If you don’t already know about the issues plaguing SFWA at the moment, this is a post you can probably skip, but the short version is: I have recently seen a whole bunch of members of my professional organization behave like assholes all over the internet.
To be totally clear: I’m talking about people who hold repugnant, racist, sexist, homophobic views. Not people who stumble sometimes on difficult issues or communicate awkwardly or get blindsided by our own prejudice–those things are true of me, and you, and everyone else. No, I’m talking about people who are actively working to make my professional organization unwelcoming to me. Calling for women to shut up when they’ve been sexually harassed. Calling for less diversity among the membership.
I am SO NOT OKAY with this.
I’ve been watching a number of people I respect leaving the organization due to this hostile environment. I wish they could stay, because they’re the people I want to associate with in my professional association! But I understand and respect their choice.
I am choosing differently. Partly, it’s privilege: I have the energy to keep up with the political discussion, vote, and just plain stick around long enough to outlast the bigots. Partly it’s the hope that I will also find the energy to say some useful things. I know I don’t have the energy to be as vocal as some other members, nor is my opinion necessarily going to be heeded–I am not a high-profile writer or blogger. But I can be part of the chorus, and I should be.
It’s also something else: I’m in my late thirties now, and the incandescent rage of my twenties has slowed and chilled, but it hasn’t gone away, because the problems that caused it haven’t either. It’s become a layer of bedrock beneath everything I do.
I am still sexually harassed on a frequent basis, from little things like catcalls, to bigger things like being groped at events or flashed on the streetcar. I spent a long time just sort of rolling with it–I didn’t think I had the energy to both fight it, and live the rest of my life. And I thought I was an outlier somehow. Boy, was I wrong–the recent slew of posts from absolutely everyone has shown me just how many other people share this experience.
So here’s what I’m doing. One: supporting SFFragette. Two: renewing my membership in SFWA and resolving to post more, speak up more, and give more assistance to the members and prospective members whose values I share. And three: keep on writing with all my soul.