So here’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. It’s both personal and universal. Following Aristotle’s lead, let’s start with what we (eg I) know best.
If nothing performs the function of knowledge, nothing provides the function of virtue, either. I am deeply, deeply suspicious of the idea that being a feminist makes you a better person. It doesn’t.*
The moment you think that being feminist means being good, or start conflating your feminism with your goodness, you add more and more light to the room — I am feminist / brave / strong / loving / compassionate / smart / fair / progressive / superior — and you start casting a bigger and bigger shadow. You stop being able to see where you’re scared / vulnerable / hateful / cold / ignorant / unfair / regressive / flawed. And you need to keep an eye on that. You just do.
Here’s a brief break from #dasracistday — or is it? — where I talk about this essay Sady wrote. (Sady, whom I casually refer to as “my amazing and lovely girlfriend”: full disclosure.)
I know the jumping off points for this essay, I think. This part I quoted is just a very tiny sliver of it (it’s a few thousand words), so let me also give a bit of context. A few weeks ago Sady wrote a lengthy and critical essay about Game of Thrones. Actually, well it was lengthy, but it was more a scorecard with commentary than an essay. Well, but it was very thoughtful commentary, and funny. It was an enumeration of the violence from Martin’s books, which enumeration she wrote after reading all the books in like two days because she reads really quickly. And she was, I think, pretty overwhelmed by how shitty the books treated women (and everyone, but when a site’s description is “Ladybusiness”, you should know there’s going to be a cultural lens, as it were). After reading all the books, she wrote this really long essay/scorecard about it. No one really denied anything that she wrote about, but it seemed (to me) that a lot of people sort of took issue with her tone, because she tried to preclude the sort of straight-up disagreement that we all know (or don’t, I don’t know) all know occurs when something that’s engendered a what you’d call “large fandom”. The sort of disagreement that’s only charitably called “disagreement”, and more often called “partisanship” or “rabidness”, as in “rabid fan of”. Which, not sure why that’s generally seen as positive.
So, at the beginning of this essay, Sady wrote, “And at the end of the day, here is what the people in the ‘fandom’ are going to take away: You don’t like my toys? I hate you!”, which is exactly what happened. A lot. Now, I know that just predicting what will happen doesn’t mean you’re not culpable in its happening, but it was a fairly swift and brutal response to a thing that, to me, seemed fairly black and white: George R R Martin’s books are a symphony of rape, violence, child abuse, murder, etc. You know, fantastic fiction in the most literal sense. Which seems indisputable. The meaning of it all, of course, is what’s interesting and apparently at play.
I’ve been really interested in Sady’s criticism of GoT and the unfortunate reaction.