Not that the intrawebs need another post on the SFWA kerfuffle…

So, there’s been a lot of drama going down regarding the SFWA Bulletin put out by, you guessed it, SFWA. Due to other obligations over the last few days, I haven’t had time to organize my thoughts on the matter until now, and at this point, I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said more eloquently by others. If you know me well enough, then you can pretty much guess where I stand on the matter. If you don’t know me so well, if at all, then let me try to put it as succinctly as I can.

When it came to the SFWA Bulletin’s fetishistic cover art with the woman in the highly impractical chainmail bikini, I merely rolled my eyes and thought, “Really? Still this?” But then it got worse. I’m seriously bothered by how often women’s accomplishments are conflated with their looks, especially when said conflation happens in a publication that serves as one public face of a professional organization to which I belong. And when that publication–which my dues help to fund–then allows the people responsible for such conflations to meet criticism with an ill-informed, straw man-wielding rebuttal, I go from seriously bothered to seriously aggravated.

To add to my exasperation, in between all of the above we got the Bulletin article where the improbably proportioned Barbie was extolled as a good role model for girls because “she maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should.” Look, dignity is a good thing, but I don’t see any reason why women have to be quiet about maintaining it. That, and the only reason Barbie’s quiet is because she’s made of plastic.*

I am not going to deny people their right to spout off all manner of ridiculous crap, and they have all manner of venues in which to do so, especially on the internet. However, 1) other people have just as much right to call them out on their ridiculous crap, and 2) the publication of a professional organization should not serve as a megaphone for speech that disrespects a large portion of the organization’s membership.

When my SFWA membership comes up for renewal in the fall, I will very likely renew it. The advocacy work that SFWA does on behalf of authors is the main reason I joined, and I’d hate to lose that because of the issues concerning the Bulletin. More importantly, there are people actively working to address these recent problems, so I’m hopeful that some positive change will come out of this. Still, I totally understand and respect why some other people have chosen not to renew their SFWA membership after this whole kerfluffle.

And now that I’ve written far more about this than I was planning to, it’s time for me to call it a blogging night and go get some fiction accomplished.

*Also, anyone who thinks Barbie represents “quiet dignity” never encountered a kid who played with Barbies the way I did. My Barbie dolls were usually helping my He-Man figures fight monsters. I also had a Western Barbie whose head broke, so when you pushed the button that was supposed to make her wink, instead her head would rotate all the way around, Exorcist style. That, of course, led to me putting my Barbie dolls into many a horror movie-style scenario. Pretending your Barbie doll is possessed by an evil demon? Not so much with the quiet dignity.

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In which I explain how opera snobs don’t want your filthy uneducated ears listening to their music

Opera is among the musical genres I enjoy, both as an audience member and as a singer. Opera is not to everyone’s taste, of course, but that can be said of any musical genre. Rap is not to everyone’s taste. Nor is country. Nor polka. The list is quite long.

There’s an unfortunately common perception that all opera fans are elitist snobs, but really, we’re not. Some are, true–no one musical genre has a monopoly on dickish fans. But most of us don’t look down at our noses at all other musical genres. In fact, a good many of us listen to other types of music as well. Here, to keep a running list of what’s been playing on my computer as I write this entry: Vienna Teng. Loreena McKennitt. Lisa Gerrard. Garbage. U2. Amy Winehouse. Elvis Costello. Dar Williams. All not opera.

(That said, I do think some people write off opera without giving it a fair chance. For those who think it’s nothing but fat people singing, I suggest you look at this little clip of operatic beefcake. Even if you don’t find the music impressive, the abs on those guys most certainly are.)

Now, the rant: yesterday I came across an opera-related blog post, and one of the comments on the post accused folks in the opera world of purposely keeping the art form dependent on private donors and grants in order to keep uneducated lowbrow undesirables from listening.

Cue me falling out of my chair in a fit of hysterical laughter.

[sarcasm font on]

Yes, as an opera lover and someone who has spent most of the last decade working in fundraising for performing arts organizations–four of those years at an opera company–I can assure you that it is true: we love begging for money and remaining dependent on the whims of people with deep pockets. Especially the cranky eccentric ones who might stop donating if we take an artistic risk or do a production they dislike. We certainly don’t want to increase revenue from ticket sales; that would bring in the riffraff.

And the grants. As a grant writer, my job description has always specifically stated that I am responsible for securing grants so that we can keep the undesirables out of the seats. I’ve certainly never spent time writing proposals asking for money to fund the education department’s efforts to provide curriculum-based arts enrichment programming to inner-city students whose cash-strapped schools have cut all of their arts teachers and activities. We certainly wouldn’t ask for funding to help bring those kids to see a performance. They might enjoy it and want to come back. We can’t have that.

I’ve also never had to write proposals for marketing initiatives specifically aimed at attracting new and diverse audiences. No partnering with other non-profits for community outreach activities that will be free and open to the public. No radio or television broadcasts. No movie theater simulcasts. No ticket discounts of any kind. In fact, we should probably cut the advertising budget next fiscal year. The elitist insiders know where to go.

And it’s especially fun depending on government grants. Because it’s not like government arts funding sources are ever in danger of being cut.

[sarcasm font off]

On that note, I leave you with an example of how the Opera Company of Philadelphia is trying to keep away the rabble:

The FUBAR is strong with this one

2011 and I do not seem to have gotten off on the right foot.  These last two days have been rather strong with the FUBAR side of the Force, but it’s all stupid trivial crap which has the added annoyance of making me feel bad for wanting to complain because it’s, well, stupid trivial crap.

Trying to look to the positive: this week will likely continue to be all manner of FUBAR, but next week I’ll be a part-time, working-from-home gal again.  Hopefully that will mean some time to start a new short story.  My silly poll for which idea I should tackle next ended in a tie between the My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel prequel and the town where dying is forbidden.  That means my muse, Jim Bob, has the tie-breaking vote.  He just glanced at his tool belt, belched, and told me we’ve got the tools and materials already set out for the MBFEFN story, so we should work on that.  And then he belched again.