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.