Can We Talk?


I’ve been churning the idea for this post around in my head for awhile. Largely I’ve held back because of the “who am I?” factor, something that I very rarely use as a reason to not post. But the answer to who am I is that I am a fan and writer of science fiction, someone who enjoys going to conference, and someone who is sick and tired of seeing blog post after blog post complaining about sexual harassment in SFWA and a cons.

There are many many cons that come and go without any sexual harassment complaints. Many of these likely didn’t have any instances that should have been complained about. But we don’t see those. We see the small minority of cons at which something major happens and it gets talked about all over the internet. Yesterday Scalzi had a post up about his insistence that cons have sexual harassment policies going forward. Mary Robinette Kowal is calling on the “Twelve Rabid Weasels” of SFWA to leave the organization. One of the major outcomes of WisCon were multiple posts about an instance of sexual harassment. These are just the examples from the last two weeks, because I don’t want to create a litany of links.

I don’t want to see these posts anymore.

Let me be very clear with this wording. I don’t want to see these posts anymore. However, I want people to keep writing them. Keep spreading the word. Keep the shame up. I want every post that needs to be posted about the problems of sexual harassment within the genre community to go up and go viral. I don’t want to see them anymore because I don’t want them to be necessary anymore.

Seriously, people.

I’ve seen the arguments about men who grew up in different ages. That it’s how business used to get done. An ugly past is no excuse for an ugly present, because it creates a precedent that an ugly present will be an excuse for an ugly future. The necessary and only course of action is going to be intolerance. Intolerance of harassment. Intolerance of exclusion. Intolerance of intolerance. There are times that intolerance is the only right and just way forward, but only when applied to the ugly parts of ourselves and the societies that we choose to belong to. Whether that society is the United States, the broad genre fandom community, or SFWA.

I don’t want these voices silenced, however. I want them to speak, loudly and clearly. As Mary Kowal says in her call for these individuals to remove themselves from the SFWA community:

Please quit noisily and complaining about how SFWA is censoring you for asking you to stop using hate speech. Please quit and complain about the “thoughtcrime” of asking people not to sexually harass someone.  Please quit and bellyache about the good old days when people could be bigoted jerks. I want you to express your opinions clearly so that everyone knows them and knows that you are quitting because the other members of SFWA want you to Shut the Fuck up.

Yes. Please. Make it very clear who you are, and what your motivations are. Let people know that you feel excluded from the community because the community has tired of your shit. Let them know that you are refusing to attend cons with harassment policies because you feel you can’t enjoy a con without participating in harassment. Let everyone and anyone know.

I stand with Scalzi. His insistence on cons having sexual harassment policies is sound, and honorable. I stand with that notion. But who am I? I’m one voice in a crowd, but it’s only by raising our voices that a crowd can be heard over the cries of individuals. I think that a vast majority of the genre community is sick of this shit, sick of the fact that harassment policies are necessary, sick of the posts that go up bringing to light another instance. If you’re as sick of it as I am, make Scalzi’s policy yours. I’m making it mine.  Let the cons you attend know you’re making that stand. Ensure that conventions are a safe place for all in attendance. They need to be. They deserve to be.

And, guys, this isn’t just about policies and stances. This is about not being dicks. It’s on every single person who is part of a society to remember that. Be good to each other. It’s really not that hard to do.

Alright, deep breath. This was one of my preachy posts, and I’m aware of that. Back to fluff and nonsense next time, I promise. If you’d prefer me complaining about a crappy movie, head over to Unleaded. Which I’m apparently the sole blogger on right now.

Edited after a few deep breaths: I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile, but I wrote it in a pique. Which isn’t to say that I don’t stand by every word of it, but perhaps a few words of where I’m coming from. I’m a father now. A father of a little girl. Having this little baby girl has forced me to see just what a world we’re building for our daughters. And our sons. And ourselves, god damn it. We’re not done with this world, we shouldn’t have to hope things won’t get better for us, too. The behaviors that some people think are okay in any company just infuriate me. I was never blind to it, but my eyes are open now even wider than before.

I hope my daughter gets into science fiction and fantasy. With her mother and I as influences, the only way she won’t is an act of open rebellion against the genre. Her bookshelves are already filling up with Cat Valente books as fast as she can write and publish them. So when I see posts about women being harassed at conventions, when I read about women being belittled by an extremely vocal minority within SFWA…I see my little girl. I know I can’t always protect her, and I don’t expect to be able to keep her in a bubble where nothing bad or nasty will ever happen to her. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hope that the world gets better for her. That she can be part of this community as she grows, and feel like she’s a full member of it. I don’t think this in an unachievable goal.

Alright, I’m going to start to babble. Or get sappy. Or maybe I’ve already done both. My thesis remains. Be better to each other. And don’t accept that the world can’t be better. And keep writing those posts when they have to be written. Because they do have to be written. Maybe one day they won’t. And I look forward to that day.

Edited almost immediately once again: I said voices combined make crowds. Scalzi now has a post where you can co-sign his convention harassment policy policy. Go make this a louder noise.

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