Someone I sort of know via social media/other people asked me about this story that just got published in Linguistic Erosion.
So this male acquaintance sent me a note about that story and what caught my attention was that he expressed being incredibly uncomfortable with our narrator. He said he was deeply unsettled and therefore could not believe that this narrator was female because she expressed this deep desire and lust to commit violent acts.
He actually went on about it enough that I am annoyed.
This is a person I consider at least somewhat worldly and given his tastes (much like my own when it comes to reading) somehow amongst some of the guts n gore that we have both read, this character was the unsettling one.
I pointed out to him in our email exchange that this is a flavor or sexism I don’t care for. The idea that if one is female or read as female then one is magically more loving/awesome.
This is something I’ve run into on occasion. At some point I’ve had more than one man explain to me that whatever female character I’ve written is unbelievable on the basis of what are perceived as male behavior. I call bullshit.
If one can read about gangsters who never ever get caught, about dragons, talking cats, boys named Harry Potter who are the most magical little wonders ever and suspend disbelief why not believe for a moment that a woman is not the sort of woman you are comfortable with and just go with it?
Women in this view are never supposed to want to commit a violent act just to commit a violent act or fulfill a desire. Women are not supposed to be aroused by being the aggressor rather than playing the victim, women are not supposed to have the urge to fight just to start a fight, unless of course it is a cat fight with lots of clothes coming off right?
Women are supposed to pine away for lovers rather than fuck anyone they please. Women must have the happy ending where they get the boyfriend.
Women are supposed to be miserable if they are fat, or at least be the fat funny friend or the fat miersable friend. Fat women aren’t supposed to be desired outside of a talk show freaks episode context.
You see where I’m going with this.
And I should say that I said all of this to said acquaintance who no longer wants to talk to me about my work because as he put it, “you’re just too confrontational and angry”.
Here’s the thing I pointed out to him originally.
If the only standard of believability is one made up of and by White men, where does that leave room for the Other, in this case this aggressive female or in my case a woman of color? What White man in this entire world should I ever trust to validate my experiences or writing about women like me?
It’s a passive way of upholding a white supremacist way of thinking that is also deeply terribly sexist.
Maybe baby 20 year old Shannon may have gone for that but 35 year old Shannon will not.
Thus I will probably never be a super famous author and that’s just fine.
This is the sort of thing I honestly believe ruined a lot of my early experiences in the literary world. From the writing class I saved for six months to take which culminated in the teacher telling me to “write more like a woman”, to being told that my porn story was too “special interest” because it wasn’t about heterosexual white people.
It took me a very long time to learn to doubt the tenets of the literary canon of white men.
As of right now, I honestly give not one fuck if men like him find my characters to be unbelievable because they are uncomfortable reading my work.
Sir, my work is not for you.
If your only lens is the White Male Literary gaze, keep it moving.
I think that’s all for now. Later this week I’ll make an emo nanowrimo post with some of the things I’m learning this year and a tidbit of my novella in progress. I will say I’m writing a supernatural thriller, creating my own werewolf type lore, and there are Black werewolves so I’m happy.