Siria's Reviews > Storm Front

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
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Apr 27, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: 21st-century, fantasy, american-fiction
Recommended for: Not a single person.
Read in April, 2008

** spoiler alert ** I'm not going to pull any punches. This book is a misogynistic piece of shit.

All I knew about it before I picked it up was the very basic premise—a wizard in modern-day Chicago, who works as a sort of detective—and that it had picked up quite a cult following. I was expecting to really like it, but before I got to the end of the first chapter, my eyebrows had risen to meet my hairline. I kept reading out of some misguided expectation that things would get better, that there couldn't possibly be such a sustained level of misogyny coming from both the character and the authorial voice. Oh, how wrong I was.

The main character, Harry Dresden, repeatedly tells us that he's a chauvinist, yes, and shows no signs of wanting to change that. It would have been difficult enough for me to get into a novel with such an unpalatable main character, but the level of narrative endorsement of his viewpoint nauseated me. The female characters in the book are there only to cry, seduce, and occasionally mother. Some of them are presented as having power of their own, but if you take a second glance at them, that power is always represented as secondary to male power, or a sham. Karrin Murphy is a hard-bitten homicide detective and Harry's friend, true; but she's undermined to constant references as to how "belligerent" she is, how small and lady-like her hands are, how she cries when he won't share information with her. Let me repeat that: cries. Bianca, the vampire—sorry, vampiress! must use appropriately gendered language!—is defeated because Dresden can see how she's truly ugly beneath all that fake beauty, and so she's humiliated and he can overpower her! All of them use their sexuality to get ahead—or try to, because clearly Harry is just too intelligent to fall for those silly women's wiles!

How about an explanation for the motive behind a murder:

I gestured toward the room. "Because you can't do something that bad without a whole lot of hate," I said. "Women are better at hating than men. They can focus it better, let it go better. Hell, witches are just plainmeaner than wizards. This feels like feminine vengeance of some kind to me."


Or how about one prostitute talking about another:

She shook her head. "No, no. Nothing like that. That wasn't her style. She was sweet. A lot of girls get like—They get pretty jaded, Mr. Dresden. But it never really touched her. She made people feel better about themselves somehow." She looked away. "I could never do that. All I did was get them off."


This isn't just Dresden being sexist. This isn't just showing us the thought processes of an un-reconstructed chauvinist. This isn't even just using noir tropes—because god knows there are a thousand and one ways of subverting those and reimagining them. This is holding up a clichéd, smug asshole of a main character as the kind of man every guy wants to be, and the kind of man every woman wants to fuck, as a mirror for how Butcher thinks. It's laden with sexist stereotypes that irritate me and in case you couldn't guess, it made me very, very angry.

The book also fails on pretty much every technical level I can think of: I have no idea why it's set in Chicago, or why the location was emphasised, because there's absolutely no sense of place to it. For all Butcher told us, it could all have been taking place in Seattle, or Denver, or Kansas City. The plot is silly, illogical, and by rights everyone should have been dead of Stupid within the first two chapters. The writing style displayed an absolute cloth ear for language. I'd imagine that he was trying to recreate the terse, staccato style of noir detective stories, but didn't realise that in order to do so, you need more than short, simplistic sentences. You need to be attuned to the rhythm of what you're writing, to know how to turn a handful of words to best effect, and Butcher neither knows how to do that, nor how to write realistic sounding dialogue at all.

I have not read such offensive drivel in a long, long time. Avoid.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 175) (175 new)


Ariana Deralte Addressing your review, I totally agree about the chauvinism, but didn't find it as offensive as you did simply because it was presented as Harry's character that he's an chauvinistic asshole about this stuff. I hoped (rightly) that it (and the writing) would get better in later books, and it does. If Harry had continued in the style he sets in this first book, I'd never have been able to keep reading. I have a feeling enough people called Butcher on this shit that he started calling his character out on such things in the books (not to mention I disagree with you and do think it was lazy/inexperienced writing, plus a reliance on noir tropes that led to what you call the narrative endorsement of the chauvinism - not a deliberate action on the author's part.). That's actually one of the great things about the series in that it manages to let Harry and a lot of the other characters grow and change over time. I'm currently rereading Storm Front and it's quite jarring how much Harry has grown up since that book. Murphy is an amazing character now, and her characterization in this first book is painful (and yes, offensive... the crying really pisses me off) compared to how awesome she is later.

This is not to say the books ever get perfect in regards to this. There are still a bit too many powerful female characters who are evil compared to powerful good females, though the number of good is creeping up there. Butcher has learnt how to give characters other than Harry the spotlight (including female ones) without feeling he's threatening his main character. Butcher also seems to have given up (or already gone through) all the clichés of the noir genre and therefore isn't using all the awful gender stereotypes from that genre any more. Harry's chauvinism is pretty limited by this point cause so many characters have called him on it. (His thoughts tend to boil down to, "I should protect this woman. Wait a minute, she can protect herself.") Imo, all of these things, combined with the moments of awesome and funny lines and scenes really make the series worth reading, at least for fun.

You obviously hated the book, and aren't willing to keep on reading, but I really didn't find it any more offensive than any other scifi/fantasy book or tv show. And the fact that it gets better at treating its female characters as equals, is a lot more acceptable than various other series that remain the same the whole way through or take a lot longer to get with the program.

I treat this book as the pilot episode. It's got the general idea of the series there, but some of the characters and details are different because the writer(s) didn't know what worked yet. As a result, it's not nearly as good as it could be, but it has the potential to get better. And that's something that it has mostly succeeded at.


Siria You obviously hated the book, and aren't willing to keep on reading, but I really didn't find it any more offensive than any other scifi/fantasy book or tv show. And the fact that it gets better at treating its female characters as equals, is a lot more acceptable than various other series that remain the same the whole way through or take a lot longer to get with the program.

For me, that's kind of a faulty premise. I don't think that because there are more egregious things out there that this particular egregious thing should be excused.


Ariana Deralte For me, that's kind of a faulty premise. I don't think that because there are more egregious things out there that this particular egregious thing should be excused.

Then you must have a very limited reading/watching list in this genre. I admire your dedication, but I'd never be able to do it myself. I like books/shows/movies like this too much to limit myself to the scant few that don't have something offensive in them.


message 4: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth  Oh, wow, Siria, you have obviously struck a nerve! I am sorry to hear that Butcher is such a problematic and flawed writer -- his posts on LJ have always struck me as reasonable examples of the craftsman-author (not, perhaps, a great artist, but a perfectly respectable approach to genre), but it does not surprise me in the least that this is the case. It's a pity, of course, but unsurprising.

Thanks for the heads-up -- I hadn't been planning to read this, as urban fantasy is very much Not My Thing, but it's definitely never making it onto the list now.


Hayley Ok, I think you took this book entirely too seriously. I personally find these books funny, but then again, I'm not easily offended. I am a firm believer that people are equal regardless of sex or race or anything else to that matter. To me, I just like the story and laugh at the main character (and sometimes the laughter comes from him being a dick).

And also, about your comment about the vampire. He wasn't saying she's ugly as in personality, but she's phyiscally ugly. Vamps in these books have a "mask" that looks human that they wear, but they are really gruesome-looking creatures. So when he says she's ugly underneath her pretty face, he wasn't being figurative, he was being literal.


Siria ... oh my god, you're right! All this time, I've just been a humorless, too-easily-offended feminist, but your well-argued comment—with all its empirical evidence—has completely changed my mind. Surely, this is in fact up there with anything written by bell hooks or Audre Lord!

Listen, you like these books (and, I was unsurprised to find when I clicked through to your profile, the Twilight series), while also claiming to be a feminist and an anti-racist. Fine. But here's the thing: I can't think of a thing produced within Western culture that isn't shaped by society's innate sexism, racism, classism, ablism, etc., to a greater or lesser extent. If the personal line which you draw about the extent to which you can consume such texts—feeling that their worth is greater than their flaws—is different than mine, okay. People do that all the time. I have feminist/anti-racist friends who can happily watch or read things that I can't stand, and vice versa, and I don't think the less of them for that. The difference between you and them is that they don't deny the existence of the problematic elements in the story.


Hayley I wasn't arguing with you, or even trying to change your mind, so I had no reason to present evidence. I was just giving you my reaction to your review. I didn't deny that the book has problem (in fact I said I laugh at his being a dick- meaning his chauvanism- sorry if that's spelled wrong, I'm a terrible speller). The offence you took from my simple statements of my own opinion and your attack on me because of that is a bit odd.


Siria I wasn't offended—I was being sarcastic. And just giving my reaction to the same hackneyed, "you're taking things too seriously!" argument I've heard a thousand times before.


message 9: by Trin (new)

Trin Siria, may I invoke the newly-named Moff's Law on your behalf?


message 10: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria Oh my god, I may just have to embroider that on a cushion.


message 11: by Aileen (new)

Aileen Siria, I have started reading this book and totally agree. Ibwas disliking it, but had not considered the sexist aspects directly. The moment I gave up on it was when Harry is confronted by the powerful antagonistic guard ( in relation to an unjust accusation, of course) and, knowing he is not in a position to make trouble, punches the guy in the face. That level of macho crapola really did it for me. I can't be bothered finishing it, and I can't for the life of me understand the hype about these books.

Thanks for the further insight!


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, no. I've been recommended this book a million times and recently went out to buy it.


Mike (the Paladin) Let me step in here and try for a little calmness. First when Butcher has Harry call himself a Chauvinist he's somewhat tongue in cheek and somewhat trying to set up the character trait in the character that he's protective of women and also tends to be easily conned by "them". He realizes it's "old fashioned" and seen as Chauvinistic.

But, as for the female characters they are far from "cookie-cutter" you stopped too soon. Some of the most powerful enemies Harry faces throughout the book are women. Some of the most well drawn characters are women. There are powerful magic users on both sides of the "good/bad" spectrum who are female. You (I believe) have taken the way "Harry" describes himself and allowed it to make you miss some enjoyable reads. These books are definitely brain candy and are for entertainment.


Rexluscat Niven's Law: "There is a technical, literary term for those who mistake the opinions and beliefs of characters in a novel for those of the author. The term is 'idiot.'"


message 15: by Jess (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jess I was getting hit over the head with recommendations for this book about how AWESOME and RAD and KICKASS it is. From male friends. Thanks for your honest review, you saved me a headache, time, and money.


Mike (the Paladin) Just to let you know...some of the best most complete characters in these books are the females. The "chauvinist" (and this is a misuse of the word, the approach here would be "male chauvinist") angle is misleading. Harry admits that he is prone to "over protectiveness" where women are concerned. He knows this to be politically incorrect, he knows it sets him up to be conned by women, over and over. We get the female characters who are annoyed by it, who use it, and who rib Harry about it. The book above is the first in an exceptional series of Urban Fantasy. It would be a shame to miss it without giving it at least the read of a single book, especially if you are an urban fantasy fan in general. The series actually (in my opinion of course) picks up and gets better from volume four on. This could be a knee jerk type of reaction, consider giving it a chance yourself.

Just a thought.


message 17: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria Mike, "just to let you know"—I'm sick of being told that I, as a woman, should have to gloss over sexism, if not downright misogyny, in books. Why should I have to invest my time and money in a series which, by the admission of its fans, has a main character who continues to treat women in such a way? Moreover, a series in which there is evident authorial approval for such modes of thought at worst, a complete absence of thought about sexist tropes or characterisation at best?

I'm also sick of men telling me that my reaction to sexism is "knee jerk"—that I'm not "giving a chance" to someone whose words have felt like a slap in the face. I gave some very detailed reasons in my review above as to why I did not like that book—reasons which are grounded in the text, which quote from the text, which are derived from wading through all 300 pages of it. You offer no rebuttal, merely telling me that I'm overly emotional (it's as if you're trying to be the cliché of the white male sexist), and that if I read on in the series, I will find that it gets better because the female characters use Harry's sexism to con him (Oh goody! Round 398759 of 'Women will always use their womanly, sexy wiles to get ahead!').

Just a thought.


message 18: by Punk (new)

Punk Siria, thank you for so smartly -- and repeatedly -- defending your position on this book. I hate that these things need to be said at all, but I love how you say them.


message 19: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria Thank you, Punk. <3


Mike (the Paladin) Okay. First you obviously don't have to buy a series of books you don't like. Second I didn't say you were too emotional. I did say that I thought you were responding to a character trait of the Dresden character and not seeing the entire picture. You obviously are sensitive to any hint of sexism, and if the book bothers you then that's your point of view and I wouldn't argue that you don't think or feel the way you do. I'm only saying that it's not the take of a lot of other readers including many women and that readers might want to try at least a sample of the series before dismissing it.

I disagree with your take on the books and don't see what you see. That being said, on the books in the series we can agree to disagree as I'm sure we would on other books and subjects while we would possibly agree on others. Many like me would consider these among their favorite series of books while like you others dislike it. To each their own as they say.


Peregrine 12 I was going to make a general comment about this book having clearly been written for teenage male nerds, but I think I'll stop right there. Somehow this dialogue has gone from a book review into a full-blown argument replete with insults.

Sheesh, people - it's just a cheesy book! It's SUPPOSED to be chauvinistic and narrow minded, with the nerdy, maladjusted wizard as the hero who wins in the end, to appeal to people who like that sort of story. (In the same way that bodice ripping/heaving bosom romances are SUPPOSED to be lusty and carnal, read mostly by women, who enjoy that sort of a story.)

If you don't like it, don't read it! Life is too short for bad books, so move on.


message 22: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria Ah, I see—I'm supposed to just passively accept that some books contain racism or sexism or homophobia and move on? To be fine with the fact that some authors are, whether consciously or not, appealing to the racist and sexist and homophobic thoughts and feelings which their readers may have, consciously or not? That's an interesting way you have of looking at the world, Mark. I'd ask you to explain it to me, but you're clearly a mansplainer.


message 23: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Dec 04, 2010 11:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike (the Paladin) Thank you Siria for making my point.

By the way, not angry, just disagree with you. Have you noticed...we agree on a lot of other books.

Oh well.


message 24: by Jennifer (last edited Jan 02, 2011 10:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jennifer Ortiz I'm really sorry you dislike this book so much. I personally am a huge fan of the Dresden Files, each and every book that has come out. I see your points, and understand your angst on the matter of sexism. I often look at things from the perspective of genders; how they affect people's decisions, attitudes and reactions. I hate to see favoritism going in either direction. That being said... I still love this series.

For one, I do not believe the main character's views are any reflection of the author's. Not that I have any reason to believe otherwise per se, but because I have no reason to believe anything about the author except that I enjoy his books. I do not care enough about the author to read his life story, his college dissertations (if he went), his blogs or anything else. Just like I do not feel the need to understand the personality behind a singer or actor that I enjoy. The creativity behind the artist and the end product is what I enjoy, and my enjoyment is in no way affected by what kind of person the artist is. Everyone has flaws, and with that mentality, I'd be left with nothing to read, watch or listen to.

In regards to the books directly, I think it is silly to disregard anything because it contains a character you detest. These people exist in the real world, and I think it is only reasonable that they may sometimes star in a book (or movie for that matter). It doesn't make it right or wrong, it just is. There are sexists, racists, and other variations of people with prejudices. Just because such a character is the main character in a book doesn't mean that the book is bad. I think you need to look at the greater picture to determine if this character's prejudice is actually bad in context. Of course, all prejudices are bad, but the context that it is presented here is a redeeming factor that deserves acknowledgment.

Harry Dresden admits that he is a male-chauvinist; he favors women, always tries to help them, opens doors for them, looks out for their best interest the best way he knows how, and will do just about anything to make them happy. Often, women take advantage of him this way knowing that this is his weakness. He is a sucker for women, and he knows this, and admits that it is probably his greatest weakness. He often gets tricked by women, and even if he suspects she's lying, he'll give her the benefit of the doubt because that's just who he is. That is in no way the same as furthering the chauvinist view by having the women in these stories mislead, trick, and seduce him using their womanly wiles, as you claimed. The women do not (at least not unless that's part of her defined character) turn on their female charm to win him over or use him. All they need to do is ask him for a favor and he'll say yes. It has nothing to do with womanly wiles or anything of the sort. It's the same for how some people are a sucker for the "puppy dog face" and can't say no. He can't say no to a female. And he gets bit in the butt by this over and over again.

In fact, that is something that I actually appreciate about these books. I would not want to read a book about a male chauvinist who treats women like garbage and everything still works out for him. Aside from the fact that he doesn't treat women like garbage but more like they are fragile beings that need his help, things almost never work out when he does that. If anything, this book uses the main character to show how futile and foolish a male-chauvinistic attitude is, and how that mentality is highly flawed and can only get you into trouble. I can also appreciate how his best friend (a female, mind you, so he obviously respects females since he is very selective with who he gets close to) hates his chauvinistic attitude and calls him on it whenever he acts on it. I appreciate how you can hear his internal dialogue as he thinks better of doing or saying something because he realizes it might upset his friend.

I'm discussing the series as a whole instead of this one book as I do not remember exactly when certain characters were introduced and such, so bear with me on this next point. There is a character named Bob who looks at and thinks of women essentially as meat and has no respect for them much beyond their immediate usefulness and their sexuality. While this can be understood for this character (he's from a very old-fashioned time period, and is sexually frustrated for decades if not centuries), there is no justification for it. Harry is often offended and embarrassed by the comments Bob makes and constantly chastises him for his crudeness.

I think it it important to understand that Harry is not the kind of chauvinist who thinks of women as lesser beings whose only existence is to serve men. He merely looks at them as fragile creatures who need protection. Of course, this isn't an accurate assessment, as the book constantly reminds him. But he does not degrade women, he just... coddles them. Again, not fair, equal, right, or just by any means, just his perspective. His appreciation of women is enormous and you seem to be neglecting that. His best friend is a female! You did mention this, but you neglected to mention (or perhaps notice) the significance of this. He has hardly any friends (for reasons I will not get into here, suffice it to say he is extremely selective of who he bonds with), and yet the one he values the most, the one he can turn to for help, the one he is most dedicated to is a woman. He would die for her. Granted, he would die for a lot of people he barely knows in the name of doing the right thing. But with her, he would give up everything he believes in and stands for to protect her, and do whatever it takes, right or wrong. Here's a fun tid-bit: the one person that Harry constantly refers to as being the toughest person he knows, both emotionally and physically, and able to face and deal with any threat (again emotional or physical) and walk away unscathed just happens to be his best friend. He constantly commends her and admires her for her bravery, toughness, and emotional stability and ability to apply logic over emotion. And, HE turns to HER for help. If he was a true male-chauvinist, he would never consider her able to help regardless of the situation nor would he want her help if he thought she could. But instead, he goes to her time and again. He values her insight, her input, her opinion, her knowledge, her skill, and her companionship. If anything, he treats her as more than an equal but as a superior.

Yes, he sometimes talks of her small hands or other typically "lady"-like attributes, but it's never in a degrading way. As a male-chauvinist, I think it is just remaining true to the character that this is how he sees things. It wouldn't be a good book if you said someone was a male-chauvinist but their perspective on females doesn't acknowledge anything particularly "feminine". That's just good writing. And as far as her crying, he doesn't mention it in a demeaning way. She cried, it wasn't to emphasize how she's female and therefore more emotional. If you really paid attention to her character, you would realize that her crying was only to emphasize how upset leaving her out of the loop gets her. It is shown and said repeatedly how tough and strong she is, even emotionally. So for something to upset her to the point of crying only goes to show that it really REALLY upset her. It takes a lot to get to Murphy on an emotional level like that, but this is obviously something that really offended and hurt her. For all they go through together, for all that she does for him, he still was leaving her in the dark and that was devastating to her. I do not think that this shows any form of weakness on her part, nor do I think the author intended to. I think he was just trying to illustrate how much that bothered her; nothing more, nothing less.

Harry Dresden knows, from a logical perspective, that women are equal to men in all ways and that they can even surpass men in all ways. Emotionally, however, he often initially thinks of them as weaker. Not lesser, just weaker. Yes, he is a male-chauvinist, and yes that is a dumb mentality to have. But the book more than compensates for it by constantly showing the him, as well as the reader, what an irresponsible, out-dated, and idiotic way of thinking that is. Also, as pointed out by someone else above (Mike I believe), the book shows him progressing and maturing. He still has that innate chauvinism in him, but he corrects it as he goes and as he learns, and it isn't nearly as dominant in him as it was in the beginning.

Overall, I think that you are allowing the fact that he has this male-chauvinistic trait to overshadow the real meanings inherent in it and the experiences he has because of it. Those meanings being that it is foolish and stupid and irresponsible and unjust and sometimes even dangerous to assume that women are weaker and in need of his assistance. I also think you allow this personality trait to overshadow the fact that he learns from this, and he grows from his experiences and mistakes and that he becomes a different person. You said in your initial review that he makes no indication that he plans on changing his chauvinistic perspective, and he doesn't. But that's how most people are. Most people don't say "I'm a jerk and I need to change" or "I joke around too much and I need to be more serious" or "I am so immature and I need to grow up". Most people just gradually change as they progress through different experiences, encounter different people, and learn different lessons. It doesn't have to be a conscientious decision to change, it's just something that happens as you live your life. We all change constantly, whether we plan it or not. Harry Dresden did the same, though not necessarily on purpose, but he just started to change and progress and mature.

With all that being said, if you don't want to read it, I am not encouraging you to. There are plenty of books to read out there that I'm sure you will like and there is no reason to torment yourself. I do, however, feel that your review was very slanted and didn't give a full view of the situation. At least, that's how I see it. I believe that some people will take your review at face value without reading on and steer clear from a series that they may have otherwise thoroughly enjoyed. And that is too bad... for them. Fortunately, I had the luxury of enjoying this series. Again, I am sorry that the book rubbed you the wrong way. I have my "sore spots" so to speak that gives me very little tolerance of certain topics. And while these topics may be discussed in an enlightening or redemptive way, I will often opt to skip the experience altogether for the sake of my own personal peace. I can't really fault you for having a biased review, because essentially, that's what a book review is; your bias on a book and why you feel that way. And I have given you my review of your review. :) I'm sorry I did not cite any particular references, quotes or the like, but I read the book about 5 years ago and I wasn't about to reread it just for this comment (essay?). On a side note, I have recommended this book to 2 other females who just happen to have very strong views on feminine issues and neither of them even so much as commented on the sexism in this book as it was negated by the context.

If you read more of Harry Dresden, which I'm sure you won't, you will find that Harry has the same sort of over-protective prejudice towards children and teens. Since it is the same misguided and often inaccurate perspective but towards a different group, would you consider it just as offensive of a fallacy? And if not, what justification would you have for that belief that wouldn't equally apply to women? I'm not asking to be facetious, but out of genuine curiosity.


Jennifer Ortiz Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "Thank you Siria for making my point.

By the way, not angry, just disagree with you. Have you noticed...we agree on a lot of other books.

Oh well."


I commend you for attempting to defend the Dresden Files series. But surely, you must have realized it was a lost cause? A man will always lose a debate defending a male-chauvinist for the simple reason that the rebuttal can be "of course you'd say that, you're a guy". ;-) But I do whole-heartedly agree with your defense.


message 26: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria A man will always lose a debate defending a male-chauvinist for the simple reason that the rebuttal can be "of course you'd say that, you're a guy".

Alternatively, I choose to disagree with him based on logic, reason, and my personal sense of ethics, not because of his gender—just as I wholeheartedly disagree with you, regardless of the fact that you are female. Men frequently lose debates in which they defend chauvinism and sexism and misogyny, true—but that is because they are defending the indefensible, not because mean old feminists are refusing to listen to their winning rhetorical points.

Overall, I think that you are allowing the fact that he has this male-chauvinistic trait to overshadow the real meanings inherent in it and the experiences he has because of it. Those meanings being that it is foolish and stupid and irresponsible and unjust and sometimes even dangerous to assume that women are weaker and in need of his assistance. I also think you allow this personality trait to overshadow the fact that he learns from this, and he grows from his experiences and mistakes and that he becomes a different person.

Oh, I see! So the sexism is fine because women are a learning experience for the main male character? Well, that's just peachy, then. Here is the thing: I am very tired of stories in which women exist only to serve the emotional and intellectual growth of male characters. I am weary of investing my time, money and emotional interest in books in which women (and non-white people, and LGBTQ people) are treated as secondary or worse. Google 'Women in Refrigerators' for a lot of online discussion of this phenomenon.

In regards to the books directly, I think it is silly to disregard anything because it contains a character you detest. These people exist in the real world, and I think it is only reasonable that they may sometimes star in a book (or movie for that matter). It doesn't make it right or wrong, it just is. There are sexists, racists, and other variations of people with prejudices. Just because such a character is the main character in a book doesn't mean that the book is bad. I think you need to look at the greater picture to determine if this character's prejudice is actually bad in context. Of course, all prejudices are bad, but the context that it is presented here is a redeeming factor that deserves acknowledgment.

Do show me where I have ever said that any form of media should not reflect all sorts of people and their flaws. What I wrote above argues not that my distaste for the series was predicated just on the sexism which Dresden-the-character admits to in the books, but also on the repetition of tropes, devices and descriptions in the narrative, in the words and phrasing which Butcher the author uses to craft his story. I am all in favour of books which explore consciously explore sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia—what I do not wish to spend my time on are books which pay lip service to the idea of equality but which are nonetheless still repeating some very unpleasant truths. Butcher may not be consciously doing so, but he's doing so nonetheless. See the examples which I quoted above, with which you do not engage—none of Butcher's defenders, curiously, ever seem to address those independently.

If you read more of Harry Dresden, which I'm sure you won't, you will find that Harry has the same sort of over-protective prejudice towards children and teens. Since it is the same misguided and often inaccurate perspective but towards a different group, would you consider it just as offensive of a fallacy?

Oh yes, because of the long existence of historical, cultural and societal prejudices against children and teenagers, which has seen children and teenagers face the same sorts of abuses, segregation and discrimination which women, people of color and LGBTQ people have... wait. What was that you said about context being important?


Jennifer Ortiz Sigh... I thought it was obvious from my winking face that my comment to Mike was a joke. You never said you disagree with him because he was a guy, nor was I specifically talking about you or this particular thread. I was just going for a little levity on what was becoming a very long debate on a tireless topic.

You said that Dresden defenders don't seem to be acknowledging any of the things you specifically mention. I beg to disagree. I personally addressed several of your specific complaints. Of course, I did not tackle each & every argument, as you didn't of mine. That should be expected - we aren't in forensic debate class.

I see you are very passionate about not wanting to read anything with sexism, even if the character learns from it & changes. You say you also tire of reading stories where the woman's role is only to serve as a device for learning lessons. That's fine. As I said before, no point in torturing yourself with books you don't like. There's no need - it's not like this is a high school or college reading requirement that you have to adhere to. I was merely saying that I, personally, do not mind a book in which a character has a major character flaw that he/she overcomes. I also believe that, in the case of a male-chauvinist, if some one is going to play the role of a learning aid, it only makes sense that it is a woman. I don't believe that, in any real life situation, a person will learn about the error of their prejudice ways from someone of similar standing but instead from someone who disproves their stereotyped persona.

It also seems that you take my comments far too personally. I was in no way attacking your personal character. Yet your response to me has a very demeaning & sarcastic undertone, which I don't appreciate.

I am very aware of the concept of women or minorities in America being treated as lesser beings, I do not need to Google it. As someone who qualifies as both, I know all too well about such injustices. However, for the many reasons that I have stated previously, I do not feel that this qualifies as an affront to females. You obviously do. Personal opinions differ, that's what makes them personal.

I suppose one thing to consider is that I don't actually feel that Harry Dresden is all that chauvinistic, which is why I am so quick to defend him. A lot of women like to have men hold doors open for them, carry their bags if they look heavy, and offer their hand to help them get down from or up onto some elevated surface. A lot of women call this chivalry. Conversely, a lot of other women call this old fashioned and sexist. I think men, in general, face a difficult challenge in today's world; they have to balance treating women like a "lady" without offending them by being chauvinistic. It's a near impossible task. How can any woman insist on equality between genders and still expect to be treated like a "lady"? That's basically asking men to treat them differently than other men but only on their terms. It's an unreasonable request. I feel that the only balance comes from acknowledging that, while women are typically (physically) weaker than their male counterparts, they are not inferior. And I feel that a guy that can do that can be chivalrous without being chauvinistic. I believe that the character of Harry Dresden is that of someone who struggles with basic chivalry in a modern pro-feminism world. I did not find the books to be belittling of women, but that the character has that old-fashioned view of chivalry which I, at least partly, prefer in men. I don't expect you to agree with this perspective, in fact, I expect that you would whole-heartedly disagree. And that's fine. To each his own. I do not feel that either stance is a negative or positive reflection on one's character; it just helps to define it.

In any event, let's agree to disagree as I tire of debating with immovable people. You have your opinions, I have mine. You obviously can't be swayed to see anyone else's side on this matter, and although I see yours, I still disagree... respectfully. I am content to leave it at that.


Mike (the Paladin) Note I let it go. I to realized we'd have to "agree to disagree", especially when I was dubbed a "mansplainer"... in other words, defended Harry Dresden because "I'm a man" (and of course surprised that my explanation isn't taken as fact because "I said it"). Not because I disagree with her conclusions and her take on the book.

Sigh.

Like you my overall take is based on the entire series and the character changes a lot over the run of the novels.

Siria, again, yes I disagree with you, but would never suggest you should read something you don't want to.


message 29: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria Mike, a definition of mansplaining:

Mansplaining isn't just the act of explaining while male, of course; many men manage to explain things every day without in the least insulting their listeners.

Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate "facts" about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.

Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!

Think about the men you know. Do any of them display that delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with the rock-solid conviction of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation?

That dude is a mansplainer.


Not that I ever referred to you as such, to the best of my recollection. I said that Mark/Peregrine 12 acting in such a manner—because, to be fair, you have always at least been civil throughout.


Mike (the Paladin) My apologies you are correct, I was being hyper sensitive. (I'm a sensitive guy :). ) The comment in question wasn't addressed to me and I stand corrected. But of course, we still disagree. Just life I guess.


message 31: by cook777 (last edited Jan 03, 2011 06:55PM) (new) - added it

cook777 Hey this is great, I didn't know they had such comments on a book here. In some ways I say that gives this book extra points just to inspired such political arguments.

I think feminist that are to extreme became the very people they believe they hate, a "sexist pig".

"because Dresden can see how she's truly ugly beneath all that fake beauty, and so she's humiliated and he can overpower her!"
What kills me here is how wrong you are and how that didn't happen at all. That you see things that are not even there. Then you have it pointed out to you nicely and the only reply you give them is rude and sarcastic reply, not even addressing the vampire correcting. Forgetting that one post and going farther, most of the people that have been posting here have been overly nice to the reply you gave them.

@Jennifer I thought your review of Siria review as you put it was very well thought out. Even after in later replies, I think you did hit on things I didn't think many people relies. (passing the book and what had been said here)


message 32: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria I think feminist that are to extreme because the very people they believe they hate, a "sexist pig".

You're hilarious.


message 33: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Siria I would agree with you that most of the book is cliché and sexist. That not saying I don't enjoy the series however; I like the story rather than the love interests and such. The women characters are, to be honest one dimensional and cardboard cut-out. They achieve greater variety and personality as the story progresses but honestly it seems a bit strained. In my opinion you are right, you can’t read many books without sexism whether they are geared towards males or females. For instance say, almost any romance novel you could possibly find. There are always two sides to the coin. I’ve met many misplainers, men and women; they populate the earth in vast numbers. Life's not fair it’s as simple as that, no matter how strongly you believe that women should be given equality, and this kind of chauvinistic bull crap should become obsolete. There are just as many people whom believe it was a wonderful book. Or that women have full equality, others will argue that the day women obtained rights, was the day society started to crumble. What I'm basically trying to say to your ire perhaps is something I was told a long time ago, when I seethed at the very thought of inequality, the justice system and life in general. Grow up, if you want the world to change then do something about it, just realize that the person who makes no concessions never achieves anything outside the hypocrisy of their mind.

Manplaining- the act of being human, often associated with ignorance and believing they are absolutely correct in almost any endeavor they wish to accomplish.

sentance-You are obviously mansplaining this definition and the paragraph above nick.

Bigotry- A delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with the rock-solid conviction of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course you are right

sentence-That's an interesting way you have of looking at the world, Mark. I'd ask you to explain it to me, but you're clearly a mansplainer.

Feminism- the belief in equality

sentence- Did you know that many self proclaimed feminists are actually invested in the rights of one to few groups of people rather than all groups?

If you aren’t objective about things all you create is misunderstanding and that breeds hate.
Am I asking you to think from the white male oppressive mind? Ya I am because if you don’t understand their reasoning you can’t change it.

Your points are well thought out, your reasoning for disliking the book is sound and your ideas are flavorful, expressive and well written. I would say you are a very intelligent person. Having said that, your frankly rude to others, and acting superior in your argument without really understanding the different views.

Am I saying I’m not any of the things above? No I probably possess all of the above qualities, but I accept it which helps me look at others perspective and cut people some slack.

I’m not terribly good at explaining myself so I’ve probably left you slightly confused and appalled. To summarize stop abusing ad hominem and learn to compromise, you’re wasting your intelligence on a narrow mindset.


message 34: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria The classic straw man tactic: people would listen to you if you would only change your tone. I'm not abusing people in an ad hominem manner—I'm being frustrated with the kind of clichéd, trope arguments which I see trotted out over and over again when someone points out sexism in a text. One of those classic tactics, by the way, is being told in a patronising manner that well, you're just angry and not objective enough.

I understand "the white male oppressive mind"—I understand their reasoning, such as it is. I also think it is flawed, ethically and morally unpalatable to me, and I reject it. Note that I am not saying they're terrible people who like to kick puppies in their spare time—I am well aware that there can be a big difference between people's ideals and their actions. I'm saying that I have fundamental philosophical, ethical and political differences with them. Why would I make a compromise with sexism, a mindset which is anathema to my worldview? How would that even work?

Grow up, if you want the world to change then do something about it, just realize that the person who makes no concessions never achieves anything outside the hypocrisy of their mind.

Now, since you attack me for making ad hominem arguments, I'm sure you telling me to 'grow up' was not a slight on my personal maturity, right? That was in no way a hypocritical slip on your part. Just as it was not a patronising assumption on your part that a) I am not involved in feminist or anti-racist work offline and that b) engaging with texts which express such viewpoints, whether off or online, is not valuable, if small-scale, work.

If I'm rude, Nick, then it's only in response to people who keep finding this page and insulting me—and who then tell me I'm hysterical, over emotional or irrational when I respond to those insults.


Mike (the Paladin) "the white male oppressive mind" (?)......"I understand their reasoning" (?)......."I have fundamental philosophical, ethical and political differences with them" (all of "them" ?)

I know your reacting to a specific person's argument but I wanted to point out your own "seeming take". I doubt you actually believe "all white males" think the same way or that "they" act as a monolithic group, but it sounds as if you do.

I really disagree with you on the Dresden books and sincerely believe you have the wrong take on them and on the "Harry's" character in general. I accept that we will disagree on this but can't help wishing you'd slow down and at least reconsider... but that being said I'm not trying to argue you into anything. I would recommend that each reader try the books (and if they have no strong negative reaction more than one as we will all have our favorites. Personally I liked them all but think they go to another level around Dead Beat). But, as I said we will all I'm sure disagree at some point.


message 36: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria I was quite obviously responding to Nick's reference to "the white male oppressive mind"—that is, those men who are furthering an agenda which privileges men, particularly white men, above other societal groups. I was using his words, so I would appreciate you not setting them up as a straw man argument in order to accuse me of prejudice.


message 37: by Nick (last edited Jan 05, 2011 01:40PM) (new) - added it

Nick Siria, You can't change the opinions of others with anger and frustration. Am I hypocritical? heck ya I am so are you, referring to someone as patronizing is also an insult.What I'm getting at is this..

"the same clichéd, trope arguments which I see trotted out over and over again when someone points out sexism in a text."

That means absolutely nothing, I can say the same exact thing about your argument you aren't breaking any new ground here.

What I was saying, is that while I agree with a lot of your argument. Unless you try to persuade people in a positive manner there minds won't change in a positive manner. Realize that ideas hold equal merit whether you as a person like them or not. You can't change Ideas only people.

You are angry ya, but certainly not hysterical, over emotional, or irrational.

I'm sorry if telling you to grow-up insulted you however I stand by my words, kindness and understanding is how true things are accomplished. Its not an easy thing and I am by no means very accomplished in it. But anger and the belief in somethings absolute righteousness never solved anything just created more suffering.


message 38: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria Realize that ideas hold equal merit whether you as a person like them or not.

That is fundamentally nonsense. Rational people can hold differing viewpoints, both of which have merit, but it is not a given that in any argument, both points of view have equal merit, or that one or both are even rational. It can't be. If we were to take what you have written here as an axiom, then both Martin Luther King Jr and George Wallace advanced ideas of equal worth.

And you know, not a lot gets done without some righteous anger. No minority ever gained more rights by politely asking a majority if, perhaps, they wouldn't mind, at their convenience, thinking about those whom they were oppressing. I don't agree with much that St Augustine wrote, but this I do believe in—"Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be."


Laura This review is really stupid, this book is wonderful and it's not misogynistic! Try to open you eyes a bit!


message 40: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria Ah, the "this review is really stupid" gambit. That's going to make me change my mind.


message 41: by Chamonix (new)

Chamonix LOL. wow you're a down right bitch when it comes to this book. You're going to change the world with your revolutionary reviews. GO SUPERWOMAN GO. YOU BITE THOSE TESTICLES OFF.


Braxton Siria, I wanted to point out that you are a hypocrite. You complain about sexism, while you are obviously sexist against men. You are falling into the same trap as most radical feminists: your hypocrisy makes you impossible to take seriously. You come off sounding like nothing more than an angry man-hater.


message 43: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria But here's the problem with your argument, Braxton: I don't hate men! I hate sexism. Pointing out that sexism exists doesn't make me a sexist. You're falling into the same trap as a lot of people with sexist ideas: your lack of logic makes you impossible to take seriously.


Braxton I have no problem with someone pointing out that sexism exists. I am a firm believer in gender equality. If you don't believe me you can ask my wife. What I was trying to point out was that your usage of the word "Mansplaining" is blatantly sexist against men. Also, the general tone of your writing seems negative towards men in my opinion. As I said, I am a firm believer in gender equality, so it annoys me when women argue against sexism by acting like all men are sexist. Also, it is ridiculous to imply that I am sexist because I disagree with you. That in itself shows how narrow-minded you are in your pursuit. Lastly, paraphrasing what someone says isn't cute or clever, it just makes you look like an asshole.


message 45: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria What I was trying to point out was that your usage of the word "Mansplaining" is blatantly sexist against men.

No, it's not. It's a term that's been coined to describe a very prevalent (often unconscious) form of behaviour which is gendered male. Read the description of it that I posted. Does it say that all men engage in it? No. It doesn't even say that the majority of men engage in it, merely that it is a common form of behaviour, one which is inculcated and encouraged in a society which is still largely sexist (and racist, and homophobic, and classist, etc).

As I said, I am a firm believer in gender equality, so it annoys me when women argue against sexism by acting like all men are sexist.

I'm a feminist. I know a lot of feminists, and womanists, and people who work for gender equality without explicitly identifying themselves with either movement. I've never once heard any of them claim that all men are sexist. What you're doing here is a pretty classic straw man argument that I've seen used time and time again: "Gender equality would be so much easier to achieve without all those man-hating feminists! They're standing in the way of equality, pointing out all these engrained notions! I can't possibly have unconsciously absorbed sexist notions—ask my wife!"

And seriously, it's great that you believe in equal rights, but listen: if, in a discussion with a woman about gender and feminism, you pull out the "I can't be sexist! Ask my wife!" card, you are going to come across like people who unintentionally say something racist and then say "But I can't be racist! I have a black friend!"

Lastly, paraphrasing what someone says isn't cute or clever, it just makes you look like an asshole.

I'm not trying to be cute or clever with you. I'm exasperated with you and your wilful misreading of my words. My general tone in this conversation has been frustrated. I never said that you were a sexist—I said that you were resorting to sexist tropes. And I'll point out that the first person to use the A word in this conversation is you.


Braxton "It doesn't even say that the majority of men engage in it, merely that it is a common form of behaviour"

The word is MANsplaining. how can you try to argue that it isn't sexist? That is like saying that the phrase "nigger-rigging" isn't racist because white people also practice mechanical improvisation.

"I've never once heard any of them claim that all men are sexist."

I also never said all feminists are sexist against men. I was referring to radical feminists like I did in my first post. So, who is working the straw man fallacy here?

"the first person to use the A word in this conversation is you."

refraining from using certain words doesn't make you any better than anyone else. I'm a person who doesn't believe that certain words shouldn't be said because some people decided that they are "bad". So, climb down from your high horse.


message 47: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria The word is MANsplaining. how can you try to argue that it isn't sexist? That is like saying that the phrase "nigger-rigging" isn't racist because white people also practice mechanical improvisation.

Because the word 'man' has nowhere near the kind of cultural, societal, historical or other contextual baggage as the N word. The term 'man' has not been used as a dehumanising weapon against men in the same way that the N word has against people of African descent. It is not sexist to point out a pattern of dominating, chauvinist behaviour which has been gendered male. You can call it malesplaining, if you wish, but the term 'mansplaining' is no more sexist than 'patriarchal' is. Unless you're telling me that you object to that word because that's also offensive to men as in some way essentialising—but I think that would be a fantastic twist of linguistic logic, if so.

I was referring to radical feminists like I did in my first post.

Do forgive me for not realising that when you say 'women', you mean 'radical feminists.' I will also then say that I know a lot of radical feminists, and I've never heard any of them speak in such a manner. Perhaps you have: but I will point out to you that the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'evidence', and that it's entirely possible, given the comprehension ability you've exhibited thus far, that you've been (wilfully or otherwise) misunderstanding what they're saying.

refraining from using certain words doesn't make you any better than anyone else. I'm a person who doesn't believe that certain words shouldn't be said because some people decided that they are "bad". So, climb down from your high horse.

I never claimed that—I was merely pointing out the fact that it's a little rich for you to take exception to my 'negative tone', and then to call me an asshole. Either you are someone who values frank speech, or you're not. I'm not on a high horse—I'm really amused with you.


message 48: by Cassidy (new)

Cassidy If he is so amusing why did you block him??


message 49: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria I find Sarah Palin amusing—that doesn't mean I would find engaging with her in any way productive or worth my time. The same holds true with your husband.


message 50: by Penny (last edited Mar 11, 2011 08:46AM) (new) - added it

Penny Cassidy and Braxton, you little trolls. And here I thought what we had was special, that you were only harassing me. I feel so cheap.

Seriously? Is this what you people do while waiting for Butcher to release another book? Just read negative reviews, dissect each one then attack the reviewer? Really??? Wow. How incredibly...sad.

Why not do something else, like write a positive review and have all your troll friends vote for it. Cassidy, you haven't even written a review and Braxton, while it probably took all of five seconds to type out "An awesome book with just the right blend of noir and urban fantasy. I will definitely be reading more of this series." I bet you could expand on that, seeing as you luuurve this series so much.


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