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“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:

Added 6/3/2013:

  • 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’.”

Added 6/4/2013:

Added 6/5/2013:

  • 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.”

Added 6/6/2013:

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.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.



( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 2nd, 2013 04:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah. My twitter comments were under my own name. *sigh*

I...just don't have the energy to take this on right now. So I'm glad that others are.

I don't have any problem with sexist asshats showing themselves in public. Fine. Makes them easy to spot and avoid. That's what blogs, etc. are for.

But this kind of everyday sexism has no place in a professional publication that is supposed to represent a whole industry. Period.

Now I will go back to doing my best to select and showcase exceptional fiction, which is a good use of my energy, I think.
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(no subject) - trishalynn - Jun. 3rd, 2013 12:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 2nd, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
I consider their thought processes another example of the same behavior found in the Harlan Ellison posse/defenders.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 04:23 pm (UTC)
"We can write the future, but we can't even live in the present." THIS.

Also, not for nothing, but *headdesk* that we are still having to have this discussion at all.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 04:34 pm (UTC)
I haven't reacted because so many other people have done so much more quickly and effectively than I, but their use of the word "anonymous" did make me think of the line from THE PRINCESS BRIDE: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

It also annoys me that those two, like Statler and Waldorf, have been given a (paid) platform of many, many thousands of words every quarter when it's been long clear that their views are outdated, outmoded, and just plain out. Now this. I hope Rabe takes advantage of this moment to quietly retire their nonsensical ravings for good.
Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:16 am (UTC)
Which, I suppose, they will decry as censorship (assuming it happens). Meanwhile, if I don't want someone at a party I'm hosting screaming racist epithets at my other guests, I just don't invite someone who is likely to do that. I consider it to be be "choosing my company", not "censorship". I don't necessarily disinvite everyone with a different viewpoint, but I do draw the line at someone who is belittling and verbally abusive to others. I think in another time this was called "good manners", not being "censored".
Jun. 2nd, 2013 04:44 pm (UTC)
"We are being complained about by anonymous commenters!" is the semantic cousin of "We are supported by people privately in email!"

In neither case is the statement true; nor does it excuse or mitigate the stupidity being promulgated.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 05:14 pm (UTC)
When I saw the first notice of this come up I thought it was referring to something in the (hopefully) distant pass, and was horrified that it just happened...again. Just because the "history" of an organization accepted then culturally allowed bigotry doesn't mean the present culture should allow it to continue.

I also expect that if Robert Heinlein was alive, young and writing today--especially if Ginny was also young, his wife, and his "beta reader," that his books and stories would be very different. He was a smart, savvy person.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 05:20 pm (UTC)
Make that at least two Hugo winners -- Ursula Vernon and Patrick Nielsen Hayden -- that I know of. I don't keep a list of all the Hugo winners in my head, but when someone with whom I regularly interact online wins, I do notice. :-)

(edited because even though I notice, I still can't spell)

Edited at 2013-06-02 05:21 pm (UTC)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 06:17 pm (UTC)
Fantastic roundup. Thank you for this. (And thanks for the link love!)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you for doing this. It was offensive to read that they were dismissing facts about the dissent as "anonymous" and "hearsay." I had read comments on The Forum that were anything BUT anonymous. All of their arguments in the latest issue were egregious examples of bad debate tactics. If only there HAD been a debate. I don't understand why a representative sample wasn't invited to the pages of The Bulletin to provide a rebuttal, why they were allowed to continue and ESCALATE the situation. I am still on the fence about renewal.

Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
I don’t know if Malzberg and Resnick are trying to label folks as anonymous because they’re technologically clueless or just lazy.

Why choose?
David Gerrold
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
The Never-Ending Story
I don't read the bulletin. I barely notice the cover. And you'd have to harness a team of Clydesdales to drag me kicking-and-screaming into another SFWA meeting. I paid for a lifetime membership, so I figure that gives me the right to avoid all opportunities to get involved.

But ... the "sexism in SFWA" discussion (I use the word discussion because kerfuffle, brouhaha, and ego-storm would have seemed facetious) has been embarassingly chronic since Ted Cogswell edited the Forum back in the Cretaceous era of the organization's existence (the 70s). (I don't remember the 70s, but there are pictures that prove I was there.) The issue today seems to be the same one as then:

Men who live in the bubble of white-heterosexual-male privilege are too often unconscious to the smoldering frustrations that exist for those who are not wearing a straight white penis.

When women, blacks, LGBT people, and other ethnicities and subcultures attempt any serious consciousness-raising, the immediate result is upset -- because change always causes upset. Fortunately, upset also causes change. (Gandhi said it best. First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.)

Stepping back from the immediacy of this particular discussion (a right I can claim due to age, entropy, exhaustion, and a smidgen of what some people have identified as the possible onset of maturity) I want to offer an additional thought. As justifiably angry as many people are, this discussion is ultimately a healthy one, because the result will be that more authors will be made aware of the issue. And if past experience is any guide, many authors (including many who have not spoken out) will be much more aware of these concerns than in the past.

Myself, I thank Joanna Russ for raising my consciousness at an early age -- even though she had to do it with the healthy application of a 2x4. Damn, I miss her.

David Gerrold

Jun. 4th, 2013 01:32 pm (UTC)
Re: The Never-Ending Story
Thanks for this, David. And I agree with you that as much anger and frustration and tension as there currently is, it's also a sign of progress, and -- hopefully -- a step toward better things.

I've been on the receiving end of a few 2x4s myself, and I'm grateful for them. (Well, most of them, at least :-)

Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
Another point from Foz Meadows that I particularly liked, "women are not a hive mind."

Just because a few women bought what Resnick sells does not mean all women approve of it. "Women come in standard brands" is a particularly pernicious and elderly belief.
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:23 am (UTC)
"My female friend totally says it's okay, so therefore it's not sexism" is a bog-standard sexism-bingo square. There are corresponding ones for race bingo, anti-gay bingo, etc.
(no subject) - jimhines - Jun. 4th, 2013 01:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:56 pm (UTC)
and all those names are made up and imaginary ones?
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
I suspect that "anonymous" to them meant "complained to the organization, not me directly!" Which only shows that they really are viewing this as a personal soapbox...
Jun. 3rd, 2013 12:59 am (UTC)
Or just that they didn't see the debate because everyone online is a "pixel-stained technopeasant wretch"?

BTW, thanks to your commenters for reminding me of that screed. Oh, boy...
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Jim C. Hines


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