“Apparently, these guys don’t want women to write science fiction” – my response

“Apparently, these guys don’t want women to write science fiction” link: http://www.dailydot.com/lifestyle/sfwa-sexism-sci-fi-nebulas-mary-kowal/

Okay, so I went to the sff.net newsgroup and I read the whole thing and Aja Romano is, no offense, full of shit. I don’t think this writer even went to the newsgroup and read the thread. They just accepted the biased opinion of some Tumblr. (At least, that’s what I hope. Otherwise there might be some question of libel, as the image painted is a manufacturedly negative one.)

Here’s a quote from the Daily Dot:

The new thread offers a glimpse into how systemic the divide really is. Fodera is the associate director of contracts for Macmillan, one of the industry’s largest publishers. He calls Kowal, who is a Hugo-award-winning author, “an unperson… no one you should have heard of.” Then he goes on to compare her to an aggressive dog:

“Oh, I know she has no power over me. Still, I get agitated when I think about her. There was a lot of good I could have done for SFWA, and she was a primary factor in my not being able to do it… In a way, it’s like my reaction to dogs… My brain kept saying ‘it’s a service dog; they’re well-trained; he won’t hurt you,’ but my body wanted nothing more than to dump my bowels and flee…”

Now, reading that it seems like Sean Fodera is some misogynist asshole that just compared a woman to an aggressive dog. That or he is in some way intimidated by the Powers of the Almighty Vagina(TM) and is trying to steal her power with his words.

Notice the ellipsis?

That’s because his quotes were snipped and trimmed. For most of that, he was talking about why he is terrified of dogs (and it was mentioned far up thread that he doesn’t own a dog and doesn’t want to) — that he was attacked as a teenager and now even service dogs give him a panicked reaction.

He called her an “unperson” in that he no longer wishes to think about her. Some of the actions she undertook against him have left him not even wanting to think about the painful portion of his life where he was pushed out of an organization that he seems to have really loved. I mean, in the course of the thread you can see that he was really passionate about the SFWA, and even now he’s still upset that the new management pushed him out of a group that he was a member of for 20 years.

Other commenters also had their quotes trimmed to make them look like assholes.

I mean, I went there all ready to be outraged, but it’s just a calm and normal discourse. Sure, people are upset at the direction the SFWA is headed in, but no one is hating women and there’s no fire and thunderbolts and no one is cursing minorities “Cos they stole our jobs!” There’s none of that.

From what I understand, there was a petition presented to the SFWA some time last year. There may have been some shenanigans on the part of those in charge and the petition disappeared. Now someone’s stirring up some shit and all kinds of people are bringing trouble down by calling everyone that signed the petition sexist. So a female author asked if that sweeping statement included her and several other female authors that signed the petition, to which she was called a “sexist pig.”

Drama, drama, drama, some people are trying to blow this whole thing out of proportion and are inferring that Raymond E. Feist is against women and minorities.

Uh, for one thing, the topic had switched a lot. Raymond Feist doesn’t quote the people he replies to, he just replies to them, which might make it difficult for a lazy researcher to tell what he’s talking about, but yeah. At no time does he attack anyone. In fact, he seems like this calm voice of peace and serenity. Talking people through panic attacks, offering copyright advice, and just in general being a cool dude.

I mean, I went into that thread thinking another author was about to ruin their image in my eyes, but that’s not what happened. I think he’s a cooler dude. Seriously. He defended the SFWA. He talks about wanting it to be a better institution. He seems to be a LGBTQ supporter. He’s spent years with female editors and he offers advice to new writers and he’s happy to send someone a signed, hardback copy of his book. He’s like the list-dad, keeping things from getting out of control.

I don’t know a whole lot about this blow up on forums and Facebook and anything like that, but this all just seems to be an internal dispute between members of the SFWA. Management wants things to go their way, and are hiring outside web developers and spending money and things, after having forced all the volunteers out. And the ex-volunteers and the members that suddenly found themselves unable to log in to the website have been unhappy for a long time. A bunch of people dropped out of the group or are upset with the way things are going. They don’t want to pay a bunch of money for a service that does them no good and that makes them feel unwelcome because they’re old.

That’s right. While one group is calling the other group a bunch of anti-minority, anti-women “gatekeepers” trying to keep them oppressed, they’re using a bunch of ageist talk.

Real talk: none of this is any of our business. No one is being actively oppressed by the folk at sff.net. It’s basically Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter drama and a bunch of trolls stirring the pot.

TL;DR: Raymond Feist is a cool dude with some good books. Forget what the Daily Dot said.

And Sean Fodera is a guy that’s been in the industry a long time and seems to have really tried to take care of the authors he’s worked with. It sounds like the SFWA wronged him and a bunch of authors that I recognize, like Big Names, authors that I grew up on and that I don’t want to see treated badly just because they’ve gotten older.

The genre is changing, there’s no doubt about that. But seriously, dude, I grew up on books by Keith Laumer, Poul Anderson, David Drake, C.J. Cherryh, Jane Yolen, Raymond Feist, Lawrence Watt-Evans … Back in the day you could grab a sci-fi/fantasy book and it would be spaceships and robots and action/adventure. Now they spring sci-fi romance or supposed-humor crap on you with no warning, and sometimes I’m not in the mood.

I prefer my sci-fi/fantasy to be gen. Relationships are mentioned, but I don’t need the details. I want attacking aliens and sorcerers. So-called hard sci-fi and fantasy. And that’s what I think of when I think of the SFWA. Only things have changed for the group, and things have definitely changed when I look at the shelves of Barnes & Noble.

And maybe I’m getting old, but I’m not very fond of change. Especially when there aren’t any warnings and no one offers me a choice. It makes things bitter. Though not as bitter as that Daily Dot post made my mouth taste.


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