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.