I had coffee yesterday with a brilliant young friend of mine. We met when she was a student in one of my writing classes--the argument and research class, the one I almost never teach because I find it difficult to teach political subjects without getting exhausted. Outrage with no outlet is bad for the soul. Anyway, K. and I were talking about her life, and she was describing one of her friends to me, a guy who had a 'friend with privileges,' and how that relationship had gone south because, essentially, the girl wouldn't put out one day when she was tired.
"Oh my god," K says. "I just. You know."
I raised both eyebrows. "What did you say?"
She winced. "I turned away from him. Disengaged. But I didn't say anything. Sometimes I just get so...so...tired, you know? Of having to educate all the time, speak up, all of that. It's exhausting."
Yes, yes I do know.
My hat is off to the people who do this day in, day out. The feminist bloggers. The female gamers. The women who engage, again and again, with the well-meaning men and the assholes and the "nice guys" and the self-righteous (and often defensive) beneficiaries of privilege. I just made the mistake of commenting on a Facebook post and caught a faceful of but my misogynist game isn't REALLY misogynist from some fanboys, complete with such clever responses as 'absurd' and 'what he said' and assorted ad hominems. All I did was link Scalzi's "Lowest Difficulty Setting" essay to 'em as an example of why a world-build in a patriarchal, inherently misogynistic single POV was not as complicated as, say, what Bioware attempts, and Bioware deserves some credit for that, even if the gameplay/hero/whatever the hell has some issues, in part because there are choices in making that hero--gender, race, class-- because, well, it does. It's more work. When my students try something challenging and don't succeed as neatly as the student who took the easy way out, you think that doesn't factor in?
Because this is the internet, the discussion has shifted position and turned somewhat personal. I have now engaged exactly four times, and that is exactly four times more than I should have. I am tired. I think we'd all do better with face to face and some beer for discussions like this. The anonymity is a bitch.
On the other hand, my friend K, with her friend...sometimes you're just tired, even if the person's sitting right there with you. Maybe the only solution is beer, or yoga, or Borderlands 2.
Maybe I'll just keep writing what I write, and let those characters--who are not allowed to be tired, because I say so--keep fighting the good fight. I'll be over here, with my stout and my Xbox.