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netmouse: (Life)
I spent a little bit of time this week reading the comments on various Sad Puppies blog posts and articles. It was sometimes interesting, sometimes appalling, but mostly it was just kind of confusing.

Who do these people think are Social Justice Warriors, and why do they think Tor is their favorite publisher?

I mean, I know, SJW is mainly a derogatory term people use in order to dismiss and harass those who work for social justice as being too shrill and bullying to the people they criticize, and that it isn't a term people usually apply to *themselves*. And as such, 'SJWs' mostly represents an imagined group of "Leftist authoritarians" that are somehow repressing people on the Right. (One of my favorite comments, in a discussion of why some commenters were using melodramatic language that set up the Sad Puppies as though they were truly at war with leftist Hugo voters, was a sad puppy supporter saying, essentially, "They started it! What do you think the W in SJW stands for?" As though SJW was a self-applied term.)

But my first experience with 'SJW' being used to smear science fiction fans and activists was during Racefail '09, when The Man Who Shall Not be Named started using it to complain that the people who think race, class, disability, and gender, etc, are all intersecting problems and yes, racism is still a problem, were missing the Real Truth which is that it was all about class (and furthermore they were a bunch of snooty middle-class people who couldn't see that because of their own privilege and deranged liberal education, and also they were being mean).

If you actually were a participant (or interested observer) in Racefail '09, you may know that one of the main people who was sharply criticized by online masses of angry anti-racist activists was Teresa Nielsen Hayden, whose comment about there being more usernames than IP addresses in a Racefail discussion came across to many as an accusation that some real people who were up there possibly risking their future careers to express their personal truth despite the fact that powerful members of the establishment like Teresa were in the room were in fact sock puppets.

Now people supporting the puppies slates (which, in one way of looking at it, essentially encourage masses of real people to nominate for the Hugos like sock puppets) are calling Nielsen Hayden "The Queen of SJWs" in what has got to be one of the most ironic moves of the century. I mean, seriously. I can only imagine this history is part of why this is all rubbing Teresa so raw, and she has my sympathy. Because the people who are calling her that are so wrong it's not even funny, DESPITE the fact that there is not actually any such thing as an organized group of "Social Justice Warriors". If there were a group of people who were SFF SJWs, she would still not be its queen.

All of the supposed SJWs that I have seen under specific attack by puppies for participating in an alleged conspiracy, or whisper-campaign, to exclude right-wing writers from the Hugo Awards are white people. Have you noticed that? The Nielsen Haydens, John Scalzi, Jim C. Hines, Mary Robinette Kowal. Others by implication. And in fact, they pretty much have to be because the Worldcon attending, nominating, and voting population is skewed so older white fannish establishment that using the term "SJWs" in this whole debate is kind of ridiculous. At least, if you're looking for some kind of consistency with how the term was used in 2009 (perhaps that meaning has been superseded by how it was used in Gamergate? But no... the puppies insist there's no connection to Gamergate here.)

I mean, yes, Scalzi, Hines, the Nielsen Haydens, and Robinette Kowal are advocates for diversity in the field. And yes, Tor has published some diverse works and authors.

But when I think SJWs and SF, I think of the female writers (most of them people of color) who felt so harassed and targeted following Racefail '09 that more than half of them have essentially stopped blogging.

I think of activists like Kate Nepvue, whose open letter to white people in SFF Fandom is on my must-read list for smofs interested in promoting diversity, and who transforms good intentions into actual progress via the Con-or-Bust program to get fans of color to conventions -- NOTE: Con or Bust is even now gearing up for its annual fund-raising auction (items up for auction are being posted as they come in; bidding opens April 20th).

And when I think of Social Justice and SF, I think of the many authors who are participating in the We Need Diverse Books campaign. I think of editors like Sheree Renée Thomas, Nalo Hopkinson & Uppinder Mehan, Bill Campbell & Edward Austin Hall, Tobias S. Buckell, Alisa Krasnostein & Julia Rios, Walidah Imarisha & adrienne maree brown, Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, Mikki Kendall & Sofia Samatar, who are out there giving brothers, sisters, and the genderqueer a hand up, working hard to publish inclusive and transcendent works like Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, Diverse Energies, Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, and Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History (and Long Hidden 2: coming next year!)

The publishers of these works are not Tor Books. They are Aspect - Warner Books, Arsenal Pulp Press, Rosarium Publishing, Tu Books, Twelfth Planet Press, ak press, and Crossed Genres Publications. And the main publisher I think of when I think social justice in SF is Aqueduct Press, which publishes the WisCon Chronicles and guest of honor speeches, and many other important collections, essays, and novels from marginalized and feminist perspectives and authors, including the very useful and highly recommended Writing the Other, by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward.

So perhaps it is appropriate that these campaigns about the Hugos have had nothing to do with these people, because they are not Social Justice Warriors, they are Social Justice Workers. But it still makes me want to laugh when I see a headline like "Social Justice Warriors Aren't So Tough When Even Sad Puppies Can beat Them". Because the rabid puppies of the world are not really going up against the people fighting the hardest for social justice in SF. Some of the people who are most visible to other white people, maybe. But as some of the articles I've read this week have alluded to, the groups of people you often hear from in campaigns like these are not necessarily the people who care the most -- they are the people who have the most free time. Usually, you know, white people. (Because, whoops, class and race do actually intersect in this country.)

So I want to laugh, but I also don't feel like laughing, because it's sad that the people fighting so hard for social justice are still so invisible on the national scene. That this debate that invokes the term "Social Justice Warrior" is still basically by or about white people, just like so much else in the dominant culture of SF and the country as a whole.

[And I want to acknowledge here that some people who supported the sad puppies campaign would not characterize their actions as anti-anyone so much as pro- more diverse participation in the Hugo Awards. But the anti-SJW presence in the campaigns and online discussions is definitely highly visible and, as you see above, lauded by the right-wing press.]

The social justice workers I mentioned above? They're mostly not party to this. And they are not really part of the fannish power elite who run and have historically nominated for or recommended works for the Hugo Awards. Perhaps they are too busy doing other amazing things. :)

(Or dealing with issues like cancer, like Mary Anne Mohanraj, who says her intro to the next WisCon Chronicles is basically an essay on how she wants social justice conversations to change in SF/F. Wouldn't that be nice?)

When their work is admired, it is because it is admirable. I highly recommend you check it out.

And while you're at it, please support the Carl Brandon Society, which is in need of both volunteers and funds. Thank you.
netmouse: (Life)
Annie Bellet has pulled her short story "Goodnight Stars" out of Hugo Award consideration because she doesn't want to be either a conscripted player or a ball in this political game. I can respect that. I also respect her story, which I encourage you to read. Her editors had put it online for free access and it's still there.

Just as Annie Bellet will still be writing when this year's Hugo Awards are said and done. One to watch, folks.

(Marko Kloos is also withdrawing his novel, Lines of Departure, for similar reasons.)
netmouse: (Default)
(cross-posted from http://netmouse.livejournal.com/799046.html)

I feel like I should comment on the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies mess with the Hugo Awards this year. If you don't know what I'm talking about, basically there were a couple "slates" of candidates for Hugo Award nomination that people were pushing for this year in organized campaigns online. This is not against the rules, though many found it in poor taste, especially as the organizers were not shy about pulling in people from outside the fannish community to "freep" the results. One group did this before, but without dominating the nominations. Mike Glyer provided an overview on File 770 as to how successful they were this year (which was very), and there are now other articles on salon.com, slate, the daily dot, Strange Horizons, and i09, to name a few.

George R.R. Martin also weighed in with what I thought was a well thought-out post, and several other people have blogged about it as well, including this year's author GoH and Hugo Awards co-host (with Tananarive Due), David Gerrold. Finally, Mary Robinette Kowal has posted on how, yes, fandom can be more inclusive of SFF fans out there who may not have discovered it yet, and encouraged people to participate in the Hugo Award voting and nomination process who perhaps have not done so before. She has backed up that encouragement by offering ten supporting memberships to the current Worldcon to any fan who cannot afford such, and others have joined her in doing this, so she is accepting applications for up to 75 supporting memberships on that page between now and April 17. Please spread the word.

As for me, I did something like that last year -- The Sad Puppies slate annoyed me, particularly because I knew that, what with working on Detcon1 for July and moving to Pennsylvania in August, I had no time for reading and voting on the Hugo Awards. So I went to The Carl Brandon Society discussion list and I offered to buy four supporting memberships to that year's Worldcon to anyone who was interested in voting and would commit to reading the nominees and voting on them. (Noting that I expected people to vote their own preferences, including that I did not expect them to finish any work they were not enjoying). I felt lucky to get four volunteers, and signed them up. This year, I reminded them before the nomination deadline that they could nominate works for this year as well, and that fewer people usually participate in nominating, so it has a bigger impact.

At that time, shortly before nominations were due, I knew the Sad Puppies were likely to put forth another slate, but I didn't realize how many works in almost every category they were going to put on their slate this year. I also wasn't too concerned, however, because a fair number of people involved seemed to sincerely believe in diversifying and expanding participation in Hugo Award nominations, which is a cause I support, and I had the impression there was going to be some diversity in race and gender in their slate as well (which there was). I didn't hear about the rabid puppies slate, which promoted works by truly awful writers and editors on a purely ideological basis, until after the nominations were announced.

I see some good candidates on the ballot in almost every category, and I hope people who vote give every nominee fair consideration. I haven't decided if I'm going to join and vote or not. There's no chance I can attend Sasquan, myself, for a number of reasons.

However, this year my plan is not to give away memberships in the current Worldcon so more people can vote. I'm going to wait until after site selection for the 2017 Worldcon is completed and give away supporting memberships to *that*. Current rules are that members of the current, next, and last Worldcon can nominate for the Hugo Awards. So if you get a supporting membership to the 2017 Worldcon before January of 2016, you will be eligible to nominate for three years -- 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Note that any members of this year's Worldcon can vote on site selection for 2017. In order to vote on site selection, you have to pay a fee that will be rolled into a supporting membership for whichever bid wins the Worldcon. If you are a member of this year's Worldcon, I encourage you to vote in site selection, get that supporting membership for the 2017 Worldcon, and commit yourself to nominating works and people for the Hugo Awards for the next three years.

You do not have to be present to vote on site selection. You also don't need to be widely read to be "qualified" to nominate for the Hugo Awards. You just have to care. It also helps to keep track of what stories, books, magazines, essays, art, etc, that you like each year. I recommend as part of this commitment, you start a text file or google doc or (gosh), a piece of paper on the wall or side table, titled "Fave SF&F of 2015" -- it's easier to keep track throughout the year than to remember when you're up against the deadline.

As a side note I'll also speak up in support of both the Helsinki and DC bids for 2017. The Worldcon was held in Japan in 2007 and in Montreal in 2009. Both conventions had a mix of great successes and serious issues. I think both sites deserve serious consideration for future years but not 2017. The Worldcon has not been held on the East Coast of the US since 2004, when it was up Boston (about an 8 hour drive from DC), and it has never been held in Finland. The last time the Worldcon was held in DC was in 1974, the year I was born. Both the Helsinki and DC bids have strong committees and good groundwork, and I would be pleased to see either one win.
netmouse: (Life)
I feel like I should comment on the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies mess with the Hugo Awards this year. If you don't know what I'm talking about, basically there were a couple "slates" of candidates for Hugo Award nomination that people were pushing for this year in organized campaigns online. This is not against the rules, though many found it in poor taste, especially as the organizers were not shy about pulling in people from outside the fannish community to "freep" the results. One group did this before, but without dominating the nominations. Mike Glyer provided an overview on File 770 as to how successful they were this year (which was very), and there are now other articles on salon.com, slate, the daily dot, Strange Horizons, and i09, to name a few.

George R.R. Martin also weighed in with what I thought was a well thought-out post, and several other people have blogged about it as well, including this year's author GoH and Hugo Awards co-host (with Tananarive Due), David Gerrold. Finally, Mary Robinette Kowal has posted on how, yes, fandom can be more inclusive of SFF fans out there who may not have discovered it yet, and encouraged people to participate in the Hugo Award voting and nomination process who perhaps have not done so before. She has backed up that encouragement by offering ten supporting memberships to the current Worldcon to any fan who cannot afford such, and others have joined her in doing this, so she is accepting applications for up to 75 supporting memberships on that page between now and April 17. Please spread the word.

As for me, I did something like that last year -- The Sad Puppies slate annoyed me, particularly because I knew that, what with working on Detcon1 for July and moving to Pennsylvania in August, I had no time for reading and voting on the Hugo Awards. So I went to The Carl Brandon Society discussion list and I offered to buy four supporting memberships to that year's Worldcon to anyone who was interested in voting and would commit to reading the nominees and voting on them. (Noting that I expected people to vote their own preferences, including that I did not expect them to finish any work they were not enjoying). I felt lucky to get four volunteers, and signed them up. This year, I reminded them before the nomination deadline that they could nominate works for this year as well, and that fewer people usually participate in nominating, so it has a bigger impact.

At that time, shortly before nominations were due, I knew the Sad Puppies were likely to put forth another slate, but I didn't realize how many works in almost every category they were going to put on their slate this year. I also wasn't too concerned, however, because a fair number of people involved seemed to sincerely believe in diversifying and expanding participation in Hugo Award nominations, which is a cause I support, and I had the impression there was going to be some diversity in race and gender in their slate as well (which there was). I didn't hear about the rabid puppies slate, which promoted works by truly awful writers and editors on a purely ideological basis, until after the nominations were announced.

I see some good candidates on the ballot in almost every category, and I hope people who vote give every nominee fair consideration. I haven't decided if I'm going to join and vote or not. There's no chance I can attend Sasquan, myself, for a number of reasons.

However, this year my plan is not to give away memberships in the current Worldcon so more people can vote. I'm going to wait until after site selection for the 2017 Worldcon is completed and give away supporting memberships to *that*. Current rules are that members of the current, next, and last Worldcon can nominate for the Hugo Awards. So if you get a supporting membership to the 2017 Worldcon before January 31 of 2016, you will be eligible to nominate for three years -- 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Note that any members of this year's Worldcon can vote on site selection for 2017. In order to vote on site selection, you have to pay a fee that will be rolled into a supporting membership for whichever bid wins the Worldcon. If you are a member of this year's Worldcon, I encourage you to vote in site selection, get that supporting membership for the 2017 Worldcon, and commit yourself to nominating works and people for the Hugo Awards for the next three years.

You do not have to be present to vote on site selection. You also don't need to be widely read to be "qualified" to nominate for the Hugo Awards. You just have to care. It also helps to keep track of what stories, books, magazines, essays, art, etc, that you like each year. I recommend as part of this commitment, you start a text file or google doc or (gosh), a piece of paper on the wall or side table, titled "Fave SF&F of 2015" -- it's easier to keep track throughout the year than to remember when you're up against the deadline.

As a side note I'll also speak up in support of both the Helsinki and DC bids for 2017. The Worldcon was held in Japan in 2007 and in Montreal in 2009. Both conventions had a mix of great successes and serious issues. I think both sites deserve serious consideration for future years but not 2017. The Worldcon has not been held on the East Coast of the US since 2004, when it was up Boston (about an 8 hour drive from DC), and it has never been held in Finland. The last time the Worldcon was held in DC was in 1974, the year I was born. Both the Helsinki and DC bids have strong committees and good groundwork, and I would be pleased to see either one win.

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