Most people have their heads stuffed with straw. Particularly people in power in any field. They don’t have to listen to anyone else, so they don’t. And because most people want to be heroes — and because unfortunately for the last fifty years at least people have been raised to want to “change the world” — they make themselves important villains to fight.
It’s particularly convenient when you can convince yourself you’re doing good in the world by doing well. I.e. it’s convenient to convince yourself that your pursuit for money and fame will make the world a better place.
And meh, if you’re a writer and you convince yourself your thriller is giving a message that it’s bad to abuse women, who are you hurting? Pat yourself in the back all you want to. It’s fine.
The problem comes in when you need to see yourself as heroic and you are really not doing anything that is particularly brave or groundbreaking. I mean, sure, you can write a book saying “don’t beat women.” But you know, that’s not a temptation of most males, outside certain ethnic and religious groups.
Then you convince yourself everyone is secretly beating women, and your book, YOUR BOOK, is the one that will change it.
This is also relatively harmless. In my first writers’ group we had a lady who had been raised in an ultra fundamentalist, bible-literalist environment. She was dissecting the Bible to find contradictions because she was going to write a book with them, and this would convince people the Bible was NOT literal and change the world.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her that, seriously, most of the world didn’t think every word in the Bible was the absolute, fricking immutable truth, particularly not in the translation of a translation of a translation. Heck many Christian groups discard vast portions of it.
And besides, she was happy and it gave her life purpose. At least she didn’t spend her time accusing us of having her for wanting to upend the inerrant nature of the Bible, or accusing vast groups of controlling the world and keeping the truth of contradictions in the bible from coming out.
The problem I have with the publishing establishment right now (and the political establishment) is that they feel a need to fight these invisible enemies, but also to make other people into their invisible enemies.
There is a guy, very publishing establishment, although they’ve tried to shed him a couple of times, but he crawled back and licked their feet and begged to be let in, who comments regularly at MGC. He’s a good example of what is going on in publishing (and politics) even though he’s low level and probably believes every word.
I didn’t even know — or care — that he was gay and apparently in a relationship with a non-white gentleman. And if I’d known, I’d care about the same as any other commenter’s orientation or sexuality. Except that one of the other commenters found out he’s been going — note — TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POLITICAL FENCE to ask if he should go to Liberty con with his partner.
The answer of course was that they’d get abused, possibly attacked.
Bows head and pinches nose. Guys. There are several gay couples at Liberty con every year. Some are part of our (yeah the evil “Puppies”) inner circle. As for race, the first year I attended LC I ended up leaving the GOH talk to rock a baby outside the room. Mostly, because my kids had just outgrown my arms, and I really missed babies. I’m still amazed the family trusted me, because total stranger, but I was one of the guests, so… And mom really wanted to hear the GOH. That baby was bi-racial. He’s now a teen. I catch glimpses of him, though teens and later run in a pack at LC, and adults don’t have much to do with him.
Now I don’t care, except it would be good for this man to see no one cares, and that people are decent to him despite political differences (which are more likely to come up than orientation, because no one cares about that) and to have a conversation with people who are completely different from what he expects.
But for him, this is very real. There is a vast right wing conspiracy who hates him for something he can’t help, and who would attack him and his partner for no reason.
I don’t know if the people at the top of the hierarchies on the left believe this. They might. It’s after all much better to say you’re corrupting an award and holding on to power and threatening to destroy careers because the other side is racisss sexissss homophobic, than to say you’re trying to save you little piece of the pie till retirement and after that you don’t give a damn. So you might convince yourself that this straw is real, and everyone on the powerless, quixotic side is a black hearted villain.
But the problem is that a lot of the low levels believe that as received wisdom. People they admire propagate this bullshit. And so they grow up convinced the world is against them: that everyone hates them for being women, or gay, or whatever, and that they will never be allowed to succeed.
That’s a horrible idea.
The truth is, the right hasn’t been the establishment since WWII. We have no power. We didn’t use to have a voice. And so the left built themselves a pretty little enemy, one that was easily defeatable once educated.
We were ignorant troglodytes, with little education, who were, ah, how did President Obama so eloquently put it?
We clung to guns and Bibles and were afraid of people not like us.
He might have considered he was afraid of people not like him. If he took a minute to think.
Does the stereotype exist? Well, there are 300 million of us. Just about everything exists, including a one-eyed-one-legged purple haired women who is afraid of eggs because she thinks they’re space aliens.
In significant numbers? Bah. I know some people who fit one stereotype or two, but none that fit all three.
I’m tired o the straw-spinners making everyone who opposes them afraid of “women and minorities.” Really? That’s what they’re going to go with? Like anyone can work without coming across women and minorities, in any field for the last fifty years.
Perhaps the straw is spun because they’re afraid of people who are not like them.
Or perhaps it’s done calculatedly to make themselves feel brave and special.
I don’t care. I care that it stops.
There have always been women in fantasy and science fiction, and the only people trying to stop them were New York publishers who though that “the public” was made of woman-hating straw. There have always been people of different levels of tan. There have always been gay people.
We don’t care, so long as you can write.
And as for politics, no, the right is not “Nazis.” You can tell by how you’re not in a camp. The more you build up the straw and scream this bullshit simply because we disagree with you on how to build the best society FOR ALL, the more you get ignored.
We’re well past the time now — in publishing or in politics — where we could avert backlash pendulum swing.
We’re now in the place that I and people like me are trying to prevent it from swinging too far and bringing about that horrible straw world you fear.
I beg you, with tears in my eyes, stop stuffing everything with straw and start thinking.