The politics have always been there. You just refuse to see them.



I was honestly going to stay out of the whole Hugo Thing, in part because almost everyone else I know in the community has articulated exactly my feelings about it better than I could because my articulation of my feelings is BLAARGHARARRAGGHHHH, and partly because I’m just fucking tired of this whole business, which is also why BLAARGHARARGHAAARGHHAAAH. But then there was this putrid thing in USA Today (donotlinkified courtesy of Natalie Luhrs) and it just kind of broke the entire camel for me.

I’m going to say this very, very clearly, in bold, because I feel like it can’t be emphasized enough:

Science fiction and fantasy is political and has always been political.

In fact, you know what?

Writing is political and has always been political.

In fact, wait.

Stories of all kinds everywhere at every point in human history are political and have always been political.

Storytelling is a political act. It’s making sense of the world and ourselves, and like every other kind of sense-making, it’s as political as it is personal and vice-versa. There is no distinction to be made between the political and the personal. Writing of any kind is political. It’s claimsmaking regarding reality and how to interpret it. Because whenever we’re faced with these things, we’re faced with fundamental truths regarding how creation makes and unmakes the world, regarding whose voices are amplified and whose are lost, between who gets to speak and who is literally silenced. Yes, the Hugos are just one award, and you can argue all you like about how much they actually mean in the long run. But this isn’t even about the Hugos. This is about everything, about every fucking time we have this conversation.

I don’t know where this whole “politics doesn’t belong in [insert genre and mode of creative output here]” came from but I have some ideas and regardless I want it to die in flames.

If you can read something “on its own merits” and judge it accordingly, entirely separate from its misogynist white supremacist author, bully for you, but please take a look at who you are and why you can say that. Because you’re in a position where, I would imagine, you haven’t been swimming in cultural toxic waste for your entire life, where you’re subject to millions of constant microaggressions that batter at your heart like tiny hammers until you’re sore and bleeding and have to build up scar tissue like armor, where the world of imagination that has provided a refuge for you in hard times and even moments of great liberation all too often feels like hostile territory full of enemies who at best don’t even see you as a human being, and who otherwise want to do you actual literal harm.

If you can judge something on its merits, if you can say that you want politics kept out of something, then you do not see and are refusing to imagine the experiences of people who are having the politics of this thing – the endless, violent, hateful politics – stomped into their faces forever.

So enjoy your fucking Hugo ballot, I guess.

3 thoughts on “The politics have always been there. You just refuse to see them.

  1. Noor says:

    I’m sorry but I think you are wrong, having lived in an oppressive environment does not mean you have to be a single minded person, and I know because I’m a Muslim woman who lives in the Middle East! So you can’t dismiss my opinion as ‘ white, privileged male ‘.
    I have read books and watched shows that outright trashes my religion and culture, I’ve read books that stereotype women to insulting degrees, I simply put the book down, in my review I mention the writer should work on the characterization of women or Muslims (or whatever they are insulting) and move on, because I know I can’t force people to fight my battles, and just because you think you are on the right side doesn’t make your politics any more obligatory to follow, the world is not as small, or black and white as you think.
    It’s nice to have values and stick to them, but I believe in letting others live their own values even if I disapprove. So I will continue to read books with open mind and judge on literary bases only, if politics are part of the work, I want no part of it! We fight enough battles in reality, we should be able to escape into fiction world when we need to.

  2. Sunny Moraine says:

    That’s you. I don’t think you’re qualified to speak for the people who disagree with you.

    For many, many people, “putting the book down” is not that simple. Just because you can doesn’t mean you have the right to tell other people that they should be able to.

    If I’m misunderstanding and you really are just speaking for you… Then good for you, I guess?

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