In a nominally egalitarian society the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which the members of the “wrong” groups have the freedom to engage in literature (or equally significant activities) and yet do not do so, thus proving that they can’t. But, alas, give them the least real freedom and they will do it. The trick thus becomes to make the freedom as nominal a freedom as possible and then—since some of the so-and-so’s will do it anyway—develop various strategies for ignoring, condemning, or belittling the artistic works that result. If properly done, these strategies result in a social situation in which the “wrong” people are (supposedly) free to commit literature, art, or whatever, but very few do, and those who do (it seems) do it badly, so we can all go home to lunch.
Yesterday I saw a post by a woman who had mixed feelings about calling out sexism in fandom because there aren’t there more important feminist battles to fight? The comments assured her that while there might be more urgent battles, that didn’t make this one not worth fighting.
The post resonated because that feeling that what I write about is trivial and there are more important things to write about haunts me as well. I like to think of it as internalized concern trolling. For years it kept me from even writing about the issues of sexism in gaming because I thought if I wanted to write about feminism, I should write about more serious topics. As a silencing mechanism, it works like a treat. Phrased one way or another the message is the same: what you write about isn’t important, so shut up.
Science fiction, gaming, and fan-fiction are already marginalized forms of expression, shoved into the convenient container of trivial genre writing. When a woman does it, the effect is doubled. I never realized how systemic that marginalization is, and how it ties into the suppression of women’s writing until I read the brilliant Joanna Russ’ How to Suppress Women’s Writing.
With fandom already relegated to the trivial, how much more trivial then must be the effort to address women’s oppression within those already marginalized communities. Only, that’s a lie, another trap. It’s concern trolling to shut us up. The battle is worth fighting, everywhere, because feminist revolution must be universal.