Once again SFWA is going through a Thing, and once again I haven’t said much about it, at least not here. Some of it is that I’ve been busy with book-writing and dissertation but a lot of it is that I’ve just been too tired and dismayed by it all to do much more than type a few disgusted sentences on Facebook and Twitter.
Short version, for the few people who read this blog and don’t know what’s going on: Theodore Beale (AKA “Vox Day” which is really just like are you kidding me what I know my name is goofy but WHAT), SFWA member and previous candidate for president of same (got 10% of the vote WHAT), said some mind-blowingly racist/misogynist/utterly hateful and borderline threatening stuff about author N.K. Jemisin and, as if that wasn’t awful enough, used the SFWA twitter account to publicize it. Amal El-Mohtar wrote an impassioned, well-reasoned call for his expulsion. Further discussion and debate and offensive asshattery ensued.
And it just makes me so goddamn tired.
This is the awful thing about when this happens. This is the awful thing about fighting this fight – and I’m well aware that I’m fighting it on a lower difficulty setting than many; I’m queer and female-assigned (genderqueer but sort of okay with my body as-is) but I’m also white and married to a cis-dude – it just makes you so, so fucking tired. Tired enough to want to give up. Tired enough to do what these assholes want and just say and do nothing. Rage is an excellent motivator, but there’s also deep weariness and despair.
Just like the other recent SFWA debacle with Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg, what was truly horrible about it – aside from the fact that it’s 2013 and WE ARE STILL FIGHTING THIS FIGHT ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME – was that all the work that women and QUILTBAG folk and People of Color have done in the genre and the organization and all the positive change they’ve brought about can feel like it was for nothing. That Straight White Men Being Horrible gets all the attention. It’s discouraging. People left SFWA over it and others are rethinking whether they want to join, and while that’s not me, oh my GOD do I get it. I’m eligible for active status now and my membership is up in November, and how this all gets handled will be a huge determining factor in whether I re-up/upgrade.
This is why tone arguments are so horrible, why they are so derailing. We’re exhausted. We’re angry. We are completely and utterly out of patience. If you’re part of the system that’s making us feel that way, we are under no obligation whatsoever to be nice to you about it.
“Vox Day” is a profoundly stupid pen name. By the way. While I’m Not Being Nice.
Some links from people who are, as usual, better at this than I am:
As members of the SFF community, there is only one acceptable response to Beale, and that is to shun him utterly; to excise him from our genre like the cancer that he is, from convention to blog to column, and to enforce that ban as thoroughly and determinedly as we are able.
Because if we don’t, our Reconciliation will mean nothing.
We will mean nothing.
But we ignore trolls like him, right? That’s what I’ve been seeing all day. Ignore him. Ignore his post. Don’t read the comments. Stay off the Internet for an hour until the unpleasantness passes.
You know what? Fuck that. Go read his post (it’s linked above). Read the comments. See the vile things that get said out in the open in 2013. See what happens when we speak up about it. Don’t hide your head in the sand and pretend it’s happening to someone else and you don’t need to worry about it. Hey, I’m white, what do I care, right? No, it doesn’t work that way. Nothing gets better when we pretend everything is at acceptable levels of okay.
Do you know what that post says to me?
“This is what happens if you try to make a difference. We like our organization just the way it is. And we define how women are portrayed in SFF. We like our bikinis. We like our women stupid and dependent on us. And we like them all white, because their prettier and sexier than you—well, okay, we’ll allow Asian girls, because they’re nice and quiet and subservient.. And if you try to say anything about it, we will tear you down, rip your head off, drag your name through shit, because that’s what you deserve, you monkey you. So go ahead and write your stories, little little girl. You can even join. But keep your head down, don’t make waves, and most of all, keep your fat lips shut.”
And a good overall roundup post: Radish Reviews – This Week in Racist Bullshit
I do wish more people had felt inclined to speak up when he attacked E. Catherine Tobler a couple of weeks ago instead of collectively deciding to ignore him in the hopes that he’d go away (with a few exceptions). I do understand that at that point he hadn’t done anything to warrant expulsion from SFWA–and as I was one of those keeping silent, I’m upset with myself here as well. Private support is one thing, speaking up publicly is another.
This doesn’t work with schoolyard bullies and it doesn’t work with racist misogynist fuckmuppets like Theodore Beale.
For what it’s worth, I’ve emailed the SFWA board in support of Amal’s call for his expulsion and have also called for the formation of an official Code of Conduct for SFWA members. Because apparently we can’t all be trusted to act like decent fucking human beings. Amal’s post contains contact info for the board. If you’re a member, or even thinking of becoming a member, and you find this whole business unacceptable, I urge you to get in touch with them and let them know your thoughts.
One final thing: It should not escape our attention that this whole string of incidents wasn’t racist or sexist in isolation but featured healthy doses of both. These things always intersect. This is the nature of oppression and domination. We may have different arrangements of identity but we, the marginalized and minoritized, stand united. Or we should.
No matter how exhausting this gets.