Thursday, March 12, 2015

On being humans


Andrew Smith is a popular American author who recently was interviewed by Vice and at some point he was asked, "On the flip side, it sometimes seems like there isn't much of a way into your books for female readers. Where are all the women in your work?". To which he replied, "I was raised in a family with four boys, and I absolutely did not know anything about girls at all. I have a daughter now; she's 17. When she was born, that was the first girl I ever had in my life. I consider myself completely ignorant to all things woman and female. I'm trying to be better though."

Then hell broke loose. For this line, he received an avalanche of brutal criticism. Feminists drooling in anger bullied - yes, bullied, there's not a better word for that - him because how dare he says his experiences with women were less than enough to create convincing female characters? From that single reply, they decided that Andrew Smith is a misogynist who deserves ostracism, whose sexism is disgusting, yadah yadah. 

I feel sick about how quickly a man's words can be twisted and taken out of context to justify someone else's anger and frustration. For instance, Tessa Gratton wrote, "The interpretation is that women are less than human, or at the very least, inherently different from men. That is one of the oldest sexist arguments in the entire world."  Where for goddess' sake did Andrew Smith ever say that?

Yes, his books are focused on male characters who face challenges in life, who suffer abuse, who get over their fears. His secondary female characters are not as well developed. But you don't see him dismissing women in any of his books.
What the bullies don't mention is that in the same interview he says, about his new novel: "The book is really about the failure of male-dominated societies. Every single one of these male-dominated societies is really misguided, a failure—the survivors on the boat, too. They just think that they’re doing something that’s good and really, they’re not." Does that sound misogynist to you? It sure doesn't to me...

This man was abused by both his parents, didn't have a healthy female role model as a child, and was surrounded by brothers, not benefitting from growing up with girls around. He didn't become a man hating women, though, and if he's more comfortable writing about the masculine perspective, so what? 

He said he's ignorant about all things women, and this is a reason to attack him? He openly admitted his issues, and that he's learning to be better while raising his daughter, which is way more than many men out there would be willing to do. Actually, this is nothing new, there are several articles and books about "understanding the female universe", etc. It is a worldwide well-known joke that men don't understand women. 

The writer Chuck Wending wisely said, "I took his statement as being honest and as one that ended with an understanding of his need to improve. Aren't there actually shitty people we can be mad at?

But some people decided to unfairly pick Andrew Smith as a scapegoat, just because they can, because it's easier to immediately assume whatever they want, accuse and attack.

3 comentários:

Anne said...

I don't get the anger either. It's clear that many men (and women too) keep seeing men and women as so different, that they can't possibly understand the other gender as having a human experience.

I find that sad, but an idea that can be changed through challenge and teaching.

It makes me sad, not angry, that he can't write a human having a human experience, who happens to be female.

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