Ladies, Put Down the Soma

Another excellent post from the Mad Genius Club

Mad Genius Club

When I was in my last year in college, I had a Fulbright professor from North Carolina, who taught American Culture and Literature.

The one time he brought the entire class of thirty women to a standstill – well besides the time when he said “Poym” and we had no idea what he was talking about.  (He meant poem.) – was when he apologized for using the generic “he.”

He made the logical construction “when one does this, he” and then went into immediate, reflexive, panicked apology while we stared at him, blinking.  At long last one of us (weirdly not me) said “Why are you apologizing for grammar?  “He” is the correct terms for a person of indeterminate gender in anglo-saxon grammar, and it includes both male and female.”

The look of relief on that man’s face, because a group of college women weren’t taking issue with his use…

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About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
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One Response to Ladies, Put Down the Soma

  1. After reading both of her articles, I’m disappointed. She was so close to making wonderful points about how we address sexism and equality in the industry but in the end she came across as very apologist to me. Yes, the call for censorship on Malsberg and Reznick is ridiculous. People are entitled to their opinions. She also fails to note that just because she found nothing offensive in the pieces is only HER opinion. I found plenty offensive in them and I’m not a militant feminist.

    Part of me agrees that Malsberg and Reznick are taking an unfair amount of heat on this topic. However, there are many people who have very sexist attitudes towards writers of a certain gender and there IS a major disparity in how women of sci-fi and fantasy are portrayed. As I mentioned on my blog, the infamous cover is not in and of itself all that terrible. It’s that the industry avoids representing women as anything other than sex symbols. The cover and Malsberg and Resnick became lightning rods for a much larger issue. That is a risk anyone takes when publishing anything, especially one’s opinions.

    To a certain degree we get too sensitive on issues of gender and any perceived slight can be made into a major issue. Yes, it can be easy to blame one’s own personal failures on an exterior force whether it’s sexism, racism, or any other -ism you can name. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who aren’t getting the opportunities that others enjoy because of the -isms.

    And pointing out how awful is is for women in Islamic countries is a misdirect. Yes, they are oppressed much worse than we are in the US, that doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to challenge what sexist attitudes still exist here.

    Saying women can’t have it all? Another misdirect. Yes, I agree that much of the concept of grrrrl power is a giant fantasy and there are physical and emotional disparities between men and women. While it is very true that it is difficult to balance family life and career and if you try to do both, both will suffer- that does NOT mean that all failures or loss of opportunities can automatically be blamed on trying to do both. It does not preclude sexism in the industry from being real.

    And finally, let’s address this comment: “And stop attacking innocent languages which never hurt anyone and nice men who never even looked at you cross-eyed.”

    Malsberg and Reznick, just like all of us here in the blogosphere are WRITERS. We of all people should know there is no such thing as innocent language. We of all people should understand that what we say and how we say it will be analyzed, evaluated, and judged. Calling the things they said “old-fashioned” is akin to saying “Don’t be hard on them, they don’t know any better because they grew up in a different era.” In other words, it’s okay that they made sexist remarks because they didn’t realize they were doing it. No, no it’s not okay. I don’t agree with calls for censoring them, but they do deserve the criticism being leveled at them.

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