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NY Times Essay 
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NitroForum Oldster
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Post NY Times Essay
Although this essay in the New York Times was published in October 2005, I never ran across it until now. The title is Heinlein's Female Troubles, written by M.G. Lord. The article begins with a description of the upcoming Heinlein Centennial. It's an excellent piece that examines and mostly approves of Heinlein's portrayal of competent women in his fiction, and makes the point that in his earlier works Heinlein was way ahead of (and out of sync with) his time. The article is accompanied by an interesting Heinlein cartoon illustration.

"Being right too soon is socially unacceptable." - Heinlein, Expanded Universe

Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:27 am
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NitroForum Oldster

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Post Re: NY Times Essay
Hiya Kelly- thanks for the link- it was an interesting article

from the article, when RAH was out of sync with contemporary society regarding female roles, he was in sync with feminism. Then when he was in sync with societal views and the open sexuality of the 70's, he became out of sync with feminism.......... hmmmm..........

bolsters my views that his later novels were not of the quality of his early and mid career pennings although not just because of his heavy reliance on sex as a tale in itself. Oooops had to hit the delete button and a lewd comment about Lazarus and his relations with his mother, Maureen. For the umteenth time, i believe RAH should have allowed Laz to die (as he wished) and gone forward in his stories without him.

Yep I think we can all agree however that RAH was way way ahead in his early stories about competent and wise women who were even a bit better than the male animal. They could nurture a baby, make a man glad he was alive, and kick ass all while figuring a flight trajectory on a slide rule. A far cry from the 50's (and prior) image of women as subsidiary to men in all things. Barefoot and pregnant? Not in RAH's eyes



Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:50 pm
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Post Re: NY Times Essay
What's with the Friday bashing? First she's accused of enjoying rape, and then this quote:

"To today's AIDS-conscious reader, however, Friday bears a worse stigma: she is a brazen disease vector, recklessly promiscuous, with a bizarre weakness for male engineers. (Heinlein trained as an engineer.) This gives unintended meaning to the idea of Artificial Person; Friday exists only as a mouthpiece. Heinlein has so thoroughly objectified her that her subjectivity falls flat."

I've read Friday quite a few times and I just don't see it. She was specifically trained to minimize the emotional damage that can be caused by rape, and further trained to perhaps gain a psychological advantage over enemies who might use it as a weapon, but that's a long way from enjoying it. She carefully and consciously endured rape in the manner that most improved her chance of surviving to complete her mission. She experienced torture in the same fashion: that is, she followed training protocol. She didn't enjoy either experience, but she survived both, and eventually healed emotionally and physically.

Nor do I see the sex in Friday as more reckless than in Heinlein's other adult works. Discounting the rape (as she was at pains to do before healing), most of the sex in the first half of the book was with spouses, or coworkers closer than her spouses. I guess next time I read it I'll count male engineers; I recall a pilot, an architectural designer (female), a nurse (female), and two genetic designers, but no engineers. And she was in a timeline where sexually transmitted diseases were no longer a health issue, so she's not responsible for spreading AIDS or herpes or any other nasty bug that plagues our reality.

Enjoyed the rest of the article, but am at a loss to see why this female is so much harder to identify with than the others. Friday tried to objectify her own difficult experiences (rejection due to 'artificial' origin, rape, etc.) but I find her a most believable and admirable female human, throughout her developmental process.

"There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth." (Robert Evans)

Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:27 pm
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Post Re: NY Times Essay
freesharon wrote:
Friday exists only as a mouthpiece. Heinlein has so thoroughly objectified her that her subjectivity falls flat."
I've read Friday quite a few times and I just don't see it.

Neither do I. Or rather, I think that Mrs Lors missed the point. Friday wasn't trained to behave as an object, but to achieve genius-level objectivity !

Enjoyed the rest of the article, but am at a loss to see why this female is so much harder to identify with than the others.

Because she starts out so much closer to some (failed ?) homo novis ?

Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:50 am
NitroForum Oldster

Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 1:58 pm
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Post Re: NY Times Essay
I think Friday is one of his better later novels.i know jim gifford thinks it rather unravels half way through,however i never get tired of reading it.
I do think the author of the article has rather misunderstood Fridays,approach to sex,certainly the rape scene does mention that under different circumstances she may have enjoyed being with one of her assailants (who turns out to be Pete,her eventual husband ).
However the main point of the scene was to show how different Friday was in her thought processes due to her upbringing in the creche for APs. She does not get broken by the rapes but uses it for her own inner resolve.She is still the strong female type that rah wrote about in the 50s,however he could make her a more rounded person by writing about her sexuality which he could not do in the 50s.

Thu Jun 26, 2008 1:10 pm
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