Warning: some talk of rape, explosive ranting.

As an Australian who now lives in the UK, I’m used to hearing about publications, conventions, writers’ groups, book giveaways and other SFFnal coolness that I can’t actually buy, attend or participate in on account of their being located in or otherwise restricted to the US of A, a country I tend to envisage as one of those freaky undersea fish with a luminous, prey-attracting barbel that lures you in with the promise of democracy and culture and New York, and then savages you with its monstrous teeth, fascism, bigotry, and New York (a city I’ve never visited, but which I nonetheless feel qualified to make jokes about Because Television). What this means in a practical, everyday sense is that, even when certain American things become accessible online in whatever manner, I tend to forget that fact, and so place them in the same mental box of Unattainable And Irrelevant Stuff that contains my failed attempt to learn algebra and the location of our iron. Thus: whenever I see someone talking about the SFWA, I feel a brief surge of enthusiasm – SFF! Writers! Things I like! – that transmutes into apathy the exact instant I remember that, as someone who is neither American nor published in America, I’m ineligible to join. I paid minor attention to the recent presidential electiony-thingy, largely because, as a reader of John Scalzi’s blog, it was sort of hard to miss, but otherwise, both the SFWA and its affiliated bulletin have existed wholly off my radar.

And then I read this. And this. And this. And the article uploaded for comment here – that is to say, the recent piece in the SFWA Bulletin by Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg, two old white guys in their seventies who I’ve never heard of before, but who are evidently horrified by the prospect of Teh Womenz having an opinion about either SFF generally or the SFWA in particular, and especially one that’s critical of them. I managed to get a whole five sentences in before I started bristling, when Resnick said:

In my starving writer days, back in the 1960s and early 1970s, I wrote a couple of hundred words in what we euphemistically call the “adult field”. A lot of us did. You, me, Robert Silverberg, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, even Marion Zimmer Bradley (a woman). No one ever said we couldn’t, no one ever tried to stop or censor us.

This snippet sets off alarm bells on two counts: that prejudicial ‘even’ before Marion Zimmer Bradley’s name, and the despicably telling (a woman) after it, all put there to tell us that a woman did what we did (even though most women didn’t), so therefore our defence of it is justified. So, let’s be clear: I’m a twentysomthing woman, which means that Resnick and Malzberg aren’t talking to me – they are, instead, complaining about people like me to people like them; which is to say, to themselves, as the whole piece is a dialogue between them. Nonetheless, the fact that I’m the hypothetical subject of their ranting gives me the right of ranty reply. Which I intend to exercise. Vehemently. In detail.

I supplemented that income by editing a quartet of tabloids, like The National Enquirer – only worse. Never got busted, never got censored, never got castigated. Ditto with a trio of men’s magazines I edited.

Pardon me while I laugh hysterically at the idea that working for two of the most lingeringly sexist, misogynistic types of publication, in a position of editorial power, in the fucking seventies, and boasting about how nobody ever called you on your bullshit back then, as though this is somehow proof of the fact that bullshit neither happened nor deserved to be stopped when it did, constitutes an intelligent argument.

[I wrote] the “Tales of the Velvet Comet”, a four book series about an orbiting brothel. Sold it to a lady editor. Never heard a peep of protest from anyone.

Christ on a fucking bicycle. Three paragraphs in, and we’re already dealing with Poe’s Law levels of delusional self-justification. I could make a drinking game about this article: take a shot every time the author deliberately highlights the femaleness of the women he mentions, the better to explain how these ladies never said I was sexist, so clearly their silence at a time when dissent could’ve seriously impacted their careers constitutes an impartial, absolute assessment of the non-offensiveness of my work, as well as speaking declaratively for all women, forever. Plus and also: an orbiting brothel? Seriously? Way to boast about perpetuating a trope that we here in the actual future think is both shitty and overused.

…I wrote The Branch, a rather blasphemous novel about the true Jewish Messiah who shows up about 50 years from now, which perforce had to prove that Jesus was a fraud. No one objected. I even sent copies to Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart [two ancient televangelists, one now dead]… Apparently neither of them were offended enough to even protest on their radio shows.

Wow. That’s a compelling defence, isn’t it? Two bigoted, Evgangelical rightwingers with probable antisemitic tendencies thought your efforts at debunking Judaism were A-Okay, or at least not utterly blasphemous? One of whom, Swaggart, became infamous for his ‘I Have Sinned’ speech, wherein his deeply hypocritical and sadly repressed dalliances with prostitutes* were brought to light? Yes. Clearly, these are well-adjusted, intelligent men whose failure to criticise the work you sent them unsolicited in a bid to orchestrate some cheap, sensationalist publicity is proof of your possession of an unassailable moral high ground. Do go on.

These days it’s difficult to go to a movie – or even turn on the cable TV – without seeing a bunch of naked bodies and a bunch of blood.

So it’s understandable that I thought the days of censorship were long gone.

Truly, the fact that you can see sexually objectified ladies on The Cable and get your old guy rocks off at the push of a button nowadays is a sign of social progress, while women offering public criticism of your shitty, dinosauric attitudes is exactly the same as an erasure of your civil rights.

Take a look at the cover to a recent edition of The SWFA Bulletin, issue number 200. There’s a warrior woman on it. Not a hell of a lot different from a few hundred warrior women who have graced the covers of our field’s books and magazines ever since C. L. Moore (a woman)

Drink.

created Jirel of Joiry. I think the warrior woman is wearing boots, but [though] it’s pretty dark and shaded in that area, I know she [sic] displaying less flesh than just about any bikini you can see on a beach in the country today.

This is a bit like a modern employer throwing his hands up and saying, ‘Seriously, what’s the problem? I only fired her because she was pregnant! Employers like me have been firing knocked-up broads like her since the 1920s!’ Newsflash, Mr Resnick: the fact that something has a long and prominent history doesn’t make it OK. Plus and also: the fact that your ‘warrior woman’ is displaying only moderately less flesh than a beach babe despite being depicted in the mountains, in a chainmail bikini, in the fucking snowis a textbook example of why we need Women Fighters In Reasonable Armour (and many other things like it). Don’t fucking lie to me: that isn’t armour she’s wearing, and she’s not a warrior woman: she’s a masturbatory fantasy from your misspent youth, and now you’re trying to act as though the past fifty years of equality never actually happened.

A group of younger writers and fans object to her presence on the cover of the Bulletin and they’re making quite a bit of noise about it.

Firstly: it’s not just young people objecting to this fuckery. Go ask some women SFF writers in your age bracket – hell, ask some men with more sense than arrogance. My father’s nearly a decade older than you, and he’d look askance at this idiocy with all the dignified side-eye of his eighty-one years.  And secondly: yes. We are making noise. That’s what fans and writers do – we talk about things. Much like you’re doing now, in fact.

…it was our editor, Jean Rabe (a woman)

Drink.

whose decision it was to run it.

Women are not a goddamn hivemind, Resnick: one does not speak for all. Trotting out your sad string of Ladies Who Liked My Stuff isn’t some magical, argument-melting spell that renders your critics invalid.

It was also Ms Rabe’s request that you and I do a couple of Dialogues (issues #199 and #200) on the history of women in the field. We addressed lady writers in the earlier issue, and lady editors and publishers in the later one.

Drink.

Drink.

And we seem to have offended some members every bit as much as the cover art did.

Why?

By having the temerity to mention that Bea Mahaffey, who edited Other Worlds in the very early 1950s, was beautiful. (Which, according to every man and woman who knew her then, is absolutely true.) After all, we’re talking about an editor, not a pin-up model, so how dare we mention her looks? What business does that have here?

Fucking none, you moron. That is the actual point. We don’t care whether your assessment of her looks was accurate or how many goddamn witnesses you can find to back you up on that, even if we question you separately: have you ever described a male editor as handsome, or dropped in some extra verbage about how Tolkien was a doll? And on the extremely unlikely offchance that you can dig up one op-ed from 1962 where you vaguely referenced, in positive terms, the physical prowess of a young Stephen Donaldson, are you honestly claiming obliviousness to the long-lived and still ubiquitous double standard whereby women’s looks are deemed in some fundamental way to be representative of our competence (or lack thereof), whereas men, even in those rare instances when their appearance is remarked upon, aren’t held to anything even vaguely resembling the same standard?

For example, no-one ever mentioned JFK’s looks, do they?

Well, shit. I guess you are. And I just love how your single male counterexample is President Kennedy – that is to say, the ruler of a country, with all the associated press appearances and media coverage that necessary entails, and a man whose affairs actually impacted on his office, and are therefore materially relevant when discussing him. Yes. That is totally comparable to talking about the bodies of female writers and editors when it has no bearing whatsoever on their contribution to SFF.

So, Barry, just off the top of your head, what’s your opinion… of a writers’ organization that will let me say ‘fuck’ in these pages… but has some members that want to censor the word ‘beautiful’ and the thousandth painting of an absolutely generic warrior woman?

OK, you do understand that there’s a difference between saying ‘referencing her looks was unnecessary, and perhaps inappropriate given your evident obliviousness on the subject of sexism’, and ‘NOBODY IN THIS PUBLICATION SHOULD USE THE WORD BEAUTIFUL IT IS AN UNWORD AND BANNED FOREVER’, right? Nobody is censoring the word ‘beautiful'; we’re simply suggesting you needn’t have used it when you did. Similarly, if I say ‘stop threatening me with that knife’, I’m not saying ‘ban all knives’. I’m saying there’s an important contextual difference between chopping up carrots for dinner and my physical endangerment, and if that’s a distinction you’re either unwilling or unable to make, then I don’t want you anywhere near my kitchen.

Plus and also: the fact that your sexually objectified, ludicrously attired and probably frostbitten warrior woman is here deemed ‘generic’ – that is to say, so commonplace as to be normative – is part of the fucking problem. You know why? An actual warrior would be wearing armour, not a teenage boy’s wet dream of chainmail bikinis. And don’t even think of using Conan as a counterexample here: Conan is a male power fantasy who exists in a world without plate armour or chainmail, and where his lack of clothes therefore makes some species of sense; your covergirl, by contrast, clearly has access to proper protective gear but has, for mysterious reasons attributable only to penis-logic, elected not to wear it.

Let’s see what Malzberg has to say.

The question is whether those who object to Warrior Woman or ‘beautiful’ adjectivally applied to a woman are merely displeased or whether they want repetition censored. That isn’t clear to me and your description of these events leads me to infer that it isn’t clear to you either.

A cogent opinion! Huzzah! Points for Barry!

I don’t like the objections myself, and I find them offensive. Then again… I feel they have the right to complain loudly and often about those two examples… just as you and I have the right to complain loudly and often about what I take to be (dare I use the word) their stupidity.

Fair dues, there. For making actual sense, Malzberg earns himself the right to at least one non-sarcastic response from me.

But then again, if they want to shut us down… no more Woman Warriors and no offensive description of a beautiful woman as beautiful, well then there is a problem.

And here it is: while I can’t speak for everyone (see above re: women have no hivemind), I can say that, personally, I feel incredibly frustrated whenever the word ‘censorship’ is trotted out in these debates, not only because it has very grave and serious connotations that tend to obscure the issue at hand, but because it doesn’t accurately represent the desired outcome. If your actions stem from a problematic perception of women, forbidding those actions without altering your perception would achieve nothing. What we want isn’t for you to sit there, believing exactly as you do now but growing increasingly angry and resentful at being unable to express yourself: we want you to actually see us differently, such that you no longer view your past behaviour as acceptable, and subsequently never do it again.

It’s not censorship we want. It’s a change in your perceptions. Not self-censorship, which implies your original attitudes are simply repressed and waiting to bubble over: actual change, so that when you hear women say ‘please don’t depict us in chainmail bikinis, it’s demeaning and awful and contributes to terrible stereotypes that still demonstrably affect our treatment within SFF communities’, you respond with sympathy and respect.

There are, however, exceptions to this. We most definitely want to censor rape threats and racist slurs, for instance – not only because hate speech is illegal, but because allowing it within SFFnal communities creates unsafe, threatening environments for those of us who are subject to it, while simultaneously sending the message that bullying and abuse are OK. You have not engaged in hate speech here; therefore, we do not want to censor you. We do, however, want you to actually listen to us, and take on board the fact that what you’ve done is regressive and offensive.

What is somewhat disturbing, of course, is the anonymity (at least to me) of the complainers…

Hopefully, then, you’ll appreciate this very non-anonymous response, as well as everything else that’s been said on public blogs and otherwise under real names.

Oh lord, it’s Resnick’s turn again. Brace yourselves.

I went to the local Barnes & Noble superstore and began studying cover art.

And a lot of it abounded in bare, raw, pulsating flesh, totally naked from the neck to the navel. No question about it. It’s there for anyone else to see – and of course, since such displays seem to offend some of our members, to picket.

You know where I found it?

In the romance section. I’d say that just about every other cover shows a man’s bare torso… Clearly these are erotic covers, designed to get a certain readership’s pulse pounding.

As far as I know, no one’s tried to censor the publishers… Not even our moral SFWA crusaders.

Jesus, stop. Mike Resnick is officially banned from using words. Seriously, where the fuck do I even begin deconstructing this hot mess? With the fact that the abundance of bare-skinned cover art is not, in and of itself, proof that said art is desirable, positive, or OK? That’s like saying that because you can find a lot of brutal rape videos on the internet, it’s fine that you made your own brutal rape video in your basement. With the fact that there’s a big fucking difference between depicting sexualised images of both men and women on the covers of stories that are actually about sex, and depicting sexualised images of women alone on the covers of stories that have nothing or little to do with sex, except inasmuch as the male audience is being encouraged to construct objectifying fantasies? With the fact that, actually, there’s a growing movement of romance readers lobbying for different book covers, or who actively critique said covers as ridiculous, offensive, or just plain silly; and that, once you’ve complained about the anonymity of your detractors, you lose the right to make judgements about which movements they do or don’t support? Seeing as how, you know. You don’t actually know who they are?

…consider just how many muscular, near-naked Conan types have graced our covers over the years without nary a voice raised in protest.

*headdesk* He went there. He used The Conan Argument. First, and as stated earlier: Conan is a male fantasy. Objectified women are a male fantasy. Presenting one as the opposite of the other is about as useful as saying steak is the opposite of lamb: you aren’t making a meaningful distinction, and if the issue is trying to feed a vegetarian, you’re not even remotely close to understanding the actual problem. Second, Conan is of the past; your ‘warrior woman’ isn’t. While you might be able to scrounge up one or two recent SFF releases with naked man-torso gleaming on the cover, they’d be a drop in the ocean compared to female objectification in the same timeframe, and when you compare both those things to the constant sexualisation of women elsewhere in society, your ‘warrior woman’ is reinforcing some seriously problematic shit that Conan and his briefly popular bretheren don’t even remotely approach.

Over to you, Barry!

Our Warrior Woman protesters and enemies of the adjective… fall into the category of what Right Wing radio talkers call ‘liberal fascists’, and I cannot disagree with that description… I agree wholly with at least one [radio talker], Sean Hannity. He says: ‘The difference between the so-called liberals and conservatives is that the liberals want to shut us down. They truly do not believe that we should have airtime. They truly believe that we should be banned. We do not feel that way about them. We don’t like their positions but we acknowledge their right to expression. They do not extend us the same courtesy.’

Sean. Fucking. Hannity.

Take a moment to savour the balls-out insanity of both this segue and its implications.

Sean Fucking Hannity, who pals around with Neo-Nazis. Sean Fucking Hannity, who gives airtime – and therefore legitimacy – to a guy who believes that one of America’s biggest mistakes was giving women the vote. Sean Fucking Hannity, who once described a female Democrat as looking like a “a slutty flight attendant”. Sean Fucking Hannity, whose panel featuring “absolutely everyone who might have something relevant to say about women’s health” was composed entirely of men.

Listen here, Malzberg. Listen close. You know why some things get banned? Because they’re fucking dangerous. Because they hurt people. On a scale of Newt Gingrich to Rush Limbaugh, Hannity might not be as utterly batshit as some of his colleagues, but that doesn’t make his views any less fucking dangerous. I’m happy to let the opposition speak, but not when their words, or the words of those they support, encourage the erasure of my rights, or the rights of others, or help to incite violence against innocent people. You want to make this a left wing/right wing debate? Then acknowledge the fact that you, as of right this fucking second, are on the side of the racists, the misogynists, the bigots and the isolationists.

I might want you to shut the hell up and learn something about sexism, but Hannity and his ilk want me to shut the hell up and surrender my rights or they’ll take them by force. How dare you. How dare you even suggest, in the same fucking sentence, that your SFFnal critics are fascists for decrying your sexism while quoting an inflammatory liar whose politics don’t just want us silent, but legally disempowered?

How fucking dare you. 

Oh, look. Resnick’s talking again. Joy.

The New York Review of Science Fiction took some potshots at me because, to quote them, “Is Resnick’s space-bottled African culture ever sexist!”

First, it’s not Resnick’s space-bottled African culture. It’s the culture of the Kikuyu tribe, and indeed about 97% of the tribes in Africa.

Oh.

My.

Fucking.

God.

*explodes from racefail overload*

Really, Resnick? Fucking REALLY? 97% of the tribes in Africa resemble the Kikuyu in their sexism – 97% of African tribes are sexist?

I just. I cannot. I have lost the ability to even.

Have some more quotes, sans commentary. The lunacy really speaks for itself, and I’m losing the will to live.

Who should women want making decisions on what they are allowed to read… Andrea Dworkin? Do you want the State or Federal Government (or the Supreme Court) telling you what you are allowed in your bedroom, or with whom?…

You know, I think a lot of this brouhaha is because we’re Old White Guys… Old White Guys should only write about what they know, which as far as said group is concerned is other Old White Guys… We can’t have any black friends, because our generation was composed exclusively of slave-owners. We can’t even say ‘homosexual’, let alone define it or say it without cringing. Everybody knows that…

When all is said and done, we didn’t run the kind of diatribe you hear from almost every top-selling rap star these days…

If they can get away with censoring that, can you imagine what comes next? I’m pretty sure Joe Stalin could imagine it.

*collapses under the sheer weight of Poe’s Law in evidence, dies angrily, rants from beyond the grave*

Old men yelling at clouds. That’s all this is. Bitter old sexist, racist morons yelling at clouds and ranting about the good old days in the 60s and 70s, back when women and minorities experienced even more discrimination than they do now and had the good grace to be silent about it, all while issuing dire warnings about how, if we fascist liberals get our way, then Andrea Dworkin will be ruling our sex lives from her vagina-shaped throne adopt the smouldering ruins of democracy, burning copies of Conan the Barbarian to feed the massive coal-electric furnaces that power her mighty Dildoswords. Hoards of quivering castrati, their genitals removed with the ironic aid of pinking shears and egg scissors, will howl in the quiet darkness of this intellectual night, sharing their secretly hoarded copies of R. Scott Bakker novels for solace, all while desperately hoping that tomorrow’s meal of panfried goat uterus will be enough to sustain them through to the morrow.

What a fucking dabacle.

*I’m not being critical of prostitutes, male or female, nor of Swaggart for using them, except to the extent that it involved cheating on his wife. I’m more commenting on the telling hypocrisy and denial of a hardcore Evangelist trying to cover up his own sexuality out of a sense of shame. Whatever else you can say about the guy, clearly, he was neither happy nor emotionally healthy, at least as far as his sexuality went.

ETA: This post was originally titled Old Men Yelling At Clouds: SFWA Lunacy. I then changed that last word to idiocy, as it was pointed out to me that the use of lunacy was ableist; but as idiocy is also abelist, I’ve changed it to sexism.

Comments
  1. seantheblogonaut says:

    Brilliant Foz, just brilliant.

    • Richter_DL says:

      The SWFA cast Stanisław Lem (a polish, jewish immigrant) from their ranks for daring to point out Isaac Asimov’s fallacies in his laws of robotics referring to the theory of emergence, but awarded their greatest honors to fascist, racist, sexist Robert A. Heinlein. That is about all you need to know about them.

  2. Merrian says:

    And you didn’t even get to CJ Henderson in SFWA Bulletin edition 201 writing in support of these two… he thinks women should be quiet and dignified like Barbie (the doll) is and not whores like those Bratz dolls.

    Also I’m in my 50’s and I knew damn well then and damn well now that being called ‘lady anything’ was the same as being called not the same/not to the same standard.

  3. Kit Kerr says:

    The real issue, I suspect, is “women dared argue with us! They can’t get away with that!”

  4. Fantastic breakdown, Foz. Kudos for making it all the way through without your brain exploding from rage, too.

    I look at this article and my feelings are mixed — on the one hand, the basic truth is that this *is* (in his own words, actually) an Old White Guy, and listening to him talk is like listening to my grandpa. I can love my grandfather, accept that the mores of the world have significantly passed him by, and bite my tongue when he says something that kind of blows my mind in its homophobia/racism/sexism (ditto for my Old White Grandma, actually). There’s a certain grouchiness at having to let other people (re: minorities, women, gays) up to the bar and get told that “Hey, the world you knew? That world was wrong, and what you believed then and now was wrong. Get with the program and accept that by your acceptance and the fact that you profited in that world, you are tainted and corrupt.” So I feel a certain twinge of sympathy for him, in the same way that I feel for my own grandfather.

    On the other hand.

    Just because I love my homophobic, racist, sexist grandfather (or, loved — bless his homophobic, racist, sexist, and entirely beloved self, he is dead now and I miss him) *does not* mean that I would not feel driven to comment or object if he wrote an op-ed for the paper (or for a certain SFWA Bulletin..), because to allow something like that to go unchallenged in public is wrong. To look the other way in this context while he tries to pull flawed history around himself as justification or out-of-context shreds of current society to argue for a pass is wrong.

    And, honestly, the issue isn’t about him anymore. He’s going to feel attacked and martyred. People are going to argue for silence in the name of “don’t upset grandpa” — but when this is in print, in an industry publication, it becomes a statement on behalf of the organization, and that *does* need to be addressed and rectified — which is why I loved your breakdown, and I think that the fact that this controversy is continuing and widening is a positive thing for an organization whose membership *is* different from back in the halcyon days of the ’60s and ’70s that men like him are yearning for, because it’s necessary for the organization to *make* that statement — that this is *not* okay. And that’s not about censorship.

  5. […] Old Men Yelling At Clouds: SFWA Lunacy: A hilarious, rightfully outraged and well-articulated rebuke to the publications. […]

  6. Tonight, I found this blog for the first time. I got here through a long chain of SFWA-related links which I’m glad to have had the time to read.

    Based on:
    “I’m saying there’s an important contextual difference between chopping up carrots for dinner and my physical endangerment, and if that’s a distinction you’re either unwilling or unable to make, then I don’t want you anywhere near my kitchen”,
    and
    “Presenting one as the opposite of the other is about as useful as saying steak is the opposite of lamb: you aren’t making a meaningful distinction, and if the issue is trying to feed a vegetarian, you’re not even remotely close to understanding the actual problem”,

    …you seem to really understand “food”. :)
    I will be reading more of your work. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Sgaile-beairt says:

    just sayin….jirel wears full plate armor & it isnt boob plate either….she gets the eowyn reveal at her first appearance….she wears a mail hauberk to explore the hell dimension….which is a quest to defeat male exploitation….methinks someone doesnt remember moore as well as they shld if they want to invoke her for protection!!

  8. […] via Angela James on Twitter. Old Men Yelling At Clouds by Foz Meadows. Core point of article: the Science Fiction Writers of America have apparently […]

  9. thetwonky says:

    Ah. Yet another woman that has a problem with her gender, among other things. Sad. Gender agenda. I had to stop reading at the comment about Resnick “even” qualification of Zimmern Bradley. The “even” meant even a woman in the sixties stooped to write porn which was unheard of in those days.

    But you couldn’t get over yourself enough to see the many context clues to figure that out.

    • Pete Balestrieri says:

      If you could get over yourself, you’d understand that the “even” is the fulcrum of a weak argument that says, If some women engage in activity that’s detrimental to all women, it justifies men participating in the same activity. The author clearly understood that and pointed it out. Perhaps you should have read more before you embarrassed yourself by writing something that proved her point, as Resnick and Malzberg have in addressing their critics. The more they write, the deeper they bury themselves.

  10. svourvoulias says:

    This Resnick and Malzberg piece (and the earlier pulp cover) can only be seen as a particularly egregious form of viral marketing. Because, let’s be honest, the only time the SFWA bulletin gets any mention is when it does something to deliberately incense vocal and digitally sophisticated members of the SFF community. Then people like me (who are not SFWA members) go out of their way to read and/or see what has caused an uproar, and acronyms trend on twitter, and all sorts of things happen in the public eye that make this one element of the overall SFWA organization seem relevant.

    Speaking as a newspaper editor here, there’s no way the powers that be at the SFWA bulletin DIDN’T know that the cheesy, pulpy cover would elicit the response it got. What else was it selected for? Certainly not its beauty nor, I’m told, for its relevance to any of the bulletin’s actual content in that edition. They were hoping for — counting on — it to create buzz. And they were willing to piss off half their membership to do it. Doesn’t speak to editorial integrity on their part, but it makes a certain kind of desperate sense for a publication that is a minor artifact on display in the least visited section of the global digitalized SFF museum.

    The intervening examples of “in the good old days when all women were Barbies and ladies” and the latest installment (should we call it the Resnick Malzberg show?) can only be understood as more of the same.

    Which doesn’t mean that Resnick/Malzberg don’t genuinely feel aggrieved, it’s clear they do. They, like the vehicle in which their complaint was published, feel increasingly irrelevant. As a Latina SFF writer (and a middle-aged one at that) I have very limited sympathy to extend to them for this feeling — after all, for a good portion of U.S. SFF history they and theirs were the ones determining what and who got to be relevant to the genre. (I’m glad you mentioned the mind-blowingly idiotic Kikuyu comments, because most of the blog posts I’ve read about this kerfuffle haven’t.)

    I am reminded a bit of my father who, toward the end of his life, was going deaf. When I suggested that we get him fitted for hearing aids, he told me no. “I like having an excuse I can use when I don’t want to hear what people are saying,” was his painfully honest response.

    I wish Resnick/Malzberg could be so honest. It’s clear to me they simply don’t want to hear, but instead of owning up to it, they couch it in grandiose claims of censorship in the hopes of putting it into some greater context than simply tuning out. The sad part is that, yes, the viral marketing has worked and their names (and the bulletin’s) are temporarily on people’s lips, but tomorrow the two of them will be back to the half-caught sounds of the world moving around them, and the yawning, lonely silence between what they will or will not hear.

  11. cecilia says:

    Fantastic article – I think you articulate the errors in their thinking really well. On a side note, if “lunacy” is ableist, I believe “idiocy” would be as well, as it was a diagnosis that would get you institutionalized in the old days.

    • fozmeadows says:

      I take your point; but of the two, I think idiocy at least has an established colloquial usage that makes it more benign. Though I will try to think of better words in the future!

    • Val says:

      Idiot, imbecile, moron, cretin, retarded — all were used as diagnoses by eugenicists in the early 1900s. It does start to get a little, um, stupid when the only word you can use for stupid is stupid. :) But I like the solution: use the word you mean. Sexist.

  12. […] Meadows: Old Men Yelling at Clouds. “I could make a drinking game about this article: take a shot every time the author […]

  13. sbirdy says:

    Your post is magnificent and should be spread far and wide.

    Sadly, Resnick and Co. do not appear intelligent enough to understand any of it. I don’t believe their perceptions will change. They will just go on yelling at clouds.

  14. Lurkertype says:

    You are amazing!

    While I too try to avoid ableist language (having a couple of non-obvious physical disabilities myself), I’m comfortable with “idiocy”. Also “stupidity”, “ignorance” (that one’s definitely a factor that can be changed), and possibly — although this is ageist, but considering who wrote it — “senility”.

    But I think “douchebaggery” covers it — something old, unnecessary, intrusive, and harmful to women.

    • fozmeadows says:

      That’s a nice definition for douchery!

      • Lurkertype says:

        I wondered why you hadn’t thought of it already, then realized it’s another one of those fabled, legendary American things. :) Please feel free to spread the term throughout the rest of the English-speaking world. Emphasis on the first syllable, and elongate the “ou” sound. Pop the “b” sound firmly and finish with a sneer.

        (Also, New York. You are correct about it.)

        • fozmeadows says:

          I knew what a douche was originally – I just liked the way you phrased it :)

          • Lurkertype says:

            Putting “bag” on the end punches it up, I think. All those hard consonants improves the impact.

            I can’t take credit for the phrasing — it’s fairly common among snarky online American feminists, and it really does specify exactly what sort of issue, without being any sort of -ist.

    • svourvoulias says:

      Given the SFF literature’s predisposition to glorify youth and render anyone over a certain age invisible, and given that Alzheimer’s is a very real concern for aging writers (check out the movie Iris for a heartbreaking look at what the disease does to a brilliant literary talent) it’s outrageous to posit “senility” as a synonym for “ignorance.”

  15. SS76 says:

    So instead of trying to do something to change things, you rant and whine like a true cunt. Perfect.

    Foz’s note: This comment is allowed only because it’s so helpfully illustrative of misogynist fuckery. The commenter, however, has been banned.

    • C.D. says:

      As per usual, comments on a blog post about feminism justify the existence of feminism.

    • What I’m curious is how you are somehow *not* trying to change things? I mean, would staying quiet have been somehow reverse-proactive? (of course, trying to find logic in assholish statements like this is like trying to pan for gold in cow shit, so, you know — whatevs.)

      • fozmeadows says:

        Pretty much, yeah. Because drawing attention to an issue while actively to fix it is the exact polar opposite of helping. *eyeroll*

      • Mac says:

        Oh, yeah, it would be that comely and completely effective quiet Barbie dignity. [/ sarcasm], [begin hurling]

        • I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that one. I mean, who exactly looks at Barbie and thinks, “Yes, that is the embodiment of quiet dignity.” Also, who exactly is looking for these kinds of traits in children’s toys?

          “Well, we ended up springing for the big Dreamhouse because, you know, Barbie and her quiet dignity really require a three-story florescent pink plastic house. We’re just trying to instill proper virtues into our children. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hand some Angry Birds paraphernalia to my son in order to nurture his assertiveness.”

          • While I’m unsurprised at “Why are you complaining instead of effecting change in the world?” (and, of course, if you don’t complain, you’re one of the women they point out to others who do complain, saying, “Hey, look, THAT woman isn’t complaining; what’s YOU’RE problem?”), I confess myself bemused by the line

            “rant and whine like a true cunt”

            Because… ranting and whining are characteristics of my vagina?

            (Seriously, though, this sentiment is precisely why I’ve stopped using the word “bitch” as a verb meaning “complain.” I’m sick of the way feminized insults are used to feminize objectionable behavior. And that’s even before we get into the way “whine/moan/rant/bitch” are verbs used to portray the complaining as being more objectionable than the behavior we’re complaining about. And to dismiss any complaining done by a woman as being unjustified and petty. This crap is fractal.)

            • I have abandoned many insults because they are gender-based. May I recommend ‘arsehole’, which can apply equally to every person on the planet. (Asshole in the US, I guess).

  16. […] already have, and again, I’d like to keep my blood pressure down, thanks. (Though I will note Foz Meadows has an excellent post on the topic, and so does Kameron […]

  17. djiril says:

    “If your actions stem from a problematic perception of women, forbidding those actions without altering your perception would achieve nothing. What we want isn’t for you to sit there, believing exactly as you do now but growing increasingly angry and resentful at being unable to express yourself: we want you to actually see us differently, such that you no longer view your past behaviour as acceptable, and subsequently never do it again.

    It’s not censorship we want. It’s a change in your perceptions. Not self-censorship, which implies your original attitudes are simply repressed and waiting to bubble over: actual change, so that when you hear women say ‘please don’t depict us in chainmail bikinis, it’s demeaning and awful and contributes to terrible stereotypes that still demonstrably affect our treatment within SFF communities’, you respond with sympathy and respect.”

    Thank you! This is what I’ve been wanting to say whenever someone accuses their critics of “censorship” but haven’t quite been able to put my finger on.

  18. […] fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/old-men-yelling-at-clouds-sfwa-lunacy/ […]

  19. […] Resnick and Barry Malzberg’s “rebuttal”/”counter-opinion” piece at Foz Meadows, responding to a Jim Hines commentary on sexism in the field, and I find myself led back to a place […]

  20. […] This is a pretty good overview of the recent SFWA incident that has pushed women writers to the tipping point. Women should be like Barbie, these male writers said. They should behave with quiet dignity. […]

  21. […] particular, Foz Meadow’s post Old Men Yelling at Clouds is one of my favorites, and it has many excerpts from the Dialogues for scrutiny by the general […]

  22. Thanks for this post.

  23. merridee says:

    Well and thoroughly done. Thank you for an enlightening read.

  24. Ebonstorm says:

    Reblogged this on A Matter of Scale and commented:
    I would like to say I am speechless but I am well past that. I think I will wait awhile before I consider the SFWA membership. Seems this is an issue which needs sorting out.

  25. […] Foz Meadows: Old Men Yelling at Clouds […]

  26. I’m not sure it’s possible to express the fact that someone is underperforming (“lame,” “feeble,” “idiotic,” etc.) their presumed potential without alluding to those who perform similarly because they have no choice.

    For instance, being an OWG. It’s not like those of us who are melanin-deficient [1] and in posession of antique Y chromosomes have any choice in the matter besides dying young. However, we don’t have to act like the stereotypical OWG. It’s quite possible to take advantage of the stereotype of the crotchety geezer to encourage the YWGs around us less comfortable in expressing their douchbaggery.

    Those of us who don’t are, IMHO, guilty of at the very least dereliction of intellectual duty. Introspection, anyone? There have been some writers who commend it as part of the craft.

  27. craniest says:

    can I just say how ironic it is that these guys name checked C.L. Moore, who had to cover her lady name bits with initials just so calcified douchewaffles like them would publish her story without going “eww girl writer, pass”

    and sorry, Red Sonja is not a character to be throwing around in a “but she’s a warrior woman” argument. She’s a rape victim who by godly fiat can never fall in love except with the one who defeats her in combat. The only magazine cover she should be depicted on is Fucked Up Psychology Today.

  28. Cat Rambo says:

    “…issuing dire warnings about how, if we fascist liberals get our way, then Andrea Dworkin will be ruling our sex lives from her vagina-shaped throne adopt the smouldering ruins of democracy, burning copies of Conan the Barbarian to feed the massive coal-electric furnaces that power her mighty Dildoswords. Hoards of quivering castrati, their genitals removed with the ironic aid of pinking shears and egg scissors, will howl in the quiet darkness of this intellectual night, sharing their secretly hoarded copies of R. Scott Bakker novels for solace, all while desperately hoping that tomorrow’s meal of panfried goat uterus will be enough to sustain them through to the morrow.”

    I officially love you for this.

  29. […] Foz Meadows – “Old Men Yelling At Clouds” […]

  30. Other Bill says:

    Nice. I loved “I’m saying there’s an important contextual difference between chopping up carrots for dinner and my physical endangerment, and if that’s a distinction you’re either unwilling or unable to make, then I don’t want you anywhere near my kitchen.”

    I also appreciated your point:

    “they are, instead, complaining about people like me to people like them; which is to say, to themselves, as the whole piece is a dialogue between them.”

    Dialogue is a worthy goal. And, it sounds like (this is the most charitable interpretation possible – I’m aware) the Bulletin was aiming to contribute to a dialogue. But, the way this piece was set up necessarily prevented any constructive dialogue. Instead, it was a sort of Statler and Waldorf bit where they take potshots at an opposing opinion and then helpfully strengthen each other’s point by agreeing with each other. Nothing constructive, just a bunch of high-five and dunking on an open court. Only with a lot of blatantly unchecked sexism and some awful arguments, poorly constructed and embarassingly defended.

    Anyroad, quality deconstruction on your part. Thanks for putting it out for folks to read.

  31. […] I think it is best said here by Foz Meadows: […]

  32. […] POSTSCRIPT: You want to read a kick-arse article on this whole let’s-dump-on-teh-women-cos-it’s-an-easy-target meme? Try Kameron Hurley. For why it’s so fucking insulting for someone to tell female writers to be more like Barbie, Carrie Cuinn is your go-to reference. I laughed out loud at Foz Meadows’ drinking game and shot at this whole hot mess. […]

  33. Reblogged this on kiralynblue and commented:
    This! I hereby proclaim Shattersnipe the Champion of Ranters. And she does it so articulately, too. I’m in awe. I’m calling her in next time I want to make a feminist argument.

  34. […] started bleating and crying. The final impetus to publish it came from reading Foz Meadows inspired and profane rant, and Ann Aguirre’s powerful post,  both of which were born of the appalling sexism […]

  35. […] here, the sexism is so awful it almost reads better as a parody but for a truly awesome takedown, Foz Meadows cannot be missed on the issue – “Old Men Yelling at Clouds” btw should become the actual term for this stuff) […]

  36. […] to gender and dealing with justifiable complaints. If you want a good breakdown of what happened, Foz Meadows does an excellent deconstruction here (and she includes many relevant links). And honestly, if you throw a virtual dart anywhere near the […]

  37. […] it doesn't. That article (http://fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2013…s-sfwa-lunacy/ included just to make sure we're on the same page) only addresses one of the example they gave from […]

  38. […] One of the best responses was from Foz Meadows: […]

  39. […] isn't armor she's wearing, and she's not a warrior woman," author Foz Meadows fired back on Sunday. "She's a masturbatory fantasy from your misspent youth, and now you're trying to act […]

  40. Gail Sullivan says:

    If you ‘scratch’ a sexist old guy, you find a frustrated, terrified, ignorant, socially backward, conflicted old guy. May they all RIP some day, and leave the rest of us alone…

  41. […] thanks to Fox Meadows, Jane Little and Jim C. […]

  42. […] additional details see this…or this or this or this. It’s just been “crap all over women creators” week.  I […]

  43. Reggie Rock says:

    Guilt by association is intellectually dishonest, dangerous, and stupid and makes up the entire last third of your argument-less rant. Can we bring in someone who can engage the topic with actual arguments instead of pitching a fit and hurling meaningless pointless insults?

    This piece is a disgrace to your cause and does nothing but derail any actual intellectual argument.

    • fozmeadows says:

      Protip: when you respond to a piece like this by saying “YOU ARGUED IT WRONG, YOU SUCK” while simultaneously failing to address any of the problems/issues raised in the original conversation – such as, for instance, Resnick and Malzberg’s attitude towards women and their promotion of chainmail bikinis – then the subtext of your comment pretty much screams “I DON’T WANT THESE GUYS TO BE WRONG AND YOUR FACE IS STUPID”. So, yeah, no.

      • Reggie Rock says:

        These guys are wrong and the reasoning you used (when you bothered to use any at all in this rant) is incredibly bad. it just screams, “I don’t know how to argue for my ideals and am just going to shriek insults until people that already agree with me pat me on the back.”

        • Verging on calling a woman hysterical (shrieks)? I must admit I am impressed.

          It’s a rant and a quite humorous one at that. The key is that it is a rant, it is extravagant in its language. It makes “two dinosaurs being sexist pigs” and extends that into about 15 minutes of entertainment.

          The thing is we have had 40 (probably longer) odd years of people quietly respectfully voicing objections to this rubbish making well reasoned arguments. I don’t need Foz to explain to me in polite well argued articulate language that Malzbeg and Resnick are wrong, it’s pretty much self evident.

          My eyes would gloss over at anything resembling an academic essay.

          This is a rallying cry to the weary troops. I bit of anger and justified emotion that might invigorate the choir and make others take notice – (it got you here).

          But go on write a well reasoned post on why the duo above are wrong and I’ll read it. You seem passionate about making a difference.

          Meanwhile I am off to get my bingo card.

  44. […] isn't armor she's wearing, and she's not a warrior woman," author Foz Meadows fired back on Sunday. "She's a masturbatory fantasy from your misspent youth, and now you're trying to act […]

  45. hrose2931 says:

    I love you! “On a scale of Newt Gingrich to Rush Limbaugh, Hannity might not be as utterly batshit as some of his colleagues, but” Yes, yes he is just as batshit.

  46. […] isn't armor she's wearing, and she's not a warrior woman," author Foz Meadows fired back on Sunday. "She's a masturbatory fantasy from your misspent youth, and now you're trying to act […]

  47. […] posts like Ann Aguirre’s and Foz Meadows’ (seriously, take time out to read them–it’s important, I’ll wait) are met with a […]

  48. […] Foz Meadows responds in detail to some of the quotes from the actual article and also makes a remark that very much matches my attitude to any sort of uproar involving the SFWA, namely that while she likes the idea of the SFWA, it’s hard to drum up interest in the internal issues of an organisation that only writers who have been trad-published by a number of approved publishers in the US. Indeed, Lavie Tidhar very much echoes my thoughts about how welcoming writers organisations (and the SFWA isn’t the only one) who have “America” in their name feel to those of us who are not Americans. Meanwhile, fantasy writer Angela Highland a.k.a. Angela Korra’ti wonders whether she even wants to join an organisation like the SFWA, even if they wanted her. Meanwhile, Jeanienne Frost, writer of the great Cat and Bones urban fantasy series, is theoretically able to join, but has decided not to, because of the repeated sexism issues with the SFWA. There are also reports of writers leaving SFWA over this. […]

  49. […] by Foz Meadows, irked me a little when Foz […]

  50. […] isn't armor she's wearing, and she's not a warrior woman," author Foz Meadows fired back on Sunday. "She's a masturbatory fantasy from your misspent youth, and now you're trying to act […]

  51. […] whose outdated chauvinism is no longer in the least amusing. Foz Meadows, however, has a lovely takedown of the ridiculous […]

  52. […] the many and varied responses to the whole mess, Foz Meadows’s Bulletin drinking game, Kameron Hurley’s takedown of the privilege inherent in the Dialogues, and Rachel […]

  53. […] Right around the same time, a number of writers and bloggers began responding to the SFWA Bulletins. There have been a lot of really incredible pieces written on the subject. For a great roundup, see this post by the amazing and aforementioned Jim C. Hines, but definitely check out E. Catherine Tobler’s “Dear SFWA,” Kameron Hurley’s “Dear SFWA Writers: Let’s Chat About Censorship & Bullying” Karina Cooper’s “Damned If You Do(n’t)” and Foz Meadows’ beautifully brutal takedown, “Old Men Yelling at Clouds: SFWA Sexism.” […]

  54. Mudz says:

    I love the entertaining combination of hypocrisy and self-contradiction that seethes throughout this article.

    I especially enjoy how after a massive long rant of calling two old fogeys misogynistic, sexist, racist bastards cast down from their throne of world domination, you get self-righteous when one guy shows up to call you a cunt. ‘This is why feminism exists’. Why? Because women can get offended when people aren’t polite to them? You’re probably right.

    And more of the usual: ‘we’re not trying to censor you, we just want you to stop saying things we don’t like.’

    You called them sexist (which is apparently tied to them being white guys from the 60/70s), then got offended that they called 97% of African culture sexist, so you called them racist. Nice progression.

    You complained about using anecdotes as evidence, then brought up your father as anecdotal evidence in your support.

    You couldn’t even write this article without apparently falling afoul of the same standards that you are punishing them for failing. Fortunately you can edit your article, so all’s well. We shall just assume your insidiously ableist views are safely tucked away in a dark recess of your mind, which is not yet under review by the SFWA community. So you’re safe for the moment.

    It doesn’t stop there, but I can’t be teethed swallowing your articulated tripe long enough to regurgitate it to make my point further.

    I think I can refute this article in one, proceeding on the philosophy you seemed to be following.

    Speaking for the sci-fi writers in the year 2040, on the premise of using my imagination as the basis for deducing the character of the people in question, I find your article to be a rank offense, an exhumatic prejudicial sanctimonious bilious bogfart of flaggellating tripe boiling over with the female privilege that so defines that era you hail from.

    It is my hope that such a forward-thinking organisation as the SFWA will take swift measures to ensure you and all those writers like you who are trapped in a prison of their own ideological making in a trivial and unimportant era that we would like to see left behind, are swiftly and mercilessly excised from the community where you will not maliciously influence the future generations of free-thinking sci-fi authors who have every right to participate in this field without fear of intellectual orthodoxy or feminist oppression. It’s so 2013, and we’re moving past it.

    Oh, and fuck, and stuff. Because words.

    • fozmeadows says:

      I stopped reading this at the exact point you said ‘calling someone a cunt isn’t sexist, just impolite’. Because really, if you’re that oblivious, there’s not a lot else I can say, is there?

      • Mudz says:

        You didn’t really say anything at all. Makes it much easier to respond to posts that way, I imagine.

        And are you kidding? What a ridiculous rejoinder.

        When I was in college/high-school I heard the word ‘cunt’ used against a chick a total of zero times. ‘Cunt’ ‘dick’ and ‘asshole’ would be used against dudes (not those fragile girls) with equalitarian abandon (trust me, I both gave and received multiple verbal cusses). And why would I care if it was sexist? As far as I’m concerned they belong in the same category.

        Does your offense gain categorical superiority because you believe it’s impolity related to your genitals rather than your intelligence or cultural smugness?

        Are you similiarly incensed by the other words? If someone called me a dick, would you fiercely defend my freedom to not be offended by the terrible, terrible sexism? How about ‘jerk’? How dare people make a derogatory gender-based reference to jerking off! How insensitive.

        In short, you’re just grabbing a license to be offended, because it’s an easy gratitutous cultural self-gratification in the aid of your favourite narrative Brave New Feminist World bringing down Tyrannical Old White Man.

        • fozmeadows says:

          Do you understand the concept of a gendered insult? If you call someone a bitch, whore or a cunt, you are effectively saying “this thing is bad because it’s feminine.” Of course such insults are used most frequently by men against men – what bigger sexist insult is there than to imply that a guy is like a girl in any way?

          Do you understand the concept of cultural context? If I call you a dick, that’s a gendered insult – and as such, it’s one I don’t use. But you’ll note, please, that cunt is universally understood to be a worse insult than dick. Whatever you think, cultural gender inequality is still pervasive; it’s why women still get paid less to the dollar for doing the same jobs as men, and have to hold more qualifications to be hired into the same role. So in that context: yeah. Calling me a cunt is sexist in a way that calling you a dick isn’t, because the first insult is reinforcing existing inequality in a way that the second one isn’t.

          Also, for the record: when someone says “97% of all African tribes are the same, and their similarity stems from how badly they treat women” – that is fucking racist. Do I really have to explain why?

          • Mudz says:

            Sorry for the delay. I get stretched out over the internet.

            I never said they weren’t racist. Although I can argue that since 97% isn’t 100% then it’s obviously not race. ‘Their similarity stems from how badly they treat women’ is quite obviously not racist, it’s, uh, ‘behaviourist’?

            I’m saying you were being hypocritical, in that you can call them sexist old white males, but if they say ‘based on real sexist Africans’, then you pull an ‘OhnoyouDIDN’T’ and call them racist.

            Your standards seem to be, whatever makes them the bad guy. That’s just not even a remotely intelligent standard.

            I don’t give a shit if I’m called a dick. I mean seriously, how pathetic is that? Before the irony of your complaint struck me, it never occurred to me that this was some deeply man-hateful slur.

            So Chill Out, Lady Who Possesses Breasts (Presumably) and a Vagina. (Feel that hate, that deeply patriarchal hate.)

            “Whatever you think, cultural gender inequality is still pervasive; it’s why women still get paid less to the dollar for doing the same jobs as men, and have to hold more qualifications to be hired into the same role”

            My mother (good ol’ feminist that she is, love her) said something similiar about when she was young. She said she had to get hired as a man, or get a man’s job, to get paid the same as a man. It didn’t actually occur to her that all women could do the same.

            If that’s true, then well, what does it have to do with these two jokers? Are you trying to get them to hire you? They’re the employees.

            “Of course such insults are used most frequently by men against men – what bigger sexist insult is there than to imply that a guy is like a girl in any way?”

            And women are offended to be called men. This is called sexuality. We both happen to possess it. You also missed the part that cunt/dick/asshole are interchangeable insults for us, because we’re big lads who understand that cussing just means you’re saying naughty words, and it doesn’t really matter what they are.

            “Calling me a cunt is sexist in a way that calling you a dick isn’t, because the first insult is reinforcing existing inequality in a way that the second one isn’t. ”

            So insulting your gender is worse because your a woman? You sexist.

            • SFF Madman says:

              Wait…just because she doesn’t like being called “cunt,” “bitch” or “whore, you think that makes her sexist? That is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.

        • inurashii says:

          You have to make a valid point for a rejoinder to be necessary. You didn’t make any, just a bunch of false equivalences and strawmanning.

          • Mudz says:

            Allow me to try that:

            You’re dumb and your face is stupid, and you used words I think are so wrong that I am automatically exempt from addressing them.

  55. Pickles says:

    Oh, Mudz, you’re so brave. Please, tell me more about how racism and sexism are just make-believe constructs to oppress poor downtrodden white-doodz. I heart you. I always have.

    • Mudz says:

      What on earth are you talking about, pickles?

      If you are referencing that ‘racism’ as a narrative is being sustained in an effort to suspend white man in a cultural animation of convenient bad guy to be the foil to your brave cause, then sure, racism (in the local American environment, for this argument) suffers a big push into a state of unnecessary existence through belief even when black doodz are telling the white chikz to cut it the hell out.

      I’m half-caste NZ Maori myself so I’m a half-white half-brown dood, and I wish you guys would stop wanking all over the subject and perpetuating it to socially cancerous degrees. It’s irritating as hell.

      • I am unclear Mudz, they shouldn’t be called on their racist attitude even, if we are generous and suggest that its largely based on ignorance/ implicit attitudes. It’s not in the same league as cross burning on the lawn but hell we have just had a couple of weeks of what some would label rather innocuous racism in the Aus media. I don’t think Foz is overplaying her hand in that regard.

        Or do you feel that another cause with emotive baggage is being co-opted in order to shame these two?

        • Mudz says:

          Honestly, I couldn’t figure out quite what you’re saying so I’ll just state my position.

          This constant hue and cry, and door-to-door search for commu- ah, sexists, is ridiculous and exists only because of its inflammatory power and the ease with which the narrative can be used as a political weapon.

          People are going to say blacks/women/gays/ewoks are oppressed no matter if it’s true, or even if those groups feel particularly oppressed.

          It’s just clubs, man. We all have them. But feminism is ridiculous. Whatever purpose it once served, it’s no longer doing it. And it ain’t making people happy because this is not the way men and women are supposed to co-exist.

          • fozmeadows says:

            Uh, no. It exists because sexism does. The fact that you’re willing to equate women, QUILTBAG persons and POC with fucking EWOKS is a pretty good indication of your own bigotry. As such, you can get the hell off my blog. *bans*

  56. Pickles says:

    And Foz, you really should listen to him. I’m sure history won’t look kindly on those radicals that believe in things like “female privilege.” Or, for that matter, those who would censor people by speaking out against their creepy, old, hateful prejudices. I mean, living in a world without censorship clearly means sucking it up and swallowing any old lump of putrescent shit that anyone on the internet wants to feed you, and smiling as you force it down. Right? Clearly the freedom to speak only extends to being sexist, but NOT to speaking angrily about some dildo who WAS sexist.

    This is all making sense, right?

    • fozmeadows says:

      Perfect sense! :)

    • Mudz says:

      It didn’t make any sense to me, but then… you are very small.

      Did I ever say you couldn’t complain?

      You can complain, they can complain, we can all complain together. This is a rebuttal to an illogically framed complaint, which as I too enjoy the freedom of speech, I have chosen to share with you, my ecstatic recipients.

      However, regardless of whether you complain or attempt to censor or harrass, you should be honest, and you should be prepared to deal with the fact that if you talk rubbish, there may just be one or two people to notice and call you on it.

      However, foz does get top points for not moderating my comment out of existence. Seriously, I don’t say that in irony.

  57. Pickles says:

    Oh good. After that thorough mind-blowing from Mudz’ expose on the tyranny of feminism I wasn’t sure that I could string sentences together anymore. Enlightenment and what have you.

  58. Maddog says:

    The words “Flaming Cunts who cannot take a joke unless it’s about a group that they hate and define themselves by”

    You Censorship Thug Bunnies are really on the wrong side of Truth.

    Which is impartial to how you like things to fit into your box.

    And haven’t women already fought and earned the right to enjoy sex. Now you are fighting to a big prude.

    Next time you want to call someone names that you would sell your left Ass for half of his accomplishments(jealous) Why don’t you do it in person.

    I bet you think your spit is like acid!

    Foz’s note: Oh, look! Another troll has been added to the banotorium.

  59. Maddog says:

    Oh yeah. Censorship is the first refuge of the coward(have to get that in before you actually exercise that ole Nazi privilege.

  60. bookgazing says:

    ‘Speaking for the sci-fi writers in the year 2040…’

    Woah hold on everyone I think we can all agree we should probably listen to a Timelord right? I mean what kind of SFF fans are we if we don’t?:P

  61. […] Old Men Yelling at Clouds: SFWA Sexism […]

  62. Andrew Weiland says:

    Fantasy isn’t mainstream lit and never will be. Science fiction isn’t fantasy, although if you call something STF when nothing magic happens until the last chapter you may be right. Fantasy means that it’s possible to visit the Happy Hunting Grounds / Tir Na Nog / etc.

    • fozmeadows says:

      Harry Potter and Star Wars respectively beg to differ.

      • The Hunger Games and, Gods help us, Twilight are chiming in.

        • Hunger Games is science fiction, Twilight is sparky vampire romance. The romance neighborhood, or Venusville, was built on both sides of the river. Some of it is fantasy and some of it tries to adhere to empirical laws, most of it doesn’t get any respect.

          • yaeltiferet says:

            Twilight fan here. Before anyone out there can dismiss me as a faux geek girl or a brat with no taste, I’d like to point out that I’m a fan of LOTS of things you probably really enjoy–I’ve been in fandom for a really long time, and I didn’t expect to like Twilight, because I knew it was super problematic and a lot of people I like don’t care for it. But my best friend read them and said they were for me, and she knows me REALLY well.

            I have honestly really hated most of the “romance” novels I’ve read, though I have certainly enjoyed a lot of novels with romantic plots and subplots. But I like Twilight for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with the romance. (I’m not THAT impressed with Edward, and Jacob is that Nice Guy I can’t stand…but I kind of love Bella a lot.)

            Twilight has a lot of science fictional elements, which is one of the reasons people make fun of it; instead of using one of the (many) standard vampire tropes, Stephenie Meyer attempted to come up with new and unusual reasons why many of the things that people have believed about vampires and werewolves might be true. So you get people saying things like “REAL vampires don’t sparkle,” as if there were such a thing as real vampires. Note that the next trope she took on was the pod person/alien body snatcher trope, and I liked what she did with that too because it wasn’t just like any of the versions I had already read that were written by dudes.

            A lot of Twilight hate is misogynist in nature; silly ego-boo books that boys and men love don’t get criticised nearly as heavily as Twilight does and very little of the criticism smells of the moral panicky “but young girls and women don’t know what’s actually good for them!” that you get with Twilight hate. And Twilight IS rather silly but so’s Harry Potter, and it is absorbing, if you are the particular kind of person who has the right ‘wiring’ for Twilight.

            There’s also a great deal of worldbuilding. Some of it could’ve used a once-over by someone who knew something about anti-racism and Native Americans before it went to publication (and I will never hesitate to admit this) but it could’ve been far worse. The political intrigues with the vampire covens remind me of a lot of Renaissance/early modern-based fantasies, only of course it’s overlaid on the world we live in now. The only urban fantasy authors I’ve encountered other than Meyer who do this to my taste are Elizabeth Bear and Seanan McGuire.

            Honestly, as someone who really loves Twilight, it’s really a coin toss whether it goes in the “urban fantasy” or “paranormal romance” (these usually have more science in them than the former–nobody does magic in Twilight, ever–they have powers, but these are assumed to be biological/innate) classification, but I’d go for the latter. And I think one of the reasons I prefer it to most paranormal romances is that there’s a lot more suspense in it. While you know that Edward and Bella are probably going to end up together, there is a lot of other stuff going on in the background that’s not so heavily foreshadowed. (One of the reasons I tend not to like genre romance is that there aren’t a lot of surprises in it, at least not for me.)

      • Harry Potter is fantasy, Star Wars is (soft) science fiction. Science fiction is closer to mainstream than it is to romance but overlaps with both neighborhoods.

        • SFF Madman says:

          I don’t think of Star Wars as science fiction. I think it’s more like fantasy. Even though the first episode described the Force as something that can measured genetically, it still sounds a lot like Taoism to me. In this case, despite the fact that it takes place “long, long ago,” I would call it a future fantasy.

          I agree about Hunger Games: dystopian future, science fiction.

  63. […] backlash she received was much more awful. But I am glad she spoke out along with a few others like Foz Meadow’s great post on this blow-out and […]

  64. […] Meadows dissects the Malzberg/Resnick article causing most of the controversy and […]

  65. […] bikini-clad swordswoman on a recent issue of the SFWA Bulletin and responded to the backlash by, among other things, comparing their oversexualized fantasy maiden to the half-naked men on the covers of romance […]

  66. […] for me, a personal issue writ large. My Dad, the man who gave me science fiction, has become an Old Man Yelling At Clouds, right along with Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg. And it breaks my […]

  67. […] Crazy by Jonathan Coulton http://www.jonathancoulton.com Old Men Yelling At Clouds: SFWA Sexism http://fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/old-men-yelling-at-clouds-sfwa-lunacy/ Catholic, Mormon Church Official Policy Now Supports Gay Youth In Boy Scouts — Holdouts […]

  68. […] of this going on in various places recently. Firstly,  SFWA had complaints about sexism in their recent bulletins, relating to both content and the cover, which led their editor Jean Rabe to resign. (A full […]

  69. […] huff when they say women should be more like Barbie and don’t know what the fuss is about as they perpetuate sexist stereotypes (warning: language, but this goes at the issue with iron teeth). (Another warning – this post […]

  70. […] I learned there was an article in SFWA propagating sexism. The first article I read on the subject, Old Men Yelling at Clouds: SFWA Sexism, left me with extreme confusion. If I can’t draw women in a sexualized manner, ever, or call a […]

  71. […] Foz Meadows, fantasy author, has done this with particular force, intelligence, and humor. In response to the claim that an image of scantily-clad warrior woman is conventional in certain departments of fantasy, she notes: […]

  72. It’s taken me a long time to catch up on the original SFWA debate, and on some of the posts about the controversy, including this one. I commend your passionately argued post, Foz. Old-school white racists and sexist sf writers should be the ones who are on guard against their own prejudices. They should be watching to make sure they don’t step out of line, and maybe working to grow their own senses of inclusiveness, compassion, and equality for all. What they shouldn’t be doing is justifying their own outmoded and thoroughly objectionable attitudes in regard to gender and other issues where they are so clearly out of step with attitudes in 2013. I love to see strong, intelligent women such as yourself speaking up for women’s rights and against this Dickensian unreconstructed male shit that Resnick and Malzberg seem to think is still fine, when so clearly it just isn’t. Of course, we can hope that old men with these entrenched sexist attitudes will die off soon, and they probably will. But while they’re alive and expressing themselves, those who object to their objectification have not just a right, but a duty, to speak out against such attitudes. Thanks again, Foz, I will be reposting your piece to various forums.

  73. Right on. I can think of nothing to add.

  74. […] I blogged about sexism in the SFWA Bulletin. I wrote that piece as a self-declared comic rant, the tone inspired by anger at men who ultimately […]

  75. Yes, yes, racism and sexism will die slow deaths, but the rant against them should go on. What’s odd about this post is that you say you’re deeply into science fiction and yet you’ve never even _heard_ of Mike Resnick before..

    • seantheblogonaut says:

      @John: Not all of us have the same reading canon. I am around the same age as Foz (or generation at least) and I had heard of Resnick but not read him. I think we need to be careful how we judge one’s “deepness” in the genre. Particularly when these sort of canon tests do get disproportionately applied to women as a way of disqualifying them from the discussion

      I would say I am a science fiction fan, but there would be massive holes in my reading. I have read Clarke, Bradbury, Phillip E High, PK Dick, Wyndham, Le Guin, Herbet and Wells but no Asimov or Heinlein.

  76. […] Foz Meadows’ for a breakdown of why the column is so problematic (warning for language); […]

  77. monado says:

    Silverberg was a hidebound old sexist thirty years ago. God knows what he’s like now.

  78. SFF Madman says:

    Wow. Like I said on Chronicles, I had no idea. I had always thought SF writers were a little bit ahead of others in terms of progressiveness. This shows me how very wrong I was.

    Oh, I knew about cover art and such. They do the same thing in games. There’s something wrong with this. You can’t fight with all your skin exposed like that, for one. But I always thought that was the *publisher’s* choice, not the writer’s. I should have known better, because writers can at least say it doesn’t represent the story very well.

    In fact, in a talk I had with my brother the other day about Wonder Woman, I criticized her outfit. In one episode of the animated series Justice League Unlimited, Wonder Woman goes to Hephaestus. He drooled over her, for one (fortunately she showed him just how disgusted she was with this behavior), then started talking about her “armor” because he had made it for her. I thought, “What armor?” I, as a male, obviously loved it when I was kid. I can’t lie about it: it’s clearly a male fantasy, as you said. But it is also clearly *wrong* in every way.

  79. […] and detailed take on the whole thing by Foz Meadows here… Old Men Yelling at Clouds… and I really have to second the notion that if you EVER find yourself tempted to agree with […]

  80. […] opinion to censorship. (Cogent and detailed take on the whole thing by Foz Meadows here… Old Men Yelling at Clouds… and I really have to second the notion that if you EVER find yourself tempted to agree with […]

  81. […] Rees is referring to belongs to the same, outdated, Andrea Dworkin school of fringe theories that Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg are so fond of conflating with the movement as a whole? What, did all these old, embittered white […]

  82. […] There was one big mess in the SFWA recently, where articles by Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg in the SFWA Bulletin, the organisation’s internal publication, included comments widely criticised as sexist, and a response to those criticisms that only made things worse. The stir caused by this was massive, there are dozens of posts you could link to, but I particularly like Foz Meadows’ complete tearing apart of the writers of the column. […]

  83. […] earnest, and haven’t really given a lot of thought to the need for activism within SF/F. Then all hell broke loose, and it broke loose again, and a writer named Kari Sperring coined a hashtag that gave me one of […]

  84. […] to the surface of the SFF genre conversation. Not fictional sexism, but the real-life kind: the Resnick/Malzburg dialogues (liberal fascism! censorship!) were followed by repugnant white supremacist and ex-SFWA […]

  85. […] in SF fandom: Summary from one PoV here (skim the comments though) or from a different perspective here: (Short version: older duffers shocked at being taken to task for crass […]

  86. […] think you’re wrong, but we’ll have to agree to disagree,” but to talk about “censorship” and “liberal fascism.” Likewise, calls to expel Theodore Beale from SFWA for, essentially, bringing the organisation into […]

  87. […] по-бурни реакции от първоначалната публикация и много гневни блог постове (съдържащи много думи с първа буква “f”). […]

  88. […] class and race as well as gender. In general, says the marvelously outspoken author/blogger Foz Meadows, this is a community “actively concerned with questions of representation and […]

  89. […] our books and start actually talking to each other. The howls of outrage over sexual harassment, lady editors in swimsuits and rabid jungle cats are not just shit storms and slap fights, they are the times in which the […]

  90. […] if anyone wants to read up a bit on what’s going on, here are some links.  Here and here and here and here and here, all in no particular order.  And also, closer to home for me, […]

  91. Hi there. I just came across this today, a little late to the party. I think your post is great and I’m glad it’s up here. I just wanted to let you know that the third of the first three links, the one to something written on Saundra Mitchell’s page, doesn’t work. There’s nothing there when you click on it. You’ve got a new follower here, and I reblogged your post on Rod Rees because I thought it was awesome too. Thanks!

  92. […] Barry Malzberg from such science fiction novels as Beyond Apollo and The Falling Astronauts.  But most of you will know Malzberg from the recent kerfuffle over his and Mike Resnick’s […]

  93. […] am tired of being told, either overtly or through oblivious privileged ramblings, that women make for bad writers; that we ruin genre with girl cooties, aren’t as good at […]

  94. […] Old Men Yelling At Clouds: SFWA Sexism, 2 June […]

  95. Maddy says:

    This article was 1) hilarious 2) brilliant at utterly tearing down what those idiots said 3) completely depressing, because the fact that this sort of thing still happens right in the upper echelons of the Sci Fi industry is absolutely gutting revelation to me as a young female aspiring author who until recently harboured romantic dreams about the writing industry and hopes that sexism was something her mother had to deal with.

  96. Morgan Smith says:

    I’m nearly 60…I’ve been listening to these and similar arguments for most of those years…when I was 8 – eight !!! – I knew they were bullshit. Why? Because I had a teacher who said that because women were more inherently suited to things like cooking was why women should stay in the kitchen and then remarked “But you’ll notice there aren’t any important women chefs.” and I – carefully raised leftist child of nascent hippies that I was – Lost It.

    It’s exhausting, but I’m glad always to have some allies out here on the fringe.

  97. yaeltiferet says:

    What on earth does the fact that those guys wrote porn for money have to do with this? All discussion of porn pro vs con aside, implying that that should have a bearing on what’s acceptable in the SFWA Bulletin is like saying that the SFWA Bulletin should run burger recipes because you used to work at McDonalds.

  98. […] year’s series of hiccups over the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) Bulletin were a massive facepalm, but it was […]

  99. […] not going to retrace what is already well-worn territory here, nor will I recount the numerous times I personally have been attacked online for […]

  100. […] occurred to me I’ve been really quiet here, aside from yelling at old men yelling at clouds. Yikes! Sorry ’bout that. I haven’t been quiet anywhere else, of course; it’s […]

  101. […] dealing with it; all the problems of panel parity, diversity and representation; the never-ending parade of scandal and sexism within the SFWA; and, just as importantly, all of Loncon 3′s early hard […]

  102. […] critical of the geek and nerd community's short-comings because I know we can be better than the regressive Old Guard yelling at clouds. I believe in the potential for nerds and geeks to truly be the positive and progressive force our […]

  103. […] Foz Meadows for her blogging generally, but particularly “Old Men Yelling at Clouds.” […]

  104. […] gathering on LGBT YA books   Foz Meadows for her blogging generally, but particularly “Old Men Yelling at Clouds.”   Anita Sarkeesian – Tropes vs Women in Video Games (Damsel in Distress 1 & 2, […]

  105. […] We don’t need no stinking characterisation. It reads very much like yet another example of people yelling at clouds that SF has changed, while the rest of us are over here, doing our own […]

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