Regarding the Hugos and the mess behind certain folks gaming the system, my stance was pretty much John Scalzi’s stance, that we can just read the works and vote as we see fit. Lately there have been several rebuttals to it, and they contain very good points.
His response was classy, as the guy tends to be. I am much smaller, and pretty sure I didn’t get blogged about (at least, no one emailed me) but I’m freely admitting my misstep here, just in case someone reads me but does not read Scalzi. All two of you.
Scalzi’s post today, listing the rebuttals here.
I wanted to quote one longtime ISBW supporter, Arachne Jericho, with this bit that really spoke to me (slur trigger warnings):
What struck me about statements like [that we can just read the works and vote as we see fit] is that they are made from a very privileged position: the position of someone who knows they will not be harmed by reading the works in question.
Why should words hurt? Because words are powerful; because words create the world we live in; because words have been used in the past to disenfranchise, discriminate, disempower. Here are just a few of those words: Slut. Nigger. Chink. Gypsy. Tranny. They have horrible power over those to whom they apply—and, conversely, little to no power over those who are outside of their definitions.
If single words can hurt, then ideas, which are expressed in multiple words, indeed, are expressed through essay and story, exactly what is being judged on the ballot—ideas can be downright harmful to a person even if they aren’t true. “Blacks commit crime and are thugs.” “Homosexuals are pedophiles.” “Asians are the enemy among us.” “Transwomen are crazy men.” “Autistics never lead fulfilling lives.” Again, terrible power over those to whom they apply, little to none over those outside of it all.
(Rape trigger warning)
I apologize for not thinking of this, because I have had this reaction: I can’t read some of the classic works of SFF (Thomas the Unbeliever, Stars My Destination, etc) because the protagonist is a rapist. Boom, book over for me. Protag could die in a fire, don’t care. No sympathy anymore, it’s gone. I blogged about this a while back and got considerable shit from some men – even a comment about “why do women get so upset about reading about rape instead of, say, murder?” which just fucking boggled my mind to the point where I didn’t even answer, because I figured anything I said would just be more “bitches be whining” to his sexist ears.
(One answer, in case you don’t know — and there are many more than one — is that you can be pretty sure your readers haven’t been murdered, but statistics say that some – probably many – of your readers have been raped.)
So I didn’t take the same heat Scalzi did, actually no heat at all, but I read the rebuttals and wanted to apologize anyway, because I said something super dumb. And I’m sorry.
Again, from Arachne Jericho:
This ballot is here, and it’s not going away; this much is true. But the marginalized don’t have to read those works. Both the marginalized and those who aren’t can all choose to not read those works.
It’s the great opt-out; when the world turns its back on you and ignores you, even when you manage to get on the ballot of one of the most prestigious—or at least, one of the most infamous—awards in the field….
I gotta say, that’s gonna leave a mark.