Roundup of Some “Anonymous Protesters” (#SFWA Bulletin Links)
“Our Warrior Woman protesters and enemies of the adjective (who unlike Ms. Dworkin will not identify themselves) fall into the category of what Right Wing radio talkers call “liberal fascists,” and I cannot disagree…” -Barry Malzberg
The latest issue of the SFWA Bulletin went out last week while I was at BEA, including both my article about cover art and treating women as people, and the Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues, arguing against censorship and suppression. I’m not going to rehash the points I made in my own piece, but one of the many fascinating things I found in the Dialogues was the idea that the people complaining were somehow anonymous cowards sniping from the shadows.
“Anonymous.” You keep using that word…
I’ve rounded up some of the people talking about the problematic aspects of the last few issues of the Bulletin. I won’t talk about the pages and pages of discussion from the SFWA Discussion Forums, but there have been a significant number of complaints there–all of which have people’s names attached. And then you have posts and commentary like these:
- Foz Meadows: Old Men Yelling at Clouds. “I could make a drinking game about this article: take a shot every time the author deliberately highlights the femaleness of the women he mentions, the better to explain how these ladies never said I was sexist…”
- Peter Brett: Why I’m Renewing my SFWA Membership. ” I won’t get into the details of their remarks here, save to say that having read them for myself, I agree they were unprofessional, inappropriate, and not representative of the SF industry as a whole.”
- Amal El-Mohtar: Responses to Sexism in SFWA’s Bulletin. “VP, Regional Directors, hosts of volunteers in @sfwa, all working hard, are made invisible by the effort it took Resnick/Malzberg to wank.”
- Kameron Hurley: Dear SFWA Writers: Let’s Chat About Censorship and Bullying. “Nobody has to agree with you anymore. Nobody is afraid of you anymore. I know this may come as a massive shock to folks used to a position of power, insulated by groups of people who are happy to stroke their egos and soothe their souls.”
- E. Catherine Tobler: Dear SFWA. “In all the complaints that were voiced, there was never a call for censorship. There was never a call for suppression. There was a call for respect.”
- Jess Haines: SFWA, Sexism, Misogyny, and a Call For Change. “Mr. Resnick, Mr. Malzberg, I am not an anonymous voice. I am telling you now: what you wrote was not okay.”
- Katherine Kerr: “Since when is good taste censorship?“
- Jamie Wyman: An Open Letter to John Scalzi. “It’s not okay. And the reactions–these men saying that they are being bullied or censored because they are being called out as sexist bigots–is not okay.”
- Natalie Luhrs: Linkspam, 5/31/13 Edition. “NOPE, NO SEXISM HERE. Also, a lady totally told them it was okay to write this stuff and as everyone knows, one lady speaks for all ladies.”
- Chris Gerwel: The SFWA Bulletin, Censorship, Anonymity, and Representation. “I have a huge problem with Resnick/Malzberg’s attitude. I consider it regressive, out-dated, and condescending.”
- SL Huang: More on SFWA and the Bulletin. “The people you really should be angry with are Resnick, Malzberg, and whatever editor(s) let their article through. They’re the people who let down SFWA. They’re the people who made your public face into sexist douchebaggery.”
- Trisha Lynn: How Jean Rabe screwed the pooch for the SFWA Bulletin and how the SFWA can make things better going forward. “I’m going to instead talk about how the entire mess could have been avoided in the first place. And to do that, I have to throw Bulletin writer/editor Jean Rabe under a bus.”
- Samantha Henderson: Re: SFWA Bulletin #202. “I am not sure if I’m done with SFWA, which is more than its Bulletin and members with 1960s sensibilities.”
- Michael Capobianco: “As a further indication that the R/M dialog doesn’t represent #SFWA, Barry Malzberg isn’t even a member.”
- Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Oh, Bulletin. “In their latest Bulletin rant, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg insist, among other things, that they appeared on an issue with a Warrior Woman on the cover. They lie … They appeared in an issue with Sexy Cheesecake Lady. If they can’t tell the difference, maybe that explains a LOT.”
- Catherine Lundoff: “Ongoing egregious sexism in the Bulletin, which is @sfwa’s official membership magazine.”
- Dean Gilbert: “Finally found out what the SFWA controversy is. Wow. Will not be buying any Resnick or Maltzburg books again for sure.”
- Patrick Hume: “As far as Resnick and Malzberg go, well, I imagine it must be very frightening being dinosaurs. Misogynistic, irrelevant dinosaurs.”
- Alisa Krasnostein: “What I see is several issues that have caused offense, incl a ridiculous cover, and no stand from the SFWA in light of complaints.“
- Jenny Thurman: “Why, @sfwa, do you need a task force to determine if your own members should be given professional respect within your own publication?“
- Ross E. Lockhart: To SFWA or not to SFWA? That is the question. “Recently, when it comes to respecting female authors and editors, SFWA has chosen a counterproductive path, giving a platform in the official SFWA Bulletin to a handful of male authors who have decided to wear their sexism outrageously…”
- Ursula Vernon: SFWA — Housebreaking a Puppy or Abusive Relationship? “…let me just say that it’s sad when you finally get to interact with some of the Big Names of science fiction and they turn out to be old men yelling at clouds.”
- A. J. Fitzwater: “I don’t want to join a union that majority men in power think women have no place amongst them. So sad to have a dream destroyed.”
- Ann Kopchik: “I really have no words about the whole #sfwa thing. Except that I’m tired of needing a dick to be respected.”
- Rick Novy: “Those who don’t get the uproar over the SFWA bulletin article, read it replacing words meaning ‘female’ with words meaning ‘black.’“
- Jenn Reese: “SFWA is the most backwards-looking organization I belong to. We can write the future, but we can’t even live in the present.“
- Damien Walter: “The issues with the bulletin are not acceptable, but don’t change my sense of the SFWA as a whole as very hardworking and useful.”
- Kay Holt: “Not saying SFWA is bad. Just that we shouldn’t put up with embedded misogyny just because we otherwise benefit from an organization.”
- Kyle Weems: “Shame on you @sfwa. That’s hideous, backwards, and strangely atavistic for an org that writes about the future.”
- Patrick Nielsen Hayden: “An underreported aspect of being around for a long time: the horror of watching your once-admired elders turn into blithering nincompoops.”
- Ann Aguirre: “I’m sad SFWA published antiquated dogma, then a defense of it. I’m tired of being made to feel like I’m so cute for thinking I can write SF.”
- Rachael Acks: Dear Barry Malzberg and Mike Resnick: F*** You. “If I hadn’t already had a lot of positive experiences with the older male membership of the organization, I would honestly be really wondering about that as well, since the attitude Malzberg and Resnick display with such pride belongs in an era that thankfully ended before I was born.”
- Mary Robinette Kowal: My Very Complicated Reaction to Issue 202 of the Bulletin. “I’m furious, because they can undo all of the good that SFWA does. And like it or not, people are right to be angry. The column is deeply offensive.”
- Kate Milford: Kerfluffle Watch, SFWA Edition: Call Your Detractors Liberal Fascists, Lose the Argument. “…I had learned this much: the authors consider that either those who objected to the cover and dialogue in Issue 200 are at best stupid and at worst censorious.”
- Alma Alexander: The Issue 202 Controversy. “This might involve biting the bullet, calling one tradition’s tenure in the Bulletin a day, and dropping the Malzberg/Resnick conversations … It might even be time to start letting the WOMEN have a turn at having a Conversation.”
- Lilith Saintcrow: I Hope Gandhi is Right. “…this sort of shit makes me so. damn. tired.”
- Tracy Cembor: Genre Drama. “Writers should be respected as partners in the process, and writers should treat one another as professionals and equals.”
- Ferrett Steinmetz: Achievement Unlocked: Women’s Rights Advocate. “You’ve got more work to do. You’ve got to see that calling them ‘lady editors’ is actually diminishing them, that women in chainmail bikinis may be a long tradition but so are grinning Negro lawn jockeys…”
- Steven Saus: What to Do About Sexism In Our Official Publications. “This is a matter of being professional and treating all sf/f authors professionally.”
- Benjamin Rosenbaum: Dear Barry & Mike. “Please cut it out. You’re better than that. Act like the men you want to be.”
- Kelly McCullough: “For the record, the sexist dippery in the recent SFWA bulletin makes this male author & SFWA member very unhappy. Not OK Resnick & Malzberg.“
- K. Tempest Bradford: Demanding the Best. “What needs to happen is that the all of people who belong to and run SFWA need to demand the best of their community. Demand that sexism no longer be treated lightly, that it be called out and put down and not tolerated.”
- Shiloh Walker: I’m no Barbie. “Being a woman very often means you’re going to be insulted, ignored, condescended, treated as insignificant, devalued, viewed as an object, and the list goes on and on and on…we get so blind to the shit that comes our way at times. Maybe the problem is that we carried on with quiet dignity for too long.”
- Harry Connolly: SFWA Bulletin and Sexism in the Genre. “Speech has consequences. Speech sways the opinion of others, and maybe–just maybe–that might have an effect on your life. Resnick has that power; he’s going to have to get used to the idea that others have it, too.”
- Juliette Wade: This Feminist’s Thoughts on SFWA and Cultural Change. “…they were performing a culture that is sorely out of date, and I’m sure they realize that because they are defending their right to do so. Fine (though the context was inappropriate, and I’ll address that below), but they deserve the heat they are getting in response to those ideas.”
- Stina Leicht: Feminist Monday. “This whole thing has been building up for three issues which is why there’s so much noise being made over it … And sadly, this controversy is just the tip of the misogyny iceberg.”
- Amy McLane. Attack of the Liberal Fascists. “It is bad enough to read old men rating the hotness levels of various writers and editors and then getting indignant about being called out on it. It is gross, but you can almost sort of see how those two have gotten to the point of thinking that they’ve earned the right to be gross…”
- Andrea Phillips: Barbie’s Quiet Dignity and Progress. “And that’s just one more drop in what seems like a never-ending stream of sexism.”
- Selma Wolfe: Choose to be Better. “The men that endlessly defend their own sexism could choose not to defend it. They could choose to focus on women’s opinions, rather than their appearances.”
- T. M. Thomas. SFWA in the News. “And it’s why I think, perhaps deluded and defensive and not malicious at first, why the dinosaurs of the SFWA need to offer immediate apologies and stop trying to make themselves the victims of the piece.”
- Lindsey Bieda. “‘Hey, this thing you are doing is shitty’ is not censorship and free speech does not mean freedom from consequences or criticism.“
- Jeaniene Frost: SFWA – Not Today. “I’m glad Scalzi agrees these are legitimate concerns that affect all SFWA members/associates and isn’t falling for the ‘but it’s just whining from a few liberal fascists!’ defense, but I also heave a weary sigh of agreement with author Jenny Truman’s Tweet: ‘Why, @sfwa, do you need a task force to determine if your own members should be given professional respect within your own publication?'”
- Matt Yaeger: Space Sexism. “If you can’t defend yourself without wrapping it up in an irrelevant conclusion that people who disagree with you must be censorship Nazis (hows that for loaded terms?) then you’ve already lost your position.”
- Karina Cooper: Damned If You Do(n’t). “We live in a world where men are judged by the quality and quantity of their bodies of work, and women are judged by their bodies; where men are called writers, authors, artists and creatives, and women are called lady writers and authoresses and ‘beauty pageant beautiful’.”
- Lauren Roy: Being Part of the Solution. “It can make newbies feel quite unwelcome when you see that someone out there — someones who are big names! — think you’re not a writer but a lady writer, as though my gender puts an asterisk beside anything I do.”
- Barbara Barnett: Not that the Intrawebs Need Another Post on the SFWA Kerfuffle. “…the publication of a professional organization should not serve as a megaphone for speech that disrespects a large portion of the organization’s membership.”
- Alisa Krasnostein: Observations from the SFWA Bulletin Fiasco – Part 1. “But here’s what really gets me annoyed. How does freedom of speech, the concept, mean that it only applies to you?”
- J. N. Duncan: “Dear SFWA, it’s not your job to be sexism-free (you can’t), but you do have obligation to pursue awareness and act on it with due-diligence.“
- Alan Baxter: SFWA, Sexism in SFF and Missing the Point. “…members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America wrote a piece in the official publication, the SFWA Bulletin, that is astounding in its prehistoric approach to gender and dealing with justifiable complaints.”
- Jane Little (Dear Author): SFF Old Guard. “…the official bulletin of the Science Fiction Writer’s Association for the last three months has kind of been an embarrassment to SFWA, at least to those of us looking from the outside in.”
- Ilona Andrews: “I’ve looked at their Bulletin talks and they are out of touch.”
- Ann Laurel Kopchik: My Letter to SFWA. “But the continuing problems with blatant sexism in an official publication of SFWA makes me wonder if I’ll be treated as an equal when I do meet the requirements to join SFWA.”
- Shaun Duke: SFWA, Sexism, and Progress. ” Sexism is … bullshit. We should call it out when we see it, no matter our genders. And we should definitely make sure it no longer uses the voice of the various professional organizations in our field…”
- Thomas Pluck: Everyday Sexism and Giant Space-Dicks. “…if science fiction writers can imagine unheard-of future civilizations, they can unshackle their brains from the ’60s when they were cocks of the walk, and start treating women as equals…”
- M. E. Garber: Are We Still Here? Really? “What woman wants to become part of an organization that objectifies her, and belittles both her and her ability to work and achieve?”
- Liz Argall: Thank you for Your Disappointment. “It’s like other sexist fiascoes that have happened elsewhere. Even if you believe men will always pinch bottoms in elevators, it’s still more useful to be appalled and talk about it.”
- Terra LeMay: “I’m not sure I’ll have time to write a longer post about SFWA, but count me among those members disappointed by the recent Bulletin issues.“
- Cora Buhlert: Revenge of the Girl Cooties. “Sorry, but people saying ‘This is kind of sexist’ is not censorship, sorry.”
- Tansy Rayner Roberts: Why It’s Important. “…this is why it matters that a professional industry journal should not publish a piece, even a deliberately backwards-looking opinion piece, which belittles and patronises women.”
- Eric Zawadski: That SFWA Thing. “There is a commonly-held Internet fallacy that any negative response to your opinions is a form of censorship, and this article is thick with it.”
- Catherine Shaffer: Just Because You’re Not Offended Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Offensive. “Other people being offended by things I am not actually generates useful conversations and improves the world for us all.”
- Kat Goodwin: You Be Ladies Now, Ya Hear! “And voices like Resnick, Malzberg and Henderson are not ignored, nor evil, nor do they have nothing to contribute as members and authors to the field. But because their viewpoints on women are so exclusionary, they can’t be the main voices speaking for the Bulletin or SFWA…”
- Stephanie Leary: The SFWA Bulletin. “…the very fact that Ad Week picked up on the story illustrates why SFWA’s teacup tempest is a big deal: the Bulletin is one of the primary ways the organization presents itself to the public.”
- Larry Kollar: Writing Wibbles. “I find this head-desking incredible. I’m a middle-aged whitebread dude, and I have my issues, but I fracking try to do better.”
- Seanan McGuire: Sexism, the current SFWA kerfuffle, and “lady authors.” “…that’s what happens when the background radiation of your entire life is a combination of ‘men are normal, human, wonderful, admirable, talented, worth aspiring to,’ and ‘bitches be crazy.'”
One final related link, from Laura Resnick. Thoughts from a Different Resnick.
This is just a sampling, and includes SFWA members, past SFWA officers, at least
one three Hugo award winners, editors, aspiring writers, experienced writers, bestselling writers, and more. There’s a lot more out there.
June 24, 2013 @ 6:13 pm
“grossly sexist” is pretty damning language for a garden variety female warrior cover, and one description of a female editor’s appearance (coming anecdotally from her own female colleague). I guess Vallejo, Jeff Jones, even Frazetta are better forgotten than revered? And also Margaret Brundage, Rowena, and Julie Bell?
And no editor ever, ever traded on her looks to get a job? And if she did, it’s wrong to mention it? Please.
And here comes Jim Hines, “champion of the oppressed” to the rescue. Shouting down sexism where it didn’t exist. You cost a female editor her job, nice work.
I haven’t heard one of these shrill urban fantasy writers mention the fact that Resnick and Malzberg spent several decades punching out 100 or more though provoking novels apiece during 80 hour weeks to house, feed, clothe and educate their daughters, without assistance of an MFA teaching appointment. Why doesn’t someone ask Laura Resnick about what a sexist pig her dad is? The SFWA haters are bland people demanding bland editorials about (from reading their essays) how great ebooks are.
June 24, 2013 @ 7:20 pm
Why doesn’t someone ask Laura Resnick about what a sexist pig her dad is?
Because she won’t answer on the record, as she recently stated in the last link in Jim’s list—which if you’d bothered to really read any of the essays this list you would have known before asking such a stupid rhetorical question.
You cost a female editor her job, nice work.
There are several ways Jean Rabe could have better-framed the dialogues in question and avoided the ramp-up to the “kerfuffle”, and she didn’t do any of those things; I stated all of this and more in my non-anonymous essay. I think that Rabe’s inactions combined with a few John Scalzi-admitted errors cost her the job—not anything that came of her inactions.
Jim C. Hines
June 24, 2013 @ 8:53 pm
You’re kind of all over the place there, Fred. Your initial summary of the situation misses much of what’s being discussed. You’re leaping to conclusions about Vallejo, Jones, and Frazetta, that I haven’t seen anyone making. Your comment about editors trading on their looks is rather bizarre. The shot at me is flat-out boring after some of what I’ve gotten over the past week, though I’m amazed that you think I single-handedly have the power to cost someone their job. FEAR MY POWER, WORLD!
Trisha already explained the Laura Resnick piece, since you didn’t bother reading that. And wait, where the heck did you pull the e-books thing out of? That’s even more random than the rest of your comment…
151. SF/F By Women (Our Favorites) w/ Susan Bigelow and Emma Newman | The Skiffy and Fanty Show
June 25, 2013 @ 9:31 pm
[…] Roundup of “Anonymous Protects (Jim C. Hines) […]
Depicting “Warrior Women” | ErikScottdeBie.com
June 27, 2013 @ 6:07 pm
[…] Jim Hines’s Roundup of “Anonymous Protestors” […]
On Harassment and the SFF Genre | Inspiration Struck
June 28, 2013 @ 7:59 pm
[…] to those criticisms that only made things worse. The stir caused by this was massive, there are dozens of posts you could link to, but I particularly like Foz Meadows’ complete tearing apart of the writers of the […]
A Timeline of the 2013 SFWA Controversies
July 3, 2013 @ 11:41 pm
Sexism, Racism and the SFWA | Jack Lusted
July 9, 2013 @ 5:15 pm
[…] fascists’ and accused people of censorship and being anonymous cowards. This is despite a rather long list of articles with names to them calling them […]
Фантастичният англоезичен интернет с Александър Косулиев (Юли 2013) | Сборище на трубадури
July 10, 2013 @ 2:06 am
[…] езник и Малцберг отговориха на вълната от нападки в брой 202 на бюлетина. Оставяйки настрана обвиненията […]
Eric M. Van
July 10, 2013 @ 12:47 pm
At the risk of coming across as somewhat of an apologist, I want to do something no one seems to have done: take a closer look at the dialogues to see just how they went off the rails. That might be informative.
First, #200 isn’t online that I can find, and it’s hard to say just how sexist the comments were without reading them, and in context. An anecdote about a beautiful woman editor joining an all-male sf club and forcing all the member’s wives to join isn’t remotely sexist in itself; it’s legitimate and interesting cultural history. If however, there was nothing said about the editor’s professional career, or even if the anecdote was the lead and the career assessment second, that’s certainly sexist.
Nor do I think comments about the physical attractiveness of historical figures are necessarily sexist; that’s part of the human equation. I think the clear majority of biographical pieces I’ve read about Ted Sturgeon, for instance, have mentioned his good looks, and to omit that is to fail to paint an accurate portrait of him. So it comes down to just how rife the #200 dialogue was with such descriptions relative to professional assessments, and I don’t know that.
However, I think it’s inevitable that the response would come across to the authors as an over-reaction, because readers who weren’t offended, or who cut them some slack because of their backgrounds, were of course silent. And the majority of the anger seems to have been aimed at the awful cover; the perceived sexism of the dialogue would be amplified by that congruence.
I think it’s a law of psychology that perceived over-reactions lead to responses that are themselves over-reactions, almost consciously so; it’s like running a red light because the intersecting traffic ran theirs, thus depriving your lane of the full light cycle. And yet even Foz Meadows, in her spot-on takedown of the #202 dialogue, acknowledges that Malzberg’s first comment was largely fair. He distinguishes between censorship and the mere expression of anger, asserts the legitimacy of the latter, and expresses his uncertainty as to what the intent of the complainers is. He says they are “anonymous (at least to me),” and in fact almost all that we have on record here of that *first* round of complaints is a few Twitter feeds. I think the parenthetical note is an admission that he doesn’t do Twitter, and has mostly heard the complaints second-hand.
And then in the course of the dialogue, a mutual assumption of censorship is made, in complete contradiction to Malzberg’s opening statement, and the anonymity is no longer qualified but is portrayed as absolute and cowardly. And so the Malzberg of the final few comments bears no resemblance to the sane guy who on page one was perfectly willing to be called asshole as long as he got to say “stupid” in return (and, for the sake of full disclosure, no resemblance to my longtime friend Barry, who is one of the nicest people I know in the field, and I know a great many).
So perhaps there’s a lesson or two to be learned here, as we try to learn to have reasonable and helpful discussions about sexism that will lead to its elimination. Sexism by older men who grew up in sexist times is never going to be eliminated by exasperated attacks (as natural as that reaction is), as opposed to reasoned explanations. When someone is being clueless, perhaps it’s better to respectfully throw them some clues rather than to just shout YOU’RE CLUELESS! (And, yes, even if you’ve done that in the past, and it has seemed to have had no effect, and you’ve grown exasperated at its ineffectiveness … it is *still* the better option.)
And, boy (man?, male human?), at the editorial level, let’s try to discourage dialogues between like-minded people who are aggrieved over something, especially when they feel they have been attacked and are hence defensive. That seems to be a recipe for rhetoric that quickly spirals off its moorings.