January 20th, 2009

friends

Minions and Arisia

I hate the word minions.

If I had a pretty slave boy (or girl) who wore a collar and got off on running errands for me at cons, putting up flyers, handing out promotional materials, keeping me from the dire land of low blood sugar and lack of caffiene, and was deeply titillated by being called one, that is just about the only situation where I'd feel good about calling him or her a minion.

I hated using it in my post asking for help, but I was in a rush and it's a universally-understood word in the con scene. It's been eating at me ever since.

The thing is, when people are willing to help me, the gratitude and relief I feel are so deep and profound I want to cry. Conventions are high stress environments for me--I hide it pretty well, but I'm usually all knotted up inside just walking into one, and the smallest thing I don't have to do all by myself is seriously manna from heaven. The people who do them are not my minions. There is no power dynamic in my world that the word implies. These people are not subservient to me. They are not in thrall. They are kind and generous and giving of themselves and their labor without pay.

These people are pearls beyond price.

I think because fandom is organized in these progressive nuclear units: hot girl and hopeful suitors, BNF and wide social net, content creator and entourage, minion has become a word people are comfortable with--because they like that power dynamic. Which is cool--the arrangement made works for them. We were all on the outside in school, and it feels good to be on the inside of a large and happy group. Being the center feels light years better than being the edge. And that's fine. It just doesn't work for me. As I said, if I had someone who explicitly got off on doing those things, it would be an excellent word, because it implies a vast power exchange in which I would be undeniably on top. It would be a stated thing, declarative. I don't like the implication. That they belong to me, that I can take their labor for granted.

Because the cheerful, helpful folk that for no reason at all volunteer to help me so that I don't run mself ragged or faint from lack of food or have to clone myself to be in three places at once--they are not my minions. The power flows the other way: I am humbled and honored by their very presence in my life. They don't have to do what they do, but they choose to, and thus they have the power to change the tenor of my hours in that hotel from frightening to wonderful. In that sense, I am their minion, at their mercy, relying so heavily on their strength, energy, and kindness. I am able to create more of what they love because of the work--and it is work--they do with a smile and a laugh.

So I will never use the word minion again. If it weren't terribly dorky, I'd call them pearls.

Thanks, guys.

And happy unbirthday, President Obama. Please to be fixing things. My boy really needs a job.

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