My Letter to SFWA

So here’s the letter I wrote to John Scalzi in his role as President of SFWA about the continuing problems with sexism in the SFWA Bulletin. It’s not nearly as eloquent as some of the letters out there, but I figure I should post it, least I be accused of being an anonymous voice. I’m not.

If you’re not familiar with the issue, Jim Hines has a darn good list of links.

Dear Mr. Scalzi and Mr. Gould,

I’m not a member of SFWA, but I thought I should write to you about the continuing issues with the SFWA Bulletin and how these problems look to someone from the outside.

Membership in SFWA is one of my career goals. It’s part of the reason I worked to get an agent for my fantasy novels. It’s part of the reason I strive to write better short stories. It’s one of the reasons I only submit short stories to pro markets. It means something.

SFWA is also an organization that does things I admire, from supporting Writer Beware, to working for better contract terms (as with the recent Random House digital imprints) to helping authors get paid what’s due to them.

But the continuing problems with blatant sexism in an official publication of SFWA makes me wonder if I’ll be treated as an equal when I do meet the requirements to join SFWA. I know there are jerks in every organization. And certainly, I know SFWA can’t deny membership to folks for being sexist jerks. But SFWA can refrain from giving them an official platform from which to spew their rhetoric, especially when it is in opposition with SWFA’s statement on sexual harassment. By allowing Mike Resnik and Barry Malzberg a SFWA-sanctioned platform so they could call those who took umbrage with their sexism liberal fascists, SFWA condoned their behavior and their statements.Resnik and Malzberg can blog like everyone else. They don’t need to be paid by SFWA to state their opinions, especially when it runs counter to SFWA’s own policy.

Mr. Scalzi, I know you’ve taken responsibility and have apologized and have put in steps to remedy the lack of oversight that lead to these problems. And I thank you for that.

I hope things do change, because when I am eligible for SFWA membership, I’d like to be fully a of SFWA, and not relegated to some sort of minor ladies axillary.

That’s what SFWA looks like from the outside at the moment: You get to be a Writer if you have a penis. If you don’t, you’re a “lady writer” and no one listens to your concerns. Or they take the mike from you. Or tell you you’re being too sensitive. Or wax on about how wonderful it was in the old days before women ruined everything.

I’ve seen many positive sides of SFWA, but when the problem of blatant sexism continually returns, it obliterates quite a lot of that.

I’m a writer. I’m a human being. I’d like an organization that should be future-looking to pull itself out of the 1950s and into 2013. Please continue to work to make this happen.

Thank you,

Ann L Kopchik

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