There has been a bit, well actually a massive fuck ton of controversy around the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) recently. I’ve talked before about how I’m sort of an outsider to the online science-fiction community, hanging around the outskirts and reading some articles but not really involved in it. So I thought I’d share my thoughts on recent events from this perspective.
The events in are summarised in a wonderful post by SL Huang but the gist of them is as follows (largely taken from the link above):
- An issue of the SFWA bulletin magazine, their official magazine, released with this cover and referring to ‘lady editors’ and their appearance. This caused a bit of a response from people who thought this wasn’t cool
- The next issue features a column espousing Barbie as a role model as she ‘maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should’. Yeah.
- In response to complaints about these columns, the people behind the ‘lady editors’ columns spend six pages in the next issue criticizing their complainers as ‘liberal fascists’ and accused people of censorship and being anonymous cowards. This is despite a rather long list of articles with names to them calling them out.
- Understandably there is a bit of a rage fit in response of people who are very angry. The sexism in the bulletin issues was bad enough but the response pushed many off the edge.
- The SFWA announced a task force to deal with all this but the online discussion about all this continues.
- Then racism enters the discussion. Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, writes a response to this great speech by N.K. Jemsin in which he calls her an “ignorant half-savage” and “self-defense laws have been put in place to let whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her, who are half-savages engaged in attacking them.” Link goes to other sites that quote his as I’m not going to link to his.
- There is another big, and understandable, rage fit on the internet and people call for his removal.
So yeah. Quite a lot of stuff has been going on. I think my summary about the whole issue of sexism, racism and the SFWA can be summed up in the following way:
What the ever loving fuck is going on SFWA, sort it out. It’s the 21st century for fucks sake.
Sexism, misogyny, homophobia and racism have no place in the science fiction community. I’m amazed that for a genre that looks to the future as a whole a large chunk of the community still seems to be stuck in the 70’s. It tells you a lot when John Scalzi, President of the SFWA until recently has come up with his own policy on sexual harassment at conventions as the cons themselves aren’t doing enough.
Seriously, what the fuck.
I mean I applaud his efforts to do something about the issues but why do they exist in the first place? I know that sexism, racism and homophobia are real problems that still need to be dealt with, but the science fiction community, and the SFWA could have done something about that a long time ago.
I realise that this is bigger than just the SFWA, but for the professional organisation for writers in the genre to let such sexist articles go in their official magazine says a lot. Never mind the issue of Vox Day and his membership.
The SFWA is open to anyone who meets its membership requirements which you can find here. As a rule it does not seem to expel members and I have to ask why not? I mean it’s not like Vox Day’s recent racist spiel is his first. That is what he does and it extends to sexist and homophobic rants as well such as saying it would be better for woman to be raped than for them to work. I really wish I was making that up.
The fact he is a member of the SFWA, and got 10% of the vote in the recent election for the President of the organisation, absolutely colours my view of the SFWA as does the sexist columns it has put in its magazine. The fact he has not been kicked out years ago is ridiculous, if he is not kicked out now who knows what kind of message the SFWA is giving out. That it thinks these comments are acceptable for someone who is a part of it?
These issues should be dealt with by the community as a whole, to make it clear anyone who holds these views are not welcome. The SFWA, if it took a stand and kicked out members who post racist and sexist rants could stand as an example of the kind of behaviour and standards that everyone would expect.
So sort it the fuck out SFWA. As someone looking from the outside I’m amazed that these issues have happened. Get rid of Vox Day and anyone else who makes hateful racist, sexist or homophobic comments, and make sure they don’t appear in your official magazines either.
Maybe then you might look like an organisation that is interested in being part of the 21st century.