This week Kameron Hurley’s enthusiastically awaited essay collection Geek Feminist Revolution came out. It’s an awesome read and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone. But it’s not exactly what I want to write about today. After reading it, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life and my writing. And I’m fast coming to the conclusion that I’m ready to stop punching myself in the face. Or at least stop going to places in which I know I’ll get punched in the face. If you cannot parse those sentences, go read Ann Leckie’s excellent post It’s not a real heart, it’s a real artificial heart. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Done? Good.
I haven’t really been able to get excited about a movie since I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. I’ve been slightly sad about that, being ridiculously enthusiastic about things has long been a defining character trait of mine and I love movies enough that my wedding was movie themed. But ever since Fury Road, movies have been kind of a “well, if I have to” -type of experience. There have been a few that I’ve actually gotten enthusiastic about after the fact (Crimson Peak and Deadpool spring to mind). There have been some movies positioned as blockbusters that I flat out decided aren’t worth my time. I doubt I’ll ever see Gods of Egypt or Batman vs Superman. This never used to happen before. I mean, I’m one of the people who went to see Sucker Punch in the theater the first week it opened for goodness sake.
Then I went to see X-Men: Apocalypse. I still wish I had walked out when the metaphorical face punching started. But I was still hoping that at least they were going to tell a story that was something more than cardboard characters with a villain whose motivations would have made silent film makers say he was far too flat to be on screen. While I was watching I thought about all the amazing people writing non-face punchy bullshit getting their voices silenced. I thought about this third installment of a series whose makers have stellar careers making at best mediocre movies and shows like Agent Carter getting cancelled. I thought about Hunger Games nearly not getting made because it had a female lead. I thought about all the movies with female leads making more or less the same bank as similar movies and getting reported as failures and proof that women can’t lead while male actors and directors can be involved in spectacular failures of both story and box-office take-home and still go on to have careers. And I got tired. Weary to the bone of the double think and the double standards that are involved in creating and maintaining the status quo.
Just over a week after that Geek Feminist Revolution came out. I started thinking about all the time I was spending taking myself to places where I already knew I was very likely going to get punched in the face. I thought about what else I could be doing with that time. I started noticing all the bullshit micro-aggressions I encounter on a daily basis. The guy who feels it necessary to explain to a science fiction writer the existence of one of the most celebrated works of science fiction. The guy who deliberately misreads an article to make the point that women are not angels. The guy who, out of sheer lack of a clue decides that women are going to the gynecologist to get a routine examination without so much as bothering to ask women about their lived experience. The guy who decides that a woman having a crisis about turning thirty absolutely needs to be reassured by him that she’s still hot. It’s a deluge out there and frankly, not very likely to get better any time soon.
So why do I feel the need to not only spend hours on but also to pay for getting punched in the face? Just because everyone else is enjoying it? Some things are part of our cultural consciousness. Stuff like Star Wars and superhero movies. Some things deserve the spot and others… don’t. I’ve read Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey and Songs of Ice and Fire and Wheel of Time because they are a part of the cultural consciousness. For whatever reason they reach a point of popularity that leaves an imprint on this moment in time. So I’ve read them in an effort to understand. Our society, our moment in time, my own sensibilities. Well I’m done. At this point I’m just perpetuating the cycle. I’m done with the women getting killed or depowered to motivate a male character into action. I’m done with gratuitous plot point rapes. I’m done with the narratives of women being trophies given to the male lead, even though he’s an asshole and not fit to lick her shoes clean, just because he got to the end of the movie. Fuck those. I have better things to do with my time. Like write stories where women are actually people in charge of their own destinies.