Posted on

Sexism in the SFWA ~ a handful of semi-related, semi-organized thoughts

I’m not an SF writer, nor do I read a lot of it, so I am not really in the middle of the long-standing SFWA disagreement between their old-guard (sexist?) old-man members and what seem like a lot more modern-day thinkers.

In this latest episode, a couple of old guys (Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg) past their physical prime (don’t know about mental/creative prime) wrote a column about “lady writers” and their appearances.

Though this is not really my fight — even “as a woman,” because I just don’t write or read SF — I am still reading through the major reactions from E. Catherine Tobler’s departure from the organization to president Scalzi’s professional and personal response to Vox Day’s almost-rational defense of the old guys — being near to one of them himself.

From my position as a distant newcomer to this conversation, it looks like a case of “people will be people” — old people who have golden memories of the good old days (when men were men and women were secretaries who wore chainmail bikinis?)  It sounds like these two people used to be in power, got used to their voices being the majority, discovered that they were becoming obsolete, and so started trying to rewrite the world by harkening back to their old views and making them seem current.

The gender issue is probably a smokescreen.  It could be race, culture, age — gender is just the issue of the day.  I think the real basis is fear.  Fear of becoming null and void, going from somebody to nobody.  Fear of death.  Without having the miraculous, rare ability to reinvent yourself, your day will be done — and anyone can succumb to fear of that.

I suspect that everybody wants to feel in control of their lives — even though nobody really is.  I have my own neurotic ways of coping.

Perhaps if I were in the SFWA and this directly affected my sales, I would be personally offended and up in arms.  But instead, I am just sad and embarrassed.  It’s especially embarrassing to see this particular human trait exposed so openly in a professional publication.  Though I support the right to these guys’ being able to say what they want in their own op-ed column (correct me if that’s not what it was), I think Livejournal is more the place for this emotional, self-focused processing.

I read the Resnick & Malzberg’s whole thing, and it made me want to cry.  Not for the slight against women, but because they look like fools, holding onto the point of the relentless, speeding arrow of time, trying to slow it down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *