Why does everything have to suck in exactly the same way?


Here we go again. Read this letter from a former member of the Science Fiction Writers of America.

It began with issue #200 of the Bulletin—all right, #199 if we want to get technical. It began with the Resnick and Malzberg Dialogues, a long-time feature of the publication. It began when two men sat down to have a dialogue about editors and writers of the female gender. How fantastic, I thought, because I, being a writer and an editor and female, had a keen interest in such things. I love reading anthologies such as Women of Wonder (and its sequel) and seeing how women impacted and contributed to this forward-looking and -thinking genre I love. I hoped they might include the women who inspired me and introduce me to many I hadn’t yet discovered.

That’s not what I found. I found a dialogue that seemed more focused on how these “lady editors” and “lady writers” looked in bathing suits, and that they were “beauty pageant beautiful” or a “knock out.” I am certain no condescension was intended with the use of “lady,” but as the dialogues went on, I felt the word carried a certain tone—perhaps that was a fiction of my own making. As I listened to these two men talk about lady editors and writers they had known, I grew uneasy. Something wasn’t right.

That sounds so familiar. But wait, there’s more!

The editorial staff (headed by a woman) vowed to improve, to seek more membership input. Issue #201 was little better—it included an article, written by another man, that told women to emulate Barbie, to “maintain our quiet dignity as a woman should.” I could not believe those words—yet there they were, in black and white. I asked my friends again—was I mistaken? Was I simply taking these words out of context? They were surprised, appalled, outraged. First at the idea that someone felt such a thing, and next at the idea that SFWA published it in the magazine which is part of our public presence.

Be…like…Barbie? To an SF audience? I’m surprised I didn’t hear the loud splat of a world-wide Picard facepalm.

So the little ladies complained and complained and complained, and then the men who started this all replied. Quit picking on us men, they said!

Issue #202 brought with it a “rebuttal” from Malzberg and Resnick, in which they used the words “censorship,” and “suppression,” and “ban.” In which they said those who complained about their article were anonymous to them, that the SFWA forum had become “the arena for difference.” Was it members who objected to “apparent sexism,” or was it a larger, darker, more hostile and threatening thing that wanted to suppress their dialogues?

In all the complaints that were voiced, there was never a call for censorship. There was never a call for suppression. There was a call for respect.

Whoa, man, deja vu. Deja vu all over the place. And really, there’s nothing special at all about atheism/skepticism, is there?

Comments

  1. Chuck says

    The more I read about these things, the more I think that the old guard just has to die off and be replaced by a younger, more feminist contingent — just like old proponents of failed theories don’t change their minds, they just eventually die off. I’m not sure the older guys will ever get it.

    It is interesting though that the refrain is always the same, almost regardless of context: “I’m being suppressed! My freedom of speech is under fire!”

    Yeah, no.

  2. unbound says

    Everything sucks in the same way because every group is composed of the same types of thoughtful, thoughtless, caring, careless, etc people. We like to think that our group (e.g. atheist, professional degree, race, family, country/region) is somehow superior to others, but the great truth is that all large groups have plenty of high quality people right along with plenty of idiots.

  3. says

    How soon before the #braveheroes pay for Vacula to attend a science fiction convention? Or maybe the Pitters will extend the reach of their harassment.

    After spending the day watching uplifting videos at upworthy.com, this post was depressing as hell.

  4. embraceyourinnercrone says

    Chuck@1 while I would love to believe time will take care of the problem I ‘ve met too many people my daughters age ( college undergrad) who have these same attitudes. They are not the majority but they are not rare..

    And for anyone who goes the the linked article to read the whole thing I recommend an antacid before you start. What the actual fuck.

  5. screechymonkey says

    Until I came to the part about the forum, I had assumed that this was a story from 40-50 years ago. Wow.

    Chuck @1

    The more I read about these things, the more I think that the old guard just has to die off and be replaced by a younger, more feminist contingent — just like old proponents of failed theories don’t change their minds, they just eventually die off. I’m not sure the older guys will ever get it.

    The problem is, are the younger ones getting it? Or will they just go on complaining about how there aren’t any “real” geek girls, it must be because sci-fi is a “guy thing,” etc.?

  6. Moggie says

    ISTR that Theo Beale was threatening to run for president of the SFWA. I wondered why, at the time…

  7. MrFancyPants says

    Oh noes, they are making it an Arena for Difference! ‘Round these parts we call’em deeeeeep rifts…

  8. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    The problem is, are the younger ones getting it?

    Not the autocontrarian libertarian types who get their self-worth from believing the exact opposite of what the majority of people do (because it makes them… wait for it… wait for it… brave heroes).

  9. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Fucking hell. Where are Andre Norton, Anne McCaffery, and C.J. Cherryh in their little minstrel show? I must be from a different fucking universe, because I was introduced to a great number of female writers, all of whom were outspoken authors trying to improve the genre.

    The FUCK!?!?!?!?

    *welp, off to drink. Fuck these people*

  10. ladydreamgirl says

    I’m still waiting for word from Scalzi as to how this happened on his watch. On twitter he has said that as president of SFWA he is responsible for all SFWA publications. I appreciate that he does consider this his responsibility to address, but I would like to see it you know ADDRESSED beyond just a twitter mea culpa.

  11. consciousness razor says

    Why does everything have to suck in exactly the same way?

    It’s not really the same everywhere, but assholes can go to less sucky places as easily as everyone else can, thereby making them more sucky. So, over time, everything tends toward suckodynamic equilibrium.

  12. okstop says

    No, no! You don’t understand, the assho… sorry, GUYS who were claiming there was a call for “censorship” were just using LOGIC, see. After all:

    They interpreted the uproar as a cry of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” – the closest they could come to finding a workable translation for the strange word “respect” (previously unfamiliar to them) – and given that they CLEARLY can’t say anything nice…

    Oy. The earlier comment about the old guard dying off to be replaced by a younger, more feminist cohort gives me visions of, uh, “helping” the process along… Sigh.

  13. Anthony K says

    Why does everything have to suck in exactly the same way?

    I’m proud of you, PZ. Why, it was just a short while ago you were lamenting that you couldn’t match my bleak, bitter, cynicism.

  14. crocodoc says

    “Censorship!” seems to be the “You’re insulting the prophet” of the atheist/skeptic/Sci-Fi/gaming community. Totally made up in most cases, yet justifying any kind of… ahem… defensive action.

  15. yazikus says

    There are so many awesome women in science fiction. In fact, everyone needs to go buy this awesome book right now. It is a non-fiction book (for those who can’t follow the link) by Margaret Atwood about science fiction and it is great.

  16. Emrysmyrddin says

    “maintain our quiet dignity as a woman should.”

    I fucking hate people.

  17. Anthony K says

    “Censorship!” seems to be the “You’re insulting the prophet” of the atheist/skeptic/Sci-Fi/gaming community. Totally made up in most cases, yet justifying any kind of… ahem… defensive action.

    It was the widespread reports of bloggers banning commenters for merely disagreeing that broke the camel’s back and caused my grandparents to flee the Soviets.

  18. says

    In which they said those who complained about their article were anonymous to them

    It’s simply amazing they didn’t get a clue in the midst of this…complaint.
     
    :eyeroll:

  19. great1american1satan says

    @12- LOL.

    I have to admit, I haven’t been perfect about refraining from publicly evaluating women based on their romantic appeal (physical or otherwise) in recent times. This little number is a good reminder that doing so is reductive and objectifying, even if it seems positive at the thin veneer level.

    I wonder about the reverse. Women are the objectified party in our culture at large. Would saying objectifying things about men have the same result? Maybe that has something to do with the elevated rates of eating disorders among gay men. I probably shouldn’t say what dudes I’d go for, either.

  20. says

    Wasn’t Barry Malzberg something of an enfant terrible back in the day? It’s a bit of a shame to see he’s devolved into a chauvinist douchehat.

    I should like to have seen these two chuckleheads suggest to Alice Sheldon that she should be “more like Barbie”.

  21. says

    it included an article, written by another man, that told women to emulate Barbie, to “maintain our quiet dignity as a woman should.”

    So, being a plastic, pneumatic airhead obsessed with vanity is the way to maintain quiet dignity? Right.

  22. says

    it included an article, written by another man, that told women to emulate Barbie, to “maintain our quiet dignity as a woman should.”

    Speak only when I pull your string, please. Yes, I would like some strawberry ice cream.

  23. Owlmirror says

    ISTR that Theo Beale was threatening to run for president of the SFWA. I wondered why, at the time…

    Not only did he run, he (reportedly) got 46 votes out of 493.

    I suppose 9.3% misogynist-supporters is not entirely unexpected, but it’s still disappointing.

  24. Nentuaby says

    This one bids fair to be a really interesting look into how this kind of thing happens in an organization. John Scalzi– a fairly notable anti-bullshit type who’s given pretty clear evidence before of Getting It on sexism– is the president of the org. His real statement is upcoming, but he’s stated clearly that this went off the rails and it’s his watch as president, so I think we can count on a pretty lengthy analysis at some point of where the fuck things went wrong.

  25. mikeyb says

    Wow, the same attitudes expressed by Erick Erickson, Lou Dobbs and Juan Williams. Haven’t we heard this before.

  26. shawn says

    The thing that makes the atheo-humanist-skeptisphere worse is that it’s supposed to be about superior values, ideals, ideas, reasoning, critical thinking, etc. Because of this it should be held to a higher standard than other movements, groups, clubs or whatever and it fails all the more epically because of that.

  27. says

    Don’t worry PZ, it is not *everything* that sucks in the samw way. It is only the things you like.

    (and me unfortunately :( )

  28. Owlmirror says

    Uh, I see that terms for the new electees don’t start until July, so, Scalzi is, as of this point in time, still It.

  29. says

    It was Resnick, so I am not surprised. I only had to deal with him once and I found him to be an asshat with monumental delusions of privilege. I was female, not particularly young, and not a whit impressed by him so I was obviously not worth his while to treat with professional respect even in a professional context.

  30. rachelswirsky says

    Hi, I’m the vice president of SFWA and a regular Pharyngula reader. I’ve posted here before as Mandolin, but never really made it over to the new comment system that requires sign-in.

    Anyway, Scalzi is president until July 1, at which point Steven Gould comes in. In addition to E. Catherine Tobler’s letter, people may be interested in looking at Kameron Hurley’s essay on the subject: http://www.kameronhurley.com/?p=13124 (She was recently linked here with an excellent essay about stereotyping women in fiction.)

    We’re mostly working on this in-house, but if people have a desire to comment, you can reach me at vp@sfwa.org. Especially if you’re members or potential member. But either way. I can also answer some questions.

    I’ve been on this since about 6am, on and off. :P

  31. rachelswirsky says

    And hey, at least our 10% of Beale voters is lower than the national, what is it, 27% who will vote for the twit no matter what. :P

  32. robro says

    Chuck @1

    I’m an older guy (65) and I think I get it. At least, I try to get it. I would never take such a stance. I’m not perfect, of course, but when my deeply engrained prejudices are pointed out to me, I apologize and try to learn from it. And, there’s been plenty of similar sexist, misogynist noise from young men brought to our attention repeatedly in the last several years.

    So, I don’t think it’s age related at all.

    Plus, why should we have to wait for bigots to die, regardless of their age, before we have a fair civil society and culture? It seems to me these men and boys should grow up and understand that we’re all in this mess together. And until they do, we should honestly tell them they are wrong and otherwise not listen to their claptrap.

  33. says

    rachelswirsky: I’m sure it’s a colossal headache to deal with all this, but you do have one edge: Scalzi is current president, and I’m confident he’ll do the right thing. In the atheist/skeptic community, we’ve had the problem of asshats at the top.

  34. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    I watched it earlier today, Sally. Yeah, it was hard to see the screen through the tears welling up in my eyes. I love me some Sir Patrick Stewart.

  35. cicely says

    It’s…it’s almost as if the same petrified, putrid strata of condescension, misogyny and paternalism underlay the entirety of our common culture!
     
    Freeze those men’s peaches, I say!

    I expect awesome from Scalzi. This will be interesting.

    Me, too. And it will.
    -

  36. says

    The more I read about these things, the more I think that the old guard just has to die off and be replaced by a younger, more feminist contingent

    Old folks like Vacula.

  37. says

    “maintain our quiet dignity as a woman should.”

    Sounds an awful lot like “shut up and look pretty” to me.

  38. laurentweppe says

    Be…like…Barbie? To an SF audience? I’m surprised I didn’t hear the loud splat of a world-wide Picard facepalm.

    You know you’re talking about the demographic which invented the Fake Geek Girl Conspiracy Theory, right?

  39. rachelswirsky says

    As y’all say, we are absolutely lucky to have Scalzi, and I have every confidence in Steven Gould as well.

  40. bad Jim says

    Barbie? An anatomically impossible toy? Certainly quiet, but not at all dignified.

    Here’s another article about rampant sexism among writers and poets. Except it’s almost the same article: different names, different profession, same behavior. (Via Kate Clancy at Scientific American.)

    So, again, here’s what I say to anyone who needs to hear it: let’s get together, knock a few back, have an entertaining conversation about literature or human nature or something hilarious one of us saw on TV. But here’s the thing: the moment you start talking about the tits of the woman at the end of the bar, or referring to grown-ups as “chicks” or start getting me confused with your mother, that’s the moment I move on. Not because I’m offended or uptight or a bitch, but because I’m bored. Get interesting (and perhaps help shift our cultural consciousness at the same time), or get out of the way.

  41. =8)-DX says

    What is horrible to me is the realization that I am most probably part of the problem. In interaction with women I try to think past my predjudices, avoid sexism, reject socially conditioned misogyny. But these cultural attitudes are so prevalent and unconscious that it seems almost impossible to move past them. The “old guard” dying off may help, but until gender equality (at least feminism 101) is mandatorily taught in civics classes, there’s still a long road to travel.

    I read the article and of course agreed – no group should intentionally insult, marginalise and treat it’s members with contempt. I then read a linked article on gaslighting (I’ve read about this before) and I immediately felt a familiar tang. I’ve done that before.

    I’ve a feeling that ingrained socialised sexism had a horrible effect on my ex-marriage and was a direct result of a catholic upbringing, while the little feminism I had in me (trying to divide childcare, etc. 50-50) was very helpful. I’m gonna have to rethink my current behaviour though, I don’t want to be propagating “bitches be crazy”, albeit unconsciously.

  42. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    *cries*

    Sir Patrick Stewart. One of the few true heroes left. So encouraging that at least one hero seems to not have feet of clay.

  43. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    So in any case, pointless fangurling aside, I’ve been noticing this same pattern as well, even IRL.

    Something sexist is said/done
    Careful, politely worded and very much underplayed remarks (criticism is too strong a word) about how this may be inadvisable and come across are made.
    Total cluelessness and faux-innocence and benefit of the doubt begging while digging for bedrock commences.
    Anger from those objecting escalates.

    The ending is always the same:
    “I AM ENTITLED TO MY OPINIONS THAT WOMEN ARE INFERIOR YOU FUCKING [BITCHCUNTWHOREFEMINAZI] AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME BE LESS OF AN ASSHOLE.

    It’s like a (fucking boring, fucking disheartening) script on auto-repeat. Sometimes I feel like we’re stuck in some twilight zone-like regression or something, with the boundaries of time weakening until we’re stuck with the same moment (this script) repeating itself endlessly.

  44. playonwords says

    I recall 30 years past SF Cons in the UK. People were just starting to realise that there was something wrong about the way women were depicted and treated, that there was something wrong and about the way minorities were regarded by that community. This didn’t stop people (myself included, probably) making a hash of it.

    Warning I am about to examine past attitudes, these are not my current views

    What the attitude seemed to be was this:

    “there is a problem but women (or asians or africans or latinos or those with variant sexuality) need to see is that we are normal but we’ll make allowances and let them take part”

    This is what I am seeing now from the likes of the MRAs as well as recalcitrant skeptics and atheists. What these backward looking people need to see is that they are not “normal” for in this context there is just the glorious variation upon the theme of human. These primitive thinkers need to see that it is those they regard as outside the norm who make up the majority of humanity. It is this majority who have to make all the “allowances,” who have to bite their tongues unless they challenge the privilege and preference that white, heterosexual males enjoy.

    Oh, did anyone else around at that time hear the term “mundane” used to denigrate those who were not into SF or roleplay. I certainly did and I loathed it.

  45. says

    Oh, did anyone else around at that time hear the term “mundane” used to denigrate those who were not into SF or roleplay.

    I remember at Balticon and Disclave in 1978/9 people were running around yelling “death to the mundane!” I don’t remember anyone being annoyed past the eyerolling-at-the-nerds stage.

  46. Zeppelin says

    Another miracle of technology! Using revolutionary Photonic Imprinting technology, I can bring you a glimpse into the minds of Resnick and Malzberg:

    youtu.be/SjxY9rZwNGU

    I’m pretty sure this is how horrible dictatorships come about. If I were Great Leader, I don’t know for how long I could resist the temptation to just throw all these people on a big pile and set them on fire and be fucking done with it.

  47. hillaryrettig says

    1) privilege fights hardest at the end. not that sexism will ever disappear but the world is changing and their world view has already been largely invalidated and on some level these guys know it and are resisting. “I want my country back!”

    2) can’t believe that anyone’s shocked over two old-school sf authors being sexist. sf was always sexist. think about it. It’s not even Heinlein and Pournelle and co.; even deeper thinkers like AC Clarke were tainted. (He famously said women astronauts wouldn’t be “allowed” because they would distract the menz.) My favorite for many years is Silverberg, and he is amazing, but his work is tainted by sexism and homophobia. He could envision entire amazing universes but his vision was totally mundane and limited about women and gays. And his work – which was truly classic and had the potential to endure – may wither away because of it.

    Hill

  48. mark3t says

    I have to admit, I tend not to read the Resnick/Malzber pieces in the SFWA Bulletin, but after seeing this post I went back and dug out the two issues in question (199 and 200) which started the tempest. Maybe it’s my gender bias, but I’m sorry, this is cherry picking. The first piece (issue 199) has some of the most laudatory examination of the history of female writers in SF one could want. ALL the important ones—Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, etc—are covered and the only mention of physicality has to do with one of the writers mistaking Leigh Brackett for Catherine Moore. Even a lot of lesser-known writers are named and a great deal of commentary about the importance of their WORK. Alice Sheldon is compared to Alfred Bester and makes both their lists as one of the three or four best in the field, regardless of the gender.

    On to issue 200 and the editors. Yes, there’s commentary about two of them and their beauty, but these are minor inclusions in another piece that covers the importance of editors in the field. (Notably, the discussion of Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who when she came on the scene was widely noted for her striking good looks, gets nary a mention about appearances.) The vast majority of the article deals with editorial direction, with considerable discussion of the changes wrought on the field by certain women, and not a single “amazing that they were so good and women as well!” kind of remark.

    I suspect that if there had been a few male authors at any time who looked like Cary Grant or Douglas Fairbanks, comment might be made, but this is neither here nor there. Having just reread both articles, I fail to see the kind of godawful sexism of which they were accused. Perhaps zero comment should have been made about what two of them (two of them) looked like out a score or more, but aside from remarking on such, no implications were drawn concerning it (no tales of seductions or inappropriate liaisons or assertions that any of them got to their positions due to their sexual attributes) and I have to say, I suspect tripwires were tripped. It is all-too-possible for a single sentence or paragraph to color an entire piece, with the result that any worth in the rest of it is ignored in the cause of fingerpointing and grandstanding.

    There are problems within SF over gender issues. As in all areas of endeavor. But sometimes—not often, but sometimes—examples are seen where there’s nothing to be found.

    I didn’t cull through the next issue looking for the Barbie comment, but that would send me into a rage as well. But I suggest, if opportunity presents, that the two articles that are primary here ought to be read before their contents be entirely dismissed. They really did have a great deal of worthy comment on the subjects and this is a baby/bathwater question. Not even bathwater—more a choice of sponge.

  49. Space Monster says

    How nice of mark3t to ‘splain that to all of us so we wimmenfolk can go back to being quietly dignified and shit.

  50. Space Monster says

    Oh, and “Maybe it’s my gender bias, but” is looking a lot like the new “I’m not racist, but”.

  51. says

    Ah yes, quiet dignity. It’s amazing how dignified it is to be dehumanized. After all, isn’t dignity synonymous with staying where ever you are without complaint or an acknowledgement of any suffering.

  52. Space Monster says

    I would hesitate to say they are doing it ‘RIGHT’ – hasn’t it been some time since the cover featuring the chainmail bikini wearer? And as I recall each issue after that had more, um, issues. I’m more inclined to see it as Ursula Vernon puts it in “Housebreaking a Puppy or Abusive Relationship?”: http://ursulav.livejournal.com/1541487.html

  53. rrede says

    By “doing it right,” I mean they formed a task force to look into it and are soliciting feedback from members–apparently a good chunk of members dues pays for this bulletin (hard copy, print, from SF organization), and a number of the posts I read last night questioned the value of it overall, above and beyond the current imbroglio.

  54. mark3t says

    Space Monster

    Did you read the two articles in question? Before you dump on anyone who suggests maybe someone might have gotten it a bit off, you should go to the source.

    As to mentioning my “gender bias”—“sounds a lot like ‘I’m not a racist, but'” sounds like the makings of an ad hominem attack. I have no use for stodgy old farts who think women have a “place” (or young farts who think the same, for that matter) but I have even less use for the kind of thinking that dismisses an argument before all the particulars are examined. As I noted before, 90% or more of the articles questioned discussed women in SF and their impact on the field through their work and made no excuses for them based on gender. I just finished reading them both—in fact, quite ready to be offended by examples of condescension and blatant sexualizing of “Women In Science Fiction” and didn’t find it.

    Don’t argue with me. Go read them.

  55. mark3t says

    Sorry. I meant “don’t waste your time arguing with me until you read the articles in question.” By all means, argue with me if you think I’m wrong.

    Nor did I “‘splain anything to the wominfolk.” I expressed an opinion.

  56. Space Monster says

    rrede – really doing it ‘right’ would have been squashing this nonsense at the start. I’ll given them some credit for their current actions, but withhold the ‘right’ until we see the results.

    mark3t – it’s nice that you didn’t get offended. Now perhaps you should listen to women telling you why they are offended before telling them why they shouldn’t be offended either. BTW, you were the one who brought up your ‘gender bias’. Following that with a ‘but’ and a paragraphs long screed showed that yes, maybe it just is your ‘gender bias’.

  57. notsont says

    I do not have access to the article so I can’t read it. I have read quotes from it that seem pretty damning though. You also did not mention article 202 from what I gather that seems to be the main problem article.

    There is one thing I would note though, SFWA is a professional organization and their publications is a trade publication meaning its peoples livelihoods. even if you post an article with nothing but praise for women and totally pc and talking about their work as editors or writers and someone in it you pop in “and she looks awesome in a bikini” the rest of what was written means shit. You might as well have made the whole fucking article about how you wanted to fuck her.

    I know it seems unfair because if the article was about a man and it was mentioned how good looking he was it would not really matter at all, you probably shouldn’t do it but it would not really affect the article in the same way as it does when discussing a women’s work. Why this is is obvious and if you can’t see it, well it probably can never be explained to you.

  58. says

    mark3t @61:

    Maybe it’s my gender bias, but I’m sorry, this is cherry picking.

    Really, dear, it’s not becoming to be pontificating in such a manner. You should be more like Ken – just stand there and look handsome and neutered. It’s the best way for you all to maintain your quiet dignity.

  59. says

    markk3t:

    As to mentioning my “gender bias”—”sounds a lot like ‘I’m not a racist, but’” sounds like the makings of an ad hominem attack.

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Please, before you embarrass yourself further, learn what an ad hominem actually is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem. Also, as you don’t seem to know what “mansplaining” is, but are fully prepared to get all defensive about your doing it, how about you exert yourself to a click or three and find out what that is, too. Knowledge is a good thing, you know, and right now, all you have placed on the table is tired old sexism and ignorance with a dash of idiocy.

  60. consciousness razor says

    As I noted before, 90% or more of the articles questioned discussed women in SF and their impact on the field through their work and made no excuses for them based on gender.

    90% or more of this sentence is totally baffling to me.

    I just finished reading them both—in fact, quite ready to be offended by examples of condescension and blatant sexualizing of “Women In Science Fiction” and didn’t find it.

    What about the 10% or less of the articles which you found and which you just implied made “excuses for them based on gender,” whatever the hell that means?

  61. Space Monster says

    mark3t – has it occurred to you that others don’t share your opinion, even after you have so carefully explained it? Even if the majority of the articles are useful and respectful, those tiny bits of ‘cherry picking’ have no place in a professional publication. Oh, and speaking of ‘cherry picking’, you sure did a nice job of quickly gliding over the huge turd in the punchbowl in the form of the barbie comment while telling us all to get over it.

  62. throwaway, extra beefy super queasy says

    I suspect that if there had been a few male authors at any time who looked like Cary Grant or Douglas Fairbanks, comment might be made, but this is neither here nor there.

    I really don’t get this line of argument. Is it supposed to be OK to reduce someone to their looks? Am I supposed to be OK to have the same pressures to be physically ‘attractive’ affecting men as equally as women? Is that the height of ‘equity’ we really want to aim for? Are women supposed to say “Well, this man is clearly fine with being reduced to their physical appearance, so I guess I have no right to complain since they’re not complaining?” Help me understand your mentality here. I don’t get it.

  63. rrede says

    Space Monster: Not sure what you mean by “squashing it at the start”: do you mean, not doing it?

    I’m not a member of SFWA, but have been following a lot of the criticisms of the organization in recent years (mostly by writers who are white women and people of color). This is SO much better than some of the stuff I remember being written about in past year.

    “Doing it right” meant when criticisms of sexism are made, addressing them.

    Sure, it would have been nice had the sexism not occurred.

    But that ain’t happening anytime soon in ANY organization (the same can be said of other types of oppressive discourses and behaviors). That said, the response is good (and in the context of a whole lot of other responses to criticisms about sexism in both the sf and the athetist/secular communities, darn refreshing and pretty rare as well).

    Apologies for confusing you with Mark3T.

  64. mark3t says

    For the sake of clarity—I’m telling no one to “get over” anything. You also, apparently, didn’t read what I wrote. For example: “I didn’t cull through the next issue looking for the Barbie comment, but that would send me into a rage as well.”

    The original complaint stated that neither Mr. Resnick or Mr. Malzberg made the Barbie comment. They seem to be getting conflated.

    I still see a lot of people who didn’t read the articles that seem to be at the start of the issue. I see that I did make a mistake in phrasing when I spoke of excuses. Let me be clear: no excuses were made concerning the women in the articles. What I meant was that a common tactic among those wishing to disenfranchise a group is to “make excuses” why they seem to have done something worthwhile in a field in which they should be unable to do anything. This process is well described by Joanna Russ in her superb “How To Suppress Women’s Writing.”

    I tend to say “90%” of this or that because I find superlatives to be almost always invalid.

    The comments made in the one article about the woman in the bikini were not made in a way that linked her physicality to the quality of her work in the field. It was a personal observation, which is pretty much all the Resnick/Malzberg dialogues are.

    Oh, and this is interesting: “all you have placed on the table is tired old sexism and ignorance with a dash of idiocy.” Please. How? I’m not defending sexism, I’m saying that what was alleged to have been in these articles was not there. And you do not know me, nor anything about me, and are prepared to lecture me on my motives? You’re attacking me and yet still you don’t know what was in those articles?

    You seem bent on indulging your spleen and maintaining high dudgeon over this, regardless of context or content or—in this case—a point of view that suggests another look at the case in point might be in order. Fine. But please note—I’ve labelled no one, called no one’s intelligence into question, told no one that they are flat out wrong, or indulged in intellectual pigeonholing. Nor have I resorted to foul language or suggested that anyone needs “schooling.” Instead, what I’ve gotten is a good deal “it can’t possibly be anything other than what we say it is” reaction, which is hardly reasonable or particularly enabling of worthwhile discourse. You’ve made it clear, that at least among some of you, the sign over the door is “Alternate Viewpoints Not Welcome.”

    Enjoy yourselves.

  65. Space Monster says

    rrede – thank you for the explanation about confusing me with mark3t – I was really wondering.

    But what I meant about doing it right was that the creation of the task force, or whatever other actions, should have been done a few issues ago when these problems started to appear. I’m not a SFWA member either so I don’t know if actions were taken that weren’t visible to the outside, but if they were, they were clearly not effective. While I know Scalzi is a good guy, it just seems that this a bit late, hence my hesitation about giving the SFWA a huge thumbs up at the moment. I’ll happily reverse my stance though upon a successful resolution.

  66. says

    A while back—–maybe a month or so—-a sci fi/horror writer named Hugh Howie got buttonhold by a pushy person in a line at a con. Not knowing he was self-published, this person disparaged SP writers, etc., etc., and urged him to meet some friends who could promote HHowie’s career. Apparently this person was quite pushy about it.

    Howie wrote a rant about it. It was called, “The Bitch at World Con,” and it concluded with the writer triumphantly imagining…..something. That something was him grabbing his crotch before multitudes, before crowing, “Suck it, bitch!”

    He’s younger than I am. Apparently, the woman’s persistance—-and disparagement of the self-publishing industry—-was enough. Lots of women eagerly patted this guy on the back or professed to be bewildered as to why what he had said and done were in any way wrong.

    Didn’t get a lot of attention. Nobody answered the question as to how he would have responded had the person been male. Critics were outnumbered and outshouted.

    He’s not alone. The elders hand it down and the neophites embrace it. You have to make sexism visible before you can even fight it.

  67. says

    markt3:

    Oh, and this is interesting: “all you have placed on the table is tired old sexism and ignorance with a dash of idiocy.” Please. How? I’m not defending sexism, I’m saying that what was alleged to have been in these articles was not there. And you do not know me, nor anything about me, and are prepared to lecture me on my motives? You’re attacking me and yet still you don’t know what was in those articles?

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha :gasp: :thud: :falls over laughing: Hahahahahahahahahaha. Ah, thanks for the idiotic confirmation of your sexism, Ken dear. I hope you stick the flounce, Ken, as you may well explode from all that mansplaining you’re bristling with at the moment. Thanks for the laugh.

  68. mark3t says

    Before I “flounce” out of here, a serious question. “Reducing someone to their looks” is utterly objectionable and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. But what constitutes that? Merely mentioning them? If I describe someone and say “he/she is a PhD, has worked with three major charities and received X number of rewards, and by the way is very handsome/beautiful” does that constitute “reducing them” to their looks? Correct me if I’m wrong (please) but I thought reducing someone to their looks would be saying “Yeah, but the only reason he/she got into that position is because she/he is drop dead gorgeous/handsome.” That invalidates everything they did or do based on appearances.

    But just commenting on someone’s looks—male or female—should not be seen as any kind of reduction.

    The former, however, is just one more descriptor. So, is this now the gauge for sexism? ANY mention of physical appearance, even a positive one? Because what I read in the article in question was on the lines of “she was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, looked great in a bikini)”—not “the only reason she was hired to be an editor was because she looked great in a bikini.” To my mind, there’s a world of difference between these two statements. Now, if both statements are viewed as exactly the same, then I apologize to one and all and will view this as a worthwhile takeaway.

  69. says

    By the way, markt3, your sexism fairly screamed an announcement, and continued to do so, by your repeated insistence that you’re being attacked (by shrill, uppity women with exploding spleens and high dudgeon, no less), when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m sitting, drinking my tea, enjoying watching my rats eating their breakfast in preparation to starting my work day, relaxed and content.

    So far, you’ve been good for a laugh, and not much else. You’ll have to do much, much better to get more reaction than the simple corrections you have received thus far. Oh, and remember, markt3, that opinions work in more than one direction. That’s a helpful bit of life advice.

  70. Space Monster says

    markt3 – another bit of helpful advice: when in a hole, stop digging. And do be sure to stick the flounce this time. But thanks for the laughs.

  71. says

    mark3t:

    If I describe someone and say “he/she is a PhD, has worked with three major charities and received X number of rewards, and by the way is very handsome/beautiful” does that constitute “reducing them” to their looks?

    Yes, it does. A person’s appearance in this context is irrelevant.

    ANY mention of physical appearance, even a positive one? Because what I read in the article in question was on the lines of “she was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, looked great in a bikini)”—not “the only reason she was hired to be an editor was because she looked great in a bikini.”

    First of all, ask yourself WHY you think “hey, looks great in a bikini!” is a positive comment. Throughout history, women have been considered to be nothing more than empty vessels – either “good” vessels, aka incubators, or “bad” vessels, aka semen receptacles. Now, let’s rework what you wrote:

    ANY mention of physical appearance, even a positive one? Because what I read in the article in question was on the lines of “he was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, looked great in a banana hammock)”—not “the only reason he was hired to be an editor was because he looked great in a banana hammock.”

    Does that still make sense to you? That there is an unnecessary focus on the editor’s fantastic penis, which happened to look great in a thong? After all, who really cares what a great editor he is, let’s focus on that fabulous penis and how it looks in swimming gear, right? Let’s think about his penis…let’s think about how he’d be in the sack, hmmmmm? Yeah, baby! Are you getting a glimmer of light at all?

    I do have one serious recommendation for you – read Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice, by Jack Holland. It’s available in e-format if you have a reader. I guarantee you’ll find it eye-opening, and you don’t need to feel uncomfortable, after all, the author is a man.

  72. Space Monster says

    Caine – want to bet that if markt3 comes back he’ll say how flattered he’d be if someone talked about how good he looks in swimwear?

    I mean, he’s already filled most of the bingo card.

  73. mark3t says

    You know, I didn’t know—assume or say—that any of you were women. I don’t tailor my interactions that way. But thank you for assuming on my behalf that I thought I was reacting to “shrill, uppity women” Your term, not mine.

    Glad you all had a laugh.

    Claire—thank you for answering my question. You didn’t need to add the condescension at the end, it almost subverted the substance of your reply.

  74. says

    @61:
    When complaints of this nature are made, dismissing them because you don’t agree with them is not the way to go. Here, take the same advice Ron Lindsay should:
    “Shut up and listen. Your privilege is showing.”

  75. says

    Space Monster:

    Caine – want to bet that if markt3 comes back he’ll say how flattered he’d be if someone talked about how good he looks in swimwear?

    No bet. Heh. I have no doubt markt3 would find it flattering if someone speculated “positively” about his appearance in swimwear. However, I’d be much more interested to know his thoughts on the appearance of every other man ever mentioned in any publication in swimwear. Will he have no trouble imagining the penis size of each man? Whether it is young and taut or old and loose? Whether or not it perches saucily upon the balls or droops like a sad peacock? Will it matter to markt3 whether the man is smooth chested or hairy? What constitutes virile and sexy and easy on the eyes when it comes to men in swimwear? Perhaps all men in swimwear should best resemble Ken…

  76. says

    G1A1S@#20:

    Evaluating women by attractiveness in order to consider their attractiveness isn’t sexist, that’s just sex. Sexist is when you do it in the guise of evaluating something else about them, say, talent or ability or competence, etc. What makes the Brave Heroes in this example so stereotypically sexist is that they are supposedly having a dialog about women writers and editors, and so considering their appearance is just a way of failing to consider their writing or editing. It is in that way they are being disrespectful, and is why men who are feminists never have trouble complimenting a woman’s appearance, but men who aren’t feminists always do. It is what separates those who understand “elevator moments” and those who refuse to.

  77. says

    Mark:
    Dude, seriously STOP.
    You’ve already tried to handwave women’s concerns “there there little Barbie, there really isn’t a problem with sexism here. Your pink fluffy lady brains just cannot see things the correct way.”
    If you’re not going to make an attempt to understand the problem then you are part of the problem.
    That being the case, let’s see you try that flounce again. The judges rated your first at 3.5

  78. Amphiox says

    Given the context of everything you have posted so far, your denial in @91 is self-evidently either a blatant lie or a pathetic self-delusion.

  79. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    mark3t: self-identified male, here. Your every post stinks of condescension in word choice, in idiom, in syntax. Your assumptions are mostly risible, and not in evidence. You have examined neither you own biases, nor the statements of those who have been, and remain, offended (myself among them).

    Let me make an analogy which may allow you to understand the offense expresses by those in thread and forum: imagine that the discussion taking place was about black writers of SF, that there was much praise of a number of black writers, and that at the end of the conversation, one white writer said, “Yes, they’re all a credit to their race.”

    It’s poison.

    It’s eight ounce of cyanide in the swimming pool.

    It has tainted every previous laudatory comment, it has framed the entire argument in shit.

    You might say, “They didn’t curse them out or call them names, it was a compliment, and what’s wrong with that?” One doesn’t need to say, for instance, the words “n*****s” or “cunts” to be extremely offensive.

    The statements were offensive. People, women in particular are offended, and with reason. If you will not work from that assumption, there won’t be any dialogue. Because what you are saying, despite “polite” words, passive voice, subjunctive clauses and “not swearing” is, “I don’t see anythiing wrong! Shut up bitches!”

  80. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    mark3t: self-identified male, here. Your every post stinks of condescension in word choice, in idiom, in syntax. Your assumptions are mostly risible, and not in evidence. You have examined neither you own biases, nor the statements of those who have been, and remain, offended (myself among them).

    Let me make an analogy which may allow you to understand the offense expresses by those in thread and forum: imagine that the discussion taking place was about black writers of SF, that there was much praise of a number of black writers, and that at the end of the conversation, one white writer said, “Yes, they’re all a credit to their race.”

    It’s poison.

    It’s eight ounces of cyanide in the swimming pool.

    It has tainted every previous laudatory comment, it has framed the entire argument in shit.

    You might say, “They didn’t curse them out or call them names, it was a compliment, and what’s wrong with that?” One doesn’t need to say, for instance, the words “n*****s” or “cunts” to be extremely offensive.

    The statements were offensive. People, women in particular are offended, and with reason. If you will not work from that assumption, there won’t be any dialogue. Because what you are saying, despite “polite” words, passive voice, subjunctive clauses and “not swearing” is, “I don’t see anything wrong! Shut up bitches!”

  81. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Evaluating women by attractiveness in order to consider their attractiveness isn’t sexist, that’s just sex.

    Gee, how naive can you get? It is sexism by definition. All else is bullshit.

  82. consciousness razor says

    “he was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, he’s totally fuckable)”
    “he was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, I want to slather chocolate all over his body)”
    “he was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, I enjoy thinking about his penis)”
    “he was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, his balls are absolutely delightful)”
    “he was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, his ass is too big but still not unpleasant)”
    “he was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, my masturbation fantasies involve him occasionally)”

    … Yeah, I’m just not seeing how anything like that works. Not even in badly written porn.

  83. rrede says

    Space Monster: OH, sorry, yes that makes sense–apparently there were at least two issues after the first one with the noted problem? I don’t have a good sense yet about numbers/chronology–I had the sense from the blog entries I was reading (and their dates) that although the problem was noted with an earlier issue a few months ago (199?), that the problems in the issue following and then the complaints by Ye Olde Guarde about being omg censored was the tipping point for taking the criticism public (apparently there were exchanges in the members only forum along the way).

    You do have a good point–though I think a lot depends on when the criticisms went public.

  84. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    mark3t: self-identified male, here. Your every post stinks of condescension in word choice, in idiom, in syntax. Your assumptions are mostly risible, and not in evidence. You have examined neither you own biases, nor the statements of those who have been, and remain, offended (myself among them).

    Let me make an analogy which may allow you to understand the offense expresses by those in thread and forum: imagine that the discussion taking place was about black writers of SF, that there was much praise of a number of black writers, and that at the end of the conversation, one white writer said, “Yes, they’re all a credit to their race.”

    It’s poison.

    It’s eight ounce of cyanide in the swimming pool.

    It has tainted every previous laudatory comment, it has framed the entire argument in shit.

    You might say, “They didn’t curse them out or call them names, it was a compliment, and what’s wrong with that?” One doesn’t need to say slurs to be extremely offensive.

    The statements were offensive. People, women in particular are offended, and with reason. If you will not work from that assumption, there won’t be any dialogue. Because what you are saying, despite “polite” words, passi

  85. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    Erk, his the submit button early.

    —- passive voice, subjunctive clauses and “no swearing” is “I don’t see anything wrong. Shut up, bitches!”

  86. says

    Pteryxx:

    …who the heck is “Claire”?

    I suppose that would be the ‘Barbie’ me. Speaking of…

    markt3:

    Claire—thank you for answering my question.

    My name is Caine, and you’re welcome.

    You didn’t need to add the condescension at the end, it almost subverted the substance of your reply.

    Ah well, you see, in my opinion, that last bit was most definitely needed, given the amount of offense you dropped all over here. If you are unable to take away the substance proffered, that would say something about you, not about me or the minor snark appended to said substance.

  87. carlie says

    Oh Caine, reading this has been like taking a swim in a bracingly refreshing pool. It is so good to see you. :)

  88. says

    mark3t: In case you are wondering, here is the seed of your destruction:

    “I’m saying that what was alleged to have been in these articles was not there.”

    Whatever neural activity in your head caused your fingers to ultimately type that sentence, some or all of it can only be described as “the problem”. You ain’t the authority on whether it was there, only one whether you saw it or were offended by it; it was there, regardless. It was an unprofessional lapse in judgment of two authors that started this snowball, but it was the unprofessional lapse in every editor who included it in the publication, and an unprofessional lapse on the part of the publisher, that allowed it to happen, thence compounded by the irascible behavior of the internet public. You’re just the latest schmuck (oh, my, that’s gotta be sexist, doesn’t it?) to get rolled up as it careened downhill.

    Honestly, people who aren’t sexist or racist or whatever have no problem recognizing false accusations of sexism or racism in the rare cases when they happen. There’s no need to assume that just because you can’t see why what happened was incredibly demeaning when someone complains, that means it wasn’t actually incredibly demeaning, or to suggest that someone is being “too sensitive” when all they are asking for in compensation is recognition that the offense actually happened. And the more you argue like that, the more you are (not just “appear to be”, but actually ARE) marginalizing the victims of discrimination.

  89. David Marjanović says

    just like old proponents of failed theories don’t change their minds, they just eventually die off

    Oh, that depends. When plate tectonics was discovered, all geologists seem to have accepted it within less than 10 years, even on the other side of the Iron Curtain. No mass extinction between 1968 and maybe 1975 at the latest has been reported.

    Really, dear, it’s not becoming to be pontificating in such a manner. You should be more like Ken – just stand there and look handsome and neutered. It’s the best way for you all to maintain your quiet dignity.

    Oh snap. :-)

    Claire—thank you for answering my question.

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Look, if you manage to read your expectations instead of the single word Caine, I’m sure you understand why I have no confidence whatsoever in your ability to read a whole article for understanding.

    Gee, how naive can you get? It is sexism by definition. All else is bullshit.

    I don’t think you read for understanding either this time.

  90. David Marjanović says

    I suppose that would be the ‘Barbie’ me.

    :-D :-D :-D

    You’re just the latest schmuck (oh, my, that’s gotta be sexist, doesn’t it?)

    Actually…

  91. says

    If I describe someone and say “he/she is a PhD, has worked with three major charities and received X number of rewards, and by the way is very handsome/beautiful” does that constitute “reducing them” to their looks?

    One of these things is not like the others. One of those items do not belong on a list of personal achievements.

    More to the point, this is not an isolated incident. This does not occur in a vacuum. It occurs in the context of a culture in which women are routinely evaluated as if their looks were their most important quality, regardless of subject. This occurs in a culture where women are told, from childhood onwards, that they need to be pretty or they don’t matter.

    It’s a bit as if you’re describing an African-American physicists, mentioning his degrees and published research and then finishing off with a comment about his great sense of rhythm. It might superficially sound like a compliment, but it really isn’t.

    There’s a history here that requires you to step lightly and pretending that it doesn’t exist won’t magically make it go away.

  92. Space Monster says

    It’s not always about looks. Sometimes the most important thing a woman can be remembered for is her devotion to her husband and children and what a great cook she was. Because, you know, being a famous rocket scientist is certainly not an important aspect of a woman’s life….

    (I’m talking about Yvonne Brill and the travesty of her obituary in the New York Times, in case anyone has forgotten…)

  93. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    “he was a terrific editor (oh, and by the way, his balls are absolutely delightful)”

    Joe Titleist had fans both literary and athletic.

  94. Anthony K says

    Joe Titleist had fans both literary and athletic.

    Here, have one of these internets.

  95. rachelswirsky says

    So, some of this is inside SFWA baseball, so you may not be interested.

    Chronology: Three issues in a row had problematic content when read from a feminist perspective. It went: bikinis, barbie, thought police. The first and the third were in the Malzberg/Resnick dialogues. The second was not.

    The board was collecting information and input on how to make the changes to the Bulletin. A plan was in place. We intended to implement that plan after the administration switchover. Publications are the province of the president. This allowed Scalzi to complete the unfinished projects of his three-year-term and allowed Steven Gould to take it on with his fresh new-president energy.

    We did attempt to implement smaller changes that would keep the problem bandaged until such time as we could make sweeping changes under the new administration. For various reasons, that didn’t work.

    I know this is the constant plea of any volunteer-run group, but hey. We’re volunteers. Most of us are also working writers. Scalzi has been balancing a demanding career with an intense position for three years. He just got back from a three-week book tour. Various large problems occurred in sequence, and we had to triage. Sometimes we don’t triage correctly. Sometimes it’s impossible to do so because more things need to be triaged than you can actually triage.

    So. Yeah. At any rate. People’s reactions of rage, frustration, and hurt, are legitimate, and I am so terribly sorry that it hit this point. I apologized and continue to apologize to E. Catherine Tobler and other members of SFWA.

    I’ll probably bounce from this thread out of general I have to go back to triaging things (and maybe at some point actually do my primary job, heh), but if people have questions, I remain available at vp@sfwa.org and I’ve been tweeting updates pretty regularly.

  96. rachelswirsky says

    Also. The term “mundane” needs to be crumpled up into tiny pieces and blown into the wind, never to be seen again.

  97. says

    Rachelswirsky:

    So. Yeah. At any rate. People’s reactions of rage, frustration, and hurt, are legitimate, and I am so terribly sorry that it hit this point.

    Unfortunately, every organization has an asshole or three. Thanks for trying to address the situation – doing so speaks volumes. Good volumes.

  98. rrede says

    Rachelswirsky: I cannot even begin to imagine how exhausted you all must be–thank you for coming and sharing some of the chronology here, and because I’m darn sure it’s not said enough, for everything else you do!

  99. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    When I read what happened, I could see two possibilities. The first was that there was some tongue-in-cheek play going on, but if that was the case, the apologies should have been forthcoming by now, and nothing but silence is heard.
    The second was that they realized this was one last attempt to keep womenz “in their place” before the society changed.
    Based on he silence of apologies, I would suspect the second scenario.

  100. carlie says

    Rachelswirsky: The hardest position of all, in my opinion, is trying to deal with everyone who is rightfully complaining and you’re mad too but you have to keep the organization together AND deal with the guys in charge who are saying “what, what’s wrong, I don’t get it”. I feel for you.

    One of these things is not like the others. One of those items do not belong on a list of personal achievements.

    Exactly. “How fuckable I find a person” is never something to list among the accomplishments they have worked for when you’re discussing them. And yes, commenting on their level of attractiveness is, at the base of it all, a comment on how fuckable you find them. Don’t do that.

  101. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    This is the context folks like Mark3t miss:

    Exactly. “How fuckable I find a person” is never something to list among the accomplishments they have worked for when you’re discussing them. And yes, commenting on their level of attractiveness is, at the base of it all, a comment on how fuckable you find them. Don’t do that.

    This isn’t anything that has a place in a ‘zine for a professional organization. In fact, it has no place outside of tabloids and porn. So, no matter what you might think, in an organizational ‘zine it is nothing but sexism. The context is wrong for it to be anything else.

  102. Amphiox says

    Evaluating women by attractiveness in order to consider their attractiveness isn’t sexist, that’s just sex.

    Only if objectification is a necessary, fundamental, and irreducible component of human sexuality.

    And if you truly believe that, you’re more than just a misogynist. You’re an out and out misanthrope.

  103. Space Monster says

    rachelswirsky: Thank you for the extra information and for the work you and others are doing in this matter.

  104. says

    maxdevlin:

    Evaluating women by attractiveness in order to consider their attractiveness isn’t sexist, that’s just sex.

    I’ll tackle this too. I know you were attempting an explanation in regard to post #20, however, you start out wrong. First off, you’re running on the premise that physical attributes are all there is to attractiveness. For most people, that’s simply not so. It’s not as if a person is inspecting a line of lifeless androids, going by physical attributes to select a mate.

    Also, for most people, it’s quite possible (and often happens) to appreciate someone on a physical level while having no interest in pursuing any sort of relationship with them. When you say “evaluating” women, I’m reminded of an old saying that would be applied to men: a bit hairy at the heels. Literally, that means inferior stock. It was a saying used when it came to horse breeding. That’s what your opening sentence reminded me of – evaluating the value of stock. That means treating women like things, not individuals, not people.

    Now, while some men may view women that way, in order to determine just who they might deign to fuck, most people operate more thoughtfully and require more than just physical attributes to constitute a potential relationship. (Even compleat sexist assholes usually go by more than just physical attributes, after all, you can’t judge a good fuck by the cover, eh?)

  105. says

    rachelswirsky @116

    I can’t speak for everyone. But for me at least, it is refreshing and nice to see the top brass at least show awareness of exactly what the problem is, that the problem must be fixed, and that it’s right that it should be fixed (instead of hand-waving or dimissing or worse yet attacking those calling out the fuck ups).

    It’s a tiny bit, but in a sexist society, so often we go without that tiny bit so it means a lot that the top brass is trying and being willing to demonstrate publicly that they are trying and care about the issues and understand them.

  106. says

    “I’m saying that what was alleged to have been in these articles was not there.”

    Well, that’s a fine little bit of gaslighting there.

    No, no, ignore your lying eyes, in context, it was hardly even worth mentioning or noticing and what are you doing getting all hysterical in noticing how problematic elements bring down all the other positives and let me just describe the best parts, leave out the fucked up bits, and then pretend that that was the actual essays produced in order to question your senses of reality.

    And he wonders why the regulars pounced on him.

  107. says

    And to answer the question at the top:

    A) Because oppressors are painfully unimaginative.

    B) More serious answer, at least with regards to the VERY similar tactics of groups like MRAs, PUAs, anti-feminist atheists, anti-woman gamers/comic-book geeks/programmers/etc…, anti-choicers, etc…

    It’s largely because they are often the same people. The same sorts of people who rant about feminazis taking over Free Thought Blogs tends to be the same people reading A Voice for Men unironically tend to be the same people who actually believe in a Fake Geek Girl Conspiracy are the same people who think XBox Live is a better place for being such a toxic soup are the same people who bristle at the notion of sharing science fiction spaces with women. A lot of these groups intersect and since each community sees them only in the lens of their sphere, it feels in total like there is a grand empire of sexists out there that we will never defeat.

    But most of all:

    C) Toxic masculinity.

    There’s a thing I’ve noticed a lot that a lot of men can fall into if they are not careful and I think is responsible for douchey actions like Ron Lindsey’s what about the menz speech or the first of the problematic essays here.

    That is men get used to dominating spaces and being the only real people you think of. So often when a man places themselves in a woman-dominated space, or watches some media that is primarily intended for women, or asked to comment and think strongly of a ton of women, it triggers this little fear response.

    I mean, the world they are used to is male-dominated, so if things are female-dominated it’s not “normal” and things that aren’t “normal” can be unsettling or disorienting. Certainly, it makes one think and be aware of one’s own self which can be a very vulnerable space for someone not used to it. A common reaction can be an involuntary fear response as if there is a danger from not being the dominant group in a space for once in your damn life (for those so privileged as to never have felt that before).

    Which is where toxic masculinity comes in.

    One’s already getting some experience in what it feels like to not be the group dominating a space for once and the disorientation that can come with that. Things aren’t “right” based on one’s expectations due to privilege so there is already an urge to assert one’s self and one’s masculinity in order to “correct” some of the imbalance.

    Mix in with that the way fear, stress, or disorientation are gendered by toxic masculinity. Those traits, especially in response to the actions of women, are viewed by sexism to be “feminine” traits and so again, the urge is to assert one’s masculinity in order to regain a sense of safety and assure oneself that one is not at all girly for being thrown off balance by becoming aware of the benefits afforded in all spaces by privilege.

    And then you get the last piece. The fact that under toxic masculinity, the best and fastest way for one to “regain lost masculinity” and “reassert one’s manliness” is to take a giant shit on women or that which is coded as feminine.

    And that leads to the douche maneuvers like the first fucked-up post, whatever privilege fails internally lead to the third post, and of course, the epic fail that Ron Lindsey pulled off.

    The one tiny glowing positive spot in all that though is that these tantrums or spikes of sexism are due to these men having to consider or experience being aware of women in their space or even being the dominant group in a space of their own. Getting men to experience that more and be aware of their impulses in those spaces and to accept the consequences of being a complete dick will be an important component of removing these cultural ideas that it is “proper” that spaces be dominated by men and that being a dick to women is a heroic ideal rather than a villainous action.

    Sadly, it’ll all be just one more thing we solve by smashing our faces repeatedly into it until things move slowly forward.

  108. Pteryxx says

    News via io9:

    The editor of SFWA’s bulletin resigns over sexist articles

    Jean Rabe, editor of the SFWA Bulletin, has stepped down in the wake of tons of criticism of the organization’s official magazine, which featured regular contributors talking about “lady editors” and commenting on how hot they are. (Plus there’s the cheesetastic cover you see at left.)

    Announced briefly by Scalzi on the SFWA site here.