Browsing Tag

cane-shaking sexist bullshit


Well, that sure didn’t take long, did it?

Two days ago I was pleased to receive the official announcement, via the backer notifications I was receiving due to having supported the Kickstarter, that the special Women Destroy Science Fiction! issue of Lightspeed had gone on general public sale.

And last night I saw a link going around reporting on how, on one particular site, reviews of the material therein included some reactionary editorials. Very reactionary editorials. Natalie Luhrs reports on it over here. And James Nicoll relayed Natalie’s link here.

I wish I could say I’m surprised at how little time it took for the cane-shaking sexist bullshit to spring up in response to this project. But I’m not. Nor am I surprised that Natalie is targeted in the comments on her thread with the “I’m on your side, I swear, but your shrill argument is just going to drive me right over to side with this guy you’re arguing about” tactic.

This, this right here, is exactly why the Women Destroy Science Fiction! issue needed to exist, and why I was proud to be one of its supporters. So I encourage you all to check it out.

Likewise, I commend to your attention Amal El-Mohtar’s beautiful response to this latest brouhaha, in which she provides several quotes to illustrate exactly how long cane-shaking sexist bullshit has existed. Including Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley herself.

And Rachael Acks lays out why throwing “shrill” around is rife with sexist baggage.

At the end of the day, though, one of Mohtar’s quotes from Christie Yant is the crux of the matter:

We need your voice—don’t let it be silenced.

This is me talking. Because Yant is right.

Now pardon me, I feel some destruction of science fiction coming on.


And now for this morning’s round of PUNCHINGS

Let me tell you a thing about having an iPad, Internets: it means I’ve become way more of a comics reader than I used to be, back in the day when the only comic I had any real interest in was Elfquest.

Dark Horse has contributed a lot to that–not only because they’ve picked up Elfquest for its resurrection, but also because they’ve produced excellent material for the extensions of the storylines for both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. I’ve even dabbled some in the comics adaptations of the new Trek universe, wherein they’re telling stories more along the lines of what I am NOT getting out of the new movies: i.e., some goddamn Star Trek, with obligatory strange new worlds and exploration and such. In the last few years I’ve enjoyed a MacGyver miniseries from Image Comics, the three-part Anne Steelyard story, and the graphic novel for the Thrilling Adventure Hour.

But it’s been because of the Mary Sue and their coverage of certain Marvel storylines, combined with my growing general affection for the Marvel movie universe, that I’ve committed to following some actual superhero comics for the first time in my life. These are the current storylines for Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and the new young Ms. Marvel, that last in no small part because I really like that Marvel’s trying to branch out with some religious and ethnic diversity in their superhero lineup.

See, ’cause here’s the thing–I’ve been all too aware and very sad about how a lot of the comics industry these days is infected with rampaging sexism. But dammit, I like superheroes. I have ever since I discovered the X-Men when I was in middle school. I loved Christopher Reeve as Superman way back in the day, and Michael Keaton in the first of his Batman movies. I adored the first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. And I am full of nothing but love for the extended DC Animated universe, that connected all the episodes of the Batman, Superman, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited cartoons. That was some damn fine storytelling, and to this day, Mark Hamill’s brilliant voice work for the Joker makes his version of the character my all-time favorite.

And it’s very worth mentioning that in the Murkworks, we very, VERY much like She-Hulk. In fact, Dara played her in an RPG we did in Kentucky, back when we were still having our Saturday gaming nights.

So when I see news like this about how one of the people involved with the still-unnamed sequel* to Man of Steel (the one in which Wonder Woman is finally going to have her first big-screen appearance EVER) says some hugely insulting things about She-Hulk and about geeks in general, I feel my blood pressure spiking. Because this? This gives us a two-fer, a slam not only to a beloved character, but also to comics geeks of both genders all over the country.

And make no mistake, the questions he was asked shouldn’t get a pass, either. “Slut-Hulk”? SERIOUSLY?

And I can’t even muster rage about it, because it’s so goddamn exhausting to see this attitude again and again and again.

But for the record, let’s lay it out:

One, women can like superheroes too. Seriously. We CAN. We DO. And it’s hugely, hugely offensive to dismiss the women in your character lineup as “porn stars”, i.e., only there for the gratification of the men, because HELLO, we’re buying these comics too.

Two, enough already with the tiresome stereotype of geeks and nerds as losers who can’t get dates, who live in their parents’ basements, etc., etc., we’ve heard it all before. And y’know what? If your reaction to our interests is to point and laugh at us as socially inept and unfuckable, you know who we definitely won’t be going out with? YOU.

If you need me, Internets, I’ll be over here, consoling myself with the coming of Agent Carter–and with comics that aren’t belittling my gender. Or belittling me for picking them up in the first place.

* Editing to add: ah, apparently the film actually does have a title now: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I am still not filled with confidence here. Not much room for it with all the PUNCHINGS.


I was wrong, I DO have more to say about the current SFWA-related brouhaha

First, let me say that a couple of people have pointed out to me, quite correctly, that this particular brouhaha is not actually on the shoulders of the people currently in charge of SFWA–but rather, on those of the signatories of the petition going around. So this is me acknowledging that. Everything I’ve seen so far indicates that SFWA themselves are trying to do the right thing here, as a direct result of last year’s mess, and now they’re getting called out on it because apparently certain persons think last year’s mess is what they actually want? Or something? I DON’T EVEN KNOW.

But what I do know is this. It’s come out that the originator of this petition, back in 2007, took it upon himself to try to be satirical about someone else’s post complaining about the male-heavy Hugo ballot. And by “try”, I mean FAIL MISERABLY. He threw out those inflammatory first few paragraphs, and then goes into “HA HA I WAS ONLY KIDDING if I really meant that the feminists would get all angry at me! Also, if you thought I really meant that you’re crazy!” mode. And then proceeds to castigate the poster of the complaint about the Hugo ballots, taking the tactic of “why is it okay for her to use that language about a male-heavy ballot, and it’s not okay for me to do the same about a female-heavy one?”

In other words: BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ?

Y’know what, Chuckles? You were right. Feminists will get angry at you, but not for the reasons you think.

Because here’s the thing. We see this BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ? thing all the damn time. It’s a diversionary tactic to try to silence a woman speaking out. Because OHNOEZ HER LANGUAGE IS INFLAMMATORY, and that’s way, way more important than the actual point she was trying to make. I got news, Chuckles. This diversionary tactic is still bullshit. It’s the tactic of a group in power to make the group NOT in power keep their place.

Now okay, yeah, that post was back in 2007, so you could argue it’s old news. But you’d be wrong, given that now, seven years later, we’re still having these arguments.

And I for one am deeply saddened at seeing the list of people who think this chucklehead is worthy of their support.

Dara has her thoughts on the matter here.

ETA: It has just been brought to my attention that as per this statement from Mr. Gould, president of SFWA, the petitioners’ uproar is over something that isn’t even happening.


SFWA Explodes IV: The Revenge of SFWA

Got up this morning to see there’s yet another SFWA explosion. How many are we up to now, then?

There’s a petition going around, it seems. A petition protesting that the SFWA Bulletin is instituting procedures to try to avoid things like what happened this past summer, during the LAST round of SFWA explosions. Apparently, some people out there are still upset that people might, just might, be justifiably cranky about sexism in the genre.

I first spotted the news when James Nicoll posted about a Twitter thread on it, here. Then I went out to run some morning errands, and when I came back, Dara reported that the petition alluded to in that post had in fact surfaced. James talks about it here, linking in turn to Radish Reviews’ in-depth post.

Radish Reviews has reported that there are in fact two versions of this thing floating around, and addresses both of them here. I read them. And I knew I was in for some hurting the instant I saw the phrase “politically correct” bandied about right out of the gate. In the petition TITLE, even, as well the first paragraph.

Oh, and it gets more fun from there. I particularly like how scare quotes are thrown around “sexism” and “offensive”. And by like, I actually mean, if I facepalm any harder I’ll give myself a concussion.

I’d rant further on this if I could think of anything to say that I haven’t posted about a dozen times already–about how, if the first words out of your mouth are to cry “political correctness!”, that chances are very, very high that you are in fact part of the problem. But then, people who are inclined to cry “political correctness!” aren’t going to put much credence in what I have to say anyway.

So I’m going to simply stick with noting that yeah, I’m still feeling pretty much at peace with my having decided that I’d just as soon stay out of any organization that continues to be this toxic.

Further commentary on the matter:


Not enough facepalm in the world

Jesus jumping Christ on a pogo stick, this again?

I just read Foz Meadows’ post over here responding to Paul Cook’s piece at Amazing Stories about “When Science Fiction Isn’t Science Fiction”. Foz has several quotes from the piece in question, and, SPOILER ALERT: apparently, according to Mr. Cook, SF isn’t SF when it’s written by women. Because they’re writing about girly things that only women with their girly brains would be interested in, and that people like Lois McMaster Bujold are writing thinly disguised romance novels, not “real SF”.

Lois. McMaster. Bujold. Let that sink in for a minute, you guys.

Also, he has a side helping of going all ranty mcrantypants about steampunk, especially when steampunk involves zombies, so apparently Cherie Priest isn’t writing real SF either.

And I’m not sure what makes me go WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN more: that he’s got it in his pointy little head that only women are interested in reading about things like balls, gossiping in corridors, palace intrigues, and the like; that presumably, by contrast, he must therefore also believe that women aren’t interested in reading about rocketships or whatever ground he feels that “real SF” actually breaks; or that he pulls in comparisons to Alexandre Dumas. Comma, the guy who wrote The Three Musketeers, which last I checked was chock full of swashbuckly manly action and palace intrigue, so I can’t even figure out where the hell he was going with this.

(I don’t even know where the hell I’d fall in this guy’s perception of readership, either. I am a female reader who gives exactly zero fucks about fancy shoes or fancy purses in my personal life. I’m way more interested in spending my money on computers and musical instruments. I also generally give zero fucks about sex scenes, but I do like reading about a love story. I’ve got some hard SF on my shelves, too. None of which would make a damn bit of difference, I think, since I am after all still a girl.)

And don’t even get me started on the digs against the entire romance genre. I’ve expressed my deep frustration before with SF readers snarking on romance (and how a LOT of it is driven by sexism). A whole HELL of a lot of other writers have continued to express their frustration over this as the year continues, including this excellent post by Ann Aguirre, asking exactly what the hell is wrong with having sex in SF, anyway?

I saw James Nicoll link up to this a couple days ago too, and only paid passing attention at the time. I kind of wish I’d continued to pay passing attention. But on the other hand, women in SF/F don’t really have the luxury of not paying attention to this.

We have to keep talking about it until it stops.

ETA: Link roundup for other people’s commentary!

J.B. Whelan has a great skewering of this entire concept, written by his wife Stephanie, quoted in full over here. BWAHAHAHAHA.

Chris Meadows points and laughs.

Cora Buhlert facepalms right along with the rest of us.

Steven Brust pretty much makes the o.O face over here.


Latest brouhaha involving SFWA

One of the drawbacks about being non-traditionally published is that so far I’m not eligible to join writers’ organizations in the genres I write in. Even though I have two books out, the fact that one of them is published via a digital publisher and the other is self-pubbed (both digitally and in print) means I’m not eligible to join SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America.

This, for the longest time, was one of the things you needed to accomplish if you wanted to be taken seriously as an SF/F author. It’s still one of the things you need to accomplish if you want to be eligible for the Nebulas. (ETA: Noting from comments below that while you don’t have to be in SFWA to be nominated for the Nebulas, you do if you want to vote.) And while SFWA membership isn’t necessary to get you nominated for the Hugos, the underlying criteria for said membership are still pertinent there too–i.e., you have to be published via qualifying markets. Which still means, at least if you’re a novelist, markets that can get you into print and in bookstores.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love having books out there available for the digitally-inclined to read. But there’s still a part of me that feels like I’m still a fifth-tier citizen in Writerland, just because I can’t say “here is this organization of Writers Who Know What They’re Doing who have agreed that why yes, I am in fact One of Them”.

And then I hear about things like the latest blowup involving SFWA and I wonder if this is really a goal I want to accomplish after all.

In the latest issue of the SFWA Bulletin, they published a piece by Jim Hines. Those of you who know of Jim know he writes excellent fantasy novels, that he’s a staunch anti-rape advocate, and that he’s been relentlessly skewering the inherent ridiculousness of how female characters are portrayed in SF/F cover art when compared to their male counterparts. Jim’s piece goes into said cover art and the radical notion that women are people–pretty much the words he used, in fact. In a genre where too damned many people are still whinging about “fake geek girls” (a notion guaranteed to raise my blood pressure), Jim’s voice is all too necessary. Especially when women saying the exact same things sadly do not get nearly the same attention as men.

The problem is, the same issue also published a rebuttal by Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg. And from everything I’m seeing posted on the topic, their rebuttal was horribly sexist and essentially boils down to “nobody called us on our sexist bullshit back in the glory days of the 70’s, so why are people doing it now? OHNOEZ CENSORSHIP!”

Jim’s got a link roundup post on the matter right over here, so I’m not going to go into too much depth on quoting Resnick and Malzberg. Many others already have, and again, I’d like to keep my blood pressure down, thanks. (Though I will note Foz Meadows has an excellent post on the topic, and so does Kameron Hurley.)

As for me, I’m standing back looking at this and I’m thinking, “And this is the organization I have to eventually join if I want to be taken seriously as an SF/F writer?”

I swear, people, it makes me wish I actually were more of a romance writer rather than someone who writes SF/F with a side helping of romance. For one thing, the simple fact that I’m a woman and that I put any love story at all into my plots will get me labelled as a “romance writer” by the same sort of cloud-yelling, cane-shaking, rampaging sexists that can’t deal with the notion of girl cooties all over their precious rocketship stories. For another thing, I’m also sick of the sneering condescension far too much of the SF/F world levels at the romance world in general. Because I don’t know about the rest of you, but I got enough shit for my reading choices when I was a kid that I know exactly how it feels, and I’m not going to turn around and level that kind of garbage at somebody else who might happen to be reading a genre I don’t like. This is exactly why you won’t even see me sniping on people for reading Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey or whatever.

I’ve got my share of issues with the romance genre, sure. I can’t read most contemporary romance because it’s way, way too heteronormative for me, and more often than not the gender roles and expectations in play set my teeth on edge. And because I am at heart an SF/F reader, I tend to get really bored really fast if a novel’s only focusing on the development of a relationship. I need more going on than that. Give me a fun rollicking historical with spies, or the Napoleonic era. Or something with magical or paranormal elements, like Zoe Archer’s excellent Blades of the Rose books.

But you know what I won’t find in the romance genre? People in positions of power, people who’ve been in the field long enough to have respected names and who should in theory have the experience to know better, telling me how cute I am for trying to write my little novels. Which they then promptly dismiss anyway.

I’m heartened that there’s been a big outcry in response to Resnick’s and Malzberg’s cane-shaking bullshit. But I wish it wasn’t necessary.

ETA: Dara has a few words to say on this topic too, right over here, on the general theme of Gosh This All Looks Familiar.

Son of ETA: Holy hopping gods, a lot of you are coming in to read this post. Hi, visitors! May I offer you a cookie?

Revenge of the Son of ETA: Mary Robinette Kowal has an excellent post on the matter over here. She’s been heavily involved with SFWA so she’s looking at it from the inside, so it’s valuable to me as someone who can’t join the organization to see her voice speaking up too.

Bride of the Rampage of ETA: And, Ann Aguirre, whose work I have in fact read, speaks up VERY LOUDLY and with absolute justification that yes, women who write SF/F are still sneered at, and worse, by their male peers. THIS SHIT IS NOT OKAY.