Friday, November 10, 2023

The masculinity of the sync fairies

If you run a Google image search on fairies, roughly 100% of the results are female. Even if you run an image search for Peaseblossom -- addressed as "monsieur" in Shakespeare -- 80 or 90% of the results are female. Fata and hada and fée are all grammatically feminine. If you call a man a "fairy," you're calling him a poof. This is clearly a word with overwhelmingly feminine connotations.

It has never once occurred to me to think of my "synchronicity fairies" as female.

Of course I first started using the term only as a playful personification of the phenomenon of synchronicity, but even such personifications have an implicit sex. The sexually unmarked figure of the Grim Reaper, for example, is universally thought of as masculine by English speakers, who are often surprised to find that "he" is female on most of the Continent. I've always thought of the sync fairies as plural -- another curious assumption, I suppose -- and have thus never had occasion to give them an explicit grammatical gender. Implicitly, though, in my mind they've always been as masculine as the Reaper.

I remain unsure of the extent to which synchronicity is deliberately orchestrated by intelligent beings -- as opposed to being generated by my own mind, or being an aspect of just "how the universe is" -- but over time I've drifted more and more in the direction of seeing "synchronicity fairies" as more than just a figure of speech. When, for the first time, one of them appeared in human form in a dream, I was not at all surprised that it was the form of a man, and even of a very masculine man with the deportment of "high-ranking military brass" (from before the military was gay, I mean). I realize that "Tim" as I have described him has almost nothing in common with the popular image of a "fairy," but I felt nothing incongruous in his being the face of the sync fairies.

I never really noticed this, or how strange it is, until I read William Wright's latest post, "Saruman, you rat... you've left fingerprints." William is now of the opinion that recent syncs -- his and mine -- have been the work of a demonic being he identifies with Lord of the Rings villain Saruman. And what occasioned this change of perspective was the jarring realization that, while he had privately been speculating that the sync fairies were the "seven daughters of Asenath," I had actually been dealing with male entities all along.

I will be thinking and writing more about the Saruman post later. While I do not share William's assumption that all of Tolkien's fictional characters really exist, the broader question of whether the sync fairies are good or evil is obviously a very important one. In this post, though, all I want to do is note how the two of us had made opposite assumptions about the sex of the fairies, and that each was taken aback at the discovery that the other's assumption had been different.

Reader, what is your own implicit assumption? When you read "sync fairy" references here, do you imagine male or female entities?


WanderingGondola said...

I did think of Tim the Enchanter before, hehe. It comes to me now that despite his appearance and demeanour, he is of some assistance to the knights.

At times I've inwardly addressed the fairies as "you guys", but I generally hadn't considered them as having sexes/genders, unsure whether the concept really applies. That changed while drafting this comment.

By common logic, any exceptions would cancel out the uncertainty -- and whoops, I've had an exception for some time. I feel strongly that one key fairy influencing me is a very Good male, or at least comes across as masculine. This makes me default to "sync fairies = male"; however, since the very use of male implies females also exist, I presume there's a mix of the two sexes.

Ben Pratt said...

Until the last week or so, my mental image of the synchronicity fairies has been something along the lines of some behavioral depictions of Santa Claus' elves: somber, somewhat diminutive, industrious, skillful, harmless, and generally male. Recent posts here and by William Wright have definitely given me reason to reconsider the assumption of harmlessness as something more like meekness.

They are the Eggmen

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