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December 17 2006

The results of the Whedonverse fandom survey. Remember the survey from last month? Well the results are in and there's some interesting findings.

And hello to our female fandom.

14. What is your sex?

Male 367 24%
Female 1160 76%


At what age, if ever, did you first visit a library?
12 or under   1506   98%
13 to 17        27        2%

There were some interesting responses in there. I was surprised that Gen fic turned out to be the most popular, because that wasn't my impression.
Check out the comments at the end. Someone thinks we are crazy. ;~D

11 Most members of the "fandom" are nice, but a little wacky. They seem unable to view the shows with any kind of actual critical eye. I, for one, like seeing the flaws in my favorite shows; it makes them more relatable, more likable. Most of the posters on Whedonesque seem a bit unhinged.
Darn, I wonder why I forgot to take it. I could have plumped up the 41-50 group in the age category question (I'm feeling a little bit outnumbered).

I was very tickled by this:

4. Would you (usually) rather read a book than watch TV?
Yes 895 59%
No 621 41%

Proof that we are a rather literate bunch of fans, although right now I'm reading Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife, a very well-written novel that nonetheless provides **cough** more libidinous reading pleasure than strictly intellectual growth and knowledge.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2006-12-18 00:41 ]
my computer won't load the results page :(
You're right that the fandom as a whole is largely women though I believe they were a bit overrepresented. However the breakdown for those who indicated they were members -- or wished to be members -- of Whedonesque is somewhat different: 48% men, 51% women. Different forums seem to attract different demographics.
It's interesting how many people were Firefly fans and concerned that they might upset the results. Personally, I'm surprised that Firefly wasn't included in there.

Had I tried to take the survey, I might've decided against it upon seeing the Buffy/Angel part, since my fandom is mostly in Firefly and Serenity. I've seen Buffy and Angel, but I've never really involved myself in the fandom.
Yes, the survey was intended for the Buffyverse fandom, VeryVeryCrowded. I would imagine that not only are the demographics different, but given the earlier beginnings of the show the fandom's also had a different development.
In my personal experience, I've noticed the Buffyverse fandom to be larger, but more casual, whereas the Serenifly fandom is smaller, but certainly fiercer.

As for the book vs. TV poll, I must say that my heart swelled with pride upon reviewing the unexpected, but suddenly obvious results.
Aaaah, yourlibrarian. That is probably true. How are you going to deal with the amount of Firefly fans that voted?
As for the book vs. TV poll, I must say that my heart swelled with pride upon reviewing the unexpected, but suddenly obvious results.

I'm confused by your and Tonya J's reactions, actually. Here you are, in the fandom of certain TV shows, and you seem to be saying that books are an inherently better medium.

Don't get me wrong--I love to read my endless fantasy sagas and my noir books as novel, but my superhero serials I like as comics, and certain character-driven dramas? Wouldn't want them anywhere else than on TV.

Every medium has its own strong points. I couldn't even really answer that question, because to me it's apples and oranges.

(I mean, sure, I'll talk your ears of about the virtues of the comic book format over anything else, but that's just because we comic readers like to feel like an oppressed minority.) :-P
These results are interesting, especially demographically...Buffy and Angel fans are gay, married, poor, and over educated young women who like to read gay male fic. Say what, haha?! Oh well, I suppose my fandom is an interesting one.
I've said in the past that the Buffyverse fandom is feminine and the Firefly one is masculine. Dunno what the Goners one will be like but I'd like to think it's ambidextrous.
I'm surprised how politically involved fandom seems to be. That's a high percentage of voters! For the US anyway, which is where most people who took the survey are from.
Is THAT what they're calling it these days, Simon? ;-)

This survey explains to me why Whedonverse fans get laid and Star Trek fans don't. *runs away before someone can throw stuff at her*
Well for myself, being old enough to be called a child of television, I'd say that I don't believe I implied I thought TV was a lesser medium by agreeing I'd "rather (usually) read a book ..." Nothing will ever replace the feeling of a real book in my hands. Reading got me through a horrible childhood and teenage existence, so being literate and feeling renewed by exploring literature does outweigh, for me at least, the benefits of watching a lot of television. Then I have to think about well, what kind of television do I watch (since the poll question was so general) because it certainly isn't lowbrow stuff like The Real World and Nanny 911 (no offense to those who like them), and even though I have favorite shows of course and fandoms, still, there is nothing quite so satisfying for me than picking up a new novel, biography, or non-fiction book. I enjoy knowing quite a percentage of people might feel the same.

ETA: By the way, I have Becoming Pt. II on pause right now so I'm obviously indulging my television side.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2006-12-18 01:56 ]
"In my personal experience, I've noticed the Buffyverse fandom to be larger, but more casual, whereas the Serenifly fandom is smaller, but certainly fiercer."

Buffyverse fandom is full of feuding factions. Fierce amongst each other. Firefly fans are less divided. They bonded over defending their show to the rest of the world. And with less material and canon to riff off, there's less chance of shipping controversies.

That's a whole load of f-words. Fuck.
I've noticed the Buffyverse fandom to be larger, but more casual, whereas the Serenifly fandom is smaller, but certainly fiercer.
Given the way they started Alex2459 I suspect you're right.

VeryVeryCrowded there were definitely some who were solely Firefly fans. However the survey was designed for anyone who was, however slightly, a Buffy/Angel fan or who had been one at some time. I'm confident the majority of respondents fell into those categories and that, overall, those who weren't would not significantly bias the results.

Regarding the "Book vs. TV" question, I actually included it because I was interested in comparing the results that an "Angel" magazine survey received with the very same question. (It was linked here on Whedonesque back in 2004 I think). The results were actually the opposite of one another, but the "Angel" mag survey respondents were significantly younger. Surveys of reading in the U.S. show that leisure reading rates are declining notably among younger people.

Buffy and Angel fans are gay, married, poor, and over educated young women
I think the main factor there you're not considering ShadyLane is that they skew young. Therefore they're actually less likely to be married, but more likely to be underemployed college students. And actually the gay and married parts are a contradiction in terms under current U.S. law.
Very correct, Caroline.

My personal observations, since I operate, like, a lot of fandom sites. A lot of the hardcore, always on forums and news site people are actually... female. I know there's a stereotypical video of 40 year old men as being the average in sci-fi fandom, but in Whedon's world, it's ladies. Really. They are very, very active in Whedon fandom. This applies to Firefly, too, although it's more askewed to ladies in Buffyverse.

I actually did a democratics study on (and with) Browncoats on Serenity fans for Universal last year, as they were trying to license out properties. It was majority female at first, but after a few days it swung towards men, as they checked their email etc. It was a fractional percentage which seperated the sexes over time, though. Other observations I made is they (or rather, we) often have above average (but not excessively so as a rule) incomes, and are very media aware (Firefly fans, that is).

Most of the posters on Whedonesque seem a bit unhinged.

That's only me, dear. I loves Dexter, so this proves it.
And I loved the novel, Hannibal. The movie not so much (well, parts of it). So I have to say that may put me in the unhinged category as well.
My impression is that the LJ Buffyverse fandom is very female-dominated, and the survey was heavily pimped on LJ, which may perhaps have skewed the results a little. I can only think of about half a dozen males active on LJ in that area (though they are very honorable exceptons, as it happens!) Had it been publicised only here and on what remains of the posting boards the results might have been somewhat different.

And yay for literate fans. We self-evidently don't reject good quality TV, but we'd rather read than watch average TV. Is that so bad?
Gill, from experience online Buffy forums are also heavy female skewed (I used to run a big one - unsurprisingly).

That said, Buffy LiveJournal fanfic is even more female skewed from experience. Not sure why.

But I'm cool with it. Ladies, curvy. My fingers, also oddly curvy.
I'm inclined to agree that there was a bias towards a female sample. I'd wager if you looked at the Nielsen ratings info from when the show was on the air, there's no way you'd see a gender split that dramatic. It would probably be more along the lines of a 60-40 female majority.

Although, I suppose you can argue that 'fandom' is different from 'audience.'
"'fandom' is different from 'audience.'"

I wanna know about the person who said they wrote a Beatles fanfic. Seriously. If you read this, Beatles fanfic writer...Unplugged wants to read.

Anyway, books versus TV.

How do I even start? They're two vastly different mediums, and they offer very different pleasures. Reading a book allows me to experience a world of feeling expressed in terms of language, used both verbally and aurally. TV allows me to experience a creative world visually, thus making the fantasy wishes of books somehow more real and tangible.

In the end, both are fantastic mediums, and there's no way I can choose between them. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I've obsessed over TV more than I have over books. There's just something about getting to know characters and worlds over a long period of time that appeals to me (though the best books as well as book series evoke the same).

I can't choose.
Females outnumber us males 3 to 1?

Well I must say...

I'm in the right fandom. ;-)

Joss's writing is so good it can be appreciated by all sexes. Doesn't hurt that he writes those strong women characters. (flashback to the speech he gave to Equality Now).
jlb I think fandom is very different from audience. In fact there's a rather interesting discussion here among media scholars (see the second article on the page) about how the changing multimodal delivery of entertainment is confusing the difference between fans and fan behavior versus the general audience and fannish-type interactions with the text.

I do think that women were somewhat overrepresented but I think the split is closer to 70/30 than 60/40.
I loved reading the "Questions or Additional Comments" - that was an eye-opening read. That the people who took this survey vary greatly in a number of respects is clear from the stats, but for me (a confiirmed reader) these little essays were so very revealing and (mostly) very dear.

I, too, chose usually preferring reading over watching TV, but that is almost a numbers thing -- while there is no way for me to compare the enjoyment I get from watching superior (Jossian) TV to reading a great book, there is much more choice available to me in book-reading than TV-watching. There are millions of books available to read from hundreds of years of writing, and thousands for me to choose from at any given moment, which simply cannot be said for TV. And I have chosen at times to watch TV over reading a book, simply because of the comparative rarity of good TV, and its limited availability. A book is available at any hour of the day.

Oh and I got some giggles from reading the areas of first-fan-fiction writing: the idea of "My Little Pony" fan-fiction is a gas. And I think Joss must have taken this survey, because one person confessed to writing of "A Little Princess" fan-fiction. I just hope to god there was no shipping in that, because... well, the mind reels.

How many times have you been reading a book only to find that there is no next chapter because it's been canceled? ;-P
I answered "no" on the "do you prefer reading to TV" question. But I felt that my answer was true, but misleading. For most of my life, I read voraciously - novels, poetry, non-fiction (especially science and history). The last few years, not so much. I still read new books from my few living favorite writers. But they're the only ones I read slowly. Everything else, I skim. I'm not sure why.
I have to confess something... as a fifty-one year old whedonesque member, and therefore in a minority on here, as in most fandoms, I believe, I am relatively ignorant of some internet phenomena that younger folks may have known about for years. Though I have been using the innertubes since its beginning, on bulletin boards and in newsgroups, for research and for reading, it is only within the past year that I have explored internet-based fandoms, and specifically, the Whedon'verse.

Until I joined whedonesque, I thought "shipping controversies" were disagreements about shipping methods and charges used on eBay and other on-line auctions and stores. I was innocent of the knowledge that people wrote fan-fiction about Hermione and Ginny, and once read a "Leaky Cauldron" interview without once understanding what anyone was talking about.

So please understand my shock and consternation when I reveal to you that just now and for the first time in my life, I considered the notion that some people may have written fan-fiction with Uriah Heep and Tommy Traddles in a loving sexual relationship, or Paul Dombey and and Captain Cuttle engaging in Man-boy love, or combined Esther Summerson with Harold Skimpole.

In fact, the whole idea of shipping Dickens or Frances Hodgson Burnett or, I dunno, Polonius with Guildenstern and Lady Gertrude just freaks the hell out of me... Maybe it's good, now and then, to stir the pot with such ideas that initially shock, but I'm feeling a little of the distaste I feel when Heinlein just goes on about how great it would be if daughters slept with their fathers... Ah, well, maybe it's just me, and I'm showing that even aging hippies can eventually grow somewhat more socially conservative...

But seriously!?! Dick and Jane with Sally and Spot and Puff? First-grade teachers everywhere are turning over in their graves...
How many times have you been reading a book only to find that there is no next chapter because it's been canceled? ;-P

If you're a comic book fan it happens all the time.
Doesn't hurt that he writes those strong women characters.

Yes, but why though, that's what I want to know ?

The books vs TV question was very hard. The only way I could answer was by asking myself "If you could only have one or the other from now on and forever more, which ?". Made it a bit easier, I really think i'd have trouble surviving in a world without books (in whatever form - even if I still can't get used to reading fiction off a screen).

Most of the posters on Whedonesque seem a bit unhinged.

gossi: That's only me, dear. I loves Dexter, so this proves it.

Maniac. What kind of sick, twisted ... err, nevermind.
Somehow I missed this survey. I, too, could have added to the age 41 - 50 category.
I was surprised at the age statistic. I would have thought young people wouldn't have the time.

I was also very suprised that 52% of us consider ourselves a cultural minority when it comes to sexual orientation. That's a majority of us. Huh!

At first I was suprised by the majority of us being female. But then I thought that although I have always considered Whedonesque to be overwhelmingly male every other board I frequent is almost completely female with very few exceptions, along with all the Live Journals I read. Probably skewed by the fact that they are all Spike-centered.

The reading vs TV thing is also a bit misleading for me. I would have answered books until the last few years when I discovered fan fiction. Now I get my daily reading fix there. Definitely more than TV just the way books used to be. But I hardly ever pick up a book anymore. Only on an airplane or something when there is no computer.
Xane it's not 52% of all respondents, those are the percentages of the people who felt that question option applied to them. There were 409 respondents to any of the options in Question 53, which is only 23% of overall respondents. In addition, people could choose more than one category and a number of them did. The statistics for ethnic and racial minorities are lower than in the overall U.S. population. The number of sexual minorities is higher.

It's interesting that you discount fanfic as an option when considering books vs. TV. It makes me wonder how many other respondents considered reading material in general for that question.

Edited for clarity

[ edited by yourlibrarian on 2006-12-18 17:51 ]
OH. Thanks for the clarification. That's very different.

I answered TV to that question because I thought fic didn't count even though I spend WAY more time reading fic than watching TV.
No problem Xane :) It's always important to look at other factors when evaluating any single one of the responses. For example with reading it seems you and I are anomalies.

I found your discussion about fanfic vs. published fiction interesting because the same has been true for me. I do other reading for academic purposes but what leisure reading I do is almost all online these days.

However in cross tabulating the fanfic reading with commercial fiction reading responses, most heavy readers of one are also heavy readers of the other. Most light readers of one are also light readers of the other.
"...I have always considered Whedonesque to be overwhelmingly male..."

It's that ever-present Simon, exuding his overwhelming masculinity all over us.
Oh, look. I got a bit of Simons' masculinity on me. Anyone got a tissue?
If you're a comic book fan it happens all the time.

Heh. I was about to post the very same thing. :-(

Re: Male/femaleness on Whedonesque.

It's funny--thinking about it now, I realize I've never really thought about it. Are we predominantly male here? Wouldn't know about most posters. You can't tell from most usernames. Some people conveniently put 'gal' in it, but even that might just be a trick! :-P
Telltale of those answering the survey it was a near 50/50 split so I'd guess that was largely true of the overall readership.
I would never have said that Whedonesque was "overwhelmingly male" and a glance at the demographics on the group suggests that it isn't:

93 Male, 73 Female, 35 Unsure
Telltale: "Some people conveniently put 'gal' in it, but even that might just be a trick! :-P "

I happen to know for a fact that QuoterGal is either a hermaphrodite or a eunuch. Or something like that. I've heard that not only is she emphatically not a gal, there's some talk that she's not even human.

Well, anyway, she's peculiar...
Females outnumber us males 3 to 1?

Could be an artifact - females are more likely to answer a survey than men.
Interesting results. I also wonder what percentage we are of male and female here at Whedonesque. It seems much more even than at some of the other places I've wandered into. Age wise it also seems to be much more widely distributed, with both some pretty young posters and those of us who are older...ahem...more mature. I like diversity so it is all good from my point of view.

"Oh, look. I got a bit of Simons' masculinity on me. Anyone got a tissue?
lone fashionable wolf | December 18, 20:31 CET"

Not going there because I'm more mature...but I laughed...and was soooo tempted. (See. Mature.)

"So please understand my shock and consternation when I reveal to you that just now and for the first time in my life, I considered the notion that some people may have written fan-fiction with Uriah Heep and Tommy Traddles in a loving sexual relationship, or Paul Dombey and and Captain Cuttle engaging in Man-boy love, or combined Esther Summerson with Harold Skimpole.

In fact, the whole idea of shipping Dickens or Frances Hodgson Burnett or, I dunno, Polonius with Guildenstern and Lady Gertrude just freaks the hell out of me... Maybe it's good, now and then, to stir the pot with such ideas that initially shock, but I'm feeling a little of the distaste I feel when Heinlein just goes on about how great it would be if daughters slept with their fathers... Ah, well, maybe it's just me, and I'm showing that even aging hippies can eventually grow somewhat more socially conservative..."

LOL - Do they really, Quotergirl?!? I always avoid fanfic of all kinds because I feel like it clutters up my own reality of the characters to have someone else besides the original creator tell stories not of the creator's making. It muddies up the waters in a way I simply find unappealing.

As far as the discomfort level, the combos above make me uncomfortable just because of the perversion of the story and the characters, but make me more comfortable if I assume that it is all being done in good fun. "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" didn't ship anybody (or did it ;-) ) but it could be looked at as commercially produced fanfic and I did find that interesting.

The sexual aspects of Heinlein's work I was uncomfortable with for totally different reasons than fanfic. I was alright with it in small doses. However when that seemed to be the main message of his writing, he lost me...but then that was back when I was a teenager so the aging part of the hippie thing had only just started. I guess I'll have to find a different reason for my reaction. ;-)

[ edited by newcj on 2006-12-19 00:10 ]
gossi: That's only me, dear. I loves Dexter, so this proves it.

Saje: Maniac. What kind of sick, twisted ... err, nevermind.

Hi, my name is billz, and I'm a Dexter-loving unhinged maniac. (BTW, I think you UK sorts get the season finale tonight -- all I can say is *makes incoherent noises abd gestures because the rockin greatness of the ep rendered him speechless*)

Also: being Kali, doesn't that qualify QG as being omnigendered but simply represented to our weak human minds as a multiarmed female? I'm just sayin'. ;-)

Also also: It makes sense that Buffy/Angel fandom is more female than male, and I'd guess Serenifly fandom at 50/50. I guess I'm not so surprised about that. And I would have to put books and TV about equal as far as what I'd rather do, as long as both the book and the TV program are good. I hate to read boring or bad books *coughhomeworkcough* or see bad TV *coughalmosteverythingcough*.
Having recently met QuoterGal, I can say that yes, she is a female. Unless he is a female and very good at cross-dressing.... No, no, I'm sure, she is a female.
I too answered books over TV and that would explain why I was so very pleased to meet Tim Minear at B3. Because a brillant writer is all kinds of sexy.
Thanks for doing the survey and posting the results. Interesting. (Glad I got my over-40ness in there.)
Female here. Used to read more books, now it's the internet and TV. And I teach writing! Do teenagers even read books? Makes me wonder if I would have been such a bookworm back then if we'd had the internet and a DVR and DVD box sets and I hear there's these video game storylike things...(which I'm scared to try for fear they'll take over my life).

Re: the comments section of the survey. For question 51, one respondent wrote that he only picked "characters" as his top reason for watching because "dialogue" wasn't an option. I'd have to agree. IMHO, it's the amazing dialogue--as evidenced by the insane degree of quotability of Whedon's work--that stands out even more than the characters, symbolism, etc. So, although I would have put "characters" too, then "storylines," but only because dialogue wasn't listed a choice.

Heinlein lost me with his whole there's no such thing as rape bit, i.e. any woman who doesn't want to be raped knows how to avoid it, so the only ones that do get raped must have actually wanted it. That bugged. Guess I'm funny that way.
God, narnia, I am the most likely person to get in someone's face for that kind of attitude about rape, but I thought that I remembered that in The Moon is a Harsh Mistresss one of the worst crimes you could commit on Luna was rape, and that in Friday, her fellow agents exact some brutal vengeance on the guys that rape Friday. (Though I also remember that Friday later gets quite cozy with one of them, which I always found a little hard to take.)

I'm gonna have to take another look through and see where else in Heinlein's stuff such attitudes about rape are evidenced... I mean, it's possible that the position you're talking about was one taken by a character to further the story, but I'd hafta know which book you mean.

I've always found his attitudes about women, sex and power somewhat mixed, to say the least, but because when I was growing up, some of my role models were women from Heinlein novels, I've always had a soft spot for his writing and some of his female characters.

Though not the parts where daughters are quite willing to sleep with their fathers. It always seemed obvious from his writing that he didn't have a daughter himself.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-12-19 03:52 ]
OMG QG, I'm constantly in conflict with my Heinlein love. Friday was so frickin' awesome to a seventeen year old girl (me). I so wanted to be her. Android, yep. But sooo large with the kick-ass. Very imaginative character.

*ETA* noticed that it looks like I'm still talking about Friday in the next part... am not - different book! :)

In I Will Fear No Evil, I loved how HER body and HIS brain got together, with her completely understanding what was happening, and her awareness still being in there. He listened to her all the time! He did whatever she said! Plus, he adored and RESPECTED the hell out of her, from the get go.

Still, a lot of his stuff is very misogynistic. Man of his time? Undeniably. Still, his stories hook me. Always have.

[ edited by Willowy on 2006-12-19 06:11 ]
I don't remember the "rape is avoidable" thing in Heinlein either, though it's been a long time since I read him. I definitely remember reading something he wrote about disillusionment with the Bible, citing as one example the story in Genesis of Lot offering his daughters to a mob to protect his angelic houseguests. Heinlein thought that was a sorry thing for a holy man to do. I thought so, too, and it sort of started me on critical reading of that and a lot of other books, at around age ten.
Hey, Quotergal, Willowy and dreamlogic--now I feel like an idiot because I can't remember the name of which Heinlein book it was (and I did read most of them way back in the day). It wasn't Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or Strangers in a Strange Land, or Startship Troopers, or Friday. Here's what I remember--there was an older guy, a younger guy (young, smart, fit, action hero type) and a woman (love interest, degrees in physics or some such and impossibly sexy) and they were colonizing some planet. And it was the woman who pooh-poohed rape, saying that she and any other smart, determined woman knew how to fend off potential rapists.

If you can figure out which book I'm remembering and either support or shoot down my memory of it, please do.
Don't worry about it, narnia. I can't remember where the biblical criticism was from, either. It's just been too long. Your scenario doesn't sound familiar to me, but I'm not sure I've read everything.

There were some interesting responses in there. I was surprised that Gen fic turned out to be the most popular, because that wasn't my impression.

Nor mine, Polter-cow. But I think the self-reporting thing might be a problem. I say this because I worked at a newsstand that sold a lot of porn for a few years and there were virtually no female customers for porn. The few were mostly sex industry pros who were either in the magazines or looking for inspiration. Yet slash was created by women, and there's obviously a fair amount of print porn, especially in fetishes, aimed at women (we stocked the stuff, but nobody ever bought it). I concluded that it was mostly by subscription. And that was in the time when the Internet was young. So much better, and even more anonymous is the Internet. I think there may still be a taboo that creates a problem with self-reporting.

edited because I homed up and remembered I meant to reply to Polter-cow earlier.

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2006-12-19 09:45 ]
No, narnia, please, I don't want you to feel that way at all - I just want to be fair to the man, because I do remember the stuff I mentioned (as well as dreamlogic's memory) and I have noticed and felt supported by some of the stuff he's written.

Now that you say more, I do also have a faint memory of the dialogue you mention - can't at the moment nail which novel it's from, but it'll come to me...

I guess a point I want to make is that what characters say in a novel may, of course, not be entirely or at all what the author thinks about the subject, and as Heinlein has made a point of the other stuff mentioned, his attitude isn't, in my opinion, as simple as what he may have had that one character say - as annoying as it might be.

That said, and again, I think he does appear to have some conflicting attitudes about women as sexual beings, women as powerful beings and fighters, and women as childbearers and nurturers. But it's not all in one direction - and, as willowy said, the man can tell a story.
And while this is turning into the OT Heinlein thread (yet maybe not so OT, considering how many of us may have gotten our start in sci-fi, and for that matter, obsessive fiction with him), I'm going to make a couple more observations:

1) Giggle and mock if you will as I call on astrology. I don't think it has any predictive power, but the personality types by time of birth seem to have some validity, sue me. Heinlein was a prototypical Cancer. Empathetic but also imperious, very mood-swingy, taking everything personally. The bright side of that is generosity and nurturing. I was touched recently reading about the way Heinlein and his wife reached out to Philip K. Dick when he was down and out, just giving and not worrying at all about their political differences.

2) Again trading on my knowledge from being a porn-seller, there's an actual fetish of incest, which Heinlein might have had. His interests matched the magazines I saw, in which the fetish was incest itself and and not any particular kind of pairing. Remember, he also placed himself with his mother (in fiction). I can't claim to understand that, but it doesn't seem to include pedophila or violence., so by my lights it's a private matter.
there's an actual fetish of incest

And I think I speak for many of us when I say, "Ewww." :-(

[ edited by billz on 2006-12-19 13:13 ]
I dunno billz, you've heard of MILFs right ? Nothing in the spec. about it being someone else's ;-).

(by which I mean, without intending to be all judgy towards incest fans, i'll see your 'Ewww' and raise you an 'Unnghhh, WTF ?' ;)

I really have to give Heinlein another shot. Started on "Farnham's Freehold" and that put me off pretty much for life. _Deeply_ unimpressed by the politics and not particularly impressed by the writing either but hearing what he did for PKD despite their very obvious differences (as well as the almost universal praise for his stuff) makes me think he might be worthy of respect (and a second chance) even if I might disagree with him completely on pretty much everything.

Re: astrology, yep, no predictive power but agreed, people often tend to adhere to their 'types' IMO also. Personally I reckon it's a combination of people knowing what they're 'meant' to be like and subconsciously adjusting accordingly (i'm pretty close to a typical Libra but i've no idea whether i'm a typical Rat, my Chinese sign, since I don't know what one is - if i'm right about the self-fulfilling, self-suggesting aspect then presumably i'd be no closer to that than any other) and also good old confirmation bias (how many ways are you NOT a Libra/Taurus/Aries etc. and is as much attention paid these qualities ?)
At first I thought I had not taken this survey, but now I'm thinking I did. Once I am done with these, I have a tendency to forget all about them. Now I wonder what I answered about the reading questions. I used to read so much, but I just don't have the time to allow myself to become obsessed with a book and stay up all night reading it. Then there is the fact that the performing arts was my first choice of career. How do you decide between one kind of really good chocolate and another kind of really good chocolate...assuming it is all really good. ;-)

I remember that rape conversation from somewhere in Heinlein's work, but have no idea where in his books it would be, or what the literary context was. Quite honestly almost all of Heinlein's stuff has run together for me. I was not a big fan of some of it. I read them once as a teenager, decades ago, and had this feeling that the author was being sexually self-indulgent. Rather than putting the story or characters first, a sexual agenda took over his writing.

Of course I came to SF kicking and screaming because when we were kids, I was not crazy about dealing with my big brother's SF obsession. I finally gave in and read some Asimov and then went to Clark and Heinlein. Saying it that way, it sounds like I may not have been ready for the sexuality, but then I was also hanging out with one twenty-something friend who would constantly give me enthusiastic and extremely detailed descriptions of his many, mostly gay, trysts...and that did not bother me at all. No, I think it was that I just didn't like the writing being subordinate to the agenda.

Re: astrology Saje, Do you really feel that the traits for the astrological signs are so well known that people that think they don't believe in it, or don't care about it at all would still "tend to adhere to their 'types'"? (Gee, can I get more punctuation at the end of that sentence? I felt like I was doing an Excel formula.) I am not big on astrology, but have to agree with dreamlogic concerning personality types. I actually had no idea what the astrological types were supposed to be, but when I was 15 or so my mother and I noticed that all her insane friends were born in the same month, and they all had very similar personality traits. (The month in question will remain nameless.) We started putting puzzle pieces together and quite honestly, I still don't know what astrologers think most of the different personality traits are, but I know what I have observed about people born in different times of the year, and it is pretty freaky sometimes.
However the breakdown for those who indicated they were members -- or wished to be members -- of Whedonesque is somewhat different: 48% men, 51% women.

And the other 1% were? Inquiring minds want to know.
newcj, I think it's pretty amazing the amount of information a person absorbs without even noticing it (and, conversely, the amount they ignore without realising it). I'm not superstitious and put no store in astrology at all but I still know what a Libran is supposed to be like (one test might be to ask a non-English speaker e.g. from one of the remoter parts of Africa or South America whether they match their supposed birth characteristics).

Whenever I think of astrology I think of a well known experiment about personality types. A researcher hands 12 people 12 individually tailored descriptions of themselves and asks them to rate them for accuracy. Most people put them at over 90% accurate, many are stunned by how closely the researcher has captured their personality but (and you might have seen this coming ;), here's the twist: all the descriptions are exactly the same. Everyone just noted the parts that were 'hits' and largely ignored the 'misses'.

As a quick addendum, here, from Wikipedia (so not 100% reliable, to say the least ;) are the characteristics of three signs:

diligent, analytical, self-sufficient, controlled, orderly, modest, and intellectual character, but one which is also prone to fussiness, perfectionism, harsh criticism, coldness, and hypochondria

pleasant, charming, fair, perceptive, idealistic, refined, and diplomatic character, but one which is also prone to frivolity, flirtatiousness, indecision, deceitfulness, and insecurity

(this one's Capricorn - Jan 15th to Feb 12th - for comparison to someone you know)

lively, communicative, witty, generous, emotional, receptive, affectionate, and honest character, but one which is also prone to selfishness, boastfulness, impulsiveness, impracticality, and superstition

For shits and giggles try to guess which sign the first two are for and judge how close the third one is to an actual Capricorn (if you know any) then check the invisitext.

rileysaplank The 48/51 figures are rounded off.

Yet slash was created by women, and there's obviously a fair amount of print porn, especially in fetishes, aimed at women...I think there may still be a taboo that creates a problem with self-reporting.

dreamlogic I don't disagree with the idea that there may be a taboo against self-reporting, although the survey is quite anonymous so there was little barrier to saying so (certainly much less than in going to a newsstand and buying porn). I also don't disagree with the idea that fanfic contains a great deal of porn. However to equate slash (or het) with porn is to misunderstand the genre. Slash is no more likely to be porn than het, crossovers or AU. Your comment does raise a very good point which is that I completely forgot to include PWP as an option. I really wish I had now. It was also pointed out to me that the categories were too strictly defined as, except for Gen, none of the others are mutually exclusive. I realized this but was trying to keep the options to a minimum as the survey was quite long as it was.

I am also not surprised that Gen was the most read type of fanfic nor the most preferred. Most people reading fanfic fo the first time tend to pick out gen fics as it most approximates what they are used to watching/reading. Only half of the respondents read fanfic frequently so those readers are the most likely to branch out into all varieties of fanfic. Also definitions of Gen can vary, so things like character studies can also fall into that category which means that many shorter fics are Gen as well.
yourlibrarian, I was just thinking aloud following what I took to be Polter-Cow's thought and am no kind of expert on fanfic, being just a occasional reader. I know that fanfic is much more than just shippy smutty stuff. I think that as amorphous as it still is, though, we tend to think of it in terms of what we gravitate towards, which in my case is the het shippy smutty stuff. I answered honestly about that in the survey, but I do think you could still find some reticence in women asked directly just what it is they're looking at. BTW, I apologize for participating in the hijacking of your thread, such as the following...

Saje, do you think that we know everything about our environment? I don't, and I've actually studied a lot more about science than astrology. I once read an editorial in a biology journal the gist of which was "development is a dialectic between genes and environment." That author was mainly trying to make the point that deciphering the genome won't tell us everything. But there's a wider implication, in that parts of the environment are unknown, and some might be unknowable. I have no idea whatsoever what might change predictably in the environment over the course of a year or a cycle of years affecting the personality that is captured in astrology. But I'm willing to respect the effort of people over thousands of years trying to systematize anecdotal evidence of the results of the unknown and/or unknowable, and acknowledge that they seem to have achieved some success. It's not science, and people who call it that are just wrong. But science can't encompass everything. I know that if I suddenly had to be proved or cease to exist, I'd poof.
"I completely forgot to include PWP"

"Also definitions of Gen can vary"

Anybody care to throw out a couple? Not being interested in fanfic I have no idea except what I have picked up wandering around here. "Slash" I know and I can figure out some others but nothing is coming to me right now for these.

Saje I guess I am a really bad test for this. Besides being totally unconvinced about what causes the strange similarities I have noticed, in many things I have a tendency to rely on my own experience with people rather than what books say about them. (Admittedly, I can be annoying that way.) So a list of one word traits that books on astrology list would be totally unrecognizable to me unless it is labeled. (You also may be the only Capricorn I "know".)

I agree that if you give someone a list of traits they will probably say that that describes them pretty well, because everyone has almost any trait to some degree. Besides that, in most character analysis books, whether based on astrology or Jung, a discerning reader can often tell what group the author falls into because of the unusually positive description. ;-)

That does not go to the fact that I knew nothing about what any astrological signs were supposed to be like until I was in my teens, and had already figured out my own opinions based on what I was seeing around me before I checked out what a book had to say on the subject. I had noticed that certain people were similar to each other and that they needed to be treated in similar ways in order for me to get along with them. Then I realized they were born in clumps with the birthdays of the ones who were similar gathered in the same months. Considering the ages of some of the people involved (Some would probably be close to 100 by now and some less than half that age.) it seems bizarre that their personality would be shaped by hearing about what their astrological sign was. Astrology was not that universally well known or popular back when. Quite honestly if that is all it took to shape people's personalities, I think we should start telling all little kids that people born in their month are inquisitive, industrious, creative, eager to learn, kind, generous and brave.

So, what is the answer? I have no idea. :-)

Oh, and what dreamlogic said about hijacking and the astrology stuff...
I do think the whole issue of secretiveness in reading is a relevant one, dreamlogic, and one which I didn't really explore in the survey. I did address it to some extent among writers but not readers.

I wasn't too sure what you were asking newcj, but if it was regarding definitions of gen I think disagreements arise about how strict the definition is. My understanding is that it's generally thought of as something closely resembling canon -- for the Buffyverse that would then mean something of an ensemble nature, with some sort of supernatural plot angle, probably set in Sunnydale or L.A., and while canon relationships would take place during the story they would not be the focus of the plot. I think a reverse sort of definition is where anything that is not ship focused (het, slash or femslash) or AU (taking place in alternative storylines/universes/or transposed settngs) becomes gen. Since that would cover stories that did not include the ensemble, that were not plot focused, or which took place pre or post series it enlarges what is considered gen considerably. I don't know if that addresses your question?
dreamlogic, nope we don't know everything about our environment and i'd go further than you did and flat out state that some aspects of our environment are unknowable in principle (e.g. Pi's 'last' digit as a trivial example). Depressing thought in some ways, magical in others since there'll always be mystery in the world, always something to investigate and try to figure out.

Also, please don't mistake me for some kind of manic reductionist out to destroy or pooh-pooh anything not explainable by hard science, i'm not (even if I think everything is explainable with physical laws i'm pretty damn sure not everything gains by that explanation). BUT (you knew that was coming right ? ;), that doesn't mean i'm about to accept any old claim about the world irrespective of evidence either. I get the why of astrology, it's pretty scary out there sometimes, a lot of weird shit happens that it'd be really nice to have an explanation for and I totally respect the effort (it gave us modern astronomy for one thing), I just don't respect the end result. They looked for a system of the world but IMO they missed their guess and, to me, astrology should eventually go the way of believing the Sun's drawn across the sky by Apollo's chariot or that the Earth is flat.

(of course, I might be wrong, wouldn't be the first time, certainly won't be the last ;)

newcj, seems like we just have a different approach to the world (which is super-fine, Jesus, if we were all like me i'd have done the voluntary shuffle years ago ;). Science tells us time and again that common experience isn't always an accurate picture of what's going on because of limitations incurred in our development as a species and to me having an accurate picture of the world is the beginnings of wisdom which is something worth striving for (not to mention the best way to make Game-boys and extra cold Guinness ;).

(I totally agree, BTW, that when judging people, I go by my own impressions but when 'judging' the world they're not always good enough, some kind of formal system leads to more accurate results - i'd put IMO to be polite but it wouldn't be honest since that's something I think is an objective fact)

IMO, knowing your sign's traits _partly_ explains (along with confirmation bias, good old coincidence and possibly some other mechanisms e.g. the reachy 'amount of sunlight' or 'seasonally available foods' explanations that I just made up hypothesised) in people that are like their sign why they're like their sign. I can't speak for your experience (though I believe it, for whatever that's worth) i'm just saying that we know experience can lead us to false conclusions about the world and IMO that's the case here.

And BTW, i'm not a Capricorn (actual dates Dec 22 to Jan 20), i'm a Libra (and clearly not as typical an example as i'd thought ;).

(shit, it started out a short post, I swear and yep add me to the sorry for hijacking chorus yourlibrarian ;)
yourlibrarian, I've written and conducted a few surveys before. I know how challenging they are - how hard you have to think about the questions to avoid ambiguities, and how they turn up unexpected ambiguities in the results no matter how careful you are - and I think you did a great job with this one. However, in terms of interpreting the results, I was a little put off by your use of the word "secretive" to describe people's responses to being asked what they favor in fanfic. I said "reticent," and that's what I meant. I didn't know going into the survey that I was going to be asked those rather personal questions, and I experienced a little discomfort before I answered them, even though I'm a 42-year-old ex-pornseller. Others' milage really might vary. I'm just sayin'.

Saje, the "reliability" of formal systems was last benchmark established in 1931, with a big thumbs down, via the highest formal system we have. We're all relying on intuition, or maybe not relying, just being as smart as we can with what we have.
Poor old Kurt, reckon he'd be spinning round about now ;).

This gap may just be too wide to be bridgable and since we're off the front page you may not even see this dreamlogic but (at risk of the accusation of creeping last wordism ;), i've got to say that, to me, the fact we know maths is incomplete in no way equates to us having no formal method (better choice of word) of examining the world OR that that method is somehow only as reliable as intuition, guessing, reading tea leaves, ascribing phenomena to ad hoc gods of thunder or suns or moons, or any other 'system' without rigour, repeatability, falsifiability etc. (in the same way that Russell's barber paradox doesn't equate to 'all barbers have beards' ;) and the expansion of our body of knowledge since we started practicing the scientific method would seem to bear that out.

(i.e. IMO limited knowledge doesn't mean none at all, flawed or incomplete systems don't mean 'all systems are equal and/or equally flawed')

Which isn't to say science is perfect, especially when you add human nature into the mix (and that problem of induction is a doozy too ;).
yourlibrarian Thanks. I think that does it, though I am going to have to read it a couple times. ;-) So "Gen" (short for "general"?) either involves fanfic that attempts to adhere to canon or else that does not fit into one of the specialized categories? Did I get it? Did I get it? (Sorry, I'm tired.)

Hmmm. Saje, Just to be clear. I was not in anyway saying that I do not respect or believe in Science. Quite the contrary. Science, Math, scientific method etc. are things I have great respect for and am truly thankful came into prominence. As much as I am an English/Theater major, I have a great big dollop of science and math in the mix. (Mr. Smarty-pants Big Brother got most of the math/science aptitude, but I did have to live in the same room and then house with him for years. Something must have rubbed off. ;-) )

My point of view is that we sometimes want to try to make everything science and our science is not able to do that yet. So some people discount anything that has not been proven scientifically while others dismiss science because it does not explain what they observe or confirm what they believe. I try not to do either. I think science has great potential for helping us understand the universe and is constantly growing in its ability to do that. At the same time I think there are things that happen that science has not been able to explain yet.

People who believe in astrology sometimes want to call it science to legitimatize it. Scientists react by denying that it is science (rightfully so IMO) but sometimes go further to say that it therefore has no legitimacy. Not everything that ancient peoples invented to explain things should try to be compared to modern science. That is especially true for explanations for what people have noticed about human beings and IMO religion of any kind. The reasons they came up with for what they observed may prove to be faulty. That does not mean the observations that they were trying to explain were also faulty. Analogy: Early astronomy was way off base in trying to explain why the planets moved the way they did, but the planets were moving that way. It was the explanation of the phenomenon that was faulty.

For the moment these things are separate from science. When science explores them, like they have been doing in Princeton U for years (I saw a wonderful talk on the experiments Princeton U Engineering Dept. was doing on the effect the mind can have on instrumentation and inanimate objects) it should be with an open mind, because that is where the break-throughs come from. When "believers" of any stripe explore science, IMO they should be doing to expand their understanding of the universe, not find a way to support their beliefs.

Yeah, that was longer than I meant it to be too. But it is off the front page so no one may ever see it anyway.

[ edited by newcj on 2006-12-20 17:39 ]
Ah, got the wrong end of the stick there newcj (maybe a victim of my own confirmation bias ;).

I think we basically agree, scientific explanations of the world are as yet (in fact, by their nature, always will be) incomplete and it's important to remember that (and not to use science as a weapon against things we disagree with, that's pseudo-science masquerading as the real deal). Sometimes I do fall into the trap of thinking anything outside the remit of science is somehow lesser because much as I like open ended debates about religion, politics etc. I also like concrete answers and science is by far the best method we've found so far for getting at those.

Note that when I say outside science's remit, I mean in principle (the existence of God for instance), not just something science says doesn't exist even though it seems to exist to us since, to me, assuming the science was done properly then it's us that's wrong in that situation (coping with instances where something seems to be the case but actually isn't is one of the things the scientific method is useful for). Which leads me to...

In the specific case of astrology, the stats seem a bit hazy as to whether there actually is an effect to investigate (the consensus seems to be there isn't, some 'outlier' studies suggest there is) and certainly don't match the overwhelming consistency among birth signs that most astrologers claim but that's not to say there isn't maybe an effect there that better designed studies might eventually find then investigate. Maybe I should try to think of it as 'unproven' rather than 'disproven' but I can't help but lean towards the against side for now ('unproven and with severe doubts' may be the best I can do ;).

(the stats for planetary motion are pretty conclusive though. They definitely move ;)

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