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Feminist anger - And Ye Shall Know Us By Our Trail of Web

About Feminist anger

Previous Entry Feminist anger Jun. 2nd, 2010 @ 03:03 pm Next Entry
"We would gladly have listened to her (they said) if only she had spoken like a lady. But they are liars, and the truth is not in them." - Joanna Russ, in The Female Man, 1986

"Lady militants are always like Joanna, hitting you with their umbrella, smashing your bottle of whisky — because if they are not, WE WILL NOT LISTEN." - Phillip K. Dick, 1974

(quotes via the great book by Helen Merrick, The Secret Feminist Cabal, which I am reading at the moment)

girliejones and cassiphone, among others, have been getting criticised this week for comments made about the Before They Were Giants anthology, a reprint anthology notably lacking in women. The argument has been roughly that because the anthology selection wasn't a deliberate act of misogyny (and indeed, the editor James Sutter has been quite reasonable and apologetic in his response) that the complains should have been made far more politely — that they should have been made directly, not publicly, been made only in a most mild and reasonable way that no one could possibly be offended by, in short, that perhaps they were right, but they shouldn't have said it, or at least not loudly enough that people heard.

And we are still having this conversation in the SF field after at least 35 years. If just politely helping people become aware of the issue worked, we wouldn't still be talking about it. And yet, it keeps happening, again and again. People are still putting together anthologies without even thinking about gender as an issue — and the only way to make them think about the issue is to make sure it isn't thought of as just a nicety, just another thing to try and improve that fellow editors will give you hints about (like font choice, or cover layout), but rather as something that is a major mistake if you get it wrong, something that will attract not mild criticism but anger. Anger is entirely appropriate. No one should expect not to get publicly called on their big mistakes, rather we should all endeavour not to make them, and learn to handle them gracefully when we do (as, to his credit, Sutter largely has).

While this is a post about a controversy in the SF world, of course I can't make a post about how to handle sexism this week without people thinking about EFA and the controversy over its handling of sexism allegations. Certainly some of the issues are the same. I know I want to respond as an individual, because the board/chair response does not represent the opinions of this individual board member at all, and I'm thinking about how best to do that (and I don't think this journal is the place for a public comment on that issue). But I do want to say that I have enormous love for alexmoon right now, and I'm personally terribly apologetic for the way the organisation has disappointed her, and so many others, this week. More on this later.

I would appreciate it if no one smashes my bottle of whisky this week, though. It's cold, and I have a cold, and it has been rather a difficult week, and I've been finding a little Talisker in the evenings makes it a little more bearable. girliejones, cassiphone, alexmoon? Sláinte!
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Date:June 2nd, 2010 07:51 am (UTC)
Cheers, for this, Dave. Much appreciated.
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Date:June 2nd, 2010 08:54 am (UTC)
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Date:June 2nd, 2010 08:03 am (UTC)
Thankyou. And yes, exactly. I am by nature a non-confrontational passive sort of person, and what happens is people smile and nod and think I'm nice...and completely ignore my complaints. Or they listen, but nobody else notices the discussion so I have to go through it all again later. Grr. So I have every respect for those speaking up in a more outspoken and confrontational way (and not just about gender)
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Date:June 2nd, 2010 08:12 am (UTC)
Nice. I like what Phillip K Dick said. Re: the EFA thing, my first skim look at the controversy (not the marketing campaign which I have failed to see), made me thing it was some kind of "your mum" joke that they were riffing off.
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Date:June 2nd, 2010 10:32 am (UTC)
That is a brilliant quote by Dick.
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Date:June 2nd, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
Well said. Good luck with EFA stuff. Awesome quote by Phillip K. Dick.

I'm glad that you're aware, and that you care. I'm glad that you're in a position to speak and be heard where so many of us women are not right now re the EFA stuff. I may hate that your words are more powerful than mine in this context, but I am also grateful - particularly if it results in some sort of change for the better. Certainly I can only help. And provide support as needed if it would be helpful.
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Date:June 4th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
Haven't read any more on this than your post, but am already getting strong "racefail do-over" vibes. You might need to save me a large-sized belt of that Talisker. (Shouldn't your length marks go the other way, while you're drinking that, btw?)
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Date:June 4th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC)
I think this one won't be racefail, we've had this particular argument before (and will again). No big names seem inclined to jump in and comment. It's a teacup storm.

Yes, I inadvertently used the length marks for the Irish pronounciation not the Scottish. Then again, I'm fairly sure I couldn't reliably tell the difference when spoken either, being a clueless foreigner.
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