I recently wrote a short story for a creative writing class that had a heavy emphasis on feminism, equality, and the removal of appropriative stereotypes (not the story; the class). Throughout this class, I’ve felt more and more dour about my place in it: every day we meet, I am told how I have flouted my power to oppress and dehumanize everyone not me. I am aware of this. I work hard to remove the bias in my life. I work hard to use my privilege for good, if possible. I watch preference given to others who have had to work twice as hard as me to get where they are, and I respect the preference. I don’t know how to write about what I want to write anymore because of all the boundaries and expectations. This gives me a whole new twist on “write what you know.”
But this short story has me confused and bewildered. A long while back, I wrote a story about the most fierce and independent women I had ever met: my ex wife. She was a warrior, a fighter, broken and not, flawed and abusive and everything complex about a person you could possibly want. And exotic. And powerful. Given this class is about the empowering of women, and minorities, and those traditionally without voice, and she’s as untraditional a person I had ever met, I revived it, revised it, reviewed it, revised it again, and handed it in.
If I had problems with the insane amount of, “you can’t write effectively about this because you’re white,” and, “you can’t write about this because you’re male,” restrictions–and then being told I must write it in a social justice vein, where I’m expected to write about an issue I have no business writing about–surely I found a way around it by telling a fairy tale story based strongly on a real life, honest-to-god person.
Not so much. Continue reading