I am a member of SFWA, but I do not hold office. In this blog post I will refer to SFWA as we or us, that’s my SFWA, the reason I am a member of SFWA, a SFWA I share with other members and will fight for.
Dear people who have criticized SFWA, members* and non-members.
Thank you for your disappointment, your outrage, your eloquence, your passion around the Bulletin debacle. By taking the time to articulate your disappointment you help make SFWA a better organization. I know I am not the only SFWA member who has been following SFWA posts on twitter, paying attention to what happens on facebook, reading many many blog posts and participating in conversations in the SFWA forums**.
Your outrage helps us effect change. Your analysis brings different aspects to light. This is an unfortunate time, as a SFWA member I felt humiliated and disgusted by what my Bulletin published. I read the Bulletin article before outrage hit the internet and I felt like I had been stabbed. If there has been one solace in this whole thing, it has been to see others share their outrage and believe SFWA can and must be better. It has been a comfort to see SFWA leadership listen, to see cogs turning, to see SFWA grassroots members gear up for work, refuse to let nay sayers dissuade them and substantially outnumber the naysayers.
This is my SFWA. It will never be a perfect SFWA, but it will be a SFWA that listens, that learns, that strives to do better.
Thank you to everyone who has given voice, strength and many dimensions to this discussion. I know it takes time and energy and I value it.
Cynicism vs Criticism
I have heard some folks, talk about how “SFWA will never change”, “’twas always thus, ’twill always be” etc.
This renders invisible the work that is not thus. It increases the power of the men who yell at clouds and reduces the power of the women and men who have done great work for an active, useful and inclusive SFWA.
More importantly, it naturalizes unacceptable behavior. It’s like saying “boys will be boys.” It makes it harder for legitimate complaints to be heard and encourages people to just “tough it out.”
It’s like other sexist fiascoes that have happened elsewhere. Even if you believe men will always pinch bottoms in elevators, it’s still more useful to be appalled and talk about it. If your only response is say saying men will always be letches… well that’s a bit unfair to men that aren’t and it doesn’t do anything to dissuade negative behavior.
I know that cynicism can be a handy protective mechanism, but if you think the notion of a better SFWA is useful please consider disappointment or guarded skepticism or a less “change is impossible” emotion instead. Please be an ally for the SFWA I love.
My thanks and respect, to strive to be our better selves, better organizations, create better spaces, better actions is always a worthy goal. I feel confident that complaints are being listened to, will be acted upon and it will be a stronger SFWA that goes forward.
* and by members I will always mean Active, Associate and Affiliate Members
** which isn’t to say that the forums will be a haven of wonder and it is one of many paths for a SFWA member to engage with their organization. There will be posts on the forum with views you might find antiquated to say the least, but they will not be by people of official standing and there will be more people countering those posts/asserting more progressive/inclusive positions and knuckling down to do the work of making SFWA a better organization.