Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A call to arms indeed!

Many thanks to Clea Simon, our guest blogger this past weekend, for her very insightful and thought-provoking post. I had heard rumblings about this issue from one or two female members I know in the SF/F community, but Clea’s post laid it all on the line, clearly, succinctly, and with really devastating impact.

I have always thought of the writing community as inclusive, thoughtful, tending towards the liberal view of life – and I ain’t referring to political leanings by the use of that word, folks – and well beyond the type of Neanderthal view of women that some of these male SF/F writers seem to espouse. Actually, I’m probably insulting Neanderthals by using them as a comparison.

Being definitely not cut from that cloth, I have a lot of trouble understanding how thinking people can have that sort of view of the other 50% of the population. Would they like other men to speak of their wives, daughters and mothers this way? How would they feel if one of their loved ones was exposed to danger and verbal or physical attack? Threats of murder? That one is really sickening!

Having never attended any “official” gathering of Science Fiction and/or Fantasy writers, I have never seen any of this sort of behaviour first hand, but I do know from my friends that it does exist. I have attended a goodly number of conferences dedicated to mystery, thrillers and true crime, and while I’ve never heard of anything like this happening to female participants, I wouldn’t be surprised if it does.

But behind my shock at the SF/F community’s issues and the responses quoted by Clea (and they really are dreadful), I am feeling great sadness. I would have thought the writing community in general was above this sort of horrible behaviour. Clearly, it is up to all of us to make sure that males (or females or whatever) who behave this way are dealt with definitively and speedily because their actions stain us all.

It’s heartening to see some forward motion in this regard by the board of SFWA as well as pressure on cons to “codify” what is not acceptable behaviour by attendees. I will now look very differently at any writing events I attend and will step in if I see anything untoward happening. It should never be tolerated. I’m sure the apologists for this sort of thing will readily go to the “boys will be boys” argument, but sorry, no, not this time.

Still, it is so disheartening that we haven’t gotten beyond this sort of thing. Clearly, we writers are not as good a community as we like to think we are.


Charlotte Hinger said...

My bestselling close friend Lucia St. Clare Robson went to a SF convention some 20 years ago with Brian Daley and someone breezed by and looked at her name tag and said "who are you? Are you somebody? Oh I can see you are not." She was already an international best seller.

Rick Blechta said...

Charlotte, that's not what's being talked about here. The comment to your friend was just simple rudeness, and that takes place everywhere, sadly.

Pathmanson said...

The problems in the SFWA and the Bulletin probably come the diversity in politicks and culture of the members. Some dinosaurs still remain and trolls every debate on sexism and the right of female writers to be feminists. Their views seems to have infected too many of the membership and con visitors. These few trolls, less than 20 of them, has scared away a lot of new members and alienated some of the big names. Here's an opinion of a member: http://fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/old-men-yelling-at-clouds-sfwa-lunacy/

Rick Blechta said...

Pathmanson, thanks for sending that link along. Very interesting, and it contained links to many of the source items. Thanks!