I’m small, but still sorry

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.

Hugos- to consider

I hesitate to write this because I know my heart sinks every time I see an awards post I want my friends or myself to be on it and we’re not. But I do want to write it because of some works/people I think deserve consideration but may not be in the eye of fandom.

So I won’t be listing my entire ballot here. Just a few thoughts.

Best Dramatic Work (Short)
At the meeting this year I’m going to lobby for it to be named “Best Dr. Who episode” because come on, we all know the Doctor will win. Again. And AGAIN. But that doesn’t mean we can’t put worthy work up against it.

I endorse Mario Warfare by Beatdown Boogie. This indie company made a name for themselves with Modern War Gear Solid, a hysterical mashup of the video games Modern Warfare and Metal Gear Solid. Their second offering (aside from other very funny shorts) is Mario Warfare, a mashup of the Mario world and Modern Warfare. The video quality, the choreography, and the humor are all awesome.

Best Fan Writer
“Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during 2012.” But really, what they’re looking for is writing that looks at the genre with unflinching eyes, critique, and excellent writing ability.

So I’d like to bring up two people who fit all of the above criteria with laser accuracy, two women who are not afraid to say damn well anything they think, never mind internet reactions:

K. Tempest Bradford: She keeps up with the short fiction market unlike anyone else, and in a world where you can only find commentary on short fiction either in a larger anthology, or in comments about the story itself online, Tempest reviews both print and electronic media. She’s thorough, smart, funny, and is fearless about talking about race, gender, and other issues many tiptoe around.

A Cracked Moon: The blogger behind the blog Requires Only That You Hate. She’s a Thai blogger with absolutely no fear. She reads voraciously and reviews viciously, calling out sexism, racism, homophobia, colonialism, white tears, and simply bad writing. She has upset many, many authors. I am a straight white Western woman, and some of her reviews make me uncomfortable. And you know what? THAT IS A GOOD THING. She makes me think about why we accept certain sexist or racist tropes in our bestselling fiction. She makes me think about my own work and whether something is veering into Happy White Straight American Land where the PoC/GLBT/women/non-Westerners are all friendly and definitely not bitter or “tone” using. Some people really, really don’t like her. And that is what makes her viewpoint so damn important. She’s an excellent reader and an excellent reviewer and if she hates on your book, you can either deal with it the way you deal with any bad review (don’t read it; cry and drink a lot of wine; shrug and go back to writing; or do some introspection and see if your work can be improved based on her comments) or you can go all Anne Rice on Amazon on her. We need critics to have a critical eye aimed at our work. Fandom is about talking about literature and dissecting literature, among other things, and if she makes people uncomfortable, she’s doing her job.

And yeah, I fear bad reviews, and am certain that she would find my work sorely wanting (I would be in the “cry and drink wine” category, frankly), but that doesn’t mean she’s not good at her job, which is challenging SFF to be better and more inclusive.