Thoughts on the Helicopter Story

Yesterday I read a beautiful story in a top market that helped me understand pieces of myself, and I stayed up late having a conversation where quotes from it helped me explain a dynamic in my life that’s been going on for decades.

This is everything art should be.

Today the story is gone, because the author faced so much hate over it.

And I’m left thinking: this is the success that’s out there.

The experiences in that story spoke to me. So… if I ever manage to write something that good and that successful… maybe I’ll just regret it.

And to make it all a little more confusing — what does it even mean that a story that’s a metaphor for being trans speaks to me so deeply?

Gender has never fit me well. But… the best description I’ve seen of how it doesn’t fit made people so angry that it had to go away.

So I just don’t fit anywhere. I’m not cis enough to be comfortably cis. But also not queer enough to be queer.

I’ve spent decades listening to and loving music by the Beach Boys, Monkees, and Beatles, even though it’s riddled with misogyny. Blatant, forceful misogyny. All those girls and their dirty awful heart-breaking ways.

I started practicing the skill of ignoring the misogyny in male voices (not just music — Asimov, Clarke) when I was so young that I didn’t know what I was doing. I did it automatically. To protect myself.

I laughed at how stupid it was, and I moved on.

But since the 2016 election, it doesn’t seem so funny when Davy Jones sings about a woman, calling her a “cuddly toy.”

Micky Dolenz’s and Brian Wilson’s breathtaking falsettos don’t cover up the ugliness in the lyrics — blaming, threatening, objectifying, and hating women.

So I started listening to music by women.


Misogyny was there too. Internalized. And… it made me want to go back to listening to the men, because I’ve practiced ignoring misogyny in male voices.

That’s part of the problem — women’s voices get judged more harshly.

We live in a deeply, profoundly misogynistic society. And I don’t even have to identify which culture that is — it’s all of them.

Even in Star Trek, where it almost looks like women are equal, if you actually tally it up… they’re carefully kept second.

Is there a solution? Well… there’s a process…

Listen to women. Seek out their art, writing, music.

PRACTICE being as generous in interpreting women’s voices as we’re all trained to be with men.

And start holding men accountable. Hold them to the highest standard.

Does that seem unbalanced? Unfair?

What we currently have is unbalanced and unfair. And you can’t level a tilted board by placing the same size weights on each side.

The fun thing about posting on the internet as a woman is that you never know if you’re hoping to be ignored or to be trolled.

Oh wait, maybe “fun” isn’t quite the right word…

I don’t like U2’s music much. It seems sloppy, grungy, and not particularly exceptional. And yet, lately, I’ve been clinging hard to this lyrics from “All Because of You”:

“I like the sound of my own voice
I didn’t give anyone else a choice”

If I didn’t genuinely love my own fiction so very much, sharing it with the world would simply not be worth the risks involved with being a woman — a possibly gender non-conforming woman, or at least a gender-confused one — on the internet.

This world is HARSH on women.

Regardless of what anyone personally feels about “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” by Isabel Fall…

It struck a resonant chord for a lot of people & caused a huge conversation.

I know multiple people who saved copies to their computers before it was taken down. And people are still sharing it with links to the internet wayback machine.

And with that title? It’s unforgettable.

The story may have been taken down. But it’s going to be a goddamn LEGEND.

Insisting that marginalized people be perfect before speaking is functionally the same as telling them to never speak.‬

Almost every piece of society is filled with knives that cut and stab and scratch at women. So, I’m used to even the things I love causing me harm.‬

‪The idea of a piece of art causing me pain when I consume it meaning anything to the rest of the world is basically ludicrous.‬

So, when I find a piece of art that gives me joy and solace, brings meaning into my life in a way that doesn’t hurt…

It’s profoundly heartbreaking to be told that it caused someone else pain when they consumed it, and so it’s wrong and not good enough and should go away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *