Monday, February 17, 2014

A Rant on the Latest SFF Drama

by Kathy F.

Misogyny is alive and thriving at publishing house Macmillan if this science fiction forum post from their Associate Director of Contracts Sean P. Fodera is any indication.  His sexist, childish rant about one of our favorite authors, Mary Robinette Kowal surfaced this weekend thanks to the Daily Dot and The Bulletin Petition and I was almost speechless.

I say almost speechless because, really, the only word that accurately encapsulated all of my thoughts and feelings was...


What the hell? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!?

Fodera targeted Mary Robinette Kowal, a freaking HUGO-award winning author, for daring to wear dresses and pose for photographs. THE HORROR! The associate director, under his own name on a public forum, goes on to refer to her as an "unperson," not even worth talking about.

This sort of statement from a leader in the publishing industry is unacceptable.  I can usually separate a person's work from their personal opinions. That is, unless they do their very best to ensure that everyone knows how much they despise half the population or homosexuals or anyone who isn't a straight white male. Then you join the ranks of Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson to me - it's practically impossible to watch any of their movies without seeing Tom jumping on Oprah's couch or Mel being a racist douchebag. And now Fodera is right there with them.

The underlying source of the vitriol is Kowal's and others fight against "this whole anti-sexism matter." As surprising as it must be to Fodera and his compadres, women generally don't appreciate being treated as second-class citizens, derision of their work based solely on their gender, and considering their worth in the industry equated to how they look in a bikini. Especially when their profession is not bikini model. No one should attend a con and experience threats, harassment, or assault. The science fiction and fantasy community has heard the calls for change. Those once marginalized are no longer asking for a place to belong, they demand it.

You know, it kind of reminds me of all of the men who complain about being harassed when they go to Romantic Times or Romance Writers of America events, because traditionally the Romance community has been the property of womenfolk.

Oh wait, no, no THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN.

Now, I'm not saying that no woman has ever harassed a man or that 100% of the participants are welcoming to everyone. However, over and over I hear that male authors/attendees who attended RT had a fantastic time and were welcomed by the community.

Why can't we have that in the science fiction and fantasy community, too?

I have to think, have to believe that things are changing, though, and that is the reason for outbursts like Fodera's. If things were going their way, there would be more smug self-congratulating and less petulant hand-wringing.  And with news like WOMEN DESTROY SCIENCE FICTON being over 1000% funded on Kickstarter, it looks like things definitely aren't going well for industry sexists.

Feel free to add your thoughts, swears, or awesome things that showcase the richly diverse community that SFF could become.

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