How to Destroy the SFWA…err, no, I’m not going to talk about that after all


This post began as a parody or a satire.  Whatever it began as, it was a scathing critique of someone else whose post I’m not going to link to because I just don’t see a point in directly addressing anything said there or using my website as a link vehicle for what amounts to “people screaming about things they don’t understand.”  Phew.  Big sentence.

So, I’ve come to this point where I either shrug, shake my head, and walk away to other things, or I write parodies/satires because I don’t want to repeat myself.  I’m going with the first route (except the walking away part).

The SFWA nonsense shouldn’t be so nonsensical.  It shouldn’t be this difficult for some people to articulate a position that doesn’t make them look like assholes.  It shouldn’t be this difficult for those same people to understand what some people are saying.  It shouldn’t be this difficult for those same people to acknowledge that their worldview isn’t the only one or that it shouldn’t be just because it makes them comfortable.  It shouldn’t be this difficult for those same people to realize they’re arguing over a straw man and to start actually addressing what really bothers them, or to understand that gender matters, race matters, that our field is not perfect, that there are real structural problems here, that how people feel matters even if you don’t understand it because you’re not like them, that the world and its sf/f traditions matter, that how you represent others in a professional venue matters…

It shouldn’t be this difficult.

But it is.  And it’s incredibly frustrating to see name after name after name argue “1st Amendment” this or “political correctness” that.  To see them argue about things that aren’t happening, using definitions of words that make no sense (apparently “no politics” and “professionalism” means “say whatever you want in a professional venue without repercussions” — who knew?).  To see other people explain why the views of this group is skewed by straw man arguments and misunderstanding, only to get ignored because…reasons?  To see perfectly intelligent people refuse to acknowledge that gender and sexuality matter, and that giving up something like a pronoun really doesn’t cost any individual person anything worth hanging onto, or to see them hypocritically argue that the SFWA shouldn’t have anything to do with gender/sexuality/etc. while supporting inappropriate behavior from a while male author or two in a professional venue.  To see a female author get pissed on by someone in a position of authority because she didn’t dress conservative enough to qualify as a “feminist” (another redefined term).

To see discussions of diversity dismissed as “political correctness,” which roughly translated means, “I used to be able to say offensive things to these people, but now I’m unhappy because I can’t without getting called out for it.”  To see a member of the community write a mini-manifesto on how to fix the SFWA, when really it would completely destroy the organization’s ability to represent the interests of sf/f writers and prevent the organization from celebrating its diversity (of all sorts).  As if somehow this would make things better.  As if somehow the organization does nothing today, when it obviously does.

To see the complete inability of certain people to have the basic level of respect for others, even insofar as it might mean letting those others be represented in a journal designed for their profession.  Not as a political game.  Not as a manifesto for something.  But as an acknowledgement that people like them exist and are writing books or movies or whatever, and that there are particularities to the field that are relevant to them.

SF/F deserves better than this.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

2 thoughts on “How to Destroy the SFWA…err, no, I’m not going to talk about that after all

  1. Welcome to the death throes of the aging white male culture, who have taken their positions of cultural power so much for granted, that these positions and worldviews are simply "reality" and "proper" to them. They will NEVER, and I mean NEVER accept that what they inherited might not be fully morally acceptable to all people. Seriously, it's never going to happen. And while there will still be many holdovers, those who were taught worldviews by these same aging white men, or those who are still being raised in cultures less progressive, the newer generations will put the lions share of this worldview and those who hold it behind them. It's coming. And the struggle and the argument (making it visible, making the ideas heard) is direly important, only time and the passing of those who will never accept this change will actually bring it about. Keep it up, but realize patience will be necessary.

    • I'm not sure I agree this is entirely the death throes. It is for *this* generation, perhaps, but there's a whole new generation following them who believe reverse discrimination is real, etc. etc. etc.

      But I take your point that this particular worldview won't survive. It can't. And this is certainly a response to losing power, which isn't unexpected.

      It's just exhausting šŸ˜›

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