What, Me Worry?

So, I found that one of my blog posts may have played a tiny part in a small kerfuffle.  It might’ve had to do with my statement that…

I need to read more fiction by men. There, I said it.

I know how it sounds, what with all the stuff going on at DC Comics these days, to say nothing about the general He-Man-Woman-Hater’s club vibe that some parts of genre-dom still have (even in writing circles).  Hell, anyone who doesn’t know me and sees The Playboy Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy in my goodreads “currently reading” list might well roll their eyes and write me off as a toolbag….

Now, I suppose it does beg the question, “Okay, Don, where does your fear of that reaction come from?”

It comes from the same portion of my monkey brain that makes me think twice about walking through a dark alley in Any City, USA without having first geared myself up like a Sayoc Kali practitioner.  Because unless I can know exactly what does or doesn’t lurk in that alley, my monkey brain only sees the dark and, therefore, can see exactly two choices: fight or flight.  Avoid the alley or walk in with my guard up.

Why?  Because, the world being what it is, maybe I walk through that alley and end up feeling a little stupid because my fears were unfounded, as there was no one in the alley to begin with.  Or, maybe I’ll find that I was glad that I was on-guard and ready to feed an attacker his own eyeballs

In my post, I talked about how I’m currently reading specific male writers for specific reasons. One minor point, though: It was not because I don’t have as many male writers as female ones on my bookshelves.  It’s because I’ve been wondering if I could be missing out not having as many significant male writing influences as female ones in my head.  (And I admit, it’s a theory that could be off-base.)

With the world being what it is, I was afraid (and I could’ve been off-base here, too) that to simply say, “Yeah, I’mo read stories exclusively by men, for a bit, because…” and to have left it there would, at best, make me look like I was willingly ignoring the gender elephant in the room.  Or, at worst, make me look really, really stupid.  And you know, maybe I still do, the world being what it is…?

Logical?  Well, about as logical as the fear of the dark alley, which is to say that maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.  Might depend on the alley, or on who may or may not be in it, the time of evening, whatever.  But there’s only ever one way to find out.  And thus, it felt right for me to do the rhetorical equivalent of nonchalantly placing my hand on the tactical folder I’ve secreted on my hip for a quick draw, just in case.  To me, it’s just acknowledging the possibility that maybe, just maybe, some shit could go down.

I’d thought the biggest issue with my post was having accidentally left Jeffrey Ford’s name off the Male-Writers-Who’ve-Influenced-Me list.  But just because the particular scenario I feared didn’t play out (yet), was my defensive “There I said it” posture unwarranted?  Should I have braved that alley as if it were broad daylight, confident that there was nothing in it that could possibly hurt me?

I dunno, you decide.

2 thoughts on “What, Me Worry?”

  1. I read your original blog post as "maybe I'm missing out on some stuff, why don't I read more of that?" Your post didn't come across as defensive to me, but I read it as a little tongue in cheek. (And I've seen you fanboy Theodora Goss 😉 )

    Yeah, I don't want the Internet Hordes to descend on me, either, but I also don't think saying "I read a lot of short fiction by women; maybe I should get some male writers, too," is all that controversial. Where it gets controversial is saying that ONLY male writers are worth reading, because girls can't write/are ruining SF/whatever. Which isn't anywhere near what you said, yeah?

    Saying "hey, I want to see how more people make words and see if I can learn how to make words from them" is part of the job description, after all. If some of those people are dudes, well, half the planet is populated by dudes.

  2. If I remember right, you also saw me gush when I got that Writing Excuses ribbon at D*C. "Mary Robinette Kowal handed this to me *swoon*!!" 🙂

    But no, I wasn't "on the defensive," per se. I guess you might call it hypervigilance…?

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