Well, I know it makes me naive and ignores a lot of fandom’s history, but damn if I don’t want it to be a haven. Science fiction and fantasy espouses some of what is best in humanity, and so I always hope that the people who love it will continue to espouse acceptance, love, and hope as well.
And so I made the best of the puppies.
And I forgave people who were internet jerks.
And people just keep giving me more and more strife.
Probably you’ve heard by now that there’s another dumpster fire in science fiction fandom. I wish this were less surprising.
TL;DR – Nothing that has come to light is great. I’m going to work to make it better. Here’s a plan, albeit limited by time, space and assistance.
I turned off my phone to sleep, and I woke up to news that the WorldCon 76 team had:
- Changed a person’s gender neutral pronoun bio to using the wrong pronouns
- Not put new Hugo finalists, largely persons of color and younger authors onto panels
- Sent dress codes to some individuals but not others “asking” that they dress professionally
Because, hey, it’s 2018 and why not?
I get it.
Conference running is really tough. Like on a scale of 1-10, probably an 8 or 9. I know; I’ve helped host thousands of people for academic events. Even in a place where you’re not coordinating dozens of panels and participants on top of booths, celebrities, vendors, and guests, you’re doing a lot of work.
But that doesn’t excuse shitty behavior
So, let’s talk about this.
Shitty thing #1 – Screwing with bios and using personal pictures on programming
Well, this is easily one of the things that makes me the most mad. Program creators requested bios and photos from authors and other hugo-nominees and panel participants. +1 for having people explain themselves. Except they didn’t.
Bios were edited, including switching someone’s gender pronouns.
People’s professional pictures were skipped and personal facebook pictures (listed on private accounts) were used instead.
I cannot even fathom why this was considered ok.
Guess what, if you ask for a bio, as long as it isn’t wildly unprofessional or lewd, you should stick with that bio. In particular, you should NEVER change someone’s own pronouns. If someone tells you their pronouns, you accept those pronouns and move on. You aren’t the arbiter of pronouns and I promise you don’t know someone’s gender better than that person knows their own.
I would very much appreciate a public apology from @worldcon2018 for rewriting my bio to change my name and my gender.
I have never, ever used “he” pronouns.
After many similar exclusionary actions, this is the last straw, I am honestly not sure I can safely attend. pic.twitter.com/agazsY1rmV
— Bogi Takács PERSON, 100% migráncs (@bogiperson) July 23, 2018
Using someone’s personal photos rather than a supplied professional one is a weird and invasive combination of ignoring privacy and not presenting your organization professionally. Just…What?
Shitty Thing #2 – Dress Codes
Rather than going on and on about this. I’ll just say, sending dress codes to some but not others isn’t ok. Hugo award nominees have enough on their plates, if a sparkly unicorn dress is their preference, it’s their damn night. Do what you will. I don’t care if someone is a man in a kilt, a woman in a miniskirt, or someone in a gender non-conforming outfit you don’t think is “pulling it off.” The nature of dress codes, in particular those espousing professionalism are both sexist and classist. I’m not here for that and I’m not here for it not being universally applied.
For a much more intricate look at the relationship between sexism and dress codes, here’s a fantastic piece by Everyday Feminism.
And this series of tweets shows a lot more at stake than who wears what type of heels.
Hi. My name is Elsa Sjunneson-Henry. I’m the managing editor of the Hugo Finalist magazine, @FiresideFiction, and last week when we all got angry about dress codes, I also got worried.
Because the email about dress codes ALSO talked about access needs at the ceremony.
— Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Fancy Cyclops (@snarkbat) July 23, 2018
Shitty Thing #3 – Not Including Members On Panels Because They Aren’t “Popular” or “Well-Known” Enough
Hugo nominees, in particular many of the younger nominees and those who have diverse backgrounds weren’t put on panels. Some of them have been receiving emails saying that they aren’t well-known enough to be placed on them.
This is ridiculous on two fronts:
1- Hugo nominees are definitionally well-known. To be nominated, you MUST have a not inconsequential presence and respect within science fiction and fantasy. PLUS, in theory at least, over the last five or so months, people have been reading those works and watching those movies and looking at that fan art. They have been a highlight in the community.
2- There is no way to make our fandom last without incorporating new voices. New voices are important to science fiction and fantasy. Without them, there will be no growth, and, frankly, growth is exactly what SFF needs.
At the very least, I’m glad I’m not living in a world limited to Heinlein and LeGuin. I want innovation and new perspectives, because this genre set needs that to maintain its lifeblood. And I want SFF to be around for a long, long time.
Fine, Bree, But What Are You Doing About It?
Right now, I’m talking to folks about setting up some outtings in San Jose. I understand this isn’t the same as at-con participation, but at the very least we can be a community that accepts one another. I’ll be working to get us accessible transit and will announce any outing plans soon, both here and on YouTube.
I’m bringing a fuck ton of pronoun stickers. I want to normalize inclusivity. The only way to do that is to make people realize that their world doesn’t have the rigid limits they think ought to be there and to call folks out on their incivility. If you show up at WorldCon, hunt me down. You can have a pronoun sticker for your badge.
I’ll be wandering with my Instagram stories going on throughout WorldCon. I want to talk to people about their favorite works, especially those that are debuts, new to you authors, #ownvoices, and that feature intersectionality. I’ll be posting frequently throughout the week.
Other things. Right now I’m open to suggestions. I want to help build community in places where community should be. Let me know your thoughts about what events or other activities you think should take place. Tweet me, comment, plaster my insta and YouTube with suggestions. Let’s make it happen.
Featured image photo credit: Facepalm Glax by Mattia Basaglia © 2017-2018 CC BY-SA
I guess you didn’t see me here, just three feet away from the shelf, browsing comics with titles C-H. Sup?
I know. You didn’t realize I was browsing. Why would I be? You saw me come in with my boyfriend or maybe you didn’t. But regardless, I am an anathema here. Or at least to you. A woman doesn’t belong a comics and games shop.
Here’s some fun trivia for you. I was born into nerddom, a little baby princess ready to inherit. I was playing Magic: the Gathering before I ever considered playing Pokemon, and I knew by age ten that I loved Punk Rock!Storm way more any other version of her. I grew up in a comics shop and can slide boards into bags so fast, I’m a goddamned comics ninja.
But sure, stand in front of me so I can’t see the shelves anymore.
I get so sick of people like you.
There are so many people who don’t think I get to exist, or who cry “fake” when I talk nerdy. It will never matter how many times I’ve seen BSG or that I spent my childhood running around gaming conventions. To these, let’s face it, men, I’m an invader, taking up space and taking enjoyment from things to which I have no right.
Fuck. That. Noise.
Let’s not bother talking about the fact that just standing in front of someone or talking to the man next to them like they’re somehow not there is just plain fucking rude. Let’s just get to the root of this problem.
You don’t think women belong here. And you’re wrong. To paraphrase the great Kameron Hurley, women have always geeked. Hell, you wouldn’t have science fiction as a genre without the late, great Mary Shelley.
(This is my cat. She is named after Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary W. Shelley)
The part that’s always got to me is that you should be so damn excited I’m here. That I’m a real person. After all, relatively attractive young woman who’s into the same things you are?! That’s supposed to be what you cry on the internet about, isn’t it? That no one will love you because you like to recite L5R deep lore a little too much?
Huge eyeroll. Here’s the truth.
You don’t actually want to be around geeky women. You identify yourself with a class of “rejects” because (1) you have based your identity and self-narrative and the idea that you are a persecuted, sad lonely person, (2) you like to feel like a self-important gatekeeper in a world that doesn’t actually use you as a gatekeeper, and (3) you think women are incompetent and tasteless walking vaginas who just flat out can’t keep up with the smart man-brain powers that let you play five hour tabletop games based off of scary stories written by a dead racist.
The fact that so much of this male geek rage is based in a sense of self-righteousness and persecution is ungodly frustrating. After all, the easiest thing to be in America is a straight middle class white dude (+1 modifier for educated). And also, you’re just being fucking petty. You had a crush or an unrequited whatever and they shot you down, made you feel like you didn’t belong. So you’re taking the first chance to do that to someone else, because to you, cruelty is how you regain your wounded pride.
The worst part, though, is all the shit you ruin. Just by being a jerk. Like, ya know, video games and Comic-Con and the Hugos.
Fun fact: no one spends hundreds of hours and tons of cash to dress up as a seriously perfect replication of a character just to get on your weasley dick. But instead of recognizing that, let’s ostracise all the hot ladies.
Let’s deep dive, though.
Why having women (and diversity) in a comics shop is only ever a good thing
Culture. It’s kind of awesome. And the more people who contribute, the cooler your culture gets.
Comics and nerddom are known for being insular spaces, but what they really ought to be known for is being *STORYTELLING* spaces. The best comics and movies and games all center around storytelling and world creation. When you add women and other diverse people into your spaces you get a much wider world of stories.
You get to finally hear about the Miles Morales and Moon Girls of the world. And those stories are fucking amazing.
I love Stan Lee as much as the next nerd, but let’s be honest there are only so many man stories a person can take before it gets old.
There’s also significant evidence that shows workplaces and social areas only benefit from different perspectives and a diverse culture. You think more creatively and work harder. Diversity literally makes you a better person.
Why not every nerdy space is your sacred hidey hole from reality
You don’t own Marvel or DC or Star Wars. Even if you did, the nature of stories and creation means that YOU DON’T CONTROL who consumes a work. Once you put something out into the world, the world will spread that as it wills. You don’t get to choose who likes something and who doesn’t.
If you really want to cloister yourself off into a space where no one else can enjoy something, you should stick to your basement or a password-protected limited access blog or something.
Until then, people get to enjoy whatever it is they want. That’s part of freedom (or whatever).
And just because someone does or doesn’t like something doesn’t give you the right to try to destroy it. Chances are good you can’t. The world is resilient and people, generally speaking, don’t like bullies. *coughVoxDaycough*
It’s cool though. I can’t stop you from being a tool.
Plus, my comics collection is bigger than yours.