The famous refrain: TANSTAAFL – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
TANSTAAFL – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Fair Libertarian.
TANSTAAFH – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Feminist Heinlein.
TANSTAAHM – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Heinlein Masterwork.
TANSTAAHWBED – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Heinlein Without Boring, Expository Dialogue.
TANSTAAHFPPTDSLEOHFPP – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Heinlein First-Person Protag That Doesn’t Sound Like Every Other Heinlein First-Person Protag.
This is what I hear in my head when I read a book by Bob Heinlein:
[YouTube search: Family Guy “London Gentlemen’s Club.” Because I’m a copyright coward.]
(For the non-botherers, it’s just a cartoon clip of few old dudes clearing their throats in a men’s lodge.)
I could go on about the sexism,
“Man, this is a not-stupid?”
“For a girl, yes.” (64)
“…She’s below the age of consent. Statutory rape.”
“Oh, bloody! No such thing! Women her age are married or ought to be…
…Stu, is no rape in Luna. None. Men won’t permit it.” (164-165)
“Wyoh was now darker than I am, and pigment had gone on beautifully.” (39)
(but it’s not racism because she’s sexy both ways)
the abusive economics,
“It strikes me at the most basic human right, the right to bargain in a free marketplace.” (33)
(Is somebody pranking me? Somebody must be pranking me.)
the anti-intellectualism, the elitism, the sexism, the fascism, the militarism, the sexism…
I could go on about all that, but that’s not really what the book is about. The story could be full of problematic details and still be of value.
This is what the book is about:
“Suddenly felt tired. How to tell lovely woman dearest dream is nonsense?” (46)
The plot: Lunar colonists overthrow their paternal government.
The actual plot: Profit, profit, sexy ladies, profit.
The actual, actual plot: Mannie explains it all.
*sigh* It’s so tiring to know everything. *temple rub*
I have a love-hate relationship with the term “mansplainer.” It’s a brilliant word mash-up; so precise, so essential. It’s occurred to me, though, that fewer good conversations might be happening because some men might be afraid of sounding like a mainsplainer, so they just don’t say anything at all. It’s a good word, but it can be paralyzing.
And then there’s my own fear: I think I might be a mansplainer.
I’d never deny that I might sometimes sound like arrogant know-it-all. I can bulldoze a meeting when I don’t like where it’s going. Sometimes, I think my colleagues see me as the Mikey from the ’80s Kix cereal commercial of saying things: “Tell Megan! She’ll say it! She’ll say anything!”
I’ve probably started a sentence with, “Well, actually…” more times than I’d like to admit.
So, I might be a mansplainer.
It takes one to know one.
My first Heinlein was Stranger in a Strange Land, and I thought, “Man, this Jubal Harshaw character is really a load of over-the-top male arrogance. I’m sure this is unique to the book because he’s a device to keep the characters together. Like a Dostoyevsky patriarch. I’m sure it won’t happen again.”
But it turns out Jubal Harshaw is every Heinlein protagonist ever. Sometimes he’s younger, sometimes he’s older, sometimes he’s Pavel Chekov. But he’s always a gross know-it-all.
And by golly, little girl, don’t you worry your pretty little head because he is going to demonstrate how he knows it all by talking through the problem and explaining the obvious—oh, it’s so obvious now—solution.
Robert Heinlein sucks, his brain sucks, his dinkum-thinkum bullshit sucks, but people keep promoting his books and douchebags like that guy who wrote that book that’s now a movie considers him a major influence. (And I could have told you that book-movie guy was a douchebag before his infamous “priority” quote because look at his face.)
(see, that’s me being a mansplainer.)
Because of the respect this book has garnered, I was expecting something a great deal more tolerable and nuanced than the other Heinlein books I’ve read, but instead, what I got was a book about an AI that thinks in depth and a man who thinks in strict binary.
*Before the “well actuallys” come flying in, I should add that, yes, I am aware that this book predates Pavel Chekov. But still.