After the dust settles
Okay, so first things first. I should not have pulled the traffic card when responding to Sady about A Game of Thrones. That was, in the words of a wise person I know, “a dick move.” I was feeling a bit like a dick, I admit, and not entirely without reason. I’m not trying to troll anybody, and I felt stung. But still, pettiness is no way to achieve my moment of Zen. I should not have done that, and I apologize to both Sady and anyone who had the misfortune of enduring my pettiness.
I think I understand a little more about this debate now. Sexism is tricky, obviously, but how men and women engage on the subject is even thornier. Good faith is easily mistaken because enough bad faith already poisoned the water.
Misogyny is a very real thing, and people with different perspectives on misogyny are going to have different reactions to a book that displays a violent, patriarchal world in all its gory detail. That’s fine, we’re built to have different reactions. Our programming just differs from one brain to the next depending on how we’re wired, how we’re raised, how we’ve decided to stake our claim. There is a case to be made that it hurts more than helps, though I would disagree with that.
I’m not sure I would write the violence and the sexual violence the way Martin does if I were to write these books. It feels gratuitous at times. I don’t think it’s meant to be sexist. I stick by my theory that Martin is doing his best, with his own limited perspective, to offer up a critique of sexism and feudalism. He has created a violent, sexist world as a mirror to hold up to our own.
I still think Sady is wrong, and I still disagree with the notion that men should take a backseat in the discussion of sexism (if only because I think it’s truly counterproductive) but I do understand that some places online are meant to be safe houses of a sort. They’re not fertile ground for a strongly voiced debate. Sady isn’t interested in engaging with someone like me on the issue of sexism any more than she is interested in reading fantasy. Her readers don’t expect her to so why should I? At some point you just have to call it a day and realize that not only do people not always agree, they don’t always agree on how to disagree. Hell, in some ways we can’t even agree on how to agree.
In any case, I regret lowering the discourse. I should not have done that. It muddies up the rest of the argument, obscures the ideas in favor of a cheap shot. There may be a time and a place for cheap shots, but this wasn’t it. Somehow the shit-talking always rise to the surface, and bogs down whatever you had to say that may have been important.