So there was Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg being sexist assholes. Jim Hines kindly put together a linkblog on the responses. (Incidentally, John Scalzi stepped up, as SFWA president, LIKE A BOSS.) Andrea Phillips notes the sea change.
We have enough critical mass behind gender equality now that ongoing reports of sexism are being treated as a problem, and a serious one, too. Better, there’s a snowball effect in play: Some of the men (and women!) who didn’t really think there was a problem before will see, have seen exactly how people are treated when they speak up. Increasingly, you’re seen as a total dinosaur or a total dick if you persist in engaging in problematic behaviors. Anita Sarkeesian, bless her, had to live through some horrible things — but she did so publicly, and in doing so persuaded a vast body of people who hadn’t cared about this stuff before that there truly are some awful things out there, and that it’s worth fighting them. —Andrea Phillips
Then Ann Aguirre spoke about how she’s been treated as a SF author who just happens to have girl bits.
I had slightly better experiences at WorldCon and ArmadilloCon, but I suspect it wasn’t as bad because I was roaming around with Sharon Shinn, who has more power and cachet than I had at that time. But I still encountered more than my share of fans, who dismissed my work. At that point, I was disheartened, and I stopped attending SFF cons entirely. I decided I’d rather spend my travel money otherwise. To quote my wonderful friend, Lauren Dane, “If I want to feel bad about myself, I’ll go swimsuit shopping.” My professional work shouldn’t be impacted by my gender, my appearance, my religion, my sexuality, my skin tone, or any other factor. The fact that it is? Makes me so very sad. I’ve had readers and writers stare at my rack instead of my face while “teaching” me how to suck eggs.
I’ve been fighting this battle for five years now.
And now, here’s the second thing: I’ve been made aware of a post (that I’m not linking to) from a guy who is swinging at me again. Why? Because I’m getting my girl cooties all over his SF. He implies I’m incapable of grasping sophisticated SF references due to my gender–that I don’t actually write SF because it has women, sex, and feelings in it. I’m so tired and disheartened right now. The one bright spot was my experience at KeyCon in Canada, where I was not only made to feel welcome but valued. Not a single soul at the con questioned my credentials or my quality of fiction, due to what I don’t have in my pants.
But I’m still here. I’m still writing. You cannot shut me up. I will NOT SIT DOWN. I will not stand quietly by anymore. I am a woman. I write SF. And it’s not acceptable to treat me as anything less than an equal. I won’t stand for it. And I won’t get your fucking coffee. —Ann Aguirre
It took less than an hour for her to start receiving hate mail for that post.
Part of why I’ve stopped going to conventions and cut WAY back on events and signings is, as I’ve said, deadlines and the energy drain of being an introvert and dealing with crowds of people. A larger concern is safety–I’ve been followed around and harassed at cons, both as a fan and as a guest. I’ve been on panels where not only have I been belittled and insulted for happening to have girl bits, but I’ve been followed from them by mansplainers who in at least one notable instance, tried to corner me in a crowded hallway and wouldn’t stop even when con security was alerted by onlookers. I suppose this is made worse by the fact that I was often pressed into service as a moderator because I won’t tolerate bullshit if I’ve been nominated to that position. *shrug*
And yeah, the hate mail. My email filters send most of it to killfiles as evidence for law enforcement if someone takes it into their head to become even more of an asshole than my usual stalkers. Still, some creeps through, and it’s often nauseating. Even though it becomes somewhat routine–oh hey, another “shut up and go back in the kitchen”, right next to another rape threat, ho hum, they’re all working off the same script I guess–one still doesn’t get “used” to it. I suspect that’s what the idiots who send hate mail bank on, the fact that any reasonable person will feel like throwing up after reading their filth gives them a sense of power. Any response is a victory, I guess.
Andrea Phillips, above, quoted Gandhi–“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
I hope he was right, because this sort of shit makes me so. damn. tired. And one day, maybe I’d like to choose to go to a convention and not have to worry about being cornered or harassed. Or open up my email without getting nauseous.
It’d be nice.