Wednesday, 7 August 2013

We Have Answered Your Questions

About every fortnight or so we get an email to our Fangs account which follows a very predictable pattern:

It begins with gushing praise for our social justice perspective for Urban Fantasy and our analysis of tropes and marginalised issues.

This then segues into a request. They need help. They’re writing a book and they want advice with THIS character or THAT one. They want to include a minority but they don’t know how. Is this a trope? Is that? Is this ok? This totally offensive portrayal is ok because I’m a special snowflake… right? Or maybe we could beta for them? Or how about “review” their unpublished book? Just so they know they’ve got it right! Can’t we just help them?

This usually follows, after a refusal, with a “I thought you cared?!”

We do care. And we have helped. We created Fangs for the Fantasy. We have written nearly 100 posts on marginalised issues in the media. We have poked tropes and stereotypes, erasure and insults, slurs and depictions and themes and gods know what else.

We have helped. We have created a resource and put a lot of work on it. And not just us – far from just us – there are many resources out there created by marginalised people dedicated to addressing every marginalised issue – including the media.

See this is what bothers me about the whole “duty to teach” thing. Not just that privileged people feel entitled to get spoon fed information – but that in doing so they are stepping over the vast resources we have ALREADY provided.

Look at the internet! Marginalised people have spent untold hours – years even – producing blogs, sites, forums, guides and who knows what else on every last marginalised issue under the sun. We have already poured out incredible effort here – and that effort can also come with considerable emotional pain since it involves poking at our sore spots AND it means exposing ourselves to an often very hostile backlash from privileged folks

And this is why we often get short, bad tempered, snappy or flaming enraged when asked questions we consider inane. Because we have answered these questions. Not only have we answered them but we have handed these resources to you, resources that cost us to make, but then you’re not using them.

Personally, I don’t mind answering questions – I have been professionally trained to endure the most annoying of questions. If I don’t feel like answering I will ignore you until I have the Dice to handle them. Or I may just post links to where I have already answered the questions rather than repeat myself. But when people ask me to work through their books after getting my contact details from a site where I have put in untold hours giving them just the information they ask for… yeah, even my temper frays a little there.