Dave Truesdale Explains It All

Well, then.

All of us shrill, divisive, ungrateful square peggers have, apparently, been lying and creating division because Dave Truesdale, a white man, has never once encountered a “smidgeon [sic] of racism or sexism at a convention, whether it be a local or regional con, a worldcon, a World Fantasy convention, a Campbell/Sturgeon awards banquet, or a Nebula Awards weekend.” Except for that one time he was at WisCon and was told that he couldn’t be a part of what I can only assume was a panel intended as safer space for women.

arya lmfao

image courtesy of E. Catherine Tobler

Ahem.

Okay, the reviews of the actual short stories in the special Women Destroy Science Fiction issue of Lightspeed are pretty solid so I’m not going to take issue with them–they are what they are and they’re about the quality one would expect from Tangent Online.  Instead, I want to look at the way the non-fiction was treated as well as Dave Truesdale’s self-serving, sanctimonious, and wrong wrong wrong editorial.

“She didn’t write it.”

So, first up, the “reviews” of editor Christie Yant’s editorial. Two men, two women–because Truesdale thinks this is fair. Isn’t it interesting that the reviews by Martha Burns and Cyd Athens  treat the material fairly and with generosity while the two men do their very best to dismiss and minimize Yant’s perspective.  Clancy Weeks goes so far to say that she is mistaken in what point she was making and then decides that only men can provide a solid definition of science fiction–Campbell, Sturgeon, and Robinson. He also throws out that old canard that it’s mostly men who consume this type of fiction, so it’s on the ladies to submit more. Ryan Holmes? He just doesn’t think we should be so negative.

Sigh.

“She wrote it, but she shouldn’t have. She wrote it, but look what she wrote about.”

Then there are the “reviews” of the non-fiction which are, well, barely reviews. And I’m actually really annoyed by that because it feels really disrespectful to treat the non-fiction as less important than the stories and to not bother even reviewing all of the essays.

Essays are dismissed as being not substantive enough, too personal, too angry. Filler. Inane. Reviewers are dismissive of multiple essayists’ lived experience–men were the audience, so of course the protagonists were male; [the essayist] is “clearly unhappy” and looking at things from the wrong angle. The essayists were even reading the wrong books. Generalizations that people write books that they want to read and that as long as the story is good, who wrote it doesn’t matter.  I suspect that if you feel this way you generally tend to find people like yourself in your reading material.

I’m not saying that all the reviews had to be positive because that would be silly–but the negative criticism reads as almost excessively personal in a way that the positive doesn’t.  A lighter touch, editorially, would have been appreciated.

“She wrote it, BUT…”

Finally, Dave Truesdale’s editorial.

In the first sentence he declares the very idea of the issue to be “absurd” and furthermore minimizes every single thing that helped lead to this special issue in the first place.

Here’s a dozen links which are, I hope, illustrative of the problem.

So that’s your context for Dave Truesdale’s editorial. Keep in mind that it took me about 15 minutes to pull all those links together into one place. Keep in mind that there’s a lot more where that came from. And a lot more that hasn’t been made public because women who speak openly about these things are very often not believed or blames.

Against that context, then:

Yes, science-fiction in its earliest days and for decades was written for the most part by men and for a young male audience. The SF genre pulp magazines found they were publishing material that happened to appeal most strongly to a young male audience, and they continued to do so because it made their magazines profitable (in most cases; many went belly up quickly). But it did not in any way discourage anyone else – people of color, different ethnicities, or the female sex (or those with different sexual orientations) –from joining the party.

Because the lack of representation in and of itself is not discouraging.  Because only male people were reading SF genre pulp magazines. (Despite the facts not bearing that assumption out.)

Truesdale then goes on this extended ramble about pulp fiction in general and cites the fact that there was only ever one female writer published in Black Mask, so this means that detective fiction is totally more sexist than science fiction.  I have two names for you, Dave Truesdale: Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie.

He then asks that since the primary readers of the love and romance pulps were women and that there were a whole lot of them, “Were these random titles and over a hundred more sexist because the stories within their pages were written expressly with women in mind—regardless of who wrote them?”

Maybe the idea that women only want to read about love and romance is sexist–did you ever think about that? For even half a second? Or were you too damn busy reading “The Angel in the House” for the hundredth time?

Then we get to mark off the “product of their time” square on our bingo cards and aren’t we all just thrilled about that?

Onwards! Truesdale then excavates a 38 year old interview with Leigh Brackett and holds it up as the authority around whether or not there was sexism in science fiction in those old timey days. Truesdale decides that there wasn’t because Leigh Brackett told him she didn’t experience any. Just because one woman didn’t experience sexism in her field doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  By using Brackett in this way, Truesdale effectively tokenizes her–and then dismisses her entirely as being anecdotal–as he dismisses the essays in this issue of Lightspeed.

These first-hand accounts by a number of women SF writers who have been in the field for many decades in some cases, or are relative newcomers, profess to knowing of no personal discrimination aimed their way. So why is this not put forth and heralded to the outer world at large as an example of the diversity and an all inclusive atmosphere to be found within the SF community, rather than the loud voices—of the usual suspects, I regrettably hasten to add—who are ready at a moment’s notice to place a glaring spotlight on the relatively few instances where an individual may have said or done something untoward?

Shorter: Stop complaining where the mundanes can hear you. Also, stop yelling. The problem lies with some people, not with structural inequalities and lack of opportunity.

Ah, then there’s this.

Show me one well-regarded SF/F book publisher who refuses to publish a good novel because of the race or sex of the writer. Show me one well-regarded SF/F magazine editor who refuses to publish a good short story because of the race or sex of the writer. It can’t be done.

Of course it can’t be done–the argument has been framed in such a way that it would not be possible for all your conditions to be satisfied, particularly the adjective “well-regarded”. Also, there’s a thing called a form rejection. That’s where the editor doesn’t actually give a reason for the rejection, just that the work is not suitable for the publication.

And, well, John W. Campbell, Jr. did choose not to serialize Samuel R. Delany’s Nova for the following reason:

Campbell rejected it, with a note and phone call to my agent explaining that he didn’t feel his readership would be able to relate to a black main character. (citation)

I mean, it doesn’t exactly fit the conditions set, but it’s damned close.

Then we get a catalog of women who have held–and do hold–prominent editorial positions at major publishers. This is pretty awesome. But the bulk of the awards and accolades still go to their male peers.

At its heart and soul and as the ever-shifting and changing entity that it is, the field of science-fiction hasn’t a racist or sexist bone in its body.

Right. Go read Justine Larbalestier’s Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction and get back to me. Read Samuel R. Delany’s “Racism and Science Fiction” and get back to me. Because you are wrong, Dave Truesdale. Dead wrong.

Do I even need to go into the ridiculousness that is Truesdale’s claim that he’s never witnessed even a single incident of racism or sexism? As a white man, would he have even noticed?

Those of us who speak out about racism and sexism and homophobia in genre are, according to Truesdale, doing more harm than good.  We’re “shrill” and intimidating people who may be inclined to ally with us–hey, it’s the tone argument! Do we have bingo yet?

At this point the square peggers do more harm to their cause than good, because they have intimidated and shouted down many of the very people who may have wanted to joined their initial cause, but who now want nothing to do with it. It is their very stridency and knee-jerk castigation of SF at every turn that conceivably will drive people away, especially new writers. It is in this sense only that this small, misguided subset might do true damage to the SF field, which in itself is another irony.

We’re also a bunch of ingrates, biting the hands that feed us. I’m sort of amazed that he didn’t call us whippersnappers or something.

My simple, unadorned answer to many of the so-called problems some folks have with SF is to stop talking about them, stirring up flames of anger and resentment where unwarranted (which solves nothing)…

Sit down, shut up, be civil, and support the status quo. You’re upset over nothing. It’s not a big deal that books written by men are reviewed at a significantly greater rate than those written by women. It’s not a big deal that men can repeat the same things that women and POC have been saying for years and get praise while the women and POC get rape and death threats.

I wish Truesdale had done more research for his editorial. I shouldn’t have had to do it for him–that’s another thing women are expected to do, see. We have to have all our facts together before saying anything. Men can just say whatever and it’s cool.  I wish he’d just talked about how the main thing that writers should do is write–I agree with that. I’m a greedy reader and want more books and stories to read. But he didn’t. Instead he wrote a 3,500 word editorial trying to silence people he disagrees with and make them look like a bunch of irrational hysterics blowing everything out of proportion.

Except we’re not.

The last line of Joanna Russ’s How to Suppress Women’s Writing is my favorite.  It’s simple, but I heard echoes of it at the end of N.K. Jemisin’s WisCon guest of honor speech, too.  Russ says, simply:

You finish it.

We’re trying, Joanna. We’re trying.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m just going to quote Ursula K. Le Guin from the “Women Remember” interview in WOMEN DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION.

    #

    Ursula K. Le Guin
    How has sf changed . . . Socially? Well, for women, it’s not quite as much like riding “Furthur” with Kesey’s Merry band as it used to be. I guess we caused some real destruction to the male notion that sf, like a good deal else, was theirs, all theirs, and only theirs. But I wonder if that notion is in fact destructible. It keeps popping up again, twice as large as life.

  2. says

    Thanks.

    As for publishers not being overtly biased against women, this happened to me at a con last year:

    A friend of mine who was at a panel that I was not at, heard that a publisher who I don’t normally associate with hard SF was looking for it. I write hard SF. I’ve sold stories to Analog, so I thought I’d suss it out. He told me point blank that he’d be less interested in my hard SF because of my gender.

    This is the blog post I wrote: http://pattyjansen.com/blog/there-are-girl-cooties-on-my-space-ship-on-women-writing-hard-sf/. The original post (unaltered since I’ve written it) sounds a bit hesitant because it could be construed that I was fishing for the comment. Still he should never have said that. Even if it was a mistake on his part, it reflects badly on a publisher I thought was doing everything right. I’m also still hesitant to mention who it was, but at this point, I probably should. It was Angry Robot.

  3. says

    “Show me one well-regarded SF/F magazine editor who refuses to publish a good short story because of the race or sex of the writer. ”

    Well, the first solicitation for that new Grimdark Magazine stipulated they didn’t want stories with “female characters who are basically male characters with boobs who cry sometimes.” Not well regarded enough, maybe? I saw the solicitation via some pretty big-name authors…

    Of course, I notice someone has edited the submission guidelines. I’m sure that definitely means the editor won’t reject any good stories featuring the “wrong” kind of women. :/

  4. says

    In The New Women of Wonder (1978), Pamela Sargent writes in her introduction: “One author of a successful first novel had her second novel rejected by the same publisher because the book was about an all-female world and there were no male characters in it.” So yes, this sort of thing has been going on for decades, if not since the very beginning of the genre.

  5. says

    The more SF/F defends itself the happier I am I took my money elsewhere. So very little has changed in the last few decades. Looking at the field for my kids it seems like there are even fewer accessible titles than in the 70’s and early 80’s.

  6. Saoki says

    Well written.
    As young, queer, female writer, I only ever thought I could publish anything once I found books by Ursula K. Le Guin (which, by the way, were mostly out of print in my country, so I had to read them in english).
    Before that, I strongly believed women were only published if they wrote romance (Agatha Christie was the only female writer I knew that didn’t write romance), and that was never my cup of tea.

  7. Kari Sperring says

    His privilege is showing, methinks.
    I’ve been told over and over by men to stop writing fiction, not to think my books have any value, not to try to be published, not to put myself forward in any way, to be grateful to be allowed to be in sff at all… But no, there’s no sexism here, none at all…
    Thank you, Natalie: sharp, insightful and thoughtful as always.

  8. Clancy Weeks says

    Well, I guess I’ve been put in my place.

    Or not. It depends on whether you actually read what I wrote, or were just looking for code words to jump on. Methinks the latter, more than the former.

    I apologize. I’m a guy and sometimes I look at things from a male perspective. No one should ever approach a subject from the confines of their own experiences.

    I stand by my response, however. Maybe you should read it before complaining. It may surprise you to know (and it wouldn’t if you had read my piece) that Dave and I disagree on pretty much every aspect of this topic.

    Considering your butchering of my words, I may soon come around to his side, though. Thanks for that.

  9. says

    “At its heart and soul and as the ever-shifting and changing entity that it is, the field of science-fiction hasn’t a racist or sexist bone in its body.”

    Bones in hearts are not actually good things.

  10. Steve says

    “I may soon come around to his side”

    Quite mature. “I don’t think you appreciated how much better I am, so I will regress, as I only cared for recognition, not being a decent human being”

  11. says

    @Clancy Weeks: So your problem is that I wasn’t being nice or deferential enough or giving you the benefit of the doubt? So now you’re going to be totally for sexism? Do you even hear what you’re saying? Damn.

  12. Martha Burns says

    Buy the issue, please. It’s got great short stories and the nonfiction is not to be missed. If you buy it as an ebook, it’s a mere four dollars. And keep reading as much science fiction and fantasy as you can. It’s one of the few places the aliens get to talk.

    http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/

  13. Clancy Weeks says

    Yeah, I don’t think you’re the one to lecture on maturity,

    Is it possible to defend this statement:
    “ I’m not going to take issue with them–they are what they are and they’re about the quality one would expect from Tangent Online.”

    as not being functionally equivalent to the phrase “shrill voices.” Both are used to marginalize those with whom you disagree.

    If you really want an honest debate, it’s probably best not to adopt the language of the oppressor. Or at least Fox News.

  14. says

    @Clancy Weeks: I’ve re-read your piece a couple times, and I think if you intended to differ substantially from what Dave Truesdale said, you really didn’t get there.

    You open by perceiving her point as different from the one you think she set out to make, then move into a paragraph that boils down to “What she’s saying isn’t reality, but she thinks it is, and ‘people will always believe what they want to believe,’” which is difficult to read as anything other than an implicit statement you don’t just disagree with her, you dismiss the legitimacy of her position entirely.

    You then move into an extended point about the vast umbrella SFF covers, including all of fiction under its auspices. That leads to saying every writer has moments of feeling unqualified, neatly ignoring Ms. Yant is specifically talking about the persistent idea that women are unqualified to write SF because they aren’t comfortable with the science part. That’s a very different point from a writer’s anxiety about how good or bad their writing is.

    You continue to where I think you intended to differ from Truesdale, by noting the field is in fact changing, and taking the expansive position that all of us have a skewed perception of reality. Unfortunately, this construction just reinforces the reading you set out to say Ms. Yant’s position is just a skewed perception, not grounded in any reality (it’s especially easy to read it this way after you dismiss her reference to articles decrying women as legitimate SF writers because you didn’t read them personally. You do say you don’t “dispute her claim”, but you effectively hand-wave that claim away as just her “perception,” rather than doing a little poking around to see if you can find examples.). Your last line dovetails nicely with Truesdale’s assertion that Ms. Yant et al. should “stop talking about them, stirring up flames of anger…and get busy writing….”

    While I acknowledge I might perceive something you didn’t intend, I also assert your actual message is hard to parse from within the larger air of dismissal in your essay.

  15. says

    @Clancy Weeks: I fail to see how Natalie has misrepresented your words.

    You said “Christie Yant has a point in her guest editorial in the June issue of Lightspeed. The problem is that I don’t think it was the one she intended to make.”

    Natalie said: “Clancy Weeks goes so far to say that she is mistaken in what point she was making”

    You said: “The real point, then, becomes ‘what is SF, and who maintains the standards?’” and go on to cite three men as authoritative examples in your reply to the point a woman didn’t realize she was making.

    Natalie said: “[Clancy] decides that only men can provide a solid definition of science fiction–Campbell, Sturgeon, and Robinson.”

    You said: “The largest consumer bloc is young males, after all.”

    Natalie said: “He also throws out that old canard that it’s mostly men who consume this type of fiction”

    If you feel Natalie has misrepresented your views, I sympathise, but ask you to recognise that whatever your views may be, your words and actions speak for themselves. And while you’re setting up “perception” against “reality” you might find this statistical analysis of several SF markets where gender is concerned illuminating.

  16. says

    @Clancy Weeks:

    No, no it is not functionally equivalent at all. The use of “shrill” as an adjective (to describe people or their statements) has inherently sexist overtones. So that’s got a hell of a lot more baggage than a straight insult (right or wrong) to the quality of a site’s content.

  17. says

    @Clancy Weeks: Aaaaaaactually, the reviews of the fiction were decent and generally well thought out and that is usually what I find when look at the reviews at Tangent Online, with some notable exceptions. So no, not functionally equivalent.

  18. says

    @Natalie Luhrs:

    Ahhhh and it wasn’t an insult at all. So yeah. Wow. (And Natalie, apologies for my misreading on that. Ish. It’s weird because it’s like a reading of a misreading and I… yeah.)

  19. says

    “Is it possible to defend this statement:
    “ I’m not going to take issue with them–they are what they are and they’re about the quality one would expect from Tangent Online.”

    as not being functionally equivalent to the phrase “shrill voices.” Both are used to marginalize those with whom you disagree.”

    Actual Quote: “Okay, the reviews of the actual short stories in the special Women Destroy Science Fiction issue of Lightspeed are pretty solid so I’m not going to take issue with them–they are what they are and they’re about the quality one would expect from Tangent Online.”

    I believe some useful advise on selective reading was offered elsewhere in the comments on this post, you might want to refer to them.

  20. Steve says

    Oh no, a former professional reviewer doesn’t hold your publication’s reviews in high regard? Marginalization!

    I’m unfamiliar with Tangent Online, so I took her comment to mean “They’re not great or exceptionally professional reviews, but they’re not bad in a noteworthy way, so I will not address that topic now.” Unfavorable, yes, but hardly condemnation, and as she is not being paid to provide a full review of those reviews, entirely fair for her to state her knowledgeable opinion on the matter.

    Tone argument, false equivalence, what other tactics will you use to hold yourself perfect and avoid actually listening to valid criticism?

  21. Steve says

    Ah, I hadn’t recalled the “pretty solid” part, my apologies for the misinterpretation. Makes the false equivalence all the worse.

  22. Clancy Weeks says

    @Amal

    Here was my exact statement: ” The problem is that I don’t think it was the one she intended to make. ” Notice the qualifier. It is my opinion. I never state as *fact* that she was mistaken.

    >>“[Clancy] decides that only men can provide a solid definition of science fiction–Campbell, Sturgeon, and Robinson.”<>You said: “The largest consumer bloc is young males, after all.”

    Nathalie said: “He also throws out that old canard that it’s mostly men who consume this type of fiction”
    <<

    I've read the "statistical analysis" in Clarkesworld, and while it doesn't really address *consumers* it still upholds my point with respect to SF publishing. Now, I'm waiting for a true statistical analysis on SF consumption vs. creation by sex, and one that is done by a true statistician. It's a complex issue that can't be boiled down to a simple Excel spreadsheet.

  23. Clancy Weeks says

    >>Oh no, a former professional reviewer doesn’t hold your publication’s reviews in high regard? Marginalization!<<

    And there it is, right on cue. The attempted demeaning of an argument. Way to FOX it up.

    Thanks!

  24. Steve says

    I did indeed, but note that I posted a correction when I saw that you were even more wrong than I thought.

    Doubling down on inaccuracy on the other hand, while tossing hypocrisy in the mix, is an excellent way to Fox it up. Good job. :-)

  25. says

    Shorter Clancy Weeks: “Let me explain what ‘is’ is.” Of course, people with his type of infinite self-regard go on indefinitely if left unattended.

  26. Clancy Weeks says

    I’ve just been reminded of something that I should have thought of myself… I’ve already had my say in the magazine, so now it’s your turn. Take my words however you desire. I’m out.

  27. Quatermain says

    “Generalizations that people write books that they want to read and that as long as the story is good, who wrote it doesn’t matter.” As generalizations go, that’s one of the better ones because unlike most generalizations, it contains good advice. The first half is good advice for writers and the second half is good advice for readers.

  28. Veronica Schanoes says

    @Clancy Weeks: “Is it possible to defend this statement:
    “ I’m not going to take issue with them–they are what they are and they’re about the quality one would expect from Tangent Online.”

    as not being functionally equivalent to the phrase “shrill voices.” Both are used to marginalize those with whom you disagree.

    If you really want an honest debate, it’s probably best not to adopt the language of the oppressor.”

    When Tangent Online’s writers have been dismissed for hundreds of years with words coded to refer to their gender, that comparison might have a smidgeon of meaning. Otherwise, you’re just being silly.

  29. Leah Bobet says

    That was rather impressively creepy, Clancy: “I’m the Good Guy. I’m on your side! But if you don’t stop expressing opinions I don’t like or that make me look bad, I’ll go be a Bad Guy like that other dude I’m so graciously protecting you from and it’ll be all your fault.”

    I have a feeling you might take this as being said to be right, shut you down, or make other people laugh at you, but: I give you my word it is not. I’m saying this in hopes that you’ll see the rather explicit message you’re communicating and think about this carefully–about how you want to come across and what you want to give others.

    The way you spoke there is the same way abusers speak: “I’m being so nice, but you should do what I say or it’s your fault when I get mean.” That’s…really not good. I felt you should know about it.

    Have a good afternoon.

  30. says

    You are actually more generous than I’d be to Truesdale on one front. It’s tempting to assume he’s truly never witnessed any racism or sexism at cons because of his privilege, and surely if he’d been to just a handful, I’d buy that. But he’s a longtime con-goer, and given the folks he regularly associates with, I’d bet good money that he was with folks when they committed acts of racism and sexism. I’d then double down and bet he’s even perpetuated those acts. And while some might be of the oblivious privilege variety, I’d also bet that plenty of them were not.

    In short, on top of everything else, I think Truesdale is a fucking liar.

    (Lovely post overall, of course.)

  31. Jeff K says

    I appreciate you highlighting this nonsense, Natalie. There seems to be some kind of unwritten notion that if more diverse range of authors are published this will somehow diminish us poor white guys. The reality is that there will be more sources of good writing, which will spawn more readers and create more demand for more good writers of all sorts.

  32. says

    I actually had a bigger problem with Clancy Weeks’ comments on E. Catherine Tobler’s piece. Here’s what Weeks’ says:

    “In “Stray Outside the Lines” E. Catherine Tobler is clearly unhappy. I won’t dismiss her concerns as many males would, but I also think she is looking at it from the wrong angle. Is there discrimination and oppression in the publishing world? No doubt, but you can’t ascribe it all (or even mostly) to gender identification. Discrimination, oppression, bigotry, misogyny, etc., are all about power. Who’s got it vs. who wants it.

    The common (inputyourfavorite) phobe is deathly afraid of losing their power—whatever power means to them—and that fear is fed by the entirely mistaken notion that any power the other gains is always at their own group’s expense. What the ’phobes don’t understand is that power and rights are not part of a zero-sum game. I don’t get mine from you, or vice versa.

    This is where Ms. Tobler and a few others in this issue go wrong, as they adopt the same zero-sum attitudes as the people they hope to change. You can certainly assert your rights, but you can’t take them. ”

    Here is Tobler’s essay: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lightspeedmagazine/women-destroy-science-fiction/posts/728346

    I don’t see any–and I mean not one single–example of Tobler adopting “the same zero-sum attitudes” as men who fear the loss of male privilege. I don’t even see a logical basis for making that assertion…

    …unless, of course, the purpose is to tell women not to “stray outside the lines,” but rather stay confined within them. Is that, ultimately, the purpose?

  33. rfloh says

    “I’ve read the “statistical analysis” in Clarkesworld, and while it doesn’t really address *consumers* it still upholds my point with respect to SF publishing. Now, I’m waiting for a true statistical analysis on SF consumption vs. creation by sex, and one that is done by a true statistician. It’s a complex issue that can’t be boiled down to a simple Excel spreadsheet. ” –Clancy Weeks

    1stly, you claimed that “The largest consumer bloc is young males, after all.” If you are as you say “waiting for a true stats analysis”, why are you then going around stating your assumptions as fact?

    2ndly, it is entirely possible to do very complex stats analysis in an Excel spreadsheet. Actually doing complex stats analysis in Excel requires some knowledge of the mathematical underpinnings of statistical methods, whereas stats software packages that are widely used in academia / research for stats analysis (eg, SPSS) allow 1 to do complex analysis without seeing any of the math at all, without needing to see any, or know any of the math at all. Which can be a strength, & a weakness: a weakness because it is entirely possible to do complicated stats analysis in SPSS very quickly, very easily, without having much a clue of what you’re doing, of why you’re using the methods you’re using, the result being garbage in garbage out.

    The tests that 1 does, can do, to test for a significant difference between 2 variables, eg, between number of published stories by men vs women, are the same whether 1 does them in Excel, SPSS, STATA, R, or even just pencil and paper. Testing for differences (ie t-test), or testing to see whether a relationship exists (univariate or multivariate linear regression), is only affected by the software you use, in that stats software packages like SPSS are much easier to use than Excel, & Excel is obviously much easier than pencil and paper.

    If you have a substantive critique of the stats analysis that Susan Connoly did, or with how she collected her data, or with how she has interpreted her stats analysis, then make it. Whining about the software used is not a substantive argument. It is like complaining that someone wrote a story in MS Office, instead of notepad, or emacs, or Scrivener, or using pen and paper.

  34. says

    Thank you, Natalie — not just for speaking up, but for the Mulder/Scully joke. I was feeling upset about the reviews, which I perceived as belittling the efforts of women I like and admire; the imaginary conversation between Mulder and Scully made me laugh about the whole mess, and for me, that made all the difference.

  35. says

    Thanks for the great post, Natalie. I wanted to address something that Clancy Weeks wrote about Susan Connolly’s “The Issue of Gender in Genre Fiction,” published in this month’s Clarkesworld. (Full disclosure: I am a slush reader for Clarkesworld.)

    I had a chance to read the piece a few days before publication, and it struck me as insightful, unbiased and the result of a lot of painstaking work. To my mind, Clancy’s decision to use quotations to describe it as “statistical analysis” is belittling. The piece offers a statistical analysis of pro genre markets and their publication rates by gender, period.

    He also notes, “It’s a complex issue that can’t be boiled down to a simple Excel spreadsheet.” Actually, Excel is a widespread tool for analyzing complex data (see Thomas Piketty and his recent analysis of wealth and income inequality in his best-selling “Capital,” for instance); I’d be shocked if Clancy isn’t aware of this, and so his comment strikes one as another way of belittling the article.

    Connolly is going to look into additional issues of gender and genre, such as submission rates for men versus women. Keep tuned — my guess is her excellent work will result in more pieces that have something to tell us about the state of SFF magazines.

    Natalie, I heard you note in a recent Skiffy & Fanty podcast that there’s a need for a new short-fiction review site. Maybe this is the time to start?

  36. says

    @Aimee Picchi: I may be plotting something along those lines RIGHT NOW. :D And I’m looking forward to seeing more analysis from Connolly–data doesn’t lie (and Excel is a very good tool for analysis; use it all the time at the day job).

  37. says

    When someone uses terms like, “the female sex,” and, “sexual orientation,” they are, at the very least, hopelessly outdated. And by the looks of it, willfully obtuse to boot.

  38. says

    So John O’Neill, Truesdale’s former employer at Black Gate, takes him to task over his ‘closing comments. I recommend you read the post, it’s awesome.

    Truesdale replies in typical voluble fashion, but this remark stood out:

    And here’s one last line I take great issue with: “You didn’t see the sexism in science fiction because, like me, you were part of the problem.” Horse-hockey. Speak for yourself. I never bloody said _instances_ of sexism never occurred at any SF function, but if you factor in that there’s been an SF con of some sort or other pretty much every weekend in the U.S. for a good 3 decades, and all of the hundreds of thousands of fans (easily millions by now) who have attended them, the odds are that 99% of _everyone_ hasn’t spotted any sexism either. It doesn’t _make_ one a sexist or “part of the problem” because one hasn’t seen or experienced any, for ghod’s sake. What kind of sane logic leads to that conclusion?

    But what he actually said in his ‘review’ is

    I have been attending SF conventions and actively participating in the SF world in various capacities for just over forty years. Not once have I personally seen a smidgeon of racism or sexism at a convention, whether it be a local or regional con, a worldcon, a World Fantasy convention, a Campbell/Sturgeon awards banquet, or a Nebula Awards weekend

    In fact the only sexism he’s seen is when he was (poor baby) refused entry to that panel at Wiscon.

    So, has he not seen sexism or racism at a con because he can’t get to all the cons (even though he boasts about the variety he’s been to), or has he not seen them because they don’t happen? It reads, even after his obfuscating, as the latter.

    O’Neill is right to point out his bullshit, and I’m glad it’s a friend and a colleague doing it. Not that Truesdale will listen anyway, but it means it’s not just the nasty old twitters taking him down this time.

  39. says

    John O’Neill replies to Truesdale’s comment:

    You’re absolutely right that I set the editorial direction of the magazine, and the ultimate fault for sexism at any level was mine.

    Though to be honest, you weren’t simply the slush reader though, were you? You were the Managing Editor, with full authority to speak on behalf of the magazine — which you did, frequently, with announcements on the BG newsgroup, and in all your dealings with hundreds of writers. I remember the 18 months we worked together to launch the magazine as a fairly collaborative affair; I’m sorry you feel you were no more than “the slush reader.”

    > As for the rest of it, speak for yourself and please don’t include me in your own personal admission of sexism

    I have to admit that I’m more than a little surprised that, while you don’t dispute my characterization of our behavior as sexist, you sincerely believe you came out of it lilly white. If that’s true, why didn’t you call me on it? Why didn’t you say something? You certainly had no qualms arguing with me on virtually every other aspect of the magazine.

    Dave, one of the things I recall best about our time together was how hard you worked. You had a really fine reputation — it was one of the reasons I reached out to you for help when I started Black Gate. You acted with scrupulous integrity, and everyone I met spoke highly of you — and I mean, _everyone_. You had built a lasting legacy in the field with Tangent Online, the SFWA Bulletin, and numerous other projects. You worked diligently to build on that legacy, and I know how important it was to you.

    Dave, I have been increasingly dismayed to find that your reputation is sorely tarnished. When I stumble across a mention of Dave Truesdale these days, it’s not due to your tireless efforts with Tangent Online or elsewhere. No, among many other things, you’re known as the man who suggested Tempest Bradford needed “an emergency bitch-suction operation” for daring to make accusations of sexism, or for your angry petition against perceived political correctness in SFWA, or for loudly challenging the very assumption that sexism still exists in science fiction. In short, you have a reputation for attacking people — especially women — and sometimes in some pretty appalling ways.

    If this doesn’t get through Truesdale’s head, nothing will. Because, ouch.

  40. Ross Presser says

    completely off topic: why do you prefer this extremely low contrast theme for your blog? It makes it really hard to read for those of us in the world without perfect vision.

  41. says

    Ross, on my list of things to do is go into the CSS and make the font color darker. If I have time, I’ll take a whack at it this weekend (you’re not the first person to make this comment). I don’t have perfect vision, either.

  42. Ross Presser says

    @Natalie Luhrs: Thank you, Natalie! Back on topic, I unfortunately have nothing to add to your excellent coverage, but I do appreciate it. (And have learned several things from it.)

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