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?
“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?
June 5, 2013 @ 9:43 am
Interesting how often I see men trying to proclaim what is and isn’t a real problem when it comes to sexism…
Much in the same way that the people who most often claim to be authoritative on what is and isn’t a racial issue are white. It tends to boil down to “This doesn’t affect me, therefore it can’t possibly be as big a problem as some people who aren’t me claim it is”
June 5, 2013 @ 9:53 am
Or any -ism. Especially eyerollworthy when added to a dose of “my second cousin’s, best mate’s girlfriend’s mother is …. and SHE never *insert judgemental viewpoint here*, therefore …!”.
Personally I get it on a couple of points (disability/femaleness) and it always exasperates me. Pointing out that if I don’t speak for all Aspies/Women/Librarians or whatever, only me unless categorically stated, doesn’t seem to make any difference 🙁
June 5, 2013 @ 9:59 am
The question was not, what favors you received ;-).
June 5, 2013 @ 11:18 am
I was not aware that the phrase “right-thinking” is problematic! I didn’t intend it to be all thought police-esque. And I’m plenty willing to discuss such things with people.
I do note that no one came to MY blog to say so. Really now, if you’re going to argue about things I said in my post, you should argue with me about them, not Jim. Zuul’s sake, people.
Jim C. Hines
June 5, 2013 @ 11:22 am
I didn’t read it as thought-policing, but I cringed because I figured others would pounce on it that way. I did think it…oversimplified too much, if that makes sense?
June 5, 2013 @ 1:00 pm
You are, as usual, expressing much of what I’m thinking, “out loud” where people can see it & think about it. Good going.
go your own way | Crime and the Blog of Evil
June 5, 2013 @ 2:25 pm
[…] See also Jim Hines’s continuing collection of reactions/Q&A. **: Note that winning w.r.t SFWA won’t do a lot regarding horrible fan misogyny that Ann […]
June 5, 2013 @ 9:01 pm
“All this attention is just making SFWA look bad” and “What about all of the good work SFWA does?”
Yes, SFWA does good work. I’ve been a member for decades and intend to stay one for the rest of my life. Do I agree with all my fellow SFWA members? Of course not. We’re talking about a group of people who build their own worlds–nobody is going to agree with all of us.
Still, the fact that you could substitute “the Roman Catholic church” for “SFWA” strikes me as creepy. ‘The problem isn’t sexism [child molesting]; the problem is talking about it.‘ I disagree. It’s hard to fix something if you don’t talk about it. I think that Jim is making a valuable contribution to this discussion–and his cover poses were inspired.
Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little
June 5, 2013 @ 9:29 pm
“What about all of the good work SFWA does?”
I am only just now putting my thoughts together on how to respond to this point, especially considering Mary Robinette Kowal’s and Rachel Swirsky’s totally valid frustration relating to that point.
And it goes something like this:
“The SFWA does fantastic work. But when the Bulletin carries regressive misogyny three editions in a row, it makes a woman understandably question whether SFWA would do as fantastic a job on the behalf of women members as it would do on the behalf of men.”
If the public face of SFWA has been belittling women, it’s hard for women to have confidence that SFWA’s GriefCom wouldn’t belittle the complaints of women in the industry, or that SFWA’s Emergency Medical Fund would really end up funding the medical catastrophes as it does those of men, or…
SFWA is more than its Bulletin. But bigotry expressed in its Bulletin cannot help but give the impression that there will be bigotry underlying any decisions on where SFWA effort will be expended.
Which isn’t to say that my confidence has been destroyed. I am still confident, thanks to conversations and announcements in both public and private spaces that SFWA is treating this like a major problem and is working to turn things around, and that what went on in the Bulletin does *not* reflect a SFWA that will dismiss the needs of its female membership. I remain hopeful.
But if I were considering joining or aspiring to join, and I knew the people in the organization less well (esp. the incoming Board), I might well have gotten the expression that GriefCom would dismiss me and the EMF would overlook me and the SFWA suite at WorldCon would not be a safe place for me and that the price of receiving Big Famous Male Writer’s help and mentorship would be to have my perceived fuckability considered fuel for Big Famous Male Writer’s barcon anecdotes forever.
June 6, 2013 @ 10:29 pm
This is sexist, too. Assuming that a man will only speak out about something that affects women if it gets them sexual favors is not a funny joke — saying things that people genuinely believe isn’t a joke, it just reinforces that belief, and is disgusting.
Science Fiction and stereotypes | Contact – Infinite Futures
June 6, 2013 @ 11:30 pm
[…] this is explained by E. Catherine Tobler and a list of links was compiled by Jim C. Hines and his, Miscellaneous Thoughts on the Sexism Mess. Many authors stepped forward and told of their treatment in the SFF community, and that segues […]
June 7, 2013 @ 1:20 am
Y’know what my first thought was when I heard about this particular SFWA scandal? It was “oh, they were about due for one”. Because the first time I had the SFWA brought to my attention (as a science-fiction/fantasy fiction reader who lives outside the USA) was by a scandal involving the SFWA. The second time they were brought to my attention was a scandal (the infamous “techno-peasant wretch” thing). The third time was a scandal (IP screwups). So if I’m hearing about the SFWA outside a rather select group of blogs, it’s probably going to be because something’s gone wrong.
This is partially due to human nature – we don’t remark on all the times things go right, only on the time they go wrong. When we get a flat tyre, we don’t think “okay, the tyre has been fine every day up until now”, we think “oh crap, this stupid tyre is flat; doesn’t it just figure?”.
So yeah, there is a lot of good stuff the SFWA does. And I hear about that when I read Making Light, Antipope, or Whatever. I don’t tend to hear about it outside those fora. Everyone who is a member presumes that doing things right is the default, and they’re not going to mention it most of the time. When something goes wrong (like, for example, if a board member manages to stick their foot in their mouth up to the knee) people will comment on it, because it’s unusual.
In many ways, having all this comment about the sexism which is still present in the science fiction/fantasy writing community, as well as in the wider geek community and the even wider still community of “Western” cultures is a Good Thing. It’s a good thing because it implies this sexism is becoming something worthy of remark – something quite literally remarkable. It isn’t SOP – it’s something which is notable, something which needs to be pointed out, and which shows up as a problem on people’s radars, rather than something which is largely regarded as invisible. So while the sexism itself is not a desirable state, the level of comment about it, and the amount of scandal which has been raised about it, is a highly desirable thing. It shows wider attitudes are changing.
June 7, 2013 @ 1:54 pm
I read “what favors you received” to mean “being blocked on Facebook”–that is, Jim says it’s the worst he’s experienced, Martin implies it was the best.
June 7, 2013 @ 1:58 pm
Yep, that is a result of my view on Facebook ;-).
June 7, 2013 @ 2:02 pm
Sorry Sally, just didn’t notice your reply till now. I was making fun out of Facebook. Blocking someone there is doing him/her a favor (from my point of view). So what Jim called “the worst” is IMHO a good thing. No sexual innuendo was intended.
June 7, 2013 @ 2:13 pm
I’m very sorry then, Martin, for misconstruing your comment!
June 7, 2013 @ 2:15 pm
June 10, 2013 @ 3:22 am
I would just like to say as a gay man i find Jim’s poses to be very cute and hot and they make me hapy. I dont like how wemon pose on covers cause It makes it look like you reading a dirty book.
p.s. if jims wife is ever not nice you so have options yummy.
June 11, 2013 @ 11:37 am