In case some of the reading audience is unfamiliar with this, I’m thinking I should explain. This is likely one of the issues that laid the foundation for the 2015 Hugo debacle. You can read a full timeline of the upheaval here, faithfully recorded by S. L. Huang, mathematician and SF writer. The fuss started in January with issue #200 of the SFWA Bulletin. It featured a cover painting of Red Sonja with a skimpy costume and pumped up attributes. Nothing new. Most people either a) failed to notice or b) rolled their eyes. However, there was a column inside written by Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg about “lady editors” which discussed their physical attributes. This was not well-received.

In April, Bulletin #201 featured an article espousing Barbie as a role model. Again, this was not well-received. In May, Bulletin #202 featured Resnick and Malzberg’s response to criticism of their January editorial. They called the complainants “liberal fascists,” and groused about censorship. Then everybody piled on. Language became immoderate.

Then president John Scalzi tried to put out the fire. He apologized and took responsibility. Resnick and Malzberg were fired as columnists. As the controversy continued, women bloggers started to get hate mail. The bulletin editor resigned.

Author N.K. Jemisin mentioned the controversy in the Guest of Honor speech at the convention Continuum in Australia. She discussed Vox Day’s conservative views and his failed bid for the SFWA presidential position. Day responded by calling her a “savage,” which got him expelled from the SFWA. Later in the year, forums and list-serv threads were publicized with sexist comments about women writers and editors from well-known male SF writers. By February 2014 a new editor was hired for the Bulletin, and apologies began to circulate.

Advertisements