Things People Need to Understand, issue 223.2

For the past few days I’ve been engaged in a series of conversations on Twitter and Facebook about SFF fandom and its safety/egalitarianism — or lack thereof. I’ll just share some of what I’ve already said there, here:

Some bits of a conversation on Twitter that started with me generally ranting about how unsafe I feel at Worldcon and progressed to an argument with someone who said s/he spoke for the SMOFs (“secret masters of fandom”, i.e. convention organizers). I basically pointed out that if fandom wants to change, the resources to assist with doing so have been around for years. At this point I’m tired. I’m not interested in further talk until I start seeing some action.

Then from a conversation about Heinlein and the racism that has always been visible in his work, and lately has been made explicit through his letters:

Marc, the larger literary continuum in which Heinlein’s work existed was both created by *and contributed to* that flawed society. Heinlein’s work is one of the reasons why SFF has spent years calling itself progressive, and utterly refusing to listen to complaints about the racism embedded in the genre’s bones. That resistance is one of the things that’s made my career a greater struggle than a white author’s might be. The reason I read FF in the first place was because, when I first got active in SFF fandom and tentatively complained about some stuff that bothered me in the first Heinlein works I’d read, Heinlein fans yelled at me that he wasn’t racist or sexist, and Farnham’s Freehold was the proof of that. After I read that book I realized two things: a) that Heinlein was racist as *fuck*, and b) most of science fiction fandom was too.

Now, don’t get me wrong. SFF is where my literary muse takes me, so I’m committed to this genre; I care for what it’s done and where it’s going, if only out of intelligent self-interest. But I’m very aware of not only how flawed it is from an artistic standpoint, but how utterly hostile it has been to me and people like me. So this cannot be an abstract thing to me; the bigotry in SFF does not merely passively reflect that of US society. It is an active, ongoing, threat. It has done, and is still doing, real harm. So I’ll read it, but I’m not even going to pretend to love it. The best I can manage is love for its *potential,* and loathing for most of what it’s actually done.

Now here’s something I attempted to post as a comment in response to this blog post hyperbolically lambasting complaints about sexual harassment at cons as “plunging all fandom into war” (because demanding safety is just like attacking another country, killing soldiers and civilians, etc.):

You’re downplaying what actually happened. I don’t know whether you’re doing so intentionally or out of ignorance, but this is a situation that can only be understood in context, and you’re leaving out or ignoring a lot of the context that matters. I will attempt to explain.

No one has said Walling is a rapist. He has, however, been accused of repeatedly harassing women — and by “harassing” I mean stalking and groping and attempting to coerce into sex — not just at Readercon but many cons. He’s done it to at least two authors (including Valentine), to con volunteers and staff, and more. When Valentine came forward, these other women did, too — enough to show that Walling has a demonstrated pattern of doing the same thing everywhere he goes. People want him banned from Readercon simply because that’s what Readercon’s rules said. But this is why people want him banned from all cons: because he cannot be trusted to behave at any of them.

Then you complain about the behavior of Valentine’s friends. But you don’t mention that Walling’s friends have not only protected him from con rules enforcement, but they’ve gone after some of the women who’ve complained about his behavior in the past. Some of the authors haven’t been invited to other cons as guests, some of the con staffers have been marginalized until they quit. In other words, Valentine’s friends are hurting his reputation, but Walling’s friends are hurting women’s careers. Women cannot feel safe at any con Walling attends in part because of Walling himself, and in part because Walling is surrounded by (relatively) powerful people who’ve proven more than willing to use their power to harm others on his behalf. And he’s also protected by a throng of random bystanders who decry any complaint about sexual harassment as a “lynch mob”.

(Yeah, because asking a con to adhere to its own printed rules is totally like beating, raping, torturing, dismembering, and stringing someone up. Also, this is nowhere near “war”.)

It’s lovely that you’ve felt safe at cons. You’re very lucky. But your luck does not mean that less-lucky women are imagining things. Or that their unwillingness to tolerate being groped — even though it didn’t bother you when it happened — means they’re overreacting.

Sadly, the level of vitriol around this incident can set the general egalitarianism in fandom back by decades.

There is no egalitarianism in fandom.

There is a belief in egalitarianism. But it has mostly been used to support the usual suspects — the straight white men at the core of SFF — while marginalizing the usual targets — women, people of color, anyone the straight white men don’t like or want to objectify or want to own. When the usual targets complain about their treatment, they have to listen to what I like to call The Egalitarianism Speech. That’s the speech that goes, “Can’t we all just get along? Shut up a little and we can. Stop asking for change and we can. Everything was fine before you started complaining. We’re all equal here, after all.”

We are not. But we can be, eventually, if things change. What is necessary to bring about this change is sometimes, yes, vitriol, because polite discussions have already been had — in spades — and they haven’t worked. Walling has apparently been Talked To before; it didn’t stop him from pulling this again. Readercon’s no-tolerance harassment policy came out of a previous incident and discussion and they ignored it. Only vitriol made them follow their own rules. All the anger right now is because politeness has been tried, and all that’s done has been to protect and enable more bad behavior. The anger, however, seems to be having a positive effect.

So there’s your context.

::sigh::

Look.

I write science fiction and fantasy. I write other things too, but I can’t claim to be a mainstream writer; that’s not where my muse goes. It’s here. And I both love and despise this genre.

I love it because I’ve met wonderful people, and because through SFF I’ve been able to imagine things that I couldn’t have if I’d kept my focus on the here and now. I despise it because SFF is just as flawed as the rest of the world when it comes to bigotry and marginalization — but unlike the rest of the world, SFF thinks it’s progressive. Embraces the idea of its own progressivism with such fervor that I’d call it religious, if the field weren’t so full of atheists who would never be caught dead preaching doctrine or shunning unbelievers or anything like that. (That was sarcasm. The atheists have their own problems right now.)

We have to shed this idea that SFF is somehow special. That it is perfect. That it is in any way better than the mainstream society from which it derives. It isn’t. And in fact, SFF’s manifest unwillingness to examine itself is one of the things that makes it worse than the mainstream.

I and people I care about keep getting accused of having some kind of agenda, whenever we express a demand for some kind of positive change. So OK. You know what it is? Lean close. Here’s the secret. Here’s the goal of the big shadow conspiracy. I’ll whisper.

We want nearly everyone to have fun.

I say “nearly” because, well. Some people’s idea of fun is other people’s non-fun. But for anyone who doesn’t think “fun” means hurting, frightening, or stomping all over someone else? They should all be welcome under this tent.

That’s it. That’s the conspiracy. And it really doesn’t seem that much to ask.

74 Responses »

  1. Okay, I want to have fun & enable other people to have fun, too. :-)

  2. In the aftermath of the Readercon stuff, I ended up having a long discussion with a guy, a vowed liberal, who attempted, after being told he was mansplaining in a discussion by someone else, to mansplain what he felt mansplaining did and should mean — mainly, that it was a bad word because it targeted men unfairly, and who, when given the basic actual definition and examples, vainly attempted to insist that really, it was still divisive and anyway, he wasn’t mansplaining and a mean old sexist like the examples. And then there was the Weird Tales situation. The really tiring ones are the ones with the nice clueless people who support equality and all that stuff, and then proceed to say the most appalling things. At this point, I don’t think cons are going to change their behavior on this issue until there are enough arrests made and lawsuits to make it too risky to continue. Apparently, Walling was bartending as volunteer staff at WorldCon and hitting on women while doing it.

  3. If I understand correctly, your post was NOT accepted for inclusion in Laurie Mann’s blog post on the Readercon saga and its follow-up. I think this is very unfortunate as most of the comments seemed to be a variation of preaching to the converted. I was particularly distressed by the number of, ‘I’ve been groped but handled it’ type comments. It seems they – and Laurie – believe that if they can do it them every con-going woman should be able to do it. It totally ignore the very real distress that younger and more vulnerable women feel when confronted with such individuals.

    Also there is little acknowledgment in her post that this year’s Readercon incident was only the most recent of a longish history of offensive behaviour at cons. Mr Walling apparently does not give a shit what the net and blogs write as long as he can continue to participate in major cons in capacities that give him access to vulnerable women. “Walling was bartending as volunteer staff at WorldCon and hitting on women while doing it.” Moreover, his female friends, which include a key conruner for Loncon3 continue to defend and support him.

    This problem is a long way from being resolved and I hope that you and other thoughtful women will continue to be angry and to rant and rattle cages. I will do my best to support you.

  4. Thank you. This is why SF conventions aren’t a place I want to be.

    Nerds are very invested in believing that they are better than the mainstream frat boys and girls who marginalized us and beat us up in junior high school when so many haven’t done the research, self-examination, and listening to make their behavior so. The lousy stereotyped role reversal dystopias that keep cropping up are all a reflection of this lazy refusal.

  5. >Heinlein fans yelled at me that he wasn’t racist or sexist,
    >and Farnham’s Freehold was the proof of that

    …what.

    This can only be said by people who have not read it. My gods, it’s horrific.

  6. Let’s see if this works!

    I’ve missed seeing you over the LJ, and finally pulled stuff together enough to put your blog on my Dreamwidth feed (which I read daily and am active on), instead of LJ (which I read a little less often and don’t post on).

    So, yay, this great post came up.

    I was too busy and mad yesterday to post at that ghastly blog entry (my first con was in 1977, so I’m of her generation, and while, I had no problems, being fat and dressing in boys’ clothing and being LUCKY and possibly also outtalking any of the dudes (a big no no in the dating etiquette in the sick days of my youth), I KNOW IT HAPPENED at cons. And it was HIDDEN even more than today, because, OMFG, even fewer women attended.

    AND a lot of those women enabled it, just like they’re fucking doing now.

    Sorry–I may or may not go post over there–but FANTASTIC post here.

    I’m THRILLED beyond belief to see evidence in the atheism communities, and fandom spaces, that there is more pushback against sexual harassment. (I’m still not sure how much pushback against racism and homophobia occurs. . .)

    I’m doing two essays on anti-racism work in online fandom for various academic projects this year, so have been reading back over some of the Racefail materials, and over at the Aang Ain’t White site.

    Plus, FF is horribly racist (and don’t even get me started on the Daddy’s Girl incest motif).

    p.s. just got Killing Moon and Shadowed Sun for my kindle (long story, am working at home 2.5 days a week this term, and had to have kindle fire to set up home office, trufax)–am blown away (reading the first one slowly)–these are BLOODY amazing, and I am going to have to assign one next time an appropriate opportunity comes up (teaching graduate research and methods next spring, so not there, alas).

    Not ready to say anything yet, but while I loved LOVED the INHERITANCE TRILOGY with great passion at first gulp/reading–I’m struggling a bit more with the new one, but with the sense that it’s incredibly important and complex and demands more of me…

  7. With utter respect, and open ears to all your points, and a context of general agreement, I feel the need to point out that “all fandom was plunged into war” is a traditional joke catchphrase dating from the 1940s in fandom and used tens of thousands of times to refer to any and all major kerfuffles in sf fandom. I believe you’re missing context on that usage.

  8. “We have to shed this idea that SFF is somehow special. That it is perfect. That it is in any way better than the mainstream society from which it derives. It isn’t. And in fact, SFF’s manifest unwillingness to examine itself is one of the things that makes it worse than the mainstream.”

    In the meantime, i’ll be off w/ the rest of the orc horde sipping my bombay sapphire cocktails…

  9. G. Farber: With utter respect, no, she isn’t missing context on that usage because of the other meaning of that usage, which is much more widespread socially, using it against women speaking about women’s rights issues and systemic sexism. This is often put in the terms of women (and supporters) waging a war against those who disagree, rather than the woman simply saying I want to be treated with equal rights and to be safe — angry feminists, oversensitive (hysterical) women who escalate things beyond what is acceptable in our social heads for how women should speak, etc. It is particularly relevant with women because women are not supposed to show anger in the society. They are supposed to be cooperative, quiet, docile, accommodating to others’ needs, etc. — deferential. So if you say “you’re waging a war” to someone speaking for women on those issues, particularly to a woman, regardless of your gender, regardless of any “convention history” about feuds on whether SF is dying or not, etc., you are lapsing into sexist tactics and telling her (or women in general) to behave and be submissive, that the issue is not valid. You should not be using that language on that subject because it is not appropriate, and more, we should all know that already. It’s a hurtful tactic, and the speaker being ignorant of that doesn’t mean that it hurts less.

    But it’s very easy to fall into because it’s ingrained. I’m white, so I’m a racist. I say clueless white person things sometimes because I don’t have to think about and deal with stuff from the other side, because the society is still designed for me ethnically. I keep in mind in particular a conversation on Justine Larbalesteir’s blog once in which I was nattering on about bookstores and publishing, ignoring what folks were trying to say about what black authors had to deal with in bookstores. And I was treated kindly, but it didn’t matter. I realized I was being an idiot. And it’s helped me to not be an idiot other times since. So I’m happy to keep talking to, say, guys about how they’re being clueless about what they are saying to women, but I don’t pull my punches as much. I’m not in my twenties anymore where I thought I had to be nice. I am not concerned that they are upset that I’m upset — or straightforward or sarcastic, etc., that they don’t like my tone and are more obsessed with that and their image of their own goodness then what I’m actually upset about. I’m concerned with hoping to get them to step outside their own frame of reference and personal experiences and consider why I’m upset, what I have to deal with because of how the society is structured,(even if they are also female and have not had that experience or been hurt by it,) and that the why might not be me being stereotypes they have about oversensitive women from the society they live in. It’s tricky. It’s tiring. And the other person being clueless about that is a large part of the trickiness and the tiring.

    But if the cage gets rattled, by enough people, then others become more aware, less clueless, and things move forward. Right now, the image of SFFH’s own goodness is getting in the way of many fans stepping outside their own frame of reference and stopping saying clueless things. Like that because SFFH fans love the future, with images of equality scattered in some works, they already enact it. That they are somehow free of their society and time period.

    But you can see the (slight) shifts forward. A couple of decades earlier and the arguments from many women and men would have been almost exclusively that boys were just having fun and women shouldn’t get upset and just put up with it or were lying. We still have those arguments, but now a lot of the arguments are also that women (and men both in support or harassed,) should beat the harassers up. That’s not a solution either, but it does mean that many now feel women are capable of and have the right to take action. We just haven’t gotten to the understanding in enough people that taking action isn’t always safe or possible and women shouldn’t have to take action at all because the society (including conventions,) should work to make the environment safe and equal for all. The progress sometimes works against, especially when it comes to the backlash. But there are obviously a lot of people struggling to understand, wanting things to be better. So I have hope, but I think it may take some serious consequences for conventions to get their act together further.

  10. Just this morinign I read the following article over at io9.com: http://io9.com/5938698/the-great-geek-sexism-debate. While the article was less than conclusive, it was good to find out that Walling was permanently banned from ReaderCon, and that a large portion, if not the whole board, had resigned and a new board will head ReaderCon 2013. I hope Walling is banned from other cons as well and I was very glad to hear that the people who protected him are out as well.

    I also liked the creative use of soccer-sexual-harassment cards employed at DefCon that was discussed in the article. I think it was effective at first for getting men to think about what they were doing and hopefully get them out of their male privileged/sexist perspective by being called on their behaviors. Whether that extends to DefCon in general, or the hacker world in general, well that’s harder to say, but my guess would be probably not. I think the most disturbing part was that men started wearing these cards as badges of honor, and for at least one, those were not the green cards (the thank you cards).

    I live in Seattle, which hosts two major Cons: Emerald City Comic-Con and Penny Arcade (PAX). I was out downtown one night during PAX and was surprised to see how many women there were out and about at the con. I was not shocked to read about what had happened this year at the various cons, but neither had I considered the possibility that it did happen. I fell in to the mentality trap that because SFF concerned the future (or alternative presents or pasts), it would be inherently better towards anyone who came to the tent. I am just as likely to attend the cons in my home city, but now I will do so with more awareness and a more critical eye towards the SFF community in general.

    I am female, and my first real foray into SFF was Jacqueline Carey’s wonderful Kusheline series. Since then, I tend to look specifically for SFF books either by female authors or that feature a strong female lead. While my view of cons may have been naive, my view of the genre is not. I am amazed by authors like you, Ms. Jemisin, and Carey, and I cannot thank you enough for your writing and the stories you tell. You are being heard, and what you say is making a difference. Thank you.

  11. May I ask what the ingredients are of a bombay sapphire cocktail?

    Good post as always, Nora.

  12. Gary–it doesn’t really matter what it means in fanspeak. When you post on the internet, it’s in a more general context. I certainly had no clue it was a fandom thing. Nor did the context of that post seem at all to support a kind of flippancy. Nor would flippancy have been all right in that context.

    Good post, Nora.

  13. I have no idea what you are talking about. I am a new writer in this space, but going to “Cons” is a major part of my marketing strategy and I am horrified and angry and a little bit fearful that I will need to start having to save up for bail money and lawyers because if any dirty old man touches my ass, I will be knocking him the fuck out.

  14. To generalise, it seems to me that this argument is split into two main camps: ‘we were here first’ and the egalitarian camps. The ‘first’ camp seems to feel entitled to maintain control over SFFdom because they are the traditional demographic who attended cons while their wives – if they were married – stayed at home or serviced the cons in some way rather than attending as equals. The second camp are women, other minorities and their supporters who want SFFdom to reflect broader society, enriching content while broadening horizons. This camp wants respect in spite of being the ‘new’ people.

    Many other conflicts and schisms in SFFdom appear to have the same basis: traditionalists who feel entitled to be gatekeepers versus newcomers. The answer seems so simple: treat others as you want to be treated and how you want your partner to be treated.

  15. Nora, you are great, and this post is great.

  16. Oh, how sad; you stepped right up to the plate– and whiffed. I’ll ask the question begging to be raised: If the answer “seems” so simple then why are the “gatekeepers” having such a difficult time with it?

  17. Because, although it seems simple to us, the gatekeepers are seeing and answering a different question. How do we keep things as they’ve always been.

  18. Raijin,

    Because they are more interested in the kind of peace which is created by the absence of conflict rather than the kind that appears in the presence of justice, to paraphrase MLK.

  19. I see some of the comments on Laurie Mann’s blogpost come down to “but what about teh menz?”

    Srsly, wtf? If anyone’s saying they’re now afraid to go to Readercon because they don’t think it’s safe to grope women there any more, then I say, Good!

  20. Sadly, the level of vitriol around this incident can set the general egalitarianism in fandom back by decades.

    OMG. This quote that you referenced (that some opponent wrote) is such a stunning example of “be nice to me, or I won’t give you any equality”, that I had to emphasize it. Being angry will set us back decades. Wow – dude, don’t do me any favors.

    I read Farnham’s Freehold 35 years ago in my teens and knew it was racist, sexist dreck. In most of the rest of Heinlein’s work, I think he was racist by omission. (Maybe one of Valentine Michael Smith’s parents was multiracial?)

    Lately, I’ve been thinking that a subset of men in Sci Fi fandom are disappointed because the women in fandom aren’t characters straight out of a Heinlein novel. Hmmm, did any of his female characters ever get mad? Or say “no” to sex?

    Many people may be inclined to think SF fandom is perfect because they love it so much. Love can make any of us stupid at times. <3

  21. Thank you for this.
    >We have to shed this idea that SFF is somehow special. That it is perfect. That it is in any way better than the mainstream society from which it derives. It isn’t. And in fact, SFF’s manifest unwillingness to examine itself is one of the things that makes it worse than the mainstream.
    The entire “but we can’t be racist/sexist/heteronormative/etc.” undertone of SFF sometimes makes me want to break out the flamethrowers.

  22. Dark Matter Fanzine: “To generalise, it seems to me that this argument is split into two main camps: ‘we were here first’”

    That’s part of the problem — men weren’t there “first.” Women were involved in SFFH from the beginning — in writing, editing, publishing, fandom, convention organizing, etc. Their existence was simply not acknowledged or not considered important. Often their involvement and fandom were discouraged and they tended to stay in the shadows or away from the convention scene. In many cases, it was outright attacked. And certainly, women were expected to behave in a secondary, deferential way to male authors, fans, critics, etc., at conventions and elsewhere.

    That slowly changed because of the efforts of a lot of women and men who supported them. But the perception that the community has now is that we are now egalitarian, that sexism has been chased off and now we are more overly “sensitive” to sexism and safety issues then we need to be at conventions. So the debate is actually between those who think people should stop complaining because everything is just fine and equal, and people who are pointing out that it’s not, that there are a lot of problems and that the problems still need to be addressed.

  23. @Kate

    Voila, Bombay Sapphire gin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombay_Sapphire

    I’ve experienced it in tonic with lime, with cheering results.

    I’m planning to thoroughly research its application in the cocktail known as a french 75: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_75_%28cocktail%29

  24. Thanks for the excellent post. I am also very tired. I love sf, but I’m getting really tired of the sexism, racism, and all kinds of other -isms. For a supposedly progressive, forward-thinking genre, sf sure seems to attract a lot of backwards-thinking folks.

  25. There is so much bullshit out there, and I know that raising your voice attracts even more. But it matters a lot to me, and it matters a lot to a lot of other people, so I can be nothing but glad for this post and all the other conversations you’ve had. Thank you.

  26. I can’t disagree with anything I see in this post. And it’s important that we keep saying these things and making these points as often as is necessary. You did so very well, so thanks.

    “We have to shed this idea that SFF is somehow special. That it is perfect. That it is in any way better than the mainstream society from which it derives.”

    This particular sentiment has been driving me batty the past few years, and has prevented me from attending any of the “geek culture” panels at my local cons. Some of them are quite interesting to me, like “raising geek kids.” However, this pervasive idea that fandom and geekiness in general are somehow inherently superior instead of just different drives me up a wall.

  27. Oh, dearie, me, the old “women never did anything in all of history because I don’t know about what women did.” (substitute any other marginalized and oppressed groups).

    For those needing some education on women and sff fandom:

    The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction by Justine Larbalestier:

    http://justinelarbalestier.com/books/battle/reviews/

    The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick

    http://thehathorlegacy.com/the-secret-feminist-cabal-helen-merrick/

    Between them they cover from the pulps to Racefail 09 (on the internet).

    Required reading.

    Go forth and learn.

    “We were here first.” Hah.

  28. @Delux

    Thank you. I am so woefully ignorant about spirits.

  29. @kate: the orc horde can help you fix that…

  30. THANK YOU!

    “I love it because I’ve met wonderful people, and because through SFF I’ve been able to imagine things that I couldn’t have if I’d kept my focus on the here and now. I despise it because SFF is just as flawed as the rest of the world when it comes to bigotry and marginalization — but unlike the rest of the world, SFF thinks it’s progressive. … with fervor …

    “We have to shed this idea that SFF is somehow special. That it is perfect. That it is in any way better than the mainstream society from which it derives. It isn’t. And in fact, SFF’s manifest unwillingness to examine itself is one of the things that makes it worse than the mainstream.”

    THIS.

    “But for anyone who doesn’t think ‘fun’ means hurting, frightening, or stomping all over someone else? They should all be welcome under this tent.”

    Yes. And that “everyone” you mention here (bullies aside) includes people, and groups of people, with experiences and backgrounds that it has somehow become acceptable in SF/F fandom to mock, deride and insult. That there ARE such groups that it has become “acceptable” to mock and hate essentially “for the lolz” is very saddening to me, and it contributes to a very non-inclusive fandom. Respect is not a limited resource. To make fandom truly inclusive, the community has to stand up not just for (relatively) visible minorities, but for less visible ones as well.

  31. @Dash: yes, THANK YOU. I was appalled when a novel shortlisted for the Aurealis Award was cited as ‘playfully’ dealing with tropes when in actual fact the author wanted a racial divide, so she decided albinos would be the evil ones. How original -_- Albinos have only been evil villains in the Matrix, Star Trek, Da Vinci Code, etc etc. We’re an incredibly small minority – 1 in 17,000 in the USA and Australia, so less than 1,500 Australia-wide – and we have additional disabilities beyond colouring adding to our difference. It’s easy for others to overlook the social impact of portraying us as evil and insane, and how this increases discrimination against us. The judging panels for the Aurealis Awards in Australia both shortlisted this novel and gave it a good review, where if it had been written with Negros as the villains it would have been criticised vehemently for its racism (and rightly so!)

    Equality and respect for all.

  32. We want nearly everyone to have fun.

    This should be front and center in every harassment policy. We’re not trying to ruin everybody’s fun. We can’t guarantee everyone will have fun. But we’re trying to make it possible for more people to join in the fun and be comfortable sticking around.

    I’m working with Cheryl Morgan on SFSFC’s governing policy on harassment. The preamble is all about us promoting F&SF in all its forms and making F&SF fun and accessible to more people. It’s our qualifying tax-exempt purpose, and harassment gets in the way of that.

  33. Thanks for this. A clear, telling statement of the issues.

    I’ll be linking to it from my own account as well as the official FOGcon feed.

  34. Not everyone on Laurie Mann’s blog supports her hypothesis:

    Dan Holzman-Tweed said…

    I do understand that you are talking about what you’ve heard of and not asserting that it doesn’t happen. What surprises me about that is that I would have figured you’re one of the people that someone dealing with sexual harassment, assault, or rape would talk to, either in a request for intervention or support.

    Part of the problem may be that folks who have had these things happen to them have felt pressured not to speak up about it — which is why I am not naming names, either those whom to things have happened, or those who have perpetrated these acts while at conventions as a Guests of Honor

    However, with her permission, I’ll name one name: My wife can literally count on one hand the number of conventions she’s attended — heck, the conventions at which she’s been security — where she did not have to fend off another congoer’s attempt to physically harass her.

    I have been convention security at a convention where we had to pull the badge and eject from the convention another member of convention security because he had been groping women. If the women in question had asked us to do so, we would have called the police.

    I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of Harlan Ellison’s assault on Connie Willis. Or how many people reacted to it by saying, “Oh, that’s just Harlan.”

    I’m going to change topic for a moment.

    If you think what Mr. Walling’s misbehavior does not warrant a lifetime ban from Readercon, your quarrel is with Readercon for setting that policy; not with the people who insisted that Readercon enforce it’s published policy rather than give someone a pass because he’s a BNF or SMOF, or because he says he’s really sorry. Especially given how many other women came forward to say that Mr. Walling has sexually harassed them as well once Ms. Valentine had the courage to be the first.

    If people are finally making a big noise about things like this, it is because there’s been decades of silence, decades of excuses, decades of people being told not to overreact or blow things out of proportion, decades of rapists and harassers getting a pass and doing it again, and again, and again, and people are sick of it.

    And frankly, you are one of the very last people I ever thought I’d find myself explaining that to.

  35. I don’t know if you’ve read this or not:

    http://readercon.org/publicstatement.htm

  36. A)”that Heinlein was racist as *fuck*, and b) most of science fiction fandom was too”

    This is the definition of a generalization statement.
    Which is usually considered proof of someone who is racist or sexist or some type of hater.

    Substitute Race/Sex and label a group as something you consider awful and you might understand the parallel.

    i.e. 1/3rd of black men have been criminally Convicted of a crime. That is not a opinion like yours but I predict you probably consider me racist to mention it.

    Calling Hienlien a racist is acceptable as your responding to a individual. But calling most Con fandom racists is the same as calling most black people Former Cons.

    To most its ok as long as you get to play the victim or your laughing at the joke or stating your how much better you are. But it’s almost always self serving and looking in the mirror without the tint being Rose Colored just doesn’t happen.

    Censorship is Expected!

  37. Hi! I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while and have never commented before, but I have to say thank you for writing this post. Not only do I agree with your assessment of the specific issues that have come to the fore recently, but you’ve perfectly expressed my ambivalence about this genre. I grew up reading fantasy, I still read fantasy, and I love fantasy, but during the last couple of years I’ve developed a very critical attitude towards it, as I’ve realized how conservative and exclusionary and hurtful it can be, as I’ve come to feel deeply alienated from and marginalized by books and authors that I used to love. And because these kinds of discussions often get so emotional so quickly, I sometimes feel that I have a hard time making people understand that I’m so critical towards this genre because I love it, because I see its potential and I want it to be better.

  38. I’m not aware of anyone not being invited to cons or any staffers being marginalized into quitting over anything Mr. Walling has done or anything they said or did about it. Where were those incidents reported?

    All I’ve seen so far is the Readercon incident, Kate Kligman’s reports regarding Anticipation, and the report of the comment made while tending bar at the Commonwealth party, which was not an official Chicon event.

  39. Nolly,

    There have been several mentions of this in the various blogosphere convos. First there was a con organizer who basically implied she would blacklist people who spoke against Walling. Veronica Schanoes, also an author, says she has gotten veiled threats of blackballing. There is indeed Kate Kligman, whose problems with Walling cover more than just Anticipation. There’s more, but those are the ones I remember offhand.

  40. Nora: Maybe I’m misreading, but on the thread you linked I thought Lisa H (cogitationitis) specifically wrote that even if she were still running programming for a convention she wouldn’t blackball people for speaking up about Rene. She did suggest that other people might, though.

    Nolly: Crystal (Readercon 2012 and 2013 chair) is a friend of mine. Her mailbox is still getting a steady stream of hate mail because Readercon eventually enforced their harassment policy.

  41. Andrew,

    Whoops, wrong comment. Thanks for pointing that out. This is the comment I was thinking about, in which cogitationitis pretty much says she’ll use her con organizer/SMOF/whatever power to keep Veronica Schanoes out of any con she works. The comment I linked above was after she had been called on this, and hastened to assure everyone that she hadn’t meant for it to sound like a threat.

    I’ve also heard murmurings of myself being blackballed from certain conventions, but the murmurers have been smart enough not to do so publicly, so for now that’s only rumor. As you can probably see from my own response to that second thread (I’m “nojojojo” on LJ), I’m pretty OK with being blackballed from cons that have people like that in charge.

  42. I seem to be pottering around the web explaining to people that, since I am English I think in terms of the legal provisions here, viz the Sexual Offences Act, 2003.

    Rene Walling’s actions fell fairly and squarely within Section 3 of the act, and thus anyone emulating his actions at Loncon3 would discover the hard way that the offence carries a maximum sentence of ten years.

    The Crown Prosecution Service helpfully set out their practise guidance on the web for all to read, and thus we know that it does not provide a let-out clause for the socially inept and/or important member of fandom.

    And then there are the enablers, so keen to assure us that groping didn’t do them any harm so why is anyone complaining about it now? Actually, a more accurate term would be procuresses, but I’m feeling mildly charitable tonight…

  43. Nora:

    Part 1) Oy, there’s a lot of spew (and not the first time I’ve read it).

    Again, I think I’m reading something else there. Lisa was doing a particularly sloppy job of engaging in hysterical hyperbole, so it’s hard to make sense of. But here’s the meat:

    And if you’re trying to avoid a con where I might be, you’ve just banned yourself from a good dozen–including pretty much the entire northeast, as well as Worldcon.

    Now there’s no context of Veronica suggesting that she is planning to boycott conventions Lisa will be at. There’s no real context at all, in terms of prior discussion in the thread. It’s an ugly, angry lash-out on Lisa’s part. Everybody hates me, nobody likes me, guess I’ll just eat worms.

    …and Veronica, I think, identified as such, calling it ‘this bizarre “everything there is my fault” thing you have going on in the first couple paragraphs.’ I don’t quite get why other people jumped on it as an implied threat to Veronica, several days after her own succinct assessment. Of course, I don’t know what was going into her inbox, or what rumors were floating in the ether connected or unconnected to Lisa.

    Part 2) Convention organizers who want to blackball you for talking about racism and sexism are idiots. A lot of people, even many with a bad case of foot-in-mouth at the moment, agree we need to keep talking so fandom and SFF can maybe, one day, live up to its ideals.

  44. Andrew,

    1) I can’t speak for other people, but I interpreted it as an implied threat because it looks like an implied threat. Clearly I’m not the only one who thought so. I get that people misspeak in the heat of the moment; I’ve done that myself, often. But when I say something that sounds like a threat, and several people tell me that’s how it sounds, I own up to it and apologize and try to clarify what I actually meant. Instead, this woman doubled down with more threat-ish language, further down the conversational thread:

    Since I don’t run program any more, I won’t be in the position to blackball anyone, nor would I. But this issue is under discussion on the SMOFs (convention-runner’s) list. And I can’t speak for them, some of whom are in that position. What I’m saying is that I help throw a big party (5 or 6 or 8 times a year) so that newbie authors can become big name authors one day. And it’s generally considered rude to curse at your host & her guests.

    What this sounds like to me: “I know Important People! You’re just some nobody! You need me! Piss me off and we won’t invite you to our party!”

    She probably didn’t mean it like that. But again, that’s how quite a few people interpreted it.

    2) I’d be surprised if there weren’t con organizers, etc., who want to blackball me, honestly. This discussion is not a logical thing; talking about bigotry is emotional, ego-threatening, gasket-blowing stuff, and no matter how calmly and rationally I say, “That thing you said was racist/sexist/just plain fucked up”, some people are going to hear “GRAAAAAA YOU HORRIBLE PERSON FUCK YOU FUCK YOU EAT SHIT AND DIIIIIIE!!!” And by those standards, at various times I have “insulted” lots of people who are probably friendly with some of the con organizers out there. I’ve been invited to two cons next year as a Guest of Honor (well, invited to more than that, but I’ve only accepted two; got no time for more), and I suspect this caused some degree of controversy in each case.

    But there’s no need to reassure me, or call my detractors idiots. I don’t care if they talk shit about me. I don’t care if they rescind guest invites, or don’t invite me at all, or invite me and dance the macarena when I show up. (…Actually, I would love it if people danced the macarena for me… but I digress.) Really, I don’t want to be at any con where these conversations haven’t taken place. That kind of con is likely to be highly unpleasant for me anyway, so let them talk it out, and hopefully come to some positive consensus before I get there. And if some big fish in a small pond wants to exclude me for the stuff I’ve said, good. Saves me a bad trip.

    What I do care about is that those conversations keep happening, and that positive action comes out of them so that the genre will get better, and so that then we can all stop talking about this shit. Because hooooly shit am I tired.

    ETA for clarity, because hoooooly shit was I tired.

  45. Maybe the racism that keeps you down(from winning awards and having it better then 90% of all people) is so deep rooted inside yourself that it makes you hate others so much for having felt slighted is only perceived by a insecure mind and has created its own hater.

    This is Psychology 101 encase you wasn’t aware of it.

    Racism does or can create Monsters. Maybe you have your own demons to contend with since you are so fixated.(another true statement that might apply and help you towards real freedom)

  46. Re: Facto. Who is this mansplaining dickhead and what is he doing in this s´discussion?

  47. @nkjemisin

    You are making big generalizations that are just as harmful and hateful as the issues you are fighting against. I know when you are passionate it can be hard not to.

    As far as what you call a threat. You’re being an ass. Do you expect someone to put their time and effort into you, and get their trusted business contacts to do the same after you have called them a racist rapist and then thrown all their and your fans under the bus with them?

    I wish you luck in your future ventures. Alienating and betraying your fan-base will be a hard thing to recover from if enough of them get wind of it.

  48. Martha,

    I’ve been getting a small bombardment of Stupid against my mod filters for the last few days. I’m letting the more coherent of them (yes, Facto makes more sense than most of what I’ve gotten) through so people can see exactly what kind of things are being said to me and to others who just want nearly everyone to have fun. Isn’t it interesting how calling for something so simple makes me a racist, a monster, and an ass?

  49. I think it is vitally important for implicit threats of the type Lisa made to be treated as actual threats, rather than rationalized based on an assumption of the author’s intent, at least until the author clarifies their meaning. While this may mean that someone who misspeaks is treated more harshly than their intent deserved, it’s been proven many, many times that dominant groups in our society will use implicit threats and roundabout means to exclude others from their spheres. This isn’t a court of law, and we don’t need to prove beyond reasonable doubt what Lisa’s intent was. What matters is that an environment in which implicit threats against people challenging the status quo can be made without being called out is an environment hostile to inclusion.

    I think as well that as fans we need to be more proactive in boycotting cons that turn a blind eye to harrassment, or blackball authors who bring up uncomfortable topics. It’s great that some people have the strength of character to refuse to attend a con in which people like them are marginalized or expected to behave a certain way, and it’s great that some authors have the ability and willingness to say “go ahead and blackball me!”, but nobody should have to choose between putting themselves in a situation in which they might be harrased and then ignored, or possibly seeing their career suffer for refusing to attend certain cons. Ultimately we will only eradicate that kind of choice if the people who aren’t at risk of being harrassed make it clear that they won’t support cons that facilitate that type of behaviour. It is most definitely not somebody else’s problem.

  50. So one person said something that might or might not have been intended as a threat of future blackballing, and was called on — meaning others will now be doubly on the lookout for any sign of blackballing. How is that “they’ve gone after some of the women who’ve complained about his behavior in the past. Some of the authors haven’t been invited to other cons as guests, some of the con staffers have been marginalized until they quit”?

  51. Nolly,

    That person said something that was intepreteted as a threat, whether she intended it or not, and implied that others she knew, with greater power, were threatening similar things. Please don’t downplay it; no author can afford to take something like that lightly, or to try and read the mind of the person saying it to see if she really meant it. And yeah, she got called on it — but I notice she didn’t retract it. Like I said, looked to me like she doubled down.

    But there have certainly been other incidents, most of which I can’t discuss because they’ve been communicated to me in confidence. Authors talk privately about this stuff, same as SMOFs, and I’ve been involved in both conventions and the writer-sphere long enough to have heard plenty. In our culture sexual harassment has been actively encouraged by conrunners, condoned and enabled especially when it comes from BNFs; how many authors or con staffers do you think would dare make a stink, or expect the stink to go unretaliated, in such an atmosphere? But if you want concrete examples, there’s the whole situation with Dragoncon, which people have been talking about quietly for years and recently blew up big. Several authors have complained of retaliation by the SMOFs involved with Dragoncon when they spoke against the con’s founder, who’s long been whispered to be a child molester. Among other things, there were public attempts to smear Nancy Collins as jealous and an anti-Semite when she complained.

    I bring up this incident because I couldn’t help thinking of it when I saw yesterday that Chicon has begun what I can only interpret as an attempt to smear Kate Kligman — who said she was marginalized until she quit. Again, that may not be how they intend for it to be interpreted, but that’s how it looks to me, as someone on the outside, and in the context of everything that’s happened.

  52. WOW! The more I follow this the CRAZIER this person gets. You can’t come on a public post and start slandering people calling them child molesters and shit with no proof just cause you have heard whispers. I hope he sues your ass to the point you can’t afford to do your next project.

    I get the feeling the only whispers you’re hearing are coming from your own head.

    And I’m sure the people who told you things in confidence are real happy you’re running your big mouth. When someone tells you a confidence you don’t start blabbing it to the world on the internet and leave out the name, well you do but apparently you’re trashy like that. By the end of this you may be fanless, friendless and penniless.

    Good Luck!

  53. Welp, that’s the end of that experiment. Apologies, sensible folk; I figured for a few days I would let the more coherent of my detractors through the mod filter so that everyone could see what kind of abuse I’ve been getting (which is nothing to the kind of abuse other people, who are more involved in this mess, have been getting). I suppose I should feel flattered.

    But there’s always a danger, when letting this kind of thing through, that it will stifle the people who are just trying to talk and not threaten or bluster or whatever, so I’m shutting these guys down now. Everyone else go on as you were.

  54. What’s been interesting about this whole thing — well, disheartening but also interesting — is that it seems clear we’re in a cultural shift with these conventions that I had mistakenly thought had occurred ten, twenty years ago, that we’re having to have the conversations now that I thought had already occurred, not the least of which because the government laws themselves have changed, which has a large impact on the legal responsibilities of people running an event like a convention — responsibilities that a lot of these con-running folk do not seem to be taking seriously, despite their importance to the cons’ operations. There seems to be a 1960′s/70′s ethos that many people are still clinging to — when Asimov used to grope young women, etc. — that really has no place in organizing and running conventions now and is having to give way to current reality and is doing the usual kicking and screaming about it. And again, I thought that had basically happened in, say, the late 1990′s, at least for sexual harassment issues if not race. But I guess that was overly optimistic of me.

    In any case, irrespective of the publicly witnessed groping and stalking that Walling did, which Massachusetts law could have arrested him for, the sheer fact that he, an organizer of cons, propositioned an author working the con, even if he wasn’t involved in running that particular one, is not only irresponsible but indicates an emotional control problem that would usually have friends wanting to get the man some help. Instead, a lot of them seem to be arguing that con organizers should act any way they want and state laws, the future of a con, etc., be hanged. And I guess that’s a painful part of the process. I’m glad the con committee at Readercon seems to have taken the situation seriously once it was known to them. I hope that continues.

  55. The threat-like statement, from a person who also said she has no power to carry it out, referred to the future. Your statement that I am questioning was a) plural and b) in the past tense. In my area, I know one author we don’t invite to our local anymore after we ejected him from the dealer’s room for selling the Paris Hilton video, but he’s welcome to come as an attendee still, if he were willing to buy a membership. That’s the extent of our “blackball” list.

    I don’t think anyone at Chicon is trying to smear Kate Kligman; I think those who were involved feel she is smearing them. I don’t know what harassment may or may not have occurred, but I heard from other sources, people involved in cleaning up the mess, well before that statement, that there was definitely failure to perform her duties. Maybe there was some of each; I don’t know, as I was not staff this year, and might not know even had I been — no one who was not directly involved can possibly know exactly what happened, and she said / they said is a fruitless game.

    But what were the Chicon people supposed to do? Let the accusation go unanswered? Submit, regardless of accuracy, and set a precedent where anyone can claim victimhood unquestioned? Maybe I’ve been burned by too many manipulative drama llamas (male and female), and it’s just made me wary. (For the record, I’ve only met Kate once, sort of, in a group setting, and have no idea what her personality is like; I am not assuming she is a manipulative drama llama, but I’m also not assuming she isn’t, having heard a far more heartfelt version of what Chicon posted from a young woman directly involved in the situation.)

    The smofslist tumblr is isn’t exactly reliable evidence of what conversations are actually happening; everything there is a) in violation of copyright, b) posted in violation of the community’s trust, and c) completely out of context — most importantly, what it was in response to and how it was responded to.

    A lot of things were actively supported and encouraged 50+ years ago which aren’t now; I don’t really see what that has to do with the present.

    I really have nothing to say about Cat Valente’s piece except to note that, unlike her phrasing (“Walling, who used his own “need” to apologize to Valentine as an excuse to follow, grab, and further stalk her”), there was no grabbing involved in the apology attempts; the attempt to apologize came after “you don’t touch me!”, and he did not touch her after that, as reported.

    Dragon*con is only loosely connected to the world of (mostly non-profit) fannish cons; I don’t know of any D*C folks on the SMoFs mailing list, though there may be one or two who are involved on some level in addition to working on more traditional cons — same for SDCC; there are a few SDCC staff on SMoFs, but only the ones who work on our other cons. I doubt most of the D*C folks identify as SMoFs, and I know most of the folks who do identify as SMoFs know little or nothing about D*C. Therefore, I know only what I’ve read, mostly recently, about the history of the founder with regard to abuse charges, and nothing about any retaliation that occurred. But that’s a different community, at the organizer level; the people making decisions there are not the people making decisions at Worldcon.

  56. Nolly, you seem very connected with the people involved in this — like you know them well enough to make decisions about them based on more than their words.

    I don’t know them. I’ve probably met a few of them but I don’t know them. All I know is that some of them run SFF cons — and I don’t know which ones, so if you say Dragoncon’s not one of those SFF cons, that’s nice to know, but it’s not exactly something the average outsider would (or should) assume. I have nothing to go on but words, and actions. And the people I know best in this are Genevieve and other authors and fans, and I know what’s said among us. I’m not planning to be more specific about which people I know who’ve suffered retaliation, because they’ve suffered retaliation, hello, and I’d rather be thought wrong than expose them to more crap. You seem willing to take other people’s unspoken motives on faith; I suppose you’ll have to do the same for mine.

    What are the people of Chicon* supposed to do? They can show that they’re taking Kate’s accusation seriously by not following the same script that occurs nearly every time a woman complains of harassment: the smear campaign that attempts to depict the woman as somehow deserving of or complicit in the harassment, or which simply attempts to gaslight her as crazy and a liar; that focuses more on defending the reputation of the company/harasser/co-workers of the harasser than showing any sort of compassion for the victim. It looks like a smear campaign because that’s always what it looks like when people malign the victim, or make bullshit excuses for the perpetrator, rather than doing something substantive. (Fathers are immune to being harassers? Seriously?) The people of Chicon could also try not assuming that anyone who complains of harassment is a “manipulative drama llama”, or even tossing around that kind of language — because holy fuck what woman would put herself through this hell without good reason?

    And most of all, Chicon should’ve thought about what message their response would send. Will women coming to future Chicons — or other Worldcons since outsiders don’t know they’re not the same, or SFF cons since apparently some SMOFs are involved in many of them — be reassured when they see Chicon following the Same Old Script in addressing a staffer’s harassment? Personally I’m thinking that if I go to a Worldcon and suffer harassment, I will not bother talking to the con staff; I will simply call the police. The police are at least bound by rules — and likely to adhere to them — and they are a neutral party. They have less reason to call me an incompetent crazy liar, defend the perpetrator because he’s a “nice guy” or has daughter!immunity, blame me for having somehow asked for it or been insufficiently forceful with my refusal, etc. The police will (probably) not put the interests of the convention before my safety. I distrust the police, but in this context I trust the people who wrote that statement even less.

    So they could’ve taken some cues from other cons/conrunners that have dealt with this well. They didn’t have to decide on Kate’s case immediately; they could’ve shown that they were taking the time to consider it in depth. They could’ve brought in a neutral mediator, if they felt it was a “she said/they said” situation. Their statement could’ve publicly asked observers to refrain from making personal attacks on Kate or the harasser. And in the meantime they could’ve understood that for every publicly-made accusation of harassment, there are others that haven’t been reported, and even one means that they have a problem. So then they could’ve used this as an opportunity to talk about what they’ll do to improve, going forward. Support the Backup Project. Train their security in how to respond to harassment (and also accessiblity issues and other things that were apparently a problem at this year’s Worldcon). Strengthen their Code of Conduct wrt harassment. There are all kinds of things they could’ve done.

    Instead they called her a liar and washed their hands of it. Which doesn’t actually fix anything, and instead makes a lot of things worse. You’ll forgive me for being unimpressed.

    * Look. I know that not all of SMOFdom thinks this way. I’ve been involved with Readercon’s concom, though it didn’t go well; I worked for Wiscon for awhile (that went better); I’ve started and run conventions, albeit not in the SFF sphere (Shoujocon, which alas did not survive once my regime ended). I’ve seen the efforts of people like Rose Fox and Farah Mendlesohn to try and change things from within, for the better. (I have no idea if they count as “SMOF”s and I don’t care.) I know that it takes an eclectic group to get these things off the ground; I suspect that it’s a relative few very vocal assholes perpetuating this image of utter tone-deafness, 1950s morality, and hostility to women/PoC/other marginalized groups. But if I’m pissed off and seeing “This con throws women under the bus” messages, what do you think other women, who aren’t authors or former con staffers, who don’t have positive experiences to go on or a nice loud public voice, are thinking as they follow this mess? As they see Chicon pull a Clarence Thomas? As they see conversation about positive change drowned out by nitpickers and apologists who are so invested in protecting the status quo that it seems as if they want to return to 50 years ago?

  57. Since Dragoncon & Worldcon had shared programming this year, and once served as a NASFiC, Nolly’s attempts to try and separate Dragoncon from “real” SFF cons strikes me as hair-splitting.

    Like it or not, Ed Kramer was, indeed, a SMOF. And still seeing 6 figure pay days from Dragoncon.

    http://www.atlantamagazine.com/features/story.aspx?ID=1764014

    The sad fact of the matter is that organized fandom has a long, sordid history of turning a blind eye, if not actively coming to the defense of the sexual predators in its ranks, whether they be fans or pros. Walter Breen, anyone?

    http://www.sff.net/people/stephen.goldin/mzb/timeline.html

  58. Let’s face it, when you still have to game under a ‘masculine’ name for fear of the flood of online harassment that comes your way when SOME of (and that’s an important distinction!) your fellow gamers realise you’re female (ditto for Xbox co-op play, claiming your mic is broken so they can’t hear your voice!)then it’s obvious all is not as equal in the geek/nerd world as we’d like to believe. But keeping quiet about it is not an option – otherwise things will never change. ‘How can we keep things the same’ is not an option, nor should we let it be.

  59. Even if we give Chicon the benefit of the doubt, and take it as true that Kate Kligman wasn’t performing up to their standards, they still have some problems.

    First, while performance may be relevant to their reasons for letting her go, it is totally irrelevant to their dealing with a report of harrasment. A person doesn’t deserve to be able to work, live, and volunteer in spaces in which harrasment isn’t tolerated and reports of it are taken seriously because they are a good worker or likeable or contribute, they deserve that because they are a person. Period.

    Second, if someone is performing poorly, and also reports that they are being harrased, the decent thing to do would be to fix the harrassment, then give that person a chance to work in a harrassment-free environment. Maybe, just maybe, people work better when they’re not being marginalized, victimized, and ignored.

  60. I haven’t yet read the other comments but I shall get to them. But I wanted to speak my own thoughts on the initial post. :)

    I have heard Heinlein glorified for years. I knew that he had serious issues with sexism, as I have heard his work criticized on that score for many years. I never got around to reading his work because, however much he did for the genre, I don’t care to read something that is going to put my blood pressure up.

    It may be that I’ve just totally missed it but I haven’t seen Heinlein’s racism discussed nearly as much. Reading the letters in the post that you linked, I had no fucking idea that he was that much of a racist, considering that the vibe I have gotten from so many SFF people is that he is the Progressive Grandfather of the SF Genre. Which… I had a problem with just based on the sexism, but dear goddess.

    So, thank you for posting this and bringing it to attention, because I at least have not seen it pointed out like this before.

  61. “Like it or not, Ed Kramer was, indeed, a SMOF. And still seeing 6 figure pay days from Dragoncon.”

    These sentences are a perfect example of why I say D*C is an very different sort of thing. No one is getting paid for running Worldcon. No one is getting paid for running any traditional fannish con. “SMoFs” don’t get paid. We’re volunteers. Everyone from the first-time gopher up to the chair is doing it because we love SF/F and the community of people who love SF/F. Some folks have other motives, too — I’m not claiming everyone’s a perfect idealist! — but without that love at the core, who’s going to put in the time and energy to make these things happen?

    The joint programming was a marketing effort, to try to reach some of the D*C folks who would be interested in Worldcon-style cons / programming if they knew more about it.

    I’m not sure how “outsiders” view of fandom is relevant; aren’t we mainly talking about fans, authors, artists, and other members of the SF/F community here? Conflating the two is a bit like attributing something Jesse Helms said to Bernie Sanders, then saying “Well, they’re both politicians, and I just live here; why should I pay attention to who’s running the place?”

    I know some of the people involved, not all; more are friends-of-friends. I’ve been reading a lot of what’s been said in a lot of places, and been in several offline conversations, particularly among the “younger” conrunners at Chicon. (“Younger” in quotes as there’s no hard age limit on who chooses to be part of that group / community / conversation.)

    For the record, “manipulative drama llama” is my phrase, no one else’s, and I had no staff or other role in Chicon other than as an attendee. By this phrase, I mean women such as my college classmate who regularly pulled stunts like going into hysterics and refusing to eat unless told to by one specific guy — who did not go to our school, wasn’t even in state, and was not available by phone. The result was that every guy in our social circle was fawning all over her, trying to cajole her into eating, giving her their undivided attention, and she was eating it up. And she’s far from the only woman like that I’ve known. So pardon me for being burned a few too many times to always believe every accusation a woman makes against folks I know as fine upstanding people, just because she’s a woman, and some of them aren’t.

    Maybe I’ve missed it, but is there any evidence that the complaint that was allegedly dismissed was even lodged? Is there anything other than one person saying “They fired me because I complained” and those accused of said dismissal saying “No, you were fired for incompetence; please stop making us the bad guys.” If there’s not some evidence one way or the other, we’ve just got to decide based on who we trust. And for those who’ve decided they don’t trust the Chicon committee, I doubt anything I say can change your mind entirely, but maybe someone can see that there’s more than one story here, not a straightforward narrative.

  62. Nolly: “No one is getting paid for running Worldcon. No one is getting paid for running any traditional fannish con. “SMoFs” don’t get paid. We’re volunteers.”

    That actually makes it worse. There’s no oversight on volunteers. A lot of the legal requirements placed on for profit businesses regarding discrimination, sexual harassment and other laws are not placed on volunteer operated, non-profit events to run those events. But other laws are, and saying we’re just volunteers is not going to protect cons from irresponsible and unprofessional behavior by the con-runners. The point of the Kramer story is not that he’s a pedophile or that DragonCon is a pro shop. It’s that SMOF’s went after people who spoke out against him and what he was doing and tried to ignore everything they said as hysterical attention-getting and lies. And it damaged DragonCon and embroiled them in lawsuits, and that can happen to a non-profit con as well.

    Rene Walling publicly harassed and groped Valentine in front of numerous witnesses at Readercon and my understanding is that Kligman has some evidence too. Readercon very publicly at first violated their own stated policy in Walling’s case, which caused them damage. And Walling was allowed to volunteer at ChiCon and when bartending at a private party there, was publicly seen to be harassing young women who were trying to get beverages from him. This is a pattern of ignoring troubled and dangerous behavior by con runners which could really impact the future of cons. But hey, you knew someone in college who had emotional problems, so let’s pretend the problem isn’t there. That’s not going to work, volunteers or no. If you truly do love the fandom community, you shouldn’t want it to work that way.

    I don’t know if Kligman got “fired” from her non-paid volunteer position for just cause or not. But the timing of it is damn suspicious, given that Walling was allowed to work ChiCon and continued to harass women, and that causes damage. Even if she’s mistaken as to the motivations of those who booted her, that doesn’t make her a liar about the harassment she had from Walling. A lot of the remarks that we’ve been hearing from SMOF’s on the Net are essentially that we should all put up with sexual harassment, that female authors and con attendees should shut up and are big fat liars or babies who should not annoy con runners, and generally that the people who make up the fandom community are not nearly as important as those who run the cons. Which has been rather shocking and dismaying for a lot of folks. These are supposed to be fun events for which people, including authors, pay. To which people bring their kids often. If con-runners will continue to ignore problems that ruin the fun and slander those who complain about the problems, then people are going to stop coming and cops may get called in. This is not somebody else’s problem. This is yours, since you all took on the job, and if you can’t handle it professionally, if people can’t trust the runners, then you are likely to be replaced, on liability issues alone, or seal the con’s death altogether. Sexual harassment cannot be swept under the rug with oh, she’s just crazy. And there are going to be not fun consequences for everyone if you keep trying it. I’m sorry, but I just do not understand these SMOF attitudes in this day and age.

  63. Heinlein was a… weirdo. He seemed to be ok with incest.

    I’m not sure he was a full blown racist in his fiction (granted, I haven’t read Farnham’s freehold). That said, Starship Troopers had a Philippino protagonist (how many white authors can claim the same even today?). The same book had women as commanding officers in the fleet – years before it became mainstream. Thanks to Starship Troopers he was accused of a being a fascist – but Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is, next to 1984, is probably the most antigovernment SciFi book of the 20th century I’ve read. Made me question the modern democracy as supposedly the best political system for the first time in life.

    Even though he was clearly a patriot and served in the US Navy during the war, he was publicly against the conscription (i.e. the army of slaves).

    Finally, was a believer in self-sufficiency and self-defense. In the world of “Moon..”, butt-pinching perverts would not have been tolerated (probably shot on the spot or something). Problem solved ;)

  64. Natalie,

    Yeah, trust me, he was a full-blown racist (whatever the fuck that means) in his fiction. It’s visible in more of his work than FF, though that’s where it’s most indisputable, IMO. (And, of course, in his letters.) And I”m really not interested in discussing Heinlein’s various bigotries again, or hearing them justified.

  65. I believe you. I guess I’m lucky I haven’t come across more egregious examples. And I don’t try to justify anything, I just happen to agree with some of the ideas in his books. No excuses for bigotry, of course.

    I did feel his female characters were often cartoonish and served mostly as love interests for the heroes. It really cracked me up when in Tunnel in the Sky all seventeen-year old girls wanted to get married and have babies – in the middle of the wilderness, no less. I know the book was published in the Eisenhower era, but really, even the 1950s housewives should have had more sense than that.

Dreamblood Book One:

The Killing Moon

The Killing Moon

Read Sample Chapter 1


September 2012
S M T W T F S
« Aug   Oct »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Categories