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The women genre doesn't see

You taught us: girls should be seen (prettily) and not heard, and we learnt to listen and be polite and nice and charming.
And you blame us now, when we fall back, for not speaking out.

You taught us: nice girls don't show off, and we learnt to keep our abilities and ambitions low key and out of sight.
And you blame us now if our achievements go unrecognised, for not drawing attention to our work and reprimand us if, with our courage in both hands, we do self promote, for being pushy and strident and inappropiate.

You taught us to be helpful and supportive to others, and we learnt to put you first at all times.
And now you take our help and support and labour for granted.

You taught us our value lay in our looks, and we learnt to hate our faces and bodies.
And now you call us vain or trivial and judge everything about us by our looks.

You taught us our anger is ugly and unacceptable, and we learnt to squash it down inside, to turn it into depression and eating disorders, anxiety and pain.
And now you call us emotional and unbalanced and irrational.

You taught us we come second, and we learnt to lose gracefully and put ourselves last.
And now you blame us for being doormats and tell us we should be more assertive.

You taught us our ambitions and dreams were silly and we learnt to release them or put them off
And now you tell us we should have tried harder.

You taught us we had to wait our turn, and we politely stood in line.
And now you tell us we're too old.


Yesterday was a bad day: I was running on very little sleep and in pain, and the internet was full of spite and anger, over reviews, over Evil Old Fans, over women who speak up and male authors who object. Over lack of diversity and prejudice and abuse. All day I watched men complain and demand, and women of all ages try at length to find answers and compromises, to help, to support, to nurture, to explain, to ameliorate. And the men ignored them or said 'Not good enough.' I noticed the Very Important Men interact with each other and reflect each other and ignore all female input, unless it came from a very small selection of Women Who Matter, who were almost all young, pretty and successful, and usually also white and heterosexual and able-bodied.
I saw, in particular, older women of all races say and do intelligent, positive things, and be ignored. And I saw men of all ages tell those older than them to step aside, and then mansplain when those same older women raised issues of ageism. 'Oh, don't worry,' they said, 'we'll honour women. Look over there, at that young hot woman. It's okay, we're on your side.'
On our side if we are young and hot (in face or form or talent.)

There is no end to patriarchal and racial dominance while debates are controlled by white men and while entrances are guarded by them. There is no equality when only one elite group controls what equality means. Equality under the hand of the privileged leaves their privilege intact. It comes at a cost not to them -- which it should -- but at the less privileged groups who surround them.

I spent most of yesterday fighting this fight, neglecting my writing, clamping down on my physical pain and the emotional pain building inside.
I have your backs, all you men who want things. I was trained to serve.
When in Nine Hells will you have mine?

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( 92 comments — Leave a comment )
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gillpolack
Sep. 19th, 2013 11:00 am (UTC)
It was a bad day. People who claimed to be allies proved to be allies only when they can define the problem, too.

I'm sorry you also had a high pain day. But I'm even sorrier that we have to keep being there and being there and being there. The world moves backwards, on days like this and weeks like this.

We'll just have to have each others' backs until everyone else learns to see complex realities.

Hugs*

la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 11:26 am (UTC)
Hugs back.
It was a horrid day. I am so grateful that you and Kate and Rochita and Michelle and Farah and Seanan and all the other amazing women are out there.
Much love.
ex_triciasu
Sep. 19th, 2013 11:31 am (UTC)
I don't know what happened specifically because I have had to remove myself from all of this for my inability to weather it.

I just want to send you my best wishes, my agreement with so much of what you say here: yes, yes, and yes. And if there is anything I can do to help you personally, to listen, you know where to find me.

Thank you for standing where you stand.
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 11:41 am (UTC)
Ditto.
And thank you. I hope all is okay with you.
suricattus
Sep. 19th, 2013 11:48 am (UTC)
I'm sorry you had a headbashing day. I'm mainly sorry that it was your head that got bashed, and not some others.

(I was raised to defer and wait in line to the matriarchs, which is a different kind of the same thing entirely, but does tend to lead to more bluntness on my part, it seems)


I have to admit, I've left most of these conversations because I don't see them actually GOING anywhere. I suspect that we make more progress when we stop trying to talk to a lot of people, and just talk to one or two, here or there. It seems to sink in better. Unfortunately, that does leave the pontificating masses feeling self-righteous and unchanged... *sigh*



la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 12:33 pm (UTC)
Sigh indeed.
What discourages me is seeing young men recycling the same old bollox.
(Deleted comment)
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 12:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
anna_wing
Sep. 19th, 2013 11:57 am (UTC)
Why should you have the backs of people who don't have yours? What are they offering you that's worth your being their ally? And also, what can you offer them that is worth their being yours? Alliances exist to further mutual interests. No mutuality, no alliance.


All day I watched men complain and demand, and women of all ages try at length to find answers and compromises, to help, to support, to nurture, to explain, to ameliorate.

Why bother? My generation was taught that in colonial situations (which approximates quite well to what I think that you are describing), power is taken, not given. The goal is not to change the enemy's mind. You don't need to convince them of anything, except that their interests will suffer if they don't accommodate yours.

What can you deny them, that they want or need to have? Are there actions with real-world financial and reputational effects that can be organised to deal with your concerns (I don't know the specifics to which you are referring, sorry, so none of this may be relevant, obviously)? Boycotts and other kinds of economic and political pressure? Complaints to people's employers? Complaints to your MP or local authorities? Legal action, whether civil or under the criminal law? Setting up separate organisations altogether (permanent boycotts, in other words)? What are your opponents' weaknesses and where can they be hurt enough to be forced to pay attention to your concerns? Or can they be by-passed altogether and other routes to your goals be found? Are there other gates, whose keepers can be persuaded that their interests coincide with yours?



Edited at 2013-09-19 12:07 pm (UTC)
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 12:52 pm (UTC)
Sadly, the financial implications are on the female side, and we need to deal with this for our own professional progress. But we have almost no power -- about the only thing is refusing to review or promote books by men, which a lot of women already do. But since men listen to men, mostly they don't notice.
(no subject) - ms_cataclysm - Sep. 19th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Sep. 19th, 2013 06:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
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la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 12:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, precisely.
I hope you get to be the centre of that drama very soon.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Sep. 19th, 2013 04:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
jemck
Sep. 19th, 2013 11:59 am (UTC)
I am infuriated how quickly what could otherwise have been a useful debate on fan/writer interaction became gendered - thanks to people on both sides using that as a derailing tactic.

I am spending far too much of my time angry at the moment - and biting down because expressing the anger I feel would be destructive professionally. The cost to me personally at the moment is the return of insomnia which is ... not good.

On the plus side? Thanks to me highlighting a single female author among the 21 SFF titles currently on promotion in Waterstones? My article on visibility issues for women in SFF has been brought to the attention of senior management at Ireland's Hodges Figgis... who are owned by Waterstones.

Will it do any good? Who knows. But it's at least a tick in the plus column in a very bad week.
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 12:54 pm (UTC)
That is brilliant: well done.
And yes. I am on that same edge of anger/misery and paying for it too.
Lunch date soon?
(no subject) - major_clanger - Sep. 19th, 2013 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
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princejvstin
Sep. 19th, 2013 01:06 pm (UTC)
Too much of this conversation has taken very ugly turns. I'd like to think that's because we're digging at unpleasant truths, but that doesn't help people in the firing line, or getting dumped on.

Sympathies and Support.
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:04 pm (UTC)
It's an important discussion. And thank you.
mevennen
Sep. 19th, 2013 01:08 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry that you've had a crap day. I missed the debate and am glad, but if there is any psychic support in this, your name kept coming up y'day in the most positive terms: we miss you. Very pleased to hear from J that you have signed up for Sept 2014.

Milford now has a small determined cat.
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
queenoftheskies
Sep. 19th, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
I'm really sorry this all continues to be such a problem. ::HUGS:: I'm especially sorry it proved terrible for you yesterday.
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:05 pm (UTC)
Hugs back.
I am so grateful for all you amazing women out there.
zornhau
Sep. 19th, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
When in Nine Hells will you have mine?
I am standing behind you, sword-in-hand, wearing my "side-kick" badge.

(The women in my stories are real and realistically empowered within the setting, even when it is a historical patriarchal one. I don't believe that capacity for violence is the only kind of agency, but in modern and fantastic settings I do tend to create plausible female fighters. Will that do?)
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:05 pm (UTC)
Re: When in Nine Hells will you have mine?
Thank you!
And that is good to hear. Those are precisely the kind of women I want to read about.
bibliolicious
Sep. 19th, 2013 01:52 pm (UTC)
Internet hug. I promised you an email, and will send it at the weekend.
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:05 pm (UTC)
Hugs back.
duniazade
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:00 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear that (I missed the debate).

I can only offer my sympathy.

We'll win, though, because those men's attitude is stupid, counterproductive and born from fear.
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I really hope you're right: it may not be in time for me, but I want my niece to have a world which is fairer.
cmcmck
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:08 pm (UTC)
I have little to add but to say this, absolutely!

Oh, and HUGS.
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:31 pm (UTC)
Hugs back.
dancinghorse
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:19 pm (UTC)
Oh crap. I'm sorry I couldn't be there to help fight the fight. (Good it ain't. It's just one long nasty soul-sucking fight.)

Maybe we should do that Shadow Warriors anthology. On the principle of water wearing away at stone. And waking up just a few more smugs and sleepers.

Icon chosen because it belongs to a Large Older Lady Of Unconventional Beauty. And because, well, horse's ass.
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 19th, 2013 02:32 pm (UTC)
She has a beautiful ass.
You do a huge amount already. And yes to the anthology, it would be rather fine.
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