm to her reputation, let alone had sex before marriage.

            I know you love Heinlein's books, but for me, at least, he really blew it with this one and several of the other late ones.  And yes, I've read most of them.

            Sorry.

            •  Age of consent much lower in 19th and early 20th c (0+ / 0-)

              Actual age of consent for marriage (for women) was 16, even 14 or (horrors) 12 in some places in America well into the 20th century. And the Victorians had some remarkable pornography and sexualized culture. So did the citizens of Pompeii. We did not invent sex in the 1960's.  Many, many Victorian couples even in the "best" families had 7 month old first-borns. Still, if the books don't work for you, they don't work. Your call.

              "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

              by Maggie Pax on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 11:49:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am well aware of all of this (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                quarkstomper

                None of it is especially relevant to a father in the Midwest who almost certainly had never heard of My Secret Life or any of the other Victorian pornographic "classics" casually expressing a desire to fuck his daughter.

                Obviously for you this isn't a flaw in Heinlein.  For me it's a deal breaker, at least for the Howard Family books.  YMMV.

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