Miscellaneous Thoughts on the Sexism Mess

Jim has a comprehensive roundup of links relating to the SFWA thing/Jim is only linking to people who agree with him.

I never claimed to be doing a comprehensive list of links. As I stated up front, I was responding to the claim that protests and complaints were being done anonymously. There are posts I agree with that I didn’t link to, and posts I’m less comfortable with that I did include.

I have no objection to people linking to that post, but please don’t describe it as a full or comprehensive list of responses to this mess.

Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg are good people who have helped a tremendous number of people.

I don’t think I’ve seen anyone claim that Resnick and Malzberg are evil, or that they’ve never done anything positive. Nobody’s one-dimensional. So yes, I’m sure they’ve both done many good things in their lives. But I also think they messed up this time.

I believe I’ve done good things in my life, but I don’t expect people to give me a pass when I screw up. (And believe me, I still screw up a lot.)

Scalzi’s apology was weak!

I’ve seen a range of opinions on John Scalzi’s statement. Personally, I thought it was pretty good. Sure it wasn’t perfect, and there are certainly valid criticisms to be made.

That said, based on the statement as well as 1) knowing John personally and 2) his history of working against sexism and discrimination, I’m taking it at face value as a genuine apology and promise to do better. And maybe that’s where the history of positive work comes into play. Not that I think we should ignore it when Scalzi messes up. But when he offers an apology and says he’s going to work to try to fix this, I’m inclined to believe him.

All this attention is just making SFWA look bad.

You’re right. In the short term, SFWA has definitely taken a black eye. In the long term, I’m hopeful that the result will be a better organization. And I have trouble buying the idea that the real problem isn’t the sexism, but people pointing out and criticizing the sexism.

What about all of the good work SFWA does?

As Mary Robinette Kowal said:

“I still feel like some asshole spilled something on my prom dress. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a little spot, that’s all anyone will see. It doesn’t matter how great the dress is, the stain still ruins it.”

I was at BEA last week, where Jaym Gates and Laura Anne Gilman worked incredibly hard to set up and the SFWA booth where I and other members were able to sign and meet folks. It was awesome, and it’s one of a thousand things SFWA does that I’m grateful for.

I don’t think those things should be used to derail the current conversation. I do think they’re part of a conversation that should happen, and as a member of SFWA, I’m making a note to try to have that conversation in the future, to post more about why I stay with and believe in the work the organization does.

All those age-related insults flying around? Not cool, man!

I agree. While I think some of the “dinosaur” comments are meant to refer to old/outdated attitudes, there have also been some direct shots at old people. There are plenty of older people speaking out quite strongly against sexism, just as there are young folks being sexist asshats.

It’s a witch hunt! It’s a liberal-fascist crusade! It’s a lynch mob!

It’s over-the-top hyperbole!

One of the people you linked to used the phrase “right-thinking.” Doesn’t that prove it’s not hyperbole, and liberals really are the thought police?

One of the people — out of sixty-plus that I’ve linked to so far — used that phrase.  And you know what? I’m not comfortable with that word choice either. I do agree with a lot of the other things said in that post.

I also find it interesting when people latch on to one phrase in one post, generalize it to an entire group, and then use that as an excuse to dismiss or stop listening to that group as a whole. That’s some weak and lazy-ass thinking, regardless of which “side” you believe you’re on.

Shouldn’t you be writing instead of wasting your energy on this?

I’ve been doing both. 17K words on Unbound so far. Poor Isaac is having a rough time of it. And you know what? Since it’s my energy, I figure I can spend it on things I believe are important.

Why is everyone making such a big deal out of a silly cover or a bad Barbie analogy or a couple of writers describing women as attractive? Aren’t there real problems to worry about?

Interesting how often I see men trying to proclaim what is and isn’t a real problem when it comes to sexism…

Anyway, I can’t speak for everyone. For myself, I see these incidents as things that could perhaps be brushed off if they happened in isolation. But as many of the responses have pointed out, they aren’t isolated incidents. They’re part of a larger pattern of sexist behavior, and that pattern needs to stop.

It’s the death of a thousand paper cuts.

Have you gotten any hate mail about this?

I know some women have received truly nasty hate mail for expressing their comments and opinions, but the worst I’ve experienced so far is someone blocking me on Facebook. Weird. I wonder what the difference could be…

Don’t you get tired of this?