Yesterday I got into a fight on the internet. Wellllll three fights, but they were all in the same place and they were all the same argument, it just so happened that it was with three different people.
Anyhow, it was about sexism in the publishing industry and how that can, unfortunately, help to foster sexism in readers. Basically, someone created that list I shared yesterday of 100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women. And oh boy was there a tither from the male peanut gallery:
Redditor1: [Seriously as the reader I could care less about the race or gender of the author of a book. Is it a good book? If yes then I am happy to read it, other than that I could care less about who wrote it. Am I supposed to lower my standards for books just because the author isn’t a strait white male? No that would be silly and frankly condescending to the author that they would be held to some sort of different standard because of their background.]
Redditor2: [The author’s gender is irrelevant. If you care about the author’s gender then I question your ability to judge the writing.]
Redditor3: [It isn’t just the publishers tho, our genders tend to write differently too. So then you gotta consider the audience and who’s gonna serve it. For example, women generally don’t write hard sf. Nature or nurture? I dunno. Think about hormones and classic gender roles. Nesters and penetrators. Yin and yang. There’s more to gender than genitalia. Maybe it’s spiritual.]
I had someone, two feminists on Tumblr actually, tell me that there was basically no point in engaging these people. Redditors, especially male redditors, are ridiculous. Except, that’s pretty problematic itself. To say that you shouldn’t even bother to engage sexists because there’s no point in trying to change minds? I mean, isn’t that the very point of feminism itself? To be an activist and work, against the odds, to change minds? (I also don’t like the implication that there’s places I shouldn’t go. That’s like saying women shouldn’t leave the house at night, etc.)
The fact is, I argued for hours. Round and round with these guys. From probably 1pm in the afternoon to about 6 o’clock at night. It wasn’t pleasant. It was frustrating. It was exhausting. At 4:30 I realized I’d broken out in a cold sweat and as I typed my hands were trembling from both stress and over-caffeination.
This isn’t preaching to the choir, this is once more into the breach. And it’s exhausting. It burns you up and, long term, it can burn you out. I don’t even want to know what my blood pressure was. Eventually I had to go to my own private corner of the internet and just reblog animated gifs for a while, to get my mind off it.
But guess what? Sometimes, once in a while, you get a win.
There was no response from Redditor1, but I ended up as a moderately high comment by being upvoted by other users. When other people are listening, it’s always encouraging to me.
Redditor2: [I see your point. I didn’t consider the social implications, just the quality of the writing.] –This actually amazed me. But I’m really glad to have changed his mind.
Redditor3: [No doubt we can transcend all that gender-induced mindwarp if we try. The best probably do.] –This guy was basically arguing that women are biologically less able to write hard scifi/men’s fiction. So I think him finally caving and saying that actually that isn’t the case was significant even if his final comment was odd.
Some people, its true, WILL never change. But can’t know who they are when we start off, only after we engage them. here’s no way to know who is open and who is closed until you knock on the door.