The Problems with #FearlessWomen, and why #FearlessMen Needs to Exist as Well

Back to the blog, for a bit at least, thanks to my first official week off (most of a week, anyway) since beginning my army service. The time in between finishing my Hebrew course and moving to my current base doesn’t count as vacation. 😉

And, as luck would have it, Tor.com again gave me and several of my author friends an opportunity for fun not seen since last year’s #SpaceOperaWeek, where we ended up being the vast majority of people using the tag, in order to promote awesome space opera past and present.

So yesterday, Tor.com announced their “Year of #FearlessWomen” (insert bad joke about how there wouldn’t be enough for a whole year here). Put simply, it’s a “girl power” type of campaign promoting female authors. Because apparently, it needs to be shouted from the rooftops that “women thrive here.”

Now, before we get to the really fun part of this still developing story, as it were, let me say a quick word about a fundamental problem I have with the hashtag campaign in general. First, from a technical standpoint, being fearless–actually fearless–isn’t exactly a realistic or wanted thing. After all, if one is fearless, they cannot be brave, as to be brave is to overcome fears and to what must be done despite that fear. A robot is fearless. Heroes are not. It’s semantics, sure, but it bugged me and I wanted to get that out there.

The other issue I have with the hashtag based solely on the campaign’s name, is merely s symptom of a common problem today, wherein words that should be powerful and convey something meaningful are used where not appropriate, thus making the word meaningless. Examples of this include “racist,” “sexist,” “Nazi,” and more.  If you want to use “fearless” in a similar manner to “courageous,” I object to applying that term to authors (female or male) who, by and large, live safe, comfortable lives where the biggest risks they face are how well will their books do, or will some meanie on the internet say something not nice. I have served with, and know, numerous women here in Israel, who despite not being required to, chose to serve in the Israeli Defense Force. Simply putting on the uniform and walking the streets is, itself, a risk, as Arab terrorists are more likely to target soldiers. And, of course, those who go into combat roles take that risk to a whole other level. Most of these women are between the ages of 19 and 21–I’d wager somewhere around half the age, if not less, of most of the “fearless” authors the #FearlessWomen tag is aimed to promote. If any women are to be termed fearless, it is my IDF colleagues–most, if not all of whom have more maturity and a greater sense of responsibility and duty than women significantly older than them out west. And before I am called a sexist (which, of course, I’m sure will happen regardless at some point, because 2018), this applies to men as well. Calling authors “fearless” in general is dumb. Sure, there are individuals who could qualify, but for the most part, nope.

That lets me segue nicely into what has happened since the announcement. Once my friend Jon Del Arroz learned of this (and I may be able to take some credit for that) he began to do what he did with #SpaceOperaWeek: co-opting the hashtag, and in this case, also launching a #FearlessMen campaign as a counterpart. (And also taking over #FearlessFantasy & #FearlessSF)

(The tweet he quotes may not be visible as the brave author whose tweet he was quoting has since blocked him.)

It is inarguable that a campaign promoting only female authors because they are female is by its nature exclusionary in the mainstream publishing world where the push for “equality” has essentially meant that men need to be shunted aside for the sake of women.

Of course, very soon after the usual suspects went on the attack; feminists, soyboys, basically the mainstream publishing world in a nutshell, with their standard passive-aggressive remarks. There are too many to share here, and with most the attacking tweets are not visible because more of these brave folks quickly pressed their panic–I mean block–button. You can check the low energy attacks out over on Jon’s timeline.

Soon after, Jon launched his #FearlessMen campaign, which I am proud to be a part of, that will highlight male authors, both new and well-known.

In truth, promoting authors because of who or what they are, rather than on the basis of their quality work, is in itself silly. But this is a culture war we are fighting, and in a war, you make use of all the weapons at your disposal. Everyone promoting #FearlessMen would rather just promote great books in general but there needs to be a balance to the naked biases of the mainstream publishing world.

And, to get a little personal, when this was all breaking out yesterday, I was sitting at my post manning the radio room on my base in the Golan Heights, watching a beeper that, if it went off, likely meant that missiles were headed our way, and that we would have less then 30 seconds to get to the bomb-proof rooms. Except for the one manning the radio. While sitting there, I was working on writing Galaxy Ascendant book 3, which is coming along quite nicely while I’m at this non-combat position (and working to get myself into a combat role.)

I wouldn’t label myself as fearless, by the way.

While you’re here, check out my books, books 1 & 2 of the Galaxy Ascendant series, which feature many brave male and female characters: A Greater Duty, and A Looming Shadow. And consider signing up for my mailing list for early access to news and free short fiction set in the Galaxy Ascendant universe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s