“It’s possible I have bitten off more than I can chew”

I’m more than slightly in awe of Olivia Waite. For the blogging from A to Z in April challenge she decided to do a series of posts on intersectional feminism in Romance, leading to such gems as this review of Sandra Hill’s Frankly My Dear:

This is the petty tyranny of inconvenience — just as the heroine believes that her individual comfort somehow justifies the enslavement of roughly a hundred other human beings, romance readers feel it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable to reflect on the ways the genre not only has marginalized but continues to marginalize not only characters, but also readers and authors of color. This book was not written by an obscure self-published writer with a small niche audience. Sandra Hill is a New York Times bestselling author, a genre mainstay for the past two decades; she is still writing books set in the contemporary South, though I am certainly not going to read them.

In her introduction post she sets out how she will do this:

Every day in April, Sundays excepted, I will post about an author or a book that features something other than the straight white wealthy cis able-bodied mold romance is so wedded to (see what I did there?). These will not be reviews in the usual sense, though I will usually mention whether or not I find a book compelling as a romance. Instead, these posts will be literary or structural analyses with a feminist lens, using as much privilege-checking as I know how to bring. Many of the books are no longer new, so if you can think of more recent releases that grapple with the same issues, please mention them.

Every day in April, Sundays excepted, I will post about an author or a book that features something other than the straight white wealthy cis able-bodied mold romance is so wedded to (see what I did there?). These will not be reviews in the usual sense, though I will usually mention whether or not I find a book compelling as a romance. Instead, these posts will be literary or structural analyses with a feminist lens, using as much privilege-checking as I know how to bring. Many of the books are no longer new, so if you can think of more recent releases that grapple with the same issues, please mention them.

Sometimes, as with Sandra Hill’s novel, this means looking at a problematic work to see what it’s doing wrong and what this means for romance as a genre, sometimes, as with Jacqueline Koyanagi’s Ascension, it means looking at a book that gets it right and show how it does it:

It’s easy to say that Jacqueline Koyanagi’s luscious debut Ascension ticks just about every box on the anti-kyriarchy bingo card: our heroine is a queer disabled woman of color (in space!). She falls in love with a disabled starship captain who’s in a polyamorous relationship with another queer woman: a medic who plans on having children with a man-slash-engineer-slash-sometime-wolf. But like we saw with Her Love, Her Land, this book was written from deeply within the perspective of the identities it represents. The characters’ disability is a plot point, but it’s not The Plot Point — the same goes for queerness and race: they’re baked in, functions of character rather than Moving Moments. Polyamory gets a bit more of the Very Special Episode treatment, but this aspect is presented as bridging a gap between two different planetary cultures, one more sexually conservative than the other.

And all the characters are compelling, and several scenes made me gasp out loud (Adul!), but what I can’t wait to talk about is how this book treats the problem of humans having bodies.

And I’m so glad that finally not only has somebody else heard of Ascenscion, but she seems to like it as much as I liked it. It’s a novel I found only by accident, in the for sale section of a local bookstore and which nobody else online seems to have read, unlike say Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, which is somewhat similar.

I’m not much of a romance reader myself, but it is interesting to read these reviews and certainly some of them make me curious about the books reviewed, like e.g. Jeannie Lin’s Jade Temptress or Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. It’s impressive not so much to write a post each day — I’ve managed to do that for long periods of time myself — but rather to write such substantial and insightful posts on such a difficult subject day after day.

(Found via Natalie Luhrs, who has a knack of finding interesting, chewy sort of links.)


To call a woman a kenau in Dutch is to call her a harridan, a bitch, harsh, strident, aggressive, taking on masculine qualities. It’s a slur that’s rooted in an actually existing, historical woman, Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer, a Haarlem born widow, woodsmerchant and shipbuilder who became famous due to her role in the siege of her hometown by the Spanish in 1573.

As you of course know, the Netherlands fought the Eighty Years War to liberate themselves from Spanish and Catholic oppression, a large part of which consisted of the siege and countersiege of rebel or loyal cities. Haarlem in the 1570s was one of the richest, most important cities in the north of Holland and when it rebelled the Spanish were quick to put it down. The siege ended in a defeat for the rebels, but not before Kenau’s role in it had become legend.

19th century painting of Kenau Hasselaer on the walls of Haarlem by Barent Wijnveld and J.H. Egenberger

As legend has it, Kenau Hasselaer was the leader of an army of women who fought together with the men on the walls of Haarlem, pouring boiling pitch and water over the Spanish troops attempting to climb the walls. How historical this is, has been disputed, but what’s undisputed was that she was involved in supporting the soldiers on the walls, organising repair works and the like.

But of course the idea of Kenau Hasselaer as the firebreathing leader of a monstrous regiment of women is much more interesting, something that was played up in Dutch propaganda after the siege and which ultimately led to her name becoming the synonym for an aggressive woman, with the connection to the historical figure forgotten. A new Dutch movie, which premiered only this week, seeks to restore that connection, to rehabilitate Kenau as a name of pride, not a slur.

Course, being a Dutch film it’s not likely to be much good, but the idea is interesting.

No one will fail to support my right to exist unmolested

Science fiction fandom doesn’t have the best of reputations when it comes to providing safe spaces, so it’s heartening to hear about when a convention gets it right. When twistpeach got harassed, the Arisia concon took her complaints seriously and made sure her harasser was banned (which, it turned out, he was already) and once it became clear that this wasn’t a one-off incident, other cons were warned about him and several followed Arisia’s lead and banned him too. Twistpeach credits Arisia for having created a place in which she felt secure enough to come forward:

I was confident that I was in a safe place, surrounded by people who I could rely upon to back me up. No one will fail to support my right to exist unmolested in space and time, displacing the room for entitled jerks to have free reign. So I don’t have to be afraid. I am not alone. And yes. I have a right to be here.

I have these things because of activists against rape culture, movements against harassment at conventions in general, Arisia’s policy and personnel particularly, feminism, supportive friends, and a culture that has been significantly altered by them. I am so grateful that somebody told me that I have a right to be here. My community supports that right and it is because of them that I have the conviction to stand up for myself. Thank you to all of you who have made me strong enough to be a warrior.

All of this is excellent news, to see that sf conventions can get it right, that anti harassment policies can and do work and that problem individuals can be identified and do have to take the responsibility for their actions. In an ideal world this shouldn’t have been remarkable or newsworthy, but publicising such positive outcomes help both to restore confidence in sf fandom to clean up its own house as well as make clear fandom doesn’t tolerate harassment. Kudos to Twistpeach as well for being confident enough to write about her experiences so honestly.

Exclusion in comics

So Frank Santoro and Sean T. Collin discuss comics criticism, mentioning in passing the lack of women in this, prompting Heidi MacDonald to write a piece arguing that actually, they and the Comics Journal were part of the problem, in turn inspiring Annie Murphy to talk about what bothers her about the Journal’s culture:

So I’m saying, all this relates to the environment of comics at large, the confidence of women artists, and the inclusion of people besides just straight white men. Groth’s comment about what is ‘good’ or not is the rule, not the exception. I cannot tell you how many women, queers, people of color have told me that they used to draw but stopped completely after someone told them their drawing was not ‘good’, because it did not look like what the straight white men were drawing. I’ve heard this from dozens and dozens and dozens.

What Annie Murphy talks about here struck me as not too dissimilar from what we’ve seen in science fiction fandom, gaming or the skeptics community in the past couple of years, which is not too surprising as these all share the same DNA, the same makeup. These are or were all male dominated spaces, where women (and everybody not white and male) have always been treated with a certain hostility, tolerated if they fit in and pretended to be one of the boys. Some of this is done consciously, by the more meatheaded parts of comics fandom, but much of it is systemic and built into how the industry and the critical community are established and operate.

There’s a lot of unexamined privilege, a lot of systemic racism and sexism at work in the comics industry and not just at the big, commercial publishers; people who point that out are not always welcomed with open arms. In science fiction fandom similar problems are slowly being addressed, but I feel that comics fandom and the comics industry are years behind at this point

To get back to the Journal specifically, it’s culture has always been aggressive, from the Blood & Thunder lettercolumn to the famous Groth editorials. It’s an environment that punishes mistakes harshly and where people take pride in their toughness, again not dissimilar to e.g. programming culture, where it’s long know that this contributes to the lack of diversity within programming.

is comics culture to blame for harassment?

So it turned out there were quite a few incidents of (sexual) harassment at the New York Comic-Con, one part of which was the ad campaign ran by the con’s sponsor, Arizona Ice Tea, with their ” I love Big Cans” hur hur innuendo. Though that sort of pseudo tittilation couldn’t have helped the atmosphere at the con, but Ulises Farinas calls out the much deeper link between comics culture itself and harassment:

There’s arguments about cosplay not being consent, which is such a broken debate because it takes place in a space where half the images being costumed are of characters that’s only existence depends on being a sexual object. SLAVE Leias and Wonder Women who’s only armor is a fucking bracelet. How can i expect any dude to understand some complex shit like white male privilege, when they prefer to spend their whole lives in echo chambers of caveboy spandex. Where every “strong female character” is just another fanboy fantasy with guns strapped on. All the elaborate justifications in the world can’t change the fact that Black Widow was introduced to us tied up, that despite years of slash fiction online and in zines, we’ll see plenty of lesbian witches but never one gay Captain America. That Uhura is an even less important character in Star Trek today, than yesterday. That because we loved pacific rim so much, we had to ignore the fact that it fails the bechdel test like every other movie, and…well..uhhh…lets just call it the Miyako test instead now. Fuck that shit.

I think she’s got a point, in that the immature sexual pandering and sexism in much of mainstream comics feeds into the mindset that thinks cosplayers are there to be groped. But this doesn’t mean it’s pointless for comics conventions to take measures against it. And while “white male privilege” may be “complex shit”, keeping your fucking hands to yourself and showing some minimum of respect to everybody at a con, fan or professional, isn’t above the reach of even the average fanboy.

I also think that the rise of cosplay, as an important, separate thread in comics fandom is a good thing. Cosplay isn’t new of course, but its popularity is and the amount of creativity and sheer craft put in it is amazing. It’s easy to dismiss it all as “slave Leias”, but the fact that this is a part of fandom in which women are in the lead, removes some of that “boy club” feeling lingering in comics fandom.

The Great American Novel: women need not apply

This is such a great takedown of a certain kind of self important American novel(ist) that it had me giggling at work:

“Often the protagonist of an Important Novel of the Latter Half of The 20th Century is male, and is a thinly veiled version of the author. So thin of a veil. A veil so thin is it possible to discern whether the author was circumcised. Also, he often displays a particular stomach-turning combination. He regards women as, one the one hand a mere necessary evil, not things one would be inclined to befriend or discuss life with, and on the other hand, beings of terrible power that make one very angry indeed.”

Who knew Belle Waring could be so sarky? Timely too, what with the writer David Gilmour (no, not that one) attempting to take a break from a well earned obscurity by saying stupid stuff about not wanting to teach about women writers:

I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class. Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.

Then saying he was misquoted and that “It was a careless choice of words. I’m not a politician, I’m a writer.” Gee.

“The Only Woman Caricaturist”

Kate Carew caricature of herself interviewing the Wright Brothers

I’d never heard of Kate Carew until The Comics Journal wrote about her:

A woman. Traveled across country (alone?) to the biggest, most vital city in the world at the time. Got a job on a paper run and staffed by men. Cartooned. She did all this in the 1880s through the early teens. American women got the right to vote in 1920. Got it? Okay, let’s go on.

Mary Williams adopted the name “Kate Carew” and wrote candid, witty interviews with luminaries of the day, including Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso, and the Wright Brothers. She adorned her interviews with her unique “Carewatures,” and often drew herself into the scene. Imagine Oprah Winfrey as a liberated woman caricaturist-interviewer in 1900 and you have an idea of who Kate Carew was.

But she turns out to have been amazing, a cartoonist who in the 1900s and 1910s interviewed all the celebrities of her day. The Wright Brothers! Jack Johnson! (Q: was he “anxious to undermine the supremacy of the Caucasian race” with his boxing? A: No) Picasso! She even tricked Mark Twain into an interview.

In a 1904 Person’s Magazine feature, she talked about how she got her start:

Kate Carew

I was a comparatively harmless painter person who had set up a studio in New York with a single eye to serious work-art with a capital “A,” you know–and in a mischievous moment I inked over some grotesque sketches of an actor which I had made on the margin of a theatre programme, and sent them to a newspaper, hardly expecting ever to hear of them again.

But lo! I did, and the sequel throws a light on the hunger for novelty which is the ruling passion of the bright young editors trained up by Mr. Joseph Pulitzer, proprietor of the New York World. It was to the World that I had sent my sketches. They fell into the hands of an editor whose hunger for novelty was especially poignant, and within two days I was engaged at what to a lowly painter of portraits seemed a ridiculously handsome figure, to supply the paper twice a week with two columns of theatrical caricature seasoned with frivolous comment. I awoke to find myself pseudonymously famous. The alias with which I had signed the sketches–I had selected it a random–shouted at me from advertisements and posters, and “The Only Woman Caricaturist” was flaunted before the public with a persistence which made me thank my stars I had not signed my real name.

Kate Carew also worked in comics, which was why she was mentioned in that TCJ review in the first place, with her best known comic being Angel Child:

An Angel Child strip by Kate Carew

All of which is enough for an independent movie company to make a documentary about her:

Women to Read Wednesday 04: 100 great sf stories by women

Irritated by an old science fiction anthology, where out of the hundred stories only five were by women, Ian Sales put together the list below of a hundred great science fiction stories by women. A list like that is always a good way of hearing about writers you haven’t encountered before, so I want to keep this simple. Bold if I’ve never heard of somebody before, italics if I’ve read something of them.

  1. ‘The Fate of the Poseidonia’, Clare Winger Harris (1927, short story)
  2. ‘The Conquest of Gola,’ Leslie F Stone (1931, short story)
  3. ‘Water Pirate’, Leigh Brackett (1941, short story)
  4. ‘Space Episode’, Leslie Perri (1941, short story)
  5. ‘No Woman Born’, Cl Moore (1944, novelette)
  6. ‘That Only a Mother’, Judith Merril (1948, short story)
  7. ‘Contagion’, Katherine Maclean (1950, novelette)
  8. ‘Brightness Falls from the Air’, Margaret St Clair [as Idris Seabright] (1951, short story)
  9. ‘All Cats are Gray’, Andre Norton (1953, short story)
  10. ‘The Last Day’, Helen Clarkson (1958, short story)
  11. ‘Captivity’, Zenna Henderson (1958, novella)
  12. ‘The New You’, Kit Reed (1962, short story)
  13. ‘The Putnam Tradition’, Sonya Dorman (1963, short story)
  14. ‘Lord Moon’, MJ Engh [as Jane Beauclerk] (1965, short story)
  15. ‘Weyr Search’, Anne McCaffrey (1967, novella)
  16. ‘The Heat Death of the Universe’, Pamela Zoline (1967, short story)
  17. ‘The Steiger Effect’, Betsy Curtis (1968, short story)
  18. ‘The Power of Time’, Josephine Saxton (1971, novelette)
  19. ‘And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side’, James Tiptree Jr (1972, short story)
  20. ‘When It Changed’, Joanna Russ (1972, short story)
  21. ‘Sheltering Dream’, Doris Piserchia (1972, short story)
  22. ‘Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand’, Vonda N McIntyre (1973, novelette)
  23. ‘Clone Sister’, Pamela Sargent (1973, novelette)
  24. ‘The Violet’s Embryo’, Angélica Gorodischer (1973, novelette)
  25. ‘Stone Circle’, Lisa Tuttle (1976, short story)
  26. ‘Eyes of Amber’, Joan D Vinge (1977, novelette)
  27. ‘Cassandra, CJ Cherryh (1978, short story)
  28. ‘The View from Endless Scarp’, Marta Randall (1978, short story)
  29. ‘Scorched Supper on New Niger’, Suzy Mckee Charnas (1980, novelette)
  30. ‘Abominable’, Carol Emshwiller (1980, short story)
  31. ‘Sea Changeling’, Mildred Downey Broxon (1981, novelette)
  32. ‘In the Western Tradition’, Phyllis Eisenstein (1981, novella)
  33. ‘Her Furry Face’, Leigh Kennedy (1983, short story)
  34. ‘Bloodchild’ Octavia E Butler (1984, novelette)
  35. ‘Symphony for a Lost Traveller’, Lee Killough (1984, short story)
  36. ‘All My Darling Daughters’, Connie Willis (1985, novelette)
  37. ‘Webrider’, Jayge Carr (1985, short story)
  38. ‘Out of All Them Bright Stars’, Nancy Kress (1985, short story)
  39. ‘The View from Venus: A Case Study’, Karen Joy Fowler (1986, novelette)
  40. ‘Reichs-Peace’, Sheila Finch (1986, novelette)
  41. ‘Daily Voices’, Lisa Goldstein (1986, short story)
  42. ‘Rachel in Love’, Pat Murphy (1987, novelette)
  43. ‘Forever Yours, Anna’, Kate Wilhelm (1987, short story)
  44. ‘Stable Strategies for Middle Management’, Eileen Gunn (1988, short story)
  45. ‘War and Rumours of War’, Candas Jane Dorsey (1988, short story)
  46. ‘The Mountains of Mourning’, Lois Mcmaster Bujold (1989, novella)
  47. ‘Tiny Tango’, Judith Moffett (1989, novella)
  48. ‘Identifying the Object’, Gwyneth Jones (1990, novelette)
  49. ‘Loose Cannon’, Susan Shwartz (1990, novelette)
  50. ‘Dispatches from the Revolution’, Pat Cadigan (1991, novelette)
  51. ‘The Road to Jerusalem’, Mary Gentle (1991, short story)
  52. ‘The Missionary’s Child’, Maureen F McHugh (1992, novelette)
  53. ‘The Story So Far’, Martha Soukup (1993, short story)
  54. ‘The Good Pup’, Bridget McKenna (1993, short story)
  55. ‘California Dreamer’, Mary Rosenblum (1994, short story)
  56. ‘Last Summer at Mars Hill’, Elizabeth Hand (1994, novella)
  57. ‘Coming of Age in Karhide’, Ursula K Le Guin (1995, novelette)
  58. ‘De Secretis Mulierum’, L Timmel Duchamp (1995, novella)
  59. ‘Merlusine’, Lucy Sussex (1997, novelette)
  60. ‘Noble Mold’, Kage Baker (1997, short story)
  61. ‘All the Birds of Hell’, Tanith Lee (1998, novelette)
  62. ‘Rain Season’, Leanne Frahm (1998, short story)
  63. ‘Echea’, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1998, novelette)
  64. ‘Patient Zero’, Tananarive Due (2000, short story)
  65. ‘Knapsack Poems’, Eleanor Arnason (2002, short story)
  66. ‘State of Oblivion’, Kaaron Warren (2003, short story)
  67. ‘Inside Out’, Michaela Roessner (2004, short story)
  68. ‘Griots of the Galaxy’, Andrea Hairston (2004, novelette)
  69. ‘Riding the White Bull’, Caitlín R Kiernan( 2004, novelette)
  70. ‘The Avatar of Background Noise’, Toiya Kristen Finley (2006, short story)
  71. ‘Captive Girl’, Jennifer Pelland (2006, short story)
  72. ‘The Bride Price’, Cat Sparks (2007, short story)
  73. ‘Tideline’, Elizabeth Bear (2007, short story)
  74. ‘Arkfall’, Carolyn Ives Gilman (2008, novella)
  75. ‘Legolas does the Dishes’, Justina Robson (2008, short story)
  76. ‘The Ecologist and the Avon Lady’, Tricia Sullivan (2008, novelette)
  77. ‘Infinities’, Vandana Singh (2008, novelette)
  78. ‘Chica, Let Me Tell You a Story’, Alex Dally Macfarlane (2008, short story)
  79. ‘Spider the Artist’, Nnedi Okrafor (2008, short story)
  80. ‘Cold Words’, Juliette Wade (2009, novelette)
  81. ‘Eros, Philia, Agape’, Rachel Swirsky (2009, novelette)
  82. ‘Non-Zero Probabilities’, NK Jemisin (2009, short story)
  83. ‘Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast’, Eugie Foster (2009, hort story)
  84. ‘It Takes Two’, Nicola Griffith (2009, novelette)
  85. ‘Blood, Blood’, Abbey Mei Otis (2010, short story)
  86. ‘The Other Graces’, Alice Sola Kim (2010, short story)
  87. ‘Agents of Repair’, Rosie Oliver (2010, short story)
  88. ‘Amaryllis’, Carrie Vaughn (2010, short story)
  89. ‘I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno’, Vylar Kaftan (2010, short story)
  90. ‘Flying in the Face of God’, Nina Allan (2010, short story)
  91. ‘Six Months, Three Days’, Charlie Jane Anders (2011, short story)
  92. ‘Nahiku West’, Linda Nagata (2011, novelette)
  93. ‘The Cartographer Bees and the Anarchist Wasps’, E Lily Yu (2011, short story)
  94. ‘Silently and Very Fast’, Catherynne M Valente (2011, novella)
  95. ‘Jagannath’, Karin Tidbeck (2011, short story)
  96. ‘A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel’, Yoon Ha Lee (2011, short story)
  97. ‘Immersion’, Aliette de Bodard (2012, short story)
  98. ‘The Lady Astronaut of Mars’, Mary Robinette Kowal (2012, novelette)
  99. ‘The Green’, Lauren Beukes (2012, short story)
  100. ‘Significant Dust’, Margo Lanagan (2012, novelette)

“I’m an endangered species. I shouldn’t be anymore.”

Samantha Allen, in one of the better posts I’ve seen on the subject, talks about the contineous harassement of trans* people by a certain kind of radfem:

In some bizarre alternate reality, however, I’m seen as a villain who invades “real” women’s spaces and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes. A small but vocal band of activists known as “Radfems” see transgender women like myself as a blight on the feminist movement, but — because their views are not representative of the feminist movement as a whole — many trans*-inclusive feminists refer to them as TERFs, or Trans*-Exclusionary Radical Feminists.

“Reporting Harassment at a Convention: A First-Person How To”

Well known science fiction fan Elise Matthesen was sexually harassed at Wiscon and decided to formally complain to both the convention and the harasser’s employer.

Although their behavior was professional and respectful, I was stunned when I found out that mine was the first formal report filed there as well. From various discussions in person and online, I knew for certain that I was not the only one to have reported inappropriate behavior by this person to his employer. It turned out that the previous reports had been made confidentially and not through HR and Legal. Therefore my report was the first one, because it was the first one that had ever been formally recorded.

Matthesen was surprised to learn both that the person in question was long known to be a serial harasser and nobody had made a formal complaint about him yet, which is why she wrote about this and got it posted not just on John Scalzi’s blog, but also at the blogs of Mary Robinette Kowal, Seanan McGuire, Brandon Sanderson, Chuck Wendig and Jim Hines, who also reveals the name of the accused and confirms that this person had been reported before.

As to why this person hasn’t been named before or been formally complained about, Mary Robinette Kowal has some thoughs about her own culpability in this.

It is of course not uncommon that a serial harasser has long been known and warned about by their victims, but never taken direct action against, so not uncommon that the sex, feminism and BDSM blog The Pervocracy called this situation “the missing stair”:

Have you ever been in a house that had something just egregiously wrong with it? Something massively unsafe and uncomfortable and against code, but everyone in the house had been there a long time and was used to it? “Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you, there’s a missing step on the unlit staircase with no railings. But it’s okay because we all just remember to jump over it.”

Some people are like that missing stair.

When I posted about a rapist in a community I belonged to, although I gave almost no details about the guy except “he’s a rapist,” I immediately got several emails from other members of that community saying “oh, you must mean X.” Everyone knew who he was! Tons of people, including several in the leadership, instantly knew who I meant. The reaction wasn’t “there’s a rapist among us!?!” but “oh hey, I bet you’re talking about our local rapist.” Several of them expressed regret that I hadn’t been warned about him beforehand, because they tried to discreetly tell new people about this guy. Others talked about how they tried to make sure there was someone keeping an eye on him at parties, because he was fine so long as someone remembered to assign him a Rape Babysitter.

All of which led Dustin Kurtz to wonder whether Sf fandom’s inclusiveness makes this problem worse and concludes that it should not:

The SFF community, of which conventions are a vital distillation, was, historically, populated by outsiders. The entire idea of genre is of course predicated on a readership that consciously sets itself apart, and no genre made that as much a point of pride as skiffy readers. That has the glorious result that outsiderdom predicated on other criteria—transgendered fans, for instance—is welcome within the community, even when that might be less true in society generally. But some, particularly men of an older generation, seem to mistake a spirit of permissiveness for individual permission.

Whatever the reasons, harassment is rife at these things. But maybe now, in the twenty-first century—the goddamned future—after a year of truly infuriating misogyny from some of the old guard in the genre, maybe now things will finally reach the point where even the most loutish of fans realize that an inclusive community need not include them, that a safe space for geeks doesn’t mean they themselves are safe from repercussions, and that, oh yeah, we all know their boss’ phone number.

As one of the people in science fiction with a big megaphone, John Scalzi took the first step to stop tolerance of harassment, by insisting any con he is a guest of has a proper harassment policy.