Yesterday I wrote this post about gender and etc.
It was in response to an email I got that really offended me. However, I wanted my post to be inclusive rather than exclusive. Meaning, I didn’t want my post to be “All The Reasons Why (Insert name here) Is A Dick.” I tend to think we all have more in common than we think we do, so I like to try and pull us all together from those commonalities.
Well, in so doing, I made the decision to leave a lot of context out of my post that only the person who wrote me that email would understand. That was a stupid move on my part, and I ended up offending people without meaning to. Believe it or not, Internet, I am not perfect. I do make mistakes, and I don’t know everything.
Anyway, I edited my post, because I agree with all the comments people made who were offended. I took out the parts that were offensive and ignorant of me to put in there. I also decided to add some context here so people would maybe understand more why I’m so pissed off. Also, I am making a goal to add context in the future. We all need it. I have learned that “inclusive” doesn’t need to mean “inclusive to the point of pissing people off.” Context matters.
Here are some quotes from the email I got (which was in comment to my old review of Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht):
I appreciate your reviews. I just discovered your website and I’m starting to explore some of your older reviews. I just read Of Blood and Honey by S. Leicht and I am very disturbed. I know I’ll send you this letter and you’ll probably call me sexist, but I’m not. I wish women would just be women and stop trying to write like men. They Can’t. They don’t have the right equipment and don’t understand what it is like to be a man. Women writing masculine books disturbs me. Do these women need gender therapy? What does it say about society when women can’t just write women’s books and men can’t just write a man’s book and I can’t write this email to you without being called sexist? I’m just trying to start a discussion. Can women be women and men be men anymore?
(etc etc etc)
I should note I get BUCKETS of email, on all manner of weird topics. Some I reply to, some I ignore, some, like this, spark a rant-fest.
That’s just a snippet of the email. It’s really not much longer than that, but it really regurgitates the main points a few times and then leaves me with a “great work” and a sign off.
Many of the comments in my original post were written as me sort of restating what this dude said in such a way that I hope he’d see it and see what a jackass I thought his email was. I forgot to realize that, without context, other people might read it and think that I was being a jackass. And in a lot of ways, I was.
The thing is, gender and sexuality is a very nuanced area that is really starting to get the limelight in popular culture, literature and etc. There are a lot of opinions, and a lot of people are saying a lot about it. I think that is very exciting, but it’s also an area where a lot of toes can get stepped on very easily. As it was pointed out to me, gender does not equal sex, and I have an odd habit to equate the two without even thinking about it. I think a lot of us do. I’m very glad that I was called out on that. In truth, I’m starting to really do a lot more research right now, and I’m really thinking about the genre and gender in a whole new way. I’m fascinated! Honestly!
I’m not even exaggerating that point. That comment, that point that the offended person left me was hugely enlightening.
And I’m sorry I didn’t add context when I should have. That email made me very mad, and kind of slipped into an “I know what I’m doing, I’m sure everyone else will, too” mode. I do that sometimes.
I appreciate being called out on that, because in all reality, I’m not lying when I say that discussion is where progress happens. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m stupid, make mistakes, and occasionally look like a gigantic roaring ass. I’m also not afraid to admit when I’m doing all those things and apologize for it. Gender is such an exciting area right now, and I’m brand new to exploring it. For so long I was so absorbed in my cancer battle, a lot of these nuanced conversations were too deep, too much of a mental exercise for me to focus on. I’m really starting to dive into these areas and look at things a whole new way.
Thanks to @Loerwyn for calling me out. I hope the context I’ve added here helps a bit with my stupid errors. I edited my post to hopefully take out the offensive parts I added due to my own social programming and preconceived notions that I am trying very hard to override. Education is the first step, and I’m doing a ton of research and I’m really excited about how this evolving area of understanding will effect the genre I love so much. In more mundane news, this whole exchange has made me want to read Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie again, as I think she was really onto something with her interesting use of “she” and “he”.
Context matters, and I hope my context and my apology has eased some ruffled feathers. Progress happens when people aren’t afraid to call others out on their mistakes they may (or may not) make ignorantly. I appreciate @Loerwyn for being brave enough to foster change, start discussion, and get the wheels of my mind moving. I always appreciate an opportunity to broaden my horizons and understanding.
Isn’t that what life is all about?
And I humbly apologize for being a blubbering ass.