Not for the first time, due to my writing, I have been accused of being a misogynist. No, I’m not going to link to the accusation because I don’t want to be accused of disputing a review. The person who said this is well within their rights to have this opinion and I have zero problem with them expressing it. They are welcome to post it wherever they’d like without interference or upset on my part. I welcome discussion and commentary in all forms.
The fact is, I’ve heard this accusation before. Since I published Shadow on the Wall, periodically a review or blog post will pop up about how my writing is a glorification of violence against women. I maintain that this is more about the reader being uncomfortable reading my raw depiction of the violence women all over the world suffer, but I get it. Shadow is a hard book to read. The rape in the early part of the book is explicit and horrifying. It’s also award-winning and praised by international advocates for both women and muslims. Sometimes the truth is hard to look at.
This accusation has popped up with White Chalk as well, not surprisingly. That is indeed a very raw book.
This time, the issue is again with another book and another rape. Moon Dust is the prequel to my story Two Moons of Sera. Moon Dust is intended as a Science Fiction Medical Horror piece. The incidents described are meant to be horrid, and the main character makes a major decision about her life before she’s recovered from the abuse she’s suffered. Is she strong? Is it PTSD? Am I advocating a pro-life agenda? It’s definitely meant to ask these questions and readers are welcome to come to their own conclusions based on what they read into what I wrote.
This is the story that had one reviewer call “a truly disgusting piece of internalized misogyny that only made me feel progressively enraged the more I read.”
As an artist, I have to of course wonder if I missed the mark of what I thought I was writing when I read reviews like this. But it also makes me wonder if maybe I hit the nail right on the head. What I write isn’t intended to always be comfortable. It isn’t intended to pander to either side of any issue. I write to tell truths, to expose the realities people deal with in all it’s ugly painful reality. I am a feminist, but to discuss the issues women and men face within this imbalanced world is work for ALL of us to do. It’s messy, there are no easy answers. It’s impossible to vilify men and celebrate women all the time. Because the reality is there is work to do on all sides. If showing the messy areas where we make compromises and where it’s not easy to tell who is the bad guy makes me a misogynist, so be it.
And so I continue to write books which are meant to discuss deeper issues. Some with lighthearted storylines and layers. Some, like Shadow, are more in your face with their depictions of violence. Others, like Moon Dust may seem like one thing, but perspective is everything. For me Moon Dust is the story of a woman in an impossible situation who uses every option available to claw and fight her way to freedom. She is flawed, she is at times weak and naive. She is also incredibly strong and finds something worth fighting for. In Two Moons of Sera she is at times inscrutable and unlikable. Moon Dust highlights why. She is a woman. She is a mother. She is weak. She is abused. She is damaged. She is unbreakable. She is a part of us all. If exposing that is misogyny then I’ll be a misogynist for today.
The irony is that almost daily I get messages or comments on FB or emails from Men’s Rights Activist types. I’m accused regularly of being a man hater or of not being inclusive enough of the non-binary members of the community because I focus on women’s issues. A girl can’t win for trying it seems.
So for now, I’ll go back to writing. As story about a species with no gender, a part of the larger #Jakkattu world, something I’m excited to share and I hope you’ll enjoy reading. If not, tell me why, I look forward to hearing from all my readers, even ones who don’t like what I’m saying.