The SFWA has experienced a vile, public meltdown.
Not a newsflash, but I feel as though I’m admitting this happened now as I write about it. I’ve been following the SFWA developments for a few weeks and since the infamous petition, the situation has only escalated.
It’s hard for me to speak about this, because I’m not a SFWA member. I’m not anywhere near the US and honestly, it just hurts me to see this happen in the first place. It plays with all my buttons and I’ve been restricting myself from offering my thoughts, because they would be far from civil on the matter.
I thought, however, that maybe things aren’t as bad, then a mainstream news source picked up on the scandal and that was that – we were not self-contained anymore. This is how the genre and the field would be known to the general public and it was something I initially lamented on Facebook when Zachary Jernigan first shared it.
Because the literature we write people do not take seriously. I distinctly remember an incident in university four years ago, when a colleague of mine expressed her disappointment when I’d told her I don’t like reading crime fiction and non-fiction, but rather spend time with works as far removed from reality as possible. Her words, “How can someone so smart say that.”
Speculative fiction is still a joke, still silly and still something small kids and teenagers read. That’s not going to change when what we make headlines with is sexism, racism and forms of cultural oppression. I’ve always thought we’re a forward thinking group, which has banded as a means to do what we love – something that the mainstream mostly doesn’t get or respect.
That’s the narrative I piece from many writers within the community that it’s embarrassing in 2014 to have a person point a finger at an accomplished writer and exclaim that she can’t be a feminist because she wears dresses. The author in question is Mary Robinette Kowal, who has addressed the comment and given herself as ‘a useful representative example’ of just how bad the issue with sexism within the industry really is. Silvia Moreno-Garcia has nailed the issue on the head in a post as well, so I won’t go into that, because the attack against Kowal makes my blood boil.
Conversation about women and other minorities in the community has been going on since I can remember paying attention, but I feel as though the tipping point is now. It feel as though the community can go somewhere after this one hit the fans. At least that’s how I see it.
The meltdown HAD to happen now. And it had to be as UGLY.
The more embarrassing the scandal is and the harder the people who oppress, belittle and lash out are hit, the faster we can actually work on making a difference.
Because it’s not just about old, white guys. It’s not just about the Resnicks and Foderas who have nests in high branches.
It’s about ideas. It’s about internalizing behaviors and attitudes, which ultimately cause for the vicious cycle to continue.
Juliette McKenna speaks well on this issue in her own post:
Which brings me to the second reason I’m writing this is because I have seen people saying ‘oh well, it doesn’t matter, we just need to wait for the dinosaurs to die off and it’ll all be fine.’ Unfortunately this isn’t going to work. If it did, these rows wouldn’t keep recurring.
Having read getting on for 200 SF books over 2012-2013 as a Clarke Award judge, I found a range of attitudes from socially conservative/sexist/veiled-racist to adventurous, progressive, informed and thought-provoking social commentary. There was absolutely no correlation between the age and gender of the author and the presence of outdated or offensive ideas. Some of the worst offenders were younger men and women. Some of the best work was written by middle-aged and older white men, for whom age and experience had brought perspective and insight.
Yes, we can wait for the dinosaurs to die off. But they leave a legacy for those that look up to them – ideas, beliefs and behavioral patterns, which make sure sexism, racism, discrimination and vitriol are inherited down the line.
The work ahead of us is unpleasant. But we have to let the puss out from the wound. Stare at the ugliness, because we can’t have members abuse other members of our community.
Think about it. Talk about it. Go on to fix it.
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Fucking well said, sir.
Thank you for reading, gent!
When you stare at the ugliness you will often see a reflection of yourself.
I just saw a article on how 90% of the people in charge of the publishing houses were women but only about 20% of scripts were written/submitted for approval by women.
The article had some absurd and Truth enemy view that having mostly female editors but only a small minority of females submitting genre scripts to them was more evidence of the EVIL WHITE MALE SEXISM(of which you freely mention)
This is Hypocrisy and Anti-Truth and the sad fact is that you so called feminist are liberal Fascist and I already know that they only way you won’t censor any non compliant voice is if
you are shamed into by being reminded that you are being a Liberal Fascists Feminist who does Censor anyone whose opinion you do not agree with.
Go talk to the Female Editors and ask them why women are underrepresented in Genre Fiction. If you ask them bluntly, you will get a blunt answer. And it won’t be the Evil White Male that is the answer,unless you want to be told that the female sex is easily mind controlled(from Major Tom)
The Truth Isn’t what you want it to be, Go attack the Institutionalized Sexist Genre of Romance Novels if you want to find overt sexism. Quit Bitching about the rare woman in chain mail and offer a huggy wuggy to Fabio and the other musclebound Pieces of Meat that
are on every single cover of the Female Dominated Genre.
Quit Pointing the Damn Finger.
And if you are a writer(wannabe) afraid of Writing(as experience suggests) I will leave you with another stab to the literary heart.
Censorship is the first refuge of the Coward.
Maddog, why are you so threatened by this? Why is the inclusion of women in science fiction and fantasy a bad thing? Why is it threatening that someone says women should stop receiving insults (similar to yours, in fact) as a result of speaking out on this topic? How does honoring or respecting someone else’s gender or ethnicity mean a denigration of anyone else’s? Explain that to me, because I’d really like to know.
That is a most absurd and Pathetic response. Where did I ever talk about the exclusion of women, If you did a piece on the hypocrisy of the White house and Commander in Chief and I responded, Why are you hating on Black People.
That would be just as pathetic.
The Threat is by Liberal Nazi’s who love to condemn any and everything that doesn’t fit into their box and pretend it’s a Tolerance box so it’s bigotries are justified.
You can do that, I’m not gonna sit by and not call you out on it though.
I don’t need to reply to why I think women shouldn’t be included as I never felt that away or said anything to even indicate it, That’s just some crap your mind made up to avoid the truth.
It’s really mind boggling how the modern faux liberal defines themselves not by what they actually believe in, but by criticizing others while not having any self reflection.
This is obviously not the age of enlightenment.
I’m a Jew, so your reference to Nazis is particularly offensive, misguided and demonstrative of your hateful ignorance and total cluelessness on the matters upon which you think to opine.
Anyone who shrieks, screeches and rages about “Liberal Nazi’s” (complete with erroneous punctuation) and brings Obama into a discussion where no one else mentioned him is demonstrative of the kind of brain-dead morons who employ thought-ending cliches that pass for social or political discourse today. Kudos to Harry for putting these issues into perspective in his comments further below, which are more reasoned and contemplative than I would have the patience to produce given the ridiculous and bigoted nonsense you’ve chosen to vomit up onto his blog.
Since you are a Jew, why don’t you go some articles on Jewish Exclusiveness not just in Hollywood or the banking industry but in Israel itself since you think you are so against people not getting a fair shot(didn’t think so) And I already know you think that’s a racist statement why you think you are one f the Good Uns(Male Uncle Tom) who is commenting on the evilness of a certain sex who being exclusive as well. (don’t see the hypocrisy of that do you!!!)
At least I am not afraid of the truth and run from who I am.
No need to even mention anything at all if you are going to be dishonest about it.
The editors are not Men, they are WOMEN!!! The CEO”s are mostly Women.
And even if that wasn’t the case, It’s a Buyers Market Dummy, not a Sellers.
So call names instead of replying to what was said(You GUYS are very typical in that way)
Baaahahahahaaaaaaa! Oh, Maddog, you so crazy! I love performance art.
Oh, you’re serious? Even better.
Damn right I’m Serious, Course you may be for Sexist and Hypocrisy and pot calling the kettle black B.S.
But it will bite you in the ass. that type of thinking always eats it’s sustainability like the snake eating it’s tail.
I do give the moderator a Thumbs up even if I give her a Thumbs down on some Sexist Self Serving BS.
She’s the only one I know that actually has allowed free speech and didn’t Censor opposing Viewpoints.
Today’s Faux Liberals have forgotten that the only Speech that needs Defending as Free are ones that don’t agree with them.
Oh, I’m totally for “Sexist and Hypocrisy and pot calling the kettle black B.S.,” but I don’t know if my convictions can stand up to the force of your Reasoning (and Capitalization!) skills!
It’s an honor to read your Well Thought Out remarks, Maddog. (Kudos on the original name, too. In this era of people trying to one-up one another with cleverness, it’s nice to see a person not even trying.)
How refreshing it is to get the perspective of someone who feels no need to back up an argument with source material (as in the blog post you’re reading, maybe). That just clogs the gears of hyperbole, doesn’t it?
So, well done to you, for raising the discourse concerning this topic! I especially like that you mention Fascism, because it’s obviously so Relevant to the topic. Also, again, Capitalization.
In case you can’t read my tone, MD:
You’re a Moron. And Haralambi ain’t a woman, you assumptive piece of shit. Do a little research.
Morons like you do have hard-ons for CAPITALIZATION.(just your natural charm of looking for things to criticize instead of addressing the issue)
You didn’t address anything (typical Lib Tard)
So just call people names why you run away from the truth.
I may go thru the trouble of looking up the link, but it’s one of the last 5 articles in the SFSignal links. So look it up yourself.
Hey Maddog, why do you think there is such an inequality in submissions? I mean statistics show that the readership in SFF is actually pretty close to parity, so its not as if there is a massive imbalance in the male/female ratio in the community. There must be something else, I don’t know, maybe the idea that for such a long time submissions from females were not given the respect they deserved. That women who submitted using clearly female names were often rejected or overlooked, while women submitting with gender-ambiguous pen names, initials only pen names, or straight up male pen names were achieving far greater success. No, for a number of generations, female writers knew that if they wanted to establish a career as an author, SFF was not the place for them.
That is starting to change, as evidenced by the quantity of women who now hold editorial positions and staff positions in SFF publishing houses. Submission rates are not going to change overnight, female authors who have established themselves in other markets are not going to suddenly come flooding back to SFF. Equality in submissions will need to come from the next generation, the people who are finishing school right now and are looking to a future in writing. We want them to know that SFF is a place where you will be made to feel welcome, where you can earn a living telling the stories you want to tell without having to pretend to be someone else. When people try to threaten that goal, they should be called out as the slimy sexist fucknuts they are.
I get that you liked the way things used to be. They were good for you. They were good for me too. But they weren’t good for women or people who identify as a minority. How could you possibly feel like you have freedom when it comes at the expense of someone else? That is not freedom, that is tyranny, that is the true definition of fascism.
And then you talk about the sexism inherent in the romance genre as if its not having fingers pointed at it on a daily basis, as if its not seen as an even lower form of literature than SFF. In fact, your whole post is just a rabid diatribe about how you are so much better than everyone else, and that you are not willing to share your privileges because you had them first. Have a long hard look at yourself, buddy. See if you can figure out why the things you say are adding to the problem. Even if you think they aren’t adding to the problem, see if you can at least put yourself into someone elses shoes and try to understand why they might think the things you are saying are problematic.
Oh, so this. Well said, mate.
God, I was thinking how to formulate a response, which tackled on so many points you touched upon, but you nailed it perfectly. For the most part, people who benefit exclusively from a privilege cry fascism and censorship whenever someone challenges said privilege.
I have a question. What will change personally for you, if women and other minorities gain the same standing as you?
I’m thinking nothing, because the field is large enough to give everyone space to do what they want. There will always be chain mail women and people who echo the past. The only thing I want is for that narrative not the the only one in SFF – a genre that is the definition of diversity. It would be really ironic of the field that plays with the fantastic, weird and different is unwilling to accept the people from different creeds, gender, sexuality and colour. And the SFWA should be an organization that makes everyone feel comfortable.
What will change personally for me is that there will be a lot more people competing for the same opportunities that I’ve had access to all my life (for me, a large part of equality is everyone having access to the same opportunities I’ve been afforded my whole life). That means the overall chance of me being awarded an opportunity is diminished. Which means if I want to take hold of an opportunity, I better raise my game. It would lead to wholesale improvement across the board because everyone would have to raise their game to be competitive. How can that be anything but awesome?
In fact, wouldn’t it be more validating to win something knowing that everybody had an equal shot?
Ryan, sorry. The question was meant for Maddog to understand why he had the violent reaction to him that he did. But I kinda addressed it to you. I completely agree with you.
So the Female Editors are the Sexist ones(talk to them)
Also why don’t you start naming names instead of generalizing a whole group.
Guess you skipped school the day they taught that that is the definition of Sexism and Racism.
Privilege, and just how in hell do you know me to have any clue that I have any sort of privilege.
That is a Very Bigoted Statement, and points to your hypocrisy(which is evident)
How about you Sexist Feminists and Liberal Censors give a moment of your victim hood status to people who actually do have it worse then you.
When was the last time you ME ME ME people even mentioned the Handicapped?
And again, who said anything about not allowing people in. The people in charge 9 times out of 10 are women. Why don’t you talk to those editors and call them the Sexist Pigs you reserve for the Other Sex.
Get a Clue Hypocrites!!!
There’s such a thing as a victim hood? Why the hell would anyone ever wear it? Seems like just calling out for bad treatment.
“Hey! I’m a victim, everybody! Look at my snazzy hood!”
Here’s a tip, Maddog: we’re on the topic of writing. Learn how to use words. It makes your argument so much more powerful.
And I don’t want to assume, here, that you’re a native English speaker. I commend you on your language, if this is not the case, while still lamenting that you read like the idiot you do. (I guess reading Haralambi has spoiled me.) Especially if you’re going to act with such disdain for us dumb liberals (way to throw it the word tard, there; not a problematic label at all, that — guess it’s your sympathy for those handicapped people you mentioned shining through) then it behooves you to not sound like a hillbilly.
Beyond this simple point, here’s yet another:
You are spouting nothing but hyperbole, a series of invectives. This is being returned in kind, because where no respect is given, none is returned; but it’s also being returned by better people than me with reason and compassion. If, in the future, you want to actually bring an argument to the table, supported by evidence or an appeal to reason, hopefully without the massive heaping of aggression, then it might be answered in kind by even bad people like me.
I doubt it, because you’ve pretty much burned that bridge, but maybe some food for thought moving forward.
Because there are, the only ones that were even close were Y/A which had more more submissions then men. The rest is around 80/20.
And what is that Crap about how you discounted the sexist (Female) culture of Romance Novels because you state it’s even lower then SFF.
Are you calling the 99% female buyers of those books Idiots??? Yes you are(but you won’t admit it) liberal will always excuse their hypocris7 and you calling my statements meaningless because you don’t like them is what Modern Liberals Call Fascism(And since this is a huge part of the New Liberals. The word Liberal Fascist is appropriate.
Something about people like you who like to chose what groups they care to defend just to feed a dishonest Ego. When you state the facts I have stated are meaningless, it is you who are the auto intolerant ones and you should be the last one pretending you are on a high horse.
I tried to read what you were saying, Maddog, but I got hung up on the term “Liberal Fascist.” I’m pretty well versed in political ideologies considering I went to college, and according to the political compass, there can not exist “Liberal Fascists.” It is impossible. You see, Liberals are on the left, and Fascists are on the right. I’m not kidding–it is politically impossible to be a “Liberal Fascist” and I because of this paradigm, I cannot comprehend anything else you are saying. Sorry.
Oh, Jake. You and your damn REASON.
[…] here today because last week I wrote a piece on the sexism surrounding the SFWA – the biggest scandal that hit the community. The subject has been covered to death by now and […]