Sunday, July 29, 2012

Girl shouldn't equal victim. Neither should author

I was raised in small-town West Texas, Baptist church, with traditional gender roles strongly reinforced.  When I look back now, I am mostly ashamed and somewhat astonished as to how blind I was, not only to the injustice of female subjugation, but to the fact the situation existed.  I believed sincerely that if a woman was raped, she must have done something at least partially to be responsible, even if it was "putting herself into the situation."  I also believed a lot worse things that I have since gotten over.

My own experience was unequivocally rape, in that the rapist dove through my bedroom window at three in the morning, but I still blamed myself for not keeping a weapon in the bedroom, for not realizing how vulnerable the apartment was, especially since I'd been previously robbed twice.

It's taken me a long time to realize how wrong I was, and that while "accepting responsibility" made me feel like I could have controlled the situation, (and therefore it was less scary), it was a coping mechanism, and not a healthy one.

The recent incidents at Readercon have brought this into sharp focus, because everything Elizabeth Bear says in her masterly summation is true. And it scares me.

I recently published an electronic monograph on medieval pigments. One of the people who bought my book subscribes to a form of extremist politics I personally find abhorrent. We chatted amiably enough about the book, but I never want to meet him in person, and yet I can't bring myself to remove him from my Facebook, because I feel it would be "unprofessional" as an author.  Another person who I have tried very hard to never, ever have any further contact with, because he squicks me out, is physically intimidating, and is known to have a drinking problem, has contacted me over the book material. And I was polite and hated myself for being polite.

Amazingly enough, one of the aspects of being an author that I never, EVER considered, was the fact that your readers will want to meet you, hang out with you, talk to you. And that I might really be disturbed by this.

I'm not sure yet how to deal with this. But I will deal with it. Because I want to be an author. And because I will not let fear of anything dictate how I live my life.  Back to work.


  1. I try very hard not to let myself feel like a victim. I avoid people like the icky folks you mention. Sometimes, in business, our choices in who we get to deal with are more limited than they are in our personal lives, but you don't have to feel bad about booting someone from your facebook because they give you the creeps.

    We have rights, as women and as authors. Stalker laws are there for a reason (even if they aren't always as effective as they should be). Don't let your desire to be a nice person override the alarm bells you hear around certain people. You have the right to live without fear.

    *Note: I always keep a weapon (or three) in my bedroom. I don't know how effective a fighter I'd be if I were awakened by an intruder, but I'm paranoid enough to keep a few pointy things within arm's length of the pillow.

  2. I'm really sorry about your violent experience; even though I know a stranger on a blog telling you it's not your fault might not carry much weight, please know that being assaulted in your own home is not your fault.

    My apartment was broken into a month after I was married; we we were not home but some of our wedding gifts were taken, and although we didn't have much at the time in the way of valuables, they were all gone. I felt violated and blamed myself for not having transferred my renter's insurance to the new place. Amazingly, friends and family put together a donation that somehow amounted to almost the exact dollar amount we'd lost. The experience changed me. I still felt like I was partly to blame for not having that insurance, and for not securing a better lock... the list goes on. It wasn't our fault someone broke the law and stole our stuff.

    Laura above is right, we have rights and you should not let niceness overtake red flags. There is a way to be tactful and professional; or you can just remove the "friend" on FB and not provide any response as to why.