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Jane C. Hines

Snoopy

In an alternate universe back in 1974, a girl named Jane C. Hines was born. Her family moved to Michigan when she was four years old. She grew up with a little brother, had a three-legged black lab named Silver (after Long John Silver), and wanted to be a teacher, a veterinarian, a psychologist, and ultimately an author.

Her first fantasy novel, Goblin Quest, came out in 2006 from DAW. She sold two more goblin books, then published a series about three kick-ass fairy tale princesses. She’s currently writing the third draft of a modern fantasy book called Libriomancer. She also maintains a moderately popular blog.

But while she and I have had parallel careers, the results haven’t matched up exactly.

  • Jane’s sales haven’t been as good as mine. The books were the same, but hers weren’t reviewed quite as widely, and there are some people who simply won’t read female authors.
  • As a blogger, I’ve been accused of being an asshole, a pretentious asshat, told to die in a fire and so on. It’s not common, but it happens. Jane, on the other hand, recently started up a “Bitchometer” feature which tracks how many times people call her a bitch. It’s currently in the triple digits.
  • A few years back, I had a fan squee and ambush-hug me at a convention, which was … disconcerting. That’s only happened to me once. Jane can’t recall the last con she attended where at least one person didn’t touch, grab, or grope her without permission.
  • Remember last year when Jane and I wrote about obesity? We both included a photo of ourselves to illustrate what “overweight” looks like (I was topless; Jane wore a bikini top and jeans). I received hundreds of comments praising me for that post. Jane received a lot of positive comments as well, but she also received e-mails calling her a fat cow, and to this day gets follow-ups from that post demanding that she “Show us your tits!”
  • I receive significantly more comments and linkbacks to my posts about rape than Jane, despite the fact that we’re writing the same words. Jane does, however, receive e-mails and anonymous trolls telling her she needs to get laid, or threatening to “Do to her what a ‘real man’ should have done a long time ago.”
  • Like me, Jane works a full-time job because she needs the benefits and a steady salary for herself and her family. But where I’m occasionally told what a great father I must be, Jane is criticized for being a neglectful mother and not spending enough time with her husband and children.
  • Both my authorly name and my legal name are Hines. Jane began writing as Jane C. Hines, and got married after beginning to build a reputation with that name. To this day, she questions if she made the right choice about whether or not to change her name.
  • No one has threatened me, my family, or my pets. I have never received death threats. Jane has not been so fortunate.
  • When I post this, I expect the comments will be generally positive, with some argument and discussion. Jane expects to be told, “Shouldn’t this all boil down to quality? Isn’t this really about YOUR books not getting enough attention?”

Both Jane and I intend to continue writing and blogging. We plan to finish Libriomancer, and to blog about everything from fandom to sexual harassment to poverty to kick-ass books, and maybe even to post a few more stick figure comics.

But Jane is stronger than I am. She’s braver than I am. Because for more than ten years now, she’s faced far more negativity and ugliness when she writes, and she hasn’t let that stop her.

This post was informed in part by statements and posts from Shauna James AhernSeanan McGuire, Laura Anne Gilman, John Scalzi, and Juliet E. McKenna.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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sartorias
Sep. 6th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
:le sigh:

yeah, about that.

:le sigh:

Though actually, it heartens me to see men like you and others aware of this situation, whereas when I was younger, not so much.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC)
"Le sigh" sums it up rather well, I think...
jjschwabach
Sep. 6th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, very well spoken. Because I've always noticed the problems Jane runs into, long before she became a not-so-famous writer. It was also difficult for her to become a doctor, and a high school principle, and a judge...

A local-- to me -- woman in the Air Force was at an air show when she was home-ish. A visitor asked her about the helicopter she standing by. "Who flies this?"
"Me," she said. And asked if he wanted to know anything specific about the helicopter.
"I meant, the ones that are over *there*," he said.
"This one was. I flew it in (location deleted, though I suspect she did tell him)."
He shook his head. "I mean into the *combat* zone."
By this point, his wife was tugging his arm, trying to signal that he was really putting his foot in his mouth.
"I flew it into combat," she said. She then had to explain to him that she wasn't delivering it to anyone, she wasn't a nurse or a specialist of something, she was a *combat* helicopter pilot.

I'm anti anyone fighting, but this was a story that I just couldn't remove from what's left of my brain...
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
::Headdesk::

What gets me about this story is that the wife knew. She knew, she understood, and she tried to clue the man in. Whereas so many guys just don't see it.

I don't think it's deliberate sexism in many cases, but that doesn't mean it's not hurtful and harmful. It just means they have to look, dammit.
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serialbabbler
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
I recently had somebody tell me that I sounded like one of those feminists who think all sex is rape after I said that it would be logically consist to say that "Most women don't lie about rape even if most rape reports are false because most women don't make rape reports."*

I suspect this was because I was commenting under my real name and face. Heh.

*I don't think most rape reports are false. I was just trying to explain that "women" is inclusive of "women who make rape reports" but is not limited by it.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
Ugh. Yeah, the arguments and accusations re: false rape reports are a whole other barrel of sexism and headdesk.
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jimvanpelt
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
Well said.
dargai
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:12 pm (UTC)
Coming out of lurkerdom to say that while I do really enjoy your books, I read your blog just for your stance on social issues.

You know, I'm aware all the things that you referenced but I guess I hadn't really thought it through. It's not so long ago that 'serious' female authors wrote under assumed male names. Even Rowling was asked to use initials instead of her first name to avoid being stereotyped.
So thanks for making me think.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I think part of the problem is that these aren't things that get talked about enough, and when they do get talked about, guys in particular tend to dismiss the problems, or to condescendingly explain why it's not that big a deal, or whatever...
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birdhousefrog
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC)
You made me cry, Jim. This was excruciating for me to read. I suspect that's because I'm so used to no one listening, to being dismissed, that I half-believe it's all a fiction because I've been told it is over and over.

Oz
daedala
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'll be in the corner sniffling, too. :(
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seanan_mcguire
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
I wonder if Sean McGuire has an easier time of it. Bastard. I'm going to go over to his dimension and demand royalties. (Also, I bet he never gets called a crazy cat lady.)
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
Are you kidding? The dude collects machetes, has a thing for chainsaw violence, and knows how to kill you with approximately 1,502,308 different viruses. Nobody messes with Sean. It's not safe to pick on him the way it would be if her were a girl, you know?

Also, I approve of the royalty-split plan!
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nathreee
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
If I ever find out how much easier my male counterpart would have had life, I think I'd get very frustrated and angry.

Thanks for writing this.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
Frustration and anger seem like perfectly reasonable and appropriate reactions to this stuff.
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nyxalinth
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
My real name is Sheila, so Seamus would never be accused of writing author insertion wish fulfillment when making serious attempts of moving out of writing fanfiction and into writing fantasy romance for publishers like Ellora's Cave, though his characters are based on his own life experiences. That isn't author insertion. For him, it's 'writing what you know'!
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
But if a woman writes about a strong, competent female character, then it *must* be a Mary Sue, right?
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marthawells
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
It's heartening to see this.
jess_ka
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
What Martha said.
dracothelizard
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
All worryingly true on some level, although I also suspect the reason you get more linkbacks on rape blogs is because it's sadly still unusual to have a man say sensible things about rape at all, so it gets a bit more attention if only for that novelty factor.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
My guess is that there are multiple reasons. The scarcity of men speaking out about rape is certainly a factor too. But the fact that many people will listen to a man when a woman saying the same thing gets dismissed is also valid...
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starrcat
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
Incredible post - thanks for doing it!
6_penny
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
Death threats. I read the link. Appalling.
nonnycat
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
And while this isn't talked about much it IS something that many women are aware of. My husband sent me the link to seanan_mcguire's post and was appalled. And my response was, "... that's exactly what every halfway public female figure deals with on the internet."

Which is not meant to downplay any of what's happened. It's horrifying, and it should never happen. But it's something that women deal with on a daily basis (it's why I set my LJ to friends only) and it's hard to remember sometimes that, no, not everyone knows that this is how it is.

Edited at 2011-09-06 03:01 pm (UTC)
shashalnikya
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC)
As someone who's lived in both genders (hi!) I can tell you how true this is. There's always a little extra something that commenters reserve for women.

One of the things I do besides fiction writing is political writing, which I've done for many years. I find I'm taken a bit less seriously now as a woman than I was before... and if people find out about the trans stuff, things can go downhill very, very quickly.
starcat_jewel
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
And then there's Ben Barres, a FtM in the physical sciences. Actual quote: "Ben's work is much better than his sister's." *eyeroll*
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fadethecat
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
I suspect that my male counterpart (who might have the same name at this point; would he have been as motivated to change his first name to make gender harder to notice online?) would have a lot more emotional energy for certain types of discussions. And probably wouldn't have quit a favorite forum over not being able to put up with the endless mess of the sexism threads. After all, all that stuff would be a lot more theoretical than personal for him.

And I bet if he wrote female protagonists, he'd get congratulated for trying on another perspective, instead of sitting there wondering if anyone would be willing to read about girls doing stuff and being in charge.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC)
I've received a fair amount of praise for the way I write female characters. Somehow I don't see women getting the same kind of praise for writing men.

And yes on the energy drain. I know how much the internet can take out of me sometimes, and that's without all of the additional crap women have to deal with online.
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cofax7
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
You know, I didn't pick my username because it was gender-neutral; I picked it because it's actually an old family nickname. It took me a long time to realize that a lot of people thought I was male, because of the name and because I don't write much romance, even though I never claimed I was and I operate in a predominantly-female online environment (online media fandom).

But as a result of the name, I get way less shit than I would if I posted publicly as CeliaMcMahon, or whatever (note to stalkers: that is not my name, either).

I feel a little guilty about not waving my feminist flag, but on the other hand I have never received a rape threat or a death threat on the internet. ::shrugs::

Anyway, thanks for making this post, Jim.
barbarienne
Sep. 6th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
I've never actually received a rape or death threat on the internet either, and I use this handle rather a lot.

I don't know if it's because I'm too far under the radar, or if it's because I give a strong impression that I will hunt people down and kill them.
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martyn44
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid this willingness to talk to women in ways the individual would never dream of speaking to a man is virtually default, by no means confined to the internet. Working - as so many do - on the telephone in an office I've lost count of the times I have heard my female colleagues verbally attacked. Nobody has ever spoken to me like that, however angry and frustrated - the business is telling people they sometimes get what they've paid for rather than what they want. Maybe it is something to do with my dark brown, white (!) middle aged voice of authority; maybe its because being rude and abusive to women is still considered okay. More than once I have played at being manager and told the customer that, no, they don't have the right to speak to my colleagues that way. They always apologise, profusely, to me. Because I am white, middle aged, male and can speak with (fake) authority. Very little gets me mad nowadays, but this does.

If you wouldn't speak to someone like that face to face the only reason for doing it over the phone/net/whatever is cowardice. Yeah, Mr/Ms Big Mouth (they're as often a woman as a man) you're a coward.
lietya
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC)
I picked a fight on reddit the other day after my wife pointed me to a thread where someone was being an asshole to her. She didn't ask me to, but it was a bit of a social experiment as well.

You see, I did so claiming to be a man, because I wanted to see what would happen in an argument about feminism if I evaded the standard "you only care because you're a hysterical chick" retort.

Instead, I got a reply from someone else calling my argument white knighting [one of the standard accusations leveled against men who defend women in conversations about feminism]. The punch line?

"Nice job, but she's not gonna fuck you, dude."

I have to admit, I almost choked to death laughing, given the overall irony of the comment.

But jokes aside, it was both refreshing and depressing to be involved in an argument with assholes about feminism and get not one "die bitch" or "a real man oughtta rape some sense into you." Especially because I don't cry or get hurt when someone attacks me; I get ANGRY. It's an aggressive, eat-your-face rage reaction. If I were a man, that would be respected, instead of dismissed as still over-emotional (and why is it, pray, that anger isn't considered an emotion in those discussions about how womenfolk are ruled by their feelings and men aren't?!). There was something liberating about being able to get rightfully angry and not be told to simmer down and be a nice girl, too.

And yet... of course I realize that as restful as it was to take refuge in a lie for a brief moment, it says something dreadful about the experience of many females on the internet that it *is* such a huge relief. Like the fish breathing water, I don't notice the stress and fear until it's gone. Until it dawns on me that I felt *more* safe arguing with trolls than I do talking to acquaintances, sometimes. (Now I'm angry all over again.)

Edited at 2011-09-06 03:40 pm (UTC)
suricattus
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
There's a reason why, on the "women in SF" panel at DragonCon this past weekend, one of my comments was "find your claws, and be willing to use them."

I am a woman. I am an opinionated, occasionally mouthy woman. I will (contrary to one person's stated opinion) admit when I'm wrong, but I will not do it just to keep the peace or make you feel better about yourself. And if you try to use your dick to shut me up, you damned well better believe that my claws will be out, sharpened, and ready. I won't enjoy it, but I'll do it.

[this can be verbal, it can be written, it has often been legal. Claws are multi-form]

"Bitch" can be a badge of honor as well as an insult.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
"And if you try to use your dick to shut me up, you damned well better believe that my claws will be out, sharpened, and ready."

Back in a minute. Brain just exploded...
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cluegirl
Sep. 6th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
This is beautifully, and succinctly put. It's also a bit sad-making on my part, because I doubt Carl Kingsgrave would have survived to adulthood in the family environment we both shared. If he had, he'd have wound up in jail, I'm pretty sure, and that's no place for a sensitive, intellectual guy like him.

Now, all that said, and assuming he had managed to navigate the shark-filled waters of pre-adulthood and find his way to the world of the word? He'd have had a much easier time with his career than I, purely because he'd have been raised to expect that as a man, he was right, and had every right to speak his mind. He wouldn't have had to psych himself up in order to write cover letters or queries.

And for that, and that alone, today I rather envy the man.

Thanks for the Schroedinger's Chromosome moment.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
Random thought: "Schroedinger's Chromosome" is a great phrase, and I wish I'd thought of it when I was writing this post!
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apis_mellifera
Sep. 6th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Well said.

I run into similar issues when I talk in mixed company about how I review SF/F for a publication better known for its romance reviews than its SF/F ones. The amount of explaining I have to do is really frustrating and I know that a lot of people just don't take me seriously because of where my reviews are published.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and welcome!

From what I've seen, as well as the lessons I've learned and had to deliberately unlearn, you're dead on. It's not just that men are allowed to dismiss women's voices, but we also learn that it's safer and permissible to be more critical and attacking and threatening when interacting with women.
colebaltblue
Sep. 6th, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC)
I was linked here from a post on Tumblr, and I just wanted to say, awesome entry, dude.

I think people, men and women both, reserve a little some extra special for women. It's not so much that we are dismissed because of our gender, but that we can be dismissed because of our gender. You can criticize anyone's writing ability, weight, family, employment, but if they are a woman you get that extra special ability to criticize not only their gender, but all of those above things within the context of their gender.

Also, thanks for saying this. Not too many people, as wonderful as they might be, have the courage to stand up and point out this inequity in such a stark way. I hadn't heard of your work before, but you've definitely earned yourself a reader.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and welcome!

From what I've seen, as well as the lessons I've learned and had to deliberately unlearn, you're dead on. It's not just that men are allowed to dismiss women's voices, but we also learn that it's safer and permissible to be more critical and attacking and threatening when interacting with women.
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mt_yvr
Sep. 6th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
As usual, Jim, great entry.

(sigh)

Did you read that whole thing about the mom who wrote a blog entry about loving her kid who had fallen in love with one of the male characters from Glee? Her response to the responses she got comes to mind.

Isn't it sad that it's laudable when someone does something that should be taken for granted as happening. It's sad that as a guy your entries are enlightened, when in fact it should be just... common sense.

Feh. Human race sometimes... it just makes me want to hibernate until the next species comes along. ;)

Edited at 2011-09-06 04:33 pm (UTC)
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 06:27 pm (UTC)
I totally missed the Glee thing. Do you happen to have a link to her response on that?
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bookdragon01
Sep. 6th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
I recall about 18 years ago having a discussion (almost argument) with my adviser over my first technical paper. I'd written it using my initials + last name. He wanted me to use my first name.

I didn't want my gender to influence the reviewers. He said it was solid work and there were too few women in our field, so I should make a point of being visible. I turned the argument back on him pointing out how many guys in the program grumbled that I only got funding because I was a women. I wanted my work judged - for good or ill - solely on technical merit.

In the end I won (and I still use only my initials to publish). But I also still see his side. I still wonder if I should have had the courage to just use my name and deal with whatever that might bring.
snapes_angel
Sep. 6th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
Anyone who does their homework will probably realize that you're female, intelligent, and not out to call attention to yourself, preferring that your work speak for itself. In one sense, I think that's the best testimonial.
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