Saturday, June 25, 2011

Being a bit reactionary

Someone sent me this link:

which led me here:

Initially my reaction went into a reply e-mail, but I think I will go ahead and post it here.

I tend to have issues with this sort of thing.  [Edit to add: By "this sort of thing," I mean discussions of feminism in pretty much any sense of the word.]  Or at least a different point of view.

It's not that I think that gender inequity isn't a problem in pretty much any arena, but I am not sure how much good it does to point out such things over and over and over.

I'm not saying this well.

I mean, it's important to recognize that there is an issue, but there is a risk of just ending up whining, "It's not fair!"

Sure, people are idiots and chauvinists and bigots.  And a lot of those idiots and chauvinists and bigots are probably men.  Do women (and a few enlightened men) really think that they are going to change men just by pointing out to them over and over again that they are wrong in the name of educating them?  It's the same core issue I have with the war between the species.  As long as women insist on trying to change men, they aren't really going to get anywhere.  They might get superficial change.  But if you make him give up beer and cigars and red meat, he is either going to end up resenting you or consuming those things on the sly and lying to you about it, or both.

(And really that philosophy applies to trying to change anyone who doesn't want to change or be changed, no matter the gender.  Ultimately, you can only educate people who are willing and open minded enough to learn, even if they don't agree.)

The same applies in various professional arenas.  Quit whining about how hard it is to be respected or get ahead or make your mark or be taken seriously because you are a woman.  Sure, being a woman puts you at a disadvantage in a lot of situations, but, as my mother used to say (much to my unending frustration and consternation) "You can look at this two ways ..."  You can whine and cry and bemoan your situation, or you can buck up, be positive and make the best of it and get the job done.  Take ownership.  Take action.  Make a positive difference.

Don't be a great female science fiction writer.  Be a great science fiction writer.  Hell, just be a great writer.  Bring to the table whatever it is that makes you truly unique, and do what you have to do to get where you want to go.  Isn't that what a man would do?  Prove that he is better than everyone else?  Or maybe prove that he has the right connections or enough money so that he doesn't have to be better than everyone else?

You have to be a bit sneaky, er, creative to compensate for misperceptions and preconceived notions.  If you think that your scifi isn't selling because you are woman, then write under a male pseudonym.  If you refuse to compromise in any way and insist that the world must accept you as is in all of your female glory, just remember that you are asking a lot of other people to change the way that they think -- which is likely to be seen as a compromise from their perspective -- without changing anything about the way you think.  You gotta give to get, honey.  Doesn't matter if you are right or not.  Everyone else is entitled to the same freedom of expression and opinion that you are demanding.

If you think wearing a short skirt and a low cut blouse to a meeting with a publisher or agent with get you the deal, then go for it.  Okay, there was probably a better way to put that last suggestion, but the point is to play to your strengths.  Find your angle.  Find your way to work the system to your advantage.  Learn the game and the rules from the inside out, and then figure out how to break them without getting caught.  Level the playing field.  It's what the men do.  Not that women should become men because that would be boring and defeat the point of struggling to shine in the first place.  But I do think that they should learn from them.  Take a page from their book, revise it and make it better.  That's what writers do.

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