Last night I saw the most recent anonymized culling of quotes from a science fiction and fantasy forum populated by some of the genre’s malcontents. The occasion of this particular outbreak is (long story short) a petition by a non-member of SFWA on the topic of the potential future actions of a non-existent review board with which the yet-to-be-hired editor of the SFWA Bulletin might some day have to work. I would tell you what the petitioners were asking for if I knew, but the petition itself is a bit of a “First Amendment”, “bikinis”, “tyranny” mess. The people who signed the petition don’t seem to agree what the point of it was in their statements elsewhere, merely that it’s very important and there are some bad people around. Also, as it protested something that wasn’t happening, it’s moot.
I will note, however, that as the associate president of a non-profit organization, I have a tiny bit of experience on this. We’re currently working to hire a new volunteer editor for our monthly newsletter. Not only will this person work closely with an editorial board, but for the first couple of months of their tenure, they’ll be sharing content-acquisition duties with the board so they can get a feel for the priorities of the organization. We’re currently deciding between two very good candidates, neither of whom has expressed anything other than eagerness over the arrangement.
But this isn’t about the petition. This is about the responses to the petition and to the news that the petition wasn’t met with joy and gratitude. You see, when I looked at those quotes last night, I noticed that many of them centered around one woman, Mary Robinette Kowal. (Full disclosure: Mary is a good friend of good friends of mine. I’ve met her in passing at a couple of cons and been part of a couple of email chains she was also part of. I also happen to like her style.)
Following Mary and the petition kerfuffle both on Twitter, I knew Mary hadn’t gotten that involved in it. Some work to get all the facts. A certain amount of time spent reminding people that this petition was something launched against SFWA, not by it. She retweeted some snark, but she added next to none of her own. She also retweeted people linking to non-hyperbolic, if implacable, posts like this one. Over on Facebook, she shared what is easily the most sympathetic post about the whole thing. But on the forum, Mary was the face of evil and the orchestrator of all the…oh.
That was when it clicked. Somebody had a case of Watson Derangement Syndrome, except that Rebecca Watson wasn’t the center of the delusion. Mary was. And everything they were saying sounded so damned familiar.
Yesterday, I saw a link to the actual forum thread. The similarities continued to mount. So, with apologies to Joanna Russ over the fact that I’m doing far less work than she did, here’s how you go about suppressing the women who are doing that terribly inconvenient writing.