I generally avoid blogging on certain topics, not because I don’t think they are important, but because I don’t feel qualified or knowledgeable enough to comment, or because I simply don’t feel I have any right to do so (cowardly of me? Perhaps. You know, I actually found writing this a bit scary*). But sometimes you read things, and they make you feel so sad or mad or depressed (or all of the above) that you simply must say something.
Amidst the furore created by Christopher Priest’s comments on the Arthur C. Clarke Awards were a number of excellent posts, one of which by Catherynne M. Valente really stood out for me, where she discussed how Mr Priest could get away with a lot more by virtue of being male. It is an excellent and thought provoking piece, and I suggest you read it, but it is actually her follow up post that really hit home for me and made me want to write this post.
You really should read the whole thing. But there are bits that leap out at you and grab you by the head and shake you.
The fact is, to be a woman online is to eventually be threatened with rape and death. On a long enough timeline, the chances of this not occurring drop to zero.
This is not exaggeration for the purposes of making a point. It is simply a fact. It’s one of the main reasons why I don’t read below the comment line on many blogs because the amount of hatred and vitriol make my stomach churn, and, while it gets directed at men too, it is undeniable that when it comes to women it goes up a whole other level.
Chris Priest can say what he says not only because he is a giant in his field (Sady Doyle is barely less prominent in hers, and while I do think that harsh criticism goes down better when it’s not the authors in the field at hand who do it, both Sady and Requires are not SF authors of any stripe) but because he is a man. And we respond to it with some anger, but mostly reasoned philosophical or humorous posts, macros, examining what it means, the value of juried awards, defending the authors and jurors but mostly accepting what he said as either a sad gesture by an old man, a hilarious and miserable rant, or valuing that at least someone cares that much–even wishing someone would go equally ballistic about a different award. There is a marked lack of viciousness–and what he said was every bit as bad as some of the stuff that gets Requires Only That You Hate a fever pitch of loathing and seething fury just about every time she posts.