Sunday, April 8, 2012

Confutation

I need to address something that has been bothering me.

Some readers have left reviews that my first book, featured to the right, seemed a bit misogynistic in places. Several reviews have been quite caustic in their accusations. I want to go ahead and clear the air on this point.

I am neither a misogynist, or a male chauvanist, or any of the other labels that apply to men who are too stupid to give women the respect they deserve. I am happily married to a woman who amazes me every single day. She works full time, cares for our son, has a social life, and manages to do all of this while working on her MBA full time. The woman was nine months pregnant when she took her finals at the end of her first semester, and still managed to pull off a 3.0 GPA. Liz is the epitome, in my opinion, of the modern woman.

Growing up, my step-mother, who raised me as her own since I was six years old, instilled within me a firm sense of equality between the sexes. She always pointed out that although it is undeniable that men and women are different, we are nonetheless equal in every way. During my time in the military I served with quite a few women. In spite of the dark looks, whispered criticisms, and hurtful jibes that they dealt with on a daily basis, they served their country with honor and distinction. I'm not sure if I would have been able to deal with all that ignorance as constructively as they did. When it comes to morality and common sense, women have a corner on the market and the best that men can hope to do is follow their example and try not to screw up too much.

I realize that I am speaking in generalizations, and I understand that these descriptions do not apply in every situation, but they do apply to the majority. I am trying to convey that I have the utmost respect for women, and for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, or nationality. From an anthropological standpoint, these things are merely social constructs that have no grounding in genetic science. We are all human, and we all have a heart, and a mind, and a soul. If at any point anything that I wrote seemed offensive or belittling to women, or any other group for that matter, I humbly apologize. That was certainly not my intention.

I think most people who read this book will see that clearly, but I understand that this is a sensitive subject. In all honesty, some of the criticisms about my treatment of women in this novel are warranted. I didn't realize until it was pointed out to me that the men in the story are the focus of all the action, and the women are more background characters. That was not a deliberate decision on my part, it just sort of worked out that way. I will strive to be more careful about that in the future. My only excuse is that, growing up, all the women in my family fulfilled more traditional household roles. My step-mother and grandmother kept the house and took care of the kids, and my dad worked long hours in a factory to make ends meet. My father always made it clear to me that cooking, cleaning, and looking after us kids was just as difficult, and just as important to the well-being of our family, as the money his work as a machinist earned. I never saw these roles as demeaning to women, but I guess some people feel differently about that, and I can see why.

For quite literally thousands of years women were, and in many parts of the world still are, treated as second class citizens. This separation of society relegates women to what we here in America refer to as 'traditional' roles. If a woman does the kinds of things my step-mother did with her life because it makes her happy and she finds fulfillment in it, then that is one thing. When women live that life because society gives them no other options, then that is wrong. Social marginalization is as idiotic on the part of the people who perpetrate it as it is soul-crushing for the people it affects. Many women are, and very well should be, dilligent in their efforts to promote womens rights, and I whole-heartedly support them in that endeavor.

I don't want to be too long winded on this, I just want to make sure my stance is understood. I am not a bleeding heart, nor am I a right-wing conservative, but I do believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

I think my readers understand this too. Thanks for keeping me on my toes, ladies.

4 comments:

  1. I do appreciate your response to whatever criticism you have gotten (besides mine) about the role of women in your story No Easy Hope which I am reading and do very much enjoy. I am the one who has only read half the book, will probably finish tonight. Anyway, this Eric and his friends seem very immature in their getting drunk, in their attitudes toward women (even though I realize this is quite common for young men) and the women's role in the story so far. I agree completely that women who choose the life of caring and cleaning and supporting their man are doing hard work in doing so and are entitled to their choices. Has your wife read your book? Perhaps she might be a good critic for you to run your stories by, since she seems to be a fulfilled whole woman that you admire. I was also raised by a traditional mother and father. My dad worked my mom stayed home. I, on the other hand, ended up raising my children by myself, working two and sometimes three jobs and going to school too. I can also shoot a gun. My dad taught me to hunt and fish when I was a girl. He had no sons so I got the son stuff. I also grew up in a time when women were not encouraged to make other choices besides staying home with the kids and playing a supportive role to their husbands. I found it was not for me, it was mind numbing. And being the only one bringing home the bacon it was not even a choice.
    Have you watched Mad Men? I come from that time. I like smart, thinking, participating women.

    All that said, I really do like your book. I would just like to see women who are not flirting and offering themselves up to the new guy in the house, which it seemed is what Stacey did to Eric. I don't think men take these women seriously or marry them. Eric seems a bit weak when it comes to women anyway, so that is just his character flaw perhaps. But I am sure he will grow as things move along, right? Tell me I am right, please!

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  2. I finished your book and loved it. I knew Stacey was not for him. I knew he was not in love with her. So I get it. And there were some women who were military or taught to fight. I still think the way the men and women interact is sort of aimed at the women doing all the support work but that's how it is sometimes. People do what they know, what they are good at and it is all important.

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  3. You totally did the second book perfectly! It is maybe my favorite zombie book. I loved it! I take it all back, Eric totally matured into a great guy!

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