After a year and a half of writing and working hard to do what I do, every day is like being in a war–against society. I’ve had false rumors spread about me, I’ve been called a male-hating feminist, a terrible writer (from someone who has never read a word), an elitist among others. It is not the first time nor will it be the last. I was just hoping the world had moved past stereotypes by now.
Yes, I am the author of the Tolkien Fan Fiction “The Kingdom of the Woodland Realm Trilogy”. It is told in the first person of each elf over four generations–all male. I am also a woman of color. I remember a time when women had to write under male pseudonyms. When “Frankenstein” came out, chances are men balked at the author’s name: Mary Shelley. Long after those days, women have done so much and it has taken years to find out just how much they have contributed.
I did not choose to write this, rather it chose me. Prior to this, I was once again writing about a male and told I had no right to do such a thing. No one has a right to do much in this world except their best no matter what it is.
I’ve read books since I was three. My parents taught me how to read and write before preschool. When the teachers in preschool realized I could read, they kicked me out because they said I was making the other children look bad. In reality, the other kids asked me to read to them. Nevertheless, I spent what was left of preschool with my great-grandmother. I fared no better by kindergarten. What could they teach me that I didn’t already know? I was made to clean the room while other children played games. My second grade teacher thought I was bad because as a black child, I had no right to know how to read or do math. Instead of punishing me, my principal let me make copies, run errands and file things as I knew how to do it alphabetically. I even answered phones.
To this day, I have to explain why I know something or how is it possible to know something. I remember while working on my Master’s, I was the only female and person of color getting that degree. That was the one time I was asked my opinion not as a woman but as an equal getting a degree. Unbeknownst to my classmates, my professor and advisor expected more of me than everyone else not because I was a woman or black, but because they knew I was capable. I made the mistake of proving I could do anything when I was asked to explain the difference between a primary and a secondary source. I added an argument he didn’t think of and told me personally, I expect you to do better than everyone else. That was scary, but at the same time, I was proud because I was seen as what I could do, not what I looked like.
Women always have to do much more to be seen as talented. Mistakenly, men think it is a feminist thing or we are trying to be men. I enjoy being a woman. I am not a feminist–I just know what I can do as a person and I expect to be respected for what I can do as a person. My sex is not what defines me. What defines me is who I am and what I can do. Looking back throughout history, on every continent, women have had to do a lot of things most would think only a man can do. Interestingly, there are few things I’ve ever read that ever said it was a bad thing. Culture clashes may state otherwise–they are trying to make themselves look better by comparison.
When I read about a woman who pretended to be a male to fight in America’s Revolutionary War and was denied (at the time) the rewards of her fellow soldiers, that was the first time I realized that women doing anything was seen as wrong outside of a dress and a husband. Yet, men worship the Virgin Mary. She is how women should be–obedient and graceful. They aren’t supposed to be Joan of Arc, Boudica, Hua Mulan, Tomoe Gozen or Yaa Asantewaa.
When I write the last thing on my mind is I am a girl. I’m thinking about the story. Is it good, does it make sense, is it relatable, is it possible, etc. As a human being, feelings don’t discriminate. Being sensitive has nothing to do with being week or feminine. It means as a human being you are capable of having feelings without fear of being labeled.
I am a woman of color and a writer. I prefer to be known as a good writer for my genre. I am not anomaly. I love writing and will do it until I can’t do it anymore. Even though I’m a hidden figure, I know what I am capable of and I will do my best to convey what I will as a writer.–J.
Image: ©2002. Warner Brothers Pictures. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. All Rights Reserved.