The Un-manning of Worldbuilding

I’ve been injecting Feminism into a worldbuilding discussion community. It’s a bizarre pseudo-creative space where you ask one question about the world you are building, then other members answer. Everyone votes up or down on the questions and answers, so everything is ranked by social voting. It’s the only online space I’ve ever seen that allows anyone to edit other people’s posts (it’s more like a wiki, in some ways). The question does not belong to you, but to the community. Editing is actually encouraged.

The Milgram Experiments famously proved that you can always find a man willing to harm someone he cannot see.

Its value cachet is a bank of creative knowledge. It operates on a point-currency system, and up/down votes from other members add/subtract to your points…. Asking a question earns half the points as answering (better to give…). Point tiers are rewarded with superficial badges, but also unlock admin privileges. Once you accumulate points you can spend them on reward bounties…. It’s a complex system with lots of caveats, and I briefly thought it would make a good template for a future economy based on social-participation, but last week I gamed a niche/flaw in the system and have been earning maximum allowed points daily ever since with only a few well-positioned answers.

It’s a male dominated space – with a noisy minority of the mindset that sabotaged the Hugo Awards a few years back. Their ideal is Asimov: very dry, very hard, very MALE *science* fiction. They were invaded by “magic” authors a while back and they lost the war (old debates preserved in the admin were epic LOL) so now “magic” is allowed if it’s properly tagged as such. There are daily admonishments to stop sarcastically answering with “Just use magic…!”

Instead the community doubled down on sci-fi purity – this is the interesting aspect (to me). Since they can no longer have site-wide realism they will dogpile on any sci-fi question that waivers from hard science (FYI, basically *all* tropes of pop sci-fi are pure fantasy: warp speed, teleporters, force fields – they will never exist). Fealty to realism is such a dogma they chastise anyone who does not kowtow with the proper genuflections to “hard” science – some genuflections are so common they have insert words to cover entire concepts because they are acceptable psuedo-science with a proper pedigre (see: Alcubierre drive). They even tried to make a science purity rating but of course only the hardliners stuck to it. It’s comparable to a 3D community and focuses on photorealism as the “true” form. It is a male-power dogma, like belligerent atheism.

Jane Goodall takes better notes than I do.

Anyway, there’s probably a whole Jane Goodall thing I could fill notebooks with my observations of male power dynamics (and how I am compelled to subvert them). Cut to the chase, my feminism was outed because of a series of questions about tweaking voter laws to favor “high IQ” and various other so-called meritocracies including “education”. Naturally I answered the shit out of those with my woke-self (that’s self-depricating sarcasm, people), and even posted a sample IQ Test that was used in Alabama to prevent African Americans from voting in ’64, and linked it to last month’s SCOTUS decision that declared proxies for gerrymandering look like racially-motivated voter suppression. While most answers talked about the fallacy behind IQ tests I actually found a real life incident where IQ test meritocracy was abused and I identified the vicims: African American voters.

But Heinlein wasn’t sexist…, he LOVED sex…

There was a small dogpile of downvotes and a Heinlein pushback (literally: How Dare You Question Heinlein! If that seems like a non sequitur, now you know what it’s like), but a larger number of upvotes and a long discussion in comments where people were explaining this *is* the answer.  An actual historic incident trumps all maybes and hypotheticals…. I might have “won” the question without the backlash, but instead was 3rd place by votes.

That debate launched 3 other questions, trying out variations of “IQ” with other privilege meritocracies, but by then I understood my answer and was able to answer first (one of the gamed quirks is the order your answer displays, first responders have an advantage) so I easily “won” those questions, and even snuck a bit of creative writing on top so those answers scored well…. One of my downvoters started an admin protest thread saying he didn’t want to hear about “black people” in an IQ thread, but that was downvoted and put “On Hold” as unclear, hahaha….

I told you about the “genetic ark of manly-men and nubile breeding women” that I skewered by explaining why the only survivors should be Lady Geneticists and frozen sperm, LOL! And just as my answer was winning they voted to put the question “On Hold” as unclear….

Selma Labat – “sexy Amazon”

Latest answer was about Amazon Warriors and I didn’t get the first reply but “won” the question anyway with a hyena answer. “Hyenas and testosterone” blasted to the top and is still earning me points, despite some protests in the comments that Amazons wouldn’t be “sexy” enough because they would be “androgynous muscular freaks”…. YAY! That would be TOO SEXY for you, Dudebro.

I have no idea why I do this shit… I *do* feel it’s important to invade manspace with feminism (not “girlpower” but actual Intersectional Feminism), but I’m also experienced at navigating male power dynamics (even when refusing to kowtow, I am navigating). Most of these men are not real writers, like me they are working at becoming creative writers, so I can’t even claim I am influencing influencers…. Maybe there’s a small chance I become a better writer myself, or that less aggro feminist flowers might sprout in the garden I helped to clear. While there’s a small intellectual Gen-X bonus-round for scoring highly with a controversial answer, now that I’ve figured out how to game their point system the Virgo/Aries analyze-then-destroy aspect is over – it feels like I already won.

Clearly I haven’t won anything. I’m using my skills to score points in a creative logic arena. Unfortunately I’m only proving that an exceptional person can win on her own terms, but I’m not holding any territory. I’ll have to stick around to make an impact, even then I don’t know if it’s possible to make any lasting difference.