Patrick Rothfuss as a case study for the experience of being a woman

I am here with you today to suggest something that might sound odd: that we can use the experience of Patrick Rothfuss, beloved (male) fantasy writer, to understand what it's like to be a woman.

Some context for those of you who have never heard of Patrick Rothfuss: first, I feel sorry for you, but am happy that your life is about to be majorly enriched with this knowledge!  Second, he is the writer of an incredible book trilogy.  Or rather, two incredible books from a trilogy.  His series, The Kingkiller Chronicles, launched in 2007 with The Name of the Wind followed by A Wise Man's Fear in 2011.

Since then, his ardent and growing fan base have been desperately awaiting the third book (currently titled The Doors of Stone).

Obviously, for those of us who love his books, this involves an exercise in patience.  We all know that patience is the worst, so what I mean is that the experience verges on torment. (I know, I know, the fantasy novel I really want to read is delayed - I know real suffering! and also, it is clear, because everything revolves around me, that he is intentionally taking his time to hurt me and not because writing books is hard and there are many other demands on his time.)

One of the sweet playing cards designed based on his characters.
Check them out here.

Lucky for us, Patrick Rothfuss is still really active on the internet.  He has a blog.  He posts to his Facebook page regularly.  He started a kick ass charity.  He supports fan art from his books and has side projects, like playing cards based on his characters.  So basically, he has avoided leaving us entirely high and dry, and he shares his life with us in a really awesome way.

The thing is, not everyone thinks this is the best way for him to be using his time.  Some people think he should be spending every waking moment (and possibly every sleeping moment) writing the third book.  Because that's how life and creativity and doing a job works, right?  I know when I have a job to do, I work at it tirelessly, barely taking breaks to eat or pee until it's completed.

It used to be that he couldn't post a single thing on his FB page without everyone going "WHY ARE YOU WASTING OUR TIME, STOP WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING AND WRITE THE BOOK!  YOU'RE KILLING US ALL!!!!!"

Here is a sampling from a recent post on his Facebook page sharing an interview he did:

A small sampling of the "encouragement" people post on his FB page.
I didn't blur their names, because they posted on a publicly visible page,
so I figure they don't care.

In fact, I haven't been able to find a single post on his Facebook page where someone doesn't berate him for not having finished the third book yet.  Not even one.  He posted a photo of his son on Halloween and even that wasn't immune.

People even demanded book updates when he posted THIS.

Why does this matter?  Because Patrick Rothfuss is sharing himself, as a person, with us, and his "fans" are saying, "NO, Patrick.  No.  We don't care about you at all.  The only thing you are good for is this book.  You are not a human, you don't deserver rest or fun or to be a whole person with other interests.  You are a book-writing machine.  You exist solely for me to have enjoyable reading-times, and you aren't providing me with enjoyable reading-times, and so I am going to scream at you until you do, because that is the best way to encourage free creativity, right?"

Even the people who don't berate him are laying on pressure: they say things like, "I support you, Patrick, take your time because your books are perfect and I want this one to be perfect and so I don't want to rush you so that you write a perfect book."

So instead of yelling, they are being nice with their demands, saying, "I still don't really care about you, but if I'm nicer to you, you'll do the one thing you are good for: write a book.  Did I mention that I expect perfection?  No pressure."

Pretty lame, right?  Sounds like something a really entitled jerk who sees other humans as a mere means to end might say, right?  Gross!  Patrick is a human!  Let him be a human!

What does this have to do with women?

This is what happens to women all the freaking time.  On the internet and in life.  Except instead of being treated like a book-writing machine, we are treated like nice-looking-niceness machines and sometimes sexual-sexiness machines.

Source: Toothpaste For Dinner

Working on a project?  Making something?  Sharing an opinion?  It doesn't matter!  The responses will range from "I love your hair!" to "Your mouth belongs somewhere else, like on my genitals" with maybe a pinch of "Shut up, you're ugly."

Sometimes it's nice and sometimes it's not, but the result is always the same: ignoring the content of what's being offered and commenting on the package instead.

The point of my post is not to convince you that this is a problem.  If you don't already realize that treating people like this is a bad thing, then I am tired and probably won't convince you, but try reading a zillion other blog posts about the issue and see if that helps.

The point is to use this real-world, very specific, example as an illustration.  It's a way to further understand what it means to treat someone like they are only there for one thing.  For Patrick, it's his books.  For most women, it's looking nice and making other people feel nice.

The moral of the story: next time you are commenting on some lady's post or activity, ask yourself if you're being like one of Patrick Rothfuss' jerkface fans.  Are you ignoring the content of this person's offering and making it about something else?  Is that something else physical?  Is it a means to an end, and is that end all about you?

Like Patrick's "nice" fans who encourage him to "keep writing" and "take his time" with "perfection",  just because you're saying something nice doesn't mean you're actually on side.

HEY LADIES!  THIS APPLIES TO US AS WELL!  Just like meanness on Patrick Rothfuss' Facebook page, perpetuation of the objectification of women comes from all sexes.  Does commenting on someone's awesome hair really need to happen when she's shared a photo of herself graduating?  We are ALL a part of a society that focuses solely on a woman's appearance and sexuality, so that means we may sometimes participate in it.  So there's no need to solely blame men for this.

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