The Tent Peg Statement

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Event
Event: The Tent Peg Statement
Name(s):
Date(s): around 1998
Type:
Fandom: Pern & Anne McCaffrey
URL:
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Contents

'The Tent Peg Statement' is an infamous fandom wank involving noted science-fiction author Anne McCaffrey. [1]

Although McCaffrey has tried to wipe this interview from memory, it has made its way to the internet where it is widely known and mocked even in non-fannish circles. A Google search for the word 'tent peg' in 2010 reveals that a hit for this wank is the eighth result. In June 2011, it turned up third. [2]

In 2000, post-interview, the rules on dragonriders, and dragon sexuality on Pern were amended to seem less offensive. See Cibryen Weyr's copy of the Renewable Airforce document; WebCite. At one point, all Pern fandom games and message boards were required to post a copy of this and obey it, otherwise they would be shut down by McCaffrey's lawyers. Hence copies of it can still be found on Google with ease.

Background

Anne McCaffrey is a Hugo and Nebula award winning author of the Dragonriders of Pern series, among others. Pern has a large fandom which involves dragonriders who must engage in mindless sex when their dragons are in season. With the majority of female dragons on Pern being ridden by males, this means there's a lot of slash potential.

The wank involves a long running fandom debate on whether the green female dragons have the ability to deliberately choose gay males to soulbond, or if the riders of the dragons can be any orientation.

During the mid-90s, McCaffrey gave an interview to a fandom zine on the subject - in which she claims that any man who engages in anal sex becomes gay, even if that anal sex was rape.

The Actual Quote

A: The situation will arise where two males will enagage in sexual activity. Greenriders, have to be homosexual.

Q: Some fandom Weyrs choose to seperate sexual tendencies and flight related sex experiences...

A: Let me stop you right there, there is no seperation. Two men engaging in sexual activity with one another are gay. The dragons choose based on their own drives.

Q: *audible pause* *sounds of paper rustling* But, uh, some people say one experience, especially under the control of outside forces dosen't really make you *emphasis* gay.

A: It's not a matter of the rider *emphasis* becoming homosexual. Green and blue dragons choose people who are already homosexual. And even if circumstances arose, and a green dragon chose a heterosexual lifemate... Well, he would become homosexual. It's a proven fact that a single anal sex experience causes one to be homosexual. The hormones released by a sexual situation involving the anus being broached, are the same hormones found in large quantities in effeminate homosexual males. For example, when I was much younger I knew a young man who was for all intents and purposes, heterosexual. He was mugged, and involved in a rape situation involving a tent peg. This one event was enough to have him start on a road that eventually led to him becoming effeminate and gay.[3][4]

Reactions

Many members of online Pern fandom find McCaffrey's ideas about sexuality highly questionable for a number of reasons, both scientific and ethical. (Most infamously, she claimed in an interview that science has proven that being the receptive partner in anal sex triggers a hormonal change that will make a previously heterosexual man become homosexual and effeminate. Thus, she argues, even if a male greenrider were originally heterosexual, he would not stay that way.) In later interviews McCaffrey claims that green dragons merely pick up on psychological clues from homosexual boys before they themselves know that they are homosexual. "A green Hatchling is unlikely to be impressed (pun intended) by a heterosexual boy."" [5]
I seriously doubt the validity of interview in the OP. Anne McCaffrey is supposedly an intelligent person-she created a whole fantasy universe complete with it's own logic and rules. The statements are clearly unintelligent and I can find no other references to them anywhere on the Net. Also the matter of fact approach to gay sex in the books doesn't reflect the attitude of the interview. Given that the Pern series has such a large following I would think that any interviews she has given would be hashed and rehashed on fan sites.

BTW the forum mentioned which is the only place containing any reference to the 'quote' appears to have been abandoned. Page after page in every section of it have become a repository for porn links.

I think the 'quote' is some hocum cooked up by a member of that forum who was after some attention for some unhealthy reason. Maybe it was an attempt to steer a discussion around to anal sex (as a way of getting a cheap thrill) or create an argument/flame war. It might even have been attempt to make him/herself seem more important and in the know on a 'top secret' interview….

The quoted scenario to me seems more like something made up by teenagers to scare each other than an interview with an esteemed author. [6]
I will only cavil to the effect that writing good fiction -- even highly intelligent fiction -- and holding stupid personal beliefs are not (alas) incompatible. [7]
As I understood it, the interviewer put some pressure on her, and she blurted out a somewhat confused panic response. Still, people tend to blurt what they think… [8]
I know that this doesn't make it any truer, but I've read this before. On first reading this thread I was sure that it's been an much repeated "fact" in fannish circles for years, but google says no. I don't know what to believe anymore. Maybe I have false memories. [9]

Further Reading

References

  1. "An idea first put forth in the infamous, but still unverified, "Tent Peg" interview and implied in her on-the-record "Renewable Air Force" interview." -- Television Tropes and Idioms
  2. Tent Peg Quote on FeministSF.Net, page found 2011-06-12.
  3. David Peary. Comment in Rider's Pride & Sexual Orientation/Discrimination thread on Gay Authors forum, 12 May 2007. Repost of interview excerpt.
  4. New Landing Forums on lake-desire.com as referenced by David Peary, contains a comment made on January 22, 2004 by Katiehollands which includes this part of the interview transcript. (Wayback Machine version), accessed April 19, 2011
  5. Anne McCaffrey's 1998 quote is from The Kitchen Table BB, from Wikipedia's article on Pern's Dragons
  6. 2007 comment by jelly bean queen at Anne McCaffrey on anal sex, Snopes.com; [ WebCite]
  7. 2007 comment by Silas Sparkhammer at Anne McCaffrey on anal sex, Snopes.com; [ WebCite]
  8. 2007 comment by Troberg at Anne McCaffrey on anal sex, Snopes.com; [ WebCite]
  9. 2007 comment by BrokenBiscuit at Anne McCaffrey on anal sex, Snopes.com; [ WebCite]
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