Monday, June 3, 2013

Genre Girl Cooties, Part One Billion: Bitches Get Stuff Done

If you're a woman, non-gender binary, or genderqueer person writer or reader of speculative fiction, then I have your back.

Because seriously, fuck this noise. Again. Don't like my un-ladylike language? Fuck that noise too.

The SFWA, the union I would like to join once I am eligible, has a member's magazine that has been used by a couple of Old Loud White Dudes as a platform to shit on the "ladies" (their term, and loaded with insinuation) of our genre. Not only that, over the last few issues there has been cover art featuring scantily clad fantasy ladies. Some people tried to raise concerns and counter these OLWD, but the pot boiled over this last week when the women and their allies had had enough.

For a concise round up what's being said, Jim C. Hines has a list here. I was rather shocked and pleased to see a tweet I made in the list - to the effect that this isn't a union I'd be comfortable joining if this is a reflection of it's members behaviour.

Thankfully there has been some amazing conversation around this issue, and I have been reminded of the hard work that many people are doing within SFWA to make it place welcome to all genre writers, and that I do have a place in it. Especially Rachel Swirsky and Jaym Gates have had plenty of good things to say, reminding me of what goes on quietly in the background on SFWA committees when OLWD are so busy centering the conversation on them. Oh Woe! It's not like the Golden Age any more! What is all this strange genitalia that I'm not allowed to grab or mock, or ideas I can't scorn!

Hell, it's time to Shut Up and Sit Down OLWD. Even your president says so.

There are a lot of angry women in the genre out there. They've had enough. This piles on time and time and time again, we're sick of being told to eat it, to save our careers, to be "nice". And I'm angry that so many great writers are being abused, harassed, and pigeon-holed.

I'm with the likes of Ann Aguirre:
I’m still writing. You cannot shut me up. I will NOT SIT DOWN. I will not stand quietly by anymore. I am a woman. I write SF. And it’s not acceptable to treat me as anything less than an equal. I won’t stand for it. And I won’t get your fucking coffee.
And if you want a perfect example of "the comments on an article about feminism justify feminism" just look at the anonymous emails Ann's received. Yeah OLWD, you accuse us of being anonymous - ignoring the historic necessity of anonymity for the safety of some people - when it's your nasty little lackies that are hiding behind anonymity with threats and abuse. To quote one of the queens of our genre: "Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them." Think I'm exaggerating, OLWDs? Just go ask any genre writer who exists outside the privileged white male paradigm about rape and abuse threats.

The inability to delineate the difference between censorship, threats, and abuse and cultural critique is a huge point in this argument. Kameron Hurley has written a brilliant piece (as always) in "Let's Chat about Censorship and Bullying":
People get angry. Nobody has to agree with you anymore. Nobody is afraid of you anymore. I know this may come as a massive shock to folks used to a position of power, insulated by groups of people who are happy to stroke their egos and soothe their souls. Truth be told, many of these people don’t even *feel* like they’re in power. I know I never do. But it’s time to face the fact that people disagree with you, and that’s their right.
Just as brilliant, here's the rant-tastic Foz Meadows in "Old Men Yelling At Clouds" (I do so love when she gets going!):
Old men yelling at clouds. That’s all this is. Bitter old sexist, racist morons yelling at clouds and ranting about the good old days in the 60s and 70s, back when women and minorities experienced even more discrimination than they do now and had the good grace to be silent about it, all while issuing dire warnings about how, if we fascist liberals get our way, then Andrea Dworkin will be ruling our sex lives from her vagina-shaped throne adopt the smouldering ruins of democracy, burning copies of Conan the Barbarian to feed the massive coal-electric furnaces that power her mighty Dildoswords. 
Andrea Dworkin Dildosword is the name of my next goth band, I swear.

I know I've been lucky. I haven't received much push back about my work. What I have wasn't even that egregious, just silly and uninformed. But I know it's not a matter of if I'll be on the receiving end of sexism within the genre, it will be when. I know that writing feminist genre will gain me a lot of hate. I know that simply writing female characters will probably have me dubbed me chick-lit - it's not, and though that's not my chosen genre I refuse to allow that title to be used as a pejorative.

But thanks to a lot of amazing people, I'm going to be ready. I've been an observer of too many genderfails, too many cooties thrown around. I know who I can turn to, even though I'm not a member of SFWA yet. I have a lot of people who believe in what I write. And even if it's not your cup of tea, I damn sure expect you to respect it. I damn sure do the same for you...except, of course, if you use your genre as a platform to shit on anyone who's not OLWD.

With every genderfail, the message gets louder and clearer: It's okay to be loud and angry. It's okay to talk about bad experiences. It's okay to call someone on their bad behaviour. Speak out. And if you can't, if anonymity for your safety is a prerequisite, then we'll speak for you. Because dammit....I have your back.
Bitches Get Stuff Done

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