Tag Archives: misogyny

I wish we didn’t have to make this shit personal. But apparently we do.

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Like I alluded to before, one of the ugliest things that’s come out of the UCSB killings – hey, how about we just call it gender terrorism, because that’s what it is – has been watching men who could be allies, who claim to love and respect women, some of whom are our friends and relatives and others close to us, minimize and actively disregard the role a deeply misogynist culture played in this thing. It’s been ugly and it’s been hurtful, and the ugliest thing about it – at least for me – has been the apparent inability of otherwise intelligent people to connect the dots and realize that when they dismiss the misogyny aspect – which, I want to stress, no one is saying was the only aspect – they are dismissing us. The people standing right in front of them, begging them to listen. Our experiences. Our stories. Our anger and our pain.

So we have to shove those stories in people’s faces. We have to make them work to look away from the people they allegedly care for and love. That’s what #yesallwomen is about.

And that’s what my sister’s amazing essay is about.

The truth is that each of those men had been fed a lie.  Possibly for their whole lives.  It was probably one of the many lies fed to the UCSB shooter.  The lie they had been fed was that if you are brave, and you put yourself out there, and you are a nice guy, you will get the girl.  In the cases above, I was The Girl.  Not a girl, not a human being with thoughts and preferences of her own and the ability to decide who she was attracted to and who she wasn’t, but The Girl.  The prize you get for being brave and asking someone out.  No one ever told these men that putting yourself out there isn’t a guarantee, because you are only 50% of the equation.  Me, other women, the other 50%, never entered into their dating math.  My rejection, especially when it didn’t come on the grounds that I was already someone else’s prize, was abhorrent.  It ruined something for them.  It probably emasculated them.  Rejection is bad, but it’s especially bad if the entire world has told you that you shouldn’t expect it to happen.  It makes men angry.  It makes men violent.

I’ve been rejected by boys before.  I’ve been “friendzoned” before.  It never seemed to cause me as much distress as it caused the men I met that summer, and the ones I see everywhere all the time, furious because their sense of entitlement to women’s time, attention, and bodies has been violated.  We all know why this is, if we’re willing to look at something ugly.  We can listen to what the UCSB shooter told us about his reasons for killing six people and injuring more.  We can discover how his actions were on the extreme end of a spectrum of hate that women experience every day.  The connections are there.  The information, the stories, the testimonies are all there.

But we have to look.

Read the whole thing. I mean it.

On #Wiscon and trauma and recognizing it as such

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You don’t want to be judged? You won’t be. You don’t think you’re strong enough? You are. You’re afraid. Don’t be. You have all the weapons you need.

Now fight.

– Sucker Punch

Anyone who follows me on the Twitters or the Facebooks or here will know that I spent this past weekend in Madison for WisCon, which is sort of My Con, because it’s almost more like an intersectional revival meeting than anything else, and it makes me have a lot of emotions. Or rather, it gives me a space in which I can feel those emotions safely.

That usually means that Wiscon, while it’s an incredibly positive, energizing, communal experience, is also often draining, and I come out of it mulling over some difficult, painful things. That was especially true this year, in significant part because it coincided with the Santa Barbara shootings, which reminded so many of us – as if we needed reminding – that we live in a culture that is not only hostile to us but lethally dangerous. Where we are not safe in any meaningful sense of the word.

(I should note that although I identify as genderqueer, I consider being raised as a girl an important part of the development of my identity, and in most important contexts the rest of society would consider me a woman. So I’m putting myself in that category for practical purposes. Anyway, GNC people are in that kind of marginalized Other space in any case to varying degrees for various reasons.)

So this was all going on, and emotions – again, many of them not negative ones – were running high, at least in me. And right at the apex of it – sitting in a panel on mental health, ironically enough – I had a very upsetting exchange via email with a member of my family about the shootings, which left me feeling deeply, deeply hurt.

And also something else. It took me a few minutes to really grasp what was happening. I was shaking hard, my palms were sweating, my heart and thoughts were both racing, and my breath was shallow. In other words, I was having a classic fight-or-flight response.

And I was like Oh my God. I’m being triggered.

I have a difficult past with this family member, and a very fraught relationship which we are only now – and very slowly – beginning to try to repair. The peace is fragile, and it doesn’t take much for it to slide back down into ugliness. In fairness, this is not one-sided; they were not the only one who participated in emotional abuse during the period when things were at their worst. I know they have experienced and do experience their share of pain, and that pain is real and legitimate.

But for me, that moment was a revelation. It wasn’t even really about the email and the nastiness that was in it. I was having a physiological reaction to past trauma. It was a reaction that I had experienced many, many times before, and for whatever reason I had not recognized what was happening to me.

This made me realize two additional things: 1) It wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t control it, which in the past I had believed; and 2) I could ask for help.

So I did. I texted a friend and she took me out for ice cream. And then later I Floomped (dance party) in a furious manner and went to a Jem vid party and I had a great time and by the next morning I had mostly recovered.

But again, this was a revelation, about my right to my emotions and my pain and my right to take care of myself, and to reach out to others for assistance in doing that. I didn’t have to wrestle with it alone, I didn’t have to blame myself for not being able to just calm down or let it go. It was okay to not be okay, and that actually made it possible to be okay in a way I’ve never experienced before.

So that happened. It meant that I had to miss NK Jemisin’s amazing GoH speech, which saddened me a great deal, but then later, sitting in a noisy, uncomfortable airport terminal waiting for a late flight home that had been delayed over an hour, I read the speech, and what others have very properly characterized as a call to arms also felt to me like an embrace. You’re all right. And someday you’ll heal. But in the meantime you have the right to defend yourself, and you have the obligation to come to the defense of others.

I wrote an email to my family about it, and in some respects it was a direct response to the member of my family who triggered me. It was the only kind of response I felt able to make, short of no response at all. But silence is painful, and it didn’t feel like it would protect me from anything. I have no idea if they read it. I sincerely doubt that they did. But to me, that didn’t really matter. What mattered was speaking out. So among other things, I said this:

I decided a while ago to make 2014 the year I started doing what Anne Lamott says we have to do as writers and as humans, and dig down into the truly ugly stuff hiding in my psyche, the stuff we’re told – especially if we’re gendered female – that we’re supposed to keep hidden. I’ve decided that I have to do that because that stuff is true, because it’s real, and because the best writing is the writing that tells the truth. I’ve written a few stories that go a long way toward doing that; they’ve been purchased by editors and you’ll see them soon. But something else I’m dealing with, as I consider what it means to write about pain, is that I’m entrenched in both a genre of fiction and a culture that contains many people who are clearly and unambiguously hostile to me and people like me, doing the work that I’m doing.

And how difficult it is to turn and face that and demand recognition of that hostility.

Because without that recognition, there can be no healing, and there can never be reconciliation. Broken bonds won’t be repaired. People will remain strangers to each other.

Me and people like me have been told, repeatedly, to chill out. To get over it. To stop reading too much into things. To sit down. To shut up. To stop making people uncomfortable. That we’re overreacting. That we’re hysterical. That we’re crazy. That we’re looking for things to get upset about. That if we laugh it off everything will be okay.

It’s not okay. And I’m not crazy. And I won’t shut up.

All of us suffering, all of us walking wounded, we have a right to ourselves and our safety. We have a right to be protected and to protect others. We have a right to self-care, and we have a right to ask for help in caring for ourselves. It can be so difficult to recognize and accept that right, because I think often we have a harder time seeing ourselves clearly than seeing others, but also because we’re just straight up taught that we don’t have a right to any of that. We exist in a context that denies our right to be good to ourselves in that way.

We need to claim it. It’s vital that we do that. Without that, we won’t heal.

And we also have a right to fight back. Nora speaks true.

Arm yourselves. Go to panels at Wiscon and claim the knowledge and language that will be your weapons. Go to sources of additional knowledge for fresh ammunition — histories and analyses of the genre by people who see beyond the status quo, our genre elders, new sources of knowledge like “revisionist” scholarship instead of the bullshit we all learned in school. Find support groups of like-minded souls; these are your comrades-in-arms, and you will need their strength. Don’t try to do this alone. When you’re injured, seek help; I’ve got a great list of CBT therapists, for any of you in the New York area. Exercise to stay strong, if you can; defend what health you have, if you can’t. And from here on, wherever you see bigotry in the genre? Attack it. Don’t wait for it to come directly at you; attack it even if it’s hitting another group. If you won’t ride or die for anyone else, how can you expect them to ride or die for you? Understand that there are people in this genre who hate you, and who do not want you here, and who will hurt you if they can. Do not tolerate their intolerance. Don’t be “fair and balanced.” Tell them they’re unwelcome. Make them uncomfortable. Shout them down. Kick them out. Fucking fight.

And maybe one day, when the fighting’s done, then we can heal. On that day, all of us will dream freely, at last.

Sunday Linkdump: All the cars upturned talk like the trains

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Be aware: There is a lot. Without further ado:

  • This week in awesome: An artist is making a map of Manhattan using only handwritten directions from strangers. It’s about as great as you’d expect.
  • “Man Creates Very First Website for Women Ever”. No, this is not an Onion headline.

    Where is the Gawker for women? The ESPN for women? The Awl for women? The Slate for women? The Onion for women? Perhaps when Google finally launches a search engine for women, we will be capable of locating the websites targeted at us, so that advertisers may sell us things. For now, we will read Bustle.

  • Breaking Bad as Hamlet. I don’t totally buy it, but it’s an amazing comparison.
  • “Mark Millar and Todd McFarlane: Ladies, Comics Aren’t For You”. And here’s where I would register my outraged shock if I had any. Shock, I mean.

    Comics aren’t for women. And if women do like comics, they shouldn’t, because testosterone, and that’s not the right platform for them. But for those women who do read comics, it doesn’t matter how they’re portrayed. Because women don’t read them, you see, so it’s not necessary to write characters that will appeal to them. So if you’re a woman, and you’re reading comics, first of all, why are you reading them? Second of all, don’t expect anything that appeals to you.

  • Related: Do villains really need to commit “taboo” acts for us to get that they’re villains?

    A cowardly bully, who snivels and whines when any hurt at all comes their way, isn’t just a villain that people hate. He or she is a villain that people despise. It goes back to what people mean when they say a “bad guy.” Someone being “bad” isn’t just about actions, it’s also about character in the old-fashioned sense of the word. And when the focus is on “bad character” rather than atrocity, it’s possible demonstrate that a villain is despicable without showing any crime at all.

  • Also related: Warren Ellis on why we do need violent stories.

    We learn about things by looking at them and then talking about them, together. You may have heard of this process. It’s sometimes involved in things like science. It’s also the system of fiction: writing things in order to get a better look at them. Fiction is how we both study and de-fang our monsters. To lock violent fiction away, or to close our eyes to it, is to give our monsters and our fears undeserved power and richer hunting grounds.

  • Also also related: Why it may be a good thing that video games “devalue life”, and why it might open up some opportunities to rethink the meaning of death.

    This fixation on interactivity obscures the fact that games are also a computational medium, based on models and protocols, codes and commands, simulations and rules. By assigning literal, numerical values to life and death, games are necessarily going to “cheapen” them to some extent – but, as we’ll see, this cheapening can render the form peculiarly suited to exploring what life is worth in the era of biopower and computerized risk assessment, drones and cloning, artificial intelligence and data mining.

  • N.K. Jemisin: “There is no neutrality when bigotry is the status quo.”

    Put simply, SFWA must now take action against bigots in order to prove itself worthy of being called a professional organization. SFWA’s leadership is going to have to choose which members it wants to lose: the minority of scared, angry people whose sense of self-worth is rooted in their ability to harm others without consequence… or everyone else.

  • Orson Scott Card: Now officially disconnected from reality in every meaningful way. Also howlingly racist, in case anyone wasn’t sure about that.

    “Where will he get his ‘national police’? The NaPo will be recruited from ‘young out-of-work urban men’ and it will be hailed as a cure for the economic malaise of the inner cities.

    In other words, Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama’s enemies.”

  • (TW: wow racism) Amazing series of photos: “A Day in the Life of the Ku Klux Klan, Uncensored”. The only real issue is that it’s sort of implicitly presented as if any of the images are a surprise or are skewering common perceptions of the KKK, when in fact they are all exactly what I would expect.
  • “Of course all men don’t hate women. But all men must know they benefit from sexism”.

    These days, before we talk about misogyny, women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women” – that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalise. That’s something men do. Not all men – just somemen.

  • “Thoughts on the Trending Hashtag: #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen”.

    Recently I had lunch with a good friend, and he asked how I felt about getting my major in Women and Gender Studies since he heard that it’s basically learning about white women, which I’m inclined to agree with. The primary feminist group on my campus simply ignored my critiques that women of color were not being truly represented by them. Instead, I was simply told, “Oh well, we believe in equality for all.” I can even think of a few times when I was on Facebook and saw white women post articles about women of color, ignore my comments regarding my own experiences as a Latina, and carry on talking to other white feminists discussing something that they have no real clue about.

  • Bayou Corne, Louisiana is disappearing into a sinkhole 24 acres wide and about 750 feet deep. There are reasons why this is happening.

    Bayou Corne is the biggest ongoing industrial disaster in the United States you haven’t heard of. In addition to creating a massive sinkhole, it has unearthed an uncomfortable truth: Modern mining and drilling techniques are disturbing the geological order in ways that scientists still don’t fully understand. Humans have been extracting natural resources from the earth since the dawn of mankind, but never before at the rate and magnitude of today’s petrochemical industry. And the side effects are becoming clear.

  • Finally, from me: a post on the systems of cultural capital built up around print books and the spaces they occupy, placed in the context of a world that features increasing numbers of ebooks.

    Of course the spaces themselves in which one goes to experience books are laden with differing degrees of cultural capital. Independent bookstores tend to be more prestigious than chains. Independent bookstores with lots of antique shelving that’s high enough to need those cool rolling ladders tend to be more prestigious than a little hole-in-the-wall used bookstore. You stand in these spaces, a hardcover first edition in your hands, surrounded by whispers and wood and that fantastic old book smell, and you can think Aha, I am a Cultured person in a Cultured space and I am Experiencing Books.

Hope the bridges all burn your life away.

Get your ladybusiness out of my dudes: M/M romance and the problems therein

First, a little preamble.

I’ve written more than one thing that’s been marketed as M/M romance – including Line and Orbit (and I’ve alluded to my slight disagreement that that 327038__safe_twilight-sparkle_image-macro_vulgar_equestria-girls_balloonsparticular book deserves that particular label). But in fact I’m not especially comfortable with the idea of being an “M/M” author. I don’t like that I have that discomfort, and I wish I didn’t feel that way, and I recognize that feeling that way is also sort of problematic, but nevertheless it’s the way I feel. And a lot of that has to do with what I’m going to talk about next.

Simply put, I’ve come to feel – perhaps unfairly – that the “M/M” label doesn’t capture the diversity of the writing that I think I do and hope to do more of. I’ve written about gay men, lesbian women, trans* people, bisexual people, pansexual people, genderqueer people, and I hope to write more in the future about asexual people. I’ve also written about straight people. I try to include more than one part of the spectrum in any given story, when doing so is appropriate for that story. I prefer “queer” fiction or “QUILTBAG” fiction. I don’t like borders. I don’t like expectations of what something should be, which mean that it’s always going to risk failure in ways that have nothing to do with quality.

I understand that it is, first and foremost, a marketing label. But I think we should all understand that how things are marketed has major social consequences. It affects culture. It affects culture in ways that are not necessarily okay.

Enter Jesse Wave.

Read the pertinent post here. Well, how charming: The post has been deleted, but here’s a screencap. I don’t want to go into a lot of depth about the post itself but instead to outline some of my own problems with what’s going on in it. Essentially, Wave takes issue with what she frames as a recent influx of review copies of books that feature “on-screen” sexual content involving people who do not have penises, which violate her review policies. She characterizes such books as “disrespectful” to the genre as a whole:

Why are M/M readers treated so disdainfully? Are we not on par with het romance readers? M/M romance has been around for a decade, so why can’t our authors get it right? Clearly we are not respected because if we were this wouldn’t happen, and so often. Would authors insert graphic gay sex scenes in het romances? Not f*****g likely, unless the book is a ménage or a bi romance.

I think that characterization is a huge part of what’s gotten some people up in arms. If she had said that the submission of review copies that don’t follow the site’s guidelines was disrespectful, I think there would have been less of a backlash.

But anyway. There was the usual THIS IS MY SPACE response, and WRITERS CAN WRITE WHATEVER THEY WANT response, and I’m honestly surprised that the word “censorship” never came up, except maybe I missed it.

Look, here’s the thing: I don’t think the primary issue is one of policies or guidelines or labeling. I think it’s one of attitude. And yeah, I think there’s some misogyny all up in here, along with a tasty helping of trans*phobia.

Wave’s problem is that she’s reducing this entire thing to body parts and what happens when they get mashed together. For her, it comes down to sex acts. She claims that she’s fine with straight characters (or, I presume, bisexual characters or various combinations featuring trans* characters) engaging in romantic activity – provided that she isn’t exposed to the details of said activities.

That is really not okay.

The thing about homophobia is that, while the core of it is patriarchy, its visceral component lies in the reduction of all the nuances and complexities of erotic love to sex acts and then finding those sex acts icky. Straight love is fine because – at least traditionally, though this is starting to change – the social legitimacy of heterosexuality allows us to accept heterosexuality in forms that go above and beyond sex. Heterosexual relationships are not only accepted but assumed. They are the default. Being gay is about penises, and that’s where homophobia draws a lot of its visceral power from.

A great example of this can be found in a study done by CBS/the New York Times wherein 500 people were asked via phone survey whether they supported the open inclusion of “homosexuals” vs. “gays/lesbians” in the armed forces. The results were dramatic.

“Homosexual” includes the word “sex”. We hear it and we immediately think of queer sex acts. Which – because they challenge gender identity, because they challenge heteronormativity, because they challenge patriarchy – make people uncomfortable on the level of the gut.

The reduction of complex human identities to sex acts is essentializing. It’s dehumanizing. I’m guessing that most of us have heard someone at some point say something like “I have nothing against those gays. I just don’t want them flaunting it or anything.” Which really means I want them invisible. I don’t want to have to confront the fact that they exist because they threaten me.

If you’re okay with two gay guys walking down the street together but you freak out when you see them making out, yeah, I’m going to call you homophobic. Doesn’t mean you’re an awful person, but you do have some homophobia going on there and maybe you should look to it. By the same token, if you find lady parts viscerally icky – to the point where you say you want to be warned about it, to the point where you call it things like shocking – I’m going to go out on a limb and say you have some internalized misogyny happening.

By the way, that blew my mind: Some people in the comments in Wave’s post, including Wave herself, were talking about including warnings for non-gay male sexual content as though that content was triggering in the way that rape and excessive violence is. There followed a bunch of backpeddling and claiming that really it was just about labeling things for consumer reasons, but sorry, no: once the word shocking shows up, I don’t buy it.

[Addendum: It’s also worth pointing out something else that Wave doesn’t seem to understand at all, which is that sexual organs ≠ gender. You can be a man with a vagina. You can be a woman with a penis. You can be any permutation of any gender with any set of organs. So to assume that “gay” means “two penises” is just so cissexist that I can’t even.]

And no, claiming that it’s okay because the straights all do the same thing is not a good argument. It’s a stupid argument. It’s bad and the people making it should feel bad.

Of course, this is all problematized further by the fact that Wave is right about one thing: mainstream romance has been traditionally heteronormative, with gay relationships often made invisible or presented in ways that are less than positive. Because hey, that’s the entire culture. The culture is changing, and things are getting better in most respects, but there has indeed been a lack of space – for queer romance of all kinds, not just the gay stuff. So yes, the inclusion of straight romance in a book that’s focused on a gay romantic relationship isn’t quite the same thing as the inclusion of gay romance in a book that’s primarily focused on a straight romantic relationship. But you know? Anytime someone starts saying things like “keep your ____ out of my ____ because it SHOCKS ME” I get really uncomfy.

And you know what else? I think Wave’s attitude does readers of M/M romance a disservice. I think a tremendous number of them are way more open to variety and diversity than that.

I’m not saying that Wave has to change her review policy or that readers shouldn’t read what they want for whatever reasons they care to have. But again, we’re at the point where individual preference crosses over into the wider culture, and I think we need to have a conversation about it that rises above the level of I’M NOT A BIGOT I CAN DO WHAT I WANT. This is a great opportunity to be more self-reflexive than we really have to be, and to confront some difficult things. We’ll be better people for it. So will the genre. I want to be comfortable with the M/M label. I have high hopes that someday I will be.

For what it’s worth, a great response by Heidi Belleau can be found here. Sara York also has a good post on the problems with “disrespect”. LA Witt and Aleksandr Voinov weigh in and both are very worth reading.

Oh, PS: Wave – and others – don’t say “het”. Oh my God, do not say “het”. I immediately infer so much about you when you do, and none of what I infer is flattering.

Theodore Beale and oh my effing God this again

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:

Foz Meadows – Reconciliation: A Response to Theodore Beale.

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.

Carrie Cuinn – Wishing Never Changed a Damn Thing

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.

Reconciliation within the SFF genre, one writer at a time (or finally getting around to the SWFA kerfuffle)

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.

The whole SFWA Bulletin Thing: Others have said it better, but my two cents

by Kimonas

by Kimonas. Guys? This is a Warrior Woman.

I haven’t had much time to comment on what’s been going on in response to Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg’s pretty goddamn horrifying column in the latest issue of the SFWA Bulletin – among other things I’ve been prepping a novel to go out to agents, yaaaaaay – but I’ve been following it, even if I haven’t been able to pull any coherent thoughts together that haven’t been articulated elsewhere by others way more better good at the articulating than me. But let me just go ahead and drop a link to Jim Hines’s fantastic link roundup post, which is worth looking through.

My favorite post on it so far, though I haven’t yet read all of them: “Old Men Yelling at Clouds.”

OK, you do understand that there’s a difference between saying ‘referencing her looks was unnecessary, and perhaps inappropriate given your evident obliviousness on the subject of sexism’, and ‘NOBODY IN THIS PUBLICATION SHOULD USE THE WORD BEAUTIFUL IT IS AN UNWORD AND BANNED FOREVER’, right? Nobody is censoring the word ‘beautiful’; we’re simply suggesting you needn’t have used it when you did. Similarly, if I say ‘stop threatening me with that knife’, I’m not saying ‘ban all knives’. I’m saying there’s an important contextual difference between chopping up carrots for dinner and my physical endangerment, and if that’s a distinction you’re either unwilling or unable to make, then I don’t want you anywhere near my kitchen.

I am really, really, really tired of people who are being called on their offensive levels of privilege interpreting that calling-out as “censorship” (Resnick and Malzberg then go on to actually fucking namedrop Stalin with the suggestion that this is how it all starts ARE WE SERIOUSLY FUCKING GOING THERE) but we sure do see it all the time, huh? And every time it gets said, it ends up meaning that we have to expend yet more time and energy actually explaining the definition of censorship to adults who can presumably read. It consistently blows my mind that we have to do this, but we do. They literally do not understand what it means. And they don’t understand, I think, because they don’t want to understand.

This is one of those things that I understand on an intellectual level but at a much deeper level I simply Do Not Get.

I teach introductory level college courses in sociology, and because of the angle at which I approach the material – all liberal angry feminist queer theorist social justicy – we have to cover the definition of “privilege” and we have to cover it very early on. One of the things I take care to explain to my students is that with privilege comes the delusion of being persecuted when your privilege is threatened. I give them the example of a classroom study – the citation for which I can’t find at the moment – wherein a teacher very carefully called on boys and girls an equal amount and gave them equal attention. And the boys perceived this as unfair.

It’s just the way the world is. It was working fine, why are all  these ladypeople trying to change it? Why are they so angry?

Some people are choosing to leave SFWA over this. It’s not a sudden decision and I don’t think anyone is making it lightly; this isn’t a recent occurrence but has been a problem in the organization for a while now. I’m not leaving, but I feel nothing but respect and have nothing but support for the people who have to honor their consciences and their obligations to self-care in this way.

What I really think is the saddest and most infuriating part of the whole thing is that, as Rachel Swirsky and Mary Robinette Kowal have noted, it obscures the hard work of the many women inside the organization, work that often goes unacknowledged anyway. These Old White Men start yelling at clouds and suddenly that work doesn’t seem to count for anything. That’s not right. It’s not right on top of a whole pile of things that aren’t right.

When about the best that can be said for you is that at least you and people like you will die off soon, you might want to reexamine your life choices is all.

If you want something seriously uplifting and pump-your-fist-fuck-yeah, though, this is pretty damn good.

Because when we choose to write stories, it’s not just an individual story we’re telling. It’s theirs. And yours. And ours. We all exist together. It all happens here. It’s muddy and complex and often tragic and terrifying. But ignoring half of it, and pretending there’s only one way a woman lives or has ever lived – in relation to the men that surround her – is not a single act of erasure, but a political erasure.

Populating a world with men, with male heroes, male people, and their “women cattle and slaves” is a political act. You are making a conscious choice to erase half the world.

As storytellers, there are more interesting choices we can make.