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Jane C. Hines

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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mrissa
Sep. 6th, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
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 part is giving me pause, Jim, and I'm trying to articulate why.

I think in some ways it reminds me of the people who are sure that my health problems have made me stronger, which--I am pretty dubious there. In some ways it's shown me my own strength and resiliency, sure; in other ways it's taken time and energy that are finite resources, not magically made greater by having a disability.

Also I find it easy to see how I've had it easier than other people. I am was a little girl who liked a lot of traditional "boy stuff," but I ran into almost no homophobia for that because I was a pretty, femmey, eventually curvy girl who grew into a woman who was all those things. If I'd been a guy who liked an equal proportion of traditional "girl stuff," Marcus Lingen could just as easily envy Marissa because she didn't get constantly called ugly slurs because of her interests. Even if Marcus was built like my male relatives (essentially: tall and athletic), he wouldn't have been safe from an entire ration of crap if he'd had similarly gender-offset interests to mine.

Which doesn't balance out, because it's not about weighing things in the balance and coming out with one number. But I think the exercise of thinking how other people have things harder than we do is sometimes beneficial to all of us, and not every factor will go one way or the other.

Edited at 2011-09-06 08:46 pm (UTC)
fadethecat
Sep. 6th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
It gives me pause because I don't feel like all the additional pressure has made me stronger and braver. It feels like I've had to use up a lot of my finite reserves of strength and bravery just to get to the place where other people get to start from, and consequently diminished what I could be contributing to the world.

I don't think a male version of me would be less strong, or less brave. I think he'd have a lot more emotional energy to devote to getting writing and other acts of creation done, instead of needing to spend it on insulating himself against the One Damn Thing After Another category that sexism creates.
jimhines
Sep. 6th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
I agree with you.

Looking back, I think I know what I was going for with that part, but I did a poor job of writing it. Which is especially annoying, since I've always considered "That which does not kill us makes us stronger" to be a load of crap.

Still trying to figure out how I should have phrased that. Cat touches on some of it below, I think, that it's about being *forced* to be ... something. More stubborn?

Don't have it completely sorted out yet, and I have to run off and feed the kids, but I appreciate you commenting on this.
barbarienne
Sep. 7th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
It's the "we don't know how strong we are until we're tested" equation. Your hypothetical Jane C. Hines, having not given up in the face of adversity, has demonstrated her strength.

Whereas perhaps you have less confidence Jim C. Hines would have fared so well? (I think that's an unfair condemnation of Jim, but you know him better than I.)
tmthomas
Sep. 8th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC)
Personally, that's how I feel as the male TM Thomas...I honestly don't know how women facing these attitudes get out of bed in the morning. I don't think I have that sort of strength in me.
orangemike
Sep. 12th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
It's the "ennoblement by oppression" thing; the saintly masses bit.
cathshaffer
Sep. 7th, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I guess I am less concerned about the personality traits I may or may not have as a result of challenges I may or may not have faced as I am with simply getting things done. I can't prove this, but I'm pretty sure Jane C. Hines wouldn't have published as many books by now. Possibly not any, depending on how her headwinds are blowing. It's hard to know.

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