First, a little update for those few who read this blog: Yes, I am writing. Not everyday, but I am writing. Slowly.

My boys started their summer vacation last week, and I decided at some point during the school year that this was going to be the most low-key summer yet. Last year, they spent June and July enjoying summer camp after summer camp after swimming lessons after God only knows what else. Then we went on our annual family vacation to the beach. Then we celebrated our older son’s birthday. Then the boys went back to school. It felt rushed. It felt tiring. It was not a true break. Even though I had mornings to myself while the boys were in summer camps, I was still working on publishing The Golden Orb. No, it was not a break for any of us.

Then they started school again, and I spent the better part of ten months getting them there. One boy in half-day preschool, the other in full-day elementary. Back and forth three times a day, five days a week, plus any errands or meetups or anything else I needed or wanted to do. It was a lot of traveling, and by April, I was pretty much done with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love their school. It’s a private, parent-run Montessori school with an elementary program, which is why neither of them rides a bus. We have happily traded the bus-riding experience during their primary years for a wonderful individualized curriculum. Our school community is amazing too, so I try not to complain about the excess driving and constantly remind myself that we only have to do it for a couple more years, when our youngest will be in school all day.

Still, I’m glad it’s summer break, when we don’t have to feel rushed in the morning to get out the door. And this year we’re doing two weeks of swimming lessons. THAT’S IT. No summer camps. Our family vacation to the beach isn’t until the middle of July, and as soon as we get back, my husband and I will be going to Gen Con. Other than that and my birthday weekend, we have a whole lot of nothing planned.

Even with all the time ahead of us, I don’t foresee the science fiction novel I’ve been feverishly working on since January getting published until late summer or fall. Why? Well, because I want to enjoy our summer break. I do plan on writing, but I don’t want to spend the majority of the next two months hunched over my laptop while my boys are playing Plants vs. Zombies in the other room. Last week, I allowed them screen time in the mornings while I did some revisions, and with as much writing as I got done — which, granted, doesn’t seem like a whole lot —  I felt guilty that I wasn’t giving my sons my full attention. We spent quality time in the afternoons and evenings together, but now that they’re home all day, I feel my motherly responsibilities glaring down on me like the hot July sun.

The novel will get done. Despite the soul-crushing, mind-numbing bouts of self-doubt I’ve had recently, thinking I’ll never meet my editor’s high expectations, the novel will get done. It’s been difficult after reading a “Wow. Just wow” critique from her, knowing I’ve done my best work yet, also knowing that there’s still more work to do. To make the story flow and the characters’ relationships believable, I have a lot of revision to do. It’s just that I’m having trouble getting motivated to do it. Once I sit down and start writing, I’m okay. Before then, I cringe at the amount of revision ahead and worry about my ability to do it well.

So, this summer, to keep myself from burning out, I’ll keep writing, but I’ll take it slow and spend the majority of my time doing the other things I love to do: playing with my kids and hanging out with my husband, my friends and my family; sewing and reading lots of books. (It’s amazing how many books I’ve devoured over the past few weeks. I started with The Fault in our Stars and have barely let up since, continually reminding myself that reading will only make me a better writer.)

All of this sort of brings me to the title of this post.

Besides playing with my kids and sewing and all the other things, I’ve thought about taking a break from the Internet for a bit. I doubt that’s actually going to happen, but I’ve thought about it. It started when I got trolled over the picture of my hamster, but then, this happened, and the idea of leaving the Net for a while seemed even more appealing.

Joss Whedon is one of my favorite screenwriters/directors. His female characters — hell, all of his characters — are my favorite portrayals of human beings (and some non-humans) on-screen. To have such animosity directed at him over one film just blew me away. I mean, I can understand the trolls were being trolls and some of the die-hard comic book fans were angry or disappointed about how their favorite fandom was “ruined” in some way. I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. I loved the film, but even without having read the comics, I could see how the most fanatic of comic book readers would want to argue about it. Because they always argue. Film is a different medium than graphic art. Scenes aren’t always going to work on film the way they do on the page. But that’s another post for another day.

What really got to me wasn’t the trolls or the comic book fans, but the militant feminists. I can understand being disappointed with the lack of Black Widow merchandise available and how she was depicted in the film in certain scenes (although, I still think she’s the most bad-ass Avenger around and I loved her portrayal, personally), but I can’t understand the rage. The sheer rage. The sheer INFANTILE rage over a movie. These feminists called Joss all kinds of names on Twitter and said some awful things to him, claiming he’s no longer a card-carrying member of their group, because of this one. Freakin’. Movie. One movie that he didn’t have complete creative control over. I think they may have forgotten that he didn’t make the film on his own. There were studio heads above him telling him how to do things too, how to make the movie “better”. Although, my idea of “better” and Hollywood’s idea of “better” don’t always sync up, and I’m fairly certain Joss feels the same way. Yet, he had to endure the brunt of the feminists’ (and trolls’ and fans’) ire. He has since said that he didn’t leave Twitter because of the backlash. He left because the Internet was getting too loud and he wants to concentrate on his writing. Honestly, I don’t blame him for that.

But that was only the beginning.

A few days ago, a friend of mine posted this article on his Facebook page. I didn’t have the time to read the essay that the professor wrote, but I read the article, and I just sat there thinking, I don’t think I want to be a feminist anymore.

I know. That’s silly. I’ll always be a feminist. I’ll always promote and root for gender equality, for reproductive rights for women, for equality for anyone who feels disenfranchised, because that’s who I am. That will never change.

What has changed, I think, is society’s definition of what it means to be a feminist … or at least, Internet society’s definition. It seems to me these days that in order to be associated with certain groups, you have to be loud and crude and downright hostile to other people, even those who have obviously agreed with your sentiments before, but may have suddenly done something you disagree with. “No, you’re wrong, and here’s why …” seems to be the mantra of the day. You can’t be considered as such-and-such unless your beliefs align EXACTLY with the group’s mindset and mentality. Basically: “All MRA’s hate women.”; “All feminists hate men.”; “All GamerGaters are chauvinist harassers who believe GamerGate is about ethics in journalism.”; “All SJWs are shallow brown-nosers.” Etc. etc.

As much as I agree with feminism in general, I can’t consciously agree with today’s version of feminism, or at least that group of feminists who would take one look at me and rip my Feminist Card apart right in front of my face. I’m a stay at home mom who chose parenting over a career in which I could have made an income independent of my husband. Why? Because my husband and I agreed that one of us should be as involved as possible in our boys’ lives, and with my his erratic, time-consuming job as a physician, the lot of full-time parenting naturally fell on me. But I CHOSE to do it. I chose to stop working, so I could play an important role in my sons’ lives. That, right there, would probably drop me points in the feminist category according to some of today’s feminists.

Also, I enjoy occasionally baking and I love to sew, two very traditional “womanly” occupations, although sewing has become a very chic hobby of late for both genders, what with the rise of cosplay and the maker-crowd. But still, I’m sure there is someone out there ready to shout, “You’re not a feminist! A true feminist breaks down stereotypes! A true feminist doesn’t become one!”

Okay, I’m over generalizing here, but isn’t that what all of the Internet noise truly is, just over-generalizations? Isn’t that what’s happening when we read something, and think, “Well that person can’t be a feminist, because s/he believes such-and-such or said such-and-such or did such-and-such.” Why can’t I be a feminist AND enjoy being a full-time parent? Why can’t I be a feminist AND disagree with these people who raged at Joss Whedon over the choices he made (or, the choices that were made for him) in his film? Why can’t I be a feminist AND disagree with how that professor was treated after she wrote about feminism? Maybe I don’t disagree with everything they’re saying, but I definitely disagree with how they’re saying it. And if that’s what it means to be a feminist — to shout and name-call and threaten and rip people’s lives apart because they did something I disagreed with, something that didn’t exactly fit my belief system — then I don’t want to be one anymore.

Yeah, I think Joss had the right idea. This Internet is getting a bit too loud for my taste.

Maybe it’s time to go play with my boys.

Thanks for reading. Trust me, there’ll be more here to read later.

Eventually.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a stay-at-home-mom and writer living in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. When she’s not caring for her family or obsessing over punctuation, she can be found helping out at her sons' school, catching up on her Goodreads list, playing (and sometimes winning, but mostly losing) board games with her friends, crying over her favorite PBS programs, or sewing yet another costume for the local gaming/pop culture convention, where she’ll probably lose at even more board games.

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