May 8, 2014

Implicit Racism and Sexism in SF readers and writers

The continuing drama in the SF/F field, reading blog posts, listening to podcasts, makes me boil a part of it down to this:

Many people do not like, and are offended, when they are called out on inadvertent racism and sexism (Is there a better term than this? I'm not an academic. Help!).

What I mean is, the kind of genre reader, who, just rolling along without thinking about it, reads 50 books a year, all of them by white men. Not because they have anything against Delany, or Le Guin, or Bear, but because that's what they read, and they don't even see the blinders on.

When they are called on those blinders, and using the terms of racism and sexism, you get the backlash, hard. "I have nothing against ----. How dare you call me a racist/sexist?" Then you get the usual doubling down and counter-reactions.

A bit in Foz Meadows' response to a John C Wright post can illustrate this:

Without any evidence, and not being able to see into his heart, I do think that The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF by Mike Ashley is a case of this (and John C. Wright's defense of it lacking women). I don't think that Ashley intended to exclude women, or people of color...but his blinders wound up making him do so. That's a failure of editing. Wright, I think, doesn't see Implicit Sexism or Racism as a thing (and again, looking into people's hearts, take with a grain of salt) and so of course defends him.

This doesn't mean implicit sexism and racism shouldn't be countered, but perhaps there are more effective ways of handling it than others. I don't know.

Disclaimer: During the Racefail drama of several years ago, a prominent person in that movement who shall remain nameless set to cyberbulling me for reasons I still can't quite understand or grok. I was nobody at the time and you probably don't even realize it happened. So my point of view may be biased in this regard. (And one reason why the comments are off)

Update (May 29): If anyone is reading this. Of course a day on the internet is forever, and things have moved apace in a month. Am I being naive here? Probably. Confused? Almost certainly. Wrong? Well...this is the Internet.

Posted by Jvstin at May 8, 2014 6:39 AM