But I Didn’t Mean You

(Originally posted March 7, 2016, here.)

There’s a bit of poison I’ve seen recently, though it’s been around for a long time. It’s the tendency to say “I’m not like those.”

It’s usually born from a frustration against a situation rather than people, but it ends up hurting people and strengthening the situation.

For example:

“I’m not like those women. I don’t like pink. I don’t read romance, I read science fiction and fantasy. I’m into science. I’m not brainless!”

Now, it’s probably meant to be an attack against the way society and media portray women: as shallow persons who can’t comprehend anything technical, who don’t like geeky stuff like Game of Thrones or comics and as persons who are only interested in getting husbands.

Except that it attacks other women. And lumps them into bad (so as to make the speaker better). It’s also a trap. Because women who like romance aren’t brainless. Many of us read widely. And what the hell is wrong with liking pink, anyway?

This kind of division only feeds into misogyny. That women are somehow bad for liking the things women like. Things coded as feminine are weak and inferior.

So, to be good, you have to be not-woman. Which—no. Stop it. Women are not bad. Things associated with women are not bad. (And yes, this means that vaginas are not bad, whether they’re found on men or women.)

Another example:

“I’m not like those writers who churn out books every month! I’m careful with my every word. I write meaningful stories and make sure they’re edited properly. My books are good and not trite unpolished shit.”

Generally, this is all about the pressure writers feel to produce. To have more releases. To get books out there faster.

It’s a struggle…as an author I know readers are waiting. But, due to my situation, there’s only so fast I can write.

But this type of statement points a finger at writers who can put out books fast (because maybe they write full time) and says, “your stories are crap.” It attacks other writers. And often when those other writers point that out, the response is “But, I didn’t mean you.”

The thing is, yes, you did mean them. You just didn’t realize they were them until you hurt them and they spoke up.

And perhaps that should make up rethink our rants when we get…negative feedback for them. Sometimes we’re not correct or righteous. Sometimes we’re feeding back into the very situations we want to rant about.

If you can say, “I didn’t mean you,” to someone hurt by what you’ve said (and you really didn’t mean them) then maybe you need to revisit your argument.